Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Begging the question will get you everywhere, apparently

The Jolly Nihilist has attempted a refutation of my rebuttal to his response to my deconstruction of his questions for Christians. Got that? Yeah, it'll only get worse from here.

Interestingly, before I break into an analysis, I call the reader's attention to the fact that he is inconsistent in more than the run-of-the-mill atheist way. The normal way I'll get to in a second, but what I refer to here is his inability to recognise positive assertions when he makes them. I guess it's his way of trying to act like he's the noble skeptic, w/ nothing to prove, alone against the onslaught of the moronic theistic types like myself. I pointed this out to him last time and he just went right on denying it. Guess we'll see if he'll see it this time.

The other way in which he is inconsistent is in his borrowing of capital from the Christian worldview to bash Christianity. As an atheist, he has no way to account for reason, logic, or induction, but he uses them all to make his case against The God of the Bible (TGOTB). In this he is not alone - we see ChooseDoubt, Chris Severn, and the Barefoot Bum recently doing the exact same things. They all do, really. And it's no wonder - an atheist universe is completely incoherent w/o no basis for thought, reason, or communication. Quite bleak.

My breaking down his position will continue w/ my showing his question-begging methodology. Note how he reveals his ultimate faith convictions.

I had asked: There is no truth without examining evidence (#3). So, please provide evidence for this statement.
-Truth, in itself, exists quite apart from the evidences for that truth.

I agree, but I'd like to know why he thinks that.

-Neutrinos existed before we had any evidence of them.
I agree, but I'd like to know why he thinks that.

-evidence has proven to be the single most reliable method by which fallible human primates can discover truth
How can he know this?
Also, note what he's doing.
1) He's revealing his ultimate faith is in "evidence" as he judges things to be evidentiary.
2) He's begging the question. I asked for evidence that examining evidence is the way to truth. What is he doing? Pointing to more evidence.

-Every day, we all operate according to evidence—that is, according to the relevant facts.

Yes, b/c we live in God's world. There is no way to trust our thoughts to correctly process facts as "relevant" or "evidentiary" in an atheist universe.

I had asked: Making unsubstantiated assertions gets us nowhere (#5). So, please provide evidence that there is no truth w/o examining evidence. What is the evidence for these two statements?

-If no evidence is presented for a given assertion, one can dismiss the assertion as baseless.

Cool. I dismiss your assertions as baseless - you keep begging the very question.

-I, myself, made unsubstantiated assertions to David about there being an ethereal cosmic catfish.

The existence of an ethereal cosmic catfish does not provide the necessary grounds for logic, reason, and induction. A theistic God is the only thing that can.
But again, I invite you to present an alternative for the grounds for logic, reason, and induction. Appeal, however, to logical arguments, reason, induction, or evidence, and you must evaporate in a puff of begged questions.

I had asked: As such, the atheistic position makes no truth-claims (#7). Should I consider that statement true or false? Is it or is it not part of the atheistic position?

This is maybe my favorite one.

-The atheistic position has precisely one characteristic: Atheists lack a belief in god.

Since you didn't answer my question, let me ask about THIS statement. Should I consider this statement, that "atheists lack a belief in God", true or false? If true, it's a truth claim - "there is insufficient evidence for me to believe in God," basically. If false, then I'm cool w/ that.

-My personal views and biases damn me to inject my stances in my compositions.

Rather, it's your irrational position.

-Atheism, in its pure and unadulterated form, denotes a lack and only a lack.

True or false?

I had asked: Where there are no truth-claims, there is no burden of proof (#8). How is this statement provable and why wouldn't you have the burden of proof as relates to it?

Wait, maybe *this* one is my favorite.

-the types of “truth-claims” on which you call me out are utterly different from the types of truth-claims you yourself frivolously posit.

1) Another truth claim. True or false?
2) According to YOU. But your brain is just atoms banging around, a glorified monkey brain, if atheism is true. Like I said, I don't ask my bottle of lotion, which is atoms banging around, whether God exists.
3) I didn't realise you could read my mind and extra-sensorily know that I make my claims frivolously.

-I am advancing truth-claims of a most innocuous and nearly self-evident nature.

1) What, while using the brain God gave you to make logical statements (which depend on God for their logic), and then denying God?
2) The Bible teaches that you DO know God exists but suppress the truth. The self-evidence is on my side. If you disagree, you do so using the brain and reason God gave you.

