Friday, July 30, 2010

PZ Myers is here to defend your rights!

Your right to dress as slutty as you want, I guess.

No doubt PZ Myers is patting himself on the back for making sure to put Christian young men in their placeHow dare we offer any input on what kind of clothes women wear!  It's not like the opposite ever happens.  I'm proud to say my wife has never told me, not even advised me, on what I should wear, not a day in my life.  If she did, I'd whip out my belt faster than you can say "Gaptooth Uncle Buck" anyway.  She knows better.
Come to think of it, my mom never told nor advised me either.  And I turned out OK - I dress equally as well as PZ does on a daily basis.  What can I say?  I'm looking good, and I didn't need no help from no womenfolk.

Along those lines, one has to wonder whether PZ would be so quick to swap genders in incredibly oblivious statements like these:
The boys are asked to judge whether an item of clothing is something that might cause them to think wicked thoughts…so once again, the women are to blame for inciting men's behavior by wearing tight jeans or a strapless dress. (Emphasis original.)
 --BECOMES--
The women are asked to judge whether an item of clothing is something that might cause them to think wicked thoughts…so once again, the men are to blame for inciting women's behavior by wearing tight jeans or a muscle shirt.

I don't know why it surprises me that a liberal like Myers would so easily and thoughtlessly equate thought with action.  After all, I believe he supports hate-crime legislation.  The most confusing thing about it is that the guy loves to talk about thoughtcrime.  Like a typical godless liberal, he doesn't appear ever to stop to ask himself the same questions he's asking everyone else.  At least he's a good source of iron(y).

So, let me set Myers straight on a few more things.
Because, of course, the girls need boys' advice...I get a Taliban tingle just reading it. It's a far more generous document than anything Islam dictates — young Christian men do not want young Christian women to wear burkas — but in principle, it's the same thing.
 1) I challenge Myers to show anywhere in the survey where it is implied that "girls need boys' advice".  Seems to me the message is more like "Here's what guys think of the way you dress, and you could throw them a bone by not showing 75% of your cleavage all the time."

2) Shall we really consider that a man whose blog contains a fair amount of obscenely-worded material and who deals with sexual topics in a less-than-chaste way is a better source for clothing advice than Christian men who are struggling to obey Jesus?
As for Myers, might one think he doth protest too much?
"No really, ladies, I'm a not-particularly-attractive atheist community college professor and biologist in my 50s and I think you have every right to wear whatever you want to my class and in public!  If you got it, flaunt it, yo.  Clingy and see-through lingerie get extra credit in your lab section." 

Now, for the objective lady out there, compare that with the heart expressed by these survey questions and responses, and by this excellent blogpost by DJP.  Why do you think these men want you to not wear a spaghetti-bikini that covers 3 square inches of your body and no more?  Is Myers really looking out for your best interests?

3) Myers apparently can't find any substantive difference between a group of young men putting their heads together and asking women to dress LESS provocatively, so as to help them not to think lustfully about said women all the time, and laws providing for governmental punishment of women who fail to cover every inch of their skin when in public.  So much for his critical thinking skills.

It's men declaring ownership of women's bodies and telling them what to wear
Where? 

Myers continues:
What they have to guard against? They should be plainer. "We're not telling you what to wear - we're just listing the stuff that will justify raping you."...with the the threat of justifiable sexual assault if they do not obey.

1) This is what really got under my skin in the first place this morning.  Where in the world is Myers getting this?  I'd like to challenge anyone to find any hint of this idea in the survey or its surrounding documentation.  Start by going to any given page and pressing Ctrl + F on your keyboard; type in 'rape' and see how many results there are.  Or 'assault'.  Or 'deserve'. 

2) Myers is putting his amazing ignorance of the Christian community on display when he imputes this idea to such people as Nancy Leigh DeMoss, CJ Mahaney, and Al Mohler.  I'd be willing to bet he doesn't even know who the first two are!  But he obviously has no problem implying their motives are one step removed from one of the most heinous crimes known to man. 
Is not unjustified demonisation of the opposition one of the oldest propaganda tricks in the book?  If we had any reason to call Myers "honest" in the past, we don't anymore.

3) The idea that these surveyors and promoters would like to justify rape is apparently a figment of Myers' extremely-biased imagination.
Or, he's nothing more than a rabble-rouser, inciting his drones to action.  Either way, what possible credibility could the man have left?

4) What, precisely, is Myers' moral problem with rape?  To what objective moral foundation can he appeal to say "rape is definitely always bad for all people at all times in all situations"?  Does his atheism allow for a consistent definition like that?
The answer, obviously, is no way, as more honest men than he have admitted to me in the past.

5) 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) (or none, if Myers' wardrobe, job, and manner of speaking on his blog are any indication) is probably a successful strategy.  Does Myers criticise dogs in heat for their willingness to jump on anything that moves that is approximately dog-sized? 

