Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pat Tillman and Christian Bigotry

Austin Cline of Atheism.About.Com has an excellent analysis of the recent issues involving Pat Tillman and the Christian/Government bigotry and insensitivity that his memory, and his family, have had to endure.

Highly recommended reading.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was so disgusted by the comments made about Pat Tillman and his family. Truth, peace and justice are all the more valued by atheists and non-religious but spiritual people for the very fact that there is no divine, magically force. We can only rely on ourselves here and now on earth. Keep up your great blog, friend.

ecualegacy said...

I'm a Christian and an officer in the U.S. Army so I could not stand by when I saw this blog post.

I say this respectfully in regards to a fellow soldier and superior officer, LTC Ralph Kauzlarich. He should have kept his opinion private regarding the Tilman family. It doesn't matter if he was correct or not. His comment was insensitve. It did nothing to present a loving Christian example. It needlessly hurt the Tillmans and the U.S. Army.

No matter what Pat or his family's religious beliefs, Jesus teaches that we pay our debts. It doesn't matter what were his or his family's religious and political views.

We owe a *great* debt of gratitude to the Tillmans. Pat gave his life in defense of this country and inspired millions in his selfless example. I commiserate with Tillman's loved ones and dearly hope they can find peace. May God bless them and give them comfort.

Aaron Kinney said...

Ecualegacy,

Wow, youre an officer in the Army? Whats your rank and mos? Have you ever been deployed to Iraq at all? Are you career or just 4 year college type thing?

Sorry for bombarding you with questions about your Army job, but I got lots of friends from the service, some of them served multiple tours in Iraq. You may not believe this, but after high school I almost joined the Army to become a warrant officer and fly choppers. But I ended up chickening out at the last minute and I didnt join... I liked my partied out civilian life too much. Whoops!

But yea, the Pat Tillman story is kind of sad.

You said:

I say this respectfully in regards to a fellow soldier and superior officer, LTC Ralph Kauzlarich. He should have kept his opinion private regarding the Tilman family. It doesn't matter if he was correct or not. His comment was insensitve. It did nothing to present a loving Christian example. It needlessly hurt the Tillmans and the U.S. Army.

No matter what Pat or his family's religious beliefs, Jesus teaches that we pay our debts. It doesn't matter what were his or his family's religious and political views.


Well said. That was a very fair Christian assesment of the situation.

Did you know that Tillman was an atheist? ;)

Ok I gotta get back to work. You keep distracting me with your comments! j/k ;P

ecualegacy said...

I'm a 1LT with a 70B AOC (Health Care Admin Assistant). By God's grace I haven't been deployed yet. I almost went twice, but the Army moved me before the first opportunity and canceled my unit's trip on another occassion. I'll finish out my 3 year obligation by year's end and go back home with a newly minted MBA.

The Army's been the best and most fulfilling job I've ever had. It will be hard to leave it. But it is tough on the family and I hate the thought of 15 months parted from my wife and soon-to-arrive child. I have tremendous respect for anyone who has ever served and especially deep gratitude for the loved ones of those who've been deployed.

Didn't know Tillman was an atheist before today. Regardless of that, I admire his courage and devotion to country. I've nothing but love for the man.

What about your background? Family? Job? Interests? I'm curious about what the "anarchy" interest entails.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Jesus teaches that we pay our debts.

I thought the message of Jesus was that we don't have to pay our debts, that he came to pay our debts for us.

Regards,
Dawson

Aaron Kinney said...

BB,

Correct, except for one debt: the unearned debt of complete and total submission and self-debasement to Jesus. Its a tough trade ;)

ecualegacy said...

He didn't give us license to sin if that is what you mean.

Aaron Kinney said...

ecualegacy,

What about your background? Family? Job? Interests? I'm curious about what the "anarchy" interest entails.

I am an insurance administrator living in Los Angeles. I have a BS from DeVry University in Computer Information Systems. My family is split up and scattered across the West Coast. My interests are many. My interests include religious/political/social activism (Im sure you already guessed that), racing my Stang, clubbing/dancing, socializing and partying, playing the guitar, reading and writing, and generally exploring and enjoying life.

Aaron Kinney said...

ecualegacy,

Wait I forgot to answer one of your questions!

I'm curious about what the "anarchy" interest entails.

Well I never expected to become an anarchist but my very good friend Francois Tremblay eventually deconverted me. Basically it a social framework that employs complete and total application of the private cometitive market and abolishes monopolies, states,governments, and public property. Imagine all the services performed by the government today instead provided by the private free market.

The reason I am an anarchist is because I came to realize that coercion (violence, theft, lying) are not justifiable morally. This is derived from the principle of self-owernership, which itself is derived from the axioms of existence, identity, and causality.

In a nutshell, governments are all monopolistic and coercive by naturel; they force their customer base into only buying their service. Businesses on the other hand compete for, and rely on, the consent of their customers. And since the only moral interactions between entities are mutually consentual interactions, then entities that enforce monopolies and force the patronage of their customers are immoral. Hence, a society without government is a superior society.

The Mrket Anarchist argument wins not only the moral/principle argument, but it also wins the utilitarian argument or argument from effect. Im assuming that you are also in favor of free markets and private competition so that the utilitarian argument need not be explained.

Aaron Kinney said...

He didn't give us license to sin if that is what you mean.

No, but he was the one that invented sin. He is the originator of evil, for evil (like everything else) wouldnt exist if not for his creating it.

ecualegacy said...

Negative. He created beings of free will who freely chose to do evil. There is a difference.

Aaron Kinney said...

He created beings of free will who freely chose to do evil.

You conceded that God created evil in this very sentence ;)

Aaron Kinney said...

Oh I almost forgot to add that in the Bible, God frequently boasts of his creating evil:

Isaiah 45:7, Lamentations 3:38, Jeremiah 26:3, Jeremiah 36:3 (actually in Jeremiah God declares his creation and administration of evil like fifty times), Amos 3:6 (one of my favorites), Micah 2:3, Isaiah 31:2, and countless other verses.

ecualegacy said...

EC - He created beings of free will who freely chose to do evil.

AK - You conceded that God created evil in this very sentence ;)

By that logic you are advocating we should execute Cho's parents who gave birth to him (or the parents of any other murderer). People are responsible for their own sins Aaron. Nor can there be any love in the world without free will if you want to take the next step and complain about why God didn't make us all to choose good.

ecualegacy said...

Okay, you asked for it. I'm calling down the power of His Servants, JPH and Glenn Miller on your head :-) Ironically, these are the SHORTEST articles I've ever seen from them.

Fire One.

From: http://www.tektonics.org/gk/godevil.html (won't anyone tell me how to link properly?)

Does the Bible Teach that God is the Source of Evil?
James Patrick Holding

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Isaiah 45:7 "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."

Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

Lamentations 3:38 "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"

Jeremiah 18:11 "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you."

Ezekiel 20:25,26 "I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts...

Is God the source of evil, according to these passages? In the first four verses, the word "evil" is ra. This word does indicate moral evil elsewhere. But there are meanings offered in Strong's for this word like "adversity" and words of similar nature. Ra can therefore be used in both senses.

Now with this in mind, how do we determine the proper translation of ra in this case? The answer is simple, once we consider the literary parallel in the verse in question. Note the antithesis in the first part of the verse from Isaiah: light/darkness. The second part of the verse must also be therefore reckoned as an antithesis. The word we translate "prosperity" is a familiar one: shalom. We commonly translate this word "peace" - but it is NEVER used to indicate moral goodness, the antithesis of moral evil! We must therefore translate "ra" in terms of its specified antithesis, and that is why it is thoroughly proper to give it the meaning of calamity/disaster/adversity here. (Presumably skeptics would "argue by outrage" and say that God has no right to cause us adversity. For more on this, see Glenn Miller's article on this verse.) The verse from Amos offers a similar parallel, to the blowing of a trumpet -- a sign of calamitous judgment, not moral evil. The same is the case for Lamentations, where ra is placed in opposition to a word that means "beauty" or "bounty" or joy, and the verse after which asks, "Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?" The verse prior in Jeremiah ("If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.") uses the same word for "good" in opposition.

The verses in Zeke tell us that God handed the Israelites over to their sinful desires when they refused to obey him. God allowed the Israelites to govern themselves by pagan statutes as part of their punishment -- in other words, they "asked for it". God is not the source of this sort of evil; we are!

ecualegacy said...

Fire Two:

From: http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qmakevil.html

recently got this very common question...


(1) What is evil?

(2) God made all things, right? did He make evil.

[NOTICE: This is the shortest answer you will EVER find me giving on the Tank! The writer had requested a VERY brief response. Enjoy it while you can...(grin)]

I replied:

(1) Evil is...intentions and intentional acts (both being 'acts' or 'personally directed events' and not 'things') of intelligent agents, that violate the God-derived principles of love, fairness, or loyalty.

(2) No, 'acts' and 'events' are not 'made'--they are 'done'. God made and created 'things' and 'agents', not their 'acts' or 'events'...He 'did' His own 'acts' (of course), but other agents 'do' their own 'acts'. So God did not 'make evil' (the phrase is meaningless and nonsensical)

I TOLD YOU this was brief...

[There are, of course, other aspects of this issue, which I will address in a forthcoming article on "Why didn't God stop the process, if He knew it was gonna turn out this way?". And, there are mild problems with my definition of evil. But, all in all, the above will probably stand up under a couple of levels of close scrutiny...]

ecualegacy said...

The last shell is simply too big to post so here is the link. http://www.christian-thinktank.com/iamwrong1.html

ecualegacy said...

Essentially, all the verses you listed as declaring God creates evil are actually referencing to disasters God brings in judgement of an extremely and very naughty Israel. I don't read KJV, but I suspect this is where you are coming up with the confusion.

ecualegacy said...

Here is an excellent sum-up of the point that Glenn Miller's iamwrong1 page has. This quote comes from near the end of that article.

A modern evangelical Christian interpretation. John Oswalt in the NICOT series summarizes the verse:
"An important qualification is already implicit in the text. The Hebrew word ra' has a wide range of meanings, much like the English word "bad." Like "bad" it can refer to moral evil ("Hitler was a bad man") or to misfortune ("I'm having a bad day") or merely to that which does not conform to some potential, real or imagined ("That's a bad road"). This is not the case with the common English equivalent for ra, "evil," which almost always refers to moral wickedness. Thus if we read "I ... create evil" (AV), we conclude that God causes people to make morally evil decisions. That this is not the correct translation of ra' in this circumstance is shown by the opposite term used, which is shalom, "health, well-being, peace, good relations, good fortune." The opposite of these would be those connotations that we most commonly ascribe to "bad." What the prophet is saying is that if bad conditions exist in my life, they are not there because some evil god has thwarted the good intentions of a kindly but ineffectual grandfather-god, who would like me to have good conditions but cannot bring them about. They are there solely as a factor of my relations to the one God. They may be there because I have sinned against his natural and moral laws, or they may be there because by their means I can become more like him, or they may be there for reasons that he cannot explain to me. But they are not there in spite of God. He is the only uncaused cause in the universe."

Had enough yet?

Aaron Kinney said...

Ecualegacy,

By that logic you are advocating we should execute Cho's parents who gave birth to him (or the parents of any other murderer).

No, for they didnt create evil. They only created Cho.

People are responsible for their own sins Aaron.

Yes, exactly. But Im confused as to why you dont believe in original sin?

Nor can there be any love in the world without free will if you want to take the next step and complain about why God didn't make us all to choose good.

I dont think you quite understand my "choose good/free will" argument. What Im saying is that God could have created a universe where free will exists but evil doesnt. The creation of free will does not a priori necessitate the existence of evil in a theistic universe.

Okay, you asked for it. I'm calling down the power of His Servants, JPH and Glenn Miller on your head :-) Ironically, these are the SHORTEST articles I've ever seen from them.

Fire One...


Thank you! I will read it right now.

(won't anyone tell me how to link properly?)

Whoops, sorry about that. I could show you an example of html code for a link, but it wont display here; it will instead make the actual link LOL. For instruction on how to make a link, visit this page. If you still have trouble, let me know and I will help you further.

