How Christianity shaped Western values

Last time I talked about the myth of secular progress and how secularists must borrow their morals and ethics from religious sources. The following clip is a video conversation between agnostic historian Tom Holland and Bible scholar N.T. Wright that further brings this point home. The following is a description of the video: 

“An agnostic in terms of his religious commitments, Tom Holland has nevertheless described the way that the birth of Christianity has shaped much of what we value in Western society in terms of human rights, culture and rule of law. He engages with NT Wright on the way that Paul and the early Christian movement stood in stark contrast to the prevailing Roman culture of its day.”

Holland says that the more he understood the mindset of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, the more alien they seemed to him, to where he finally realized, “As far as my values and background are concerned, I am a Christian.” (Remember, he’s an agnostic.) He goes on to say here that we can think of Paul’s New Testament writings as a kind of depth charge deep beneath the foundations of the classical world.

“It’s not anything you particularly notice if you’re in Corinth or Alexandria, and then you start feeling this kind of rippling outwards and by the time you get to the 11th century in Latin Christendom, everything has changed. I think essentially what Paul’s significance is, is that he sets up ripples of revolution. The 11th century where the paper revolution essentially establishes this idea that society has to be reborn, reconfigured, and the vested interests have to be torn down, and then the Reformation is a further ripple effect of that, and the Enlightenment is a further ripple effect of that. It’s spilled out so much that now in the 21st century we don’t even realize where these ripple effects are coming from. We just take them for granted.”

This is precisely what David Bentley Hart was alluding to his conversation with secular humanist, Terry Sanderson in the video conversation I posted last time.

Here is a short clip of this conversation between Holland and Wright but you can also watch the whole show here. I would strongly recommend you watch the whole thing because they go in much greater depth on the subject. It’s also fascinating hearing Holland’s perspective on the apostle Paul, and how they both expose other popular myths believed by anti-Christian skeptics.

Watch the whole conversation here.


About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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189 Responses to How Christianity shaped Western values

  1. John Branyan says:

    Technically, we’re all agnostics. The only people who know for sure if God exists can’t speak to us anymore.

    Fools think their uncertainty is something unique and enlightened. Idiots think it’s impressive and humble to say, “I don’t know”. Nobody knows.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, we’re all headed for certainty. All they’ve traded is one type of faith for another. Nothing new under the sun.
      And what’s funny to me about it is that you have the dogmatic scientistic certitudes on one side and the muddled morass of subjectivism on the other from atheists/humanists. Apparently, we don’t know for certain that 2 + 2 = 4 anymore, so we can’t apply “13th century” deductive reasoning to know why God should exist. We’ve moved on from that! So now we CAN credit ontological incoherence to atheists and humanists.

      • John Branyan says:

        Any worldview that requires denying observable reality is a weak worldview.

        • Mel Wild says:

          A lot of atheists won’t even admit they have a worldview which is just imbecilic.

        • John Branyan says:

          Right. Atheism is too fragile to use words like “faith”, “belief”, “religion”, “worldview”, and “philosophy”. It is literally the most stupid worldview a person can profess.

          I keep recommending Deism to the atheists. They keep refusing.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I keep recommending Deism to the atheists. They keep refusing.

          Oh, that’s a slippery slope. Deism is the gateway to the harder stuff, like theism. Can’t risk it. LOL!

        • John Branyan says:

          That’s my point.
          Deism offers an idea of god who is less moral than people. Deism provides a god that can be made to fit the mold of humanism. They can re-make that god in their image. Deism is much less stupid than atheism.

  2. That was quite good, Mel! Thank you for that video. This was cool, “As far as my values and background are concerned, I am a Christian.” So very true! We are often like fish, the water is wet and it’s always been there, therefore the water doesn’t exist at all. People,especially in the Western world, often will deny that their values have been shaped by Christianity at all, while at the same time lecturing you about “love your neighbor, don’t lie, don’t kill,” etc, etc. They falsely try to equate these things with the “inherent goodness of man” or “empathy.” Some will say, compassion builds a healthy society so it is just the fruit of “evolutionary progress.” But if you have two brain cells to rub together, you can quickly see how compassion and caring for the least of these is the very antithesis of evolutionary theory and human nature. If we are simply evolving then you actually want to just slay the weak and get them out of the gene pool, stat. A proper evolutionary lifeguard is not going to embrace any Christian values, they are going to serve themselves, embrace “might makes right,” and conquer as the Romans conquered.

    The horrifying truth of human nature is well, horrifying and brutal, as the guy in the video spoke of, “his little itch,” For me it’s not the brutality of man that doesn’t fit into the logic equation. That is actually darkly rational and evolutionary based. It’s our goodness, our other centered love, that doesn’t make sense in any scientific context. Why would you care for the old and sick? Why would you love your enemy? Kind of a cynical thought indeed, but it is actually the goodness of God that is the foreign element in the story of man.

    • Mel Wild says:

      It’s our goodness, our other centered love, that doesn’t make sense in any scientific context. Why would you care for the old and sick? Why would you love your enemy?

      This is a point made on the video (full version). I have always wondered why naturalists don’t seem to want to address this. There is no reason whatsoever that natural selection should lead us to other-centered self-giving love. There is no reason to protect the victim’s rights. That was a uniquely Christian concept in the first century. They certainly didn’t protect the victim in the Roman world! There is no natural reason to do these things. It does not serve the gene pool; it does not serve survival. So, we have to ask why are we outraged when we see the strong kill the weak. Why is that bad? It’s a total contradiction to natural selection to call it evil. When we insist that it isn’t we’re showing we don’t realize the water we’re swimming in, as you said. At least atheists like Nietzsche were intellectually honest enough to admit this.

      • Nan says:

        That was a uniquely Christian concept in the first century.

        Ahem … there were people around before the “first century.”

        Just curious … how do you think primitive people (before the bible was written) acted? Were they devoid of “other-centered self-giving love?”

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I didn’t say they were devoid of showing other-centered, self-giving love. They just didn’t practice it as a culture. It was not a cultural value, which is what this post is about. Of course, you can show me where the Greeks and the Romans practiced social justice, giving the victim a voice in their societies.

        • Nan says:

          They just didn’t practice it as a culture.

          I’m sorry, Mel, but how can you know that? We’re talking people waaay before the “first century” folks. Moreover, “culture” is defined as “all the knowledge and values shared by a society.” Now if you don’t define these people as a “society,” then perhaps you have a point. But seems to me that would be a stretch …

          My point, of course, is you simply cannot say that “other-centered, self-giving love” is specific to God-believers.

        • Mel Wild says:

          We know this from history, Nan. This is not even controversial. By our standards, the Roman and Greek societies were cruel and sadistic. You obviously didn’t watch the video. They make several direct references to these cruelties, which were applauded in these societies, not condemned. You simply won’t find our values for social justice in these cultures. To say we “cannot say” is just a ridiculous dismissal based on ignorance.

          And your point about people being capable of other-centered love is arguing against something I wasn’t even saying. Of course, they were capable. It just wasn’t something that was valued or practiced. It was virtually unheard of. Again, a fact of history.

        • Nan says:

          And LOL backatcha’, Mel!

          You missed the point entirely. But that’s OK. I know it’s difficult to understand non-theist thinking.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You missed the point entirely.

          Haha. How ironic. It is you who took my comment out of context and changed it to mean I said people weren’t capable of other-centered, self-giving love. That is not the point of my comment at all. Here it is in context. I will emphasize the point for you.

          There is no reason to protect the victim’s rights. That was a uniquely Christian concept in the first century. They certainly didn’t protect the victim in the Roman world!”

          You simply cannot show that these were societal values in the ancient world. And we have ample historical evidence that these societies were cruel and sadistic.
          But, yes, it is hard to understand convoluted and incoherent thinking.

        • Nan says:

          Haha to you also.

          Please note — I was going FARTHER back than just the Romans (and that culture), Mel. Did you notice that I mentioned “primitive people”? Here, let me repeat: how do you think primitive people (before the bible was written) acted? Were they devoid of “other-centered self-giving love?” Primitive being defined as “preliterate, tribal or nonindustrial societies.”

          It appears from your comment, You simply cannot show that these were societal values in the ancient world. , that we’re not referencing the same time frame. Actually, I won’t argue with you related to the society you’ve mentioned. You may very well be correct about these people. I’m not a history buff … biblical or secular. But I am curious to know your thoughts about people who lived before biblical times.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, it’s called changing the subject. You were commenting on points I was not making. So you can show that these “primitive people” developed societies that protected the victim’s rights or are you just making stuff up now?

        • Nan says:

          On my blog, conversations often stray from the original point(s) I make. Sure, it can be frustrating at times, but at the same time, contributors often bring up some interesting ideas for discussion.

