Sunday, May 31, 2009

Here lies an unwanted late-term fœtus, rest in peace (or something)


A slightly unusual set of circumstances surrounded one of today's late-term abortions, one of dozens or even hundreds practiced around the nation on a daily basis. Chaos ensued inside a local church, Reformation Lutheran (motto: "Unraveling the Reformation every Sunday so that we can be nicer people"), today when one late-term fœtus aborted another in a slightly less well-controlled environment as that which usually surrounds such terminations, though conditions in this case were certainly comparable in terms of sterility and general professionalism.

"We're all shocked here," said a churchgoer who identified himself as Jimmy. "It was really weird to see this late-term fœtus, who's been a long-time member of our church and who called himself 'Tiller', lying in a pool of blood, since he's usually been the one that reduces, excuse me, progresses other fœtuses towards a non-lifey state. So yeah, it's been an abnormal day, and last week was even worse - we had to kick out of our church a member who we discovered had been kicking his dog from time to time when he was angry. Talk about unacceptable behavior!"

Witnesses reported at least two other significant ways in which this abortion was dissimilar to others performed by Tiller, the aforementioned late-term fœtus, on slightly less-late-term fœtuses in the past. One was described by Mary Smith, who told us, "There was no mention of any shady financial transactions funneled from the federal government, through Planned Parenthood, to the abortician. It seemed like he was working pro bono, which is not unheard of, I understand, especially in poor minority neighborhoods, but it was strange all the same."
Sharimrakar Pamarayitsupatel, another long-time member and teacher of Reformation Lutheran's popular "Sunshine, Veda, and Transcendental Meditation" Sunday School class, mentioned the other: "The late-term fœtus in question seemed to utilise a projectile-emitting implement to perform this procedure, rather than what the other one usually uses, or so I understand, which was a suction implement, a handheld bladed implement, and/or a chemical weapon implement, depending on the situation. So this was a little off the beaten path, shall we say, but it still effectively got the job done, and it certainly seemed to be pretty painless, much less painful than taking a dip in a cocktail of scalding chemical agents, let me tell you."

"It's so weird," said an unnamed passerby whom we interviewed. "They have 'No firearms allowed in building' stickers on their doors and everything, as plain as day."

"Aw, peas!" complained 15-year-old Renée Nauchtupp, when informed of today's abortion. "Now I'm gonna hafta lie about my age and my 24-year-old boyfriend at someone else's cutting parlor. This really sucks, but not as much as it's gonna suck for my baby when I find another one, if you know what I mean."

Police have informed us that they have one significant lead, whom they are pursuing with a warrant for arrest on misdemeanor charges of practicing medical procedures without a license. In the state of Kansas, this can carry a punishment of up to $5000 and 30 days in jail, though most fœtuses convicted of this crime usually end up with approximately 90 hours of community service.

Fœtus Tiller will receive the benefit of a burial in a cemetery most probably, rather than being incinerated in a toxic-waste furnace or deposited in a city waste-disposal dumpster along with yesterday's used coffee cups and McDonald's wrappers. The church congregation is not widely expected to learn much from today's experience.

The Associated Press did not contribute to this story.
This story is dedicated to the memory of George Tiller, whom the Lord mercifully prevented today from murdering any more than the thousands of babies he already has.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How atheists should debate William Lane Craig

It's probably obvious that I enjoy debate. One of the perks of my current job is that it allows me to do my work while listening to sermons, podcasts, music sometimes, webradio shows, and yes, debates, most of the working day while I go about my tasks (mostly silently, except I type loud).
One of the most prolific and famous Christian debaters out there is William Lane Craig. In fact, his debate with Peter Atkins of Oxford was the first theist/atheist debate I ever watched/listened to, and I was enthralled. It probably helped that it was one of the worst blowouts of an atheist debater that I have ever witnessed, but my interest was nonetheless permanently piqued in these kinds of debates.

