Archive for January, 2011

On Testimony: The Realization of Reason- Part 2

Posted on January 26, 2011. Filed under: Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Personal, Religion |

Part 2 of my post on testimony will be a my attempt to give a step-by-step progression from religion to atheism.  I mentioned in my previous post that I find Christian testimony formulaic and/or dishonest, yet I still find the hyperbole enthralling.  This will be far less enthralling, I think.  For one, it is 2000+ words.  I think that it would be great if we could all tell these stories.  Maybe I’ll start something by writing this post.  Likely not.  So if you have too much time on your hands and want to get to know me, put your ass in a comfy chair, get a hot cup of joe, and lets get started….

My Testimony

(more…)

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 45 so far )

A Quote From “Sick and Tired of God Stuff, An Open Letter to Theists”

Posted on January 26, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

“I am going to pray for you that Jesus will bring happiness into your life!” Um, hard as it is to accept, it IS possible to be happy without Jesus. Tell me was your life destroyed after you found out Santa wasn’t real? No, not for long. Nothing really changed, did it? You still got presents, you just got them with different ‘from’ tags. Same with Jesus.

Carol Roper says some great stuff. Read the whole article here.
Hat tip to Pope Honkey I.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

On Testimony: The Foundation Of Faith- Part 1

Posted on January 24, 2011. Filed under: Atheism, Personal, Religion |

This is part one of a two part post on Testimony.  Part two will be an autobiographical testimony of how I left the faith and became an atheist.

On Testimony

If there is one thing I am addicted to from my years of being a Christian, it is testimony.  The church I attended loved testimony.  Every week, a member of our congregation would stand before the whole church and bare their soul, witnessing to the glory of Christ.

To this day, every time I wander onto a Christian blog, the first thing I look for is ” The Testimony”.  I naively keep expecting that I’ll find something different; yet I always am let down to find that testimony is a formula, everyone takes the same road to Christ.  Testimony is a relatively new invention in the church.  Years ago, everyone was a Lutheran because their parents were Lutheran.  Everyone was a

This is exactly like my old church....well almost.

Christian because they were expected to be a Christian.  To testify would be to express the concept that there is a choice- that faith was an option chosen among alternatives.  In a global society, one with innumerable denominations and Gods and philosophies, testimony is a way to acknowledge a thought process that winnowed down all those options to a resolute belief.

My obsession with testimony is as much a product of the necessity of it as the logic of it.  The renaissance value of knowledge was a latecomer to the Christian Chastity Ball, but when it came it asked us all to dance with the scientific method.  It changed the sullen duty of stepping to the waltz  into a Sadie Hawkins affair.  The problem is that nothing really changed.  We all claim that we danced with the debutante, when we all were leaning on the walls.

Just once I would like to hear someone testify that they were born into the faith.  That they resolutely held to its values because it was all they ever knew.  I’d love to hear that they had doubts, yes, but never bothered to follow them further than a quick reference to scripture.  They have been fulfilled in their life and chose to stay the course.  I want to hear that they never really questioned the word of God and here is why.

Why does doubt have to figure so powerfully in testimony?  Why must everyone come to Christ through a dark and lonely path?  Why must we all see the depths of “rock-bottom” before finally being lifted to His side?  Just once I would like to hear an honest testimony.  A personal testimony.  It is as though there is a script that we all must follow to get to His glory. Almost to a one, every Christian I know has been one since childhood, we all went to school together, we talked, we were friends.  If I am to believe the testimony, I have to admit that I was woefully ignorant to the challenges my friends faced in their walk with Jesus.

From testimony, I know this:

  1. Almost every Christian has been an atheist, or flirted with Wicca, or Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Paganism.  Every single one has doubted enough to abandon the faith for some alternate philosophical possibility.
  2. Virtually every one of these people has felt entirely unfulfilled by any other way of thinking, as though there really was no merit to any other option.
  3. Each of these people has been overcome by the temptations of a material world, they made bad choices: drugs, sex, lack of self-respect.  They have seen the dark side, they have let it take hold of them.
  4. Most received a personal message from Jesus that led them right to the church that either their close friends attend or they were born into but left.
  5. This process led to them accepting Jesus into their lives, and they live happily ever after. (Mostly)

The problem I have is that I have evidence that suggests that this never really happened.  Some might surely be drawn from experience, but much is hyperbole.  If my Christian friends wavered in the faith, they certainly never let on to me.  If they were reading books on Wicca, or Satanism, or Hare Krishna sometime between Sunday Service, Harp and Bowl, and Youth Group, then they managed the devilish details quite well.  I never had a clue.

So when I was called on to give my testimony, I tried desperately to duck out.  I had never really given other faiths a fair shot, I led a

Is the question "Why does no-one in my church listen to me?"? Then yes.

pretty blessed life, I was comfortable with my God.   I had doubts from time to time, to be sure, but I never followed them further than a reassuring passage from the bible.  My favorite passage, the one that I turned to most frequently, was Job 5:17- “Blessed are those whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”  I never really thought of adversity as a bad thing.  I was decidedly not a Christian worthy of testimony.  When it came time to face the music though, I read the lyrics all the same.  It ate at me.  It was the first step toward the end of my faith.

What captured my imagination about testimony as a Christian was listening to how other people had made the mistakes so that I didn’t have to.  What captures my imagination now is what testimony says about Christians in general.  They are either worlds away from the faith I witnessed in my youth or they are that scared twenty-two year old boy rehashing hyperbole to make everyone happy.  I don’t really care which one they are.  I’m so divorced from both now that all I can muster is self-satisfied curiosity.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 17 so far )

A Video Is Worth 10,000 Words….

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Atheism, Humour, Religion |

I read a whole series of posts on prayer over at Lousy Canuck this past summer, just to find out that the subject could be summarized in a cute 3 minute cartoon.  Thanks a lot Jason.  Thanks a lot….

From The Thinking Atheist (Via Cafe Witteveen)

All kinds of awesome…..

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

Presuppositional Apologetics: Q and A With An Apologist Who Has No A…

Posted on January 19, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion, Science, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

In the hopes of having Peter clarify his opinions and commit to his own logic, I will answer several questions he asked in his newest post.  I will intersperse his post with my replies, Peter in red, myself in blue.  I will also not cherrypick his questions or commentary, because I am just that kind of guy.  Peter, for those who are joining midstream, is not.

Clarification Needed

Hi George. I want to give you an adequate reply to your post here, but I need some further clarification from you before I do that.

I still argue that your whole argument rests on not clarifying your position or your interpretation of my position, so let’s be honest about why you are responding.  You are hoping that you can force me to contradict myself.  You won’t answer questions because you know that answering them shows you contradicting yourself.  I’ll play the game, if only to show you that, unlike you, I have taken the time to think out my positions.  You know which questions you continue to avoid.  If you don’t then I can assume you uninformed based on reading comprehension alone.  Let’s begin, shall we?

You wrote: “You will notice that I include objective morality as a possible option for the atheist.”

