Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Look, the "unity" argument just doesn't work

Let me try to give a fuller explanation of the point of my last post with respect to what David B has said starting here.

First and foremost, nothing in this post is intended to put forward a Sola Scripturist position.  The point is to rebut a very common Sola Ecclesia-ist argument, and nothing more.  SEists like to rip Sola Scr b/c it produces all these denominations.  I'm just showing another way (to say nothing of what's already been said that this is a terribly stupid argument to use.

David B says that the GOC have excommunicated themselves.
This is not excommunication, at least not biblically.  Biblical excommunication/church discipline is an action taken by the church.  Of course there's room biblically for them to go "out from us" (1 John 2), but that's not the same thing.  So when I said "So excommunicate them" and David B said "Already done", this is not precise.  It would have been far more precise and informative, apparently, to say "We can't; they already left", although apparently some of these GOC-ers, the priest in question included, see themselves as "resisting from within".  Within what, if not EOC?
Along those lines, I'd asked for an "authoritative church statement", and didn't get one.  I'd still like to know whether that exists, or whether this is David B's private, fallible interpretation of history.  (Not that this is a big deal to me, but I say that to mock still others who use the "private fallible interpretation" argument, which is, if possible, even stupider.) (I do not recall David B ever using said argument, fortunately.)

Now, we turn to this comment:
the main reason I see the calendar as NOT part of tradition and NOT reason for schism is that it was simply the civil (and pagan!) calendar of Julian's day...

That sounds an awful lot like "the main reason I see the question of Presbyterian infant baptism as NOT part of the essentials and NOT reason for schism is that it is simply the outworking of Presby covenant theology and has nothing to do with the question of the Gospel", doesn't it?  Yet do we Sola Scripturists ever get a pass from our Sola Ecclesia friends when we say that?  Nope.
So when we see "The Orthodox Church is internally divided over the issue of the Church calendar. A minority of Orthodox churches worldwide, beginning in 1923, decided to follow the so-called 'New' (Gregorian) Calendar." (Source), I don't see a good reason not to doubt this kind of "we have unity, and you don't, so haha" argument.  David B's church is in the minority.

He or other EOx might respond:
But we are in communion with most of the Old Calendarists who aren't schismatics!

I'm a Reformed Baptist, and I'm in communion with all sortsa people - Presbyterians, not-Reformed Baptists, Assemblies of God, charismatics, Pentecostals...

But y'all don't go to the same church!

Neither do y'all.
And you don't earn any points for fudging on the definition of "denomination" either.  Your not-denomination denominations, in which you disagree with each other about certain things, are the same situation as the one in which I find myself today among Sola Scripturists.

But we have the same name!

No, you don't.  ROCOR, Russian Orthodox, OCA, GOA...

Those are just ethnic divisions for convenience' sake!

1) Then why do some of you differ on, for example, the calendar?
2) So it's better that y'all hold to the same doctrine and just squabble amongst yourselves like you do on the basis of racial dislikes?  Nice.

But you're not in communion at all with other Protestants!

You mean so-called Protestants?  Those with whom I'm not in communion have excommunicated themselves by denying the Gospel or another essential of the faith.
And you're not in communion with other Orthodox.

You mean so-called Orthodox?

Yep, that's precisely what I mean.  Why do you get to play the "they've schismed" game while I don't?  Where's your consistency?
It would appear that this is a case of "they're in communion with us unless they're not".  I shouldn't have to remind anyone that this is a tautology, and yet that is what's behind any appeal to this "unity" argument.

But we have a way to tell which tradition is right!

So do we - the Scripture.  Which doesn't keep writing itself with every new church pronouncement, BTW.  And which is far less question-begging.

Having said all that, one has to ask how David B knows that OCA is part of The True Orthodox Church, whereas those who've kept to the ostensibly older tradition of the Old Calendar aren't the ones holding firm in the face of innovation, a new calendar, ecumenism,getting all liberal-soft on baby murder, but by God making sure that everyone knows that the EOC is really serious about being green.  Nnnoooo, none of that is suspicious!
You know, for a while it sure seemed like the Arians were going to win the struggle in the 4th century, and anathemas had been flung about.  If David B had been alive that day, how would he know that the party of Athanasius was correct?  Appeal to "the Fathers"?  Each side had their own "Fathers".  Besides, a mere individual man like David doesn't get to define who is a Father and who isn't.  And since the typical Sola Ecclesia interp of Matthew 16:18 tells us that the church will never go largely down into heresy, the only way to be sure would be to wait and see who'd win the struggle.
How is that helpful for the believer at the time whose very soul is at stake?
How is that a good guide for the believer who wants to further the cause of good and of God?  How can he know where to direct his efforts?
Easy - he can't know, b/c individual interpretation of the Scripture is not available to him, and Apostolic Tradition hasn't been defined yet, and can't be by any one man. 

(Please leave any comments at the Beggars All post.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The rich, rich irony

Following in the spirit of this older post pointing out the gross and obvious chasm between how Eastern Orthodox talk up their church's unity and the actual exercise of that "unity", I pause to note the just-published article "Why the True Orthodox are Truly Orthodox" from The Holy Metropolis of the COC of America.  As the first link should make clear, it's not as if this is a recent development, hot off the presses, and I just couldn't wait to crow about how the Eastern Orthodox Church's long-invulnerable armor of unity has just now been cracked.  I'm writing about it because it activated my brain.  Yes, it hurt.

