Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Invasion of privacy

Bjørn Østman has been questioning me about God's revelation and the morality of doing foreign mission work.
I answer:

Specifically, in Rom 1 and 2 God communicates the following thru creation and thru the way He created people's hearts:
-He exists
-He is eternal
-Is powerful
-Is divine
-And has written His law in general on people's hearts


why does he not speak to them himself?

That is communication right there.
And there are other occurrences of God speaking to unblvrs in the Bible. I think what we're seeing here is that God didn't speak in the way YOU want Him to.


Why doesn't anyone who never heard about God from another man become a Christian?

1) I've heard many stories just like that, actually, where people had dreams and were prompted thereby to seek out a certain man at a certain place, went to that place, found the man (who happened to be a missionary) and was thereby converted.
2) If you check again those 2 psgs in Romans, the point of general revelation is that men might be w/o excuse. General revelation is not aimed at a positive conviction of sin and a need for a Savior, but rather that people would know that they are inadequate, and thus they will be condemned (if they don't repent).


God (supposedly) spoke to Moses and Abraham etc., so why not to other people today?

I'm not denying that God speaks to people today, though I do deny that He doesn't generally do so in the same way.


I am not of the belief that there is any moral absolutes.

OK, I'll remember that.
So, let's keep that in mind when you ask those questions about how God revealed Himself. You ask b/c He doesn't fulfill your expectations, but He hasn't done anything WRONG. Just different. I must ask how you feel that you have room to judge here.


It is my opinion that it is morally wrong to seek out people to convert them

And it's my opinion that it is morally right.
Is either of us correct? How can we know?


Otherwise it is extremely disrespectful of their beliefs, culture, and privacy.

And on what basis do you claim that it is morally preferable to respect people's beliefs, culture, and privacy?
Just for the record, I DO disrespect their beliefs and the religious part of their culture... b/c those beliefs are wrong. I respect the PEOPLE and their privacy and don't barge into houses to throw Bibles at people's heads, of course. Now, you think it's wrong to be disrespectful, maybe JoeBob says it's right to be disrespectful. Prove he's wrong and you're right, please.

14 comments:

Dr Funkenstein said...

That is communication right there.
And there are other occurrences of God speaking to unblvrs in the Bible. I think what we're seeing here is that God didn't speak in the way YOU want Him to.


But all the examples of God talking to people in the bible are written by self-appointed spokespeople for the Christian God - that's a lot different to God himself (in the event he/she/it actually exists) actually having said anything to anyone, believer or otherwise.

How would you find a way to verify the difference between someone simply writing their own thoughts masquerading as the words of a god, and God having actually said any of these things? Especially when you factor in a. that none of these people are alive to talk to and b. there are no shortage of people in this day and age or through history that claim(ed) to be receiving revelations from mutually incompatible deities, casting serious doubt on any reliability of claims involving divine revelation.

Throw on top of all this the fact that apologists such as John Frame concede they have no idea how God supposedly imparted revelation to the biblical authors, there's very little, if anything, in the way of reasons people should accept claims of revelation as factual.

Bjørn Østman said...

I am not of the belief that there is any moral absolutes.

OK, I'll remember that.
So, let's keep that in mind when you ask those questions about how God revealed Himself. You ask b/c He doesn't fulfill your expectations, but He hasn't done anything WRONG. Just different. I must ask how you feel that you have room to judge here.


I ask because the fact that he doesn't speak to people seems to suggest to everyone but Christians that he isn't there.

It is my opinion that it is morally wrong to seek out people to convert them

And it's my opinion that it is morally right.
Is either of us correct? How can we know?


There is no correct or incorrect in terms of morals. Just opinions. There is in many cases a consensus, though. See below.

Otherwise it is extremely disrespectful of their beliefs, culture, and privacy.

And on what basis do you claim that it is morally preferable to respect people's beliefs, culture, and privacy?


On the principle of the Golden Rule. A rule that has an evolutionary basis, and which have been codified by all the religions that I know of. Treat people as you would like to be treated. With the corollary that they will stop dealing with you if you keep treating them in ways they find offensive.