You also wrote: “Morality is objective in the sense that rules, whether understood by convention or natural order, are the basis for the definition of a species and how it interacts with the world.”

And also: “Morality is subjective in the sense that our choices impact our ability to survive; so the best solution is not always clear, or do not impact our survival, so that reason can transcend a rule that has outlived its merit.”

My question for you is this: is being self-contradictory objectively wrong? Or is the claim, “being self-contradictory is wrong,” a matter of personal opinion, i.e., subjectively wrong? The reason I ask is because you accused the Bible of being self-contradictory. Then later you wrote: “Are you morally obligated to follow the laws of logic? Nope. You have every right to be wrong.”

George:  First, do you believe it self-contradictory to believe that morality has both subjective and objective elements?  Only you have argued that morality is purely one or the other.  That said,  is being self-contradictory objectively wrong? By almost any metric the answer would be yes.  To clarify, it might be possible for your opinion to be self-contradictory and still get the right answer, but that would be unlikely.  I really cannot clarify this for you enough Peter; you have no obligation to accept truth.  It really helps, but you are not forced by anyone to have an opinion.  You are obliged by reality and society to accept the consequences of your actions.  If you can show me where your opinion on X is more important than the nature of  X, then I’m willing to listen.  Being wrong and thinking something is wrong are two different things.  You have always attempted to conflate the two, but you thinking it doesn’t make it so.  Here’s your false dichotomy. Something can be both thought wrong and objectively wrong, you can be objectively wrong but not be thought wrong,  you can be thought wrong but not be objectively wrong.   Your opinion, my opinion, it doesn’t matter.  That is not what someone who uses the word “subjective” when talking about morality means.  You can insist that it is, but it doesn’t make it so.  If your opinion does change the meaning of how someone communicates an idea, then you are a “subjectivist” yourself.  The word “subjective” you use, as well as the word “objective” you use, have very different meanings for you then they do for someone who argues the subjective nature of morality.  Maybe you are correct to assume that they are using the wrong word, perhaps “contextual” is a better one.   Morals are both objective, in that there are some opinions that are wrong regardless of any persons opinion, or subjective in that they are not objectively wrong but moral/immoral/neutral by the metric of the person who judges it.  Is capital punishment wrong?  By my metric, yes.  Can I see why it is a contentious issue?  Sure.  Do I consider people who support capital punishment immoral? Yes.  That is my opinion, and it is shared by many people.  Would I consider that opinion to be an objective moral truth?  Not really.  Does that analogy help at all?


I have another question that concerns what you wrote here: “In order for the premise that subjective morality is self-contradictory to be true, man must be unable to refuse an objective moral truth by fiat.”

Whose fiat are you talking about? And so I’m clear, are you saying that the ability to disobey a law shows that morality is not objective? Or have I misunderstood you? Also, do you make a distinction between, on the one hand, whether one is able to or can break a law, and on the other hand, whether one is permitted or allowed to break a law?

You wrote: “In order for your premise to stand you must prove that man is solitary by nature, that nothing in reality transcends his personal opinion of what is moral or immoral.”

To which premise were you referring? Also, so you’re clear, I do not believe that there is nothing in reality that transcends man’s personal opinion. God is transcendent.

You have most certainly misunderstood me if you think that the statement “In order for the premise that subjective morality is self-contradictory to be true, man must be unable to refuse an objective moral truth by fiat.” has anything to do with whether morality is objective or subjective or both.  It is a statement about your belief that subjective morality is self-contradictory.  It is a statement that shows you are wrong.  That doesn’t mean subjective morality is right, or that objective morality is wrong.  It doesn’t mean the opposite of that either.  It means that the opinion that subjective morality is self-contradictory is wrong.   I say that because your premise for proving self-contradiction is that someone’s (in this case your) ability to refuse to accept truth makes that truth worthless.  You have every right to disagree with Jason, I have every right to break God’s Law, neither of these fact make either premise self-contradictory.  If you disagree with Jason and he is right, there are consequences, the first being that you are wrong.  His opinion of whether you are wrong or not has no bearing here.  Nor does your opinion that you are right.  When I talk about what transcends your opinion, I refer to facts, consequences, reality, logic, human nature, and human constructs.  Your opinion of whether Jason is right or wrong has no bearing on any of these things.  A subjective moralist would say that his opinion of your moral obligations is beside the point, that your wages are due to those things that transcend his opinion.  That sounds familiar to your presuppositional opinion that your moral obligation is owed to God.  Where the subjective moralist differs is that he understands morality to be logically contingent to its variables as opposed to the commandment of some (possibly non-existent) higher power.  You essentially end up saying the same thing in different language, you just presuppose that if there is a God, he is infallible, and therefor must be consistent with at least the first five of the six transcendent variables I listed above.  You presuppose.  Not me.


You wrote: “By picking and choosing what you want the definitions to be, you create black and white pronouncements from a million shades of gray.”

I was operating according to the dictionary definitions of objective and subjective. There are free dictionaries online for you to look up the meanings. Should I assume from your comment here that we should go by your definition of objective and subjective instead of the dictionary definitions of these words? If so, then I refuse. There’s no reason we can’t use the dictionary definitions of these words.

I’m not asking you to accept my definitions of those words.  I’m asking you to accept the definition of a word in the context it is being used, as opposed to the context you want to apply to it.  The funny thing about the English language is that words have multiple meanings, some of them with only subtle differences.  “Subjective”, as I mentioned in an earlier response, has different uses with subtle differences.  You insist on using it as an admission that atheists believe morality is a personal opinion, because you use this definition:

The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.

When just a few mouseclicks down from that definition you get this one:

1. belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered
2. of, relating to, or emanating from a person’s emotions, prejudices, etc. subjective views
3. relating to the inherent nature of a person or thing; essential
4. (Philosophy) existing only as perceived and not as a thing in itself

This gives us a better look at what a subjectivist would define as subjective.   Replace “person” in the singular with human nature, social constructs, facts, context, etc. and you start to see what they are saying.  They are using “subjective” as the opposite of your warped definition of “objective”; where “subjective” implies morality has context and variables, as opposed to being so because God says so.    You offer only two possibilities:  God is the objective source of all morality or it’s all just personal opinion.  Do you honestly believe those are the only two possibilities?  There are really no other options?  Is your mind really that limited?   That something transcends the nature of the act, emanating from our emotions or prejudices; this consensus as essential to our nature,  morality existing because we perceive it and not necessarily because it is so.  Murder is wrong if we define the limits of what murder is.  If killing another living thing is murder, and murder is objectively wrong, then our survival is objectively wrong.  The subjectivist says that by defining the parameters of what constitutes right or wrong, we project our own prejudices upon it.  This is why there are vegans.  You define subjectivity as anarchy when a subjectivist would call it contingent.
There is no reason to believe that morality is purely subjective, even in this sense.  There is good reason to believe that morality is not purely objective, commanded and not reasoned, in the sense that you use the definition.  You can use whatever definitions you like, it doesn’t change the fact that your conclusions will be based on false assumptions made by using improper definitions.  I can’t say it enough, you have every right to be wrong.  It’s up to you to decide that you value truth.

