Monday, September 22, 2014
More pearls of wisdom from the Rational Skepticism Forum:
Ven. Kwan Tam Woo » Sep 22, 2014 6:01 am
The fact of the matter is that, so far as this debate is concerned, he is on the same side as those Muslim terrorists.
i) An allegation which he hasn't even attempted to demonstrate.
ii) But since he wants to talk about terrorism, what's his position on ecoterrorism, viz. ALF, ELF, SSCS, Earth First? Aren't their members typically adherents of naturalistic evolution?
The idea that atheism leads to moral relativism and nihilism is as fallacious as it is offensive
That's an idea I got from prominent secular philosophers, viz. Michael Ruse, Joel Marks, Alex Rosenberg, Quentin Smith, J. L. Mackie, Massimo Pigliucci.
You want religious justifications for extremist acts?
Pretending to answer a question I didn't ask.
So bombing clinics “after hours” is okay is it?
Here we have an atheist who's so intellectually challenged that for him, distinguishg what is less worse from what is far worse is equivalent to "okay." If I say burning a human alive is far worse than burning a dog alive, does that mean burning a dog alive is "okay"?
You have to wonder: is he an atheist because he's that obtuse–or is he that obtuse because he's an atheist?
Well now he knows how narcissistic psychopaths feel! I hope I never run into this guy in a dark alley! First he suggests that it’s okay to bomb abortion clinics “after hours”, and now this.
Notice how he's admitted in a roundabout way that atheism is dangerous. It isn't safe to be an atheist if you take it too seriously. It is dangerous to be a consistent atheist. Dangerous to think it through to its logical conclusion. And especially dangerous to act on it.
No it’s not. It’s an adaptation-oriented description.
He used the word "fulfill." That's a teleological concept.
Simply put, natural selection gives the illusion of brain evolution moving towards a particular goal.
If natural selection generates illusions, how would he be in any position to detect the illusion? His brain is a product of that delusive process.
Re serial killers: the question was why we value things, *not* whether it is right or wrong to value certain things.
Which is a problem for his position inasmuch as atheism is unable to bridge the gap between moral psychology and moral ontology.
Perhaps the author could enlighten us as to why his “loving” God has seen it fit create serial killers who derive pleasure from wanton murder?
I've discussed theodicy on many occasions. Try asking a question I haven't answered already.
How does it beg the question?? The evidence that thought arises from neurological activity is overwhelming. Those “eminent” philosophers (I assume he means people like Chalmers?) are pulling assertions out of their arses.
Which does nothing to refute their arguments.
Well at least he is admitting that he’s motivated by fear, that’s a start.
No, I used the word "suppose." That's a cue that I'm speaking hypothetically. For the sake of argument.
His fear is not an effect of “physical determinism” (which I never mentioned), rather it is a product of his own religious baggage. No one is “blaming” brain chemistry for anything. Yes you can in fact influence what your brain tells you, but in order to do that you have to understand and accept how the brain works first.
Notice that he's captive to the Cartesian theater. He's a physicalist, yet he acts like he's an independent observer of his neurological outputs. As if he's a homunculus who's watching the action and assessing the action. But if physicalism is true, there is no "he" distinct from his brain. His claim is circular: to say "you can influence what your brain tells you" translates into "your brain can influence what your brain tells you." As though your brain can peer over its shoulder and correct what your brain is doing.
No, that’s a straw man. It is a causal, selective, and adaptation-driven process in which complexity builds upon itself.
To say it's "causal, selective, and adaptation-driven" doesn't contradict the fact that it's a blind, undirected process.
To take a comparison, suppose I throw dice to bet on horses or play the stock market. Is that a reliable method to pick horses or pick stocks? No, because there's no intelligence behind the outcome. Like a brain that's the product of naturalistic evolution. A roll of the dice.
What I’m asking is how does he explain the origin and functioning of the mind of his god?
Only contingent entities have an origin. So his question is a category mistake.
