Monday, March 31, 2008

I, I...just...can'!

Since I go thru the trouble of writing this all up, I figure I'll just make it a blogspot rather than bury it in a combox. Responding to the Jolly Nihilist here. He talks a good game, but he canNOT keep his grubby little fingers off the cookie jar.

Hey JN,

You had said:
This type of authoritarianism—I call it moral narcissism—is the point of comparison.

Then where are your cries of "atheofascist" over The Dawkins' calling child abuse immoral? Why restrict this to the Abrahamic religions? There are nearly as many targets for your "-ofascist" label as there are religions out there. Why engage in such special pleading?

Well, on to your post:
However, I am doing no such thing

OK, so relativism is neither better nor worse than authoritarianism.
What's your argument, then, for choosing one over the other? Just whatever you feel like that day, or most days? Whether you have the wherewithal to inflict your ideas upon others or not?

Because it makes no sense for one to be coercive with respect to things about which one is ignorant.

This falls victim to the constant problem that your worldview provides you no way to say OUGHT. It's all just IS.
It may make no sense, but so what? Maybe Joe feels like it. Where's the prescriptive power in your statement? Why SHOULD Joe do that which makes sense? There's a reason we call these questions "moral" questions, as opposed to "arithmetic" or "fluid dynamics", you know.

If these are just opinions on your part, again, where's the prescriptive power? Why SHOULD anyone agree?
Why even make such statements? Why not just think them and be done with it? I'm serious.

it makes no sense for laws to be religiously derived.

1) Go start your own country and see how far you get with that.
2) Oh, the USSR already tried that. Well, maybe you can do better than they did.
3) On what basis would you argue that atheism would be able to justify laws of religious freedom? Humans have no universal rights on atheism. Freedom is not a mandate on atheism.

Recognition of moral ignorance does not forbid formulation of moral opinion.

If only your camp would extend such courtesy to ID and not deny ID-ers tenure, a voice, etc, all the while thinking they were ignorant.
Does that work anywhere else? Recognition of ignorance in particle physics does not forbid formulation of opinion on black holes.
Recognition of chemical ignorance does not forbid formulation of opinion on whether I should mix ammonia and bleach and inhale the results, does it?
That's special pleading.

Your case is badly frayed here; I'll give you some asides here for the sundry peripheral questions.

Been wondering something - Where are these "Christofascists"? Compared to the very large number of Islamofascists, they are a speck if they exist at all. And their modus operandi is so different from jihadists as to warrant the serious question - why the "-ofascist" at the end of the appellation?
You need to point these people out and give a good reason to think they're acting in accord with a doctrine that could reasonably be thought to be of Christ; otherwise you're engaging in poisoning the well. Showing that their numbers even approach that of jihadists would help your case as well. It needs the help.

You said:
I am sure some Christians would beg to differ vis-à-vis sex toys.

Any idea what their argument would be?


Neither do I.
And sorry, I don't know what "felching" means, nor am I inclined to look it up on the Internet. If you care, you can email me.

True, your religion might preach equality in god’s eyes, but, on Earth, one gender clearly seems meant to dominate.

Your "seems" does not an argument make.

One need only remember the commandment addressing covetousness, which lumps thy neighbor’s wife in with that same neighbor’s ox and ass.

You have completely abandoned your original field of discourse on this topic, that of the "wives, submit to your husbands", since I provided you the context.
You're battered so you retreat to the OT, moving the goalposts. What will happen next time you're corrected? Are you going to cite the 1st Charter of the Woodsgrove, Montana Mountain Man Armed Enclave and try to say I'm bound by it? Please.

This is not a “clean break” from the Islamic misogyny you excoriate.

Deal with the hypothetical all you want. The Bible denies such hypotheticals - God doesn't change, can't be any other way. It's like asking me if God can microwave a burrito so hot that He can't eat it.

Presumably, when that verse was written, god knew quite well that some of his followers would misuse it in the context of hysterical hunts for witches

You're the one who's so fond of freewill. What's wrong if God is a fan of it too?
Man, God just can't win - you won't give Him credit either way!
What's He supposed to do? Zap them out of existence as soon as they start to think a wrong thought about the meaning of the Bible?

Besides, this is just one more moral judgment - you're trying to convince me that these hunts and these Scriptures which supposedly underpin them are morally objectionable. This dog only comes out when the meat is stinky enough, it would seem.

Knowing that god is also omnibenevolent

What does that word mean?
What gave you the idea that God is "omnibenevolent"?

it is not even clear from the Bible whether the creator of the universe is aware of Australia.

B/c it's not mentioned in the Bible? Wow - a ZINGER of an argument!

You've done better, JN. But always nice talking to you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Richard Dawkins does not abuse children (that I know of)

See how much nicer I am, to give The Dawkins the benefit of the doubt? One will apparently wait in vain for the favor to be returned.

“Once, in the question time after a lecture in Dublin, I was asked what I thought about the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland. I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place” (p. 317, The God Delusion).

This is indeed one of The Dawkins' most disgusting and ludicrous positions. We teach children not to drink window cleaner. We teach them not to eat rat poison or dirt. We teach them explicitly and implicitly, by example.
An atheist may or may not raise his children to be atheists. He may take them to atheism sunday school or not. Either way, he is at the very minimum exemplifying atheism to his kids. I may not like it. I may think it's a terrible thing. I may even be angry about it. But is it child abuse? Each side can throw that sort of invective back at the other, and it's 100% based on one's prior worldview commitments. Given a society like ours, how does this sort of thing help anyone?

So let's think about this:
If Christianity is true, it's not child abuse to teach a child Christianity.
If Christianity is true, it's not child abuse to teach a child atheism. It's sin, yes. It's regrettable, it's not preferable, etc. It's not child abuse.

If atheism is true, we've seen countless times that morality is based on nothing more than personal preference.
Whether anything, in this case child abuse, is right or wrong, worthy of praise or condemnation, is a moral stance. But atheism can't sustain anything of the kind beyond the statements "I don't like it" and "I like it".
Further, what it means to abuse something or someone is a moral stance. One could argue that abuse of, say, a computer would be to pour coffee onto its motherboard and drop its hard drive off a 100-meter cliff. This would be contrary to its designed purpose, its raison d'être. It is supposed to compute, and it can't if you pour coffee on it and smash it to smithereens.

Do children have comparable purposes? On atheism, no, of course not. They weren't designed, for one thing, so they have no end goal. The Dawkins might argue that their goal is to survive, to pass on their genes, but of course he has no way to know whether cruelty on a massive scale to children would enable them to perform that task better. Indeed, such seems to be an evolutionary stable strategy for quite a few other species of animal.

Do children come with instruction manuals? What, you mean like the Bible? On atheism, no, of course not.

So, what's the right way to treat a child? An atheistic system can't tell us, since that's a moral question. Thus, an atheistic system can't tell us what constitutes abuse either.
This means that --surprise!-- The Dawkins is just pulling moralistic platitudes and me-first self-righteous stupidity straight out of his rear end.

