Monday, January 22, 2007

Army of the dead

JOHN W. LOFTUS SAID:

"However, the Christian sees doubt as opposed to the need to please God with faith. So they do not have this same kind of healthy skepticism. Not you charge we with inconsistency. Where is it? I think the outsider test applies differently to religious beliefs that are communal, exclusive, based upon an ancient text, that requires faith, and where there is a fear of hell. All of these things hinders a dispassionate investigation."

Loftus reminds me of a scene from the 1961 movie El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren.

El Cid was killed in battle. But most of the troops don't know that. So his wife has the corpse dressed up in full battle regalia, mounted on his war horse, and marched into battle at the head of the army.

His troops are emboldened by the ruse, while the enemy forces flee in terror at the sight of the invincible warrior.

Loftus' precious Outsider Test, like all his other arguments, has been slain many times over. I myself responded to this nearly a year ago, as did other T-bloggers.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/02/debunking-loftawful-bunk.html

But Loftus, like a taxidermist, continues to stuff his cadaverous argument into a rusty suit of armor, prop it on a hobbyhorse, and wheel it into battle—hoping we won't notice the stench.

But that's not all that wrong with his moldering argument:

1. One would have to be a pretty poor student of Scripture to suppose that God is pleased with a feigned faith. Christian identity is not about playing the role of a believing. It's not about play-acting or make-believe. That would be the very definition of hypocrisy.

Pretending to believe in God is not pleasing to God. Going through the motions isn't pleasing to God. Keeping up appearances isn't pleasing to God.

Even before we get to the NT, hasn't Loftus ever read the OT prophets?

But, of course, this is one of his problems. He was never more than a nominal believer. That's why he doesn't understand the nature of faith. He's like a colorblind art critic. He can master the vocabulary, but he cannot see what he describes. So he gropes and fumbles.

2. But it goes from bad to worse. For he has such a pitifully illogical mind. The above-stated argument is self-refuting.

Yes, doubt is opposed to faith. Yet it should be needless to point out, if we weren't dealing with someone as uncomprehending as Loftus, that if you doubt the existence of God or the inspiration of Scripture, then you doubt that faith is pleasing to God. For faith could only be pleasing to God if there were a God to please.

Likewise, the fear of hell is only fearful to those who believe in it. If you're a doubter, then your doubt will extend to the existence of hell.

Loftus' arguments are premised on a faith which his dubious conclusion denies.

Who happens to think that faith is pleasing to God? A believer.

Who thinks that hell is a fearful fate? A believer.

If, conversely, someone is a doubter, then these cease to be operating assumptions. Cease to be unquestionable articles of the faith.

11 comments:

  1. Gotta admit Steve, you write well. But for all of your arguments, to those on the outside they seem, well, just ridiculous.

    I offered my specific Outsider Test argument as the first comment in that Blog entry. But you've got to take a look at the video first!

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  2. Steve - "Loftus reminds me of a scene from the 1961 movie El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren."

    Man! What a devastating counter-argument! Atheists must be heading for the hills in droves 'bout now! Yikes!

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  3. Okay, that link didn't work, so let's try again. Enjoy! It was written for you.

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  4. Pretending to believe in God is not pleasing to God. Going through the motions isn't pleasing to God. Keeping up appearances isn't pleasing to God.

    So, I take it you disagree with Pascal and William James then, when they talk about things like going to church and reading the Bible in order to gain faith?

    Besides, everything you wrote is missing the point. My point is that for a Christian operating with the assumption that Christianity is true, he or she does not want to entertain doubts. Doubts can lead to hell. Doubts can lead to the displeasure of God. So since Christians have this aversion against doubting, they also have a very difficult time truly investigating their faith. It's like there is this wall built up around their faith. They are afraid to entertain the very things that any (more or less) dispassionate investigation requires. And if that's the case, they cannot truly assess the truth claims of what they believe, unlike someone without those same fears.

    By the way, even though I think your arguments are flawed, and even though I can show you time and again you miss my main points, and that your arguments are even ridiculous, do I treat you the way you treat me? Oh, that's right, you're just doing what Jesus did, aren't you?

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  5. And Steve,

    I know you have doubts--all Christians do. You're just *afraid* to acknowledge them and investigate the validity of the truth claims of your *faith*. Take the blinders off, eh? And be nice to me. The fact that I try to be kind to you while you're mean to me just shows that your religion is a sham. I, on the other hand, have a wonderful world view filled with hope, where love and kindness is offered to the brotherhood of man. Yeah, that's right. No doubt about it, just look at the secular humanist systems of this world....uh, well, nevermind...