Is God the source of evil, according to these passages? In the first four verses, the word "evil" is ra. This word does indicate moral evil elsewhere. But there are meanings offered in Strong's for this word like "adversity" and words of similar nature. Ra can therefore be used in both senses.

Okay, for the sake of brevity and of argument, lets assume that God didnt create evil and that I am quoting the bible out of context. Wouldnt the argument that God didnt create evil only raise the question "who did?" And if we determined that man or Satan or whoever else created evil, then isnt that evidence that Gods will can be violated? That he can be beaten in that something outside of his control occured... something as fundamental as the existence of evil itself?

Essentially, all the verses you listed as declaring God creates evil are actually referencing to disasters God brings in judgement of an extremely and very naughty Israel. I don't read KJV, but I suspect this is where you are coming up with the confusion.

Again for brevity, I didnt repost everything you provided. I am reading the links now.

Had enough yet?

No. Lets look at this logically. If God didnt create evil, did He create good? Who created evil? Gods will is always done, and the your arguments so far havent argued against God actually using evil and calamity whenever he sees fit. He created the universe, he dictates morality, he created Lucifer, and he created humans, and he wields evil constantly, and his will is always done. So where did evil come from?

ecualegacy said...

Wouldnt the argument that God didnt create evil only raise the question "who did?"

The short answer to this question is, "We did!" (and Satan too).

I believe you're taking "God's will is always done" to a literal absurdity. The way I understand it, God wanted to create beings that could genuinely love him. This meant giving them a real choice to accept or reject him...to do good or to do wickedness.

In this way, you can argue that, by God's will, evil is being allowed to exist for a time. He did not "create" evil. His knowing that evil would arise from his creation does not make Him responsible for it any more than it makes a parent responsible for morally accountable offspring. God has crowned us with the glory and honor of having free will. We, as free moral agents have spit in his eye by choosing to do/create evil.

This, as you know, is related to the whole point of the book of Job: do we have real freedom to love God or is it just because he is giving us nice toys to play with? Job, among other believers, have given us that answer.

You're still using evil and calamity interchangeably and that simply isn't a good interpretation of the Scriptural context.

I don't accept the RC doctrine of original sin as they present it. Inheriting sin, as though it were a disease, doesn't conform to the definition of sin as seen throughout the Bible (it's late, so you'll pardon me for not offering more proof-texts beyond Ez 18:20). The scripture RCs typically stumble over is Ps 51:5. This is typical hyperbole of ancient times. It is better understood as saying, "Surely I was inclined to sin from the time I was conceived." And it is true that our fallen nature is so selfish and inclined to sin that each of us eventually choses to do evil things (usually from a very young age). But having that inclination and choosing to give into it are two different things. And, of course, Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross makes pardon for these sins possible.

Gotta run.

Aaron Kinney said...

The short answer to this question is, "We did!" (and Satan too).

Where in the Bible does it say this?

I believe you're taking "God's will is always done" to a literal absurdity. The way I understand it, God wanted to create beings that could genuinely love him. This meant giving them a real choice to accept or reject him...to do good or to do wickedness.

Do you believe that those who reject the Christian God tend to do more wickedness than those who accept Him?

In this way, you can argue that, by God's will, evil is being allowed to exist for a time. He did not "create" evil. His knowing that evil would arise from his creation does not make Him responsible for it any more than it makes a parent responsible for morally accountable offspring. God has crowned us with the glory and honor of having free will. We, as free moral agents have spit in his eye by choosing to do/create evil.

If God didnt create evil, then how does He determine morality? You are making his moral structure even more arbitrary than it already is (if thats even possible) ;)

This, as you know, is related to the whole point of the book of Job: do we have real freedom to love God or is it just because he is giving us nice toys to play with? Job, among other believers, have given us that answer.

So heaven and hell are irrelevant to wanting to do good? Are you saying that punishment and reward is not central to the whole Christian "believe in Jesus" thing?

You're still using evil and calamity interchangeably and that simply isn't a good interpretation of the Scriptural context.

So God didnt create evil but he can wield it when he wants to?

I don't accept the RC doctrine of original sin as they present it. Inheriting sin, as though it were a disease, doesn't conform to the definition of sin as seen throughout the Bible (it's late, so you'll pardon me for not offering more proof-texts beyond Ez 18:20). The scripture RCs typically stumble over is Ps 51:5. This is typical hyperbole of ancient times. It is better understood as saying, "Surely I was inclined to sin from the time I was conceived." And it is true that our fallen nature is so selfish and inclined to sin that each of us eventually choses to do evil things (usually from a very young age). But having that inclination and choosing to give into it are two different things. And, of course, Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross makes pardon for these sins possible.

Very interesting. Ive never encountered a Christian who denies original sin. If I were still Christian, I would accuse you of not being Christian LOL! Well, what is to be said of Mans fallen state and Jesus need to rescue man from sin if sin is not inherited from adam and eve?

ecualegacy said...

EC - The short answer to this question is, "We did!" (and Satan too).

AK - Where in the Bible does it say this?


Rom 5:12 "Just as sin entered the world through one man..." Adam as the federal head of humanity committed the first trespass (yes, Eve actually beat him to it, but that is not relevant to the doctrine of who was responsible for this whole mess). And things went downhill from there.

AK - Do you believe that those who reject the Christian God tend to do more wickedness than those who accept Him?

You know this is a very good question. Christians would like to think the answer is yes. Unfortunately, knowing and even believing in what is right doesn't necessarily equate to doing what is right. I would not be surprised if the reality is that Christians, as a population, do more or less the same amount of damage per capita to society as pagans.

But as many an apologist has rightly said, "Jesus did not come to make bad people good but to make dead people live." The point of this life, in the Christian world view is to get right with God. We're sinners, inclined to do evil. Call that inherited tendency toward evil "original sin" if you will. I'm not sure the semantic matters. I just know that I fail as a person to meet God's standards (indeed, standards of conduct even many Atheists I suspect agree to). What is truly shaming is that I know in each and every case, I could have chosen better, had the power to do so, but didn't. That guilt is what Jesus' sacrifice pays to erase. Don't ask me how. I didn't create God's system of Justice. I just accept the gift of reconciliation that He offers. My personal expectation is that when I get to heaven, this sin sick tendency in me will be somehow lessened or erased (again, something taken on faith) without turning me into a robot.

AK - If God didnt create evil, then how does He determine morality?

One doesn't need to make a ball to imagine what it would look like. Good can exist without evil: it certainly doesn't exist within the Trinity. Then, of course, you can ask the age-old question of why didn't God create us with a free will that was inclined to do good rather than evil? The world would be a kinder, gentler place if he had, I think. I don't have an answer to that immediately. I rather doubt that I ever will find an entirely satisfying answer to it.

I disagree, however, that this makes God out to be the bad guy. It seems rather self-righteous of me to judge God for not giving me a stronger will when I know I could have said no to every sin (fairly easily to most sins!), but didn't.

AK - So God didnt create evil but he can wield it when he wants to?
God doesn't wield "evil." You're still mistranslating the word "ra." He wields calamity at will. Whether or not he has a right to do that is a discussion that will have to wait. It's really late for me here right now.

AK - Ive never encountered a Christian who denies original sin.
Perhaps I have not been clear in my comments (writing too fast has that effect). I don't agree with the original sin doctrine as it is commonly misunderstood such as in Roman Catholic circles. A sinful nature we inherit. But we can hardly be condemned for something we haven't done.

Well, what is to be said of Mans fallen state and Jesus need to rescue man from sin if sin is not inherited from adam and eve?
Oh, we're fallen all right. No doubt about that. We all rather suck at the task of moral fortitude. We all rationalize, cheat, lie, steal, and hate and so on to one degree or another. We all fall short of the standard. Thanks to God, he has seen fit to have mercy on us through Christ.

Well, time to get to bed. I'm sure you'll have lots to comment about on this post.

God bless and Good Night.
-EC

Bahnsen Burner said...

Aaron asked: Wouldnt the argument that God didnt create evil only raise the question "who did?"

ecualegacy responded: The short answer to this question is, "We did!" (and Satan too).

I quote from my blog Christian Reaction to Virginia Tech:

I’m always curious about what wheels are turning in the Christian’s mind when he speaks of “responsibility.” Christianity tells us that everything in the universe was created ex nihilo by their god, and that this god “controls whatsoever comes to pass,” and that everything that happens is part of one enormous, unfolding “plan.” Clearly they think their god is calling the shots. But whenever they speak of “responsibility,” they never tell us what responsibility their god has. Indeed, they want to say that their god made everything the way it is and dictated every event that ever occurs in the world, but then act as if their god has no responsibility whatsoever. It can do just whatever it wants, but man ends up being “responsible” for all its blunders. The believer’s capacity for delusion is seconded only by his ability to compartmentalize.

Ecualegacy wrote: I believe you're taking "God's will is always done" to a literal absurdity.

This isn’t Aaron’s fault; the very idea of a god is itself already a literal absurdity. Aaron is simply trying to interact with someone who has committed his life to believing a literal absurdity.

Ecualegacy: The way I understand it, God wanted to create beings that could genuinely love him. This meant giving them a real choice to accept or reject him...to do good or to do wickedness.

To accomplish this, the god you speak of should have at minimum provided its sentient creatures a means by which they could distinguish “God” from imagination. The way it is now, we field claims about “God” from other human beings, but we have no way of distinguishing what they call “God” from what they may merely be imagining. The bible itself, in Acts chapters 9 and 22 for instance, provides examples of this god personally revealing itself to a doubter and persecutor of believers. The way it is now, these are just stories that we read, very much on the par of a Harry Potter or other storybook. If your god is the same god as the one written about in the book of Acts, and it wants us to believe it is real, it knows what to do. Sending other human beings to represent it will always be insufficient, for human beings can be deluded, they can lie, they can be sincerely mistaken. You can cite Holding and Miller and any other apologist all you want, but at the end of the day these are just other human beings, and they too fail to provide a method by which we can distinguish between what they call “God” and what they may merely be imagining. What they do provide is an example of how one can settle confusions and contradictions which arise as a result of their desire to protect a delusion in their minds.

Ecualegacy gave us an example of precisely this effort to settle matters in his own mind when he states:

In this way, you can argue that, by God's will, evil is being allowed to exist for a time. He did not "create" evil. His knowing that evil would arise from his creation does not make Him responsible for it any more than it makes a parent responsible for morally accountable offspring.

Notice that the analogy here could not be weaker. A human parent has no control over his or her offspring once they depart the parent’s immediate vicinity. A human parent, for instance, does not “control whatsoever comes to pass” (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160). A human parent is neither omniscient, infallible, nor omnipotent. Once my 15-year-old son, for instance, leaves the house and goes to school or downtown or wherever, there’s nothing I can do to control his actions. So of course, I cannot be personally responsible for his actions in the moral sense, because his actions do not result from my choices. But this is not at all analogous to what Christians have claimed to be the case between human agents and the Christian god. Unlike a human parent, the Christian god is ever-present, all-seeing, all-powerful, etc. It can wish, and reality conforms itself precisely and immediately to its intentions. On the Christian view, reality cannot fail to conform to the Christian god's intentions. No human parent has any capacity even remotely approaching this. By trying to put the Christian god on the same level as a human parent in this respect, denies the Christian god all the so-called “incommunicable attributes” Christianity wants us to believe its god possesses. It simply neutralizes the Christian god to the grandeur of a pebble, all for the sake of excusing it from the responsibility it would have were it actually what Christianity tells us it is.

Apologetics is really nothing but glorified excuses for an inglorious confabulation.

Regards,
Dawson

ecualegacy said...

BB - I quote from my blog Christian Reaction to Virginia Tech:

Clearly they think their god is calling the shots. But whenever they speak of “responsibility,” they never tell us what responsibility their god has. Indeed, they want to say that their god made everything the way it is and dictated every event that ever occurs in the world


This is a strawman. The Bible claims no such thing about God "dictating every event." Nothing happens without God's
permission; that is true. This is not the same thing as making sure things happen exactly his way and no other as your statement seems to imply.


BB - but then act as if their god has no responsibility whatsoever. It can do just whatever it wants, but man[kind] ends up being “responsible” for all its blunders.