Oh, and what Dr Funkenstein said about God speaking through the Bible.

Rhology said...

Dr Funk,

Not self-appointed at all. God-appointed.

The ways that we can verify whether it's self-appointed are several, as come to mind right now, though there are probably others I won't be able to recall right now:
-Full agreement with explicit and implicit claims of prior divine revelation
-Does not lead one into idolatry (Deut 13)
-The prophetic proclamation never fails to come true (Deut 18)
-Glorifies Jesus Christ
-Ends up being accepted by the people of God by and large, though not necessarily immediately, b/c of the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, which church has ears attuned to hear the voice of the Shepherd (John 10).

I don't need to talk to those people, b/c they wrote. I read what they wrote.
And of course there have been plenty of claimants to divine revelation, but my above criteria rule them out.

What is your argument for why ignorance of exactly how God accomplished it an argument for not accepting THAT He did so?



Bjorn,

the fact that he doesn't speak to people seems to suggest to everyone but Christians that he isn't there.

1) Many people believe that Darwinian evolution is a farce, but I doubt that stops you from accepting such as fact.
2) My belief that the oncoming truck won't crush me doesn't change the fact that it will.
3) Far more people believe in the supernatural than don't in the world and all throughout history. You'll want to stay away from this kind of argument.


There is no correct or incorrect in terms of morals. Just opinions.

So it is not a fact that the Holocaust was evil. It's just SOME people's opinion that it was wrong.
If I rape and murder your wife and daughter and mutilate their bodies, it might be your opinion that that action is wrong, but it might be my opinion that my action is right. So there's no way to tell?
So any hope that we might make laws that are right and good are just a fantasy. Best we can hope for is that most people agree with those laws so that we'll have enough taxpayers to provide for a military and law enforcement force large and powerful enough to protect us from those who don't share the same opinions.
Sounds pretty arbitrary. Sounds pretty judgmental. Sounds like might makes right. And it is extremely counterintuitive, for what that's worth. What's more, I don't think you really believe it. You don't live your life that way, you just talk like it on some blog so you can advance your emptyheaded argument. Not saying something so inane and stupid would go a long way towards enhancing your credibility.


On the principle of the Golden Rule. A rule that has an evolutionary basis, and which have been codified by all the religions that I know of.

That's just your opinion as you just got thru saying. Where's the proof that your opinion is correct?

Bjørn Østman said...

On the principle of the Golden Rule. A rule that has an evolutionary basis, and which have been codified by all the religions that I know of.

That's just your opinion as you just got thru saying. Where's the proof that your opinion is correct?


What I state here about the Golden Rule is not opinion, but fact. I recommend reading The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod, and all the scientific literature about iterated prisoner's dilemma, the experimental evidence for altruism, and much more.

Also, you want proof that an opinion is correct?!? I mean, are we even on the same page with regards to the meanings of "proof" and "opinion"? Of all the inane things that you have said so far...

Oh, and,

Peace (because it feels good),
Bjørn



P.S. If you want to keep talking about proofs and opinions and absolutes, please tell me how much of the Bible you take literally and how is allegory. Then tell me how you decided that. On the basis of what?

Bjørn Østman said...

Oops, make that

P.S. If you want to keep talking about proofs and opinions and absolutes, please tell me how much of the Bible you take literally and how much is allegory. Then tell me how you decided that. On the basis of what?

(I'm grammatically vain, so sue me.)

Rhology said...

hi Bjorn,

How is "you should do ____" such as "you should follow the Golden Rule" fact? Prove it, please.
Why SHOULD I be altruistic?


You said:
Peace (because it feels good)

What if murdering people and mutilating their bodies feels good?


please tell me how much of the Bible you take literally and how is allegory

I take it all according to the normative sense, in the way the author intended. Some of it is allegory (such as Galatians 4), some of it is song, some of it is prayer, some is historical narrative, some law, some epistle, etc.
See here for more information.

Bjørn Østman said...

How is "you should do ____" such as "you should follow the Golden Rule" fact? Prove it, please. Why SHOULD I be altruistic?

You misunderstand. I meant that the evolutionary basis of GR and the hijacking by religions are facts. I'm not saying that it's a fact that we should follow it.