Also, you wrote: “Logic does not transcend reality, it is a slave to it. Logic is objective. ………. What transcends logic to make it objective? Reality.”

Are you saying that logic is not part of reality? If reality transcends logic, then is it impossible for logic to be part of reality?

Looking forward to your clarification so that I might give you a proper reply.

See Peter, this is where all our trouble starts.  You really need to read beyond the first line of a definition.  If you bother to use your favorite Free Online Dictionary, and move down to the other two definitions of “transcend” you will find that transcendent has the following definition:

2. To be greater than, as in intensity or power; surpass: love that transcends infatuation. See Synonyms at excel.

3. To exist above and independent of (material experience or the universe)

The definition you want to use is #3 from the second definition:

1. to go above or beyond (a limit, expectation, etc.), as in degree or excellence
2. (tr) to be superior to

3. (Philosophy) Philosophy Theol (esp of the Deity) to exist beyond (the material world)

You can ruminate for hours about how I am wrong by subtly changing the meaning of my words out of their context.  You have done it before, you’ll do it again I’m sure.  When I say that logic is a slave to reality, I am obviously making a distinction between the two, but saying that one (logic) is dependent on the other (reality).  Logic is objective in that its very definition means that it comports with reality.  If it does not, it is not logic, it is imagination.  Reality happens whether you are willing to make sense of it or not.  Logic is constructed to reveal truths about reality.  Can we, by consensus, change the rules of logic?  Semantically, yes.  We can’t, however, change reality so any change we agreed to would have to comport with reality or else it wouldn’t be logic.  We could call it logic, but that would redefine the word, and seems rather pointless.

Your trick here is to make someone agree with the fact that the laws of logic are man made constructs, which in one sense they are, then argue that they are then a matter of opinion.  By this metric, gravity is a man made construct, so do you propose that I might deny the laws of gravity and levitate around?

You want to play semantic games, because that is the entire point of presuppositional apologetics, to play with meanings and extrapolate consequences based on your interpretations.  You do not get to decide what I must believe.  I should be able to explain it, if asked, but just because you don’t want to listen doesn’t make you right.


Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )

Presuppositional Apologetics: Why Avoid The Quetions?…..Unless You Don’t Like The Answers…

Posted on January 17, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion, Social Justice, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

 

Peter continues to dance his little jig over at Atheism Presupposes Theism, this time in two new posts that avoid every argument I have put forward and continue to propagate his lazy logic.  We have come to the point where he is not willing to counter any of my arguments, just continue to claim victory by fiat.  If this is the intellectual legacy of Greg Bahnsen, then atheism has nothing to fear.  Presuppositionalism is a philosophy that requires no serious answer, because it refuses to ask any real questions.  It is a series of straw man arguments, strung together in an attempt to fool the weak of mind.  In that spirit, it can only serve as a tool to keep the believers believin’.  Here is a brief response to his two posts:

Peter says the following in response to my post Check(mate?) On Presuppositional Morality: Why Peter Can Murder His Kids And There’s Nothing You Can Do About It. His comments can be found here, as well as a copy and paste on my post in the comment section.

Peter:

Greg is nothing if not entertaining. He thinks he has me on the horns of a real dilemma, namely, that either I accept it’s ok to apply capital punishment to a child who curses his parent (Lev. 20:9), or if I don’t, I accept that my Christian worldview is inconsistent and self-defeating.

I’m a shakin’ in my boots.

While atheists may find it odd that capital punishment is applied to a much lesser number of sins in the New Testament after the coming and work of Jesus Christ as compared to the Old Testament, they should actually find it odd, given the Christian worldview, that capital punishment is not applied to any and every sin, whether in the New or Old Testaments. God warned Adam concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that from it “you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). God says in Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die.” The point is this: death is the penalty for every sin. Most people take the fact that they’re alive for granted, but it should actually be amazing that after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they did not die that day. God had every right to destroy the world but did not. Instead He enacted His plan of salvation. He allowed mankind continue the project of culture and civilization, although He put mankind and creation under the curse (see Gen. 3), and mankind became depraved as a result of his original sin. Mankind was still allowed to live a short life on this earth, relatively speaking. And why? To give people the opportunity to repent of their sins and call upon God for salvation; to allow for the people He would save and redeem to be born; to ensure that His Son would one day be born and accomplish the work of salvation that was set out for him to do.

He then goes on to remind us of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees when asked to stone an adulteress:

John 8:1-11, where a woman caught in the act of adultery (and thus liable to capital punishment) was brought to Jesus by the Pharisees and scribes. They asked Jesus concerning the very same thing that Greg is asking me about a child cursing his parents: “In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?” (Interestingly, the following verse says, “They were using the question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him”). Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Notice that Jesus did not say that the law of Moses was invalid. Rather, he shed light on the motivation behind what the Pharisees (and Greg) were trying to do, and to show them what their standing before God really is, namely, that everyone deserves death for their sin.

Peter seems to think that this is a valid answer to the issues I brought up in my post.  It isn’t.  I never argued that Christians can’t find a “Sola Scriptura” basis for holding virtually any moral position.  I agree with him on this point.  A Christian can find a biblical authority for  almost any moral position.  This is what has made the bible such an enduring document.

  • If you want to have slaves:  There’s a verse for that.
  • If you want to denounce slavery: There’s a verse for that.
  • If you believe in capital punishment: There’s a verse for that.
  • If you are against capital punishment: There’s a verse for that.

It allows you to hold virtually any position on any moral issue.  Agreed.

Now Peter, we both know that wasn’t the meat of my post.  Replace “killing your kids” with “holding slaves” or “lying to the authorities”  or “wearing poly-cotton blends” or “molesting your children” and you still have the same argument.  My post was not a commentary on Leviticus 20.  It was a commentary on the idiocy of presuppositional apologetic logic.

In order for the premise that subjective morality is self-contradictory to be true, man must be unable to refuse an objective moral truth by fiat.  That clearly contradicts the idea of man as a fallen creature, as well as free will, and thus your own worldview is self-contradictory.  Unless you can clearly define the difference between a Christian who sins (knows X is objectively wrong, but does it anyway) and an atheist (knows X is subjectively/objectively wrong, and disagrees or does it anyway) then you have not proven subjective morality self-defeating.  You’re just confused.

You will notice that I include objective morality as a possible option for the atheist.  There is nothing that insists that God must be so for morality to be objective in some respects.  You will contradict yourself if you attempt to prove otherwise.  You won’t prove it, you’ll just insist it, and hope that no one sees the difference.

You have had your chance to work with your own definitions.  You have done a poor job of explaining yourself.  You claim that morality is objective (I assume, if you want to disagree with me, that it is divinely commanded).  You had the chance to play with the word subjective, and you created a false dichotomy to try to explain your premise.  In order for your premise to stand you must prove that man is solitary by nature, that nothing in reality transcends his personal opinion of what is moral or immoral.  You must prove that God is the singular and only thing that informs morality.  You proved yourself wrong when you brought up lions.