Anyway, let's consider this irony.

Eastern Orthodox (like their partners on the other side of the Sola Ecclesia coin, Romanists) love to rip "Protestants" for their disunity, for fragmenting into 59 gazillion (and growing) denominations.  The answers we've given to that are manifold (and not well dealt with by EOx and RCs) but what do we see here if not a break within the Eastern Orthodox Church itself?
It's pretty funny how it's gone down, too.  Often I have to explain to our EO and RC friends that we are biblically commanded to break fellowship with those who have fallen into heresy.  They want to count towards the 59 gazillion, say, Oneness Pentecostals among the ranks of "Protestants", or liberal types who deny virtually everything supernatural in the Bible but still go to a "Presbyterian" or "Lutheran" or "Methodist" church.  When we respond, "Um, no, those guys are called 'heretics' and are not Christian in any meaningful sense", they often choose to ignore the obvious and settle for the pejorative quip that, see? we even call each other non-Christians and heretics!
And that's for major differences in doctrine - the Trinity, the Resurrection of Christ, the virgin birth, etc.
Now, they'll say, you also break fellowship with others over minor matters, such as the music you use during worship, women pastors, who gets to head the Agape Meal Planning Committee, etc.  That can be true, and sometimes it's sad and a bad thing, sometimes not so sad or bad.
But lookie here - I don't guess the Eastern Orthodox have room to talk noise about that.  These guys are throwing the Heretic Card for people who hold to a different calendar.  In terms of pettiness, that's sandwiched riiiigggghhhhttt between the music-during-worship schism and the Meal-Planning-Committee schism.

But Rhology!  The Calendar is a big deal!
||Nodding skeptically||  Um, OK, if you say so.  Then so's the Meal Planning Committee, yo. 

To wit, from the article:  
In our day a new heresy has appeared which seeks to bring all these together and for this reason is aptly referred to as a "pan-heresy." This is Ecumenism, which we may briefly define as the belief that sects which the Church had previously considered heretical and cut off from her are in fact in some way still part of her. The threat Ecumenism poses to the Church is perhaps greater than that of any heresy of the past, for two reasons. First, by far the larger part of the Church has succumbed to its temptation.
Get that?  Most of the EOC has engaged in heresy.  Is that "the gates of Hades" overcoming the church (Matt 16:18)?  So, since this is the church that believes the true meaning of the Bible, I presume they'll be excommunicating over half their members pretty soon?  No?  Hmmm.  But, wouldn't just keeping those people around in the churches imply that they prefer more butts in pews feet on the floor (they don't sit at most Divine Liturgies) and more rubles in the offering plate than to be consistent and cease fellowship with heretics?  Wouldn't that put them in the same position as the Sola Scripturist, who appeals to the remnant paradigm from the Old Testament people of God to rebut the challenge that believers in the slightly-later-than-early church were not Sola Scripturists or Sola Fide-ists (which we don't necessarily grant, but just for the sake of argument)?
Or could it be that Matt 16:18 doesn't say what our EO and RC friends like to say it says?

One thing I've learned over the years is that RCs and EOx like to make attractive and impressive claims about how their church is this and that, and how bad my church is, and it can be tempting.  But just take a hard look at the alternative they're offering you, and it becomes clear it's really poison and fake.

Here's the punchline - I don't see a good reason to think that a lack of unity within a certain faith group has a whole lot to do with the truth value of the system the group is proposing.  In this way I am unlike our EO and RC friends, but unfortunately since neither EOC nor RCC can live up to the standard that they brag they fulfill, this makes me more intellectually honest than they.  Further, since each bills itself as "The Church Christ Founded®", thus entailing some great unbroken unity, which turns out to be a product of wishful imagination, this becomes an argument against the truth of EOC and RCC because of the claims each makes.  Sola Scripturist churches do not make that kind of claim; why would we think that disunity in our ranks is evidence of our beliefs' untruth?  So, at best, this internal squabbling and tossing around of "Heretic"s shows that EOC and RCC are false churches.  At minimum, it destroys a very common argument that EOx and RCs use against Sola Scripturists.

(Please leave any comments at the Beggars All post.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scott Windsor, distracted

It is entirely possible Scott Windsor, while typing out his latest comment to me, was watching a World Cup footsoccerball match and could not think clearly through the buzz of those insanity-inducing vuvuzelas from the crowd.  Had to be something, b/c his comment is a mess, as if he forgot where he was.  It's bizarre; I encourage you to read it for yourself.

Your asking ME a question is not YOU documenting YOUR case.

Oh, I get it - you're less interested in a substantial case made than you are in rapidity of reply.  You could stand to cultivate a bit of patience in your life.
Now, my question?

OK. Then that's my answer for those who ask for an infallible Canon of Scr from Sola Scriptura.
sw: That question has not been asked of you in this particular discussion.

???? That's the very question I explicitly identified as the challenge I'm responding to when I make these "you're in just as 'bad' shape as we are" arguments!  Someone's not paying attention...

