Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The joy of rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem

“In fact, if a Christian became an atheist his or her behavior wouldn't change much either, which is another reason why it's not the Bible that forms our ethics. Michael Shermer asks the Christian one simple question. ‘What would you do if there were no God? Would you commit robbery, rape, and murder, or would you continue being a good and moral person? Either way the question is a debate stopper. If the answer is that you would soon turn to robbery, rape, or murder, then this is a moral indictment of your character, indicating you are not to be trusted because if, for any reason, you were to turn away from your belief in God, your true immoral nature would emerge…If the answer is that you would continue being good and moral, then apparently you can be good without God. QED.’ [Michael Shermer, The Science of Good and Evil, pp. 154-155].”

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/12/can-i-judge-judge.html

This is becoming a popular tactic among militant atheists. Dawkins uses the same tactic in his new book.

There are several problems with this “debate-stopper”:

1.It is attempting to shame the opponent rather than reason with him. The “debate-stopper” is only a moral indictment of Shermer, Dawkins, et al., who—having lost the argument—resort to emotional extortion.

2.It begs the question. The question at issue is not whether I would still be a virtuous person if I lost my faith in God.

Rather, the question at issue is whether it would even be meaningful to be a virtuous person if I lost my faith in God.

Suppose my behavior didn’t change at all. This wouldn’t indicate that I was just as virtuous after having lost my faith as I was beforehand.

Rather, it would simply mean I was doing the same things. But doing the same things now that I was doing before doesn’t imply that what I was doing beforehand was ethical

Rather, the argument is that, absent God, whatever I do is amoral, whether I change me behavior or continue with business as usual.

3.The question assumes that rape, robbery, and murder are immoral, so that it would be immoral of an apostate to commit rape, robbery, or murder.

But if moral norms depend on God, and God did not exist, then it would not be a moral indictment on the apostate to commit rape, robbery, or murder.

4.The question is also misleading, for the absence of an external deterrent doesn’t mean that we will automatically do what we had hitherto refrained from doing.

I, as an apostate, might refrain from rape, robbery, or murder, not because I think they’re evil, but because I have no particular desire to indulge in rape, robbery, or murder.

5.Apropos (4), as long as rape, robbery, and murder are illegal, the average apostate will still refrain from these activities, even if he has no moral compunction about committing them, due to the risk of legal reprisal. But if he could do it with impunity, and if he had the desire to do so (4), why not?

BTW, ever notice that as Christian morality declines, security cameras proliferate? Along with metal detectors, prepaid gasoline, random drug testing, random roadblocks, &c.

6.Historically, a certain percentage of the male population will commit rape if there is no social stigma or social sanction to the contrary. Before the modern laws of warfare, that was commonplace among invading armies.

And there are cultures in which gang-rape is actually part of the honor-code or rite of initiation.

7.Another reason that many apostates still behave much like Christians is because they retain the remnants of a Christian conscience.

It’s quite different with someone who has no Christian background, such as the Samurai, Viet Cong, or Khmer Rouge, &c.

8.Although most apostates aren’t dumb enough to commit rape, robbery, and murder as long as these are criminal activities, one thing unbelievers do is to change the law so that certain forms of rape, robbery, and murder are decriminalized—or even attain the status of civil rights.

i) For example, homosexuals often lobby to lower or abolish the age of consent. The result is legalized child rape.

ii) Liberals enact various forms of homicide into law, such as abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.

iii) Liberals also codify robbery. They garnish your wages (income tax). They treat you as a serf or tenant farmer who lives in a company town, shops at the company store (sales tax), and rents his home (property tax, the estate tax). You never own anything outright. You’re always paying the government for the privilege of having a roof over your head and food on the table.

In communism, the state owns everything. Socialism is communism in kid gloves.

Recently, a leading secular philosopher dropped all the euphemisms and made it clear that we are all public employees. All housing is public housing:

Cf. T. Nagel, The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice (Oxford 2002).

So, yes, Mr. Shermer, left to our own devices it’s only a matter of time before rape, robbery, and murder would become public policy. Indeed, that prospect has played out to one degree or another whenever an unchristian regime has been in power for long.

There is, indeed, a truly immoral nature just waiting to emerge.

44 comments:

  1. :::SNIZZZ!!!:::

    so, you can't answer the simple question? I didn't think so.

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  2. To be honest, I would go the easy route. Back to dealing drugs. Cross me, rather than debate and reason with you, a baseball bat upside the head would do. Some Christians still have to battle wanting to get drunk, commit adultery, etc. I still like the feel of hitting big mouths. Of getting hit. The feel of a good brawl. Especially side-by-side with a bro.

    Thanks be to God though, I'm putting to death that part of me. I'm nowhere near how I was. When someone acts like a punk do I still feel like socking his face up? Sometimes, but it's far more rare than previously. Before it was probably 9/10 times (and I'd act on it). Now it's maybe 2/10.

    Is this an indictment on my character? Yes. I'm a dirty, rotten sinner.

    Now, let's move forward... upon what standard are we indicting my character?

