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


 

New York Values ~ Pronouns (UPDATED!)

I have recently started rereading “The Conservative Mind” and thought this was fitting:

  • The radical, when all is said, is a neoterist, in love with change; the conservative, a man who says with Joubert, Ce sont les crampons qui unissent une génération á une autre — these ancient institutions of politics and religion. [A great rudimentary definition of “newsspeak”]

  • Washington Post blogger Eugene Volokh revealed the New York City Commission on Human Rights has issued guidance that employers, landlords, professionals, and businesses can now be fined up to $250,000 for not using an individual’s preferred name, pronoun, or title under the New York City Human Rights Law – “regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual’s identification.” (NewsBusters)

Greg Koukl talks about “New York Values” in that if you do not use a preferred pronoun after it has been made clear the person wishes to be called “he,” “she,” “zhe,” no sex… whatever.

Breitbart notes the story:

Did you call a transsexual person “he” or “she” when they preferred to be called “zhe?” According to a newly updated anti-discrimination law in New York City, you could be fined an eye-watering $250,000.

In the latest, astonishing act of draconian political correctness, the NYC Commission on Human Rights have updated a law on “Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Expression” to threaten staggering financial penalties against property owners who “misgender” employees or tenants.

Incidents that are deemed “wilful and malicious” will see property owners face up to $250,000 in fines, while standard violations of the law will result in a $125,000 fine. For small business owners, these sums are crippling.

It’s not as simple as referring to transmen “he” or transwomen as “she,” either. The legislation makes it clear that if an individual desires, property owners will have to make use of “zhe,” “hir” and any other preferred pronoun. From the updated legislation:

The NYCHRL requires employers and covered entities to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun and title (e.g., Ms./Mrs.) regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual’s identification. Most individuals and many transgender people use female or male pronouns and titles.

Some transgender and gender non-conforming people prefer to use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir…..

Daily Caller notes this craziness as well:

Calling a person “she” instead of “ze” could be grounds for a $250,000 fine in New York City under new civil rights guidelines published just before Christmas which ban the “misgendering” of individuals.

Discrimination based on gender identity has been illegal in New York since 2002, but last week the New York Commission on Human Rights released a new set of guidelines that specify the many ways one can violate the law. The guidelines apply to employment, housing, and public accommodations, though some exceptions exist for particularly small employers and for religious organizations.

New York officials claim the new policy makes it the most aggressive city in the country in terms of protecting the rights of the transgendered….

Ted Cruz wisely released a video (probably a set of them that will confirm his Manahaatan values brought up in the GOP debate:

HotAir notes that Cruz will pick up these attacks:

…“A thrice-married man is going to come into South Carolina expecting to be the Republican nominee?” [Charlie] Condon asked incredulously. “He’s pro-choice. He’s pro- gay marriage. He’s against traditional values. He’s New York, and he’s got to talk about that.”…

Gateway Pundit notes that “masturbation booths” have started to appear curbside in New York City:

Conversations with Lemmings: Did God “Create” Evil (Isaiah 45:7)

I won’t get into the long back-and-forth that preceded this exchange. As much as I am confident it shows my own close attention to giants of thinkers that p[receded me as well as the clarity of the theistic position and the inherent implausibility and self-refuting nature of atheism… you can go to the discussion yourself and decide (you would have to be on FaceBook and “like” the group this took place in for the link to work).

Here Daniel said the following:

God being all powerful could have just as easily not created evil and permitted us free will. I am not able to imagine that which is impossible yet I still possess free will. Evil could have just as easy been one of the things I can not comprehend. Your argument is incredibly flawed.

[….]

Notice how I put came to be in “”. It’s simply referring to him being perfect from the get go from the beginning to forever. Never changing perfectly complete in every aspect. Never in need of anything.

I’m talking perfection not your flimsy anthropomorphic idea.

To which I respond in part:

He didn’t create evil. And in a previous post elsewhere you mentioned God coming into existence. You really should study the classical view of God (from Grecian times to ours). Maybe something like (I am struggling for something basic for you, because you seem not to be lifting with your legs on what I put down), Philosophy for Dummies, by Tom Morris. And, Christianity For Dummies, by Richard Wagner and Kurt Warner. [I didn’t mention this in the conversation, but the best intro to the topic of basic Christian beliefs is a book by theologian Wayne Grudem tiled “Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith“]

Because you say stuff that paints a giant straw-man and this interferes with your conclusion.

  • Mortimer J. Adler rightly points out that while many Christians are quick in responding to the conclusions in an argument often times the Christian is unaware that the point of departure is not in the conclusion, but in the starting premise, the foundational assumptions.

Norman L. Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakeable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the Christian Faith (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001), 20-21.

Daniel retorted with…

Again you are wrong. Hold on I’ll be back with the verse…. Isaiah 45.7

  • I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

This verse, ISAIAH 45:7 — for context — reads:

  • I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. (ESV)
  • I form light and create darkness, I make success and create disaster; I, Yahweh, do all these things. (HCSB)
  • The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these. (NASB)
  • I form light and create darkness, I make harmonies and create discords. I, God, do all these things. (The Message)

Here is the Hebrew:

Isaiah 45-7 -- interlinear 690

(Click to enlarge)

Note that Daniel used the KJV, whereas most versions since 1611 translate this word/thought (“and create evil“) better due to communication and modern access to many more manuscripts. Really, the context of the preceding verses should be included… you can read it here. I reference a previous discussion of this person [probably young man] coming at any ancient text with some parameters. He made it clear that his viewpoint is the only one that mattered (implicitly at least).

