JL: Steve Hays over at Triablogue has responded to a comment of mine by saying: "DC is simply a convenient repository for stupid arguments against the faith. Since the only objections are stupid objections, DC will do as well as anyone else."
JL: There are a whole host of Occidental thinkers throughout the ages who have rejected Christianity, including Bertrand Russell, while nearly all Oriental thinkers have rejected Christianity. But all of our objections are stupid ones? Really?
SH: Several issues to sort out:
1.As far as Occidental thinkers are concerned, there are some first-rate thinkers who were unbelievers. Off the top of my head, the following names come to mind: H. N. Castaneda, Chomsky, Dirac, Einstein, Feynman, Frege, Freud, Gell-Mann, Hintikka, Hume, Kripke, Mandelbrot, McTaggart, Mill, Pauling, Penrose, Poincaré, Quine, Russell, Turing, von Neumann, and Witten, to name a few.
2.But the problem with Loftus’ contention is that most of the brightest minds in secularism don’t bother to attack the Christian faith in any rigorous or systematic way.
3.That job is generally delegated to second-rate thinkers and popularizers like Dawkins. Dawkins is not a great scientist. He’s never made a great scientific discovery.
Or you may have a first-rate thinker like Russell who does attack the Christian faith, but he reserves his attacks on the faith for his potboilers. Hackwork.
4.Or you may have a first-rate thinker like Mill or McTaggart who will attack a particular aspect of Christian theism, such as the problem of evil.
Even then, their line of attack is conceptually flawed.
5.Or you may have a first-rate thinker like Hume or Freud who launches a general attack on the faith, but, again, their attack is conceptually flawed.
6.To take a comparison, both Russell and Mackie critique the Christian faith. Mackie is not as smart as Russell, but his critique is more tightly-reasoned—albeit conceptually flawed.
7.As far as Oriental thinkers are concerned, most of them never rejected the Christian faith because they never considered the Christian faith in the first place.
In Asia, philosophical theology has centered on Hindu/Buddhist polemics.
8.As for Islam, Islamic countries are closed societies. The law of apostasy is a very effective deterrent to open debate.
9.Or, take Algazel. Here was a great intellect. And he once wrote a book against the deity of Christ. Unlike most Muslim polemicists, he did not resort to the charge of textual corruption.
Instead, he tried to argue that the NT had been misinterpreted. That the NT does not, in fact, testify to the deity of Christ.
Well, I guess he was sincere. And being a Muslim no doubt made it easier for him to read it that way.
But it’s a hopeless argument.
JL: Hays believes that Calvinistic Christianity (his brand) is intellectually superior such that all one needs in knowledge to see the truth.
SH: A palpably false statement. Calvinism has never maintained that knowledge alone is sufficient to instill conviction. There must be a predisposition to believe. A receptivity to the truth. Apart from regeneration, truth has the effect of hardening the unbeliever.
JL: This statement of his tells more about him and probably his team members than it says anything about his case. He's certain that he's correct. But subjective certainty says nothing about his case.
SH: It’s true that I enjoy subjective certainly. However, I’ve never deployed my subjective certainty as an argument for the faith.
I’ve always mounted rational or evidential arguments for the faith.
JL: No wonder he treats anyone who disagrees with him with such distain.
1.Another falsehood. Just recently I was asked to evaluate an article by W. L. Craig. I disagreed with it. But I didn’t treat Dr. Craig or his argument with disdain. I could give other examples.
2.Now, it’s true that I’m often disdainful. But that’s not because I’m automatically disdainful of those I disagree with. Rather, that’s an incidental consequence of my selection criteria.
I have apologetic priorities. For the most part, I have no occasion to pick a fight with those I respect, but disagree with.
JL: All the rest of us are stupid, even those Christians who disagree with his brand of Calvinistic Christianity.
SH: Another blatant falsehood.
1.To begin with, it’s not only Reformed theism which is intellectually superior to secularism. Thomism is intellectually superior. So is Scotism. So is perfect being theology (Anselm).
Same with J. W. Montgomery (Lutheran).
Same with Paul Barnett, C. S. Lewis or Basil Mitchell or J.B. Mozley or N. T. Wright (Anglican).
Same with Swinburne (Orthodox).
Same with Geach or Newman or Pascal (Catholic).
Same with Archer, Bock, Blomberg, Craig, Dembski, Habermas, Keener, Moreland, or Plantinga (generic Evangelical).
Over on the sidebar I have a number of links to apologetic blogs and websites that do not subscribe to Reformed theology. Loftus is making a series of easily refutable claims.
JL: Such an attitude is extremely sophmoronic and naive. He will never consider any argument against his faith because he has already presupposed that they are all stupid objections.
SH: Oh, but I do consider them: I consider them to be stupid. And I give my reasons why.
JL: But Hays has a monumental task ahead of him to convince people of this, since Christianity is losing ground in the marketplace of ideas.
SH: Is that a fact? Seems to me that secularism is losing ground, which is why it resorts to speech codes and judicial rulings.
JL: This is not someone I care to have a conversation with. I only want conversation/debate partners who will treat me as a dignified person who has sincere objections.
SH: It’s secularism or naturalism or atheism (whatever you want to call it) which degrades human beings, stripping men, women, and children of all inherent dignity or worth.
JL: Hays & Company cannot do this. He's blinded from being a freethinker…
SH: Yes, and isn’t that a loss. My epitaph will say “Christian” while his epitaph will say “free thinker.” I guess that makes his tombstone better than mine.
JL: and can no longer be taken seriously as a serious conversation/debate partner…
SH: Loftus talks like a teenage girl who’s tortured by the question of which dress to wear to the prom. He lives for social approval. A pat on the head.
JL: By his idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible
SH: Perhaps he’d like to point out two or three of my “idiosyncratic” interpretations of the Bible.
JL: What has probably never occurred to him is that it is quite possible that the evidence for Christianity is not stronger than the objections to it…
SH: This assumes that I’m unacquainted with the major objections to the faith.
JL: And I can argued this based on his own Calvinistic grounds. It's quite possible that the total evidence is against Christianity but that Hays' God simply makes/decrees him believe against the evidence.
SH: Even if we were to credit that hypothetical, it presupposes the very existence the existence of the Calvinistic God. Hence, it assumes that Calvinism is true even if all of the apparent evidence were arrayed against it.
In that event, as long as my belief is true, notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary, who cares? At the end of the day, I’m right and he’s wrong.
Moreover, the two positions are asymmetrical: If I’m wrong and he’s right, it makes no ultimate difference; but if I’m right and he’s wrong, it makes all the difference.
JL: That would make Hays' arguments stupid ones which are accepted by stupid people who believe.
SH: It would make my arguments superfluous. I’d be right even without my supporting arguments. How is that a problem?
JL: Since this is very possible given his Calvinistic God, perhaps he ought to look once again at our objections, but this time do so seriously.
Or, Steve Hays can show me why I'm wrong when I argue for this here, and here based upon his own Calvinistic theology. It's his choice. But as of yet I have not seen Hays & Company argue against what I wrote.
SH: The fact that I don’t reply to every little thing he’s written doesn’t mean that I haven’t responded to that sort of objection before. I’ll frequently ignore his objections because I’ve dealt with that sort of objection elsewhere.