    And so it looks like the "debate stopper" was just a long way to getting back to the debate. It was, a "debate re-starter."

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  3. What I don't understand about this is why Christian apologists feel they even feel the need to assert that non-Christians can't be good people in the ethical/legal sense. This isn't the claim of Christianity, that without Christ, civilization will break down.

    Look at Japan. Manifestly non-Christian, in origin and contemporary constitution, and yet, one of the most honor-bound, socially restrained societies that ever was. Does that mean they get to go to heaven when they die? No, but it does make arguments from Christians claiming that without Christ the only outcome is widespread murder and mayhem.

    Christianity claims that good civic behavior is *not* enough, eternally and temporally. It does not claim one cannot lead an outwardly "good" life without Christ. Instead it claims one cannot be *righteous* on the inside of one's own accord.

    So the "debate-stopper" seems to be more of a "reflex-trick" to see who will bite on straw man arguments like Steve did. In his zeal for the faith, he figured he had to commit Christianity to being the sole source of all *ethical* behavior.

    That ain't the case. It's not hard to find law, abiding, ethical people all over the world who are not Christians.

    What Christianity claims is that while that's true, it's not what's really important, for works and ethical uprightness are not sufficient to satisfy God. They do not make up for one's sin, for one's unrighteous attitudes and actions.

    Steve says:

    So, yes, Mr. Shermer, left to our own devices it’s only a matter of time before rape, robbery, and murder would become public policy. Indeed, that prospect has played out to one degree or another whenever an unchristian regime has been in power for long.


    This just makes Christianity look really stupid. Anyone who is familiar with modern Japanese society will laugh at a paragraph like this. Steve, do you know what the murder rate is in Japan vs. the US? How can that be if what you say is true?

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  4. T-stone,

    Do you disagree with Jesus (No one is good, save God) or Paul (no one is good, no not one)?

    The problem here is of the virtuous pagan.

    There are three things necessary for an act to be good. The right motive, goal, and standard.

    So, while unbelievers may exhibit civic goodness, in the sense of, say, conforming to the right standard, since they did not have the right motive or goal, they act isn't technicaly good.

    I think most Christians agree that in one sense unbelievers can be "good." While in another, they can't. The real question is about reasons or standards for being good. Grounds or basis of morality.

    Furthermore, the reason why people aren't rapping etc is because God's common grace restrains them.

    Steve's right, without this, Shermer would be rapping or murdering.

    Unfortunately, T-stone is just as ignorant of biblical ethics as he is of hermeneutics.

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  5. Touchstone said:
    ---
    What I don't understand about this is why Christian apologists feel they even feel the need to assert that non-Christians can't be good people in the ethical/legal sense.
    ---

    Steve spoke on atheism, not non-Christianity. There is a major difference.

    Atheism qua atheism has no moral claims. There are only arbitrary morals in atheism that atheism itself refutes (since there is no grounding for arbitrary morals in atheism).

    Non-Christian religions, on the other hand, have an internal coherence on this issue, even if they are confused on other issues.

    Consider the difference between someone who thinks that we are all "random" chemical reactions and the kind of morality you would get when compared to an Eastern mystic view that all of us are one in some transcendent state.

    Compare the difference between someone who thinks that people's chemical reactions have no intrinsic moral value--that value is simply assigned by some kind of "societal" pressure--with the animist who believes that since everything is god then behaving wrong toward anyone or anything is behaving wrongly toward a god?

    If you can't see the difference that this would make then not much will...

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  6. Paul,

    Steve's title says "rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem". So that's the activities I was considering.

    I affirmed that Christianity holds that no one is righteous, what you are apparently calling "technically good". But one who refrains from rape, robbery, murder and mayhem is *still* by nature sinful, according to Christiatnity.

    But that isn't what Shermer was asking, and that isn't the activities Steve put in his title. All one needs to do is look at Japanese society and see that it is a) thorough non-Christian (not even close!) and b) extraordinary in its low rats of rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem.

    Now, a Christian can claim that men are restrained from these things by God's common grace. If so, then it seems you're granting Shermer's point: one need not be a Christian to avoid rape, robbery murder and mayhem.

    But I don't understand what Steve (or you, for that matter I guess, reading this) would say is happening in Japan. Is that just a random concentration of common grace invested on a manifestly un-believing society?

    How do you see your biblical ethics explaining Japanese society and its incredibly low rates of rape robbery, murder, and mayhem? Those were the activities Steve put in the title, not "technically good" righteousness, a term Shermer would deny outright.

    Or let's just ask it plainly. Can a society, or a group of people, eschew the Christian God and maintain low rates of rape, robbery, murder and mayhem?

    I think the answer is clearly "Yes", and in such a way that doesn't diminish the claims of Christianity at all -- especially if we allow ourselves to suppose that common grace is the "special agent" at work here. It doesn't help Christianity at all to make unfounded defenses of things it never claimed.

    How about you? Can it be done, or is a society without God *necessarily* doomed to a descent into pervasive rape, robbery, murder and mayhem?