Thus we see that, if atheism is true, whether it is child abuse to teach a child atheism is based on every person's personal preference.
If atheism is true, whether it is child abuse to teach a child Christianity is based on every person's personal preference.

So why does The Dawkins insist on this position? Is he not shoving his beliefs down my throat? Why is he trying to indoctrinate me with this moral tyranny?
For one thing, he is making a lot of money these days being inconsistent with his own worldview. On the one hand, there's no Moral Authority. On the other, he is perfectly able to call out teaching Christianity to children as morally objectionable. Which one is The Real Dawkins? Don't ask me.

In an article on the topic, he seems to point to the teaching of the doctrine of Hell as that which constitutes abuse, mental abuse.
An extreme threat of violence and pain is precisely what the doctrine of hell is.
Of course, and it's amazing that one should have to keep saying this, on atheism, there is no morally good or bad. Hell is morally neutral, since there is no basis for morality. You may dislike Hell. Fine. I dislike broccoli.
The question of Hell is, by the way, well discussed here.

The Dawkins continues:
If you can sue for the long-term mental damage caused by physical child abuse, why should you not sue for the long-term mental damage caused by mental child abuse?
To be fair, The Dawkins goes on to say that he doesn't necessarily think that's the right course of action, but the concept remains. Yet could not someone come along and say the exact same thing about atheism?

"Your Honor, I was a happy, well-adjusted person until my coworker lent me his copy of The God Delusion. Its stunning and well-crafted argumentation, completely free from any pitiful misunderstandings of the limitations of atheism, unjustified assumptions, or vapid arguments against the weakest statements of its target religion (Christianity), destroyed the bedrock on which my life rested. Now I am bitter and angry, at I-know-not-whom. My life has no meaning. Other atheists say I should just create my own meaning, but I'm not that creative, so I'm stuck. I am just going to grow old and die and cease to exist, and my life will mean nothing at all since the universe will just go into total heat death in several tens of billions of years anyway. I scoff at things of beauty in churches and noble acts done by noble people of good faith b/c they are done b/c of a delusion as The Dawkins has taught me. They are meaningless. I am meaningless. But perhaps several million pounds sterling, if Your Honor would be so kind and just to award me for my suffering, would make my life slightly less meaningless."

What is a judge in a society like ours to do?
What would The Dawkins recommend? Don't we as a society remove children from their parents when they are being abused? Give them to other parents? Would The Dawkins recommend that? Would he then be OK with it if a Christian majority did the same to atheist parents?
Presumably, he would argue that, no, since atheism is true such should not be.

That gives me an idea, though! Since atheism is not true, we should sue him and ask him on the stand questions that would force him to state at some point that atheism is true. Then we can imprison him for perjury and freeze all his assets! And his children can be functional orphans. What? His children are grown, you say? OK, we'll throw his kids in prison too and make his grandchildren wander the streets and beg for bread. For good measure, we'll deport them to Greenland.

Why wouldn't we do that? B/c children need their families, such would be bad for society, and it is morally upright to allow even fools a degree of freedom of speech and not deprive even fools' children of their parents. For better or worse, we teach our children millions of data; calling sthg "mental abuse" without being able to justify it is despicable. May The Dawkins sell several dozen fewer books as punishment for his short-sightedness and wicked thinking.

I recommend this article also for your edification on this subject.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interview with Larry Norman

I grew up in the faith listening to Contemporary Christian Music. It has been a help to me, and lately I'm becoming pretty jaded about it, and I don't even have access to much "in" news or anything. It's partly what reading Slice of Laodicea, A Little Leaven, and Pulpit Pimp$ will do to you.

The recently-gone-home Larry Norman did an interview on his music and the industry and his life, like 40 years ago. I commend it to your reading. Coulda been written yesterday.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jesus Is Risen

All praise to the Risen One. Let the peoples look and be amazed.
He Is Risen Indeed!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Breakin' the Law, breakin' the Law

Let's say someone has cited several psgs from Leviticus and suggested I pick and choose which to follow.
Not I, however, but the New Testament itself picks and chooses, and explains why.

Some parts of the Old Testament Law deal with
1) ceremonial/ritual purity,
2) punishments for breaking purity laws,
3) morality,
4) punishments for breaking moral laws,
5) civil laws, and
6) punishments for breaking civil laws.

Remember OT Israel was a theocracy, where God ruled the people directly and appointed human proxies; judges, high priests, and (reluctantly) kings later on.
1 & 2 - OT Israel had a state religion - the worship of the LORD. There are OT Laws that deal with the permissibility of approaching the sacrifices for priests, of cleanliness for priests and laypeople, of entering the temple, etc. One could become unclean by handling unclean food, going near a dead body, contracting a disease, etc. Ceremonial purity was necessary for several reasons:
-To set apart the LORD as absolutely holy in the minds of the worshipers.
-To set a standard of rigor for approaching Him; one must not do so flippantly.
-To set the Israelites apart from the surrounding pagan societies' religious practices.
-To foreshadow the coming of the Messiah.

Such laws are fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah, as the Epistle to the Hebrews goes to great pains to explain. My cleanliness and purity to approach God is based on Christ's perfect righteousness, granted to me by His grace on the basis of faith only, rather than rituals that I must perform. When I come to God now, God sees Christ's righteousness and perfection, not my impurity and uncleanness.

If we want to get technical, God would also see a true believer in OT Israel as clothed in Christ's righteousness. The difference is in the command for the actions of the community, and in the community itself. OT Israel was a community where everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, had the same obligations, whereas the New Testament church has different kinds of obligations b/c it has a different kind of membership. Salvation is the same (faith in Christ as Savior, not by anything we can do) but the context in which I live has been defined differently by God.

3 - Expands on the moral law that was already in place. This is an important point - the Mosaic Law was not the 1st occurrence of the moral law.
The moral code was partly innate and stated in forms here and there before the Mosaic Law. How did Adam and Eve know they weren't supposed to eat from the tree? God told them. How did Cain know he wasn't supposed to murder Abel? Perhaps God told him, perhaps it was an innate knowledge – in either case, he knew. How did Noah know the rest of humanity was "wicked" before the Mosaic Law? How did Abraham know that he should honor his guests w/ food and hospitality? How did Lot know that homosexual assault on his guests was wicked? That law comes from God and has been made known (mysteriously) by God to humanity.
Thus, just as the moral law did not originate with the Mosaic Law, neither does it come to an end when the Mosaic Law is fulfilled in Christ. One could think of moral laws as those which reflect the pre-Mosaic Law-law. They are thus still in force.

4 - That is not to say that the punishments for breaking the moral law remain the same.
A few examples:
Genesis 9:6 - Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.
Here capital punishment for murder is laid down in the earliest days of human existence. The Mosaic Law continues that punishment. Romans 13 refers to "the sword" to punish evildoers that the state is justified in wielding.
On the other hand...

