Monday, May 10, 2010

Where Many of the Insufferable Atheists Congregate

If you've ever been bombarded by atheists on your blog, it may be useful to know where they congregate to organize their little internet infidel atheist strikes.

http://www.wearesmrt.com/bb/viewforum.php?f=35

Some reaction to my most recent post.


Postby BeamStalk » Mon May 10, 2010 10:16 pm
He is f@#%ing retarded.


Wow. What an impressive argument. I am almost convinced of my wrongheadedness.





Postby rufustfirefly » Mon May 10, 2010 10:23 pm
They think that just by saying that objective moral values come from "God", that it's true. We made up "gods" to justify our moral values. It used to be the best way to get people to pay attention to those values. Fear of god, fear of punishment. And even then, it didn't work very well.
Does rufus really think this is the argument? I sense a lack of logical ability here.





Postby Whateverman » Mon May 10, 2010 11:51 pm
First off, the problem of evil involves gratuitous (purposeless) evil? Since when? The Nazis were purposeful and represented the state-of-the-art of evil; an all powerful all beneficent deity should have stopped them.
Whatev, if it's just plain evil that is proposed on the problem of evil, this is an ineffective argument. It's fairly easy to show that God and plain ol' evil could coexist using the free will defense. I'm trying to help you out here.





Postby BathTub » Tue May 11, 2010 12:45 am
Irrelevant!
Mr. Tub is trying to make fun of me because I have so often pointed out the red herrings he introduces when trolling on Christian blogs. But whose fault is that?

That's all that's really notable as of now. I find it interesting they haven't dealt with my argument. I see a lot of appeal to ridicule and red herrings, but where's the refutation? Your precious argument from evil is on the line here!!!!!111!!!!1!1oneone

73 comments:

Marcus McElhaney said...

The reason why there is no rebuttal is because they have none! And deep down they know it!

bossmanham said...

Yep. Watch out, BTW, you might incur the wrath of the WeAreSmrt atheists.

;)

Whateverman said...

Whateverman: First off, the problem of evil involves gratuitous (purposeless) evil? Since when? The Nazis were purposeful and represented the state-of-the-art of evil; an all powerful all beneficent deity should have stopped them.

Bossmanham: if it's just plain evil that is proposed on the problem of evil, this is an ineffective argument. It's fairly easy to show that God and plain ol' evil could coexist using the free will defense.

If free will allows God to let 6 million Jews be killed because the Nazis desired it, then God is not omni-benevolent. If you insist on defining God with that characteristic, then it follows that either your definition is wrong, or your God does not exist.

Whateverman said...

By the way, intellectual "self-gratification" really doesn't lend the arguments here any credibility, Marcus.

Rhology said...

Whateverman,

Y'alls' argumenta ad vulgaritum need work. I'm sure you can get viler than that.

If free will allows God to let 6 million Jews be killed because the Nazis desired it, then God is not omni-benevolent.

Make an argument. Why not?

Whateverman said...

My argument has already been made: perfect goodness can not allow evil to occur unchallenged. Any rationalization to the contrary will result in that goodness NOT being perfect.

Rhology said...

Two questions:
1) Who says it's unchallenged?

2) Please define "evil" in an objective way, given atheism.


(BTW, I don't particularly like the free-will defense, but you haven't hit its chinks yet, so I'm going to see how well you back up your big talk at your little atheist enclave forum, b/c atheists trying to argue amuses me.)

bossmanham said...

Whatev,

Well for you argument to work, this evil act must actually be objectively evil. So you must accept objective evil, but then it would mean that objective moral values exist, and then it would follow that God exists.

So, when you're willing to admit that, then we can get into why He might allow such acts.

Rhology said...

Hmm, do you think that whateverman's public pummeling will be chortled about much on their WeRSmrt forum? Or will they just ignore it b/c it makes them uncomfy?

Whateverman said...

Rho did ask: Two questions:
1) Who says it's unchallenged?

There's no objective evidence that God challenged the evil of the third Reich. If you'd be so kind as to show me some, that'd be a significant debunking of my argument.

2) Please define "evil" in an objective way, given atheism.
I'm under no obligation to do this, and given that I'm neither an atheist nor do I believe that "objective goodness" exists, I don't see why I should define objective evil either.

The evil is a problem for Christian theology, based primarily on Christian definitions of good, evil, god and objective. Change the definitions used for those terms, and the problem of evil largely disappears.

Whateverman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whateverman said...

Bossmanham wrote the following: Well for you argument to work, this evil act must actually be objectively evil. So you must accept objective evil, but then it would mean that objective moral values exist, and then it would follow that God exists.

So, when you're willing to admit that, then we can get into why He might allow such acts.


So, in order for me to have this conversation, you're requiring that I accept the existence of your God?

I know objective morality exists, but that's because you and I are using different definitions for "objective". A posted speed limit is objective morality, as is any codified law. I reject the notion of a law which exists outside the design and concerns of human beings, which is the definition you prefer.

So, where does that leave us?

Again: the problem of evil exists only when Christian theology is assumed to be correct.

Whateverman said...

Incidentally, goading people into responding emotionally isn't particularly mature, Rho. I get the sense it's one of your endearing traits, but I hope I'm proven wrong about this, eventually.

Rhology said...

There's no objective evidence that God challenged the evil of the third Reich.

Oh, you can prove a universal negative like that? Wow! Do tell how you've managed it!
Exhibit A is the only one I need - Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Next?
Exhibit B - the Allies won.
Exhibit C - many Jews survived.
I could go on and on, exposing your selective and biased assertions.


I'm under no obligation to do this

Oh, OK, so evil doesn't exist. It's all in your mind.
Let it go, man. Let it go. Let people do their thing, and you do yours. Stop complaining and acting like there's some bogeyman of "EVIL" out there. It's not out there - you said so yourself. So stop acting like you can convict God of committing some evil thing. Maybe your definition of evil is diff from God's - who are you to judge anyone else?


given that I'm neither an atheist

Fair enough, though one wonders why you hang out with the bitterest atheists on that forum if you're not one yourself.
So take "on atheism" to mean "on your worldview".


The evil is a problem for Christian theology, based primarily on Christian definitions of good, evil, god and objective

I'll let someone who holds to the freewill defense tackle it from that perspective, but on the Christian worldview, God is incapable of committing evil. Gotta watch out for stepping on tautologies!


Incidentally, goading people into responding emotionally isn't particularly mature, Rho.

1) Your forum buddies and you apparently get off on doing that nonstop. Go whine to someone who's less familiar with your antics.
2) Maybe goading you emotionally is morally obligatory on my worldview. Since morality isn't objective, I guess you don't have any means by which to object. So why are you objecting?

Whateverman said...

Whateverman: There's no objective evidence that God challenged the evil of the third Reich.

Rho: Exhibit A is the only one I need - Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Next?
Exhibit B - the Allies won.
Exhibit C - many Jews survived.


These examples are all subjective, Rho. Care to try again?

Whateverman said...

No, Rho, we don't get off on goading people into reacting emotionally. If you'd pay enough attention to recognize that we're conversing amongst ourselves, on a forum designed specifically to do that very thing, you'd realize there's no antagonism. If you were to be an active participant, our behavior would change. It might not be entirely charitable, but it'd be an effort to CONVERSE.

By comparison, here you and I are having a conversation in which you appear to be trying to make me mad. That's not mature behavior.

It's on a blog where you're under no obligation to BE mature, of course. However, don't fool yourself into thinking it's conversation, either.

I'm willing to avoid insulting you or your position unnecessarily. Are you willing to do the same?

Rhology said...

These examples are all subjective, Rho. Care to try again?

Um, no, I believe all of those are matters of obvious historical record. What do you mean by "subjective"?


we don't get off on goading people into reacting emotionally

So, on top of enjoying goading, you're dishonest too. Noted.


If you'd pay enough attention to recognize that we're conversing amongst ourselves,

"Wave to bossman". I can appreciate the fact that you're treating me like a fool, but I'm not going to take it lying down at least.


I'm willing to avoid insulting you or your position unnecessarily. Are you willing to do the same?

I haven't insulted YOU, and don't intend to. I will, however, insult your position all day long, b/c it is irrational, ridiculous, and blasphemous. I will also call out dishonest behavior when I encounter it. And I will simply invite the same from anyone. If you think I've insulted you, you have but to quote me.

Whateverman said...

Whateverman: These examples are all subjective, Rho. Care to try again?

Rhology: Um, no, I believe all of those are matters of obvious historical record. What do you mean by "subjective"?

I asked for objective examples that God challenged the evil of the Nazis. Every event you listed was indeed historically objective, but the interpretation that they involved God's handiwork is pure subjectivity. I doubt you'd even get agreement amongst Christians, let alone secular historians or theists of a different stripe.

Again: give me an objective example of an all beneficent deity challenging evil, and you will have debunked my argument. Failing to do that, you must concede that omni beneficence and allowing evil to operate as it sees fit is a contradiction.

---

Incidentally, I do believe you insulted me, but I also insulted you over at the SMRT forums. So in the interest of constructive dialogue, I'm going to start fresh. Treat me respectfully and I'll do the same in return.

Fair enough?

Rhology said...

I asked for objective examples that God challenged the evil of the Nazis. Every event you listed was indeed historically objective, but the interpretation that they involved God's handiwork is pure subjectivity.

Looks like ANY example of something limiting the Nazis' handiwork you'll discount as "subjective". You're not using the word correctly, for one thing.
What you mean is that the interp of these events depends on one's presuppositions. Of course! Definitely. But that's not what you asked, and your question was thus internally inconsistent and incoherent. Obviously if God doesn't exist, God didn't do anything to stop the Nazis, b/c He doesn't exist.
But if God DOES exist and if He's as described in the Bible, then those events I named were part of His plan to limit and eventually stop the Nazis.
IOW, your objection is predictable and tautological. And therefore content-less.



I doubt you'd even get agreement amongst Christians

Oh n035!!!!!1 And why should that matter to anyone?



Treat me respectfully and I'll do the same in return.

Fair enough, keeping in mind that
1) your behavior at the SMRT forums is clearly insulting and quite profane
2) you can't quote me using profanity (b/c I never do)
3) you have never quoted me insulting you
4) insulting remarks directed at poor argumentation or irrational worldviews are not the same as insults directed at a person.

With those caveats in place, I accept.
Now, since we are moving on, you have at least 2 questions left over from previous comments. I'd appreciate it if you could address them.

Peace,
Rhology

Whateverman said...

I'm not going to answer every question listed (for now) to prevent this conversation from getting bogged down in a endless tit-for-tat until such time as coherence dissolves. If you'd like to use this as a concession to your superior argumentative skills, then so be it.

Rho wrote the following: Looks like ANY example of something limiting the Nazis' handiwork you'll discount as "subjective". You're not using the word correctly, for one thing.

