A Response To “Mr. Atheist”

Mr. Atheist thinks these are verses Christians would rather skip. Some probably would, but in this episode, we walk through them and explain why context is key. Mr. Atheist seems unfamiliar with the ancient near-eastern contexts and languages that inform the proper translations and understandings of several passages on his list. (Also, The Bible On Slavery: Part One | Part Two)

 

Evolution Cannot Account for: Logic, Reasoning, Love, Truth, or Justice

(Recently Updated – Originally Posted 12-2015)

(H/T ~ Debunking Atheists)

One of the most deep thinkers of the Founding Fathers, John Adams, noted that even “liberty” ~you know, one of the ideals impregnating our Founding Documents~ would be groundless if naturalism were true [among other things]:

Atheism—pure, unadulterated atheism…. The universe was matter only, and eternal Spirit was a word without a meaning. Liberty was a word without a meaning. There was no liberty in the universe; liberty was a word void of sense. Every thought, word, passion, sentiment, feeling, all motion and action was necessary [determinism]. All beings and attributes were of eternal necessity; conscience, morality, were all nothing but fate. This was their creed, and this was to perfect human nature, and convert the earth into a paradise of pleasure… Why, then, should we abhor the word “God,” and fall in love with the word “fate”? We know there exists energy and intellect enough to produce such a world as this, which is a sublime and beautiful one, and a very benevolent one, notwithstanding all our snarling; and a happy one, if it is not made otherwise by our own fault.

(See more context)

Ever hear an atheist say he’s a freethinker? Well, if atheism is true, an atheist, cannot be free nor would his thinking make any real sense. Frank Turek explains.

  • If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. (J.B.S. Haldane)

These are some of my favorite quotes and dealing with “naturalism” and their logical end-result, consequences, or logical conclusions. Merely a combining of MANY quotes and a “not-so-few” videos.

If you read the threads of several of the blog entries on this site, you will see both atheists and Christians charging one another with committing “logical fallacies.”  The assumption both sides are making is that there is this objective realm of reason out there that: 1) we all have access to; 2) tells us the truth about the real world; and 3) is something we ought to use correctly if we want to know the truth. I think those are good assumptions.  My question for the atheists is how do you justify these assumptions if there is no God?

If atheistic materialism is true, it seems to me that reason itself is impossible. For if mental processes are nothing but chemical reactions in the brain, then there is no reason to believe that anything is true (including the theory of materialism). Chemicals can’t evaluate whether or not a theory is true. Chemicals don’t reason, they react.

This is ironic because atheists– who often claim to be champions of truth and reason– have made truth and reason impossible by their theory of materialism. So even when atheists are right about something, their worldview gives us no reason to believe them because reason itself is impossible in a world governed only by chemical and physical forces.

Not only is reason impossible in an atheistic world, but the typical atheist assertion that we should rely on reason alone cannot be justified. Why not? Because reason actually requires faith. As J. Budziszewski points out in his book What We Can’t Not Know, “The motto ‘Reason Alone!’ is nonsense anyway. Reason itself presupposes faith. Why? Because a defense of reason by reason is circular, therefore worthless. Our only guarantee that human reason works is God who made it.“

Let’s unpack Budziszewski‘s point by considering the source of reason. Our ability to reason can come from one of only two sources: either our ability to reason arose from preexisting intelligence or it did not, in which case it arose from mindless matter. The atheists/Darwinists/materialists believe, by faith, that our minds arose from mindless matter without intelligent intervention. I say “by faith” because it contradicts all scientific observation, which demonstrates that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. You can’t give what you haven’t got, yet atheists believe that dead, unintelligent matter has produced itself into intelligent life. This is like believing that the Library of Congress resulted from an explosion in a printing shop.

I think it makes much more sense to believe that the human mind is made in the image of the Great Mind– God. In other words, our minds can apprehend truth and can reason about reality because they were built by the Architect of truth, reality, and reason itself.

So I have two questions for atheists:  1) What is the source of this immaterial reality known as reason that we are all presupposing, utilizing in our discussions, and accusing one other of violating on occasion?; and 2) If there is no God and we are nothing but chemicals, why should we trust anything we think, including the thought that there is no God?

(Cross Examined)

Let’s consider a basic question: Why does the natural world make any sense to begin with? Albert Einstein once remarked that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. Why should we be able to grasp the beauty, elegance, and complexity of our universe?

Einstein understood a basic truth about science, namely, that it relies upon certain philosophical assumptions about the natural world. These assumptions include the existence of an external world that is orderly and rational, and the trustworthiness of our minds to grasp that world. Science cannot proceed apart from these assumptions, even though they cannot be independently proven. Oxford professor John C. Lennox asks a penetrating question, “At the heart of all science lies the conviction that the universe is orderly. Without this deep conviction science would not be possible. So we are entitled to ask: Where does the conviction come from?”” Why is the world orderly? And why do our minds comprehend this order?

Toward the end of The God Delusion, Dawkins admits that since we are the product of natural selection, our senses cannot be fully trusted. After all, according to Darwinian evolution, our senses have been formed to aid survival, not necessarily to deliver true belief. Since a human being has been cobbled together through the blind process of natural selection acting on random mutation, says Dawkins, it’s unlikely that our views of the world are completely true. Outspoken philosopher of neuro-science Patricia Churchland agrees:

The principle chore of brains is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it… enhances the organism’s chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost.

Dawkins is on the right track to suggest that naturalism should lead people to be skeptical about trusting their senses. Dawkins just doesn’t take his skepticism far enough. In Miracles, C. S. Lewis points out that knowledge depends upon the reliability of our mental faculties. If human reasoning is not trustworthy, then no scientific conclusions can be considered true or false. In fact, we couldn’t have any knowledge about the world, period. Our senses must be reliable to acquire knowledge of the world, and our reasoning faculties must be reliable to process the acquired knowledge. But this raises a particularly thorny dilemma for atheism. If the mind has developed through the blind, irrational, and material process of Darwinian evolution, then why should we trust it at all? Why should we believe that the human brain—the outcome of an accidental process—actually puts us in touch with reality? Science cannot be used as an answer to this question, because science itself relies upon these very assumptions.

Even Charles Darwin was aware of this problem: “The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the conviction of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” If Darwinian evolution is true, we should distrust the cognitive faculties that make science possible.

Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010), 37-38.

….Darwin thought that, had the circumstances for reproductive fitness been different, then the deliverances of conscience might have been radically different. “If… men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill  their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering” (Darwin, Descent, 82). As it happens, we weren’t “reared” after the manner of hive bees, and so we have widespread and strong beliefs about the sanctity of human life and its implications for how we should treat our siblings and our offspring.

But this strongly suggests that we would have had whatever beliefs were ultimately fitness producing given the circumstances of survival. Given the background belief of naturalism, there appears to be no plausible Darwinian reason for thinking that the fitness-producing predispositions that set the parameters for moral reflection have anything whatsoever to do with the truth of the resulting moral beliefs. One might be able to make a case for thinking that having true beliefs about, say, the predatory behaviors of tigers would, when combined with the understandable desire not to be eaten, be fitness producing. But the account would be far from straightforward in the case of moral beliefs.” And so the Darwinian explanation undercuts whatever reason the naturalist might have had for thinking that any of our moral beliefs is true. The result is moral skepticism.

If our pretheoretical moral convictions are largely the product of natural selection, as Darwin’s theory implies, then the moral theories we find plausible are an indirect result of that same evolutionary process. How, after all, do we come to settle upon a proposed moral theory and its principles as being true? What methodology is available to us?

Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, eds., Contending With Christianity’s Critics: Answering the New Atheists & Other Objections (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2009), 70.

See also my post on logical conclusions in meta-ethics and evil (like rape), HERE:

if evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage; and there would be no reason to suppose that this would necessarily include rationality. After a talk on the Christian roots of science in Canada, 2010, one atheopathic* philosophy professor argued that natural selection really would select for logic and rationality. I responded by pointing out that under his worldview, theistic religion is another thing that ‘evolved’, and this is something he regards as irrational. So under his own worldview he believes that natural selection can select powerfully for irrationality, after all. English doctor and insightful social commentator Theodore Dalrymple (who is a non-theist himself) shows up the problem in a refutation of New Atheist Daniel Dennett:

Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms—for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.

For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favour, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.

Jonathan D. Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, And Scientific Commentary On Genesis 1-11 (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2015), 259-259.

* Atheopath or Atheopathy: “Leading misotheist [“hatred of God” or “hatred of the gods”] Richard Dawkins [one can insert many names here] often calls theistic religion a ‘virus of the mind’, which would make it a kind of disease or pathology, and parents who teach it to their kids are, in Dawkins’ view, supposedly practising mental child abuse. But the sorts of criteria Dawkins applies makes one wonder whether his own fanatical antitheism itself could be a mental pathology—hence, ‘atheopath’.” (Taken from the Creation.com article, “The biblical roots of modern science,” by Jonathan Sarfati [published: 19 May 2012] ~ comments in the “[ ]” are mine.)

Even Darwin had some misgivings about the reliability of human beliefs. He wrote, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

Given unguided evolution, “Darwin’s Doubt” is a reasonable one. Even given unguided or blind evolution, it’s difficult to say how probable it is that creatures—even creatures like us—would ever develop true beliefs. In other words, given the blindness of evolution, and that its ultimate “goal” is merely the survival of the organism (or simply the propagation of its genetic code), a good case can be made that atheists find themselves in a situation very similar to Hume’s.

The Nobel Laureate and physicist Eugene Wigner echoed this sentiment: “Certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.” That is, atheists have a reason to doubt whether evolution would result in cognitive faculties that produce mostly true beliefs. And if so, then they have reason to withhold judgment on the reliability of their cognitive faculties. Like before, as in the case of Humean agnostics, this ignorance would, if atheists are consistent, spread to all of their other beliefs, including atheism and evolution. That is, because there’s no telling whether unguided evolution would fashion our cognitive faculties to produce mostly true beliefs, atheists who believe the standard evolutionary story must reserve judgment about whether any of their beliefs produced by these faculties are true. This includes the belief in the evolutionary story. Believing in unguided evolution comes built in with its very own reason not to believe it.