-You, on the other hand, are claiming a very specific CREATURE, which is CONSCIOUS, is EXTANT in a specifically SUPERNATURAL REALM.

Yes, Who is the grounds for all rationality, logic, and induction.

-Then, you claim to know that creature’s NATURE

B/c He communicated it. I only know what He tells me.

-and claim the creature directly INSPIRED a BOOK that is TOTALLY PERFECT.

Yes, for many different reasons.

-This seems just a bit different from my truth-claims

1) Yes, mine are far more glorious and full of promise.
2) None of these truth claims stand on one foundation while unconsciously attacking that very same foundation.
3) In what ways are my claims qualitatively different from the ones you list here? I'm genuinely interested in what you'd say.

-“only through evidence can humans reliably discover truth”

Again, please provide evidence that this is true, since evidence is the only way to know truth.

-If somebody is not claiming something, one need not provide evidence.

OK, but you're claiming that if somebody is not claiming something, one need not provide evidence, so I'm going to have to ask you for evidence for that statement.

-“I lack belief in god” is not a truth-claim because it is not a claim at all.

But "'I lack belief in god' is not a truth-claim because it is not a claim at all" is a truth-claim, so please provide evidence so I can be sure it's true.

I had asked: The burden of proof is not on the doubter (#12). I doubt that this phrase is correct, so please provide proof that it is true.

-In order to present “proof” for something, there must be “a something” to which proof is applicable.

You thus attempt to wiggle out. But note that I'm not dealing, and have not been dealing mostly, w/ the issue of "lack of belief in God," inane though your analysis of that statement is.
I'm asking you about THESE SPECIFIC statements. You need to apply the standards of proof that you say you hold to foundationally to these very standards. If you can't, you reveal that you have just as much faith as I, and it just so happens that your faith is irrational.

-To say, “I doubt what you advance” is not a truth-claim, so no evidence possibly could be applied to it and no burden of proof possibly could be levied.

Even if I granted that, the positive assertion I'm asking you to provide evidence for is: "The burden of proof is not on the doubter."

-To say, “I lack belief X is the case” is to claim nothing about reality.

That's silly. Saying that is a truth-claim that it is concurrent w/ reality that you indeed lack belief in X.

Those are the main points. I'll clean up a few loose ends now.

-You essentially have said god is “beyond the bounds of knowledge.” Therefore, you possess no knowledge of god, because said deity is beyond knowledge’s bounds.

1) Yes, I said that. Why does it follow that I can have NO knowledge of God? He condescended to reveal Himself to humans, and so I can know SOME things about Him.
2) Yes, I can't know EVERYthing about God. But I've never claimed that this was necessary; my knowledge of Him is sufficient, not exhaustive.

-I also explained why “infinite attributes” are self-contradictory and, thus, absurd.

1) Yes, and I responded, and you have not dealt w/ that.
2) Ice cream beats bear 5 and the higher they fly the much.
3) That's what I understood your message - produced by atoms banging around in an atheist universe - to be. I'd say I hope I got it right, but again, in an atheist universe there is no "hope" and there is no "right".

-However, that certainly does not mean everything is the same and must be treated identically.

1) Another truth-claim. True or false?
2) What is the evidence for that?
3) Who says?

-You seem to have constructed a strange, menacing ogre out of the word “evidence,” making it into a frightening threat to your leap of faith.

This from the guy who says that evidence is required for EVERY belief. Who constructed the ogre?

-I would guess Mr. Wilson checks the Weather Channel on occasion, to learn the temperature, humidity or see the radar in his local area.

Yes, b/c he recognises that God made the world and He made it good and orderly.

-Then, in one instance, where it threatens his theological construction, Wilson decries evidence—relevant facts—as questionable in itself.

1) There is no "relevance" in an atheist universe.
2) There is no evidence in an atheist universe.
3) All facts are God's facts; no creation of God threatens Him.

-Show me somebody who eschews relevant facts in conducting his daily affairs, and I shall show you somebody who credibly can decry evidence.

From my perspective, that's an amazing statement coming from the JN.

-Why is your certainty more valid than their certainty?

1) B/c mine is based on truth and theirs is not. It is rationally defensible and convincing and fully comports w/ reality.
2) Theirs is not and does not.
3) I don't blow people up when they mock my religion. I ask them to debate.
4) I don't expect you to understand that for several reasons, one of which is that you have demonstrated significant bias in attacking TGOTB while standing on TGOTB's foundations.
5) Also I don't know if you know anythg about Islamic or Xtian theology. If you do, that's one thing. If you don't, you're in no position to understand the issue at all - you're just throwing it out and hoping to trip me up.

