Friday, September 07, 2012

Answering attacks - Bringers of the Light, Part 2

Continuing with Bringers of the Light from last time:

10. BotL contends:
God cannot be used to justify your arguments unless you either a) prove conclusively without a shadow of a doubt that God exists
OK, well, proving conclusively without a reasonable doubt has been done.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt? Proof is not the same as persuasion, and in fact the Bible tells us not merely to prepare for, but to expect, wide unbelief in the God of the Bible. So if you're looking for an explanation as to why so many people don't believe in the God of the Bible, the Bible's own explanation (ie, humanity is sinful and rebellious, suppressing the truth and their knowledge that God exists, in unrighteousness) certainly accounts for all the facts.

admit that your viewpoint is based purely on your religious convictions and not facts as you so often claim..."I believe abortion is wrong because I believe in God's divine plan" is not even remotely close to "I believe abortion is wrong because the facts say so"
a) This has already been addressed here and here.
b) BotL needs to argue, not assert, that the facts are not indeed on our side.
c) The facts are expressly laid out in Scripture, since BotL asked. There is literally no higher standard of truth, no more reliable witness, no more trustworthy informant, than the omniscient God Who never lies. Anything He says is the most certain of fact. And He has said that He brings good out of evil of all kinds. It doesn't matter whether BotL believes it.
d) The facts of the matter are actually pretty plain. When one male and one female mammal engage in conjugal relations, any life form that results is always the exact same species and is always just that - a life form. It is not a rock, nor a liquid, nor a computer screen. Not all products of conceptions are viable - ie, not all will go on to be born or survive delivery - but when two humans engage in conjugal relations, a human baby is the result of any conception.
The question to be debated is: What are our obligations, given this fact? What ought we do? On this question, empirical data can make no statement. Convictions about morality are necessary to know how to proceed, and those depend on different kinds of supporting argumentation. BotL has not, honestly, shown that he has thought through this issue with sufficient sophistication to realise this fact.
BotL is committing a category error and would need a way to bridge the IS/OUGHT gap before saying this kind of thing.

11. BotL reveals more of his poor grasp of how to argue these kinds of issues in this point. What does "you cannot claim God as a valid argument" mean? Why can't we do so? Who says?
BotL ignorantly brings up the old canard of separation of church and state:
you can't use religion to influence US law. The founding fathers were essentially refugees from a nation ****ed (pardon my french) by religion and they intentionally seperated church and state in order to avoid that, so as soon as you use religious conviction to try and influence American law, you are being unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, BotL understands neither the Founding Fathers' intent, nor the 1st Amendment, nor the earliest history of what Congress has done.
The Founding Fathers were clearer thinkers than BotL and could, as we do, recognise the difference between proper religion and religion abused by men for their own personal agenda and benefit, as the Church of England was certainly doing in the 17th and 18th centuries. Yes, they input a certain separation of church and state into the founding documents but nowhere use the term "separation of church and state" in any of them. Rather, the 1st Amendment limits Congress' abilities to establish a national religion. This says nothing about what individual states could do. Further, since it is part of the free exercise of the Christian religion to engage in politics if one wants to, and to influence the society towards holiness, the 1st Am actually protects the very right that BotL would prefer to excise.
Everyone brings their own presuppositions and beliefs to the table in government and legislation. That is unavoidable. Why are Christians excluded?

Finally, BotL commits the surprisingly common category error of confusing abolitionists with the United States Congress. I can assure you - we are not Congress. We not a part of any government at all. The 1st Amendment lays no restrictions on non-governmental entities like abolition.

12. Responding to our statement: "If you’re against slavery, don’t own a slave. If you’re against rape, don’t rape anyone. If you’re against the Holocaust, don’t shove Jews in ovens. But leave me alone to do what I think is best."
BotL says:
Once again, the use of extremely offensive comparisons for the purposes of dismissing anti-abolitionists as horrible.
BotL doesn't give us a reason to think our comparisons aren't justified, so there is nothing more to say here.