This will be an unwelcome surprise for atheists. To make things worse, this news comes after the heady intellectual satisfaction that Dawkins claims evolution provided for thoughtful unbelievers. The very story that promised to save atheists from Hume’s agnostic predicament has the same depressing ending.

It’s obviously difficult for us to imagine what the world would be like in such a case where we have the beliefs that we do and yet very few of them are true. This is, in part, because we strongly believe that our beliefs are true (presumably not all of them are, since to err is human—if we knew which of our beliefs were false, they would no longer be our beliefs).

Suppose you’re not convinced that we could survive without reliable belief-forming capabilities, without mostly true beliefs. Then, according to Plantinga, you have all the fixins for a nice argument in favor of God’s existence For perhaps you also think that—given evolution plus atheism—the probability is pretty low that we’d have faculties that produced mostly true beliefs. In other words, your view isn’t “who knows?” On the contrary, you think it’s unlikely that blind evolution has the skill set for manufacturing reliable cognitive mechanisms. And perhaps, like most of us, you think that we actually have reliable cognitive faculties and so actually have mostly true beliefs. If so, then you would be reasonable to conclude that atheism is pretty unlikely. Your argument, then, would go something like this: if atheism is true, then it’s unlikely that most of our beliefs are true; but most of our beliefs are true, therefore atheism is probably false.

Notice something else. The atheist naturally thinks that our belief in God is false. That’s just what atheists do. Nevertheless, most human beings have believed in a god of some sort, or at least in a supernatural realm. But suppose, for argument’s sake, that this widespread belief really is false, and that it merely provides survival benefits for humans, a coping mechanism of sorts. If so, then we would have additional evidence—on the atheist’s own terms—that evolution is more interested in useful beliefs than in true ones. Or, alternatively, if evolution really is concerned with true beliefs, then maybe the widespread belief in God would be a kind of “evolutionary” evidence for his existence.

You’ve got to wonder.

Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 44-45.

  • “Relativists aren’t interested in finding truth but in preserving their own autonomy. This isn’t a logical argument against relativism, of course. I’m just trying to point out that the true(!) basis for relativism is ultimately rooted in its motivation rather than in any good reasons or persuasive arguments.” — Paul Copan

This childish rejection of God in light of the evidence provided through the Book of Nature comes way of True Free Thinker, and shows the juvenile manner in which evidence is rejected in lieu of the ego:

Lewis Wolpert simplistic dismissal of any and all intelligent design and creationism discoveries as “There is no evidence for them at all” is no less than an intellectual embarrassment and that he insists that “They must be kept out of science lessons” shows why he is the vice-president of an Atheist activism group.

And his dismissal of God is just as unimpressive, “There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of God.”

But what scientific, evidence based, academic, scholarly reasons does Wolpert himself offer for having become an Atheist?:

I stopped believing in God when I was 15 or 16 because he didn’t give me what I asked for. [1]

Keith Ward asked Wolpert, “What sort of evidence would count for you? Would it have to be scientific evidence of some sort?” to which the reply was, “Well, no… I think I read somewhere: If he turned the pond on Hamstead Heath into good champagne, it would be quite impressive”[2]. And yet, the historical record is that Jesus turned water into wine and that is still not good enough, is it?

[My addition: no it isn’t, some people like champaigne and not wine]

Lewis Wolpert also stated, “I used to pray but I gave it up because when I asked God to help me find my cricket bat, he didn’t help.” Thus, Justin Brieley stated, “Right, and that was enough for you to prove that God did not exist” to which Wolpert replied, “Well, yes. I just gave it up completely.”[3]

[1] Lewis Wolpert, “The Hard Cell,” Third Way, March 2007 AD, p. 17

[2] Ibid., p. 16

[3] From an interview on the Unbelievable show titled, What Does Science Tell Us About God?

…read more…

(For the above audio) Well respected [in evolutionary circles] University College London Professor (Emeritus) of Cell and Developmental Biology answers this, and explains that most people want more. And indeed, the Judeo-Christian God is the only answer to this conundrum. You can see how the answer to the problem actually resonates and responds to the truth of human need.

In other words, if naturalistic evolution is true, reductionism is also in play. Then we are determined by the chemical make-up, firing of synapses, and whole of historical events leading up to us controlling our actions. So one could ask in all seriousness, “how much does love weigh?”

It is a cold world, unbelief.

What is love? Here are two possibilities:

1) chemical reactions in your brain perceived as feelings of loyalty toward a single co-parent for the purpose of rearing a child together, at least until it’s weaned
2) the ultimate good, a reflection of the image of God upon humanity

Arguments often arise by using the same words to mean different things. One worldview (Christianity) views love as the ultimate good in the material world and beyond.

Let’s look at how love is viewed by two different worldviews: Christianity and naturalism.

On Christianity, love is ultimately:

a) the state of affairs existing prior to the creation of the universe, flowing between the Father and the Son via the Holy Spirit, the vehicle of love
b) the highest good
c) the ultimate goal, an act of worship.

On naturalism, love is ultimately:

a) the evolutionary mechanism to ensure the survival of children and the propagation of our species
b) a nice concept, something to distract you from the depressing thought of a meaningless existence
c) an amusing illusion

Your worldview will shape how you understand the concept of love…

…read more…

I wish to start out with an excerpt from a chapter in my book where I use two scholarly works that use Darwinian naturalism as a guide to their ethic:

  • Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1997).
  • Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).

My incorporation of these works into my book (quote):

“Lest one think this line of thinking is insane, that is: sexual acts are something from our evolutionary past and advantageous; rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success….. The first concept that one must understand is that these authors do not view nature alone as imposing a moral “oughtness” into the situation of survival of the fittest. They view rape, for instance, in its historical evolutionary context as neither right nor wrong ethically. Rape, is neither moral nor immoral vis-à-vis evolutionary lines of thought, even if ingrained in us from our evolutionary paths of survival. Did you catch that? Even if a rape occurs today, it is neither moral nor immoral, it is merely currently taboo. The biological, amoral, justification of rape is made often times as a survival mechanism bringing up the net “survival status” of a species, usually fraught with examples of homosexual worms, lesbian seagulls, and the like.”

(pp. 7-9 of  Roman-Epicurean-ism-Natural-Law-and-Homosexuality)

Now, hear from other atheist and evolutionary apologists themselves in regard to the matter:

Richard Dawkins

(h/t: TrueFreeThinker) – A Statement Made by an atheist at the Atheist and Agnostic Society:

Some atheists do believe in ethical absolutes, some don’t. My answer is a bit more complicated — I don’t believe that there are any axiological claims which are absolutely true, except within the context of one person’s opinion.

That is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are ethics. So, why is Adolf Hitler wrong? Because he murdered millions, and his only justification, even if it were valid, was based on things which he should have known were factually wrong. Why is it wrong to do that? Because I said so. Unless you actually disagree with me — unless you want to say that Adolf Hitler was right — I’m not sure I have more to say.

[side note] You may also be aware that Richard Dawkins stated,

  • “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.”

Stated during an interview with Larry Taunton, “Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist,” by Faith Magazine, Issue Number 18, December 2007 (copyright; 2007-2008)

Lewis Wolpert

From the video description:

Atheists Trying to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too on Morality. This video shows that when an atheist denies objective morality they also affirm moral good and evil without the thought of any contradiction or inconsistency on their part.

Dan Barker

This is from the video Description for the Dan Barker video below:

The atheist’s animal-level view of “morality” is completely skewed by dint of its lack of objectivity. In fact, the atheist makes up his own personal version of “morals” as he goes along, and this video provides an eye-opening example of this bizarre phenomenon of the atheist’s crippled psyche:

During this debate, the atheist stated that he believed rape was morally acceptable, then he actually stated that he would rape a little girl and then kill himself — you have just got to hear his psychotic words with your own ears to believe it!

He then stammered and stumbled through a series of ridiculously lame excuses for his shameful lack of any type of moral compass.

To the utter amazement of his opponent and all present in the audience, the gruesomely amoral atheist even goes so far as to actually crack a sick little joke on the subject of SERIAL CHILD-RAPE!

:::shudders:::

Meanwhile, the Christian in the video gracefully and heroically realizes the clearly objective moral values that unquestionably come to humanity by God’s grace, and yet are far beyond the lower animal’s and the atheist’s tenuous mental grasp. Be sure to keep watching until the very end so that you can hear the Christian’s final word — it’s a real knuckle-duster!

Atheist dogma™ not only fails to provide a stable platform for objective human morality for its adherent — it precludes him even the possibility. It’s this very intellectual inability to apprehend any objective moral values that leads such believers in atheist dogma™ as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Dahmer to commit their horrific atheistic atrocities.

Any believer in atheist dogma™, given sufficient power, would take the exact same course of action that Hitler did, without a moment’s hesitation.

Note as well that evolutionary naturalism has very dogmatic implication, IF — that is — the honest atheist/evolutionist follow the matter to their logical conclusions, via the ineffable Dr. Provine:

William Provine

Atheist and staunch evolutionist Dr. William Provine (who is often quoted by Richard Dawkins) admits what life has in stored if Darwinism is true. The quote comes from his debate here with Dr. Phillip E. Johnson at Stanford University, April 30, 1994.

“We must ask first whether the theory of evolution by natural selection is scientific or pseudoscientific …. Taking the first part of the theory, that evolution has occurred, it says that the history of life is a single process of species-splitting and progression. This process must be unique and unrepeatable, like the history of England. This part of the theory is therefore a historical theory, about unique events, and unique events are, by definition, not part of science, for they are unrepeatable and so not subject to test.”