Please don't make me reconstruct the flow of challenges. The incompatibility of omnibenevolence and omnipotence involves God not challenging the occurrence of objective evil. I wrote There's no objective evidence that God challenged the evil of the third Reich.

To refute that, you've listed objective historical facts that never refer to God as an explanatory force. The facts themselves are objective, the interpretation that God was somehow responsible for them is subjective.

It matters that other Christians wouldn't agree with your attribution (of God's influence) because that demonstrates the subjectivity of the assertion. You and I can endlessly claim opinion as fact, but I'm looking for an example of God actively challenging evil.

You have not provided one. I further submit that you will never be able to do so because, being honest, you will have proven the existence of the Christian God in the process - and no one's been able to pull that off.

So, let's try a different tactic. My contention: if God does not challenge every instance of evil, he can not be omnibenevolent. Would you care to explain how someone can be absolutely good while allowing a person standing next to him be murdered (for example)?

Rhology said...

the interpretation that God was somehow responsible for them is subjective.

Yes, and you're taking God's omni-benevolence and -potence as givens. Thus you're arguing that the God of the Bible, as described, didn't do what you think He should've done.
So, if I can adduce events that militated against the Nazis, and God is described in the Bible as having decreed all that comes to pass, then the point is proven. You need to change your argument, IOW.


It matters that other Christians wouldn't agree with your attribution (of God's influence) because that demonstrates the subjectivity of the assertion.

You know, there are ppl who think they can float by Yogic meditation. Their mistaken thoughts of gravity's application does not mean that gravity is subjective. You're making man the measure of truth. I'd recommend making logical argumentation the measure of truth, myself.


Would you care to explain how someone can be absolutely good while allowing a person standing next to him be murdered (for example)?

I don't honestly see a great reason for moving on to a diff question when you have multiple ones posed already to you still on the table, especially since they're very relevant. If you don't want to play "tit for tat", then don't play it. Focus on one topic.

bossmanham said...

While Rho goes at this from one angle, I will take the angle of the free will defense.

Whatev said: The incompatibility of omnibenevolence and omnipotence involves God not challenging the occurrence of objective evil.

This is not true if God has given us free will. Being omnipotent does not entail the ability to perform logical impossibilities, such as creating a married bachelor or a square circle. Likewise, God cannot make people freely do something. So, if God grants genuine freedom, He cannot guarantee what people's choices will be. He can only create the circumstances that allow free will and allow people to make the choice. So, there may be no feasible world of free creatures which God can create where all of those free creatures always do good.

But there's also your assumption that God would prefer a world with no evil. But this may also not be true. God may have morally sufficient reasons to allow evil to bring about great goods that would not be possible without there existing some evil (such as some people freely coming into a relationship with Him). We see this in the relationship of parents and children, where parents at some point must let go and can't protect their children from every mishap. There are also times when pain must be inflected on a child so that the child will grow to be mature and responsible, which is a greater good than not punishing the child. So, the argument from evil is doubly invalid.

bossmanham said...

Would you care to explain how someone can be absolutely good while allowing a person standing next to him be murdered (for example)?

If that person had a morally sufficient reason to allow that murder, then it would not be wrong to allow it. For instance, if that person knew that the person being murdered was a serial killer and had killed 50 people and, by some infallible foreknowledge, knew that tomorrow he would kill the president if you stopped the murder.

David said...

"If that person had a morally sufficient reason to allow that murder, then it would not be wrong to allow it. For instance, if that person knew that the person being murdered was a serial killer and had killed 50 people and, by some infallible foreknowledge, knew that tomorrow he would kill the president if you stopped the murder."

I love theology. There are no limits to what can imagine when one wishes to preserve one's personal opinions and assumptions. What is point of talking about objective morals or good and evil, when literally anything can be described as either "good" or as "evil", depending on need?

Think murder is evil? Think again, says the Bossman.

bossmanham said...

There are no limits to what can imagine when one wishes to preserve one's personal opinions and assumptions.

Well, David, since the argument from evil posits that saying an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God exists and evil exists is a logical contradiction, all the theist has to show is a scenario where God and evil exist together, which shows the argument to be false. These don't even have to be plausible examples. All they are there for is to display that God existing and evil existing is not incoherent.

What is point of talking about objective morals or good and evil, when literally anything can be described as either "good" or as "evil", depending on need?

Nobody said the murder is good. Allowing it would only be acceptable if you had a morally sufficient reason such as I gave.

Think murder is evil? Think again, says the Bossman.

I think murder is evil and any murder you would observe you have a duty given by God to try help the innocent person. Thing is, in the example I gave that person had an infallible foreknowledge of the future and different future contingencies, like God does. God, therefore, is able to see all future contingencies and knows if there are morally sufficient reasons to allow certain evils in the world. We lack this knowledge and therefore lack any justification to allow murders to go unimpeded.

Now, all your response did here was appeal to ridicule. I did you a favor and clarified what I said. Can you find an issue with it, or not?

David said...

"I think murder is evil and any murder you would observe you have a duty given by God to try help the innocent person."

But wait! You could be interfering with God's plan! You could be acting counter to God's will. This makes your act of heroism a sin. If you stop that murder, you've condemned the president to death. Bad Bossman.

"These don't even have to be plausible examples."

No kidding. That's my point. This is what enjoy about theology. It's the greatest playground for the human imagination ever invented. This is what allows us to make arguments that are that are simultaneously logical, untestable and absurd.

Start with the conclusion you want, allow for any possibility, plausible or not, and it all works out. In science, this is know as drawing the curve and then plotting the data to fit the pre-drawn curve, and in this case, one gets to invent whatever data are needed. You can do it, of course, but you don't get much respect for it.

"I think murder is evil...but God is able to see all future contingencies and knows if there are morally sufficient reasons to allow certain evils in the world."

It's brilliant, it really is. Murder is evil. But God can use evil to stop a greater evil, so God can use murder and it's not evil. We have these great objective morals, and we use these to determine that something is evil. We see something that appears to be evil. But wait, we must be mistaken. If only we could see all future contingencies, we could see that the murder was really good.

I agree the argument is unbeatable, because it's untestable. No possible evidence, observation or event could ever disprove the hypothesis. You can invent whatever is needed to make it work out, because who can prove that an unknowable entities lacks a certain trait. All we have to do is assume that we have a can opener.

It's all perfectly logical, but if you could just step back for a moment, and look at this from the outside, you'd see that it's also a product of the human imagination and is fundamently of little value.

Rhology said...

David said:
Murder is evil.

Prove it.

bossmanham said...

But wait! You could be interfering with God's plan!

Um, now you're importing the examples I laid out and trying to apply them to reality. In reality, God has already accounted for all the contingencies created by human free choice and has planned a world in which what He wants to happen happens. It's called the providence of God.

This is what enjoy about theology. It's the greatest playground for the human imagination ever invented.

This isn't theology per se. But all you're doing is ridiculing. Show why the free will defense is wrong. Just saying the examples are silly isn't showing it's wrong. The examples serve to show that God existing and evil existing are not logical contradictions.

In fact, if God didn't exist, then there would be no such thing as evil.

so God can use murder and it's not evil.

Why would it be?

I agree the argument is unbeatable, because it's untestable.

So is that statement. So this statement must also be untrue and therefore your whole appeal to logical positivism is shown to be fallacious. Next.

It's all perfectly logical, but if you could just step back for a moment, and look at this from the outside, you'd see that it's also a product of the human imagination and is fundamently of little value.

Well, it is a step in the right direction to get an atheist to admit theism is logical. But then you commit the genetic fallacy. Too bad.

And yes, to echo what Rho said, prove that evil exists, please.

David said...

The “free will” defense? Is that the one where you explain how a perfectly good and omnibenevolent God is not responsible for evil, because God creates people with “free will”, and then the people chose to be evil? God is good and perfect and everything that God creates is good and perfect, but if people chose to do evil, that’s not God’s fault? God is just stepping back and letting people do as they chose, even if that means that there is now evil in the world? God doesn’t murder people, only people murder people? Just checking to see if I know what you’re referring to here.

“Um, now you're importing the examples I laid out and trying to apply them to reality.”

Oh, dear, well, we wouldn't want to apply your arguments to reality, would we? That would make all of this philosophizing useful.

Complaining that I’m trying to apply examples to reality doesn’t answer the question. Why isn’t it a sin to prevent a murder?

Speaking of reality, of all murders committed in the U.S. in the last year, what percentage occurred because there was a “morally sufficient” reason to allow certain evils in the world? Can you identify these murders? If not, what's the point of declaring that murder may be the product of a god who has declared them to be "morally justified"? You can say it, but really, you're just making stuff up. It's just a kind of video game "cheat code".

I'm not sure that you see the underlying problem with all of this mental self-pleasuring. It all reminds me of the episode of the Simpson's in which Lucy Lawless appears at a sci-fi convention to answer questions from fans.

Fan: In Episode B-12 you were battling barbarians while riding a winged Appaloosa. Yet, in the very next scene, my dear, you are clearly atop a winged Arabian. Please do explain it?

Xena: Ahh, yeah. Well, whenever you notice something like that, a wizard did it.

Fan: I see. Alright, yes. But in Episode AG-4…

Zena: Wizard!

Now, the Lawless Logic is impecable. But what's the point? One can always say "wizard", but what does that actually tells us? Where's the value? To paraphrase a Woody Allen comment about art, theology is like art, in that "you know how you're always trying to get things to come out perfect in art because, uh, it's real difficult in life."

Look, I know all of this wizardry makes you happy, and as I said, you can't beat an argument based on wizards. But to those of us in the real world, it's like watching a pie-throwing contest in which the clowns can't see the joke.

Rhology said...

But to those of us in the real world

And others of us in the real world recognise that we often don't have all the information. The New Atheists do so all the time - they demur from claims that they are omniscient. It's utterly obvious.
Yet you're going to make these certain claims that you know better than God what is best to allow? On what basis? How do you know you have sufficient information on any given thing you want to call "evil"?

David said...

Hmm, I think it would sound better if it was a "pie fight", instead of a "pie-throwing contest". Since we're just making things up, I think I'll change this to a pie fight.

David said...

"You know better than God what is best to allow?"

Not the point. Point is, if you don't know what God knows, then you could sin by acting to prevent a murder. How many times a year do you think this happens?

Rhology said...

Guess I'll just have to obey what God has told me to do, understanding that His secret decretive will is not revealed to me. Just His prescriptive will conveyed in commandments.

There, that wasn't so hard.

bossmanham said...

then you could sin by acting to prevent a murder.

Um, how are you figuring this again? If murder is a morally evil act, and God has given us the duty to try to prevent murders, then how, pray, would this be evil? Our foreknowledge is irrelevant here.

David said...

"God has given us the duty to try to prevent murders".

But.