          Apparently, this is not the M.O. you entertain so I will bow out. Have a nice evening.

        • Mel Wild says:

          In other words, you’re wasting my time arguing against points I was not making, taking my comments out of context while making assertions about “primitive people” that you have no grounds to make.
          No, that’s not my M.O. Have a nice evening.

        • $$Amen$$ to that Nan. 😉

        • You make an excellent point Nan; actually several. 🙂

          First of all, in order to hedge against error, fallacy, and blatant distortion, civilized (democratic or republics) and well-educated societies utilize a tried-n-true ancient concept called Strength in Numbers, or a panel, or group of exceptional peers that help maintain checks-n-balances. The more diverse this panel or group of wise men/women, the more stabilizing and accurate (truthful?) the leadership. Many religions use this type of governing as well. Of course there are a few exceptions that undermine or topple these sorts of societal mechanisms, but I will not delve into those here.

          Regarding societies, cultures, and values, and your point Nan of “Moreover, “culture” is defined as “all the knowledge and values shared by a society,” and presupposing past events, as Mel is doing, and your next point of “My point, of course, is you simply cannot say that “other-centered, self-giving love” is specific to God-believers. distinguish what is verified or plausible history versus what is the general presupposed (opined) past. Of course Mel can claim, give opinion on, or presuppose anything his heart desires. But that doesn’t make it true or have unanimous support. Let me elaborate on this and on your last point Nan.

          There are some presuppositions that are widely shared within the community of those who engage in the historical disciplines. For example:

          • It is presupposed that the past did happen. (Note: that’s an assumption we have, and we may think we have good reasons for thinking so – but really there’s no way, technically speaking, to “prove” it; and so we simply assume it, as Mel has done here)

          • It is presupposed that we can, in part, establish what happened in the past.

          • It is presupposed that in doing so there is some evidence.

          • It is presupposed that some evidence is better than other evidence.

          And so on. Most people agree with these assumptions, and anyone who doesn’t will probably not be given a lot of credence by people who are serious historians or who do history for a living. There are other presuppositions that are not acceptable for the doing of verifiable history. This is the great value of Strength in Numbers or expert Peer-Reviews. Again, even church denominations utilize this tried-n-true method.

          • It is not acceptable to presuppose your conclusions. If you want to demonstrate that something happened, you need to mount a case based on evidence; you can’t argue it happened based on the assumption that it *did* happen.

          • Relatedly, you can’t presuppose that only the evidence that supports your view is valid and other evidence is invalid.

          • And –- here’s where “evidence” for the resurrection of Jesus comes into play – you cannot presuppose perspectives on the world or on reality that are not widely shared among other historians investigating the same phenomenon.

          This final point is very important. No historian will be taken seriously who makes historical claims that require views of reality not widely shared among other historians. You might think that’s unfair, but it’s just the cumulative excepted method the historical disciplines work. To establish something as historically probable or true, you have to play the game of history following the rules –- and one rule is that you can’t make up your own rules or take up rules that are not widely followed in playing the game. (Just as you cannot play basketball and decide that in your case, the lines will be in play instead of out; you can certainly try to do that, but you will be overruled and simply will not be able to win a game according to the league’s officially agreed upon rules set out by a panel of leaders.)

          Therefore Nan, your point(s) is quite valid and justified — “you simply cannot say that “other-centered, self-giving love” is specific to God-believers.” The cumulative evidence (and mounting) of those Bronze Age and Antiquity time-periods do NOT suggest Christianity was the sole contributor to Western values. The roots go much further back prior even to Second Temple Judaism, particularly to the Far East.

          That said, Westerners do indeed have a large penchant for self-proclaimed self-gratifying superiority over other civilizations around the world. That is most definitely a Greco-Roman trait! LOL And our Western Civ history is replete with this supporting evidence, especially during the Age of Exploration/Exploitation and well past the Age of Imperial Colonization! 😉

      • john zande says:

        There is no reason whatsoever that natural selection should lead us to other-centered self-giving love.

        Yes there is… Social cohesion and stability of social groups. This has been studied in extreme detail. I have even taken the time to show you the studies.

        And why are you ignoring memetic evolution?

        it does not serve survival

        It’s ENTIRELY geared to enhancing survival. That’s WHY it evolved.

        There is no reason to protect the victim’s rights. That was a uniquely Christian concept in the first century.


        The 282 laws enshrined in the Code of Hammurabi, which include rights and liabilities, seem to prove you wrong.

        Egyptian law (Ma’at) proves you wrong

        Sumerian law proves you wrong.

        Greek law (based on the principle of equality before the law) proves you wrong.

        Confucianism proves you wrong.

        Mohism proves you wrong.

        Buddhist law proves you wrong.

        Hell, Jewish law proves you wrong.

        But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good pantomime…

        • John Branyan says:

          Arguing against Mel’s assertion that natural selection doesn’t lead to self-giving love by citing multiple religious teachings.
          Well done, JZ.

        • john zande says:

          My deepest and most sincere apologies, I didn’t know the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, for example, was a religious text.

        • John Branyan says:

          My deepest and most sincere apologies. I keep forgetting you can’t focus your thoughts beyond a single comment.

        • Mel Wild says:

          None of your sources prove natural selection could give us social justice or other-centered, self-giving love. It’s counter-intuitive to prioritize the victim’s rights. To say this serves natural selection is just imbecilic.

          All of your sources came from very religious cultures. For instance, Hammurabi:

          “Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.” (“Mesopotamia: The Code of Hammurabi”. Washington State University).

          While Greek and Roman cultures were also steeped in religion like the Babylonian, Egyptian, and Sumerian cultures, they were callous and cruel people by our standards. Here’s what (agnostic) historian Tom Holland said about what the Roman society was like compared to what we expect today:

          “You see all the time in the news at the moment that to cast yourself as a victim is to somehow give yourself power, and you would only have power by virtue of being a victim if you existed in the context of a society that was still in its fundamentals Christian. In the Roman world, if you said, “I’m a victim” they would say, “yeah, and…I’ll enslave you…or I’ll rape you, I’ll do whatever.”

          This type of “justice” would absolutely horrify us today, but they were assumed in ancient days. It’s just plain stupid and ignorance of history to say that religion, specifically Christianity, did not shape Western values.

          And you still have absolutely no grounds for your assertions. There is no reason we should expect the modern idea of social justice to spring forth from natural selection. That is a fantasy. You must import values from outside and pretend they come naturally.

        • john zande says:

          Yes, I’m sure you’re right, Mel. If it weren’t for Christianity we’d have, for example, no human rights… Except, of course, for the first actual charter of human rights embodied in the Cyrus Cylinder, 6th Century BCE.

          From Babylon, the idea of human rights spread quickly to India, Greece and eventually Rome. There the concept of “natural law” arose, in observation of the fact that people tended to follow certain unwritten laws in the course of life, and Roman law was based on rational ideas derived from the nature of things.

          But do carry on. It seems this pantomime is enormously important to you.

        • Mel Wild says:

          First, no one is saying there were no human rights before the first century. Second, I was quoting historian Tom Holland, who unlike you JZ, actually knows what he’s talking about. And he said we certainly did not inherit our Western values of social justice (giving the victim a voice) from Rome or Greece! That is pure fantasy. They gave us property rights and civil laws but not this kind of social justice.

          And you keep quoting religious sources! So, when are you going to show me proof that natural selection brought about ANY of these things, or are you just going to continue your usual fallacious pantomime?

        • john zande says:

          Oh, so you’re moving the goal posts to read “religion” now, not Christianity, as your post specifies.

          So, criminal liability (Ex. Law #53) for shoddy workmanship that results in personal injury and/or property loss is a religious teaching, huh?

          I see, so Ex. Law #265: “If a herdsman, to whose care cattle or sheep have been entrusted, be guilty of fraud and make false returns of the natural increase, or sell them for money, then shall he be convicted and pay the owner ten times the loss” is also a religious teaching?

          OK, I get it… So this recipe for cheese cake is also, by your reckoning, a religious teaching.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Are you really that dense? The subject is not about the laws themselves but WHY the PEOPLE made those laws and what informed them for making these laws. These people were all very religious people.

          And I wasn’t moving the goal posts. You keep conflating two different points I made into one. And you are trying to assert that natural selection would give us these morals then YOU quote sources from cultures steeped in religion.

        • john zande says:

          Yes, as you can see from the title of your post, you are indeed moving the goal posts.

          And Mel, kings have always claimed they rule by holy decree. The presumption of innocence with the right of the accused and accuser to present evidence, as found, for instance, in the code of Hammurabi, is not God-given. It is an example of memetic (societal) evolution.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, as you can see from the title of your post, you are indeed moving the goal posts.