I responded

I will respond to the verse… it will offer you a great opportunity to be a literary critic… but first, here is a section from Philosophy for Dummies:

ROBOTS AND COSMIC PUPPETRY: THE SCIENTIFIC CHALLENGE TO FREEDOM

Since at least the time of Sir Isaac Newton, scientists and philosophers impressed by the march of science have offered a picture of human behavior that is not promising for a belief in freedom. All nature is viewed by them as one huge mechanism, with human beings serving as just parts of that giant machine. On this view, we live and think in accordance with the same laws and causes that move all other physical components of the universal mechanism.

According to these thinkers, everything that happens in nature has a cause. Suppose then that an event occurs, which, in context, is clearly a human action of the sort that we would normally call free. As an occurrence in this universe, it has a cause. But then that cause, in turn, has a cause. And that cause in turn has a cause, and so on, and so on [remember, reductionism].

➤ “Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player” ~ Albert Einstein.

As a result of this scientific world view, we get the following picture:

✦ Natural conditions outside our control…
✦ cause…
✦ Inner bodily and brain states,
✦ which cause…
✦ mental and physical actions

But if this is true, then you are, ultimately, just a conduit or pipeline for chains of natural causation that reach far back into the past before your birth and continue far forward into the future after your death. You are not an originating cause of anything [this includes brain activity of all degrees, that is, love, pain, etc.). Nothing you ever do is due to your choices or thoughts alone. You are a puppet of nature. You are no more than a robot programmed by an unfeeling cosmos.

Psychologists talk about heredity and environment as responsible for everything you do. But then if they are, you aren’t. Does it follow that you can then do as you please, irresponsibly? Not at all. It only follows that you will do as nature and nurture please. But then, nature on this picture turns out to be just an illusory veil over a heartless, uncaring nature. You have what nature gives you. Nothing more, nothing less.

Where is human freedom in this picture? It doesn’t exist. It is one of our chief illusions. The natural belief in free will is just a monstrous falsehood. But we should not feel bad about holding on to this illusion until science corrects us. We can’t have helped it.

This reasoning is called The Challenge of Scientific Determinism. According to determinists, we are determined in every respect to do everything that we ever do.

This again is a serious challenge to human freedom. It is the reason that the early scientist Pierre Laplace (1749-1827) once said that if you could give a super-genius a total description of the universe at any given point in time, that being would be able to predict with certainty everything that would ever happen in the future relative to that moment, and retrodict with certainty anything that had ever happened in any moment before that described state. Nature, he believed, was that perfect machine. And we human beings were just cogs in the machine, deluded in our beliefs that we are free.

(Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies, 133-134)

Previously I noted his view of Consciousness was ill-placed:

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.

At any rate, here is my response to Daniel’s verse he quoted most-probably from an atheist website:

A historian and critic of ancient literature would ask the following questions:

★ Who was the writer?
★ To whom were they writing?
★ Is the choice of words, wording, or word order significant in this particular passage?
★ What is the cultural, historical context?
★ What was the author’s original intended meaning?
★ How did the author’s contemporaries understand him?
★ Why did he say it that way?

By doing this one shows a maturity level past taking a verse out of context. And again, you would want to give the benefit of doubt to the document [Aristotle and our court system] with the following:

1) Rule of Definition: Define the term or words being considered and then adhere to the defined meanings.
2) Rule of Usage: Don’t add meaning to established words and terms. Ask what was the common usage in the culture at that time period.
3) Rule of Context: Avoid using words out of context. Context must define terms and how words are used.
4) Rule of Historical background: Don’t separate interpretation from historical investigation.
5) Rule of Logic: Be certain that words as interpreted agree with the overall premise.
6) Rule of Precedent: Use the known and commonly accepted meanings of words, not obscure meanings for which there is no precedent.
7) Rule of Unity: Even though many documents may be used there must be a general unity among them.
8) Rule of Inference: Base conclusions on what is already known and proven or can be reasonably implied from all known facts.

[I discuss the above more in-depth here.]

So, for example, I will post one thought on the matter by CARM:

  • “We can see that the Bible teaches that God is pure and does not approve of evil and that the word, rah (evil), in Hebrew can mean many things and that contextually the verse is speaking of calamity and distress. Therefore, God does not create evil in the moral sense but in the sense of disaster or calamity.”

And from Come Reason Ministries:

  • “Evil means natural, and not moral evil, or sin. Herderson says ‘affliction, adversity’; Calvin, ‘afflictions, wars, and other adverse occurrences.’ Whichever interpretation may be adopted, none of the above texts, nor any others when properly explained, sanction the revolting proposition that God is the author of sin.”

Take hurricanes as an example. Hurricanes cause havoc, mayhem, and many times death and suffering. Yet, our planet would be dead without them (see my post where similar to you, arguments made against God end up being proof for Him.

So are you being thorough in your studies, knowing that which you refute? or are you being like the masses of uneducated voters/thinkers and just “willy nilly” taking stuff for granted and thinking you have a good argument?

Honorable mentions of resources on this verse:

Did God Create Evil – Does the Bible Say So? (Evidence for God):

Isaiah 45:7 contrasts opposites. Darkness is the opposite of light. However, evil is not the opposite of peace. The Hebrew word translated “peace” is shâlôm,2 which has many meanings, mostly related to the well being of individuals. Râ‛âh,3 the Hebrew word translated “evil” in the KJV often refers to adversity or calamity. There are two forms of the word. Strong’s H7451a most often refers to moral evil, whereas Strong’s H7451b (the form used here) most often refers to calamity or distress. Obviously, “calamity” is a better antonym of “peace” than “evil.”