You said:
Peace (because it feels good)

What if murdering people and mutilating their bodies feels good?


You're starting to sound like a troll on your own blog, man. This would probably violate GR, don't you think? So senseless murder because it feels good to the murderers would seem immoral, I think we can all agree. Listen, just because I don't think there is any way there can be moral absolutes doesn't mean that I am not moral, or that I think morals can't exist.

I take it all according to the normative sense, in the way the author intended.

You must be kidding. The way the author intended!!?!? Even if there is one author, and even if you knew who it was, how do you know what he intended? He didn't write down which parts to take literally.

Once you have decided which is which, how can you argue with other denominations who have a different list?

Wouldn't it be nice if each verse just said "I meant this literally," and "take this one as allegory?

PaulSceptic said...

You can't prove that Paul is a true apostle. His own writings, supposedly Scripture, prove him to not be one, as you can plainly see on my blog. But I'd love to be disproven, if you think you're up to it. Just drop by my blog and refute away.

Rhology said...

Hi Bjorn,

Thanks for the continued interaction.

I'm not saying that it's a fact that we should follow it.

Oh, OK, I misunderstood you.
Just so we're clear - it is not the case that we should be altruistic.


You're starting to sound like a troll on your own blog, man.

Haha, I can see why you say that, actually. But seriously, this is how I argue; I think that using extreme illustrations like this one are very helpful in defining the issue. Also, I am convinced that atheists in general talk a good line about there not being any ultimate authority or whatever and "we are capable of defining things ourselves, we don't need no stinking god", but in reality, they don't live like that. If you are repulsed by this idea of murdering and mutilating people being morally neutral, exactly like feeding and sheltering 10,000 starving people in Darfur, then you are showing that even you can't be consistent with your own worldview. So, may I humbly suggest that you switch out worldviews? Jesus is great. I highly recommend Him.


This would probably violate GR, don't you think?

So? I thought we just agreed that it's not the case that anyone SHOULD be altruistic, or follow the GR.


So senseless murder because it feels good to the murderers would seem immoral, I think we can all agree.

If atheism is true, no, I don't agree with that at all. I need you to prove that statement, please.


just because I don't think there is any way there can be moral absolutes doesn't mean that I am not moral, or that I think morals can't exist.

This is a question-begging statement, self-refuting. If there can't be moral absolutes, how can ANYTHING be morally applicable to anyone outside of the one making the statement? You are expressing things that are only self-referential and have no bearing on anyone else (absent an argument to that effect). You don't like murder? So what, maybe I do. Am I wrong? How do you know?


Even if there is one author, and even if you knew who it was, how do you know what he intended? He didn't write down which parts to take literally.

I interpret your statement to mean, allegorically, that you have, one minute ago, dropped to your knees, repented of your sin, and trusted Jesus Christ as your only Savior and master.
Did I interpret your statement correctly?


how can you argue with other denominations who have a different list?

If they claim to hold to what the Bible says, then I show them where what they believe differs from what the Bible says.

Bjørn Østman said...

Thanks for the continued interaction.

Thank you for hosting.

Again, something can be right or wrong, just not in an absolute sense. For you and me and most other people, raping and killing children is wrong. That is all we need. We don't need to know that no one can say it is right. That someone may have different morals doesn't negate our morals. We can still build our community around the consensus, by making laws and social codes that reflect them.

Even if there is one author, and even if you knew who it was, how do you know what he intended? He didn't write down which parts to take literally.

I interpret your statement to mean, allegorically, that you have, one minute ago, dropped to your knees, repented of your sin, and trusted Jesus Christ as your only Savior and master.
Did I interpret your statement correctly?


You'll never know - unless I tell you. Just like you won't know what the author(s) of the Bible intended, until they tell you (which will never happen). So how do you (think) you know, please?

If they claim to hold to what the Bible says, then I show them where what they believe differs from what the Bible says.

Would you please share which denomination you are a member of? And whether you eat shellfish or not?

Rhology said...

hi Bjorn,

something can be right or wrong, just not in an absolute sense.