The murder that was about to occur wasn't really a murder, because there was a "morally sufficient" reason for it to occur. God has given the nod to this murder, because it's not really evil murder, instead, it's actually a killing for a greater moral good.

But you got in the way. You stopped a righteous killing, you stopped a moral good. God wanted the killing to occur. It was God's way of bring about a greater moral good. You've thwarted God's plan. You've sinned.

That's the problem will double secret probation or "secret decretive will". If it's a secret, how do you know what's right or wrong?

Rhology said...

The murder that was about to occur wasn't really a murder,

Actually, if it was an unjustifiable killing, then yes, it was a murder. That's what "murder" means.



If it's a secret, how do you know what's right or wrong?

B/c God revealed it in His prescriptive will. Easy enough.

You know, I gotta be honest - very, VERY few atheists have even a halfway-decent rudimentary grasp of Christian theology. You're not demonstrating you're one of those. I'd suggest you move to a topic on which you have at least some knowledge.

bossmanham said...

But if it's stopped, then a moral good is done. Our duty is to act on what we know, and we don't know infinite future contingencies. God does, however, so He knows what is appropriate to allow and what is not. If He wanted said person to die, He would make it happen, whether you stop this murder or not.

bossmanham said...

I have a slightly different view on How God wills things than Rho does, but it's only relevant in that God's perfect will for us is to do good, but He may have reasons for allowing us, by His permissive will, to do evil.

There are many different views of how God acts providentially in the world, but it would take a lot of reading you probably don't want to do, since you don't really like or believe in God. I'd take Rho's advice.

David said...

“Actually, if it was an unjustifiable killing, then yes, it was a murder. That's what "murder" means.”

Ah, but the whole point of the example in question is that an act that we would interpret as evil really wasn’t evil after all, because there was a morally sufficient reason for the killing. In this example, the murder that is about to occur is, by definition, not a murder.

“God revealed it in His prescriptive will.”

But in this case, God hasn’t revealed anything. This is a case of “secret decretive will” which is not revealed to humans. A secretly justifiable killing is about to occur. To the witnesses armed with objective moral values, it appears as though an evil act is about to occur. They do not have access to the secret knowledge that this is to be a righteous kill. So, a witness intervenes to stop the righteous kill, thus thwarting a morally good act.

“But if it's stopped, then a moral good is done.”

No, a moral good was not done. Maybe you just saved the life of a future Hitler. This is a moral good? Again, it was the potential killer that was doing the morally good thing.

“Our duty is to act on what we know, and we don't know infinite future contingencies.”

So, you screw up, stop a righteous kill and then blame ignorance. How can you make the correct moral choice if you don’t know the future contingencies?

“If He wanted said person to die, He would make it happen, whether you stop this murder or not.”

Well, it’s true that God could later kill the victim with a heart attack, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t thwart God’s plan for a righteous kill. And given that God kill have killed this person with a heart attack all along, why is it necessary to use evil acts to carry out God’s plan?

No wait, I forgot. This murder isn’t evil. But murder is evil. But this act isn’t evil. But it’s a moral good to stop it. But…oh, who knows? Thank God for objective moral values.


“It's only relevant in that God's perfect will for us is to do good, but He may have reasons for allowing us, by His permissive will, to do evil.”

… thus, rendering the concepts of “good” and “evil” meaningless.

“There are many different views of how God acts providentially in the world, but it would take a lot of reading you probably don't want to do…”

How much reading does it take before it’s obvious that the answer is “wizard”?

bossmanham said...

So, you screw up, stop a righteous kill and then blame ignorance.

You keep failing to factor in the providence of God, which turns your question into pure silliness. It says something that you can't figure that out.

thwart God’s plan for a righteous kill.

The concept that we could thwart God's plans is silliness at its best.

This murder isn’t evil.

It's evil for the individual to do it. It's not evil for God to allow it. There are two wills at work here. Get with the program.

thus, rendering the concepts of “good” and “evil” meaningless

Thus David states another non-sequitur.

How much reading does it take before it’s obvious that the answer is “wizard”?

Thus David appeals to ridicule again. I'm becoming more and more convinced this is your only cognitive skill.

David said...

The providence of God? Is that the same thing as “wizard”?

“The concept that we could thwart God's plans is silliness at its best.”

Silliness? I’m confused. I’m constantly hearing that if a given human takes a given action, that’s going against God’s plan for their life and is sinful. And yet, people will take the given action and go against the alleged plan. Not only is the concept not silly, but when people thwart God’s plan, they’re to be tortured for all eternity.

Or do human actions have no effect on the plan? If a human doesn’t follow God’s plan, it doesn’t thwart the plan in any way? If going against the plan has no effect, if we can’t thwart God’s plan, then why does it matter if one follows the plan or not? If the plan can’t be thwarted, that suggests that the script of history is already written, and there goes your “free will defense” designed to excuse God for the evil in the world.

“It's evil for the individual to do it. It's not evil for God to allow it. There are two wills at work here. Get with the program.”

It’s not evil to allow an evil act to occur? That’s a clever excuse. But this is not what I think of when I ponder an all-powerful good and perfect god. How can a perfectly morally good entity fail to act to prevent evil? What would you think of a human who failed to act to stop and evil deed from happening? Would we accept “well, I didn’t do the evil act myself” as an excuse? At a minimum, it makes God awfully passive.

Ok, so now you’re saying that the murder of would-be-Hitler is evil and that this is not a righteous kill. But on the other hand, this act saved the lives of many would-be victims, and you emphasized that there is a “morally sufficient reason to allow that murder”, and so it would not be wrong to allow it. Saving lives and “morally sufficient reason” suggests that the murder is a good thing, not an evil thing. If it’s not morally wrong to allow it, that suggests that the act itself is good, not evil. Had the murder been stopped, many others would have died. So, is the murder a good thing or a bad thing?

And why would God ever use evil acts to bring about good things? Why is evil an essential part of the good God’s plan? This is totally unnecessary and contradicts the notion of a good God. Why use evil humans and their evil deeds to accomplish something good when you have the power to reach the same goal without any evil act at all? All you have to do is glance in the direction of would-be Hitler and…instant heart attack. Instead, you have to sit back and allow evil acts to occur to accomplish the goal of taking out would-be Hitler? Or was there never a plan to take out would-be Hitler, and it was just a lucky break than an evil human happened to kill would-be Hitler? And why didn’t God take out actual Hitler with a heart attack? This is an “all-powerful, perfect, always good, never evil” god?

“Thus David appeals to ridicule again.”

Not ridicule at all. I’m appealing to reality. This is how theology really works. I’m convinced that you lack the cognitive skills to see reality. Ridicule is useful for identifying things that are ridiculous.

Rhology said...

David,

The providence of God? Is that the same thing as “wizard”?

No. Not even close, really.
In fact, naturalistic forces and theories share a lot in common with magic.
The only thing a "wizard" and God share in common is that they do supernatural things. The mechanism, the source of the power, the means of accessing it, etc are all totally different.
Further, you're poking fun partly b/c you apparently think the God explanation is ad hoc, and yet the Bible's been around 2000+ years. Nothing ad hoc about a static text like that.



I’m constantly hearing that if a given human takes a given action, that’s going against God’s plan for their life and is sinful.

either they misunderstand the term "God's plan" or they mean God's COMMANDS for their life. In the former they think they can access more of God's secret will than they really can, but the latter is perfectly reasonable. For example, God says "Don't sleep with your boyfriend". If you go ahead and sleep with your boyfriend, you're going against God's plan for your life and you're sinning.


when people thwart God’s plan, they’re to be tortured for all eternity.

ALL people "thwart God's plan" in that they disobey many of His commandments. And we'll all be punished for all eternity if we do not accept His forgiveness for that.


Or do human actions have no effect on the plan?

They do, but God foresaw everything and has taken all human actions into acct. 'Cause He's smart.


then why does it matter if one follows the plan or not?

B/c God told us to, and obeying God is an objective good.
One wonders why you vote (if you do vote); your vote will literally have no effect on the outcome whatsoever. So why do it? Obviously for some other reason than "my vote will change the future", b/c it won't. If you think it will, you're naive. Sorry.


that suggests that the script of history is already written, and there goes your “free will defense” designed to excuse God for the evil in the world.

Bossmanham and I aren't in agreement about this, but I think (hopefully he'll correct me if I'm wrong) that he'd say that God's foreknown plan does not exclude free will choices. It's mysterious, sure, but not logically incoherent any more than my watching a recording of last year's Super Bowl means Drew Brees didn't have a choice to throw X number of times to Marques Colston.
Now, I don't think that libertarian free will exists, apart from the decree of God, and so my answer is a bit different. Which is why I don't defend the free will defense. Just for your education.


It’s not evil to allow an evil act to occur?

Please define how you can objectively identify evil. Does objective evil exist? How do you know? How do you recognise it?


But this is not what I think of when I ponder an all-powerful good and perfect god.

And if this thread were all about "Does David think ____ when he think of 'an all-powerful good and perfect god'", then I guess we'd be done. But it's not.


How can a perfectly morally good entity fail to act to prevent evil?

For one thing, b/c He has a better good in store by allowing this evil now.
For another, b/c you don't get to define what's good and evil. He does.

Rhology said...

So, is the murder a good thing or a bad thing?

The murder would be a bad thing for the human, b/c the human doesn't know what the future holds for the victim. If it just so happens that the victim would grow up to be Hitler, I can't know that but God does. God might arrange for him to die, maybe even thru being murdered, and thus prevent him from growing up to be another Hitler. But only God knows that. Further, God has the right to kill anyone or command that anyone be killed at any time.
People die every second of every day. Man is fallen and sinful, and the penalty for sin is death - Romans 3:23 and following through the end of chapter 5. It is only thru God's forbearance and mercy that I or any other person draw the next breath. And the next, and the next. And of course, it is only thru His mercy in Christ's death and resurrection that eternal Hell is not everyone's final destination.

Murder is defined as the unjustified taking of human life.
Yet, as every man, woman, and child is sinful and bears the guilt of the sin of Adam, all are subject to the death penalty. This also includes the various peoples of Canaan, whom God commanded the OT Hebrews to put to death after hundreds of years of giving them time to repent of their perversions. This includes the millions of babies that die every year in the womb (re: Sam Harris' correct and yet wrongheaded and amazingly morally blind assertion that God is the greatest living abortionist). God is fully justified in putting anyone to death at any time thru any manner or agency He chooses.


And why would God ever use evil acts to bring about good things?

B/c it glorifies Him.
See, by this point you're just taking the Eddie Tabash/Chrissy Hitchens approach, asking a lot of questions that are in effect arguments from personal outrage. But you need to give us a reason to think these questions matter. Like in what way you're a moral authority to express such outrage, and why anyone else should imitate your outrage.

bossmanham said...