Colin Patterson [1978] (Dr. Patterson was Senior Principal Scientific Officer of the Paleontology Department of the British Museum of Natural History in London.)

People think evolution is “science proper.” It is not, it is both a historical science and a [philosophical] presupposition in its “neo-Darwinian” form. The presupposition that removes it from “science proper and moves it into “scientism” is explained by an atheist philosopher:

If science really is permanently committed to methodological naturalism – the philosophical position that restricts all explanations in science to naturalistic explanations – it follows that the aim of science is not generating true theories. Instead, the aim of science would be something like: generating the best theories that can be formulated subject to the restriction that the theories are naturalistic. More and more evidence could come in suggesting that a supernatural being exists, but scientific theories wouldn’t be allowed to acknowledge that possibility.

Bradley Monton, author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design ~ Apologetics315 h/t

In other words, the guy most credited in getting us to the moon used science to get us there, but was a young earth creationist. His view on “origins” (origin science) is separate from his working science. Two categories.

Likewise one of the most celebrated pediatric surgeons in the world, whom a movie was made after, “Gifted Hands,” is a young earth creationist. And the inventor of the MRI, a machine that diagnosed my M.S., is also a young earth creationist.

Evolutionary Darwinism is first and foremost an “historical science” that has many presuppositions that precede it, making it a metaphysical belief, a philosophy, as virulent anti-creationist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse explains:

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.

Michael Ruse, “Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,” National Post (May 13, 2000), p. B-3. (Via ICR)

The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy [New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942], pp. 161-162. Found in: Norman L. Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the Christian Faith [Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001], 206.

He thus acknowledged the need for any theory to allow that humans have genuine freedom to recognize the truth. He (again, correctly) saw that if all thought, belief, feeling, and choice are determined (i.e., forced on humans by outside conditions) then so is the determinists’ acceptance of the theory of determinism forced on them by those same conditions. In that case they could never claim to know their theory is true since the theory making that claim would be self-referentially incoherent. In other words, the theory requires that no belief is ever a free judgment made on the basis of experience or reason, but is always a compulsion over which the believer has no control.

Roy A. Clouser, The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2005), 174.

If what he says is true, he says it merely as the result of his heredity and environment, and nothing else. He does not hold his determinist views because they are true, but because he has such-and-such stimuli; that is, not because the structure of the structure of the universe is such-and-such but only because the configuration of only part of the universe, together with the structure of the determinist’s brain, is such as to produce that result…. They [determinists – I would posit any philosophical naturalist] want to be considered as rational agents arguing with other rational agents; they want their beliefs to be construed as beliefs, and subjected to rational assessment; and they want to secure the rational assent of those they argue with, not a brainwashed repetition of acquiescent pattern. Consistent determinists should regard it as all one whether they induce conformity to their doctrines by auditory stimuli or a suitable injection of hallucinogens: but in practice they show a welcome reluctance to get out their syringes, which does equal credit to their humanity and discredit to their views. Determinism, therefore, cannot be true, because if it was, we should not take the determinists’ arguments as being really arguments, but as being only conditioned reflexes. Their statements should not be regarded as really claiming to be true, but only as seeking to cause us to respond in some way desired by them.

J. R. Lucas, The Freedom of the Will (New York: NY: Oxford University Press, 1970), 114, 115.

One of the most intriguing aspects mentioned by Ravi Zacharias of a lecture he attended entitled Determinism – Is Man a Slave or the Master of His Fate, given by Stephen Hawking, who is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Isaac Newton’s chair, was this admission by Dr. Hawking’s, was Hawking’s admission that if “we are the random products of chance, and hence, not free, or whether God had designed these laws within which we are free.”[1] In other words, do we have the ability to make choices, or do we simply follow a chemical reaction induced by millions of mutational collisions of free atoms?[2] Michael Polyni mentions that this “reduction of the world to its atomic elements acting blindly in terms of equilibrations of forces,” a belief that has prevailed “since the birth of modern science, has made any sort of teleological view of the cosmos seem unscientific…. [to] the contemporary mind.”[3]

[1] Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 118, 119.
[2] My own summation.
[3] Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch, Meaning (Chicago, IL: Chicago university Press, 1977), 162.

What merit would attach to moral virtue if the acts that form such habitual tendencies and dispositions were not acts of free choice on the part of the individual who was in the process of acquiring moral virtue? Persons of vicious moral character would have their characters formed in a manner no different from the way in which the character of a morally virtuous person was formed—by acts entirely determined, and that could not have been otherwise by freedom of choice.

Mortimer J. Adler, Ten Philosophical Mistakes (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1985), 154.

If we were free persons, with faculties which we might carelessly use or wilfully misuse, the fact might be explained; but the pre-established harmony excludes this supposition. And since our faculties lead us into error, when shall we trust them? Which of the many opinions they have produced is really true? By hypothesis, they all ought to be true, but, as they contradict one another, all cannot be true. How, then, distinguish between the true and the false? By taking a vote? That cannot be, for, as determined, we have not the power to take a vote. Shall we reach the truth by reasoning? This we might do, if reasoning were a self-poised, self verifying process; but this it cannot be in a deterministic system. Reasoning implies the power to control one’s thoughts, to resist the processes of association, to suspend judgment until the transparent order of reason has been readied. It implies freedom, therefore. In a mind which is controlled by its states, instead of controlling them, there is no reasoning, but only a succession of one state upon another. There is no deduction from grounds, but only production by causes. No belief has any logical advantage over any other, for logic is no longer possible.

Borden P Bowne, Metaphysics: A Study In First Principles (originally published in 1882; London: Sampson Low, Searle & Rivington, 2005), 105.

“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

Mussolini, Diuturna (1924) pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18

MYTH: Human/Chimpanzee Similarities

(There are really two “apologetics” [streams of arguments] below. The first is a refutation of Chimp/Human similarities; the second is a dealing with the underlying presuppositions and the self-defeating aspects of them [Jump To This]. And this post spawned a “SISTER POST” of sorts. Enjoy.)

Here I want to offer a somewhat short refutation [NOT] of the perpetual myth about human and chimpanzee DNA being 99% similar. One friend included it in a comment to me:

  • A cat shares 85 percent of our dna Along with dogs. Plants 15-20 percent . We share 90% of the genome with a banana. Chimpanzees 99% nearly

Here is my short response:

Not only that, but your idea of 99% is not a real stat as well. Many things have changed since that 1975 claim.* One example is that junk DNA is roundly refuted, and 2001 and 2005 Nature and Science Journal articles make clear that we share from 81% to 87% of DNA with chimps. That shouldn’t be a surprise since we both have eyes to see, stomachs to digest food, etc. So again, when I see you make claims above, rarely are they rooted in anything either current or true. 

* (CREATION.COM) The original 1% claim goes back to 1975.2 This was a long time before a direct comparison of the individual ‘letters’ (base pairs) of human and chimp DNA was possible—the first draft of the human DNA was not published until 2001 and for the chimp it was 2005. The 1975 figure came from crude comparisons of very limited stretches of human and chimp DNA that had been pre-selected for similarity. The chimp and human DNA strands were then checked for how much they stuck to each other—a method called DNA hybridization. (2. Cohen, J., Relative differences: the myth of 1%, Science 316(5833):1836, 2007; doi: 10.1126/science.316.5833.1836)

Even a recent 2006 TIME article continues the mantra when they say, “Scientists figured out decades ago that chimps are our nearest evolutionary cousins, roughly 98% to 99% identical to humans at the genetic level.” So while science moves on and corrects itself, our culture is stuck in what was said to be a proof, and reject what ACTUALLY an evidence against the evolutionary proposition. Similar refutations of evolutionary positions that Richard Dawkins and “Junk DNA.”

What do I mean by that? I mean that if something is said to be evidence and is used to promote [FOR] the evolutionary paradigm… and then it is shown not to be the case… wouldn’t it then logically be an evidence AGAINST this said paradigm? I think so.

MOVING ON. . . SORTA

Before zeroing in on the Chimp issue, one other quick note regarding a recent discovery that undermines this “similarity” idea. That is this study:

PJ MEDIA notes:

study published in the journal Human Evolution is causing quite the stir. In the words of Phys.org, “The study’s most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.”

So startling, in fact, that according to David Thaler, one of the lead authors of the study, “This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could.”

The study’s very own author was so disturbed by how the conclusions challenged current scientific dogma that he “fought against it as hard as [he] could.” His “fight” gives credence to the study’s conclusions. His eventual acceptance, not to mention publication, of the conclusions speaks well of Thaler’s commitment to being a scientist first and an ideologue second.

[….]

This is no small matter for evolutionists because, as World Magazine helpfully summarizes:

According to traditional evolutionary thinking, all living things on Earth share common ancestry, with species evolving through a slow process of random mutation, natural selection, and adaptation over roughly 3.8 billion years. The idea that humans and most animals suddenly appeared at the same time a mere 200,000 years ago or less does not fit with that model.

(See more from my post, “Major DNA Study Undermines Evolution ‘In A Big Way’“) Obviously we differ on time-scalesbut it sure seems like they are getting closer to mine over said time. But if one wishes to keep it ecumenical, here is a quote I love: 

  • “While thoughtful investigators may disagree about the precise age of the universe, we can be confident about its finite nature”

>> J Warner Wallace, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2015), 37.

Okay, back to the refutation of the 99% similarity. Here, Dr. Thomas Seiler, Ph.D., Physics, Technical University of Munich refutes compelingly this outdated TIME magazine article… and my friend:

Most of you may have heard the statement that chimpanzees and humans are having 99% of their genes in common. However, what you are usually not told is that this result was not based on comparing the entire DNA of man and ape but only on comparing a very small fraction of it (ca. 3 %). The function of the other 97% of the genetic code was not understood. Therefore, it was concluded that this DNA had no function at all and it was considered “leftover junk from evolution” and not taken into consideration for the comparison between man and ape. Meanwhile, modern genetics has demonstrated for almost the entire DNA that there is functionality in every genetic letter. And this has led to the collapse of the claim that man and chimpanzee have 99% of their DNA in common.