    -Touchstone

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  7. Calvindude,

    Are you saying that worshipping Baal makes you more moral than worhsipping no god at all?

    I think you need to actually talk to an atheist sometime, if you can hold your nose long enough to do it. The ones I know follow strict moral codes, not to please the Christian God, or any other perceived god, but to do what they see as their part to create a society they'd like to live in.

    But you find Shinto's village gods a more "coherent" framework? My Japanese colleague at work tells me atheism is the closest thing he sees in America to Shintoism where he grew up. For example, Shinto has no belief in the after life, which aligns it quite closely with atheism, at least in terms of eternity.

    Just as reference, here's a paragraph from a page he referred me to a while back, when we were discussing this:

    This is the basic religion of Japan which celebrates life. It is focused on the kami or sense of the sacred. It is the essesnce or soul of anything that inspires awe.The universe depicted is amoral and indifferent. Virtue is not necessarily rewarded nor is evil always punished. Shinto provides the Japanese creation myth but no afterlife. Death is the end. Shinto has no moral code. Society provides through its etiquette the moral code which is partly based on ideas introduced from Confucian philosophy. Morality is a human, social concept.

    Hmmm. Death is the end.

    No moral code.

    Sounds to me like a pretty good match to contemporary American atheism. With "no moral code", how do you suppose the Japanese are able to live as they do? And if they do live as they do in terms of rape, robbery, murder and mayhem, why is it again that atheists can't do the same. Are Shinto gods more true than atheism somehow?

    Wondering.

    -Touchstone

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  8. T-Stone,

    I said that there are necessary and sufficient conditions for calling a person good or action right.

    Since non-Christians don't have all three, then they cannot be good, or their actions cannot be good.

    I thought you said, "What I don't understand about this is why Christian apologists feel they even feel the need to assert that non-Christians can't be good people in the ethical/legal sense."

    To be good in the ethical sense requires, as I said, the right motive, goal and standard.

    For example, whatever is not of faith is sin. They have the wrong motive, therefore. Or, do all you do for the glory of God. They don't have the right goal, then.

    And so this is how we can say that they are not ethically good.

    There is a very precise sense in which we can say that a pagan is 'good.' For example, what you called "legal." or, we can call it "civic."

    As far as your statistics. So you say. or, so *they* say. I bet you thought communist Russia alos reported truly about its crimes?

    Anyway, I do not think people need to be Christians to be 'good' in the narrow, civic sense.

    But, they're still not good. Their actions, also, are not good.

    Furthermore, their alleged non-rape, non-murder, etc., is not good, but wrong.

    And so maybe some societies may be outwardly, civicly, good in the narrow and qualified sense. But that's rather trivial and has nothing to do with the ethical and meta-ethical questions we're talking about.

    Furthermore, Steve said this:

    "So, yes, Mr. Shermer, left to our own devices it’s only a matter of time before rape, robbery, and murder would become public policy. Indeed, that prospect has played out to one degree or another whenever an unchristian regime has been in power for long."

    And thus I think Steve is saying the same thing I am. He's affirming the common grace restraint. I don't think you're interpreting him right. But what's new?

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  9. Paul,

    You said:
    I said that there are necessary and sufficient conditions for calling a person good or action right.

    But the premise of the post -- the basis for Shermer's point -- was that there *was* no God. If there was no God, what would you do?

    You've told us you'd go back to brawling or some such. But while I'm prepared to tak you at your word on that, it's not at all clear that that's what all men *must* unavoidably do. Same goes for rape, robbery and murder (I'll group brawling in with 'mayhem' for now).

    That is, if there is no God, then your protestations about not being "good" as a non-Christian make no sense. If there is no God, then there's no basis for Christianity!

    You can say "I refuse to consider that hypothetical" or some such, and that would make sense. But that's not how you or Steve responded. Instead, you're (apparently) maintaining that even though there *is* no God according to Shermer's hypothetical, you still maintain that only Christian morality -- based on a God that doesn't exist in this scenario -- is the only real 'good'.

    In other words, if there is no God, then there is no basis for Christian morality, right? If that's the case, is it necessarily that all men and all societies descend into orgies of rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem?

    I think that would definitely happen.

    But looking at Japan, it's clear that it would be the necessary rule, across the board.

    As for your suspicions about Japanese crime rates, you don't have to rely on the abundant stats available. Just ask a Japanese person. They'll just laugh if tell them your Soviet Union/conspiracy theories.

    Is this how we defend Christianity, intellectually? By saying that the Japanese are actually steeped in rape, robbery, murder and mayhem? That it's a big hoax?

    -Touchstone

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  10. Oh, and Paul, one more thing, quickly?

    If it is "common grace" that keeps Japan out of the abyss of pervasive rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem, what did they do to merit such a blessing viz. anybody else.

    Is that just an intractable mystery?

