Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just the opinions, ma'am, just the opinions

Recently the Jolly Nihilist has returned to blogging, and the blogosphere is better for it. He has also appeared here fairly often, and such engagements are profitable for us Christians, and of course we pray they are so for him as well.
During our fairly long history of discussion and debate, I have often accused him (most notably, here) of inconsistency with respect to the way he deals with questions of morality, of should and of ought. On the one hand, he'll say:
Which is why my opinions are not facts, nor do I pretend they are or otherwise mask them as such. (source)
One can passionately hold, and articulate, opinions without believing them necessarily to be facts. (source)
Again, though I cannot speak of moral facts or objective right and wrong, this doctrine is positively noxious and almost staggering in its inhumane cruelty. (source)

Then he'll turn around and say things like:
...a charlatan associated therewith vomited up nonsense about homosexuals living in sin and just begging to be thrown into the fire pit of hell (a place, incidentally, which I deconstruct in my own latest blog post). The individuals upon whom the vomit was spewed. (source)
...mindless theological inculcation...sexual-orientation-modification pit of eternal torture and savagery. What beneficence...who would be harming nobody, bothering nobody, making miserable nobody...To prostrate oneself before such a pristine conception of hideousness… I dunno… I find it sad...Again, though I cannot speak of moral facts or objective right and wrong, this doctrine is positively noxious and almost staggering in its inhumane cruelty. (source)

Throwing out a token "but it's not immoral" to cover his tracks, where his tracks clearly show a trail through Moral/Immoral-Land, is unconvincing. As I've said before, his inability to hold, even for one little blog comment, to his stated beliefs about morality is staggering. And again the throwaway "cannot speak of moral facts"; he knows exactly what he's trying to say.
And for the hundredth time, who cares what he thinks?
Let me propose extending his "not facts, just opinions, since there are no facts, but I still think what I have to say has value for others, else I wouldn't be saying these things, now would I?" passive-aggressive paradigm to other areas of life and knowledge.
So, since one can passionately hold, and articulate, opinions without believing them necessarily to be facts, I passionately hold and want to articulate that evolution is false and Intelligent Design is true. Now, according to the JN, there's no way to bring evidence for or against his assertions of what he finds morally praiseworthy or reprehensible. Similarly, because I say so, and because I passionately hold to this opinion, my viewpoint is just as valid as anyone else's.

I passionately believe that the blue sky is a fuzzy blanket of happiness that God pulls over the despairing blackness of the night sky, and removes every evening. I also passionately hold that the stars are little pinpricks in the Dyson sphere-like canopy that envelopes the Earth, and God's glory, which is found in full force behind the canopy, shines through those pricks just a little bit, in order to put happy smiles on the faces of children throughout the world.

I passionately hold that mixing common household ingredients together will produce gold. (Next time, I vow to use just a little more Pine-Sol!) Last time, I mixed baking soda, vinegar, and dish soap. Even though the resulting sludge did not resemble gold as I usually experience it, that's OK b/c I know that what I passionately hold is worth expressing, and so it has value for myself and others. Hmm, where's the nearest pawn shop?

I passionately hold that since humans share a great deal of genetic code in common with broccoli, I can treat humans just like I treat broccoli. That is, I decapitate broccoli and eat it in salad. So...

I passionately hold that the President ordering the US Mint to print $3 billion in non-sequential $20 bills and giving them all to me will drastically improve the US economy. Drastically.

Remember another thing here - a very valid criticism I often level against atheists like the JN is that they frequently commit Hume's naturalistic fallacy and confuse IS statements with OUGHT statements. To wit - just because (for the sake of argument) gratuitous suffering IS/EXISTS gives us no information about any obligation, no directive as far as how we ought to respond to that suffering. Do we imprison the rapist, or do we join him in raping his victims? Without some external paradigm to provide moral direction to us, the bare fact of "this man is forcing these girls to have sex with him and they don't want to" leads neither to "I ought to stop him" nor "I ought to help him".
Thus, only IS statements exist. (Thus, atheism is the ultimate "Meh".) What else are IS statements? Everything I just said about science, evolution, chemistry, biology, astronomy, physics, and economics! Take the Jolly Nihilist's contention a little further than he has apparently thought it through and you arrive at a fantasyland where reality is limited only by your imagination, boys and girls!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

God's peace in the midst of fear of commission of the unpardonable sin

A friend wrote me recently requesting prayer for his recurring fears of having committed the unpardonable sin mentioned in Matthew 12:31 - "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven."