In 2007, the leading scientific journal Science therefore called the suggested 1% difference “a myth.” And from a publication in Nature in 2010 comparing the genes of our so-called Y-chromosome with those of the chimpanzee Y-chromosome we know now that 60% of human Y-chromosome is not contained in that of the chimpanzee. This represents a difference of one billion genetic letters, known as nucleotides.

And modern genetics has recently made another important discovery which was very unexpected. Researchers found that all of the different groups of humans on earth, wherever they live and whatever they look like, have 99.9% of their genes in common. This leads to a problem for the hypothesis of evolution because if humans really were descended from the apes, then how could it be that we only have 40% of our Y-chromosome in common with the apes but at the same time there is almost a complete genetic identity among all humans? If there had been an evolution from ape to man then it should still go on among men and reveal significant genetic differences. These recent discoveries therefore drastically widen the gap between man and the animals. And they confirm that there are in reality no such things as human “races”. Asians, Europeans, Africans and Indigenous people from America and Australia only have superficial differences like color of skin or shape of the nose but they are all extremely similar on the genetic level.

And these recent breakthrough discoveries even go further. Today, because of the extreme similarity of the human genome, it is considered a well-established fact among geneticists, that all humans living on earth now are descended from one single man and from one single woman. In order to convince yourself of this you only have to search in the internet for the terms “mitochondrial Eve” or “Y-chromosome Adam”. These names were given by evolutionists in an ironic sense but now many regret that choice of name because this discovery perfectly confirms the Catholic Doctrine of Creation which has taught for 2000 years that all humans are brothers and sisters descended from one single human couple, the real historical persons Adam and Eve, not from a multitude of subhuman primates….

(Via LIFE SITE NEWS)

Here is a visual of the varying studies (click to enlarge in another window):

This video evaluates the claim that humans and chimps have 98% to 99% DNA similarity.

DR. JONATHAN SARFATI passed this on to me in conversation (click to enlarge):

Wow. Enough said? Or will this myth still infect the brains of people wishing something to be true that continue to lose evidences for? One other noteworthy exchange from that conversation I wish to note here.


Switching Gears


My friend said many things, which is convenient… many skeptics of young earth creationism or Christianity for that matter have paragraphs of bumper sticker [what they think are] facts strung together… like a lullaby to prove to themselves they are right. (What they ironically they call the GISH GALLOP [“it’s far easier to raise numerous unsubstantiated points than it is to refute them properly”] in referring to us.) Which is why I like to stop, and discuss one issue at a time. Which the above is.

When you do that, rarely does the position of the skeptic hold water.

Here is what my friend said:

  • I also see damage being done to children when you teach them things that are scientifically inaccurate. The earth is not 10000 years old…

To which Jonathan Sarfati responded (and reminded me of a larger quote I got from his commentary of Genesis I will post at the end):

ATHEOPATHS: in an evolutionary universe, concepts like “good” and “evil” are just illusions of our brains conditioned by millions of years of Darwinian evolution.

Also ATHEOPATHS: Christianity is evil child abuse.

While the main driver of the topic is a PSYCHOLOGY TODAY article that posits Christianity is harmful to children — just Christianity mind you…

It is a form a Christophobia – a fear of anything related to Christianity/Christ, A bias against one “particular” religious expression. A word I used in one of my first “conversation series” posts on my old blog (November of 2006): “theophobia” – a fear of “the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe”.

… is telling. The point that Doc Sarfati makes is Yuuuge. That is,

  • skeptics of the Faith like to use moral positions to refute the absolute morality of Christianity, or a position they attribute truth to and expect others to grasp said truth as, well, true — is not in fact the case if their worldview is reality. They pay no attention to the underlying aspect of where these laws or stated facts are reasoned from — mind or matter.

While the whole conversation is a bit drawn out, a refuting principle I used in it which is the same principle Dr. Sarfati taps into (i.e., the Laws of Logic), is this quote by J.B.S. Haldane

  • “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

It is the same as this reflection by Stephen Hawkings noted by Ravi Zacharias:

One of the most intriguing aspects mentioned by Ravi Zacharias of a lecture he attended entitled “Determinism – Is Man a Slave or the Master of His Fate,” given by Stephen Hawking, who is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Isaac Newton’s chair, was this admission by Dr. Hawking’s, was Hawking’s admission that if “we are the random products of chance, and hence, not free, or whether God had designed these laws within which we are free.”[1] In other words, do we have the ability to make choices, or do we simply follow a chemical reaction induced by millions of mutational collisions of free atoms? Michael Polyni mentions that this “reduction of the world to its atomic elements acting blindly in terms of equilibrations of forces,” a belief that has prevailed “since the birth of modern science, has made any sort of teleological [a reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose, or goal] view of the cosmos seem unscientific…. [to] the contemporary mind.”[2]

[1] Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 118, 119.
[2] Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch, Meaning (Chicago, IL: Chicago university Press, 1977), 162.

John Cleese explains the above in a Monty Python view for the layman:

Here is Ravi again, but this time at a Q&A at Yale being challenged by a graduate student:

To be clear, my friend has no idea that what he has said is internally self-refuting. To show this working out with yet another skeptic of the Faith, here is apologist Frank Turek dispensing in similar fashion to Jonathan Sarfati (see below), Daniel Dennet:

Atheist Daniel Dennett, for example, asserts that consciousness is an illusion. (One wonders if Dennett was conscious when he said that!) His claim is not only superstitious, it’s logically indefensible. In order to detect an illusion, you’d have to be able to see what’s real. Just like you need to wake up to know that a dream is only a dream, Daniel Dennett would need to wake up with some kind of superconsciousness to know that the ordinary consciousness the rest of us mortals have is just an illusion. In other words, he’d have to be someone like God in order to know that.

Dennett’s assertion that consciousness is an illusion is not the result of an unbiased evaluation of the evidence. Indeed, there is no such thing as “unbiased evaluation” in a materialist world because the laws of physics determine everything anyone thinks, including everything Dennett thinks. Dennett is just assuming the ideology of materialism is true and applying its implications to consciousness. In doing so, he makes the same mistake we’ve seen so many other atheists make. He is exempting himself from his own theory. Dennett says consciousness is an illusion, but he treats his own consciousness as not an illusion. He certainly doesn’t think the ideas in his book are an illusion. He acts like he’s really telling the truth about reality.

When atheists have to call common sense “an illusion” and make self-defeating assertions to defend atheism, then no one should call the atheistic worldview “reasonable.” Superstitious is much more accurate.

Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 46-47.

Or when the same naturalistic position is used to make moral statements… it should be taken as illusory. Philosopher Roger Scruton drives this point home when he says, “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely negative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.” I agree.


QUOTE[s]


Here is the promised longer quote[s] by Jonathan Sarfati:

if evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage; and there would be no reason to suppose that this would necessarily include rationality. After a talk on the Christian roots of science in Canada, 2010, one atheopathic* philosophy professor argued that natural selection really would select for logic and rationality. I responded by pointing out that under his worldview, theistic religion is another thing that ‘evolved’, and this is something he regards as irrational. So under his own worldview he believes that natural selection can select powerfully for irrationality, after all. English doctor and insightful social commentator Theodore Dalrymple (who is a non-theist himself) shows up the problem in a refutation of New Atheist Daniel Dennett:

Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms—for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.

For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favour, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.

Jonathan D. Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, And Scientific Commentary On Genesis 1-11 (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2015), 259-259.


* Atheopath or Atheopathy: “Leading misotheist [“hatred of God” or “hatred of the gods”] Richard Dawkins [one can insert many names here] often calls theistic religion a ‘virus of the mind’, which would make it a kind of disease or pathology, and parents who teach it to their kids are, in Dawkins’ view, supposedly practising mental child abuse. But the sorts of criteria Dawkins applies makes one wonder whether his own fanatical antitheism itself could be a mental pathology—hence, ‘atheopath’.” (Taken from the Creation.com article, “The biblical roots of modern science,” by Jonathan Sarfati [published: 19 May 2012] ~ comments in the “[ ]” are mine.)

Camille Paglia Speaks To The Importance of the Bible for Atheists

Michael Medved had Camille Paglia on his show discussing a new book of hers (“Provocations: Collected Essays“) and an atheist caller called in to express his *rational position on religion. At any rate, a well stated defense of the importance of the Bible by a secular feminist critiquing modern atheism. (For the record, Camille Paglia is an atheist.)

*Sorta rational… I believe he referenced “determinism” in his statement, an irrational position.

Eye for an Eye: One of the Greatest Ideas in History

Nowadays, many people, particularly those living in Western civilization, no longer regard their society as morally superior to any other. In this video, Dennis Prager lays out how this view does not spring from intellectual rigor, but from intellectual laziness.

SEE ALSO: Dennis Prager deals with the misconceptions related to skeptics charge against Deuteronomy 21:18-21. Many of these Torah verses are ripped from their historical and hermeneutic context (CARM Deuteronomy)

God and Christopher Hitchens (Daniel C. Peterson)

Daniel C. Peterson discusses Christopher Hitchens’ book, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”…  KEEP IN MIND, this is a Mormon apologist defending in parts Mormonism — However, Dr. Peterson spells out some grand church history and other common defenses of the faith. AS WELL AS the low threshold of scholarly aptitude in Hitchens work.