On the "thwarting God's plan" thing, there needs to be distinction between the perfect plan and the ultimate plan. Perfect being what He wants for our lives, ultimate being what He plans in taking into consideration how we screw up our lives.

David said...

“The only thing a "wizard" and God share in common is that they do supernatural things. The mechanism, the source of the power, the means of accessing it, etc are all totally different.”

Um, I think that you’re taking the wizard term a bit too literally. The point I was trying to make is that this represents a certain way of thinking and “solving” problems without really solving them.

Further, you're poking fun partly b/c you apparently think the God explanation is ad hoc, and yet the Bible's been around 2000+ years. Nothing ad hoc about a static text like that.

I’m not so sure that Lucy’s answer of “wizard” is really ad hoc at all. Within the structure of the World of Zena, “wizard” is a perfectly good and reasoned answer. As I said, the Lawless Logic is impeccable and irrefutable. In the WOZ, wizards can change one type of horse into another. I certainly can’t prove that this didn’t happen. And that’s the problem. There’s no way to know if a wizard DIDN’T do it.

In the case of theology, when inconsistencies and contradictions are identified and displayed for all to see, we get similar hand-waving answers, usually in the form of “it’s supernatural”, “it’s a mystery”, “it’s beyond human understanding”, or in your case, “it’s a secret”. There’s no problem here, because there’s a secret (a wizard did it). Now, can I say with absolute certainty that there isn’t a “secret” that makes everything right? Well, no, because if the secret exists, it’s a secret. But does that mean that the secret really exists? I don’t think so. It’s a neat, untestable, perfectly logical answer, just like “wizard”, but it’s not very convincing when there’s no way to know if it’s wrong.

I’m also not so sure that “ad hoc” is related to how long something has been around. “Ad hoc” answers can have a remarkably long shelf-life. Conversely, if a script from the Simpsons still exists 2000 years ago, would that mean that “wizard” is no longer ad hoc?

By the way, I’m not sure that I would view the word “static” as a positive thing, especially in the context of a time period of 2000 years.


ALL people "thwart God's plan" in that they disobey many of His commandments…. They do (have an effect on the plan).

Ok, so that means that it’s NOT silly to suggest that humans can thwart God’s plans, yes?. This was all I was trying to get at here. I was told that one of my points was silly, but you seem to be showing me that it’s not silly at all.

“I don't defend the free will defense. Just for your education.”

Fair enough, but that would appear to leave the small problem of God’s responsibility for evil.


“If this thread were all about "Does David think ____ when he think of 'an all-powerful good and perfect god'", then I guess we'd be done. But it's not.”


Quite right. My view of God is personal and subjective. As is yours. One can say that there is this “objective” thing called “God”, but what the nature of that thing really is is really a matter of opinion.


“For one thing, b/c He has a better good in store by allowing this evil now.”

Is that true for every act of evil? Every one of them? Really? Well, if every evil act ultimately leads to good, it’s awfully hard to see how these acts are truly evil.

“For another, b/c you don't get to define what's good and evil. He does.”

And now we’re back to the untestable declaration of faith.

David said...

“The murder would be a bad thing for the human, b/c the human doesn't know what the future holds for the victim.”

Makes it kinda hard to make the truly right decisions, doesn’t it?

“God might arrange for him to die, maybe even thru being murdered, and thus prevent him from growing up to be another Hitler. Further, God has the right to kill anyone or command that anyone be killed at any time.”

So, God can arrange the death without the need for murder. So why not do this? Why should the perfect and good God rely on evil acts at all? Why use evil humans and their evil deeds to achieve His ends? And if God has the right to kill anyone at any time, why didn’t God kill the actual Hitler?

“Man is fallen and sinful, and the penalty for sin is death - Romans 3:23 and following through the end of chapter 5. It is only thru God's forbearance and mercy that I or any other person draw the next breath. And the next, and the next. And of course, it is only thru His mercy in Christ's death and resurrection that eternal Hell is not everyone's final destination.”

Yeah, God’s swell, isn’t he? I’d be perfectly honest with you. If this is the way it really is, I would have much preferred to have never been born. This view really does make life seem pointless, and frankly, it paints a very ugly portrait of God.


“Yet, as every man, woman, and child is sinful and bears the guilt of the sin of Adam, all are subject to the death penalty. This also includes the various peoples of Canaan, whom God commanded the OT Hebrews to put to death after hundreds of years of giving them time to repent of their perversions. This includes the millions of babies that die every year in the womb.”

Thus, rendering the word “justice” either meaningless, arbitrary or something that is not a property of God.


B/c (evil acts that bring good) glorifies Him.
Evil glorifies God? Well, I admit, that’s a new one for me.

See, by this point you're just taking the Eddie Tabash/Chrissy Hitchens approach, asking a lot of questions that are in effect arguments from personal outrage.
Asking questions from “personal outrage”? No. Asking questions about things that genuinely don’t make any sense at all or asking questions for the entertainment value derived watching folks build castles in the air hearing people shout “wizard!”, yes.

“Crissy Hitchens”? Wow, an insult and a sexist comment in one. Aren’t you the one whose knickers were in a twist over “personal insults”? Well, make up your mind. Are personal insults in or out? Or is this just more Christian hypocrisy?

“But you need to give us a reason to think these questions matter.”

Umm, I think when your reasoning is used to justify genocide, it matters.

FYI, I have guests arriving soon for the weekend and may be on hiatus for a bit. That should give you plenty of time to find clever ways to feminize my name.

Rhology said...

So how doesn't God solve the problem you've raised?


Within the structure of the World of Zena, “wizard” is a perfectly good and reasoned answer.

Great. So now we move on to examining the presupps and epistemology of the Xena world, and see what we find.


There’s no way to know if a wizard DIDN’T do it.

Hmm, that sounds strangely like evolution.



In the case of theology, when inconsistencies and contradictions are identified and displayed for all to see, we get similar hand-waving answers, usually in the form of “it’s supernatural”, “it’s a mystery

In the case of science, when inconsistencies and contradictions are identified and displayed for all to see, we get similar hand-waving answers, usually in the form of “it's quantum”, “we'll figure it out, just give us time", etc.



Now, can I say with absolute certainty that there isn’t a “secret” that makes everything right? Well, no, because if the secret exists, it’s a secret. But does that mean that the secret really exists? I don’t think so.

Wow. You don't think so, huh? That's what we call a searing rebuttal.


Conversely, if a script from the Simpsons still exists 2000 years ago, would that mean that “wizard” is no longer ad hoc?

how is the Simpsons > wizard analogous to Bible > God of the Bible? Help me out.


I’m not sure that I would view the word “static” as a positive thing, especially in the context of a time period of 2000 years.

Opinion duly noted. Got an argument you'd like to share with us, at some point?



so that means that it’s NOT silly to suggest that humans can thwart God’s plans, yes?

The astute reader (which I realise you're most probably not) will note that "thwart" appeared in "quotation marks", indicating that I was using your (wrong) meaning of "thwart".



that would appear to leave the small problem of God’s responsibility for evil.

(Please note that this is my position, not bossmanham's.)
God decreed that evil would be, yes. So what? What is your moral problem with that? Is it just your opinion? If so, why should I care? If not, what makes it more than just your opinion? Be specific.



My view of God is personal and subjective. As is yours

And yours is apparently derived from nothing, or your own imagination. Mine appeals for its foundation and ultimate correction to an objective source.



Is that true for every act of evil? Every one of them? Really?

Yes, really.



Well, if every evil act ultimately leads to good, it’s awfully hard to see how these acts are truly evil.

Ummmm, b/c they're evil? B/c they were meant for evil by the agents who perpetrate them?



“For another, b/c you don't get to define what's good and evil. He does.”
And now we’re back to the untestable declaration of faith


You're asking what the Bible reveals God to be. Then when I quote you out of the Bible, you whine that I'm expressing "faith".
Got news for you - whatever your ultimate presupposition is, you take IT on faith too. So don't stumble around mocking "faith", when you have just as much and probably more.

Rhology said...

Makes it kinda hard to make the truly right decisions, doesn’t it?

Not at all. I obey what God told me to do. Simple.


So, God can arrange the death without the need for murder. So why not do this?

I'd probably ask Him that. Might start with reading the Bible, for once.


And if God has the right to kill anyone at any time, why didn’t God kill the actual Hitler?

He didn't want to. If you have a problem with that, what is your moral problem with that? Is it just your opinion? If so, why should I care? If not, what makes it more than just your opinion? Be specific.


If this is the way it really is, I would have much preferred to have never been born. T

Actually, Jesus said that if you continue on in your rebellion against God, that's exactly what you'll wish, for eternity. So I urge you to repent of your self-righteous blasphemies.
Besides, you WERE born. So man up and deal with reality.



rendering the word “justice” either meaningless, arbitrary or something that is not a property of God.

It's the 2nd choice - arbitrary. It is totally dependent on the nature and character of God. And you know, since God created the universe and all that... He gets to decide.


Asking questions from “personal outrage”?

So your blindness also extends to proper identification of your own questionings. OK.



“Crissy Hitchens”? Wow, an insult and a sexist comment in one.

It's more meant as an insult of his intellectual prowess with respect to the way he argues against God. His arguments are pitifully bad.


Aren’t you the one whose knickers were in a twist over “personal insults”?

No, that would be Whateverman. Do you need me to quote the comment, or can you be a big boy and look it up yourself?


I think when your reasoning is used to justify genocide, it matters.

Opinion duly noted. Now please give the argument.


That should give you plenty of time to find clever ways to feminize my name.

Take all the time you need. Have a good weekend.
BTW, you care enough to come in here and rip the good name of the One I love more than anything else in the world and then whine b/c someone called Christopher Hitchens a mocking name? It's hard to find any reason to care about that kind of thing. Maybe you can think about that.

David said...

Just time for a quick comment.

I think you're right. There is some personal outrage here. But also much personal amusement. This is genuinely entertaining.

Rhology said...

Well, on that at least we can agree! It is entertaining. :-)

The Chemist said...

Hi David,

This rather long series of posts has been an interesting read. Can you please clarify whether or not murder, which is taken to mean the unjustified killing of another human, is right or wrong on your worldview? Then can you please explain whether or not that view is normative for all people?

These posts have tended to ramble a bit, and I want to make sure I get the main point before I comment on the secret plan/murder thing. It seems to me that your crticism are (1) stopping a murder may be immoral because God may secretly will the death of the individual and (2) objective morality derived from God is useless because the mind of God is inscrutable. If this is the case, then I see (1) as a natural consequence of (2). Is this correct?

David said...

Weekend’s over, and let’s see if I can remember my various trains of thought.

“So how doesn't God solve the problem you've raised?”

The problem isn’t solved when there is no way to know of the solution produced is right or wrong.


“Hmm, that sounds strangely like evolution.”