    -Touchstone

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  12. I only have time for a couple of quick points at the moment:

    1. America's roots are not purely atheistic and amoral. Rather America is a de-(Judeo)Christianized nation.

    2. Neither are Japan's purely atheistic and amoral:
    a. Hand-in-hand with Shintoism in Japan are Confucianism, Taoism, and certain strains of Buddhism, among others.
    b. Likewise, and despite the philosophical atheism of the religions in (a), ancestor worship has also been pervasive in Japanese culture.
    c. And since Commodore Perry, so has following the West (e.g., business ethics).

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  13. I think Touchstone has already spoken a lot of bushido on this blog already....

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  14. To expand on at least one of the religions, Buddhism, reincarnation is a popularly held notion. And implicit in reincarnation is a moral system.

    Whether it makes any sense is another question -- especially in light of the fact that Buddhism is atheistic and in a sense "beyond morality."

    Well, at least Theravada Buddhism is atheistic.

    But as is the case with many belief systems, there's one version for the truly faithful and another watered-down one for the masses.

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  15. T-Stone,


    I was talking from a Christian's perspective. Why we could say what we say. You lambasted *Christians* for saying unbelievers could not be good. And, so I told you why *Christians* could say that. I'd pay attention to the dialog a little bit closer if I were you.

    I told you what I would do. Anyway, I think we'd be living like the lions and tigers and bears.

    Now, your comeback about the japanese and how nice and sweet they all are, is predicated upon a premise of the Christian worldview. So, you can't use them without begging the question. To use them to show what a people would be like *without* God is only true, if there is no God. But since I believe there is a God, who all men know, who have His law written on their heart, and live under his common grace, then this fact explains the Japanese. To use them as evidence for how men would behave *if there was no God* is clearly a begging of the question.

    So, you might not have the ontic question in mind, but an epistemic one. That is, how would men behave if *the did not believe in God.* But here you run into a wall as well. You see, according to Romans 1 and 2, the Japanese do know God and know his requirements. So, you'd be begging the question again.

    As far as why they might obtain more of God's common grace, well that's something you can ask God. (This is all assuming the Japanese have given you trustworthy stats.) But they have other problems of their own. The reap displeasure in other areas.

    I'm afraid you've misunderstood my answer. I do refuse to consider the hypothetical in the sense that God is a necessary being. But, I can still play. And my answer is that if there is no God then there is no basis for morality. Survival of the fittest wins. So, let's say I grant that many people would not murder, rape, et al. The problem here is that *if one did* that would not be "immoral" or "wrong" if there were no God.

    But then I noticed that you wnt back to the japanese. But you can't use them as a premise in how men would behave if the ontological fact of God's existence failed to obtain. Their behavior would only be a premise *if* there was in fact no God.

    So, I don't even think you know what you're arguing for. You don't seem to have a very clear picture in your mind.

    Regarding the Japanese and their stats. is that how your quasi-Christian apologtics goes? Tell people to ask the average Japanese man on the street. I wonder how they'd no that there was a cover up, if there were on. Further, I do have friends who worked and did a lot of business in Japan. They have plenty of problems. The Yakuza runs a lot of stuff and the man on the street doesn't want to run to the police.

    We can ask the "Asian Times," though:

    "At a time of record-low public confidence in Japan's scandal-ridden police service, the straight-talking Iwao Uruma has become the nation's new top cop. Uruma, 59, takes up the unenviable post of commissioner general of the National Police Agency (NPA) just as the force is facing unprecedented media criticism for high crime rates and a series of debilitating scandals.

    Over the past decade, Japan's image as one of the "safest countries in the world" has undergone a disturbing transformation and downgrading. The once-marginal crime rate has jumped an astronomical 150%. Public confidence in the police has plummeted to below 50%, an all-time low. At the same time, a series of high-profile police scandals has rocked public trust and revealed serious flaws in the way the country's law-enforcement system works..."


    Anyway, the above is all fairly irrelevant since given my two premises (all man's knowledge of God and his law) I can easily dismiss of your using Japan as a country that (a) doesn't know the Christian God or (b) his moral laws.

    And so you have a tough road to toe here.

    I'm glad your offering your life to the defense of atheism and atheists, though. Where would they be without guys like you to stand up for them? I like it, though. They'r enot doing a good job defending themselves and so a professing Christian needs to come to their aid. So, you're a Christian apologetic even when you don't want to be. Ironic.

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  16. Aswe continue to dig around the web:

    "Whatever happened to the safety country? Just a few short years ago, the low crime rate was one of the things that people here were most proud of, terrorism on Japanese soil was practically unheard of, there was no deadly beef or tainted yoghurt, and if you asked people what they were scared of, the most common answers were earthquakes, cockroaches and car accidents. With new records for crime being set every year, however, you just don’t hear “Japan is the safety country” much nowadays and a lot of the people who were bragging about how crime-free ten years ago seem downright fearful today.
    The Japan of 2004 is a country where motorcycle gangs of bosozoku ride through the streets with impunity, signs warning people to be careful of hittakuri (bag snatching) are everywhere, and newspaper headlines are filled with shocking crimes like the 12 year old boy who sexually molested and murdered a four year old child in Nagasaki, the tragic murders of eight school children at an elementary school in Osaka by a knife-wielding lunatic named Mamoru Takuma, and countless cases of police corruption.
    A quick look at the statistics indicates that crime really is increasing. Nearly three million crimes were committed in 2002, more than twice as many as were committed twenty years ago. Not only that, but the proportion of violent crimes is growing and arrest rates are falling. Eighty percent of serious crimes were solved in 1984 but today the figure is down to 50% and for crime in general, it’s just 19.8%. Obviously, Japan is no longer as safe as it once was, but is it really dangerous? "

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  17. I'd also point out that many argue that the low crime rates a due to a covenant community type situation.