-Homosexual sex
No explicit condemnation exists until the Mosaic Law (though it was obviously known to be wicked before), and the punishment is execution.
But the New Testament gives no provision for the execution of homosexual offenders. Rather Romans 1 describes the penalty for such as spiritual death (and, interestingly, mentions homosexual activity as a penalty itself, a judgment for sin, not just a cause of judgment).

5 & 6 - These laws relate to how the civil society was to work. Property laws, safety, restitution, cities of refuge, etc. Obviously such things do not apply when one does not live in OT Israel.
The books of Romans (specifically Rom 13) and 1 Peter teach the student of the Bible how to live in a non-ancient-Hebrew-theocratic society.

All the examples that people usually cite (to trip up the Christian) relate to punishments prescribed for the Hebrew theocratic society, even though some of the moral violations remain moral violations today (ie, adultery).

Strictly speaking, civil laws ARE moral laws, as I've pointed out before. Any law is a moral statement.
It's wrong to go faster than 25 mph in a school zone.
It's wrong to burn down someone's property.
It's wrong to hold up a bank.
It's perfectly fine to stick a scalpel into a nearly-born baby's brain and then dismember her and 'birth' her that way.
It's perfectly fine for the gov't to force me to give them lots of the money that I earned.
It's wrong to kidnap a woman in order to protect her baby from the scalpel at the abortuary to which she is en route.


But of course, not all moral laws are civil laws, and not all civil laws are moral. It's not objectively wrong to drive 30 mph on a certain road; it is proscribed when a school is constructed on said road and concern for children's safety provokes the passing of a 25 mph speed limit law. Conversely, it is objectively wrong to murder a baby, yet that is perfectly legal in many cases in the US.

This does not mean the punishments remain or should remain the same; it means they remain violations of the moral code. Executing convicted adulterers, say, was a command for the ancient Hebrews only to follow; while adultery itself remains a moral violation, resulting in a physical/temporal/earthbound penalty (or lack thereof) to be prescribed by the society in which it is performed, it results "merely" in spiritual death and further condemnation for the one who does not have saving faith in Jesus Christ.

The civil gov'ts in countries in which Christians live make laws which Christians are obligated to follow, except when they command us to do sthg contrary to God's commandment (ie, the moral law).

So, quick review:
-Moral, civil, and ceremonial laws exist in the Mosaic Law.
-Ceremonial/purity laws are fulfilled in Christ.
-Civil laws were applicable to OT Israel, which society no longer exists.
-Moral law violations remain violations, but their penalties are in many (or even most) cases different now.

I imagine I'll be referring people back to this post quite alot, but only time will tell.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nihilism just before Pascha

Responding again to the Jolly Nihilist:

To the reader, I'll be pointing out the JN's inconsistencies in the way he handles morality from time to time, but I'd encourage you to read his post 1st and see how many times you can pick them out yourself. I probably didn't get them all, but it's a useful exercise. The disconnect between profession and action on the part of so many atheists and postmodernists continues to amaze me.

I recognize our collective moral ignorance, and a relativistic view flows naturally therefrom.

But the relativistic view is a view in itself. You claim ignorance about the topic and then go ahead and take a position anyway. Why not just eschew any and all moral statements about everythg if you really believe that?

inflict their arbitrary moral opinions on those around them.

There's inflicting and there's inflicting. Surely you won't be so blind as to compare sharia law with laws banning the sale of sex toys!
Yet that's what you seem to be doing. That's one of the things that amazes me about these comparisons to Islam. You miss the forest for the trees. You can apparently hardly bear to NOT take a swipe at Christianity and so you miss the presence of the huge threat of people who want to blow you up.

However, if that truly is your stance (and I hope it is), then you must join me in condemning the Alabama law to which I am opposed....If Bible-inspired statutes, such as the one in Alabama, are applied to Christians and non-Christians alike, religious freedom is retarded.

B/c I believe in religious freedom? That doesn't follow. There is also public morality to think of. I won't support the free exercise of a religion that includes committing 4 murders a year as part of its pietistic exercise, for example.
I'm not saying I do support the law, but it's not for that reason.
Laws limit freedom, you know. You're not permitted to murder someone just for the heck of it, and that can retard religious freedom. We must ask "Which freedoms can be justifiably restricted?" rather than "Should religious freedom be restricted?"

unconventional sex is sinful

Rather, sex that is harmful or outside of marriage is that which is sinful. Nothing in the Bible really refers to sex toys.

If I lived in that state, I would be an atheist in name and belief, but would have to be a de facto Christian if I wanted to avoid legal harassment.

Do what you want, but Alabama is not Saudi Arabia. Seriously, stop acting like it is! You're making yourself look foolish and missing the bigger threat.

Is the latter cell “less evil” than the former?

On your worldview, neither is evil at all.

Just ghastly.

On your worldview, it's not ghastly. It's just painful. Pain is, pleasure is, neither is moral nor immoral. I'm going to hold you to your professed worldview even if you won't.

they certainly are antithetical to modern ideas about absolute equality

OK. Absent an argument why anyone should care, I'll just let this go.

you subscribe to a religion in which wives are supposed to submit to their husbands’ headship.

And, I shouldn't be surprised, you neglected (again) to mention anythg about the husbands' obligations and responsibilities. Pretty typical, though I have come to expect a little more than that from you.

you are a Christian who adheres slavishly to scripture.

I'm happy to admit this is the case.

It seems to me that, in your mind, your beliefs need not conform to popular wisdom, modern mores or even common sense.

Since popular wisdom is so often wrong, yes. Common sense is far from infallible as well.
As an example, just look at how long your moral relativism has lasted throughout your own post! You didn't make it 3 paragraphs before contradicting yourself.

Bearing that in mind, what if Jesus had explicitly preached that women should walk ten steps behind men, or that they never should show their faces in public, or that they never should shake hands with men?

I'd submit and conform to it.
Of course, that's not what He preached.
Again you spend time sniping at Christianity when you should be focusing on Islam. No hypotheticals needed there - they DO teach this stuff!

There is no known way to prove a moral statement or moral code; as such, we are left only with opinion.

Very well. Serious question - why then make all these moral statements, as if someone else should hold them? Why not just hold all moral judgments to yourself?

I do maintain, however, that such passages provided “theological cover” for the torturers, butchers and murderers

Absent an argument, I'll simply make the bare assertion to the contrary.

I would be willing to bet a large sum that, at the height of the witch-hunts, the aforequoted passage was recited more than once.

As if misuse of a passage of text means the text is to blame.
Obviously if I murdered 10 people and then appealed to this very blogpost in court, saying that I took your meaning to be that you were God and you commanded me to murder them, the judge would not and should not hold you responsible for that, right?

Is not Levitical law also “out of date,” as it were?

Violations of the moral law are not out of date, though the penalties are not necessarily the same.
I'll try to get that post out.