The reason you have been avoiding my question about whether it is fair to make a comparison between lions killing zebras and people killing people is because you know what the logical conclusion of a fair comparison is.  Lions don’t kill lions with any more frequency then people kill people because they are social animals.  They depend on the lives of other lions in order to survive.  As social creatures we too understand this social contract, be it written, assumed or otherwise.  Your insistence that “we are fashioned in the image of God” as the reason means that you must assume that lions are also the benefactors of this trait.  As are dogs.  As are seals. As are dolphins. As are monkeys.  Your argument doesn’t hold water, there must be some other reason that transcends both opinion and theism.

Morality can be objective only insofar as a construct can be said to define an animals natural order.  For a pride of lions, if they could express their natural order, killing another lion would be objectively morally wrong.  The same would go for many other social species. This objective truth could only be superseded by by the consequences of another objective truth, for example if the life of one lion directly endangered the life of other lions in that pride.  So an anthropomorphically projected lion might make a moral decision to leave an older lion behind when the cost to the pride to defend him is too great.  That is a subjective moral decision.  It is one we as humans have the luxury of avoiding because we have reasoned our way out of the food chain and everyday struggle for survival.  If the lion were in our same situation, he would certainly exhibit the same behavior we would.

You should have chosen sharks, or birds, or some other creature that differs more in its nature or social construct from us.  It was a poorly played move, one that betrays the weakness of your argument.  That is why you won’t address it, because someone caught the game and called.

While on the subject of questions you won’t answer; perhaps you would like to continue to dodge this one.  Where in the Bible does it unambiguously condemn pedophilia?  You started this argument based on the premise that atheism comports with pedophilia yet you still haven’t taken the time to show the moral superiority of your own Bible.  That’s odd because that fact seems important.  If I were you and I had a book of objective moral pronouncements, I would want to show off how objectively and morally complete it is.  I agree that there should be no room for interpretation regarding pedophilia, I’m sure your Bible agrees?

So what I am saying Peter is that morality is not subjective in the way you want to define subjectivity, it is not objective in the way you want to define objectivity.  Your definitions really mean squat in this conversation.  Morality is objective in the sense that rules, whether understood by convention or natural order, are the basis for the definition of a species and how it interacts with the world.  Any one members opinion of those rules is moot.  It is not convention, it is survival.  To deny the rule is to take away the very tools of your survival.  Morality is subjective in the sense that our choices impact our ability to survive; so the best solution is not always clear, or do not impact our survival, so that reason can transcend a rule that has outlived its merit.

By picking and choosing what you want the definitions to be, you create black and white pronouncements from a million shades of gray.  The only people who will buy into it are those who already believe that morality is always black or white.  Your audience is Divine Command Theory Christians.  Outside of that bubble you just look like a goof.

The problem is that you have convinced only those who already believed, polarized those who you claim to be helping, and demonstrated the intellectual vacuousness of your pet theory to anyone with an open mind and a computer.

So Peter, with that said, here is how I answer your silly little questions:

Peter:  Greg, as an atheist, cannot account for how God or myself might be wrong. For him, morality is subjective, that is, it’s a matter of personal opinion. Of course, if that’s true then there really is no such thing as right and wrong – it’s just one person’s opinion vs. another. And if morality is not objective, as it is in the Christian worldview, then rationality is not even possible since no one is obligated to reason according to the truth or communicative truthfully. There’s no obligation to do that unless it’s your personal opinion – but even then we know that people can be wrong. But how do you know if someone’s wrong if no one is obligated to be right?

George: Peter, I can account for how you, or your God, is right or wrong.  Your personal opinion does not make you right.  Neither does any entity you want to call God have any monopoly on truth.  I certainly don’t consider my opinion to be to only valid one.  Opinions are not truths, God’s opinion is not truth.  That is not to say that God, you or I can’t be right, just that there is no certainty that we are independent of reality.  I will say again that no-one is obliged to reason according to the truth, free will allows the Christian to deny it(and sin as a result), and the ability to be wrong allows the atheist to do it(and face the consequences of poor judgment).  What you imply is that a Christian cannot be wrong and that there is no mechanism to answer to except for God.  Tell that to the guy in cell block D, or the guy who is of the opinion that cars can’t hurt him, or the guy who pathologically lies, or the guy who believes that rat poison is harmless to humans.  God isn’t the only game in town when it comes to consequences.  You insisting it doesn’t make it so.

Peter: Should a person have a worldview that’s coherent and consistent, as Greg says I should (and I agree)? If morality is subjective then no one’s under obligation to do that. But in the Christian worldview, people are obligated to be coherent and consistent. That’s why I argue that Greg’s argument against me proves Christianity, since he is presupposing that I must be consistent and coherent, which is a Christian position. But it’s a position that atheists cannot account for since, in their worldview, no one has any objective moral obligations. Greg has to presuppose the truth of Christianity in order to attack it, and thus he unwittingly proves Christianity.

George:  That whole statement is ridiculous.  A person who believes morality is subjective still has to deal with reality.  If they walk around randomly punching strangers, they still have to deal with the ramifications.  Christians just believe that they have to wait till they die to get their real punishment, where sane people realize that there are consequences here.  I’m not trying to avoid hellfire by not killing babies, I’m doing it because to kill babies is inhuman, destroys my bond with my fellow man, and has real world consequences.  Peter denies mans humanity, he believes that without God we are just a beast and that he would love to kill babies but he can’t because God thinks it is wrong.  I believe there is a better reason then God says so.  If he thinks I prove Christianity then he has to show that no other system can lead to a morally right choice, he can’t just say so.  It’s mental masturbation until he can prove it.  Who wants to bet he can’t?

Peter:  And what of the laws of logic? Greg may want to charge me with being irrational or illogical. But according to what standard or standards does he make that judgement? According to the laws of logic? Do people have an objective moral obligation to abide by the laws of logic? Or is that just a matter of personal opinion? If you’re an atheist, how do you account for the laws of logic? Are they immaterial or material? If they’re immaterial, how do you make sense of that if you’re an empiricist or materialist? Are the laws of logic abstract? Are they just electro-chemical processes that happen in the brain? Do any two people have the exact same brain? Are they just a matter of convention? If so, why am I morally obligated to follow the convention? If they’re a matter of convention, then why can’t anyone adopt whatever convention they feel like? And if they’re not a matter of convention, then how does the atheist prove this? If rationality is measured against the laws of logic, then shouldn’t they be objective, immutable and universal? But if the laws of logic can change, whether over time or from one place to another, then why should anyone reason according to the laws of logic? How does the atheist prove that the laws of logic were the same many years ago as they are today? How does he know they’ll be the same in the future? And if he doesn’t know whether the laws of logic are constant, then why even bother reasoning according to them?