Why does Isaiah 45:7 say that God created evil? (Got Questions?):

The context of Isaiah 45:7 makes it clear that something other than “bringing moral evil into existence” is in mind.

Here are a few commentaries on the verse[s]:

6. Comfort from Cyrus, God’s Anointed (Chap. 45)

45:1–6 The LORD calls Cyrus His “anointed” (the same word as “messiah” in Hebrew) because the Persian monarch was a prototype of the Messiah who would give final deliverance to His people. Jehovah promises to give him victory over nations, principally Babylon, to remove all hindrances to his conquests, and to hand over to him tremendous amounts of hidden riches in secret places. Still addressing Cyrus, the LORD speaks of Himself as the only true God, who calls Cyrus by name, who surnames him as anointed and shepherd (44:28), and who equips him for his mission. God does all this for the sake of His people, and so that the whole world may know that He alone is the LORD.

45:7 Verse 7 does not mean that God creates moral “evil,” as some have claimed, based on the King James Version and other early translations.

Delitzsch points out that the early “Christian” heretic Marcion, and the heretical Valentinians and other Gnostic sects, abused this text to teach that the God of the OT was “a different being from the God of the New.”

Addressing the problem of evil (including calamity, no doubt), Delitzsch continues, “Undoubtedly, evil as an act is not the direct working of God, but the spontaneous work of a creature endowed with freedom.”

  • William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 972.

45:5–7 The Lord’s Witness to Cyrus

In the first stanza (45:5–6a) and from this center-stage position, the Lord continues to address Cyrus with the word I am the LORD. Though Cyrus does not know the Lord (cf. 45:4), the Lord knows Cyrus and equips him. I am using the word equips to refer to all of the ways in which the Lord has strengthened Cyrus (45:1–4). The goal of that equipping was to set the Judean exiles free (45:13). The equipping of Cyrus takes place so that they may know … that there is no one besides me (45:6). It is not clear who they might be. The NIV substitutes the word men, meaning people in general. But this is conjecture. The more likely antecedent for they would be Jacob-Israel (45:4). But why would the Lord’s equipping of Cyrus make it possible for Jacob-Israel to know that there is no one besides the Lord? The answer lies at the end of 45:1–13. Cyrus will permit Jerusalem to be rebuilt; Cyrus will set the Judean exiles free (45:13). Jacob-Israel will know that the Lord has delegated power to Cyrus but that it is the LORD’s power that needs to be reckoned with.

The phrase I am the LORD opened the first stanza and now it opens the second (45:6b–7). This is followed by parallel lines describing the Lord as

forming light and creating darkness,
making peace and creating distress. (45:7 AT)

These lines employ language from Genesis 1 and 2 (forming, creating, making). In the second line the Lord lays claim to making peace as well as creating distress (ra‘). The Hebrew noun ra‘ has a range of meanings (cf. evil, KJV; disaster, NIV; woe, NRSV; calamity, JB). It is a mistake to elaborate a theology of God as the creator of evil from this text (see “Creating Evil” in TLC below).

The main point in the witness to Cyrus in 45:5–7 is the Lord’s singularity (no one else) and his activity (doing all these things). God’s power may be seen in creation and in history. God’s sovereignty is over Cyrus; Cyrus does not control God.

  • Ivan D. Friesen, Isaiah, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA; Waterloo, ON: Herald Press, 2009), 277.

45:5–7. Again the uniqueness of God is stressed. The fact that there is no other is stated in verses 5–6, 14, 18, 21–22 (also see 43:11; 44:6; 46:9). In Cyrus’ day the Lord was not universally acknowledged, but eventually He will be (cf. Phil. 2:10–11). People will realize that all that happens-light (life), darkness (death), prosperity, and disaster (not “evil” as in the KJV; cf. Amos 3:6)—comes from God. As the sovereign LORD of the universe He can do everything.

  • John A. Martin, “Isaiah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1100.

CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE

Here is a remarkable statement relative to the creation of the universe before all time. God says:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil, I the LORD do all these things [Isa. 45:7].

Zoroastrianism began in Persia. It teaches that Mazda is the god of light. God says He creates light, and that it is no god. The Persians were getting very close to the truth. Many have wondered why they worshiped one god in the midst of idolatry. Well, you must remember that they came in contact with the nation Israel, and Israel was a witness to the world. In Zoroastrianism darkness was Ahriman, the god of evil. God takes responsibility for creating the darkness also.

“And create evil”—the word evil does not mean wickedness in this instance, but rather “sorrow, difficulties, or tragedies”—those things which are the fruit of evil, the fruit of sin. This is the Old Testament way of saying, “The wages of sin is death …” (Rom. 6:23). If you indulge in sin, there will be a payday for it!

By the way, let me introduce something else at this point, since we are living in a day when it is said that good and evil are relative terms, that whatever you think is good, is good. The argument is put forth: The Bible says “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal” (Exod. 20:13, 15). But what is the Bible? Who should obey it? Or why should we listen to the God of the Bible?

The Lord has another very cogent argument. God says that if you indulge in sin, you will find that sin has its payday. It pays a full wage, by the way. This is what God is saying through Isaiah. God has so created the universe that when you break over the bounds that He has set, you don’t need a judge, a hangman’s noose, or an electric chair; God will take care of it.