          So, you can prove that Western culture was not shaped by Christianity? LOL! And you keep quoting laws forged from deeply religious people like Hammurabi, then try to divorce that from their religious convictions. Yeah, continue with your own pantomime here, JZ. You’re only digging yourself in deeper.

          Still waiting for you to show me how natural selection gave us these morals and ethics.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And, btw, I’m not asking for studies from secularist sociologists trying to dismiss religion and Christianity. I want historical evidence that natural selection is what gave us our Western idea of morals and ethics.

        • john zande says:

          Still waiting for you to show me how natural selection gave us these morals and ethics.

          Already have. But you’ve chosen ignorance. If you like, I can start re-posting the library of behavioural studies that demonstrate it… But we both know you’re not interested in actually learning anything.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, you haven’t. I’m not asking for behavioral studies from modern sociologists who are trying to re-interpret history. I want you to show me historically how natural selection from some non-theist culture informs us of our Western moral values.

        • john zande says:

          What’s “historical” about behavioural studies in morality and fair play?

          And how are human rights (like the freedom of religion, as expressed in the Cyrus Cylinder) not putting the rights of the individual/victim first?

        • The majority of acclaimed and expert historians John Z would absolutely agree with you on that. 👍

        • Mel Wild says:

          And none of them would still have any historical grounds for a claim that natural selection gave us Western sense of morality. But, as JZ loves to say, continue with your pantomime.

        • LOL… no, I’m get too bored here to quickly. I’m only here at the request of some others to contribute my expertise with yours. 😉 😛

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. Well then, thanks for taking the time to stoop down from your exalted tower of wisdom to share some pithy crumbs with us. 🧐 😏

        • Mel, when I simply quote your Scripture, your God’s Word… it can’t possibly be sanctimonious or exalted when the words and meaning are not even mine. LOL You and all other Christians quote His Words just as frequently as non-Christians or Jews or Muslims do. Your point or reply is mute, unless of course God is arguing with Himself. 😉

          Your issue, as always, is that you simply do not know enough about everything/anything that isn’t strictly “Christian”… and in particular YOUR version of Christ. Or as I’ve said to you before, your own bubble.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, thanks for your pretentious condescension, pretending you know what I know or don’t know and lecturing us with your convoluted subjectivism. Nice bubble, yourself. LOL!

        • Your welcome. 😉 I’ve invited you over to my world Mel several times and at least see for yourself “my bubble” as you call it, is much much wider and broader than yours. LOL (yikes, that sounded so tRumpian didn’t it 😛 )

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. Right. Not interested in boring and pretentious. 😛

        • It was a rhetorical question Mel. LOL 🙄

        • Or invitation rather. Got in a hurry there.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I think you’ve defined your particular “bubble” quite well here. And I’ve read the documents you’ve referred on your site. So, no thanks. Not very interesting to me.

        • No. Not possible. You do not like nor allow any comments that are not directly echoing your own world-view. The parrots that frequent your blog here demonstrate this.

          Nonetheless, I will continue to stop by here offering silent readers alternative viewpoints to your personal opinions, etc. I’m not interested in you specifically Mel because this propaganda and marketing you write here is your livelihood — of course you are not going to consider anything that challenges your money flow. 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s totally false. Do you just make things up? I’ve had all kinds of people say crazy Jesus-hating things here. For instance, John Zande is the highest commenter here! In fact, atheists comment here more than most of the Christian followers.

          I only moderate comments that have either been repeated over and over, or they are totally irrelevant to the topic, or the person is vulgar.

        • No, Mel. Once again you are reading into what YOU want to read and interpret. If you are confused, even slightly confused, just ask for clarification first before writing all your cognitive non-sense. What I was saying is that you challenge everything non-Christians say here and you applaud, welcome, glout, and embrace everything/everyone that never challenge you. In other words, you flat-out argue ad infinitum anything that does not perfectly align with your world-views and personal constructs about life and a “God.”

          You know, if you ever left your own tiny world and experienced say even 12 different cultures other than your own in Wisconsin or Minnesota (wherever you are), you’d realize quickly that your own “filters” are NOT the one and only filters to be used in understanding people and their experiences! Geeezzzz. 😩

        • Mel Wild says:

          Excuse me, Taboo, but you don’t know me at all! You don’t know where I’ve been and what my experiences are in the world. You don’t know the people I talk to, what I’ve studied or all I’ve read, and where I’ve traveled. But that doesn’t stop you from saying the most insulting, snide, asinine things I’ve ever heard. After all, you’ve experienced 12 cultures! WOOHOO! BRAVO! BRAVO! Too bad your enormous ego doesn’t stop you from blathering on with your prejudicial ignorance. You are the small-minded one, a fool to the nth degree because of your exalted opinion of yourself. So, excuse me if I don’t genuflect to your pomposity.

          Yes, I refute nonsense and incoherence when I hear it. I don’t like the fallacious anti-Christian bullying on the Internet. But I’m gracious to those who honestly want to understand my point of view and have a conversation, even if they disagree with me, but I don’t have patience for people who come here under some phony pretext of being “open-minded”(sic). That’s just wasting my time, which is where we’re certainly at here. And I have also been very critical of various popular Christian beliefs on this blog in the past. You would know that if you ever bothered to find out. So, you should stop with your pretentions because you don’t fool me and you don’t know what you’re talking about (but I’m sure you think you do).

        • LOL… You are more than welcome to ignore anything I share here Mel. You are also welcome to delete any of my comments if you so deem, and you are welcome to ban me or other undesirables who oppose your personal versions of correctness or righteousness too. Your opinion of me personally Mel is irrelevant — I don’t care in the least. You’re not open to anyone different than you and you quickly demonstrate that here on your blog.

          My/our messages and points to any and all your readers here is that you do not own exclusive rights or authority on how to interpret life and humanity. If you really KNEW your own faith inside and out, that is the jurisdiction of your God and His Scriptures — no one needs your personal interpretations here on your blog. The original source (The canonical Bible) is easily available to everyone for reading and should be done in its entirety and multiple times! That is what I will continue telling readers here —

          “News Flash, Pastor Mel does not necessarily reflect the mainstream Christian lifestyle/behavior or teachings, much less the only one.” This should encourage their own search, their own study (their OWN relationship with?) your God. Listening to or reading just ONE person’s version or viewpoints or experiences is very risky, even deadly as many have fallen prey to… like Koresh or Jim Jones or many, many other purveyors of “truth.” It’s just common sense and wisdom not to swallow hook, line, and sinker what salesmen are selling. Simple. 🙂

          I hope you’ll leave it at this, but I’m sure you’ll want to get the last word. 🙄😄

      • sklyjd says:

        “So, we have to ask why are we outraged when we see the strong kill the weak. Why is that bad? It’s a total contradiction to natural selection to call it evil.”

        Natural selection is not just about killing the weak and you would know this if you read something scientific about it. Natural selection is the process in nature by which organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and reproduce more than those less adapted to their environment. For example, treefrogs are sometimes eaten by snakes and birds. (ref Google)

        This is the survival story of life not about killing the weaker life form. Man has continued to adapt exactly as all life has to their changing environments. As we have increased our knowledge of all things, advanced in politics, laws, immigration, morals science and technologies etc. Man will continually make changes within society and readily adapt when his current situation is not sustainable.

        We have plenty of those examples today and I do expect religions have had some major influence through our adaption processes, however it would be wrong to claim that without Christianity we would not have anything such as victims’ rights and cultural values etc.

        • John Branyan says:

          Natural selection requires that some intelligence exists above nature.
          You can ignore that intelligence in your conversation but that doesn’t make it disappear.

        • Mel Wild says:

          This is a stone soup fallacy. Natural selection may biologically make us better suited for survival but there is nothing inherent in this biological process that informs us of morals and ethics. You must borrow that from outside sources. For instance, it wasn’t natural selection that told us that the practice of eugenics in the early 20th century was evil. People’s moral outrage led to the stop of the practice.

        • john zande says:

          but there is nothing inherent in this biological process that informs us of morals and ethics

          Would you like me to re-post the LIBRARY of behaviour strudies that proves you simply dead wrong?

          You do remember the video, don’t you?

          So, Mel, why are you lying?

        • Mel Wild says:

          JZ, you don’t watch my videos so I’m not interested in yours either. I’m well aware of these hypotheses. That’s debatable. You cannot divorce human behavior from our long cultural history.

          So, back to the original point. What historical proof do you have that natural selection gave us our sense of Western social justice?

        • john zande says:

          It’s not “debatable,” it’s demonstrable fact, and you’d know that if you bothered to actually do some research.

          But you’re not interested in actually learning anything, as we’ve already been through this.

          You have chosen ignorance.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! Thanks for your dogmatic certitudes.