Slavery and the Bible ~ A Response by J. Warner Wallace

Updated Nov 28, 2017 (Originally posted June 20, 2014)

D. Instructions for slaves (6:1–2). Paul gives instructions to Christian slaves in the situation in which they find themselves. He does not defend the institution (see 1 Cor. 7:21; Philem. 15–17) but gives general principles and specific instructions for living in that situation as Christians. Full respect, good service, and a proper attitude should be given to masters. Even slavery does not invalidate Paul’s principles concerning work. Poor work and a poor attitude will give cause for non-Christians to speak evil of God and the teachings of Christianity. Some Christian slaves apparently concluded that because they and their masters were brothers (spiritually equal and in the same “family”) that therefore they could act in a familiar and disrespectful way. Paul argues that Christian slaves should give even better service since they serve believers whom they love.

George W. III Knight, “1-2 Timothy/Titus,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 1108.

(More commentaries at the end)

Previously I attributed this audio to Jonathan Morrow. A viewer corrected me that this was J. Warner Wallace. I will include, still, the previous links to Jonathan’s works below, as they are still great resources to indulge in.

(From video description)

This was an audio I mistakenly attributed to Jonathan Morrow, but in fact (thanks to a compatriot) this is J. Warner Wallace:

http://coldcasechristianity.com/
http://pleaseconvinceme.com/
http://www.str.org/

Detective Wallace rightly places over the matrix of the question the time-stamp in which the text was written, and the context it was written, and whom the text was written for… assuming these persons culture and surroundings and their practices. Not a 21st century understanding of slavery and the American experience.

Jonathan Morrow is the founder of Think Christianly. He is the author of:

Jonathan also contributed several articles to the Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He graduated with an M.Div. and an M.A. in philosophy of religion and ethics from Talbot School of Theology where he is pursuing a D.Min in engaging mind and culture.

Here is Dennis Prager also responding to the issue in his “patented” way (take note that the last audio below is a full show of Prager dealing with slavery):

DENNY BURK has a great article that gets to the point, seven points exactly… I will post a clip of two of the body of his thinking:

2. The Bible Often Condemns the Means by Which Slaves Were Taken as Slaves.

In the first century, slavery wasn’t race-based like it was in the American South. People were taken as slaves through a number of means: warfare, piracy, highway robbery, infant exposure, and punishment of criminals. In all of this, there was always prevalent the issue of kidnapping people in order to enslave them. What does the Bible say about kidnapping?

In 1 Timothy 1:10, the apostle Paul says that kidnapping or man-stealing is against God’s law. Most interpreters recognize that this man-stealing was for the purpose of slavery. That is why the ESV has it as “enslavers” and the NIV as “slave traders.”Certainly, the background for Paul’s command is the Old Testament law:

Exodus 21:16 “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death” (ESV).

Who is to be put to death? The one who takes the man and the one who holds him. This is significant because some people have made the case that while the Bible does condemn slave-trading it does not condemn slave-holding (e.g., Douglas Wilson, Black and Tan, 56). If this view were correct, there would not necessarily have been any moral problem with Christians owning slaves in the American South during and before the Civil War.

But Exodus 21:16 says that both the kidnapping and the enslavement are punishable by death. And this is the background for Paul’s own thinking about the matter in 1 Timothy. The entire system of Southern slavery was based on kidnapping people from Africa. The slave-traders stuffed these Africans into ship holds where they suffered and died by the thousands. That slave-trade was an abomination. And it is fallacious to suggest that the slave-holders are not morally implicated in the slave-trade. You cannot defend those who participated in the slave trade, nor can you defend those slave owners who created the market for man-stealing.

So the Bible definitely condemns the means by which slaves were taken as slaves—especially kidnapping, which was punishable by death.

3. The New Testament forbids Christians from coercive violence against slaves.

Ephesians 6:9 “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”

Yes, there were Christian slave owners in the New Testament. But no, they were not allowed to threaten their slaves with violence. And obviously, if they weren’t allowed to threaten with violence, they weren’t allowed to actually do violence against their slaves. It may have been allowable under Roman law for a master to abuse or even kill his slave. But it was not allowable under God’s law to do such things. You might call that slavery in some sense, but what kind of slavery is it that doesn’t allow the master to coerce his slave through violence? It’s certainly not Roman slavery. It’s certainly not like slavery in the American South. This is something so different one wonders if you can call it slavery at all.

4. The New Testament commands Christians to treat slaves like brothers.

When Paul wrote to the slave-owner Philemon about his run-away slave Onesimus, Paul told Philemon to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me” (Phlm 16-17).

What kind of slavery is it that tells a master to give up threatening and to treat his slaves like his brother? Again, it’s not Roman slavery. It’s nothing like slavery in the American South. So the Bible isn’t endorsing either one of those. This is something else entirely. And that is why slavery cannot continue where the Kingdom of God holds sway. The Bible completely undermines all the defining features of slavery: kidnapping, coercive violence, treating people like property rather like brothers created in the image of God.

[….]

7. The Bible condemns racism.

As I mentioned earlier, slavery in the New Testament was not race-based. But slavery in the American South was. The Bible forbids treating someone else as less than human because of their race. God created man in his own image—all men—not just white ones or black ones or red ones or yellow ones. Because of that, every person—not just some people—every person has inherent dignity and worth as image-bearers of almighty God. For this reason, the diversity of races is not an evil to be abolished but a glory to be celebrated. God intends to gather worshipers for Himself from every “tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). And we know that in Christ “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:11).

So no, the Bible does not endorse slavery nor the evils inherent in slavery. On the contrary, it abolishes them in the name of Jesus. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not command us to take up arms in violent revolution to abolish slavery. It does, however, introduce a new kingdom in the world that will one day overthrow all unjust authorities. And we are called as the church to be an outpost of that coming kingdom. And wherever the church goes, slavery must flee because the Kingdom of Christ will not abide unjust authorities.

When the critics assail scripture, they often make confident assertions about things they know very little about (1 Tim. 1:7). In this case, when they rail against the Bible’s alleged endorsement of slavery, they are misrepresenting what the Bible actually teaches. Every word of God is pure and good and wise and right and good for us–including what it says to us about those under the yoke.

“Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.” –Psalm 119:140

Likewise, a great article by APOLOGETIC PRESS notes the following…

TAKING PAUL’S TEACHING TO ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSION

Over time, with the spread of Christianity (cf. Acts 19:10,26; 21:20) and with increasing numbers of slave masters becoming Christians, the physical lives of many slaves would have improved dramatically. As slave owners with honest and good hearts learned (1) to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and (2) to love their neighbors (including their slaves) as themselves (Matthew 22:36-40), they would give up “threatening” (Ephesians 6:9). As Christian slave owners contemplated treating others how they want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), they would give their slaves “what is just and fair,” knowing that they, too, had a Master in heaven (Colossians 4:1). As slave owners submitted to Christ, they would be transformed by the Gospel, learning to be “kindly affectionate” to everyone (Romans 12:2,10), including all those who served them. In short, far from endorsing sinful slavery, Paul’s teachings, taken to their logical conclusion, would eventually lead truth-seeking masters and government officials to help bring an end to any kind of cruel, sinful captivity.

For an extensive and in-depth writing on this, see Kyle Butt’s article, “Defending the Bible’s Position on Slavery,” originally in Reason & Revelation, 25[6]:41-47.

On the Ultimate Issues Hour, Dennis Prager speaks about his upcoming book to be published and the topic of “Slavery and the Bible.”


COMMENTARIES


Slaves in the Church 6:1–2a

Slaves comprised a third group of persons in the household of God who needed instruction. In the Roman world a small percentage of people were very rich. Persons serving in the Roman Senate and the equestrians made up the privileged classes of people and numbered less than 1 percent of the population (Bell: 187). Most persons were patrons or clients. Patrons provided for the well-being of clients by providing jobs, food, shelter, and so forth. In some wealthy households, even some of the slaves had clients, who hoped that they would influence their owner to secure favors for them (Bell: 192). Slavery was not limited to poor persons in Roman society, nor was it based on race. Roman law did not formally recognize slave marriages. Slaves were considered property. David A. de Silva suggests that fully 25 percent of the Roman population were slaves (de Silva: 141), while another writer thinks that slaves may have constituted a majority in society (Collins: 152).

Persons became slaves if their country was conquered by another country. Criminals, persons who defaulted on their debts, and those born into slave families were all considered slaves in the first century. Some slaves served in high levels of administration, while others worked in domestic and fieldwork. Though Aristotle defined a slave as a “living tool” (Nicomachean Ethics 8.11; de Silva: 142), Stoics and Christians recognized the humanness of slaves (Bell: 194).

Paul’s instructions on slaves connect to those regarding widows and elders in the church through the use of the term honor. In the Pauline mission, slaves became Christians and participated in the household of God. A Christian slave owner could go to the worship service in his household and see his slave(s) in the gathering. The slave may even be leading worship. On the one hand, Christian slaves needed instruction on how to conduct themselves in a social and cultural context with its own expectations about what slaves could or could not do. On the other hand, the church understood that freedom in Christ meant that the slave was a brother or sister in the congregation (Gal 3:28). Therefore the church had to learn how to live out its life of freedom and faithfulness to Christ in the midst of a culture that generally treated slaves poorly. The church could withdraw from society, or it could simply accommodate itself to society, both of which would destroy its life and mission.

Paul instructs Christian slaves about how they should live in two kinds of settings within the larger culture. First, he instructs slaves who have non-Christian masters (6:1). Second, he instructs slaves who have Christian masters (6:2). With both, Paul is concerned about the mission of the church (6:1b, 2b; Titus 2:10b) [Contextualizing the Gospel, p. 339]. As with widows (1 Tim 5:7, 14–15) and elders (5:20), the behavior of Christian slaves has a direct effect upon the mission of the church (6:1b). Paul’s teaching on slaves here in 1 Timothy 6:1–2 is similar to other NT household codes (Eph 6:5–9; Col 3:22–4:1; 1 Pet 2:18–25), with two major exceptions. First, in 1 Timothy, Christian masters are not told how to treat slaves (Verner: 140–41). And second, a major distinction is made between the way slaves treat non-Christian masters and Christian masters. This distinction is significant because the religion of the master of the household often determined the religion of the whole household, including the slaves.

Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor (6:1a). The phrase under the yoke of slavery refers to Christians who live under the power and rule of a master. It is the normal phrase used for being under a tyrant, or in slavery, and calls attention to its burdensome character (I. H. Marshall 1999: 629). The exhortation to attribute honor to a non-Christian master indicates that Christian slaves who have found freedom in Christ likely want to be free of their masters. If slaves show disrespect and even rebel against their masters, their attitude becomes diametrically opposed to the social practice of the day. To prevent major conflict within that social and cultural context, slaves are exhorted to show respect to their masters. Disrespect to masters will bring disrepute upon the church and clash with the commonly accepted cultural practice.

Respect toward non-Christian masters is emphasized with a purpose clause: so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed (6:1b). Respect and honor may lead some masters to Christ. In words reminiscent of Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Paul exhorts Christian slaves to align their attitude toward masters with the mission of the church. Paul considers the success of the gospel to hold more importance than the immediate abolition of slavery in Roman society, for if the gospel reaches many in Roman society, slavery itself will eventually be abolished. A similar statement in Titus 2:10 says that slaves are to live in submission to their masters so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior. Lack of submission can bring the Christian message into disrepute, while submission to non-Christian masters enhances it (Bassler 1996: 104). Since God desires that everyone be saved (1 Tim 2:4), Paul apparently thinks it best not to be too disruptive of Roman society or to bring slander upon the church. Instead, Paul believes the mission of the church should lead the way. As more citizens became Christians, the institution of slavery may be eliminated. The church at Ephesus cannot afford a reputation that denies Christian teaching and blasphemes the name of God.

Next, Paul addresses slaves who have Christian masters (6:2). The Christian slave and the Christian master are brothers (NIV) and sisters in Christ. Does this mean that the master-slave relationship should also change? Paul says that those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them (6:2a). The term be disrespectful means to hold or show contempt toward another. Some Christian slaves think that since both master and slave are fellow members in the church family, they no longer need to be subordinate to their masters (Verner: 143). The Christian gospel was a radical leveler in Greco-Roman society, and communities of faith were hard-pressed to negotiate the implications of the gospel in terms of social roles. The fact that a slaveholder was a Christian could not become an excuse for the slave to take advantage of the master’s religion to further one’s own cause. On the contrary, the slave should offer willing service all the more, since servanthood brings a benefit. Paul argues from the lesser to the greater by saying the slave must serve them all the more. Even the master who is a Christian is still the master, and the slave is still the slave. Moreover, the service of an obedient slave results in a benefit. The word benefit means good deed, benefit, service, or benefit of service. Knight indicates that this term was used in the first century to describe the actions of one in authority who was a benefactor toward one under him (Knight 1992: 247). Thus a Christian slave’s willing service for a Christian master bestows good on the master. The master in response returns that good to the slave by providing a good living for the slave.

Paul has deliberately picked up the language of honor and shame common in the ancient world (1 Tim 6:1–2) [Honor and Shame, p. 354]. But he reverses it. In the ancient world only masters could be benefactors. Masters as benefactors are worthy of honor (Johnson 2001: 290). But here Paul places the slave in the position of being the benefactor! A slave’s service represents a position of strength and brings honor not only to the master, but also to the name of God and the Christian teaching. By slaves treating the master as beloved, both master and slaves can be brothers and sisters together in Christ and enjoy life together in the church. Both master and slaves exercise what it means to serve a higher authority (i.e., Christ) and become slaves of Christ. This Christian attitude greatly enhanced the Christian mission within Roman society with its cultural and social stratification, while also giving the church freedom to live as Christians.

Paul M. Zehr, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA; Waterloo, ON: Herald Press, 2010), 119–122.

6:1–2. Slavery was widespread in the pre-Christian era. By the time of Christ, treatment of slaves had greatly improved.

Romans freed slaves in great numbers in the first century, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also because the freeborn citizenship was declining and thus there were fewer to serve in the military. Only a freed slave could serve in the military.

The church of Ephesus over which Timothy was ministering had slaves and masters as members. Paul wouldn’t give these instructions otherwise.

The expression under the yoke may suggest that slavery in that day was a difficult situation in which many owners viewed their slaves as little more than cattle.

Paul doesn’t instruct bondservants (slaves) to seek to escape. Rather, he tells them to count their own masters worthy of all honor. They were to do this whether the master was worthy of such honor or not.

The reason was so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. God’s name and His doctrine are put in a bad light when slaves fail serve wholeheartedly. Wholehearted service, however, exalts God’s name and His doctrine.

It’s easy to see how Christian slaves who have believing masters might despise their masters because they are brethren. They might expect preferential treatment, or even outright release (see Philemon).

Yet slaves were not to have such a narrow world view. This life is all about pleasing God (cf. Eph 6:5–9; Col 3:22–4:1; and 1 Pet 2:18–21).

Robert N. Wilkin, “The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy,” in The Grace New Testament Commentary, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), 985.

6:1, 2 The Ephesian believers may have been struggling to maintain a biblical work ethic in the world of slavery, so these verses form Paul’s instruction on that subject. Essentially, first century slaves resembled the indentured servants of the American colonial period. In many cases, slaves were better off than day-laborers, since much of their food, clothing, and shelter was provided. The system of slavery served as the economic structure in the Roman world, and the master-slave relationship closely parallels the twentieth-century employer-employee relationship. For more on slaves, see Introduction to Philemon: Background and Setting.

6:1 under the yoke. A colloquial expression describing submissive service under another’s authority, not necessarily describing an abusive relationship (cf. Mt 11:28–30). slaves. They are people who are in submission to another. It carries no negative connotation and is often positive when used in connection with the Lord serving the Father (Php 2:7), and believers serving God (1Pe 2:16), the Lord (Ro 1:1; Gal 1:10; 2Ti 2:24; Jas 1:1), non-Christians (1Co 9:19), and other believers (Gal 5:13). masters. The Gr. word for “master,” while giving us the Eng. word “despot,” does not carry a negative connotation. Instead, it refers to one with absolute and unrestricted authority. all honor. This translates into diligent and faithful labor for one’s employer. See notes on Eph 6:5–9; Col 3:22–25. our doctrine. The revelation of God summed up in the gospel. How believers act while under the authority of another affects how people view the message of salvation Christians proclaim (see notes on Tit 2:5–14). Displaying a proper attitude of submission and respect, and performing quality work, help make the gospel message believable (Mt 5:48).

6:2 believers as their masters. The tendency might be to assume one’s equality in Christ with a Christian master, and disdain the authority related to work roles. On the contrary, working for a Christian should produce more loyal and diligent service out of love for the brethren. preach. Lit. “to call to one’s side.” The particular emphasis here is on a strong urging, directing, and insisting on following the principles for correct behavior in the workplace.

John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 1 Ti 5:25–6:2.

D. Bondservants and Masters (6:1, 2)

6:1 The conduct of slaves is now brought before us. They are spoken of as bondservants who are under the yoke, that is, the yoke of slavery. The apostle, first of all, speaks to slaves who have unsaved masters. Should slaves in such a case act insolently toward their masters? Should they rebel or run away? Should they do as little work as possible? On the contrary, they should count their own masters worthy of all honor. This means that they should give them due respect, work obediently and faithfully, and in general seek to be a help rather than a hindrance. The great motive for such diligent service is that the testimony for Christ is involved. If a Christian slave were to act rudely or rebelliously, then the master would blaspheme the name of God and the Christian faith. He would conclude that believers were a worthless lot.

The history of the early church reveals that Christian slaves generally commanded a higher price on the slave market than unbelievers. If a master knew that a certain slave on the auction block was a Christian, he would generally be willing to pay more for that slave, since he knew that the slave would serve him faithfully and well. This is high tribute to the Christian faith.

This verse reminds us that no matter how low a person’s position may be on the social scale, yet he has every opportunity for witnessing for Christ and bringing glory to His name.

It has often been pointed out that the institution of slavery is not openly condemned in the NT. However, as the teachings of Christianity have spread, the abuses of slavery have been abolished.

Every true believer should realize that he is a bondslave of Jesus Christ. He has been bought with a price; he no longer belongs to himself. Jesus Christ owns him—spirit, soul, and body, and deserves the very best he has.

6:2 This verse deals with slaves who have believing masters. Doubtless there would be a very great temptation for such slaves to despise their masters. It is not at all unlikely that when the local church met together on Lord’s Day evening for the breaking of bread (Acts 20:7), there would be Christian masters and Christian slaves seated around the table—all brethren in Christ Jesus. But the slaves were not, on this account, to think that the social distinctions of life were thereby abolished. Just because a master was a Christian did not mean that the slave did not owe him honor and service. The fact that the master was both a believer and a beloved brother should influence the slave to serve him faithfully.

Christian masters are here spoken of not only as faithful (believers) and beloved, but also as those who are benefited. This is generally taken to mean that they, too, are sharers in the blessing of salvation. However, the words might also be understood to mean that since both slaves and masters are interested in doing good, they should serve together, each trying to help the other.

The words teach and exhort these things doubtless refer to the preceding instructions to Christian slaves. The present-day application would be, of course, to the employer-employee relationship.

William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2098–2099.

D. Concerning Slaves And Masters (6:1–2).

6:1. Under normal circumstances slaves and masters had no associations outside the institution of slavery. With the advent of the gospel, however, these two groups found themselves thrown together in the congregation in new ways, creating problems the apostles were forced to address repeatedly (cf. 1 Cor. 7:20–24; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:5–9; Col. 3:22–25; Phile.; 1 Peter 2:13–25). Paul’s instructions here correspond entirely with what is taught elsewhere in the New Testament on the subject, with one major exception: in this passage he addresses only slaves. Usually his exhortations to submit to authority were immediately buttressed by warning masters against abusing their authority (cf. Eph. 6:5–9; Col. 3:22–4:1).