-Finally, with respect to TgOTB, could your mind possibly be changed, or is it unchangeable?

I told you, produce the corpse of Jesus and all bets are off.
But absent that, produce an alternative way to ground reason, logic, and induction, w/o begging the question all over the place, and we'll talk further about that.

Finally to you, I asked you how YOUR beliefs are falsifiable. Mind answering?


Friday, August 24, 2007

Breaking down a breakdown of rationality

Hi JN,

For starters, I'll list all the positive assertions that you made in your comments, all the while denying that you make any positive assertions related to your worldview, saying that your worldview is nothing more or less than a lack of belief in God:

1) It is a purely negative stance.
2) your presupposition is irrational. (The positive assertion is the implication that rationality exists.)
3) There is no truth without examining evidence
4) alter my perception of reality. (The positive assertion is that reality exists and is perceptible.)
5) Making unsubstantiated assertions gets us nowhere.
6) No, the word means an individual without theistic belief. (The positive assertion is that language can convey meaning to another person.)
7) As such, the atheistic position makes no truth-claims.
8) Where there are no truth-claims, there is no burden of proof.
9) Citing the Bible is a waste of time.
10) PROVE THESE THINGS WITH EVIDENCE. Otherwise, your words are meaningless.
11) Substantiate your beliefs, or remain in the realm of the irrational. (The positive assertion is that beliefs, once substantiated, are rational to believe.)
12) The burden of proof is not on the doubter!
13) people making positive claims must substantiate those claims,
14) Without evidence, the doubter can dismiss you out of hand.
15) you first must prove the Bible is a flawless vessel of truth (as you claim it to be). That claim, in itself, is utterly unsubstantiated.
16) The Bible is evidence of nothing
17) In any event, the “infinite attributes” to which you eventually appeal are absurd. (The positive assertion is that absurdity exists.)
18) “Infinite attribute” is a contradiction in terms. (The positive assertion is that contradictions can exist.)
19) Explain why this standard must be extant, rather than theoretical. (The positive assertion is that extant can be compared w/ theoretical.)
20) Nature is material, finite, limited and comprehensible.
21) If “supernature” is altogether different—indeed, altogether opposite—then no valid analogies can be crafted.
22) The word “power” was created by primates, which are part of nature, in order to serve themselves and the natural world of which they are part.
23) Language was not created to serve “supernature.”
24) Natural language applies to the natural world.
25) When wrenched from the natural world, natural language ceases to be intelligible and becomes utterly meaningless.
26) You call my reasoned analysis an unprovable assumption. (The p.a. is that analysis can be reasoned.)
27) Yet, incredibly, you place no blame whatsoever on the crafter himself—god. (The p.a. is that blame is place-able on those who do certain things.)
28) The presence, or addition, of knowledge is not necessarily connected with changing one’s mind.
29) Attributes, by definition, are limited. (The p.a. is that we know what attributes are and that they express sthg meaningful.)
30) There are infinite theoretically possible explanations for the universe’s mass-energy.

OK, I'm going to stop there.
Now, I *could* go back and deal w/ your long comments one-by-one, but instead I think I'll just let your own words speak for you.

In regards to everything you said,
-There is no truth without examining evidence (#3). So, please provide evidence for this statement.

-Making unsubstantiated assertions gets us nowhere (#5). So, please provide evidence that there is no truth w/ examining evidence. What is the evidence for these two statements?

-As such, the atheistic position makes no truth-claims (#7). Should I consider that statement true or false? Is it or is it not part of the atheistic position?

-Where there are no truth-claims, there is no burden of proof (#8). How is this statement provable and why wouldn't you have the burden of proof as relates to it?

-PROVE THESE THINGS WITH EVIDENCE. Otherwise, your words are meaningless (#10). See #s 3 and 5.

-The burden of proof is not on the doubter (#12). I doubt that this phrase is correct, so please provide proof that it is true.

-Without evidence, the doubter can dismiss you out of hand (#14). OK, unless you can help me out on #s 3 and 5, I'll go ahead and dismiss everythg you've said out of hand.

-Nature is material, finite, limited and comprehensible (#20). And you're part of nature, so why should I believe you when you presume to speak on the topic of that which is immaterial, transcendent, infinite, and beyond the bounds of knowledge?