He says, therefore, that He is the One who creates light and darkness. He is answering Zoroastrianism which worshiped the god of light. God says, “I want you to know that light is no god; I created it.

  • J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Prophets (Isaiah 36-66), electronic ed., vol. 23 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 71–72.

ISAIAH 45:7—Is God the author of evil?

PROBLEM: According to this verse, God “creates good and evil” (KJV, cf. Jer. 18:11 and Lam. 3:38; Amos 3:6). But many other Scriptures inform us that God is not evil (1 John 1:5), cannot even look approvingly on evil (Hab. 1:13), and cannot even be tempted by evil (James 1:13).

SOLUTION: The Bible is clear that God is morally perfect (cf. Deut. 32:4; Matt. 5:48), and it is impossible for Him to sin (Heb. 6:18). At the same time, His absolute justice demands that He punish sin. This judgment takes both temporal and eternal forms (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:11–15). In its temporal form, the execution of God’s justice is sometimes called “evil” because it seems to be evil to those undergoing it (cf. Heb. 12:11). However, the Hebrew word for evil (rā) used here does not always mean moral evil. Indeed, the context indicates that it should be translated, as the NKJV and other modern translations do, as “calamity.” Thus, God is properly said to be the author of “evil” in this sense, but not in the moral sense—at least not directly.

Further, there is an indirect sense in which God is the author of moral evil. God created moral beings with free choice, and free choice is the origin of moral evil in the universe. So, ultimately God is responsible for making moral creatures who are responsible for moral evil. God made evil possible by creating free creatures, but the free creatures made evil actual. Of course, the possibility of evil (i.e., free choice) is itself a good thing. So, God created only good things, one of which was the power of free choice, and moral creatures produced the evil. However, God is the author of a moral universe and in this indirect and ultimate sense is the author of the possibility of evil. Of course, God only permitted evil, but does not promote it, and He will ultimately produce a greater good through it (cf. Gen. 50:20; Rev. 21–22).

The relation of God and evil can be summarized this way:

GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF EVIL
In the sense of sin
Moral evil
Perversity
Directly
Actuality of evil
GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF EVIL
In the sense of calamity
Non-moral evil
Plagues
Indirectly
Possibility of evil
  • Norman L. Geisler and Thomas A. Howe, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992), 271–272.

Is Truth Relative? Two Classic Presentations (+ Relativised Young People)

The above is an example of relativism run-amock with young people in downtown Durham after the Pride Festival at Duke University Sept 28th 2013. Another interview here.

(This post is updated, as the video from the “Thrive Apologetics Conference” was deleted. New information was substituted in its place.) Posted below are three presentations. The first presentation (audio) is Dr. Beckwith’s classic presentation where high school and college kids get a 2-week crash course in the Christian worldview.

The following two presentations are by Gregory Koukle. The first is a UCLA presentation, the second is an excellent presentation ay Biola University entitled “The Intolerance of Tolerance.” Enjoy this updated post.

Here is — firstly — a classic presentation by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason.

Moral Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Midair from Veritas [3] on Vimeo.

Below this will be another presentation that is one of Koukl’s best yet, and really is a video update to the excellent book, Relativism: Feet Planted Firmly in Mid-Air… a phrase common to Francis Schaeffer, “feet planted firmly in mid-air.”

To wit, Humanism:

Since present day Humanism vilifies Judeo-Christianity as backward, its goal to assure progress through education necessitates an effort to keep all mention of theism out of the classroom. Here we have the irony of twentieth century Humanism, a belief system recognized by the Supreme Court as a non-theistic religion, foisting upon society the unconstitutional prospect of establishment of a state-sanctioned non-theistic religion which legislates against the expression of a theistic one by arguing separation of church & state. To dwell here in more detail is beyond the scope of this article, but to close, here are some other considerations:

“We should note this curious mark of our own age: the only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute” (Schaeffer)

In the earlier spirit of cooperation with the Christian church the ethics or values of the faith were “borrowed” by the humanists. In their secular framework, however, denying the transcendent, they negated the theocentric foundation of those values, (the character of God), while attempting to retain the ethics. So it can be said that the Humanist, then, lives on “borrowed capital”. In describing this situation, Francis Schaeffer observed that: “…the Humanist has both feet firmly planted in mid-air.” His meaning here is that while the Humanist may have noble ideals, there is no rational foundation for them. An anthropocentric view says that mankind is a “cosmic accident”; he comes from nothing, he goes to nothing, but in between he’s a being of supreme dignity. What the Humanist fails to face is that with no ultimate basis, his ideals, virtues and values are mere preferences, not principles. Judging by this standard of “no ultimate standard”, who is to say whose preferences are to be “dignified”, ultimately?

See more quotes HERE

Exclude Religion Arguments Fail Miserable ~ Illusory Neutrality

In conversations since the decision I get the, “you are defending your religious point of view… what about others religious or non-religious viewpoints?” Firstly, I use — typically — non-Biblical responses. My Same-Sex Marriage Page makes one point using the Bible, the other five and secular worries that should make one consider the issue. I have written an entire chapter in my book dealing with the natural law response to the issue. I also note that at no time in history has this idea of same-sex marriage ever been even contemplated to be of equal value to society. No religious leader or major moral thinker that helped shape sour society or others ever thought different.