        • john zande says:

          Carry on Mel, you’re giving a superb example for why 260,000 young people walk away from evangelical Christianity each year (John S. Dickerson, The Great Evangelical Recession, p. 26).

        • Mel Wild says:

          Carry on, JZ. You are proving why atheism is the stupidest most incoherent worldview of all.

        • john zande says:

          So, you associate “stupidity” with learning?


        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I associate stupidity with purposeful denial of history in this case, and a completely incoherent ontology in general. There is nothing more imbecilic than that, JZ. But go ahead with your little fantasy. Pretend that we prefer ignorance and that you’re the enlightened one. I’m sure that plays well in your echo chambers.

          This conversation is getting boring. You’re just resorting to your usual tactics again. Good-bye.

        • john zande says:

          You do prefer ignorance… Or have you researched animal behavioural studies?

          I recall giving you a whole list…. Care to comment on those?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Or have you researched animal behavioural studies?

          LOL! Sure, one can cherry pick the data from animal behavioral studies to support the a priori conclusion that we’re looking for, but if you were the size of a mouse that went lame in my house, my modern, evolved cat would quickly catch you, torture you relentlessly as long as he could without killing you, then when you finally died of exhaustion, he would eat you. So, good luck with your studies.

        • john zande says:

          And that has absolutely nothing at all to do with the development of complex moral behaviours that enhance survivability of the individual and the group.

          But thanks for demonstrating your chosen state of thorough ignorance on this matter, and your hatred of science.

        • John Branyan says:

          Animals don’t have morals.
          Only people have morals.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! Thanks for demonstrating your rigid dogmatic fundamentalism and hatred of the truth, JZ.

        • john zande says:

          So, to you, “rigid dogmatic fundamentalism” means looking at all available information, experimentation, studies, explanatory models and cross-disciplinary work done over decades to arrive at a reasoned, verifiable, demonstrable conclusion?

          Now that is interesting.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! No, it’s not even remotely interesting, JZ. First, you have proven over and over again that you are a fundamentalist zealot committed to your religion of scientism. Second, when you say “reasoned, verifiable, demonstrable conclusion” you are making dogmatic certitudes that not even these studies would make. Third, there’s no way you can prove that animals have any moral conscience whatsoever, so your appeal to animal behavior is irrelevant and bogus. Not to mention, your myopic naturalist worldview confuses behavior patterns with actually having a moral conscious.

          Finally, you have no ability to address the real issue here, which is, how did natural selection give us our modern Western sense of morality and social justice? Especially, if you try to divorce it from a long history of Christianity specifically and religion in general. The truth is, you can’t. So you can pretend to dress this up all you want, the emperor still has no clothes.

        • john zande says:

          Curious that you make such aggressively definitive statements about decades of studies and experimentation that you PROUDLY ADMIT you have never even looked at…

        • John Branyan says:

          Animals don’t have morals.
          Only people have morals.

        • John Branyan says:

          JZ likes the word “pantomime”. You should use it on him. It will save you some typing.

        • Calm down Mel. You are not representing (if at all?) a very Christ-like behavior toward all God’s creatures.

        • Mel Wild says:

          LOL! Here comes the sanctimonious shaming from the “professor.” Okay, fair enough. Here’s some Christ-like behavior for you. Jesus said it to the pretentious people of his day, the Pharisees, but it’s amazing how it applies so well here. These are all from Matthew 23:

          “Woe to you…you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

          “Woe to you, blind guides!”

          “You blind fools!”

          “Woe to you…you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

          “You snakes! You brood of vipers!”

          Yup, that’s Jesus. Of course, there’s more but you get the idea. Then there’s the classic from the Old Testament.

          “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

          Sounds like I’m right on track with Jesus when I encounter such incoherent imbecility.

        • Well, I thought you wouldn’t even waste your time or anyone else’s with this.

          Have a good day Mel. We’ll pray for you. ❤

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thanks. I would hope you do pray for me. But, of course, you’re being sarcastic and condescending, as usual.

    • “people,especially in the Western world, often will deny that their values have been shaped by Christianity at all”

      I’m inclined to believe that many people don’t take the time to even consider where their values were shaped, or what they were. They go on emotion and live day to day, doing what is necessary to maintain the status quo, but not often driven by a value system of which they are aware.

      If interested in further discussion, feel free to join us as we try to both identify and live our values everyday as

  3. Pingback: The Cross: a most unlikely victory | In My Father's House

  4. sklyjd says:

    The Difference of Being Human: Morality
    “Ethical behaviour came about in evolution not because it is adaptive in itself but as a necessary consequence of man’s eminent intellectual abilities, which are an attribute directly promoted by natural selection. That is, morality evolved as an exaptation, not as an adaptation. Moral codes, however, are outcomes of cultural evolution, which accounts for the diversity of cultural norms among populations and for their evolution through time.”

    “Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century Christian theologian whose authority is highly respected up to the present, says that some moral laws come from divine authority (worship only one God), others from natural law (do not kill, do not commit adultery), and still others from civil authority (respect private property, pay taxes).”

    “Aristotle and other philosophers of classical Greece and Rome, as well as many other philosophers throughout the centuries, held that humans hold moral values by nature.”

    “Darwin’s two most significant points concerning the evolution of morality are stated early in chapter III of The Descent of Man. The two points are (i) that moral behaviour is a necessary attribute of advanced intelligence as it occurs in humans, and thus that moral behaviour is biologically determined; and (ii) that the norms of morality are not biologically determined but are rather a result of human collective experience, or human culture as we would now call it.”

    Do not take my word for it so get on your reading glasses and go to the site.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Of course, Ayala is an evolutionary biologist so he approaches all things through his committed worldview. No secret there. But one can write all the books in the world, the stubborn truth remains, you cannot back the claim that natural selection gives us morality. You have zero evidence of this and human history simply refutes that idea at every turn. You must read that into things from an a priori bias. So this is, at best, well-educated speculation. But you CAN make the strong claim from history that our modern sense of morality sprang from religious thought, especially Christianity in the West. To deny this is just being obstinate because you don’t want to admit such a thing.

      A couple points on your references. First, you obviously didn’t watch the videos. As Holland (an agnostic) said, the Greek and the Roman cultures, by our Western standards, were extremely brutal, and very callous about it. Their values would be totally alien and even horrifying to us.

      Second, I will agree that morals can be developed by human beings because that’s a Christian concept. This is another point that Holland made if you would’ve bothered to watch the videos. This is taught by Paul himself and it sets this Judeo-Christian concept apart from other religions. According to both the Old Testament and New Testament, God promised to write His laws on human hearts (Jer.31:31-34; Rom.2:14-15). Paul affirmed this.

      14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) (Rom. 2:14-15 NIV)

      As Holland said, while this is a unique concept in religion, now it’s assumed, “Whereas in the West the idea that law can be something that is something of human origin is absolutely taken for granted.”

      So, when you talk about Thomas Aquinas referring to natural law, this is what he means. What all the early church fathers meant. The Christian concept that morals are written in men’s hearts was assumed. Human beings have the ability to work out morality because of this. So, in this way, you could say our morals evolved. But to say that they originated from natural selection is a massive faith statement.

      Don’t take my word for it. Here’s the video cued up to where Holland and Wright are talking about these things. Open up your eyes and ears and listen to what they have to say. Listen to an agnostic who actually knows the history and is intellectually honest about these things and learn.

    • Nan says:

      Shame, shame, Sklyjd … don’t you know … “You must read that into things from an a priori bias.”

      • Mel Wild says:

        What is your hard (historical) evidence then, Nan?

        • Nan says:


          As I’ve indicated before, I’m just a layperson. I haven’t spent hours and hours of study in order to prove a point — as you have. However, I did come across the paper that sklyjd quoted from and found it quite interesting. I admit I didn’t read it in-depth, but it does seem to make some points that counteract some of yours.

          Any comments you make as a result of reading the study are strictly for your reading audience. I do not intend to respond. Obviously this not preclude others from offering their input 🙂

          Click to access 9015.full.pdf

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’m sure Ayala makes some good points. I might even agree with some of them. But at the end of the day, points aside, you still have no grounds for natural selection coming up with Western morality and ethics and it’s a blatant disregard for actual history that we CAN know for certain about Western development.

          The funny thing is, this was not even questioned by intellectually honest atheists, like Nietzsche. But now we have the “anything but god” intellectuals that came along and started revising history (or ignoring it).

        • john zande says:

          By “natural selection” are you including memetic evolution?

        • John Branyan says:

          Memetic evolution is a myth.
          It’s not science.

        • john zande says:

          Mel, by “natural selection” are you including memetic evolution?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You mean the pseudoscience invented by people like Dawkins? LOL!

          “Luis Benitez-Bribiesca, a critic of memetics, calls it “a pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution” among other things. (“Memetics: A Dangerous Idea” (2001).

