Saturday, August 27, 2011

Don't take away others' rights

My friend CH said on his Facebook page:
Don't like gay marriage? Don't get one.
Don't like abortions? Don't get one.
Don't like drugs. Don't do them.
Don't like sex? Don't have it.
Don't like your rights taken away?
Don't take away anybody else's.

I really don't think this logic works at all.

Don't like slavery? Don't own a slave.
Don't like murder? Don't kill anyone.
Don't like kiddie porn? Don't view it.
Don't like sex trafficking? Don't see prostitutes.
Don't like embezzlement? Don't embezzle.
Don't like genocide? Don't commit it.

Don't like your rights taken away?
Don't take away anybody else's.

(Obviously, the answer here is that these are not ONLY questions of "your rights". There's more to it, in my examples as well as in yours.)

I think the point of his questions were they don't infringe upon anyone else's rights. An argument could be made for an unborn child's rights, but the rest are personal choices. Drugs are walking a fine line, depending on the consequences (driving, robbing a bank etc). However, Rhology, yours clearly take away the victims choices and free will.

‎@Rhology, the logic is good. All of your examples are things that are harmful to others. CH's are only harmful to the one doing them.

I meant was not were. Haha that's embarrassing.

Hi NE,
Abortion most certainly takes away the most fundamental of rights - the right to life - from the dead child. So that's what I was illustrating.
And as for my own examples, it's easy to avoid your criticism about "yours clearly take way the victim' will" - we just define them out of humanity. The slave/Negro is not human. The murder victim - not human. How do I know? Oh, I know. You'll just have to trust me. I don't have an argument for it, but I know.
It's the same reasoning as you'll find for removing the child's humanity before he gets aborted (aka murdered).

I'm personally do not consider myself a proponent for abortion, but I also don't feel like I have the right to tell a woman who has been raped that she has no choice in what happens to her body after that choice has already been taken away brutally once. Slaves and murder victims aren't people? I'm sure that the people committing the crime try to tell themselves that, but I, for one, disagree. I'm a little unsure of the point you're trying to make when you say they're not.

I don't think anyone wants to tell a woman what to do with her own body, especially after something so horrible as rape. Rapes account for less than 1% of abortions, FYI.
But the question is not about HER body only; the baby's body is the one that is torn to bits during an abortion. So his rights must be considered too, especially if he's the one facing execution w/o a trial for the crimes of his father.

You may disagree with what I said, but that is because you're being inconsistent. If you were consistent, you would not be able to make the statements CH made b/c you condemn the statements *I* made. They all go one with another. If you want to condemn an act, use a different argument than this one.

I'm sure that rapes do not constitute that large a percentage of total abortions, but you also have to consider the accuracy of your data. Rape and sexual assault are the number 1 unreported crimes in the United States, FYI. I am not saying the original post was without flaws, but I agree with the sentiment behind it, which I feel is basically: mind your own business and don't infringe upon others rights. Your statements do not, in fact, follow the same logic as the other statements (I am not going to argue abortion with you, seriously) as they take away the rights of others.

The original post was a good argument minus the abortion part because of peoples differing opinions on the subject. Your original reply was an extreme exaggeration.


We can only go by the evidence we have. Also, I don't consider that rape is a justifiable reason for murdering the baby for the crimes of his father without so much as a trial.

Don't infringe on others' rights? What about the baby's rights? When REMOVING the baby's rights is a mega-industry in the USA, shall not those of conscience speak up for the powerless? It's the same question as slavery.

If you want "mind your own business" to be your creed, and if you are willing to be consistent all the way through, you won't have a problem with the things I said. Oppose kiddie porn? Mind your own business!
Oppose murder? Mind your own business!

My own reply was an exaggeration only in the sense that it demonstrates the unacceptability of the original sentiment, if expressed consistently in other areas of life. If you really believe a principle like "mind your own business", then BELIEVE IT and don't depart from it the instant it gets inconvenient or unpleasant for you, like in questions of sex slavery or kiddie porn.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Some summarised thoughts on Abraham Lincoln's legacy

A Christian brother and I were chatting about Ron Paul and some Paul-ites' tendency to talk about Abraham Lincoln and how he was not a very good President.
This brother expressed some reservations over this, considers Lincoln to be a good president because his actions led to the end of slavery in America, and is glad the Union won the War Between the States.
Here are some of my thoughts on this:

I was referring more to Lincoln's wanton invasion of a sovereign country, which was unjust and unconstitutional.
In doing so, he was the main cause behind a conflict that cost $billions and was responsible for more than 1 million American dead.
His stated motivations were the preservation of the Union, which he had no right to do, not ending slavery. I'd argue that 1 million dead and half the country wrecked would not be sufficient justification for ending slavery.  Especially since the institution would have eventually come to an end anyway.
Slavery is quite bad, but unjust war and 1 million dead is worse.

That's all I was saying.  It's not really about slavery at all, but rather about the President deciding to forcefully re-annex territory lost because they felt unjustly treated and thus voted their consciences. He grossly violated the democratic process by beating the South into submission because they did something he disagreed with - removing themselves from a Union that wasn't agreeable to them anymore.

It's really a shame that it's nearly impossible to educate anyone in America about this without them screaming "racissss!!!!!"
I myself learned to love Lincoln b/c I was force-fed "Lincoln was a hero" in my pubblyk skrewel, and only later in life did I actually critically analyse the issue.
But I certainly plan on making sure my children learn the truth about this part of history. OTOH I see what you're saying about it reducing a candidate's electability. The American electorate is largely a bunch of unregenerate fools, and it certainly shows in not only who gets elected but who the candidates always are - nincompoops, wimps, and globalists.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Still no idea - 2

From last post with Maximum Awesome.
I will do my best to separate out our interactions under the categories he set out, and add two others of my own.

DISCUSSION 1: Objective morality.
What about "the degree to which systems of behaviour mutually satisfy all adult participants"? Wouldn't that rule out the "bad" behaviours you list, and rule in the good ones?

1) This would mean that kiddie porn rings are perfectly acceptable.
2) How in the world would this work in the real world for most anything (except kiddie porn rings)?  When are ALL adult participants "satisfied" in this fallen, messed-up world?  Aren't there always dissenters? By what standard and authority do you simply write them off and arbitrarily exclude them? You didn't tell us, which tells us --AGAIN-- that you have a different moral standard than the one you're expressing explicitly. And it seems to be nothing more or less than "That which is moral is what is in accord with my personal preferences".
3) Why SHOULD anyone else accept this moral standard? Where is your Pope of Morality badge to foist this moral standard on the rest of us?
4) Why not choose "the degree to which systems of behaviour mutually DISsatisfy all adult participants"? Why did you choose that which is more comfortable to you? Again you're letting your real motivations slip through the cracks. There's no a priori reason to accept satisfaction over dissatisfaction, pleasure over pain, survival over death, other than your personal preferences.
5) In fact, I bet there are situations about which you'd agree it's better not to achieve wide acceptance from other people, such as heroically standing up against a prevailing attitude of injustice. This causes dissatisfaction among the majority of people, and can lead to pain among everyone involved. One example would be opposing S African apartheid, or the American civil rights movement of the 1960s with Martin Luther King.
6) You say "the 'bad' behaviours" I listed. how do you know they are bad? Isn't that the very question at hand? Which you're, here, begging?
7) You put "bad" in quotes. May I take that to mean that you don't in actuality think that torturing children, creating a fascistic state, and killing all intellectuals and freethinkers are not really bad, but just "bad"? What does this even mean?  And why don't you live like that?

it was made clear to me that being a dick wasn't the way to go, for anybody.

This begs the question that "the way to go" = what people wanted you to do.
In essence, you caved to peer pressure. Why should that be an example for anyone else to follow?
How do you know that what you heard was right? To what did you compare it to make a correct judgment? It sounds like societal approval was, here, the very standard itself.
How do you know that following the path of less resistance in this case was the right move?
Why did you follow society's definition of "being a dick"?  Are we supposed to accept this as some sort of well-thought-out move on your part, which others should emulate because of your deep and profound reflections about it?

Unless I wanted to be a hunted maniac cackling in the deep woods while the FBI dogs searched for me, I'd have to "get along".

Notice that this is merely an argument from unsavory consequences.
You didn't want to be persecuted, so you acceded to others' demands. There is no principle here.

It's simply never occurred to me to wonder why genocide is "wrong"

I know, and that's probably one big reason you're a "possibilian" - you haven't ever thought deeply about these issues and realised your position's utter absurdity.
Now's your chance. I encourage you not to let the opportunity pass you by. Stop feeding yourself, and the rest of us, this pablum and actually deal with my questions, the ones I am asking, not the ones you wish I were asking.

I looked through a few of the archived discussions on your blog, and see that a few other people have expressed similar reactions - they get a few posts in before they realise that what seemed like a Socratic method is more like a five year old emptily repeating "why".

Oh yes, like the amazingly profound and thoughtful tracieh from the Atheist Experience, LOL.
Notice that the passage you quoted from her was nothing more than dismissive drivel. Where did she actually deal with my questions?

I'm starting to know how she feels

Imagine how stimulating our conversation would be if you actually started dealing with my questions the first time around, instead of requiring that I keep digging at you to get you to deal with the real issue!

You seem to think of morality as a top down set of rules held together by the authority of their author (etymology pun?), whereas Damion and I think of it as a system for "getting along" held together by its internal consistency.