Should not that particular verse be retired from the contemporary gay rights discussion?

Given that
1) virtually no one in America understands the relationship of Old Testament law to New Testament times, and
2) 1 Corinthians 6 and Romans 1 (among other NT passages) are clearer and easier to use,
I'd agree with that.
Again, not that bashing gays (literally or figuratively) is morally wrong on your worldview, let's remember to clarify. I assume, since you want to be consistent, that you're just asking for educational, informational reasons.

by “witchcraft,” you apparently are referencing adults who indulge in children’s folly.

Not all of that stuff is simple parlor tricks. But I'm not a naturalist, so I attribute at least a small amount of that stuff, including miracles in other religions, to demonic activity.

(a) torture was used not to punish people for their “crimes” but in order to secure extravagant confessions, and (b) the charges oftentimes were jaw dropping in their ludicrousness.

Well, of course I wouldn't support those gross abuses.
And again, not that treating suspected "witches" this way is morally wrong on your worldview, let's remember to clarify. I assume, since you want to be consistent, that you're just asking for educational, informational reasons.

If the Bible had contained different moral prescriptions—ones that your current self finds repugnant—would you have followed them?

It does contain such. "If you wish to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me." That's far from easy and I fail every day. I don't want to do it; I prefer to do what *I* want to do b/c I'm selfish.

Dahmer was a serial murderer, rapist, necrophile and cannibal, I tend to be suspicious of anything he said.

Me too. That's why I said "***IF*** he truly repented" - remember?

Might murdering, raping, necrophiliac, cannibalistic Dahmer have pulled one final con job?

Very well might have, but he can't hide from God's eye.

exemplifies nothing more than pathetic cravenness.

Again, not that pathetic cravenness or the threatening people with hell is morally wrong on your worldview, let's remember to clarify. I assume, since you want to be consistent, that you're just asking for educational, informational reasons.
You just can't seem to live up to your own worldview! Since you fit yours so badly, it's the least I can do to offer you one that would allow you to justify making moral claims like you keep doing, namely Christianity.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Don't imprison those suicide bomber guys

I just can't resist. merkur, who prides himself on his powerful insights into this question, has been weighing in on the question of waterboarding. Here's his latest offering. I love it. Rarely does the argument ad absurdum yield such striking results, and I wasn't even really applying it all that heavily!

I said:
Shoot, being in prison has been known to cause severe mental suffering.

merkur responded:
Which is why the Convention explicitly excludes being in prison and other legal incidences.
I can only assume he means the Geneva Convention but I invite his correction on that. But just look at the splendor of that idea! These bombings and things are not acts of war. They're not even crimes. Or, they might be crimes, but surely we, an enlightened society, won't be so inhumane as to put people in prison for doing bad things to others, will we?

Anyway, getting to the rest of his comment, I'm also curious who are the lawyers? The statement's name? Is it the Geneva Convention or does it derive its authority therefrom?
On what basis does it apply to, say, everyone, everywhere, at all times? Does it apply to the jihadists? Since they do worse to their prisoners such as cutting off body parts just for changing their religion, throwing acid in Christian young women's faces for refusing to marry a Muslim, etc, what does that mean for this question?

Depriving someone of sleep is torture, really? A tour of the gallows? Systematic feeding them pork chops (say, once a week)?

Man, you're strict! Next thing you'll say is that imprisonment is torture.
Oh, oops...

(Edit: See at least the 1st 3 comments, as I apparently mistook merkur's meaning. He's still being inconsistent and baselessly pontificating his morality all over the place, but I was wrong about what he meant on imprisonment.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More from the Jolly Nihilist

Hi JN,

I'll post this same comment here and on the relevant post at my place.
First of all, you're not on the Wall of Shame b/c you actually answer questions! You're not afraid of a good tussle, you don't run away, you respond to charges made against your position. You respond with stuff that's on-topic. You don't moderate dissenting comments into oblivion. You don't confuse attacks on your position with attacks on YOU. Those are what have earned the denizens of the WoS their hallowed place. I appreciate your modus operandi a great deal.

The point I've been trying to make about Irony #1 is, if you will, a meta-point. Let me try to explain better, since I doubt I'm doing an adequate job. In arguing against the possibility of making overarching moral claims (like my position does, you're 100% right), you yourself make the same kinds of claims.
However, I think your latest offering might have clarified what you mean and so my argument would need to be revamped. Now, I'd argue that I am 100% justified in taking what I took from your original post, given the way you worded it, but now everythg changes. The irony is more or less removed to a different spot, one that's slightly less obvious.

Moving on to irony #2 (which I found, unfortunately, to be the less interesting of the 2, haha):

Nobody reading my essay could possibly think I was directly comparing suicide bombing with Alabama’s infantile law.

You yourself said this, though: "Of course, Rhology, you must recognize that my comparison was not of methods but of mindset."
But I agree that religious freedom (which I believe the US should have) should exist and that your statements about it are correct.

I readily admit that, at this moment and for the last few centuries, Muslims behave far worse than Christians do.

Well, I'm looking for more than that! :-D Islam behaved VERY badly its first 2 centuries of existence, as an institution. The medieval RCC was bad; institutional Islam was pretty bad too, enslaved and killed far more people, and took far more territory with the sword. In the name of God and in line with their religion (see the link I posted), as opposed to the Inquisition and Crusades, neither of which are fully justifiable on biblical grounds (though the Crusades are justifiable to a decent extent).
Does that make sense?

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” [1 Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)].

But where do you get misogyny out of that? The New Testament also affirms the ontological equality of men and women in Galatians 3:28-29 and says this in Ephesians 5:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

It's a distinction of role, not of nature.
And you're right - it's SERVANT leadership, much like Christ, the Lord and Creator of the universe, space, time, matter, and energy, washing the disgusting, dirty, and manure-encrusted feet of His disciples and then dying for them, abandoned by them. That's my calling as a Christian husband.

702 were tried and executed in Protestant territories

OK, I didn't realise that about Prot territories. Of course, the Salem trials were Prot, (and executed a whopping <20 witches) but this still compares very favorably with Islam. It's not as simple as this, though. The state and church were not separated or barely separated at that time. Principles like American religious freedom were more or less unheard-of; it's anachronistic to judge them by our modern standards. Finally, I'll just remind everyone that you said above that you can't extend moral judgments beyond yourself anyway.

OK, two more: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”

It's not that I deemphasise certain psgs b/c I feel like it. The key is that this law and so many others in the OT Law were CIVIL laws given for the governance of OT Israel, which was a nation, a theocracy. OT Israel no longer exists. Those civil laws don't apply.
Tell you what, I'll post on that issue fairly soon and you can read and learn a bit.

