My First Radio Debate: Christian & Humanist Morality, Part 2

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My First Radio Debate: Christian & Humanist Morality, Part 2
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If you haven't already read Part 1 of this topic, please do so to get background and context.  I will be continuing here based on the assumption you are already familiar with the content of Part 1.

During the debate, I issued a direct challenge to David.  I stated that, as a Humanist, I can universally and unequivocally condemn all instances of abuses such as slavery, misogyny, and deliberate murder of children as being immoral.  It doesn't matter who does it, or when.  I stated that I certainly can understand why in other cultures and periods of history people might have done it, and even thought that it was good; but that understanding why they did it does not equal believing it was therefore moral.

I gave the example of a child born and raised in a family that teaches extreme racist beliefs.  If that child grew up to be a racist, I could fully understand why he did so...and perhaps even argue that it's not fully his fault, that he's a victim of the environment that he was raised in.  But I would still contend that his beliefs were 100% wrong and immoral.

I challenged David that, as a Christian, he was entirely unable to make the same statement.  That while he will certainly argue that all of those things are immoral today, he cannot argue that they are universally immoral.  And the reason for this is simple -- because the Bible very clearly and definitively states that God commanded his people to engage in slavery, in misogyny, and in the deliberate murder of children (among a great many other grossly immoral acts -- these ones are chosen just because they're the easiest to illustrate).

Now, I fully admit that this is a loaded question.  There is literally no good answer to it, so far as I can see.  If you argue that it was moral "because god told them to do it", then you have just proven the very point that I am making -- that Humanism is morally superior because it can condemn such terrible abuses, but Christians are forced by their beliefs to argue that it was actually moral to enslave men, women, and children.  That it was moral to treat women in a grossly abusive and misogynist manner.  And that the deliberate, cold-blooded murder of unarmed children was somehow moral.

In and of itself, this to me demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of Christian "morality".  "Oh, it's wrong if everyone else does it, but if the Bible says our God told us to do it, then it's okay!"  In fact, it is that very belief and argument that has been used to justify some of the worst religious atrocities committed in the name of Christianity -- the idea that "Because God told us to do it, it is moral".  This is an extremely dangerous belief, and one that I believe should be opposed in every possible way.  And so long as there are Christians arguing that it was "moral" for their God to command them to commit slavery, misogyny, and murder of children, it will always be a danger.

Compare that to Secular Humanism, which makes no excuses or dispensations -- which teaches, quite unequivocally, that such things are always immoral.

The other path (but far less common) is that of Christians who argue that these acts were, in fact, immoral.  But that places those Christians in a bit of a quandry.  Because that means that their god commanded them to engage in immoral acts -- making their god immoral -- or that the commands attributed to God never actually came from him.  But if those commands never came from god, then that renders the entire Bible essentially useless as any kind of moral or ethical guide.  Even if you want to argue for the New Covenant, the fact remains that Jesus himself verifies the legitimacy of Old Testament teachings.

So, David did exactly what I expected -- and what every single Christian apologist to whom I've presented this question has done.  He avoided it.  He made equivocations and excuses.  But he never answered it, even after being explicitly challenged multiple times by both myself and Justin to do so.

His first excuse for refusing to answer was that he didn't know exactly which Bible passages I was referring to, and therefore couldn't respond.  However, when I quite explicitly offered to provide those passages for him, he very quickly demurred, and in fact seemed to be quite deliberate in his efforts to avoid bringing up any specific verses.  I suspect that the main reason for that was that he knows just how damning many of those verses are.

His second excuse was that he is "not a literalist".  That means he doesn't take everything in the Bible as being literal.  Now first, by making that statement, he's actually setting himself apart from a very significant portion of the Christian community, but we'll ignore that.  The fact remains that while he said he is not a literalist, he still refused to answer my question, and was unable to simply state that slavery, misogyny, and murder of children is always wrong and immoral.  Here is a man who is arguing passionately that Christianity is the cornerstone of the anti-slavery movement, of equality for women, etc....yet he is entirely unable to make the simple statement that when the Bible says god commanded such actions, those actions were immoral.  In which case, the question of whether he takes the Bible literally or not is entirely irrelevant.  I didn't ask him, "Do you take the Bible literally?"  I asked him, "Can you state that when the Bible says god commands slavery, misogyny, and murder of children, that such actions are immoral?"

