Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Deconstructing the regulatory state


The trans cult

The current system is stacked against boys. The cultural elite presents that girls can do whatever boys can do. To that extent I don't object to boys playing against girls, not because I think it's right, but because that's the best way to show it's wrong. The best way to expose the propaganda as bunk is to force the issue. Right now we have a double standard that discriminates against boys. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are three good recent treatments: 

Evolution is a channel, not a canal

I recently had an impromptu debate with an atheist on Facebook:

I've often read the claim that rape is about power rather than lust. How many rapists were interviewed? I've only seen that claim from feminists and feminists sociologists. At best, seems like a false dichotomy.

BTW, rape isn't confined to male rapists. Consider the Nazareth House scandal, involving nuns and orphaned girls under their care.

You attack Christian ethics. What's your alternative? Secular ethics? Is that your standard of comparison? If so, evolutionary ethics is a major secular alternative. And there are plenty of evolutionary biologists who claim that rape conferred a survival advantage.

You're a recruiter for the suicide cult of secularism. You wants to save us for moral nihilism, existential nihilism, and oblivion. What a deal! What a steal!

"Solipsism, your smart enough and evolved enough to know not to hurt others."

What if I'm a smart, highly evolved sadist? Virtue is boring. 

"pro social constructs such as empathy, us all knowing what it is like to be hurt."

But that's the fun part. I'm sadistic with impunity because I can always count on softheaded dupes like you not to treat me in kind. I'm a wolf in the puppy kennel. 

"We aren't even hurting each other for survival of the species, we do it over petty differences in our beliefs of non existent entities in the sky."

No sophisticated Christian believes that God actually lives in the sky. 

"As I understand it the 'sophisticated christian' view is that god is somewhat akin to an intangible ether that permeates everything?"

No, the sophisticated Christian view is that God subsists outside of space and time. "Omnipresence" is a spatial metaphor for the fact that God's knowledge and field of action aren't limited by space and time.

"how pathetic, this is what I mean when I say you are smart and evolved enough not to need this."

I can only do what my evolved brain tells me is real, and if my brain tells me God exists, then I was hardwired to believe it. Physicalism is such a bummer! Naturalistic evolution is such a bummer! 

"while we are on hypotheticals. Imagine there is an all powerful being in the sky. but it was all in your head. and people are killing each other over it."

And since, according to people like you, the mind is reducible to the brain, what's all in my head is indistinguishable from reality. Welcome to the secular Matrix! 

"hello keeper of the secular matrix I would have eaten the pill where there was no notion of a god but I had the wrong pill shoved down my throat since birth. The brain is not hardwired only from evolution, humans learn a remarkable amount during which they happen to be vulnerable"

Your social conditioning is filtered through your primate brain, which is the byproduct of a mindless evolutionary process.

"The mind is reducible to the brain/ nervous system etc is it not, if not then how?"

To take one analogy, brain is to mind as Virtual Reality machine is to operator. Or, if you prefer, as computer is to operator.

"I guarantee our species would do much better if we reinvested our military spending."

If only everyone was a pacifist. They're not. 

"Human reason is horribly unreliable"

You're certainly doing your best to illustrate that point through personal example.

"pro social constructs such as empathy, us all knowing what it is like to be hurt."

That's what makes sadism so enjoyable. Because I have firsthand knowledge of what physical and psychological suffering feels like, I know how to torture others.

A while back, Christian apologist David Wood debated atheist Michael Shermer. Shermer was appealing to empathy. 

Problem is, Wood is a diagnosed sociopath. He served time for a heinous crime. 

As he said in the debate, he has no natural empathy. He's not wired that way. 

And, of course, naturalistic evolution repudiates natural teleology, so you can't say he's defective. There is no way biological organisms are supposed to be. They're the product of the "blind watchmaker" (as Dawkins would say).

"As for penetrance of sociopathy in a population, that is a statistical matter, a lot of christians supported putting one in the white house however."

You mean progressive Christians who voted of Hillary?

"Biology is nothing but defective organisms doing the best in their environments."

"Defective" is a teleological concept. Means adapted to ends. Purpose. Foresight. Planning. Goal-oriented outcomes. Naturalistic evolution bans teleological explanations in nature.

"Steve, evolution is a very slow and uncertain process, but adaptation does occur towards a purpose, those which are less defective in the given environment have selective advantage."

You fail to grasp basic concepts. Naturalistic evolution is nonpurposive. The fact that certain adaptations have selective advantage doesn't mean it occurs "towards" (weasel word) a purpose. Rather, it's just that through dumb luck repetition, some things work. If you play horseshoes blindfolded, sooner or later you will ring a stake by accident. 