Morality is defined as "what one OUGHT TO do", basically. How else to explain that besides an authority, a source of normativity?
You're assuming that "getting along" is an ought. I keep asking you to PROVE IT. Here's another chance.

>That's the naturalistic fallacy. 
I admit I've never heard of that before. So I looked it up. I don't find it compelling.

Oh, do tell. How precisely do you take an IS and turn it into an OUGHT?
As Darwinians like to say (in their naked appeals to authority) - how about you take your thoughts, write them up, and submit them to a philosophical journal? I'm sure the philosophical community would love to see Hume's Guillotine solved! You could be famous overnight!

If it is, in fact, "good" to torture, rape, kill, and exterminate each other, suffer for no reason, etc - so what? 
If that was what god wanted, would you do it?

This "if that was what God wanted, would you do it?" may sound sophisticated and trenchant, but it's actually 100% irrelevant. God's morality and laws exist above any obedience from His creation. Even if nobody ever obeyed His law at any time in any way, His law would be no more or less righteous and just than it is now.
At the risk of overwhelming you with proper theological reasoning, see here if you're really interested in the answer.

The term "good", in that sense, just seems empty and uninteresting to me. It's like asking how we know breathing is "fantabulous" - I don't care. What's "fantabulous"? Why is it "fantabulous" that I should care what "fantabulous" is? It's just a fatuous term that refers to nothing.

Then why did you frame your initial comments to me using those terms?
You don't really believe this. You're just backtracking to it now that your bluff has been called.
here's my problem, and maybe what I should have said in the first place - "the important thing" about his atonement here is still that it is *scapegoat human sacrifice*. Any person that did that would be reprehensible - but somehow it's good when god does it.
So is this what you meant?
here's my problem, and maybe what I should have said in the first place - "the BLAH" about his atonement here is still that it is *scapegoat human sacrifice*. Any person that did that would be BLAH - but somehow it's BLAH when god does it.
I can only assume that this is the only consistent way to take your initial comments to me.

Here's another one, ripe for filling in the blanks with what you really meant:

The overall vision of the world you seemed to paint for me *was*, in fact, simply nihilism - with the concomitant lack of reasons for "good" and "bad": the only addition you had made to nihilism, as far as I could see, was the far-more-horrifying introduction of the possibility of an infinity of suffering if we guess wrong about the nature of our situation, and an infinitely powerful, infinitely free agent (I said "entity" because the way you described said agent didn't sound like any god I've ever heard of) roaming through the universe, plucking living souls out of life and burning them forever as it felt like it.

What's so very funny/sad about this is it only took about 7 comments for you to fulfill precisely what I was saying, and which you had originally decried.
"Lack of reasons for 'good' and 'bad'" - you've just now demonstrated that this is exactly what you believe.
And given that, your complaints about the "infinitely powerful...entity...burning them forever as it felt like it" are meaningless, aren't they? So what? Is this a bad thing? Isn't "bad" the opposite of "good"? And as you said, in your view, the term "good", in that sense, just seems empty and uninteresting to you. It's like asking how we know breathing is "fantabulous" - you don't care. What's "fantabulous"? Why is it "fantabulous" that you should care what "fantabulous" is? It's just a fatuous term that refers to nothing.
So this stuff about God being mean for casting people into Hell... it's fatuous. So what? What's "bad"? Why is it "Bad" that you should (or shouldn't) care what "bad" is?

You're lost in a sea of autonomous cluelessness. Such is the fate of all those who reject the God Who created the universe in which you live.

I don't see why an invalid if invalidates ifs. "If" we want to catch a cold, we "ought" to lick doorknobs. Does that invalidate hygiene?

That's a far too simplistic restatement. It's not "invalidating 'if's". It's showing you that they're useless.
People have all sorts of desires. The whole "if" thing you've set up doesn't differentiate between "if"s - that's the problem. You have no way to know whether my "if"s are better than yours, even if my "if"s are based around (to take approximately the worst thing I can imagine) how I can achieve power over the maximum number of girls so as to rape and kill them whenever the mood strikes) and your "if"s are about feeding and clothing starving children and elderly.

why would I want to do brutal things?

B/c of personal preference, and nothing more.
My question was designed to reveal that you don't have a reason beyond your preferences and peer pressures and "upbringing".
See, that's not how *I* answer moral questions, thank God. I have an ultimate standard to which I can appeal, no matter what zilch cluelessly says.

DISCUSSION 2: Radical solipsism.
you're of course free to disagree, but I invite any third party readers to contemplate their own feelings of ambivalence regarding the relative worth of fortune cookie based decisions vs evidence.

Of course, this is no answer to my challenge. You're acting like an insecure bully who, after your ritual posturing of dominance didn't work, now appeals to his buddies for courage. This isn't a fight, of course, but you're turning around to your audience and asking "Right? Right?" and feeding off their imagined chuckles and snickers.
This doesn't assist you in actually answering the question, however. That's the main problem. How about you just answer it?

It's like saying a glass of water and the ocean are both "water", so how can you decide which one you'd rather drink without referring to supernatural authority?

I don't see how this analogy applies. I'd appreciate clarification.

There comes a point when "our spade is turned". My question to you would simply be: why is your spade-turn moment more valid than mine? You claim that, because god has such-and-such attributes, you know logic works - but how do you know he has those attributes?

Mine is more valid because it is internally consistent, while yours is internally INconsistent.
Mine answers the fundamental questions, and yours merely assumes them.
I have a coherent First Principle - God lives and speaks - and you don't.
I have every reason, given my First Principle, to think that I have access to truth using my cognitive faculties. You don't have any reason to think that.
I know He has those attributes b/c He spoke and revealed them.

And dear god, don't quote the bible at me

Tell you what - I won't quote the Bible as soon as you stop quoting YOUR Bible at ME. Stop aiming the utterances of your cognitive faculties and personal preferences at me until you justify them.
Oh wait, that's impossible.
It's impossible for me to reason apart from God, b/c He is the source and author of reason itself. He is the necessary precondition for all reasoning and rational thought.
You're doing the same thing as you think I'm doing, but you don't realise it.
If you disagree, give me some evidence that your cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true beliefs, given your position's tenets and implications. Do us all a favor and make sure to analyse your answer in advance and ask yourself "Did I just make another set of blind-faith statements and naked assertions, or did I actually answer Rhology's questions?"

How do you know the bible didn't just randomly form out of nothing in the last few seconds, along with your false memories of it?

Here you go.
You have a far bigger problem with that question than I do.

MAX 2: "when confronted with multiple spade-turn moments, we pick the option requiring the least faith".

1) How do you know that is right and true?
2) How do you measure "least" vs "most" faith? What is your standard?
Can't you see how, as you continue to explore your rebellious and autonomous 'reasoning', you keep raising more crippling questions than you're answering?

(My own addendum)
DISCUSSION 3: Defining the Christian position
I invite you to post "only a religion of scapegoat human sacrifice can provide a standard of morality" on your blog header.

1) I'd be happy to do so, if it were true.
Christianity is far, far more than what you said, for one thing.
Also, it's not just "a" religion. It's THE TRUE religion, the one God revealed. Christianity has no value unless it comes from God.
2) The statement's content is not actually true. ANYone can provide "a standard of morality". The challenge I've been making to you is to provide one that is beyond:
   a. Your own personal preferences (ie, show me your Pope of Morality badge)
   b. Fallacious appeals to IS to get OUGHT
   c. Counting noses (ie, appeal to societal approval, as you imagine it) (which is, of course, a mere argumentum ad populum)

The question here is, once you give your your standard, whether your standard is correct and has any value.
By that virtue, Christianity's standard is of infinite value and truth, since it is based in an infinitely knowledgeable and good Creator.

>>God is always justified in putting anyone to death whenever He wants. You and other humans are not so justified. 
The idiom "above the law" means "exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else."
The condition you've described for god is *exactly* "above the law".

You didn't say how He is above the law, so there's nothing to do here.
To explain what I think you're saying: Since God is justified in putting anyone to death at any time, He obeys His law perfectly, since the law is "Don't unjustifiably kill".
Such is not true of humans. We're not God.

In what sense is he the definition of goodness if he does things that aren't "good" (scapegoat human sacrifice)?

On Christianity, the sacrifice of Jesus was the good-est thing that was ever done - the ultimate expression of God's love for His rebellious and evil people.
I'm not sure what this question is meant to express.

(My own addendum)
MINI-DISCUSSION 4 - Odds and ends
If the wars of the twentieth century had killed the same proportion of the population that die in the wars of a typical tribal society, there would have been two billion deaths, not 100 million. "

1) Even if that were true, it still requires much more effort to kill 100 million than to kill 100.
2) You forget that y'all education-idolaters like to claim that, with education, anything is possible and massive advances are just over the horizon. Has the entire world ever been at war before?
3) More than just "war" occurred during the 20th century. Remember the massive genocidal projects, beyond the scope of anything attempted before. Done in the name of "scientific progress"?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Still no idea

Lots of good interaction in the last post's comment box.

Hello gentlemen,

Maximum Awesome said:
I'm prepared to admit that my initial impression of you as "closed minded" was off the mark.

That's appreciated. Thank you.