The emotional effects are real whether you are consciously aware that the story and characters are fictional or not. If you can just switch them off by reminding yourself that it’s not real, then the movie makers haven’t done their job properly.
I appreciate his frank admission that an atheist finds it hard to distinguish between fiction and reality. That goes a long way towards explaining why he's an atheist in the first place.
Over there, I’ve been working through Volumes 1 and 3 (“Prolegomena” and “Doctrine of God”). Those deal a lot with epistemology and metaphysics and how the Reformers dealt with the Medieval discussions and how the “Reformed Orthodox” really tried to clarify the Medieval discussions from a truly Biblical perspective.
Muller’s Volume 2 deals with “the Doctrine of Scripture” – and I think that’s a good thing to review in the light of some of the things that are going on in our day. Of course it may be said that “this was all from a pre-critical era” and that’s true, but it’s still important to see how the individuals from this era of “Reformed orthodoxy” worked their best to understand all of the history of the church before them.
Muller’s central thesis is something like this:
William Lane Craig vs. Bart Ehrman (2006) (reviewed by Steve Hays)
William Lane Craig vs. Bart Ehrman (2006) (reviewed by Jason Engwer)
Mike Licona vs. Bart Ehrman (2008)
Gary Habermas vs. Arif Ahmed (2008) (see, also, the further comments here and in the Stand to Reason thread linked there)
Richard Carrier vs. William Lane Craig (2009)
Mike Licona vs. Bart Ehrman (2009)
Mike Licona vs. Evan Fales (2014)
You can find archives of our posts on resurrection issues here. The e-books linked on our sidebar on the right side of our homepage contain several hundred pages of material on Jesus' resurrection. Steve's This Joyful Eastertide alone has a few hundred pages on the subject. You'll find lengthy interactions with Robert Price, Richard Carrier, Jeff Lowder, John Loftus, and other individuals. If you're interested in responses to people whose debates we haven't reviewed, you might find responses to them in the other resources I've just mentioned.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
- Steve Hays Moore's criticism is illogical. If someone is born with total depravity, that doesn't mean he dies with total depravity. If God choses to save a dying infant, he regenerates the infant. Justifies the infant. Sanctifies the infant. Glorifies the infant. Total depravity makes people liable to hell, but saving grace counteracts total depravity.
- Steve Hays
- John Moore "You are born a sinner, you will always be a sinner even if regenerated (Westminster Confession), and the only way to be free of sin is when you die and are rid of your sinful flesh (body)" is the most damnable doctrine ever to seep it's way up from the pits of hell and into the church and the hearts of men!"
- So is Moore a perfectionist? That's hard to live up to! Calvinism doesn't locate sin in "the body." By itself, there's nothing sinful about the body. It's what you does with your body that can be sinful. It's the mind that's sinful. The body simply does what the mind directs.
- Joel Tay Onan Coca, "I would say that it is inconsistent, since the issue is where we get the idea that a baby can be saved apart from a justification by faith--and whether a person can be elected apart from faith."
- In Calvinism, election is unconditional. It's traditional Arminianism that espouses conditional election (i.e. election based on foreseen faith). In Calvinism, every elect person is elected "apart from faith." God doesn't elect someone on account of their faith. Faith is not the basis of election.
- Rather, faith is an indirect result of election. Those whom God elects, he graces with other spiritual blessings–including the gift of faith. You might say faith is one *goal* of election.
- In Calvinism, moreover, regeneration is the cause of faith. So regeneration is more ultimate than faith. The elect can be regenerate before they exercise faith.
- Biblical commands about the necessity of faith are addressed to adults. Many biblical commands are specific to a particular class of individuals. Circumcision is addressed to males, not females. So you can't just assume that the necessity of faith is applicable to everyone, regardless of their cognitive status (i.e. babies, the developmentally disabled, senile Christians, comatose Christians, Christians with brain cancer).
- Finally, if God saves babies, they presumably mature in the afterlife. They will reach the age of discretion, at which point they will be able to exercise faith.