        • john zande says:

          Just so we’re clear, you’re saying ideas do not develop and evolve?

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, of course not! Now you’re just being ridiculous (again).

        • john zande says:

          OK, so you understand the principle of memetic evolution. It simply refers to the transmission and evolution of ideas within, and between, societies. In this sense, ‘memes’ replace ‘genes.’

          If you understand that principle, then your request is easily demonstrated. We can trace the evolution of ideas for just as long as there are reasonable records. For example, we can trace the memetic evolution (the transmission and development) of the general theme of human rights.

          From the United Nations:

          Known today as the Cyrus Cylinder (539 B.C.E), this ancient record has now been recognized as the world’s first charter of human rights. It is translated into all six official languages of the United Nations and its provisions parallel the first four Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

          From Babylon, the idea of human rights spread quickly to India, Greece and eventually Rome. There the concept of “natural law” arose, in observation of the fact that people tended to follow certain unwritten laws in the course of life, and Roman law was based on rational ideas derived from the nature of things.

          Documents asserting individual rights, such as the Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Right (1628), the US Constitution (1787), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), and the US Bill of Rights (1791) are the written precursors to many of today’s human rights documents.

          I draw your attention to the line, From Babylon, the idea of human rights spread quickly to India, Greece and eventually Rome, which is a testament to memetic evolution.

          So, yes, “natural selection” can be demonstrated for the spread and continued refinement of moral/ethical codes. If it’s beneficial for survival, as human rights broadly are, especially as societies grew larger and larger, it may be selected.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Now, you’re just repeating yourself. You are still not proving that natural selection informs us of any form of morality, and appealing to the wacky pseudoscience of memetic evolution won’t help you. YES, there is a development of realized morality and ethics in the course of civilization. That’s a given. No one even argues that point. But it’s a completely different thing to say it comes to us from natural selection. It’s just a desperate attempt to negate the obvious truth of history with “anything but God” speculations. But carry on with YOUR pantomime.

        • john zande says:

          Now, you’re just repeating yourself.

          Happens when you encounter someone who takes pride in remaining ignorant.

          But it’s a completely different thing to say it comes to us from natural selection.

          Nonsense, and to even say that demonstrates that you’re practicing a degree of willful ignorance.

          Whether you like the name or not, Mel, the phenomena clearly exists, and it proceeds by the same mechanisms genetic evolution occurs. Ideas compete in the marketplace of ideas, and there is a ‘selection’ process. In the human theatre, survivability can be felt across a diverse (un-natural) field. We have ideas of warcraft and statecraft, ideas of healthcare and education, ideas of legal codes and human rights. Those ideas (memes) that enhance survivability are selected, but instead of transmitting the trait through offspring, we transmit it culturally.

          The example I gave demonstrates quite perfectly how “natural selection” applies to the evolution of moral/ethical codes.

          Want another example: the Constitution of the United States. It is a work in progress, as it should be. If it weren’t, you’d still have the thoroughly IMMORAL three-fifths Clause (Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution of 1787).

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, what is your historical proof that our particular Western morals and ethics came from natural selection and not from religious thought or Christianity in particular? Because that’s the point. So what atheist started it all, JZ? I’m sure you have a document you can copy and paste from somewhere. LOL!

          You see, no matter how you try to dress this fantasy up, the emperor still has no clothes. You’re wasting my time again.

        • john zande says:

          Are you fucking kidding me???

          Want me to take you, by the hand, through the evolution of human rights again?

        • John Branyan says:

          Yes! Walk us through the evolution of human rights!
          Start with single cell organisms! Tell us about how protozoa suffered for billions of years without consciousness. Then show us where morality is encoded on the DNA molecule.
          I can’t wait to be enlightened!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Lol! No, you’ll just quote all the religious sources again and pretend you’ve made a point. That’s not what I’m asking. Let me put it this way. How are you divorcing religion, and Christianity in particular, from the historical rise of Western civilization and claiming its moral values are due instead to some secular natural selection process? You haven’t shown anything so far that remotely proves this. I’m sorry if it makes you mad but if this is your assertion, you are at odds with the facts of history.

        • john zande says:

          Where did you get the idea that slavery was wrong, Mel?

        • john zande says:

          Mel, where did you get the idea that slavery was wrong?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Mel, where did you get the idea that slavery was wrong?

          Of course, you ask this because you think the Bible condones slavery. Well, it doesn’t in the way you mean, and there are several reasons that I could elaborate on here, but will just summarize…. First, the Hebrew and Greek words used for “slave” are also the same words used for “servant” and “bondservant” or just “worker.” In the first century these “slaves” were usually paid workers, or were some form of indentured servitude, or were military prisoners (of Rome). But if you mean racial slavery where people are kidnapped and bought and sold, the Bible clearly condemned it from the beginning.

          “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16)

          Paul lists “slave traders” as one of the worst of sinners in 1 Tim.1:10. The buying and selling of human souls was listed as some of the evil cargo of the “Harlot Babylon” in Revelation 18:13 (“…and human beings sold as slaves.”).

          The New Testament says that all people regardless of race, gender, slave or free, are equal.

          28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

          In fact, the earliest church was made up of mostly slaves from all the cultures and ethnic backgrounds, along with poor and rich and prominent women, which was pretty unique in itself. I could give you a lot more but these principles are what drove the Quakers and people like William Wilberforce to work tirelessly to abolish slavery in the 18th and 19th century. Social justice as we know it was started by Christian organizations. Martin Luther King led his civil rights revolt based on New Testament principles of freedom for all people.

          So, what atheist/secularist teaching in the ancient world can you point to that condemned slavery?(And don’t give me more religious people like you did before).

        • john zande says:

          Sorry Mel, but your quote from Gal. 3:28 does not condemn slavery. That is talking about the ‘afterlife.’ Paul is quite clear about slavery, and he even gave instructions as to how slaves should behave.

          “slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling” (Ephesians 6:5)

          “tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect” (Titus 2:9).

          And nice try, but Exodus 21:16 only concerns Hebrews abducting Hebrews. Female Hebrews, however, could be sold by their fathers and enslaved for life with some restrictions (Exodus 21:7-11). Abducting and selling non-Hebrews was not a problem (Deuteronomy 24:7), and slaves from surrounding countries could be kept as property forever (Leviticus 25:44-46). Indeed, the children of slaves were born into slavery (Exodus 21:4). And Deuteronomy 20:10-15 details how captives of war can be thrown into slavery, including all the women and children of the conquered.

          So, does the OT condemn slavery? No. It encourages it.
          Did Jesus condemn slavery? No.
          Did Paul condemn slavery? No.

          And yet, “No one should own or sell another human being” is a pretty easy line to write… But we don’t see it anywhere.

          So, it’s clear, you DID NOT get your idea that slavery is wrong from your religion. You DID NOT get the idea that slavery is wrong from your bible. This fact was even recognised by Branyan here, saying he got his idea that slavery (and killing gays) was wrong from “evolved societal norms.”

          His words, not mine. EVOLVED SOCIETAL NORMS.

          And here’s the history of that evolution.

          Cyrus (a Zoroastrian), of course, famously freed slaves, but the first formal abolition of slavery was enacted in India, by Ashoka, emperor of the Maurya Dynasty, who abolished slavery in the 3rd Century BCE.

          In China, the Qin Dynasty eliminated slaves in the late 200’s BCE.

          There are two morally superior cultures… with no Christianity attached.

          So, where is Christianity here?

          In Europe, the first abolition of slavery occurred in Venice, 960 CE, when the Magistrate (Doge) of Venice, Pietro IV Candiano, banned it. Doge’s were men of the Law, not of religion. Venice was, of course, antagonistic to the Vatican.

          It was not until 1102 when we see the church in London condemn slavery during the Council of London.

          Slavery, however, was not banned in the UK until the legal case, Somerset v Stewart (1772). In the ruling, Lord Mansfield said:

          ”The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law [ statute ], which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged”

          In your own country, your religion was used to promote slavery, not abolish it. You even had a “compromise” (written by Christians) declaring one set of human beings less than others…. 1,800 years after your religion apparently ushered in western values. And even then it took the 13th, 14th and 15th AMENDMENTS (revisions) to actually recognise all human beings as equal… unless you were a woman, of course, in which case you had to wait until 1920 and the 19th Amendment.

          “Evolved societal norms.”

          But you know what, I can sit here giving you example after example after example proving you wrong and you’re just going to wave your hands about and rejoice in your own wilful ignorance… AND GIVE NOTHING IN RETURN.

          You have not provided a single example to support your claim, whereas I am showering you actual historical cases.

          So, enough of that. Over to you Mel.

          Match my examples. Give me an example of what a Christian “value” is, and show me how it, and it alone, drove the writing of positive (morally better) laws.