You know, I think about blogging a fair amount.  I see stuff out there in the world or on teh 1nterw3bz or the news or whatever and digest it, and sometimes an idea for a blogpost pops out.  Half the time or better, there's not enough there and I throw the idea in the trash.  Myers has a large audience, though it could always grow if he were less of a coward and didn't disdain debate challenges from people who know a bit of philosophy.  Plus other bloggers like ERV rely on him for a good amount of their material, so I understand he could be under a bit of pressure.  At the same time, there is something to be said for producing material that isn't consistently half-baked and not well-thought-out.  (Not that I would know from firsthand experience; I'm just saying.)  The self-censoring filter that should be in place between brain and mouth (or keyboard) didn't act quickly enough to stop this spew from issuing forth.  But it is quite telling about his thoughts, and as we all know...

(Please leave any comments at the Triablogue post.)

Building on an old post from Nov 07 - More on icons, part 2

---------------Chat we had later begins-----------

Correspondent: I have sent several e-mails/letters/messages (similar to the one I sent you about idolatry) to ministries and people earlier this week and I'm waiting to hear from them. Perhaps I'll try to follow up in a week or two...
 me: yeah? to what kind of people are you sending them?
  and i'm curious, what are you looking for from them? Helpful info? or more like a statement on where they stand on the questions?
 Correspondent: I'm interested in their understanding of the passages
11:45 AM me: ok cool
 Correspondent: I sent one message to AiG, Albert Mohler, Let US Reason, a local church,
11:46 AM And I sent one to Carrie, the other blogger at Beggars All
 me: there's a good chance that she'll answer you
...
11:52 AM Correspondent: I was suprised that Mohler had "Christ" images on his website -- after listening to one of his sermons/messages on the 2nd Commandment and reading one of his articles on the matter.
 me: eh, i'm not. it's not a big deal
11:54 AM i don't see why not have images of the incarnate Christ AS LONG AS they're not being worshiped/venerated/prayed to
11:56 AM Correspondent: Well -- images of "Christ" are making God (Christ) in our image; Christ would have left us his visual image. Every portrait that attempts to represent Him is a lie.
 me: well, Christ looked like SOMEthing, right?
 Correspondent: Yes
11:57 AM me: He could be seen with the naked eye
  He had/has a physical body
  has one even now
11:58 AM so i'm not sure what would be wrong with representing Him as long as inappropriate religious activity isn't done towards the IMAGE
 Correspondent: Well He did say that if you have seen me (Christ) you have seen the Father
11:59 AM me: true
12:00 PM now obviously representing the Father in an image would be wrong
  b/c He can't be seen
  but Christ could be seen w/ the naked eye
  He's the representation of the Father
  don't know why not represent Christ then
12:01 PM Correspondent: John 5:23 "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth no tthe Father which hath sent him."
 me: yes
12:02 PM haha, I like to quote that verse to Jehovah's Witnesses
 Correspondent: Maybe that is the correct use of the verse -- but Christ is God, so people can't represent his Deity -- they are attempting to represent Him without his Deity
12:03 PM I'll have to study that verse more
 me: hmm, how is that?
  how are they representing Him w/o His deity?
  i mean, if it's a rep of Christ and it's obvious, that IS a rep of His deity
  since He was God
  and that's what he kind of looked like
 Correspondent: Because they are representing a person (not Christ)
12:04 PM they simply give the name of Christ to that image
 me: Christ is a person
12:05 PM well, I mean I see what you mean about just giving the name Christ to the image, but the image is OF Christ
 Correspondent: Yes, but he is also the Creator -- not the creation
 me: no one thinks the image IS Christ
  but the Creator clothed Himself in flesh
  flesh that could be seen
  flesh that could be represented
12:06 PMlet me ask you this - if an apostle, one of the 12, had drawn a picture of Christ at the beginning of HIs ministry, and then it was destroyed, say burned, 1 month later, before Christ's death, is that bad?
  objectionable?
12:07 PM Correspondent: Is it bad or objectionable that the picture was destroyed? No. Is it bad or objectionable that the picture was made? Yes.
 me: why is it bad if it was made?
12:08 PM Christ was right there in front of the artist
12:09 PM Correspondent: It was still an image of God made by man's device -- that's why it is wrong
 me: it would be an image of CHRIST
  in His incarnation
  Who appeared before the naked eye
12:10 PM Correspondent: "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
12:11 PM (John 20:29)
  I'm thankful that I have not seen, yet believed
12:12 PM me: how would a representation of Christ help someone believe and put faith in Christ, to be saved?
  i don't see that
  (no pun intended har har)
12:14 PM Correspondent: (nice no pun) Also, The Incarnation did not occur until God had prepared a people who would not make images of Him (e.g.) Dt. 4:15-16
12:15 PM me: hmm, well i guess that's possible
  not aware of any OT images of YHWH though
  mostly just idols
  of other gods
  calves, asherim, etc
12:16 PM you're right that the Jews of Christ's time had learned not to engage in idolatry anymore
  that's for sure
 Correspondent: Some images were made of cherubims
  and a snake
  but they did not attempt to represent God
 me: yeagh
  right, and those were ordered by God
  but the snake represents Christ!
12:17 PM Christ HImself says so, that He'll be lifted up as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness
  (John 6)