You have it almost right actually. God must be true to his good nature. That responsiblity extends to being a just judge of
our choices in life. He doesn't owe us anything beyond this. Ref to Job 41:11 "Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me."

Despite your visceral revulsion to the notion, God owns us. He owes us nothing. Fortunately for us, He's inclined to be merciful and loving. He wants a relationship with us and to give us good things. But we have to obey the laws of justice that are bound up in his nature.

You could try to argue against this, but that requires a moral framework that presumes to measure God. Good luck finding one outside of Himself. Note that if you should try I will not be accepting whiny 'God should serve my every whim' arguments.


BB - The believer’s capacity for delusion is seconded only by his ability to compartmentalize.

Fortunately, I'm not impressed by opinionated attempts to shame my belief system: as if they could possibly affect me once I've passed into oblivion (assuming the atheist is right about there being nothing after death)!


EC - I believe you're taking "God's will is always done" to a literal absurdity.

BB - This isn’t Aaron’s fault; the very idea of a god is itself already a literal absurdity. Aaron is simply trying to interact with someone who has committed his life to believing a literal absurdity.


That is an opinion. And coming from such a finite being, a very weakly positioned one indeed. I'd ask for specifics, but I know where to look on atheist websites and what they argue.


EC - The way I understand it, God wanted to create beings that could genuinely love him. This meant giving them a real choice to accept or reject him...to do good or to do wickedness.

BB - To accomplish this, the god you speak of should have at minimum provided its sentient creatures a means by which they
could distinguish “God” from imagination.


I believe that God accomplished this spectacularly with the Bible. I'm not saying you can "prove" the veracity of the Scripture like heliocentricity or men landing on the moon. But I do think you can narrow the options down to Christianity as the most likely choice. I've written elsewhere about this on my own blog at http://ravizacharias.blogspot.com so I won't repeat myself here. This post is already long enough.


BB - the way it is now, we field claims about “God” from other human beings, but we have no way of distinguishing what they call “God” from what they may merely be imagining.

You're just full of simply false arguments today. No way of distinguishing between real God and false god? Tell me I don't have to get neck deep in epistomology and cult detection with you to explain this.


BB - The bible itself, in Acts chapters 9 and 22 for instance, provides examples of this god personally revealing itself to a doubter and persecutor of believers. The way it is now, these are just stories that we read, very much on the par of a Harry Potter or other storybook.

Speaking of absurdities! You're comparing apples with carrots here (or is it ducks with Hippogriffs?). Harry Potter and the Bible don't even belong in the same class of literature! JK Rowling, who we know is the author, doesn't claim her works to be Scripture inspired by God. You'll have to do better than this Dawson if you expect to be taken seriously as an accuser against the Living God.


BB - If your god is the same god as the one written about in the book of Acts, and it wants us to believe it is real, it knows what to do.

Another fallacious argument. God does not merely want you to believe he is real. Ref to James 2:19 "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." The point is not intellectual belief in God as though he were a fact to read about in a book. The point is to have a relationship with him built on faith and love. Besides, having irrefutable proof of God does not evidentially produce a deeper love for God. Otherwise, we'd have expected that the Israelites would have had a better run.


BB - Sending other human beings to represent it will always be insufficient

He could have just created us with a certainty of His existence in our minds. But I think I beat the dead horse enough about that line of atheistic objection.


BB - for human beings can be deluded, they can lie, they can be sincerely mistaken.

Here we have some classic objections to Biblical authenticity. Were the NT Scriptures:

A) products of an early 1st Millennium JK Rowling?
B) products of a prolific, but deluded band of apostles?
C) products of sincerely mistaken apostles (Hey Thomas, I could have sworn I saw Jesus at the Bizzare yesterday!)?
D) the true and accurate Word of God?

I'm never going to be able to prove to you that A) is absolutely false, so I won't bother trying. At the same time, I'm not going to waste time trying to argue that Homer wrote the Illiad, that Caesar wrote the Gallic Wars, or that Plato wrote The Republic. Not exactly the same league or importance as the Bible, I'll admit, but we have copies of the New Testament BY FAR closer to the autograph date than for any of the other ancient major writings I've listed (or are in existence so far as I can tell...unless it was scratched on a slab of marble or dug straight from the ground).

If, however, you allow for the possibility that the NT was written when traditional NT scholars think, then you have some
uncomfortable questions to answer (uncomfortable for the unbeliever that is). How in the world would the early church community accept any of the NT Scriptures as true when they PRESUPPOSED that the very people they were addressed to could heal, prophecy, and speak in tongues. Not that glossolalia trick, but genuine, "Hola, yo puedo hablar espanol perfecto sin un dia de escuela" kind of tongues. Too bad I can't speak spanish without studying it. I've been married to a lovely latin wife for 5 1/2 years and still am not yet fluent.

Add to that the incredible claims of the scriptures which people could go and investigate for themselves. Add to that the perfect moral teachings of the apostles and the profound testimony of their selfless lives. You simply can't pay charlatans enough to do what the Apostles did. If it were one guy, you might dismiss him as a freak. But 12 and more? That's stretching the odds. Nor can we hope they were simply deluded. That's too many people making too many mistakes.

Besides, suppose I had "better" or "irrefutable" evidence that the Bible is true. Something like the OT describing the evolutionary process like a modern text book or predicting the exact date a spectacular comet would swing by? What would you really do with that knowledge? Would you "like" God any more than you do now? Would you be any more inclined to do what he has told you to do? You'd still be coming at him with the same prideful arguments you are now I suspect. But only you can answer that question for yourself.


BB - You can cite Holding and Miller and any other apologist all you want, but at the end of the day these are just other human beings, and they too fail to provide a method by which we can distinguish between what they call “God” and what they may merely be imagining. What they do provide is an example of how one can settle confusions and contradictions which arise as a result of their desire to protect a delusion in their minds.

"Delusion in their minds" is a conclusion I think you've reached prematurely. And if this post weren't already 2500+ words long, I'd spend another 500 or 1000 more taking you through the steps. But you really ought to do some homework for yourself and go look up the experts.

Besides, your objection sounds suspiciously like Carl Sagan's famous line about wanting somthing like a flaming cross orbiting the earth to prove God's existence. For crying out loud, people landed on the moon and the average man on the street is starting to believe the conspiracy theorists who say man didn't! What kind of proof do you want? Pillars of fire? Parting seas? Manna from heaven? Booming voices? The Israelites had all that and more AND THEY STILL DIDN'T BELIEVE! Your problem isn't a sufficiency of proof. It's pride! How hard is it to get down on one knee, say to God, "Okay, I've got your book and I'm going to commit my life to following it?" Exactly what has God gotten wrong in his moral guidance I'd like to know? Where is he asking something impossible or even harmful from Christians?


Ecualegacy gave us an example of precisely this effort to settle matters in his own mind when he states:

EC - In this way, you can argue that, by God's will, evil is being allowed to exist for a time. He did not "create" evil. His knowing that evil would arise from his creation does not make Him responsible for it any more than it makes a parent responsible for morally accountable offspring.


BB - Notice that the analogy here could not be weaker.


Analogies are never precise. That's why they are analogies. But mine is hardly a weak one. I'll explain below.


BB - A human parent has no control over his or her offspring once they depart the parent’s immediate vicinity. A human
parent, for instance, does not “control whatsoever comes to pass” (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160). A human parent
is neither omniscient, infallible, nor omnipotent. Once my 15-year-old son, for instance, leaves the house and goes to school or downtown or wherever, there’s nothing I can do to control his actions. So of course, I cannot be personally responsible for his actions in the moral sense, because his actions do not result from my choices.


I fail to see how you would be responsible for his actions even if you did know exactly what he was, is, or will be doing wrong and when. If you want to argue that you'd have a responsibility to do something about it, that is another matter. But his choice to say, murder someone, is not your fault. Even if you stopped the consequences by preventing the murder, you still could not stop the murderous intent, which is an evil in and of itself.

In any case, you don't have to be omniscient to figure out that an unborn child WILL do evil sometime in his life given enough brains and opportunity. So, applying the rule that you wish to measure God with, you knew enough before conceiving.

Why didn't you stop the process before it began you evil atheist you? ;-)


BB - But this is not at all analogous to what Christians have claimed to be the case between human agents and the Christian god. Unlike a human parent, the Christian god is ever-present, all-seeing, all-powerful, etc. It can wish, and reality conforms itself precisely and immediately to its intentions. On the Christian view, reality cannot fail to conform to the Christian god's intentions. No human parent has any capacity even remotely approaching this. By trying to put the Christian god on the same level as a human parent in this respect, denies the Christian god all the so-called “incommunicable attributes” Christianity wants us to believe its god possesses. It simply neutralizes the Christian god to the grandeur of a pebble, all for the sake of excusing it from the responsibility it would have were it actually what Christianity tells us it is.

If you knew your son was about to murder someone and you did nothing but stand by and watch, I would certainly hold you in contempt and so would the Scripture. That rule of morality, however, simply does not apply to God.

God has graciously granted humans the dignity of reaping what they sow. That is the universe conforming to His will: not some preconceived notion you harbor that if God were loving, He would (paraphrasing Holding) know you liked extra drippy ice cream and provide it whenever desired.

Instead, you have free will. Your actions are your own. This is a tremendous honor and a prerequisite to a loving relationship. Another prerequisite to a loving relationship is for those free choices to have real consequences: i.e. the freedom to walk away. Those consequences can get pretty bad too.

Despite this, you complain because you get what you deserve. Indeed, it is more proper to say that we get less than we deserve since God is not beholden to us in the first place to show mercy.

You can't argue with this because you must appeal to a standard of morality that applies to both men and God. Where will you look for that? You certainly can't look past God for that standard. Why? Because God is categorically as high as you can go for meaning, knowledge, purpose, and morality. If you point to something below him, you're being arbitrary.

I'll admit here that I'm not formulating the objective morality argument as clearly as I'd like, but I have spent quite enough time answering your post. Holding, Miller, and other apologists are more eloquent and complete in their answers than I. Have you actually tried reading them? Have you even bothered reading the Bible?


BB - Apologetics is really nothing but glorified excuses for an inglorious confabulation.

Dawson, I'll say this descriptively, not spitefully. I appreciate the feelings of unfairness atheists harbor against God.

I've shared them from time to time. But what you are saying is really just the small opinion of a small being. You're obviously intelligent. You can grasp what God is telling you must be done to be saved. So, believe in Christ. Commit your life to following his teachings.

You're smart enough to figure out that the rest of the religions are junk. The only question for you is will you let your pride rule your eternal destiny or will you let the God of the Bible?

God Bless You Dawson,
Brian

Aaron Kinney said...

Ecualegacy,

This is a strawman. The Bible claims no such thing about God "dictating every event." Nothing happens without God's
permission; that is true. This is not the same thing as making sure things happen exactly his way and no other as your statement seems to imply.


So everything that ever happens must have Gods permission, yet God does not control every event? Im sorry but this is one of those religious apogoletic arguments that only encourages rejection of the faith, not the identifying with or understanding of it.

Despite your visceral revulsion to the notion, God owns us.

Yes, the revulsion I think is warranted. While I (and Im sure BB) appreciate your honesty regarding God's master/slave system, I must state that this is another example of an apologetic argument that only encourages rejection of the faith, not the identifying with or understanding of it.

Dont you see that my instinctive, natural revulsion to the notion of this master/slave system is a result of my own instinctive moral framework? Clearly, there is a foundation of morality that is within us all which does not originate from cosmic creator god dictates.

He owes us nothing.

And yet, us human slaves somehow owe Him everything? Sorry, but I didnt ask to be created, and the mere notion that some greater being created me does not obligate me in any way to his random arbitrary commands.

Fortunately for us, He's inclined to be merciful and loving.

Stockholm Syndrome! Warning warning!

Seriously though, I dont care how nice the gulag commandant is to me, Im still in a gulag. I dont care how clean my bedding is, or how fresh my water is, or how plentiful my food is if Im "still just a rat in a cage."

He wants a relationship with us and to give us good things.

Well if he wants something from us then by mere logic he owes something to us too.