          Perhaps regarding child labour laws, or food and workplace safety regulations, or laws concerning humane animal slaughter, or marriage equality…

          You pick, and you show.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Sorry, JZ, you’re being ridiculous. If you just want to be mulishly obstinate we’re done here. Believe whatever dumb thing you want. And you didn’t really read my answer. The Bible does not condone racial slavery. Period. And people used religion in history for condoning just about evil everything they did. It doesn’t mean that Good condones it.

          And let’s see…it was the atheists who pushed for the abolition of slavery. It was the atheists who pushed for better child labor laws in the 18th and 19th centuries. LOL!

          And you still have yet to give atheist (or not from religious people) examples in the ancient world were slavery was condemned or even where we would get our modern Western values for social justice. Still waiting for that long list. LOL!

        • john zande says:

          Don’t play games with me, Mel. It’s pathetic, and I’m not one of you gullible flock.

          Have some dignity. At least Branyan admitted it was NOT his religion that informed his idea that slavery (and killing gays) was wrong. And his daughter has displayed more courage than you by actually supporting slavery because it is, in her exact words, “consistent with a biblical worldview”

          Consistent with a biblical worldview.

          Now, I asked you to defend your claim… something you have not done through all your hand-waving.

          Give me an example of what a Christian “value” is, and show me how it, and it alone, drove the writing of positive (morally better) laws.

          Can you do this?

        • Mel Wild says:

          JZ, you are the one playing games asking questions you refuse to hear the answer to except what you’ve already convinced yourself is true. The very notion of freedom from slavery IS the Bible worldview! Sheesh! You’re either being willfully obstinate or you’re just too dense to understand concepts.

          And speaking of games, I’m still waiting for you to explain to me how ancient atheist/secularist values informed us of our Western values for social justice? Name those great atheist thinkers who condemned slavery. LOL!

          Btw, you’re in Brazil, right? Let’s see how righteous your country was compared to the US.

          Harvard’s Department of African and African American Studies professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. — who also happens to be black — wrote: “Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America. And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage. In fact, the overwhelming percentage of the African slaves were shipped directly to the Caribbean and South America; Brazil received 4.86 million Africans alone!


          I’m still waiting for you to explain to me where ancient atheist/secularist values informed us of our Western values for social justice? Name those great atheist thinkers who brought us out of slavery. Show me that great atheist social justice organization/nation who gave us our Western values in the ancient world. If YOU wer ever honest for one moment you would have to admit that you must borrow those values from elsewhere.

        • john zande says:

          I see, so you can’t actually give me a single example of what a Christian “value” is, and show me how it, and it alone, drove the writing of positive (morally better) laws.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I see you’re still a dunce. I gave you my answer. Now, answer my question.

          Stop the avoidance or stop your pantomime.

        • john zande says:

          No, you haven’t given any answer.

          Give me a single example of what a Christian “value” is, and show me how it, and it alone, drove the writing of positive (morally better) laws, or stop commenting.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, you don’t have any answer. Give me even one example where non-religious/atheist values formed our Western values for social justice.

        • john zande says:

          Why do you pen posts which you can’t even support with clear and unambiguous evidence?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I did answer you. Why don’t you understand concepts?

    • sklyjd, if I may add to your comment here as another lens/angle…

      Christians need to honestly ask themselves if they follow these two biblical passages/directives exactly to the tee:

      These signs [attesting miracles] will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. — Mark 16:17-18

      But the fruit of the [Christian] Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. — Galatians 5:22-23

      I ask all self-proclaimed Christians, how many times have you happily dealt with serpents or drank deadly poison in your “faithful” journey with Christ? How many times have you exhibited “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” and hence converted non-Believers? And sklyjd, there are a litany of other passages in their Bible that teach/direct “Believers” to BE this sort of Follower, there’s just too many to list them all here.

      The fact is and has been for over 2,000 years… Christians DO NOT follow their own Scriptural (God’s Word) teachings/directives. Therefore, there’s no evidence from the Christian side or apologists that presupposed claims are valid anymore than other religious ideologies.

      • Mel Wild says:

        “I ask all self-proclaimed Christians, how many times have you happily dealt with serpents or drank deadly poison in your “faithful” journey with Christ?…”

        And that would be an idiotic application of the passage, not to mention a fallacious argument, but thanks for adding your irrelevant comments that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post.

        • That’s your opinion Mel and probably your Cornerstone Church’s too. But it is NOT the opinion of other denominations outside of your own.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, it does make a great straw man. Just pick some wacky Fundamentalists and say that represents most Christians. Got it.

        • Wrong. I was explicitly or implicitly stating YOUR version of the Christian ideology does NOT represent most Christians. But I am more than happy to read why you think your particular versions of Christology and Scriptural hermeneutics, or that of Cornerstone Church, FourSquare Gospel or the CCNA is and has the exclusive authority to say what is right or wrong. Surely you understood that and know where that argument leads you, yes?

          Bottom-line: ANYONE can simply go straight to the source of mainstream Christianity — its Holy Bible — and learn what your God expects of you and all Christians. That is not debateable. 🙂

        • John Branyan says:

          Taboo think that denominations of Christianity are totally incompatible with each other.
          He believes every church in the world has a completely different set of beliefs.
          He’s quite stupid.

          Just say BRAVO! BRILLIANT, GOOD SIR!!
          That makes him happy and he’ll go away.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Reminds me of when Sam Harris tries to explain Christianity. Quite atrocious. Of course, it’s meant to be atrocious to erect a good straw man that all the angry ex’s can knock down with glee and congratulate themselves for divorcing Christ. LOL!

        • John Branyan says:

          BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!
          Excellent as always!
          The gullibility for “opinion” comes from an observer’s or investigator’s acute laziness, maybe bias too. Very rarely (perhaps never) is there one single silver-bullet that reveals truth, lies, fact, or degrees of plausibility. To increase equitable accuracy, we must persistently accumulate a wide spectrum of data no matter its sources. Even new data! Truth and accuracy DEMANDS the marathon distance.

          So, you simply don’t have enough data to say anything about Mel’s opinion or the opinion of other denominations.
          But BRAVO anyway!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Oh, but he certainly does dazzle us common folk with his pedantic pretentions! Yes, bravo! Bravo!

        • John Branyan says:

          LOL! “Dazzle” isn’t the word I would use.
          He has a single, gigantic post on his blog that refutes all of Christianity. ALL OF IT!

          Feel free to copy my responses to him in this thread and use them in the future. He CANNOT rebut them. I’ll give you one guess why…

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’ve read that ridiculously long document. It’s a yawner, but I’m sure his followers are impressed. You’ve got to love the Internet. LOL!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Btw, Zande is on a tirade (LOL!) about Christianity condoning slavery now. He said this in the thread about you.

          “At least Branyan admitted it was NOT his religion that informed his idea that slavery (and killing gays) was wrong. And his daughter has displayed more courage than you by actually supporting slavery because it is, in her exact words, “consistent with a biblical worldview”

        • John Branyan says:

          Actually, I said the opposite of what Zande said. He’s, as usual, completely wrong about my position.

        • john zande says:

          No, that’s EXACTLY what you said.

          If Mel doubts me, he’ll let me post the screen shot to prove I’m correct.

        • John Branyan says:

          Evolved societal norms, right?

        • john zande says:

          Like I said, if Mel wants me to post the screen shots, I will this very moment.

        • john zande says:

          I can post them right now.

          Do you want me to post them?

          I think you should let me post them to PROVE I’m right.

        • John Branyan says:

          You’re a liar.

        • john zande says:

          Liar, huh?

          Now Mel has to let me post them to PROVE you’re lying.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, then it’s just that you’re too dense to understand what Branyan was saying, Got it.

        • john zande says:

          Let the screen shots show.

          It’s really that simple, Mel.

        • John Branyan says:

          No he doesn’t.
          You’ll just spew the same crap you always spew. You’re screenshot is a joke. I’ve seen it.

        • john zande says:

          Screen shot is up.

          Seems you’re the one lying, Branyan.

        • John Branyan says:

          You apparently don’t know what a lie is…

        • Mel Wild says:

          No so fast, Zande. You didn’t put these comments in their context. We have no idea how they were intended. It could’ve been sarcasm in response to something someone else said. Something taken out of its context is NOT proof. It’s the worst form of proof-texting. I need to see the conversation in its context.

          But it doesn’t matter. You don’t seem to care about intent (or you’re just too dense to understand the difference).

        • john zande says:

          The context is fine. You can see it for yourself on Branyan’s blog.

          So, as you can see, Branyan and his daughter did IN FACT say these things.

        • Mel Wild says:

          What??? There is NO context, JZ! Do you even understand the meaning of context?

          Okay, I see the problem is that you just too dense. At least that question is answered.