Anyway, while dorking around the other day and clicking on a few of the sites in my "Antagonists" bookmark folder, I came across this interesting blogpost wherein the Uncredible Hallq (which, I agree, is an outstandingly clever Internet handle and blog name) shares his thoughts on the best strategy for atheists in debate with Dr. Craig. The Hallq is an interesting character, in my estimation more of a freethinker than most Internet atheists and antitheists. I understand he is well-regarded among the Internet atheist community as well. I agree with much of what he says in the article, particularly in the way he characterises the way that Craig's opponents usually employ very ineffective time management in their opening speeches and rebuttals. To me, it appears that they don't typically do so much as listen to even one presentation from Craig before the debate; they just show up and expect to steamroll Craig. And in turn, they themselves get flattened. James White has experienced this over and over again, to name another prolific debater - see his most recent debates with Bart Ehrman and Dan Barker (I wouldn't describe the Ehrman debate as a "flattening", just a victory for White, but it's obvious Ehrman didn't study White at all, is all I mean).

So, after the stimulating analysis of the first 2/3 of the post, I was interested to see what the Hallq would say in the section entitled "FINALLY: WHAT I WOULD SAY IN A DEBATE WITH CRAIG". Given my impressions of him up to this point, I was very surprised at the shallow argumentation he employs here. It's really a seriously bad initial presentation. Let's take it point by point. I can't promise that my responses will resemble all that closely how Craig would respond. For one thing, the man is a professional. For another, he's a classical apologist, and I generally take the presuppositional approach, but we certainly have our common ground as well. So for each of these points, I'll give my own reply and What I Think William Lane Craig Would Say (WITWLCWS). Please note that I usually agree with WITWLCWS, but I often prefer to emphasise different aspects of the case.

--Richard Dawkins is famous for saying, ‘We are all atheists with respect to most of the gods humans have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.’ “This isn’t just a slogan: it’s good advice for how to think about this issue.

My friend Vox Veritatis very ably deals with this argument here. It amazes me that this argument is so prevalent and popular. Consider his response my own.

WITWLCWS: The weight of the evidence, as I've laid out in my opening presentation, supports the Christian God. I have a great deal of material on other competing religions and would be happy to debate their truth any time. Also, you need to present positive evidence for your position.

Notes: After a whole post haranguing us on the importance of taking WLC's initial presentation (which almost never changes) into account, and then the buildup of "Here's how I'd open against WLC", Hallquist's first point is not promising. How does this even get close to responding to WLC's presentation?

--Similarly, if the Christian god existed, we would find lots of evidence for him that we do not find:
1. Genesis says God created the heavens and the earth from a chaotic void a mere several thousand years ago. But our best evidence from geology, paleontology, and astronomy contradicts this. If the heavens were a mere few thousand years old, we wouldn’t be able to see most of the galaxy’s stars because their light wouldn’t have had time to reach Earth.

The best evidence for God's existence is that w/o Him, there is no reason or intelligibility. The "evidence" you refer to from those fields is data that must be interpreted thru a worldview grid, to see how well the data fit. Maybe alot of the data fit your worldview, but my worldview is able to explain them just as well, and quite often a lot better. Your challenge is to find data that DON'T fit in my worldview consistently but do fit in yours, and that would count as evidence for your position against mine. I haven't seen much of that in my time.
If God created the stars ~10K years ago, He could just as easily have created the light beams stretching from the stars to the Earth as well. And yes, He could have easily created the light event of a supernova that's dated to millions of yrs ago (on modern assumptions) that would only be ~10K light years away. Let's be serious here - does Christianity believe in an omnipotent God or not?.

WITWLCWS: My presentation is about whether God exists, not whether the Bible is infallible, and I have offered several very compelling lines of evidence for the existence of God. My arguments are forceful and substantive whether or not the modern iterations of the theory of evolution are true. Fine, the Earth is several billions of years old. Now, how about my arguments? Plus, what Rhology said about the light beams.

Notes: OK, I was kidding about Craig throwing me a bone there, but I think he'd agree with that limited point. Note again how Hallquist's point does not touch Craig's typical opening presentation.