- Keep in mind, too, that it depends on the definition of faith. There's a sense in which, according to Scripture (e.g. Hebrews, 1 Corinthians), faith is supplanted by sight in the world to come.
- Therefore, the salvation of dying infants is not inconsistent with Calvinism.
Steve Hays Joel, are you attempting to interact with what I wrote? If so, your response is very incomplete. To begin with, even if the elect *will* believe, that fails to address the timeframe. When or where will they believe? In this life or the afterlife? In addition, you're sidestepping much of what I said. Is that because you don't have a specific counterargument?
Steve Hays Let's take a comparison, which I already hinted at, but you ignored. As a rule, those who die in a state of unbelief are hellbound. But does that apply to Christians who cease to believe due to brain cancer or senile dementia?
Steve Hays So, Joel, are you asserting God never regenerates anyone below the age of discretion? If so, what's your basis for that blanket claim?
Steve Hays So are you saying babies exercise faith? Babies believe the gospel? What do you mean when you deny an age of discretion? Do you mean humans undergo no cognitive development from conception and/or birth to maturity? Does a 2-year-old have the same cognitive ability as a 20-year-old?
Steve Hays BTW, what's your evidence that regeneration immediately issues in faith, regardless of age?
Steve Hays If there's no such thing as an age of discretion, then what does this passage mean?
- "15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted" (Isa 7:15-16)?
Steve Hays Your response suffers from multiple confusions:
- i) To begin with, you don't seem to grasp what the phrase "age of discretion means." You act as if it's synonymous with the "age of accountability." Is English your second language? Actually, "age of consent" is "synonymous with "age of reason." "Discretion" has primary reference to intellectual aptitude/awareness, not responsibility. The imputation of Adam's sin is irrelevant to the age of discretion inasmuch as the age of discretion is not synonymous with the age of accountability.
- There is, of course, some connection between intellectual development and moral development. If a 2-year-old steals a toy from the store, and a 20-year-old steals a Rolex from the store, one committed a crime and the other did not. The law rightly draws that distinction.
- ii) LIkewise, the imputation of Adam's sin is irrelevant to the question of infant salvation inasmuch as infant salvation, in Reformed theology, takes the imputation of Adam's sin for granted. Although babies are guilty in Adam, elect babies are redeemed by the blood of Christ and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
- iii) You also have difficulty following your own argument. I introduced the age of discretion in relation to the issue of faith. You're the one who keeps harping on faith. So I'm responding to you on your own terms. Faith presupposes a certain level of cognitive development. To require doctrinal faith from a 1-year-old is contrary to nature. The age of discretion is entirely relevant to the intellectual capacity or incapacity to exercise faith. Try to keep up with your own side of the argument.
- iv) You miss the point about Isa 7:15-16. The passage indicates that below a certain age, a human lacks the cognitive development to know the difference between good and evil. By parity of argument, a human below a certain age lacks the cognitive development to exercise doctrinal faith. That's the connection.
- I didn't introduce the verse to establish that dying children go to heaven. Rather, I cited the passage to establish the age of discretion–a phrase which seems to confuse you.
- v) If you don't see why a baby can't believing the gospel, then you're not trying very hard. Do babies understand doctrinal propositions? Are babies simply tiny adults? Adults in baby bodies?
- The Lukan text about the prenatal Baptist doesn't say he assented to the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
- vi) "The idea that a baby can be justified apart from faith is nothing more than a denial of sola fide." You're repeating objections I already dealt with. That's a tacit concession your part that you lost the argument.
- vii) I actually haven't discussed whether all or even some dying infants go to heaven. You've forgotten what the issue was. The question at issue is whether infant salvation is consistent with Calvinism. At this point I'm not discussing whether Calvinism is true or whether infant salvation is true. Rather, I'm merely discussing the original issue, which is one of internal consistency.