-There are infinite theoretically possible explanations for the universe’s mass-energy (#30), and attributes, by definition, are limited (#29). Hmm, not sure I can make sense of this one.

Here's the beef: You are an atheist, you believe that the universe has not been created by a logical, rational being who can thus provide grounds for using logic and rationality, for knowing what they are. Please provide evidence that the secretions of your brain, that the banging-around of atoms inside your skull that produce tappings on a keyboard, are meaningful. Nobody holds a bottle of lotion up to their ear to hear what it has to say about theism, yet it is no less a collection of atoms banging around than your brain.

Gloriously, I have an answer to the conundrum - humans are made in the image of God. You'll say, "Proof?" Evidence is available, but to quote the highly-quotable Doug Wilson, I want evidence that evidence is valid. You can start by answering the questions raised above.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Barefoot Bum melts down

It's actually a pretty impressive rant. Too bad it's misdirected.

To be fair, I've had to take my lumps over the years as well. I've learned that I can start to feel invincible, untouchable, when I get behind a keyboard facing an adversary in ideology. It's far different from a face-to-face encounter where tone of voice, nuance, and body language come through. Anymore, for long emails and posts that are emotional in nature, I often take a break and come back to it later in order to cool down and straighten out my head. It looks like the Barefoot Bum could stand to learn that lesson as well.

So I've left this comment:

Rhology responded, "I'll be happy to provide biblical documentation at any time, just ask."
I never figured that statement was an offer to "prove" the Bible is the Word of God. So, I think we're suffering some miscommunication here.

Here's how it all went down:

The BB: Even leaving aside the question of God's existence, why should I assume there's any correlation whatsoever between what you say and what God wants?

Rhology: Not asking you to assume it. I'll be happy to provide biblical documentation at any time, just ask. TGOTB has self-revealed in the Bible, so I'm just reporting it. Don't shoot the messenger.

The reader not tainted by recent temper tantrums will note that I was referring to biblical documentation on the lines of how I can be sure I know that the Bible teaches what I'm saying it teaches.
Your request to write an essay proving the Bible's divine origin is quite a different question. I could provide plenty of evidence for it, but the question is: would you accept it? Take my position on for just a sec - IF the Bible is indeed the Word of God, and you don't believe in it, that makes you a truth-suppressing wicked man who hates God and loves darkness. Why would anyone listen to someone who never takes off his blindfold and refuses directions from those who can see?

So, if my presuppositions are correct, then you're saying exactly what one should expect you to say.

Finally, given your penchant for emoting, I shouldn't be surprised at this post, but I had hoped for more. But caught up in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to think straight.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Some current discussions

I'm in the middle of several interesting discussions right now.

Here on the death penalty, w/ a fairly (theologically) conservative Methodist.
Then, w/ the Barefoot Bum and James F. Elliott:
Here on imprecatory prayer.
Here on death penalty and ethics.
Both of those threads are about dead, but this one is still kicking, on ethical standards.

Enjoy reading. You might even consider stopping by. Of course, the discussion w/ The Jolly Nihilist in the previous post remains ongoing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Breaking down a case against God

I was dorking around today and I came across a blogger's case against God. Thought I'd take me a stab at it. I note that this list is influenced by a book: Atheism, the Case Against God, by George H. Smith.
If this is the best a published author can do (not that I should be surprised, given the low quality of thinking in recent offerings from Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins), then I'd hope nobody is worried. A few of these points are actually pretty amusing. I left this content in a comment there and told him it'd be posted on my blog. I made a few minor modifications to it to pretty it up for posting.

1. Is god supernatural? If god is natural, then we have to entirely redefine our god concept and, essentially, start over from scratch. If god is supernatural, we may continue.

2. If god is supernatural, then how can humans possess any knowledge of god? Humans are part of nature, and, as such, our knowledge is bounded by nature. The very notion of something existing beyond nature is wholly incomprehensible, given that our knowledge and thought processes are nature-bounded.
He condescended to reveal Himself to humans.

3. Does god possess any characteristics? Characteristics are determinative and limiting. That is, once a being has characteristics, those characteristics lead to certain capacities and abilities. Dogs, for example, can do certain things. However, dogs cannot build an umbrella; doing so would be contrary to their nature and their characteristics. Humans cannot undergo photosynthesis; doing so would be contrary to our nature and our characteristics. If god is possessed of any characteristics, then god is limited by them (if only in the sense that possessing Characteristic X means one cannot possess Characteristic Not-X). If god has no characteristics, then god is indistinguishable from nothingness.
Yes God possesses characteristics.
And of course they limit Him. God is not, for example, illogical. He cannot sin. He can't cease to exist.
God can do anythg that is logically possible.