--2. Genesis said rainbows are a sign from God given to Noah. But we know they’re a natural phenomenon.

And they can't be both...why? God uses means to accomplish His ends. He usually works providentially rather than via miraculous intervention.


Notes: See above - how does this touch Craig's initial presentation? Hallquist might not be wasting time here with windbag verbosity, but he's wasting the little time he's using, since this argument is virtually irrelevant to Craig's arguments.

--3. Genesis says the world’s many languages are punishment for building the tower of Babel. But we know new languages develop naturally, without divine intervention.

Congratulations, you know NEW languages develop naturally. How precisely does this rule out a miracle in the past?
Also, how do you ground the induction you're using?

WITWLCWS: How, again, does this deal with any of my arguments for God's existence?

Notes: The Bill Craig in my head is right - this is irrelevant to Craig's layout of the case.

--4. The Bible, along with post-Biblical Christian tradition, says God has sent a variety of prophets, apostles, and saints to work miracles on his behalf. But today, whenever we investigate urban legends of miracles or supposed miracle workers like Peter Popoff and Benny Hinn–and real investigations have only become possible recently–the claims turn out to be bogus. The reasonable inference is that all such claims are bogus.

The reader will hopefully pardon me for not finding ignorance about biblical doctrine a very compelling argument against God's existence. There were plenty of eyewitnesses in NT times who had a vested interest in NOT believing what they believed and testified about, b/c they were getting tortured and messily killed, de-synagogued, fired from their jobs, etc for becoming and living as followers of Jesus Christ. And many of them were in a position to know for sure that the teaching about Christ was not true, which is a scenario that few other religious traditions I'm familiar with can claim.
The case against the continuation of what are typically called sign gifts is pretty strong, but even most continuationists don't think that the gifts exercised today are of similar quality and power to those exercised in NT times. Further, ain't too many people around who think that Benny Hinn or TBN are legit. Is that really the best example Hallquist could come up with?
So, let me get this straight. Hallquist would have us investigate people that everyone knows are scam artists and conclude that the real thing doesn't exist anywhere?

WITWLCWS: Quite so. The existence of counterfeit currency doesn't invalidate the existence of real currency. In fact, it bolsters the case for the existence of real currency - why fake it if the real stuff weren't out there?
And a big part of my case for God revolves around the very strong evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Forget Hinn - how about dealing with the evidence for Jesus's resurrection?

--5. The Bible attributes the rise and fall of nations to God’s will. But historians and political scientists have been unable to find much use for that way of explaining historical events.

Note the naturalistic presupposition. You need to argue for naturalism's truth before you bring it in as your overriding interpretive grid like this. See #2 and #3.

WITWLCWS: As a historical discipline, it's true that God's influence might be difficult or even impossible to ascertain in such events as you've cited. You don't get to just assume that history is atheistic, though - you need to make your case. This is an argument from silence.
Also, I'd note that every naturalistic attempt to explain the historical facts surrounding the resurrection of Jesus is fatally flawed, so again, the best evidence strongly favors it. And the obvious inference from the resurrection is that God raised Jesus from the dead.

--6. The Bible affirms that God answers prayer. But attempts to verify this scientifically have failed, and what’s more, most Christians realize deep down this doesn’t work. That’s why they recognize it as a tragedy when religious parents try to use prayer as a replacement for medicine when caring for their children.

God has done plenty to testify about His existence. He's not obligated to perform like a circus monkey when you want Him to. All men know God exists, but they suppress that truth in wickedness b/c they love darkness. And then, in that very suppression, they want to study prayer to see if God will jump thru their hoops? This reduces God to some impersonal Force that can be manipulated thru the right incantations, physical or not. It's paganism, and God isn't a pagan god.
I'd love to see Hallquist's survey data to support the claim that "most Christians realize deep down this doesn't work".
See #4 - this is more ignorance about Christian doctrine. The purpose of prayer is to make ME more like Jesus through communication with Him, not to bend God's will to fit my own. God also uses some prayers as part of the means to accomplishing His will.
'Tisn't Christians who use prayer as a replacement for medicine, or better said, that's not part of the Christian worldview. Word of Faith-ers, may God have mercy on them, whose ideas are strongly influenced by Gnosticism, and Christian Scientists and religious scientists, who are even Gnostic-er, fall into this category. But I thought we were talking about Christianity, not "religion".
Finally, I see no argument as to why we should limit verification to what can be scientifically verified. It's not like Hallquist's own worldview can be scientifically verified. Maybe that's why most naturalists realise deep down that this naturalism thing doesn't work.