OK, so we agree. On your atheistic worldview, raping little children (like, say, YOUR children) and then killing them is not absolutely wrong. You think it's wrong, so you don't do it. Maybe I think it's right, so I do it. No difference.


That someone may have different morals doesn't negate our morals.

Never claimed it did. It just negates the ability to point to a moral stance and say "that's right" and "that's wrong".
Have you ever considered the implications for societal laws if your worldview is true? Yes, this morality might have been the dominant one that evolved, such that people in general hold to this or that morality b/c the behavior said morality leads to is conducive to keeping society more or less alive and stable, right? But this reduces morality to the same level as genes. And every generation there are different permutations of morality, and they will compete to see which one has a hand in provoking behavior that has the best survivability. There's no right nor wrong to it at all. It just IS. In your heart, you know morality is not supposed to be just a question of "what I think is right", don't you? You demonstrate you do by calling certain acts committed by others "reprehensible" and such. Why not be consistent and refuse to make any moral judgment on anyone else, no matter what they do?


You'll never know - unless I tell you.

By that I interpret you to mean that you agree 100% in everything I say.
Cool!


...


Obviously that's not right. Don't be stupid. Your text means sthg! If it is totally dependent on the readER, then so is your elucidation of your meaning, whether oral or written. Man up and face the real point here, seriously.


So how do you (think) you know, please?

I read it.


Would you please share which denomination you are a member of? And whether you eat shellfish or not?

Sure. I'm a Reformed Baptist and go to a Southern Baptist Church.
And yes, I eat shellfish.

Bjørn Østman said...

You think it's wrong, so you don't do it. Maybe I think it's right, so I do it. No difference.

It makes a huge difference what we thin is right and wrong. Not that we will be judged by it when we die, but because it matters for this life.

You'll never know - unless I tell you. Just like you won't know what the author(s) of the Bible intended, until they tell you (which will never happen). So how do you (think) you know, please?

I read it.


Where did you read which part of the Bible to take literally? In the Bible? Please tell me exactly where.

P.S. Lastly (I think this must be the last I write about morality here), moral relativism in this sense doesn't mean that it is totally random what people think is right and wrong. There are good reasons why most people agree that killing and raping is wrong, of course. It is this kind of consensus that makes it possible to make laws, I suppose. And I repeat: a consensus really is all we need. The result is the same whether we believe that our morals are absolute or relative, because that doesn't dictate what those morals are. Our feelingsa nd instincts do, and those we share for the most part. Those instinctive morals came way before some of them were written down and included in the Bible (others have then since changed, so that we no longer think everything what the vile god of the Old Testament did was good and right).

Rhology said...

Bjorn,

Playing catch-up here.

It makes a huge difference what we thin is right and wrong. Not that we will be judged by it when we die, but because it matters for this life.

You're begging the question. Again. Prove that it "matters". What does it mean to matter? It's neither absolutely right nor wrong to think something is right or wrong, so... so what? Maybe it matters to you, but it doesn't matter to me. So, does it matter objectively? How do you know?


Where did you read which part of the Bible to take literally? In the Bible? Please tell me exactly where.

Hmm, where did you read which part of your statement to take literally? In the statement? Please tell me exactly where.
This is so ridiculous. Let's have a real argument sometime, please.


There are good reasons why most people agree that killing and raping is wrong

No, there are reasons YOU THINK ARE GOOD. But maybe I think they're bad. So who's right and how can we know?
See how you're trying to play God here? But you're not God. You're acting like God is necessary while denying His existence. It's painful to watch your contortions.


It is this kind of consensus that makes it possible to make laws, I suppose.

1) So what? Unless you think that all laws are good by virtue of their being laws. But I bet you have some laws you'd like to change.
2) Which again begs the question as to why law should matter. Why *should* I follow the law? B/c you might put me in jail (if your consensus is powerful and numerous enough)? Might makes right?


And I repeat: a consensus really is all we need.

No, it's not.
(See how naked assertions can be answered by naked assertions? Did you have an argument?)

Rhology said...

Bjorn,

Also let me recommend to you this link.

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2007/09/glory-and-relief-of-way-we-interpret.html