Cultural Christianity: One | Secularism: Zero (New Atheism Fails)

Okay, let’s get this party started… right? I had seen a blip of Dawkins admitting — and it really is an admission of sorts — that what Christ wrought [as a worldview] is CULTURALLY what he [Dawkins] prefers to live under. He says he prefers this over Islam, but note, he didn’t mention he would rather live under some atheistic program.

Why?

Because when dialectical materialism comes about as a worldview embedded into government, what do we get? (PDF version of the below)

A recent comprehensive compilation of the history of human warfare, Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod documents 1763 wars, of which 123 have been classified to involve a religious conflict. So, what atheists have considered to be ‘most’ really amounts to less than 7% of all wars. It is interesting to note that 66 of these wars (more than 50%) involved Islam, which did not even exist as a religion for the first 3,000 years of recorded human warfare. Even the Seven Years’ War, widely recognized to be “religious” in motivation, noting that the warring factions were not necessarily split along confessional lines as much as along secular interests.

CHRISTIANITY (Crusades)

  • 9 Total Crusades from 1095-1272 A.D;
  • The crusades lasted about 177 years;
  • bout 1-million deaths – this includes: disease, the selling into slavery, and died en-route to the Holy land;
  • About 5,650 deaths a year.

(More visual info HERE)

ATHEISM (Stalin)

  • His rise to power in 1927 lasted until his death in 1953;
  • Stalin’s reign was 26-years;
  • Middle road estimates of deaths are from 20-million to a high of 60-milion;
  • That clocks in at about 1,923,076 deaths a year.

(Some put the death toll per-week by Stalin at 40,000 every week — even during “peacetime” [IBT])

ATHEISM (Mao)

  • His rise to power was in 1949 until his death in 1976;
  • Mao’s reign was 27-years;
  • HOWEVER, the “Great Leap Forward” was 4-years (1958 to 1962);
  • While Mao killed about 78-million people, in just 4-years he killed 45-million people
  • That is almost 31,000 a day — killed — for four years.

ISLAM (killing just Hindus)

  • From 1000 (conquest of Afghanistan) to 1525 (end of Delhi Sultanate);
  • 80-million killed;
  • 160,000 a year.

[BTW, over 270 million people have been killed by Islam, over a hundred millions blacks on the Continent of Africa — for the #woke crowd’s knowledge Muhammad was racist to the bone.]

… a minimum of 28 million African were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East.  Since, at least, 80 percent of those captured by Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave market, it is believed that the death toll from 1400 years of Arab and Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been as high as 112 Million.  When added to the number of those sold in the slave markets, the total number of African victims of the trans-Saharan and East African slave trade could be significantly higher than 140 million people. – John Allembillah Azumah, author of The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa: A Quest for Inter-religious Dialogue

As an aside… about 5.714 [yes, point] people were killed a year by the Spanish Inquisition [if you take the highest number] over its 350-year long stretch if you use the leading historian on the topic.

Another aside: the Crusades were largely an operation to free people, whereas Islamic caliphates [jihad] were to convert and enslave people.

Some Resources Used

  • Alan Axelrod & Charles Phillips, Encyclopedia of Wars, 3 volumes (New York, NY: Facts on File, 2005);
  • John Entick, The General History of the Late War (Volume 3); Containing It’s Rise, Progress, and Event, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America (Reprinted by Hard Press; date of publication was from about 1765-1766);
  • William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009);
  • Gordon Martel, The Encyclopedia of War, 5 Volumes (New Jersey, NJ: Wiley, 2012);
  • Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (London, England: Yale University Press, 1997);
  • (8-authors) The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999);
  • J. Rummel, Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900 (New York, NY: Routledge Publishers, 1997);
  • Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (New York, NY: Anchor Books, 2005);
  • M. Davis, House of War: Islam’s Jihad Against the World (Washington, D.C.: WND Books, 2015);
  • Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery (Bloomington, IN: iUniversity, 2009).

MORE via my site, RELIGIO-POLITICAL TALK

AGAIN, to be clear via STAND TO REASON:

  • Not only were students able to demonstrate the paucity of evidence for this claim, but we helped them discover that the facts of history show the opposite: religion is the cause of a very small minority of wars. Phillips and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars lays out the simple facts. In 5 millennia worth of wars—1,763 total—only 123 (or about 7%) were religious in nature (according to author Vox Day in the book The Irrational Atheist). If you remove the 66 wars waged in the name of Islam, it cuts the number down to a little more than 3%. A second [5-volume] scholarly source, The Encyclopedia of War edited by Gordon Martel, confirms this data, concluding that only 6% of the wars listed in its pages can be labelled religious wars. Thirdly, William Cavanaugh’s book, The Myth of Religious Violence, exposes the “wars of religion” claim. And finally, a recent report (2014) from the Institute for Economics and Peace further debunks this myth.

In other words, the culturally Christian West seems to diminish the propensity to “war.”

WHICH may be part of the issue, as well as culturally where we are headed with “gender,” “climate legislation/regulation,” “free-speech,” and the like that are bringing a consensus of sorts on the idea of the positive attributes of the Judeo-Christian worldview. Which leads me to my next example… a recent ATLANTIC article. Mr. Thompson starts the article thus:

  • As an agnostic, I have spent most of my life thinking about the decline of faith in America in mostly positive terms. Organized religion seemed, to me, beset by scandal and entangled in noxious politics. So, I thought, what is there really to mourn? Only in the past few years have I come around to a different view. Maybe religion, for all of its faults, works a bit like a retaining wall to hold back the destabilizing pressure of American hyper-individualism, which threatens to swell and spill over in its absence.

Here, ARMSTRONG & GETTY discuss the article, as two non-believers/cultural Christians themselves:

As they were discussing the issue, I was thinking of this well worn quote from G.K. Chesterton: “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” You should read the entire ATLANTIC article.

Bill Maher recently noted the following:

  • For all the progressives and academics who refer to Israel as an outpost of Western civilization, like it’s a bad thing, please note: Western civilization is what gave the world pretty much every [expletive] liberal precept that liberals are supposed to adore. Individual liberty, scientific inquiry, rule of law, religious freedom, women’s rights, human rights, democracy, trial by jury, freedom of speech. Please, somebody, stop us before we enlighten again. 

Western civ is basically the Greco-Roman/Judaica-Christianity stream of influence. The CHRISTIAN POST, after quoting Maher, finishes their story:

  • Which, in fact, brings up just what Bill Maher left out in his otherwise thoughtful and compelling monologue. As you might expect from the guy behind the faith-despising faux-documentary Religulous, he’s not quite ready to admit the role of religion in cultivating liberty and human rights. Because Voltaire and Rousseau were anti-religious, they are safe to mention. Locke and King are often praised almost in spite of their deep faith, which Maher never mentioned. 

For more on the video to the right, see my post:

And it is this failure for community, freedom, and following the science (gender) that is chasing people away from secularism… into Western Foundations.

Dave Rubin of “The Rubin Report” talks to Frank Turek author of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” about the collapse of the New Atheist movement; Richard Dawkins admitting that religion may be necessary for a flourishing society; the failure of atheism in providing a sense of purpose and meaning; what prominent atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris overlooked; how only religions like Christianity and Judaism can protect a society from the worst elements of radical Islam; the spreading of social justice and woke culture in America’s churches; the case for intelligent design as a part of the story of evolution; how morality always ends up being legislated; Jordan Peterson’s utilitarian view of religion; and much more.

CROSS EXAMINED NOTED: Yes, we know that Dave Rubin is an openly gay man. CrossExamined.org does not always agree with and affirm all the held beliefs of our guests. Dave did not agree with everything Frank said when he was on The Rubin Report last month either. However, it is good to have dialogue and ask questions of non-Christian guests to see if they are open to Christ, as you will hear Frank do with Dave. We also welcome guests who can add value to specific topics on which we do agree. Despite our noted disagreements, Dave gets a lot right.

I will end with this article I found to be an interesting and pleasant read… this is how it ends:

From Relativism to Wokism: A Path of Confusion, Fallacy and Self-Destruction

Society appears to have come a long way from initially professing relativism, which rejects any and all standards of truth including moral, to eventually embracing wokism – an utterly aggressive force of imposed “moralistic” judgment. Semantically different, these concepts are actually homogeneous. When objective truth is denied, its place does not remain empty; it is swiftly occupied by opinions and beliefs of the “self,” either formed by individuals themselves or, more commonly, enforced through educational, group and/or societal indoctrination. People who do not love truth or are precluded from seeking it will find themselves confused, easily manipulated and ultimately deceived.

The tree is always known by its fruit.

 

Greg Gutfeld’s “Agnosticism”

RE-POST/Fixed Media & Links

(Originally Posted In April of 2016, then in 2020)

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT

You describe yourself as agnostic atheist. What does that mean?

That means I don’t know. That’s all it means. I don’t […] I’m not arrogant enough to say that I am an atheist and I’m not arrogant enough to know that there is something out there, so I am happy to say that I don’t know.

And I think about it, I often say that I am an atheist in the daytime and terrified at night. And you wake up and you’re like […] ah, is this all there is? And then you wake up in the morning and it kind of goes away. […] I am in in the I don’t know party, which technically that might be agnostic or atheist. But I don’t know. I leave that to whatever happens, it’s the big practical joke. We’ll never know. Nobody comes back to tell what.

In his book, How To Be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct (p.96), and in an article in NATIONAL REVIEW, as well as intimating the same in the above video, Greg Gutfeld said this:

This is important because it removes the sweaty veneer of ideological excess. While I love it when I’m certain about something, I realize those are rare moments in life. You cannot be certain about all things. As an agnostic, I do not call myself an atheist, because, to put it simply, “I don’t know.” For all I know there is a god, and it’s some dude in Jersey named Ned. True, I’ve pretty much discounted this theory — Ned has bad skin and a Beatle-do, qualities rarely associated with the divine. But the point is: I can’t be 100 percent sure. So I punt.

I will comment on his “agnosticism” in a bit, but first…

While I have enjoyed his contributions to Conservatarian thinking and much needed humor, I have to say this is one of the worse positions I have seen him take. Logically that is. And let me be clear… I am NOT saying this because he merely rejects “God” [read here Ned], but that he anthropomorphizes the big “G” — the classic theistic understanding of God.

Making wise decisions always depends on various factors even though it does not provide us with 100% guarantee. In this case, what is missing is a correct definition of God. So since we are primarily dealing with evidences garnered from history, science, philosophy, fulfilled prophecy, and the like… there is no silver bullet. Nothing is assured 100%

BUT…

There is a way to approach this as almost all person’s do (in their personal life or professional life). Just like a case in court so-to is the cumulative gathering through reason and logic evidences in a way that a strong case for God is made.

Even in a court situation, a case is made that sways a jury one way in order to not make a life-or-death ruling (in the case of a 1st degree murder trial), but to make a choice “beyond reasonable doubt.” Here is a great comment in an article on STAND TO REASON’S site:

The jury is asked if the evidence shows that the defendant is probably guilty.

It is to the evidence introduced in this trial, and to it alone, that you are to look for that proof.

The standard of probability is not “100% certainly guilty”; it is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant may arise from the evidence, conflict in the evidence, or the lack of evidence.

If you have a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant not guilty. If you have no reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty.

Evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s it. That’s all. Nothing about faith.

In life, not just in the jury box, we are forced to make decisions with incomplete information, but we are never forced to go beyond evidence.

Andy Banister explains this concept with a walk through the woods:

It is easy to see that Mr. Gutfeld is creating an impossible plateau for one to reach that no field of study, whether the sciences or law (except maybe mathematics), can ever dream to attain. Perfection ~ something Greg should be familiar with rejecting and warning others about. That is, Utopian ideals and goals. In making this impossible 100% claim he defines God in such a way that evidence for His existence — not Ned, but the real Creator of the space-time-continuum — is defined out of existence. Greg essentially presupposes that God out of existence.

To wit, I will turn my attention to Greg Gutfeld’s “agnosticism.” He has repeatedly said “I don’t know.” In the video at the top of this post he says right after the “practical joke” comment “that we will never know.” That is not an agnostic position. Professor Budziszewski explains:

“To say that we cannot know anything about God is to say something about God; it is to say that if there is a God, he is unknowable. But in that case, he is not entirely unknowable, for the agnostic certainly thinks that we can know one thing about him: That nothing else can be known about him. Unfortunately, the position that we can know exactly one thing about God – his unknowability in all respects except this – is equally unsupportable, for why should this one thing be an exception? How could we know that any possible God would be of such a nature that nothing else could be known about him? On what basis could we rule out his knowability in all other respects but this one? The very attempt to justify the claim confutes it, for the agnostic would have to know a great many things about God in order to know he that couldn’t know anything else about him.”


J. Budziszewski, found in Norman Geisler & Paul Hoffman, eds., Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe, revised ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 58

In other words… Gutfeld is showing arrogance by demanding 100% proof (that no jury demands), and by excluding God by defining Him in a way as to rig the outcome. As much as I respect him and his wonderful work… his position here is very childish. Not a position I would expect him to take… but ideology [his atheism] does tend to blind. And arrogantly so.

Sometimes the smartest skeptics give up what they wrongly view as faith for the most “childlike” reasons. For instance, Lewis Wolpert, who has too many letters after his name and is a very accomplished and respected developmental biologist, explained why he rejects God:

I stopped believing in God when I was 15 or 16 because he didn’t give me what I asked for. (Lewis Wolpert, “The Hard Cell,” Third Way, March 2007, p. 16)

During an interview, he 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.”

When asked by Justin Brieley (Unbelievable show episode, “What Does Science Tell Us About God?”): “Right, and that was enough for you to prove that God did not exist.”

He replied: “Well, yes. I just gave it up completely.”

(See page 15 of MIDWEST CHRISTIAN OUTREACH JOURNAL)

While one would expect a meaty explanation that reasonable people would think about and come to a conclusion on… his reasoning is commensurate of a child’s reasons. Another well known skeptic, Bart Ehrman, doesn’t reject God because he found textual evidence against the Christian faith. He rejects God because there is suffering in the world:

“If there is an all-powerful and loving God in this world, why is there so much excruciating pain and unspeakable suffering?” He [Ehrman] says this “led me to question my faith when I was older. Ultimately, it was the reason I lost my faith”

(DR. CLAY JONES)

Bart’s way of dealing with this is basically the classical argument against God:

Premise 1: God is all-good (omnibenevolent)

Premise 2: God is all-powerful (omnipotent)

Premise 3: Suffering and evil exist

Conclusion: An all-good, all-powerful God could not exist since there is so much suffering and evil in the world. If he did, he would eradicate this evil.

Charles Darwin as well rejected God not based on evidence, but for theological reasoning:

  • That there is much suffering in the world no one disputesA being so powerful and so full of knowledge as a God who could create the universe is to our finite minds omnipotent and omniscient. It revolts our understanding to suppose that his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage can there be in the sufferings of millions of lower animals throughout almost endless time? This very old argument from the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent First Cause seems to me a strong one; and the abundant presence of suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural selection. — Charles Darwin, The Works of Charles Darwin, Volume 29  (New York, NY: NYU Press, 2010), 121-122.)

Darwin was using theological presuppositions to drive his research, here are the precepts:

I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation):

  1. Human begins are not justfied in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind.
  2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern.
  3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the ‘simplest mode’ to accomplish the functions of these structures.
  4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part’s function.
  5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms.
  6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter.
  7. God directly created the first ‘primordial’ life.
  8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life.
  9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.
  10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.

(EVOLUTION NEWS & VIEWS)

This seems like a problem, but in fact, many atheists have abandoned this tactic. Why… through the work primarily of Alvin Plantinga. Here, Dr. Ronald Nash formulates WHY this syllogism is no longer a serious threat in philosophy:

Demonstrating the Consistency of the Theistic Set

After our brief detour into the differences between a theodicy and a defense, a short summary may help us get back on track. We have seen that the atheologian’s claim that the theistic set is self-contradictory remains nothing more than wishful thinking because of the atheologian’s failure to produce the missing premise required to show that the set is explicitly contradictory. Rather than rest on our laurels and live with the possibility that some atheologian might discover the missing proposition some time in the future, we have decided to see if we cannot beat the atheologian to the punch and actually demonstrate that the theistic set is consistent. Once done, this will eliminate any possibility of theism’s being shown to be logically inconsistent because of the existence of evil in the world. The method of demonstrating consistency requires that we add a premise (or premises) to the original set that logically entails the other proposition, which, in our case, is “The world contains evil.” In order to do the job, it is not necessary that our new premise be true or even that it be believed to be true. All that is necessary is that it be logically possible.

Consider, then, the following argument:

An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God created the world.

God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so.

Therefore, the world contains evil.

Numbers 1 and 2 taken together do, of course, entail 3. Therefore, the propositions from our original theistic set that now make up 1 are logically consistent with the existence of evil. The only relevant question regarding 2 is whether it is possibly true. Obviously it is since it is not logically false. Therefore, the theistic set is logically consistent from which follows the impossibility of anyone’s ever demonstrating that it is not.


Ronald Nash, Faith & Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 189.

C.S. Lewis as well argues against this “evil universe” argument:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist–in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless -I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice–was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.


C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1952), 38-39.

So again, Bart’s rejection is dealt with handily, and shows his rejection is merely emotive in nature… devoid of any real substance. Similar to Greg Gutfeld’s position, his rejection is merely emotive in his reasoning. He is not worries about “evidence” per-se, but rather worried about some cosmic killjoy that may have a word with in regards to past or future hedonistic ventures. So his hiding arrogantly behind “I don’t know” is his crutch.

I have some really good books I can recommend to the person seeking good, well-thought-out, reasonable arguments detailing various forms of evidence for “faith”~

Post-Script,

May I also note quickly how a believer views faith as opposed to the faith Greg surely thinks is blind (and granted, some Christians are heppy with their “blindedness”):

Certain words can mean very different things to different people. For instance, if I say to an atheist, “I have faith in God,” the atheist assumes I mean that my belief in God has nothing to do with evidence. But this isn’t what I mean by faith at all. When I say that I have faith in God, I mean that I place my trust in God based on what I know about him.


William A. Dembski and Michael R. Licona, Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010), 38.

AND, unless we forget the bottom line in this discussion through hubris, we should know that which we reject through feigned ignorance:

James Lindsay Anchorless At Sea | Based Manifesto

I wanted to share a response to a great, simple question. But first, here is the set up… The Renegade Institute for Liberty at Bakersfield College (whom I will refer to as RENEGADE), a movement of like minded peeps I fully endorse, posted the following on their Facebook:

James Lindsay, a leading critic of the philosophy of the totalitarian left and their politics, penned a manifesto outlying the key moral virtue essential to the preservation of liberty: being based. As used by Lindsay, “based” is a technical term meaning fidelity to truth. He defines it as “the trait of character [is] the willingness to resist lies, be yourself, and tell the truth even when people won’t like you (or will kill you) for it.” Unless most of us become based, totalitarianism is inevitable.

Firstly. The manifesto is well worth it’s weight in salt. I am not saying don’t read it or inculcate some of it’s meaning and ways to approach the issues of our day. Remember the 80/20 rule:

  • “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is an 80 percent friend and not a 20 percent enemy” – Ronald Wilson Reagan

But as a friend noted today in a Bible study, atheist’s must steal from God – even mentioning the wonderful book by Frank Turek, “Stealing from God.” That is the deeper issue here that I pointed to.

James Lindsay invokes Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn no less than 10-times by name. But James being an ardent atheist/naturalist, never explains to his audience the final conclusion of how Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn believed they got to this miserable place in human history.

Here is my post to the article being linked by RENEGADE, with a longer Solzhenitsyn quote:

RPT NOTE TO POST:

I will read this later today, however, Lindsay could never bring himself to say the following [as a committed atheist, ant-theist]:

“More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; [and] if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.'”

Quoted in Ericson, Edward E. Jr. and Daniel J. Mahoney, The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings 1947-2005. Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 2006, page 577.
____
In other words, the American manifesto acknowledge and remembered God. Any manifesto which does not ends like the Jacobins.

The longer quote is for more context to the video, which I found while doing this post:

….More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire 20th century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: “Men have forgotten God.”

(NATIONAL REVIEW)

You see, in the end, James Lindsay thinks “God” is part of the problem, not the solution. Which is why I posted that. The totalitarianism Lindsay writes against thrives in godless attire. However, this paragraph I really loved. For one it references “Truth,” something I respond to. And another is this is the reason many comedians are sounding the alarm… the freedom to do even stand up comedy is under attack by the Left.

  • There are, in the end, only two things that can tear such a regime down, and they are, as it happens, interrelated. They are the two most powerful weapons against tyranny in the human arsenal: telling the truth, including by refusing the lie, and laughter. Both are based, and to win both are necessary. While Solzhenitsyn tells us that the whole of a tyrannical regime can be brought down in the end by a single person repeatedly telling the truth, the fact is that the USSR that tyrannized him actually fell when its subjects—for citizens they were not—began to laugh at it. So, where being based begins in a certain stoicism, it’s the most based when it’s stoicism with a sense of humor. (THE BASE MANIFESTO)

Renegade’s Question:

RENEGADE, for reasons of keeping thought alive, being thorough, a fan of conversation and deeper thinking, asked this simple question:

  • Sean G, do you think that being based implies believing in God? Or is it consistent with disbelief, as well as belief, in God?

THE REST IS ME, as well as some additions, which I will note.

Great question. Lindsay has a lot of moral pronouncements in the manifesto. A lot. All he has to enforce such things is the power of government. So, in a healthy society, government protects Natural Rights… government does not bestow them. Free speech and thought is a Natural Right, or law, if you will.

  • the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature (LN) and of Nature’s God (NG) entitle them…. ‘oh, you know, the thing’.” (Declaration + Joe Biden)

The first (LN) cannot subsist separated from the later (NG) for long.

Having read all three Secular Manifestos, I see similar attributions to “how humans ‘should’ act,” with no reasoning behind it. Utilitarianism? Yes, many aspects therein could be helpful to society as a whole. But if that is it, someone will eventually come along to point out another “utility” as being better.

Take for instance rape. Something you would think everyone would understand as an egregious, absolute, evil.

  • theism: evil, wrong at all times and places in the universe — absolutely;
  • atheism: taboo, it was used in our species in the past for the survival of the fittest, and is thus a vestige of evolutionary progress… and so may once again become a tool for survival — it is in every corner of nature;
  • pantheism: illusion, all morals and ethical actions and positions are actually an illusion (Hinduism – maya; Buddhism – sunyata). In order to reach some state of Nirvana one must retract from this world in their thinking on moral matters, such as love and hate, good and bad. Not only that, but often times the person being raped has built up bad karma and thus is the main driver for his or her state of affairs (thus, in one sense it is “right” that rape happens).

In a bit of an addition here, I will note that some of the four horseman of the New Atheists note that our feeling of being conscience, is illusory. Much like pantheists… which is why many atheists embrace a form of pantheism.

