Wednesday, September 22, 2010

About Morality on Atheism with magx01 - 3

magx01 responds again here.
So, in order, we have:
He commented on my "Rape Commanded?" post.
I responded.
He responded.
I responded.
And here we are with his response.

Before we begin, let's remember from my last post that he'd said (emph. original):
You are correct. My morality is subjective. Everyone's morality is subjective, to be technical about it, but let's stick to atheism. Yes, subjectivity, relativity, all true. Your critiques are true. I have no objective standard by which to demonstrate that my morality is such.
I spent a great deal of my last post diving deep into the absurdity and unliveability of such a position, and how he proves it throughout his position.  Let's see if he has changed anything since then.

ME: "Quite simply, it leaves him stuck in the middle of nowhere. Have you ever tried to convince someone who preferred pizza with pineapples and Canadian bacon that pizza with pineapples and Canadian bacon is, in fact, revolting? How far did you get?"

HIM:  This, and where you go with it, seems to me like a false equivocation. Taste in pizza toppings is purely subjective, as is my morality, as I agreed. Okay, so far so good. Problem is, taste in pizza toppings and feelings on say child rape, are not equally subjective.

But he said "NO objective standard".  Why is he backtracking now and trying to mix some objectivity into the mix?
I know why - he's realised the horror of his proposition and is trying to move the goalposts later.  I commend him for this, b/c of course his position IS horrible and disgusting, but I will not accept this sort of tapdancing.   He needs to wholly retract it.

There are degrees to which something is subjective. There are external factors (ie, evidence) which one can point to in order to try and substantiate his or her subjective opinion. 

Really?  He's both falling into the "brain scan" problem I posed to him in my last post, and committing Hume's naturalistic fallacy - making an IS into an OUGHT.  What magx01 needs to do here is correct Hume and show us precisely the reasoning involved in getting from "Evidence X exists" to "I should do something different".

There are real world implications that in and of themselves, are objective/can be objectively assessed.

I don't think anyone would dispute this.  The question is:  If atheism is true, why should anyone care?  And it appears that magx01 gets that, for he says:
Of course, your response to this will likely just be “so what?” You're taking the subjectivity/relativity thing too far.

Well, we'll see if he can substantiate that accusation.

Just because we have not been prescribed the notion that an action that does harm is bad by some objective, outside source, does not preclude us from coming to that consensus ourselves and working on avoiding such effects by limiting behaviour.

Does magx01 think I'd object to this?  Of course!  But the question has never been: "Do people prefer petting dogs on the head to torturing them?", but "Is it morally right for me to pat the dog on the head rather than torturing it?"  Merely telling me how people feel about a given question tells me nothing about the moral value of it, short of an argument that makes the connection.  It's simply a repeat of the naturalistic fallacy.

What it comes down to is limiting harm and maximizing benefit/pleasure/survivability/health, etc. I can immediately foresee you making the obvious objection: But HOW did you come to those as criteria if you have no objective basis by which to select criteria? This is the part you keep getting stuck on, and the answer to it is the part you seem to be missing: Experience, our nature/biological/social drives, discussion, and usually, majority rule.

This seems to be the crux of magx01's argument, and I've seen it all too many times before.  But does magx01 give me a reason to think it's morally right to accept his moral framework?  And what happened to his previous contention that "I have no objective standard by which to demonstrate that my morality is such"?  Easily discarded when it became inconvenient and too painful to hold, as I expected.
The other thing that magx01 has not considered when making man the measure of his morality is that man has also experienced what he'd consider evil.  Who exactly does magx01 think commits crimes?  Rapes children?   Commits genocide?  Blows up school buses?  Why, humans, of course.  magx01 is simply committing special pleading in this, as he refuses to take into account the obvious fact that not everyone throughout human history, nor even in modern times, has held the same moral values that he does, as I pointed out before.
Majority rule = might makes right.  A regime could come into power that passes a law condemning all atheists who like video games to lives of hard labor in a gulag; I presume magx01 could express no moral objection to this, especially if the regime in question were to remind him that "our experience leads us to believe that you're unpleasant people, and we prefer you be out of our sight, turning big rocks into littler rocks with hammers."  And how much more if they threw in: "We're also biologically driven to do so.  It gives us a thrill, a pleasurable rush of hormones, and relief to the headache that you give us.  Besides, we're biological determinists and clearly don't have any choice in the matter."

While we have no objective standard to say that the benefit to the person performing behaviour A

magx01 needs to realise that if no objective standard exists for morality, then even using the word "benefit" is question-begging.  How does he know that it's an objective benefit for me to live a pain-free life, free of people torturing me?  He doesn't; he's just guessing b/c it's what he thinks he'd like.  But is he everyone?  Does he have access to the moral opinions of even a fraction of what all people think?

Susan (who was raped) is harmed in that the rape does her physical damage,

Begging the question again.  "Damage" in a universe without a grand design, goal, or purpose is irrelevant.  Besides, both Susan and John her rapist are going to end up in the same place - the great infinite unconscious rot of decomposition.  So what?

People in the community are harmed in that they now must deal with fear and paranoia as there is a rapist at large, and whatever other effects there would be that I cannot even conceive of at the moment, and are not really worth me trying to rack my exhausted brain to try and fuss out.

No argument as to how he measured John's benefit vs the "harm" done to the community and family.  How did he perform that assessment?  What are the rules?  Since they're not objective, why should anyone think they are worth anything?

My poor brain is being taxed trying to defend/explain the entire moral system of secular humanity

He's actually doing a very good job; the problem is that the worldview being defended is so ridiculously empty, it's impossible to defend.

A rape does no good for the society at large.

1) How could he possibly know that?
2) Even if he could, John the rapist is part of the society.  So are other rapists.  Unless magx01 wants to commit more special pleading and a priori exclude them from his definition of "society".