1)“Neither [witchcraft nor sorcery] exists and neither ever has.” I also would like to grant you the opportunity to declare, for all to read, that 2) the pious people who tortured and murdered “witches” centuries ago, in your judgment, are presently in that place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

1) I disagree with this statement. They do exist. Why else would the OT Law prohibit them?
Shoot, they exist TODAY! Have you never heard of a séance, channeling, Ouija boards, mediums, Tarot card readers, thaumaturgists...?

2) I can make no statement of certainty on the state of most anyone's soul. What I can say is that those who participated in these persecutions were not wholly justified in doing so. It's not as clear-cut as I think we like to make it in modern times, but I think you wouldn't want to be judged by the standards of 24th-century people when they dig up a hard disc drive with your blog contents saved on it, someday. You'd want to be judged in the context of your thoughts, your environment.
Witchcraft was illegal in those areas at that time and was (I'd argue more or less rightly) considered a threat to civil security, so it was treated as a crime. It's not how I'd do it, but it has a fair amount to commend it - the nation would be freer of the evil influence of the occult, the people would be holier in conduct, the gross immorality that usually accompanies witchcraft would be less present, etc.
"Murder" is never justified, so I grant that. Executions after trial are quite another matter.
I don't see why torture would be justified, so I grant that.
On a related note, I believe it is documented on better-than-urban-legend grounds that Jeffrey Dahmer converted to Christianity shortly before his death. If that is true, if he placed his faith and reliance on Jesus Christ to forgive him of his sin and give him eternal life, he is my brother in Christ and will spend eternity in heaven in the presence of Jesus. I am a great sinner, Jesus Christ is a greater Savior. These Inquisitors, if they had saving faith in Christ, will be saved. If they didn't, they are condemned and stand in the exact same place as you do - hellbound. I urge you to turn away from your sin and repent, believe in the Savior. You won't regret it; I can promise you that much.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The irony hardly gets richer

This post will consist of 2 parts, each on irony.

Irony #1 - See if you can pick out the irony in the following statements from the Jolly Nihilist:

-I argue that, because our species is ignorant of moral truth—or, at the least, no moral code has been proved correct—it is incoherent for any individual’s moral opinions to be inflicted upon other individuals.

-As such, in the comment box, I rail against moral authoritarianism, taking both Islamofascists and Christofascists to task for their attempts to inflict their arbitrary views on others.

-(Comparing perception of morality with perception of colors) In the face of factual ignorance, everybody should be entitled to create an opinion vis-à-vis best color.

-...for both Christofascists and Islamofascists, there is an assumption that they have a right to inflict their arbitrary moral opinions on those around them.

Irony #2 (this one might be a little tougher) -

-Rhology took exception to the comparison, and wrote the following:
“Yeah, the biggest difference might be found in the fact that Christians don't strap bombs to their bodies to blow other people and themselves up. But that's probably just a piddling, minor issue.”...Of course, Rhology, you must recognize that my comparison was not of methods but of mindset.

-If you, Rhology, as a Christian, find sex toys to be immoral, you have every right never to buy or use them. However, if other people find them morally acceptable—and, dare I say, pleasurable—they would be allowed their (in your mind) “deviance.”


#1 - The JN would inflict his moral views on the rest of us, just as he says we should not do. In making the very statement that one should not inflict one's moral views on another, he does the same. As James White says, "Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument".

#2 - He challenges my comparison between "Christian" violence and jihadist suicide bombers with an illustration of a law in Alabama that prohibits the sale of sex toys.
I love it - the West, for all its faults, faces an enemy that wants to impose sharia law on all people. It wants women to walk 10 steps behind men, never to show their faces in public, to be prohibited from shaking hands with men, to be worth 1/2 of a man with respect to lawful testimony in court. It wants to charge a heavy tax on/kill those who will not convert to Islam. It wants to behead those who insult Islam or Mohammed. Virtually all of its earliest expansion, both under Mohammed and after him, came through military activity and forced conversions, to the point that all of the Iberian Peninsula, much of France, all of the Balkans, up to Vienna, was taken and held by Muslim forces. The number of men AND WOMEN who strap bombs to themselves every year to blow up civilians and children is almost too numerous to consider. And the JN is concerned about the imposition of a few laws banning the sale of sex toys?

Further, I specified even further a big difference between jihadist violence and Christian violence in response to a commenter's mentioning abortion-related violence.
The JN, in his post, goes on and on about "the church" committing the Inquisition and Witch Trials and such. It's hard to imagine how he could be so uninformed as to think there could be any connection beyond a simple name (ie, they were part of the "Christian church" and I am part of the the Christian church) between my position and that of medieval Roman Catholics. Apparently he missed the multiple posts I've written against the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox positions and the fact that I'm a contributor at Beggars All Reformation Apologetics, which would be hard to confuse with medieval Roman Catholicism.
Anyone can claim to "clutch the Bible" as JN puts it. "Who follows its teachings?" is a far better question for two reasons:
1) You're making a claim that the Bible teaches such.
2) You're talking to a guy who claims to follow the Bible in everythg it teaches.

Given all this, perhaps the JN could enlighten us as to how he comes to these conclusions:

-If torture and murder cannot be laid at the Bible’s figurative feet, that tome certainly can be said to have inspired some of this.

-“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” is just begging for trouble, especially when there are nonconformists, heretics and ugly crones about.

Ie. What is the context of this command? To whom was it given? When? What connection does that have to the New Testament church, of which I am a part?

The JN is always an interesting guy; I'm very interested to see the depths of his understanding here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Prayer for a dying atheist

I recently emailed an atheist blogger with whom I've had some interaction in the past. This was because he had asked me to read Dawkins' The Selfish Gene and agreed in exchange to read one of my choosing (I chose the New Testament). I notified him that I had finished and inquired after an update. He responded that he had not had time partly because his father is near death. I told him I would pray for him and his father, and he then asked me not to, asked me if I would be pleased if a Santeria were to sacrifice an animal in his religious ritual or a Muslim were to pray for me, were I in a similar situation. My response follows:

Hey _____,

I hope you'll be assured that I don't engage in this to rub any salt in a wound. I cannot empathise with the death of a parent (yet), though I have lost an unborn child which has caused me a great deal of grief. And my wife lost her father some time ago.
At any rate, this seems to be an instructive topic. You continue to act inconsistently with your stated worldview, where you have said explicitly and specifically that any moral stance you may have is nothing more than personal preference, yet you're trying to impose that on me.
That's indeed why it's important to flesh this out.

Now, in my case with the Santeria followers or the Muslim, I know that their religion is false and that such idolatry brings further condemnation on them. For THEIR sake I don't want them to do that for me or in my name, b/c that action is concretely, objectively wrong. So it makes sense to request such a thing not be done in my worldview.
It doesn't make sense in yours. In refusing to honor your request, I'm just acting consistently with your own worldview in my refusal to be constrained by what someone else thinks is right. What your father thinks should be respected makes no difference - it's neither right nor wrong to respect another person's views on any issue. I prefer to pray, so it's right for me. That's what you yourself have said. I point out that you apparently can't live out what you said you believe. That would give me pause. I hope and pray it does you as well.