Here is my response, in which I took a slightly different angle to the issue:

Hey buddy,

I'd be happy to pray that the Lord would send you His comforting peace, the "peace that surpasses all understanding".
I hope you'll permit me to share a few things from the Word of God with you on this topic. My very favorite verse in the Bible is Romans 8:28, and Romans 8 is my very favorite chapter! "God works all things out for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose." He has called you out for His purposes, many of which are unseen but are (because they are unseen) more permanent than the things which are seen (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Now, follow along to the very next verses, v 29-30.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

He has foreknown who you are and who you will be and your deliverance in Christ. And look how He takes the whole thing to completion - those who are justified are also glorified. It doesn't say that "most of those whom He justified He also glorified" or "some of those whom He justified". It's "those whom He justified".

Take a look at John 6:
37 - "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out."

John 10:
27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."

Notice that - they will never perish. But what about those who commit the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Well, they'll perish, but those who are His sheep will never perish. Thus, none of Christ's sheep will ever commit that blasphemy. You might as well say that they are incapable of doing so, incapable of breaking God's powerful protection over their lives in such a way.
1 Peter says just that:
1 Peter 1: 3 - In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

He is protecting you. It's not up to you, and it never was. Do you have faith in Christ and Him alone to save you? Trust Him to bring you thru! If you do not, take this moment, right now, to tell Him, as Psalm 119:94 says, "I am Yours, save me."
Can we know that He is our Lord? Certainly we can.
1 John 5:13 - I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

You may KNOW it. Do you believe in the name of the Son of God?

Galatians 4:6 - Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
More Romans 8:15 - For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God...

Do you call God your Father, your Daddy (that's what "Abba" means)? Notice that, while there is a subjective element to all this, yet also it is a fact that the Spirit testifies to our adoption by God.
Finally, note 1 Corinthians 12:3 - Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

Do you say "Jesus is Lord" and mean it? This is not possible for the lost, unredeemed man. Take heart in that, my friend. Salvation is God's work and arena, not yours. And thank God for that - the stuff we do is why we need forgiveness, salvation, and redemption in the first place! God is our rescuer.

Here's a useful article to start thinking about this sin biblically.

I'll be praying for you. May the Lord bless you with His peace.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

But I was born gay

...and therefore am not responsible for resisting my biological impulses. I am a robot, an automaton, a slave, provoked to specific actions (namely, sex with other men) by my genetic makeup, with which I was born. I was also born with a latent hatred for sheep, CRTs, and politicians whose names begin with "P" (either first or last name). I therefore have no ability to resist when the voices in my head genes tell me to hack up sheep with a rusty chainsaw, to pour Mountain Dew on my friends' and co-workers' computer monitors, and to plan to force a change to the position of Speaker.

When those nice people from Exodus International invite me to follow the example of many before me and to give up my gay lifestyle and orientation, I am equally incapable of resisting. I know that I am incapable of resisting, because I went to their meetings (I can tell what I was incapable of resisting by looking back after the fact) and because I now am married (to a woman) and have had three children with her. And I find her sexually attractive. So, come to think of it, I was born to be a former gay.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In which I disagree with William Lane Craig

The Jolly Nihilist has asked me about what I think of William Lane Craig and his views on Darwinian evolution.

Time for a brief walk inside my mind. :-) Watch your step - there's manure everywhere.

I respect Craig's apologetical and philosophical mind, but in fact that's kind of what gets him into trouble. He centers too much on philosophy and thus kind of leaves his moorings behind alot of the time. It leads him to say things like this, and more notably it leads him to hold to Molinism and to say "Well, I disagree with Calvinism" when Hitchens asked him if he thought any Christian denoms were wrong. (Woulda been a lot better to say "Rome" or "Eastern Orthodoxy".)

I agree with him when he says "Christians enjoy the advantage over the naturalist of being truly open to follow the evidence where it leads". Little is more apparent than this.

Craig says:
Thesis of Common Descent, one should be cautious about accepting it, although biomolecular evidence is in its favor

Here I'd say he fails to challenge the question that CD begs.