        • john zande says:

          Go to Branyan’s blog and read the threads if you like.

          I encourage you to do exactly that, and see for yourself.

          I will remind you, though, you’ve already been proven wrong regarding the screen shots, and any questions you have of context will be proven wrong, too.

          I don’t have to lie, Mel… as demonstrated here already.

        • Mel Wild says:

          If you purposely take someone’s comments out of their intended meaning to make them say something they weren’t saying, you are lying.
          We’ll see…

        • john zande says:


        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. I don’t have a link. I’m supposed to sort through hundreds of posts to find your “smoking gun?”

        • john zande says:

          Ask Branyan… You have the time codes/dates in the screen shot.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But considering your atrocious understanding of the Bible, I can see why you think you have a point. LOL!

        • john zande says:

          Aren’t you tired of being proven wrong, Mel?

          If you *think* i’ve taken somethign out of context then I encourage you to go read the threads for yourself.

          Go on

        • Mel Wild says:

          And you’re deluded, too.

        • john zande says:

          That’s nice, Mel.

        • john zande says:

          If you like I can post the screen shots of Branyan saying he got the idea that slavery (and killing gays) was wrong from “evolved societal norms.”

          And I can post the screen shots of his daughter, Amanda, saying slavery is “consistent with a biblical worldview”

          Just say the word and I’ll attach them here.

          Do you want me to?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Btw, I checked out your story with Branyan. Here’s what he said:

          “Actually, I said the opposite of what Zande said. He’s, as usual, completely wrong about my position.”

          And, no, I don’t want your screenshots. You can take it up with him. But this IS your M.O. with me. So, I don’t doubt what he said. So, either your lying, you are willfully obstinate, or too dense to understand concepts.

        • john zande says:

          You don’t want to see, with your own eyes, the screen shot which PROVES I’m correct?


          Is that an example of your “Christian justice” Mel?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Sorry, didn’t see JB’s comment above.

          We don’t need your screenshots, Zande. You can ask him yourself. The fact that you clearly can’t understand conceptual ideas this ought to be entertaining. LOL!

        • john zande says:

          Screen shots coming in the next comment.

          They will, of course, go to your Moderation bin.

          Please approve them.

        • Mel Wild says:

          My, you’re all worked up now. LOL!

        • john zande says:

          Mel, I’ve posted the screen shots.

          Are you going to Approve them?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Stop whining. Sheesh! Did you put them IN CONTEXT, or just pull statements out of their dialogue. We’ll see…

        • John Branyan says:

          Religion is part of evolved societal norms. That’s what I said. That’s what you ignored. You’re a wretched liar.
          But keep blowing, Mighty Wind!

        • john zande says:

          Oh, so Christianity’s understanding (teaching) of what is right and what is wrong evolves and shifts and transforms and mutates over time, huh?

          Isn’t that interesting.

          You know what most people would call that? Ordinary societal (memetic) evolution.

        • John Branyan says:

          Blow wind!
          I didn’t say any of that.

        • john zande says:

          Didn’t you? Certainly sounded like you saying exactly that, but if you insist…

          I must have misread the word “evolved”…

        • John Branyan says:

          Your reading comprehension is poor.
          Keep blowing, Windbag.

        • john zande says:

          Yes, that must be it. Evolved clearly means unchanging, right?

        • John Branyan says:

          My religion tells me slavery is wrong.
          Your lack of religion cannot comment on morality.
          Blow wind.

        • john zande says:

          “slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling” (Ephesians 6:5)

          “tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect” (Titus 2:9).

        • John Branyan says:

          Yes. Very good.
          Wives are to submit to husband’s.
          Husbands are to love their wives.
          Christians submit to each other.
          And your atheism still has nothing to contribute.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You see, this is the problem when dense people try to teach the Bible. They have no understanding of cultural context or what’s actually being said. They just keep repeating stupid things.

          The term “slave” in Ephesians 6:5 is better translated “servant.” And history shows that these “servants” were usually paid something (Colossians 4:1) and were therefore in a state more akin to a lifetime employment contract rather than “racial” slavery. This paid employment is the best understanding of Eph.6:5.

          The Passion Translation actually makes it clearer because it’s written with our 21st Century perspective:

          5 Those who are employed should listen to their employers and obey their instructions with great respect and honor. Serve them with humility in your hearts as though you were working for the Master. (Eph.6:5 TPT)

        • john zande says:

          LOL! Riiiight.

          Leviticus 25:44-46
          44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

        • Mel Wild says:

          So, you respond to my showing you that you were wrong about Eph.6:5 by quoting Lev.25:44-46. LOL! Whatever, JZ. I don’t have time to unravel your complete ignorance of the Old Testament, too.

        • john zande says:

          Riiiiight. Are you forgetting I’m not one of your gullible flock, Mel?

          Your hopeless task would be made a lot easier if you could just point to a line in the bible that read: “Do not own and sell human being’s. It’s wrong.”

          It’s a simple enough comment, isn’t it, Mel.

          Curious that such a line is nowhere to be found in the bible. Instead, we have verse after verse after verse promoting slavery in remarkable detail, right down to the beatings you can give a slave.

          In fact, hundreds of years before Jesus failed to say “Do not own and sell human being’s. It’s wrong.” the Indians and the Chinese had already banned this immoral practice.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And that’s your point? There’s no specific line in the Bible that has the exact wording of what you want it to say. We’ll just ignore the rest: the cultural context, how the word was used, what was intended, the anthropocentric nature and progression of God bringing ancient pagans out of darkness over a 4000 year period. The overarching story of redemption which about FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY AND BONDAGE! The impact its message had on the ABOLITION of slavery and social justice in the Western culture. Sorry. You’re forgetting that I’m not gullible to fallacious argumentation. That is just a stupid argument.

        • john zande says:


          What should have been:

          “Do not own and sell human beings. It’s wrong.”


          “But, but, but, not every slave was actually a ‘slave,’ just, just, just, some got clothed, and the rapes weren’t bad, and the child slaves, they, they, they got fed, and the beatings were merciful, and, and, and, the war slaves, they, well, they were just slaves, but, but, but, but, but… Jesus hated slavery, although he never said anything about it, which is strange, and Paul condoning slavery is not what you think it is, although it really is, wait, I can come up with a better excuse, give me a second…”

        • john zande says:

          Deuteronomy 20:10-15

          10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

        • john zande says:

          Sex slaves!

          Judges 21:10-12

          10 So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. 11 “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin.” 12 They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Blow wind!
          I didn’t say any of that.

          JZ’s typical MO is to put words in your mouth and then insist that’s what you meant. Yes, blow wind indeed!
          He’s either purposely deceptive or just too dense to understand context and intent. After much empirical evidence here on this blog, I’ve concluded the latter. I can have sympathy for being dense. There’s no excuse for the former.

        • john zande says:

          Did you find some problem in the context of either quotes, Mel?

  5. sklyjd says:

    “According to both the Old Testament and New Testament, God promised to write His laws on human hearts (Jer.31:31-34; Rom.2:14-15). Paul affirmed this.”

    “What is your hard evidence then, Nan?”

    You ask for evidence, but your evidence is based on what someone wrote in what is an imprecise and diversely interpreted Bible and on an individual who is called Paul. You do not “write laws on the human heart” in an invisible or physical way and try and claim this is a fact when it is not actually a fact at all.

    This writing of a promise from what is supposed to be a god is poor evidence for something that can only exist as faith based or fantasy in any individual’s mind. A story does not come close to comparing with modern research papers, and if you want to take your evidence literally, human hearts have been investigated and dissected over thousands of years and no evidence of anything written into or onto hearts has ever been found to exist, however they have confirmed that they do have a far more important job to do that is to keep us alive.

    This morality thing is one of the last bastions that Christianity has, and it is conveniently forgetting that the good that came from Christian teachings during the days when just about all the people believed in a god has also bought much evil in the way of persecution, genocide, religious wars, torture and multitudes of deaths. Some atrocities have even been carried out in the name of Christianity as late as in the last 50 years.

    I have admitted that it is impossible for Christianity and religions in general to not have had an influence on human society, however you ignorantly inflate that influence to the extreme to simply comply with your Biblical passages and your narrow servitude belief as being the only basis of all morals for all humans.

    • Mel Wild says:

      There is so much wrong with your statements I don’t know where to begin, but thanks for your opinion.

      First of all, taking the passage literally would be profoundly idiotic. No one reads it that way. The meaning is pretty clear. It means that we can know right and wrong because we have a moral conscience. Paul clarified it in Rom.2:14-15, saying that our conscious either condemns us or justifies us. So, no your “opinion” dismissal is laughable. This was no obscure writing. It shaped civilization. Your ignorance of history is appalling.