WITWLCWS: How does this affect any of my arguments for God's existence?
Further, since we're talking about answered prayer, I prayed when I was in high school that God would save me, and He did! I have had a true experience of Jesus Christ, and absent a good reason to doubt its truth, I am fully justified in believing it. That's an answered prayer right there, and since your argument is inductive, only one example is sufficient to overturn it. Consider it done.

Notes: I'll stop here and address the rest of the post next time. But that's the 1st section of Hallquist's proposed opening statement in a debate against William Lane Craig. Did any of these arguments address Craig's typical opener? No. Were they even very relevant to building a case against Christianity? No. So, my recommendation to the Hallq is: Yes, please, pretty please, do bring this kind of argument to any and all debate you do with a Christian. The Christian debater could share the Gospel, preach a biblical sermon, or read John Piper books aloud during the entire debate and still emerge victorious.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Well, *some* of My words might pass away...

Eric Reitan has begun what should be an interesting series of posts on his theories of how the Bible can be errant and still authoritative. I call horseapples on that, but we'll see how it plays out. This I address to him directly in response to this initial post.

Hi Dr Reitan,

I understand that these last few weeks are finals week and much grading for you, so don't worry about trying to hurry thru this stuff.

I read most of your book last wknd, just FYI.

I appreciate the way you've laid out the dispute here. My initial impression is that you've laid out the case quite accurately. That is essential to the advancement of any debate, so I am thankful to see it as well.
It occurs to me that these 4 are all based on presuppositions and logical inference. I should think that a very strong case must be made on the evidence found in Scripture itself, especially from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself.

Matthew 5:17
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished."
Matthew 7:12
"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:24
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 13:23
"And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
Matthew 24:12
"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.
Matthew 24:35
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Mark 13:31
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Luke 21:33
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Mark 7:13
"...thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."
Luke 2:23
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, " EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD"),
Luke 6:47
" Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like:
Luke 10:26
And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"
Luke 16:17
" But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.
Luke 24:44
Now He said to them, " These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
John 5:38
"You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.
John 5:47
"But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"
John 6:63
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
John 8:31
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, " If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
John 8:51
"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death."
John 10:35
"If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),
John 14:23
Jesus answered and said to him, " If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
John 17:17
" Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

Notice among other things:
1) Christ holds the Law - yes, the barbaric, evil, intolerant Mosaic Law - in highest regard. It cannot be broken, it is not to be invalidated for the sake of human tradition, it is truth, it will never pass away, etc.
2) Christ came to UPHOLD AND FULFILL that law, not to abolish it.
3) Love and keeping the law are held in inviolable connection. This speaks directly to your hermeneutic, Dr Reitan; you would do well to keep close track of this.
4) Same with holiness and purity, like in Jn 17:17.
5) It is the law OF THE LORD, as in Lk 2. Not the law of Moses only. It is divine in origin.
6) Christ Himself often appeals to the Law to settle disputes and answer questions. He quotes it to Satan; why didn't He just "love" Satan, or write (as it were) His own Scripture by speaking His own authoritative words to Satan to defeat him?