That's #3 on my Top Ten List. The "you're in no better shape" argument does not defend YOUR position, it is an invalid red herring argument.

Yup, you're not paying attention.
The astute reader, who actually attempts to use his memory and fairly represent the other side, will recall that I entered this combox for the explicit and express purpose of disputing #3.  And now Mr Windsor crows: "Heh heh!  You violated #3!!!!"   Um, yes, I know that.  I think #3 is stupid.
What's really funny is that Windsor linked to the very same post in whose combox we're having this discussion!  Sir, may I suggest with the most kindness I possibly can - you are embarrassing yourself.  Pay attention, or don't comment.

1) Is it complete? (2)Not missing one single item?
sw: That's TWO questions.

Um, yes.  It sure is.

1) It doesn't claim to be, nor did I claim it was.

So it's not a fallible list of infallible doctrines of the RCC.
Even though before, I'd said:
Rhology: (The RCC can't provide) failing that, a fallible list of RCC's infallible teachings
and then you answered:
SW: There are PLENTY of fallible lists! Dr. Ott's book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma being one of the most notable!

sw: That's really #3, for those who can count.

Yes, that's right too!  2+1=3!  Gold star!

How do I know? Um, I just answered that, the TITLE tells us what it IS.

Oh, OK.  Well, my Bible says "The Holy Bible" on the title.  What?  You want an infallible canon?  Hey, get off my back!  I just answered that, the TITLE tells us what it IS.

The Canon which was defined is that of "The Old Latin Vulgate" - the canon used by St. Jerome. In the DEFINITION there is no silence.

Sorry, but you're simply wrong about that.
Next time, pay attention.  You'll get better work done.

(Please leave any comment at the Beggars All post.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

When a PhD does you no good

I simply must direct you to the most recent round of conversation between myself and Dr Ken Pulliam. It's not as if he began at a high level of discourse regarding his moral basis; I mean, "intuiting" that things are "self-evidently wrong" is pretty weak. But today he's gone downhill, and fast, and the man has a PhD in theology! Generally highly-regarded Luke of Commonsense Atheism thinks his recent series is "Christian Theology's Worst Nightmare" (and also deleted my comment, which is quite lame).  Ordinarily "a Ph.D.-carrying theologian hard at work explaining – in great detail – why Christian theology no longer makes sense to him" might cause one to shake in one's boots a bit.  But the mystique wears off quickly when one actually talks to the man. 

Let's take a look at his most recent round of comments, from this morning:

Dr Pulliam:

Here is a quote from someone who believed that one needed a religion in order to have an objective moral code:
"This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief. The great masses of a nation are not composed of philosophers. For the masses of the people, especially faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life . The various substitutes that have been offered have not shown any results that might warrant us in thinking that they might usefully replace the existing denominations." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 10


I'd've thought better of you than to incite your readers to commit the genetic fallacy, Dr Pulliam.
Besides, it's not like Hitler was a Christian. You're committing your fallacy at the expense of paganism.

Dr Pulliam:

I am not saying that the quote from Hitler proves anything, so I am not committing the genetic fallacy. I am merely citing a statement that he made. You are free to interpret it anyway you like.
Hitler was a Roman Catholic as I understand it and he never renounced his faith. Granted, he was not a typical RCC and he was obviously a sociopath, but he was not an atheist, as Hector Avalos clearly shows.

--I am not saying that the quote from Hitler proves anything
Oh, OK. Then...what was the point of posting it, I wonder?

--Hitler was a Roman Catholic as I understand it and he never renounced his faith
I'm no friend of the Roman Church, but I suggest you do read the link.
And I didn't claim he was an atheist. He was a pagan.

Dr Pulliam:

In addition, Hitler said in a proclamation to the German Nation February 1, 1933: "The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and co-operation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." (My New Order, New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 144.)
What is my point? My point is that one can believe that Christianity provides an objective moral code and still commit awful atrocities. The OT is full of these atrocities. So, what good is an "objective moral code" if it can lead to such acts? Christians will say, "well that it is not true Christianity ! But herein lies the problem, if the "objective moral code" of the Bible can be interpreted in different ways, how then can anyone be sure they have the correct moral code? So, to argue that one only has a sure basis for saying whether something is right or wrong, if it is based on the moral code of the Bible is misguided. My question is: "which moral code" because the Bible has several and they are contradictory. Christians cannot agree among themselves on what the "true" moral code is.

--My point is that one can believe that Christianity provides an objective moral code and still commit awful atrocities. 

1) Yes, quite. Don't tell me you're unfamiliar with the biblical doctrine known as "sin".
2) I suppose we're back to your "intuiting" that these "atrocities" were "awful", aren't we? But once again, apparently Hitler "intuited" that murdering Jews was self-evidently a good thing. So the objective outside observer has to ask: how do we know who's right between you 2?

--So, what good is an "objective moral code" if it can lead to such acts?
Obviously, it tells you that they are indeed atrocities. 
Are you a PhD in theology and do not understand these things?

--if the "objective moral code" of the Bible can be interpreted in different ways, how then can anyone be sure they have the correct moral code?
Oy. This is the kind of stuff I see from the least informed atheists on teh Interwebz, sir. It's the same way I know you're questioning me about the moral code of the Bible and not telling me that Jell-O 5 no bones and the further they fly the much. This is a postmodern, worthless, conversation-killer that cuts the throat of ALL communication. Try something else, please. 