Now, I'd urge you to consider just for a second why these 'vultures' are appealing to your father. I don't know what they're saying, but I know what I'd say. Sthg like this:
"Sir, the day when you will stand before Jesus to account for what you've done is close at hand, very probably; I think we're both being realistic to say that death is near. Please take this opportunity, now, to repent of your sins and ask Jesus to forgive you. He will forgive you now, but He will not when you have passed on. He is gracious, but seize the opportunity. Today is the day of salvation. Confess that you are a sinner, please. Be saved."

My concern is for HIS soul; I want to praise and worship the Lord Jesus forever and ever someday and I want him (and you) by my side while doing it. I don't want either of you to bear your own sin before the judgment of a holy God.
Given that my (hypothetical) concerns are wholly altruistic and that I'm spending my time communicating this message that I could be using to earn money or give my wife a foot massage, I don't know if calling me a 'vulture' is even remotely appropriate. Of course, I don't know all the details of what's happening with your father, but perhaps I guessed correctly.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Liberalism and waterboarding

I grew up United Methodist but never kept up with the varying and competing influences within the denomination. By the time I actually met Jesus, I was moving away from the UMs in conviction, especially given the liberal tendencies within the denom's government and within the local church in which I grew up. But anyway, I noticed a very interesting post on a UM blog. There are a few interesting things to go after in this post, actually, and I'll have to divide them up.

My suggestion is that we replace all of our "open minds, open hearts, open doors" slogans and commercials, which are completely devoid of any theological content whatsoever, and instead start using, "United Methodists Do Not Torture."
As if "We don't torture" contains any theological content, but I agree 100% with the 1st part of the statement that the current slogan does not.

Here, we have been congratulating ourselves on how open-minded and tolerant we are for the past four decades. We don't care what you believe or what you do, so long as you are sincere. Well, at last, that line of thinking has come to its limits, having been exposed as a lie. There really is a conviction that we share: we don't torture. Yes, I know, that's setting the bar pretty low, but at least we have discovered there is a bar.
One might be encouraged by the first two sentences, as it would appear Jonathan is coming to the realisation that liberal pluralism is a bankrupt worldview. Unfortunately, the soaring optimism comes crashing down when he then deviates into politics and morality rather than theological (ie, dealing with God) content for his "bar". As I said in comment 3 on the thread:

Well, what I'm saying is, why make your denomination's entire slogan a negative stance against ONE issue?
Why not "United Methodists do not murder babies," or "United Methodists do not put criminals to death" or something like that? Why this one issue?

If you abandon what should be your central reason for existence - serving Jesus Christ - then God help you.
I know that both sides of the lib/conservative debate mix their politics with religion, but I don't see any conservatives calling for making their church's Official Slogans into political statements.

I then moved on to the topic of waterboarding, because he brought it up, linking to this article.
I parse here the fallacies point by point:

1) Moral equivocation on the subjects of the interrogation techniques. If it's bad for the enemies to do it, it's bad for us.
2) Poisoning the well by discussing extraneous and irrelevant topics:

-He told his interrogators everything they wanted to know including the truth. They rarely stopped.
-Whether the victim is allowed to comply or not is usually left up to the interrogator. Many waterboard team members, even in training, enjoy the sadistic power of making the victim suffer and often ask questions as an after thought.
-Taking a pregnant woman and electrocuting the fetus inside her? Executing a captive’s children in front of him?

No one is arguing that it's OK to inflict wanton suffering on someone. The question is whether it's permissible or even preferable to do so to obtain actionable intel to save American lives, preventing an attack.

3) Equivocation on the definition of torture.
I don't see an argument for why "painful psychological experience" - which should be stated "experience that lasts about 30 seconds, leaves no physical aftereffect and can cause painful psychological experience later in life, including fear of rain and taking a shower" - that should be defined as "torture".

4) Equivocation on who is who. As if jihadists will stop their torturous activities if we stop waterboarding.
-If you support the use of waterboarding on enemy captives, you support the use of that torture on any future American captives.

He even admits as much later in the article:
-We must now double our efforts to prepare for its inevitable and uncontrolled use of by our future enemies.

5) -Torture. Does. Not. Work.

Except when it does.
Obviously the interrogator must frame his questions carefully. No one is arguing with that.

-The torturer will trigger within the subject a survival instinct, in this case the ability to breathe, which makes the victim instantly pliable and ready to comply.

Good - I want jihadists to tell American captors actionable intel so that fewer American troops and civilians will die, don't you?

6) Further equivocation on the label of "torture" to waterboarding:
-What next if the waterboarding on a critical the captive doesn’t work and you have a timetable to stop the “ticking bomb” scenario? Electric shock to the genitals?

I wouldn't necessarily support that - it's a whole different question b/c it's serious PHYSICAL pain, of a disgusting nature, and can have physical consequences in the future.
To quote an article linked-to below, "to say that 30 seconds of waterboarding is torture trivializes the concept of torture. If that’s torture, then torture is grossly overrated."

7) Unwarranted assertions that, again, poison the well:
-It is not a far leap from torture to murder, especially if the subject is defiant.

Defiant? I thought torture doesn't work. Which is it - does it work or not?

8) Self-loathing and justifying jihadists. Why does he think America is the only bad guy here?
-Brutal interrogation, flash murder and extreme humiliation of American citizens, agents and members of the armed forces may now be guaranteed because we have mindlessly, but happily, broken the seal on the Pandora’s box of indignity, cruelty and hatred in the name of protecting America.

Amazingly, the very next sentence contradicts his point.
-To defeat Bin Laden many in this administration have openly embraced the methods of by Hitler, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Galtieri and Saddam Hussein.

I thought *WE* broke the box open, but now we hear that Hitler, Pol Pot, and Saddam did so.
You think they stopped at waterboarding (as I would argue we probably should)? And didn't they come chronologically 1st? And somehow this is America's fault?

You linked to an article, here are some more to consider from a blog that was recently discussing this very issue:
On waterboarding
How not argue against waterboarding
On Christians and waterboarding


For your edification, as always.

Sniping from the mud tower

Looks like I've provoked a clarification in AC Chase's comment policy. I think this is funny.

For one thing, you know, the term "troll" is too easily thrown around these days, it seems. That makes twice in one week that my on-topic comments, posted under "Rhology" with a link back to my own blog (that is up-to-date), have provoked the appellation "troll". People need to learn a bit what "troll" means. While they're at it, I'd like 'em to look into the definition of "objective" as well...

I hate also to leave comboxes unanswered, but I've had to recently. Oh well. I figure the reader profits most from the interaction, and I'm here to help the reader.
If a comment goes unanswered, it's up to the reader to figure out whether that unanswered comment really did respond substantively to the points it allegedly answers.
It's the philosophy of giving the interlocutor enough rope to hang himself. Apparently Alex does not subscribe to that idea.
But let's see if I didn't comply with his rules:

1. Stick to the topic at hand and be clear and concise.


2. If you expect respect, show some.

Check. And look how he responded to ME...

