Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The moral schizophrenia of a militant atheist

“One thing is sure to me. The Triune God in the Bible simply cannot be describing the God who exists. That God is a barbaric God. He is a hateful, racist and sexist God.”

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/02/barbaric-god-of-bible.html

But Loftus says he doesn’t believe that anything is intrinsically good or evil. So even if the God of Scripture were hateful, barbaric, racist, and sexist, that wouldn’t be intrinsically evil.

So how does it follow that such a God cannot exist?

Loftus can’t attack Biblical morality on his own grounds, because he doesn’t believe that anything is intrinsically good or evil, and he can’t attack the Bible on its own grounds since he could only attack the Bible on its own grounds by assuming the Biblical viewpoint for the sake of argument, but the examples he cites from Scripture are not examples which Scripture itself characterizes the way he does.

“He’s a pretty barbaric God, if you ask me.”

But if you ask Loftus, he will tell you that he doesn’t believe that anything is intrinsically good or evil.

“This God is simply the reflection of ancient barbaric peoples.”

But, according to Loftus, barbarism or barbarity is not intrinsically evil.

“God decreed that a man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath day was to be stoned to death (Numbers 15:32-36). God commanded that anyone who curses his father or mother was to be put to death (Exodus 21:17). Witches, and those of differing religious views were to be killed (Ex. 22:18,20). These are pretty stiff punishments, eh?”

But since Loftus doesn’t believe that anything is intrinsically evil, he doesn’t believe these penalties are intrinsically evil.

“God asked Abraham to kill and sacrifice his son Isaac. As I've said, if we heard a voice today telling us to do that, we would not think this voice was God’s, although Abraham wasn’t horrified at the suggestion. Enough!”

Why doesn’t he think this would be the voice of God? Does he think the command is evil? But he doesn’t believe that anything is intrinsically evil.

“Josef Mengele is widely hailed as a monster for doing just that to Holocaust victims.”

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/06/why-trust-god.html

But Loftus doesn’t believe that the Holocaust was intrinsically evil.

“Why didn’t the Christian God ever explicitly and clearly condemn slavery?”

Even assuming the dubious truth of this characterization, why does Loftus believe that God should have done so? According to Loftus, slavery isn’t intrinsically evil.

“If God created us then he can do whatever he wants to us. But that doesn't make him a good God. Goodness means at least treating people as you would want to be treated, and such a God would have no respect for us as human beings.”

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/07/does-god-have-moral-right-to-do.html

Even assuming the dubious premise, since Loftus doesn’t believe that anything is intrinsically good, he can’t believe it’s intrinsically good to treat people as you would want to be treated.

“However, the actual situation is that the presence of the amount of suffering in our world stands as evidence against the existence of any God, from our earthly perspective.”

But since Loftus doesn’t believe that suffering is intrinsically evil, how does this count as evidence against the existence of God?

“Come on, why would he create such a world that has so many faults, like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, poisonous creatures and plants? Why not create us with better immune systems to diseases which have wiped out whole civilizations in the past? Why did he create the whole predator-prey relationship in the first place?”

But if you can find these sorts of things in the Bible, then the Bible doesn’t regard these evils as evidence against the existence of God.

So what is left of his original objection? It can’t be either internal or external.

“Christians who respond by saying that suffering is God's punishment for our sins fail to understand that the so-called punishments do not fit the crimes.”

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the punishment exceeds the crime, since Loftus denies that any punishment could be intrinsically evil, how does his objection have any traction?

Not on external grounds. And the Bible doesn’t regard its penalties as disproportionate.

“Even our own system of punishments is more humane in how we treat criminals.”

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that our own system is more humane, Loftus doesn’t believe that it’s intrinsically good to be more humane, or intrinsically evil to be more inhumane. So his external comparison is like a flat tire, punctured by his own nail.

“Ed Babinski has often quoted Voltaire on this subject who said: ‘The silly fanatic repeats to me... that it is not for us to judge what is reasonable and just in the great Being; that His reason is not like our reason, that His justice is not like our justice. Eh! How, you mad demoniac, do you want me to judge justice and reason otherwise than by the notions I have of them?’”

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/08/omniscience-defense.html

But Loftus judges justice by the principle that nothing is intrinsically just or unjust.

“It's time to discuss what is known as the bedrock of atheism, the problem of evil.”

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/04/problem-of-evil-what-can-god-do_26.html

So this is the “bedrock” of atheism. Keep that in mind.

“Here are some more things God could’ve done: One childhood fatal disease like the Spanish Flu of 1918 could have killed Hitler and prevented WWII. One actual attempt on Hitler’s life by some people, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, could have ended his reign after the war started. A different police officer could have discovered a naked boy who had briefly escaped Jeffrey Dahlmer’s clutches, and upon investigating further could’ve saved that boy’s life. Timothy McVeigh could have had a fatal vehicle crash while driving to Oklahoma, or a crash that would reveal what was inside his truck. McVeigh could also have been killed while in combat before coming back to the states.”

And so on.

But if nothing is intrinsically good or evil, then it isn’t intrinsically evil that God didn’t do any of these things.

So he can’t judge God’s actions by an external absolute.

What about internally? But he’s already told us that the God of Scripture is “barbaric.”

So, according to him, the fact that God doesn’t intervene in these cases is entirely consonant with what Loftus takes to be the Biblical viewpoint. It isn’t intrinsically evil on his own grounds, and it isn’t intrinsically evil on Biblical grounds.

Where does that leave his argument from evil?

“Why did God allow the earthquake that sent the tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people in Asia?”

Since Loftus doesn’t believe that anything is intrinsically evil, it isn’t intrinsically evil that God allowed it.