But we have to obey the laws of justice that are bound up in his nature.

Did God create his own nature and design said laws, or did they precede him? Euthyphro where art thou?

You could try to argue against this, but that requires a moral framework that presumes to measure God. Good luck finding one outside of Himself.

Its easy! Its known as identity. I am me, you are you, etc. Look my friend, the universal laws and truths we discover in the universe arent discovered by revealing dictates from an invisible friend. They are discovered through obesrvation of the nature of the reality that we exist in. Gravity wasnt "discovered" in a Bible passage. The laws of thermodynamics werent discovered in a Bible passage. These are things we figure out through observation of the way the world works around us. These are things we discover by being shown it, NOT by having it be merely asserted to us.

God says "I tell you this" but science says "I see evidence of that."

You are promoting an assertion based moral framework, while I am promoting an observation/evidence based moral framework. Mine is far superior to yours in every respect.

Note that if you should try I will not be accepting whiny 'God should serve my every whim' arguments.

Duly noted. I will not present any of those whiny arguments. But in return, I would like to ask you to not present any "we should serve His every whim" arguments either ;)

...as if they could possibly affect me once I've passed into oblivion (assuming the atheist is right about there being nothing after death)!

Incidentally, this blog is named "Kill The Afterlife" as you know. And since you are clearly an intelligent and reasonable person, I must ask you: why do you think that there is life after death? Is it solely because the Bible says so?

Relatedly, what do you think about the concept of "life before life"? Does that phrase sound silly to you? Why or why not? And assuming that you dont think that you existed before you were conceived, what makes you assume that you will exist after your body expires?

I believe that God accomplished this spectacularly with the Bible. I'm not saying you can "prove" the veracity of the Scripture like heliocentricity or men landing on the moon.

I think you may have missed BB's point. Hes talking about thoughts in ones head, or revelations and perceived responses to a prayer and such. When I was a Chrisitian for example, I would pray to Jesus every day... sometimes twice a day! Often, I would get replies from Him. I would "hear" him in my head so to speak. Hasnt that ever happened to you?

Add to that the incredible claims of the scriptures which people could go and investigate for themselves. Add to that the perfect moral teachings of the apostles and the profound testimony of their selfless lives.

Admonitions to be eunichs and to never get married if at all possible dont come off as "perfect moral teachings."

Indeed, it rather wrinkles my fur to hear you talk about perfect moral teachings. Honestly ecuarist, and I say this respectuflly to you cause you are my friend, but you dont understand the first thing about how to have a solid foundation for a given worldview, especially a moral one. This of course is because you have been misled to believe that all morality comes from the Bible and cannot come from any other source. You are unable to wrap your head around the idea of a framework that does NOT come from the mouth of some divine commander.

Allow me to try to show you the hole - the disconnect - in your morality. I will create an example in the form of a dialogue below:

Atheist: where do you get your morality?

Theist: the Bible! the only true word of God!

A: why do you follow it?

T: cause God tells me to!

A: why do you care what God tells you to do?

T: cause it makes me feel good to love him and follow his commands!

A: why does it make you feel good to love and follow him?

T: ...um...

What Im trying to do here ecuarist is show you that you have to make a moral judgement in choosing to accept the moral dictates of a creator God. The only way to have a true FOUNDATION for a moral framework is for something to be innate; a property of your existence via the nature of reality. It cannot be FOUNDED on a DICTATE, no matter who or what dictates it.

You simply can't pay charlatans enough to do what the Apostles did. If it were one guy, you might dismiss him as a freak. But 12 and more? That's stretching the odds. Nor can we hope they were simply deluded. That's too many people making too many mistakes.

The same argument could be made regarding just about any religion. There were too many prophets! Too many that went along with it! It was too much of a coincidence!

Baloney. The claim "God exists" is more extraordinary than any claim of coincidence or conspiracy. This is why truths need to be found through discovery of natural properties and evidence. In other words "dont tell me, show me."

You can grasp what God is telling you must be done to be saved.

God never told anyone anything. Its humans telling themselves things, and telling things to others.

ecualegacy said...

Did God create his own nature and design said laws, or did they precede him? Euthyphro where art thou?

They were coexistant with his eternal nature.


I must ask you: why do you think that there is life after death? Is it solely because the Bible says so?

You don't have continuation of this life and everything eventually becomes quite irrelevant including this argument. Its just a question of timing.

Your response requires a lot more attention than I can give in 10 minutes.

I'll write next week.

ecualegacy said...

basically in your response I'm seeing so many gross and oversimplified misrepresentations of the Bible that responding is going to take a while.

ecualegacy said...

AK - So everything that ever happens must have Gods permission, yet God does not control every event? Im sorry but this is one of those religious apogoletic arguments that only encourages rejection of the faith, not the identifying with or understanding of it.

EC - One of the more distressing things I'm seeing in your thinking is a failure to hold yourself to the same standards you hold God. Job 40:8 just keeps replaying over and over in my head almost every time I read one of your posts.

Don't you ever let your own kids learn from their own mistakes? If you do, you had better stop complaining that God does the same for us. And by the same token, you have to stop accusing God as the creator of evil.


AK - Indeed, it rather wrinkles my fur to hear you talk about perfect moral teachings. Honestly ecuarist, and I say this respectuflly to you cause you are my friend, but you dont understand the first thing about how to have a solid foundation for a given worldview, especially a moral one. This of course is because you have been misled to believe that all morality comes from the Bible and cannot come from any other source.

EC - That is a misrepresenatation of my position. I've been saying (over and over again it feels like) that you can create any moral system you want arbitrarily. Only in God can you justify it because God is as high as you can go, by definition, to find justification. Everything else below Him is an arbitrary rung on the ladder.

You are unable to wrap your head around the idea of a framework that does NOT come from the mouth of some divine commander.

EC - It has to come from the mouth of someone. Are you the divine commander? Of course not, but your arguments presuppose that you are. I know you'll object to that statement and say your morality comes from "natural laws" but that doesn't justify using those laws. The attempts I've seen at claiming nature as an objective basis for morality are usually pragmatically based and presume that humanity has a right to exist. Where do we get that idea? How do we know we have a right to exist? What about the myriad of species that our actions are running toward extinction? You're too small a being to be the ultimate lawgiver.

What Im trying to do here ecuarist is show you that you have to make a moral judgement in choosing to accept the moral dictates of a creator God.

EC - Obviously you have to make a moral judgement when you recognize the gold (God) standard! But you think that our moral sense has only a naturalistic origin. I believe (and don't smash your monitor in frustration when you read this) that the natural sense of right and wrong in us is only a guide to help us recognize the veracity of the moral teachings in the Bible.

Now you'll proceed to list about 50 moral teachings in the Bible that you find objectionable. I'm still waiting for you to do your own research on Num 31:17-18. Am I waiting in vain? Do I have to spell it out here for everyone?

AK - The same argument could be made regarding just about any religion. There were too many prophets! Too many that went along with it! It was too much of a coincidence!

EC - You're basically claiming that the apostles didn't do what the Bible says they did right? Or are you saying that even if the apostles did do most of what is written about them, big deal? You actually believe that other "prophets" in history, who knew they were making things up, still taught with such integrity the high standard of moral teachings the apostles did? To where will you go for an example? Mohommed? He wrote the Koran so that he could have as many wives as he wanted and never have to keep an oath (ref to surahs 33:35-38, 33:50 and 66:1-4). Joseph Smith? He ditto'd Mohommed on the polygamy thing and, likewise rewrote a perfectly good Bible to boot. What other examples will you send my way? If the "prophets'" motives smell, they're probably rotten.


EC - In closing, I'm convinced that your problem is pride. It is so easy to bow before God if you put self-idolization aside. Don't you remember that wonderful life when you believed that all the trouble we go through works out for our good in the end? Don't you remember the days when everything you screwed up, no matter how badly, could be forgiven: not as an excuse to do anything wrong, but as gift for striving to be better. Don't you remember when you trusted that life beyond death was something fantastic and fulfilling? You can have it again through Christ. Come back my brother. You'll be welcomed with the happy shout of a thousand angels.

Aaron Kinney said...

EC,

One of the more distressing things I'm seeing in your thinking is a failure to hold yourself to the same standards you hold God. Job 40:8 just keeps replaying over and over in my head almost every time I read one of your posts.

Don't you ever let your own kids learn from their own mistakes? If you do, you had better stop complaining that God does the same for us. And by the same token, you have to stop accusing God as the creator of evil.


I dont think this analogy is apt. Parents of children dont choose the rules of life. God did. If life is a board game, then parents and children are both pieces on the board. But God is not a piece on the board; he is Milton Bradley (or the manufacturer of the game, the writer of the rules). Unlike God, parents dont choose the world that their children are in.

And while, yes, I would let my children learn from their mistakes, I certainly wouldnt sacrifice my child for the sake of another. But God sure did! He let his only begotten son die on the cross. Not very good parenting skills IMO.

I've been saying (over and over again it feels like) that you can create any moral system you want arbitrarily.

Isnt this what God did? Created an arbitrary moral system?

Only in God can you justify it because God is as high as you can go, by definition, to find justification. Everything else below Him is an arbitrary rung on the ladder.

Bullshit, Im sorry to say. It seems that you still dont understand the Euthyphro dillemma. The mere fact that God is a conscious entity makes the moral system that He created arbitrary by definition. Look: you said that God is as high as you can go to find justification for a morality, and if we assume that this is true, then you need to ask "where did God get his justification for morality?" and of course the answer is "from himself for he is the highest authority." Well then blammo! you have yourself an arbitrary morality. It is arbitrary because God created it right out of his own mind and it is based on nothing foundational beyond his whim and fancy.

Now, if there is no God in the universe, then the laws of nature and logic are the highest one can go for "justification" of something. This is where I go for justification of my moral system. It is akin to one pointing to matter and energy for justification of the theory of gravity. And like gravity, there is nothing arbitrary about a moral theory based on laws of nature and logic. It is grounded on an eternal, non-conscious foundation. This is far superior to the foundation of a higher being's arbitrary whim.

It has to come from the mouth of someone. Are you the divine commander? Of course not, but your arguments presuppose that you are.

Morality is not something to be divinely commanded. It is something to be discovered through observation of reality.

I know you'll object to that statement and say your morality comes from "natural laws" but that doesn't justify using those laws.

Why not? Does this also mean that Im not justified in relying on gravity, for example?

The attempts I've seen at claiming nature as an objective basis for morality are usually pragmatically based and presume that humanity has a right to exist.

LOL nothing has a "right" to exist beyond the fact of their existence. But thats not the correct question. You are actually begging the question when you allude to the "presumption" of a right to exist. The correct question is "who or what has the right to end anothers existence?"

Do planets have a right to exist? What about electricity?

Where do we get that idea? How do we know we have a right to exist?

All we know is that we do exist. And even IF we dont have a right to exist, that means that nobody else would have a right to take our existence away from us. So either way, our existence is accepted.

What about the myriad of species that our actions are running toward extinction?

We shouldnt extinguish their existence, thats for sure.

You're too small a being to be the ultimate lawgiver.

Laws are not given by conscious entities. Gravity isnt dictated by a superhero. The laws of physics were not created in a book. All of these things are properties of a non-conscious nature. The problem with you, EU, is that you are a military man and a god fearer who is so used to submitting to authority that you cannot imagine any TRUTH that is NOT dictated or decreed by some authority above you. Sooner or later you are going to have to understand the concept of a truth that exists through property of nature; a truth that exists without the say-so of a higher authority.

Obviously you have to make a moral judgement when you recognize the gold (God) standard!

Which shows that a moral sense exists within a human before they ever become aware of Christianity or any other religion.

But you think that our moral sense has only a naturalistic origin.

I believe that everything has a naturalistic origin, and this includes morality.

I believe (and don't smash your monitor in frustration when you read this) that the natural sense of right and wrong in us is only a guide to help us recognize the veracity of the moral teachings in the Bible.

LOL I promise not to smash my monitor ;) And yes I understand that you believe that morality is defined by the Chrsitian God and that it is set before us in the pages of the Bible.