12:24 PM Correspondent: 1.) God told the people to make the image of the serpent; it wasn't something they dreamed up. 2.) We know that Jesus was lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. So, it is saying that Jesus is simply going to be lifted up AS MOSES LIFTED UP the serpent...
12:25 PM Then in later centuries when the people started reverencing the image, Hezekiah destroyed it saying "It is a thing of brass."
 me: but the snake was LIFTED UP, anyone who looked at the snake (as we must look on CHrist with faith) was saved from the snakebite
  it's obviously a foreshadowing of Christ
  now it's of course not the same as a picture of Christ
12:26 PM but it's a re-presentation of the Redeemer, lifted up
  let me ask you another question
  the word "Christ" is 6 images
  that represent God
  C h r i s t
  taht is a representation of God
12:27 PM why is naming His name not wrong?'
12:28 PM Correspondent: "4He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan." (2 Kings 18:4)
 me: no argument there
 Correspondent: So, even if today an artist made a snake image on a cross, and intended it to represent Christ's death for us, it should be destroyed the instant that someone reverenced it thinking he was reverencing Christ.
 me: i agree 100%
12:29 PM but i've specifically said several times that IF nobody does inappropriate action to the image of Christ, I don't see the problem of making and having the image itself
 Correspondent: and the WORD "Christ" is a word
 me: Of course I'd call out venerating an image of ANYTHING as sinful
  that's not God Himseflf
  ok, fair enough
  yeah, that whole "word" thing is not a strong argument
12:30 PM never mind :-D
12:31 PM Correspondent: there has been a muddy definition between words, language, and images -- like with hieroglyphics
  And no problem about the whole word thing
 me: hmm
  that brings up an other question
 Correspondent: The third commandment goes on to say do not take the name of the Lord in vain
 me: Japanese/Chinese has a word/image/kanji that means "Christ"
  can we use it?
12:32 PM Correspondent: I don't know the Japanese language well enough to say; It would make sense to use the word if it means "Christ" though
 me: it's an image
  it's not a combination of letters
  like in English

5 minutes
12:37 PM Correspondent: Again, I don't know the Japanese language -- and how it is constructed. If it is a word I see no problem with it -- just as "Christ" is an "image" -- yet it is a word.
12:38 PM clarification
 me: well it's an image AND a word
  words are images in Chinese
  and most words are images in Japanese
 Correspondent: "Christ" - the word C-h-r-i-s-t
  each individual letter
12:40 PM It doesn't sound, or read, like it attempts to represent Christ as a corruptible man, a four footed beast, or a creeping thing
 me: hmm, who said Christ was a "corruptible" man?
12:41 PM He was recognisable in His body after the resurrection
  but He's not corruptible
  so what if we create an image of that as long as we don't do anything bad to it?
12:42 PM Correspondent: Christ isn't a corruptible man -- He is the uncorruptible God
  "And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." Romans 1:23
 me: Um, He's both man AND God
 Correspondent: Yes
 me: don't you agree with that?
  ok
  and I just said Christ was NOT a corruptible man
  i agree
  but He IS a man
12:43 PM but incorruptible after His resurrection, in His glorified body
  so I don't see how that applies
  the point of Romans 1 is that these people were worshiping things that aren't God
  but Christ is God
  the point is not the image
 Correspondent: Well, we have a lot of agreement there :-)
  A LOT
 me: haha yeah
  definitely
  this is a tiny thing to disagree about, thta's for sure!
12:48 PM Correspondent: Well, I think it is significant in that if such images are idolatrous, which I believe they are, they shouldn't be made and we shouldn't think of God as a corruptible man, a four-fourfooted beast, or a creeping thing -- graven by art or man's device.
  Thanks for the chat this morning, Alan
12:49 PM It got me thinking about some passages in the Bible that I should study more.

---------------His response begins------------------

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Building on an old post from Nov 07 - More on icons

Originally posted here, but relevant to the discussions going on at Triablogue, at TurretinFan's blog, at Defending...Contending, and here with respect to visual depictions of Jesus.

I will post the original and then the further conversations that the email correspondent, who is apparently a friend of TurretinFan, and I had.
His name will not be shared, b/c and only b/c I reserve the right to post names of email correspondents along with their email to me if I choose to do so, but in this case see no reason to.  Of course he may reveal himself as the correspondent if he likes.

-----------------Original post begins-----

I was recently asked by email: I was wondering what you believe concerning "art" that attempts to represent "Christ" and God. Is such art idolatrous?

It depends. Either way, I think the question of icons and art must be parsed carefully.
1) On the one hand we ask whether it's permissible to have icons, even icons in the church but placed outside the sanctuary/room of worship, that do NOT represent Christ or God. Say they represent saints who have gone before. John Chrysostom, Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Athanasius, etc. Just by themselves, what would be the problem? I can't see one.

2) What if they're IN the room of worship? Again, I personally don't see a problem. Of course, at some point Roman 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 ('the weaker brother') come into play, but I'm assuming there are none such present.

3) The problem comes when religious practices of devotion and piety are conducted towards said icons. I don't care what our Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends say about not praying TO the icons. When someone lights a candle in front of an icon, kneels before the icon, prostrates himself before the icon, prays to(wards) the icon, how is it not worshipful devotion?