"Defective" is a normative concept. Naturalistic evolution has no room for that. It's just that some outcomes are incidentally advantageous to survival. Another example would be the way runoff creates water channels. That isn't purposeful. That's just a combination of gravity and terrain. 

Since you're hopelessly confused on this issue, let's elaborate on my illustration. Compare a canal to a natural water channel. Say engineers dig a canal to drain water. So the purpose of their canal is to drain water. 

Runoff naturally creates water channels by erosion. And once a water channel is established, runoff may naturally use that preexisting channel. 

Both the channel and the canal have the same effect, but only the canal has the function of draining water. A natural water channel has a direction, but no goal. Both the cannel and the canal may terminate in a body of water (lake, ocean), but that's not the purpose of the channel. It has no purpose. It doesn't drain water by design. The end-result is unintended. 

A water channel that fails to have an outlet isn't "defective". Rather, the combination of gravity and terrain causes runoff to go in different directions until it hits an outlet. 

Naturalistic evolution is like a channel rather than a canal.

"Are you guys talking from a position of acceptance of evolution, or from a creationist view?"

I've been discussing naturalistic evolution from the viewpoint of naturalistic evolutionists. I granted that for argument's sake, then began to point out the sceptical, nihilistic implications.

"I get it your analogy now, though it falls short in that 'your social constructs are filtered through your ape brain'. in the creationist view this is not the case because everything would have had to have been learnt. so what it means to be masculine is not innate as evolved, but as is shown."

You still haven't figured out that I'm not arguing from a creationist view but from a naturalistic evolutionary view. Just because, for all you know, I'm a Christian, doesn't mean I have to argue from my own viewpoint to argue for my own viewpoint or to argument against yours. I can assume the opposing viewpoint for the sake of argument, then explore the self-defeating consequences of that position.

Moreover, I don't know where you come up with the nutty notion that on a creationist view, masculinity and femininity must be acquired rather than innate. True, it's not Innate "as evolved". Rather, it's innate by design.

What Christian philosophers, theologians, Bible scholars, scientists, or even preachers have you read or heard? What's your frame of reference when you tell us what Christians believe?

"Steve, it's pretty all pervasive in our society the beliefs of Christians. I am not one because I understand it, not as you do as I choose not to mince words to make myself a comfortable narrative. I know it from what you lot write here with all its implicit judgements you will not acknowledge for fear of losing face. I'm telling you what your beliefs are without you bias. Surely with my own but you gotta at least know."

i) So that's your backdoor admission that you have no systematic knowledge of Christian theology. You haven't studied Christian philosophers, theologians, Bible scholars, &c. Instead, your understanding, if we can call it that, is ad hoc and hearsay. 

ii) Yes, you don't mince words when you presume to make uninformed pronouncements. That's why it's so easy to make mincemeat of your words. 

iii) For some odd reason, you think I'm supposed by impressed by your chest-thumping rhetoric. Sorry, but your intellectually hairless, anorexic performance leaves me undaunted. Keep the shirt on. Your fortune cookie wisdom ("fear of losing face") is a sorry substitute for reason and evidence.

You keep repeating your tendentious assertion that Christians believe in a nonexistent deity, as if your sophomoric pronouncement is supposed to carry weight in itself. 

I suspect your lifestyle selects for your atheism.

"No just trying to show a brother the light."

Your notion of "showing a brother the light" is the glowing lava at the bottom of the abyss.

"Steve please take the plunge, you can be saved."

Take the plunge! Dive into the bottom of the volcano!

Monday, February 27, 2017

"If I can't love Hitler, I can't love anybody"

Eric Reitan As AJ Muste said in an attempt to explain the nature of Christian love, "If I can't love Hitler, I can't love anybody." 

Eric Reitan is a prominent pacifist, while Muste was a Marxist pacifist. However, this does encapsulate, in a dramatic way, how freewill theists conceptualize Christian love. So let's scrutinize the claim:

1. Clearly there's no logical contradiction in selectively loving some people rather than all people. If I love some people, but don't love other people, that's logically consistent. 

Notice I'm not making a value judgment on the propriety of that attitude. I'm just making the observation that this statement is false from a logical standpoint. 

2. Just as clearly, it's psychologically possible to selectively love some people rather than all people. And that's not just in principle. I daresay that's universal human experience. It's nonsense to say that if I can't love Hitler, then I can't love my parents or grandparents or siblings or spouse or kids or friends.

Notice, once again, I'm not making a value judgment on the propriety of that attitude. I'm just making the observation that this statement is false from a psychological and sociological standpoint. 