- Perhaps you reject Calvinism, but that's beside the point. The issue is whether the possibility of infant salvation is logically incompatible with Calvinism. Whether Calvinism is true is a separate issue. Whether infant salvation is true is a separate issue. At the moment, the issue on the table is the logical relation between these two propositions.
- You seem to be conditioned to respond to position that's not actually on the table at the moment. You need to adapt to new challenges.
- viii) Infants are a special case because infants naturally lack a certain level of cognitive development necessary to believe doctrinal propositions. From a Christian standpoint, infant mortality inevitably raises the question of their eternal fate.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Unlike many critics of Christianity, Fales acknowledges a high level of honesty and intelligence among the early Christians. He makes some especially positive comments about the apostle Paul. However, he thinks the New Testament authors were often writing in a non-historical genre that modern Christians (and many non-Christians) are mistakenly interpreting in a historical manner. He focuses on the gospels, especially Matthew, for most of the debate, but he addresses Paul to some extent during the Questions and Answers segment at the end. He argues that the New Testament authors didn't intend to claim that Jesus rose from the dead in the physical, historical sense Christianity has traditionally maintained.
Friday, September 19, 2014
I also asked Harris at the event why the vast majority of atheists — and many of those who buy his books — are male, a topic which has prompted some to raise questions of sexism in the atheist community. Harris’ answer was both silly and then provocative.
It can only be attributed to my “overwhelming lack of sex appeal,” he said to huge laughter.
“I think it may have to do with my person slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to people..People just don’t like to have their ideas criticized. There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” he said. “The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.”
- Boz Tchividjian likes this.
- Talbot Logan To reduce the legal issue to "access to basic rights" I think it not an accurate nor fair summation. There are currently in excess of 1000 Federal benefits that are denied to same sex couples including Social Security survivor benefits, the right to inherit from a spouse, mandated family medical leave, partner immigration protection, tax on health benefits etc. Federal benefits are even more important for military personnel and government employees whose same-sex spouses are not accorded the same benefits. That is why this is an important issue.
- Talbot Logan There is not a call to ask any religious institution to change their views or their definitions of their tenets. But unfortunately, the government has already redefined marriage by offering specific protections under the law and it is that "meaning" that needs to change. And as a gay may, I deny the author's denial that "changing the meaning of the word will improve the acceptance of gays in society". Many social injustices have been corrected by taking words and phrases that have been exclusionary and even hateful and redefining and/or eliminating. I deny that the author, since he is not a gay man, can even understand that what I don't want is access to basic social “rights.” I want to be treated with the same dignity and respect and protection as every American. That I believe is a God-given and inalienable right and supports the greatest commandment of "love thy neighbor as thyself". Far from "basic".
- Sam Logan Very good clarifications, my son. THANK YOU! I agree with you that what our government has done is "unfortunate." I agree that this needs to change and I support that change in every way that I can. I agree that, no matter what they think about gay marriage, evangelical Christians (starting with your father) need to be much more aggressive and creative in "loving ALL of our neighbors" as ourselves. We/I have done a terrible job at that, not just with respect to gays but also with respect to the poor, to those of different races, AND to those of different religions (including Muslims, who probably are more discriminated against in our society than any other single group). And, as you will have note in my comments about this piece, I think its strongest point is what it says about how the greatest damage to the institution of marriage has been done by heterosexuals. So THANK YOU for your corrections and clarifications!
16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins (Exod 22:16-17).
23 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
25 “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, 27 because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.
28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days (Deut 22:23-29).
Thursday, September 18, 2014
1:11 “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write:
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
21:5 “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Nowhere does the Bible say, nor does Christian tradition require, that God literally "breathed out the very words" of the Bible. That's the dictation theory (sometimes called "verbal plenary inspiration). "Theopneustos" can and should be interpreted as "breathed into by God."
scripture doesn’t line up very well with the conservative paradigm of scripture (some form of inerrancy). That’s why the paradigm needs constant tending and vigilant defending in order to survive.
That happened over 20 years ago, and the memory is still vivid.
I taught at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) from 1994-2008.