Consciousness an Illusion (Addition)

Below are examples of atheists and theists agreeing that if atheism is true, truth is no longer a category to be trusted (find many more or fuller quotes and videos HERE):

  • Determinism is self-stultifying. If my mental processes are totally determined, I am totally determined either to accept or to reject determinism. But if the sole reason for my believing or not believing X is that I am causally determined to believe it I have no ground for holding that my judgment is true or false. (H.P. Owen)
  • 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)
  • 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. (Patricia Churchland)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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.” 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 Polanyi 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.”
  • If we were free persons, with faculties which we might carelessly use or willfully 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)
  • 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)

Frank Turek notes Daniel Dennett’s dilemma when he says:

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.

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

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.

Back to the Facebook Exchange

Let us take the secularist’s [atheist] view of rape. Here is a conversation between Richard Dawkins and Justin Brierley. Brierley asks this question, “When you make a value judgement don’t you immediately step yourself outside of this evolutionary process and say that the reason this is good is that it’s good. And you don’t have any way to stand on that statement.” Here is the rest of the conversation:

RICHARD DAWKINS: My value judgement itself could come from my evolutionary past.
JUSTIN BRIERLEY: So therefore it’s just as random in a sense as any product of evolution.
RICHARD DAWKINS: You could say that, it doesn’t in any case, nothing about it makes it more probable that there is anything supernatural.
JUSTIN BRIERLEY: Ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we’ve evolved five fingers rather than six.
RICHARD DAWKINS: You could say that, yeah.

Again, at first Lindsay’s manifesto sounds great, but not lasting in the world he would like to see in reality. He is riding on the fumes of the Judeo-Christian West to expect people to read it and say, “Yeah!”

ADDITION

I asked an obvious question: “As we speak of this shifting zeitgeist, how are we to determine who’s right? If we do not acknowledge some sort of external [standard], what is to prevent us from saying that the Muslim [extremists] aren’t right?”

“Yes, absolutely fascinating.” His response was immediate. “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question. But whatever [defines morality], it’s not the Bible. If it was, we’d be stoning people for breaking the Sabbath.”

I was stupefied. He had readily conceded that his own philosophical position did not offer a rational basis for moral judgments. His intellectual honesty was refreshing, if somewhat disturbing on this point….

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

Again, at first Lindsay’s manifesto sounds great, but not lasting in the world he would like to see in reality. He is riding on the fumes of the Judeo-Christian West to expect people to read it and say, “Yeah!”

What thinking in the end — without Nature’s God — could bring us to a lasting consensus?

Here is a favored quote of mine regarding “Beehive Ethics”

….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.

Using these ideas, one can understand how atheism/atheists cannot justify any “ought” in their ethical construct. And I point out as well that if rape and murder were adventitious for our species and its divisions in the past — for survival means — then logically it can be again for the future. (I use examples like these books: A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion | Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence.)

I also note that for our species to survive, well, the atheist/evolutionist has no way to determine [evaluate] if the best way for our species to live on is through Western mores and values or if nature prefers the more barbaric aspect of radical Islam.

In another long excerpt, atheistic “ethics” is something temporal, not permanent….

What about human actions? They are of no more value or significance than the actions of any other material thing. Consider rocks rolling down a hill and coming to rest at the bottom. We don’t say that some particular arrangement of the rocks is right and another is wrong. Rocks don’t have a duty to roll in a particular way and land in a particular place. Their movement is just the product of the laws of physics. We don’t say that rocks “ought” to land in a certain pattern and that if they don’t then something needs to be done about it. We don’t strive for a better arrangement or motion of the rocks. In just the same way, there is no standard by which human actions can be judged. We are just another form of matter in motion, like the rocks rolling down the hill.

We tend to think that somewhere “out there” there are standards of behaviour that men ought to follow. But according to Dawkins there is only the “natural, physical world”. Nothing but particles and forces. These things cannot give rise to standards that men have a duty to follow. In fact they cannot even account for the concept of “ought”. There exist only particles of matter obeying the laws of physics. There is no sense in which anything ought to be like this or ought to be like that. There just is whatever there is, and there just happens whatever happens in accordance with the laws of physics.

Men’s actions are therefore merely the result of the laws of physics that govern the behaviour of the particles that make up the chemicals in the cells and fluids of their bodies and thus control how they behave. It is meaningless to say that the result of those physical reactions ought to be this or ought to be that. It is whatever it is. It is meaningless to say that people ought to act in a certain way. It is meaningless to say (to take a contemporary example) that the United States and its allies ought not to have invaded Iraq. The decision to invade was just the outworking of the laws of physics in the bodies of the people who governed those nations. And there is no sense in which the results of that invasion can be judged as good or bad because there are no standards to judge anything by. There are only particles reacting together; no standards, no morals, nothing but matter in motion.

Dawkins finds it very hard to be consistent to this system of belief. He thinks and acts as if there were somewhere, somehow standards that people ought to follow. For example in The God Delusion, referring particularly to the Christian doctrine of atonement, he says that there are “teachings in the New Testament that no good person should support”. And he claims that religion favours an in-group/out-group approach to morality that makes it “a significant force for evil in the world”.

According to Dawkins, then, there are such things as good and evil. We all know what good and evil mean. We know that if no good person should support the doctrine of atonement then we ought not to support that doctrine. We know that if religion is a force for evil then we are better off without religion and that, indeed, we ought to oppose religion. The concepts of good and evil are innate in us. The problem for Dawkins is that good and evil make no sense in his worldview. “There is nothing beyond the natural, physical world.” There are no standards out there that we ought to follow. There is only matter in motion reacting according to the laws of physics. Man is not of a different character to any other material thing. Men’s actions are not of a different type or level to that of rocks rolling down a hill. Rocks are not subject to laws that require them to do good and not evil; nor are men. Every time you hear Dawkins talking about good and evil as if the words actually meant something, it should strike you loud and clear as if he had announced to the world, “I am contradicting myself”.

Please note that I am not saying that Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe in good and evil. On the contrary, my point is that he does believe in them but that his worldview renders such standards meaningless.

(THE DAWKINS PROOF – CHAPTER ONE

In the end, it will take a hyper-intrusively large government to make people see this as the right way to think, if divorced from an “ontological ‘ought’.”

  • “Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!’ But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company – I mean hell.”

Charles Francis Adams [ed.], The Works of John Adams, 10 vols. [Boston, 1856], X, p. 254. | Taken from They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions, by Paul F. Boller, Jr. & John George, p. 3.

  • we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams, first (1789–1797) Vice President of the United States, and the second (1797–1801) President of the United States. Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6.

I gave this last parting quote from Mitch Stokes to drive the point home:

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.

Atheism as Religion: Some Humanist Manifesto Musings | RPT

This first of two older papers/posts was written back in 2010. I used part of it for a few posts over the years (as there is a 2012 connection in it), but have it in a neat package here. BTW, footnote #9 is a great quote, enjoy:


Stemming the Tide


The third article in the Humanist Manifesto II begins:

“We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest.”[1]

For the secular person, man himself is the only standard by which his own behavior is to be assessed, man is the measure of all things. Man is to be the sole arbiter in all matters of justice and law, right and wrong. In the words of the Encyclopedia Americana, “Since there is no God, man is the creator of his own values.”[2] 

The British author John Hick bluntly asserts, “There is no God; therefore no absolute values and no absolute laws.”[3] Friedrich Nietzsche agreed:  “…the advantage of our times, nothing is true, everything is permitted.”[4] The American scholar David F. Wells says of our nation that “[t]his is the first time that civilization has existed that, to a significant extent, does not believe in objective right and wrong. We are traveling blind, stripped of our own moral compass.”[5] Secular Humanist Paul Kurtz believes that, “The moral principles that govern our behavior are rooted in habit and custom, feeling and fashion,”[6]

How can anything be commended as being right, or condemned as being wrong?

Outside of these philosophers and professors, is there any precedence for this in law here in the United States to support such an insertion of cultural relativism? (Of course there is, otherwise I wouldn’t ask it.) 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.[7]

In other words: whatever you believe is your origin legally allows you to designate meaning on both your life and body. If you believe that the child growing in you isn’t a child unless you designate it so, you may seek an abortion at any time during the pregnancy. Thus reinforcing Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton to the outer reaches of insanity. The woman alone can choose to or not choose to designate life to that “fetus.” It isn’t a “potential person” until the mother says it is. She becomes the potential for that person in other words.

Understand? That clarified and said, what commonality does this thinking have to the following historical quote:

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 Circuit’s majority view and many of the secular humanists quoted, doesn’t it? The above is basically saying in a nutshell that your opinion is just as valid as another persons opinion because both your’s and the other person’s perspective on something is formed from influences from your culture and experiences. So someone from New Guinea for instance may have a differing view or opinion on eating dogs than an American.

Let’s compare a portion from both the 9th Circuit and the so far mysterious historical quote before revealing the source of said quote:

  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 internal rather than a reaction to truth outside yourself. Obviously I am up to something, so I will let the cat out of the bag — much to PETA’s surprise. 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.[8]

This is how Mussolini defined Fascism. I would argue that the only place real fascism dwelt for any time was in Italy… whereas in Germany you had a strange mix of Germanic occultic pantheism and angst.[9] So how does one define this new tyranny? Isn’t tyranny caused by religions?

Is there a growing sentiment on the Progressive Left in their philosophical materialism [absolute metaphysics] coupled with their historical memories some resentments [Utopia failed again] and some derangement in their fanaticism [violence] that are driving a decade long violent trend toward conservatism and the values we posit are closer to the mores of this country’s founding?

Is there a tyranny brewing?

Maybe not like we expect, but there definitely is a culture war going on, and in November the other side is set to lose some ground in it. So be prepared for more ad hominem attacks and straw-men being torn down viciously. I likewise think the culmination of this angst via a particular world view and an absolute metanarrative* may soon be realized in more loony left activity that may be violent. Melanie Phillips speaks to its historical roots and its current hold:

the French Revolution and the Terror unleashed by it presented the inescapable evidence that the Enlightenment, far from consigning murderous obscurantism to the dustbin of history, contained powerful strands from the start that would merely secularize tyranny. In the twentieth century, the political totalitarianism of communism and fascism, although overtly antireligious, echoed the premodern despotism of the church by declaring themselves the arbiters of a totalizing world-view in which all dissent would be crushed. Now, with both communism and fascism defeated, the West has fallen victim to a third variation on the theme of totalitarianism: not religious or political this time, but cultural. It is what J. L. Talmon identified back in 1952 as “totalitarian democracy,” which he characterized as “a dictatorship based on ideology and the enthusiasm of the masses.”‘

If religious totalitarianism was rule by the church and political totalitarianism was rule by the “general will;’ cultural totalitarianism is rule by the subjective individual, freed from all external authority and constraints. Morality is privatized so that everyone becomes his or her own moral authority, while the laws and traditions rooted in Christianity and the Hebrew Bible have come under explicit attack. The old order of Western civilization, resting on the external authorities of religion and culture, has to be destroyed. With no order or purpose in the world, moral and cultural relativism are the rule; any attempt to prioritize any culture or lifestyle over any other is illegitimate. The paradox–and it is acute–is that this relativist doctrine itself assumes the form of a dogmatic moralizing agenda that takes an absolutist position against all who challenge it and seeks to stamp out all deviations.[10]

The question must be asked then: is this secularizing of society and personalizing of moral truths building a healthy society or not? That is for you to decide ultimately. However, tell me if you want your kids going through what John Dewey — who some say is the father of the modern public school system — many years ago alluded to:

There is no God and no soul. Hence, there are no needs for props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable [i.e. unchangeable] truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or permanent moral absolutes.[11]

This obfuscation and rejection of an absolute moral model (actually, a replacing of one for the other) blurs that center point society tries, or should be trying, to aim for. This rejection can have — as history has shown — a “relentless and cruel”[12] outcome. Tammy Bruce, herself a homosexual/pro-choice author, points to the importance of fighting this tide of secularism with that ethic that is close to the conservatives heart, as it was close to the Founders heart:

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.[13]

Professor Alister McGrath (Ph.D in molecular biophysics and a Doctor of Divinity) makes no qualms that this is no less than a Nihilistic grab for power, “as The illiberal imposition of this pluralistic metanarrative on religions is ultimately a claim to mastery – both in the sense of having a Nietzschean authority and power to mold material according to one’s will, and in the sense of being able to relativize all the religions by having access to a privileged standpoint.”[14] In other words, elitism pouring in from the Progressive Left, as usual. 

Here is a mock conversation to illustrate [and end] my point in regards to the absolute value in cultural and moral relativism. Enjoy:

Teacher: “Welcome, students. This is the first day of class, and so I want to lay down some ground rules. First, since no one person has the truth, you should be open-minded to the opinions of your fellow students. Second… Elizabeth, do you have a question?”

Elizabeth: “Yes I do. If nobody has the truth, isn’t that a good reason for me not to listen to my fellow students? After all, if nobody has the truth, why should I waste my time listening to other people and their opinions? What’s the point? Only if somebody has the truth does it make sense to be open-minded. Don’t you agree?”

Teacher: “No, I don’t. Are you claiming to know the truth? Isn’t that a bit arrogant and dogmatic?”

Elizabeth: “Not at all. Rather I think it’s dogmatic, as well as arrogant, to assert that no single person on earth knows the truth. After all, have you met every single person in the world and quizzed him or her exhaustively? If not, how can you make such a claim? Also, I believe it is actually the opposite of arrogance to say that I will alter my opinions to fit the truth whenever and wherever I find it. Moreover, if I happen to think that I have good reason to believe I do know truth and would like to share it with you, why wouldn’t you listen to me? Why would you automatically discredit my opinion before it is even uttered? I thought we were supposed to listen to everyone’s opinion.”

Another student blurts out: “Ain’t that the truth.”[14]

FOOTNOTES

[1] James Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 3rd. edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1997), 62.

[2] Robert Morey, The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1986), 63.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Albert Camus, The Rebel (trans. Anthony Bower. Harmondsworth, London: Penguin Books, 1962), 58.

[5] David F. Wells, Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 17.

[6] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd edition (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 175.

[7] Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), section II. Available in electronic format at www.caselaw.lp.com/scripts, [cited 11 June 2003].

[8] Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in Peter Kreeft, A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1999) 18.

[9] Melanie Phillips points this out in her newest book:

As Isaiah Berlin noted, the terrible consequences of this thinking were foreseen as early as 1832 by the German poet Heinrich Heine. He warned that one day the Germans, fired by a combination of absolutist metaphysics, historical memories and resentments, fanaticism and savage fury, would destroy Western civilization. Berlin recorded Heine as predicting that

“Implacable Kantians … with axe and sword will uproot the soil of our European life in order to tear out the roots of the past. Armed Fichteans will appear… restrained neither by fear nor greed… like those early Christians whom neither physical torture nor physical pleasure could break.” And most terrible of all would be Schelling’s disciples, the Philosophers of Nature who, isolated and unapproachable beyond the barriers of their own obsessive ideas, will identify themselves with the elemental forces of “the demonic powers of ancient German pantheism”

The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power (New York, NY: Encounter Books, 2010), 269.

[10] Ibid., 98-99

[11] Dustin Guidry, Turning the Ship (Xulon Press [self-publishing], 2009), 38.

[12] “I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality…. We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence — imperious, relentless and cruel” ~ Hitler, from a plaque hung on the wall at Auschwitz; in Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God (Nashville, TN: W Publising Group, 1994), 23.

[13] Tammy Bruce, The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values (Roseville, CA: Prima, 2003), 35.

[14] Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 74.

*Metanarratives, or, Grand Narratives – “big stories, stories of mythic proportions – that claim to be able to account for, explain and subordinate all lesser, little, local, narratives.” Jim Powell, Postmodernism for Beginners (New York, NY: Writers and Readers, 1998), 29.

And here is a post I did on my free BLOGSPOT BLOG May 18, 2007. My Microsoft Word document dates from 2002, so this was a debate I had at Space Battle’s forums many years ago. Which is why there are no footnotes.


Atheism a Religion?… Say What!


The United States does not have an established church, but it does have (and always has had) an established religion, or at least a dominant religious philosophy, an established way of thinking.

What is religion and can it be defined? I will attempt to do so for the purpose of “clarifying terms.” The best term I feel is applicable to religion is this:

Religion may be defined as a way of thinking about ultimate questions. A persons religion answers questions such as how and why (and everything else) came into existence, whether the purpose of life has been established by a Creator or is up to us to decide, and how we can have reliable knowledge (revealed by God or revealed by Nature) about the world and about ourselves.

The officially recognized answers to these questions make up a society’s established religious philosophy, its culturally dominant way of thinking about origins.  But let us look at what some dictionaries say about faith and religion.

  • Webster’s New World Dictionary: defines religion as “a specific system of belief, worship, often involving a code of ethics.” Faith is defined as “unquestioning beliefcomplete trust or confidence… loyalty.”
  • Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary: has this to say about religion, “The beliefs, attitudes, emotions, behavior, etc., constituting man’s relationship with the powers and principles of the universe.” On the matter of faith it says, “Confidence in or dependence on a person, statement, or thing as trustworthyBelief without need of certain proof.”

There is nothing sinister or inherently unconstitutional about the existing of a de facto established public philosophy on religious questions (such as origins and mans purpose). The philosophy is established not in the sense that it is formally enacted or that dissenters are subject to legal punishment (although in recent years this has started to happen), but in the sense that it provides a philosophical basis for lawmaking and public education, in law school this is taught as “public policy.” For example, one culture may endeavor to encourage its schoolgirls to look forward to lives as mothers and homemakers, while another may encourage them to reject traditional gender stereotypes and pursue formally masculine careers. To encourage either choice reflects a dominant public philosophy about human nature and gender roles. Similarly, any community that operates a public school system must have a policy of some kind concerning, say, sexual morality, even if the policy is merely to encourage adolescents to choose for themselves. Relativism itself is a policy choice, it rests on assumptions about reality, and “man’s relationship with the powers and principles of the universe” as Funk and Wagnalls says.

Soldiers use to march to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” – a song that is banned from most public schools today. Some people would say we, as a Nation, have become neutral about religion. The evidence, however, points to one philosophy replacing another. Lets see if we can glean what this new religious belief is that so dominates the Western hemisphere now.

For instance, the public schools have become a battleground for religion. John Dunphy, a secular humanist, wrote in the HUMANIST magazine:

“I am convinced that the battleground for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith; a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preacher, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subjects they teach regardless of the educational level – preschool daycare or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new – the rotting corpse of Christianity together with all its adjacent evils and misery

John Dewey, the father of modern education, hoped to replace sectarian religion with “a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race.” The religion envisioned by Dewey is that of secular humanism. The Supreme Court has even recognized it as a religion (Torcaso v. Watkins). This is why there are tax free atheist churches with “pastors” and “counselors.”

The HUMANIST MANIFESTO was signed by many of the prominent atheistic and evolutionary educators of the day. Among its signers were John Dewey, Harry Elmer Barnes, C. F. Potter and John Herman Randall. The manifesto called for a radical change in religious perspectives. A religion adequate to the twentieth century regards the universe as self-existing, not created, and regards man as part of nature evolved in its processes. Mind-body dualism, supernaturalism, theism, and even deism are rejected. The goal of life is the realization of human personality.

Social and mental hygiene are priority items. Social control is a means to the abundant life for all. That statement was updated in 1973 by a HUMANIST MANIFESTO II, which adds an additional emphases on human responsibility toward humanity as a whole, “a specific system of belief, worship [of man], often involving a code of ethics” as Webster puts it.

This is one of the catalysts that brought Judge Pendergerst of the Baltimore Superior Court to say:

“It is abundantly clear that the petitioner’s real objective is to drive every concept of religion out of the public school system. If God were removed from the classroom, there would remain only atheism [secular humanism: a religion]. The word is derived from the Greek atheos, meaning ‘without a God.’ Thus the beliefs of virtually all pupils would be subordinated to those of Madalyn Murray.”

LOVE and Other Responses to Atheists (including William Lobdell)

(Originally Posted July 2010)

THIS IS A GREATLY EXPANDED UPDATE, BY-THE-BY

Mariano Grinbank, a Messianic-Jew and persona behind True Freethinker and earlier, Atheism is Dead [now an essentially dead site], succinctly draws a line in the “worldview sand” when he lays down what many atheist cannot pick up. I will let you watch this 1-1/2 minute portion to see what I mean:

A friend texted me the Jeff Daniel’s Newsroom video… and this was essentially my response. (Here it has links and videos as well as larger quotes, the real response was just in text form)

In my years of experience of talking about religion and politics (since 1999 on the WWW, Space Battles Forum), I have noticed the main impediment to people progressing in thinking on a matter. Not speaking of you, but a wider point I am making (Yoda). People will watch that clip and be convinced (This is referring to the Jeff Daniels “Newsroom” clip that occasionally makes it’s rounds).

There were a lot of things just spewed out as fact that many just accept as fact. But to dissect this clip even more work needs to be done than I did – linking articles, media, etc. (As I did: Newsroom’s Anti-America Scene Bitch Slapped!)

People would rather “just accept/believe” than do the hard work to challenge, properly their own beliefs by rightly contrasting two views. Well.

People want the easy way out.

Take for instance an oft used “evidence” against God. People will merely say, “well, what about this evil [insert any one you wish], doesn’t this disprove your God? This person to challenge their own position will have to respond to their own “bumper sticker position” by asking themselves what are the competing worldviews? What do they offer as explanations to said evils? Does theism offer a reasonable response?

These questions take more time than one sentence responses like the one sentence challenge.

But as before, people like the easy route versus thinking well.

Here is a truncated example, how the three big worldviews would respond to rape:

THEISM: evil, wrong at all times and places in the universe — absolutely.

ATHEISM: taboo, it was used in our species in the past for the survival of the fittest and is thus a vestige of evolutionary progressand so may once again become a tool for survival — it is in every corner of nature.  

  • TWO BOOKS I read years ago that would undergird the evolutionary/atheistic [naturalism] foundation for explaining rape: Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence | Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion.

PANTHEISM: illusion, all morals and ethical actions and positions are an illusion (Hinduism – maya; Buddhism – sunyata). To reach some state of Nirvana one must retract from this world in their thinking on moral matters, such as love and hate, good and bad. Not only that, but often the person being raped has built up bad karma and thus is the main driver for his or her state of affairs (thus, in one sense it is “right” that rape happens).

Even the staunch, to the end of his life atheist, Christopher Hitchens, noted the despair in man’s [his] best laid plans being thwarted by death:

  • “Rage would be beside the point for the same reason. Instead, I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read — if not indeed write — the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?” (RPT – 2010)

Here are some more examples from an Apologetic Press’ article:THE DESPAIR OF ATHEISM

…..Graham Lawton, Executive Editor of New Scientist magazine, penned a brief article titled, “What is the Meaning of Life?” He began with his blunt, one line answer: “The harsh answer is ‘it has none.’” He went on to say: “Your life may feel like a big deal to you, but it’s actually a random blip of matter and energy in an uncaring and impersonal universe.” Stephen J. Gould, one of the most recognized evolutionary paleontologists of the 20th century, wrote about atheism’s meaninglessness with his customary flair: “We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher answer’but none exists.

Philosopher and self-professed atheist, Thomas Nagel, teaches and writes extensively on atheism’s implication of meaninglessness. In his brief book What Does it All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy, he stated: “If you think about the whole thing, there seems to be no point to it at all. Looking at it from the outside, it wouldn’t matter if you had never existed. And after you have gone out of existence, it won’t matter that you did exist.” Eminent atheistic author, debater, and spokesperson Richard Dawkins boldly said: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Edward O. Wilson quipped that “no species, ours included, possesses a purpose beyond the imperatives created by its genetic history.”