13. Responding to our statement: "What kind of a society are we creating by killing off sick or disabled human beings?"
BotL says:
From a scientific point of view you're creating a stronger, altogether more successful gene pool. 
Margaret Sanger and Adolf Hitler could hardly have said it better. This is eugenics, pure and simple.
Notice also the implicit moral presumption BotL won't admit he has. How does he know what "stronger" and "successful" are? These are not scientific, empirical categories. These are values that come straight out of his philosophical worldview. So where is his argument that his philosophical underpinnings are true, coherent, consistent?
Also, notice how this argument can be applied to post-birth humans as well, just like the Nazis did. If human beings' value is contingent on their potential and performance, why is it that a trip down the birth canal magically means that we can't cull our own population to clear out the weaker and less successful?
Even further than that, if it should come about that a group takes unopposed power in the USA, if that group decided that atheist Facebook opinion-givers like BotL caused weakness and diminished success in the American population, would BotL concede that this group would be justified in 'culling' him? If not, can BotL give a consistent reason without refuting his original contention?

From a moral point of view you're being merciful, as I can't think why someone with serious, crippling genetic deformities wouldn't choose 'normality' (a word I use in the broadest possible sense). 
The people in question are not choosing normality, in the context of abortion.
Someone else is choosing death for them. How is this response even close to relevant?

That's not to say I'd approve of them being killed post-natally or even after the acceptable amount of time for abortion, but I dare you to go up to someone with cerebral palsy and tell them how their life is as wonderful as yours, which is effectively what you are saying.
But why would BotL disapprove? Again, what is so magical about a trip down the birth canal, a disconnection from the umbilical cord, a movement of a few feet from the uterus' interior to the mother's arms?
Note BotL's terribly slanted view - abortion is not asking whether a person with cerebral palsy would like to not have cerebral palsy. It is also not asking them if they think my life is as "wonderful" as mine. It is deciding on their behalf that they are better off dead.
Why is BotL unable to engage the real issue?

14. Responding to our statement: "Examine your motives for forwarding this objection. Are you saying that this child would be too great a burden on you/his family/society? How do you know that? God gives grace to the asking, for the needs of the present. When the alternative is murder, there is really no question here."
BotL says:
When it comes to something like Cerebral Palsy? No I don't think or know that they'd be a burden on anybody, I think that they'd be unhappy in themselves, and unhappy, if they knew abortion existed, that they hadn't been aborted if it was discovered during that period that they had a disability.
a) Where is BotL's survey data backing this up? This actually is something that could be empirically verified, just to bolster BotL's contention that they'd be unhappy.
b) Why stop there? I'd like to suggest that BotL walk up to a person with cerebral palsy and tell them he doesn't think their life is worth living and point a loaded gun at them. Does the person with CP yell "Thank God!" and pull the gun into his/her mouth? Or does the person attempt to avoid the bullet or talk to BotL, pleading for his/her life?
c) Note also his terrifying outlook on life. The only things he can think about babies' being born is that they will be abused, will suffer, etc. What about growing to love their parents, their friends and family, their eventual spouse and children of their own? What about serving others and volunteering? What about producing wealth and making the world a better place? BotL is unwilling to consider these things.
The world is neither entirely good nor entirely bad. It is a flawed place with spots and times of great joy as well as spots and times of great suffering. But let everyone make their own decision about how they respond to these aspects of life, and let them do so in accord with God's will and word. BotL wants to make the decision for someone else. That's one of the major differences between us.
BotL may say: "But the sick person still suffers." I don't mean to sound callous here, but join the club! We all suffer. We don't all suffer to the same extent, to be sure, but where does BotL get the idea that suffering means life shouldn't be lived? How does he know it isn't valuable?

Tell you what though, why don't you just pray for them to be happy, there is about as much evidence that prayer works as there is accompanying ANY of your claims. 
God has no obligation to anyone to make anyone "happy". BotL is asking why God won't make a world completely different from the world that He actually created, totally out of step with the way He has revealed it to be. The answer is that God made the world right the first time and that He is accomplishing all of His purposes and plans as He has already ordained. He always meant to send Jesus to redeem sinners, and Jesus Himself is the best gift anyone could possibly receive.
As for whether prayer works, prayer is a person talking to God. If "works" means the bringing to pass of the purpose for which one does a particular action, there's plenty of reason to think prayer works. I talk to God every day; that's prayer, and it works.