    We are more individualistic.

    And so the solution is living according the the familial solidarity principle the Bible gives us.

    This is God-based, not Japan based.

    All men know God and so we should expect some supressed elements of His truth to obtain in various cultures.

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  18. It's a good thing Paul Manata has found God, methinks.

    It shows the utility of the God Delusion; if it can keep Pauls rage confined to yelping on blogs and away from baseball bats, I guess "belief in invisible magic beings" has demonstrated it's evolutionary utility quite clearly!

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  19. Kind of funny that Paul is quick to respond multiple times to a post titled "the joy of rape, robbery, murder and mayhem" and tell of his secret desire to frolic in said activities.

    A big shock!

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  20. "Furthermore, the reason why people aren't rapping etc is because God's common grace restrains them.

    Steve's right, without this, Shermer would be rapping or murdering."

    Apparently, the grace of God is too weak for Snoop, and Shermer just doesn't have the rhythm...

    Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha

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  21. Yo, kick it!
    My name is Paul and I'll bust yo head
    I huff and I puff then until you've fled
    I try to sound tough but I keep getting dissed
    Can't get no respect, my true calling I've missed.

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  22. Paul,

    This is one of the goofier things you've written lately:

    "As far as your statistics. So you say. or, so *they* say. I bet you thought communist Russia alos reported truly about its crimes?"

    An open Western democracy compared to a closed Communist regime...right, sure. You know, they have lots of newspapers and reporters and media stations in Japan...not owned by or censored by the government. Was the same ever true for any Communist state?

    You just keep moving Steve's goalposts for him. T-stone called him on a claim (rightly) and pointed out that it is patently false that if people are non-Christian (whether atheist or Shintoist or whateverist), then "eft to our own devices it’s only a matter of time before rape, robbery, and murder would become public policy. Indeed, that prospect has played out to one degree or another whenever an unchristian regime has been in power for long."

    T-stone asks you to answer a question, and you keep dodging:

    "Furthermore, their alleged non-rape, non-murder, etc., is not good, but wrong."

    Let's move the goalposts -- T-stone's question was clearly not about how you (personally) define the "goodness" of a non-Christian's actions, or of non-rape "not done in faith" (which is again, a goofy sentiment on your part). His question was simply whether or not Steve's comment was fatuous or factual.

    That's one of the goofiest things Steve has written for a while, too.

    "Anyway, I think we'd be living like the lions and tigers and bears."

    Right, because all animals just randomly kill each other and behave with "mayhem" -- there's no social order or hierarchy amongst social animals (esp primates). Noooo...not at all.

    "The problem here is that *if one did* that would not be "immoral" or "wrong" if there were no God."

    And that's why I hope you never lose your faith.

    And I love how you're so dishonest as to quote from this website and then turn around and leave off where it says...
    ...but is it really dangerous? When we compare Japanese crime statistics with the numbers in other parts of the world, it becomes obvious that Japan has a long way to go before it can compete with North America and Europe. Take, for example, the crime rate in Osaka, Japan’s most dangerous city. Osaka had just 3.407 crimes per 10,000 people, whereas America’s most dangerous city, St. Louis, Missouri had 1,454.76 – a crime rate more than 60 times higher than that of Osaka. Japan also generally ranks at the very bottom in United Nations surveys on crime victimization, robbery and theft.
    Although Japan is still a very safe place in terms of crime, people have lost their sense of security. Every year, Japan’s cabinet office takes a survey on how Japanese people feel about their country, and there is always a question about what they are most proud of. In 1992, the number one answer, given by 49% of the people surveyed, was that the best thing about Japan was how safe it was. Ten years later, that answer was given by only 27% of respondents...Another reason that people are scared is because they don’t understand statistics. For example, when a lot of people hear that the crime rate rose by 20% in the last year, they get scared. If the crime rate goes up from .01% to .012%, newspapers are likely to write about the ‘20% Increase in Crime!’ but has the society really become that much more dangerous?
    Even newspapers can make simple mistakes with statistics. When newspapers run articles with headlines like, “Survey: Recent crime victims number 1 in 3” (Mainichi Shimbun, Dec. 17, 2000), is it any wonder that people have a mistaken notion of how dangerous the country is? The survey that the paper was referring to was taken by the Prime Minister’s Office, and asked people whether they, or a relative had been a victim of crime in the past five years. Obviously never having heard of the famous six degrees of separation idea, the media reported that a third of Japanese people had been a victim of crime...Japan is developing a culture of fear similar to America’s, but there is one big difference. Most of the things that Japanese people are afraid of come from outside their country rather than within it. Looking at the fears that dominate the headlines in Japan’s newspapers - foreign crime, terrorism, mad cow disease, North Korea, and SARS – a clear pattern emerges. Most of them originate outside Japan. As Japan becomes more westernized and has more contact with the world around it, it is natural that many people are going to have strong misgivings about it and they are expressing their misgivings, at least in part, in the things that they choose to fear.
    Sociologists tell us that the dangers a society chooses to fear tell us a lot about the basic moral principals and cultural traits of its people. There are thousands of dangers that people can choose to fear; thousands of ways to die; and thousands of diseases, but there are generally just a few in the news and in people’s consciousness at any one time.
    Japan is still one of the safest places in the world, and it would be nice if people would realize it and enjoy living here without worrying about dangers that will probably never affect them.