The late William Provine, atheistic professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the distinguished Cornell University, stated: “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.”

The existential philosopher Albert Camus, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, struggled greatly with atheism’s lack of meaning and purpose. So great was his contemplation of it, he declared, “I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions.” Camus then championed the idea of the “absurd” man. He used a very specific meaning for the word “absurd.” In his writing, the concept of the absurd is the recognition and acceptance that life has no meaning, rhyme, or reason. He says of the absurd man: “He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.” His whole book begins with the premise that atheism denies any meaning to the world, and proceeds to flesh out how a person can keep from committing suicide once he arrives at universal meaninglessness. Thus, he begins the book, saying: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” And later in the book he concludes, about his entire book, discussion, and life: “Let me repeat. None of all this has any real meaning.”…..

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s maxim rings just as true today as it did in his day,

“If God does not exist, all things are permissible”

…a statement which Sartre called the starting point of existentialism (SEE: Existentialism and Humanism,” trans. Philip Mairet, pp. 32-33.  Quoted in “Does God Believe in Atheists? [newer Kindle ed.]” (Evangelical Press; 2000), p. 123.). 

BE THINKING expands on the above Dostoyevsky quote with modern atheist support:

Traditionally, atheists have acknowledged that God is a necessary condition of objective moral values (i.e. the sort of moral truths that are discovered rather than invented by humans and which are “valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not”). For example:

  • Jean-Paul Sartre: “when we speak of ‘abandonment’ – a favourite word of Heidegger – we only mean to say that God does not exist, and that it is necessary to draw the consequences of his absence right to the end. The existentialist is strongly opposed to a certain type of secular moralism which seeks to suppress God at the least possible expense. Towards 1880, when the French professors endeavoured to formulate a secular morality, they said … nothing will be changed if God does not exist; we shall rediscover the same norms of honesty, progress and humanity, and we shall have disposed of God as an out-of-date hypothesis which will die away quietly of itself. The existentialist, on the contrary, finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that ‘the good’ exists, that one must be honest or must not lie, since we are now upon the plane where there are only men. Dostoevsky once wrote: ‘If God did not exist, everything would be permitted’; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.”
  • Paul Kurtz: “The central question about moral and ethical principles concerns their ontological foundation. If they are neither derived from God nor anchored in some transcendent ground, they are purely ephemeral.”
  • Julian Baggini: “If there is no single moral authority [i.e. no God] we have to in some sense ‘create’ values for ourselves[and] that means that moral claims are not true or false you may disagree with me but you cannot say I have made a factual error.”
  • Richard Dawkins: “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose [i.e. no God], no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”  Dawkins concedes: “It is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones.”….

This age is an age of religious cacophony, as was the Roman Empire of Christ’s time.  From agnosticism to Hegelianism, from devil-worship to scientific rationalism, from theosophical cults to philosophies of process, virtually any worldview conceivable is offered to modern man in the pluralistic/relativistic marketplace of ideas.  Our age is indeed in ideological and societal agony, grasping at anything and everything that can conceivably offer the ecstasy of a cosmic relationship or of a comprehensive Weltanschauung [worldview].

— Atheist Morality Noted Below —

….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: Richard Dawkins Rejects Darwinism As It Relates to Ethics)

This is why I have this “legal statement” — for lack of a better descriptor when people hit me up online or through emmail to discuss issues:

“By-the-by, for those reading this I will explain what is missing in this type of discussion due to the media used. Genuflecting, care, concern, one being upset (does not entail being “mad”), etc… are all not viewable because we are missing each other’s tone, facial expressions, and the like. I afford[a] the other person I am dialoguing with the best of intentions and read his/her comments as if we were out having a talk over a beer at a bar or meeting a friend at Starbucks. Or even striking up a conversation in a line at a grocery store. In other words, in public. (I say this because there seems to be a phenomenon of etiquette thrown out when talking through email or social media sites. There seems to be more vulgarity and gratuitous responses than if you were to strike up conversation in line at a check stand in a grocery market.) You will see that often I USE CAPS — which in www lingo for YELLING. I am not using it this way, I use it to merely emphasize a point (even at times noting this): *not said in yelling tone, but merely to emphasize*. So, in all my discussions I afford[a] the best of thought to the other person as I expect he or she would to me… even if dealing with tough subjects like the ones being discussed herein. I have had more practice at this than most, and with half-hour pizza, one hour photo and email vs. ‘snail mail,’ know that important discussions take time to meditate on, inculcate, and to process. I will not expect agreement, rather, clarity. So be prepared for a good thought-provoking discussion if you choose one with me.”



[a] DICTIONARY: 2. provide or supply (an opportunity or facility): “the rooftop terrace affords beautiful views”

SYNONYMS: provide, supply, present, purvey, make available, offer, give, impart, bestow, furnish, render, grant, yield, produce, bear

ORIGIN: late Old English geforthian, from ge- (prefix implying completeness) + forthian ‘to further’, from forth. The original sense was ‘promote, perform, accomplish’, later ‘manage, be in a position to do’.

So here-is-as-good-a-place-as-any to post an old commentary on an atheist guest Hugh Hewitt had on his radio show, as, I am importing my posts slowly. Enjoy, and keep in mind I am merely bringing together many resources:


Let me here disagree a small bit with Hugh Hewitt. In the interview with evangelical turned atheist, William Lobdell, author of, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace, Hugh mentioned that this is not an apologetics issue. Which is partially true, apologetics does not regenerate, only the Holy Spirit can do that. However, after listening to this interview, I believe a strong apologetic can break through the weak responses I heard by Lobdell to sometimes strong, sometimes weak as well, challenges to Lobdell’s atheism via callers to the Hugh Hewitt show.

The 2-hour interview can be found either in the free podcast section of the ITunes store under the Hugh Hewitt show, or one can listen here:

CANNOT FIND THESE AUDIOS — WHEN I DO, I WILL LINK EM

  1. Hour 1 of the interview with Lobdell (hour-2 of actual show);
  2. Hour 2 of the interview with Lobdell (hour-3 of actual show)

I will work my way through a few of the rejections found in the interview in a fashion that deals with Lobdell’s reasoning behind rejecting his faith. Some of these rejections are implied implicitly by him, other are explicit rebuttals by Lobdell to callers to the show.

In hour one, near the beginning, Lobdell starts out with the sex abuse cases that have hit the Catholic church.

He seems to be saying that these abuse cases made him begin to deconstruct his faith. I will deal with this issue in a few ways:

FIRST, I will make the case that atheists, Buddhists (atheists), and others commit these crimes, which should make the skeptic ask if he or she is rejecting an ideology for this reason seems to be just as strong for atheism as it is for Christianity. In other words, if the rejection of Christianity is because of the evil it produces, then what about the evil seemingly produced by atheism. A deeper explanation of this will come shortly.

SECONDLY, to judge an act “evil,” one would have to have a metaphysics, excuse me, a coherent – non-self-refuting – logical worldview in order to judge some act on a scale that says an act is morally wrong while expecting another person to know (inherently) this scale by which to judge an act and agree with said person.

OKAY, OFF WE GO WITH THIS REVISED CRITIQUE.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse — Catholic Church. Other religious and non-religious organizations “PRACTICE” this abuse… wherever there is a person of authority over children and the chance to be alone with a child, you will find people who fill these positions for the direct purpose of abusing these young victims.

For instance,

EDUCATION K-12

I was challenged with the following thought via a VERY OLD debate I was involved in about the “Mosque at Ground Zero”:

  • Sean…. If we are to follow your logic, I guess no Catholic churches should be located within a few blocks of daycare centers, no?

This RESPONSE is updated with fresh information for the current reader vs. my debates from 2010:

Nearly 200 K-12 educators are being charged with sex crimes involving children so far in 2022 But the left denies grooming at schools

While the left may deny child grooming in schools outright or claim that it is shockingly rare, this year’s arrest records prove them liars.

181 K-12 educators have been charged with sex crimes against children just in the first half of 2022, with 140 allegedly committing sex crimes against their students.

These crimes range from child pornography to rape and are all heinously vile.

The average for the 181-day period from January 1st to June 30th is one educator arrested for sex crimes every single day. That means that every single day these horrible acts are happening at schools.

Four principals, 153 teachers, 12 teachers’ aides, and 12 substitute teachers make up the 181 arrested pedophiles and groomers. Male teachers made up 78% of those arrested, some of the educators arrested, and about 40 of them were also women….(NTD)

NUMBER TWO, I wish to discuss this issue of molestation by priests that you intimated about.

School counselors, dentists, Buddhist monks, foster parents, and the like — all have abused children. Men who are pedophiles look for positions of AUTHORITY OVER [*not yelling, merely emphasizing*] children that afford MOMENTS OF PRIVACY with these same children. Dentists do not violate children or women in the name of dentistry. Buddhists monks do not sodomize children in the name of Siddhartha. School counselors in the name of psychology, foster parents in the name of Dr. Spock, etc, you get the point. Likewise, priests do not violate children in the name of Christ. (The many terrorist attacks are in the name of something… can you tell me what Nora?)

[….]

So I hope you can see that mentioning churches next to schools is a non-sequitur, I think we can agree that any church moving priests (Catholicism) or pastors (Protestantism) from one parish or church to another is a problem that has to be dealt with. Just like teachers who have the same issues levied towards them are moved from district-to-district (N.E.A.).

Read more: RPT Discussing Mosques and Men

Here is an updated stat for clarity on this subject:

While sexual repression might explain the horrific history of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergymen, it does not explain the much greater incidence of sexual abuse by secular educators in the public school system.41

[41] “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” Shakeshaft, C. Ph.D., U.S. Department of Education report. 2002. [The 2004 study can be seen here in PDF FORM. I believe the author meant 2004]

Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, 2008), 174.

Here is how LIFE SITE discussed the information:


But according to Charol Shakeshaft, the researcher of a little-remembered 2004 study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

After effectively disappearing from the radar, Shakeshaft’s study is now being revisited by commentators seeking to restore a sense of proportion to the mainstream coverage of the Church scandal.

According to the 2004 study “the most accurate data available at this time” indicates that “nearly 9.6 percent of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.”

“Educator sexual misconduct is woefully under-studied,” writes the researcher. “We have scant data on incidence and even less on descriptions of predators and targets.  There are many questions that call for answers.”

[….]

Weigel observes that priestly sex abuse is “a phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared,” [see recomended book to the right] and that in recent years the Church has gone to great lengths to punish and remove priestly predators and to protect children. The result of these measures is that “six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops’ annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members.”

Despite these facts, however, “the sexual abuse story in the global media is almost entirely a Catholic story, in which the Catholic Church is portrayed as the epicenter of the sexual abuse of the young.”

[….]

In 2004, shortly after the Shakeshaft study was released, Catholic League President William Donohue, who was unavailable for an interview for this story, asked, “Where is the media in all this?”

“Isn’t it news that the number of public school students who have been abused by a school employee is more than 100 times greater than the number of minors who have been abused by priests?” he asked.

“All those reporters, columnists, talking heads, attorneys general, D.A.‘s, psychologists and victims groups who were so quick on the draw to get priests have a moral obligation to pursue this issue to the max.  If they don’t, they’re a fraud.”

EASILY PUT:

  • Because teacher’s unions transfer teachers who molest children around the districts means one should reject education.

…OR…

  • Because teacher’s unions transfer teachers who molest children around the districts means education doesn’t exist.

In other words, would Columbia University have to stop teaching about education because the N.E.A. shuffles around rapists and child predators? The argument is a non-sequitur designed merely to stir up feelings of animosity and then direct them towards an entirely different subject. There tends to be a blurring of subject/object distinction on the professional left. Here is a short list of what I alluded to above:

The conclusion just doesn’t follow the premise. In the case of religious comparisons, you would have to isolate the founders and their lives in order to properly judge a belief, not the followers. I would engender the reader to consider well this quote by Robert Hume:

1) Religious News Online reports from an original India Times article, another source that cites this is Child Rights Sri Lanka:

Two Buddhist monks and eight other men were arrested on Wednesday, accused of sexually abusing 11 children orphaned by the island’s 19-year civil war, an official said.

Investigations revealed that the children, aged between nine and 13, had been sexually abused over a period of time at an orphanage where the men worked, said Prof. Harendra de Silva, head of the National Child Protection Authority….

2) Washington County Sheriff’s Office Media Information reported the following:

Mr. Tripp was arrested for sexually abusing a former 15-year-old foster care child.

The investigation started when the Oregon Department of Human Services was contacted by a school counselor who learned that there may be sexual abuse involving a student and Mr. Tripp. DHS workers then contacted Sheriff’s Detectives who took over the investigation.

Detectives learned that Mr. Tripp has been a foster parent since 1995 and has had at least 90 children placed in his home during that time. Sheriff’s Detectives are concerned that there may be more victims who have not yet reported sexual contact involving Mr. Tripp….

3) A therapist who worked at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore was arrested in Catonsville and charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

Robert J. Stoever, 54, of the 1500 block of Park Ave. was arrested Sunday night after a county police officer saw him and the boy in a car in a parking lot at Edmondson Avenue and Academy Road, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a police spokesman.

Stoever was charged with a second-degree sex offense and perverted practice, according to court documents. He was sent to the Baltimore County Detention Center, Hill said….

4) A Bronx dentist was arrested yesterday on charges that he twice raped a 16-year-old patient whom he had placed under anesthesia during an office visit on Thursday, police said.

The girl, a patient of the dentist for several years, was hired for a summer job as his receptionist on Thursday, and had an appointment with him for treatment that afternoon, said Lieut. Hazel Stewart, commander of the Bronx Special Victims Squad.

[….]

“She went in and she changed into a little uniform that he gave to her, and he gave her some files to work on,” the lieutenant said. “Then he said that it was time to take a look at her teeth.”

At that point, Lieutenant Stewart said, “he used some type of anesthesia on her and he allegedly raped her.”

The young woman told officers that she was never fully anesthetized, Lieutenant Stewart said, but that “the effects of the anesthesia were strong enough to render her helpless to such a degree that he was able to rape her again.”

These folks that commit these crimes are atheists, Christians, Buddhists (which are epistemologically speaking, atheists), and every other ideology and from every stripe of life and culture in the world.

Thus, the argument is as strong as this:

  • There have been many cases of dentists molesting and raping children, therefore, dentists cannot take moral positions on secular society.

The conclusion just doesn’t follow the premise.

  • There have been many cases of priests molesting and raping children, therefore, the Pope (or any religious Catholic) cannot take moral positions on secular society.

MORE

There have been many cases of dentists’ drugging men, women

and children sexually assaulting them against their will, therefore,

I do not believe in the INSTITUTION of dentistry any longer

💢

There have been many cases of teachers sexually assaulting children

in their positions of authority over these naive, immature, minds,

therefore, I do not believe in INSTITUTION of K-12 education any longer.

 

Do you see the fallacy in using such loose logic shot from the hip?

Comparing Like Kinds

In the case of religious comparisons, you would have to isolate the founders and their lives in order to properly judge a belief, not the followers. I would engender the reader to consider well this quote by Robert Hume:

MUHAMMAD vs. JESUS

SEE MY PDF: “MUHAMMAD vs. JESUS

While Steven Crowder did not expect his comedic skit to be used in a serious apologetic, sometimes humor best illustrates a point as well:

MUHAMMAD – Ordered his followers, as well as personally participating in, both digging their graves and cutting the throats of between 600-to-900 men, women, and children. Jews. Some of the women and children were taken as property. He was a military tactician that lied and told others to use deception that ultimately led to the death of many people (taqiyya): The word “Taqiyya” literally means: “Concealing, precaution, guarding.”

  • In the West, what is said and done more or less corresponds to the intentions of the speaker and the doer. Liars and cheats abound, of course, but generally they can go only so far before being caught out in the contractual relationships of their society. Lying and cheating in the Arab world is not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honor and status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities, for those with the wits for it, deftly and expeditiously to convert shame into honor on their own account, and vice versa for their opponents. If honor so demands, lies and cheating may become absolute imperatives. In Shia practice, a man is allowed what is called “precautionary dissimulation,” a recognition that truth may be impossible in some contexts.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, the French social anthropologist, has pointed out that no dishonor attaches to such primary transactions as selling short weight, deceiving anyone about quality, quantity or kind of goods, cheating at gambling, and bearing false witness. The doer of these things is merely quicker off the mark than the next fellow; owing him nothing, he is not to be blamed for taking what he can.[1]

Islamic ethics include deceiving the Kafir. The doctrine of deception is found in the Sunna and the Koran. The Arabic name for sacred deception is called taqiyya.

We never see any depictions of Muhammad with children, we just know that he most likely acquired a child bride at age six and consummated that “marriage” when she was nine[2]  — he was a pedophile in other words. While the Qu’ran states that a follower of this book should have no more than 4 wives, we know of course that he had many more, about 5 more in fact. And “Just War Theory” cannot apply to Muhammad and Muslim’s since when he said:

“I have been ordered by Allah to fight against people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle and offer prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity…then they will save their lives and property from me” (Sahih Muslim 1.24).

He ordered his followers to raid caravans, “This is the caravan of the Quraysh possessing wealth. It is likely that Allah may give it to you as booty.”[3] As he was dying, he said these now famous words, “I have been made victorious with terror.”[4]

Many more examples could be provided! Even when it comes to “salvation,” the most ardent/obedient Muslim still leaves his or her entrance into “heaven” is, in the end, an impersonal act of arbitrary divine power.… no story of love and sacrifice or assurance is provided.

[1] David Pryce-Jones, The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs (Chicago, IL: Ivan R, Dee Publishers, 2009), 4, 38.

[2] Bukhari, vol. 5, book 63, no. 3896; cf. Bukhari, vol. 7, book 67, no. 5158.

[3] Ibn Sa’d, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, translated by S. Moinul Haq and H. K. Ghazanfar, vol. 2 (Kitab Bhavan, n.d.), 9.

[4] Muhammed Ibn Ismaiel Al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari: The Translation of the Meanings, translated by Muhammad M. Khan, vol. 4, bk. 56, no. 2977 (Darussalam, 1997).

I was reading through some passages in the Quran not too long ago and came across Quran chapter 79, verse 42. I immediately noticed how similar this verse in the Quran is to Mark 13:31-32 … So, I started to do some more research on who Muhammad REALLY thought he was compared to Jesus. The findings are quite shocking!

JESUS – When Peter struck off the ear of the soldier, healed it. Christ said if his followers were of any other kingdom, they would fight to get him off the cross. He also told Peter if he lived by the sword, he would die by it.; Christ invited and used children as examples of how Jewish adults should view their faith… something culturally radical – inviting children into an inner-circle of a group of status-oriented men such as the Pharisees was unheard of. Especially saying to them their faith must be similar; Jesus, and thusly us, can access true love because the Triune God has eternally loved (The Father loves the Son, etc. ~ unlike the Unitarian God of Islam).

Love between us then has roots in our Creator… [examples]:

  1. my wife and I for instance, as well as family,
  2. the love in community/Body of Christ,
  3. love for our enemies, …etc…

…has eternal foundations in God; This love from God towards us has caused a Sacrifice to ensure our salvation (John 3:16-17; 5:25; 6:47). Jesus said as well that he has “spoken openly to the world… always teaching in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. ‘I said nothing in secret’” (John 18:20). The Bible also states that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) … and Jesus is God in orthodoxy (i.e., Jesus cannot lie). The love of Christ and the relationship he offers is bar-none the center piece of our faith… something the Muslim does not have. Which is why the Church evolved because they have a point of reference in Christ to come back to. In Matthew chapter 5 we find Jesus’ teaching and commending us to the following:

THE BEATITUDES | BELIEVERS ARE SALT AND LIGHT | CHRIST FULFILLS THE LAW | MURDER BEGINS IN THE HEART | ADULTERY BEGINS IN THE HEART | DIVORCE PRACTICES CENSURED | TELL THE TRUTH | GO THE SECOND MILE | LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

Muhammad would never be able to speak of these things that Christ did in the record of Matthew. Which is why whenever given the chance I say to a Muslim I pray they emulate Jesus’ life and follow Him rather than Muhammad. I wish Muhammad had read and followed Jesus’ teachings as well.

The point is this, if you are to judge an ideology by the merits of its followers, then atheism is to be judged by the same standard, and it does not fare well.

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strong-minded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.

All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.

Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.

(Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions [New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959 – original edition 1939], 285-286.)

For instance, while on a six-winery tasting tour north of Santa Barbara, California, in Santa Ynez (a sweet-spot for wine lovers), a discussion was struck between a high school history teacher – whom I refer to as a theophobe – and myself. (I wish to point out that William Lobdell displays no theophobia whatsoever.) The point becomes clear as the debate continues (entitled, “Defending My Faith Over a Syrah” — which, by the way, I cannot think of a better way to defend my faith) towards this all too often used premise by atheists:

At this point the usual litany of “straw man” arguments proceeded to spill forth as they normally do when ones precious bumper-sticker beliefs are challenged and shown to be vacuous. The next thing out of Felicia’s mouth was that organized religion has killed more people and started more wars than any other reason in history. This is where I cringed — a teacher that is charged with children who makes such false claims is a red-flag to me. These types of people repeat such lines not because they have studied history or religion in-depth, but because a politically motivated historian like Howard Zinn or Noam Chomskey said such a thing, or they simply picked up the saying from another friend (who themselves had heard it from another) and it fit so well in their theophobia framework to make the rejection of religion an easy thing in their mind’s eye. This is more of a commentary on said person’s psychosis than making any sort of valid argument. This being said let us deal with this charge:

The Bible does not teach the horrible practices that some have committed in its name. It is true that it’s possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the details it produces evil because the individual people [Christians] are actually living in rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it [religion] can produce evil, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism (non-religious practices) actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We’re talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God. For example: the Inquisitions, Crusades, Salem Witch Trials killed about anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 persons combined (World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Americana), and the church is liable for the unjustified murder of about (taking the high number here) 300,000-women over about a 300 year period. A blight on Christianity? Certainty. Something wrong? Dismally wrong. A tragedy? Of course. Millions and millions of people killed? No. The numbers are tragic, but pale in comparison to the statistics of what non-religious criminals have committed); the Chinese regime of Mao Tse Tung, 60 million [+] dead (1945-1965), Stalin and Khrushchev, 66 million dead (USSR 1917-1959), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia 1975-1979) and Pol Pot, one-third of the populations dead, etc, etc. The difference here is that these non-God movements are merely living out their worldview, the struggle for power, survival of the fittest and all that, no evolutionary/naturalistic natural law is being violated in other words (as non-theists reduce everything to natural law — materialism). However, and this is key, when people have misused the Christian religion for personal gain, they are in direct violation to what Christ taught, as well as Natural Law. (Adapted from, “The Real Murderers: Atheism or Christianity?”)