4) The problem is greatly worsened when the wrongheaded and foolish idea of praying to someone other than God is introduced, virtually always in conjunction with the presence of an icon or statue. This is adding a mediator (in RC theology) between man and Jesus and therefore between God and man in violation of 1 Timothy 2:5. And this is where idolatry really comes into play, for religious practices of devotion and piety are given to persons who are not God. God alone deserves such practices; no person does.

5) And remember, these people are DEAD. There are multiple biblical injunctions against calling up the dead, such as Isaiah 8:19-20, Deut 18:10-12, etc. I don't see a problem thinking that the dead can and maybe do pray for us, but it does not follow that we can or should contact them and ask for that. We're not supposed to talk to the dead. Talk to God.

6) Now, the question of having an icon of Christ...you know, I don't see why not (at least right now, but I'm open to convincing the other way), to be honest. He was incarnate in flesh, after all, so He was tangible, visible, etc. What might be wrong with depicting Him in His incarnation?

7) Whether we should have an icon of the Father, I'd have to say no way. Unfortunately, some EOdox and RC icons do represent the Father, which is a huge mistake.

Now, as regards the history of iconoclasts/iconodules, I don't know a ton. I do know that asking an EO about the iconoclastic Council of Hieria of 754 is always a good starting point - why is it not an Ecumenical Council while the iconodule 2nd Council of Constantinople is? The only answer I have seen is "The Church says the former isn't and the latter is", which is highly instructive in and of itself.
An interesting interaction on the topic recently took place here. See this post (where the question is asked), the one right above where it's answered, and this post, where it's gone over again.

Finally, I'll forestall a couple of possible objections.
3) It's not latria, it's dulia.

Here are some instructive articles on the topic.

The long and short of my response:
-In the OT LXX, the phrase "worship and serve" occurs many times, and is translated from "douleo" and "latreuo" (or sthg like that). They are very often in conjunction with each other.
-Sometimes they are even juxtaposed within the same thought, demonstrating that they are similar ideas.
-Thus it is unbiblical to create an artificial distinction between them, even less to ignore biblical revelation for the sake of human traditions (Mark 7:1-13).
-Scenario: an Israelite has been calling up a dead believing ancestor and has been caught and brought before Moses for judgment.
His defense: I was dulia-ing my ancestor, not latria-ing him.
Is it your position that he would be exonerated? Should he be?

4) Are you saying you never ask anyone to pray for you? Wouldn't that be mediation?

-I fail to see how they're the same. In RC doctrine, these mediators dispense grace and merit. My friends don't; they just pray for me.
-They're also seen in many circles as preferable to ask for spiritual help rather than Jesus. Amazing.

5) "God is the god of the living, not the dead". There is but a thin veil between the living and the dead. You ask your living brethren in Christ to intercede for you; why not your dead ones?

-When I ask someone to pray for me who's alive, I ask him.
-When you ask a dead person to pray for you, you light candles, kneel and prostrate yourself before an icon, kiss the icon, burn incense, and pray at the icon. These are worshipful actions.
-Hopefully, you never pray silently and expect them to hear you, lest you think they are endowed upon death with the powers of telepathy.
-I challenge you: next time you want your church family to pray for you, make an icon of them, put it in the church, then do all the things you normally do when you ask St. Athanasius, for example, to intercede for you. But don't TELL them face to face; since your challenge is that it's the same, let it be the same.
-Scenario: an Israelite has been calling up a dead believing ancestor and has been caught and brought before Moses for judgment.
His defense: God is the god of the living, not the dead.
Is it your position that he would be exonerated? Should he be?


7) But the Father was revealed in Christ.

-But I already said that I don't know of a problem (yet) with an icon of Christ, so have an icon of Christ.
-The Father dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6); there is no way to depict such.

--------------His response begins-------------

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Defending...Contending overreacts again

They're still among my favorites, but their touchiness does sometimes get on my nerves a bit.

Now Coram Deo, a writer I enjoy reading and whom I appreciate, has turned his sights on a caricature cartoon depicting Jesus and one of His apostles. He becomes very critical of Triablogue and Dan Phillips among others, and these are not worthy targets of critical attention.  That's the problem.
Here's the first comment I left:

CoramDeo,
Yes, you are being unreasonable.
You pictured Christ in this blogpost and The Pilgrim did so here.
So, seriously, unless you think it’s a fair expectation that people are going to be worshiping this Twitter cartoon…lighten up on the “2nd commandment” nonsense.
Grace and peace,
Rhology
In response:

The Pilgrim says:
Actually, Rhology, to be entirely fair, none of those pictures in my previous post were depicting the Lord Jesus Christ. The context of that post was false christs that people have created. In every instance the image was of a false christ. So if displaying an image of someone’s idol is wrong, then I am guilty as charged. The one and only instance in which the true Jesus was cited in that post, a picture of a page of Scripture was presented. Additionally, I checked out the other link you provided to Coram’s blogpost and it appears that he did the same thing.
Sincerely,
- Pilgrim

And:
Coram Deo says:
Thanks Pilgrim.
You don’t need to apologize, Rho; I forgive you. I couldn’t help noticing, however, that apart from a weak effort at deflecting the charge of breaching of the 2nd commandment, you failed to respond to any of the other scriptural proofs I cited, and you didn’t give any Biblical exegesis in support of the caricature.
In Christ,
CD
So in response this morning, I said:
Brothers,