So, while I try to stay away from either expressly or even using my faith in the majority of the argument… lets say I were to do so? So What! Here is [lesbian] Tammy Bruce:

Even if one does not necessarily accept the institutional structure of “organized religion,” the “Judeo-Christian ethic and the personal standards it encourages do not impinge on the quality of life, but enhance it. They also give one a basic moral template that is not relative,” which is why the legal positivists of the Left are so threatened by the Natural Law aspect of the Judeo-Christian ethic…

…these problems don’t remain personal and private. The drive, especially since this issue is associated with the word “gay rights,” is to make sure your worldview reflects theirs. To counter this effort, we must demand that the medical and psychiatric community take off their PC blinders and treat these people responsibly. If we don’t, the next thing you know, your child will be taking a “tolerance” class explaining how “transexuality” is just another “lifestyle choice”…. After all, it is the only way malignant narcissists will ever feel normal, healthy, and acceptable: by remaking society – children – in their image.

Tammy Bruce, The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values (Roseville: Prima, 2003), 35; 92, 206.

Justice Without Absolutes?

The French Revolution was fueled by rhetoric about the “rights of man.”  Yet without a foundation in the Judeo-Christian teaching of creation, there is no way to say what human nature is.  Who defines it?  Who says how it ought to be treated?  As a result, life is valued only as much as those in power choose to value it.  Small wonder that the French Revolution – with its slogan, “Neither God Nor Master,” quickly led to tyranny accompanied by the guillotine. The American Revolution had its slogan as well, and it goes to show how different the understanding of human nature was in these two revolutions.  The end result of our freedom also goes to show the validity in “the eternal foundation of righteousness” in which they were set.  (Tellingly, the Revolutionary slogan of the U. S. was, “No King But King Jesus!”)

According to C. S. Lewis (professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities, and a philosopher in his own right) one source of the “poison of subjectivism,” as he called it, is the belief that man is the product of blind evolutionary process:

“After studying his environment man has begun to study himself.  Up to that point, he had assumed his own reason and through it seen all other things.  Now, his own reason has become the object: it is as if we took out our eyes to look at them.  Thus studied, his own reason appears to him as the epiphenomenon which accompanies chemical or electrical events in a cortex which is itself the by-product of a blind evolutionary process.  His own logic, hitherto the king whom events in all possible worlds must obey, becomes merely subjective.  There is no reason for supposing that it yields truth.”

First mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t force your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Why not?”
  • First Person: “Because I don’t believe in forcing morality.”
  • Second Person: “If you don’t believe in it, then by all means, don’t do it. Especially don’t force that moral view of yours on me.”

Second Mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that statement. Do you mean I have no right to an opinion?”
  • First Person: “You have a right to you’re opinion, but you have no right to force it on anyone.”
  • Second Person: “Is that your opinion?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then why are you forcing it on me?”
  • First Person: “But your saying your view is right.”
  • Second Person: “Am I wrong?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then your saying only your view is right, which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”

Third Mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here, but it sounds to me like your telling me I’m wrong.”
  • First Person: “You are.”
  • Second Person: “Well, you seem to be saying my personal moral view shouldn’t apply to other people, but that sounds suspiciously like you are applying your moral view to me.  Why are you forcing your morality on me?”

(Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Baker Books; 1998), p. 144-146.)

SELF-DEFEATING

“Most of the problems with our culture can be summed up in one phrase: ‘Who are you to say?’” ~ Dennis Prager

So lets unpack this phrase and see how it is self-refuting, or as Tom Morris[1] put it, self-deleting.

➤ When someone says, “Who are you to say?” answer with, “Who are you to say ‘Who are you to say’?”

This person is challenging your right to correct another, yet she is correcting you.  Your response to her amounts to “Who are you to correct my correction, if correcting in itself is wrong?” or “If I don’t have the right to challenge your view, then why do you have the right to challenge mine?”  Her objection is self-refuting; you’re just pointing it out.

…Such “exclude religion” arguments are wrong because marriage is not a religion! When voters define marriage, they are not establishing a religion. In the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the word “religion” refers to the church that people attend and support. “Religion” means being a Baptist or Catholic or Presbyterian or Jew. It does not mean being married. These arguments try to make the word “religion” in the Constitution mean something different from what it has always meant.

These arguments also make the logical mistake of failing to distinguish the reasons for a law from the content of the law. There were religious reasons behind many of our laws, but these laws do not “establish” a religion. All major religions have teachings against stealing, but laws against stealing do not “establish a religion.” All religions have laws against murder, but laws against murder do not “establish a religion.” The campaign to abolish slavery in the United States and England was led by many Christians, based on their religious convictions, but laws abolishing slavery do not “establish a religion.” The campaign to end racial discrimination and segregation was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist pastor, who preached against racial injustice from the Bible. But laws against discrimination and segregation do not “establish a religion.”

If these “exclude religion” arguments succeed in court, they could soon be applied against evangelicals and Catholics who make “religious” arguments against abortion. Majority votes to protect unborn children could then be invalidated by saying these voters are “establishing a religion.” And, by such reasoning, all the votes of religious citizens for almost any issue could be found invalid by court decree! This would be the direct opposite of the kind of country the Founding Fathers established, and the direct opposite of what they meant by “free exercise” of religion in the First Amendment.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 31.

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

During the history of the church, Christians have had a decisive influence in opposing and often abolishing slavery in the Roman Empire, in Ireland, and in most of Europe (though Schmidt frankly notes that a minority of “erring” Christian teachers have supported slavery in various centuries). In England, William Wilberforce, a devout Christian, led the successful effort to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire by 1840.