It's important to draw these distinctions in part because, in my experience, internet freewill theists are prone to indulge in virtue-signaling. They engage in self-congratulatory comparisons that have no basis in reality. Back-patting rhetoric. 

3. At best, then, the statement is mean to express an ideal. What ought to be the case.

And it's true that Scripture commands Christians to practice love in general. Love our neighbors. Love our enemies. 

4. That, however, also turns on the definition of love. Consider two candidates:

i) An emotion. Affection.

Certainly that's a valid definition of love, but is in applicable in this context? For instance, there are currently about 7 billion humans on the planet, but I don't have affection for most of them because I don't know that most of them exist. I don't know who they are. The figure is just an abstraction. I know that they exist in the sense that there must be that many individuals to comprise that total, but I don't know them all as individuals. I can't have the same affection for them that I have for someone I know. 

On that definition, not loving someone doesn't mean hating them. If I don't know you exist, I don't love you, hate you, like you, or dislike you. I have no feelings about you whatsoever. 

ii) An action. Acting in someone's best interest.

That's a common alternate definition. And I think it's often valid. 

That distinction makes it possible to distinguish affection from compassion. I don't have to have affection for someone to have compassion for someone. Compassion can be more abstract. Imagining myself in their situation. 

5. But in a fallen world, it isn't possible to love everyone in the sense of (4). I can't simultaneously act in Hitler's best interests and Jewish best interests, because those are diametrically opposed. Hitler posed an existential threat to Jews. I can love Hitler at the expense of Jews, or I can love Jews and the expense of Hitler, but I can't do both at the same time. Take the plot to assassinate Hitler. 

So this aphorism ("If I can't love Hitler, I can't love anybody") turns out to be an unwitting reductio ad absurdum not only of universalism but Arminianism. 

The conflict thesis


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Allen Ross on the OT

Some useful freebie material by evangelical OT scholar Allen Ross:

Plague of blood

15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water. Stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. 16 And you shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But so far, you have not obeyed. 17 Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.”’” 19 And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’”20 Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. 21 And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh's heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. 23 Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile 25 Seven full days passed after the Lord had struck the Nile (Exod 7:15-25).

A couple of preliminary points before I get to the main point:

i) Hebrew has the same word for blood and the color red. Therefore, it's prejudicial to say the Nile transmogrified into hemoglobin. 

ii) Some well-meaning people attempt to defend the historicity of the plagues by construing them naturalistically. But although some miracles employ natural mechanisms, some of the plagues are designedly discriminating in a way that defies a naturalistic explanation. The plague of blood is case in point. Consider v19. The implication is that the plague extended to water that was collected prior to the plague. There's no natural process by which water in separate containers could become contaminated after the fact. That's independent of what happened to the Nile. 

iii) V24 is intriguing. Unbelievers think Exodus is pious fiction. Even if they think it contains a kernel of historical truth, they believe it's mostly legendary embellishment. And the miracles are, from their perspective, paradigm examples of legendary embellishment. 

But why would a narrator writing pious fiction invent v24? Doesn't that circumvent the miracle? Even if it was understandable for Egyptians, in their desperation, to dig down to groundwater to find potable water, we wouldn't expect the narrator to let them succeed. Rather, if even water in containers was contaminated, we'd expect the groundwater to be contaminated. Why would the narrator invent that loophole? 

This is the kind of niggling detail that only makes sense if the account is factual. God allowed Egyptians to find drinkable water because it wasn't his intention to make all the Egyptians die of thirst. Rather, the point of the plague was to send a message: to show that Yahweh was the true God, a God with awesome control over natural forces and natural elements. A God who could best the Egyptian pantheon on their own turf. 

Perhaps the groundwater was naturally filtered. so that it escaped the effects of the plague. God didn't make the plague extend to groundwater. The miracle didn't impede the normal filtration process that purifies polluted surface water from potable groundwater. But that's a realistic detail you wouldn't expect if the account is pious fiction. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hidden in Plain View: update



3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever (Heb 7:3).

1. What's the relationship between Melchizedek and Jesus? Some interpreters think Melchizedek is an angelophany. Yet in Genesis he appears to be a human king.

2. Some interpreters think he's a Christophany. But there are some basic problems with that interpretation. Hebrews says Melchizedek is like Jesus, not that he is Jesus. A relation of analogy rather than identity. 

That's underscored by the fact that in the typology of Hebrews, the antitype is greater than the type. We wouldn't expect the author to abruptly break that pattern. 

3. By itself, the passage in Genesis might seem inadequate to sustain the inferences which the author of Hebrews draws from it. But that's combined with the bridging passage in Ps 110:4.