And he couldn't.  Despite multiple efforts to get a straight answer from him.

But it was his next excuse --- a brilliant example of the equivocation of Christian apologists when presented with such arguments -- which truly raised my ire.  Sadly, time didn't permit greater debate on this issue, but I will go into it in detail here -- including all of the Bible verses that David was obviously so worried about having to address on the air.

David launched into one of the apologist's most predictable arguments.  Essentially, he sought to argue that slavery "wasn't all that bad" because at that time in history, when one conquered an enemy, one had only two choices -- slaughter your enemies, or take them as slaves.  And that the latter option, since it is 'better' than the former, was therefore morally acceptable.

Sadly, there are numerous problems and inconsistencies with this argument.  First, he certainly seems to be arguing that deliberate slaughter of one's enemies is immoral, and therefore justifies slavery.  Yet the Bible also very clearly contains passages in which God commands his people to slaughter the people they have conquered!! 
Numbers 31:7-18: They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. "Why have you let all the women live?" he demanded. "These are the very ones who followed Balaam's advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD's people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.
Not only are they commanded to kill their prisoners after conquering them, but somehow God seems to consider virgin women to be in some special category.  All male children, regardless of age -- kill them.  All females who are not virgins, regardless of age -- kill them.  But virgin females?  Hey, you can take them as slaves, to treat as your property for the rest of their lives (along with any children they may have)...or, at least, until you beat them to death.

So by David's own argument, it would seem that this command from God was immoral!  But will David explicitly state that it was immoral?

I doubt it.

Then, let's address the question of slaves in the Old Testament.  Were they simply people taken at the end of battle, a merciful attempt to spare their lives?  No, not at all.  In fact, the Bible explicitly teaches the buying and selling of slaves; and explicitly states that slaves are to be treated as property.  Again, straight from the Bible:
Leviticus 25:44-46: However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with taking people as slaves to prevent having to kill them.  It not only promotes the buying and selling of slaves; it not only promotes the idea that slaves are sub-human, to be treated only as property; but it also quite explicitly teaches that the Israelites are a superior race, who cannot be treated in such a manner.  This is the very same attitude that Christian slaveowners had in the U.S.!  Buying and selling human beings as slaves.  Teaching that slaves are not humans, but are property, and can be treated however you want.  Teaching that black people can be treated like this, but white people cannot.

Now, many Christians apologists will seek to argue that, despite this, the slavery depicted in the Bible was different from American slavery, that they were commanded by the Bible to treat their slaves better.  And in making this argument, they'll usually point to this passage:
Exodus 21: If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom.
Not so bad, eh?  Keep them for six years, then set the free.  But hold on a minute...that's only part of the story.  First, this applies only to Hebrew slaves, not to non-Hebrews. For non-Hebrews, they are slaves for life, as stated in Leviticus 25:44-46, which I quoted above.  But even for Hebrews, all is not as good as those apologists would seek to make you believe.  Continue reading:
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.
Yes -- not only does this apply only to Hebrews, it applies only to Hebrew men!  A woman who is sold into slavery is a slave for life (or until someone buys her freedom).  So, what if a male slave marries a female slave?
If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever.
Wow.  The man gets to go free...but his wife and children remains his master's property.  And the only way for him to remain with his wife and children is to contractually bind himself to serve as a slave for the rest of his life.

Exactly how is this 'morally superior' to American slavery?  Nor does it end there.  What about the topic of punishing one's slaves?
Exodus 21:20-21: When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property
Again, emphasizing that slaves are just property.  You can beat them as much as you want, and as long as they don't die right away, it's all okay.  Break their legs, whip them, tear out their eyes or long as they survive for two days before dying, it's no problem.  Hell, even slavery in America gave slaves more rights than that!

I could go on and on and on...but I think I've made my point more than adequately.  David's attempt at justifying slavery in the Bible because it was somehow 'sparing' the slaves a worse fate is plainly not just flawed, but entirely wrong.

So -- will David state, without equivocation, that slavery as described in the Bible, and the terrible abuses described here as being commanded by God, were in fact immoral?