To put that another way, we probably do share moral intutions and want to live in a reality where genocide, burkas, acid-in-little-girl's-faces, etc, can be objectively ruled out in a way satisfactory to everyone.

That depends on what you mean by "objectively ruled out". I don't know of a way that this could be accomplished in a possibilian worldview, at least an atheistic one.
OTOH I absolutely decry acid in little girls' faces. Burqas as demanded by fascistic Islam, yes. Genocide when it's undertaken by men with evil agendas, yes. There are a few instances in history in which genocide was justified, but the vast majority of genocidal actions throughout history have been UNjustified, so we're close to the same page.

But as to the WHY we're on the same page, I'm there b/c I obey and love Jesus.
You're there b/c Jesus has made you in His image; you know that certain things are actually morally wrong but by your professed worldview deny their foundation. You're borrowing from my worldview while professing not-my-worldview. The sooner you quit your self-deception, the better for you.

I'll try to stop being such a dick.

:-P Believe me, I've met far worse. You're not too bad. This is a friendly discussion and debate, so no hard feelings here, please be assured.

I was listing two acts near the opposing poles of "caused discomfort" to give an idea of a vast scale, as if I had said "all the numbers from zero to infinity."

Ah, OK.
Well, may I ask on what basis you rate the one on the low end and the other on the high end?  How do you know which is which?

I see as the mistake of claiming we can be sure:
1) There's no god(s).
2) Therefore, nihilism is correct.

In fact, I make that very argument. Here's why.
Only the biblical worldview is self-consistent and coherent, and only it thus provides a reason to think that our cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true beliefs. Atheism never even gets off the ground in that regard; the "my cognitive faculties are tuned to reality" is an article of absolute blind faith for an atheist, with no possibility of ever knowing whether it is actually true.
Same for an empiricist - no evidence can be adduced to determine whether evidence is the best way to discover truth.

Same for false religions such as Islam - they suffer from irresolvable internal contradictions and thus give every reason to doubt that the deity in question is a sufficient foundation for knowledge, reason, and morality.

Thus, the only possibility is nihilism, if one is to be consistent.

You say (the trunk) contains X, muslims say it has Y, ancient greeks say it has Z - I say I have no idea what's in there but I'm open to the evidence.

I'm afraid I can't agree with the analogy. Jesus isn't contained in a trunk; He created everything, including you and your brain, and He is the master of it all.
You're not an external observer; you're living in Jesus' universe, as is the Muslim. I see the truth about it and you and the Muslim won't admit the truth about it. It's more like the trunk is a McDurgle brand, and Mr. McDurgle is standing right there showing you his trunk: "You like it? Let me tell you about it," and you're looking the trunk over to try to show that it's not a trunk, but actually a giraffe.

IOW, you're not "open to the evidence" at all.
1) If you were, you'd be a Christian.
2) You SAY you rely on evidence to inform your decisions, but that's not true either. There's no evidence to back up your moral claims, which you make in abundance. That's the naturalistic fallacy.
Further, there's no evidence for the assertion that evidence is a good way to discover truth. You assumed that. Why did you assume it? Answer that and we're getting more to the heart of the issue.

I was using the "conversation stopper" argument strictly in reference to the possible formulation of a universal moral rule.

Would you say that "it is OK to rape and torture little girls for fun" is open for "conversation"?

An honest account of what we know and what we don't is the precursor to finding truth.

Do you know or not-know the truth of that statement?
See what you're doing? You're claiming you're talking on a foundational level, but in reality you already have your mind made up and you're sneaking in your assumptions.  What is your real position on these matters?

would you like it if such an objective standard were to be formulated, without recourse to supernatural claims about any particular god?

Whether I'd "like it" is immaterial, really, as I think you'd agree. No, I don't suppose I'd like it, but it wouldn't be the death knell for my position.
I've asked many, many atheists and naturalistic empiricists to provide me with such an objective standard, and they never have been able to. I welcome your attempts, however, to see how it goes. I am a seeker of truth above all.

I do *not* accept the apparent implication that my resulting system is entirely random and variable

OK, then what prevents it from being random and variable?

I would argue that my, admittedly less-clearly-delineated-than-yours moral views are, nonetheless, mostly in agreement with most of yours and most of humanity's.

Which has no bearing on whether it is entirely random and variable, as I'm sure you'd agree.

This similarity, in itself, makes me wonder what these systems may have in common.

How about that everyone is wrong?
Have you ever considered that?

To put that another way, we disagree about the basis of morality, but agree on most of its specifics.

Which is entirely consistent with and explainable given the biblical position, wherein God creates everyone with conscience and with a heart that yearns after eternity, yet by virtue of the Fall of Man, hasten after evil things even while suppressing within themselves the guilt they feel for doing evil.

It may be fine on your end - but it is, still, scapegoat human sacrifice.

Yes, it is.

I'm using it in the "inevitable consequence" sense, that is, that 2+2=5 and 3+3=7 are both wrong because of the principle of addition.

OK, but I still don't see how what I've said doesn't resolve the issue for my position.
God's nature and character IS ITSELF a principle too, in the way you defined it.

You're using "argument from authority", I'm looking for an actual argument.

What you don't seem to realise is that all moral questions reduce to questions of authority and normativity. Who has the right to tell you what to do?
there's no "argument" to be made, in the sense you seem to mean it. That's the problem Hume realised when he delineated the IS/OUGHT gap.
God as Creator and Ultimate Lawgiver and Basis for Morality provides the necessary precondition for objective morality.
No God? Good luck with that precondition; this jumps unjustifiably over that gap, and results in an utterly arbitrary morality.

"I'm disturbed at the idea of god being above his own laws."

He's not above His own laws.
The law is: Don't unjustifiably put people to death.
God is always justified in putting anyone to death whenever He wants. You and other humans are not so justified.
What's the problem?

You seem to be using an ad hoc justification to clean up after all his possible behaviour after the fact.

Yes, I seem to be, but in point of fact I am not. The Bible is much older than you or I. I'm just following what it says.

I realise you feel I have no standard to express dissatisfaction

It's not that I feel you don't have one. It's that you in reality do not have one. Big difference.

At one point, church fathers had a problem with Galileo - they do no longer.

1) The Galileo issue is vastly misunderstood; I suggest you look into it a bit more deeply.
2) Medieval Roman Catholics are most definitely NOT "church fathers".
3) I disagree with medieval RCs far more often than I agree with them, so I reject any association w/o a good argument to that effect.

At one point, the bible was presented as supporting slavery - mainstream christians now reject this.

Both of these examples are of people misunderstanding the biblical text, not a change in the text itself. Yet there were also those at those times who correctly understood it. Why not cite them?
I know why - b/c it would be unhelpful for your argument.

but would you agree that interpretations of it improve over time?

Yes, but in some cases they get worse too.

Evolving, becoming truer to the bible's intent?

Yes, and sometimes devolving to become less true to it. Men are fallible, transient, sinful, unstable, inconsistent. That's why we must base our foundations on the unchanging God.

Would you say the current interpretation of the bible (yours) is the best there has ever been, and that interpretations will continue to improve in future?

I doubt mine is the best that has ever been, but I require argumentation to correct my view. Let's say that my position, by God's grace, is aligned with the truth in many ways, but I am not infallible. I am blessed in that my position on many things is correct, but yet there are other things I don't understand. One must not be blind to his own fallibility and biases.
Yes, interps will doubtless continue into the future just as misinterps will continue to abound and get worse as well.  Humanity is far from monolithic, you know?

how do you think this improvement happens? Is it distinct from the process of rational criticism and marshalling of evidence shown in any other science?

Exegesis and hermeneutics are sciences (as well as arts), so I would be comfortable saying this, yes.

a question for you about "oughts": why are they more necessary for morality than any other scientific discipline?

It's the definition of morality - that which ought to be done.

"you ought to do X but not Y ... if you want to be healthy."

Yes, I hear this a lot, but it always stalls out when one introduces different "if"s, thus demonstrating that the non-Christian has an unstated, underlying moral standard.
For example:
"You ought to carry a garroting cord and hood and not a pack of tissues, if you want to capture children to torture at home."
"You ought to spend your time learning to make explosives and shoot an assault rifle well, if you want to create a fascistic state."
"You ought to kill all the intellectuals and freethinkers, if you want to be a dictator."

Now, the real morality to which you hold (ie, "What I like is what is moral") will rise up and say "Hey, those are not good 'if's!" thus showing that you don't really believe this if-then thing you're professing here.

It's pretty clear you've never thought about this before. I'm not blaming you all that much, but your blame will be much heavier if you should pass this opportunity by: think about this stuff now that you've been confronted with it.
You have a responsibility to repent before Jesus and beg Him to be the Lord of your life and your Savior. Don't pass that up for the sake of your self-centered worldview.

If reason is enough to provide us with principles to rule out genocide, rape, etc

Studying 20th-century history should be enough to disabuse anyone of the notion that it is.

finding ways of behaving that are mutually agreeable for all parties.

Again, how do you know that what is agreeable for all parties is morally right?

maybe "ought" is just a grammatical conjugation, not a fact of reality?

Tell that to a family whose daughter was just raped and murdered. You can't live that out, so who am I to agree with it if you don't?

One more thing, in response to Damion, which Maximum Awesome actually anticipated:
Theistic morality thus becomes "If you desire to please God, you should follow the divine commands."
Humanistic morallity becomes "If you desire humans to thrive more and sufffer less, you should find out what makes that happen and then do more of it." 
Only the latter comes with a research programme.