Finally, I disagree with this: "an evolutionary theory is compatible with the biblical account in Genesis 1". When it really gets down into the meat of the "biblical acct" he'd tease out of the text, it ends up in a mishmash of inconsistencies and hermeneutical gymnastics. I've seen a fair amount of that and rarely been impressed. You may have heard of the various stripes of this: theistic evolution, day-age theory, gap theory. Plenty of ppl hold to one of these, but I can't really say they're convincing to me.
Anyway, you asked me if I thought Craig's hermeneutic is flawed, and the answer is unequivocally yes, in several areas. Certainly not in all, and I'm sure we have much more in common than not, but here and in his Molinism, certainly. What I'd need to see is a good engagement with at least these three things:
1) the order of the acct - for example, plants appear on the 3rd day. Sun on 4th day. Doesn't match.
Water creatures and birds on 5th day. Doesn't match.
Land creatures on the 6th day, as well as humans. Doesn't match.

2) Jesus spoke of the first ppl as "the beginning" and God's creation. Also spoke of Noah's flood as an actual event.

3) Paul also treated Adam and Eve as real ppl and a historical event. Peter treated the flood as a real event.

There could be other things, but that's a decent start.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

There's martyrs and then there's martyrs

A common argument for the historicity and factuality of the bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the origin of the apostles' faith. Peter and the rest were weak in faith and overcome by doubt and fear when Christ was nailed to the Cross and couldn't even bring themselves to witness His death agony or to lend Him support as He died. Nor could Peter answer (three times!) honestly when asked whether he knew Jesus. James the brother of Jesus was a skeptic, convinced of the resurrection and the Lordship of Christ by seeing Jesus after He'd risen from the dead. Yet these weak and unbelieving people eventually became fierce advocates of the Lordship of Christ, all suffered hardship for their faith, and most died martyrs for their faith.

The skeptical response almost never varies: Almost every faith, cause, and creed boasts martyrs and committed followers. The fact that Mohammed Atta and the other Sept 11 mass murderers were willing to fly airplanes into buildings isn't evidence for the truth of Wahhabi Islam, is it?

The difference between the original witnesses to the risen Christ and any other martyrs of any other creed that one can bring up is fundamental and striking in its power. An Islamic jihadist suicide bomber straps on his bomb vest on his way to blow up schoolchildren b/c he thinks what he is doing is sanctioned by his god. He believes it is right and has his whole life experience and pious history to "prove" its truth to him. He believes that he is walking in the truth.
The original witnesses to the risen Christ suffered and died b/c they would not deny that what they had seen and touched (2 Peter 1:16, 1 John 1). In the face of opposition - simply confess Kaiser Kurios and you can go free - they would refuse and confess Kristo Kurios. I have seen and touched this man Who was dead but then rose to life again.
What's the difference? They were in a position to know that Christ had not in fact risen, if in fact the resurrection were a lie. Who would be willing to suffer terribly, lose everything, and die a horrible death for something they knew was a lie? Will hundreds of people do this, for something they knew was untrue?

The jihadist could not know with certainty that Allah is not God. He believes (with all his heart, I don't doubt) that Allah is God and he will get his virgins if he blows up a school bus for Allah. The original disciples of Jesus could know with certainty that Christ had not risen, b/c they would know they'd been making the story up the whole time. The situations are not analogous. The quality of the original Christian martyrs is singular in its purity of devotion to truth and to Christ and forms a powerful rebuttal to those who doubt the truth of Christ's resurrection.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To those who decry "disunity"

I say let there be disunity if the option is to share communion with this.

"Let God be true, and every man a liar" (Romans 3:4).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Imagine Darwinists were advancing the conversation

The Jolly Nihilist has posted his thoughts on Coyne's latest book - Why Evolution Is True, which I've read - as well as Dick Dawk's The Greatest Show on Earth, which I don't.
He's attempting to convince us to accept Darwinian evolution. Strangely enough, he never tells us why we'd want to do that, if nihilism is true. Why not just leave everyone alone and cut butterflies into your ankles in the corner?

Anyway, the whole thing is an utter failure to interact with the creationist position in any meaningful way or to understand the problem of the internal critique for the Darwinian position.
I'd encourage you to read the post before continuing here, as this will be sort of stream-of-consciousness as you go down his post.

Creator is devious

Um, He told you exactly how it all went down in the Bible.
But you, in your intentional blindness and using pitifully limited methods, are looking for ways to prove Him wrong. You're deceiving yourself. Don't project your guilt onto others. Didn't your mother teach you that's not nice?

Let's see.
Assume uniformitarianism without argument? Check.
-With respect to tectonics. Check.
-With respect to half-lives. Check.

Assume you have any useful info about the quantity of decay at the time of creation. Check.

Jerry Coyne writes, “Several radioisotopes usually occur together, so the dates can be cross-checked, and the ages invariably agree.”