George:  This paragraph is why Peter is objectively an idiot.  Peter needs to put down the bong and rejoin reality.  Are the laws of logic objective?  Yep.  If you want to be a member of reality.  Did I ever say anywhere that nothing is objective?  Nope.  Never said that.  I have said many times that you can deny a truth and it doesn’t change the nature of it.  Even if everyone denied a truth it wouldn’t change the nature of it.  We could all get together and decide that the law of internal contradiction was false.  We could have married bachelors all over the place, but we would still need to differentiate between the married bachelors and the single ones, so we would have a superfluous term in there.  It would also make the term bachelor virtuously meaningless.  See, when we change the rules of logic we still need them to comport with reality, so we would have to devise a whole branch of sub-rules to make them comport with reality.  They wouldn’t be elegant.  Logic does not transcend reality, it is a slave to it.  Logic is objective.  This has nothing whatsoever to do with morality, unless you compartmentalize every moral question into a singular yes/no answer, and assume that there is no need for context.  What transcends logic to make it objective?  Reality. Are you morally obligated to follow the laws of logic?  Nope.  You have every right to be wrong.

I suspect that you will continue to avoid my questions and instead find one thing you want to discuss and dwell on it.  Then I will prove you wrong on that, then you’ll move to another.  Then another.  You never endeavor to prove your points.  You just make them and expect that everyone needs to agree.  Peter, can you show me one point you have made in this whole debate that you have proven?  That I have not deconstructed and left for dead, with no answer from you?  You can’t.  Because you haven’t.  You are spinning your wheels.  Your last post just re-iterates all those points I have proven false, like if you say them again-they will be right this time.

 

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 9 so far )

Presuppositional Morality: Is It Moral To Ignore Me Peter, or Just An Objective Requirement?

Posted on January 12, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion, Science, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

Presuppositionalist Peter, of Atheism Presupposes Theism, posted the following reply to comment I made at his site over the last few days.  My attempts to comment on his blog have thus far failed for reasons that I am unsure of.  His post:

 

1st Reply to George

George: “Thanks for taking a position. It only took you four days and eight requests. Did you really have to think about it that much?”

I have a job. I work for a living. I can’t be at your beck and call.

George: “Killing is wrong. I agree with you.”

Do you believe that killing is objectively wrong or subjectively wrong?

George: “If there are some exceptions to that rule does that not make it by nature subjective, in that it requires context?”

The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.

This might not be the best definition of subjective, but I’m providing it for you anyway because I’m not sure that you understand what you’re saying. However, I do believe that context is a key component in considering the morality of an action. But so also is motivation, effect and, of course, the standard by which an action is deemed right or wrong.

George: “Unless you only consider murder a moral question and not killing? Killing seems to me to be a moral question, I wonder if you agree?”

In the Christian worldview, every action or deed is a moral matter, since everything we do is either to God’s glory or to our own glory.

George: “… I wonder if we are even able to agree on the definition of morality out of the gates.”

Probably not as the Christian position is that morality is not a matter of subjective or personal opinion.

George: “You state, in your answer, that killing is not a moral question.”

I did not state that. It is a moral question. But as you said, we likely disagree on the definition of morality.

George: “So you can kill at will, so long as you are justified in doing so?”

There is a distinction between killing at will and killing when you are justified in doing so. Perhaps what we need to clarify is when killing is justified. I gave three examples already as to when it is justified: self-defence, just war and capital punishment. Of course, even these three examples need further clarification and explanation. For example, I hear both atheists and theists say they’re in favour of capital punishment. I hear both atheists and theists say they’re opposed to capital punishment. Also, people might disagree over what constitutes a just war as opposed to a unjust war.

George: “If you killed me today, because God told you to do it, you would not be morally culpable?”

Since the close of the canon of Scripture, God no longer speaks in a direct fashion as He did, for example, to the prophets of the Old Testament. I know that may sound weird to you, but there it is for you anyway. Yes, it would be wrong for me to kill you, unless you were trying to kill me.

George: “I’m struggling to follow your logic, because I suspect there is none to follow.”

Are the laws of logic universal and invariant? Or are they a matter of convention?

George: “So we are clear, Christianity only comports with child killing, as long as God told you to do it. Your words. So if God decided to tell you to kill your children, then you are morally right to do as he says. Glad you cleared that up for us.”

You are not clear.

George: “How, then, are we to know what God told you? Does He give you a receipt? If someone kills their children and tell you that God commanded it, are you morally bound to believe him? What is the procedure?”

God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.

Also, the reason I asked the question about the difference between a human killing a human and a lion killing a zebra is because the atheist worldview says that man is just an animal that evolved from animals. But in the Christian worldview, man is created in God’s image. Yes, man shares certain similarities with animals, but in the Christian worldview man also shares similarities with God, such as the ability to reason, to imagine, to create, to be self-aware, to make choices, etc., etc. Why is the difference between humans and animals so astronomically huge? The Christian worldview can account for that whereas the atheistic worldview cannot.

Posted by Peter @ 10:40 PM

My first attempt to post a reply went like this:

O.K., I’ll play along, but your 15 minutes is almost up. Every single commenter here has poked holes in your boat, and your already drowning and telling the coast guard you’re just fine.  This whole debate is turning into the “Black Knight” scene from “Quest for the Holy Grail”, and just like in the movie, eventually we give up arguing against your false reality and move on.

“I have a job. I work for a living. I can’t be at your beck and call.”
See, that seems clever, until your apologist friends read the conversation and notice that it’s not that you <b>didn’t</b> respond because you were busy.  You responded to other comments just fine.  You still haven’t responded to the request for a Bible verse condemning pedophilia that was asked 5 days ago now, yet you had the time to write 14 comments and 3 blog posts in the interim.

“Do you believe that killing is objectively wrong or subjectively wrong?”
You really do not listen.  Guess. Use your logic.

“The Free Online Dictionary provides the following as the primary definition of subjective:
a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.”

I’m glad you can look things up.  The same source offers this definition:
1. belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered
2. of, relating to, or emanating from a person’s emotions, prejudices, etc. subjective views

Why would you conflate a definition that clearly tells you it relates to “decisions” or “experience” with one that relates to “views”: the very subject we are talking about?  Especially when it’s on the same page?  Reading comprehension, Peter, reading comprehension.

“This might not be the best definition of subjective, but I’m providing it for you anyway because I’m not sure that you understand what you’re saying. However, I do believe that context is a key component in considering the morality of an action. But so also is motivation, effect and, of course, the standard by which an action is deemed right or wrong.”

Wow, we actually found a clause we can agree on in totality!  You’re right that your definition is not the best one.  You are indeed providing it because you are trying to put words in my mouth.  The rest I cannot find fault with, for you proceed to concede that you can apply prejudices that are independent from the nature of the object being considered.  Read the definition again Peter.
Also, show me the asterisk in the Bible after the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.

“In the Christian worldview, every action or deed is a moral matter, since everything we do is either to God’s glory or to our own glory.”
This may be important soon…..

…I gave three examples already as to when it is justified: self-defence, just war and capital punishment. Of course, even these three examples need further clarification and explanation.”…

See how I indicated when I paraphrase?  That lets people know that there is context.  It is called being intellectually honest. Anyway, You didn’t really give three, you gave four.  You included revelation.  By not including it here you make it seem like I was putting words in your mouth when you make your next point.  Just so we are clear, I did no such thing.