Since evolution offers testable hypotheses, there are ways to know if evolution didn’t do it. Not the same as “wizard”.


“In the case of science, when inconsistencies and contradictions are identified and displayed for all to see, we get similar hand-waving answers, usually in the form of “it's quantum”, “we'll figure it out, just give us time", etc.”

Well, I’m not sure what contradictions you are referring to, and I’d be happy to spend a lot of time talking about the differences between science and scientists on the one hand and theology and theologians on the other. It’s really tempting, but this would take a lot of time and lead to a major digression, so I think I’ll take a lesson I learned from the Bossman and shout “RED HERRING!”


“That's what we call a searing rebuttal.”

That’s the only rebuttal that is possible when it’s a “secret”. That’s the problem with secrets…you can’t really say anything about them. You can guess that the secret thing exists, you can imagine what the secret thing and/or you can guess that the secret thing doesn’t exist. And that’s it.


>Conversely, if a script from the Simpsons still exists 2000 years ago, would that mean that “wizard” is no longer ad hoc?

“How is the Simpsons > wizard analogous to Bible > God of the Bible? Help me out.”

I’m not sure I understand. I thought that you thought the Bible answers were not ad hoc because they’ve been around a long time (“Bible's been around 2000+ years”). I was trying to suggest that whether or not an answer is ad hoc is independent of the length of time it has survived.

I’m not sure that I would view the word “static” as a positive thing, especially in the context of a time period of 2000 years.

Opinion duly noted. Got an argument you'd like to share with us, at some point?

Sure.

One of hallmarks of the species is that we add and improve our knowledge of the world with each generation. For example, I don’t think that we would consider it a positive think if our knowledge of medicine had been “static” for 2000 years.

Cultures change, morals change, ethics change. Doesn't mean that everying old is thrown out, but things do change. They have to change because we don’t live in a first century world. Consider the change in morals and ethics from the OT to the NT. At the time, the NT offered new morals and ethics for what was a very different world compared with the world of the Bronze Age Israelite kingdoms.

The word “static” is not even accurate anyway, because Christianity is not the same religion that it was in the first and second centuries. One reason that Christianity is still around is that it has changed and adapted to changing times by the trick of “re-interpreting” the words. Strictly speaking, the words are “static”, but they can always be re-interpreted to support what needs support. Now if “static” was really a positive thing, then we wouldn’t need all of these “re-interpretations”.


“The astute reader (which I realise you're most probably not) will note that "thwart" appeared in "quotation marks", indicating that I was using your (wrong) meaning of "thwart".”

I collected some definitions of thwart.

Hinter or prevent the efforts, plans or desires of. Prevent from accomplishing a purpose. To frustrate or baffle a plan, purpose, etc.

That’s pretty consistent with how I was using the word.

It’s my plan and desire and goal that you make a left turn in two blocks. I command you to make a left turn in two blocks. You make a right turn in four blocks. You violated my commandment. You also thwarted my plan.

David said...

“God decreed that evil would be, yes. So what?”

Well, I thought that God was perfect and omnibenevolent. If we assume that God is perfect, all powerful and all good, then it seems very odd that an all powerful, all good entity would decree that evil would be. How is this good?


>My view of God is personal and subjective. As is yours

“And yours is apparently derived from nothing, or your own imagination. Mine appeals for its foundation and ultimate correction to an objective source.”

And that objective source would be?


>Is that true for every act of evil? Every one of them? Really?

“Yes, really.”

So every act of evil is allowed because there is “better good in store by allowing this evil now”. Ok, I understand how this might be very comforting, given the horrors of the world, but there is no way that I can generate enough faith to believe it. I just can not imagine what “good is in store” as a result of (fill in the atrocity here), nor do I see the point of going through (fill in the atrocity here) in order to get to some imagined later good when God has the power to just jump to the good bits.

I assume that you believe this because you think the Bible says this, yes?


“You're asking what the Bible reveals God to be. Then when I quote you out of the Bible, you whine that I'm expressing "faith".”

Yes, belief in the Bible is based on untestable declarations of faith.


“Got news for you - whatever your ultimate presupposition is, you take IT on faith too. So don't stumble around mocking "faith", when you have just as much and probably more.”

Oh, I really don’t think that I can match you for faith. I don’t mean this in a ridiculing manner. I’m quite serious.


“Not at all. I obey what God told me to do. Simple.”

Well, it’s simple to do, but if you think about it, I don’t think it’s simple at all. If you make a mistake, then you’ve made a mistake, whether you realize it or not.


>So, God can arrange the death without the need for murder. So why not do this?

“I'd probably ask Him that. Might start with reading the Bible, for once.”

Huh? Is this an answer? Could you be more specific? I’ve read the Bible. Must have missed the answer.


>And if God has the right to kill anyone at any time, why didn’t God kill the actual Hitler?

“He didn't want to. If you have a problem with that, what is your moral problem with that?”
The problem is that I keep hearing that God is perfect and good, etc. If one assumes that this is true, I would think that one would have a “moral problem” with “he didn’t want to”?

David said...

“Actually, Jesus said that if you continue on in your rebellion against God, that's exactly what you'll wish, for eternity. So I urge you to repent of your self-righteous blasphemies. Besides, you WERE born. So man up and deal with reality.”

Umm, I think you miss the point. The point is that this world is hardly consistent with words like “good” and “perfect” and “just”. Instead, this world is a horror show based on fear and other generally negative traits and emotions.

Now, with respect to manning up and dealing with it, well, whether or not I’m rebelling against anything, or committing blasphemies, depends on whether or not your vision of the world is an accurate one. For my point of view, I’m just disagreeing with you, a fellow human being. Personally, I think that the Creator of the Universe can handle a little questioning.

I understand that you like to think that those who disagree with you will get what’s coming to them (and please spare me the self-righteous denials to the contrary). But I’m not sure that holding onto the idea that one will experience eternal bliss after death while one’s enemies will be tortured for all eternity is either “dealing with reality” or “manning up”. In fact, one could argue that this view of the world is much more consistent with the adolescent wishful thinking. It’s a way of coping with the reality of death, while experiencing the pleasures associated with revenge upon one’s enemies, but whether or not it’s realistic or “manly” is an open question.


>rendering the word “justice” either meaningless, arbitrary or something that is not a property of God.

“It's the 2nd choice - arbitrary. It is totally dependent on the nature and character of God. And you know, since God created the universe and all that... He gets to decide.”

Ah, so the word “justice” is like the word “good”.

It’s “arbitrary”… not a word that I’ve associated with the word “justice” in the past. We simply announce that it’s a character trait of God with no test of this concept in reality. It just is. Whatever God does is just. It just is. If any act assigned to God ever appears unjust to us, we’re always wrong. By definition, God can only be just, no evidence can be admitted to the contrary. There is no reason why the Creator must be just, there is no evidence that the Creator is just, one simply says “God is just”. It’s neat and tidy, and it’s not very convincing. I love theology. It’s so much easier than science.


“It's more meant as an insult of his intellectual prowess with respect to the way he argues against God. His arguments are pitifully bad.”

So, if you want to insult a man’s intellectuall prowess, you call him a girl? Not sure this helps with the sexism. As far as his arguments go, I haven’t paid that much attention to Hitchens, so I can only shrug.


“No, that would be Whateverman. Do you need me to quote the comment, or can you be a big boy and look it up yourself?”

Ok, so you don’t mind if someone lobs personal insults in your direction? Or if others insult you first, you feel justified in insulting in turn? Not ridiculing, just seeking clarification. By the way, I think that you’re being a tad disingenuous when you say that you only insult bad ideas when the evidence suggests otherwise (you feminize Hitchens’ name and make the following comments…”the astute reader which I realise you're most probably not”). There’s more going on here than just insulting ideas.

Now, personally, I think it’s inevitable that online arguments will get a little chippy and little personal, because that’s what happens when folks care about the arguments. So, I expect a little personal snark, and if it remains under control and at a low level, well, I don’t mind too much. Also, it’s easy to misinterpret tone when the communication is by text only. Too much personal insult is clearly distracting, but a little is probably inevitable.

David said...

“Opinion duly noted. Now please give the argument.”

Not sure what you’re looking for here, but my point at times, the way in which one answers the questions includes justification of numerous atrocities on the grounds that “God said do it”, and God is always right or good or whatever trait is needed at the moment.


“BTW, you care enough to come in here and rip the good name of the One I love more than anything else in the world and then whine b/c someone called Christopher Hitchens a mocking name? It's hard to find any reason to care about that kind of thing. Maybe you can think about that.”

Now, I haven’t read the Bible in awhile, but I can’t recall where Jesus said unto them, “If anyone mocks me, thou shalt mock them in turn”. Is it whining to ask one to be act as if he really believes what he says he believes? I would think that you’d care about living your values.

Did I rip the good name of the One you love? I really didn’t think that I did. To the extent that I “ripped”, I ripped the metaphysical construct that you call “God”, that is, I ripped your particular version or concept of God. The One you love only exists in your imagination in the sense that you have chose to create and assign certain trait, characteristics, etc., to think invisible entity that you refer to as “God”. This is certainly not to say that “God” does not exist, I’m just saying that you have no more idea of what this “God” thing is than I do and this entity that you called “One you love”, the thing with traits like “goodness”, is something that you created with your mind.

By the way, this is quite different from a case in which I rip any of your human loves, such as any human significant other, because your S.O. is an actual, physical, touchable human being who is capable of being hurt by the ripping. Now if I ripped your S.O., I’d expect much worse in response than just a mocking of my name.

(Of course, I’m not sure exactly Who you are talking about. Which Who? God? Jesus?)

Now, as to the bigger question of objective morals and subjective moral, I’m going to need some help. I believe I read somewhere that Bossman said that a tree is “objective” because it exists independent of anyone’s opinion, that is it “is there whether you think it is or not.”

So, ok, given that working definition, which of the following are “objective”.

I am an individual of the species Homo sapiens.

I have the brain of a Homo sapiens, my brain has a capacity for empathy, reciprocal altruism, reasoning, language, etc., and other H. sapiens also have similar brains.

Many of these traits (except for complex language) are also found in non-human species.

Humans have the capacity for and have created a variety of tools to increase the chances of survival and to generally make life easier and better.

A given human culture uses much of what was created and passed down by older cultures and also invents new philosophical tools to cope with new situations, and to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Is there anything here that is not “objective”?

Rhology said...

hi David,

The problem isn’t solved when there is no way to know of the solution produced is right or wrong.

Where did I say that? Who are we to judge God, the very standard of right and good? Whatever God does and says is good, that's the bottom line.



Since evolution offers testable hypotheses, there are ways to know if evolution didn’t do it

And since evolution morphs all the time to "envelope" corrections when it was wrong, that would be what I was referring to.



I’m not sure what contradictions you are referring to

The lame answers to the obvious theistic implications of the anthropic principle and the Kalam argument, for starters.