Come on now. 
ALL of the pics in those posts depicted Christ, but by use of a caricature!  That's exactly the point of this Twitter cartoon thing!  You yourself use the word "caricature" of it, and that's precisely what the "hippy Jesus" and "neocon hawk Jesus" and all those other ones are supposed to communicate. 
I am not faulting you for those, not at all, so don't get me wrong.  I'm faulting you for your inconsistency.  I thought those caricatures were dead-on and actually a lot funnier than the Twitter cartoon.  The Twitter cartoon thing didn't do a lot for me, just b/c it wasn't all that funny.  The reason it was cited was b/c it made use of obvious caricature to poke fun at modern evanjellyfish practices.  You did the exact same thing with your "hippy Jesus" picture.  And each is a great point and a good illustration of modern practices to be opposed by the biblical Christian.

You're making a mountain out of, not a molehill, an imaginary molehill.  If you really believed that the 2nd Cmdmt says that no images of Christ are permitted in any way, and then you go after someone for enjoying a caricatured image of Christ, you wouldn't post caricatured images of Christ.

Rather, you should withdraw this nitpicking and recognise that the 2nd Cmdmt applies when people are, for example, worshiping images of Christ.  And then stop making unnecessary trouble among faithful followers of Jesus.  Sheesh, even ripping Driscoll some more (of which you do too much) would be preferable to this.

Grace and peace,
Rhology

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blowing up atheism

Let me be the 17th or so to direct one and all to the new (and free of charge) ebook from the Triabloggers - The Infidel Delusion.
I expect it to be a more direct and more destructive critique of the new atheist arguments, coming against such men as Richard Carrier and Hector Avalos.  I actually personally regard some of these "lesser luminaries" of atheism like Carrier and Avalos, as well as Stephen Law and John Shook, as some of the best representatives of atheism in the world today, at least as far as I've seen.  They're not that great, don't get me wrong, but they're far better than Hitchens, Dick Dawk, or Sam Harris!  (Or John Loftus, who is also heavily represented in the book to which T.I.D. is responding, but no one ever said atheists were all that discerning.) So anyway, I expect this ebook to be quite good, and by page 8 it hasn't yet disappointed.

And if you're looking for a smackdown directed at the big-name New Atheists, don't forget to catch Steve Hays' devastating review of Dick Dawk's The God Delusion.  If you're looking for a less-than-optimal and heretical (ie, Open Theist-ic), but still quite serviceable, destruction of their position, check out Vox Day's (also free) ebook The Irrational Atheist (which I have read in its entirety).  Enjoy!

Update:  Speaking of John Loftus, he blunders his way through an initial refutation of T.I.D. here.  Notice also the dismissive comments from the (as yet unnamed) contributors to The Christian Delusion that he references.
"I have looked over their objections, and they are pretty superficial."
Really?  Questioning your basis for asserting moral value of any action whatsoever, questioning the justification for your epistemology, those are "superficial"?  Either this person invented a new meaning for the word "superficial" or they are dishonest or they didn't really look over the book (in which case...yeah, they're being dishonest).
I would imagine there'll be more coming from Loftus et al in response to T.I.D., and you have to give Loftus props for not running away like Romanists have run away from the Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith series.  Unfortunately, Loftus' objections are generally superficial and very emotionally-driven, and thus not particularly helpful for the seeker of truth.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This is what a pile of naturalistic assumptions looks like

Been discussing things related to the age of the Earth, the flood, and what scientific study can tell us over at bossmanham's blog with a skeptic named David.  We pick up at his most recent comments.


"They're not MERELY human-written, though. The Bible was written by God and man, both"

If you’re wrong, how could you tell that you were wrong?


If this fact were incorrect, nothing would matter, so whether I was wrong or right wouldn't matter either.



The errors are there, but you refuse to allow the use of the tools that show that the errors are there.

You mean b/c I demand more than assumptions?
Is this where one gets when one starts questioning the "mountains of evidence" that naturalistic Darwinians like to claim for their position? Complaints about how unfair my standards for certainty are?



You claim that other religions are not “internally consistent”, but I’ll bet we could find plenty of apologists for these other religions that would claim that their religious beliefs ARE internally consistent.

Thank you, Captain Obvious.
I prefer not to waste time asking myself the question, "Do some disagree?" but rather "On what grounds do they disagree?" and go from there.



There are also plenty who argue that Christianity is NOT internally consistent.

Of course. So I just ask them to substantiate their assertion. And one by one, the failures mount.



If the Star Wars Sagas are internally consistent, should we worship the Force?

I haven't seen a fantasy saga that's consistent yet. But please, if you have a case to make, make it.