In the United States, though there were vocal defenders of slavery among Christians in the South, they were vastly outnumbered by the many Christians who were ardent abolitionists, speaking, writing, and agitating constantly for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Schmidt notes that two-thirds of the American abolitionists in the mid-1830s were Christian clergymen, and he gives numerous examples of the strong Christian commitment of several of the most influential of the antislavery crusaders, including Elijah Lovejoy (the first abolitionist martyr), Lyman Beecher, Edward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), Charles Finney, Charles T. Torrey, Theodore Weld, William Lloyd Garrison, “and others too numerous to mention.” The American civil rights movement that resulted in the outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination was led by Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian pastor, and supported by many Christian churches and groups.

There was also strong influence from Christian ideas and influential Christians in the formulation of the Magna Carta in England (1215) and of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1787) in the United States. These are three of the most significant documents in the history of governments on the earth, and all three show the marks of significant Christian influence in the foundational ideas of how governments should function.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 49-50.

The New Normal… Censorship (Plus: Family Guy) [UPDATED]

Censorship is the new norm, and this is with thanks to the left. See for instance Jerry Seinfeld talking about censorship in comedy.

To even write that Bruce Jenner is a man and not a woman is hate speech.

Pittsburgh ‘News’ Room, Lobbyists Demand Columnist Firing for ‘Jenner Still a Mister’ Piece

Stating an anti-transgender opinion is close to forbidden in today’s “news” pages and “news” rooms, especially after the Bruce Jenner fawning frenzy. Exhibit A? Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist and associate editor Jennifer Graham (no relation to me) wrote a column truthfully titled “Caitlyn Jenner is still a mister.” 

JimRomenesko.com notes Jay Brown of the so-called Human Rights Campaign demanded in a letter that she be fired for “hate speech, plain and simple”: 

I am writing to you regarding a despicably offensive and inaccurate column by your employee, Jennifer Graham. Simply put, after submitting a piece so utterly lacking truth or decency, she should be relieved of her role as a columnist….

There is still time to make this right, but the solution involves taking action now. Ms. Graham has no business serving as a columnist at a publication with a reputation as sterling like yours. Instead, lift up a  Pittsburgh voice that has something meaningful to say on the issues of the day.”   

…read more…

I posted the above on my FaceBook and got the following response from a gal I adore… but who is just mimicking pop-culture:

How is it anyone’s business other than Caitlin Jenner’s to decide what/who to be called?

Here is my response to the above… and it is in the hopes to create sound thinking/reflection on how she, we, encapsulate thoughts… and thus meaning. (I AM HERE including slightly more information than in the original response):

You are making my point. So let’s change this around: “How is it anyone’s business other than ‘the Pittsburgh columnist to comment on Jenner’.”

You see, when a baker decides to not make a cake for a specific event, the power of the state gets involved. Likewise, we will soon see the state get involved in issues like these… like pastors being fined and even threatened with jail for preaching from Romans.

Also, there is a growing movement of people who had operations to become a woman speaking out against fellow “prospective” transgenders from getting the operation and deluding oneself into thinking they are the opposite sex (See my “Transgender Page” for some examples)

Again, using your premise said another way:

Self Refuting (Alvin Plantinga’s “Tar Baby”)

Again, relativism claims that all so-called truth is relative, that there really is no absolute truth, but that different things (whatever they may be) may be true for me but not for you.  This is at times called perspectivalism.

  • Statement: There is no such thing as absolute truth; [or alternatively, there are many truths.]

Is this philosophy of relativism making the statement that this is the ultimate, absolute truth about truth?  In that case, it actually asserts what it denies, and so is self-deleting, simply logically incoherent as a philosophical position[1] and in violation of the Law of non-contradiction (LNC), one of the most important laws of logical thought.[2]  I will show some common – everyday – rebukes that show how people contradict themselves, thus undermining what in fact they are trying to assert.

Some Examples ~ You Shouldn’t Force Your Morality On Me![3]

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t force your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Why not?”
  • First Person: “Because I don’t believe in forcing morality.”
  • Second Person: “If you don’t believe in it, then by all means, don’t do it. Especially don’t force that moral view of yours on me.”

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that statement. Do you mean I have no right to an opinion?”
  • First Person: “You have a right to you’re opinion, but you have no right to force it on anyone.”
  • Second Person: “Is that your opinion?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then why are you forcing it on me?”
  • First Person: “But your saying your view is right.”
  • Second Person: “Am I wrong?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then your saying only your view is right, which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here, but it sounds to me like your telling me I’m wrong.”
  • First Person: “You are.”
  • Second Person: “Well, you seem to be saying my personal moral view shouldn’t apply to other people, but that sounds suspiciously like you are applying your moral view to me.  Why are you forcing your morality on me?”

Self-Defeating

  • “Most of the problems with our culture can be summed up in one phrase: ‘Who are you to say?’” ~ Dennis Prager

So lets unpack this phrase and see how it is self-refuting, or as Tom Morris[4] put it, self-deleting. When someone says, “Who are you to say?” answer with, “Who are you to say ‘Who are you to say’?”[5]

This person is challenging your right to correct another, yet she is correcting you.  Your response to her amounts to “Who are you to correct my correction, if correcting in itself is wrong?” or “If I don’t have the right to challenge your view, then why do you have the right to challenge mine?”  Her objection is self-refuting; you’re just pointing it out.

The “Who are you to say?” challenge fails on another account.  Taken at face value, the question challenges one’s authority to judge another’s conduct.  It says, in effect, “What authorizes you to make a rule for others?  Are you in charge?”  This challenge miscasts my position.  I don’t expect others to obey me simply because I say so.  I’m appealing to reason, not asserting my authority.  It’s one thing to force beliefs; it’s quite another to state those beliefs and make an appeal for them.