It’s really tempting, but this would take a lot of time and lead to a major digression, so I think I’ll take a lesson I learned from the Bossman and shout “RED HERRING!”

Well, you have the whole naked assertion thing down pat. Now all you have to do is learn what "red herring" really means and learn to apply it correctly. Let me know when you've done so.



That’s the only rebuttal that is possible when it’s a “secret”. That’s the problem with secrets...you can’t really say anything about them.

I CAN say SOME things about the secret will of God. That's why I, you know, DID say SOME things about it. But I can't know everything about it, and yet I can also know that the source is trustworthy and trust that source when I don't have all the info. You do that all the time; the question is whether you'll admit it and let this go or whether you'll continue to engage in special pleading.



I thought that you thought the Bible answers were not ad hoc because they’ve been around a long time (“Bible's been around 2000+ years”).

Right.



I was trying to suggest that whether or not an answer is ad hoc is independent of the length of time it has survived.

Then you don't mean "ad hoc"; you mean something else. That's OK - if you can't think of the precise term, I understand - I often can't either. Just explain it with a little more detail and length and we can figure out what you're trying to say.



One of hallmarks of the species is that we add and improve our knowledge of the world with each generation....Cultures change, morals change, ethics change

Right, like chemical weaponry, nuclear weapons, slash and burn agriculture, cutting heroin with poisonous substances, armored divisions, smart bombs, machetes that won't rust when they come in contact with human blood, etc. Good call.



I don’t think that we would consider it a positive think if our knowledge of medicine had been “static” for 2000 years.

Neither would I, but I didn't say that. You said "static isn't good" with reference to the BIBLE, and I'm questioning you about that.
Why would I think that God needs human help to "evolve" His message? Point out what's wrong with the original version, and how you know that. Don't give me unsupported opinion and subjective value judgments. Give me some real facts.



The word “static” is not even accurate anyway, because Christianity is not the same religion that it was in the first and second centuries.

You'd need to make a case that, say, MY church, is substantially and essential different. That would require some biblical exegesis, though, and I'm not sure you're up for it.



One reason that Christianity is still around is that it has changed and adapted to changing times by the trick of “re-interpreting” the words.

Naked assertion.



That’s pretty consistent with how I was using the word.

Wow, a dictionary! Devoid of context! I'm bowled over by the force of the context-free definition you've provided.

Rhology said...

It’s my plan and desire and goal that you make a left turn in two blocks. I command you to make a left turn in two blocks. You make a right turn in four blocks. You violated my commandment. You also thwarted my plan.

Fine, and I'm glad you can tell me that in human terms, but you're neither omniscient nor timeless nor a planner from eternity past.
The biblical situation is this : It’s my command to you to make a left turn in two blocks. I decree that you will in fact make a right turn in four blocks. You then do make a right turn in four blocks. You violated my commandment. You did not thwart my plan.



Well, I thought that God was perfect and omnibenevolent. If we assume that God is perfect, all powerful and all good, then it seems very odd that an all powerful, all good entity would decree that evil would be. How is this good?

This will help.
Biblically speaking - who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Provide some means outside of God to make objective good/bad judgments.
At any rate, I'm not sure how "it seems odd" is supposed to mean a serious argument. But if you can provide one, I'll look at it.



And that objective source would be?

The Bible. That static source I've been telling you about.



Ok, I understand how this might be very comforting, given the horrors of the world, but there is no way that I can generate enough faith to believe it

That's true. Biblically speaking, God has to grant you that faith.
OTOH, you don't have a rational argument against it. So you're stuck in cognitive-dissonance-world.



I assume that you believe this because you think the Bible says this, yes?

B/c God said it, yes. Do you have a better or more authoritative source of information in mind?



Yes, belief in the Bible is based on untestable declarations of faith.

Not at all. It's quite testable, on the basis of logic!
I do such testing all the time.
Interestingly, belief that evidence is a good way to discover truth is based on untestable declarations of faith.



I really don’t think that I can match you for faith.

Yeah? Prove the outside universe and other minds exist. Start there.



>So, God can arrange the death without the need for murder. So why not do this?

“I'd probably ask Him that. Might start with reading the Bible, for once.”

Huh? Is this an answer? Could you be more specific?


Fine - I can't force you to understand the Bible, after all. The answer is that God's plan is perfect. There's no improving on perfection.
If you disagree, please work out the plan with your own improvements in place, and make sure to explain how you know that such improvements really are improvements and are not mistakes based on your limited knowledge and foresight.



The point is that this world is hardly consistent with words like “good” and “perfect” and “just”.

And nobody claimed that THIS WORLD is good or perfect or just. But THIS WORLD is only one part of God's plan.



Instead, this world is a horror show based on fear and other generally negative traits and emotions.

BTW, could you please prove that fear and horror are objectively bad?

Rhology said...

I think that the Creator of the Universe can handle a little questioning.

Well, sure He can. Whether you have a rational leg to stand on to question Him is the main question here.



I understand that you like to think that those who disagree with you will get what’s coming to them

I'm not trying to be rude here, but you know next to nothing about me and about my internal struggles with the doctrine of Hell. So let's lay off the unjustifiable psychoanalysis, K?
I actually DON'T like that fact. But my not liking sthg has no bearing on whether it's true. I don't like that Cheetos make me fat. But they do.



I’m not sure that holding onto the idea that one will experience eternal bliss after death while one’s enemies will be tortured for all eternity is either “dealing with reality” or “manning up”.

Until you give some kind of argument against it, why should I give it up?



one could argue that this view of the world is much more consistent with the adolescent wishful thinking.

...and the genetic fallacy makes an appearance!
Atheists apparently have difficulty arguing without it.



We simply announce that it’s a character trait of God with no test of this concept in reality. It just is. Whatever God does is just. It just is.

Yes, that's correct. God is the ultimate standard by which we judge all things good/bad. So of course the ultimate standard is tautological.



It’s neat and tidy, and it’s not very convincing. I love theology. It’s so much easier than science.

OK, so flesh that out. Give me a scientific reasoning for assigning the label "objectively good" to ANYTHING.



so you don’t mind if someone lobs personal insults in your direction?

Not particularly.



(you feminize Hitchens’ name and make the following comments…”the astute reader which I realise you're most probably not”).

Hitchens has earned every bit of my scorn. If you don't know anythg about him, hows about you learn a bit before judging me, K?
And the latter comment WAS an evaluation of the argumentation you're presenting. Sorry if you don't see it.



Which Who? God? Jesus?

Yes. Jesus is God. To say "which Who?" demonstrates you don't understand the doctrine of the Trinity.



“objective” because it exists independent of anyone’s opinion, that is it “is there whether you think it is or not.”

That's a very good summation, from William Lane Craig I believe.



I am an individual of the species Homo sapiens. I have the brain of a Homo sapiens, my brain has a capacity for empathy, reciprocal altruism, reasoning, language, etc., and other H. sapiens also have similar brains. Many of these traits (except for complex language) are also found in non-human species. Humans have the capacity for and have created a variety of tools to increase the chances of survival...

That's objective.



to generally make life easier and better.

That's SUBjective. "Better"? Whence do you derive the value judgment reference?



cope with new situations

"Cope"? Whence do you derive the value judgment reference? What does it mean to "cope"? Why is "coping" good or preferable?



to form a more perfect union, etc

"Perfect"? Whence do you derive the value judgment reference? The Preamble to the US Constitution only makes sense within a theistic framework.

Peace,
Rhology

Rhology said...

Also, I just saw this. Quite relevant.

David said...

“Whatever God does and says is good, that's the bottom line.”

You know, we might as well stop here. You’ve simply declared that an untestable assumption is an absolute truth, and that’s that. You’ve defined God as you wish, there’s no way to prove you’re wrong. End of discussion. A wizard did it. What’s the point of discussing anything any further?

Still, I’ll nibble a bit at what follows just for giggles.


“And since evolution morphs all the time to "envelope" corrections when it was wrong, that would be what I was referring to.”

Umm, all scientific theories get modified in light of new data. It’s a strength of the method.


“Yet I can also know that the source is trustworthy and trust that source when I don't have all the info.”

More wizards.


“Right, like chemical weaponry, nuclear weapons, slash and burn agriculture, cutting heroin with poisonous substances, armored divisions, smart bombs, machetes that won't rust when they come in contact with human blood, etc. Good call.”

I could list a long series of positive changes in response, but it doesn’t really matter. You get the point. Things change.


“Why would I think that God needs human help to "evolve" His message? Point out what's wrong with the original version, and how you know that.”

There are lots of things wrong with the original version. Think of all of the changes just in terms of the OT laws that we now ignore. The fact is that the rules changed as human cultures “evolved”.


“You'd need to make a case that, say, MY church, is substantially and essential different. That would require some biblical exegesis, though, and I'm not sure you're up for it.”

It doesn’t take “exegesis”, it just takes a little knowledge of Western cultural history. I know that you think that YOUR CHURCH has the one true truth and hasn’t changed. EVERYONE thinks that HIS CHURCH is the one true, unchanging church. But given the number of Christian denominations, someone has to be wrong. Could be you.


>One reason that Christianity is still around is that it has changed and adapted to changing times by the trick of “re-interpreting” the words.

“Naked assertion.”

Not really. Consider that the Bible has been interpreted as both supporting and condemning a huge list of things, including (but not limited to) slavery, war, capital punishment, torture, women ministers, divine right of kings, capitalism, socialism, etc. The very existence of numerous Christian denominations shows that the Bible has been re-interpreted many, many times, and Christianity shows every sign of adaptation to changing times. You don’t need exegesis, just a little knowledge of western cultural history.


“Wow, a dictionary! Devoid of context! I'm bowled over by the force of the context-free definition you've provided.”

Umm, what other definitions should I use? You’re suggesting that we ignore the dictionary? I know you’re fond of defining terms as you see fit, but I’d rather use a dictionary.


“It’s my command to you to make a left turn in two blocks. I decree that you will in fact make a right turn in four blocks. You then do make a right turn in four blocks. You violated my commandment. You did not thwart my plan.”

Wow, and you think that I play with words? Command? Decree? Nice evasion. You command something. Then when I do something different from the command, you say that you decreed for the other to happen all along? So, what’s the point of the command in the first place? The script is already written.

David said...

“Biblically speaking - who are you, O man, to talk back to God?”

Ah, right. When something doesn’t make sense, you tell me to shut up and stop asking questions. Not God. You.


“The Bible. That static source I've been telling you about. “

Yeah, well, that’s the problem. This is all based on a set of writings created by ordinary, uninspired humans. But if you believe differently, then this whole discussion is pointless. You think God said it, and that settles it.


>Ok, I understand how this might be very comforting, given the horrors of the world, but there is no way that I can generate enough faith to believe it

“You don't have a rational argument against it.”