Do you honestly think that it's monumentally difficult for a group of people over time, witnessing this, to say, “hey, you know what? John and his ilk should not be allowed to go around raping people anymore. No more rape. The harm is does far outweighs what good there may be, and said good is both selfish AND comes at the expense of others, so no more rape!”

No, but not because atheism is true.  They think that way b/c God has put eternity in their hearts and written His law on their hearts.
Even if they did think that way, and even if atheism were true, to think that way would be to think inconsistently with their worldview, outside of a substantiating argument from magx01.

I don't see what the purpose of you pointing out the subjective nature of “atheistic morality” is when its subjective nature does not preclude it from producing tangible positive effects.

This is what atheism does to people - it blinds them from the obvious in many areas to the degree that they can say "I have no objective standard by which to demonstrate that my morality is such" one moment and the next turn 180º around and say stuff like this.  How does magx01 know that these effects are positive?  And how does he know that one should seek positive effects?

Speaking of slavery, you will say that the bible (aka god) does not condone slavery

No, I would not say that, and I reserve the right to qualify my statement with specific explanations.

Who was a huge part of the contingent that wanted to maintain the slave trade, while secular morality was in the process of moving us away from said action, and what did they use as support for their arguments? CHRISTIANS, using THE BIBLE!!

1) magx01 simplistically equates "slavery" with "The African slave trade of the 17th-19th centuries".
2) No recognition that Christians also were the driving force behind abolition.
3) Is this more of his not-objective yes-objective waffling?
4) Perhaps magx01 could give us an argument that takes us from "People used Document X to lend Behavior Y moral credence" to "Document X actually teaches that one should engage in Behavior Y".  Where is his exegesis of the relevant passages and historical context?  Nowhere - he simply assumes it, probably b/c he was told to by some amateur like the Skeptic's Annotated Bible or Dick Dawk.
5) Such behavior is actually predicted by the Bible - misuse of God's words for sinful men's own ends.  magx01 joins the long line of atheists who never take the Fall of Man into account when evaluating the Christian worldview.  They must think that God promised all daisies and roses in this life.

magx01: "I don't see you offering a justification for your assertion that god's laws are moral at all."
ME:  “Should I? Why?”
And this is the first time I feel like being blatantly rude to you. Are you ----- kidding me? You spend an inordinate amount of cognitive energy on trying to demonstrate to me that your morality is objective, and therefore superior to mine, which is subjective. I ask you to demonstrate this to me (aka validate/backup/provide evidence for, your claim) and your response is “why should I?”

Notice how magx01 never answers the questions.  I guess I'll have to repeat the question.  Why should I provide any rational justification for my view?  Is there some objective obligation upon me to do so?  magx01 already laid out how we can know how stuff is moral - Experience, our nature/biological/social drives, discussion, and usually, majority rule.
Well, experience tells me that he won't answer my own request for clarification, so I don't feel like answering.
My natural, biological drive is toward laziness, so why should I expend the energy to think about and type up a reply?
And this is my blog - I'm the only majority who matters here.  Since might makes right, I am exercising what magx01 said I get to exercise in making my own rules. 

It's also a terrible debate tactic.

1) Where does magz01 get the objective definition of good and bad debate tactics?  How does he know what is the "best" way to defend a viewpoint?  
2) So what if it's terrible?  Is magx01 the Pope of Morality, defining for the rest of us that we should debate well rather than terribly?
3) Since magx01 keeps begging the question over and over again, it's actually a pretty good debate tactic, incidentally.

you are making the mistake of conflating rules of logic, reason and debate with morality.

magx01 just said "rules".  A Freudian slip, to be sure.

I have not once felt as though I am wasting my time here, and I am trying hard to make sure you feel likewise

Well, on a personal note, I definitely do not think this is a waste of time.  The fact that magx01 doesn't think that EVERYthing is a waste of time, however, demonstrates that he can't live consistently with his atheism.

magx01:  You contradicted yourself.
Me:  "So what? Is there something wrong with self-contradiction? If he says it is irrational, again, so what?  Is there some reason I shouldn't be irrational, on his worldview? What if my morality says it's morally obligatory to be irrational?"

Come on man, first see above. Second, you're just being disingenuous now. This is you blatantly running from a legitimate criticism on my end.

Note the lack of a substantive response.  Imagine if it had gone like this:
Me:  God exists.
magx01:  No, there's no evidence for that.  Further, lines of evidence A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H all militate against it.
Me:  Come on man.  Of course He exists.

Would magx01 consider that a substantive reply?  Not if it's not him receiving the benefit.

DOES your christian worldview prescribe irrationality and inconsistency to you by divine command? No, and you know it. The answer to your question is this: BECAUSE YOU SAID IT IS BETTER. If it is not better, YOU HAVE NO POINT and no legitimate CONTENTION with ATHEISM.

magx01 still seems not to get my point here.  Of course I think it's better, but on atheism I am asking him to give me a reason to think it's better.  His continuing failure to give us a reason to think so is proof enough of the absurdity of the atheistic worldview.  These are fundamental questions I'm asking, and if he can't give us a reason to think it's a good idea or obligatory to make moral judgments and think rationally, then there's no reason for him to talk to anyone, ever.

How does the subjective nature of my morality stop me from wondering if you are personally bothered with what you claim to be an objective fact?

It doesn't.  It's when magx01 starts acting like his personal subjective morality has any normative bearing on anyone else that the problems begin.

Me: “Hmm, this brings up a good point, which can serve as a clarification for our further discussion. I shamelessly ripped that line off of William Lane Craig, but I forgot to tweak it for my own use. I mean it is a moral system that is prescriptive and that is true whether or not any human believes it.
So hopefully that will help.”

magx01:  Oh, it helps all right. It helps YOU. You just changed the definition of objectivity in order to suit your purpose.