I’m pretty certain that Egyptologists rely on the written records like king lists from Egypt and surrounding areas as well as the chronologies of other cultures

1) Those don't say anything about the Exodus accounts. Or did a "king list from Egypt" that was found somewhere include the words "And by the way, any rumor you might hear about some Exodus of Jew pigs from Egypt and then wandering in the Sinai for 40 years is totally false"?
2) You seem to be conflating Egyptian archaeological study with "tree rings and radiocarbon dating", as if you could use Egyptian king lists to substantiate an old earth. I don't get where you're going here.



way beyond the traditional flood date of about 2300 to 2400 BC

Do you realise you're assuming the flood didn't happen before going to the records? How do you know no records were lost? It's a matter of modern arrogance to think that there's nothing more to be done in reconstructing the past. Would any archaeologist, in an honest moment, tell you with a straight face that he knows 1% of what there is to know of ancient history?



“Now, can we be 1% certain about how the natural world worked in the past? No.”

Can we be even 0.00001% certain that the Creator of the Universe stopped by the Earth about 3500 years ago to tell a single ANE nomad how the Creator made the Earth? No. See? I can play this game, too.


1) Yes, we can be certain of it.
2) Notice how you're subtly playing a switcheroo here. Let me try to help.
On your naturalistic worldview - I'm asking you how we can be sure of ANYTHING, to say nothing of the ancient world and the way natural processes worked then. You can't give me anything beyond more assumptions. So apparently we can be sure of pretty much nothing, especially since you haven't even tried to give an answer to the problem of induction.
On Christianity - we're made in the image of an omniscient and timeless God, Who created the universe and told us with a great deal of detail how it went down, and there's no standard of knowledge higher than Him. B/c of Him, we can know things with certainty, and God Himself is the answer to the problem of induction, and His revelation the answer to these questions I've been asking about uniformitarianism.

Ergo, I commend repentance and faith to you.



As you like to say...prove it.

Yes, I like that phrase very much, since saying it enough always reveals the bankruptcy of naturalistic atheism.


Predictions are made in such a way that if the world works in a manner different from the way you assumed, then observations will contradict the predictions.

1) You can't tell me "how the world works" w/o solving the problem of induction.
2) Even if you could, that would tell you nothing about whether uniformitarian assumptions are correct. But you're alleging that these predictions can serve to test the assumptions I identified. But it looks like you have no answer to that.



How can you test your assumption that God talked to Moses?

I don't. I've said now at least twice that one does not subject the word of the very foundation of truth and knowledge to "testing".



so you’re one of those guys who thinks that God magically placed a beam of light all the way from the stars to the Earth when He created the Earth.

Magically? No. Supernaturally, of course. What about "God created the universe" is hard to understand?



Or are you a fan of the variable speed of light theory? As you would say, prove it.

Prove it? Think again. This is about me poking massive holes in your worldview, all the while admitting that I am pitifully small and trust in Someone much greater.
And who are you to cast aspersions on the variable speed of light theory? Do you have some evidence against it? Or just the observations that humans have made, which are a tiny proportion of all the occurrences of light's travels all around the universe, and none of which you personally have studied, which means you're relying on authorities?





Yes, I've read a geology textbook or two. What they told me was that they assume it. You haven't given me any reason to think that's wrong.



this still doesn’t explain why He made the Earth look old. I

Well, at the fundamental, He did it b/c He wanted to. (You asked "Why", after all.)
Why the universe looks old is a different question, and it comes down to the fact that God created the universe whole, mature. Adam wasn't created as a zygote. Plants weren't created as seeds. Etc. Your responsibility is to believe what God told you and not use inferior methods to try to prove God wrong, as if that were possible.



It just makes God look malicious

Do you have some objective moral foundation that could serve to judge objectively whether being "malicious" is right or wrong?



the fact that there is so much evidence for an old earth,

By "evidence" here, you clearly mean "assumptions".



the YECers had to invent the “apparent age” hypothesis.

Totally. It's not as if it's not right there in Genesis.



Hypotheses are constructed in such a way that if they are false, there should be plenty of evidence to show that they are false.

I have a little less naïve faith in humanity than you appear to. And the history of science bears out my cynicism.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Romish apologetics at its best

Starting here:

Adomnan said...
Adomnan: I read the Scriptures, too; and the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit tell me that that the Catholic faith is the true faith.

Fortunately, I'm not alone.

----------
Rhology said...

"The Holy Spirit tells me..."

1) That's no different from the Mormon "burning in the bosom".
2) RCs like to rip Protestants for "me and my Bible under a tree", but you've here expressed the same concept.

I just think it's funny how you guys change position when the situation calls for it.
-----------
Adomnan said...


Rhology: 1) That's no different from the Mormon "burning in the bosom".

Adomnan: The Holy Spirit supports the Magisterium. If I got a burning in the bosom, I'd take a Tums.

On the other hand, Calvin, like the Mormons, let his gut tell him what books constituted Scripture. He certainly paid no heed to the Magisterium.

Rhology: 2) RCs like to rip Protestants for "me and my Bible under a tree", but you've here expressed the same concept.

Adomnan: No, I haven't.

Rhology: I just think it's funny how you guys change position when the situation calls for it.

Adomnan: Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. 

Actually, though, I'm being consistent in this instance. It's not inconsistent to expect the Holy Spirit to endorse what the Magisterium teaches.

The Holy Spirit doesn't "speak" to me by inspiring an emotion, but through illumination of the mind. That's my experience at least.


Rhology: The astute reader will note that the reason I argued that way is b/c Paul Hoffer forced me to. Read the first few lines.