4. Do you accept omnipotence, omniscience and consciousness as characteristics of god? If you do, we may continue.
Yes to all.

5. Humans live in nature, and our knowledge is bounded by nature. There exists in nature nothing infinite. Therefore, humans have no comprehension of anything being “infinitely Characteristic X.” If humans cannot conceive of infinity, then how are the “omni” characteristics meaningful?
They are in many ways apophatic.
OTOH, humans require a standard against which to compare the imperfections of the human condition.

6. To say a being is omnipotent is to say the being has all power. Therefore, god need not engage in actions, processes or anything else in order to get what it wants. After all, a being possessed of all power need not do anything to achieve its desired results [Upon further consideration, having a desire/purpose also is unnecessary, since it is an extra step with which an omnipotent being should not need to concern itself.] In short, god’s power is incomprehensible since it involves getting its way without first possessing desires, taking actions or executing processes. How is this meaningful?
God can do anythg that is possible, that's the working def. of "omnipotent".
Just b/c sthg is incomprehensible in its entirety doesn't mean that it's impossible or incomp. in its part. I can't fathom how hot the sun is but I can know that it's hot outside now.

7. To say a being is omniscient is to say the being has all knowledge. In the natural world in which humans live, knowledge is gained by study/observation (learning) and verification (confirmation of that which is observed/learned). God never could have learned anything nor had any information verified, since that would imply a time during which god lacked comprehensive knowledge. Thus, god’s knowledge is wholly dissimilar to our own and utterly incomprehensible. How is this meaningful?
Yes, God knows all that there is to know.
See #6 for comments on incomprehensibility.
That's also kind of the point - God boggles our tiny minds b/c we are limited. It's one of those things that's supposed to teach us humility.
But we need a standard, again, to know anything. God's omniscience is the template by which we know anythg. So what if God doesn't learn? We do; God has ordained us to.

8. Free will cannot co-exist with an omniscient, creator deity. Let us say that I am a ten-year-old boy. God, being omniscient, knows that, on my thirtieth birthday, I will rob a convenience store and shoot the clerk. Is there any way for me to disprove god’s foreknowledge and not commit this heinous crime? If so, then god is not omniscient, since its foreknowledge can be disproved. If not, then I lack free will, since my actions are determined before they occur, and I cannot possibly change my destiny.
Just b/c God sees it all doesn't mean we don't have some degree of free will.
You'd need to prove that God has preordained everythg in a deterministic fashion.
Also, many atheists, such as Dan Barker are on record as saying that, as naturalists, they believe humans have no free will - biological determinism. You have some trash to clean up in your own camp.

9. Omniscience and omnipotence are incompatible and lead to insoluble contradictions. Suppose that, on Monday the 14, god knows, based upon its omniscience, that it shall smite Bob Washburn on Thursday the 17. Come Wednesday the 16, can god change its mind and decide to spare Bob Washburn? If so, then god can disprove its own foreknowledge and cannot be categorized as omniscient. If not, then god cannot be called omnipotent, because it lacks the ability to change its mind (and thus disprove its own foreknowledge).
God doesn't change His mind.
You're trying to create a "can God microwave a burrito so hot He can't eat it?" false quandary. Why would God change His mind? His plan and will are perfect from the beginning. He can do whatever is possible. Ceasing to exist is not possible. Changing His mind like that is not possible. Creating a universe IS possible. Etc.

10. Is god conscious? Consciousness, as understood by humans, who are bounded by nature since we are products of nature, is an emergent quality of some biological life. Humans can conceive of no consciousness divorced from biological life, since such does not exist in nature and any such consciousness would be different not in degree but in kind. How do Christians resolve this?

God is conscious; His consciousness is the template out of which our consciousness flows.
Why should anyone accept a strictly biological formulation of consciousness anyway? That's begging the question, and is refuted by scientific evidence.

11. Does god have any similarity with humans? It seems not. For example, humans have some knowledge, whereas god has all knowledge. However, we neither comprehend knowledge of an infinite kind (since humans only comprehend limited things) nor understand what knowledge might mean in a supernatural realm, which itself cannot be comprehended (since we are bounded by nature and cannot conceive beyond it). As another example, humans have some power, whereas god has all power. However, in god’s exercise of power, it does not employ purposes, actions or processes, since such would be encumbrances to limitless power—an obvious contradiction. This being the case, the word “power,” especially in an incomprehensible supernatural realm, signifies something of an unknowable, altogether different, kind. Christians, can this be made sensible?