The matter of the uses and abuses of authority is first and foremost a problem of attitude. Thus Paul wrote repeatedly of how slaves and masters should see themselves and one another. Here he wrote that slaves are to view their masters as worthy of full respect (timēs, “honor”). The same word is used of God in 1 Timothy 1:17 and 6:16, and of elders in 5:17. Such honor or respect should be granted lest God’s reputation and the Christian faith (hē didaskalia, “the teaching”; cf. 1:10; 4:1, 6, 13, 16; 5:17) be slandered (lit., “be blasphemed”). Social goals should always be subordinate to spiritual values.

6:2. Paul’s thought here is totally foreign to the world, and can be fully appreciated only by those who view their lives through the eyes of Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 10:42–45). Christian slaves whose masters are also believers should redouble rather than reduce their service. This should stem purely from the realization that the one who is receiving the benefits is a beloved brother or sister in Christ. The attitude undergirding this instruction is complete nonsense to anyone who does not understand the Lord Jesus, but it is the genius of Christlikeness and the ultimate source of all meaning and joy in life to those who have eyes to see (cf. John 13:4–17; 15:9–14). Thus Timothy was commanded once again to teach and urge … these things on the congregation (cf. 1 Tim. 4:6, 11; 5:7).

A. Duane Litfin, “1 Timothy,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 745.

Witness In The Workplace (6:1–2)

Paul is not endorsing slavery in these verses. Rather, he is addressing a reality that existed at that time. Slavery was common in the Roman Empire and many of the people who became Christians would have been slaves.

What were they to do now that they were free in Christ? They were to act in a way that would bring glory to Christ ‘so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered’ (v. 1, NIV). They would do so by showing respect to their masters. It seems that some slaves in Christian households had become disrespectful to their masters and this had resulted in a bad witness. So Paul corrects it by telling Timothy to teach them to work even harder ‘because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them’ (v. 2, NIV).

These principles apply to the workplace in the modern world. Christians should make sure that they are not ‘too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use’. We may have had the opportunity to tell our colleagues and employers the good news, but if we are lazy and unreliable, we will undermine the message we have communicated. We must also be careful not to take advantage of a Christian boss and expect favouritism from him or her. Instead, we should work even harder than we would for someone who is not a believer. This will be a great encouragement to that boss and help his or her own witness in the workplace.

Simon J. Robinson, Opening up 1 Timothy, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2004), 94–95.

Of Spaghetti Monsters and Teapots

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes that “category mistakes” were a key cause to metaphysical mistakes:

Finally, the fallacy that Aristotle calls form of expression exploits the kind of ambiguity made possible by what we have come to call category mistakes, in this case, fitting words to the wrong categories. Aristotle’s example is the word ‘flourishing’ which may appear to be a verb because of its ‘ing’ ending (as in ‘cutting’ or ‘running’) and so belongs to the category of actions, whereas it really belongs in the category of quality. Category confusion was, for Aristotle, the key cause of metaphysical mistakes. (ARISTOTLE 2.1.4)

THE POACHED EGG includes CARM well reasoned explanation of the issue:

Matt Slick over at CARM writes, “A category mistake is an error in logic in which one category of a thing is presented as belonging to another category.  For example, to say “the rock is alive” assigns the category of life to an inanimate object.  Another example would be to judge the beauty of a painting based on how much it weighs.  This is a category error, since the category of beauty is not determined by the category of weight. So, for the atheist to work from inside his materialistic, non-transcendent worldview and require evidence for the non-material, transcendent God (which necessarily exists outside his perceived worldview) is a category mistake because it is asking for the material evidence of the non-material, the non-transcendent evidence of the transcendent.  It is like asking to have a thought placed on a scale.  It doesn’t work because they are different categories.”

Here are two challenges by an atheist troll which I take up (click to enlarge):

This is with a h/t to Detective Wallace, and comes via THE POACHED EGG as well as the original author, ANSWERS FOR HOPE:

There is a fundamental distinction between the way that Christian apologists approach proving a negative, and the way that atheists approach proving a negative. The distinction is that Christian apologists give good reasons to accept that something doesn’t exist or isn’t true, whereas atheist apologists will commit a fallacy known as an argument from ignorance. The atheist will say “If you can’t prove to my satisfaction that God exists, then I am justified in not believing.” It is an argument from ignorance to say that “X” does not exist because it hasn’t been proven to my satisfaction. However, Christian apologists will say, “We have good reasons to not accept your claim.” and then will proceed to give those reasons.

The Conflict of Worldviews

Since science alone can not test the validity of worldviews, we must use other methods to test claims in which science itself cannot test. You might ask, how can we tell how a worldview is valid or invalid? The mark of something that is not true is inconsistency. What we must do is take all of the presuppositions of a worldview into account, and follow those presuppositions to their logical conclusions. If any of these presuppositions are shown to be internally inconsistent while following them to their ultimate conclusion, then that worldview is false.

In this case, since the atheist is arguing for The Flying Spaghetti Monster, we must take the properties of the Flying Spaghetti Monster into consideration when arguing against it.

The Problem for the Atheist

It should be recognized that when the atheist is arguing for a deity in order to refute any type of theism, including Christianity, that the atheist is forsaking their own worldview for in favor of another. The presuppositions of Pastafarianism are inconsistent with the presuppositions of atheism. Since the arguments and objections that atheism brings to the table in regards to Christianity are not sufficient, it is necessary for atheists to posit something as absurd as a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Since the presuppositions of Pastafarianism are inconsistent with atheism, when they adopt this worldview to try to challenge the Special Revelation of Christianity, they are actually forsaking their own belief that no gods exist. If the arguments that atheists used against Christianity were so consistent, there would be no need for them to mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It seems that the atheists have not realized that if could successfully prove the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster, then atheism would be false. The Flying Spaghetti Monster undermines the entire atheist worldview.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

The Flying Spaghetti Monster concept was revealed to the public when an atheist named Bobby Henderson wrote a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education in regards to a decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.(1) Intelligent Design proponents responded by saying that his letter unwittingly proved the ID movement’s point, because ID does not say or try to conclude who the designer is. Nevertheless, The Flying Spaghetti Monster became a popular objection to Christianity and all other forms of theism, even though that doesn’t appear to be what Bobby Henderson’s original intention was.

[….]

1. Pastafarianism only entertains relative moral values at best.

2. Pastafarians live as if objective moral values exist.

3. If a Pastafarian lives as if objective morals exist while claiming that morals are relative, then the pastafarian worldview is self-contradictory.

4. A self-contradictory worldview cannot be true.

Conclusion: Therefore, Pastafarianism is false. (A cosmological argument against flying spaghetti monster.)

(read it all)

Prior to the “FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER” hypothesis there was the CELESTIAL TEAPOT ARGUMENT:

So the Flying Spaghetti Monster is just a rip off of earlier thinking. But, here is the refutation of it:

Brian Garvey, a lecturer in the philosophy of mind and psychology at Lancaster University, has written an article (referenced here) exploring Russell’s famous celestial teapot. The article, Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence, and the Atheist’s Teapot (PDF), appears in in the latest volume of Ars Disputandi, a philosophy of religion journal hosted by Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Here’s the abstract:

Atheists often admit that there is no positive evidence for atheism. Many argue that there is nonetheless a prima facie argument, which I will refer to as the ‘teapot argument’. They liken agnosticism to remaining neutral on the existence of a teapot in outer space. The present paper argues that this analogy fails, for the person who denies such a teapot can agree with the person who affirms it regarding every other feature of the world, which is not the case with the atheist vis-a-vis the theist. The atheist is committed to there being an alternative explanation of why the universe exists and is the way it is. Moreover, the analogy relies on assumptions about the prior plausibility of atheism. Hence, the teapot argument fails.

And a quote:

“There is, I want to argue, a significant difference between denying the existence of a teapot orbiting the sun, and denying the existence of God. When two people disagree over whether or not there is a teapot orbiting the sun, they are disagreeing over whether the world includes that particular item or not. For all that that particular disagreement implies, the two people agree about every other feature of the world: the tea-ist believes in a world that is exactly the same as the one the a-tea-ist believes in, with the single difference that it contains one item that the a-tea-ist’s world doesn’t contain. Since, as I have argued in the previous section, the only thing that could count as evidence for the teapot orbiting the sun is that someone has seen it, it is in one way analogous to a situation where one person says: ‘there’s a postbox at the end of the high street’ and the other person says ‘no there isn’t, go and have a look’, and the first person goes and looks and doesn’t see one. If that person is reasonable, that will be the end of the argument. The two situations are not quite analogous, however, in that no-one has gone and looked to see whether there is a teapot in outer space. But the situations are disanalogous in a second way too, and a way which helps to illuminate why, in the absence of evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that there is no such teapot. That is, that there is nothing manifestly far-fetched in the idea of there being a postbox at the end of the high street. In the absence of seeing one (leaving aside the possibility of more indirect evidence, such as seeing a map of where all the postboxes are at the GPO) one is hardly being unreasonable if one doesn’t come down on one side or the other. And this difference between the postbox and the teapot tells us something about why it is unreasonable to suspend judgement regarding the teapot, even though we have not only failed to see one, but failed to carry out anything remotely approaching an exhaustive search. Because of its manifest far-fetchedness, or what amounts to the same thing, because it’s reasonable in the absence of prior evidence on the specific hypothesis to estimate that it’s highly unlikely, we can say that, when it comes to teapots orbiting the sun, absence of evidence is evidence of absence. The atheist’s argument attempts to gain persuasiveness by ignoring this issue of prior plausibility. It is true that we cannot (at present) conclusively prove that there’s no teapot in outer space in the way that we could conclusively prove that there’s no postbox on the end of the street by going there and looking. But part of the reason why, despite not being able to do this, it is still reasonable to conclude that there isn’t, is that prior to any investigation the hypothesis is manifestly far-fetched. In the postbox case it is not, and thus we can see that absence of evidence, as far as rendering it reasonable to deny something’s existence goes, has different force depending on the case in hand. Unless the existence of God is taken to be also manifestly far-fetched, the argument to the effect that if we don’t suspend judgement regarding the teapot then we shouldn’t suspend it regarding God, doesn’t get off the ground.”Boiled for Sins Flying Spaghetti Monster

(Via Thinking Matters)

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines Atheism as: the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God —

  • The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

There is a subtle, but important difference between not believing in something and believing that something is not (does not exist). Atheism adopts the latter position in holding that God does not exist. Atheism is more than mere lack of belief, it is the denial of the existence of God. Mere lack of belief makes the atheist no different from a newborn baby or my Chevy. (Added to a bit — but from APOLOGETICS 315)


a couple more videos i liked


 

The Atheist Universe – New York Times

Dennis Prager reads from a New York Times opinion piece by an atheist entitled, “The Universe Doesn’t Care About Your ‘Purpose’.” Of course this is the idea of most honest atheist thinkers (Listen to “Atheists Cannot Live Without God“). A great Ultimate Issues Hour by Prager.