Circular self-reference as argument? Check.

Failure to interact with Henry Gee's In Search of Deep Time and mindlessly repeat old canards about the utility of the fossil record? Check.

Failure to interact with Cambrian explosion? Check.

By contrast, land mammals, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish would have extreme difficulty colonizing an oceanic island

Assume that it is definite that they were NEVER there and NEVER went extinct and that we just haven't yet found their fossils? Check.


Failure to take sin and the Fall into account, even though it's at the very heart of the Christian conception of redemptive history? Check and double-check. Atheists virtually never do this, and it's amazing.
Advance the conversation! Please! We're begging you.

Creator is idiotic

Presume to correct Him on sthg that you've never even gotten close to accomplishing yourself? Check.
Forget sin and the Fall (again)? Check.

recurrent laryngeal nerve of mammals

Argument from ignorance.
Here it is:
P1) Recurrent laryngeal nerve of mammals exists.
P2) I don't know why a creator would do it that way/I wouldn't've.

C) Stupid.
WOW! I'm bowled over by this forceful argumentation from Dick Dawk.

Finally, failure to interact with the EAAN? Check.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Yes, I am male

From the article mentioned yesterday:

--I'm sure the "hundreds of thousands of women" who made the intimate,difficult, selfless, and ultimately responsible decision to terminate their pregnancies appreciate you speaking for them.

You need to interact with pro-lifers a bit more often. I can't believe ppl still bring forth this old canard.
1) If you're a man, this sword cuts your own argument's throat.
2) I suppose women can't comment on things like "men shouldn't rape and kill gay men b/c they don't like gay men", eh?
3) See reasons 1-2 and 4-9.
4) Aren't more than half of worldwide abortions performed on FEMALE babies? Who speaks for them?
5) The majority of US women are pro-life.
6) If the baby is a human being (which it is) (which is the central question), then killing him is murder, whether a man or woman pulls the trigger, and yes, I'm sufficiently qualified to say murder is wrong.
But if it's not a baby, why would it be difficult? Who cries and agonises about a tonsillectomy?
7) Many women are pressured into abortion by men in their lives.
8) Most aborticians are men.
9) How am I "speaking for them"?

Need I go on?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Felt like ripping abortion today

Left a comment today on the local university student rag, where a friend of mine wrote a column about a recently-passed law on abortion.
I was responding to a comment by a user called "ab167", which was bookended by "You note the supposedly unproblematic part..." and "...back-alley procedures, heaven forbid". Here's my response:
--this is the first such law in the US and that there is no evidence that such abortions are occurring at all
Then presumedly you'll have no problem with its being preempted. We humans do like to find new ways to hurt and kill each other, you know.

--since it would be a glaringly difficult task to determine the motivation of the mother beyond reasonable doubt, creating a huge legal gray area.
That is a good point, one that should be very carefully thought thru. One can only wish for such thinking in other areas such as hate crime legislation. If you're for that, don't whine about this.

--I am sure you would approve of such underhanded measures to reduce abortions
And why not? I'm also in favor of sting operations to catch abusive pimps, drug dealers, and pædophiles. Or spies sent to infiltrate murderous gangs to bring them to justice.
Murdering babies is horrifying and horrible. Short of matching abortion's violence, I'm in favor of just about anythg to stop the murder of babies.

--isn't NOT LYING one of those laws you people have that goes hand in hand with not killin' babies?
Sorry, I tend to tune out when someone lectures me on morality who is trying to justify the legality of dismembering helpless children in their mothers' wombs. Let me know when you're done.

--nobody LIKES abortions
The pro-abort crowd does not act like they dislike them. You need to spend some more time among the more radical of your own kind. Hit a NOW meeting from time to time.

--not restricting access to medical care, but reducing unwanted pregnancies through education and access to contraceptives.
No one's arguing for restricting access to medical care, you morally blind fool. Medical care? Is that what you call jamming a scalpel into a baby's brain and then dismembering him with a pair of forceps after flooding his habitat with poison? What the frak kind of sick doctor do you go to? I suppose he treats broken bones by breaking others.
Further, yes, let's do the latter ALSO. And ALSO make murdering babies illegal. You know, like we've done with all sorts of other crimes, like murder and grand theft auto.