3. Anonymous commenting is not allowed, so don't do it.

I commented with my regular blogger ID.

4. If you are looking for a fight, argument and/or pointless, endless debate, don't waste your time. My readers & I won't be wasting our own time by sparring with you ad nauseum.

Look how I worded my original comment. It was intended as a clarification. It was only after he pretended to correct me that I came back. I'd say the argument is HIS doing.
And of course, if he doesn't want debates, why does he post such argumentative material? He's content to snipe behind adamantium walls rather than get his hands dirty. He's welcome to that approach!

5. Know when to comment and when it is more appropriate to e-mail me.

Why would I email him when I intend my clarifications and responses more for his lurkers than for him?

6. No spamming.


Basically, he's just excluded me b/c I made him uncomfortable. Like I said in the previous post, I thought he was all for free exchange of ideas and communications and such. I guess atheists get freer expression than others. This, my friends, is partly what we're up against in political discourse. Intolerance is not only redefined by the other side, it's redefined inconsistently.

He said:
A Comment Policy has been on my To-Do list for a while, but became an immediate priority today when an obnoxious, antagonist Christian
Let the reader judge who wins the gold star for being more obnoxious or antagonist.

I deleted the entire conversation, not wanting to give him, his blog or his childish tactics a venue (which is why this Christian, who I am sure is proud of himself, is not being identified now).
Haha, he didn't want to give me a venue? My heart is broken! As if I need pub from his blog. It would seem that I'm doing him a favor by linking to him and giving him all this attention. He could sure use it - check out his profile views as of 4March08:

As opposed to my own. There are tons of blogs out there with tons more traffic than mine, and that's totally fine with me, but for someone like him to throw that kind of rock at someone whose profile views outnumber his more than 10 to 1 is kind of funny to me.

Anyway, this was a fun sideshow, but there are greener pastures out there.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Alex the cowardly atheist

I thought I had made a new friend over at Alex the Atheist's place. I decided to engage him in a discussion on the inanities of his post on the power of prayer.

After I commented, he commented, I responded, he responded and summarily cut off the debate! Then he went a step further and deleted all traces of our exchange from his combox. That's hilarious. I laughed out loud. I repost here the comments, since he for whatever reason has deleted the fruit of 20 minutes out of my life.

My first:

Hey AC Chase,

Just a few clarifications from a Christian. I hope you won't mind.

According to Matthew 18:19-20 (of any Bible), you only need to agree with one or two other people on something

Most Christians get this dead wrong, and that's a shame, and it's led you to the faulty interp. Not your fault. :-)
The context of that verse deals with the topic of church discipline; putting out someone from the church body that is not repenting of their sin. It doesn't even mention prayer.

You know that whole "Ask and ye shall receive" jazz.

Now that's better, true. Probably John 15:7 or something would work better for your example.
Just remember, it's not viable exegesis to take one statement only and make that your end-all. Jesus didn't just say those things; He also discussed praying in His will, for reasons of glorifying Him and having a relationship with Him and loving others and helping others. Not greed.

The 700 Club

Just so you know, not every Christian thinks the 700 Club is worth anythg. I certainly don't. Their theology is shallow, P-Rob makes false prophecies, etc. I'd ask you to consider not making them a yardstick for Christianity.

This is most likely because they are not true, and we cannot assume that the responses are even meaningful.

Yes, it's always easier to disregard statistics. Do you just summarily dismiss EVERYTHING that doesn't fit your worldview like you did here?

I am sure the research for these numbers does not meet the standards of evidence a rationalist would accept

Why be so sure? Maybe this is a post that could've stood a little more thought, meat, or dealing with counterexamples.

Going back to praying for those who are sick, there have amazingly been studies on the power of prayer in this respect.

Which I agree are a complete waste of time. As if God were a circus monkey, waiting to perform.

the very nature of religion and religious beliefs means that they are based on outrageous leaps of blind faith and this means they don't have to be proven.

Have you ever done a post on what it means to "prove" sthg like this? Or are you more of the persuasion of Sam Harris who said in The End of Faith that no evidence would be sufficient to authenticate many elements of the Pope's (that was his example) faith?

There is no limit to the selfishness, pettiness or absurdness of what someone will pray for.

How does abuse of a tool constitute evidence that the tool doesn't work?

makes a prayer appear to come true.

How could you possibly prove that it was chance and not the hand of God causing that prayed-for thing to come to pass?

I knew a Christian who credited God for his enemy buying a 'lemon' car

Incidentally, that kind of prayer is not a Christian prayer. We are commanded to love our enemies and wish them good, not evil.

And how about when it doesn't work ? ...Then what exactly is the point of praying? The short answer is there isn't one.

A prayer's "success" is not based on whether it "works" or not.
The whole point of prayer is to build a relationship with God, to communicate with Him. It's not a helpline for getting stuff.

Those are my thoughts. Hope they've helped a bit.


His response (in yellow, which is the most appropriate color for his actions):

sean: Thank you. Likewise for your additions to my original points. You would think an all-powerful deity would be able to heal amputees, even once.

paul: Nice. That quote would also fit quite nicely in my previous post about how religion trivializes morality.

Rhology: Your "clarifications" are meaningless, as you are just another apologist Christian who wants to use the context argument to make the Bible say what you want it to say (and, as a result, mold your religion into what you need it to be). The cited verses on Matthew do not and cannot refer to prayer, eh? You seem to be the only Christian who interprets Matthew 18:19-20 "correctly" then.

Concerning The 700 Club, note how I said "all kidding aside" after discussing them and their amazing statistics, and proceeding with my main argument. Even so, concerning their statistics, I provided my reasoning (which you conveniently omitted in your response - ironic, since you hypocritically condemned me for dismissing things that didn't fit in my own world view the sentence earlier) as to why their statistics were inherently meaningless (something to do with subjectiveness, which you, as a Christian are certainly familiar with). You aren't very good at debating, as you are taking quotes out of context and reducing any debate to slogans (partial quotes) rather than ideas you can elaborate on (or the ones clearly communicated by me). And yes, I know The 700 Club is not a complete representation of Christianity.

On another matter, I agree with you that God is not a circus monkey called on to perform at will, because he does not exist (prove me wrong). Very difficult to attach character traits to something that doesn't exist, so you win that one (sort of). Also, I have done a post on the futility of trying to prove faith (letting you know in response to your comment on whether it beliefs based on it can be proven or not). Perhaps you missed it because the title was confusing. It is called Faith & Trying to Prove Religion. Maybe you should run along and make some equally ridiculous comments on that post as well.

On another note, what you call "abuse" of prayer is how the majority of Christians like to believe it works (there's that faith thing again). Again, it is nice that you have the "true" interpretation sitting in your ivory tower, but you cannot change the facts. Also, I was not attacking prayer as a tool, because I do not believe it is useful in any way (or a tool). Please do not jump to conclusions or put words in my mouth to meet your own religious ends.