So the historical reality that this teacher of history seemed to ignore is that non-religious movements have killed more people in the Twentieth-Century than religion has in the previous nineteen (or for that matter, all of mankind’s history). I also pointed out to Felicia during our conversation that the non-religious view of origins has no moral law to point to any of the above acts as morally wrong or un-ethical. They are merely currently taboo. For someone to say the Nazis were morally wrong they have to borrow from the theistic worldview that posits a universal moral code. If there is no Divine moral law, then as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s maxim makes the point, “If there is no God, all things are permissible.” Without an absolute ethical norm, morality is reduced to mere preference and the world is a jungle where might makes right.

This portion out of a larger debate I was in touches on my second point… but before moving on, I want to reiterate the first point:

  • if one were to use evil or wrongs done towards innocent persons as a criterion of an ideologies validity, no faith or unfaith stands this test.

It is more a commentary on human nature.

The question is

  • which worldview explains best human nature and has the best answer to resolve it.

In fact, another criterion is well used for the validity of faith; here I will post a blog I did quite some time ago entitled “Religion’s Positive Influence: Faith-Based Society Healthier, Lives Longer:”

Social Scientists Agree:

  • 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.

Second point is this, and I will take also from a previous critique of a Hugh Hewitt show where he had atheist Christopher Hitchens, polemicist extraordinaire, debate Mark D. Roberts, professor at Fuller Seminary, for all three hours of his show. In my opinion, Hitchen’s won the debate on style/rhetoric, not on substance. However, in my critique entitled “Responding to Christopher Hitchens and a Friend: Explaining the Failings of a Worldview,” I quoted Tom Morris and his erudite refutation of determinism, which would result if atheistic evolution were to be the truth in the battle for origins:

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.

(Philosophy for Dummies, 133-134)

J.P Moreland agrees with this summation that there would be no standard to judge whether a particular position about reality were true if we are the products of a completely naturalistic, chance, chain of atoms bouncing off one another happened. To be clear, if atheistic origins of the universe were true, then one liking chocolate ice cream over vanilla would be just as true as someone choosing atheism over theism:

MIND/BODY PHYSICALISM REFUTED

A number of philosophers have argued that physicalism must be false because it implies determinism and determinism is self-refuting. Speaking of the determinist, J. R. Lucas says:

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…. Determinism, therefore, cannot be true, because if it was, we should not take the determinists’ arguments as being really arguments [say, whether or not homosexuality is a right or not] 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. (Freedom of the Will, by John Lucas)

H. P. Owen states that:

Determinism is self-stultifying. If my mental processes are totally determined, I am totally determined either to accept or to reject determinism. But if the sole reason for my believing or not believing X is that I am causally determined to believe it I have no ground for holding that my judgment is true or false. (Christian Theism, p. 118)

if one claims to know that physicalism is true, or to embrace it for good reasons, if one claims that it is a rational position which should be chosen on the basis of evidence [as one does when they reject theism], then this claim is self-refuting. This is so because physicalism seems to deny the possibility of rationality. To see this, let us examine the necessary preconditions which must hold if there is to be such a thing as rationality and show how physicalism denies these preconditions. At least five factors must obtain if there are to be genuine rational agents who can accurately reflect on the world. First, minds must have internationality; they must be capable of having thoughts about or of the world. Acts of inference are “insights into” or “knowings of” something other than themselves.

Second, reasons, propositions, thoughts, laws of logic and evidence, and truth must exist and be capable of being instanced in people’s minds and influencing their thought processes. This fact is hard to reconcile with physicallism. To see this, consider the field of ethics. Morality prescribes what we ought to do (prescriptive); it does not merely describe what is in fact done (descriptive). Objective morality makes sense if real moral laws or oughts exist and if normative, moral properties like rightness, goodness, worth, and dignity exist in acts (the act of honoring one’s parents) and things (persons and animals have worth) [this all applies to the debate over homosexuality]. If physicalism is true as a worldview, there are no moral properties or full-blooded oughts. Physical states just are, and one physical state causes or fails to cause another physical state. A physical state does not morally prescribe that another physical ought to be. If physicalism is true, oughts are not real moral obligations telling us what one should do to be in conformity with the moral universe. Rather, “ought” serves as a mere guide for reaching a socially acceptable or psychologically desired goal (e.g., “if one wants to have pleasure and avoid pain, then one ‘ought’ to tell the truth”). Moral imperatives become grounded in subjective preferences on the same level as a preference for Burger King over McDonald’s….

(Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity, by J. P. Moreland, 90-92)

The atheist has no way ultimately to point out that an act that society currently considers taboo, such as rape, is morally wrong. The atheist, unlike the theist, would not be able to say that rape is morally wrong at all times and places in the entire history of the known universe. Again, all that can be said is that at this point in our evolutionary history and culture it is currently outlawed in most societies by the majority of peoples. This majority can change thus making an act morally acceptable that is currently outlawed, or immoral. Back to the chemical, or biological basis for rape though, a couple of books that deal with this specifically have addressed this issue by philosophical naturalists. For example, in this exerpt from a larger paper I did for a class on Natural Law and homosexuality, I point out that without creation ex nihilo, rape is not morally wrong in the ultimate sense:

IDOLATROUS TOOLS

Idolatry is referenced in connection with human sexuality by Anthony Hoekema who points out that while “primitive man use to make idols out of wood and stone, modern man, seeking something to worship, makes idols of a more subtle type: himself, human society, the state, money, fame.”[1] Thusly, an idol can be fallen man using the gift of relationships as a tool to manipulate others for his or her selfish ends,[2] idolizing pleasure by making it an end-to-a-means, so to speak. In doing so, the person seeking gratification (whether emotional or physical) utilizes or instrumentalizes another in order to worship self-gratification. This concept is seen in the slang term “tool”[3] used by today’s generation either to reference a man’s genitalia or to reference another person.[4]

The reader by now should have clearly established in his mind that homosexuality rejects the created order and designs its own contrary vision.[5] Moreover, part of this vision is an atheistic, naturalistic (almost Epicurean[6]) rejection of Creation ex-nihilo.[7] How does the “carnal” person deal with the unnatural order of the homosexual lifestyle? Since it is a reality it is incorporated into their epistemological system of thought or worldview.[8] Henry Morris points out that the materialist worldview looks at homosexuality as nature’s way of controlling population numbers as well as a tension lowering device.[9] Lest one think this line of thinking is insane, that is: sexual acts are something from our evolutionary past and advantageous;[10] rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success.[11] How do the naturalist, those who have rejected the created order and the moral laws of nature, view such an instrumentalizing of the human body for the end-result of idolatrous worshiping of pleasure?

Liberal sexual morality, based in an ancient epicurean view of the nature of man that “denies that marriage is inherently heterosexual necessarily supposes that the value of sex must be instrumental” in order to pleasure oneself, which makes such an act a tool in the hand of a person’s desires, or, an “end-in-itself.” In other words, the traditional understanding of marriage rejects the view that sees the ultimate point or value of sex in marriage as an instrument to attain either affection or sexual pleasure, which is what the epicurean is left with. Sex, in the homosexual context, then, is the instrumentalization of the body.[12]

Ethical Evil?

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.[13] Rape, is neither moral nor immoral vis-à-vis evolutionary lines of thought, even if ingrained in us from our evolutionary paths of survival.[14] Did you catch that? Even if a rape occurs today, it is neither moral nor immoral, it is merely currently taboo.[15] 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.[16]

This materialistic view of nature will give way to there being no difference in the emerging ethic between married couples, homosexual couples, or couples in a temporary sexual relationship. Some go as far to say – rightly so – that with the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle follows shortly thereafter the legalization of polyamorous relationships,[17] which is already considered as a viable option by many in Sweden for instance.[18] After polyamory is legal – about the only thing left is for the Peter Singer’s (professor at Princeton’s Center for Human Values) of the world to argue for “cross species” sex acts.[19] Columnist George Will aptly calls this type of legislation “the moral equality of appetites.”[20]


Footnotes

[1] Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 84.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “One [person] that is used or manipulated by another.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed (Springfield: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003), cf., “tool.” This concept of using another was also known as “cat’s-paw,” which is defined as “one used by another as a tool.” (ibid., cf., “cat’s-paw.”)

An aside: the term “cat’s-paw” comes from an old fable in which a monkey was cooking chestnuts in the fireplace. When it was time to remove the chestnuts from the coals, he found that the fire was too hot, and he could not pull them out. He looked around for something to help him pull them out, but did not see anything — until his eye fell on the cat sleeping by the fire. He grabbed the cat, and held it tight while it struggled, using its paw to remove the chestnuts from the fire. (Author/origins unknown)

[4] Example: “She’s a ‘tool’.”

[5] DeYoung, 15.

[6] “Epicurus (341-271 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher who was born on the isle of Samos but lived much of his life in Athens, where he founded his very successful school of philosophy. He was influenced by the materialist Democritus (460-370 B.C.), who is the first philosopher known to believe that the world is made up of atoms…. Epicurus identified good with pleasure and evil with pain.” He equated using pleasure, diet, friends, and the like as “tools” for minimizing bad sensations or pain while increasing pleasure or hedonism. Taken from Louise P. Pojman, Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford Press, 2002), 499.

[7] Romans 1:25; 1 Timothy 6:5, 20.

[8] Worldview:

“People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of these presuppositions than even they themselves may realize. By ‘presuppositions’ we mean the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic worldview, the grid through which he sees the world. Presuppositions rest upon that which a person considers to be the truth of what exists. People’s presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring forth into the external world. Their presuppositions also provide the basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions. ‘As a man thinketh, so he is,’ is really profound. An individual is not just the product of the forces around him. He has a mind, an inner world. Then, having thought, a person can bring forth actions into the external world and thus influence it. People are apt to look at the outer theater of action, forgetting the actor who ‘lives in the mind’ and who therefore is the true actor in the external world. The inner thought world determines the outward action. Most people catch their presuppositions from their family and surrounding society the way a child catches measles. But people with more understanding realize that their presuppositions should be chosen after a careful consideration of what worldview is true. When all is done, when all the alternatives have been explored, ‘not many men are in the room’ — that is, although worldviews have many variations, there are not many basic worldviews or presuppositions.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1976), 19-20.

[9] Henry M. Morris, The Long War Against God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1989), 136.

[10] Remember, the created order has been rejected in the Roman society as it is today. This leaves us with an Epicurean view of nature, which today is philosophical naturalism expressed in the modern evolutionary theories such as neo-Darwinism and Punctuated Equilibrium.

[11] Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural history of Rape: Biological bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), 71, 163.

[12] Robert P. George, The Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion, and Morality in Crisis (Wilmington: ISI Books, 2001), 81.

[13] Nancy Pearcy, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 208-209.

[14] Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Penguin, 2002), 162-163.

[15] Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 176-180.

[16] Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life (New York: Touchstone Book, 1995), 492.

[17] Defined as having more than one intimate relationship/spouse at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

[18] Alan Sears and Craig Osten, The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Define Moral Values (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 42.

[19] The following is from an on-line article:

“To prove this is no joke, here’s a passage from a recent article on the website Nerve.com by Prof. Peter Singer of Princeton’s Center for Human Values:

“The potential violence of the orangutan’s come-on may have been disturbing, but the fact that it was an orangutan making the advances was not. That may be because Galdikas understands very well that we are animals, indeed more specifically, we are great apes. This does not make sex across the species barrier normal, or natural, whatever those much-misused words may mean, but it does imply that it ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.

“This is not a marginal figure, by the way; this is a professor at Princeton whose ideas are spreading widely in the respectable academic circuit. The problem with his argument is that it is impeccably logical if you accept the premise that there is no fundamental dividing line between man and animals. And if one swallows evolution whole-hog, it sure looks that way, doesn’t it? Those anti-Darwinist hicks may be right after all, at least with respect to the consequences of believing in evolution.”

Taken from FrontPage Magazine website. The article itself was by Robert Locke, “Bestiality and America’s Future,” published on March 30, 2001. Found at: http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=23284, (last accessed 7-18-10).

[20] Francis Canavan, The Pluralist Game: Pluralism, Liberalism, and the Moral Conscience (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1995), 126-127.

According to atheistic evolution, these appetites are driven by some chain of events that go back through history to the big bang. Everything is the way it is because of this chain of chance events that resulted in our environments and firing of neurons and their chemical reactions in our brain… making us believe and do what we believe and do. It is really fascism, or so called:

  • “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.)

So since all acts are of equal value in the struggle for survival, the acts that only temporarily determine the highest possible survival of the species at that moment in evolutionary progress/history is the most beneficial… which could be interpreted as being the most “moral” in evolutionary vernacular. Therefore, atheists (which include Lobdell) have no metaphysical basis to say that rape, or the killing of innocent people by religious persons, and similar actions like unjust wars by Marxist revolutionaries, are morally wrong in a meaningful way. They are merely pointing out that they personally disagree with the action they are describing. Arguing, then about the immorality of acts committed by the religious (and I would contend, non-religious peoples) would be just as powerful morally if the same person argued with a friend about the superiority of chocolate ice-cream over that of vanilla ice-cream.

Since that took longer than I expected, I will only give one other critique of a response by Lobdell to a caller that was tongue-tied and wasn’t getting his point across well. Lobdell cut him off mid sentence (after politely allowing the man to try and make a coherent point) and asked if he thought that all the animals that exist on earth were on the ark. This is a red-hearing. It is a mischaracterizing of the opposing argument, setting up a straw man in other words.

Broadly speaking, yes, all the animals were on the ark. But that is the same as Bill Clinton and John Kerry during their runs for office (successfully and unsuccessfully, respectively) saying that women make 73 cents on every dollar earned by a man. While broadly speaking this is true, and very “impactful” for making their proposed policies all that much more important… it just isn’t true. In the same way, the volume of animals proposed to be on the Ark by Lobdell and other critics is skewed as well.

YES! If you compare all men to all women, then yes, there is a disparage present. This stat doesn’t take into account a few things. It doesn’t consider the fact that women tend to choose the humanities when entering college and men seem to choose the hard sciences. So by choice women tend to choose professions that pay less. Not only that, when you compare oranges to oranges, you get something much different than expected, or that we would expect from the liberal side of things. If a woman and a man have had the same level of education and have been on the same job for an equal amount of time, the woman makes (on average) up to $5 more than the man a year on every $1,000 dollars earned. Another sobering note reported by USA Today: According to a U.S. Department of Education study, 135 women receive their bachelor’s degrees per every 100 men.

(Adapted from Larry Elder, 10 things You Can’t Say In America)

The same applies to this dilemma. In Lobdell’s mind every finch was on the Ark. That’s hundreds of species. A finch with a ¼ centimeter smaller beak is a separate species according to Darwin and Lobdell. Every dog, from Chihuahua’s to Great Danes, and everything in between, was on the Ark. This is a straw man. Rhetorically it sounds great, I would have responded back rhetorically rather than the detailed response I am giving here if I was on the radio myself. Short and sweet! He is trying to make the questioner sound insane by mischaracterizing his argument, I will clarify — properly — his argument to make him sound “just as crazy.” I would have said,

  • “Well, that isn’t nearly as incredible as one believing he came from a rock, as you do.”

Which is what evolution teaches. After the earth cooled and the rock began to solidify, it rained making the early oceans and lakes. These rains eroded the minerals from the rock which began to pool in a particular spot on earth coming together to finally form the first life, which over millions of years became you or I judging that the Crusades were morally wrong and that religious people, more than non-religious, should live up to some ideal found originally in molten lava!? “You shouldn’t kill innocent people because we were brothers in crystalline from side-by-side… minerals to the end brother.” This is “just as crazy,” rhetorically speaking that is. The question remains: do you have to have every dog on the Ark or just one dog, say, like the wolf? You see, the wolf has most of the parent genes in it that over a 1,000 years we end up with the Chihuahua to the Great Dane by man’s input of knowledge… not natural selection. I say “man’s input of knowledge, and not ” of knowledge and shelter because natural selection would weed out the Tea Cup Terrier from even surviving. Outside the arms of Paris Hilton, that is.

Back to Noah’s Ark and the rhetorical divide between the atheist and the biblical literalist, if you take all the dinosaurs known to scientists, the average size is that of a lamb. Not to mention that the largest — taking the most extreme end of the biblical literalists argument — T-Rex or Superasuarus started out in an egg. So they were small in their juvenile stage. Not every type or species of Bull had to be on the Ark, just one. Some say that natural selection could not move that quick. Well, humanity has been farming and trying to produce better “species” for some time. For instance,

In 1811 French chemist Benjamin Delessert set up a small factory at Passy and, following the example of German chemists, made the first small quantity of crystallized sugar from sugar beets. At this time cane sugar was a strategic material denied the French because of their war with the other European powers, so Napoleon was immensely impressed by this scientific achievement. He ordered no less that forty factories to be set up in France.

However, now that France had the capability to manufacture beet sugar, it urgently needed to find, or breed, a type of beet that contained the maximum amount of raw sugar. To achieve this, Bonaparte enlisted the greatest botanists in France, through the Academia des Sciences. A program was begun to breed selectively those sugar beet plants that gave a higher-than-average yield of sugar, a program which succeeded. At first the common varieties of sugar beet contained, but this was rapidly improved — 5 percent; 10 percent; 15 percent. Then things started to go wrong. At 17 percent average yield, the sugar content of the new plants stuck, and it has stayed there to this day. In addition, the French discovered, repeated attempts to continue crossing high-yield varieties eventually resulted in the hybrids reverting to the low yields of their ancestral stock.

(An adaptation from a paper I did many years previous. That was taken from a source I do not currently recall.)

There may be many “species” of sugar beets, but they are all from one. In a study, probably one of the most in-depth done to date put into book form is that of evolutionist Jonathan Weiner. In his book, The Beak of the Finch, pages 178-180, he mentions that the speciation, in general, is considerably faster than had been supposed by earlier beliefs. So could we get a Dingo, a Great Dane, and other types of dogs from one or two kinds (species). This is what the biblical literalist argues; not that every animal on earth today was on the Ark, but that every animal on the earth came from a common species that was on the Ark. Of course, now you can argue the finer points of how fast speciation can happen and how this argument hurts or helps these two opposing sides, but that is neither here nor there. At the very least, however, we are beyond the oft repeated mischaracterization thrown the way of the biblical literalist. It also makes the opposing side, in this case Lobdell, seem fair in its summation of arguments from whom he is trying to refute.

More to come…. maybe?

MUCH MORE HERE

THIS IS UN-EDITED, I WILL EDIT SOME TIME MONDAY… HOWEVER, I WANTED TO CATCH THE “FERVOR” OVER PART OF THIS WEEKEND.

 

Let me here disagree a small bit with Hugh Hewitt. In the interview with evangelical turned atheist, William Lobdell, author of, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace (Amazon.com), Hugh mentioned that this is not an apologetics issue. Which is partially true, apologetics does not regenerate, only the Holy Spirit can do that. However, after listening to this interview, I believe a strong apologetic can break through the weak responses I heard by Lobdell to sometimes strong, sometimes weak as well, challenges to Lobdell’s atheism via callers to the Hugh Hewitt show.


The 2-hour interview can be found either in the free podcast section of the ITunes store under the Hugh Hewitt show, or one can listen here:

Hour 1 of the interview with Lobdell (hour-2 of actual show);

Hour 2 of the interview with Lobdell (hour-3 of actual show);


I will work my way through a few of the rejections found in the interview in a fashion that deals with Lobdell’s reasoning behind rejecting his faith. Some of these rejections are implied implicitly by him, other are explicit rebuttals by Lobdell to callers to the show.


In hour one, near the beginning, Lobdell starts out with the sex abuse cases that have hit the Catholic church. He seems to be saying that these abuse cases made him begin to deconstruct his faith. I will deal with this issue in two ways: first, I will make the case that atheists, Buddhists (atheists), and others commit these crimes, which should make the skeptic ask if he or she is rejecting an ideology for this reason seems to be just as strong for atheism as it is for Christianity. In other words, if the rejection of Christianity is because of the evil it produces, then what about the evil seemingly produced by atheism. A deeper explanation of this will come shortly. Secondly, to judge an act “evil,” one would have to have a metaphysics, excuse me, a coherent – non-self-refuting – logical worldview in order to judge some act on a scale that says an act is morally wrong while expecting another person to know (inherently) this scale by which to judge an act and agree with said person. Okay, here we go with the critique.

Sexual Abuse — Catholic Church. Other religious and non-religious organizations practice this abuse… wherever there is a person of authority over children and the chance to be alone with such a person, you will find people who fill these positions for the direct purpose of abusing these young victims. For instance:

Religious News Online reports from an original India Times article, another source that cites this is Child Rights Sri Lanka:


Two Buddhist monks and eight other men were arrested on Wednesday, accused of sexually abusing 11 children orphaned by the island’s 19-year civil war, an official said.


Investigations revealed that the children, aged between nine and 13, had been sexually abused over a period of time at an orphanage where the men worked, said Prof. Harendra de Silva, head of the National Child Protection Authority.


“There are maybe more who have been abused and we are continuing investigations,” de Silva said, after a special police unit attached to the authority arrested the suspects.


The men, including the saffron-robed monks, will be produced before a magistrate and held in custody for further investigation, he said.


Child abuse in Sri Lanka is a non-bailable offense and with a maximum 10-year prison sentence.


The children’s home where the suspects worked was established to care for thousands of children from all over the country who lost their families during the war.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office Media Information reported the following:


Mr. Tripp was arrested for sexually abusing a former 15-year-old foster care child.


The investigation started when the Oregon Department of Human Services was contacted by a school counselor who learned that there may be sexual abuse involving a student and Mr. Tripp. DHS workers then contacted Sheriff’s Detectives who took over the investigation.


Detectives learned that Mr. Tripp has been a foster parent since 1995 and has had at least 90 children placed in his home during that time. Sheriff’s Detectives are concerned that there may be more victims who have not yet reported sexual contact involving Mr. Tripp.

Channel 2 news reports on a psychologist abusing a child:


A psychologist accused of performing oral sex on a 13 year old boy has been fired by the Baltimore City Public School System.


Baltimore County Police have arrested and charged 54 year old Robert James Stoever with the second degree sex offenses and perverted practices.


According to charging documents, police discovered the contract employee with a 13-year-old boy in a car located at the Christian Temple in Catonsville on Sunday. Police say that an officer approached the vehicle and discovered both Stoever and the young boy in the front seat of the vehicle.


Police say that when questioned, Stoever admitted performing oral sex on the boy and told the officer that this was not the first time it has occurred.


Stoever had been working at the Booker T. Washington Middle School #130 in Baltimore City., where the boy is a student. In a letter sent home to parents, city school officals say Stoever was not employed by them, rather he had been contracted by the school system through an outside vendor since September 2007.

 

Tammy Bruce on pages 90, and 99 of her book The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values, says this:


“… and now all manner of sexual perversion enjoys the protection and support of once what was a legitimate civil-rights effort for decent people. The real slippery slope has been the one leading into the Left’s moral vacuum. It is a singular attitude that prohibits any judgment about obvious moral decay because of the paranoid belief that judgment of any sort would destroy the gay lifestyle, whatever that is…. I believe this grab for children by the sexually confused adults of the Gay Elite represents the most serious problem facing our culture today…. Here come the elephant again: Almost without exception, the gay men I know (and that’s too many to count) have a story of some kind of sexual trauma or abuse in their childhood — molestation by a parent or an authority figure, or seduction as an adolescent at the hands of an adult. The gay community must face the truth and see sexual molestation of an adolescent for the abuse it is, instead of the ‘coming-of-age’ experience many [gays] regard it as being. Until then, the Gay Elite will continue to promote a culture of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and suicide by AIDS.”