--access to legal abortions has little correlation to the number of abortions performed.
Except that now there are quite a lot more than before it was legal.
And don't try to spook me with the "back alley" bogeyman.
1) Murdering babies SHOULD be a dangerous thing to try.
2) You are so out of touch that you think modern abortuaries are even close to sanitary and professional?
3) According to the info I've seen, not even 100 women died in the entire history of "back alley" abortions in the US.

If you read this, then you weren't aborted.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sola Scriptura Debate - 2nd Rebuttal

DavidW’s comments misunderstand the fact that there are 2 categories in Scripture – theopneustos Scripture and non-theopneustos writings. Any reference to “Scripture” in the Scripture are claims about itself, because it’s God speaking. So anything that is God speaking carries the same attributes.

King David speaks glowingly about Scripture all throughout Psalm 119. Read it recently?

25 - My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.

66 - Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.

94 - I am Yours, save me; For I have sought Your precepts.

On and on it goes about the Scripture, yes, even the (looking back from modern times) limited Scripture that King David had. DavidW’s problem is with the Bible, not with me.

The Scripture was sufficient for King David and for Timothy to be saved, yes; see 2 Tim 3:15 and the Bereans of Acts 17. Progressive revelation, progressive responsibility. DavidW wants to catch me in some kind of 'trap' in affirming what Scripture transparently says, but argumenta ad incredulum are no good. Unlike him, I take all of what Scripture says and I submit my doctrine to it.

I'm not sure why DavidW thinks that Scripture's citing extra-biblical traditions would bother my position. It's simple - when the Scripture quotes something, that part of it is right. Doesn't make the rest of it inerrant or theopneustos, whether it's the Jewish oral traditions cited in Matt 23 or 1 Cor 10, pagan writings in Titus, or other writings in Jude.
Further, Maccabees is by and large a reliable historical account. So what if Christ celebrated Hanukkah? I've never denied that Christ followed various extra-biblical traditions. But He judged each one by Scripture, as Mark 7 makes clear. Not that DavidW would know that, as his treatment of Mark 7 is shallow (like most EOdox). He forgets that Christ uses the words "nullify the word of God by your tradition" right after quoting the OT. Naked assertions that "Word of God" can mean other things elsewhere doesn't do anything for him here. And I never claimed Mark 7:1-13 was a "condemnation of all tradition". Deal with what I actually said.

DavidW shoehorns extra-biblical tradition into 2 Tim 3 without telling us why we should think it's there. Assuming its presence doesn't get anyone anywhere, since he's supposed to PROVE his case. It is perfectly likely that "in the things you have learned and been assured of" is encompassed entirely in the NT, the entirety of which Timothy wouldn't have had on hand when Paul wrote that. Apostolic and authoritative oral tradition that was theopneustos and necessary for the church unto perpetuity became enscripturated. It's up to DavidW to prove, not assume, as he did with 2 Thess 2:15, the existence and God-breathed nature of some other alleged revelation. 2 Tim 3 also explains the end of oral apostolic tradition (so does Acts 20:32), as Paul commits his audience to the Word of God as refuge and authority during upcoming times of trouble, anticipating his upcoming death.

In citing Matt 19:7, DavidW makes a serious exegetical blunder. Christ is criticising the Pharisees for hard-heartedness at wanting to put their wives away for any reason, not Moses for allowing such. It's sometimes little things like this in which the hard heart of the errantist comes into view.

The Acts 15 council was working with a correct understanding of the purpose of OT dietary laws. Read Mark 7:14-22 and Hebrews. And it's another strawman to imply that I don't hold to the Holy Spirit's active guidance of the church of Jesus.

Let the reader judge whether
1) my quotation of Athanasius is indeed out of context.
2) whether context is all that important when someone makes such a straightforward and clear statement. DavidW has a real problem here b/c he likes to claim Athanasius is on his side, but in reality, there are two choices:
1. Athanasius held to Sola Scriptura. Thus DavidW's position fails b/c he needs SOMEone in the early church to believe like he does, otherwise his position has even less claim on the truth.
2. Athanasius was inconsistent throughout his lifetime. That leaves us with Church Fathers who have contradicted themselves. To be consistent with these Church Fathers (and remember, my claim is that modern EO-doxy is inconsistent with them), EOC would either have to:
A: Teach just as inconsistently as Athanasius did, sometimes saying one thing, sometimes the other, leading to cognitive dissonance, or
B: Call these teachings not actually part of Divine Tradition. But they’ve indeed already done just that. Somehow this man from whom EOC ostensibly derives much of its tradition and doctrine, also produced impious, ungodly, and flat wrong teachings.