Now, few things you said:
-I have argued that a loving God would want us to pay loving attention to our neighbors, and that a so-called “inerrant book” would likely lead many of us to stop listening to those neighbors whose lived experiences were judged to be at odds with the pronouncements of this book.-

I know we need to flesh this out and my response is one of the 4 arguments you outlined above: you don't know love apart from what God has revealed. Besides that, let me say that the whole "lived experiences were judged to be at odds" is the very problem at hand! Over and over again in the Scr we see the sinfulness of man contrasted with the holiness of God. The lawlessness of man contrasted with the holy law of God. What happened in the Garden of Eden? Did man fall UP or something? God sent OT Israel into captivity in Assyria and Babylon b/c they were failing to follow their consciences, or was it b/c they were neglecting the law of God? Did Christ ever call us to figure out the right thing by appeal to our lived experiences, or was it to the law of God?
This is seriously, seriously wrong, quite properly speaking, a damnable heresy - one that will damn you.

-There are several reasons why I think so: first, because relationships with persons teach us more about love than do books-

Relationships with persons also teach us about hate, vengeance, temptation, lust, greed, envy, murder, rape, and theft.

-To discourage idolatry, God would therefore ensure that terrestrial artifacts that testified to Him could not be mistakenly identified with Him. -

I'll let you know the next time I see anyone bowing down before a Bible and offering incense to it. If we didn't believe it was the inerrant word of the all-powerful God, we would pay as much attention to it as we do the Catcher in the Rye - not much. This is a typical liberal canard, and it's beneath you, sir.

A brief word on your personal experience, if I may, though I obviously know few of the details. I too have traveled, and I've lived in France and Japan for extended periods. I have interacted with many diff people of many diff origins and worldviews. My approach to evaluating a worldview is more holistic than yours, apparently - I take into acct the good AND the bad of the worldview and its history and doctrine. How does an honest study of human history reveal anythg other than a highly flawed, deeply screwed up group? Your surrender of a solid grasp of a biblical worldview (if indeed you ever had one) shows that you never took sin and its effects seriously, and that you are indeed your own highest authority. How else can one eat off the buffet table of another worldview? For when one adds this and that from here, this and that from over there, etc, you create your own mishmash. Indeed that is what liberalism is - a mishmash of things that modernists and postmodernists have hodgepodged together to assemble their own horrible monster.
But let me say this - a trembling, ecstatic baptismal experience won't save you from the wrath of God that your sin has earned you.

-I endeavor to live my life in the faith that the universe was fashioned by a personal God of love,-

Which you have believed in thru an apparently blind leap in the dark. Maybe 1 John 4:4, etc, is errant.

-this God redeemed the world by living among us and dying at our hands-

But the crucifixion accts are highly contradictory and indicate a God who would put His own son to death for other people, for crimes He didn't commit. This is divine child abuse, you know. Besides, maybe these accts are errant too.

-I take seriously the radical and astonishing love ethic of Jesus, with its call to help the poor and work for justice.-

Which could well be errant.
That should be sufficient. Anyone can see the self-defeating nature of the half-in, half-out liberal stance. I'd much rather Dr Reitan were a Dick Dawk- (or at least Shermer-) type who would reject the whole thing than for him to remain in his self-imposed dark grey world, where he thinks he is God, until death comes for him and he learns to his eternal chagrin how wrong he was.
Revelation 3:14 The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
16'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.'

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Meh, atheism

When we talk about beliefs, worldviews, epistemological positions, etc, we are not only discussing what is. We are human beings, not robots. In most or all of us human beings, there is a sense, an instinct, telling us that we should find the truth and that we should put our trust in it, live in accordance with it, and if necessary occasionally push back against alternatives that we deem to be not true, especially if we deem the consequences of following such an alternative view to be highly detrimental to our living in accordance with what we believe to be true. Such a desire often becomes mangled, lost, forgotten and/or neglected in the course of our lifetimes so that we become more interested in satisfying our lusts and desires, whether they be for power, sex, good feelings, etc, but in general I don't think it starts out like that.
Even if that is not the case for most or all humans, let me say here that it has always been the case for me (and I attribute that to God's grace alone), and I believe such is true of most of my friends, so that makes at least a few. And I believe it is true of many or even most of the interlocutors on this blog, whether atheist, agnostic, liberal, Romanist, whatever - there is something in us that wants to know what is true. And there is an ineffable, existential instinct (for lack of a better term) that drives us, tells us we should stick with it, and even that we should move our lives toward further verification of that truth we hold to. And if we find it to be wrong upon closer examination, we should drop-kick it, perhaps with regret, perhaps without, and change our position to hold to the new discovery.