    Oh, and I couldn't manage to get that cute picture of me in a cowboy hat to show up next to my post like my last few comments.

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  6. Loftus said:
    ---
    [quoting Steve]Pretending to believe in God is not pleasing to God. Going through the motions isn't pleasing to God. Keeping up appearances isn't pleasing to God.[/end Steve quote]

    So, I take it you disagree with Pascal and William James then, when they talk about things like going to church and reading the Bible in order to gain faith?
    ---

    It's frankly not surprising to me that Loftus still can't grasp simple logic. When someone says that God is not satisfied with false faith, that says nothing about whether going to church or reading the Bible is a means to gain faith.

    Apples and oranges.

    Loftus said:
    ---
    My point is that for a Christian operating with the assumption that Christianity is true, he or she does not want to entertain doubts.
    ---

    So you say. But frankly, Loftus is clueless about Christianity. We see that as he continues:

    ---
    Doubts can lead to hell. Doubts can lead to the displeasure of God.
    ---

    Loftus pretends that it is DOUBT that damns someone. This is because he has a very myopic view of how one is saved in Christianity in the first place (owing, no doubt, to his heterodox upbringing).

    God doesn't damn anyone for doubt; He damns people for sin. Doubt is only bad insofar as doubt is sinful; to the extent that doubt is not sinful, it's not damnable.

    We can get into particulars. For instance, does a person on an island who never heard of Jesus get damned for doubting the existence of Christ? No. He is damned for the sins that he did knowing full well that they were sin, etc. God doesn't hold him accountable to believe what he never heard of; but He does hold him accountable for what he knew he should do and did not do, or for doing what he knew he ought not do.

    Loftus is chasing a canard, a strawman of Christianity.

    By the way, I would further note that Loftus's words make more sense when you realize he's speaking about his own inner fears. What he does is project them on Christians. Loftus is afraid his atheism is wrong, so he insists that Christians must fear their theism is wrong too.

    Loftus, however, believes that the fear of doubt will lead one to not seriously consider objections to his beliefs. This does not follow. For instance, fear of doubt could easily lead one to DEFEND his beliefs and to demonstrate that they are actually true. This would result not in Christians fearing examination of their beliefs, but rather a welcoming of the examination.

    I, for one, am in that second boat. The more Loftus challenges, the more I see Christianity is unfailingly strong. Loftus's protestations serve only to strengthen my faith. Let him doubt as much as he will.

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  7. I don't know why I bother here. I'm still looking for some intelligent comments. But to no avail.

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  8. I watched the video...

    Why do you think atheism stands outside the bubble?

    There are other naturalistic philosophies that seem ridiculous to outsiders (Marxism, environmentalism, Buddhism, pacifism, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism)

    These all make fallacious metaphysical claims. What makes atheism special?

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  9. John Loftus,

    Have you ever read The Thomas Factor by Gary Habermas (whole book is online)?

    Also, Alister McGrath also has a new book coming out Doubting
    Growing Through the Uncertainties of Faith
    (IVP). Here is chapter 1.

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  10. Jeff, those two books look exactly like Os Guiness' older book, In Two Minds: The Dilemna of Doubt & And How to Resolve It (IVP, 1977), which I read as a Christian, and which I had recently looked through again.

    Why do you think atheism stands outside the bubble?

    That's a great question. Maybe we're all inside some kind of bubbles to varying degrees. But when it comes to being inside the bubble of science, education, and rational thought, I'll go with that everytime, since the alternatives are superstitious, and because science has accomplished so much.

    Other than that, the differences have to do with the nature of communal religions, threats of punishment if one will entertain doubts, ancient texts written by superstitious people over against scientific reasoning, the nature of what history can and cannot show, and that fact that atheists usually come out of religions by themselves.

    I mean, really, if Christians really cared to truly investigate their faith, then atheist books should be flying off the shelves! Think about it. But most Christians will never buy or read a book that argues with their faith. They will only buy books that support their faith and argue against the atheists.

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  11. hostus twinkius1/23/2007 11:57 PM

    As someone said here recently,

    "I'm still looking for some intelligent comments. But to no avail."

    A fitting statement regarding the above comments...

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