--Christians cannot agree among themselves on what the "true" moral code is. 
Someone who's willing (and able) to repeat the message of the Bible, whether or not he agrees with it, would know that the Bible actually predicts such things. I'm having trouble seeing what good your education did you, to be honest...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

You will bow before me!

Following in the same vein of this previous post, the Former Fundy, Dr Ken Pulliam, is now attempting to simply define his way into moral justification.  It's easy, apparently.  Just assert, w/o argument (or by reference to an obscure book, in this case written by one Audi) that your view is "self-evident", and you're golden.  Let's see how it all plays out, when I pretend to assert w/o argument the opposite view.

Dr Pulliam,
There are certain beliefs that are self-evident, that is, they are not inferential beliefs.

No no, I do understand that.  The purpose of my reductio is to demonstrate the emptiness of your ipse dixit.
See, *I* say that "rape is morally compulsory" is in fact that which is self-evident.  You are mistaken in thinking that "rape is morally wrong" is self-evident.  And I have a whole bunch of people, both in prison (those who are being oppressed by the oppressive majority) and out of prison (who take their stand against The Man) behind me.

If your intuition tells you that rape is good, then you are a socio-path who will wind up in prison.

I knew it.  Your view reduces to might makes right.
Plus, this has nothing to say about the morality of rape.  Now you're just telling about what you'd prefer to do to someone who violates your preferences.
See, if I can gain enough power, then I can make the same category error as you and start saying that rape is morally compulsory.  Since I have the power.
This is the problem with your human-centered and human-based moral system.

There are always exceptions but the near unanimous opinion of man is that rape is wrong

The near-unanimous opinion of human societies throughout human history have not been atheistic.  If you don't respect counting noses at all times, I don't see why this isn't an exception too.

Hume's guilliotine does not work against foundationalism

It does until you can make some real connection between what you intuit and what is normative and prescriptive outside yourself, and why.

you should be able to make a real name for yourself by refuting Audi.

Right, just like I'd make a real name for myself in refuting evolution.  Those things aren't quite as simple as you make them out to be, sir.

Now, I've noticed, BTW, a post by a none-too-bright commenter in the same thread by the name of Geds

S/he apparently has no idea that when s/he said:
I self-identify as a feminist. My argument is this: women are people, ergo they deserve to be treated like people and not objects.
And I responded:
1) Prove the ergo. I'd encourage you to read up on Hume's Guillotine. I've been bringing it up for several threads now, and nobody's touched it. Not even Dr Pulliam, who, as a PhD holder shouldn't be afraid to delve into a little elementary philosophy. how does IS imply OUGHT?
2) My argument is this: atheist women are not people, ergo they deserve to be treated like objects and not like real people. And any ideology that says otherwise should be resisted. Prove me wrong.

that I was engaging in an internal critique, a hypothetical, a thought-experiment. Geds really thinks that I think that atheist women are not real people!  Geds also apparently thinks that I somehow thought that the Atheist Experience was going to let me run their show during an April Fools' prank a couple of years ago.  Yeah, not so much.  Anyway, unfortunately Geds represents the majority of American voters' thought level.  Now I'm all depressed...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Habakkuk Study, Part 7

Chapter 3:1-2 Notice how Hab is hearing a report about God, and then sort of goes into a mode where he seems to be recounting a vision that he's seen of God.  Could just be his poetic flourish about a report and the God Who is behind that event reported, or it could be a theophanic vision.  I think it's a bit tough to tell.
Let's read through the chapter and notice how similar to later ideas of Jesus' Parousia it is. 
But let's also keep in mind the context - this is God appearing in the context of judging some nations and bringing destruction/chastening down upon them.  This is also biblically appropriate language for a non-Parousia "coming" of the Lord to chasten and judge and carry out temporal decisions. Let's look at a few examples so that we can be sure not to finish this study today, haha.

Matt 10:23
Matt 23:35-36
Lk 12:49
1 Thess 2:16
Rev 2:5
Rev 3:3

Now, obviously alot of other references in the NT are of the Parousia, of course.  No question about that.  But what I'm saying is that the Parousia is not the only way that Christ comes in judgment, and I'd argue that this Hab 3 passage is probably a non-Parousia example, though of course it's supposed to foreshadow and evoke the expectation of the Parousia by its very nature.

3 God comes from Teman, And the Holy One from Mount Paran.
--Probably a reference to the appearance of God to Moses on Mount Sinai - Deut 33:2. 
As He came once to deliver the Law to His people, so He will return again to deliver them from the hand of evildoers.

4 And there is the hiding of His power.
cf Psalm 2 - He clothes Himself with light as a garment.  Ps 104:2, Exod 24:17, 1 Tim 6:16
And if that kind of thing is the HIDING of His power...