I won’t bother to address the next point, I will accept that that is your position on revelation. I obviously fundamentally disagree, based on the presupposition that there is in fact a “God” to communicate with.

“God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.”

This will become very important soon….

“the atheist worldview says that man is just an animal that evolved from animals. But in the Christian worldview, man is created in God’s image. Yes, man shares certain similarities with animals, but in the Christian worldview man also shares similarities with God, such as the ability to reason, to imagine, to create, to be self-aware, to make choices, etc., etc. Why is the difference between humans and animals so astronomically huge? The Christian worldview can account for that whereas the atheistic worldview cannot.”

Show me one human behavior that cannot be found to have an unambiguous parallel in the animal kingdom. Other than a God postulate, which we can neither prove nor disprove has a parallel.  You haven’t even done that yet.  As I pointed out, your premise of the lion and the zebra is a false conflation.  Prove yourself.

I then commented thus, in order to try and make the debate more civil…..

 

My other attempts to comment on this post failed, I assume because Blogger had some issues.
My full response to this post is at my blog, as well as a shorter version in the thread at Jason’s blog.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the discussion, I feel that in the last few days I was able to more closely question the reasons for my beliefs.  Your questions, and the questions I asked myself when formulating my responses, took me to task to make sense of my intuitions about morality.  The end result is that I still fundamentally disagree with you and now know why.
Your position that morality is objective and can only be understood by positing a God is really no different than the atheists position on subjective morality.  If we take the time to understand each others definitions of “subjective” and “objective” we realize that both of us are putting words in the other persons mouth, not a very helpful tactic.
Both the atheist and theist will come to terms with morality within their own worldview, and if someone presupposes a Christian God to exist, then they would have to come to your conclusions about morality.  Likewise, if someone posits an absence of Gods, they must come to the conclusions I have.  Where presuppositionalism goes wrong is that it employs a number of false dichotomies to make a case a presupposition of God.  It exists as a way for Christians to tell atheists how atheists think, and by that metric alone it is disingenuous.
For example, when you say to Jason that if you have no moral obligation to accept anything he says, you are in fact saying the same thing as “I am exercising my free will (and if Jason’s comments are truthful, my sinful nature) in not accepting anything you say”.  I would ask you to explain the subtle differences between these two expressions of the same situation.  It is only a difference in expression that in one case you are sinning against God in disregarding an objective moral truth(for which you will face judgment) and in the other you are placing yourself in the situation of being wrong (and subject to judgment by a society that values the facts)
I think I know your answer, but I’ll let you present a case for it.

As I said before, your conflation of a human killing a human and a lion killing a zebra is a false one.  Either we discuss the differences between lion on lion vs human on human or lion on zebra vs human on cow/fish/zebra etc.
Lions do not appear to wantonly kill other lions, nor is cannibalism common.  Does that imply that lions were also made in God’s image?  Why are there so many moral parallels between the behavior of animals and humans?  The scientific worldview can account for that whereas the theistic worldview cannot.
Please read my comments to the rest of your points on my blog or Jason’s.

I hope he is not just avoiding me…..


 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

Check(Mate?) On Presuppositional Morality: How Peter Gets to Murder His Kids And There is Nothing You Can Do About It.

Posted on January 11, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

This post is a continuation of the discussion between Peter, a pressupositonalist,  Jason of Lousy Canuck, and myself.  The sources from which I pull quotations from Peter are available at Lousy Canuck, and on Atheism Presupposes Theism, in posts and comments here and here.  I will attempt to use his own words and the implied logic of them to reveal the absurdity of his argument.  If any one disagrees with the logic of my argument, I will as always be prepared to answer questions.  If you are a presuppositionalist, be aware that I reserve the right to have you clarify your premise and commit to it before I will respond to questions unrelated to the exact words of this post.  I am reasonable, but I will not play games until you commit to the rules.

The Third Move Is Where You Break “The First Rule” Of Presuppositionalism

I have a good friend who is a chess phenom. He says you don’t win a game of chess, you lose a game of chess. He has even told me that you can lose in the first three moves. In presuppositional apologetics, the trick is to make two moves, claim that their opponent has already lost, and refuse to play the rest of the game. The trick works only if you believe that you can lose without playing it out, and only if the presuppositionalist never makes that third move. If he makes it, I can follow any combination of moves he will make from then on to a checkmate.
He can continue to tell those that will listen that I already lost in the first two moves, but he can’t prove it, because it requires that third move.
The third move is to commit to your own premise, the third move is the losing one for any moral presuppositionalist strategy.

If the first rule of Fight Club is “never talk about Fight Club” then the first rule of presuppositional moral apologetics should be:
Never commit to a moral position.

You took a position on a moral Peter. You broke the first rule.

Setting Peter’s Ground Rules

Each of these rules and logical extensions are derived directly from Peter’s arguments.  If at any time I make a logical conclusion that is not a direct result of Peter’s logic, then I will be happy to defend it against criticism.

Postulate #1

A worldview is defined as self-defeating and therefor not logically consistent if it is possible to deny it based on it’s own postulates.

This is derived from the statement:

Premise #1: Jason believes that what he is saying is factual.
Premise #2: Jason believes that people are not morally obligated to accept the facts.
Conclusion: Jason believes that people are not morally obligated to accept what he is saying.

If premise #1 is false, then we can disregard what Jason is saying. If premise #2 is true, then we can disregard what Jason is saying. Either way, we can disregard what you’re saying. That’s a self-defeating position.

Also note that from this postulate we must first prove that Jason is not lying, but may be mistaken,else the conclusion is a non-sequitor.

From Peter’s own interpretation, if someone is able to disregard a truth within the premise of their worldview, then that worldview is a self defeating one.

Is everyone following so far?

Postulate #2

Killing is justified if there is a just reason for doing it.  These reasons include self-defence, just war, and God’s authorization, which can be known by revelation through a reading of The Old and New Testament.

Peter says:

There is a distinction between killing at will and killing when you are justified in doing so. Perhaps what we need to clarify is when killing is justified.

also,

Killing is wrong, but since we live in a fallen and sinful world, there are some exceptions to the rule (self-defense, just war, capital punishment in appropriate situations, etc.) Killing is only appropriate when God authorizes it, otherwise it’s murder.

So we are clear on that….

then he says:

Since the close of the canon of Scripture, God no longer speaks in a direct fashion as He did, for example, to the prophets of the Old Testament.

……

God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.

From these statements we can say that God no longer speaks to man, but reveals himself through scripture.  So a passage in scripture can be interpreted as a revelation of God. We also note that we live in a fallen and sinful world.

Peter Kills His Kids, But “That’s O.K.-I’m A Presuppositionalist”, says Peter.