    I guess it was "common grace" that you didn't link to the article or quote its full context. Kind of like me saying, "The Bible says in Ps 14:1, '...there is no God'!"

    Our moral impulses and intuitions are biological and cultural in nature. That much is undeniable. Saint Bernards are probably 4 billion times less likely to maul a child than a pit bull, given that both are raised in an identical setting. Why is that, Paul? You're predisposed to violence, and you have been since high school. I'm predisposed to depression, and I have been since I was old enough to read newspaper headlines and contemplate the realities of our world. When I take medicine, I'm fine. When I don't, I'm not. Is that pill God's "grace" encapsulated?

    Your whole case is made silly by believing that God pours out more common grace on certain geographical boundaries than others, regardless of the high rate of claimed atheism (I know, I know, atheists don't exist). So Japan, Sweden, Denmark, etc., have *significantly* lower violent crime rates than America, and *just so happen* to be highly non-Christian, but there is no correlation between their social systems and their actions? Sure. I guess a guy who believes in talking serpents and cosmic fruit can buy anything after a while.

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  23. Osaka is the 2nd largest city in Japan. St. Louis isn't on the top 25 cities in terms of US populace. Both have the per capita highest crime rates in their respective countries.

    Japan's most dangerous city has a crime rate 0.2% of that of America's most dangerous city. Hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Paul, you really are kidding yourself that you would revert back to your old lifestyle. You are much more mature now than that. You have a wife to love and care for. You are wiser. The only reason you claim you would go back to your former lifestyle is that you think saying so bolsters your claim that Christianity is what you need. I too was a problem teenager. I was arrested for several crimes back then. But I'm older...wiser. Age changes us. Marriage changes us. Responsibility changes us. thinking clearly changes us.

    Touchstone. You are the voice of reason here, even though I know we disagree about more things than you disagree with the Christians at Triablogue. I find their arguments backward, convoluted, ignorant and just plainly strange.

    ReplyDelete
  25. If it is "common grace" that keeps Japan out of the abyss of pervasive rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem, what did they do to merit such a blessing viz. anybody else.

    I know this is going back a bit, but if there is anything that Touchstone has said to demonstrate that he is "out of touch" with Christianity, it would be this question. Meriting grace? That's like asking a parent to list the hours that his child worked to merit a Christmas present.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Paul Manata is a gangsta for Jesus! ALso he lies for Jesus by omitting relevent sections of the article he posted.


    What a joke, what a putz.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Yo, kick it!
    My name is Paul and I'll bust yo head
    I huff and I puff then until you've fled
    I try to sound tough but I keep getting dissed
    Can't get no respect, my true calling I've missed.

    ReplyDelete
  28. A person who is Christian acts 100% different then a non-christian. If someone claims to be a christian, and really is, then later walks away from God, he would act 100% different.

    2 people I know who used to call themselves christian, but never were btw, told me yesterday that they no longer are. It surprised me that it took so long for them to admitt it though. They have been more rude and obscene then anyone I have ever known just in these last days.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm reading through Touchstone's response to my comment in an attempt to see how it addressed anything I wrote....

    Nope. It doesn't. I'm so SHOCKED by this!!!!

    Instead of interacting, Touchstone says:
    ---
    I think you need to actually talk to an atheist sometime, if you can hold your nose long enough to do it.
    ---

    Well, golly gee shucky darn, Touchstone. I ain't nevah seen one of those atheist folks before. I've NEVER run into one them, cuz if I did I'd have to hold my nose cuz they don't bathe and all....

    Or maybe you could actually use reason, Touchstone, instead of assuming everything. Not that I have any reason to assume (har, har) you'll ever do that...

    ReplyDelete
  30. Charles said:
    ---
    I know this is going back a bit, but if there is anything that Touchstone has said to demonstrate that he is "out of touch" with Christianity, it would be this question.
    ---

    Thus far, Touchstone has given me absolutely no reason to believe he is a Christian. I have more reason to believe he is an atheist pretending to be a Christian. He spouts atheist arguments on every single issue, and thus far has demonstrated no ability to grasp basic Christian concepts.