Adomnan: The astute reader might not get beyond the first few lines.

So Paul forced you to make a bad argument and repeat it a dozen times? Or was it Bush's fault?

-----------


Rhology said...

The Holy Spirit supports the Magisterium.

You're right it does.
Wait, no it doesn't. You know what? It's both. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.



On the other hand, Calvin, like the Mormons, let his gut tell him what books constituted Scripture.

Prove it.
Calvin WAS a Mormon. So was Jesus. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.



It's not inconsistent to expect the Holy Spirit to endorse what the Magisterium teaches.

Actually, it's both consistent and inconsistent at the same time, in the same way.


The astute reader might not get beyond the first few lines.

Lemme guess. Astuteness is another hobgoblin of small minds.

-----------
Adomnan said...


Rhology, I see the hobgoblin has captured your small mind.

Ever hear of Emerson, ignoramus?

I didn't think so.
-----------

Rhology said...
I've both heard of and not heard of Emerson. My mind is simultaneously small and equal to God's.

Paul Hoffer all over the map

Paul Hoffer has been doing yeoman's work in a recent thread about whether Mary sinned in "anxiously" looking for the boy Jesus in Jerusalem, in Luke 2.  He is an attorney, so we'd hope that he'd be versed in the art of consistent argumentation.  Unfortunately, if these comments are any indication, he's among the 99% of attorneys that give the other 1% a bad name...

Let's start, though, in the middle of Paul Hoffer's first comment to me, where he said something very interesting:

can you point me to the official binding Calvinist interpretative authority that interprets Scripture to mean what you think it does?

Unfortunately for PH, this question is meaningless and has been dealt with dozens of times on this blog alone.
So let's ask PH:  Can you point me to the official binding Magisterial interpretative authority that interprets Scripture to mean what you think it does? 
Let's see how many times he does so.  Or does he just give us a bunch of personal, private, fallible interpretations of biblical passages and "Magisterial documents", and does he ever give us an infallible means of knowing whether these "Magisterial" statements are infallible?  Let's find out.



Apologetics is the responsibility of all Christians.

How does he know that?  Did the Mag infallibly state such? If he appeals to a verse like 1 Peter 3:15, can he give an infallible Mag interp of it?
If not, how does he know any of this?



The Magisterium is only an office within the Church that has limited parameters and specific responsibilities.

How does he know that?  Did the Mag infallibly state such?
How does he know the Mag won't in the future correct him?



Or are there times when one only needs a mechanic or could roll up one’s sleeves and change the oil himself.

Bad analogy.  What I hear from RCs all the time is that I need infallibility to be sure of things theological, that as a fallible individual, I have no hope to escape the chaotic quagmire of Protestantism.  But when convenient, apparently PH doesn't tow that line.


I certainly can repeat what the Magisterium does teach

How does PH know that?  Did the Mag infallibly state such?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Everything revolves around Dave Armstrong

Well, it all started when I posted my last brief article comparing two NT psgs with respect to Mary and anxiety, here.
I'm not the first to notice that the quickest way to provoke Romanists to bizarre heights of irritation is to post something critical of one of their Marian dogmas.  Rip Jesus or something and that'll usually get their dander up too, but don't nuthin' get the spittle flyin' like suggesting that Mary actually committed a few sins in her lifetime or that she wouldn't have deprived her husband of intimate marital relations after the birth of the virgin-conceived and virgin-born Jesus Christ.  Just makes them crazy!
So, I expected nothing less from the reactions to my post.  But apparently I forgot something - everything revolves around Dave Armstrong.  I should have remembered that he likes defending himself even more than he likes defending Marian dogma.  Oops.

It was a normal day at the office in the combox, when DA appeared in response to this comment from me, responding to another commenter:


--Rhology, that's the most idiotic comment you've ever made. 
Then you haven't read much of my stuff. I can guarantee you I've said more idiotic things. 



I was just making a joke, and of course it's true.  I have indeed said more idiotic things.  I don't even mind DA jumping in to take the joke and salt it liberally with gratuitous mean-spiritedness:
I can wholeheartedly vouch for that sentiment. The bar is set pretty low, but Rhology is able to consistently break his own record. The present "argument," however, is perhaps unable to be lowered . . . 


Let me repeat - I don't mind that at all.  It is clearly mean-spirited, but like I said, I can take a joke.  Whatever - let the man say what he wants to say.  That's why my blog is unmoderated and the guy can post whatever he wants, as long as it's not obscene or a link to pr0|\| or something.
Two things came into play, though - 
1) The Beggars All blog (which DA refers to as "Boors All", b/c he's a nice man who'd never hurt anyone or say anything nasty about anyone, ever, honest) is now a DA-free zone.  We've been back and forth with him many, many times, and no doubt James Swan, the site's founder, proprietor, and main poster, has lost count.  The paper trail is there for anyone to see, and it was recently decided that DA would no longer be permitted to comment there.  
2) As anyone can see, the comment he left was totally off-topic.  Again, this isn't sthg that bothers me with respect to blog moderation, but it doesn't put me in an ultra-conciliatory mood.  Often I just ignore such things, but in this case, factor #1 being what it is, it fell to me to alert DA of his banning.  Again, I don't have a problem with that; this kind of housekeeping is one of the things I signed on to help James with some years ago.  What's telling is how it all played out in the interplay with DA's ego:


Me:  Dave,
We're helping you fulfill your resolution not to be concerned with what happens here at Beggars All. Thanks for your continued awesomeness!