Here are some excerpts from the NEW YORK TIMES article:

….Purpose is a universal human need. Without it, we feel bereft of meaning and happiness.

recent ethnographic study draws a strong correlation between purposefulness and happiness. Purpose seems beneficial to overcoming substance abusehealing from tragedy and loss, and achieving economic success….

Here I will take a break and point out that there are MANY “utilitarian benefits” to the Christian faith, but say this is not the goal of our faith…

  • “And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” – JOHN 8:32

…but the “healthfulness” of experiencing TRUE JOY is a natural outgrowth of believing in Truth:

  • Religious Belief Reduces Crime Summary of the First Panel Discussion Panelists for this important discussion included social scientists Dr. John DiIulio, professor of politics and urban affairs at Princeton University; David Larson, M.D., President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research; Dr. Byron Johnson, Director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at Vanderbilt University; and Gary Walker, President of Public/Private Ventures. The panel focused on new research, confirming the positive effects that religiosity has on turning around the lives of youth at risk.
  • Dr. Larson laid the foundation for the discussion by summarizing the findings of 400 studies on juvenile delinquency, conducted during the past two decades. He believes that although more research is needed, we can say without a doubt that religion makes a positive contribution.
  • His conclusion: “The better we study religion, the more we find it makes a difference.” Previewing his own impressive research, Dr. Johnson agreed. He has concluded that church attendance reduces delinquency among boys even when controlling for a number of other factors including age, family structure, family size, and welfare status. His findings held equally valid for young men of all races and ethnicities.
  • Gary Walker has spent 25 years designing, developing and evaluating many of the nation’s largest public and philanthropic initiatives for at-risk youth. His experience tells him that faith-based programs are vitally important for two reasons. First, government programs seldom have any lasting positive effect. While the government might be able to design [secular/non-God] programs that occupy time, these programs, in the long-term, rarely succeed in bringing about the behavioral changes needed to turn kids away from crime. Second, faith-based programs are rooted in building strong adult-youth relationships; and less concerned with training, schooling, and providing services, which don’t have the same direct impact on individual behavior. Successful mentoring, Walker added, requires a real commitment from the adults involved – and a willingness to be blunt. The message of effective mentors is simple. “You need to change your life, I’m here to help you do it, or you need to be put away, away from the community.” Government, and even secular philanthropic programs, can’t impart this kind of straight talk.
  • Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police. Search Institute, “The Faith Factor,” Source, Vol. 3, Feb. 1992, p.1.
  • Churchgoers are more likely to aid their neighbors in need than are non-attendees. George Barna, What Americans Believe, Regal Books, 1991, p. 226.
  • Three out of four Americans say that religious practice has strengthened family relationships. George Gallup, Jr. “Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century,” The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.
  • Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: “Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches.” The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.
  • Religious practice lowers the rate of suicide. Joubert, Charles E., “Religious Nonaffiliation in Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape and Illegitimacy,” Psychological Reports 75:1 part 1 (1994): 10 Jon W. Hoelter: “Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide Acceptibility.” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 9, 1979, pp.163-172.
  • The presence of active churches, synagogues… reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., “Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being,” RIAL Update, Spring 1996.
  • People with religious faith are less likely to be school drop-outs, single parents, divorced, drug or alcohol abusers. Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Roland, “Correcting the Welfare Tragedy,” The Center for Public Justice, 1994.
  • Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.
  • Attending services at a church or other house of worship once a month or more makes a person more than twice as likely to stay married than a person who attends once a year or less. David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, “Is Divorce Hazardous to Your Health?” Physician, June 1990. Improving Personal Well-Being
  • Regular church attendance lessens the possibility of cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and arteriosclerosis. George W. Comstock amd Kay B. Patridge:* “Church attendance and health.”* Journal of Chronic Disease, Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 665-672.
  • Regular church attendance significantly reduces the probablility of high blood pressure.* David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S. Greenberg, E. Logue and H. A. Tyroler:* ” The Impact of religion on men’s blood pressure.”* Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 28, 1989, pp.265-278.* W.T. Maramot:* “Diet, Hypertension and Stroke.” in* M. R. Turner (ed.) Nutrition and Health, Alan R. Liss, New York, 1982, p. 243.
  • People who attend services at least once a week are much less likely to have high blood levels of interlukin-6, an immune system protein associated with many age-related diseases.* Harold Koenig and Harvey Cohen, The International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, October 1997.
  • Regular practice of religion lessens depression and enhances self esteem. *Peter L. Bensen and Barnard P. Spilka:* “God-Image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control” in H. N. Maloney (ed.) Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, Eedermans, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 209-224.* Carl Jung: “Psychotherapies on the Clergy” in Collected Works Vol. 2, 1969, pp.327-347.
  • Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse.* Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart:* “Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior.” * British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171.* Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O’Malley:* “Explaining* the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults:* Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use.”* Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31,* 1990, pp. 173-184.* Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, * and Collins Lewis:* “Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes.”* Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. * The findings of this NIMH-supported study were replicated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.
  • The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
  • Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
  • The regular practice of religion helps poor persons move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape the poverty of inner-city life.
  • Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
  • Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and divorce.
  • The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression (a modern epidemic), more self-esteem, and greater family and marital happiness.
  • In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of strength and recovery.
  • Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one’s chances of recovery from illness, and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.

(From: Can Someone Be Glad for God’s Non-Existence?Believing In God Is Natural ~ Atheism is Not)

…CONTINUING…

…..I’m certainly no Aristotelian. Not because I reject happiness. Rather, as a materialist, I think there’s nothing intrinsic about the goals and purposes we seek to achieve it. Modern science explicitly jettisons this sort of teleological thinking from our knowledge of the universe. From particle physics to cosmology, we see that the universe operates well without purpose.

The laws of physics are inherently mechanistic. The second law of thermodynamics, for instance, states that entropy is always increasing. Entropy is the degree of disorder in a system, for example our universe. Physical disorder is all about equilibrium — everything resting randomly and uniformly. Leave your hot coffee on the desk and it will cool to ambient temperature. The coffee molecules are more organized because they are moving faster and working harder to sustain a higher temperature than the surrounding air. But heat transfer results as the coffee molecules expend more energy. As energy is expended, the temperature of the coffee drops and equalizes with the air. Entropy increases since the molecules in the system are now less organized as the overall temperature becomes more uniform.

Now, imagine this on the cosmic scale. Just as the temperature of the coffee and air equalizes, the Earth, our solar system, galaxies and even supermassive black holes will break down to the quantum level, where everything cools to a uniform state. This process is known as the arrow of time. Eventually everything ends in heat death. The universe certainly started with a bang, but it likely ends with a fizzle.

What’s the purpose in that, though?

There isn’t one. At least not fundamentally. Entropy is antagonistic to intrinsic purpose. It’s about disorder. Aristotle’s world and pretty much the dominant understanding of the physical universe until the Copernican Revolution is all about inherent order and permanence. But the universe as we understand it tells us nothing about the goal or meaning of existence, let alone our own. In the grand scheme of things, you and I are enormously insignificant.

[….]

Purpose springs from our longing for permanence in an ever-changing universe. It is a reaction to the universe’s indifference to us. We create stories about the world and ourselves as contours, “phantom bodies,” of the inevitability of loss and change. Myths appear timeless; they have what Blumenberg calls an iconic constancy. Stories pass through generations, often becoming traditions, customs, even laws and institutions that order and give meaning to our lives. Purpose grows out of the durability of human lore. Our stories serve as directives for the ways we need the world to exist.

An indifferent universe also offers us a powerful and compelling case for living justly and contentedly because it allows us to anchor our attentionhere. It teaches us that this life matters and that we alone are responsible for it. Love, friendship and forgiveness are for our benefit. Oppression, war and conflict are self-inflicted. When we ask what’s the purpose of the recent gassing of Syrian children in the Idlib Province or the torture and killings of Chechnyan homosexual men, we ought not simply look to God or the universe for explanations but to ourselves, to the entrenched mythologies that drive such actions — then reject them when the institutions they inform amount to acts of horror.

The purposes and goals we create are phantom bodies — vestiges of and memorials to the people, places and things we stand to lose and strive to keep. Purpose indexes the world’s impermanence, namely our own. Sure, my grandfather’s T-Bird will function well as transportation once I’m finished. But, that goal only makes sense as an enduring reminder of the stories and memories of him. Purpose is about loss, or at least the circumvention of it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We create purposes to establish happy endings in a universe where endings are simply that — endings.

I will never see my Papa again. One day I will die. So will you. The T-Bird will decay along with everything in the universe as the fundamental particles we’re made of return to the inert state in which everything began. Entropy demands it.

So, take a moment to think about the mythologies informing your purpose. I’ll reflect on mine, too. The universe, however, won’t. And that might be the most meaningful distinction of all.