4. What makes Melchizedek such a significant figure? Or is he that significant? Some critics might object that Hebrews is milking the brief episode in Gen 14:17-20 for more than it's worth. Yet, on closer examination, the inferences in Hebrews are justifiable:

i) Melchizedek is significant in part because he's both a priest and king. That dovetails nicely with a Messiah who's both priestly and kingly.

ii) Melchizedek is the first priest mentioned in the Pentateuch. That would be highly significant to the original audience. A priesthood was central to the religious life of Israel. Yet here's a priest who antedates the Levitical priesthood by centuries.

iii) Moreover, this priest is contemporaneous with Abraham, who's the seminal figure in Judaism. And the Levitical priesthood descends from Abraham. 

iv) What about the business of his lacking parents or genealogy? A critic might object that that's an unwarranted argument from silence.

Again, though, this is a part of the Pentateuch where, under the Mosaic cultus, you must be a Levite to be a priest. Given the Mosaic stress on the genealogical qualifications or disqualifications to be a priest, the absence of any background in the case of Melchizedek is conspicuous and telling. 

v) In addition, this foreshadows the eternally preexisting Son. That's not literally true of Melchizedek, but again, the author is dealing with types and shadows, where the fulfillment exceeds the precedent. 

Seven lampstands

and the seven lampstands are the seven churches (Rev 1:20). 
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent (Rev 2:5). 

Why seven churches? Why the lampstand metaphor for churches? What's the significance of removing a church's lampstand?

1. No doubt the churches in Revelation were real 1C churches. But were there only seven? Or is that sample dictated by John's numerology? 

2. The septunarian numerology in Scripture has its background in creation week.

3. But beyond that general background, there may be a more specific tie-in. The seven days of creation are distinguished by alternating light and darkness. Sunlight, dawn and dusk. So the lampstands in Revelation may mirror the seven units of daylight in Genesis. 

4. God is the giver of light. By threatening to remove the lampstand, God rescinds the gift of light. And, of course, that plays on the metaphorical connotations of light and darkness in Scripture.  

5. In addition, Rev 2-3 may evoke some other motifs from Gen 1-3. 

i) In the case of the Ephesian church, which is the inaugural example in Revelation, you have some explicit allusions to Genesis in the "tree of life" and the "paradise of "God. 

Moreover, to have "fallen" or "abandoned one's first love" recapitulates the sin of Adam and Eve. 

The fact that the Ephesian church is the first church in the sequence might provide a framework or textual clue for Genesis motifs in the other churches. 

ii) The "book of life" (Sardis) and "crown of life" (Smyrna) may be synonymous metaphors for the "tree of life". 

iii) The "morning star" (Tyatira) may recall starlight and the dawn/dusk refrain in Gen 1. 

iv) The "shameful nakedness" (Laodicea) and "garments" (Sardis) may recall the Fall in Gen 3. 

v) The temple/pillar imagery may recall Eden as sacred space (Philadelphia)

vi) The "white stone" (Pergamum) may be recall the gemstones of Havilah (Gen 2:11-12).

vii) And the Spirit refrain may recall Gen 1:2.

Friday, February 24, 2017

6 Historical Positions on Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom

Here is a good overview:


Illegal immigration and ID theft


The enemy of your enemy isn't necessarily your friend

Am I a Pharisee?

When we watch movies (and TV dramas), it's natural to take sides. To identify with the hero. To root for the good guys and take moral satisfaction when the bad guys lose. Indeed, many movies deliberately manipulate the audience into taking sides. 

When we read the Bible, the same psychology kicks in. And up to a point, there's nothing wrong with that. We're supposed to take sides. And we're supposed to side with Jesus. We're supposed to identify with God's people rather than the enemies of Jesus.

However, we need to be careful about that. For instance, when reading the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, our natural tendency is to subconsciously identify with the tax collector and cast individuals or groups we disapprove of in the role of the Pharisee. 

But that's diametrically contrary to how we ought to it. When reading that parable, we should ask ourselves, "Am I like the Pharisee?" Christians need to periodically ask themselves, am I unconsciously falling into a Pharisaic outlook? 

This happens when we begin to make our assurance of faith dependent on drawing an invidious contrast between ourselves with other people. Where we think orthodoxy, or what we take to be orthodoxy, is a substitute for sanctity. Where we think that being against something puts us on the path to heaven. 

Ironically, recasting our theological opponents in the role of Pharisees can easily make us unwittingly reprise the role of the Pharisee. We become the villain by casting others in the villainous role. We unintentionally assume the role of the bad guy by succumbing to spiritual pride. 

But Christians always need to be self-critical. Regularly practice self-examination so that we don't fall into that trap.