Well, pardon me.  magx01 needs to know that retractions and corrections, if admitted candidly, are perfectly acceptable on this blog.  Nobody's perfect, least of all me, and so if I need to tweak the expressions of my view so as to better represent what I actually believe, I'll apologise for the poor previous explanation and move on.  I am sorry that I got it wrong before, and this is the fix. Hopefully magx01 will be gracious enough not to carry on about such a thing.

This gives you the perfect out, as it neatly sidesteps the issue of objectivity going out the window if morality is contingent upon god's mind.

Well, yes, quite so.  I couldn't have said it better myself - my position does indeed match reality.  That's why I continue to hold to it despite putting it to the test time and again.

You conveniently change an established definition to mean only HUMAN minds as opposed to any

Sorry about that, but let's try to deal with my actual position, K?


I'm very sorry to inform magx01 of this, but if this is the big 'special pleading' he's going on and on about, he's going to end up looking foolish.  It's not special pleading to correct a bad expression of one's own position. Does he even know what special pleading is?  It's unlikely, given the numerous times he himself has committed it in the course of our convo.

you can;t and won't just come out and admit that your so called objective morality was created by a mind

Speaking of fallacies, strawmen are fallacious.

your belief is irrational and predicated upon faith, which we both know means a lack of evidence.

magx01 needs to do some elementary reading before spouting nonsense like this.

Your belief is not based on rationality and reason.

magx01 is forcing me to be a bit of a broken record here, but one more time -
Why should I provide any rational justification for my view?  Is there some objective obligation upon me to do so?  magx01 already laid out how we can know how stuff is moral - Experience, our nature/biological/social drives, discussion, and usually, majority rule.
Well, experience tells me that he won't answer my own request for clarification, so I don't feel like answering.My natural, biological drive is toward laziness, so why should I expend the energy to think about and type up a reply?
And this is my blog - I'm the only majority who matters here.  Since might makes right, I am exercising what magx01 said I get to exercise in making my own rules. 

So your answer to the euthyphro dilemma is to say “Not a, but not not a?”

magx01 shows little recognition of what the Euthyphro "dilemma" is in reality.  And there is a very easy solution, as I deal with here and which TrueFreethinker does here.

magx01: “If they did come from god, well there goes your claim of objectivity, since they are not independent of a mind.”
Me: “ The mind in question is a transcendent mind, of the Ultimate Lawgiver.”
magx01:  Uh huh.....any evidence of this?

Sure, lots of evidence, but we're not discussing that right now.  Feel free to peruse my blog - it's easily found.  What concerns us here is a comparison of worldviews and specifically how atheism deals with moral claims.  So far, not well, and bunny trails don't help.
Besides, what if I were to ask magx01 for evidence of his own worldview?  I'm sure that'd go over well. 

It looks like your objective morality is not superior to my subjective morality in the slightest

And yet how could we possibly know this?  What does "superior" even mean?

And (William Lane Craig) is supposed to be the be all end all of christian rationality.

He's not, just FYI.  He's quite smart and very good at what he does well, but he doesn't do everything well. How about asking me what I believe?

Valid points were made, but they were made in the pursuit of disingenuously attacking me for things that you yourself share with me, but care not to realize....or admit.

I'd be happy to discuss them if magx01 could point some out.
Of course, why not be disingenuous?  Where has magx01 given us any reason to think that it's better not to be disingenuous than otherwise?
Where have I attacked him?
And even if I have, what's wrong with that?  Why discard his own moral criteria, as he told us above, when convenient for him?  That is special pleading.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some tweaks to my fable

And some snarls to my yarn...

The Jolly Nihilist said...

If you would permit me, Rhology, I wish to make a few tweaks to your fable. Rather than a universe that was not specially created, let us transport this fable into a universe that was specially created by the god of the bible.
Your entire synopsis of Slate the enslaved human can remain the same, except for the additional fact that, for his entire life and until his death from that nasty infection, Slate was a devout Muslim.

Your entire synopsis of Reginald the independently wealthy human can remain the same, too, except for the additional fact that, on the evening preceding his peaceful death in his sleep, Reginald repented sincerely for his cruel ways and accepted Jesus into his heart. If you were to venture a guess, to which eternal fates might you expect Slate the enslaved human and Reginald the independently wealthy human to be subjected?

Rhology said...

More moral implications? What difference does it make to you?
The story would need to be further tweaked if we were swapping it over to a Christian universe - both Slate and Reginald are sinners, rebels before a holy God. However horrible Reginald's sins, Jesus died on the Cross, taking the punishment for them, and Reginald receives as a free gift the righteousness of Christ.

Slate, OTOH, refused to repent and so bears his own sins, which for his own part are also great, before the judgment of God, and God gives him what he desired - rejection of God.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Which ultimately means that one’s actions in life are irrelevant and have no actual moral implications. Reginald could have killed 500 million people and, in addition, poisoned the water supply of a children’s school, but the only action of his that would matter, vis-à-vis ultimate consequences, would be his final-evening repentance.

Rhology said...

Ignorant strawman, JN. Why not just ask me if such and such would be the case, if you don't know?
And in point of fact, no, that is totally wrong.
1) Reginald's sins DO matter - the punishment for them is borne by Christ on the Cross.
2) There are degrees of reward in Heaven and degrees of punishment in Hell (Luke 12:47-48, 1 Corinthians 3:10ff).
3) God uses the actions done in life to lead His people to repentance. God uses means. He doesn't !!zap!! people.

Now, if you want to talk about irrelevant actions, I know about this atheistic nihilism thing I'd like to discuss.

A brief fable

Once upon a time in the universe that spontaneously came about in an uncaused way and in which all life evolved from a unicellular common ancestor, there lived some different organisms: 
-Andy the amœba
-Gerry the giraffe
-Slate the enslaved human
-Reginald the independently wealthy human

Andy's independent existence came about after an asexual reproductive event.  He was ready to conquer the world and enjoy eating other simple organisms through enveloping them, but while he was on his way toward eating one of them, he himself was eaten by a predator and died.