      Then you go on and point to religious wars and atrocities, which did happen, no secret there. But they happened in direct contradiction to both Christ’s teachings or Paul’s teachings. You are talking about the evil use of politicized church-state religion which is something altogether different than true Christianity that was influencing the culture from the inside-out before it become a Roman state religion. Yes, atrocities were done by people claiming to be Christian. Nonetheless, you ignore all the remarkably good things that revolutionized society.

      And let’s talk about atrocities. More than 100 million people were murdered, experimented on, gassed, incinerated…in the 20th century for non-religious reasons. More than all the atrocities in all human history combined! All under the pretense of secular progress! No, the problem is a HUMAN problem.

      “…however you ignorantly inflate that influence to the extreme to simply comply with your Biblical passages and your narrow servitude belief as being the only basis of all morals for all humans.”

      Ignorantly inflate? Excuse me? How so? What evidence do you have for your claims? You have NO evidence whatsoever that we inherited our Western culture from anything other than religious sources, specifically the teachings of Christ and Paul with regard to social justice.

      I laugh when you say we’re desperate here. Really? That would only be possible if one is a gullible fool who has no understanding of history or theology. Yours is the desperate made-up fantasy because you have absolutely NO historical grounds to make your claim. But, of course, you have research papers! LOL!

      • sklyjd says:

        “You have NO evidence whatsoever that we inherited our Western culture from anything other than religious sources, specifically the teachings of Christ and Paul with regard to social justice.”

        “Yours is the desperate made-up fantasy because you have absolutely NO historical grounds to make your claim. But, of course, you have research papers! LOL!”

        Historically the planet was far more religious than it is today and to claim that an individual fighting for human rights was a church attendee or they claimed to be a Christian does not make it a claim won by the Christian churches. Many times, opponents of slavery for example were being vilified for their stance by many other Christians especially highlighted in the American experience.

        The point is that hardly anyone claimed to be anything other than a Christian and you may claim the bad ones were evil and not real Christians, however that would just be a fantasy of yours, or did God tell you that this was the case. LOL.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s not the point at all, but thanks. Where did these values come from then? Thin air? We just discovered them? LOL! It doesn’t matter whether there were PEOPLE claiming God that were behaving badly or not, that’s not the point. The principles that Christ taught (and the Jewish foundation it stood on) were what propelled much of our Western social justice. Gandhi followed the same in the East, even though he wasn’t a Christian (He had great respect for Christ). Even the UN was built on Judeo-Christian humanitarian values. Isa. 2 is quoted in their building, directly from the Bible. These people who advanced social justice and human rights weren’t just “claiming” to be Christian or religious. They did so at great sacrifice to their own personal lives. They did it because of their deeply held religious convictions. No, it was the ones who opposed them who were the Christian pretenders.

          And here’s the other point you don’t seem to want to get. Intellectually honest historians don’t agree with you, like Holland and others. So, no, we don’t buy your desperate attempt to revise history. Yours is the fantasy.

        • sklyjd says:

          You seem to not want to recognise that the basic values of humans evolved along with the rest of our biological makeup. In fact, Ark’s blog has some web page addresses that will link you to scientific facts. For example:

          Nearly 150 years ago, Charles Darwin proposed that morality was a by-product of evolution, a human trait that arose as natural selection shaped man into a highly social species—and the capacity for morality, he argued, lay in small, subtle differences between us and our closest animal relatives.

          This is a very interesting read, even you could understand it, if of course you do not reject scientific studies and values.

          “It doesn’t matter whether there were PEOPLE claiming God that were behaving badly or not, that’s not the point.”

          Well I have agreed that religions and Christianity would have had some influence on societies in general. If you are going to claim all the good morals were learnt from Christians, therefore it is obvious so were the bad morals and this sort of cancels out the fact that Christianity has been the main motivator of good morals for mankind.

          Social justice and laws were developed because we have a powerful brain with enough intelligence to understand that killing each other, hurting and upsetting each other was not socially acceptable behaviour, after all we evolved from the most social of animals.

          “These people who advanced social justice and human rights weren’t just “claiming” to be Christian or religious. They did so at great sacrifice to their own personal lives. They did it because of their deeply held religious convictions. No, it was the ones who opposed them who were the Christian pretenders.”

          I do not totally agree with that, considering that in those days of slavery that just about everyone was religiously affiliated and likely to be more ostracised from society and family more than they would today if they claimed to be atheist. Even the slaves were forced to become Christians.
          You are also suggesting the majority of landowners that numbered in their thousands in the Southern States of America were Christian pretenders? From what I understand this is the one issue that lead the country to war.

          The Civil War, also known as “The War Between the States,” was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America, a collection of eleven southern states that left the Union in 1860 and 1861 and formed their own country in order to protect the institution of slavery. (Ref Google)

          This tells me that obviously the Christian doctrine is far from understood by all Christians and this is probably due to the personal ambitions, greed and hate etc. But above all the ambiguity of the Biblical word of God.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I don’t you are understanding my point. I’m NOT saying that we haven’t developed or evolved in the practice of what we know is the right thing to do. I would actually argue that’s how one must understand the chronological trajectory of the Bible. But we still haven’t even lived up to the oldest religious value of all, love your neighbor as yourself. So, it’s not an evolution of discovery; it’s an evolution of actually putting into practice what was already understood many thousands of years ago. There’s nothing new under the sun when we’re talking about morality and ethics and human behavior.

          And one cannot say that these moral values were just discovered in any kind of secular context. They were derived arguably from divine inspiration and from “God fearing” people who understood they were accountable to a power and authority greater than themselves, which provided the self-restraint. This is very clear from the historical record.

          And to point to bad examples in history is simply fallacious cherry picking. It was also the Christians (Quakers, etc) who tirelessly fought to abolish slavery and fight for human rights. You cannot bring up one without acknowledging the other. And you don’t judge the principles of the Word of God by human behavior; you judge it on it’s own merit (when properly understood in its context). Under the New Covenant, we judge everything through the “lens” of Jesus (even the Old Testament). If anything, the values of Jesus are something we are still aspiring to. As I said, we have still not actually followed Him in many ways. And I think that is an evolutionary process of its own.

        • sklyjd says:

          “I don’t you are understanding my point. I’m NOT saying that we haven’t developed or evolved in the practice of what we know is the right thing to do.”

          Ok Mel, as far as I understand it, you agree we basically understand that humans have evolved into the basics of morality, ethics and human behaviour just as we have biologically, whereas Christian and religious input has emphasised and enforced them and has continued to preach these ethical behaviours to the masses.

          “So, it’s not an evolution of discovery; it’s an evolution of actually putting into practice what was already understood many thousands of years ago.”

          I understand and can see literally that early God fearing people would want to coincide to the Biblical ways, however many of these Biblical ways have been either accepted or rejected by the many hundreds of different Christian denominations and individuals and this continues to this day. I have agreed that the religions of our world have made an impact on life and are still making an influence on our societies, some of it is good and some of it is bad.

          I understand your willingness to find the positives of Christianity, but there are also many negatives because everything comes at a cost to humans and countries as history has always dictated. The lives lost and destroyed due to religions is uncountable as is the slaughter by a tyrannical Roman Empire, however both of these regimes bought many valued things into our world and we must learn from them, as we have more recently from the communist and British Empire’s influence on the world, the Nazi regime, the Islamic religion and the birth of modern science in the West etc.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You keep associating religious revelation of morality and ethics (where we got them from) and how people received them or tried to practice them. The latter does not negate or even change the former. And it’s not the point of this subject, which is that we got our moral values from religious sources. To use an analogy, someone can totally flunk a math test but it doesn’t change or refute the math. The problem is human failure. And we should not confuse political powers who sometimes use religion as a pretext with the principles we’re talking about.

          And my point here was that we still have not “evolved” to even the most ancient principle that we should love others as ourselves. But this is still an axiom that is held as one of the highest moral ideals. So, it’s fallacious to try to dismiss them because there were people who didn’t practice them. But it also shows that we have not evolved in the sense of discovery but only in the sense of our practice of these ideals that go back to ancient times. In other words, if we’re treating one another better now that we did 500 years ago, we didn’t discover a new moral value, we are only getting better at living out the values already established from the beginning.

  6. Pingback: Some intellectual honesty on Western values | In My Father's House

  7. OneThingNeedful says:

    I watched this discussion a week or so ago, and it has been one of the best that I have seen in a long time. Cut whatever religious or non-religious intuitions out of the picture and see it all as it is and you will have an incredible discussion like Holland and Wright. I love both of these authors for their respective works and their ability to do real historical criticism, which has lead them both to the same findings despite different religious intuitions.

  8. Pingback: Do morals evolve? | In My Father's House

  9. Pingback: Why we need to (properly) understand Christian history | In My Father's House

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