How much of an argument do you need to conclude that the horrors of the world do not serve some greater good? Seems to me that the burden is on you to demonstrate why anyone should believe such an insane notion.


“B/c God said it, yes. Do you have a better or more authoritative source of information in mind?”

How about something other than wizards?


“Not at all. It's quite testable, on the basis of logic!”

What logic? You start by declaring that something is an absolute truth, you start with the desired and untestable assumptions and premises, and then you go around in circles.

“Yeah? Prove the outside universe and other minds exist. Start there.”

I have no idea what this means.


“Fine - I can't force you to understand the Bible, after all. The answer is that God's plan is perfect. There's no improving on perfection.”

See? More assumptions, more untestable declarations, more wizards. Why should I work out a “plan”? Perfection is your assertion. The burden is on you.


“And nobody claimed that THIS WORLD is good or perfect or just. But THIS WORLD is only one part of God's plan.”

I see. More assertions that it’s all good in the end. We can’t see it, but it’s true anyway.


>I’m not sure that holding onto the idea that one will experience eternal bliss after death while one’s enemies will be tortured for all eternity is either “dealing with reality” or “manning up”.

“Until you give some kind of argument against it, why should I give it up?”.

I’m supposed to prove that you’re wrong about what happens after death? Well, I admit that this is going to be a challenge. Believe as you wish. But there’s no reason to think that your version of the afterlife is any more likely to be true than any of the countless other versions created by humans. None of the other versions can be argued against either.


>One could argue that this view of the world is much more consistent with the adolescent wishful thinking.

“...and the genetic fallacy makes an appearance!”

This doesn’t really explain why this isn’t wishful thinking.


>We simply announce that it’s a character trait of God with no test of this concept in reality. It just is. Whatever God does is just. It just is.

“Yes, that's correct. God is the ultimate standard by which we judge all things good/bad. So of course the ultimate standard is tautological.”

Thank you. This has been my point all along. It’s all circular reasoning. So much for the power of your logic. So, this argument is pointless. No evidence that God isn’t good will be accepted, because the conclusion has been made at the start that such evidence can not exist.


“Yes. Jesus is God. To say "which Who?" demonstrates you don't understand the doctrine of the Trinity.”

Oh, I understand. I’ve read all the apologies for the Trinity. It’s still tritheism.

David said...

>I am an individual of the species Homo sapiens. I have the brain of a Homo sapiens, my brain has a capacity for empathy, reciprocal altruism, reasoning, language, etc., and other H. sapiens also have similar brains. Many of these traits (except for complex language) are also found in non-human species. Humans have the capacity for and have created a variety of tools to increase the chances of survival...

“That's objective.”

Very good. Grounds for agreement.


"Cope"? Whence do you derive the value judgment reference? What does it mean to "cope"?

It means to improve the chances of survival, and we’ve agreed that this is “objective”.


"Perfect"? Whence do you derive the value judgment reference? The Preamble to the US Constitution only makes sense within a theistic framework.”

I think you’re taking this phrase too literally. I believe that this is an example of flowery 18th century rhetoric. But if it makes life simple, it can be dropped.


Ok, so we have a long list of things that are objective, yes?

Rhology said...

Hi David,

I can understand your confusion and what you're saying. What you're missing is that you haven't examined your own position for the same "untestable assumption is an absolute truth" statements on your own part.
As I've pointed out, you believe in the untestable assumption that evidence is a good way to discover truth. I've also asked you to consider the untestability of the questions of the existence of other minds, of an external universe. Further, you cannot test the assumption that your mind works properly, that your senses properly observe outside of yourself, that your cognitive faculties correctly receive those sensory inputs, and that those faculties properly interpret those inputs. All kinds of stuff you don't know. This is why your position and your epistemology are non-self-justifying. You cannot know these things. You take them on faith, but you have no reason to other than the fact that taking them on faith makes you feel better. That is not the case for me - the God of the Bible is self-justifying b/c I think in accord with Him. He claims to be the truth and the way to know truth, and He is the only possibility for knowing it. If nothing else I can certainly know that naturalism provides no way, no answer to these things.

Which leads us to:
You know, we might as well stop here. You’ve simply declared that an untestable assumption is an absolute truth, and that’s that. You’ve defined God as you wish, there’s no way to prove you’re wrong. End of discussion. A wizard did it.

You know, we might as well stop here. You’ve simply declared that an untestable assumption (ie, that evidence is a good way to discover truth, and that your mind can discover truth) is an absolute truth, and that’s that. You’ve defined evidence and your cognitive faculties as you wish, there’s no way to prove you’re wrong. End of discussion. A wizard (or evolution, or luck, or chemical necessity) did it.
IOW, sorry, don't act like you can take the high road. You have a *very* long way to go before you've proven that.


Umm, all scientific theories get modified in light of new data. It’s a strength of the method.

And then THOSE get proven wrong. The only way that would inspire confidence in someone is if they were sold-out, on-fire, zealous for their faith. And you, my friend, certainly are that.
Besides that, scientific conclusions are always logically fallacious. You have to choose between logic and naturalistic science. Choose wisely.



I could list a long series of positive changes in response, but it doesn’t really matter.

1) You assume positive/negative dichotomies, and yet haven't offered a reason to think that a basis for assigning positive/negative labels objectively to anything is possible.
2) Yes, I know positive things have happened throughout history. But you acted like "progress" is always good. Saying "Things change" is moving the goalposts from your original contention. You have been duly refuted.



Think of all of the changes just in terms of the OT laws that we now ignore

More theology, of which you are quite ignorant. I again recommend you stay away from that area, b/c you're just embarrassing yourself.



I know that you think that YOUR CHURCH has the one true truth and hasn’t changed. EVERYONE thinks that HIS CHURCH is the one true, unchanging church.

1) Haha. I know that you think that YOUR SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY has the one true truth and hasn’t changed. EVERYONE thinks that HIS SCIENCE is the one true, unchanging science.
2) Unlike you, I back up my contentions with argumentation. That's what my blog is for, and what the Bible is for.

Rhology said...

But given the number of Christian denominations, someone has to be wrong. Could be you.

Sure, it could be anyone. I make sure it's not me by studying the issues. This is just a throwaway assertion.



Consider that the Bible has been interpreted as both supporting and condemning a huge list of things

This is supposed to prove that the BIBLE'S WORDS have been "re-interpreted"?
Tell you what, let me take a half-step back here. You're right that people's interps have changed over the years, but that is far from the same as the Bible's actual msg changing. And whether ppl wrongly interp it is not the point here. So, I concede that yes, it's been differently interped over the yrs, but the problem for you is that it doesn't matter in the slightest.



I’d rather use a dictionary.

Ah, see, I'm fond of sthg called "context".



Wow, and you think that I play with words? Command? Decree? Nice evasion.

You have so far demonstrated little more than complete ignorance of Christian theology, and you accuse me of "evasion"? Maybe you should do a little reading into the topic before you throw around that kind of language.



When something doesn’t make sense, you tell me to shut up and stop asking questions. Not God. You.

Um, actually, that was a direct quote from Romans 9. Wasn't me.



This is all based on a set of writings created by ordinary, uninspired humans.

Prove it. I'd love to see you prove a universal negative - that the writers of the Bible were definitely NOT inspired. Have fun with that.



How much of an argument do you need to conclude that the horrors of the world do not serve some greater good?

How about some way to determine what good and bad are, objectively? That'd be an excellent place to start.



“Yeah? Prove the outside universe and other minds exist. Start there.”

I have no idea what this means.


Yeah, that's sort of your problem. Read this and it might help.
I mean exactly what I said. You obviously think that the outside universe and other minds exist. Prove it. If you can't, you admit your position is based on blind faith, just as you accuse my position of being. Wouldn't that be embarrassing for you?



I’m supposed to prove that you’re wrong about what happens after death? Well, I admit that this is going to be a challenge

So, how about you stop saying unprovable things like "I’m not sure that holding onto the idea that one will experience eternal bliss after death while one’s enemies will be tortured for all eternity is either 'dealing with reality' or 'manning up'", OK? Is that fair?



It’s all circular reasoning.

And so's yours. That's the point I'm making. You're going about this all wrong, not asking enough questions, and of the wrong people.



I’ve read all the apologies for the Trinity. It’s still tritheism

I’ve read all the apologies for atheism. It’s still river fairy worship.



"Cope"? Whence do you derive the value judgment reference? What does it mean to "cope"?
It means to improve the chances of survival, and we’ve agreed that this is “objective”.


OK, fair enough. You haven't shown that this is a good or bad thing, though.



Ok, so we have a long list of things that are objective, yes?

Sure. Too bad they don't help you with what you're ostensibly trying to accomplish - giving us an objective basis for distinguishing good vs bad. Why didn't you answer my other questions in this list?

Peace,
Rhology

David said...

“You cannot test the assumption that your mind works properly...etc.. etc.... All kinds of stuff you don't know. This is why your position and your epistemology are non-self-justifying. You cannot know these things. You take them on faith, but you have no reason to other than the fact that taking them on faith makes you feel better. That is not the case for me, etc., etc.”

You make a good case that I there are many things that I can’t know, but you then turn around and claim that the rules don’t apply to you. Turns out, you can’t know what you claim to know either. You’re stuck with the same human brain that I have and with all of the limits that I have. If I can’t know, then you can’t know either. I take things on faith because they make me feel better, and so do you. You can claim “self-justification”, but your claims are no better supported then. We’re in the same ignorance-filled boat. The difference is, I can shrug and admit it, but you want to deny it.


“You know, we might as well stop here. You’ve simply declared that an untestable assumption (ie, that evidence is a good way to discover truth, and that your mind can discover truth) is an absolute truth, and that’s that.”

Ok, so we’re equally ignorant. Fair enough.


“And then THOSE get proven wrong. The only way that would inspire confidence in someone is if they were sold-out, on-fire, zealous for their faith. And you, my friend, certainly are that.”

Well, some do, but others seem to be a pretty good description of how the natural world works. And every day of your life, you act as if scientific theories are accurate. Consider how much of what we do is based on the assumption that the scientists have, in general, accurately described how the world works.

Turns out, you have much the same confidence in science that I do, but I’m not going to accuse you of being “sold-out, on-fire, zealous for your faith” in science. (By the way, who was it that was so annoyed when I engages in “unjustifiable psychoanalysis”?)


“Besides that, scientific conclusions are always logically fallacious.”

Really. Ever taken an antibiotic? If so, then you were expressing faith in the logically fallacious conclusions of science.


"You have to choose between logic and naturalistic science. Choose wisely."

You, too. Next time you need a doctor.


“Saying "Things change" is moving the goalposts from your original contention. You have been duly refuted.”