5 Before Him goes pestilence
--When we hear about a plague or a bio-weapon, does it not strike fear into our hearts?  One envelope in the mail with some white powder on it can paralyse the entire Capitol building.  So that's one of the most fearful things imaginable; who can hope to stand before it?  And God reveals here that this is merely one of His tools, that He manipulates.  Reminds me of when God talks about Behemoth and Leviathan in Job - if you can't take on these things that I created, don't think you can take on God.
And what does God use pestilence for?
1) To punish evildoers.
2) To turn ppl's hearts to God for their provision or even their cure (cf Num 21:1-12). 
3) To chasten/discipline His children (cf 1 Cor 11 - "some of you are weak and sick and a number sleep").  Prov 3:11-12 and Heb 12:5-6 quotes it.
4) To glorify the work of God.
-cf 2 Cor 12:9,
-God chose Moses partly b/c he had a speech impediment of some kind
-Exodus 3:11
-John 9:3

6 Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered, The ancient hills collapsed.
It seems that this is an expectation of things to come. 

7 I saw the tents of Cushan under distress...
Habakkuk continues his vision of God's appearing.  God approaches from the south, from Ethopia (Cushan) and then further north thru the Sinai peninsula (Midian).

8 Did the LORD rage against the rivers...?
Hab breaks from his theophanic vision to remind us why this is happening.  Is this action from God due to His wrath against inanimate creation?  Or does He have something else in mind? 

9 Your bow was made bare...
More description of God as man of war.  War to the extent that He'd even chop the Earth up with rivers - at the time of the Flood, maybe?  The miracles at the Red Sea, or water in the desert?  I don't know, but at any rate Hab is only glancing at it.

10 The mountains saw You and quaked;
Cf Ex 19:18, Ps 114:5-6 - when the Lord appears, even the mighty mountains are shaken.
(LXX says "peoples" instead of "mountains", and that's even easier to understand.)

11 Sun and moon stood in their places; They went away at the light of Your arrows...
The sun is the most brilliant and warming light that we can imagine, yet at the appearance of God's power and brilliance in His attacks on evil, they flee away, so the point is that you can't imagine how brilliant His arrows are. 

12 In indignation You marched through the earth...
More reference to the powerful, angry Judge, coming in righteous indignation against evil.

13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation of Your anointed.
You struck the head of the house of the evil...
A picture of God destroying the kingdom of Babylon, by striking at its head, and this head just happened to be Belteshazzar.  Ditto for v14.

15 You trampled on the sea with Your horses,
An allusion probably to the salvation of Israel from another oppressive power thru the parting of the Red Sea.  Past mercies are types of future deliverances.

16 I heard and my inward parts trembled,
When you hear that this God, Who is so powerful, majestic, and brilliant, is on the warpath and you know that His judgment would fall on you except for His mercy, you should tremble too.  You should be terrified of His wrath, because it would destroy you completely and mercilessly. And you fully deserve that destruction, make no mistake.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls...
When anyone invades you, it's going to cause a major disruption in your normal flow of goods and services, in your normal provision.  How much moreso when the Babylonians, who amused themselves by killing forest creatures by the truckload, invade you? No doubt they would chop down trees and vines, spoil fields, etc.  And they're going to take all the livestock to feed their army. What are you left with? 

18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Where is his heart?  Is it in the material possessions and lifestyle that make his life easy/enjoyable?  Or is it in the God of his salvation?
Heart check - where is your heart?  What if the orange trees don't blossom, and the corn and wheat and rice don't yield their grain?  What if the economy gets worse and you lose your job?  Will you yet exult in the Lord?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Habakkuk Study, Part 6

Exegesis of Acts 13:13-41, in which Paul quotes Habakkuk 1:5.
Let's read the entirety of the passage to get the context.
-What is he talking about as he leads up to verse 41?
-Who is he talking to, as he refocuses in v 26-27?
-v32 - good news, right? In fact, all the way to v 39, this is great news.
Notice how v 17-25 is more or less bad news.  Then 26-31 is the really bad news.  Note how 26-31 is directed specifically at Jews; given that Paul is speaking at a synagogue, that makes sense.  But isn't it the case that those who bear responsibility for Jesus' death extends beyond the Jewish people of that specific time?  Sure, they were directly responsible as they were the ones who asked Pilate to execute Him, their representatives put on the show trial, they in the mob cried "
Crucify Him, and let His blood be on us and on our children!".  But didn't Jesus die for the sins of all who would eventually call on His name and plead for His mercy?  In other words, this is bad news for everyone.
-Thus the good news is good news for everyone as well!
-v41, quotes Habakkuk 1:5.  What do we know about Hab 1:5?  Given that, and given that these Jews would certainly know this passage and its context, what is Paul saying by quoting it?

Back to Habakkuk 2--
v7-8 - Who will be plundered by whom?
How was this fulfilled?

Now begin the 4 Woes for Babylon.  I have to confess that I didn't notice the structuring into 4 woes until I read the Pulpit Commentary.  Eureka!  I subsequently felt dumb for not noticing it before.

v9 - Woe #1 - Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house...
What is the goal of "putting one's nest on high"?  What is in the unbeliever's mind as he does that?  And how is this related to getting evil gain for his house?
v10 - Again from last week, who gave him permission, what made the Babylonians think it was OK to cut off many peoples and just take and take and take and kill?  Did they even stop to ask themselves that question?
v11 - it is so bad that even the house built by ill-gotten gain will cry out in testimony against the Babylonians.

v12 - Woe #2 - Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence...
Notice how in v13 that the Lord is the one from Whom this all has come.  The Lord uses evil desires of men for His own purposes.
Three great examples:
1) The way Satan thought he was striking a blow against God with Job, yet God turns it around for His own glory.
2) 2 Sam 24 - Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
1 Chron 21 - Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
3) Acts 5 - “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?"
v11 - And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things. 