Gerry had grown to healthy middle-aged giraffehood and was the the most skilled among his friends at reaching the most delicious leaves and other foodstuffs, and yet shared generously with other giraffes and of course his children.  However, one day he stepped badly on a tree root and broke his leg.  Hyenas approached and slowly tore him apart while the other giraffes moved on to other trees. 

Slate was a faithful slave to his master Reginald and served him well, even though Reginald was cruel and often whipped him just because he enjoyed it.  Slate brought Reginald a significant amount of wealth through labor that grew in skill as Slate grew older.  Reginald never showed any appreciation for it and never put forth much effort to ensure Slate's well-being.  One day, Slate contracted a simple infection that could have been cured with a few days' rest.  Reginald withheld that rest with full knowledge of the infection, and Slate died at the age of 39.

Reginald, the aforementioned slave master, had been born to a wealthy family with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth.  He was shrewd and always took advantage of others, especially his slaves, to increase his personal wealth.  He never worked a day of manual labor in his life and treated his slaves and family in ways that they found most distasteful and often painful.  As much as they pled with him to be merciful, he grew crueler and more controlling.  He died at age 94, peacefully in his sleep.

Andy, Gerry, Slate, and Reginald all went to the same place - death and decomposition.

The End.

Friday, September 17, 2010

About Morality on Atheism with magx01 - 2

magx01 has responded to my last post.  I'd like to reiterate that I appreciate his courtesy in these exchanges - one could certainly do worse for a debate partner.

Now, let's pause first of all to examine the admissions he's made, which will lead directly into the structure of the post I'm about to write.

He says (emphasis original):
You are correct. My morality is subjective. Everyone's morality is subjective, to be technical about it, but let's stick to atheism. Yes, subjectivity, relativity, all true. 
Your critiques are true.
I have no objective standard by which to demonstrate that my morality is such.
What does this mean for him and for our discussion?  Quite briefly, he has conceded the majority of what I contended.  What does that mean?  That all his complaints about how tGotB treats rape, rapists and rape victims can only reasonably be attributed to him as an individual.  Why did he bother telling other people how he feels?  Why did he bother disagreeing with someone else (me)?  Based on what evidence does he think that his moral assertions are better than mine?  Merely his feelings that they are?  But of course, my feelings are that mine are better, so where does that leave us?  Where does that leave him with respect to Tkalim, the avatar of my thought experiment?
Quite simply, it leaves him stuck in the middle of nowhere.  Have you ever tried to convince someone who preferred pizza with pineapples and canadian bacon that pizza with pineapples and canadian bacon is, in fact, revolting?  How far did you get?  What evidence did you adduce to that effect?  What if you showed your friend comparative brain scans whereby you demonstrate that different parts of your brain lit up when you had your favorite pepperoni and mushrooms pizza than when you ate pineapple and canadian bacon pizza? And what if you showed him that the same parts of his own brain lit up in similar circumstances?  Wouldn't he look you in the eye and shrug, "So?  I like it better"?  And add, "Did you seriously scan our brains while eating pizza?  I can only hope it was prohibitively expensive so you won't waste your time again"?

Now I hope magx01 will ask himself - have you ever tried to convince someone that raping and murdering children for fun is, in fact, revolting?  What if you had to?  What will you tell him?  Some nonsense about a brain scan?  That you feel that what he's doing is wrong?  So what?
Remember - it's not as if raping and murdering little children is objectively wrong.  Everyone's morality is subjective.
Let's see how far magx01 is willing to take his position.

Now for his actual post.  I'll divide my response into 2 parts.

Part 1 - In Which I Apply His Own Rationale To His Contentions 

You can't just say they are because he said they are. 

Why not?  Who says?  Is there something wrong with it?
If he says it is irrational, again, so what?  Is there some reason I shouldn't be irrational, on his worldview?  What if my morality says it's morally obligatory to be irrational?  What will magx01 say to that?

I don't see you offering a justification for your assertion that god's laws are moral at all

Should I?  Why?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

About Morality on Atheism with magx01

Recently an atheist named magx01 linked over to an older post of mine called Rape Commanded? and began to comment.  I'm not sure how he arrived at that post, but no matter.  It quickly became clear he wanted to test how far I was willing to go in terms of consistently holding to my position on the foundation of objective morality.  Would I make excuses for the Bible when it narrates or even when the God of the Bible (tGotB) condones and even commands certain behaviors that many more "enlightened" modern people find distasteful or even disgusting?
As it turned out, no, I of course don't make excuses for tGotB but rather call the disobedient and unrepentant to repentance and obedience to Him.  In fact, here is what I told him in that thread:

My principal thought is that you claim to be an atheist and yet you don't live like it. You can't. Your conscience is screaming at you that true injustice and evil exist in the world. But if atheism is true, there's no such thing as Overriding Cosmic Objective Justice or Good. There's just what you think, what I think, and what happens. If I think vanilla ice cream is tasty and you think it's disgusting, and you decide to kill me over that quarrel, so what? You just shortened my existence by ~50 years. In the course of eternal heat death, which is where the universe is heading if atheism is true, that means nothing. You changed the configuration of my molecules, reduced the gene pool by one more weak set of genes who couldn't defend itself, rid the world of my mouth to feed, my thirst to satisfy, my carbon footprint. You probably toughened up my children by making them adapt to their environment more rudely and quickly than otherwise; they now have to defend themselves at a younger age. And that makes the race last longer.
So what, so what, so what?
All men are simply bags of protoplasm trying to pass on our genes to the next generation, if atheism is true. And in fact, all high-sounding but empty platitudes of "we can rise above our genes" (as expressed by Dick Dawk in the last chapter or two of The Selfish Gene and echoed ad infinitum by many others) aside, given that "rising" and "above" are moral statements and atheism offers no foundation by which we can know objectively good morality from objectively bad morality nor a telos or purpose toward which we should aspire, I don't see why rape (as long as you're strong and clever enough not to get caught) wouldn't in fact confer an evolutionary advantage on the rapist. Each agent in an evolutionary scheme is motivated to pass his genes on to the next generation, and in this competition, agents vying against each other, the stronger tend to emerge and tend to pass on their genes more successfully. "Advancing" and "evolving" is the closest an evolutionary atheist will get to a telos, and impregnating dozens of females (as opposed to, say, one) is probably a successful strategy. Do you criticise dogs in heat for their willingness to jump on anything that moves that is approximately dog-sized?
But deep down you know that's not true, and that's why you express outrage over evil. Now, take the next logical step. Admit that atheism has nothing to offer, that you cannot be consistent if atheism is true, and that you have committed wrong things. Then ask yourself why you think you've done wrong, why you think you feel guilt. It's not b/c guilt is an evolved mechanism - for what purpose? Please! Rather, it was put there by God Himself to turn you to Him to ask Him for forgiveness and mercy! You can't be the ultimate foundation for morality, and you can't show me one unless it be God Himself. He commands you to repent, or you will be judged for your wrongdoing. But if you repent, He will forgive and give you eternal life, for free, b/c He has already paid the judgment that you so richly deserve. I pray you will do so.

Magx01 has turned out to be quite courteous and personable, but with his latest response to me, is certainly calling me to a substantive response.  So here goes.

I find intellectual honesty to be very important, and a lack thereof to be very irritating 

To be honest, so do I, but again, if atheism is true and the situation is as I described, so what?  What I'm looking for from magx01 is a reason to care.  If there is no Cosmic Ought out there, then why should I think that I should concern myself with a Subjective Ought inside myself?  Why even bother making one?  I can't help but do so, you say?  OK, but why should I listen to it, be consistent with it, care about it, express it to anyone else?
Further, if something doesn't exist in the cosmos and I make it up for my own personal pleasure, does that not fulfill the definition of a fantasy?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wrangling about the Canon of Scripture with the Society for Orthodox Apologetics -2

Continuing from last post:

Exactly my point -- so please stop begging the question.


are you willing to change your view every time that modern scholarship comes across new evidence that a certain verse or a certain book isn't really Apostolic?

It's hardly modern.
I'm not sure how sticking your fingers in your ears is supposed to make anyone think you're a serious seeker of truth.  If it's an interpolation, it's an interpolation.
And it's not as if you know for sure that John is Apostolic either.   Are you willing to change your view every time that the modern EOC comes across new Tradition that a certain verse or a certain book isn't really Apostolic?

2 Peter was probably written between AD 130-150

1) No it wasn't.
2) How strange that you'd prefer liberal scholarship over believing.  Almost as if you were back in your errantist phase, as if you were like most other EOx, a liberal.
3) If you really believed that, it speaks even less highly of your desire to know the truth, since if it were written then it wouldn't be Apostolic, but your church thinks it is.  So it's just another example of authority pulling the rug over your eyes and you letting them do so.

Incidentally, it's been Protestant scholarship that has detected these things, not EO scholarship. Wonder why that is.

Because of our drastically different viewpoints? While the Orthodox uphold the Bible, the Protestants undermine it...

Who knows what this even means, or how it answers my challenge.  Apparently you don't have an answer.

How about you just stay in your own position, I'll stay in mine, and we'll talk, OK?

How about giving better evidence for your position than "it's true because I believe it" which is all that your comments here have amounted to thus far?

Again, no answer to my challenge that you're acting like an atheist when it suits you.

How will YOU answer the question?

By demonstrating:
1. That Christ is risen, therefore God
2. That Christ founded a Church, which is therefore perfect and eternal
3. That this Church decided the canon of Scripture

Um, atheists don't accept that Christ is risen, or that there is a God.  Why wouldn't the atheist just dismiss the arguments for the resurrection as anomalous: "Weird stuff happens sometimes, but we know there's no God, so..."?
And premise 2 is, um, highly questionable.
As for premise 3, it shows me where you put your trust.  Whereas my position is that God decides canon and the church recognises it, you prefer it the other way around.  You start with man.  Man-centered religion.

How? OK, get this - God uses sinful men to carry out His perfect plan.

Are you trying to convince me or just justify yourself? This is about the most circular argumentation I've ever seen...

You ask me how God could have used Specific Sinful Man X to carry out His plan and I remind you that all men are sinful and that God uses sinful men to carry out His plan, and that's circular?  Um, OK.
And you show no recognition of that pattern throughout the entire Bible.  Wow.

2) Oh, so the OT Canon wasn't known to the Jews until after Christ?

Are you not familiar with the Council of Jamnia

Familiar enough to know it wasn't a "Council" at all.
How does this answer my question?

How did He quote from it all the time then?

Did he quote from every book of your Old Testament?

Um, if there's no canon, then quoting from ANY book leaves Him open to the question of whether it's canonical.  Gotta follow the thought here, man.

There are quotes in the New Testament from the deuterocanonicals and even the apocrypha

1) Prove it.
2) Have you so quickly forgotten our debate?

Does Romans 3:2 refer to the Jews before Christ's time who accepted the Septuagint with deuterocanonicals as Scriptural (as St. Paul did)? Or to the Jews after Christ's time who edited the Scriptures, excised verses and entire books, and turned to the Masoretic instead?

1) So now you're changing your argument.  First it was that the Jews didn't have a Canon.  Now it's that they did but it was the one with DC books.  Make up your mind.
2) And their canon didn't include those books.  Nice try, though.

All of history is but an illusion... Your "god" is a rather deceptive fellow

Again, no answer to the challenge.

It is important to distinguish between pre-Incarnation and post-Incarnation Jews.