1) That's not what the biblical morality is.
2) This is demolished by my alternative "if" statements above.
3) Damion has apparently forgotten about the millions of pages that have been written on theology and ethics from theistic authors throughout far more centuries than modern science has been in existence.
4) He has also apparently forgotten that most scientists up to very modern times have been theistic and looked to God to ground their scientific studies. There is every reason to reject this biased assertion about "research programme"s.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Possibilianism, morality, and no idea

Maximum Awesome, a "possibilian", dropped by on an older post to interact some with me. Here's my latest response to his comments.

Possibilian, eh?
Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story.

So, do you think you can know much of anything about The Big Questions? Like God, death, life, man, knowledge, other minds, the one and the many, etc?

the necessity of holding multiple positions at once if there is no available data to privilege one over the others.

How can one get data without some position on how we know things, what data and evidence are, and how they relate to our minds?
Seems like empiricism masquerading as a pretty naive sophistic idea.

"the important thing" about his atonement here is still that it is *scapegoat human sacrifice*.

I don't accept that, though.
On the Christian position, God chooses how He does stuff and we judge the rightness/wrongness of our actions based on the standard that He has provided.
So, it's fine on my end. If you want to give us a way to know that that was wrong or right, I'd like to know it.

there is no underlying principle that can connect these scraps of memorisable commands into a comprehensible system

1) Would you mind quoting me to that effect?
2) I disagree; the underlying principle is God's unchanging character and nature.

There is no possibility of a Unified Theory of Morality

Not if atheism is true.
If Christianity is true, there is a unified morality.

By its very nature, this subject is not amenable to rational inquiry, nor could it ever be.

Reading and exegeting the biblical text is rational inquiry. Any viewing of a systematic theology will attest to that.
You might mean "rationalISTIC", and of course that would be true, since rationalism, the belief that human reason is autonomous and foundational, is irrational.
We think about things, sure, and we are in fact commanded to. But human reason is far from the final standard of truth.

2) God can do whatever he wants. He is not beholden to human morality.


He can behave in a manner befitting of Satan, Hitler and Ted Bundy combined

This is a specious characterisation.
Those men are murderers, grossly disobeying the law of God. By contrast, God always acts in accord with His law and His character. So no, it's totally different. God will judge (well, He has judged) those men, and I'd hate to be in their shoes.

He can both allow and cause infinite suffering for any reason he pleases.

Yes, but it's not as if those reasons are all that mysterious, or secretive. He's revealed quite a few of them, and quite clearly.
And all of His reasons are justified, by definition.
If you disagree, please make sure to let us know the standard which you're using to judge. Please also make sure to let us know how you're unsure (as a possibilian) about so many things but you're quite sure about morality. What "data" did you use to come to your moral conclusions?
If you haven't come to any moral conclusions, why are you talking like you have, and doing what seems to be judging God by them?

plucking living souls out of life and burning them forever as it felt like it.

If by that you mean "ending the lives of rebel sinners as He has decreed and given them far more patience than they deserved and placing them in the place that they wanted far more than they wanted God, which includes torment, which torment they preferred rather than bowing the knee to the God Who offered them the free gift of eternal life, which they scorned", then yes.

I was trying to get across the emotional flavour of my reaction.

Yes, and that's the principal motivating factor for pretty much any skeptic who argues like you. Y'all pretend to be so very concerned with reasonable inquiry, but it quickly becomes obvious that you're acting out of simmering bitterness.
The only ones who've got you beat in that regard are liberals.

Maybe it's the golden rule: do unto others, etc. The problem with this is, what if I'm a suicidal masochist? I can't just beat people to death because I want to be beaten to death myself.

Why not?
The problem that you haven't seen is that you proposed a rule (the golden rule) and then saw sthg that doesn't agree with your already-present moral standard and so you reject it.  So you're not being honest with anyone here, least of all yourself.
You need to come clean and acknowledge that you yourself personally have set up a moral standard by which you're judging these questions. The standard seems to be "What do I like?"
But that goes back to my common question - where's your badge and scepter? Who anointed you Pope of Morality?

What is your real rule?

This is where being a Christian comes in mighty handy - I can know the answer to most moral questions, and w/o much fuss.  I ask God. What He says goes. Done.

You can say this precept has no basis except feasibility, usefulness, enforceability, and popularity: and I can reply that that set of traits is more likely to unite the world than any one religion such as islam, judaism, christianity, zoroastrianism, etc.

Who says that "uniting the world" is a good thing? Apparently you do, O Great Pope of Morality.
You're sneaking your assumptions in again. You have more work to do.

Morality/ethics deals with how to organise people with respect to each other in such a way that they don't make each other uncomfortable

I don't accept that definition of morality/ethics. They are the study of what one OUGHT TO DO.
Yes, impossible on atheism (or possibilianism), but that's hardly my problem.

(with "uncomfortable" here meaning everything from public urination to genocide)

1) And free speech.
2) This sentence says an awful lot about your moral system, where public urination rates hardly above genocide in terms of moral character. You can't and don't really live this way, and thus you show you don't believe this really. If you don't, who am I to disagree?

I'm not saying these secular moral concepts are perfect - they're evolving.

So there's every reason to think that the moral value of genocide (and public urination) could evolve from unacceptable to acceptable. And apparently it did - Hitler thought it was a  mighty good call.
Maybe I'm farther evolved than you and have an understanding that genocide is just fine as long as it makes ME comfortable.
Who are you to judge me in the wrong?

you said something about morality being people's imperfect understanding, which evolves over time, and ethics being the permanent principles of why some things are right/wrong

I doubt I said anything of the kind, to be honest.

The statement "because god did it" is a conversation stopper:

1) So is "I have no idea and nobody else can know either".
2) "4" is a conversation stopper when it comes to the question "What's 2+2?" So what?

every believer in every kind of god can make it equally

But only believers in the True God can justify it.
Anyone can make a claim, but as we've seen with your own foundation-less claims, it's harder to substantiate the claim than to make it.

(For more on possibilianism, please also see Dusman's critique of "aloofianism".)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More blind spots, chapter 6

Continuing from last time.

AL: Thanks for your response Rhology. I do want to correct a couple things you said and if you don't want to take my word for it, you can check in with any medical organization or provider or just your wife's OBGYN or even a simple google search will give you good information. 1 in 4 pregnancies result in a miscarriage (and resulting abortion/terminated pregnancy). That is 25%. NOT 1%. Any women who has gotten pregnant learns about this possibility upon her first visit to the doctor. Also, before Roe v. Wade, abortions were not performed in a medically safe environment and therefore, many women died or were no longer able to have children as abortions were performed by people who were not qualified to do so. So...just b/c you want to make it illegal for a women to get an abortion, it doesn't mean they won't happen and you are therefore, NOT protecting the lives and health of women at that point. How is that Pro-Life? I also want to clarify something. I am absolutely NOT advocating that men be forced into vasectomies OR casterations. I was merely suggesting that it takes 2 to get a women pregnant and your beliefs do not allow for ANY responsibilty for unwanted pregnancies or abortions by men. It's nice to hear that you will allow a "rape exception" for abortion. In addition, it's nice to hear that you think men should be forced to pay for child support. Good news!! These types of laws are already in affect in every state and guess what?? They do not always work. There are TONS of men who don't pay a dime in child support despite being legally ordered to do so. As you mentioned, "Who is to judge whether the woman really did want the pregnancy or whether she is using the situation to get back at the man? Who will judge the hearts in that case?"

AL: And the answer is...the WOMAN will decide what to do with her body. It is her choice and her decision and she may choose to consult with friends, family, doctors or God or whomever but bottome line is. It's the Woman's choice. Not yours.

AL: The good news for all the women out there is that the right to choose has already been decided and has been upheld by courts across the country for decades. Even now...when people who want to take women's rights and freedom of choice to be taken away and even though there are many radicals in several states who have attempted to pass lawas making it even more difficult for women to access health care and family planning services, ALL of the laws have been struck down in federal court and a women's right to choose has been protected. Maybe you'd have better luck in other countries like Somalia or Saudia Arabia or Libya. They like supressing women over there. In some cases it is part of their religion to do so...your new organization might find wider acceptance in those parts of the world where women are considered nothing more than property and 2nd class citizens.

JT: AL... Well put! So ever notice its always the religious groups. Always... Its called seperation of Church and State for a reason...

Me: If anyone is bored by this thread, I remind you that no one is forcing you to read. :-)


thanks for your thoughts.

Yes, I know there are many miscarriages. However, you didn't ask about that; you had mentioned medically necessary surgeries that result in the death of the unborn baby. That's what the 1% figure meant.

Abortions TODAY are largely not performed in safe, clean medical environments, so I hope you'll consider that.

Thing is, the wire coat hanger has long been the prop of "choice" for those staging pro-abortion rallies or protests. You see them on signs and buttons and hanging around necks, all designed to symbolize what will happen to women if they ever lose the legal right to kill their unborn offspring. There are a couple of serious problems with this tactic and, ultimately, this line of thinking.
First, the "coat hanger defense" has nothing to do with the ethics of abortion. It makes no attempt to justify the act; it simply argues that if women ever lose this right, they'll die en masse from self-induced abortions. Those who make such an argument conveniently ignore the fact that abortion, itself, kills a living human being, not by accident but by design. It is completely backwards to argue that society must "keep it safe" for one human being to kill another human being, one who is completely innocent and defenseless. It is like arguing that we should legalize armed robbery because bank robbers might die in the process of holding up a bank. Laws must protect the potential victim, not the potential assailant.