These folks are atheists, Catholics, Buddhists (which are ontologically speaking, atheists), and every other ideology and stripe of life and culture in the world. The argument is as strong as this:

There have been many cases of dentists’ drugging men and women and groping them against their will, therefore, I do not believe in dentistry.


The conclusion just doesn’t follow the premise. In the case of religious comparisons, you would have to isolate the founders and their lives in order to properly judge a belief, not the followers. I would engender the reader to consider well this quote by Robert Hume:

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strong-minded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.


All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.


Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.


** The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.


While Steven Crowder did not expect his comedic skit to be used in a serious apologetic, sometimes humor best illustrates a point as well:

The point is this, if you are to judge an ideology by the merits of its followers, then atheism is to be judged by the same standard, and it does not fare well. For instance, while on a six-winery tasting tour north of Santa Barbara, California, in Santa Ynez (a sweet-spot for wine lovers), a discussion was struck between a high school history teacher – whom I refer to as a theophobe – and myself. (I wish to point out that William Lobdell displays no theophobia whatsoever.) The point becomes clear as the debate continues (entitled, Defending My Faith Over a Syrah — which, by the way, I cannot think of a better way to defend my faith) towards this all too often used premise by atheists:

At this point the usual litany of “straw man” arguments proceeded to spill forth as they normally do when ones precious bumper-sticker beliefs are challenged and shown to be vacuous. The next thing out of Felicia’s mouth was that organized religion has killed more people and started more wars than any other reason in history. This is where I cringed — a teacher that is charged with children who makes such false claims is a red-flag to me. These types of people repeat such lines not because they have studied history or religion in-depth, but because a politically motivated historian like Howard Zinn or Noam Chomskey said such a thing, or they simply picked up the saying from another friend (who themselves had heard it from another) and it fit so well in their theophobia framework to make the rejection of religion an easy thing in their mind’s eye. This is more of a commentary on said person’s psychosis than making any sort of valid argument. This being said let us deal with this charge:

 

Atheist vs. Atheist from Papa Giorgio on Vimeo.

  • The Bible does not teach the horrible practices that some have committed in its name. It is true that it’s possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the details it produces evil because the individual people [Christians] are actually living in rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it [religion] can produce evil, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism (non-religious practices) actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We’re talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God. For example: the Inquisitions, Crusades, Salem Witch Trials killed about anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 persons combined (World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Americana), and the church is liable for the unjustified murder of about (taking the high number here) 300,000-women over about a 300 year period. A blight on Christianity? Certainty. Something wrong? Dismally wrong. A tragedy? Of course. Millions and millions of people killed? No. The numbers are tragic, but pale in comparison to the statistics of what non-religious criminals have committed); the Chinese regime of Mao Tse Tung, 60 million [+] dead (1945-1965), Stalin and Khrushchev, 66 million dead (USSR 1917-1959), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia 1975-1979) and Pol Pot, one-third of the populations dead, etc, etc. The difference here is that these non-God movements are merely living out their worldview, the struggle for power, survival of the fittest and all that, no evolutionary/naturalistic natural law is being violated in other words (as non-theists reduce everything to natural law — materialism). However, and this is key, when people have misused the Christian religion for personal gain, they are in direct violation to what Christ taught, as well as Natural Law. (Adapted from, The Real Murderers: Atheism or Christianity?)


So the historical reality that this teacher of history seemed to ignore is that non-religious movements have killed more people in the Twentieth-Century than religion has in the previous nineteen (or for that matter, all of mankind’s history).
I also pointed out to Felicia during our conversation that the non-religious view of origins has no moral law to point to any of the above acts as morally wrong or un-ethical.They are merely currently taboo. For someone to say the Nazis were morally wrong they have to borrow from the theistic worldview that posits a universal moral code.If there is no Divine moral law, then as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s maxim makes the point, “If there is no God, all things are permissible.” Without an absolute ethical norm, morality is reduced to mere preference and the world is a jungle where might makes right.


This portion out of a larger debate I was in touches on my second point… but before moving on, I want to reiterate the first point: if one were to use evil or wrongs done towards innocent persons as a criterion of an ideologies validity, no faith or unfaith stands this test. It is more a commentary on human nature. The question is which worldview explains best human nature and has the best answer to resolve it. In fact, another criterion is well used for the validity of faith; here I will post a blog I did quite some time ago entitled “Religion’s Positive Influence: Faith-Based Society Healthier, Lives Longer:”

Social Scientists Agree:


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.


Second point is this, and I will take also from a previous critique of a Hugh Hewitt show where he had atheist Christopher Hitchens, polemicist extraordinaire, debate Mark D. Roberts, professor at Fuller Seminary, for all three hours of his show. In my opinion, Hitchen’s won the debate on style/rhetoric, not on substance. However, in my critique entitled “Responding to Christopher Hitchens and a Friend: Explaining the Failings of a Worldview,” I quoted Tom Morris and his erudite refutation of determinism, which would result if atheistic evolution were to be the truth in the battle for origins:


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.


(Philosophy for Dummies, 133-134)


J.P Moreland agrees with this summation that there would be no standard to judge whether a particular position about reality were true if we are the products of a completely naturalistic, chance, chain of atoms bouncing off one another happened. To be clear, if atheistic origins of the universe were true, then one liking chocolate ice cream over vanilla would be just as true as someone choosing atheism over theism:


Mind/Body Physicalism Refuted

A number of philosophers have argued that physicalism must be false because it implies determinism and determinism is self-refuting. Speaking of the determinist, J. R. Lucas says:

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…. Determinism, therefore, cannot be true, because if it was, we should not take the determinists’ arguments as being really arguments [say, whether or not homosexuality is a right or not] 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. (Freedom of the Will, by John Lucas)


H. P. Owen states that:

Determinism is self-stultifying. If my mental processes are totally determined, I am totally determined either to accept or to reject determinism. But if the sole reason for my believing or not believing X is that I am causally determined to believe it I have no ground for holding that my judgment is true or false. (Christian Theism, p. 118)


… if one claims to know that physicalism is true, or to embrace it for good reasons, if one claims that it is a rational position which should be chosen on the basis of evidence [as one does when they reject theism], then this claim is self-refuting. This is so because physicallism seems to deny the possibility of rationality. To see this, let us examine the necessary preconditions which must hold if there is to be such a thing as rationality and show how physicalism denies these preconditions.


At least five factors must obtain if there are to be genuine rational agents who can accurately reflect on the world. First, minds must have internationality; they must be capable of having thoughts about or of the world. Acts of inference are “insights into” or “knowings of” something other than themselves.


Second, reasons, propositions, thoughts, laws of logic and evidence, and truth must exist and be capable of being instanced in people’s minds and influencing their thought processes. This fact is hard to reconcile with physicallism. To see this, consider the field of ethics. Morality prescribes what we ought to do (prescriptive); it does not merely describe what is in fact done (descriptive). Objective morality makes sense if real moral laws or oughts exist and if normative, moral properties like rightness, goodness, worth, and dignity exist in acts (the act of honoring one’s parents) and things (persons and animals have worth) [this all applies to the debate over homosexuality]. If physicalism is true as a worldview, there are no moral properties or full-blooded oughts. Physical states just are, and one physical state causes or fails to cause another physical state. A physical state does not morally prescribe that another physical ought to be. If physicalism is true, oughts are not real moral obligations telling us what one should do to be in conformity with the moral universe. Rather, “ought” serves as a mere guide for reaching a socially acceptable or psychologically desired goal (e.g., “if one wants to have pleasure and avoid pain, then one ‘ought’ to tell the truth”). Moral imperatives become grounded in subjective preferences on the same level as a preference for Burger King over McDonald’s….


(Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity, by J. P. Moreland, 90-92)


The atheist has no way ultimately to point out that an act that society currently considers taboo, such as rape, is morally wrong. The atheist, unlike the theist, would not be able to say that rape is morally wrong at all times and places in the entire history of the known universe. Again, all that can be said is that at this point in our evolutionary history and culture it is currently outlawed in most societies by the majority of peoples. This majority can change thus making an act morally acceptable that is currently outlawed, or immoral. Back to the chemical, or biological basis for rape though, a couple of books that deal with this specifically have addressed this issue by philosophical naturalists. For example, in this exerpt from a larger paper I did for a class on Natural Law and homosexuality, I point out that without creation ex nihilo, rape is not morally wrong in the ultimate sense:


Idolatrous Tools

Idolatry is referenced in connection with human sexuality by Anthony Hoekema who points out that while “primitive man use to make idols out of wood and stone, modern man, seeking something to worship, makes idols of a more subtle type: himself, human society, the state, money, fame.”[1] Thusly, an idol can be fallen man using the gift of relationships as a tool to manipulate others for his or her selfish ends,[2] idolizing pleasure by making it an end-to-a-means, so to speak. In doing so, the person seeking gratification (whether emotional or physical) utilizes or instumentalizes another in order to worship self-gratification. This concept is seen in the slang term “tool”[3] used by today’s generation either to reference a man’s genitalia or to reference another person.[4]


The reader by now should have clearly established in his mind that homosexuality rejects the created order and designs its own contrary vision.[5] Moreover, part of this vision is an atheistic, naturalistic (almost Epicurean[6]) rejection of Creation ex-nihilo.[7] How does the “carnal” person deal with the unnatural order of the homosexual lifestyle? Since it is a reality it is incorporated into their epistemological system of thought or worldview.[8] Henry Morris points out that the materialist worldview looks at homosexuality as nature’s way of controlling population numbers as well as a tension lowering device.[9] Lest one think this line of thinking is insane, that is: sexual acts are something from our evolutionary past and advantageous;[10]rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success.[11] How do the naturalist, those who have rejected the created order and the moral laws of nature, view such an instrumentalizing of the human body for the end-result of idolatrous worshiping of pleasure?

Liberal sexual morality, based in an ancient epicurean view of the nature of man that “denies that marriage is inherently heterosexual necessarily supposes that the value of sex must be instrumental” in order to pleasure oneself, which makes such an act a tool in the hand of a person’s desires, or, an “end-in-itself.” In other words, the traditional understanding of marriage rejects the view that sees the ultimate point or value of sex in marriage as an instrument to attain either affection or sexual pleasure, which is what the epicurean is left with. Sex, in the homosexual context, then, is the instrumentalization of the body.[12]


Ethical Evil?

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.[13] Rape, is neither moral nor immoral vis-à-vis evolutionary lines of thought, even if ingrained in us from our evolutionary paths of survival.[14] Did you catch that? Even if a rape occurs today, it is neither moral nor immoral, it is merely currently taboo.[15] 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.[16]


This materialistic view of nature will give way to there being no difference in the emerging ethic between married couples, homosexual couples, or couples in a temporary sexual relationship. Some go as far to say – rightly so – that with the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle follows shortly thereafter the legalization of polyamorous relationships,[17] which is already considered as a viable option by many in Sweden for instance.[18] After polyamory is legal – about the only thing left is for the Peter Singer’s (professor at Princeton’s Center for Human Values) of the world to argue for “cross species” sex acts.[19] Columnist George Will aptly calls this type of legislation “the moral equality of appetites.”[20]


According to atheistic evolution, these appetites are driven by some chain of events that go back through history to the big bang. Everything is the way it is because of this chain of chance events that resulted in our environments and firing of neurons and their chemical reactions in our brain… making us believe and do what we believe and do. It is really fascism, or so called:

“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.)

So since all acts are of equal value in the struggle for survival, the acts that only temporarily determine the highest possible survival of the species at that moment in evolutionary progress/history is the most beneficial… which could be interpreted as being the most “moral” in evolutionary vernacular. Therefore, atheists (which include Lobdell) have no metaphysical basis to say that rape, or the killing of innocent people by religious persons, and similar actions like unjust wars by Marxist revolutionaries, are morally wrong in a meaningful way. They are merely pointing out that they personally disagree with the action they are describing. Arguing, then about the immorality of acts committed by the religious (and I would contend, non-religious peoples) would be just as powerful morally if the same person argued with a friend about the superiority of chocolate ice-cream over that of vanilla ice-cream.

Ravi Zacharias answers a similar veined question during a Q&A at Harvard:


Since that took longer than I expected, I will only give one other critique of a response by Lobdell to a caller that was tongue-tied and wasn’t getting his point across well. Lobdell cut him off mid sentence (after politely allowing the man to try and make a coherent point) and asked if he thought that all the animals that exist on earth were on the ark. This is a red-hearing. It is a mischaracterizing of the opposing argument, setting up a straw man in other words.


Broadly speaking, yes, all the animals were on the ark. But that is the same as Bill Clinton and John Kerry during their runs for office (successfully and unsuccessfully, respectively) saying that women make 73 cents on every dollar earned by a man. While broadly speaking this is true, and very “impactful” for making their proposed policies all that much more important… it just isn’t true. In the same way, the volume of animals proposed to be on the Ark by Lobdell and other critics is skewed as well.

YES! If you compare all men to all women, then yes, there is a disparage present. This stat doesn’t take into account a few things. It doesn’t consider the fact that women tend to choose the humanities when entering college and men seem to choose the hard sciences. So by choice women tend to choose professions that pay less. Not only that, when you compare oranges to oranges, you get something much different than expected, or that we would expect from the liberal side of things. If a woman and a man have had the same level of education and have been on the same job for an equal amount of time, the woman makes (on average) up to $5 more than the man a year on every $1,000 dollars earned. Another sobering note reported by USA Today: According to a U.S. Department of Education study, 135 women receive their bachelor’s degrees per every 100 men.

(Adapted from Larry Elder, 10 things You Can’t Say In America)


The same applies to this dilemma. In Lobdell’s mind every finch was on the Ark. That’s hundreds of species. A finch with a ¼ centimeter smaller beak is a separate species according to Darwin and Lobdell. Every dog, from Chihuahua’s to Great Danes, and everything in between, was on the Ark. This is a straw man. Rhetorically it sounds great, I would have responded back rhetorically rather than the detailed response I am giving here if I was on the radio myself. Short and sweet! He is trying to make the questioner sound insane by mischaracterizing his argument, I will clarify — properly — his argument to make him sound “just as crazy.” I would have said,

“Well, that isn’t nearly as incredible as one believing he came from a rock, as you do.”


Which is what evolution teaches. After the earth cooled and the rock began to solidify, it rained making the early oceans and lakes. These rains eroded the minerals from the rock which began to pool in a particular spot on earth coming together to finally form the first life, which over millions of years became you or I judging that the Crusades were morally wrong and that religious people, more than non-religious, should live up to some ideal found originally in molten lava!? “You shouldn’t kill innocent people because we were brothers in crystalline from side-by-side… minerals to the end brother.” This is “just as crazy,” rhetorically speaking that is. The question remains: do you have to have every dog on the Ark or just one dog, say, like the wolf? You see, the wolf has most of the parent genes in it that over a 1,000 years we end up with the
Chihuahua to the Great Dane by man’s input of knowledge… not natural selection. I say “man’s input of knowledge, and not ” of knowledge and shelter because natural selection would weed out the Tea Cup Terrier from even surviving. Outside the arms of Paris Hilton, that is.


Back to Noah’s Ark and the rhetorical divide between the atheist and the biblical literalist, if you take all the dinosaurs known to scientists, the average size is that of a lamb. Not to mention that the largest — taking the most extreme end of the biblical literalists argument — T-Rex or Superasuarus started out in an egg. So they were small in their juvenile stage. Not every type or species of Bull had to be on the Ark, just one. Some say that natural selection could not move that quick. Well, humanity has been farming and trying to produce better “species” for some time. For instance,

In 1811 French chemist Benjamin Delessert set up a small factory at Passy and, following the example of German chemists, made the first small quantity of crystallized sugar from sugar beets. At this time cane sugar was a strategic material denied the French because of their war with the other European powers, so Napoleon was immensely impressed by this scientific achievement. He ordered no less that forty factories to be set up in France.

However, now that France had the capability to manufacture beet sugar, it urgently needed to find, or breed, a type of beet that contained the maximum amount of raw sugar. To achieve this, Bonaparte enlisted the greatest botanists in France, through the Academia des Sciences. A program was begun to breed selectively those sugar beet plants that gave a higher-than-average yield of sugar, a program which succeeded. At first the common varieties of sugar beet contained, but this was rapidly improved — 5 percent; 10 percent; 15 percent. Then things started to go wrong. At 17 percent average yield, the sugar content of the new plants stuck, and it has stayed there to this day. In addition, the French discovered, repeated attempts to continue crossing high-yield varieties eventually resulted in the hybrids reverting to the low yields of their ancestral stock.

(An adaptation from a paper I did many years previous.That was taken from a source I do not currently recall.)


There may be many “species” of sugar beets, but they are all from one. In a study, probably one of the most in-depth done to date put into book form is that of evolutionist Jonathan Weiner. In his book, The Beak of the Finch, pages 178-180, he mentions that the speciation, in general, is considerably faster than had been supposed by earlier beliefs. So could we get a Dingo, a Great Dane, and other types of dogs from one or two kinds (species). This is what the biblical literalist argues; not that every animal on earth today was on the Ark, but that every animal on the earth came from a common species that was on the Ark. Of course, now you can argue the finer points of how fast speciation can happen and how this argument hurts or helps these two opposing sides, but that is neither here nor there. At the very least, however, we are beyond the oft repeated mischaracterization thrown the way of the biblical literalist. It also makes the opposing side, in this case Lobdell, seem fair in its summation of arguments from whom he is trying to refute.


More to come…. maybe?

(Some tags for the Google search: WILLIAM, BILL, LOBDELL, ATHEISM, HUGH, HEWITT, NOAH, NOAH’S, ARK, FLOOD, TWO HOUR, INTERVIEW, NATURAL, SELECTION, EVOLUTION, CREATION, INTELLIGENT DESIGN, APOLOGETICS, THEOLOGY, LOOSING, FAITH, EVANGELICAL, THEISM, CHRISTIANITY, EVIL, HYPOCRISY, FALSE, BELIEF, DEBATE, CALLERS, RADIO, TALK, SHOW, CATHOLIC, SEXUAL, ABUSE, RELIGIOUS, RELIGION, INTERVIEW, PROOFS, LOS ANGELES, RELIGION, REPORTER, L.A. TIMES)

 


[1] Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 84.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “One [person] that is used or manipulated by another.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed (Springfield: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003), cf., “tool.” This concept of using another was also known as “cat’s-paw,” which is defined as “one used by another as a tool.” (ibid., cf., “cat’s-paw.”)

An aside: the term “cat’s-paw” comes from an old fable in which a monkey was cooking chestnuts in the fireplace. When it was time to remove the chestnuts from the coals, he found that the fire was too hot, and he could not pull them out. He looked around for something to help him pull them out, but did not see anything — until his eye fell on the cat sleeping by the fire. He grabbed the cat, and held it tight while it struggled, using its paw to remove the chestnuts from the fire. (Author/origins unknown)

[4] Example: “She’s a ‘tool’.”

[5] DeYoung, 15.

[6] “Epicurus (341-271 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher who was born on the isle of Samos but lived much of his life in Athens, where he founded his very successful school of philosophy. He was influenced by the materialist Democritus (460-370 B.C.), who is the first philosopher known to believe that the world is made up of atoms…. Epicurus identified good with pleasure and evil with pain.” He equated using pleasure, diet, friends, and the like as “tools” for minimizing bad sensations or pain while increasing pleasure or hedonism. Taken from Louise P. Pojman, Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford Press, 2002), 499.

[7] Romans 1:25; 1 Timothy 6:5, 20.

[8] Worldview: “People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of these presuppositions than even they themselves may realize. By ‘presuppositions’ we mean the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic worldview, the grid through which he sees the world. Presuppositions rest upon that which a person considers to be the truth of what exists. People’s presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring forth into the external world. Their presuppositions also provide the basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions. ‘As a man thinketh, so he is,’ is really profound. An individual is not just the product of the forces around him. He has a mind, an inner world. Then, having thought, a person can bring forth actions into the external world and thus influence it. People are apt to look at the outer theater of action, forgetting the actor who ‘lives in the mind’ and who therefore is the true actor in the external world. The inner thought world determines the outward action. Most people catch their presuppositions from their family and surrounding society the way a child catches measles. But people with more understanding realize that their presuppositions should be chosen after a careful consideration of what worldview is true. When all is done, when all the alternatives have been explored, ‘not many men are in the room’ — that is, although worldviews have many variations, there are not many basic worldviews or presuppositions.” Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1976), 19-20.

[9] Henry M. Morris, The Long War Against God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1989), 136.

[10] Remember, the created order has been rejected in the Roman society as it is today. This leaves us with an Epicurean view of nature, which today is philosophical naturalism expressed in the modern evolutionary theories such as neo-Darwinism and Punctuated Equilibrium.

[11] Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural history of Rape: Biological bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), 71, 163.

[12] Robert P. George, The Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion, and Morality in Crisis (Wilmington: ISI Books, 2001), 81.

[13] Nancy Pearcy, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 208-209.

[14] Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Penguin, 2002), 162-163.

[15] Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 176-180.

[16] Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life (New York: Touchstone Book, 1995), 492.

[17] Defined as having more than one intimate relationship/spouse at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

[18] Alan Sears and Craig Osten, The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Define Moral Values (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 42.

[19] The following is from an on-line article:

“To prove this is no joke, here’s a passage from a recent article on the website Nerve.com by Prof. Peter Singer of Princeton’s Center for Human Values:

·“The potential violence of the orangutan’s come-on may have been disturbing, but the fact that it was an orangutan making the advances was not. That may be because Galdikas understands very well that we are animals, indeed more specifically, we are great apes. This does not make sex across the species barrier normal, or natural, whatever those much-misused words may mean, but it does imply that it ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.

“This is not a marginal figure, by the way; this is a professor at Princeton whose ideas are spreading widely in the respectable academic circuit. The problem with his argument is that it is impeccably logical if you accept the premise that there is no fundamental dividing line between man and animals. And if one swallows evolution whole-hog, it sure looks that way, doesn’t it? Those anti-Darwinist hicks may be right after all, at least with respect to the consequences of believing in evolution.”

Taken from FrontPage Magazine website, http://www.frontpagemag.com/ — The article itself was by Robert Locke, “Bestiality and America’s Future,” published on March 30, 2001. Found at:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID={AD996DD5-80D9-49C9-BCA4-C37D60C97669}, (last accessed 9-24-08).

[20] Francis Canavan, The Pluralist Game: Pluralism, Liberalism, and the Moral Conscience (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1995), 126-127.

The Genealogies of Jesus | A Supposed Contradiction, Explained

(This was originally posted in May of 2015, updated in Oct of 2022, and  Nov 2023)

This first video is the why the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke are important. It is in Hebrew with English text underneath, so you may need a larger home computer screen for it. If the text moves too fast, there is a tool in the lower right of the YouTube video to slow it down. This helps. But this is a powerful video, a must watch. (Video Description) Is Jesus a descendant of the line of David? Or is His lineage full of contradictions as the Rabbis claim?? (This is my 2022 addition)

2022

This is my original post, I will note the addition I will add to it after.