Quite.  Which is why I did so.

1) And how do you know who wrote the parts of Tradition that name the authors?

Is all Tradition written?

This is nothing less than an admission that you can't answer the challenge.

Remember: I, unlike you, actually believe that Christ's promise is fulfilled and the Holy Spirit guides the Church.

OOh, is it OK if I quote you from just above?  "How about giving better evidence for your position than "it's true because I believe it" which is all that your comments here have amounted to thus far?"

2) And how do you know that those parts of tradition are big-T Tradition?

We've covered this already; I'm not going over it again.

Yep, I refer everyone to our debate.  I laugh every time I read your "answer" to my first cross-examination question.

What if the Gospel of John really was written in the late 2nd century as some scholars have posited? Should we throw the whole thing out?

More atheist-type questions, right after whining about "atheist-dominated scholarship" too.  You can't decide when you're coming and when you're going!

John 7:53-8:11 and 2 Peter were written around the same time.

1) How could you possibly know that?
2) What does time of writing have to do with it?


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wrangling about the Canon of Scripture with the Society for Orthodox Apologetics

 The always-bizarre Lvka has posted a brief and more or less worthless article at the Society for Orthodox Apologetics.  I asked a question and the far-more-competent DavidW got involved. 

Notice, before we begin, how he discusses the Jews.  Why does he use such language about them?
Also, note how biblically illiterate the man is.  When I say that I don't see how faithful EOx could have eternal life, I mean comments like those found here (wherein Lvka defines his version of the gospel - fearfully damnable!) and also in the following comments where DavidW asks why God would use thus-and-such horrible men to do His work.  Does DavidW even realise he's a sinner in need of a Savior? He might say he does if you ask him directly, but by his comments he denies such a concept.  It's the same idea as he demonstrated not long ago.  I wish he'd learned from it.

Here is my latest comment:

how do we know the name was in the autograph?

We don't KNOW it.  How do we know it wasn't?  We don't.  So the question is kind of worthless.
And I don't consider John 7:53-8:11 inspired Scripture, no.  Nor the longer ending of Mark.  Nor the Comma Johanneum. Incidentally, it's been Protestant scholarship that has detected these things, not EO scholarship. Wonder why that is.

how do you know God wrote it?

Are we back to this "I, the EO theist, will pretend to be an atheist" merry-go-round?  How about you just stay in your own position, I'll stay in mine, and we'll talk, OK?  All this jumping to skeptical positions doesn't do you any good.  How will YOU answer the question?

How/why did God work through them to create a perfect New Testament canon while leaving them in horrible error about nearly everything else?

How?  OK, get this - God uses sinful men to carry out His perfect plan. 
I know, crazy, right?  It's nuts.  God's a weird dude. 

Your Old Testament canon was decided by a group of Jews who rejected and explicitly cursed Christ

1) Oh, so all Jews of Jesus' time rejected and cursed Christ?  Like Elisabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptist, the 11 apostles, Anna, Simeon, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus...
2) Oh, so the OT Canon wasn't known to the Jews until after Christ?  How did He quote from it all the time then?
3) Romans 3:1.
4) They didn't DECIDE it.  God did.
5) The LXX was compiled by...Jews.

why did God choose to work through these Jews who spurned his Incarnation, cursed his Son, and persecuted his people instead of working through the Church he had founded as he did with the creation of the New Testament canon?

1) See above 5 comments.
2) Imagine David at the time of Habakkuk.  "Why did God choose to work through these Babylonians who spurned His temple, razed His holy city, and persecuted His people instead of working through the nation he had founded as He did with the promise to Abraham?  OK, get this - God uses sinful men to carry out His perfect plan. 
I know, crazy, right?  It's nuts.  God's a weird dude. 

Turnback answer: How do you know who wrote the Gospels?
David:  The unimpeachable Holy Tradition of the Church. In other words, the exact same way that you know; the difference is that I'm willing to be honest about it.

1) And how do you know who wrote the parts of Tradition that name the authors?
2) And how do you know that those parts of tradition are big-T Tradition?  We've seen before that your answer is merely a viciously circular appeal to "Tradition", which cashes out to "the modern EOC says so", which doesn't help anyone.  So I love it when you ask these sorts of questions.
3) And it's a strawman of course to think that Christian tradition is totally out of the question for me.  When it comes to naming the human authors, why not look at tradition?  And yes, I have read from others who are familiar with the situation that tradition favors these authors for these books, so, fine, I accept these authors' names as appended to the books, and b/c the names appear on the manuscript copies.  It's not like it's a matter of essential faith!


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Conversation with a member of the Church of Christ

I got into a discussion with a couple of Church of Christ guys on Facebook.  Here's a fair representation of what's transpired.

It started off by discussing Mark Driscoll and how awful and horrible he is, how he's a false teacher, etc.  I figured that since the two critics were Church of Christ and that they called him a "false teacher", at the foundation was a disagreement on the nature of salvation and the role of faith and works in it.

Joshua wrote:  
"1 Peter 3:21, baptism is an anti-type to Noah and the ark. Thus us being saved through water as well. "Baptism now saves us!!" That doesn't refer to the holy spirit baptism at all. O.k. so that's disproving one claim. What was the other one? Oh works to justification. James 2:18, show me your faith without your works and I'll show you my faith by my works. If you want to get into a biblical discussion, you're going to need to do your homework and not rely on "hear say" from you denominational preachers. Because what you presented is the same basic gibberish that denominations claim. Nothing I haven't heard before. Baptism (submersion into water) is a necessity to being a christian. You are not a Christian until you have been baptized into Christ. That's the facts of the bible. Don't argue with us about it, study the bible for yourself. You can argue with God on judgement when he asks why you didn't follow his will to the letter. Oh and that menstual cloth stuff is just unnecessary and nasty. You didn't have to bring that up, there's a lot of other examples in the bible to reference to. Yuck!  I don't even know who you are, but you seem as far off as that driscoll guy.... If you would like an in depth study of the truth and what God's will really is for us. let me or my brother know. "

Here is my response: 
1) You have not shown that the psg refers to water baptism and not Spirit baptism.  Please prove it from the text.  You *assert* that it is not HS baptism but don't show why.  Noah and the 7 others were saved in the ark, NOT BY THE WATER.  They never got wet.  The water was of judgment and death on the ungodly.  You're asserting a type-antitype relationship where none exists.  If anything, baptism is the antitype of the *ark*, not the water.