But can you compare your reasons for why a given action is wrong vs MY reasons for why a given action is wrong? Why would you, EU, say that murder is wrong? "Because God says its wrong!" Well why does God say its wrong? etc...

But I on the other hand have a more satisfying answer as to why murder is wrong. I can say that its wrong because you do not have the right to take anothers life in your own hands, because of the axiom of identity from which self-ownership is derived. If you ask me why murder is wrong, I can expose the principles behind it by asking if its wrong for you to be murdered (as opposed to you murdering someone). Of course no sane person will ever think its ok for them to be a murder victim. And when asked why, they instinctively know that its wrong because they own their own lives, and that it is immoral for another to take control of their life (and even death) without permission. Everyone is self-governing on the most fundamental level.

So to point to a universal law - a law of self-ownership - is far more satisfying of a justification for the prohibition of murder than to merely say "God says so!"

I'm still waiting for you to do your own research on Num 31:17-18. Am I waiting in vain? Do I have to spell it out here for everyone?

Sorry to keep you waiting on that. Well Num31: 17-18 is when God has the Jews kill everyone in the town except for the virgins. So I guess that "thou shalt not kill/murder" isnt always a universal principle to follow in the world of Christianity, huh?

You know, I once had an infuriating argument with a Christian about "thou shalt not kill." He insisted that it was supposed to say "not murder" instead of "not kill" and I asked him "whats the difference anyway?" and he replied "kill is not contextual but murder means an illegal killing." and then I asked him "how do you know if its murder or just killing?" and he replied "its murder if its against Gods law." WTFOMG!??!!? So basically according to this christian it is only wrong to kill illegally, and an illegal killing is one that God deems to be wrong. GREAT! Talk about a useless moral rule! Although I imagine that you interpret "thou shalt not kill" a bit differently than this guy did.

You're basically claiming that the apostles didn't do what the Bible says they did right?

Not in all instances, but more or less, yes. I think the majority of the stories in the Bible, including the ones about the apostles, are bullshit fairytales.

Or are you saying that even if the apostles did do most of what is written about them, big deal? You actually believe that other "prophets" in history, who knew they were making things up, still taught with such integrity the high standard of moral teachings the apostles did?

Yes. That is to say, that none of these prophets, including the apostles, have much "integrity" in the truth of their stories.

To where will you go for an example? Mohommed? He wrote the Koran so that he could have as many wives as he wanted and never have to keep an oath (ref to surahs 33:35-38, 33:50 and 66:1-4).

And how many wives did Amraham have? More than one, thats for sure! But on the other hand, what did Matthew say about sex? In Matthew 19:12 we find him telling everyone to be a eunuch. Sure, cut off your balls for heaven! EU, can you think of any example in your life time of a person you knew who you think should have castrated himself in order to go to heaven? Maybe your brother? Or your commanding officer? Or me? Or your son? Or your father? (whoops too late for that!) Or perhaps you will now tell me how this invitation to ballessness from Matthew is not relevant to us?

In closing, I'm convinced that your problem is pride. It is so easy to bow before God if you put self-idolization aside.

I will admit that I have a lot more pride as an atheist than I did as a Christian. But I didnt get so prideful until AFTER I lost faith in God.

Don't you remember that wonderful life when you believed that all the trouble we go through works out for our good in the end? Don't you remember the days when everything you screwed up, no matter how badly, could be forgiven: not as an excuse to do anything wrong, but as gift for striving to be better. Don't you remember when you trusted that life beyond death was something fantastic and fulfilling?

Remember? Hell, Im experiencing it right now! I know you may find it hard to believe, but I am a very happy atheist who lives a very fulfilling life.

You can have it again through Christ. Come back my brother. You'll be welcomed with the happy shout of a thousand angels.

Thank you for the invitation, and I imagine that I would be warmly welcomed back to the flock. But at this time, its not for me. Sure Im prideful now - thats what happens when you no longer believe in a supreme invisible big brother who sees you when youre sleeping and knows when youre awake. But I have a better judge of my life now that God. I got me. Im the one who has to live with myself and account to myself for my actions. I am my own harshest critic, and I am the one most concerned with the consequences of my actions. I am doing just fine than you very much. I am not a criminal, I am respected by my peers, I have an education and a career and a social life and a relationship and all the wonderful fulfilling things that make a person happy.

I lost my faith due to a backfiring. The backfire happened when I started studying the bible more seriously in an attempt to deepen my faith. Actually, I didnt want to lose my faith. I tried very hard not to, but eventually I couldnt help it. I had to let go. I couldnt live a life where I was dishonest to myself and trying to force myself to believe in something that I knew wasnt true.

ecualegacy said...

I'm going to try answering your posts a piece at a time.

AK - I dont think this analogy is apt.

EC - I think it is apt enough to show that, choice or not about the world into which people are born, we know our children will do evil. So if we complain that God made people whom he knew would screw up, we should check first into that castration clinic you seem to think Jesus was pointing us to.

ecualegacy said...

Isn't this what God did? Created an arbitrary moral system?

Two can play at the game of picking nature as a source for morality. You pick this world's nature. I pick God's nature. God's nature is what it is and can't be anything else because that is just how it is. That's what the Bible teaches.

ecualegacy said...

AK - Yes. That is to say, that none of these prophets, including the apostles, have much "integrity" in the truth of their stories.

EC - I wish you could provide some specifics. You wrote a long post, so I understand you not listing examples here, but I must point out that this is an uncritical statement.

ecualegacy said...

Or perhaps you will now tell me how this invitation to ballessness from Matthew is not relevant to us?

Time is running low, so I reference you to Tektonics. The article is fairly short:

Matthew 19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Skeptic Dan Barker thinks to make sport with this verse -- saying, "...Jesus encouraged castration." My immediate response to this remark is, "Yeah, so what?" Barker as an atheist is of course in a position where sacrifice of physical pleasure for a spiritual purpose would be meaningless. In a religious context, it might not be. At the heart of his remark is an overtly begged question, namely, that there is no Kingdom of God worth castrating one's self (or in any way sacrificing one's self) over.

With that said, does the verse indeed encourage castration? Hardly, even on the surface -- what is made is a statement of fact and observation: some are born this way; some have made themselves this way for men; some have made themselves that way for spiritual purposes, and those who can accept this, let them do so -- it is not saying, "Go out and castrate yourself" or giving directions to the nearest medical facility. There is no opinion rendered either way. However, looking more deeply into the context, we see that this refers not exclusively to castration, but to celibacy as well. We know that the Jews were horrified by castration (cf. Josephus, Against Apion 2.270-1; though eunuchs were well-respected, and trusted, in some Ancient Near Eastern societies). Indeed, how could someone have been "castrated" from their mother's womb? And how would a response dealing with castration relate to a question as to whether or not it is better to marry (19:10), said in relation to putting away one's wife in v. 9 -- which is the "it" to receive that Jesus refers back to?

Barker is left to complain that Origen, the church father, castrated himself in response to this verse when he took it literally, and that an "omniscient deity should have known what Origen had in mind when he was inspired by Matthew 19:12 to pick up that knife." (I am assuming for the sake of argument that this is true; an alert reader has indicated that the story may have been invented by writers hostile to Origen.) The implication, again, is merely the begged question that what Origen did was (by Barker's contextual thinking) a meaningless act. In our view, if what Origen did to himself made him a better person, a greater servant, then it was worth it -- any interpretation of Matthew 19:12 notwithstanding. However, let it be added that Barker does not tell the whole story here. As noted here, "It was to remove any hint of scandal as he taught young women their catechism that Origen castrated himself, literally following Matthew 19:12. He later came to see his action as ill-advised and not to be taken as an example." Ask yourself: If the Kingdom of God is real, is it not worth giving up any part of yourself? I think so. Don't expect atheists to agree, though.

ecualegacy said...

The problem with you, EU, is that you are a military man and a god fearer who is so used to submitting to authority that you cannot imagine any TRUTH that is NOT dictated or decreed by some authority above you. Sooner or later you are going to have to understand the concept of a truth that exists through property of nature; a truth that exists without the say-so of a higher authority.


You're also talking to a Biochemist (fact is I have more education than I know what to do with), so I do know somthing of truths that exist apart from God. Mathematical laws would be one example. A "one" is a "one" regardless of whether or not God exists.

But something else has been bothering me about atheistic morality. It has no teeth. No way to balance the books of justice. There is no Judgement Day as it were. It has relevance only as long as there is life and life is short indeed in a world without God. When you Kill the Afterlife, you kill justice (and ultimately everything else of relevance to humanity).

I've been studying the Euthyphro dilemma in more depth. My answer to that stands. God is the answer to the infinite regress problem. What is greater than God? When you reach the end of the road, it is hardly arbitrary to say you are at the road's end.

You might argue that naturalism is the road's end, but as I pointed out, that makes all of this conversation quite academic and arguably just a passing of time before we die.

ecualegacy said...

AK - And how many wives did Amraham have?

EC - Or Issac or Jacob? Oh heck, why not just go to the top: Solomon! You missed my point in any case. I think I left it unstated though, so I don't fault you. Cult founders will frequently use their "religion" to gain more sex than their society would normally allow. Abraham wasn't doing anything unusual here. Besides, he isn't who I was concerned about. The apostles were the one's on trial. Justifying multiple wives in ANE times is a topic you're welcome to pursue, though.

ecualegacy said...

I honestly don't know how to reach you, though I've been pray to God for help. Maybe at death's door, you'll reconsider. But then many another Atheist haven't. So we'll just have to wait and see.

God Bless you my friend.

ecualegacy said...

AK - You know, I once had an infuriating argument with a Christian about "thou shalt not kill." He insisted that it was supposed to say "not murder" instead of "not kill" and I asked him "whats the difference anyway?" and he replied "kill is not contextual but murder means an illegal killing." and then I asked him "how do you know if its murder or just killing?" and he replied "its murder if its against Gods law." WTFOMG!??!!? So basically according to this christian it is only wrong to kill illegally, and an illegal killing is one that God deems to be wrong. GREAT! Talk about a useless moral rule! Although I imagine that you interpret "thou shalt not kill" a bit differently than this guy did.

EC - Now that I've had some sleep, hopefully my grammar and spelling will be better ;-)

In the case of Num 31: 17-18 I see what you are trying to get at: it seems God is violating His own laws of justice. But I think you're barking up the wrong tree. There is no injustice in them thar branches.

For one, the case of killing everyone in a sinful culture is a judgement which the owner of the universe is at liberty to demand. He owns us. That's that. I know you don't accept it, but that's how it is. And this accusation of God being unjust to the innocent harkens back to my counter-argument elsewhere that this amounts to complaining. The kids are in paradise and doing just fine. So wipe away your tears and get on with life.

Besides this, exactly what would you have done had you been there? Imagine hearing the command to go forth and slay the innocent. You say to yourself, "Let's see, I've seen for myself or been told by thousands of eyewitnesses about the miracles at Egypt. God is obviously real. Even the Manna shows up every day. Hmm. Maybe since there is OBVIOUSLY an all powerful God, perhaps He knows what He's doing better than I, understands fully the moral picture, and I should just shut up and do what I'm told for a change."

That would have been one appropriate response. Now, I agree that it would have been better to have been to pled for mercy on behalf of the innocent children. We might have boldly asked, "Shall the God destroy the innocent with the wicked?"

What would have been God's response? Probably something like, "These are the wages of sin. The innocent get hurt when people commit evil. You can't support tens of thousands of extra male children and I'm not going to perform any miracles to make you able to either. Remember this lesson: people's choices have real consequences."

In case folks are wondering what the heck the Midianties could have possibly done to deserve annhilation, the answer is in Numbers 30:15-16 "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he [Moses] asked of them. "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the Lord in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the Lord's people."

The Midianite women, unquestionably at the behest of their men, seduced and had sex with the Israelites knowing full well this would arouse God's anger. Gives a literal meaning to the phrase, "Don't screw around with God's people or He'll annihilate you."

And no, this is not a "penis or the sword" situation. The girls were not raped. They were taken into the community, raised as adoped children, and allowed to intermarry. Before you think that to be an unjust and cruel way of business, try understanding the realities of that timeperiod first. How else were women to be sustained except through marriage in those tough times?