We have seen time and again on this blog that the atheist worldview has no objective, overarching grounds for any moral position. Sure, atheism has room for a personal code of morality, it allows for a societal morality to evolve, it has room even perhaps for a categorical imperative or something similar. But ask enough "why?"s and we discover not that the emperor has no clothes, but that the chariot is in fact empty. Everyone is their own emperor and therefore there is no emperor at all.

What implications does that have for the aforementioned motivation for our believing this or that worldview? Implied in "I believe in ____" is the statement "And I recommend it to you b/c I believe it to be true", whether or not the person making the statement wants to admit it. It boils down to "I think you also should believe this". On atheism, however, whence comes the power of this should statement? Out of thin air! Out of the chemical processes, brain gas, firings of neurons and axons, of the brain, and everyone's brain fires just a little bit differently. There is no should, there merely IS. So why should I believe in atheism? I neither should nor shouldn't. Why shouldn't I believe in Jesus Christ as the only way, truth, and life, the only way to reach eternal life and bliss? I neither should nor shouldn't. Why should I reject something if it has no evidence in its favor, as atheism says is true of Christianity? I neither should nor shouldn't.
So, since it's all the same one way or the other, I'll go with what you think is a grand illusion. And if atheism is true, the moral value of such a blindfolded position is the exact same as the "enlightened, empirical, rational" position - that of atheism. Think it makes a difference, to a bunch of people who will be dead in less than 100 years, whose identity, children, accomplishments, and "nice" deeds will be forgotten in the ultimate fondue pot of the Earth when the Sun goes into red-giant stage, to say nothing of the heat death of the universe? Think again.

Related links:
There probably are no duties. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life!
Many Atheists are Hypocrites about Morality

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dan Barker mugs the Atheist Experience

First, please review this post from a month ago for the necessary background.
This past week, Dan Barker, famous atheist and apostate, debated James White, famous baby-eating Calvinist and apologist. The debate is now available for cheap from, so let me encourage you to take a listen. I thought it was a pretty good debate, far better than most of Barker's debates, I'll say, and I would say the frequent low quality is often due also to the theist debater on the other side.
Anyway, around minute 5 during the 2nd cross-examination period, Barker began to press White on the question of how God exists. He wisely (or unwittingly) avoided the Gordon Stein pitfall, where he, in debating Greg Bahnsen, pursued this line of questions, paraphrased:

Stein: Is God material or immaterial?
Bahnsen: Immaterial.
S: Could you define 'immaterial'?
B: Something not extended in space.
S: Could you please give me another example of something that exists and that is immaterial?
B: The laws of logic.
(Audience erupts into laughter. Point, Bahnsen.)

Barker asked White basically: If God is immaterial and, more importantly, outside time, how does He exist? In this Barker neglects the fact that part of the definition of the Christian God is that He is timeless and immaterial, so he is committing an external critique, for one thing. Further, he neglected to mention that his own "side" (ie, many naturalistic scientists) says that that which existed "before" the Big Bang is often said to be outside of the influence of time, since time "had" not "begun" to exist yet.
Anyway, Barker is fond of the FANG, the Freewill Argument for the Non-existence of God, which besides the problems listed in the linked article, also does not interact with the biblical idea that God has foreordained everything in His sovereign plan, and that plan is perfect. What need could there be for Him to decide differently than He has already done? It's not as if Barker believes that humans have freewill either. Maybe he thinks humans don't exist.