The “Who are you to say?” complaint is a cheap shot.  At best it’s self-defeating.  It’s an attempt to challenge the legitimacy of your moral judgments, but the statement itself implies a moral judgment.  At worst, it legitimizes anarchy!

[1] Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (IDG Books; 1999), p. 46
[2] “…is considered the foundation of logical reasoning,” Manuel Velasquez, Philosophy: A Text with Readings (Wadsworth; 2001), p. 51.  “A theory in which this law fails…is an inconsistent theory”, edited by Ted Honderich, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, (Oxford Univ; 1995), p. 625.
[3] Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Baker Books; 1998), p. 144-146.
[4] Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (IDG Books; 1999), p. 46
[5] Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Baker Books; 1998), p. 144-146.

(See more at my SCRIBD)

I then mentioned that the first part of this “two-part import” from my old blog to my new one may fit the applications as well:

Agree or Not?

This is a combination of two posts, the first was a question I posed to someone in a forum. Below you see what that question was and where I led that person. The second is a bit of political science. Both repeat some of the same idea, but both are different.

So let’s highlight the first question by a court case that has, well, institutionalized the “post-modern” society. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1996), the 9th District Appeals Court wrote:

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.”

In other words, whatever you believe is your origin, and thus your designating meaning on both your life and body is your business, no one else’s. If you believe that the child growing in you – no matter at what stage (Doe v. Bolton) – isn’t a child unless you designate it so. You alone can choose to or not choose to designate life to that “fetus”. It isn’t a “potential person” until you say it is first a person. Understand? That being clarified, do you agree with this general statement:

“If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… 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 reality…”

Sounds really close to the 9th Courts majority view doesn’t it. The above is basically saying that your opinion is just as valid as another persons opinion because both are your’s and the other persons perspective on something is formed from influences from your culture and experiences. So someone from New Guiney may have a differing view or opinion on eating dogs than an American.

Let’s compare a portion from both statements:

  1. “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life…”
  2. “…the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own reality…”

Whether you’re an atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian or Muslim, it doesn’t matter. Your reality is just that… your reality, or opinion, or personal dogma. I want to now complete one of the quotes that I left somewhat edited, not only that, but I want to ask you if you still agree with it after you find out who wrote it.

Ready?

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

“Let There Be Light!” ~ Concepts (Points of Departure)

Opinions are bountiful, testing one’s opinions in today’s age? Not so much.

I will explain the issues I have with John’s latest article, and as usual, you can click it to enlarge the above. In this latest opinion slurry, John asks questions that I doubt he even has one single book by a leading philosopher/theologian/scientist from either the Intelligent Design camp or creation positions to search for how Christianity answers these questions. For instance, my favorite treatise to introduce people to ideas expressed above in a broad sense, “Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith.” Or a more in-depth treatise of the same, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.” Or one more specific to his questions, “The Case For A Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God.” All are readable, and all answer his questions in a way that a mature seeker to these answers would do if seeking to inform one’s own opinion.

One of the queries proffered above is this one: “Of course, that interpretation invites the question, who or what created God.” I wonder if John has actually spent the time finding an answer to this position that has surely passed his lip many times in conversation. I do have a Power Point that deals with this in a very layman-like manner. Also, a more in-depth treatise of it as well HERE. But in a short conversation I had with another gentleman, I responded briefly this way — showing that this has been squarely dealt with many hundreds of years ago:

Tim, you asked:

“What created God? Who created the thing that created the thing that created the thing that created God? It’s an infinite regression.”

Again, “What created God.”

You are basically saying that:

“if everything needs a cause, then so does God, in which case he would not be God. And if God does not need a cause, then neither does the world. But if the world needs no cause then there is no God. Hence, whether everything needs a cause or does not need a cause, there is no God.”

Did I sum up the “gist” of the matter?  (Who made God, in other words.)

The criticism, “if everything needs a cause, then there must be an infinite regress” is built on a misconception of the principle of causality. Or better, it is a confusion of the principle of existential causality and the principle of sufficient reason. The latter affirms that everything needs a cause.

That it would seem, as atheists observe, leads to a contradiction of God being his own cause.

Aquinas dealt with this long ago. He held that only finite, changing, dependent beings need a cause. This does not lead to a contradictory self-caused being but to a non-contradictory un-caused Being. For if only finite beings need a cause then one arrives at a nonfinite (i.e. infinite) being that does not need a cause. Hence, from Aquinas’ principle of causality the series would legitimately stop at the first, un-caused Cause of all finite beings.

If one is confused in regards to the above: here is a response geared towards 5th grader; and one geared towards adults. John’s article[s] surely exemplify philosopher Mortimer Adler’s point about formulating good questions based on coherant starting point:

Mortimer J. Adler rightly points out that while many Christians are quick in responding to the conclusions in an argument often times the Christian is unaware that the point of departure is not in the conclusion, but in the starting premise, the foundational assumptions.

This “point of departure” is answered two separate times by Christian philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig ~ in less than 2-minutes in each case. I mention the time factor because it seems Mr. Huizum hasn’t even taken 2-minutes to get an answer to his “point of departure”:

John states that searching for answers to his questions in the article is “vital” in “‘knowing’ the truth.” That is fine, and he is right, it is an important question that from the Greeks to us has been a grand Western tradition. But even 1,000’s of years ago the Greeks thought it important enough to debate “how” even to ask the question properly. All that aside however, my last point that needs to be made in one that undermines John’s presuppositions. In John’s closing statement, he says this:

If science is right, there is no need for the existence of a supernatural being, which would in turn terminate all religions on earth and consequently a lot of insane wars.