Also, if you hold to Darwinian evolution by natural selection, it's strange that you would have a moral objection to natural selection taking place. If these womens' systems are not strong enough to withstand these infections and syndromes, then what is the problem removing these women (and their defective genes) from the gene pool? They won't introduce any offspring into the gene pool either (fortunately, since the offspring die in the process), so these weak systems and weak uteri will not perpetuate themselves in future generations. That's a good thing, right? Even if women become sterilised by abortions incompetently performed, is that not an occurrence of natural selection as well, deactivating the uterus of the woman whose genes were not strong enough to resist pointy-ended trauma and/or subsequent infections and whose offspring were not strong enough to survive the application of chemical weaponry and forcible dismemberment? What's the objection here, precisely?

(Remember, I'm not a Darwinian, so don't try to act like this is MY view, please. And if you're not a Darwinian, fair enough.)

As for rape, I'm afraid you misread me. I would NOT be in favor of a rape exception for abortion. As I said, one should not carry out violence on an innocent 3rd party for the crimes of his father.
But you read correctly about the child support thing.
I do realise that the child support system doesn't always work, but that is also not the unborn child's fault. Don't avenge wrongs on those who haven't committed them. It is better to suffer evil, if unfortunately unavoidable, than to do evil.

It's fine, for the sake of this argument, if the woman chooses what to do with HER body. However, THE UNBORN CHILD IS NOT PART OF HER BODY. You must deal with this.

And there is no need to consult with God - He has already spoken on the issue, very very clearly. Giving and taking of life is His prerogative and responsibility. We do not have the right to murder, even the very young. This is merely oppression of the powerless by the powerful.

As for your last paragraph, let me ask you to consider these words on the lips of someone who owned slaves at the turn of the 18th century:

>>The good news for all the whites out there is that the right to choose to own slaves has already been decided and has been upheld by courts across the country for decades. Even now...when people who want to take owners' rights and freedom of choice to own slaves to be taken away and even though there are many radicals in several states who have attempted to pass laws making it even more difficult for landowners to obtain slaves, ALL of the laws have been struck down in federal court and a slaveowner's right to choose has been protected. Maybe you'd have better luck in other countries like England (where slavery had already been abolished). They like oppressing landowners over there. In some cases it is part of their religion to do so...your new organization might find wider acceptance in those parts of the world where whites are considered nothing more than equal to blacks.<<

Anyway, it is NOT true that "all the laws" have been struck down. I'm sorry that you are only familiar with what the mainstream media likes to report, but you could certainly stand to do a bit more research on it.

Also, it is totally disrespectful and unfair to talk about countries dominated by violent, demonic religion such as Libya and Somalia, comparing them to us. We want to make sure that babies have their rights too. Half (or more) of all babies aborted are female! We are looking out for EVERYONE'S rights - babies and women. You really think that denying rights to the weakest in society will reliably lead to making sure everyone else's rights will consistently be respected? Think again.

Anyway, polls consistently show that the majority of Americans polled are pro-life. Abortion may well be abolished in the USA. It would be better to get on the correct side now; you don't have any good arguments and you are demonstrating callous disregard for the lives of the very young. Please reconsider again, please pray more, please read the Bible more, please feel more, please seek more fairness.

Me: JT,
You apparently have no idea of the:
1) origin of
2) reasoning behind
3) meaning of
4) basis of

"the separation of church and state" is. Best not to speak of that of which one is ignorant.

Please prove me wrong and demonstrate that you do know those things and how they relate to this question.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When a Lutheran challenges Sola Fide

I'm finding more and more I should lower my standards with respect to Lutherans, since I keep encountering sad surprises on the way they treat the Gospel at anything more than a superficial level. Poke the sacred baptism cow and all sorts of unpleasantries ooze out.

Eric said:

So we have an a priori assumption that any word, whether from God or from man, that grants any kind of salvific effectiveness to Baptism would bring us inescapably, and of necessity to a salvation by faith plus works. And it is this assumption that gives you license to do these strange things to the text. I will grant that you believe you are drawing this assumption from other parts of God's Word, and I would be willing to walk with you through these other verses one at a time to explore that question and see if they do indeed support your presupposition. Can you tell me something about where this article of faith comes from?
So, let me get this straight. You think it's an a priori assumption that we're saved by grace alone by faith alone. 
The massive "Um, what?!!??!" of that aside, it's hardly an assumption. It's sort of all over the Bible. It's a conclusion.

As for asking about the origin of this article of faith, are you being serious?
Fine, I am willing to debate you on this resolution:
Resolved: The sinner is made right with a holy God by God's grace alone through faith alone.
I'll take the affirmative and you can have the negative.

I'll begin with:
Ephesians 2:8-10 - 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9*******not as a result of works*******, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

So, we see here that salvation is NOT BY WORKS. 
Question: Are we saved by works?  
Answer: Not by works.

Romans 11:4-6 - 4But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” 5In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

God's elective choice of a people for His own possession entails everything those people receive - regeneration, adoption, salvation, justification, glorification, sanctification.
Here God reminds us that it is NO LONGER ON THE BASIS OF WORKS. Otherwise, what? Grace is no longer grace.

I'll look fwd to seeing how you would like to argue that grace is no longer grace. Lutheranism sure is funny.

More blind spots, chapter 5

Continuing from last time's Facebook conversation:


thanks for your thoughts.

Yes, I don't know what to say about rape other than that it is a hateful, horrible act and the criminal should be punished.
NOTE THAT THIS MEANS THAT THE *CRIMINAL* SHOULD BE PUNISHED, NOT THE INNOCENT. That means we don't kill the baby, who had no part in the rape, for the crimes of his father.

Yes, there are many things men can do to remedy the prevalence of rape. No, men have not done even close to what we should do in that regard. Yes, men are quite guilty, and God will not hold us guiltless. In fact, these crimes are so bad that they have brought a horrible death upon God's beloved son, Jesus, such that rapists can be saved by the grace of Jesus and if not, rapists will suffer torment for eternity, separated from God. So it's deadly serious, just like all sin is. Molly and BK, unfortunately, have shown little evidence of having considered the implications of the fact that we all are sinners. Does that mean we skate by in life and hope that God will forgive at the end? I tell you that Jesus has already spoken clearly about that - He will NOT forgive unless the sinner has repented of ALL of his sin and thrown himself 100% on the mercy of God, because of the Cross of Jesus. "I tell you the truth, unless you believe that I Am He, you will die in your sins" - John 8:24.

Your distinction between abortion and medically-necessary procedure is a good one. Let me remind you that this situation represents around 1% or less of all abortions, so this does not constitute a valid defense of the vast majority of abortions.
If the woman is certain of dying as well as the baby, it would be justifiable to surgically do what is necessary to save one life rather than lose both. This is not abortion. Motivation does matter.

The analogy you attempt to make about men and vasectomies is invalid, however. Accidental pregnancies happen all the time; you say men should be sterilised b/c of them. I say this would be subject to all sorts of abuses. Who is to judge whether the woman really did want the pregnancy or whether she is using the situation to get back at the man? Who will judge the hearts in that case?

Also, if I advocate that abortion be illegal, that means nothing more than that babies are humans and murdering humans is illegal. The woman has the choice to reproduce just as the man does - have sex or don't. If the woman is raped, that's quite another matter, and I wouldn't mind, say, a punishment of castration as well as incarceration for a rapist. But that is also ~1% of abortions in the USA.
The woman, if "forced" to bear the child to term (ie, compelled by the law not to murder the child), she still has all the reproductive choice she had before - sex or no sex, and thus child or no child. Go around sterilising men for accidental pregnancies, and you've done something totally different.

What I'd much prefer to see, and what would be more consistently applicable to both the mother and the father, is much more emphasis on the man providing child support. If you father a child, you pay for him and for his needs. If you don't want to do that, don't go around having sex. If you do it, that's the consequence. No excuses, no court loopholes.

Me: ‎--"You wont answer about your family becasue deep down, in a place where you think you are better, you would probably do the same thing."

You know virtually nothing about me, JT.
But in addition to what I've already said and in light of your failure to answer it, let me also say this - if my wife were raped, it is by the grace of Jesus in giving me a new heart that I would not murder the child for the sins of his father.
Before I knew Jesus, the life of a baby had no importance to me. I didn't care about anyone really, except what I could gain from them. But since Jesus has transformed me into a new creature, I love children and refuse to punish them for what they are innocent of, just for the sake of my convenience.
Please answer my questions, JT. If you don't know to which ones I refer, go back and read all my comments here. Every time you see a "?" at the end of a sentence, answer it.

JT: Rhology, I would be afraid to insult AL like you did the others. Nice way to be nice about it and give your opinion.

Me: And no, I most certainly do not believe I am better. I am simply forgiven, and by God's grace I trust Him wholly, rather than trusting my own vain speculations as I see y'all doing. I pray you will repent.

JT: Who says I havent repented?

Me: JT,
Accuse me all you want of "insults". I'm going to stick to the issues and not discuss myself, as if this is somehow all about me.