    Sorry if I don't buy the whole: If it looks like a goat, sounds like a goat, eats trash like a goat, but says it's a sheep, then we must believe it's a sheep. So until Touchstone can show me evidence that he actually believes the Gospel (a good way to start demonstrating this would be if he stopped attacking it), I'm going to label him as a non-Christian.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I don't think calvindude is a real christian either. One can just tell by the hateful rhetoric that spews from this frenzied fingers as he types...the holy spirit is not indwelling this so called believer.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Mr_Discern,

    Firstly, care to provide instances?

    Secondly, unless this is the first post you're reading the comments on, you've surely seen the kind of nonsense Touchstone has said on every single subject, always taking the atheist's side of every argument, always criticizing the Bible. It isn't only in this blog comment.

    But if you insist, I can revise my statement somewhat:

    Touchstone has only given me reason to believe he is a brood of vipers, a white-washed tomb full of dead man's bones, a bowl clean only on the outside and not the inside, one who searches the ends of the earth for a convert and then makes him twice the child of hell that he is, a man who strains at gnats to swallow a camel.

    But then I suppose the spirit that came up with those metaphors isn't the same spirit you hold to, is it?

    ReplyDelete
  33. John Loftus said,

    "Paul, you really are kidding yourself that you would revert back to your old lifestyle. You are much more mature now than that. You have a wife to love and care for. You are wiser."

    But said elswhere,

    "Trust me Paul, you will beat your wife."

    How does he square the two?

    Either way he looses.

    If I'll beat my wife because I can't escape my past, then how can he say I wouldn't resort to slinging dope?

    If I can escape my past, then why's he so sure I'll beat my wife?

    John, we always love when you stroll over here and stick your cowboy boot in your mouth.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Paul, what is "looses" supposed to mean in this context?

    Is John Loftus "tight" or something?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Charles,

    You said:
    I know this is going back a bit, but if there is anything that Touchstone has said to demonstrate that he is "out of touch" with Christianity, it would be this question. Meriting grace? That's like asking a parent to list the hours that his child worked to merit a Christmas present.

    That's precisely *why* I asked. Paul said I can ask God. Well, if it *is* "unmerited favor", then it has nothing to do with the Japanese being meritorious in God's eyes, right? I'm asking Paul how to account for modern Japanese society's low violent crime rates in light of the fact that Japan *can't* do anything to merit such a preponderance of common grace.

    The subtext of this is: there *is* no "common grace" rationale in view that explains the phenomenon of Japanese violent crime rates.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm paul manata
    and I'm on the mike
    gonna hip to the hop
    thro gods holy reich

    If yo' diss my god
    say he ain't all that
    gonna convince ya'
    with my base ball bat

    my rythms smooth
    and my chin is high
    if you dis my god
    your teeth will fly

    I'll knock you down
    my tail will wag
    as I nail yo' punk
    with a well placed "TAG"

    coz I believe in my god
    the big fai-ry
    due to the impossibility
    of the con tra ry

    my x-ian rhymes gonna
    be so sweet
    they make no sense
    byt I'll have you beat

    if you dare to question
    and I lose my faith
    my fist will quickly
    find your face

    so don't you dare
    disturb my cool
    coz without god
    I'm a raving fool!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Pauls_biggest_fan12/06/2006 3:08 PM

    "I'll knock you down
    my tail will wag
    as I nail yo' punk
    with a well placed "TAG"

    coz I believe in my god
    the big fai-ry
    due to the impossibility
    of the con tra ry"


    LOL!!!!! BEST. RAP. EVER!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Paul, why do you continue with the ad hominems? Is it because for the same reason you will quote something about Japanese society without quoting the rest of what it says? Is it because winning an argument at all costs is what is most important to you? If so, and I think it is, then there's a lot about you that hasn't changed. You're still not a very nice person.

    Do molested children molest others? Do people raised in a hateful environment hate? Do people raised in a violent environment become violent? Do people who have been divorced divorce again. Yes, the statatics say yes, even among Christians. Are you still an angry man? Yes, this is very evident. Will you go back to beating anonymous people up with a baseball bat? No. You have grown up beyond that. Does this help with the alleged discrepancy?

    But let's say you did. Then this is an indictment on your character, as Shermer stated. You still have that same character. You are just channeling it through your hateful mouth. If so, I am thankful you are a Christian.

    ReplyDelete
  39. In a response to Paul, Touchstone said: If it is "common grace" that keeps Japan out of the abyss of pervasive rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem, what did they do to merit such a blessing viz. anybody else.

    To which Charlie replied: I know this is going back a bit, but if there is anything that Touchstone has said to demonstrate that he is "out of touch" with Christianity, it would be this question. Meriting grace? That's like asking a parent to list the hours that his child worked to merit a Christmas present.

    To which Touchstone responded: That's precisely *why* I asked. Paul said I can ask God. Well, if it *is* "unmerited favor", then it has nothing to do with the Japanese being meritorious in God's eyes, right? I'm asking Paul how to account for modern Japanese society's low violent crime rates in light of the fact that Japan *can't* do anything to merit such a preponderance of common grace.