Those of unbelieving and stubborn mind look at the surface of each and take up their cause against God.  "How dare God do what He please with His own creation!  How dare He violate my moral principles!  How dare God do what He thinks is best and what brings Him glory!"  or  "Contradiction!  Did God do it or did Satan do it?  Nya nya, you stupid Christian fundy!"
Do they stop to think that the correct answer to the question of #2 is that BOTH are true?  Satan works, and then God uses that work of Satan to bring good to His people and glory to Himself, and judgment and calamity upon the unrepentant, who are servants of Satan anyway.  Think about the Garden of Eden - Satan tempts Adam and Eve, and they fall into sin.  Yet later God gives us the most amazing gift that anyone could ever receive - Jesus Christ!

So, we see that it is from the Lord that Babylon and other rapacious conquerors "grow weary for nothing".  But in contrast to their desire for world conquest, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord."

v15 - Woe #3 - Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness!
Their disgusting desire to uncover and shame their victims will be turned back on them.  Again, see the embarrassing and shameful way that Babylon came to an end in Daniel 5.

v17 - Apparently the Babylonians' rapacity and greed and violence were so overwhelming that they would even attack the very forests of Lebanon, renowned for their beauty.  Why attack the forest, of all things?  B/c these people were so overwhelmingly evil and full of themselves, to execute their own will to dominate and overwhelm anything in their path.  Even the wild animals, apparently, they went after, like the shameful way that some American settlers would sometimes just shoot up a whole herd of buffalo to leave them to rot in the sun.  I don't know if that happened all the time as Hollywood would probably have us believe, but it certainly happened a few times, and it's that exact same evil dominating sentiment.  Indicative of a heart that refuses to submit itself to God's authority.  Did they ever stop to ask whether God thinks it's OK to shoot up His creation for no good reason?

v18-20 - Woe #4 - Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’...And that is your teacher?

The hilarious picture of a guy who cuts down a tree, carves an idol, and then asks it to be his god and save him.
Let's notice a pattern in the Word of God about this issue.
Cf Romans 1, especially v 24:
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurityso that their bodies would be dishonored among them.  
Notice the purpose of God's giving them over.  The judgment of God is not just BECAUSE of the sin.  The judgment IS ITSELF MORE SIN.
Cf Isaiah 44:9-20
v16 - 
Half of (the tree that the man cut down) he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” 17 But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.” 
18 They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. 

Cf John 10:24 
The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

Is it that they are not His sheep b/c they don't believe, or is it that they don't believe b/c they are not His sheep?

v20 - Will you answer back to the Lord of the universe?  On what basis?  What could you, mere tiny worm made of dust and ashes, possibly say to correct the Almighty Omniscient All Holy One?  "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" - Job 38:2
Job certainly found out what that is like:
Job 40:3 Then Job answered the LORD and said, 4 “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”
42:6 - Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.
Job certainly knew what it was like to feel the weight of the command "Let all the earth be silent before Him".

Let us spend some time to be silent before Him and to reflect on two things:
1) You are guilty too of the 4 woes.
You have coveted that which is not yours, which is as good as taking it, according to the desire of your heart.
You have been unjustifiably angry against a brother for a personal slight of because you wanted something you should not want.
You have lusted after your neighbor and desired to have power over him or her.
You have put something created in the place of your Creator with respect to the direction of your life, desires, and worship.
And I have done more of each of these than you.
Let us spend time in repentance before Him.

2) The Lord is in His holy temple.  Yet the Lord has come to Earth, has died for our heinous crimes, and has risen again to give us eternal life!  After you repent, REJOICE!  The Lord has taken away your guilt and atoned for your sin.  What grace!  What mercy!  What kindness to undeserving people!  
John 14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
Thank Him for His amazing favor!  Let us worship Him with all of our heart!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The ERV posse on rape

It's a bit of a spectacle watching ERV's flock of betas flounder around in search of a way to substantiate their accusation that the God of the Bible condones rape in Deuteronomy 21.  Let the record show, by the way, that 'twas the ignorant commenter Jesse @16 who brought up the issue of rape, not me.
Here's the passage: 10“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, 11and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, 12then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. 13“She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14“It shall be, if you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not mistreat her, because you have humbled her.

I paste here some relevant portions of my latest comment there.
I'd said:

Being married sort of usually implies consent to sex.
Prometheus responds:  That is repugnant beyond words. You can't believe that.
I reply:  Please provide evidence that what you intuit as "repugnant" should apply to anyone else. Is the statement "I, Prometheus, find this view repugnant" similar or identical to "This view is morally wrong"? If not, why should I care? If so, please offer your argument to that effect.
Prometheus:  Please provide evidence that what you intuit as "repugnant" should apply to anyone else.
No.  Not because I can't but because your prose is also repugnant.
Is the statement "I, Prometheus......yadayadayada    Again no.