Given his previous responses when pressed on this question, I doubt it.

So, I've addressed the issues of deliberately murdering children, and of slavery...but what about misogyny.  I know that David has taken great umbrage at Richard Dawkins' descriptions of the Christian god as being misogynist.  While there are numerous passages that I could use to illustrate my point, I will confine myself to just one:
Leviticus 19:20-22: "And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him."
Now, please read that again.  I mean it.  Before you read my comments, go back and read that again.

"Bondmaid" can be either a servant, or a slave.  But in either case, it is a woman who is in a very inferior position, who has little or no control over her life.  She's engaged to be married to another man.  And then a man in a superior position forces her to have sex with him.  "Wait", you say, "It doesn't say he forced her!"  Actually, yes it does...that part where it says, "they shall not be put to death, because she was not free."  She had no choice in the matter.

So, this woman is forced to have sex.  One would think that the man who did it would be punished, right? Well, I guess he is...he has to kill a ram and take it to the temple as a sacrifice.  Poor guy!

Meanwhile, the woman -- who again, let me emphasize, did not have a choice -- is taken into the public square, and whipped.

I don't think there is a single person reading this, Christian or atheist, who will not be instinctively repulsed by it.  And as a Humanist, I can condemn it, absolutely, as misogynist.  But Christians?  Oops...problem is, this command supposedly came from god.  God is pure good, and cannot command someone to do something immoral.  Therefore, it must be moral.

The very blatant contradiction with modern sensibilities about morality becomes very obvious when one starts looking at modern translations of the Bible.  You see, the passage I quoted comes from the King James version...but if you check more modern versions of the Bible, it has changed to say simply that both the man and the woman should be punished, without stating what the punishment is.  I checked with multiple Biblical scholars on this topic, and every one of them said that the original sources from which this verse is taken all clearly state that the woman should be whipped, and the man should offer a burnt offering.  There is no original text anywhere that just says, "They should both be punished."

So what has happened?  Well, technically, the translation is not is true that both the man and the woman are punished.  But even the modern Christian translators of the Bible were so upset and disturbed by this passage that they felt it necessary to cover up the actual punishment -- because it very plainly and obviously is misogynist.

Again, will David plainly and unequivocally state that the treatment of women, as described in this passage, was immoral?

David did attempt one other equivocation in responding to my challenge.  He dismissed these passages as "obscure passages", attempted to ignore them as essentially irrelevant, and then state that he follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Which is all fine and well -- except that, oops, there are a few big problems with that argument, too.  First, while Jesus states that he is bringing a New Covenant, and that the numerous laws and restrictions of the Old Testament should be replaced with the much simpler mantra of "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself", he also teaches that the Old Testament is divinely inspired and the commands given in it came from God.  Nowhere does he say that those things were wrong or immoral; rather, the Bible teaches that they were not only moral, but necessary to demonstrate the need for Jesus' sacrifice. (Why exactly it was necessary to publicly whip women who'd be raped, in order to demonstrate the need for Jesus' sacrifice, is a question that even the most devout and learned Christian apologists seem to have problems answering, and seem to inevitably resort to "God works in mysterious ways" or "God's ways are beyond human understanding")

But there's an even bigger problem with this.  Because if David is using Jesus as his moral guide, I assume that he is doing so within the context of the belief that Jesus is the Son of God.  That is, that Jesus is part of the Trinity -- God the Father, God the Son,and God the Holy Spirit.  These are not three different gods.  They are one god.

The same god that gave those commands in the Old Testament.  Which means that Jesus gave those commands.  The same Jesus that David follows.  It's understandable that David tried to dismiss these as "obscure verses", and avoided having me read those actual verses for others to hear -- because these "obscure verses" still, in the end, represent commands that came from Jesus, the person that David holds as his moral authority.  (It is possible that I'm misrepresenting David's beliefs regarding the Trinity, and if that's the case, welcome his clarifications)

I'm sorry, but ultimately, this is a moral system that teaches, "Under the old system, our god taught us to keep slaves, to murder children, and to engage in grossly misogynist actions; but under the new system, the same god said, "Don't do that any more!" 