Not on Loftus’ view of good and evil. And not on a Scriptural view of good and evil.

“Why couldn’t something have happened to all nine hijackers of those planes on that fatal 9/11 day?…God allowed the destruction of nearly 3500 lives that day even though there were means at his disposal to stop it.”

Given Loftus' view of good and evil, how is this relevant to the argument from evil?

8 comments:

  1. Steve quote of one of the things Loftus said struck me. Since Loftus is repetative (and also hard of hearing) I'll only stick with this one:

    ---
    Here are some more things God could’ve done: One childhood fatal disease like the Spanish Flu of 1918 could have killed Hitler and prevented WWII.
    ---

    In other words, when God KILLS an "innocent" baby, this counts as God being evil; but because God did NOT kill Hitler in his youth, that ALSO counts as God being evil.

    How does Loftus know that the four-year-old who's death is in the newspaper would not have been the next Hitler? By what value judgment can Loftus claim that that specific death is a bad thing, whereas Hitler's death would have been okay.

    The double standard is obvious to all but Loftus. Loftus is arguing that since Loftus "knows what's best" some deaths that didn't occur would have been permissible--indeed, even necessary. Yet when Christians argue that God knows what's best, Loftus dismisses this argument.

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  2. How does Loftus know that the four-year-old who's death is in the newspaper would not have been the next Hitler?

    This then is funny. 40,000 children starve to death everyday. So, are there that many potential Hitler's out there? Besides, why did Hitler slip through God's fingers? I see no evidence God does anything...anything.

    It's also funny that what I say is obviously wrong to all but me. I'm sure this is not so. Maybe it's obvious to a small minority of Calvinists, but not to "all."

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  3. It's disheartening to think that Loftus is actually a teacher when he cannot follow an argument.

    How he cannot see the problem in claiming God is unjust for NOT killing one child, but God is unjust FOR killing another when the only difference is...the HYPOTHETICAL dream-world Loftus resides in!

    Loftus's arguments are solely speculative. They don't address the real world, because it is impossible for Loftus to know what would have happened if a hypothetical event had occured. The chaos theory alone rules out his ability to make any definitive arguments here.

    So, Loftus is arguing from the land of make-believe here. There is no substance.

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  4. This is amazing. This post can't have been a repeat of any less than 5 other posts in response to Mr. Loftus, and he keeps on keeping on. He is either not getting it (which is hard to believe), he is ignoring it, or he is so blinded by zeal to bring down Christ or Steve Hays or both (the former being a more difficult task) that he just keeps banging the same drum. It's a shame and reminds me of his 2nd interview w/ Gene Cook.

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  5. You Christian theists are in such a funny position. You claim moral superiority, but when we look at your book, we atheists see a morality typical of the time that spawned it, steeped in superstition. Would you really defend Leviticus when God (supposedly) says: "[Ye shall keep my statutes] neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon thee."

    It doesn't matter who God supposedly told this to, it's just plain nuts! NUTS! ... the law would never make any sense under any circumstances-- let alone your claim that from God comes "intrinsic morality". "Thou shalt not eat green jelly beans." is just as morally applicable in the REAL WORLD.

    Morality isn't fixed; it's not intrinsic, that's the whole point. We as human beings have to evaluate a given moral position based on real outcomes and evidence as much as it is possible. How do we evaluate this evidence? Simple. Based upon the "state of being human" -- a just law is created at an attempt to alleviate human suffering.

    In point of fact, it is you theists who claim there are moral absolutes, so YOU must defend the moral edicts of the Bible which now seem horribly out of date and cruel. We atheists don't need to explain why we don't believe in fixed morality. You do. We have a perfectly reasonable explanation for why certain laws in the Bible are silly. They were written a long time ago and humanity has moved on... please join us.

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  6. Morality isn't fixed; it's not intrinsic, that's the whole point. We as human beings have to evaluate a given moral position based on real outcomes and evidence as much as it is possible. How do we evaluate this evidence? Simple. Based upon the "state of being human" -- a just law is created at an attempt to alleviate human suffering.

    Does Anonymous support abortion, for example? Is abortion meant to alleviate the suffering of the mother or of the child? Both? On what grounds?

    Or if Anonymous is in the middle of the desert with his best friend, and there's only enough water for one of them to survive, whose suffering will Anonymous choose to alleviate, and why?

    Does Anonymous subscribe to naturalistic evolution? If so, then is there any substantial difference between human suffering and animal suffering? If a house is on fire and Anonymous' infant is trapped inside along with his favorite pet dog Fido, and he only has time to rescue one or the other, will Anonymous rescue his baby or Fido? Would he rather anger PETA or the ACLU? Or can't his professed morality overcome his evolutionary desire to preserve his genetic lineage?

    In short, on what grounds does Anonymous define what it means to be human as well as what it means to suffer?

    We have a perfectly reasonable explanation for why certain laws in the Bible are silly. They were written a long time ago and humanity has moved on...

    What makes Anonymous think that the ancient Biblical writers had an inferior moral system to ours? Who's to say that the ancients didn't have a moral framework superior to our modern one? On what basis does Anonymous adjudicate between the two?

    please join us.

    Join the Dark Side? Tempting. What will I get out of it? Will Anonmymous give me hope in suffering? Or as C3PO might say, is it our lot in life to suffer? And in the end to die, meaninglessly? But if what Anonymous says is true, then what difference does it make if I believe in a lie that makes me happy for the few decades of my life versus knowing the so-called "truth" of atheism? If a lie makes me happy, then so what? Why argue with any of us here? In the end, we'll both end up six feet under, according to Anonymous.

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  7. way to ignore Anonymous's point about the total insanity of Leviticus

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