John W. Loftus said...
On what basis can Hitchens denounce the evil in the world? Here's how: Christians believe God is good, omniscient, and omnipotent. They also believe the Bible is God's word (however conceived). Based upon the Bible Christians act in the world. Hitchens can legitimately argue that 1) This world is not one that the Christian God would've created based upon the morality that Christians find in the Bible; 2) The morality revealed in the Bible is not something Christians defend in today's world without gerrymandering it to modernize it with our better moral notions; and 3) Christians do not live up to that morality and sometimes cause suffering when they follow it.
If Christianity is true then it needs to show how this present world is evidence of the morality in the Bible and that Christians actually live that morality.
There is no inconsistency in doing this. None. We've gone over this before, but I was wondering if you have any additional thoughts on the matter.
john w. loftus said...
“On what basis can Hitchens denounce the evil in the world? Here's how: Christians believe God is good, omniscient, and omnipotent. They also believe the Bible is God's word (however conceived). Based upon the Bible Christians act in the world. Hitchens can legitimately argue that 1) This world is not one that the Christian God would've created based upon the morality that Christians find in the Bible.”
That is not, in fact, how Hitchens makes his case. To the contrary, Hitchens denounces Biblical morality as well as Biblical theism. He does not, therefore, consider Biblical theism to be incompatible with Biblical morality, or vice versa.
What Hitchens does, instead, is to attack Biblical theism and Biblical morality alike by his extrabiblical sense of what is right and wrong.
Since that is how Hitchens has chosen to frame the argument from evil, he needs to explain and justify his own source and standard of moral valuation.
“2) The morality revealed in the Bible is not something Christians defend in today's world without gerrymandering it to modernize it with our better moral notions;”
That’s a tendentious overstatement which disregards the many Christians who do defend Biblical morality.
“3) Christians do not live up to that morality”
Meaning what? Since Christians are sinners, they are bound to fall short of their ethical ideal. That does nothing to invalidate the ideal.
“And sometimes cause suffering when they follow it.”
What examples can Loftus cite without begging the question?
John W. Loftus said...
Steve, suffering is obvious. It's pain pure and simple, and while I accept your point about Hitchens, I was showing how he could do so. He has shown how professing Christians have caused suffering in the world though, and professing Christians are the ONLY kind of Christians we see. According to your own belief system a Christian isn't a perfect person (but instead one who believes), so you cannot plausibly argue that the ones causing this suffering are not true Christians without also claiming Christians are sinless, in my opinion.
As far as God commanding his followers to do what we now consider evil goes, I consider the following commands evil: your God declared that a slave is the property of another man (Exodus 21:21). A female captive in war was forced to be an Israelite man’s wife (Deuteronomy 21:10-14). If a virgin who was pledged to be married was raped, she was to be stoned along with her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:23-24), while if a virgin who was not pledged to be married was raped, she was supposed to marry her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).
I consider the evidence of evolving moral standards--standards that you yourself now accept--as evidence against the God of the Bible...or can you justify honor killings? Answer me this. In obedience to God would you have stoned a virgin pledged to be married who was raped by a man with him, or not?
John W. Loftus said...
"Steve, suffering is obvious. It's pain pure and simple."
Shattering philosophy's mirror: a conversation with Richard Rorty - philosopher
"[Richard] Rorty follows Hume and Schopenhauer. Again, Rorty confesses:
'...there is no answer to the question 'Why not be cruel?' There is no noncircular theoretical backup for the belief that cruelty is horrible. Nor is there any answer to the question 'How do you decide when to struggle against injustice and when to devote yourself to private projects of self creation?'... I do not think there are any plain moral facts out there in the world, nor any truths independent of language, nor any neutral grounds on which to stand and argue that either torture or kindness are [sic] preferable to the other (Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity)'."
john w. loftus said...
“Steve, suffering is obvious. It's pain pure and simple.”
Three or four problems:
i) Not all suffering is physical (i.e. “pain”). Therefore, “suffering is not “pain sure and simple.”
ii) Moreover, I, as a Christian, am at liberty to admit the obvious. Yes, there’s such a thing as suffering. Yes, there’s such a thing as pain.