2015

The “Genealogy” of Jesus

Norman Geisler explains the apparent contradiction between Matthew and Luke’s genealogies.

This is one of the more popular examples of a Biblical contradiction that is for the most part brought up by Muslims to show the Bible is a document riddled with problems. However, if one gives this document the same attestation as one gives to any other text of history, say, Livy’s History of Rome or Caesar’s Gallic Wars, then the alleged contradictions disappear. On this test John Warwick Montgomery writes that literary critics still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic himself.” With this in mind, lets see what some have to say about this “contradiction.”


Matthew 1:1-16 gives the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, who was himself a descendant of King David. As Joseph’s adopted Son, Jesus became his legal heir, so far as his inheritance was concerned. Notice carefully the wording of verse 16: “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ [messiah]” (NASB). This stands in contrast to the format followed in the preceding verses of the succession of Joseph’s ancestors: “Abraham begat [egennesen] Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, etc.” Joseph is not said to have begotten Jesus: rather he is referred to as “the husband of Mary, of whom [Gk. feminine genitive] Jesus was born.”

Luke 3:23-38, on the other hand seems to record the genealogical line of Mary herself, carried all the way back beyond the time of Abraham to Adam and the commencement of the human race. This seems to be implied by the wording of verse 23: “Jesus… being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” This “as was supposed” indicates that Jesus was not really the biological son of Joseph, even though this was commonly assumed by the public. It further calls attention to the mother, Mary, who must of necessity have been the sole human parent through whom Jesus could have descended from a line of ancestors. Her genealogy is thereupon listed, starting with Heli, who was actually Joseph’s father-in-law, in contradistinction to Joseph’s own father, Jacob:


And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli – Luke 3:23 [Mary]

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary – Matthew 1:16 [Joseph]

Mary’s line of descent came through Nathan, a son of Bathsheba (or “Bathshua,” according to 1 Chronicles 3:5), the wife of David. Therefore, Jesus was descended from David naturally through Nathan and legally through Solomon.

The coming Messiah of Israel had to be able to prove this lineage as it was prophesied in the Old Testament that He would in fact be a descendant of David. The Jews kept meticulous records at the temple mount of all the genealogical records of the Hebrew people. This information was “public knowledge,” or, verifiable by even the Pharisees. The Romans destroyed these records in A.D. 70. (This is very important – prophetically speaking – because the Orthodox Jews [as opposed to the Messianic Jews] are still awaiting their Messiah, however, he cannot be traced to David or Abraham! A prerequisite for Messiah clearly stated in the Old Testament.) Also of importance is the fact that Luke is very close to Mary, remember that Jesus gave him charge of her while shortly before he died.

Here is Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe in their book, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, explaining the dealio:

LUKE 3:23 —Why does Luke present a different ancestral tree for Jesus than the one in Matthew?

PROBLEM: Jesus has a different grandfather here in Luke 3:23 (Heli) than He does in Matthew 1:16 (Jacob). Which one is the right one?

SOLUTION: This should be expected, since they are two different lines of ancestors, one traced through His legal father, Joseph and the other through His actual mother, Mary. Matthew gives the official line, since he addresses Jesus’ genealogy to Jewish concerns for the Jewish Messiah’s credentials which required that Messiah come from the seed of Abraham and the line of David (cf. Matt. 1:1). Luke, with a broader Greek audi­ence in view, addresses himself to their interest in Jesus as the Perfect Man (which was the quest of Greek thought). Thus, he traces Jesus back to the first man, Adam (Luke 3:38).

That Matthew gives Jesus’ paternal genealogy and Luke his maternal genealogy is further supported by several facts. First of all, while both lines trace Christ to David, each is through a different son of David. Matthew traces Jesus through Joseph (his legal father) to David’s son, Solomon the king, by whom Christ rightfully inherited the throne of David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12ff). Luke’s purpose, on the other hand, is to show Christ as an actual human. So he traces Christ to David’s son, Nathan, through his actual mother, Mary, through whom He can rightfully claim to be fully human, the redeemer of humanity.

Further, Luke does not say that he is giving Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph. Rather, he notes that Jesus was “as was supposed” (Luke 3:23) the son of Joseph, while He was actually the son of Mary. Also, that Luke would record Mary’s genealogy fits with his interest as a doctor in mothers and birth and with his emphasis on women in his Gospel which has been called “the Gospel for Women.”

Finally, the fact that the two genealogies have some names in common (such as Shealtiel and Zerubbabel, Matt. 1:12; cf. Luke 3:27) does not prove they are the same genealogy for two reasons. One, these are not uncommon names. Further, even the same genealogy (Luke’s) has a repeat of the names Joseph and Judah (3: 26, 30).

Matthew and Luke each record a different Genealogy for the family of Jesus, so is this a Bible contradiction that cannot be resolved? This video addresses this Supposed Bible Contradiction.

This a a partial excerpt from a great article over
at APOLOGETIC PRESS, enjoy. Click to enlarge:

First, Matthew reported the lineage of Christ only back to Abraham; Luke traced it all the way back to Adam. Second, Matthew used the expression “begat;” Luke used the expression “son of,” which results in his list being a complete reversal of Matthew’s. Third, the two genealogical lines parallel each other from Abraham to David. Fourth, beginning with David, Matthew traced the paternal line of descent through Solomon; Luke traced the maternal line through Solomon’s brother, Nathan.

A fifth factor that must be recognized is that the two lines (paternal and maternal) link together in the intermarriage of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel. But the linkage separates again in the two sons of Zerubbabel—Rhesa and Abiud. Sixth, the two lines come together once again for a final time in the marriage of Joseph and Mary. Joseph was the end of the paternal line, while Mary was the last of the maternal line as the daughter of Heli.

The reason Joseph is said to be the “son” of Heli (Mary’s father) brings forth a seventh consideration: the Jewish use of “son.” Hebrews used the word in at least five distinct senses: (1) in the sense used today of a one-generation offspring; (2) in the sense of a descendant, whether a grandson or a more remote descendant many generations previous, e.g., Matthew 1:1; 21:9; 22:42 (“begat” had this same flexibility in application); (3) as a son-in-law (the Jews had no word to express this concept and so just used “son”—e.g., 1 Samuel 24:16; 26:17); (4) in accordance with the Levirate marriage law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; cf. Matthew 22:24-26), a deceased man would have a son through a surrogate father who legally married the deceased man’s widow (e.g., Ruth 2:20; 3:9,12; 4:3-5); and (5) in the sense of a step-son who took on the legal status of his step-father—the relationship sustained by Jesus to Joseph (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 3:23; 4:22; John 6:42).

Notice carefully that Joseph was a direct-line, blood descendant of David and, therefore, of David’s throne. Here is the precise purpose of Matthew’s genealogy: it demonstrated Jesus’ legal right to inherit the throne of David—a necessary prerequisite to authenticating His Messianic claim. However, an equally critical credential was His blood/physical descent from David—a point that could not be established through Joseph since “after His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18, emp. added). This feature of Christ’s Messiahship was established through His mother Mary, who was also a blood descendant of David (Luke 1:30-32). Both the blood of David and the throne of David were necessary variables to qualify and authenticate Jesus as the Messiah

Here is Dr. Archer getting into the technical aspects of another part of the genealogy lineage:

Does not Matthew 1:9 err in listing Uzziah as the father of Jotham?

Matthew 1:9, which gives the gene­alogy of Jesus through His legal father, Joseph, states, “Ozias begat Joatham.” These are the Greek forms of Uzziah and Jotham. Some are con­fused by this mention of Uzziah, be­cause Jotham’s father is called Azariah in 2 Kings 15:1-7 and in 1 Chronicles 3:12. On the other hand, 2 Kings 15:32,34 calls him Uzziah rather than Azariah and refers to him as the father of Jotham. The same is true of 2 Chronicles 26:1-23; 27:2; Isaiah 1:1: 6:1; 7:1. The names are different. but they refer to the same king. `” zaryah (“Azariah”) means “Yahweh has helped,” whereas `uzzi-yahu (“Uzziah”) means “Yahweh is my strength.” The reason for the two names is not given in the biblical record, but the fact that he bore them both (perhaps Azariah was later replaced by Uzziah) is beyond dispute.

There are various reasons for the acquisition of second names in the case of Israel’s leaders. Gideon acquired the name Jerubbaal because of his destruc­tion of the altar of Baal at Ophrah (Judg. 6:32; 7:1; 8:29, etc.). Rehoboam’s son Abijam was also called Abijah (cf. 1 Kings 14:31; 15:1,7-8 for Abijam and 1 Chron. 3:10; 2 Chron. 12:16 for Abijah). Jehoahaz son of Josiah also bore the name of Shallum (2 Kings 23:21 and 1 Chron. 3:15; Jer. 22:11). Jehoiakim, Josiah’s oldest son, was originally named Eliakim; but Pharaoh Necho changed his name to Jehoiakim (i.e., “Yahweh will establish” rather than “God will establish”), ac­cording to 2 Kings 23:34. Likewise Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim was also known as Jeconiah, and Zedekiah’s original name was Mattaniah.

Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), 316-317.

The above comes from:

RECOMMENDED:

2023

WHAT IS NEW is the information I recently came across by THE BIBLE PROJECT (TBP). Their opening part of their Matthew video is informative in the genealogical aspect as to the deeper meaning.

But they got me on to another tangent as well. And it made me think, that to the Jewish mind at the time, it was like a flashing sign in the background of Matthews adept work. Here is a portion of the commentary by TBP:

Just think about the separated sections of the genealogy of Matthew. It is broken up into three parts that cover 14 generations each. But why 14?

Within the written language of Hebrew, the letters are also used as their numbers, and so each letter is assigned a numerical value. The name of David in Hebrew is “דוד,” and from here you just do the math. The numerical value of the first and third letter “ד” (called dalet) is 4. The middle letter “ו” (called waw) has a numerical value of 6. Put it into your mental calculator: 4+6+4=14, the numerical value of the name of “David.”

Matthew has created the genealogy so that it links Jesus to David both explicitly and in the very literary design of the list. In fact, Matthew wants to highlight this “14=David” idea so much that he’s intentionally left out multiple generations of the line of David (three, to be exact) to make the numbers work.

Wait, Matthew has taken people out of the genealogy?

Yes, but this is not a scandal. Leaving out generations to create symbolic numbers in genealogies is a common Hebrew literary practice, going all the way back to the genealogies in Genesis (the 10 generations of Genesis 5, or the 70 descendants of Genesis 46). Ancient genealogies were ways of making theological claims, and Matthew’s readers would have understood exactly what he was doing and why.

Matthew didn’t make numerical adjustments only. He also adjusted a few letters in some names for the same purpose. For example, he changed the names of Asa and Amon to Asaph (the poet featured in the book of Psalms) and Amos (the famous prophet). Matthew is winking at us here, knowing that his readers would spot these out of place names. The point, of course, is that Jesus doesn’t just fulfill Israel’s royal hopes, but also the hope of the Psalms (Asaph) and the Prophets (Amos). Jesus is from a line of kingly succession that also culminates the rich tradition of worship and prophecy of Israel. This way, readers are thinking about all of Israel and her history as they meet Jesus for the first time. The irony is that some modern translations haven’t gotten the pun, and so have changed the names back to their “original” referents. Ah, well.

Let me just break out here and note Ligonier’s comment of the number 14 being used. They simply state:

  • “fourteen” is likely intended as an aid for memorization.

This may be the only reason behind Matthew’s use of 14, but, I believe it is a bit more than just that. I tend to side a bit with Hank Hanegraaff’s comments being added as “and another reason”…

  • Matthew employs the practice of gematria and orders the genealogy according to the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters in King David’s name (4 + 6 + 4 = D + V + D). Matthew highlights the most significant names in the lineage of Jesus, artistically emphasizing Jesus as Messiah, who forever sits upon the throne of David. 

Some Christians may think this is “numerology” in some occultic sense, it is not that at all.

A word of warning however, the Kabbalistic tradition does take this to an occultic level. For instance, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has this notation to their “Gematria” post:

  • Though it does seem that there are some very legitimate and interesting Gematria relationships found in the Bible, we can also see that Kabbalists could take the phenomena too far in their esoteric and mystical explanations of Scripture.

 I will “highlight” the portion below in one of the Biblical dictionaries noting this, as well as putting in the APPENDIX more info on Kabbalism.

gematria

Here is Biblical critic, Bart Ehrman talking about this section (yes, I paid the man to open up this section for this post. I donated to an atheist critic, lol). The second theory here is the one I think is in Matthews wheelhouse:

…..I pointed out in the previous post that Matthew presents a numerically significant genealogy of Jesus in order to show that something of major significance happen every fourteen generations:  from Abraham, the father of the Jews, to David, the greatest king of the Jews: fourteen generations; from King David to the Babylonian Captivity, the greatest disaster for the Jews: fourteen generations; and from the Babylonian Captivity to the Messiah Jesus, the ultimate savior of the Jews: fourteen generations.

It’s a terrific genealogy.  But to get to this 14-14-14 schema, Matthew had to manipulate the names in a couple of places, for example, by leaving out some of the generations and by counting the final set of names as fourteen, even though there are only thirteen.   And so, we might wonder whether the number fourteen, in particular, was for some reasons significant for Matthew.  Why not 15, or 12?

Over the years interpreters of Matthew have puzzled over the question and have suggested two, in particular, that strike me as interesting.

First, in ancient Israel, as in a number of other ancient societies where numbers had symbolic significance, the number seven was supremely important: it signified perfection or even divinity (as you’ll notice when you read the book of Revelation, for example, where seven’s turn up a lot).   The ancients divided the week into seven days, probably because they believed that there were seven planets.  For some ancient Jews there were seven stages in a person’s life and seven parts to the human soul; there were seven heavens, seven compartments of hell, and seven divisions of Paradise and seven attributes of God.  There were seven classes of angels.  And so on.   Consider the words of the famous first-century Jewish philosopher Philo: “I doubt whether anyone could adequately celebrate the properties of the number seven, for they are beyond words” (On the Creation of the World, 30).

If seven is a perfect number, a number associated with the divine, what then is fourteen?  Twice seven!  In cultures for which numbers matter, fourteen would have been a doubly perfect number.  Did Matthew set up Jesus’ genealogy to show the divine perfection of his descent?

A second theory ties the genealogy yet more closely into Matthew’s own portrayal of Jesus.  In ancient languages the numbers were typically represented by letters of the alphabet, so that in Hebrew, for example, Aleph was one, Beth was two, Gimel three, etc.  When you hit ten, then the next letter was twenty, then thirty, and so on; and when you hit 100 the next letter was 200, then 300 and so on.   Among other things, this meant that every word had a numerical value: you could just add up the letters.  (In ancient Judaism, this method of interpreting words according to their numerical value was called “gematria.”)

Matthew in particular wants to emphasize that Jesus is the Jewish messiah, the “son of David.”  And what does David’s name add up to?  In Hebrew there are no vowels, only consonants (which makes reading it very interesting indeed!  Luckily, in the middle ages, Jewish scribes added a series of dots to the consonantal letters to indicate the appropriate vowels, so that some of us who are not experts – like me – read Hebrew only with the vowels added.  But originally there weren’t any).  And so David is spelled D-V-D (Daleth-Vav-Daleth).   The D (Daleth) is worth 4 and the V (Vav) is worth 6.   So the numerical value of David’s name is fourteen!  Has Matthew emphasized the number fourteen in Jesus’ genealogy in order to stress his Davidic roots as the messiah of the Jews?

Okay, time to bring that big word Bart used, gematria, into the Biblical definition arena… many do not know the extent of the use of this was in Matthews day. Games were even played using it.

And I wish to note, my wife, who is an accountant/finance person, loves playing what game? Sudoku. You don’t think Matthew was a numbers guy? First a shorter Biblical dictionary definition then a more in-depth one. In this Tyndale Bible Dictionary excerpt, I include their commentary partial explanation to the significance of the number fourteen.

GEMATRIA* One of the rabbinic hermeneutic rules for interpreting the OT. It consisted of explaining a word or group of words according to the numerical value of the letters or by substituting and rearranging certain letters according to a set system. By that rule of interpretation, for example, some rabbis have argued that Eliezer (Gn 15:2) was worth all the servants of Abraham put together, for Abraham had 318 servants and Eliezer’s name equaled 318 (Gn 14:14). The name Babylon is arrived at in Jeremiah 25:26 and 51:41 by substituting the last letter of the Hebrew word for the first letter of the same word.

The pseudepigraphal Epistle of Barnabas interprets the 318 servants of Abraham (Gn 14:14) as pointing to Jesus’ death on the cross, because 300 is the numerical value of the Greek letter “t,” which is cross-shaped, and 18 the value of the first two letters of the Greek word for Jesus. In the book of Revelation the number of the beast is 666 (Rv 13:18). If the number seven is considered to be the perfect number in the Bible, and if three sevens represent complete perfection, then the number 666 falls completely short of perfection.

[….]

5. In verse 6 David is called “the king.”

From these data, it is obvious that Matthew does not intend to present a strict genealogy; the arrangement is contrived, and extraneous material is included, probably for some other purpose than merely to present Jesus’ forebears. Matthew’s arrangement of the names into groups of 14, probably guided by an interest in portraying Jesus to Jews as the promised king of Israel and rightful heir to the Davidic throne, gives a definite historical movement to the genealogy by dividing it into three periods of time. These respectively highlight the origin, rise to power, and decay of the Davidic house, the last point represented by the lowly birth of the promised heir to a carpenter of Nazareth.

The 14 names in each group may be an effort to call attention to the thrice-royal character of Mary’s son by focusing on the numerical value 14 of the Hebrew letters in David’s name (d=4, v=6, d=4). This number also happens to be twice the sacred number seven, so that the whole list is composed of three sets of two sevens each. It may be, however, that the contrived groupings were merely intended to aid in memorization.

Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 517, 519.

Here is The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary description which delves a little deeper on the subject of gematria for the studious researcher with limited resources:

gematria (gay-mah´tree-uh), the practice of assigning a numerical value to proper names or to related words and expressions. This was easily done in the ancient world because, in both Hebrew and Greek, letters of the alphabet were also used as numerals. It became commonplace for people to add up the numerical value of the letters that were used to spell any person’s name and to regard the sum of those numbers as “the number of (that) person’s name” (cf. Rev. 13:17–18). For example, if gematria were practiced with the modern-day English alphabet, an A would be equal to 1, a B would be equal to 2, and so forth. After the tenth letter, the eleventh (K) would be equal to 20, the twelfth (L) would be equal to 30, and so on until, with the twenty-first letter (U), multiples of 100 would be used. The proper name “Mark” would end up consisting of four letters with these numerical values: M = 40; A = 1; R = 90; K = 20. The sum of these numbers (40 + 1 + 90 + 20) would be 151, so in modern-day gematria, it could be said that the number of Mark’s name is 151. Today, this would seem like a code, but the whole process would have been less mysterious in the biblical world, when everyone already knew the numerical value of each individual letter. In any case, gematria became very popular in certain times and places. In the Greco-Roman world, during nt times, it often became the basis for jokes and riddles; for these to have functioned as they did at a popular level, most people would have to have known the numbers of their own names, as well as the numbers to be associated with other prominent people. Most Jews would have known that the letters in the name “David” (in Hebrew) added to 14 and most Christians would have known that the letters in the name “Jesus” (in Greek) added to 888. Likewise, the first readers of the book of Revelation probably knew that the letters in the name “Caesar Nero” (in Hebrew) added to either 666 or 616, depending on how it was spelled. Accordingly, Rev. 13:18 reveals the number of the beast to be 666 in some manuscripts and 616 in others.

The practice of gematria consists of assigning a numerical value to a word or phrase by adding together the values of the individual letters. This works in Hebrew and Greek, where the letters of the alphabet can also serve as numerals. In Greek, the marks signifying 6 and 90 were not used as letters in New Testament times.

In the Roman world, gematria became a basis for riddles, jokes, and games:

  • Graffiti on a wall in Pompeii reads, “I love her whose number is 545.”
  • As a political joke, Suetonius (Nero 39) indicates that the name “Nero” (Νέρων) and the phrase “killed his own mother” (ίδίαν μντέρα άπέκτεινε) have the same numerical value (1,005) when written in Greek. This was pertinent because the emperor was rumored to have murdered his mother.

In Christianity and Judaism, gematria could provide a basis for religious symbolism:

  • Rabbis noted that “Eliezer’ (אליעזר), the name of Abraham’s favored servant (Gen. 15:2), has a numerical value of 318, which is the total number of servants mentioned in Gen. 14:14. Thus, Eliezer was equal to all the rest of the servants combined.
  • The Hebrew letters in the name “David” (דוד) add up to 14, so that number could be accorded messianic significance: the messiah was to be the Son of David. This is probably why Matthew’s Gospel emphasizes that the genealogy of Jesus can be divided into three sets of 14 generations (Matt. 1:17).
  • The Greek letters in the name “Jesus” (′Ιησογυς) add up to 888, which some early Christians found significant: 8 surpasses 7 (the number for perfection) and heralds a “new creation” beyond what God did in the first 7 days (Gen. 1:1–2:3).

Many scholars think that gematria holds the clue to resolving the puzzle of 666, the number attributed to the beast in Rev. 13:18:

  • A popular spelling for the name of the emperor Nero adds up to 666 when written in Hebrew (קסרנרון = Caesar Neron). An alternate spelling (קסרנרו = Caesar Nero) adds up to 616, a variant reading for the number of the beast found in some manuscripts of Revelation.
  • A designation for the emperor Domitian that sometimes appeared on Greek coins also adds up to 666: Kai. Domet. Seb. Ge. (an abbreviation for Autokratōr Kaisar Dometianos Sebastos Germanikos = Emperor Caesar Domitian Augustus Germanicus).

Over time, most Jewish and Christian groups abandoned the practice of gematria, perhaps because certain groups used numerology in connection with magic and the occult. The practice still features prominently in kabbalah and other mystical traditions.

Mark Allan Powell, “Gematria,” in The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated), ed. Mark Allan Powell (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), 316.

How can we start to dissect what Matthew was writing? By looking at the time he wrote it, to whom he was writing to, the culture and practices we know of from that time and people group, etc:

  • 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?

(See my post on hermeneutics)

The above in the 2023 section goes a long way — I believe — to add more context to the issue of Matthews 14/14/14. So, all this to say that Matthew was throwing in that “flashing Neon Sign” that was saying three times:

David – David – David


APPENDIX


KABBALISM

This section is not important to the above… I am place carding this here as my first dealing with the topi/issue of Kabbalism. The WATCHMEN FELLOWSHIP has a good short definition of it:

  • Kabbalah: (Various spellings) Mystical Jewish teachings intermingled with teachings of gnosticism, Neoplatonism, magic and the occult. The word Kabbalah means secret oral tradition and was coined by an eleventh century Spanish philosopher, Ibn Gabirol. The philosophy developed in Babylon during the middle ages from earlier Hebrew speculation and numerology. An early Kabbalist, Moses de Leon, developed and systematized the philosophy in his thirteenth century work, The Book of Zolar (sometimes spelled Zohar meaning “Splendor”).