I answer: So, no answer to my question.  Didn't think so.
Tell you what, to help illustrate, let's swap the terms a bit but keep Prometheus' "argument".

Raymond:  I believe in young-earth creationism.  It is my intuition that YEC is true and that to believe in evolution is repugnant beyond words. You can't believe that.
Prometheus:  Please provide evidence that what you intuit is true.  Please provide evidence that what you intuit as "repugnant" should apply to anyone else.
Raymond:  No. Not because I can't but because your prose is also repugnant. For, as always, you are pointlessly prolix, fatuous and florid with no interest in the fruit of discourse.

Wow!  What an impressive argument!  I mean, you even used some big words; I'll bet your 6th grade teacher would be proud.
Anytime you feel like actually trying to substantiate your assertions, I'm willing to listen.

Tyler DiPietro tried to answer my "If not, why should I care?"
--Because you're not an island. You live in a world with other human beings and their collective subjective opinion of you affects your life, sometimes in profound ways.

1) So what?  What's the prescriptive and normative power of the statement "you live with other humans"?
2) Maybe I'm glad to live with other humans, b/c that means more slaves to do my will.  What is morally wrong with that statement?

--In other words, a negative hasn't been proven.
Exactly!  Now you're getting it.  Maybe those who were so hasty to try to make this statement should be more careful in the arguments they use.

--As has been explained to you before, the evidence is the fact that they were ----ing war brides and the Bible never says anything about getting their consent first.

And it doesn't say anything about NOT getting it either.  You're assuming 4 problematic things:
1) You can't prove the sex was forced.  All you can make is anachronistic judgments from your comfy chair 5 millennia later.
2) You have no idea of the state of mind of the women or the men in question.
3) Deut 21 is not an exhaustive treatise on how married men are to treat their wives.  After all, these are wives, not sex slaves, not even concubines (which themselves had legal rights).  Deut 21 is dealing with redeeming some women from their self-destructive communities whom God had judged, putting these women into a situation where they could know God and have legal rights under God's Law, and by which some Israelite men could obtain wives.  You want laws governing how to deal with one's wife, look elsewhere.
4) If some men forced sex from the women in question, you have even further to go to prove this would be God's fault.  God lays down laws; it comes as zero surprise to the Christian that some people might actually --gasp!!-- sin and deviate from His Law.

In short, you've got nothing, that's been clearly seen here.  Despite all your attempts, even you had to admit that a negative hasn't been proven.
When that's all you have, maybe you should move on.

Finally, Stephen Wells chimed in:

If you don't share my premises, then at least we all know to avoid you like the backstabbing weasel you would be if you dared.

I'm devastated, shedding hot tears.  Just so you know.
Look, maybe you're not getting this - I'm after facts on these questions, not your opinions, as if you were some sort of Pope of Morality.  I don't know where you think you got your authority to make moral pronouncements that you think should prescribe and proscribe behavior for anyone else, but that's why I asked you to provide the factual basis for it.  If you can't provide that substantiation, then I don't see why I and everyone else shouldn't dismiss your judgmental attempts to tell us what we get to and don't get to do.

for rape to have occurred it suffices for even one of them to have not given consent. Nice attempt at a goalpost-shift but you're not getting away with that one.

So prove one of them didn't give consent.  It's not like I haven't asked for evidence 12 times now.

all we have to do is say: here are my standards of judgement, and by these lights, the thing is wrong.

Um, I think I knew that already - that your standards of judgment are self-referential and tautological. I'm looking for the prescriptive power, the justification of the standards you use.

This raises the terrifying spectre of taking responsibility for your own moral judgement

Prove that it is morally a good thing to "take responsibility for my own moral judgment".  Don't assume it.  Prove it.

What I do is what is right

Ken Pulliam, the Former Fundy, and I had some helpful conversations about his ideas of morality based on intuition, which are shared by many, especially atheists, in modern times.  Let's take a look at how well this extends out.
I'd said:
I bet you wouldn't ask "true or correct for whom?" if the question were: "Is it true that life on Earth evolved by a series of slight, successive modifications?"
Or am I wrong to think that? 
If I'm not wrong to think that, why would this be a valid question? I'm asking about objective morality, not "What you think is right". What you think is immaterial - you could be wrong. 

Ken said:
Let me ask you a couple of questions:
1. Is it always wrong to kill infants and toddlers?
2. Is it always wrong to own another human being as your personal property?
Regarding your question about evolution. I think there is plenty of evidence that leads me to believe that evolution is true. There is also plenty of reasons for me to think that child rape or any kind of rape is wrong.

I said:
1. No.
2. No.
Please answer them too. Thanks!
Now, you said that "evidence" leads you to think evol is true. Then you said "reasons" lead you to think rape is wrong. In what way can these latter "reasons" be likened to evidence you think you have for evol? Where is the prescriptive power in evidence for evol? And where is the prescriptive power in your reasons to categorically reject rape? Why do you reject rape while other atheists such as Dan Barker can think of scenarios in which it might be acceptable? And what of my scenario - is what Tkalim is doing wrong? How do you know?