Now, how would the EO know this? Apparently from judging these non-"Apostolic Traditions" by... yup, you guessed it! What The Church® Says.
In the end, it's a vicious circle of question-begging. I claim the modern EOC is not totally faithful with Church Fathers and then cite them when challenged. Then they say, "Hey, those aren't part of Apostolic Tradition!" I say, "Thanks for proving my point." Jesus judged tradition by Scripture. The EO instead appeals to his own doctrinal construct already in place to then look BACK on tradition AND Scripture and pick and choose what he will and won't believe. The problem is that DavidW doesn’t explain how he chooses between Orthodoxy and other “infallible interpreters”, but just assumes that Orthodoxy is correct. Perhaps he didn’t consider that an infallible interpreter can simply interpret selectively “2000 years of history” and anything else it wants to, for that matter, to support its view. That’s precisely what EOC does, but DavidW doesn’t see it.

We believe the Bible over other writings for lots of reasons, not least of which is that the ones he cited claim to be follow-ups and supplements to the Bible, yet contradict it at key points, thus proving inconsistent and untrustworthy.

I end with a review of what DavidW has not answered from my opener and rebuttal:

-“What could be of higher authority than the very speech of God?”

-“David, to deny the resolution successfully, must show us some other source of divine communication on par with or above Scripture.”

-What else might the man of God need that the Scripture can’t provide from the list I made of Scripture’s provisions in 2 Tim 3?

-How do you “define how we know what is good Tradition and bad tradition without a circular, question-begging appeal to The Church®?”

-Does David prove that the word of mouth is different in content than the letter mentioned? That the tradition mentioned there (like in 2 Thess 2:15) is distinct from the Scripture?

-Does David explain the lack of unity in his own church's walls if visible organisational/institutional unity is so essential? Does he exegete the disunity in the churches of Revelation 1-3, and 1 Cor 11:18-19, or does he just lazily throw up some "counter-citation" and hope nobody notices? Further, I'll add - does he explain how the Corinthian church could be so disunified and yet still be called "the church of God"?

(Word count: 1191)

(Comment repository post)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A question for Dan Barker

Dan Barker is a prolific debater for all things atheist and is one of the founders of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I have listened to a number of his debates with Christians of various stripes, mostly on the question of whether God exists. In those debates, he has a rote presentation with stock objections, most of which are petty and silly, such as:
  • out-of-context "contradictions" in the Bible,
  • blatant appeals to emotion, such as "walk into any children's hospital and you'll know there is no God", and
  • ridiculous claims to lacking faith in anything, such that atheists are the only purely rational people in the world.
One of the things that infuriates me most about him is his refusal ever to advance the conversation. Whenever one of someone's arguments has been clearly bested, or at least whenever one's opponents thinks it's been clearly bested, isn't it a good idea to refine one's presentation to overcome that objection and/or explain why the allegedly-good rebuttal isn't so good? Well, not Dan Barker! An example of this is found in his first debate with Douglas Wilson, in 1997, wherein the following conversation took place in the cross-examination. Barker had mentioned the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and stated that no good God would allow such an event to happen.
Barker: ...So morals are relative, to the situation...
Wilson: Why, given the fact that there is no God, and no objective morality (as you just told us that morality is relative to the situation)...
Barker: But there is an objective basis, I said, for morality. I didn't say there's no objective morality.
Wilson: OK, what is that basis?
Barker: It's nature, it's human nature and pain. We evolved to require water, for example. What if we'd evolved to require, um, sthg else like arsenic, then this might be evil, but relative to our human nature, to what helps us, what either enhances our life or what causes harm for our life, we can say relative to our human nature, this is sthg that's good. There is no Cosmic Objective Good out in the universe.
Wilson: We also evolved a mechanism whereby we blow up our enemies. So why was doing that in OKC wrong?
Barker: B/c that hurts. It causes pain. If you don't grasp the simple idea that morality is an issue of avoiding pain, blowing up people in OKC was painful, it was tragic, it was hurtful, it was bloody, and you ought to know that there's sthg wrong with that.

Barker never grasped what Wilson was getting at. Listen to his most recent debate on the same topic with James White, 12 years later. He hasn't gotten any closer to explaining why anyone should agree with him that "human nature and pain" is the objective basis for morality. He just asserts it. Thus spake Dan. Ironically, he also is fond of saying things like, in his debate with Paul Manata:
There is no moral interpreter in the cosmos, nothing cares and nobody cares.
When Wilson challenged him in that debate, and in their 2nd debate, Barker both times whiffed badly on the point, retreating to statements like "Well, if you believe that, then you're not healthy" or "you're sick, and we have police and laws to protect us from people like you". How is that even relevant to the question?