Oh, and there wouldn't have been a need for bloody cloths. Prepubescents would have been obvious to pick out. The older virgins would have been identifiable by culturally based styles of clothing, hairstyles, or jewelry.

For more info on this subject, see Glenn Miller's What about God’s cruelty against the Midianites?.

Having covered all that, why keep complaining when God has made our moral responsibilities ridiculously easy? He hasn't put Christians in the difficult position of killing innocent people as part of a larger campaign of retribution for corporate disobedience. The nagging question of "What if God really isn't the One True God?" need not press so hard. In short, Christians don't have the responsibility of deciding if wiping out a given sinful culture is the right thing to do or not. Considering that none of us are righteous, not one. I do believe it would be wrong based on the NT Scripture to annihilate the Midianites of this world. Judge not lest ye be judged. Israel had a special exception to this rule: they were the instruments of God's righteous wrath.

AK - So basically according to this christian it is only wrong to kill illegally, and an illegal killing is one that God deems to be wrong. GREAT! Talk about a useless moral rule! Although I imagine that you interpret "thou shalt not kill" a bit differently than this guy did.

EC - It seems that you are saying it is never "wrong" to kill. What about self-defense? What about military service? I know you don't believe those things are wrong based on your support for our troops (which is gratefully received by the way). Numbers 31 was a military operation, in fact. Were atrocities committed by the Israelites? No, the Midianite action was commanded by the Owner of all life.

Unfortunately, you've already decided that no one can own another person's life. I disagree. My next post is going to address Objective Morals based on Darwinism.

ecualegacy said...

Are you familiar with the online articles Does Morality Depend on God?" and A Darwinian Approach to Metaethics both by P. Wesley Edwards?

Since you haven't thrown me any articles explaining how you derived your moral system, I had to go searching for some on my own. I suspect you'll agree with most or all of what Edwards says, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

His Darwinian Approach to Metaethics is the one I'm addressing this post. BTW: just assume I'm skipping linearly through the article whenever I quote. I don't think I'm missing anything important, but that's why I linked the article so you can judge for yourself.
Edwards states,

I want to be clear at the outset that I will argue that there is no such thing as universal moral truths that exist independently of humans, though I will argue that objective morals exist. The notion of morality presumes a context of self-aware beings with behavioral choices to make, and to date the only self-aware beings for which we have any knowledge are humans, so moral concepts have meaning only within the human context, and lose that meaning outside of that context.

And right out of the starting gate he falls flat on his face by assuming a priori that there is no God. I can actually agree with everything else he says. Morals don't have meaning without the context of self-aware beings.


I’ll argue that moral truths are objective in the sense that we cannot arbitrarily choose what is and isn't right for us, just as we cannot arbitrarily choose what is and is not poisonous to us.

Still agreeing.


[Morals] do not exist outside of the human context in some disembodied or independent sense; they, like our physical characteristics, are the result of our very contingent evolutionary history, a history that could have gone down innumerable paths but just happened to go down the one on which we find ourselves.

Based on this I could argue God just happens to be how He except that He didn't evolve. Nor did he "choose" to be how he is. He is simply the way He is.


If I say that “good” is that subset of real and possible human behaviors that promote the survival of humanity (merely an example at this point), then it is not tautological.

And here we see he pegs survival of the species as the only context by which morals have meaning. Again, by that argument, I could justify belief in God (at least some higher power) and an eternal afterlife as a good thing since it is pursuant to the survival of the human species by the only avenue available to us, namely divine internvention.


An approach based on a Darwinian or other naturalistic approach can fundamentally do no more than describe what is the case. It cannot describe what ought to be the case—at least not without importing some additional premise that defines "good."

Okay. Agreeing.


Now, ants and bees are amoral despite their self-sacrifice. Why? Because they have no free will in the sense that they do not consciously weigh choices. Indeed, they don’t have choices.

Or as Peter David put it in I, Q"No one questions the ethics of a hurricane, earthquake, or ion storm." Thus, I won't insult anyone's intelligence anymore by arguing that choosing human morality over bee's morality is arbitrary, since bees are amoral.


Evolution only cares that our perceptions increase our genes’ chances of survival. So, with regard to morals, evolution doesn’t make us somehow consciously aware that betraying our friends will reduce our chances of survival; but it does create in us a powerful sense that we don’t want to do it—that it is somehow disgusting and repulsive.

Agreeing.


But what does all this tell us? Really, all we have is an explanation of why some behavioral tendencies are more widespread in humans than others and why some values can come to be considered universal moral “truths” across history and across cultures. We haven’t said why such universal, core values ought to be considered good, only that they are and why they are.

And I eagerly await to see the is/ought gap bridged.


This naturalistic approach shows that universal moral truths became universal not because the majority thinks they are right but because they enhanced the survival of individual humans and, therefore, the genes they contain.

Still waiting.


[Reason] not only allows us to recognize that our local, immediate (e.g., family) genetic survival is the raison detre of our core moral sentiments, but that this root "purpose" can be better served by extending many of these locally-oriented values and even suppressing others—others that are harmful to that purpose in our modern, globally interconnected world (like an almost natural suspicion and hostility toward those who look and act differently than those of our more immediate community).

and

So, with a little of that precious foresight that only reason allows, we can see the equivalence between "my gene survival," and "humanity's survival." We can only call this "good"; and we can only explain why we call it good in these naturalistic terms. We cannot meaningfully talk about why it is good outside of this context. It can make no sense to ask whether this contingent state of human nature is good, or should be what it is—it simply is what it is, though it could have been different. What it is, however, is what we ultimately mean by "good."

Essentially he's saying that what helps the human race survive is what we have come to call good, because of evolutionary pressure. He also, basically, asserts that it makes no sense to look beyond our species to make sense of what is right or wrong, because our sense of right and wrong is only grounded in this evolutionary process. If I thought that evolutionary process was all there was to the story, I might agree. But I don't, so I won't.


. "Good" and "evil" presuppose the existence of self-aware humans who have choices to make. That is the context in which the concepts of good and evil are defined. One cannot apply those concepts to the context that gives them meaning. In other words, we cannot apply those concepts to humanity as a whole, as if from the outside looking in, and assert something like "it is good that humanity has evolved," or, "it is morally evil that humanity has evolved," or, "it is good that the core value of humans is that they want to survive." These statements are either unintelligible or at best analytic truths (e.g., that humanity now exists is part of the definition of good).

And here He is assuming God isn't there to make the very observations he dismisses as meaningless "it is good that humanity has evolved." But that is what you get when you don't want to believe in God.

Gotta run for now, but I'll hopefully get back soon so that I can drive some logical trucks through the holes in this naturalistic system.

God Bless,
Brian

ecualegacy said...

So, in this section, we've seen how our moral axiom can form the self-evident core and justification of a rational, non-theistic ethical system. Its truth is not simply assumed, nor taken on faith, but directly observed. Its truth is self-evident in the same way that other contingent truths about humans are self-evidently true, and also in the sense that to deny its truth is to utter a kind of contradiction: if someone thinks human survival is not good, then he needs to explain why he hasn’t killed himself, to which the only apparent replies could be that he wishes he could but is just too afraid, or he wants to stay alive only long enough to bring about the destruction of humanity.

Or that he's just one bad dude and doesn't want to die ;-)


I’ll grant that these are not logical contradictions as such, but I’d hate to think anyone would appeal to such statements as the basis for criticizing the objectivity of a naturalistic ethical system.

And here Edwards betrays that his choice to ground morality in our species survival is actually a subjective moral system after all. He cannot say why we should survive. Carl Sagan, I believe, said, "So much the worse for us if we don't." But that merely begs the question.

Time for some trucks of inconvenience. Or, in a tip of the hat to Carl, Dragons of Galapagos. Naturalistic morality
necessitates some scary ethical problems. What do we say when someone "rationally" decides one "race" within humanity is better than the others and, in the interest of species survival, decides to prune the herd?

We see this problem a lot in Sci-fi. In the PC game, Wing Commander 4, one guy created some genetically superior fighters and hatched a plan to wipe out the rest of humanity so the supermen could take over. If you read Star Trek novels, this is the story Khan tried to play out. And exactly how do we say they are wrong since they are probably absolutely correct that a stronger, faster, better genetic background will help in species survival? That is the kind of logic the Nazi's used (and he odd thing is that many of the proponentswere Christians, but go figure). The strong moral sense that evolution provides is useful. I keep hearing a line from Star Trek about the needs of the many having outweighed the needs of the few. Horrifying, but how do you exactly object if, at the heart of things, your entire moral system is predicated on species survival? But with God, this is not a problem.

What do we say about rape too? In 28 Days Later, some nasty soldiers wanted to rape some girls so they could continue the human species. Are there circumstances where rape would be justified? In most situations, you could argue it is detrimental toward long-term species survival owing to the incalcuable psychological damage it does to a woman, thus hampering her ability to care for her offspring. But is there a point where the woman's choice must be secondary to the survival of the species? Who draws that line?

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Natrualism cannot justify itself. To say it is right simply because it is the highest order we can scientifically prove exists is still begging the question of why it is legitimate. One is always left wondering what is beyond it. To escape this conundrum by saying it makes no sense to talk about morals where there is no self-aware life is tempting, but ultimately circular. And it does nothing to satisfy the drive for species survival. We are doomed without God. Of course, the atheist will say that resorting to God as the Be All, End All of morality is circular, but since we're stuck playing a game of choose your favorite merry-go-round, I'll pick God and hope
he can explain it when I see him. I'm not satisfied by what I've read in the Naturalist's corner.

Aaron Kinney said...

EC,

Two can play at the game of picking nature as a source for morality. You pick this world's nature. I pick God's nature. God's nature is what it is and can't be anything else because that is just how it is. That's what the Bible teaches.

Ok so lets look at Gods nature. Who decided what Gods nature is in the first place? God himself, or someone/thing else? Either way, a conscious decision about what a Gods nature -and by extension, morality- is, is itself arbitrary.

Skeptic Dan Barker thinks to make sport with this verse -- saying, "...Jesus encouraged castration." My immediate response to this remark is, "Yeah, so what?" Barker as an atheist is of course in a position where sacrifice of physical pleasure for a spiritual purpose would be meaningless. In a religious context, it might not be. At the heart of his remark is an overtly begged question, namely, that there is no Kingdom of God worth castrating one's self (or in any way sacrificing one's self) over.

I, also, think sacrifice is a bad thing. I have consistently promoted an anti-sacrifice message throughout the life of this blog. I believe that it is evil to cause harm to oneself without it bringing about a greater benefit. And you gotta admit, EC, that castration is a hard sell. The only reason you are even defending the practice of castration here is because the Bible promotes it. You are not thinking independently about these issues, but merely parroting whatever is said in your holy book. It is spiritual authoritarianism, and its harmful.

With that said, does the verse indeed encourage castration? Hardly, even on the surface -- what is made is a statement of fact and observation: some are born this way; some have made themselves this way for men; some have made themselves that way for spiritual purposes, and those who can accept this, let them do so -- it is not saying, "Go out and castrate yourself" or giving directions to the nearest medical facility. There is no opinion rendered either way. However, looking more deeply into the context, we see that this refers not exclusively to castration, but to celibacy as well. We know that the Jews were horrified by castration (cf. Josephus, Against Apion 2.270-1; though eunuchs were well-respected, and trusted, in some Ancient Near Eastern societies).

Jews are horrified at castration? Then why do they obssess over circumcision? Perhaps merely because one renders one sterile, and the other does not? Either way, I dont think that taking a knife to a babys genitals is something that Bible followers have historically been hesitant to do.

You're also talking to a Biochemist (fact is I have more education than I know what to do with), so I do know somthing of truths that exist apart from God. Mathematical laws would be one example. A "one" is a "one" regardless of whether or not God exists.

Ha ha! You may be a good biochemist, but you are not a good Christian apologist. Why are the laws of logic, such as "a is a" exempt from the necessity of being created by God?

I would imagine that, similarly, you would contend that murder is immoral regardless of whether there is a God who decrees it to be so?

But something else has been bothering me about atheistic morality.