2) Peter says "NOT the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a clear conscience".  The baptism he's referring to is NOT water. You have it exactly backwards.  The baptism is a symbolic act of obedience to one's newfound Lord - God, you've awakened my conscience to desire to serve You, so now I am entering into baptism to obey You and thus have a clear conscience.  And that is b/c of the just-experienced HS baptism, which accompanies regeneration and justification.

3) Please answer - Is baptism a work?
i. If it IS a work, how is Ephesians 2:8-10 true, where it says that salvation is NOT BY WORKS?
ii. If it is NOT a work, what precisely is it?  What biblical support can you bring fwd to support your contention?

As for James 2, I like to quote it too!   James 2:10 - 10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.'s that going for you?  Have you offended in one point?  Let's not be silly - of course you have.  And yet you want to tell me that you can contribute some righteousness of your own to your own salvation?  How does that work, since you're guilty of all the law?

Then read this from a real exegete (this is a link to my blog where I quote one):

Jeremy, the other guy, has not yet interacted with that post, but said this in a PM: 
Alan I am not looking 4 an argument. I don't enjoy that. If you wish to study to seek truth I am more than willing. I'm not interested in going back and forth on facebook. I am not on here enough 2 accomplish anything with that.

I responded:

If you weren't looking for an argument, why did you
1) spend 5 posts in an argument with me? and
2) make unbiblical accusations against an elder of a church?

Jesus debated. The Apostle Paul debated. If you're not interested in substantiating your accusations that Driscoll is a false teacher and that a sinner does in fact contribute anything other than sin to the equation of salvation, then fine, that's not my problem. Let me turn your own statement back on you: If you wish to study to seek truth I am more than willing. I'm not interested in going back and forth on facebook.

Peace, Galatians 1:8-10, and good luck with trying to please God based on your own merits,

Then Jeremy said:
I wasn't looking for an argument. You called me out by name on _____'s page. I didn't make unbiblical accusations against an elder of a church. I already explained that to you. If you don't like it, then move on buddy. Just because someone attaches a little truth to an otherwise absurd sermon, does not make him a ligitimate proclaimer of the gospel. I explained to you my thoughts on salvation and you just keep taking me to one verse. I named many. The Bible does not contradict itself, you haven't spent the time to read Ephesians in context. Thats like saying that you can take only eggs out of plan to bake a cake, and you will still have a cake at the end. You are picking 1 verse out of entire Bible and saying it means this. Well take these... "Judas hung himself"...."Go ye therefore and do likewise." Two different verses, but by your logic...They say what they say right? You gotta take it for what it is. (Now I don't really believe this, but I'm making a point) I'm not going to spend my time with a contentious person that believes false doctrine. The harvest is plenty and the workers are few. You have told me your stance.... I do not know what there is to discuss, I am well aware of the Calvanist doctrine. We don't believe that we are saved by merit, but that the Bible explicitly names actions that are required to render God's grace being baptism. I showed you a verse that likened baptism unto Noah and water 1 Peter 3:21, you show me a verse that says, accept Jesus into your heart and you will be saved. BELIEF in itself is an action! Your doctrine contradicts itself. So good luck with your unmerited favor without believing, which by the way does require something from you, thus being a "work". You see? I can debate this all day long, but you aren't going to change.
My latest response:

I called you out by name after you called Driscoll out. And then I baited you into revealing your real problem with him - you think his Gospel is wrong. That's why you call him a false teacher. And I know from listening to him that he preaches the biblical Gospel, whereas Church of Christ usually throws in human works into the equation. So I asked you about it, and you confirmed my suspicions.

My "picking out" verses are fully in line with the context of the psgs, the books, and indeed the entire Bible. CORRECTLY prooftexting is not wrong; Jesus did it all the time, so did Paul, Peter, and the author of Hebrews. Your problem is that you make the Scripture contradict itself. My position harmonises ALL of what God said. It's a position I commend to you, rather than thinking your human traditions are better than God's teaching.

And belief is NOT an action. This is, again, where your position is internally contradictory. Belief is an action that *God performs upon the person*. It's not sthg that the person does. Doesn't originate with the person. God grants us faith.
Two things about this approach:
1) Even if I did hold to this belief, showing that my position is wrong doesn't make your position right. That's a logical fallacy called the "tu quoque".
2) You're projecting your own position onto me, but your attempt at showing that my position is ALSO wrong fails, since God grants faith. 1 John 5:1 - 1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
When it says "is born", that is a perfect passive participle in Greek, expressing an action that HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE. Could translate it "has been born of God". Believers have been born of God; THEREFORE they believe.

Anyway, as for 1 Peter 3, here are my questions for you (then I quoted my arguments from above).

Friday, September 03, 2010

I would fully expect a worldview that is true to account for all data

Apparently the Jolly Nihilist doesn't, though.  I reproduce here an excerpt of that combox:

It is not really an “assumption” that, when a star is one million light years from Earth, it takes one million years for the light to reach Earth; that is basic science.