To argue that god did not command those things means to argue that either Jesus was wrong in his own claims about the authority and teachings of the Old Testament, or that Jesus himself is not the Son of God, but just a normal man.  If the former, then the Bible loses all credibility and reliability as a moral guide.  If the latter, then it's just one man's teachings, and has no more 'authority' than the Amsterdam Declaration used by Secular Humanists (and the latter has a great deal more consistency in its teaching than the former).

I'll give props to David that he made his argument in really the only way that he could -- by emphasizing everything good that's been done in the name of Christianity, while dismissing all the terrible evils and abuses as irrelevant, or as unimportant.  Not only that, but by claiming -- without any evidence other than his own opinion -- that such things would not or could not have happened without Christianity.  I'd argue the opposite.  The period of history from the writing of the Bible to our modern world spans more than 3000 years of human history -- and for the vast majority of that history, Christians engaged in numerous terrible, inexcusable atrocities -- all justified by the argument that "Our god told us to do it".  And they pointed to the Bible itself as an authoritative source that God had, in fact, commanded people to do such things before.

But ultimately, I don't believe that he can give an honest, direct answer to my question.  I'm inviting him to read and respond to this, and will give him every opportunity to rebut my arguments. Let us see if he will actually do so.

Is it really that difficult to give a straight answer?

Is it immoral to treat humans like property?  To force a man who's just gained freedom to become a slave again in order to remain with his wife and children?  To be able to beat another human as terribly as you want, so long as they're able to survive for two days before dying?

My answer is an unqualified, unequivocal, irrevocable yes.  So would be the answer of every other Secular Humanist that I've ever met or talked to.  The Christian answer?  We'll see if David can give us one, rather than the equivocations, platitudes, and excuses that are usually par for the course (and that are all David has given to us thus far).

Is it immoral to murder defenseless children?  David, in his own argument with me, seems to say that it is, since it is the immorality of murdering them which he argues makes slavery somehow justifiable.  But then, we have the Bible commanding God's followers to do just that (unless you're lucky enough to be a virgin female, in which case you can look forward to a lifetime of slavery, unless your owner beats you to death).

My answer as a Secular Humanist is, again, an unqualified, unequivocal, irrevocable no.  Will David give us a similarly clear answer?

Is ti immoral to publicly whip a woman who was forced to have sex?  Absolutely, undeniably, my answer is no.  Is it misogynist to teach that the man who forced her to have sex should be "punished" by sacrificing a ram, while she is being whipped?  Absolutely, undeniably, my answer is yes.

Can David provide us with similarly clear answers?

I'm waiting.

And any other Christians who would care to chime in on this topic, and defend David's position (or present your own) are likewise welcome to do so.
Re: My First Radio Debate: Christian & Humanist Morality, Pa
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David has kindly provided a response to my comments above, via email, which I will post here, with my responses:
Your other question, I think I answered with sufficient clarity on-line.   The issue between us is not whether democracy and (various, unspecified) reform are worthy objects.  We agree (at least in theory, though I wouldn't agree, say, on so-called "gay marriage") on those.
While it is true that we don't disagree about things like human rights, equality, democracy, etc. (although as you say, there will be some topics such as gay marriage and abortion on which we'll disagree), it is very much fundamental to our debate what is the foundation for believing in and promoting those ideals.

You kept referring to the Chinese government as "teaching humanism".  Yet this is terribly misleading to people listening to the program, who are not familiar with Chinese textbooks.  Yes, Chinese textbooks have teaching on something that they refer to as "humanism".  But what those textbooks teach, and the form of Humanism that I advocate for, are in fundamental conflict with each other.  Examples:

  • Chinese humanism teaches that morality is defined by human authority figures, specifically the Chinese government, and that to question those teachings is wrong.  Secular Humanism teaches that it is the responsibility of every individual to examine and determine questions of morality on their own, through rational consideration, and that any morality based on some form of unquestioned authority is wrong (be that Communist leaders, or Christian leaders).
  • Chinese humanism emphasizes loyalty to the state, and teaches a fierce nationalism that puts China's needs ahead of everyone else's.  Secular Humanism teaches the equality of all humans, and teaches against such nationalism.
  • Chinese humanism entirely avoids any issues such as human rights, equality, freedom of speech, democracy, or any other such issues.  Secular Humanism embraces these as fundamental aspects of our moral system.
 So your attempt -- on multiple occasions -- to refer to Chinese humanism, and say that "Chinese are already being taught humanism", is so mind-bogglingly false that it amazes me you are still trying to defend this.  It is no more true than if I were to claim that because Chinese textbooks teach about religion and Christianity, therefore "Chinese are already being taught Christianity."