Me: That's a question only you can answer, in the light of the BIble. But since you think the Bible is full of untruth, I have no idea how you could even know what repentance means, what it is, how one does it, and what difference it makes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More blind spots, chapter 4

Continuing with the aforementioned Facebook conversation:

AL: Welp...I joined the group just to see this discussion so of course I'm going to chime in! Rhology - first, I think it is great that you are condemning rapists...many people just blame the victim so kudo's for identifing a societal problem. There's a great not-for-profit called "men can stop rape" and you should check it out if you are interested b/c there are A LOT of things men can do to hold other men accountable for their sexually inappropriate behaviour. Second...I think you should realize that not ALL terminated pregnancies (an abortion is a terminated pregnancy and the same procedure is performed for another type of an abortion...more commonly known as a miscarriage) so it is a slippery slope when you start telling doctors when they can and can't terminate a pregnancy based on the health and choice made by the woman. And 3rd...I think you are missing the other half of the problem and that is men. Women need sperm so since you are so willing to remove freedom of choice (basic human right) away from a woman...are you equally open to doing the same thing to a man? Are your views consistent for both sexes? Shouldn't men who cause unwanted pregnancies lose their choice to reproduce? What about mandated vasectomies for ALL men who create unwanted pregnancies (including married men who get their wives pregnant by accident)? Purely holding a women accountable for all unwanted pregnancies seems like a short-sided goal of your new organization. Men play a role too. What are YOU and your organization doing (with all of your passion and energy) to hold MEN accountable for abortion?? Are you reaching out to men with support? I read the website and I like a couple of the particular the desire to offer emotional, spiritual and FINANCIAL & MEDICAL support for women facing unwanted pregnancy. Most pro-lifers want to limit women's right to choose while simultaneously removing access to all the levels of support your organization is offering to provide. But seriously...what about the other half? What about men?

MM: Well said AL! Now I am done!!!

EQ: Brava AL!!

Me: AL, thanks for your thoughts. I will answer you fully a little later.

Please let me ask you to consider the way you're speaking to me. You're acting like I am your enemy, what with the vitriolic words you have used toward me and with the way that you have not fairly represented what I said.
I never said you CAN'T be objective. I told you that you are not currently being objective. I wouldn't point it out if I didn't think you were capable of it. It's just that you seem to have turned off your objectivity for now. Something about abortion has really set you off.
I realise it is a hard topic to discuss, but I really, really do think that it is essential because if babies really are babies, then abortion is baby-murder. What worse sin could we as a nation commit than killing millions of defenseless babies?
Do you remember one of the things God mentioned when He destroyed Judah and sent them into captivity? He said that they had been offering up their children to be burned on the altar of Molech. He commands us over and over to watch out for the weak, the helpless, the orphan, the defenseless. I urge you to reconsider instead of knee-jerk insulting those who think that babies should be defended, no matter their age and physical location.

MM: You have your opinion and I have set me off Rhology with how you go after people...which is why I never comment on your posts cause it is a waste of my time...I made the mistake this time but trust me when I say it won't happen again.

Me: OK. I will always read and consider what you have to say, however.

Me: But may I suggest that you have "gone after me", unprovoked?

JT: Rhology... You dont voice your opinion and have a healthy conversation. You come off as high and mighty and talk down to people. You dont consider what any one else has to say. Instead you put them down and try and make them feel inferior. You teach the bible and you may know a lot but you far from follow it. You treat people like crap. Instead of teaching the word you yell the word, you dont get anywhere that way by forcing your thoughts on someone. People ask you a question and you counter with an attack and you dont answer the question. You say the bible is where you get your information from. Ever thought it might be wrong? Seriously think about it. It was inspired by God. Well So says the Man who killed all those people in Oslo. A lot of things are inspired by God, doesnt make them 100%. BK made a lot of good points. Youjust shoved them aside and tried to make him feel dumb. Obvioulsy didnt work.

JT: Ohhh and BK, great job. You made some very good arguments. Rhology, I am not sure when you became so better than everyone and the end all be all on knowing what God wants, but tell him I said hi. I just want you to know that I know you believe in your heart what you are saying is true doesnt make it so. So dont be surprised at the pearly gates you get pulled aside and someone tells you compassion is a good thing. I am sure they will let you in but with a little biit of a setting straight. Then again I could be wrong and we are all screwed.

Me: Compassion = telling ppl the truth even when it makes everyone uncomfortable and earns you nothing but unjustified mockery. It's amazing to see the blindness you're displaying, but I just prefer to discuss the issues, whereas you apparently prefer to discuss the person and how mean they are for trying to find the truth.

JT: I tried to discuss this issues, then it I am blind and ignorant. I would love to have an actualy conversation with you but I want a conversation not a talking to and being called names. You still never answered anyones questions.... WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO FORCE YOUR OPINION ON A WOMAN WITH WHAT SHE SHOULD DO WITH HER BODY? If your daughter or wife were raped and became pregnant, what would you do Rhology???????? Answer it. Dont repsond with a question, answer the question.

AL: Not that you guys have had your dr. phil session, can Rhology answer my inquiry now?

Me: I did answer it, JT. Slow down, please, and actually read what I've been saying. You show no evidence of having listened to me at all, nor of considering how my questions and challenges have devastated your absurd position.

JT: Absurd? Here we go with the insults. Have I once called you or you position anything. You didnt answer you just started talking about rape. SO Once again, your daughter or wife... Go! What would you do?

Me: Yes, you have. And your position is absurd.

Me: If you don't read what I've said before, I have nothing more to say to you on this issue. If I repeat it, you'll just refuse to read it a 2nd time.

JT: LOL is it absurd Rhology? Well you can conceed thats fine. I reread it. You just asked a bunch of other question, Please grace me with your knowledge, ansswer it. You ownt answer it becasue you know I am right. You wont answer about your family becasue deep down, in a place where you think you are better, you would probably do the same thing. Thats OK though Rhology.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

More blind spots, chapter 3

Continuing from earlier... Note how I'm a "bully" now, apparently because I take the time to answer people reasonably and point out flaws in their thinking. Ironic because these interlocutors used to bully me, only for real.

BK: I said they had a 5th grade education because they could read, write and use arithmetic. They had barely a grip on science and higher math. Sure they had scholars but you ask them why does it rain and they answer because God wants it to. You ask them, how do you know your history and they say well it was orally handed down for hundreds of years. For crying out loud Rhology you have played telephone and know that you can’t get the exact message across a rule let alone a generation. So yes I stand by my 5th grade education remark.
Of course the church didn’t have power the first 300 years. You need followers to have power but with the conversion of the Roman Empire it gained power. And as early as the late 8th century it was considered above many monarchs. Do me a favor and look up the term “Papal infallibility” and if that isn’t saying that the pope speaks for God I don’t know what would.
Ok on to the simple fact of we believe what our parents… actually lets expand that to elders believe. How do you know Jesus? Didn’t someone tell you about him? Then they handed you a book and said this was inspired by God. Before you strike me down for blasphemy I am not declaring this true or false in any way. I am simply stating that you believe in God because your elders believed that msy not be why you believe now but that is usually how it starts.
Why do find it easy to say that “What we see here, ironically, is that you, BK, are believing these false things because someone told you that they were true.” I freely admit I could be wrong. Can you say the same. Could you be wrong Rhology? Are you perfect? Are you infallible?
Let me say that I agree with the below 100%
“I'm certain that you realise that just b/c someone claims to interp the BIble a certain way doesn't mean that:
1) they themselves actually thought that's what the Bible said, as opposed to consciously abusing it to give themselves power, or
2) the Bible does actually say what they say it says..”
I brought it up just to show how it was used as a tool.

Translated and retranslated means just that. If you read the bible today it reads as if the people were speaking our own language and own style of writing. The old testament was written in what , Hebrew? The New Testament was written in Greek or Latin? Not sure which language but it wasn’t written in 21st century American style English so yes translated and then retranslated. I am sure your right and they got every word right no possible flaws there.
Now to the comment about me doing my best frankly that is insulting. I know what you were getting at, I know that everyone sins and no one is perfect Rhology but I expect an apology.

Me: Hi BK,

I don't know where this is going. You don't seem to be putting much thought into these comments. You're speaking out of what seems to be little more than prejudice and thirdhand information. Also, you don't seem to have taken into account what I said before. A great example of this is your repetition of my believing in Jesus because "my elders" told me. Why didn't you reply to what I already said? Please do respond to that; I'm not going to repeat myself.

--5th grade ed

You don't know any of these things. You're just making it up.
How do you know they "had barely a grip on science and higher math"? Provide us some evidence. I'm not sure how you'd go about proving a negative.
Also, Luke the physician? The apostle Paul? Solomon? 5th grade?
Also, could you please answer my question about why this education issue matters since the Bible is inspired revelation of God?

--"it rains b/c God wants it to"
So, you think that it rains b/c God doesn't want it to?
Or God has nothing to do with rain?
Why assume God has nothing to do with it? Why do you think this understanding is wrong?
Also, you are confusing "5th grade ed" with complexity of scientific knowledge. If your society isn't advanced enough to figure out the physical processes that cause rain, you don't try to spend a lot of time on teaching that, so do you not spend MORE time on OTHER things?