You have actually proven this post's point (Thank You). You turn your religion and your prayers into whatever you want them to be and then you turn their meaning in terms of a relationship with God (or some other supernatural force) into what you need it to be, regardless of the "success" or "failure" of them. Again, religion and religious faith (including prayer) are nothing but wishful thinking and speculation based on personal opinion, not human reason. The whole point of both means you do not need to prove them, otherwise there is no need for faith because you only need faith as a result of such things being unreasonable and hard to believe (see: there is no evidence for them... still following along?).

A wonderful example of this is how you confidently classify a "Christian prayer," as if the debate is over after you have spoken (I had a good laugh at that attempt to enforce some type of religious orthodoxy). You seem to ignore the fact that the same religious faith that has brought you to that conclusion is the same foundation your opponents have for their own religious interpretations (note: they also think they have God on their side). And this is what makes religious faith the most absurd - the ability to believe anything based on what you call faith, no matter how absurd it is. The fact that you have missed this point is not surprising, though (your religious tunnel vision and all).

In the end, I thank you for serving as a willing example to prove my points. So in that way, your thoughts have actually helped in that they serve as a reinforcing tool for my own argument. Have fun talking to yourself (praying) in your decidedly one-sided relationship with your magical friend in the sky.

Thanks for commenting.

My 2nd response:

Hi AC,

You're welcome for commenting! Your tone is, however, pretty harsh. Too bad - I was hoping for less froth from the mouth.

If you think that my appeals to context are invalid, why don't you present an argument to that effect? I know, it's easier to make naked assertions, but you could at least pretend.
I'm not the only Christian who says that about Matt 18 - my whole church does too.
Now, I may be in a minority, but so what? Make the argument.
The majority of Americans don't believe that Darwinian evolution is factual, but you still think they're wrong, right? B/c you think the arguments are on your side, right?

As far as the "arguments" on the 700 Club, here is my best guess at what you're referring to:
these supposed facts are amazing and seem just too good to be true. This is most likely because they are not true, and we cannot assume that the responses are even meaningful. Quantify, or describe universally, "very good" or "happy." These are inherently meaningless terms that are based on opinions that can change on a whim.

I am sure the research for these numbers does not meet the standards of evidence a rationalist would accept - like a scientist or statistician or someone who does not believe in an invisible man who is concerned about who we use our private parts with.

And of course, I took issue with the latter statement, to which I don't see an answer.
The former is nothing more than a statement that you find these incredible. Whoopie - I don't. What's your argument, sir?

Let's say that, IF God exists, He is not a circus monkey. Right? Why even write this post, then? Just say "Prayer doesn't work b/c God doesn't exist. Thanks for reading"?
You seem to be trying to point out inconsistencies in the 700 Club viewpoint, and then you appeal to atheism to plug your holes.

(prove me wrong)


run along

You're really encouraging me to do so! Maybe I will, if I feel like getting treated like a sick puppy dog.
I'd argue of course that you as an atheist have faith positions as well, so whatever.

I was arguing that you're attacking a poor representation of Christian doctrine. If many Christians hold ignorant positions, that's not my fault, and it's in my interest to differentiate between ignorance and actual teaching. Instead of mocking it, the reasonable thing would be either to accept it or to offer an argument why it's wrong.


His 2nd response:

If you can't debate in a passionate, cutting way then you have come to the wrong place. My counter-argument to your context argument has been presented. A religious person only needs the faith that their interpretation is correct and it is, the end. Fine, you and your specific sect do not read into Matthew 18:19-20 in the way it was presented here and you view prayer as an entirely different, yet no less meaningless, concept – a one-sided relationship with God. Great. Just do not pretend that how prayer has been presented here is the way that only The 700 Club sees it, because that is not only dishonest but you have made no argument proving it, likely because you can’t. To do so you would have to prove to me that your specific view of Christianity is correct while all others are not.

Perhaps Christians who disagree with your interpretation of Matthew 18:19-20 are confused by what appears to be a prayer in 18:18 and applied the concept of prayer to 19-20, as well. You keep on going back to your view of religious orthodoxy, but seem to overlook that truth with authority in matters of religion is just the opinion that survives. Ask the Gnostics. And who is to say what Christians should believe when they all presume to speak on behalf of God? This is why religion trivializes truth.

So you expecting me to take your interpretation of Christianity, which you think is based on a superior form of orthodoxy (see: your sect's version/opinion), over another Christian's faithful interpretation of your religion is absurd. You calling other Christians "ignorant" is also a telling sign of exactly where you are coming from. Again, must be nice in that ivory tower with the master of the universe on your side. You are a hypocrite who dismisses other theists for their interpretation of religion and the supernatural (both absurdities in their own right) when your methods are exactly the same - using faith as a source of religious knowledge (you also take the supposed truth of the Bible on faith). Also, if you think atheists work on faith, make an argument, sir. And if you want a good post on the experts of plugging up the holes, which you accuse atheism of trying to do (which makes no sense whatsoever as it is simply a lack of belief), I suggest you read my post God of the Gaps, Ignorance.

You accuse me of making naked assertions when you are guilty of making the mother of all naked assertions - that God exists. Your evidence "proving me wrong" was a lengthy non-argument invoking false issues like Pretended Neutrality and Special Revelation, without proving the relevancy of either to your argument. You even have the nerve to attack the very nature of logic and reason as sources of attaining knowledge, which is not surprising. Your entire argument depends on what I have been talking about the whole time – FAITH.

Finally, you define a poor representation of Christianity as any that is not your own. My argument as to the weakness of your own position has been presented. It is not my fault that you continue to ignore it.

NOTE: Rather than continue this debate to nowhere I am taking the final word in it. This blog was not created to debate endlessly with theists who will never be convinced of their own foolishness, but is geared towards those who respect human reason and value human life outside of ridiculous supersition and blind faith. I am done humoring you.

Then, take a look at the comment that is in place now!

sean: Thank you. Likewise for your additions to my original points. You would think an all-powerful deity would be able to heal amputees, even once.

paul: Nice. That quote would also fit quite nicely in my previous post about how religion trivializes morality.

I love it - he deleted the whole thing and then posted his response to his fawning yes-men. Cool, man. You know, you may not like this blog, my ideas, or me, but you have to respect the courage to leave it all out on the table rather than deleting thoughts from others. AC loves to rip the current administration for its curtailing of freedom. He champions free thought and free expression elsewhere. Just not on his blog.
I can see why he deleted it. His arguments are a sham and fail to follow my points in many cases. He's not a deep thinker; just take a look at his first post that he touts and from which he pulls content in his first comment for evidence of that.

For his actions, he earns a place on the Wall of Shame on the sidebar. A pitiful performance from a fairly well-known atheist blog.