We now live in a world of presuppositional moralists.  Everyone accepts the rules I have just defined.  To itemize them for everyone, they are:

  1. A worldview is defined as self-defeating and therefor not logically consistent if it is possible to deny it based on it’s own postulates.
  2. If someone is able to disregard a truth within the premise of their worldview, then that worldview is a self defeating one.
  3. Killing is justified if there is a just reason for doing it.
  4. These reasons include self-defence, just war, and God’s authorization, which can be known by revelation through a reading of The Old and New Testament.
  5. God no longer speaks to man, but reveals himself through scripture.  So a passage in scripture can be interpreted as a revelation of God.
  6. We live in a fallen and sinful world.

A detective arrives at the scene of the crime, Peter is standing over the dead body of his child.  The officer questions him:

Detective: What happened here?

Peter: My child spoke back to me, so I killed him

Detective:  Alright then, case closed.  We’ll remove the body for you, have a good night, sir!  God bless.

Why did that just happen?

Peter killed his child for speaking back to him, an objective moral command as revealed by God in Leviticus 20:9.

He was, by his own definition, justified in doing so as  it was revealed to him in the bible, as such authorized by God(From 4&5).  The detective has no right to question his assertion, because it is a truth, and denying it would make a presuppositionalist worldview self-defeating(From 1).  Ah, but what if Peter was lying?  Surely the detective has no right to assume the truth of his testimony?  Sure he does.  If Peter’s testimony were a lie, by definition he would have to know the truth and rejected it.  That would make presuppositionalism self defeating, because if you are faced with a truth, you are unable to deny it, or else your worldview is self-defeating(Again, from 1).  Since we are presuppositionalists, we know that the Christian worldview is correct, therefor he cannot lie.  But wait.  We live in a sinful and fallen world(6).  He must be able to lie.  Well, no.  If man were able to sin, they could ignore their Objective Moral requirement to not believe a truth, and that would make their whole worldview self defeating(1).  So either way, the presuppositionalist must retract the first premise of this argument, or claim that sin is impossible, or admit that there is no grounds for even contemplating Peter’s culpability in a presuppositionalist world.  Christianity therefor not only comports with child killing, it outright requires it.  Then it requires that everyone shrug it off as a moral obligation.

Check(mate?)

Quote of the day:  If killing, to a Christian, is murder with a just reason, then I suppose the parallel is murder is to lying as killing is to presuppositional apologetics.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 12 so far )

Presuppositional Apologetics: TAH DAH! Let Me Pull God Out Of A Hat.

Posted on January 10, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

So a number of my replies to Peter, over at Atheism Presupposes Theism, have been deleted by him in an effort to try and pretend that he wasn’t just destroyed by the truth.  That is not hubris on my part, take the time to read it for yourself, though you will have to go to lousy Canuck to see my replies, because Peter won’t publish them.  If you can read the exchange between Peter, Jason, and I and still think I’m exaggerating, I invite you to tell me how.  Presupposational apologetics is a farce.  It is a joke.  It cannot be taken seriously.  If you think differently, then please enlighten me.  I have decided that this year will be the year that I pull the curtain back from presupposational apologetics and reveal the diminutive little man pretending to be a wizard.  I take this seriously, presuppositionalism is wrong, it is a bald faced lie.  Why do I dislike it so much?  It is a lie masquerading, not just as a truth, but the Truth.  Those who practice it with any skill have to know it is a lie, a big lie for God.

If intelligent Christians can knowingly lie to bolster my faith, of what value is that faith at all?  If every question must be addressed with an ultimate untruth, how can I claim that my belief is not based on a foundation of lies?

Presuppositionalism depends on a shell game; it is a magic trick.  It relies on the premise that no one will follow the pea as it slips from shell to shell, up the sleeve, then back to the shell again.  “Keep your eye on the pea, keep your eye on the pea” the magician tells you as you watch the trick.  But you can’t “watch the pea”.  It is under the shell, maybe.  Maybe it is up his sleeve, maybe he dropped it off the table into his lap. ” Whatever you do”, he implies, “don’t watch my hands, and for heaven’s sake don’t ask any questions.  Just trust me when I tell you it is magic.”

As soon as someone figures out the scam, he has a few choices.  Pack up and bring the game to a new and unwitting audience, keep playing as if no-one is yelling “SHOW ME YOUR PALM”, or admit that he is fooling his audience.  I can say with no trepidation that an apologist will never take the latter option.

If you are a presuppositionalist, I ask you this.  Would you let the shell game be played if I put the pea under the shell, I moved the shells from one place to the other, if I turned them over?  You wouldn’t, would you?  Why?  If it is reality, then we should be able to do it any which way and it will still be real, right?  If morality is objective, then you should be able to answer a series of questions about the objective nature of reality, with no harm to your case.  If you have a truth, then it will always stand the test of scruitiny, right, or do you know that “opening your palm” gives away the trick?  You can only win by avoiding the consequences of your position and insisting on your interpretation of the opposing position without facts.  You can’t even concede your own position, that’s how ridiculous it is.  It’s a magic trick.  It’s dishonest because you pass it off as reality, when you have to know it’s not.

On Magic

When I was a kid, my Grandfather loved magic tricks.  He used to hide a quarter between his fingers on the back of his hand, show me his palms, and then appear to pull a quarter out of my ear.  I was amazed.  He had a card trick called the “Four Jack Brothers”, where he seemingly moved the four of them to random positions in the deck, then have all four of them appear back on the top just by tapping the deck.  I sat there for hours trying to figure it out.  It seemed like my Grandfather really was magical.

On my ninth birthday, my parents bought me a book about how to do magic tricks, they very astutely noticed my sense of wonder.  When I read the book, there was a card trick, called the “Four Queens”, which was <b>exactly</b> the trick my Grandfather did, and a page about pulling coins from a persons ear.  Once I knew the trick, the magic was gone.  All that was left was trickery.

That summer, I went to a birthday party.  The magician there had better tricks, but I was wise to the game.  It took me a while, but I figured out how each of his tricks worked. I performed the exact same routine for all but a few of them. My best friend was amazed.  “How did you do that?”, he said.  “Magic”, I said.  He has asked me if I did it this way, or that way; and I always say no, but I never lie.   To this day he still gets me to do the tricks at every party we go to; to this day, he really thinks I’m magic.

The difference between my Grandfather, Peter, and me is that my Grandfather never said that what he did was reality, in fact, he always called it a “magic <b>trick</b>”. So do I. I never asked my friend to suspend disbelief.  My Grandfather never stopped me from sitting around with that deck of cards trying to figure it out; when I did figure it out, he didn’t refuse to speak with me, or burn my book so no-one else figured it out. Likewise, I don’t shun my friends questions, and I wouldn’t avoid a discussion about whether I put the card up my sleeve.  I would prove to him that I didn’t, because I didn’t.  Peter does none of these things.  He claims that what he does is reality, refuses to let anyone see up his sleeves, and proceeds to continue the slight of hand show for anyone who is willing to not question it.