Now, consider another dumb argument Barker makes. He likes sometimes to begin his debates with something like
"There are many gods which Christians reject. I just believe in one less god than they do. The reasons that you might give for your atheism toward the Roman gods are likely the same reasons I would give for not believing in Jesus."
Vox Veritatis blows holes in this "argument" here. I'd simply like to ask Dan this question, and hopefully I'll get the chance to when/if he comes to my area in mid-November:

There are many moral systems which "moral atheists" like you reject. I just believe in one less moral system than you do. The reasons that you might give for your rejection of those other moral systems are likely the same reasons I would give for not accepting yours, that "human nature and pain" is the objective basis for morality. Now, without blatantly sidestepping the question by rejoicing that you have the law on your side (for now) and can put me in jail for acting on my beliefs that there is no morality and I can do what I want, please show why your morality is right.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Full of joviality

So late this week I was laughing at Darwinists, and before that I was laughing at atheists trying to express moral outrage. I'm gonna keep chuckling at the latter, embodied by Larry Clapp from CFI, today.

If you define something as "good" because God commands it, then it's arbitrary

Well, 'arbitrary' is sorta right. God has been and forever will be the same. So since He's always been this way, from eternity "ago", it kind of drains the meaning of arbitrary from the term. He is the only objective standard that I've encountered, and you certainly haven't presented one. God commands what is in accord with His nature, not out of some standard extraneous to Him.
Without Him, everyone is a morality of one, and can change their morality at will. THAT'S arbitrary.

But again and again (and again and again and again ...) he insisted on having reasons, which everyone took great delight in shooting down.

But again, you don't have a good reason to say "if you don't have a good reason and can't be consistent with your stated reasons, you should change your approach". Maybe he believes that it's moral and proper to act consistently inconsistently with his stated reasons. You have no access to that, and you can't tell him he's wrong. You're stuck, in a morass. The next time you encounter a pædophile in the middle of raping a child, all you can consistently do is say "I don't like that" and then infringe on his personal morality and rights by trying to stop him. When you do that, you're acting as if you were a Christian. And then you wonder why I scoff at atheism.

by definition, no atheist can be good, not even theoretically.

Now you're changing the topic. This has never been about atheisTs. It's been about your worldview.

Now let me tell you a story, similar to what you told me:
Long ago, men looked around and they saw that eating ice cream indiscriminately led to gaining weight, which they didn't like. They said "don't do that". They saw that eating broccoli led to lower weight, which they liked. They said "do that". They found that doing some things led to stuff they liked and other things led to stuff they didn't like. They encouraged the former and discouraged the latter. Somewhere along the way, they said "This isn't just me saying this, it's the gods saying this! You should obey!" Holy writ, and our "moral sense", is just (ha!) thousands of years of condensed good (and sometimes not so good) sense. But at its core it's just people talking to people, and people agreeing on certain things. Agreement. Between people. That is all.

Anyway, this is completely inadequate. You've begged the question (again) by using the word "good sense". You are unable to differentiate between current Western society, Nazi Germany, and my scenario. In fact, in my scenario, the exact same thing happened as you described, only what led to order and what the society liked was actually stealing little girls from other tribes, raping them, and killing them, leaving their bodies to rot in the jungle. So by your own logic, that's totally fine. Good luck with that.

Friday, October 02, 2009

OK, now we're just laughing at you

#12 and for all: My advice is to ignore Rhology as I now will do on blogs and in person, since he is not to be trusted for any any display of honesty, despite his stated deep belief in the Holy Bible.

Posted by: vhutchison | September 30, 2009 5:24 PM

vhutchison @19 -

I love it - now I'm dishonest. I know from other time spent here that I'm an idiot, a moron, a cretin, evil, a servant of a trickster God, spawn... hmm, what else?
Oh, you probably didn't know that I have 7 convictions for pædophilia and child rape on my record.

Anytime you feel like substantiating such accusations, Prof Hutchison, I'd love to see it. Say, a direct quote. Interestingly, I have a perfect example of either your incompetence or your own dishonesty; when we were talking Tuesday night, you told me you'd read my arguments and "they aren't any good". Then, mere minutes later I started walking you thru an extremely common argument of mine, three times, and you never showed any sign of understanding it. Were I as charitable as you, I'd already be trumpeting all about how you're not to be trusted.