Here is the most accessible post on Kabbalism for the layman via GOT QUESTIONS:

Kabbalah, also spelled Kaballah, Qabalah, or Cabalah, developed between the 6th and 13th centuries among the Jews in Babylonia, Italy, Provence, and Spain. The word “Kabbalah” means “to receive” and refers to revelation from God received by Jews and passed to succeeding generations through oral tradition. The word was first used by mainstream Judaism but later came to refer to those who believed that only a select few were given the secret knowledge from God as to the “true” meaning of Scriptures. Kabbalah uses occult practices and is considered to be a cult.

Kabbalah closely resembles some of the beliefs held by the Greek Gnostics in that both groups believed that only a select few were given deeper understanding or knowledge. Also, Kabbalah teaches that “emanations” from God did the work of creation, denying that creation was a creative act directly from God (Genesis 1). With each descending emanation, the emanation became farther away from God. The final emanation took the personal form of angels.

[….]

Kabbalah, like all false doctrine and religions, denies the deity of Christ and the necessity of faith in Him as the only means of salvation (John 14:6). Jesus is God in the flesh, and He came to die for the sins of all who would believe in Him. If an individual trusts in Christ—that He is God (John 1:1-3) and paid for sin (Romans 8:3)—then that person is forgiven and becomes a child of God (John 1:12).

They have a lot in common with Gnostics I doodled this explanation of “emanations” during a very long conversation with actor Michael Berryman in discussion about [among other things] another modern day Gnostic religion, Freemasons:

Like Gnostics and Freemason and followers of the other New Age religions, Jesus is not Divine, God. Madonna is one of the more famous celebrities to “dabble” in it’s practices.

New York: `Material Girl` Madonna has been promoted to the highest level that can be achieved without being ordained, at the Kabbalah Church.

According to Ratethemusic.com, the singer, who is a staunch follower of the mystical Jewish religion, was promoted to an upper category of Kabbalah followers in a ceremony conducted by the Kabbalah Centre founder Rabbi Berg.

“Her teachers think she has reached the pinnacle of spiritual understanding. To Madonna this is the best achievement of her life,” a source said.

It was under Madge’s influence that celebrities like Demi Moore and Britney Spears became attracted towards Kabbalah.

(RELIGION NEWS BLOG)

  • There is a pretty good 1920 definition of this esoteric, “New” Age occultic tradition by Lewis Spence in his Encyclopedia of Occultism. He is not a Christian source FYI. (I PDF’ed It) It does get into the weeds a bit, and is dated.
  • The Christian Research Institute tackles it a bi in their article “What Is Kabbalah?
  • Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has quite a few articles to dissect Kabbalism.

A decent covering of the topic:

The Messianic Movement is a broad term to refer to Jewish believers in Jesus. There are many Messianic movements today such as Jews for Jesus and others. However, within the Messianic Movement there are also some who teach heretical doctrines like the cults. Among some of these heretical doctrines is a denial of God’s compound unity (God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Dr. Tony Costa interviews Dr. Igal German in a series of questions related to the Messianic Movement. Dr. Igal German is a Jewish believer in Jesus.

Discussing History and Faith With A Tow Truck Driver

Met some awesome young believers todays on Main Street in Newhall. I was leaving Smokehouse on Main after my 2-beers and a chapter of reading in a book. They were out witnessing, which was awesome. They are Master’s College students… one young man was from Missouri, the other was a So-Cal dude, and the gal was from Costa Rica. Her English was flawless… but it dawned on me later that her parents are probably missionaries. At ANY RATE, I am reposting this encounter I had from Grace Community to our Valley.

Originally posted April 26th, 2021.

(My Facebook descriptor) The tow-truck driver I hitched a ride with today was probably surprised at the level of conversation in a reasonable and rational way. I enjoyed the challenges, and I am sure Charlie did as well. topics of discussion I engaged:

  • Everything good comes from God, but Priests say when something bad happens, it’s you;
  • Wars caused by religion, most wars not religions;
  • Secular governments that rejected God killed more people in 100 years than all religions previously;
  • Belief in the afterlife creates a worse world;
  • Halloween (yep, I was taken aback as well).

While driving the 5am delivery around, the work van started to give me an “Overheating” warning. I finished my 2-remaining drops and headed back to the shop… but the van would have nothing of it. So I nursed it into Grace Community Church’s parking lot and the office called for a tow truck – which took a little over an hour-and-a-half (they were busy). One of the security guards came out to check on me and I asked him if I could use the restroom. He said yes. I told him I had to retrieve my mask, he mentioned no masks were mandated to wear, that I could if I wished. I chose to support the Church’s “gravitas” and went in mask-less. Awesome. I love Grace. As I was walking around to hit the head, the security guard witnessed to me… I thought that was more awesomer.

So when the tow truck service guy (Charlie, a nice guy) had me loaded up and we were driving out, he asked what the place was I was sitting at. I explained it was a church, one of the better ones. I mentioned a couple more things about it, and then Charlie started to criticize the Christian Faith (mainly Catholicism at first), speaking of greed, how the people say all good things come from God but then when something bad happens like an accident – we are to blame, how rich the Catholic Church is, and all the wars religion started, and how people who believe in an afterlife make the world worse.

(This is a general recalling of our conversation)

I mentioned to him that I cannot speak to his points regarding the Vatican, as, I am not Catholic. But I did choose to address a couple of his broader points. (I had to break into his speaking about one topic and then going to another.)

The first point I made is that the Bible does not promise your life to be “good,” and harm free. On the Contrary, the Bible – from Genesis to Revelations documents man’s fallen nature and that from Genesis to Revelation that mankind needs a savior… someone to step into the place of wretched humanity to save it. I said, we need saving, not comfort.

I also mentioned that Nietzsche said that the death of God in the 19th century would all but guarantee the bloodiest 20th century. I then noted in conversation that this prediction came true… telling Charlie that in less than 100 years, non-God movements in Communism and Marxism through Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, Hitler, and others, killed more people than ALL religions previous to the 20th century.

He broke in and said this wasn’t true, and I could tell his language barrier with me was frustrating him. So I jumped in when I had a chance and mentioned that two encyclopedia sets went through 10,000 years of warfare and categorized the reasons for these wars.  I mentioned these encyclopedia sets by name: Encyclopedia of Wars, 3 volumes – and — The Encyclopedia of War, 5 Volumes. I told him that only 7% of all wars were religious, and that if you took out Islamic wars, all other religions cause about 3% of the wars in a 10,000 year period.

DATA POINTS FOR THE READER:

  • A recent comprehensive compilation of the history of human warfare, Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod documents 1763 wars, of which 123 have been classified to involve a religious conflict. So, what atheists have considered to be ‘most’ really amounts to less than 7% of all wars. It is interesting to note that 66 of these wars (more than 50%) involved Islam, which did not even exist as a religion for the first 3,000 years of recorded human warfare. The authors are nine history professors who specifically conducted research or the text for a decade in order to chronicle a time span from 8000 BC to 2003 AD. From over 10,000 years(RPT)
  • (A well known atheist agrees) Atheists often claim that religion fuels aggressive wars, both because it exacerbates antagonisms between opponents and also because it gives aggressors confidence by making them feel as if they have God on their side. Lots of wars certainly look as if they are motivated by religion. Just think about conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Asian subcontinent, Indonesia, and various parts of Africa. However, none of these wars is exclusively religious. They always involve political, economic, and ethnic disputes as well. That makes it hard to specify how much [of a] role, if any, religion itself had in causing any particular war. Defenders of religion argue that religious language is misused to justify what warmongers wanted to do independently of religion. This hypothesis might seem implausible to some, but it is hard to refute, partly because we do not have enough data points, and there is so much variation among wars. — Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Morality Without God? (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 33-34 

I then mentioned to him a study (I was wrong about the source, I thought Stanford — it was actually done by a University of Oregon psychologist) that found that a country’s belief in heaven and hell is related to its crime rates, and that a belief in a punitive God equals less crime. So belief in a God where our actions can be morally judged make a better society.

Charlie broke into discussion about Halloween for some reason, wanting a response about why people dress up in costumes. I said I do not know much beyond that it is a Pagan holiday of sorts, and that the Church wanted to evangelize these Pagans and so stuck a holiday close to it – All Saints Eve. (I may be wrong, but what Charlie then followed up with I knew was wrong. He said that the Church killing people had a connection to it.

I said I don’t think that is the case, mentioning the Druids and Irish Paganism being more connected to the issue than anything.*

He again brought up the Vatican, and I again noted I am not Catholic, and that the church I went to spent a lion’s share of their funds on missionaries around the world in tough places (Africa, Middle-East, and even one couple that would try to sneak across the border to North Korea at times), as well as having a large outreach to the poorer Hispanic area of the church’s influence.

We were at our destination finally (the shop that fixes our work truck and van.) I said, “Charlie, remember two things from this conversation. You were wrong, historically about religion and wars, as well as ‘religious’ people making the world worse. I ask you to remember these two examples because they are great examples of how you approach the Christian Faith: with bad facts and evidence. Try to approach these topics from a better starting point and you won’t be disappointed with the outcome.”

At that, we went our separate ways. After some paperwork of course. I did finish with “Charlie, I had a pleasure discussing this with you.” But in the back of my mind, I really was thinking:

*NOTE:

There’s no one explanation for how Halloween costumes originated. Much like the holiday itself, the practice of dressing up is the result of a hodgepodge of traditions from around the world.

Many historians suspect that the tradition has some basis in the Celtic festival of Samhain (also called Calan Gaeaf in Wales). Celebrated between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, Samhain marks the official start of winter—known to the Celts as the “dark season.” During Samhain, “the world of the gods was believed to be made visible to humankind,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

That wasn’t a comfort to the ancient Celts, who believed their deities were prone to playing tricks on human worshippers. Many festival participants disguised themselves as animals or beasts, hoping to hide from malevolent spirits who might bring them misfortune.

Move forward a few centuries and the modern-day practice of dressing up and trick-or-treating has its roots in the European custom of “mumming and guising.” Mummers would dress up in costumes, often woven from straw, and perform plays and songs for neighbors in exchange for food. Scottish and Irish immigrants brought that tradition to North America, where it later morphed into what we now know as trick-or-treating.

Halloween costumes didn’t experience their true heyday until the mid-1900s, though. For that, you can thank New York City entrepreneurs Ben and Nat Cooper, who started a company producing pop culture-themed costumes at a low cost. Ben Cooper, Inc., found a niche in helping kids become the characters they admired from television and comic books, often purchasing merchandising rights before said characters ever became popular. Due in no small part to the Cooper family’s innovation, Halloween costumes became an accessible and even necessary part of holiday festivities…..

(MENTAL FLOSS)

A Simple Question and an Apologetic Response

A dear friend when I sent this pic to a group responded (mostly joking… but maybe as a defensive shield for a way of protecting his own beliefs?) in a way that allowed me – from my DRACONUM PERCH — to opine. Noting the title of the book, he said: “Is it?”

To which I texted back to the group:


QUOTE


It is a play off a 1966 Time magazine title, “God Is Dead.” Since then, the complexity of the simplest cell, DNA, the Big Bang, and the like, as well as conversions of well known atheist philosophers (Sartre, Camus, and Flew), and even the mainstream evolutionary field abandoning Natural Selection, have all but shown atheism to be dead. At least if you read, discuss important subjects (religion and politics), read history, and the like. Which is why my site is called “Religio-Political Talk.” For instance, the Big Bang is called that because the majority of atheists rejected it. Why? Because a beginning of the universe was a theistic position. And so, astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle used “big bang” in a derogatory sense, but the name stuck. And so from 1911 to this day, science has shown that Genesis aligns well with science. For instance, as one example:

  • “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. (Scientific and Anecdotal Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe)

And the “pope of atheism” changed his atheism based on the evidence from DNA:

  • “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.” After chewing on his scientific worldview for more than five decades, Flew concluded, “A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.” Previously, in his central work, The Presumption of Atheism (1976), Flew argued that the “onus of proof [of God] must lie upon the theist.” However, at the age of 81, Flew shocked the world when he renounced his atheism because “the argument for Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.” (RNA/DNA < Information | Or, What “IS” Information)

But many, instead of testing their own beliefs, fill their mind and days with things that fill a void….

  • What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself. — Blaise Pascal (Pensees 10.148)

UNQUOTE TEXT


I added the Pascal quote to bring home the idea that knowing every stat about a particular player, team, or sport MAY not be — in the end — as important as bringing home the “bacon” to a life well lived. Aristotle said any animal can exercise practical reason in determining what to do to survive, but can an animal reason theoretically? Aristotle says no and that is what separates human beings from animals. To me — sports is a way to survive mundaneness. Deeper thinking about worldviews is worthy of higher order thinking, and add to the quality of a “life well lived.”

A “coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer IN THE LEAST these four questions: that of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.” It is never to late to expand one’s knowledge in these matter.

  • “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our well being.” — James W. Sire, Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2004), 122.

Marx and the Devil (Dennis Prager Interviews Paul Kengor)

Dennis Prager had on author and historian Paul Kengor regarding his new book entitled, “The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism’s Long March of Death, Deception, and Infiltration” (Barnes and Noble | Amazon). The Teen Vogue article Paul Kengor mentions in the interview is here: “Teen Vogue To Teen Girls: Marx Good, Reagan Bad: Trendy Ignorance Never Had It So Good

I add some larger montages of video near the end to bring home the ideas being spoken of. A shorter version (talking just about the Devil) is here:

I DO WANT TO MENTION one of the sources used for additional video information, and that is this fuller video that I pull a segment from: “The Vortex — BLM Is Anti-Catholic” I use this video in my post here: “BLM Is Anti-Christian

(Editor’s Note: power, or “kingdom,” is the goal of Leftism. ALSO, A fascination with ethnicity as well seems to be permanently embedded on the Left as well:

JUST ONE MARX EXAMPLE:

(Click To Enlarge)

Here are a PLETHORA of racist quotes by Karl Marx.

MODERN EXAMPLE (Dems and MSM)

See also the genocidal claims of Marx and Engels here: “Karl Marx: 1st To Suggest Political Genocide On Massive Order

Related as well is this post and others linked in it: NAZI Occultism

 

 

 

 

Reflections from My Local Bucks (Coffee, Books, and Father Figures)

Freud took this psychological argument and made it a very popular and influential one. He didn’t argue the truth value of the belief; he just argued that you couldn’t trust most thoroughly in a short book, The Future of an Illusion. Of course, the illusion was religion. He didn’t consider religion true or false, he just considered it a psychological illusion that arose from our primitive needs for protection. Our basic infantile unconscious desires a father who would look after us and to satisfy these needs we create the illusion of God.

Freud claimed that one of the oldest psychological needs of the human race is that for a loving, protecting, all-powerful father, or divine providence.

Paul Vitz, Paul Copan and Charles Taliaferro [editors], The Naturalness of Belief: New Essays on Theism’s Rationality (New York, NY: Lexington Books, 2019), p.177.

(See my previous excerpt from this book, HERE)

??????’? ????: This is true regarding secularism more so than religious belief… although it runs through all mankind in general. C.S. Lewis noted that “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction of those desires exist…”. This particular desire is one that cannot be fulfilled in total, or completeness in this realm. We look towards the finish line in heavenly hope…. what Blaise Pascal in his Pensees (10.148) mentions as a “God shaped vacuum or void”:

  • What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.

A friend noted the following:
  • In Healing the Masculine Soul: God’s Restoration of Men to Real Manhood, by Gordon Dalbey, the author speaks of Christ addressing the disciples’ father hunger.

When secularism tries to fill this void, we often end up with death on a grand scale. Take for instance Stalin, who, was often referred to as “Papa.” Here is one recollection fitting the Freudian narrative of the human need for “loving, protecting, all-powerful father, or divine providence” – the State is the “all-powerful aspect” here:

My first impressions of Stalin came when I was little. I listened to stories my Dad told of his life. They were always short, just a few compressed sentences, and never judgmental. Never did he say a word against the Soviet rule. Many times, when he mentioned Stalin, he called him otéts rodnói (“caring father”). And every time, a steely caustic smile flashed on his face.

Now, pushing 60, I know smiles. I’m sure my Dad would have put a bullet between his eyes if he had a smallest chance.

The poster below says: “Hail our teacher, our father, our leader Comrade Stalin!”

Similar stories are told of Mao, Lenin, Pol-Pot, and the like. Persons seeking power by manipulation take advantage of this void. (Likewise, a political Party’s – or jaundiced religions overly promising health and wealth Think of the televangelist TBN types or Buddhist/new age offerings expecting wealth in return. Alternatively, those promising “universal” health care and student loans paid as well as housing. Etc)

We often refer to this “need” in varying ways, like: “she is looking for a father figure” to describe the emotionally harmed woman/girl from a broken home. We all suffer from a distorted need[s] that in our fallen nature we imperfectly try to fill on our own (male or female).

God, fellowship with his Word, and the Christian worldview — as well as relationships in His Body are the best prescribed medicines to begin to fill this void well, only having it complete when we see how He sees us (reunion in Heaven).

Just some thoughts via my local Bucks’ coffee, and reading contemplatively.

The Euthyphro Argument Dissected

(Originally Posted June 2016)

The Dilemma [Challenge] Stated Clearly:

“Either something is good (holy) because God commands it or else God commands something because it is good.”

  • If you say something is good because God commands it, this makes right and wrong arbitrary; In other words, God could have commanded that acts of hatred, brutality, cruelty, and so on be good. Making God Himself arbitrary and the commands His followers follow arbitrary as well.
  • If God commands something because it is good, then good is independent of God. Thus, morality can’t claim to be based on God’s commands (and God Himself is bound by something “outside” Himself — nullifying the theists claim of omnipotence and omniscience.

(Here is a good less-than-five-minute telling of the above by a skeptic.)

One of the best short article’s comes from…

FREE THINKING MINISTRIES

At first it seems like we’re stuck. Except, as mentioned earlier, this dilemma has been resolved for centuries: God is good. He is the source of goodness. He is the moral standard. His commands are not arbitrary, nor do they come from some standard external to him. They are good because they flow from his innate goodness. Dilemma averted.

Euthyphro is dead.

Now I know this doesn’t settle the issue of God’s goodness. Since this article is only intended to discuss the Euthyphro dilemma, I’ll just briefly touch on two related objections:

1 – God is not good. This is typically in response to an action or command from God in the Old Testament. And I agree that there are some things that are hard to understand and need to be discussed. But generally speaking, if we question God’s goodness, what are we judging him against? Our own moral standard? Then it’s our opinion against God’s and, if he truly exists, I’m going to trust his judgment over any finite, fallible human’s.

2 – How do we know that God is good? This question completely misses the point of Euthyphro’s resolution: God is the standard of goodness. There is nothing to compare him against or judge him by. But let’s suppose there does exist some higher moral standard. By applying this objection’s logic, we should ask “How do we know that this standard is good?” See the problem? You’re forever asking “How do we know?” to any moral standard. But if there is an objective moral standard, that is the standard by which morality is measured. It simply is good.

The best you can do is try to find some kind of inconsistency in God’s moral character. But then you can still only judge him against himself, which would point you back to objection 1. And even if you feel that one (or both) of these objections has not been resolved, my broader point is that the Euthyphro dilemma fails as a dilemma since there’s a third possible option, whether you like it or not. Thus, it’s an invalid argument.

Euthyphro is dead.

Why do skeptics keep digging him up? You may as well as ask why zombies keeps coming back. Because they do. That’s what makes them zombies. Bad arguments will always come back into fashion. But you need to see Euthyphro for what he is: a dead, defeated argument. Yet unlike zombies from TV shows and movies, he has no bite. He doesn’t even have teeth. His dilemma has been resolved for centuries….

(FREE THINKING MINISTRIES)

C.A.R.M.

For those looking for a quick answer to the issue, here is a short video and explanation from the theistic worldview via CARM (and CARM’S YOUTUBE):

Here is more from CARM’S WEBSITE:

[What is it?]

The Euthyphro dilemma comes from Plato’s Euthyphro dialogue, which has had different forms over the centuries.  Basically, it is “Are moral acts willed by God because they are good, or are they good because they are willed by God?”  Another way of saying it is, does God say that things are moral because they are by nature moral, or do they become moral because God declares them to be?

The dilemma is that if the acts are morally good because they are good by nature, then they are independent of God and morality somehow exists apart from God.  These acts would already be good in themselves, and God would have to appeal to them to “find out” what is good. Of course, This raises questions on how moral absolutes can exist as independent abstract entities apart from a divine being.  On the other hand, if something is good because God commands that it is good, then goodness is arbitrary, and God could have called murder, good, and honesty not good.  The problem here is that it means God could also be a tyrant if he so chose to be.  But, he chooses to be nice.

Responding to the Euthyphro Dilemma

The Euthyphro dilemma is actually a false dichotomy.  That is, it proposes only two options when another is possible.  The third option is that good is based on God’s nature.  God appeals to nothing other than his own character for the standard of what is good and then reveals what is good to us.  It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), not because God had to discover lying was wrong or that he arbitrarily declared it to be wrong. This means that God does not declare something to be good (ignoring his own nature) or say that something is good by nature (recognizing a standard outside of himself).  Both of these situations ignore the biblical option that good is a revelation of God’s nature.  In other words, God is the standard of what is good.  He is good by nature, and he reveals his nature to us. Therefore, for the Christian, there is no dilemma since neither position in Euthyphro’s dilemma represents Christian theology.

In a sense, this is a philosophical statement considering the time and place they were:

TITUS 1:5

  • in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began [Greek: before times eternal] (ESV)
  • in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. (HCSB)
  • This faith and knowledge make us sure that we have eternal life. God promised that life to us before time began—and God does not lie. (ERV)
  • My aim is to raise hopes by pointing the way to life without end. This is the life God promised long ago—and he doesn’t break promises! (MSG)

(Apologetic Press’s Graphic – link in pic)

WILLIAM LANE CRAIG

Another short dealing with this comes from ONE-MINUTE APOLOGIST’S YouTube interview with William Lane Craig:

(Here is Dr. Craig in a class setting teaching the issue [longer].)

FRANK TUREK

Here, Frank Turek and Hank Hanegraaff discuss the issue in under 4-minutes:

Hank is holding Frank’s Book at a certain page[s]… I will reproduce the sections prior to, as well as the section from his book on the Euthyphro Argument in the APPENDIX.

STAND TO REASON

There are “two horns” to the dilemma presented, but much like Plato does, we will split the horns with a third option and show that the two choices are false because there is a third viable option (the site where I grabbed this originally is gone, therefore, so is the link. STAND TO REASON has a good post that stands in as a supplemental link):

SPLITTING EUTHYPHRO’S HORNS

If a dilemma with limited choices is presented, you should always consider that these choices may not be your only options.  Euthyphro’s case is a prime example.  There is a third alternative and who knows?, there could be others that no one has come up with yet, but Christianity teaches this third alternative for the basis of morality:

God wills something because He is good.

What does this mean?  It means that the nature of God is the standard of goodness.  God’s nature is just the way God is.  He doesn’t ‘will’ Himself to be good, and kind, and just, and holy He just is these things.  His commandments to us are an expression of that nature, so our moral duties stem from the commands of a God who IS goodand loving and justnot a God who arbitrarily decides that he will command something on a whim, but gives commandments that stem from His unchanging character.