But a consistent physicalist is not at liberty to admit the obvious. Such mental states are inconsistent with naturalized epistemology and evolutionary psychology, which is why eliminative materialism denies the existence of pain and suffering.
I’ve pointed this out to Loftus on multiple occasions. Either he’s too much of an intellectual slouch to address the issue or else he doesn’t dare come to terms with a consistent secular anthropology, for were he to admit that pain and suffering are illusory, given physicalism, he would lose the raw materials for his argument from evil.
The only alternative would be for him to defend a secular version of dualism. But while that might be theoretically possible, such a concession makes it harder to argue against Christianity.
Therefore, Loftus constantly ducks the issue.
iii) Furthermore, to say that pain and suffering exist is not to say that pain and suffering are evil. Loftus needs to mount a separate argument to show that pain and suffering are natural and/or moral evils.
iv) Finally, even if he could demonstrate that pain and suffering are evil, that would be insufficient to mount an argument from evil, for he would need another supporting argument to show that pain and suffering are gratuitous evils.
As usual, Loftus’ objection is all gaps and no argument.
“As far as God commanding his followers to do what we now consider evil goes, I consider the following commands evil: your God declared that a slave is the property of another man (Exodus 21:21).”
No, that’s not what it means. What it means, rather, is that a slave is his master’s source of income. Therefore, it would be pointless for the master to remunerate the slave for lost wages since, in that event, the master would be writing himself a check (as it were).
In the meantime, Loftus also disregards the passage as a whole. Slaves had civil rights under the Mosaic Code. If the master killed the slave, the master was subject to capital punishment. And if the master maimed the slave, he had to pay the equivalent of workman’s comp. The legal protections covering a slave under the Mosaic Law are unique among ANE legislation.
For more detailed exegesis, consult the standard commentaries on Exodus by Currid (2:78-79) and Stuart (490-91).
“A female captive in war was forced to be an Israelite man’s wife (Deuteronomy 21:10-14).”
i) To begin with, in the ANE, marriages were arranged. The idea of consensual marriage is anachronistic.
ii) Loftus has offered no argument for why his modern, provincial, socially-conditioned view of marriage is morally superior to traditional customs which still prevailed in many parts of the world.
iii) A war bride enjoyed civil rights. Instead of suffering the fate of an involuntary concubine, she enjoys the rights of a Jewish wife—which is more than she would enjoy under ANE law in general.
iv) Keep in mind the historical circumstances. We’re talking about survival in a world of warrior cultures. In the ANE, a woman without men to protect her would be completely defenseless.
“If a virgin who was pledged to be married was raped, she was to be stoned along with her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).”
Either Loftus is too ignorant of the law in question to know what it means or else he is prevaricating.
This is a case of consensual sex, not rape. That is clear from the contrast between 22:23-24 and 25-27, which is a case of rape.
In the case of consensual sex between a woman who was already engaged to another man and a man who was not her fiancé, this was equivalent to adultery, and both parties were executed.
A rape victim was not executed. To the contrary, if you actually read other OT rape laws, such as the very next case law (e.g. 22:25-27), you will see that the rape victim was deemed to be innocent—in cases where rape could be presumed—whereas the rapist was executed.
Once again, this illustrates the fact that women had civil rights under the Mosaic Law. Far from an “honor killing,” it was the man, and not the woman, who was killed.
Why does Loftus misrepresent the law in question? Is he willfully ignorant or willfully dishonest?
i) In the final case, the rapist must compensate the rape victim by providing the ancient equivalent of alimony.
And that’s more that Loftus ever did for the stripper he dumped as soon as she became inconvenient. It’s quite understandable why promiscuous men like Loftus revile OT laws that hold men accountable for their sexual indiscretions.
ii) Finally, we need to read this law in concert with the parallel case law in Exod 22:17. Marriage was not obligatory in this situation.
That’s the nature of case law. A particular case law does not address every possible situation or attendant detail. You need to compare one case law with another.