Moving on, White was answering basically along these lines and Barker produced the following gem, transcribed exactly as it was spoken on the mp3:
"The point I'm trying to get at is, things happen in our brains. I have a nightmare and there's a monster coming in the window. But there's not really out there a monster coming in the window. It's a function of my brain, my brain's telling me this. So our brains function certain ways and we put certain words on this function, we call it 'mind' or we call it 'thought', but does it really exist outside of our brain? If minds were to cease to exist, then would we even need the word 'logic'? Would we even use the word? Would it even... 'cause it's a concept and you can't have a concept without a mind. Concepts don't exist out there somewhere" (emph. mine).

Note that the Atheist Experience's Matt Dillahunty had based all of the defense that he used against Matt Slick's TAG argument on the idea that the laws of logic, which are conceptual, don't require a mind. Whom to believe - Barker or the Atheist Experience? What a quandary!

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Project, Part 2 - Top Ten Signs

(My previous posts on
(Vox Veritatis' previous posts on
(Atheism Is Dead's previous posts on
(Blue3's post on

Next up in exposing the foolishness of is the article "Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian".
True to form, no definition of "fundamentalist" is given. Does mean the historic definition of fundamentalist, or do they mean "someone who believes the Bible and is therefore worthy of pejorative appellation"? Yeah, my pesos are on the latter, too.
Now that I think about it, the whole problem with this page is that both is sloppy with its own definitions, to the point that it just doesn't provide any, and does not allow the other side to define itself, instead reserving that right for itself, without permission to do so.

So, let's take these one by one.

10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

-Well, first of all, I'm not "outraged" about such things.
-This crashes face-first on the breaker of presuppositional apologetics. That's precisely what we do - we investigate rival truth claims to discover whether they are internally consistent and consistent with reality. Problem is, we never find one that is, except for Christianity.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

-Again, I don't "feel insulted". I suppose is aiming at your typical uneducated, unthinking evanjellyfish who has never even heard of a-whatever-ism.
-Rather, I reject this idea that people evolved from other life forms, first and foremost, b/c God was there (and you weren't) and He said it went down differently.
-It is indeed dehumanising to think that humans are just another animal. On an evolutionary naturalist worldview, why treat humans differently from paramecia? B/c you feel like it and have empathy? Why is that a reason? So what?
-There is a great deal of evidence against common ancestry and very little in favor.
-While it's true that Adam (not "we") was created from dirt, would place the emphasis on "created from dirt", while the biblical acct emphasises it differently: "created from dirt", namely by the very hand of God, created in God's very image., no surprise, leaves out the really important part.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God. apparently is clueless as to the definition of the Trinity. Ali Baba is shadowboxing. What part of "one God" do you not understand?

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

-I note again the emotive terminology.
-Allah, the god of Islam, does not exist. Rather, he is an imaginary person and/or a deceitful system perpetuated by demonic forces that is foisted on deceived people. Imaginary people and deceitful systems do not have the moral authority to justifiably execute such actions as killing people.
-On the other hand, if you're just weighing the options without regard to which god actually exists, I can see's point here. The God of the Bible directly commanded OT Israel to carry out certain military and genocidal actions against certain other people groups. Similarly, Allah of the Qur'an has directly commanded Muslims unto perpetuity (or further abrogatory revelation, whichever comes first) to carry out certain military and genocidal actions against certain other people groups - infidels.
-I am, however, unaware of the Qur'an's ascribing any redemptive typology to such endeavors, especially since redemption is a specious idea within Islam. On biblical theology, such annihilations (so total that they extend, yes, to trees and livestock) are the judgment for rebellious and unrepentant sin and a signal to all who hear and read of it to repent, b/c it is a type of God's ultimate (and very unpleasant) destruction of all who remain in their sin. Yet, there is always a way out, as Rahab discovered in the Jericho acct, and that is typological as well - a sinner, even an inhabitant of a land doomed for God's judgment, who has faith and repents and is thus joined to God's people, is saved from the wrathful judgment to come.

