John Loftus has a stable full of dead horses branded with his own initials. After he gets tired of beating one dead horse, he goes back to beating another dead horse.
Since he has no good arguments, all he can do his to repeat all his bad arguments. He keeps serving up his maggoty, off-refuted horsemeat.
Both Evan May and Calvin dude already chewed his argument into little pieces, in their best Piranha fashion, long before I got around to it, so I’ll content myself with disposing of the carrion.
JL: As far as the truth goes, God could've revealed that he wants all married people to commit adultery, because whatever he reveals has no bearing on what he wants us to do. This goes for all of the commands in the Bible too, including all statements that describe who God is, that he is loving, truthful, and that he will reward those who believe he is loving and truthful.
SH: We’ve been over this ground before. A command is not a prediction or a promise. It is not a statement of what God is planning to do. Loftus has said absolutely nothing to erase that elementary distinction.
JL: In fact, the whole basis for your believing in Calvinism is that your God decreed that you should believe it and has nothing to to with either the Bible or the evidences either way. But if he so decreed what you believe, then like the unbeliever you still have no reason to suppose that what God decrees you to believe is the truth.
SH: Once again, this has nothing to do with Reformed theology. It’s only a consequence of Loftus’ hypothetical thought-experiment, for which there’s no evidence, and which he himself does not believe.
JL: He could be decreeing you to believe falsely against the total available evidence, just like you claim he decrees what I believe.
1. I’m reminded of Dawkins’ Teapot Atheism: “There's an infinite number of things that you can't disprove: unicorns, werewolves, and teapots in orbit around Mars. But we don't pay any heed to them unless there is some positive reason to think that they do exist.”
It’s striking that unbelievers think this is a swell argument against the Christian faith, but then, like Loftus, they suddenly reverse the burden of proof and act as if some purely imaginary defeater is an actual defeater for the Christian faith.
All Loftus has given us is, at best, a hypothetical defeater, not an actual defeater. And since he doesn’t believe in his own hypothetical, why should we?
But as long as we’re on the subject, why don’t we improve on his hypothetical defeater? For all I know, there’s an omniscient and omnipotent teapot orbiting Mars and jamming the brain waves of the secular earthlings, making them project evidence for evolution where none exists, while blinding them to the overwhelming evidence for God’s existence.
JL: Therefore, you simply do not know whether what you believe will gain you access into heaven. As far as your theology goes, it just may be the unbeliever whom God will reward, since you really do not know what this God is like and what he will do with us when we die.
SH: Even if this were true, assuming that truth is a meaningful category given the global scepticism implicit in this scenario, I really don’t care.
Why should I fret over the specter of an indetectible delusion? Since I have no control over it, and can never be aware of it, it doesn’t concern me in the least.
Indeed, this goes to the incoherence of his objection. What if there were this unconscious force messing with our minds?
Well, if it were truly unconscious, then we wouldn’t be conscious of the proposition that there’s an unconscious force that’s messing with our minds.
JL: So in fact, there is nothing in the Calvinistic Bible that describes what God wants us to do or believe--nothing! In fact, if God decrees all of human history then he does not even need a revealed word in the Bible at all! It is superfluous, unnecessary, and completely irrelevant to what he wants us to believe and to do. He could decree all of our beliefs without it.
SH: Other issues aside, the law of God has more than one purpose or audience.
For the elect, it supplies a code of conduct.
For the reprobate, it may, in some cases, restrain them from sin—where the state chooses to enact and enforce the law of God.
But, more often, its function is to expose the lawlessness of the reprobate.
For the reprobate, the law of God is an instrument of hardening rather than sanctification.
Indeed, the same holds true, not only for the law, but for the gospel as well. It has one effect on the elect, and another on the reprobate.
SH: Why not just admit this? It's true. And the next time someone asks you what God wants him to do just be honest and say "I don't know." And when he asks you what God wants him to believe, just say "I don't know."
JL: I would tell him to do what God says. And if he doesn’t do what God says, then, in his case, the function of the law is purely punitive (see above).
JL: For that is the truth.
SH: But if Loftus’ hypothetical were true, then we wouldn’t know it’s true, since it’s a recipe for global scepticism.
Hence, if it’s true, then it’s false.