Technically, atheism has no morality built into it. Atheism is a negative statement. Morality is a positive statement. Morality must come from something other than the concept of "there is no god." My morality does not come from atheism, but from logic. Incidentally, logic is also where my atheism comes from.

It has no teeth. No way to balance the books of justice. There is no Judgement Day as it were. It has relevance only as long as there is life and life is short indeed in a world without God. When you Kill the Afterlife, you kill justice (and ultimately everything else of relevance to humanity).

You are exposing here a major weakness in monotheistic moral systems, especially Christianity. What you unknowingly did here is imply that the only worthwhile moral system is a carrot and stick moral system. You are implying that the only way to justify a moral code is through punishments. You are claiming that the only reason a person shouldnt do harm to another (or break omral rule X) is because of the suffering they will endure as a result. But in reality, this is the weakest reason that can possibly be given for a proscription against immoral behavior.

If person X only refrains from killing me due to fear of punishment, then person X is a very untrustworthy and blackhearted person indeed. Morality is about the virtue of good behavior, not about punishments being dished out by an external source for doing nasty things. And besides, why would person X care if they get punished unless they already had a value system to work from?

For one, the case of killing everyone in a sinful culture is a judgement which the owner of the universe is at liberty to demand. He owns us. That's that. I know you don't accept it, but that's how it is. And this accusation of God being unjust to the innocent harkens back to my counter-argument elsewhere that this amounts to complaining. The kids are in paradise and doing just fine. So wipe away your tears and get on with life.

So God is the master and we are the slaves. Do as I say not as I do. God operates on one set of rules, and we operate on another. His rules about morality are not universal, therefore are only selectively applied and arbitrary. They arent even rules or principles if they can be broken!

Funny how God dictates moral rules according to "his nature" but apparently God can ACT outside of the dictates of "his nature" anytime he pleases! Again, this isnt a very convincing thng for apologists to say: "he owns us. thats that." Will this kind of brute force "submit now!" approach bring more sheep to the flock? No.

Besides this, exactly what would you have done had you been there? Imagine hearing the command to go forth and slay the innocent. You say to yourself, "Let's see, I've seen for myself or been told by thousands of eyewitnesses about the miracles at Egypt. God is obviously real. Even the Manna shows up every day. Hmm. Maybe since there is OBVIOUSLY an all powerful God, perhaps He knows what He's doing better than I, understands fully the moral picture, and I should just shut up and do what I'm told for a change."

Yes, what choice does the slave have when the master cracks his whip? This is known as the "neuremberg defense" where the underlings say "i was just following the furhers orders!" My own internal common sense forces my revulsion at such an unbalanced and brutal moral system.

ecualegacy said...

AK - Ok so lets look at Gods nature. Who decided what Gods nature is in the first place? God himself, or someone/thing else? Either way, a conscious decision about what a Gods nature -and by extension, morality- is, is itself arbitrary.

EC - You seem to have mis-read what I said (and what the Bible teaches). God did not "choose" his nature. It is what it is and always has been and always will be.


AK - I, also, think sacrifice is a bad thing.

EC - You're missing out on some great omelettes man.


AK - The only reason you are even defending the practice of castration here is because the Bible promotes it.

EC - Aaron, I'm sorry but you're just not reading carefully enough. Jesus was not advocating castration. It is *potentially* a good thing to be unmarried or a eunich in order to be more devoted to God and love of fellow mankind. "The one who can accept this should accept this," i.e., that kind of life is not for everyone, but it is a noble thing and not something to scorn. Or do you revile Mother Teresa's example? She never married.


AK - Why are the laws of logic, such as "a is a" exempt from the necessity of being created by God?

EC - BTW: I'm not a practicing Biochemist. I should have been more clear. I do have a B.S. in the field. I tend to think of the laws of logic being co-existant with God. God cannot be illogical: i.e. can't make a stone even he can't lift.


AK - I would imagine that, similarly, you would contend that murder is immoral regardless of whether there is a God who decrees it to be so?

EC - As I've said, I don't see how you can have a truly meaningful, objectively justified moral system without God and eternal life. BTW: Murder is only murder if the killing is unjustified. Now if you want to haggle over what is sufficient justification for killing, then we'll be splitting off into a whole new field of discussion. Your choice.


AK - What you unknowingly did here is imply that the only worthwhile moral system is a carrot and stick moral system. You are implying that the only way to justify a moral code is through punishments.

EC - I'm sorry to say this, but I set you up on that one. I'm a bit disappointed. No, I didn't "unknowingly imply that the only worthy moral systems are carrot and stick moral systems." Justice, by definition, is a system of equitable reward and punishment. That's its definition. Thanks be to God that He is merciful and sent His Son to take the punishment we deserve.


AK - You are claiming that the only reason a person shouldnt do harm to another (or break omral rule X) is because of the suffering they will endure as a result. But in reality, this is the weakest reason that can possibly be given for a proscription against immoral behavior.

EC - Wow Aaron! I didn't think anything you could have said would have shocked me, but you have. I'm reeling at your belief that there is a moral system out there that ISN'T defined by what does and does not hurt someone. If something is harmless, it is a good thing (or at least neutral) by every moral system I've ever heard of. Other things are painful, but designed to improve a state of affairs overall (like the pushups I endure at PT). Hopefully I've misread something of what you said above. Please let me know.

AK - So God is the master and we are the slaves. Do as I say not as I do. God operates on one set of rules, and we operate on another. His rules about morality are not universal, therefore are only selectively applied and arbitrary. They arent even rules or principles if they can be broken!

EC - Aaron, you would have benefitted greatly I think from serving in the Army or at least some team sport. God is the Captain. The Judge. The delegator of tasks for us. He isn't breaking the "game's" rules. He's playing by them when He calls people out on their wrongdoing.


AK - Again, this isn't a very convincing thng for apologists to say: "he owns us. thats that."

EC - I think I'm getting an insight into your cultural mindframe here. You're living Job 21:14-15. You're so used to being an independent modern citizen of this world that you've lulled yourself into thinking, "Hey, I can swing this life thing on my own. God hasn't given me anything. In fact, I don't like how he runs things and could do better." Am I far wrong? Funny, Adam and Eve basically said the same thing in the garden. The question is, how long will you go on spiting God for no better reason than your pride?

You know what is missing from all the posts I've seen you put up on your website is a real complaint against a real Christian moral teaching. Maybe I'm just not being observant enough, but you seem stuck on what God does and not paying attention to what he told us to do.


AK - His rules about morality are not universal, therefore are only selectively applied and arbitrary. They arent even rules or principles if they can be broken!

EC - Even I'm hard pressed to see exactly where God is being "arbitrary" in the Bible in his Judgements. In fact, the only real question I have for God is how he was able to pardon my multitude of sins, all the horrible things I've done, all the suffering I have caused in this world, just by one day's hard work on a cross.


AK - Will this kind of brute force "submit now!" approach bring more sheep to the flock? No.

EC - In your case, I expect not. What I hope I've done is get you thinking again beyond your preconceived notions about the Bible and the afterlife. When you lose loved ones, you're going to dearly wish there was one. Even if you don't want it to last forever, you want it to last longer.

Let me tell you a story. I was a atheist once...for about 6 hours. Lousy afternoon. I stepped for that short while into the hell you now live in. I took the time to consider the real ramifications of letting go of God, hope in salvation, and all that I had considered good in the world. I thought, "maybe the skeptics have been right all along." Then I realized that even if they were right and I went on believing and loving as I had, I'd never regret it in oblivion. You're on a pointless path my friend. An e-ticket to nothing important in the end. You comfort yourself by saying over and over like a mantra that a short life is a valuable life when in fact this is a lie. It will be gone in a matter of decades and be of no consequence if oblivion greets you. But it could be so much better if I am right and angels wait to take us home.


AK - This is known as the "neuremberg defense" where the underlings say "i was just following the furhers orders!" My own internal common sense forces my revulsion at such an unbalanced and brutal moral system.

EC - You obviously didn't read the article. Besides that, God doesn't take innocent lives without compensation. How many times do I have to pound that point? The children have been paid back with paradise and glory. They are still there enjoying it while you sit here bemoaning their fate! How upside-down is your complaint? Now, if the children don't have a problem with how things turned out, why do you? "Stop judging by appearances and make a right judgement!"

Bahnsen Burner said...

EC: "Or do you revile Mother Teresa's example?"

I have already written about Mother Theresa. She is nothing to look up to, certainly not a model of moral living. See my blog Hitler vs. Mother Theresa: Antithesis or Symbiosis?.

I am answering Ecualegacy in several installments on my own blog. I have already rolled out two posts responding to him. See here:

Answering Ecualegacy, Pt. 1

Answering Ecualegacy, Pt. 2

More to come. Promise!

Regards,
Dawson

ecualegacy said...

Aaron,

Since I know you screen your blog, I'll let you decide if you want this duplicate response to Dawson's blog. Please let me know you preference.

-Brian

BB - Van Til believed in a sovereign god, while Ecualegacy does not. Got it.

Oh God is definitely sovereign. Just because he's letting things run amok because of our rebellion, don't think for a second there won't be an accounting. Judgment Day is coming.

But what about II Peter 3:9, you'll say? "God is not willing that any should perish but that all should have eternal life."

No, God isn't failing at His goals. His aim, as taught in the Scripture, is for people to love Him. He would like everyone to come to Him. Matt 23:37 says, "How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gatehrs her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."

Key phrase there to why this world sucks. "You were not willing."

But then you'll complain, Who would love a god that lets the innocent suffer and little children die horribly? And I think I've addressed that enough. They're fine. They're in heaven. Move along now to examining where you can improve and stop telling God how to run His Universe.


BB - Christianity uses the cover of a fantasy to hide the believer’s hatred of mankind from himself. This hatred for mankind began as hatred of oneself. A poor self-esteem is a ticket to mystical delusion.

Hey, if you don't want to take responsibility for your own mistakes, let me know so I can get out of the way. I don't like getting hit by lightening or being swallowed up by the ground.


BB - Moral responsibility involves taking ownership for one's choices and actions.

I'm sorry BB, but the hypocrisy of this statement is staggering. God makes the world, and we rebel. He makes a way in the systems of justice to let us be reconciled...ie he comes down here, suffers and dies as a righteous man, and you complain that God isn't taking responsibility for His Creation?


BB - Since man was not even around to have a say in any [the creation of the universe], there is no way that man could have any ultimate responsibility at all.

This is a classic, "I'm not responsible for the world I live in" dodge. The moment you committed your first sin, you proved that you earned this world just as much as Adam and Eve did. I acknowledge my guilt and have been forgiven. I beg you to do the same.


BB - Psychologically, this is what is happening....

When failing to deal with issues, psychoanalyze your opponent. And a classic case of projection to boot.

BB - Does the story model Abraham even wincing at this, asking why he should do this, or trying to protect his values? No, it does not. The story portrays Abraham going right along with the instruction unquestioningly. What would have happened if Abraham simply questioned his god's instructions, let alone defy them? The bible gives us enough cues to imagine what its god's reaction would be. And it is here, in the believer's imagine, that a holy terror starts to grow once its chimeras are taken seriously.

BB, I'm sorry, but your analysis is full of fundiliteralism, unwarranted character assasignation, and a failure to listen to what you're reading. You are *assuming* that Abraham didn't question God. He certainly did question God about Sodom! Moses questioned God when he was seconds from toasting Israel in righteous judgment. Job questioned God about his woes. Jonah questioned God about his mercy. Jesus himself questioned God about the whole hanging on a cross bit.

Sometimes God took their suggestions. Other times he said, that's enough, get to work. You really should be ashamed of yourself for distorting the Bible. But you aren't because you don't believe in and think it is imaginary anyway. You've already decided it is of no relevance to reality other than the bothersome Christians it helps create. Why are they bothersome to you? What are they saying that has you so upset?



BB - The typical course of evasion is to somehow put the blame on the non-believer, as if it were his fault for the Christian god’s lack of follow-through.

Its late and I'm not even finished with Part 1 of your list of post of errors (my I sound snappish!)

Perhaps for some the typical evasion route is as you say. But as Job taught, that isn't always the case.