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

-What specific problem does have with the idea that God the Holy Spirit entered into His own creation and implanted baby Jesus in Mary's womb? No argument is given.
-More correctly, it should be said that Mary gave birth to The God-Man, not "a man-god."
-Other than that, yeah, is right. (Twice in a row!) And so what? We have good reason to believe that those events actually happened, and little reason to believe the Hindu/Greek events did. Further, the Hindu/Greek stories emerge from an incoherent and irrational polytheistic system, as opposed to the monotheistic system that is actually the case.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

-There are quite a few good reasons to doubt the currently-accepted modes of discovering the ages of stuff. The typical dating-by-element counterarguments apply; one of my favorites is the oft-repeated acct wherein this or that part of a LIVING animal returns a several-thousand year old date, and another part a different several-thousand year old date.
-Such dating schemes beg the question by arbitrarily assuming how much of the element was already present back then.
-They also beg the question by assuming the uniformity of today's natural processes and retrojecting them back to pre-observed times (times for which we have observation extend, we must understand, ~less than 100 years).
-Deep Time is Deep Time, and without a time machine much more difficult to penetrate than your typical Internet antitheist understands.
-We don't rely on "Bronze Age tribesmen", but rather on the word of the living God, Who just so happened to be present and accounted-for at the time of creation and after.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

-Does have evidence against this?
-Same question as always - What is's moral problem with this?
-And as usual, sin and how horrible it is goes unmentioned. No mention made of God's eternal redemptive plan that involves setting apart a people for His own possession. No mention of the fact that those in Hell are getting precisely what they want and what they deserve - being far away from God, all remnants of His influence (ie, common grace) removed, their own free will totally in charge, free to run amok and claw and scrap at everyone else in Hell.
-I don't consider my religion the most tolerant, no. Unitarianism would probably win that one. Yet what do I care about the modern definitions (and perversions) of "tolerance"?
-It is, however, the most loving, b/c it is the truth. You are a sinner, you need a Savior. No false assurances, no false comfort - the cold, hard truth along with the beautiful, awesome truth that Jesus died to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

Apparently is not aiming this objection at most anyone who is concerned about truth, but it would be perhaps a valid critique of many charismatic evanjellyfish in the West today. I should think this one belongs at #10 though, if they are in order of strength.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

-Again we encounter problems of definition. 100% is the success rate for prayers; God answers every single one. And a lot of the time the answer is No, or Wait. What is's argument for why we should accept their own implicit definition rather than the Christian one?
-And of course, this mistakes the purpose of prayer. Prayer is not the activation of man's will in Heaven, but rather of God's will in man's heart and on Earth. It is my communication with God that makes ME holier and more like Christ.
-Why would we think that an omniscient and good God would answer every prayer with a "Heck yeah" whenever we ask? Didn't Ali Baba see "Bruce Almighty", wherein Bruce/God answers all 4.5 million prayers with a Yes To All? And the chaos that ensues? Yes, it was Hollywood, but on that one they got it exactly right. would perhaps want to define "answered prayer" as a miraculous intervention of God. But aren't miracles by conventional definition rare occurrences? Further, a lot of "failures" are actually "Wait/Not yet"-type answers, misunderstood by the pray-er, who just KNEW that it would all fall apart if he doesn't get deliverance RIGHT NOW b/c he doesn't see the big picture or the big plan like God does.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.

-I would assume excludes themselves from those atheists and agnostics who know anythg about the Bible, Christianity, and church history, b/c their grasp of it, if their website is any indication, is woeful.
-And let's be frank - by the grace of God, I do know more about at least the Bible and Christianity than virtually all skeptics I've ever encountered, and more about ch hist than most.
-As if a wide and deep grasp of the Bible, Xtianity, and ch hist is necessary to be a Christian. The simplest farmhand can understand the Gospel and his sin and thus be saved, by the grace of God.
-Once again it appears that is aiming at the typical evanjellyfish. As far as this critique goes, I say "Amen!" Let those who name the name of Christ and know next to nothing about His Word and the history of His dealings in the world be ashamed of themselves.

Finally, let's ask ourselves - do any of these points have anything to do with whether Christianity is true? No, not really. One can spare oneself the horrible emotional trauma and skip this site, to be sure.