--"You ask them, how do you know your history and they say well it was orally handed down for hundreds of years. For crying out loud Rhology you have played telephone and know that you can’t get the exact message across a rule let alone a generation"

Reading written history is like playing a game of telephone? HOw do you figure?

--"with the conversion of the Roman Empire it gained power"

1) It wasn't the "conversion" of the entire Empire. It became the state religion, which does not entail converting everyone in the Empire.
2) And this was nearly 360 years after Christ.
3) And you are not taking into account the differences of development and state-church politics that prevailed in the West (ie, Rome) and the East (ie, Constantinople and other 'apostolic sees').
In short, you're greatly oversimplifying the case in order to somehow cast aspersions against the authority of the Word of God. Do you think this is a commendable practice? Is God OK with that? Is He happy about it?

--"And as early as the late 8th century it was considered above many monarchs"

As early as? You do realise that was 700 years after Jesus?
And this has to do with what, exactly, as regards the authority of God's Word?

--" Do me a favor and look up the term “Papal infallibility” and if that isn’t saying that the pope speaks for God I don’t know what would. "

1) And do ME a favor and look for that term or concept within the first 600 years of Christianity.
2) Also please do me the favor of checking into the history of the eastern church (which is why I said "Christendom" in my first comment to you; I was speaking carefully, which you have not yet done) to find whether much of anyone EVER thought of the POpe in the way that you describe.
Let me give you a hand with that - they never did.
So only some in the West ever thought of the POpe like that, and not for centuries. Virtually no one in the East ever did. And no one in the Protestant churches ever did. So that's very far from your original assertion.

--". How do you know Jesus? "

I read the Bible.
How do YOU know about Jesus?

--" Then they handed you a book and said this was inspired by God"

Not really how it went down.
And I doubted it was inspired by God until God acted on me to change my heart. He convinced me of its truth and inspiration, not "someone".

--" Before you strike me down for blasphemy"

I'm sorry, I have no idea what this is even supposed to mean.

--" I am simply stating that you believe in God because your elders believed that msy not be why you believe now but that is usually how it starts."

And I've already told you that millions of others as well as I do not believe b/c of what you said.
Could you please retract your ill-founded point, since it is false, and move on?

--"I freely admit I could be wrong. Can you say the same. Could you be wrong Rhology? Are you perfect? Are you infallible? "

1) So how can we know which of us is right on this question?
2) You seem pretty confident; confident enough to make all these naked assertions that are ignorant of history. I'm glad you let us know that you could be wrong, but wouldn't it have been more honest and open to say that beforehand, before you were caught with questions you apparently can't answer?

I would really like to know - how do you know ANYthing about God?

--"Translated and retranslated means just that."

Then that would be another false statement from you.
The NT in English was translated from the Greek.
The NT in French was translated from the Greek.
The NT in Swahili was translated from the Greek.

The OT in English was translated from the Hebrew and a little Aramaic in the book of Daniel.
The OT in Swahili was translated from the Hebrew and a little Aramaic in the book of Daniel. Etc.

You've made this specious mischaracterisation to make it sound like it was Greek, then translated to Latin, then translated to Old German, then translated to Dutch, then translated to English, or something like that. That's just not the case.
Also, koine Greek is not a mystery. People know what it means.
I am unsure why anyone would consider you who don't know whether the NT was originally written in Greek or Latin an authority on translation issues.
I personally have studied it, however, and know that what you have said is not true.

--"Now to the comment about me doing my best frankly that is insulting"

It wasn't me who said it, though - it is God.
If you think it is insulting, it demonstrates that you trust yourself over and above the Word of God.
Instead of admitting I was right and then demanding an apology (which is bizarre), why not repent of your sin before the Savior and beg Him to save you from your many, many sins? I begged Him to save me from my many, many, many sins and because of His mercy He did save me.
He will save you IF YOU REPENT. Getting offended because someone points out what you know to be true about yourself is not repentance. I urge you to stop acting obstinate against God and ask Him to be merciful to you, because you are a sinful man, like everyone, because everyone needs God's mercy.

MM: BK I think you sounded great! As did JT! Standing up to a bully is always hard and speaking for someone who was raped at 14, you men nor does anyone else that has not experienced that horrific experience have any
 knowledge of the hell you go through and to imply Rhology that you are offended by someone saying that it is wrong to say rape is wrong or whatever it was you were vomiting out is crap. Rape and abortion are two completely different one not a man or women have the right to tell a women what she should to with her body. You have the right to your opinion but let me be the first to say Rhology you are not always right and just cause you stand on a bible doesn't make it so! We are all sinners....I am sure you will take what I just said and make something completely different twisting it to fit whatever rhetoric you are spewing now....

Me: ‎"Bully"? Did I start this argument?
"Spewing"? Do you really think you are looking at this objectively, MM?

I have zero desire to minimise the horror that is rape. That is in fact why I use it as an example! JT has been telling us that it's not OK to make moral judgments upon others. So HE'S the one who, if one takes his argument consistently, is telling us that we cannot look at, for example, the guy who raped you and say "what you did was wrong".

I'm just trying to help him see that his position is impossible to hold.
Yet rape and abortion DO share many, many things in common. The primary commonality they share is they are both an example of someone in power imposing a violent and horrifying act upon someone who is less powerful, for the purposes of their own gratification.

In short, don't use that argument against someone who sees a true evil and desires to call it evil, when that same argument incapacitates your ability to condemn another evil as evil.

MM: Objectively???? So what since I was sexually assaulted I can't be unbiased but if I had a penis I would be good to go!

You will never see eye to eye with people Rhology cause you can't give any ground!

I'm done now...I only chimed in to cheer on my friends! Have fun living in your glass house...

Monday, August 08, 2011

More blind spots, chapter 2

Continuing the aforementioned Facebook convo, with a different interlocutor.

BK: The Bible was written by several different people. It is a collection of stories that was handed down for centuries before it was recorded in a single tome. Most the people involved did not have the equivlent of a 5th grade education. The reading of the word was limited to the few for the longest time as the church began to grow in power. Countless people died by the word of a pope, cardinal or zealot all in the name of their interupitation of the Bible. People believe in the Bible because there parents and their parents parents tell them too. People believe in the Bible because from the moment they were born society says that if you do not believe what you read you will not fit in. You will not be good and you will be judged by the same book that says "judge not less ye be judged." It was translated and retranslated with different interruptations for different messages. In those translations was something changed? was something added by one pope or another? After all the Pope spoke for God if he didn't like the message why not change it after all a thousand years ago only fraction of the population by todays standards could even read.

BK: Is the Bible an authenticate message from God? Maybe, I am not smart enough or foolish enough to try to guess the will of God. I do my best to be a good person and to help my brother and sister humans become better people. To love my neighbor as myself. Not to force my values on them but to let them make up their own mind.

Me: Hi BK,

Thanks for your thoughts.
Yes, we agree that the Bible was written by men. 40-some-odd men, to be exact.
However, the Bible was also written by God. He inspired and directed the men as they wrote it.
You say that most did not have the equiv of a 5th-grade education. I wonder how you know that? Is that not something you heard from someone else, who just asserted it without evidence?
However, even if that were true (it is certainly true of, say, the prophet Amos, who specifically denied having had a formal education), if God inspired it, would that not be more important than whether the mere man had an education?

You said:
--"The reading of the word was limited to the few for the longest time as the church began to grow in power"

I'm afraid this suffers from a bad case of Dan Brown pseudo-history. The church (you're probably thinking of the Vatican) didn't have a whole lot of power for the first 300 years of Christianity. And only after that, it began to grow in power, but gradually, since other forces were in its way. Groups of people could and did get together to hear the Word preached all the time, just like today, and the original NT epistles and Gospels circulated and were copied by regular people who loved God's Word enough to want to preserve it.
The "limited to the few" scenario isn't for hundreds and hundreds of years after Jesus' resurrection.

You said:
--"Countless people died by the word of a pope, cardinal or zealot all in the name of their interupitation of the Bible"

I'm certain that you realise that just b/c someone claims to interp the BIble a certain way doesn't mean that:
1) they themselves actually thought that's what the Bible said, as opposed to consciously abusing it to give themselves power, or
2) the Bible does actually say what they say it says.
I fail to see how this has any bearing on the Bible itself, though, so I'm not sure why you brought it up.

You said:
--"People believe in the Bible because there parents and their parents parents tell them too. "
--"People believe in the Bible because from the moment they were born society says that if you do not believe what you read you will not fit in."

Not me. This is simply not true; millions of people meet Jesus every year in defiance of societal custom and the traditions handed down by their families.
What we see here, ironically, is that you, BK, are believing these false things because someone told you that they were true. there's no evidence you've done any homework of your own to come to your own, researched and argued-for conclusions.

Rather, Jesus said that people come to Him because they are drawn by the Father (John 6:44-45). We are sinful people, and we hate the light lest our deeds should be exposed (John 3), and we are all born children of wrath, destined for destruction (Ephesians 2). Your assertion matches neither the Bible nor the lives of people.

You said:
--" It was translated and retranslated with different interruptations for different messages."

Here is another example of your having accepted something you were told without doing any research into it. Thus you make an assertion that is totally false.
What does it mean to be "translated and retranslated"?

You said:
--"In those translations was something changed? was something added by one pope or another?"

Can you name a Pope who did a translation of the Bible?
AFAIK there was only one (Sixtus, with his crappy Vulgate), and the Roman Church of his day rejected it as worthless only a few years later.
Maybe you can educate me, though.