BB - So Ecualegacy’s chosen standard – whatever can affect him after he’s “passed into oblivion” – is a safety measure he throws in place in order to evade the shame which he senses in his own belief system, once it’s been exposed.

BB, I'll be brutally honest with you. This is the only paragraph in your post that I found interesting. Everything else I do believe I have addressed elsewhere on Aaron's blog.

It touches on the question of, if all is going to a big black pot of oblivion, can anything really matter? No. I don't think it can. Why? Just wait till you're dead and you'll find the answer to that question.

ecualegacy said...

Aaron, I hope you'll leave this response to BB on your site. I think it is worthwhile repeating it here and his.

BB - Again Ecualegacy shifts the issue in order to avoid dealing with the real issue. We were discussing belief, and when I point out that all Ecualegacy’s god would need to do to get someone like myself to believe it is real, would be to show itself, just as the New Testament book of Acts says happened to Saul of Tarsus. Instead of acknowledging that this would be an effective approach (according to the storybook, it was certainly effective in the case of Saul of Tarsus), he calls this a “fallacious argument” and now tells us that mere belief is not enough.

Fine. Have it your way. Behold there is a flamming cross before you. Everyone around says, "oooh, ahhh, there is the Christ. Holy toledo, he was real after all." And what do I predict will be your response based on what I've read from you? "Jesus, I hate your guts. You're morally repugnant. You're an absentee brother. Your God is an absentee father. Your Christian slaves are self-righteous bigots." And you wonder why he hasn't bothered to come knocking around your door? He isn't wanted by you. Why would he reveal himself to you if he isn't wanted? That's why I'm fond of the saying (my dad passed this along to me once), "Faith in God isn't a problem of evidence but of pride."

God Bless,
Brian

Aaron Kinney said...

EC,

Aaron, I hope you'll leave this response to BB on your site. I think it is worthwhile repeating it here and his.

Yes of course I will publish it. The only reason that I moderate my comments now is because of one annoying christian who consistently accused me of pexual perversion for like 20 comments and even made a fake atheist blog to try to trick me.

Youre a cool guy and you are totally welcome here. I read your comments to BB and I dont think they are offensive or out of line. BB regularly deals with Paul Manata, who is way more offensive and insulting than I think you could ever be. While BB will almost certainly disagree with what you said, I doubt he will be offended by it.

ecualegacy said...

Thanks for the kind words.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Just some quick observations and responses...

I wrote: “Van Til believed in a sovereign god, while Ecualegacy does not. Got it.”

Ecualegacy: “Oh God is definitely sovereign. Just because he's letting things run amok because of our rebellion, don't think for a second there won't be an accounting. Judgment Day is coming.”

"...letting things run amok..." does not indicate good and able management. On the contrary, it indicates dismally poor management, assuming there is any management present to begin with. But this is what Ecualegacy takes as an indication of "divine sovereignty." He tries to shore it up with warnings of impending doom. The sky is going to fall, we're told, so we better take cover (that is, we better prostrate ourselves before Ecualegacy's god). Mystics have been foretelling doom since the beginning of history, and yet here we are, chugging along as swimmingly as ever. Is Ecualegacy's god simply waiting for the right moment? Or, is this all just a myth that we're supposed to fear even though there's no legitimate basis to it?

Ecualegacy: “But what about II Peter 3:9, you'll say? ‘God is not willing that any should perish but that all should have eternal life’."

Statements like this are intentionally noncommittal, and by keeping other characteristics attributed to the Christian god out of view, their meaning can fluctuate just enough to be made to correspond to whatever outcome happens to result without implicating the position being defended. But straight answers are what is needed: is this god willing, or not willing, that any should perish? Yes or no? Now after answering this question, we need to ask: does anything in reality happen that Ecualegacy's god doesn't want to happen? Yes or no? Then we can ask: What is Ecualegacy worried about? If he's confident that there is a god and he's in line with its will, then what's all his fussing about? If Ecualegacy is worried and trying to do something about it (such as trying to reach out to non-believers "before it's too late"), where's his god? Why isn't his god doing the same thing? Ecualegacy will likely say his god is doing the same thing, but subjectively, "speaking to our hearts." This is reminiscent of Abraham hearing a little voice in his head saying "Go prepare your son as a burnt offering."

Ecualegacy: “No, God isn't failing at His goals.”

Well, if its goal is "letting things run amok," that's pretty easily achieved: just sit back and do nothing in the case of circumstances which need active regulation in order to maintain orderliness. Of course, what's the difference between a god whose goal is "letting things run amok" and no god at all? Either way, it still falls on man's shoulders to bring order to things, and he does this through reason-guided effort.

Regardless, no one who wants to believe his imaginary deity is real, is likely to admit that it fails at achieving its goals. This is why faith is so important to the believer: it's a chosen commitment to an emotional investment that he wants to protect regardless of its stark departure from reality. But meanwhile, the believer fails to see how the attribution of goal-orientedness to a being allegedly possessing the characteristics which Christians attribute to their god commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. The Christian god is eternal, immortal, indestructible, perfect, lacking nothing. Nothing can harm it, nothing can improve it, nothing can threaten it, nothing can complete it. It is wholly static for all eternity, facing no fundamental alternatives whatsoever, and nothing can change this. At best, if it were conscious at all, it would be completely indifferent to anything else that exists. The upshot is that it has no basis for goal-setting whatsoever. Consequently, any “goal” it might pursue could only be arbitrary. And it would not matter whether or not it made progress in achieving said goal. A failure to achieve the goal wouldn’t affect it any more than success in achieving it would.

Regards,
Dawson

ecualegacy said...

Everyone, just thought you'd like to know that I moved my blog to http://ecualegacy.blogspot.com for the simple reason that no one seemed interested in discussing the Ravi Z vids there. Since you guys know who I am, I figured my ether name was as good a name for the blog as any.

ecualegacy said...

Dawson, you have quite the bad reputation out in blogland I see (Just googled your name). As I indicated on your own blog, I won't be going to your house to play ball any more. But as long as I'm welcome at AK's, I'll work with you here.

Just so that no one accuses me of being unfraid to say here what I said on your blog, let me put this out.

I am quite disturbed by your blatant corruption of people's positions in debate. In addition, it is as if you throw out arguments so absurd that they are designed to create a show for you to watch. I also said, and see no reason to change my opinion yet, that you exhibit sociopathic-like traits in this. You scare me man. Anyone who can morally equate Hitler with Mother Theresa is capable of anything in my estimation.

Having said that, you do raise some interesting topics of discussion. If only you'd behave yourself and not so grossly misrepresent someone else's points. I'll admit that I am sometimes guilty of this, but it is usually while I am trying to show a position taken to its logical conclusion. If I make that error, please correct me.

I'll get to your points if and when I feel the urge to. Sorry, but that's the best I can promise you. I've got a lot on my plate now.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Ecualegacy: “Dawson, you have quite the bad reputation out in blogland I see (Just googled your name).”

I suppose that depends on whom you ask. I googled my name as well, and it’s true: many do seek to tarnish my name. You can take your pick: Paul Manata, Frank Walton, Peter Pike, and sundry other confessionally invested theists. But that’s exactly what I would expect among theists. Pioneers always take the arrows.

Ecualegacy: “As I indicated on your own blog, I won't be going to your house to play ball any more. But as long as I'm welcome at AK's, I'll work with you here.”

Okay.

Ecualegacy: “Just so that no one accuses me of being unfraid to say here what I said on your blog, let me put this out.”

”...unfraid...”? What’s that? Did you mean “afraid” or “unafraid”?

Ecualegacy: “I am quite disturbed by your blatant corruption of people's positions in debate.”

Such as? Which debate? Have you seen how my detractors like to distort my position? Does that disturb you as well?

Ecualegacy: “In addition, it is as if you throw out arguments so absurd that they are designed to create a show for you to watch.”

It's true, I do like to spark a debate now and then. But so do many bloggers. What makes me particularly different? Also, which arguments of mine do you consider absurd? Keep in mind, I think belief in invisible magic beings is absurd. So it may simply be that we’re both accusing each other of absurdity because we have a dispute at the most fundamental level of our respective conceptions of reality.

Ecualegacy: “I also said, and see no reason to change my opinion yet, that you exhibit sociopathic-like traits in this."

This is the second time that you have attributed “sociopathic-like traits” to me. The first time I saw this was in a comment you recently posted to my blog Hitler vs. Mother Theresa: Antithesis or Symbiosis?. So you accuse me of being a sociopath. A sociopath is someone who displays antisocial behavior. I suppose among theists I would be considered sociopathic in this sense, since as an atheist I’m a total spoilsport.

And yet, as a Christian you worship someone who modeled sociopathic behavior as an example of the highest good. Observe:

Jesus frequently referred to human beings as “vipers” (see Mt. 3:7, 12:34, 23:33; Lk. 3:7).

Jesus made it a condition of salvation that one hate his own life (see Jn. 12:25).

Jesus made it a condition of discipleship that one hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters “and his own life also” (see Lk. 14:26; see also Mt. 10:37).

At one point, Jesus even rejects his own mother.

Ecualegacy: “You scare me man.”

I guess we’re even then. Religionists scare me.

Ecualegacy: “Anyone who can morally equate Hitler with Mother Theresa is capable of anything in my estimation.”

I think you may have misunderstood my position. I did not exactly “morally equate Hitler with Mother Theresa.” I showed how people like Mother Theresa enable a Hitler. If you disagree, I’d like to know why.

At any rate, Ecua, I have dealt with you hard, because I figured you can take it. I do not think I misrepresent other people’s positions, as you have accused me. On the contrary, I reduce their position to explicit fundamentals, and show why their positions (such as in the case of presuppositionalists) are irrational. Typically the response I get is emotional in nature, lacking actual intellectual merit. And as you say you sometimes try to do, I “show a position to its logical conclusion” as well. If you can’t take it, dismiss me as a sociopath and move on, worshipping the sociopath named Jesus. But remember that I do not demand worship, but am interested only in “rais[ing] some interesting topics of discussion,” as you admit I have succeeded in doing.

Regards,
Dawson

ecualegacy said...

I apologize if this post is hurried, by I've put a time limit on my blogging and I'm not breaking it tonight.

Your soft words do you credit. I am glad to see you clarifying your position on Mother Theresa. It puts my mind at least a little at ease.

Be that as it may, my homework and family obligations have caught up and indulging in blogging is something that must take a back seat for a while.

As I indicated before, you have twisted several positions and doctrines. Addressing even a few will take time. I'll take what you have written above as an examlpe:

BB - Jesus frequently referred to human beings as “vipers” (see Mt. 3:7, 12:34, 23:33; Lk. 3:7).

Jesus made it a condition of salvation that one hate his own life (see Jn. 12:25).

Jesus made it a condition of discipleship that one hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters “and his own life also” (see Lk. 14:26; see also Mt. 10:37).

At one point, Jesus even rejects his own mother.


This is an example of how you subtly (and I am must still currently believe intentionally) take things out of context. Take your last statement. By tacking "Jesus even rejects his own mother" onto the end of a list of unqualified verses about "hating family", you make it sound as if Jesus did something mean to his mom. At least that is my plain reading of your statement.

As I recall, the relevant passage says only that his mother and brothers were outside, someone told him they wanted to talk to him, and he used the opportunity to explain that those who followed his teachings were his spiritual mother and brothers. The episode ends there. Did Jesus go to his family later or ask them to join him? Perhaps. We don't know. I don't think it even matters.

But Dawson, my reason for being upset and suspicious of you is that I find it hard to believe you do not understand that "hate" in the context of the verses given is not what we in the 21st century would normally take the words to mean. You do understand that rabbis of the olden days were fond of figures of speech and using extremes to make a point. I don't have a background in Hebrew, but even without that, the only way one can harmonize "hating" family with the commands of love that comprised the bulk of Jesus' teachings is to understand these "hate" commands in a sense other than wishing someone harm.

So between acknowledging your intellect and seeing you make what is in my estimation is an odd blunder at best and an intentional distortion at worst...well, I trust you can see my reason for being frustrated as distrustful of you.

God Bless,
Brian (EC)

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