How precisely did you test that assertion scientifically? 
Oh, that's right - you ASSUMED the light beams didn't originally stretch all the way to Earth originally.  That's called an ASSUMPTION.  I'm sorry you need a refresher on what science covers, but it's not science until you apply the scientific method to it and observe repeated results.  If you can give me an experiment that's repeatable by which you could test this whole thing, let me know, but don't call it "science", let alone "basic science", until you do.

with respect to radioactive dating, even on the assumption of non-uniformitarianism,  the bare fact remains that, now, with current rates of decay, when radioisotopes occur together, enabling the dates to be cross-checked, the ages invariably agree,

For the 4th time or so, all that tells you is that these tests agree.  Then come the assumptions to interp what that means and apply to the age of the Earth. 
What on your naturalistic framework makes you think that there's a telos to these decay rates, that they're meant and intended to tell you their age?  You don't have one and your worldview doesn't support it.  But since you're wedded to finding confirmation for your assumption, that's how you present it.

beggaring all belief and all statistical likelihood, the decay rates have all changed in such a way

1) How is belief relevant?  Plenty of ppl believe that God created the world.  More than believe evolution, BTW.
2) How precisely did you calculate the likelihood?  What kind of probability measurement? 

They are frantic inasmuch as, even though the bible provides no genuine astronomic knowledge of which to speak,

It tells us God created the world in an instant and approximately how long ago it was.  It's not hard to go from there. I have no education in astronomy, and I figured it out.
It's not as if scientific conclusions are against my position, let's be clear.  ASSUMPTIONS OF SCIENTISTS are against it, but so what? 

It is true that, with enough tortured harmonization, your position can probably account for every bit of data we have found

"Tortured" is an opinion, and it is quickly becoming clear you're not an unbiased arbiter thereof.
And I'd fully expect a worldview that is true to acct for all data.  Wouldn't you?

If the bible can be harmonized to ANYthing, it essentially predicts NOthing.

Or the Bible is true.
Maybe you prefer a worldview that DOESN'T acct for all the data.  If that's the case, stay where you are - you're in the right place. 

Why, in principle, would it have been impossible for both dating methods never to have given us a date older than 6000 years?

It wouldn't be.  But I deal in facts and logic, not dreams.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Stephen Hawking says the universe was not created by God!

All our hopes are dashed!

God did not create the universe, the man who is arguably Britain's most famous living scientist says in a forthcoming book.

In the new work, The Grand Design, Professor Stephen Hawking  argues that the Big Bang, rather than occurring following the intervention of a divine being, was inevitable due to the law of gravity.

In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking had seemed to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. But in the new text, co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, he said new theories showed a creator is "not necessary".

The Grand Design, an extract of which appears in the Times today, sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have been created out of chaos.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," he writes. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."
(Source, emph. mine)

And by "nothing", he no doubt means "something" - gravity and stuff on which gravity could act. 
What else can the thinking person do but laugh at such sophistry?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Luis, he of assumptions and fallacies! - 2

I should add "and of very insulting comments" too.
I have no idea whether Blogger will produce my comments in their correct order over at the Jolly Nihilist's blog, but here are the comments I left in response to Luis' dissertation there.

Hi Luis,

Wow, that's a lot to respond to. In the interests of time, I'll do my best to cut out repetitions of the same subject matter. I'll also overlook the numerous insulting and rude comments, which will alone shorten my comments by about half.

You served up an avalanche of crimes against logic on a scale that truly beggars belief.

OK, big boast noted. Now let's see if you can back it up.

You should really desist from equivocating "the" Christian worldview with a fundamentalist take. A lot of Christians would take exception to it, you know.

1) As if atheism, naturalism, or Darwinism are monolithic.
2) You have my permission to take my meaning as "my position", and let's leave arguing about what the biblical position is up to those who are actually qualified. You're not.

Right, the premise of natural processes goes against the premise of natural processes.

Uh oh, you're ignorant of this, aren't you? But that didn't stop you from making a naked assertion. That should give everyone a clue about your position's credibility. Reflexive defense mechanism.
Here you go.

Please prove that ANY organism found in the fossil record had children.

A disingenuous request, because that’s not what anyone has to prove. The criterion is to prove whether or not what evolution PREDICTS can actually be found is found.

So you're saying that you don't care about proving what happenED in the past? Sorry, THAT'S disingenuous. Why talk about common ancestry all the time if what you're saying were true?

I thought the whole point was for me to show how it IS relevant to Darwinism, but now I’m not even allowed to do that?

?? You're allowed to do it, of course. In fact, I insist! With an argument, not an assumption.

You have to explain why it is that God should have required that these monkeys all bunch together geographically in a manner utterly indicative of the predictions of evolutionary theory.

1) He didn't REQUIRE it. You're playing fast and loose with language.
2) That's how it happened. The question is how to explain it. You say your position can explain it. Let's say I grant it, fine. But YEC can too. Just b/c you don't know why God might've "allowed" it (ie, why it happened) doesn't change that YEC accts for it just fine. You need to prove why it can't acct for it, not question how I know why, etc.

On evolution, this is easy to explain

It's easy to IMAGINE and tell us a just-so story. That's not the same.
I'm not saying that YEC has a better answer, but it's just as good - just-so. Point is, YEC can acct for it.

that more similar animals tend to be closer to one another geographically, because they have had less time to diverge and fan out.

And YEC's answer is yet simpler. Hello Occam's Razor.
YEC answer - that more similar animals tend to be closer to one another geographically, because they have had less time to fan out.
(What, did you think YEC has no concept of MICROevolution?)

You’ve not explained why God would require this pattern to be the case.

Wrong question.

What about monkeys being catarrhines should make you expect, in a creationist framework, for them to be confined outside of Latin America?

Good question, and if I were a scientist, I might be interested in it. But since I'm interested in TRUTH about what happenED, I'm looking for which framework can acct for a given datum.

How is yours any better?

Because it’s predictive, that’s why.

I guess it comes down to this - you're solely interested in predictive power, which is keenly subject to the problem of induction, for one thing (of which you show no recognition, which is a sign of intellectual arrogance), whereas I'm interested in truth. Very, very interesting.