What the Chinese are being taught has little or no commonality with the moral and ethical system that I am advocating for.  Your insistence on referring to that, rather than to the Amsterdam Declaration, is a complete red herring, and fundamentally dishonest.
Indeed, I should have pointed out that many, maybe even most, great reformers in modern East Asia have been actuated at least in part by their Christian beliefs.  That includes Sun Yat-sen, a Methodist, founder of modern China, and praised by communists and nationalists alike.  I think that includes Martin Lee, Hong Kong lawyer and I believe a Catholic, and I know it includes Li Denghui, Taiwanese Presbyterian.  That also includes Hong Rengan, the sanest leader of the great Tai Ping Movement, who wrote up the first systematic modernization program for China.  That includes Timothy Richards, whose reforms and influence led him to being the one person who earned  more space than anyone else in a Taiwanese book on "Foreigners Who Have Influenced China." (影响中国的外国人) That includes 30% of early revolutionaries, when a fraction of a  percent of Chinese were Christians.  That also includes numerous Japanese reformers (largely former samurai) both before and after World War II.  That also includes many of the democratic reformers in Korea.
It amazes me that you refer to Hong Renan.  Even more that you refer to the Tai Ping Movement as "great".  Since most people reading this probably aren't terribly familiar with it, let me explain.  The Tai Ping were a religious cult.  The foundational belief and teaching of the "great Taiping movement" (as you refer to it) was that their leader, Hong Xiuquan, had been visited by Jesus, and revealed that he was Jesus' younger brother.  He sought the spread of "Christianity" in China, true...a "Christianity" wherein he was deified, and absolute leader.

Sure, they sought some great reforms.  Getting rid of the outside imperialists.  Overthrowing the corrupt Chinese government.  But his approach to dissent was quite obvious and blatant.  When one of his early supporters, Yang Xiuqing, started to disagree with him, he not only had Yang murdered, but also his entire family, and all of his followers.

And that is the system that would have taken over in China if the "great Taiping Movement" had succeeded.  It boggles my mind that you'd use the term "great" to describe this.  And that fact that there was someone in this movement who was less crazy  than many of the others is hardly an endorsement.

While this is just one example, this is emblematic to me of the quality and substance of your "evidence".  You'll simply try to grab at anything that helps to increase the 'statistics' that you use to support your claim that Christianity is responsible for everything.  Some leader talked with Christians at some point in his life, or read the Bible?  Well then, every good thing he did must be attributed to Christianity!  (But every bad thing he did had nothing to do with Christianity at all).  Did he also read Buddhist writings?  Did he also talk with atheist philosophers?  Almost certainly, yes...but again, they will get no credit for any good decisions that person subsequently made.

I wish to point out to others reading this that this is very much a standard part of Christian apologetics.  If someone did something good, then Christians will dig and dig until they find some connection with Christianity (he read the Bible at some point, he met Christians at some point, he knew someone who knew someone who might have been a Christian, etc.).  And then proudly take credit for Christianity.

They'll ignore what are sometimes blatantly obvious contradictions, such as David's description of a despotic, abusive religious cult as being a "great movement".  I'm sure that he uses that term because they were, at least in part, fighting to get rid of corruption and foreign influence in China; but it ignores the fact that, had they won, the system put in place by the Tai Ping would have been just as bad for China, if not worse.  A theocracy with a delusional lunatic at it's head, claiming divine authority for everything that he says, and killing everyone who opposes him.
You say you're in favor of democratic reform.  Fine, welcome to the club.  Christianity has a long and illustrious history of instigating such reform, not only in East Asia, but around the world, as I pointed out.
Christianity also has a long and illustrious history of opposing such reform.  The reforms that you mention actually constitute perhaps 20-25% of the Christian church's total history.  The dark ages?  Christian.  The Crusades?  Christian.  State religions where everyone who does not follow that state's religion can be imprisoned or killed?  Christian.  The list goes on and on and on.  Heck, today we have Christian leaders in Africa murdering young women on the charge of "witchcraft".  I've never, ever heard of Humanists doing that.