This makes me laugh.
"Does god have any similarity with humans? It seems not. For example, humans have some knowledge, whereas god has all knowledge. "

Anyone lacking an overarching agenda will recognise you've answered your own question. God has KNOWLEDGE. People have KNOWLEDGE. So yes, they do have things in common.
And why would God's acting w/ a purpose be a limit to His power?
12. Most Christians admit that god cannot cause logical impossibilities to occur. For example, god cannot craft a circular square or a deceased living rabbit. The theist might say nonsense is nonsense, and the deity cannot actualize an inherent contradiction. However, most Christians also say that god’s omnipotence allows it to perform miracles, which might be something as silly as making a desk lamp respire. However, is this not also logically impossible? A desk lamp is possessed of certain characteristics, which, in themselves, define it as being a desk lamp—and are both limiting and determinative. A square boasts four 90-degree angles and four straight, equally long sides. A desk lamp is inanimate, used to illuminate a workspace and does not respire. As such, a desk lamp cannot breathe anymore than a square can be a circle. Thus, omnipotence reveals itself as purveying logical impossibilities, be they obvious or subtle.
How is a miracle that is supernatural in nature comparable to creating a square circle? What logical law do miracles violate?
Just saying, "They're not scientific!" doesn't count. "Science" is not a law of logic.


Monday, August 13, 2007

What I learned from The Secret

ChooseDoubt is on vacation, so we won't hear from him for awhile.
But I wanted to talk about how I have been irrevocably altered.
I borrowed The Secret (the book, not the DVD) from a coworker and my life was changed! Topsy-turvied! Bouleversée!

No, I didn't waste a ton of time reading it but less than an hour was sufficient.

Here's what I learned:

I never studied science or physics at school, and yet when I read complex books on quantum physics I understood them perfectly because I wanted to understand them (p. 156).
Everything is energy (p. 156, emph. original).
The true essence of You, the pure energy of You, has always been and always will be. You can never not be...You are eternal energy (p. 158, emph. original).
Be happy now. Feel good now. That's the only thing you have to do (p. 179, emph. original).
You are the master of the Universe. You are the heir to the kingdom. You are the perfection of Life. And now you know The Secret (p. 183).

And my personal favorite:

You are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing itself as You. You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence (p. 164).

It's Benny Hinn w/o the big hair, slayings in the Spirit, the constant appealing to "Holy Spirit power", and any mention of Jesus. But go ahead and keep the sweet Gulfstream jets, the 7-figure salary, and fraudulent bizarre claims.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Two comments on abortion

My old friend Gamelot has not updated his blog recently, apparently. That's OK, but he has left two of my comments unpublished, which is strange b/c he didn't ever moderate his comboxes before these posts experienced a spirited debate back and forth. I won't speculate as to why, but it was weird timing.

One on the 1st post on abortion and one on the 2nd.

I'll post my comments here, just for the heck of it. I don't like these arguments to go unchallenged. G-man, Gamelot, and/or anyone else are of course welcome to comment. I don't moderate my comboxes.


you can change your mind.

The woman can change her mind too as long as she doesn't commit murder to do so.
It's not like pregnancy lasts forever, you know. She doesn't have to get pregnant again if she doesn't want to.

He can survive as an autonomous individual. The same cannot be said of unborn fetuses.

You mean the man can survive if the things that keep him alive are not removed. Same could be said of babies in the womb.

Well don't you like to paint things in 3 coats of drama.

Dude, it's not ME arguing that it should be OK to murder babies.

The difference between a grown human and a fetus in terms of feelings and actually caring about life is approximately the same as the difference between a grown human and a stump of wood.

And you know this how?
That's not very scientific of you - how many unborn babies have you interviewed? Oh, you can't communicate w/ them? OK, just give the OK to kill them. We'll just give death the benefit of the doubt.
And all of a sudden to be a human being worthy of protection is by what you DO? You better hope you're never in a deep sleep and someone comes up to you w/ the same thinking processes. If you don't respond to the first few greetings, you may find yourself dead. Same thing.

testing still confirms that a fetus is unable to experience pain until the 20th week of pregnancy, after which point just 0.014% of abortions take place in America.