You said:
--"After all the Pope spoke for God if he didn't like the message why not change it after all a thousand years ago only fraction of the population by todays standards could even read."

Most Christians, as well as most members of Christendom throughout history, have not had any notion that the "Pope spoke for God". More Dan Brown-isms, mixed with a dash of modern Roman Catholic propaganda.

You said:
--" Is the Bible an authenticate message from God? Maybe, I am not smart enough or foolish enough to try to guess the will of God."

This really is the crux of the matter.
I'd like to ask you to consider this. If the Bible is not the Word of God, how do you know anything about God? If you say "it has some value" or "it is partially inspired" or something similar, how do you know which parts are correct and which incorrect? Your intuition? Your assumptions? What standard are you using to judge?
How do you know anything about what God expects from us, if anything?

You said:
--"I do my best to be a good person and to help my brother and sister humans become better people"

Come now, tell the truth. Do you really do your BEST to do those things?
You never slough off? You're never lazy? You're never just a little bit selfish, a little bit greedy? Never told yourself "Eeehhh, I'll get to that later; I've earned this beer/nap/toy/amusement"?
We both know this is not true. Rather, listen to what God says:
Romans 3:10 it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Jesus said: No one is good; only God is good (Luke 18:19).
You've set yourself up to be a pretty good guy, but deep in your heart you know that you've failed and you don't do your best.
In fact, you have broken God's law more times than you can count.
My invitation to you is the same as Jesus' invitation years ago:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

You said:
--"Not to force my values on them "

What does this even mean? How does one force one's values on someone else? Who's doing that?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Nothing but blind spots

Had a Facebook conversation with an old acquaintance.

Me: I am involved in an abolitionist society here in Norman, focusing on the total abolition of human abortion, like the abolitionists of slavery who preceded us, who are our intellectual and spiritual ancestors.​

We are having a yard sale called the Yard Sale for Heroic Women that will be fed into by dozens of people on 4 June. ALL funds will go directly to help women who are struggling because of an unplanned pregnancy and other complications that arise from that kind of thing. I can't give you a tax write-off for anything donated, but if you have anything and happen to be able to get it to us, you can be assured the money will go to a good cause. Keep us in your prayers!

><><><><><><2 months pass><><><><><><

JT: So Rhology, can I tell you how to live your life and what you should and shouldnt do? Just curious. Oh and as a man how do you feel you have the right to tell a woman what to do and how to handle a stuation? Oh I have missed arguing with you.... GO!

Me: You do realise it's been about 2 1/2 months?
Is it OK for you to tell me that rape is morally wrong, JT?
As a white man how do you feel you have the right to say that slavery is wrong?

JT: Oh well I just notcied it today! I have the right to my opinion and belief but do I have the right to FORCE it upon everyone else. Do I have the right to make laws that affect other people personally becasue of what I believe? I am not talking about do not kill and do not spped, I am talking about this isnt an issue that affects th population as a whole. So Rhology, as a man you can not and do not have the right to go to the doctor and take care of your illness, or you do not have the right to cut your hair... Oh wait a s man there is really nothing that compares, as a man we can even imagine what it would be like to be raped then have that child. Everyone has different mental ways of handling things and sometimes it is what has to happen. What gives you the right to decise or even give your opinion?

Me: You don't have the right to tell others not to rape?
It wouldn't be right for you to tell others not to rape?

Aren't laws that punish rapists and protect rape victims "laws that affect other people personally because of what someone believes"?

Abortion has killed 53 million babies since 1973. It's safe to say that it DOES affect the population as a whole.

Before I answer your question about why as a man my opinion has validity, I'd like you to answer mine about slavery, please.

JT: Well as a white man I have the right to say slavery is wrong becasue it is, it affecte men, women, and children. You are talking about something that affects women. There is nothing that compares to it. 53 million less mouths, 53 million less termites. There are too many people as there is... You dont have the right to tell them anything you dont know what it is like and the pain they carry.

Me: As a man I have the right to say abortion is wrong because it affects men, women, and children. You are talking about something that affects black people, as a white man.

And if blacks are enslaved, that means we get to feed them less than we whites feed ourselves. We can even starve them if we want to, because we have the power. That's millions of fewer mouths to feed, millions fewer termites. There are too many people as it is. You don't have the right to tell plantation owners anything; you don't know what it is like and the financial burdens they carry.

JT: LOL Stop changing the subject,, slavery isnt even an issue here. Admit it you are bored and like to push your opinion on people. You cant answer it. What is purple pigs flew out of the sky and landed on a car... This isnt what ifs. Your opinon is yours but doesnt mean because people dont agree with you that they are wrong. Im sure you can find something better to do with your time. Or you can answet the question, wht gives you the right?

Me: I am not changing the subject; I am using an analogy to a different social evil, to show you that your arguments, if true, would prevent us from speaking out against slavery as well.

You think rape is wrong. Your opinion is yours but doesn't mean because people don't agree with you that they are wrong. I'm sure you can find something better to do with your time than tell people that rape is wrong. Or you can answer the question, what gives you the right to tell others that rape is wrong?

JT: LOL Abortion and rape are no the same thing. How does rape affect you? How does abortion affect you? Avoidance is a sad sad tool Rhology.

Me: I don't see an answer here. I am answering you on your own terms. I have shown that your arguments work against condemning rape as well. I know they are not the same in every respect, but they are the same insofar as they are moral statements: "Don't rape." "Don't abort babies."

Also, your assumption is that an issue has to "affect someone" before one can make a moral statement about it. Since rape has not affected me, and neither has slavery, does that mean that I have no justification for talking about them?

Also, are you aware of what the genetic fallacy is?

JT: Rhology, WHat gives you the right? You think You can tell a woman how she should live her life, you might as well be raping her. It is an invasion of her. You are invading her personally. Really... you dont see that. Rape is wrong, you are forcing yourself on someone the same way a rapist does. You are just using your opinions and what you think is moral. So ... And Yes I do...

Me: What gives you the right? You think you can tell a man how he should live his life, you might as well be raping him.
It is an invasion of him, invading him personally.

You said:
--"Rape is wrong, you are forcing yourself on someone the same way a rapist does."

1) And abortion doesn't "force oneself on someone"? Do you know what happens during an abortion?
2) I didn't see any proof that "forcing oneself on someone" is morally wrong. What is your argument?
3) Aren't you judging others based on your own opinion? Thus if someone disagrees, aren't you "raping" them by forcing yourself on someone? You are just using your opinions and what you think is moral.

JT: Whose choice is it to live their life the way they want? You are telling someone how they should handle their situation... You crack me up. You have no right, I have no right to tell you how to live your life, to tell you haw to handle something. Do I? If so lefts begin, see how much you can take.

JT: Yes I know what happens, Mothers choice... Not YOURS! THis coming from a man by the way who felt the murder of a church patron in front of his congregation was a good thing. Someone who thought he shoulndt be there. You dont have the right Rhology. I know you know that.

Me: Whose choice is it to live their life the way they want, raping women when they feel like it? You are telling someone how they should handle their situation by telling them that rape is wrong.

You have no right, I have no right to tell you how to live your life, to tell you how to handle something, like your desire to rape women. Right?

The rapist's choice, not yours!

--"This coming from a man by the way who felt the murder of a church patron in front of his congregation was a good thing."

Since you apparently don't know what the genetic fallacy is, this is a good example of one.

You don't have the right to tell rapists not to rape, JT. I know you know that.

JT: Rhology. Answer the question or stop. You refuse to answer the question. What gives you the right to tell another human being how to live their life? Answer or stop. Seriously.

Me: How have you not noticed that *you are doing the exact same thing of which you accuse me*?

Unlike you, I will answer: God has communicated with humanity. One of the things He said is: Don't murder other, no mater how weak or small.

Now, if I ask you to tell me what gives YOU the right, we know you can't quote God, so who's left? JT? Why should anyone listen to JT? What authority do you have?

JT: How do you know I cant quote God? What authority does Zeus have? Oh wait Yeah I just compared the too. I hope you find happiness Rhology. You have a lot of sadness and anger.

Me: You're sounding pretty judgmental - how do you know I have lots of sadness and anger? :-)

So, OK - quote God. Where has God spoken in support of your position?

JT: First of all God gives us freewill and only he will judge... Yet you seem to be trying to take that away. So... There ya go. Didnt know you had the inside scoop. Oh you read the Bible that was written and changed by man and assume its correct. God Allows Abortion to exist...

Me: Yes, God allows all sorts of things to exist, like rape. By your logic, rape is permissible, no?

Which parts of the Bible were changed by man? How do you know?

JT: How do you not know, who wrote the bible? Lost in translation? King James Version? Ummmm do I need to continue? I guess the church isnt corrupt and organised religion has no underlying goal. I heard someone say the other day... The God I know doesnt need money, thought it was interesting. Just a side note there. God doesnt need money but the pastor needs a Mercedes.

Me: I don't even know what all of this is supposed to mean. Mostly emotion-driven, ignorant talk. I'm happy to deal in arguments, but you'd have to make one first.

JT: The weak mind insults. Ignortant talk. Ok Rhology. I think you know what Ive been saying but you cant answer so you change the subject and now try and insult. Its ok if You can answer Rhology. Not everyone can back up their beleifs.