The worst thing about it is that I knew what I was doing was slight of hand.  My Grandfather knew what he was doing was slight of hand. Peter has to know what he is doing.  I showed him how he did the trick and he deleted my comments.  I showed him how he did the other tricks and he deleted those comments too.  Yet instead of patting me on the back and coming clean like my Grandfather, or showing me that I am mistaken about how it works like I do with my friend, he just continues on like nothing is happening, hoping the School for the Deaf in his audience doesn’t turn from the stage long enough to see me sitting beside them explaining the trick.

My big problem is that I know I’m not magic, so does my Grandfather.  If he believes that presupposational apologetics is the best proof of God, what must that say about his faith?
I think I’m going to go show my friend how those tricks work now…..

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 9 so far )

Presupposational Apologetics, Morality, and The Intellectual Legacy Of Greg Bahnsen

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Personal, Religion, Social Justice, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

So Peter, of Atheism Presupposes Theism, predictably crawled back under his rock.

His final quote:

Jason, let me put this very simply for you.

Do I have an objective moral obligation to listen to or agree with anything you say? If yes, then you contradict yourself, because you say that morality is not objective. If no, then I dismiss everything you say because I’m not morally obligated to believe it.

The end. Good bye.

So he admitted that we are right.  By dismissing our argument, by his own logic, he concedes that we are correct.  If he thought the answer was “yes”, then he would have set out to prove his case.  By presenting his position that he can dismiss everything we say, he has conceded that we are correct.

This is the problem with presupposational apologetics and apologetics in general.  They are semantic shell games.  As long as your poor mark doesn’t look closely enough, you can shuffle the pea from shell to shell,  confounding them all the way.

I’m going to re-print a comment I made at my friend Kate’s blog, because it is appropriate to this discussion:

My contention, as I hinted in my first response, is that apologetics aren’t meant for non-believers. They are formulated to plug the holes in the boat, to circle the wagons against the onslaught of logic.
Apologetics is not meant to persuade me to believe, they are there to persuade you to keep believing. They only exist within the bubble of an a priori assumption of God, outside that world they are exposed for what they are. You have to believe, or want to believe, to make them work.

That is where their strength lies. They do have some benefit, but also a Shakespearean flaw. They can serve to reach out to the atheist who desperately wants to believe, but only so far as they are willing to suspend disbelief. Those people exist, I assure you. They serve to confound an untrained mind and place doubt in those not capable of forming an informed reply. In doing so they also serve to bolster the faith of the person using the argument, if they feel that they have stumped the unbeliever.

The Shakespearean flaw I refer to (are you aware what that concept is? Shakespeare routinely uses a plot device where the protagonist’s greatest asset is in fact his/her undoing) is that when the atheist or doubter sees through the scam they see it as a personal slight, that they are being intellectually victimized by semantics and shell games. This only serves to turn them against the source of the falsehood, the religion itself. Especially when the source claims moral superiority.

This, in a roundabout way, is the source of my apostasy. Absent specifics, it is a pretty good overview.
Take CS Lewis, who I know you to be a fan of. His liar, lunatic, or lord trichotomy leaves out all other options and does not give a solid case to discount the former two options. What about legend? Is that an option? It even starts with an L. So when someone sees through the fog of apologetics, they wonder why they are being deceived. Why would an absolute truth require deception at all?

If you love to write, then write. If you need to make it apologetics, then so be it. Apologetics can be a personal profession as easily as a foundation to believe. I love to write, and I don’t consider my work apologetics. I love to argue, and win, as much as the next person. None of those things require faith, or apologetics. Yet, they can.

I will say it again. You always seem to be one step away, deathly frightful of the unknown. Read, write, question, repeat. That is the key to knowledge. If you open your eyes a little wider the unknown becomes a little more familiar, then a little more comfortable, then reveals itself in all it’s splendor. There will always be unknowns, but you shouldn’t be afraid to follow them…..

Presupposational apologetics assumes an Objective Moral Truth™.  It cannot and will not defend this position.  It just insists it by sheer will of faith.  If you don’t play along, it will throw up its arms and crawl back into it’s hole.  Just like Peter.

He still will claim victory.  He used a basic fact: that morality is subjective, played some semantic shell games, refused to evidence his premise or conclusions, and by fiat concluded that subjective morality comports with child buggery.  He can’t and won’t prove that Christian morality is objective, because he knows it’s not.  So his argument is false on its face.  He needs to prove his premise in order to draw conclusions from it.  Otherwise, he must concede that Christian morality is just as subjective, and by the extension of his own logic, morally complacent regarding child buggery, child murder and a host of other moral precepts.

This is an analogy of the shell game he tried to play:

Peter: Hi, Justin.

Jason: Hi, Peter. Just so that we are clear my name is Jason.

Peter:  Are you trying to commit a logical fallacy by correcting me?

Jason: WTF are you talking about?

Peter: No bother, I apologize for the misunderstanding.  Let’s talk about that dog over there.  Would you say that that dog is gray?

Jason:  That is an elephant, Peter.  It’s ten feet tall and has a big fucking trunk. It is a fucking Elephant.

Peter:  I didn’t ask you if it was an elephant, Jason.  I asked you if that dog is gray.  Just answer the question.  But be careful, you will have to accept the consequences of your answer.

Jason: Seriously.  It’s a goddamn fucking elephant.  If your question is “Is that quadruped gray?”, then yes, yes it is.

Peter: I told you to be careful how you answer the question.  You should have listened to me.  Can I passive-aggressively offer you a coffee to drink while you mull it over?  You see Jason,  if you answer yes, you are saying that that animal is a dog, and you are committing the fallacy of mutual contradiction.  An elephant can’t be a dog, you see.  If you answer no, then you are saying that it is not gray, and by their nature all elephants are gray.  So again, you are wrong.

Jason: First off, that is the most retarded thing anyone has ever said to me.  Second, what about albino elephants?  Are they not white, or at least cream colored?

Peter:  See, you lost the argument when you answered the question.  I am not obliged now to answer any of your arguments because you are wrong no matter how you answer.  I claim victory.  You admitted that you are incapable of simple color recognition or of species identification, so in your world any animal can be any color, or any species.  That makes no logical sense.

Jason: Seriously?  Are you even sane?

Peter:  I cannot argue with someone who cannot grasp simple logic.  Good day to you, sir.

(aside)  Wow, I sure showed him.  I got him to admit that an elephant was a dog.  What an ass.

That is the logic that he follows.  Then he tells everyone that he saw an elephant with an atheist who insisted it was a gray dog.

I’ll ask anyone who honestly believes in the Pressupositional Argument from Morality to answer the  same question I asked Peter.  It is not really a trick question.  At least it shouldn’t be, lest your morality have some serious issues.

If it is true that morality is objective, universal, unchanging, and independent of context: Is it always morally wrong to murder children?

Is there any situation where the decision to  murder children is a morally just, or at least,  a morally ambiguous one?

If you cannot answer this question then you cannot claim that your morality is objective, or you must admit that child murder does not fit your definition of an immoral act.  If the latter is true, then you can keep your Objective Moral Reality™.  I don’t even think we can agree what morality is.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 369 other followers