DA: Since whatever I write will be deleted (including this), I won't bother . . . 


Me: Dave Armstrong,
Sorry, I thought I made it clear you're no longer welcome here. Not in my posts, and not in anyone else's posts. Have a good day! Please stop commenting! OKthxbye!

DA: Meanwhile, Rhology is currently commenting at great length on my blog, where he and anyone else are welcome, provided they offer any substance at all, and no vulgarities, etc.

Two of my comments in this thread were deleted; this will almost certainly be the third. 


DA: Moreover, if you want me to "shut up" here, then stop writing about me in the combox. Works both ways. Delete your idiotic remarks about me and I'll cease commenting on them. But it's a double standard to have the freedom to insult someone in a venue, when that person is not allowed to respond. 


Me: Ah, maybe this is why Dave Armstrong thinks Scripture isn't perspicuous! Apparently NOTHING is clear to him. For example, here he's just commented for the 3rd time on this thread despite two explicit reminders that his comments are no longer welcome here at Beggars All. 
So either he's a jerk with no respect for others' property, mentally unstable, or lacks any skills of reading comprehension. 
I don't know which one it is, but I do know that Dave Armstrong is not welcome to post comments on Beggars All


Me: Oh, and Dave - nobody talked about you in this combox until you inserted yourself into the discussion. This thread is about the Immaculate Conception, not about you. 


DA: Thanks to Pilgrimsarbour for his usual classy fairmindedness.
The double standard continues. Rhology's comments on my blog will be allowed to remain, because I consistently abide by my beliefs in free speech and fairness of allowing both sides to comment (even if the person is arguing like an idiot).
My initial comment was simply a joke, that I couldn't resist after Rhology wrote: "you haven't read much of my stuff. I can guarantee you I've said more idiotic things." 
Again; I will not abide by blatant double standards. I won't leave until you remove your nonsense about me, including now the obligatory observation that I am supposedly "mentally unstable".
Pilgrimsarbour was absolutely right in his assessment. You won't listen top anything I say, but perhaps you will heed his wise words.
The principle that a man is entitled to present his side of things in the same venue where he is being attacked, trumps the sentiment of my not being welcomed here. Quit making the childish insults, while deleting my replies and simultaneously commenting on my blog at great length, and I will voluntarily leave.
I simply made a joke when I first entered this combox. You had made one yourself, so I assumed you could take one, but alas, it wasn't to be. 


Me: See, PilgrimsArbour? The guy can't miss an opportunity to justify himself...


DA:  (Posts the same comment a 2nd time)


Me: (Answering TurretinFan's question):  It was  me.  I deleted all DA's comments here and will henceforth delete any comment DA makes on any post I make on Beggars All. 


DA: While he continues to be allowed to post freely on my site (two lengthy replies are sitting there right now) . . . 

At which point, and here I'll let you in on a little secret - I decided to ignore DA on that combox and hope for his own sake that he'd go away.  The key to understanding why this went down the way it did, both for him and for me, is this comment:  Oh, and Dave - nobody talked about you in this combox until you inserted yourself into the discussion. This thread is about the Immaculate Conception, not about you. 
That was my big mistake.  Of course the thread was about him!  Everything is about Dave.
Well, as far as going away, he sorta did, but of course his ego was sufficiently damaged to post a verbose (but actually pretty tame by his kill-a-rain-forest-every-time standards) exposé (which, strangely enough, seems to be back-dated to a posting date of 7 July, which is before I posted my brief article) of how badly he'd been treated at Beggars Boors All.  
He mentions in this post that:
--I noted in the second and third deleted comments (unpreserved on my part)


I preserved them, and reproduced them in full above, so anyone can see the actual interaction.  Even though I'm deathly afraid someone might actually read it, b/c my own ego is pretty fragile.  Like a china doll.  
DA was informed of the decision to ban him, and like so many adherents of Sola Ecclesia before him, when banned on a Reformed blog like Boors All or at the Triablogue, he chose to violate his ban over and over again, showing high disregard for the proprietors' desires and chosen modus operandi.  I've been banned before.  So what are you 'posed to do when you're banned?  Keep posting and make everyone mad?  Or do you go to your own blog and show why that was b/c of cowardice on their part and leave it to the reader to decide?  I'd suggest that DA has been sufficiently refuted, time and again, at Boors All and at Triablogue, to say nothing of other places, that a thorough examination of what has gone before would not leave a reasonable observer with the notion that we're afraid of him or something.  The same doesn't necessarily go for the Atheist Experience, Mark Shea, or Larry Niven.  


All that to say, DA's temper tantrum means little to me or to anyone at Boors All, but I did want to explain why he got his habit in a twist over this.  The takeaway - it makes a statement about you when you insist on making a thread that's not about you, about you.  

Friday, July 09, 2010

Luke and Matthew, witnesses against the Immaculate Conception

Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Luke 2: 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You."


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