There is not one single example, anywhere in human history (so far as I'm aware) where people who supported the values that I advocate for (regardless of whether they called themselves Humanists or not) engaged in such activities.  And a great many of the reforms that you refer to, while certainly having Christians involved, also had advocates of Humanist philosophy involved, also.  Despite the fact that they were far fewer in number, and had far less power, they were still able to likewise help bring about positive change.
So the desire for democratic reform is not a variable between us, and nothing to debate: it is a constant.  (Giving you as much credit as possible, here -- because as you admit, "Secular Humanism" by your constrained definition hasn't really achieved much in China, yet.  But the larger Enlightenment Project, the broader humanism as defined by Chinese themselves, HAS achieved a lot -- it seems you just don't want to be identified with those achievements, and I think we both know why.)
This isn't "my definition". It is the definition of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), the largest Humanist organization in the world, with members from more than 200 countries; and the Amsterdam Declaration is the official statement of that organization, and adopted and endorsed by those same members from more than 200 countries.  I cannot think of any definition of Humanism which has greater international support than this one.  So dismissing it as "my constrained definition" is, again, a rather dishonest argument. And this is the first time I've met the argument where having a clearly stated, cohesive statement of moral and ethical beliefs is somehow wrong or irrelevant.
And again, you refer to Chinese humanism as "broader humanism", despite the fact that A) it is a definition adopted by only one country, and B) teaches many things that are in direct conflict with the moral system that I advocate for.  I cannot emphasize enough just how fundamentally illogical and dishonest this is.  And to claim that this represents a "broader humanism" is absolutely ludicrous. 

Again even after I've specifically called you on it, and pointed out how wrong it is, you continue to try to define humanism according to your standards, rather than according to the actual moral and ethical system that not only I advocate for, but so do Humanists from more than 200 nations around the world.

I cannot say this enough.  This is fundamentally, intellectually dishonest.  It is entirely lacking in any real integrity.  It is a blatant effort to dismiss my own position as somehow irrelevant, and instead substitute an entirely different belief system, and then base your arguments on that.  It is the very definition of a straw man argument.
So I think I was completely within my rights as seeing the real issue as being what Christianity in general, or Humanism in general, can do for China -- factoring out the constant, on which we both seem to agree.
Except that, again, that's not what you're doing.  First, you're not talking about "Christianity in general".  You are talking about your specific brand of Christianity.  And I'd point out that a great many Christians around the world would not adhere to the kind of Christianity that you support...for example, your position that the Bible is not inerrant.

Yet somehow, not only am I not allowed to define my specific beliefs in regards to Humanism, but must somehow be bound by definitions produced by the Chinese government, which are entirely antithetical to my own beliefs, and then be told by you that "Chinese are already being taught humanism."  What complete and utter nonsense.  No more true than if I were to point out that Chinese schools also teach about religion and Christianity, so therefore "Chinese are already being taught Christianity."

Let me make this very, very clear.  No, you are not "completely within your rights" to base your arguments about humanism on a system that has nothing whatsoever to do with the moral and ethical system for which I am advocating.  No more than I would be "completely within my rights" to base my arguments about Christianity on beliefs that have nothing whatsoever to do with the moral and ethical system for which you are advocating.

The fundamental question to our debate was which system provides a better foundation for morality in China -- Christianity, or Secular Humanism.  More clearly, whether your specific Christian beliefs (not those of other Christians who hold contrary beliefs), and my specific Humanist beliefs (not those of other people who hold contrary beliefs) provide a better foundation.

We both believe in human rights, equality, freedom, etc.  But the foundation upon which we base those beliefs is quite different.  And that is what we should have been discussing.  Not a complete red herring of what the Chinese government teaches about humanism. 

And I do believe that the vast majority of people reading this, be they Christian, Humanist, or other, will be able to recognize the difference.
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