In a previous installment I respond to John also writing that “Atheism has been aided by scientific discoveries and rigorous questioning.” In the much longer response I quote two agnostics as saying this;

“The essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy…. The Hubble Law is one of the great discoveries in science; it is one of the main supports of the scientific story of Genesis.”

~ Robert Jastrow: American astronomer and physicist. Founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he is the director of the Mount Wilson Institute and Hale Solar Laboratory. He is also the author of Red Giants and White Dwarfs (1967) and God and the Astronomers (2nd ed., 2000).

“Certainly there was something that set it all off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.”

~ Robert Wilson: is an American astronomer, 1978 Nobel laureate in physics, who with Arno Allan Penzias discovered in 1964 the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB)…. While working on a new type of antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, they found a source of noise in the atmosphere that they could not explain. After removing all potential sources of noise, including pigeon droppings on the antenna, the noise was finally identified as CMB, which served as important corroboration of the Big Bang theory.

So John seems to be making the same misguided statements, maybe based on his misunderstanding of the weight of the logical conclusions found in a “non-God” universe, where truth cannot be known. Or not spending 2-minutes to see where his starting premise may be errant, and so his conclusions even worse. In other words, questions seeking a truthful response or statement of fact are impossible considering Johns epistemology (“the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth”).

To which I end with a call for John to internalize if he can even ask what he has in this column and others and expect to find an answer to his “probing” [sophomoric] questions:

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.

If Philosophical Naturalism (atheistic Darwinian theory) is Truly True, Is It In-Fact True? (Serious Saturday)

Quote:

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 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 44-45.

Another quote:

….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 [quote from chapter written by, Mark D. Linville], eds., Contending With Christianity’s Critics: Answering the New Atheists & Other Objections (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2009), 70.

From an old post… continuing some of the ideas above:

C.S. Lewis pointed out that even our ability to reason and think rationally would be called into question if atheistic evolution were true:

“If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our thought processes are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts — i.e. of Materialism and — are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give a correct account of all the other accidents.”

Phillip Johnson, law professor at Berkley for thirty years, explains this dilemma as well:

“Are our thoughts ‘nothing but’ the products of chemical reactions in the brain, and did our thinking abilities originate for no reason other than their utility in allowing our DNA to reproduce itself? Even scientific materialists have a hard time believing that. For one thing, materialism applied to the mind undermines the validity of all reasoning, including one’s own. If our theories are products of chemical reactions [rather than from our soul or spirit, as evolutionists would say], how can we know whether our theories are true? Perhaps [evolutionist] Richard Dawkins believes in Darwinism only because he has a certain chemical in his brain, and if his belief be changed by somehow inserting a different chemical.”

To get this into layman’s terms, I will let the philosopher J. P. Moreland, from his debate with renowned atheist Kai Nielson, explain it:

“Suppose you were driving on a train and you saw a sign on the hillside that said, ‘Wales in ten miles.’  Suppose you knew that the wind had blown that sign together.  If the sign had been put together by a purely non-intelligent random process… there would be no reason to trust the information conveyed by the sign.”

C. S. Lewis finishes his thought from above:

“It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”

Do Materialistic Enlightened Views Best Explain Moral Absolutes?

….Secular Humanism is expressly atheistic.  Any atheistic worldview will find it impossible to account for anything that is a non-material reality because of its commitment to what is called materialism.  Materialism, or the conviction that matter is all that exists, is a nonnegotiable component of any atheistic worldview.  In contrast to a Christian worldview, which espouses a supernatural philosophy, humanism is committed to a natural one.  This leaves the Secular Humanist relegated to natural explanations for the existence of logic, reason, information, and even ethics.  For the humanist, ethics are simply the natural product of the inclinations of humans – the result of chemical processes in the brain.  This means that law is ultimately something that people have brought forth from the natural inclinations of their collective will.

Is that the only explanation for the existence of morality and ultimately law itself?  Has law come from random electrical impulses of the brain?

No.  The Christian worldview has tremendous explanatory power when dealing in the arena of ethics, morals and ultimately law.  Christians believe that our ethical standards reflect the very nature of God revealed in creation and the Bible.  For the Christian the matter of good law versus bad law is resolved in how God created the world to function and what He revealed in Scripture to be right and wrong.

First let’s consider what is called Natural Law.

According to Dr. J. Budziszewski, Natural Law is, “that which we cannot, not know.”  Man is given the ability to recognize what is right and wrong from God Himself.  We have the innate ability to perceive that murder, torture, cruelty, thievery and such are immoral and ultimately wrong.  This ability is affirmed in the words of Romans 2:15, “the work of the law written on their hearts.”

I remember a story that Greg Koukl tells regarding a college student who was being taught that objective morals don’t really exist.  The student came to him for advice and Koukl recommended that the student “steal her stereo.”  Of course, it is a funny story, but it illustrates a certain truth.  Even those who do not “believe” in an objective moral standard will appeal to some standard when an injustice is dealt to them.  The truth is, people really do believe in moral standards and this becomes evident when they are wronged themselves.  Furthermore, a person who actually doesn’t believe in an objective moral standards and then acts in accord with his beliefs can be said to be a menace to society not being governed by an ethical standard beyond his own desires.  This is the basis for sociopathic behavior.

…(read more)…

My Son’s second Philosophy 101 Paper:
Free Willin’