Wow, where did these testers learn to interview unborn babies?
Again, note how "being human" = "DOING something".

If you weren't so intent on portraying me as some inhuman bastard

It's not my fault you insist on murdering babies. You're acting like I'm blackmailing you to argue for abortion.

Neo's waking moment in the Matrix where he's discovered that his body was being used, against his will

Neo didn't have irresponsible sex and then regret the consequences.
Neo's situation was permanent barring his disconnection and flight. The inconvenience of pregnancy need only last 9 months.

no matter how 'irresponsible' and no matter how much you'd like people to pay for their irresponsibility.

What I'd like is for people to stop murdering babies and then justifying it w/ lame, pathetic arguments like yours.



Actually, legislating something IS a statement for or against the morality of an action. Tattoos are legal - the state has pronounced that it has no moral problem w/ tattooing. Prostitution is ILlegal - the state has pronounced that it has a moral problem w/ it.
Abortion is legal - the state doesn't care if you murder people, just under certain conditions.

And you ask a great question about WHEN the baby is of murdering age. What about 1 month after birth? 1 day after? 1 minute after? 1 minute before? 1 hour before? 1 day before? 1 week before? 1 month before? 2 months before?

Ask anyone who is pro-death and they'll give you some arbitrary answer based on whatever. Then take it back one minute before - suddenly the baby is not human anymore, 1 minute before? The willful idiocy can be amazing.

I remind you that the question is WHEN the baby is human. Most everyone agrees that murdering innocent humans is wrong, so when the baby is human is the best question one can ask in this debate.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Gene Cook debate on atheism

Gene Cook of Unchained Radio recently debated the statement:

"Is the Atheistic Woldview Superior to Christianity?"

with an atheist.
I wanted to link to it. Haven't listened to it yet, but hopefully today and tomorrow.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Atheistic Morality 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Much obliged for your patience and a well thought-out post.

I’d first like to point out that you have conceded my original thesis, which was: “That is, the value judgment begins and ends w/ you, and his begins and ends w/ him”, where “you” is CD and “him” is his boss, who fired him for being an atheist.

Your admissions include the following:

-I judge purely according to circumstance and admit freely that there is no absolute right or absolute wrong within it

-You fail to take into account the group dynamic of multiple personal preferences, which renders your fear of personal preference null.

-I agree that without hesitation that I have no objective morality. Nobody does. (from here.)

So we’ve got all that out of the way – my original thesis is established. It is certainly permissible to chalk that one up to us feeling out each others’ positions and understandings, so it’s not a huge deal. You are now moving on to attack the basis of my own morality, claiming that it is not objective either.

Briefly here I'll deal w/ this amazingly short-sighted statement:

-It (religion) does seem to be the fountain from which morality that involves the punishment of victimless "crimes" has poured forth. My morality, although still undefined, appears far superior at this point.

I say "amazing" b/c you seem to have a short memory, or you just don't read some comboxes, like this one for example. You say: Crusades, blowing up abortuaries, Inquisition, Salem witch trials. I respond: Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler. It does neither our discussion nor your side any good to go there, so let's not.

You said:

-and even your extensive religious education, does not ensure that you follow the faith based moral code.

1) I expressly admitted that I don’t succeed in following it as much as I'd like (ie, perfectly).

2) Following a moral code that I made up to the letter does not make that code’s basis objective any more than failing to follow an objective moral code renders it subjective.

3) Should we instead just make up a code that fits our deficiencies so that we never fail or fall short?

You have cited several psgs from Leviticus and suggested I pick and choose which to follow. Not I, however, but the New Testament picks and chooses. Some parts of the Old Testament Law deal w/ ceremonial/ritual purity, some deal w/ morality, and some deal w/ civil law and punishments. The book of Hebrews tells the student of the Bible that the ceremonial laws had a function that was fulfilled in Christ – to point to Christ. The book of Romans and 1 Peter teach the student of the Bible how to live in a non-ancient-Hebrew-theocratic society. All the examples you cited relate to punishments prescribed for the Hebrew theocratic society, even though some of the moral violations remain moral violations (ie, adultery). Thus the civil gov’ts in which Christians live make laws which Christians are obligated to follow, except when they command us to do sthg contrary to God. Executing convicted adulterers, however, was a command for the ancient Hebrews only to follow. You criticise me for using an exegetical argument that you’d find “hard to follow” as an atheist; I have no intention of talking down to you. You’re a big boy – if you can’t deal w/ the argument, either learn how or abandon it. But I agree – learning the art and science of biblical exegesis is a bit of a task. To impress anyone, you’ll have to do a lot better than the lame stock objections of a Dawkins or a Hitchens.