Ken said:
I maintain that we as human beings have an instinct or intuition that certain things are wrong. Where does this intuition come from? I tend to think its just the way our brains have evolved. We can act against these intuitions, especially when an authority tells us its okay, but usually the authority gives us some rationale (excuse) why in this particular case its okay to go against our intuition.
Thus, my intuition tells me that its always wrong to kill infants and toddlers, its always wrong to own another human being as property and its always wrong to rape.

With that in mind, I'd like to propose a few other things that I personally know by intuition.
I maintain that we as human beings have an instinct or intuition that certain things are wrong. Where does this intuition come from? I tend to think it's just the way our brains have evolved. We can act against these intuitions, especially when an authority tells us it's OK, but usually the authority gives us some rationale (excuse) why in this particular case it's OK to go against our intuition.

Thus, my intuition tells me that it's always wrong to believe in Darwinian evolution, it's always wrong to own a computer, and it's always wrong to call oneself a Former Fundy.  Further, my intuition tells me that, not only is it wrong to believe in Darwinian evolution, Darwinian macroevolution actually never happened.  My intuition tells me that the Book of Mormon is true.  My intuition tells me that no atheist deserves the protection of law. That Ken's children are responsible for all the unsolved murders in the USA and Mexico.  That B. Hussein 0bamuhh is (against all evidence to the contrary) actually a really good President.  That the speed of light is ~26 miles per hour, but can get all the way to 30 mph if it really tries.

Now, the astute reader will note that I'd asked Ken whether it is possible to make an objective moral statement, independent of whether anyone believes it or not.  Ken no doubt thinks that Darwinian evolution is responsible for the variety of lifeforms we see on Earth today, independent of whether anyone believes it or not.  So when I ask him for a fact and he gives me an intuition, why can't I just play the same game myself?

The facts don't support some of the intuitions I listed above, you say?  Why doesn't that same argument bother Ken?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Fulfilling a promise

Me to commenter Kemanorel over at ERV:  It's probably a good thing that you didn't show up on my blog. But don't worry, I'll make an example of you there anyway.

So as to avoid turning my yes into a no, I here reproduce the conversation Kemanorel and I had, which began and ended with his childish playground taunts.  I know, an amazing surprise, given the level of discourse at which virtually every ERV posse-member operates...

45, ME:  Kemanorel,
If you're itching to talk evolution-y stuff with a fundy, feel free to drop by my blog. See ya.

47, Kemanorel:  I'll be glad to... but not on your blog. You have the conversation here, where I know you can't moderate the comments, and I know ERV won't moderate yours.

I highly doubt you have anything new. Evolution has evidence, you do not. You will undoubtedly either misrepresent the subject or show a complete lack of comprehension of it. You will use logical fallacies to try and make your arguments, and you will ignore it when I point those fallacies out.
So, fine, if you want, I'll do it here, in neutral territory, but not on your own blog where I'm sure eventually, when you're crushed under the weight of evidence for evolution, you would ban me and delete my comments so you and your readers can continue wallow in ignorance.

48, ME:
Ask anyone - I don't moderate comments on my blog. And I've already entertained dozens of commenters against me at a time here. My blog is plenty neutral. See you there, or not.

49, K: 
You won't see me, especially since I've seeing some of the other bullshit you're slinging here.
I won't bother for three reason. First, you've proven that you don't even understand high school level biology (you've shown to lack of understanding in several other posts I've seen now). I'd only be explaining things beyond your level of understanding anyways.
Second, I know you have no desire to listen to anyone. I'm sure I've heard all the arguments you'll make, and will ignore every bit of evidence I give in return.
Third, I'm done feeding the troll. I didn't know you were one. I learned. Go find hand-outs somewhere else.
Long story short, I won't waste my time. I'm a graduate student of the subject. I've done the required study and actually understand the subject. You obviously haven't. I might as well try explaining it to an insect... you have about the same amount of comprehension of what I'd be talking about.

50, ME: 
Not a fan of logical examination of your chosen field? Typical. Suit yourself.

51, K: 
I'm all for it, just won't do it on unfair ground (i.e. your personal site).
Logical examination from a person who's entire belief system is based on belief without evidence is so contradictory that it makes me wonder if you're not just the most elaborate Poe ever.
In any case, I'm sure you have nothing new and every argument you make was addressed by someone already, probably right here at ERV. What is really funny is that you also probably use a logical fallacy (i.e. argument from personal incredulity - "I don't see how that could happen, so that's not true") so you don't have to believe it, then try to argue against the evidence using logic.
This is what it comes down to. We have the evidence. We win. So, provide some actual verifiable evidence to support your argument, or just go away.

54, ME: 
on unfair ground (i.e. your personal site).
Waaah. I've done that many times, including here, and many times been moderated. I told you I don't mod comments. But you know, feel free to talk a big game in your home stadium.

Logical examination from a person who's entire belief system is based on belief without evidence
I would imagine YOU believe in the utility of evidence. Tommykey was right to say that I'll ask you to justify your belief that evidence is the best way to discover truth. What's your evidence for that?
Yes, precisely - you can't provide any evidence for it. So, logical examination from a person who's entire belief system is based on belief without evidence is contradictory. The funnier thing is that you don't realise it, which raises serious questions about your intellectual honesty (and capacity, but that's a different story).