    Hi Touchstone,

    Actually, your latest comment is more a revision of the events than a response to the point Charlie was making.

    Originally, you asked how Japan could be (in your view) atheistic and yet somehow still moral (which you seem to define in terms of lower crime rates). One response from Paul was because of common grace. As seen above, you then followed up by asking how Japan could "merit" this common grace. So Charlie brought out the point that you don't really even understand what common grace is all about. Otherwise, if you did, you wouldn't have asked the question in the way you asked it.

    But now you've somehow turned it around as a question Paul should answer? Quite slick. But you've yet to prove you understand what common grace is in the first place. Thus Charlie's (and Paul's) point stands.

    Speaking of which, this reminds me of when we had our debate over allegory and symbolism, and you didn't even understand the terms "allegory" or "symbolism."

    BTW, since it's not the first time you've done so, and since it's in line with what I've just described (albeit of far lesser consequence), I thought you might like to know you're not using "viz" correctly either. Perhaps you're thinking of something more like vis-a-vis?

    Much of this seems to be tied to another deficiency in your argumentation: You tend to oversimplify the positions of your disputants. For example, if you're not a theistic evolutionist as a Christian, then you're automatically a YEC.

    As is the fact that you ignore (or possibly fail to grasp) nuanced arguments. Such as taking into consideration the differences between criminality and morality, which Steve talks about in his latest post.

    Anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  40. John,

    What ad homs/

    Anyway, why do you always run from the question?

    I gave an argument which shows that, according to you, you run one way one you get impaled on a horn of the dilemma, another way, you get impaled.

    As far as quoting articles, are you saying that any article you quote you should quote the WHOLE article? Another absurdity by John Loftus.

    Anyway, my quotes proved precisely what I wanted them to prove. I didn't need to quote anything else. But, nice way to dodge the issue.

    And so I ask again, John, and let's see if you're man enough to answer; afterall, you wear a big 10 gallon hat:

    John Loftus said,

    "Paul, you really are kidding yourself that you would revert back to your old lifestyle. You are much more mature now than that. You have a wife to love and care for. You are wiser."

    But said elswhere,

    "Trust me Paul, you will beat your wife."

    How does he square the two?

    Either way he looses.

    If I'll beat my wife because I can't escape my past, then how can he say I wouldn't resort to slinging dope?

    If I can escape my past, then why's he so sure I'll beat my wife?

    John, we always love when you stroll over here and stick your cowboy boot in your mouth.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I dont understand the violence aspect of this. Is it ok to respond with violence or a man is not a man if he can not beat the you know what out of the other person.

    One thing I have always found rather confusing about the gospel is this, if you actually need the gospel you are weak, because a real man should not need anything especially God? I find that a bit confusing. Is it weak or unmanly to seek the grace of God?

    ReplyDelete
  42. PLEASE PAUL, learn how to spell the word "lose" and "loses." Its very distracting when you keep writing "loose" and "looses."

    Thanks!

    And here's your rap again:

    I'm paul manata
    and I'm on the mike
    gonna hip to the hop
    thro gods holy reich

    If yo' diss my god
    say he ain't all that
    gonna convince ya'
    with my base ball bat

    my rythms smooth
    and my chin is high
    if you dis my god
    your teeth will fly

    I'll knock you down
    my tail will wag
    as I nail yo' punk
    with a well placed "TAG"

    coz I believe in my god
    the big fai-ry
    due to the impossibility
    of the con tra ry

    my x-ian rhymes gonna
    be so sweet
    they make no sense
    byt I'll have you beat

    if you dare to question
    and I lose my faith
    my fist will quickly
    find your face

    so don't you dare
    disturb my cool
    coz without god
    I'm a raving fool!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Rather, the argument is that, absent God, whatever I do is amoral, whether I change me behavior or continue with business as usual.

    I can understand Christians saying that their basis for morality is the best basis for morality, but why do some of them appear to believe it's the only one? Surely they can see with their own eyes all the moral people walking around from other religions, including athiests and agnostics?

    I can confidently say that rape, murder and robbery are immoral whether God exists or not. Indeed, even in cases where God might condone rape, murder or robbery (which occur frequently in the early part of the bible) I would still say that they are immoral. What does god-based morality have to offer me that any other basis does not?

    You’re always paying the government for the privilege of having a roof over your head and food on the table.

    I don't, I pay the government to pass and enforce laws, to treat the sick and to feed the hungry. All good, Christian goals. Certainly the government doesn't always do the best job, and usually has a hand in things I would rather they left alone, but until we devise a workable form of collective anarchism I'm afraid we are stuck with elected governments paid for by taxes as the next best thing. If you have any suggestions I'd like to hear them.

    While I'm here, I was wondering - is it true that Calvinists believe that God chooses who is saved and who is damned, and nothing they do - no amount of faith or worldly effort - makes any difference to his decision?

    ReplyDelete