Speaking of Hitchens, you quoted him wondering aloud whence a moral code before the Mosaic Law. This is another example of poor biblical understanding from an atheist. It shouldn’t surprise, but it is pitiful, especially from such a literate man as he. The moral code was innate and stated in forms here and there before the Mosaic Law. How did Adam and Eve know they weren’t supposed to eat from the tree? God told them. How did Cain know he wasn’t supposed to murder Abel? Perhaps God told him, perhaps it was an innate knowledge – in either case, he knew. How did God judge the world before Noah “wicked” before the Mosaic Law? How did Abraham know that he should honor his guests w/ food and hospitality? How did Lot know that homosexual assault was wrong? Also, the law of God commanded fair and just treatment of foreigners except in specific cases where God specifically commanded differently (which He did a handful of times over the course of 800 years or so), so his example of the Samaritan is also wrong-headed. Does Hitchens think that Christ just made up the idea that one should care for one’s neighbor off the cuff? Why then would Jesus say that “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” and then go on to explain that the “neighbor” is ANYONE in need, even a despised (by the Jews) Samaritan? Why does the Mosaic Law specifically command the same? This is why I caution you against quoting Hitchens, Harris, or Dawkins in your debates w/ a knowledgeable theist. They have nothing of worth to offer.

Here, for the sake of argument I’ll briefly grant that maybe I do pick and choose what laws of God to follow. What would that prove? Nothing more or less than that I am a stubborn, rebellious lawbreaker. This is not the point at all – an all-good all-powerful God is the only option for an objective, overriding, ultimate moral Lawgiver. If He lays down 25 laws and I choose to try to obey 21 of them and fail to keep 10/21 perfectly, I am a lawbreaker. If I choose to try to obey 25 of them and fail to keep 25/25 perfectly, I am a lawbreaker. How does this affect the existence of the objective moral Law to which I fail to live up?

Now, you have made a highly obtuse statement that I must clarify.

- So your key argument that one cannot be moral without a god can in fact be expanded by your own evidence to no better than one cannot be moral with or without a god.

A hundred times no, that is not and has never been my argument, much less a “key”. It has been implicitly refuted in the 2nd paragraph from the end of my previous entry starting w/ “However, since atheism…” And I made that clear in the combox, so hopefully you will drop that strawman. However, what I did say was that you, in order to act moral, borrow capital from my worldview and import it in order to guide your actions. Objectively speaking, there is no more reason for you to take care of your child than to torture and murder her. God’s law, however, makes it clear that that is wrong, and you have arbitrarily chosen to take care of your child rather than murder her. You have no overriding reason to do so; you just do b/c you prefer to take care of rather than murder her.

“But Rhology,my genetics would not survive and propagate if I murdered my child.”

True, but once again you beg the question. Why place a premium on survival? A few possible responses:

1) B/c I want to survive. Thus demonstrating you have nothing more than personal preference in operation here.

2) B/c we have evolved to want to survive. Thus living and speaking in harmony w/ your ultimate belief that humans are nothing more than biochemical machines, just bags of atoms banging around. So is a stormcloud or a can of Dr. Pepper – no one thinks to ask one of those whether it wants to survive.

3) B/c I would go to jail if I murdered her. Thus demonstrating that the strongest statement you can possibly make is that your morality is based not on personal but societal preference. And society, of course, is just a collection of biochemical bags of atoms banging around.

Finally, what I mean when I say that you borrow capital from my worldview is not based on chronological precedence. No one argues that Jesus or Moses preceded, say, Hammurabi, or Confucius, or whomever, historically. The very fact that they lay out any morality at all shows that they too borrow capital from the God of the Bible (TGOTB). Confucius was not a theist; all my arguments for your position would apply to him. Hammurabi, I don’t know if anyone knows what he believed; probably he was a pagan polytheist, but maybe not. If he were a theist, then OK. If he were a polytheist, he’d have similar problems to yours – which god’s morality to follow, how to know, etc. I have no doubt that you would say unequivocally that torturing 6-year-old girls for fun would be unconscionable for you. Here is a question I’d really like answered for next time:

Is it morally wrong everywhere, for all people, and at all times to torture a 6-year-old girl for fun? Why or why not?