Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dumbo meets dumb-bunny

Loftus is at it again:

JL: Now some have suggested that with wings the criminal element would have more abilities at their disposal to commit more henious crimes. But there are some reasonable responses to this.

SH: Having given birth to a white elephant, Loftus just can’t bring himself to let the poor beast sink under its own dead weight.

He keeps trying to get his white elephant off the ground—Dumbo-style.

Maybe that’s because this is the only memorable thing that Loftus has ever come up with.

Unfortunately for him, it’s unforgettable in the same way that Barney Fife is unforgettable.

JL: God could still do something about this just like he could (but doesn't) do something about crime today. He could make "sinning" as odious as drinking motor oil is to us today. Sure, we can drink it if we want to, but it would go against what we want.

SH: The problem with trying to patch up his hypothetical this way is that it undercuts the rationale for the original hypothetical.

Loftus proposed this hypothetical as a way to lessen evil in the world.

When, however, we point out that grafting a pair of wings onto a malefactor would simply enhance his field of action, Loftus then proposes that God could remove the desire to sin.

And no doubt he could. But this has nothing to do with the original hypothetical except to render it even more ridiculous than it already was—assuming that’s possible.

If God were to remove the desire to sin, then the presence or absence of wings would be irrelevant to the level of evil in the world.

The choice would not be between a sinful flying man and a sinless flying man, but between a sinful man and a sinless man.

If the original rationale for grafting a pair of wings onto a man was to diminish evil in the world, and if, on top of that, you remove the desire to sin because the mere ability to fly does not diminish evil in the world, then you’ve admitted that wings would not accomplish the purpose you proposed for them under either scenario:

i) They would be useless to diminish evil under the original terms of hypothetical,

ii) They would be rendered equally useless under the terms of the revised hypothetical.

All Loftus has accomplished is to prop up one ham-handed hypothetical with another ham-handed hypothetical.

JL: The police in every era would also have at their disposal new methods of catching criminals because they too would have wings to fly.

SH: So it would be a wash. No net gain either way.

JL: Besides, if saying that giving people wings to fly would benefit criminal minds, then the same things could be said about God creating us with the ability to walk and run upright. Had he created us to run on all fours at a maximum of 5 miles an hour then there would be less crime too, based on this same objection. And if that's the case, then why aren't these same Christians arguing that God did wrong in creating human beings who walked upright? Oh, but wait, God did create us this way, they believe, so de facto what he created was good.


i) Loftus is now projecting his own hypothetical onto his opponent. Since we were never proposing that a particular mode of locomotion would diminish the extent of evil, Loftus’ parallel with slow-mo ambulation is utterly irrelevant to our own position. He’s imputing to us an argument from analogy which we never bought into in the first place.

ii) Even more maladroit is his failure to distinguish between creation and the fall.

A particular mode of locomotion is morally neutral. The abuse lies in the misuse, and not the use, of the ability in question.

JL: The problem here is that since Christians believe God is good and that he created us, nothing I could suggest would ever be acceptable by them. And yet, what I suggest is very reasonable indeed. So they have a choice to make, either question the goodness and/or existence of God, or listen to reason.

SH: Actually, we have a choice between the goodness and/or existence of Dumbo over against the goodness and/or existence of a dumb-bunny apostate.

Given the “very reasonable” hypothetical dilemma confronting us, I choose to:

i) Affirm the fictional goodness of Dumbo
ii) Deny the natural possibility of Dumbo’s existence
iii) Affirm the possibility of supernatural levitation
iv) Deny the actual goodness of our dumb-bunny apostate
v) Affirm the actual existence of our dumb-bunny apostate


  1. I don't suppose John Loftus would be interested in this, would he (video clip)?

  2. As I have said here and elsewhere (though two years too late, here), rather than the silly, even if apt, suggestion of winged humans, what if the lone improvement upon creation was abstaining from creation in the first place?

    This solves all of the problems facing the apologist -- except for our existence, of course.

    If god was so good, so knowledgable, and so powerful, yet at the same time so content, then wouldn't the prudent choice, given what we know today, have been to not create?

    Wouldn't that have been the ultimate "good", by avoiding any element of evil whatsoever?

    I daresay any creative act which results in any amount of evil could not have been accomplished by any being worthy of worship -- no matter what other attributes such a being might have.