If God’s character defines what is good.  His commands must reflect His moral nature.

[….]

The Euthyphro dilemma is a false one because there is at least one other choice that splits the horns of the dilemma.  This option, taught as part of the Christian doctrine of who God is, is perfectly consistent with the concept that God must exist for objective morality to exist in our world.

Plato came up with his own third option that moral values simply exist on their own.  No need for God.  Later Christian thinkers equated this to God’s moral nature, like we just discussed.  However, some argue that God is not necessary; that goodness and justice, etc. can exist on their own this idea is often referred to as Atheistic Moral Platonism…. [see STAND TO REASON about “atheistic moral Platonism”]

PETER KREEFT

This is VERY simple to grasp, but here are more dealings with it, Peter Kreeft’s short DEALING WITH THIS supposed dilemma (his entire 20-topics is free online):

There are four possible relations between religion and morality, God and goodness.

Religion and morality may be thought to be independent. Kierkegaard’s sharp contrast between “the ethical” and “the religious,” especially in Fear and Trembling, may lead to such a supposition. But (a) an amoral God, indifferent to morality, would not be a wholly good God, for one of the primary meanings of “good” involves the “moral”—just, loving, wise, righteous, holy, kind. And (b) such a morality, not having any connection with God, the Absolute Being, would not have absolute reality behind it.

God may be thought of as the inventor of morality, as he is the inventor of birds. The moral law is often thought of as simply a product of God’s choice. This is the Divine Command Theory: a thing is good only because God commands it and evil because he forbids it. If that is all, however, we have a serious problem: God and his morality are arbitrary and based on mere power. If God commanded us to kill innocent people, that would become good, since good here means “whatever God commands.” The Divine Command Theory reduces morality to power. Socrates refuted the Divine Command Theory pretty conclusively in Plato’s Euthyphro. He asked Euthyphro, “Is a thing pious because the gods will it, or do the gods will it because it is pious?” He refuted the first alternative, and thought he was left with the second as the only alternative.

But the idea that God commands a thing because it is good is also unacceptable, because it makes God conform to a law higher than himself, a law that overarches God and humanity alike. The God of the Bible is no more separated from moral goodness by being under it than he is by being over it. He no more obeys a higher law that binds him, than he creates the law as an artifact that could change and could well have been different, like a planet.

The only rationally acceptable answer to the question of the relation between God and morality is the biblical one: morality is based on God’s eternal nature. That is why morality is essentially unchangeable. “I am the Lord your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). Our obligation to be just, kind, honest, loving and righteous “goes all the way up” to ultimate reality, to the eternal nature of God, to what God is. That is why morality has absolute and unchangeable binding force on our conscience.

The only other possible sources of moral obligation are:

a. My ideals, purposes, aspirations, and desires, something created by my mind or will, like the rules of baseball. This utterly fails to account for why it is always wrong to disobey or change the rules.
b. My moral will itself. Some read Kant this way: I impose morality on myself. But how can the one bound and the one who binds be the same? If the locksmith locks himself in a room, he is not really locked in, for he can also unlock himself.
c. Another human being may be thought to be the one who imposes morality on me—my parents, for example. But this fails to account for its binding character. If your father commands you to deal drugs, your moral obligation is to disobey him. No human being can have absolute authority over another.
d. “Society” is a popular answer to the question of the origin of morality “this or that specific person” is a very unpopular answer. Yet the two are the same. “Society” only means more individuals. What right do they have to legislate morality to me? Quantity cannot yield quality; adding numbers cannot change the rules of a relative game to the rightful absolute demands of conscience.
e. The universe, evolution, natural selection and survival all fare even worse as explanations for morality. You cannot get more out of less. The principle of causality is violated here. How could the primordial slime pools gurgle up the Sermon on the Mount?

Atheists often claim that Christians make a category mistake in using God to explain nature; they say it is like the Greeks using Zeus to explain lightning. In fact, lightning should be explained on its own level, as a material, natural, scientific phenomenon. The same with morality. Why bring in God?

Because morality is more like Zeus than like lightning. Morality exists only on the level of persons, spirits, souls, minds, wills—not mere molecules. You can make correlations between moral obligations and persons (e.g., persons should love other persons), but you cannot make any correlations between morality and molecules. No one has even tried to explain the difference between good and evil in terms, for example, of the difference between heavy and light atoms.

So it is really the atheist who makes the same category mistake as the ancient pagan who explained lightning by the will of Zeus. The atheist uses a merely material thing to explain a spiritual thing. That is a far sillier version of the category mistake than the one the ancients made; for it is possible that the greater (Zeus, spirit) caused the lesser (lightning) and explains it; but it is not possible that the lesser (molecules) adequately caused and explains the greater (morality). A good will might create molecules, but how could molecules create a good will? How can electricity obligate me? Only a good will can demand a good will; only Love can demand love.

(TWENTY ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD: THE MORAL ARGUMENT)

MISC.

While Plato was dealing with polytheism and a form of monism, this argument as dealt with herein is response to the challenges presented to theism. However, his use of a third option is what we present here as well… making this dilemma mute. What was Plato’s solution?

  • “You split the horns” of the dilemma by formulating a third alternative, namely, God is the good. The good is the moral nature of God Himself. That is to say, God is necessarily holy, loving, kind, just, and so on. These attributes of God comprise the good. God’s moral character expresses itself toward us in the form of certain commandments, which became for us our moral duties. Hence, God’s commandments are not arbitrary but necessarily flow from His own nature. (BE THINKING quoting Dr. Craig)

They [“the Good”] are the necessary expression [“commands”] of the way God “is” — RPT.

One of the most important notes to mention is that once there is a third alternative, there is no longer a dilemma.

TRUE FREE THINKER

Ken Ammi of True Free Thinker deals with the many aspects of this supposed dilemma. He does an excellent job of doing this. However, zero in on the section from the 2:40 mark to the 3:45 mark (the same idea is brought up in the 6:55 through 9:55 mark of the Craig response — Craig”s audio follows Mario’s). Ken Ammi does a bang-up job below (Ammi’s article being read by someone else):

(Above audio description from YouTube) Mario’s original audio is hereApologetic315 and TrueFreeThinker team up to put to rest the many aspects of what is perceived to be a dilemma by many first year philosophy students in the Euthyphro dialogue between two Grecian thinkers: “Essay: The Euthyphro Dichotomy by Ken Ammi

MORE CRAIG

Here is William Lane Craig responding to some challenges in regards to the Euthyphro argument.

Here is more at CAA’s “CATECHISM”:


APPENDIX


Atheists and Morality: What I Am NOT Saying

The next few paragraphs my editor wanted me to take out. He said it repeats too much from above. He’s right to a certain extent. But it can’t be left out because many atheists I meet think I’m making an argument that I’m not making. (It’s probably my fault.) So let me spell it out as explicitly as I can.

I am not saying that you have to believe in God to be a good person or that atheists like David Silverman are immoral people.

David seems like a very nice man. And some atheists live more moral lives than many Christians.

I am also not saying that atheists don’t know morality or that you need the Bible to know basic right and wrong. Everyone knows basic right and wrong whether they believe in God or have the Bible or not. In fact, that’s exactly what the Bible teaches (see Romans 2:14-15).9

What I am saying is that atheists can’t justify morality. They can act morally and judge some actions as being moral and others immoral (as David Silverman does). But they can provide no objective basis for those judgments. Whether it’s the Holocaust, raping and murdering children, eating children, aborting children, or who adopts children, atheists have no objective standard by which to judge any of it.

Let me go out on a limb and suggest that if your worldview requires you to believe that raping children, murdering children, eating children, and slaughtering six million innocent people is just a matter of opinion, then you have the wrong worldview.

No Book Without an Author—No Morality Without God

Unlike David Silverman, Sam Harris is a new atheist who believes in objective morality. In his book, The Moral Landscape, Harris maintains that objective morality is related to “the well-being of conscious creatures,” and that science can help us determine what brings “well-being” to conscious creatures.

What’s objectionable about that thesis? Well-being is usually associated with moral choices (although not always). And science may help us discover what actually helps bring about well-being. The problem with Harris’s approach is that he is addressing the wrong question.

 The question is not what method should we use to discover what is moral, but what actually makes something moral? Why does a moral law exist at all, and why does it have authority over us?

The Moral Landscape gives us no answer. It’s a nearly three-hundred-page-long example of the most common mistake made by those who think objective morality can exist without God. Harris seems to think that because we can know objective morality (epistemology), that explains why objective morality exists in the first place (ontology).

You may come to know about objective morality in many different ways: from parents, teachers, society, your conscience, etc. (Harris talks about brain states.) And you can know it while denying God exists. But that’s like saying you can know what a book says while denying there’s an author. Of course you can do that, but there would be no book to know unless there was an author! In other words, atheists can know objective morality while denying God exists, but there would be no objective morality unless God exists.

Science might be able to tell you if an action may hurt someone—like if giving a man cyanide will kill him—but science can’t tell you whether or not you ought to hurt someone. Who said it’s wrong to harm people? Sam Harris? Does he have authority over the rest of humanity? Is his nature the standard of Good?

To get his system to work, Sam Harris must smuggle in what he claims is an objective moral standard: “well-being.” As William Lane Craig pointed out in his debate with Harris, that’s not a fail-safe criterion of what’s right. But even if it was, what objective, unchanging, moral authority establishes it as right? It can’t be Sam Harris or any other finite, changing person. Only an unchanging authoritative being, who can prescribe and enforce objective morality here and beyond the grave, is an adequate standard. Only God can ground Justice and ensure that Justice is ultimately done.

Can’t Evolution Explain Morality?

We’ve already seen that an atheistic worldview can’t account for objective morality, as even Richard Dawkins once admitted. He wrote, “It’s pretty hard to get objective morality without religion.” Yet some atheists persist in claiming that evolution somehow gives us objective morality to help us survive—that if we didn’t “cooperate” with one another, we wouldn’t survive. But this argument doesn’t survive for several reasons.

First, trying to explain morality by biology is a massive category mistake. A category mistake is when you treat something in one category as if it belongs in another category. Questions like those posed earlier do that: “‘What is the chemical composition of justice?” or “What does courage taste like?” Justice and courage do not have chemicals or flavor, so the questions commit category mistakes.

The same is true when atheists try to explain moral laws by biological processes. Morality and biology are in different categories. You can’t explain an immaterial moral law by a material biological process. Justice is not made of molecules. Furthermore, moral laws are prescriptive and come from authoritative personal agents. Biological processes are descriptive and have no authority to tell you what to do. How could a mutating genetic code have the moral authority to tell you how you ought to behave?

Second, biological processes can’t make survival a moral right. There is no real “good” or purpose to evolution. Without God, survival is a subjective preference of the creature wanting to survive, but not an objective moral good or right. Biology describes what does survive, not what ought to survive. Why should humans survive as opposed to anything else? And which humans, we or the Nazis?

If one could make the case that survival is somehow a right, then should a person rape to propagate his DNA? Should a person murder if it helps him survive? Should a society murder the weak and undesirables to improve the gene pool and help the desirables survive? Hitler used evolutionary theory to justify just that.

You can’t answer those moral questions without smuggling a moral law into the evolutionary worldview. As Sam Harris rightly puts it, “Evolution could never have foreseen the wisdom or necessity of creating stable democracies, mitigating climate change, saving other species from extinction, containing the spread of nuclear weapons, or of doing much else that is now crucial to our happiness in this century.” Indeed, evolution describes a survival-of-the-fittest outcome. It doesn’t prescribe a moral outcome. That’s why Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, to their credit, are anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality. They just don’t realize that they are stealing a moral law from God when they condemn a survival-of-the-fittest ethic.

Third, physical survival isn’t the highest moral virtue. Sacrificing yourself to save someone else, as our military heroes often do, is the highest form of morality and love—far higher than mere survival. That’s exactly what Jesus claimed and then did for us.14

Fourth, since evolution is a process of change, then morals must change. Rape and murder may one day be considered “good.” So if evolution is your guide, it’s impossible for morals to be objective and unchanging.

Fifth, the assertion that evolution gave us morality as a kind of “social contract” to enable civilization isn’t an adequate ground for objective morality. ‘What if someone violates the “contract?” Is he immoral for doing so? To judge him wrong, you would again need to appeal to an objective moral law beyond any “social contract,” like we did in order to condemn the Nazi “social contract.”

Finally, the claim that we wouldn’t survive without cooperation is a pragmatic issue, not a moral issue. And it isn’t even true. Many people survive and even prosper precisely because they don’t cooperate with other people! Criminals often prosper quite nicely. So do dictators. Atheist Joseph Stalin murdered millions more people than he cooperated with. He never got justice in this life. He died comfortably in bed at the age of seventy-four, shaking his fist at God one last time.

Atheists call murderers like Stalin, Mao, and Poi Pot, who were atheists themselves, “madmen”—as if reason alone should have led them to act morally. But those dictators were very reasonably following their atheistic belief that without God, everything is permissible. Reason is a tool by which we discover what the moral law is, but it can’t account for why the moral law exists in the first place. For the moral law to exist, God must exist. If God does not exist, then why shouldn’t Stalin and Mao have murdered to get what they wanted, especially since they knew they could get away with it? That certainly was not “unreasonable.”

From Euthyphro to Elvis

“Not so fast,” say atheists. “Even if evolution doesn’t work as the standard of morality, you can’t ground objective morality in God either. You’re forgetting about the Euthyphro dilemma.”

Euthyphro is a character in one of Plato’s writings who poses a couple of questions that either make God subject to objective morality or an arbitrary source of morality. The supposed dilemma goes like this: Does God do something because it is good (which would imply there is a standard of Good beyond God), or is it Good because God does it (which would imply that God arbitrarily makes up morality)?

But this is not an actual dilemma at all. An actual dilemma has only two opposing alternatives: A or non-A. We don’t have that here. In this situation we have A and B. Well, maybe there is a third alternative: a C. There is.

When it comes to morality, God doesn’t look up to another standard beyond Himself. If He has to look up to another standard, then He wouldn’t be God—the standard beyond Him would be God. Nor is God arbitrary. There is nothing arbitrary about an unchanging standard of Good.

The third alternative is that God’s nature is the standard. God Himself is the unchanging standard of Good. The buck has to stop somewhere, and it stops at God’s unchanging moral nature. In other words, the standard of rightness we know as the Moral Law flows from the nature of God Himself—infinite justice and infinite love.

How can God’s nature account for ultimate value? Before answering that, we need to reiterate that an atheistic worldview can’t account for the objective value of human beings. On an atheistic worldview, we’re nothing but overgrown germs that arrived here accidentally by mindless processes and thus have no ultimate purpose or significance. Life is meaningless. We are each objectively worth zero. And adding a bunch of us up into a society doesn’t create value. If you add up a bunch of zeroes, the total worth is still zero.

But on a Christian worldview, God is the ground and source of ultimate value, and He endows us with His image. Therefore, our lives have objective value, meaning, and purpose. If there is a real purpose to life—a “final cause” as Aristotle put it—then there must be a right way to live it. After all, to get to a specific destination, you can’t just go in any direction. Morality helps inform us of that direction. That means God doesn’t arbitrarily make up moral commands. He’s not an exasperated parent who justifies everything with, “Just do it because I said so!” God’s commands are consistent with His moral nature and point us to the final cause or objective goal of our lives (more on that goal later).

So the source of our lives as human beings is God, not primordial slime. And source is important. You can see the importance of source by considering the most expensive items ever sold at auction:

  • The most expensive lock of hair: Elvis Presley’s, $115,000.
  • The most expensive piece of clothing: Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress, $1,267,500.
  • The most expensive piece of sports memorabilia: Mark McGwire’s 70th-home-run ball from 1998, $3,000,000.

People ascribed enormous value to those items not because the raw materials are that valuable—you can get hair, dresses, and baseballs for a lot less—but because of the source of each item. People or events that are deemed special are connected with those items.

The values of those items are extrinsic in that they are ascribed by whatever the buyers want to pay. But if Christianity is true, your value is intrinsic because you are connected to God. Your value is based on the worth infused into you by the source and standard of all value, God Himself.

Marinate in that for a minute: The infinite God has endowed you with immeasurable worth. The majestic heavens aren’t made in His image, but you are! That’s why you have moral rights. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “All men are created equal [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Because of God, you are inherently valuable, and always will be, no matter what you’ve done or what anyone else thinks about you. Your value is far from zero. You are literally sacred.

  • Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 98-106.

The Impossibility Of Neutral [Natural] Methodology

I am reading a book entitled, “The Naturalness of Belief: New Essays on Theism’s Rationality.”  There was a section that prompted me last week to buy another book to mark up a larger section. I will reprint the portion, its foot note excerpt — followed by the larger section or larger quote that the authors chose to us. An interesting read to say the least. Enjoy (I have a new OCR converter… it is not the best program in the world… so there may be a couple jumbled words that I missed, please feel free to let me know: SeanG@reagan.com):


Copan & Taliaferro


[p. 91>] A basic problem with the claim that scientific practice can be neatly sepa­rated from other areas of belief and inquiry is the assumption that the meth­odology one employs has no links to one’s beliefs about the nature or possible nature of reality. Not only is this assumption far from self-evidently true; it appears simply false.21 If, for example, I believe that there exist, or may possibly exist, mental states which play a causal role in determining bodily behavior, it makes no sense to adopt methodological behaviorism, since its option guarantees the development of psychological theories in which mental states either do not exist or play no causal role in bodily behavior. Only if I have already established beyond plausible doubt that mental states do not exist or, if they do exist, play no causal role does it make sense to insist on methodological behaviorism as a prerequisite of developing psychological theories. To insist on its employment in the absence of sound reasons for is believing in the existence of mental states or their causal powers is to beg the question of whether its adoption is justified.

[p. 99>] 21. E. A. Burtt, commenting on the presumption that methodology need have no links to metaphysics, notes that:

there is no escape from metaphysics, that is, from the final implications of any proposition or set of propositions. The only way to avoid becoming a metaphysician is to say nothing…. If you cannot avoid metaphysics, what kind of metaphysics are you likely to cherish when you sturdily suppose yourself to be free from the abomination. Of course, it goes without saying that in this case your metaphysics will be held uncritically because it is unconscious; moreover, it will be passed on to others far more readily than your other notions, inasmuch as it will be propagated by insinuation rather than by direct argument. [p. 100>] The history of mind reveals pretty clearly that the thinker who decries metaphysics will actually hold metaphysical notions of three main types. For one thing, he will share the ideas of his age on ultimate questions, so far as such ideas do not run counter to his interests or awaken his criticism…. In the second place, if he be a man engaged in any important inquiry, he must have a method, and he will be under a strong and constant temptation to make a metaphysics out of his method, that is, to suppose the universe ulti­mately of such a sort that his method must he appropriate and successful.

(The Metaphysi­cal Foundations of Modern Physical Science. rev. 2nd edn. [London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1932], 224-226 [emphasis added]).

Paul Copan and Charles Taliaferro (editors), The Naturalness of Belief: New Essays on Theism’s Rationality (New York, NY: Lexington Book, 2019), 91, 99-100.

Here is the EXTENDED quote:


E.A. Burtt


[p. 223>] Section 2. The Doctrine of Positivism

Now, someone will ask, if this be a correct portrayal of Newton’s method, is there not a flagrant contradiction in such a phrase as the metaphysics of Newton’? Was not this rejection of hypothesis his most distinctive attainment, and did he not measurably succeed, at least in the main body of his works, in banning ideas about the nature of the universe at large? Is there not full justification for his claim to have discovered and used a method by which a realm of certain truth might be opened up and gradually widened quite independently of assumed solutions of ultimate problems? Newton, we are told, was the first great positivist. Following Galileo and Boyle, but more consistently, he turned his back on metaphysics in favour of a small but growing body of exact knowledge. With his work the era of great speculative systems ended and a new day of exactitude and promise for man’s intellectual conquest of nature dawned. How, then, speak of him as a metaphysician?

[p. 224>] The main outlines of the answer. to this criticism must be apparent from the whole course of our discussion. To answer it somewhat in detail, however, will furnish a helpful introduction and outline to our analysis of Newton’s metaphysics.

To begin with, there is no escape from metaphysics, that is, from the final implications of any proposition or set of propositions. The only way to avoid becoming a- metaphysician is to say nothing. This can be illustrated by analysing any statement you please; suppose we take the central position of positivism itself as an example. This can perhaps be fairly stated in some such form as the following: it is possible to acquire truths about things without presupposing any theory of their ultimate nature; or, more simply, it is possible to have a correct knowledge of the part without knowing the nature of the whole. Let us look at this position closely. That it is in some sense correct would seem to be vouched for by the actual successes of science, particularly mathematical science; we can discover regular relations among certain pieces of matter without knowing anything further about them. The question is not about its truth or falsity, but whether there is metaphysics in it. Well, subject it to a searching analysis, and does it not swarm with metaphysical assumptions? In the first place it bristles with phrases which lack precise definition, such as ‘ultimate nature’, ‘correct knowledge’, ‘nature of the whole’, and assumptions of moment are always lurking in phrases which are thus carelessly used. In the second place, defining these phrases as you will, does not the statement reveal highly interesting and exceedingly important implications about the universe? Taking it in any meaning which would be generally accepted, does it not imply, for example, that the universe is essentially pluralistic (except, of course, for thought and language), that is, that some things happen [p. 225>] without any genuine dependence on other happenings; and can therefore be described in universal terms without reference to anything else? Scientific positivists testify in various ways to this pluralistic metaphysic; as when they insist that there are isolable systems in nature, whose behaviour, at least in all prominent respects, can be reduced to law without any fear that the investigation of other happenings will do more than place that knowledge in a larger setting. Doubtless, strictly speaking, we could not say that we knew what would happen to our solar system if the fixed stars were of a sudden to vanish, but we do know that it is possible to reduce the major phenomena of our solar system to mathematical law on principles that do not depend on the presence of the fixed stars, and hence with no reason to suppose that their disappearance would upset our formulations in the least. Now this is certainly an important presumption about the nature of the universe, suggesting many further considerations. Let us forbear, however, to press our reasoning further at this point; the lesson is that even the attempt to escape metaphysics is no sooner put in the form of a proposition than it is seen to involve highly significant metaphysical postulates.

For this reason there is an exceedingly subtle and insidious danger in positivism. If you cannot avoid metaphysics, what kind of metaphysics are you likely to cherish when you sturdily suppose yourself to be free from the abomination? Of course it goes without saying that in this case your metaphysics will be held uncritically because it is unconscious ; moreover, it will be passed on to others far more readily than your other notions inasmuch as it will be propagated by insinuation rather than by direct argument. That a serious student of Newton fails to see that his master had a most important metaphysic, is an exceedingly interesting testimony to the pervading influence, [p. 226>] throughout modern thought, of the Newtonian first philosophy.

Now, the history of mind reveals pretty clearly that the thinker who decries metaphysics will actually hold metaphysical notions of three main types. For one thing, he will share the ideas of his age on ultimate questions, so far as such ideas do not run counter to his interests or awaken his criticism. No one has yet appeared in human history, not even the most pro­foundly critical intellect, in whom no important idola theatri can be detected, but the m