Posted by: Rhology | October 1, 2009 8:44 AM

Rhology bloviated:

Interestingly, I have a perfect example of either your incompetence or your own dishonesty; when we were talking Tuesday night, you told me you'd read my arguments and "they aren't any good". Then, mere minutes later I started walking you thru an extremely common argument of mine, three times, and you never showed any sign of understanding it.

Your anecdote shows neither incompetence nor dishonesty. It shows someone who obviously sees the inherent worthlessness of your arguments. I suggest that there was no inability to "understand" your argument. I suggest that your argument was worthless to a degree that it was not worth paying any attention to.

Posted by: Dan J | October 1, 2009 10:51 AM

#31. Dan J. You are correct.

Posted by: vhutchison | October 1, 2009 10:58 AM

vhutchison @32 -
So *I'm* dishonest for some unspecified reason, but when you say you've read my arguments and know them well enough to know they are no good, and then completely fail to even understand one of the most basic ones in a face-to-face convo, you're off scot-free, eh? Unvarnished character, that.

Posted by: Rhology | October 1, 2009 1:18 PM

If you presented arguments for a hollow earth (ala Brooks Agnew), I would be of the opinion that you were, indeed, a crackpot of the highest order. Prof. Hutchison seems to (rightly) view you as such a person.

If you then approached me with further arguments, I would most likely ignore you. If it went further, I would most likely petition a court for a restraining order.

Claiming that the good professor does not understand your arguments does not make it so, nor does it make your arguments valid. It could very well imply that your arguments are so laughably absurd that they are truly incomprehensible to anyone not suffering from delusions similar to your own.

Posted by: Dan J | October 1, 2009 2:07 PM


Oh, you probably didn't know that I have 7 convictions for pædophilia and child rape on my record.

That truly would not be surprising. It would be perfectly consistent with the character you've demonstrated thus far.

Posted by: Eric Saveau | October 1, 2009 2:41 PM

Rho, why do you seem to figure that blowing peoples' opinions of you out to comically criminal proportions in any way invalidates those original opinions?

Posted by: Ritchie Annand | October 1, 2009 3:08 PM

Rho, why do you seem to figure that blowing peoples' opinions of you out to comically criminal proportions in any way invalidates those original opinions?

At a guess, either pathetically low self-esteem fishing for compliments, or a really bad attempt at reductio ad absurdem.

Either way, it's just sad.

Posted by: LanceR, JSG | October 1, 2009 5:11 PM

why do you seem to figure that blowing peoples' opinions of you out to comically criminal proportions in any way invalidates those original opinions?

Actually, it was originally a bit of a joke. Only later did I realise its utility in drawing out how evil and gratuitously nasty some of you can be. Mission accomplished!

Posted by: Rhology | October 1, 2009 10:23 PM

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dear Darwinists,

Dear Darwinists,

From Tuesday night's performance, we have:
-Meyer and Wells LOTS
-Darwinists in attendance ZERO
Seriously you guys. The best you can do during the Q&A is
1) Have Prof Hutchison ask why it's proper to quote non-ID people expressing their views on a relevant topic (and then have Prof Hutchison warmly pat Dr Meyer on the arm and tell him that he didn't ask another question b/c he didn't want to embarrass him)?
2) Ask about the presence of ERVs evidenced during mammalian evolution (which is, for the uninitiated, AFTER the Cambrian explosion) (oh yeah, the DVD was about nothing but the Cambrian explosion)?
3) Ask about Hox genes and gene duplication (and then go into a tizzy when challenged on why a Designer just couldn't conceivably want to do it that way)?
4) Ask why a Designer would make it so humans share lots of similar genes with other organisms? (Dunno, maybe b/c they work well and the Designer doesn't like to reinvent the wheel every time? Maybe?)
5) Ask why the DVD sometimes said "designers" and sometimes "Designer"?
6) Ask whether using the normally-accepted geological scale was an intentional jab at YEC?
7) Then come right back a few minutes later and claim that I have no standing or reasonable ability to judge ToE wrong b/c I lack the qualifications, the PhD? When there were 2 PhDs standing right on the stage whom you (who don't have a PhD) were judging their theory wrong?
8) Beg the question repeatedly and mercilessly when asked to give an explanation for one's materialistic views (that was you, Prof Hutchison)?
Umm, so yeah. Not exactly the best of performances from our Darwinist friends. Send us more, we're hungry.