I dunno know. Would I rather live in a world in which slavery was accepted and women were denied full rights and our rulers thought they were placed on their thrones by gods, etc., etc.? I think I’ll take the present day, even with the negatives. You’re welcome to embrace the past.


“More theology, of which you are quite ignorant. I again recommend you stay away from that area, b/c you're just embarrassing yourself.”

Actually, I’m quite familiar with the excuses provided in the linked article. Ceremonial laws, moral laws, heard it all before. Doesn’t change the fact that the laws changed.


“Haha. I know that you think that YOUR SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY has the one true truth and hasn’t changed. EVERYONE thinks that HIS SCIENCE is the one true, unchanging science.”

Umm, I don’t get it. This is an argument? You do think that your church has the one true truth and hasn’t changed in 2000 years, yes?

"Unlike you, I back up my contentions with argumentation. That's what my blog is for, and what the Bible is for.”

I haven’t offered backed-up arguments? Oh, dear, and here I thought that’s what I was doing. The Bible is not an “argument”, it’s the product of the assertions of the writers. You take it as truth, but others don’t.

David said...

“Tell you what, let me take a half-step back here. You're right that people's interps have changed over the years, but that is far from the same as the Bible's actual msg changing. And whether ppl wrongly interp it is not the point here. So, I concede that yes, it's been differently interped over the yrs, but the problem for you is that it doesn't matter in the slightest.”

Well, actually it does matter. The message is essentially inseparable from the interpretations. For all practical and applied purposes, if the interpretations change, then the message has changed, too. If there are many interpretations, what is the actual, true message? What’s the point of saying that there’s a “static” message if no one knows what it is and when the interpretations change over time. It’s a nice abstract idea, but it’s not of much practical value. In any event, your response does not deal with the point that Christainity has adapted by changing the interpretations. In fact, Christianity is not static, and that’s part of why it’s survived.


“You have so far demonstrated little more than complete ignorance of Christian theology, and you accuse me of "evasion"? Maybe you should do a little reading into the topic before you throw around that kind of language.”

Ok, but you didn’t actually address my comment about command and decree.


>When something doesn’t make sense, you tell me to shut up and stop asking questions. Not God. You.

“Um, actually, that was a direct quote from Romans 9. Wasn't me.”

I understood that this is from the Bible, but what does it matter? Ok, so it was you quoting Paul as if it came from God. But saying it’s from Romans doesn’t mean it came from God.


“Prove it. I'd love to see you prove a universal negative - that the writers of the Bible were definitely NOT inspired. Have fun with that.”

So, if I can’t prove that the writers were definitely NOT inspired, that means that this is the Word of God? Can you definitely prove that the sacred writings of other religions were not inspired? If not, do you believe that these writings are also the word of God?

Ok, you wish to believe the Bible is God’s word. I don’t see much to support this, but it’s your choice. I could mention the errors in the Bible (global flood, anyone?), but I doubt if this would change things very much.


“You obviously think that the outside universe and other minds exist. Prove it. If you can't, you admit your position is based on blind faith, just as you accuse my position of being. Wouldn't that be embarrassing for you?”

Huh? What? Outside universe? As I said earlier, I’m content to admit that we are all blind and all in the same ignorant boat. I’m not the one who is trying to deny this reality.


“So, how about you stop saying unprovable things like "I’m not sure that holding onto the idea that one will experience eternal bliss after death while one’s enemies will be tortured for all eternity is either 'dealing with reality' or 'manning up'", OK? Is that fair?”

Well, since you can’t prove that you’ll experience eternal bliss after death, I think we’re still stuck with the question of whether or not the claim of eternal bliss is really dealing with reality. The reality is that we don’t know what happens after death.


>I’ve read all the apologies for the Trinity. It’s still tritheism

“I’ve read all the apologies for atheism. It’s still river fairy worship.”

Wow, now that was a searing rebuttal. River fairy worship? What’s that? Sounds like fun, but I’m not familiar with it. I’m more of a tree worshiper. I like to stay dry.

David said...

>Ok, so we have a long list of things that are objective, yes?

“Sure. Too bad they don't help you with what you're ostensibly trying to accomplish - giving us an objective basis for distinguishing good vs bad.”

Well, actually, I think that it does give us an objective basis for distinguishing good from bad. Reason, empathy, reciprocal altruism, the creations of codes for “domestic tranquility”, desire to live, desire to see our children live, etc., etc., are all “objective” and the basis for what we call moral codes and “good and bad”. For example, our real and objective sense of empathy is very important in our judgment of good and bad. It’s why I can say that the Canaanite genocide is bad. Empathy is real and objective, empathy says that genocide is always bad. In any event, study of human history shows that this is the reality of where moral codes come from, and it’s a reality based on “objective”, observable, confirmable things.

By contrast, saying that something is good because God says it’s good is really just another way of saying something is good because I, a human being, say that it’s good. In truth, we haven’t the slightest clue what the Creator of the Universe thinks is good or bad. We simply claim that we do in order to justify our personal and subjective desires. It’s no more objective than basing moral codes on my list of objective things.

Rhology said...

you then turn around and claim that the rules don’t apply to you. Turns out, you can’t know what you claim to know either.

Oh no, not at all! They DEFINITELY apply to me. What's great about my position is that Jesus tells me many things of which I can't help but be ignorant, and that includes these ultimate questions of epistemology and existence. Jesus can see them, and lets me know in the Bible. That's why they don't apply to me in the final equation. But you have no such recourse, no such foresight, available to you.


You can claim “self-justification”, but your claims are no better supported then.

I don't just CLAIM it. I've demonstrated it.


Ok, so we’re equally ignorant. Fair enough.

Now comes the part where you admit that your position is based on faith just as much as mine.
(I'll go on to demonstrate, as I've been doing, that yours requires MORE faith, but a statement of equivalence from you will be fine.)


but others seem to be a pretty good description of how the natural world works

You mean they SEEM to. Until they're proven wrong.
And "seem to be" is nothing close to the solid basis you claim when nobody's poking around and asking tough questions. You see how squishy your claims have become?
And "seem to be" is totally dependent on the as-yet-unproven claim that evidence is a good way to discover truth and that your cognitive faculties function properly. So you stack faith upon faith.


Turns out, you have much the same confidence in science that I do,

Well, not totally the same, no. I have general confidence in it to do what it can do in its realm. I also, however, recognise its inherent fallaciousness and its inability to comment outside its bailiwick.



“sold-out, on-fire, zealous for your faith” in science. (By the way, who was it that was so annoyed when I engages in “unjustifiable psychoanalysis”?)

I'm just calling it like I see it. Besides, you could label me sold-out, on-fire, zealous for your faith in JESUS, and I'd wholeheartedly agree.



Ever taken an antibiotic? If so, then you were expressing faith in the logically fallacious conclusions of science.

OK. Now prove to me that the NEXT time I take an antibiotic, it both will work and won't transport me to Neptune. PROVE it, don't just assume it.
Besides, you didn't read my article, did you? If you had, you'd know that science is in fact generally reliable b/c the God of the Bible holds the universe together to run according to physical laws and more or less universal regularity. So medicines can be trusted, usually, b/c of that, rather than to transform us into lizardmen, despite the same chemical structures. No such guarantee on naturalism.



Would I rather live in a world in which slavery was accepted and women were denied full rights and our rulers thought they were placed on their thrones by gods, etc

Would Jeffrey Dahmer rather live in a world where his cannibalistic murders were prosecuted? Probably not - he'd prefer to eat people in peace.
You're both people. Now tell me who's right and how we can know.

Rhology said...

Ceremonial laws, moral laws, heard it all before. Doesn’t change the fact that the laws changed.

Oh, so your ignorance is intentional. I don't think that makes you look any more rational, tbh.



Umm, I don’t get it. This is an argument? You do think that your church has the one true truth and hasn’t changed in 2000 years, yes?

Umm, I don’t get it. This is an argument? You do think that naturalistic science has the one true truth and hasn’t changed ever, yes?


The message is essentially inseparable from the interpretations.

So Jell-O has no bones and the further they fly the much?
Or wait, I read that wrong. You're saying that you've bowed the knee to Jesus and want to become a fundamentalist? Cool! Mind sharing your testimony with us?



What’s the point of saying that there’s a “static” message if no one knows what it is

Who said no one knows it?



I understood that this is from the Bible, but what does it matter?

B/c it's God saying it, not me.



So, if I can’t prove that the writers were definitely NOT inspired, that means that this is the Word of God?

Now you're shifting the goalposts AGAIN. Do you really think your position is helped by this kind of dancing?



Can you definitely prove that the sacred writings of other religions were not inspired?

Yes, by demonstrating
1) internal inconsistencies in them
2) that the Bible is in fact true. And the Bible rules out other religions as false.



I could mention the errors in the Bible (global flood, anyone?)

Oh, so you have a time machine and can tell exactly that the flood didn't happen? How did you make it? What time period did you examine? How did you escape aging while you were observing?
Or is this just another statement of faith on your part?


Huh? What? Outside universe?

Yes, the universe outside of you. You have two options:
1) Prove it exists, and thus show your position epistemologically superior to mine, OR
2) Take it on faith, and thus emasculate all your "that's just faith" critiques of my position. Pick your poison.



The reality is that we don’t know what happens after death.

YOU don't. I do, b/c a highly trustworthy authority told me what happens.
And yet YOU are the one who apparently feels qualified to make solid statements about it and then mock dissenters from it. Then when challenged, you retreat to agnosticism. This is why I don't find your approach very satisfying or very innocent.



Wow, now that was a searing rebuttal. River fairy worship? What’s that?

It's where you worship fairies that live in rivers.
Now, if you point me to "real atheist writings" that rebut that or that never mention that, I'll just do like you did and ignore them. “Sorry, I’ve read all the apologies for atheism. It’s still river fairy worship."



Reason, empathy, reciprocal altruism, the creations of codes for “domestic tranquility”, desire to live, desire to see our children live, etc., etc., are all “objective” and the basis for what we call moral codes and “good and bad”

Fine. Now prove that reason is good. That empathy is good. That altruism is good. That creating codes to cooperate are good.
I'd link this article to you, but I'm not confident you'll actually read it.

David said...

They say that it's really hard to put down a crack pipe, and these sorts of discussions are even more addictive than that. I could reply, and it's really hard not to, but it seems to me that we've both had ample opportunities to make our points (thank you, Bossman), and someone has to say "the end". Since I've gotten myself tangled up in other fights in other places, and since time is limited, I guess I'll be the one to say "the end".

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

David said...

Ok, I do have one last question. I promise I won't argue about it, but I gots to know. Was it a global flood or a regional flood? You know the one I mean. Just curious.

Rhology said...

Was it a global flood or a regional flood?

Actually, I'm undecided about that. Sorry I can't be more specific, but creation science is not my forté. I take a more presuppositional approach in my argumentation for a biblical history.

David said...

Fair enough. Thanks.