it has been proven that psychopathy (not sociopathy, I've already corrected someone here about that) can have underlying genetic factors. A procedure is being perfected that will allow genetic screenings without harming the fetus, or even getting near it.It is likely that it will become simple to detect psychopaths before it's too late to destroy them. A psychopath by definition IS a burden on everyone who encounters them. They are psychological parasites who demand that they be the centre of attention, that all their demands be met, and that they are kept happy, but unlike the average petulent child, they never grow out of this. It carries on into their adult lives and sometimes motivates them to commit violent crimes, usually multiple times. They are not insane in the sense that they don't know what they are doing, they know EXACTLY what they are doing, they just have no interest in stopping as long as it makes them happy.
More eugenics from BotL.
BotL doesn't have the infallible ability to see the future, obviously, but here we see that BotL wants to play God. And that's something that I and many others have noticed. Atheists want to usurp God's throne. They will never be satisfied with what God does unless God runs every single option by them and does what they say. They want to be their own god.
This is the essence of the temptation of Satan in Eden. Sadly, so many including BotL have fallen right into it without a fight.

Let's say this process were developed and brought into being. There are so many questions that BotL won't be able to answer about it.
How could we know that the test got it right? If a fetus fails the test, he'd be aborted, right? What if a control group were put in place? The results would require decades to come in, and by that time thousands of suspect preborn babies would have been aborted, for no more reason than a particular genetic indicator whose reliability would be totally unconfirmed.
Do people with these traits always become evil burdens on society? Do none of them ever turn? Are we in the business of deciding that people shouldn't have a chance to live their own lives? Are these people guilty until proven innocent?

 I dare you to tell the families of Ted bundy's victims, Jeffrey Dahmer's victims, David Berkowitz's victims, that they shouldn't hate these people because they were part of God's plan, or that if they had been aborted before they could do any harm it would have been wrong.
So, BotL "dares" me to share with grieving victims the good news that Jesus has a plan, He is always working it out, and that all the suffering of His people will be redeemed and will serve to glorify our wonderful Creator? Perhaps BotL would prefer I tell these families that the deaths of their loved ones meant nothing. Their lives lacked any value whatsoever. They were merely protoplasm that another collection of protoplasm rearranged. That their love for the rearranged protoplasm and their mourning are merely the result of chemical reactions within their brains. That their loved ones are gone forever, and that their protoplasm-rearrangers will have the exact same fate - nothingness, to be forgotten in 100 years, which is an infinitesimally small percentage of time the universe has been and will be in existence. That none of this matters anyway because we are all destined to be recycled and end up as dust scattered over the expanse of the post-heat-death universe.
Right, BotL has a much better way to look at these issues.

15. Responding to our statement: "You have no authority to obligate me. God does, though, and He has not said anything like that."
BotL says:
Which is effectively saying that if God were to tell you abortion was mandatory, youy wouldn't question it, which means you aren't anti-abortion for moral reasons, you're anti-abortion because you're told to be. There's a famous quote that goes like this: 'Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you're told, and religion is doing what you're told regardless of what is right.' By using this phrase in defense of your position you have also invalidated any claims of your views being grounded in fact.
How does BotL know what entails moral obligations? What is his standard of measurement? Where is he getting his moral information? It won't be from an atheistic or secular or naturalistic worldview.
Trying to give a decently reasonable answer to a question like this is difficult, as it is an empty hypothetical and lacks much connection to reality. BotL might as well ask me what the universe would be like if God were to tell me that all circles are squares.
What can't be doubted is that God has the right to put any sinner to death at any time or to command anyone to put any sinner to death at any time. God's command justifies the action commanded. It is not merely permissible. It is obligatory and it is actually right and good.
This is not a popular opinion, of course. Sinful humans desire to be in control and desire to exert their own autonomy over any topic that comes to mind. But God is the sovereign Creator; we have no standing on which to call God to account for what He has done. As the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar expressed so long ago after being taught a harsh lesson for his amazing arrogance:

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?" (Daniel 4:35)

When we talk about invalidating claims to being grounded in fact, seeing BotL flounder around in his vain attempts to pass moral judgment on others based on his own moral opinions, his feet planted firmly in mid-air, and seeing BotL make numerous category errors and self-refuting assertions, it is clear who has done what, and who has shed light on this issue.

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