How the heck did this guy get a PhD?
Perhaps he married the daughter of the provost, kinda like Richard Burton in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Steve,Perhaps Victor just wants Calvinism explained to him in a convincing way just as everyone that disagrees with any position would and we shouldn't take such a statement so literally? I dunno. Ben
War on Error,That's rather hard to believe, sad to say. When Reppert's met on philosophical grounds he says his moral intuition is so strong that nothing a Calvinist could say can overturn it. When he's met on exegetical grounds he says that if those verses do prove Calvinism, then maybe Scripture is errant; or, he says that he'll just say, "Whatever Scripture means, it can't mean that.". When he's givin specific rebuttles to his arguments he doesn't deal with them but after a few months repeats his claims as if no answer were ever given (i.e., not even taking it into account and showing how it doesn't answer his objection). I would encourage you to read through this debate between Victor Reppert and some Triabloggers here. If you're going to say things like you just did you should familiarize yourself with at least some of the relevant information.http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/06/calvinism-vs-arminianism.htmlAfter all, wars on error are presumably fought against all error, not just against error unless it is the error of those the warrior happens to like.
The Dude,Sure, you may very well be correct. I haven't read the entire exchange to know how fair or unfair Victor is being in context. However, at face value, this post does not demonstrate its intended point necessarily, since interpretive charity could alleviate the difficulty if we didn't know any better. "After all, wars on error are presumably fought against all error, not just against error unless it is the error of those the warrior happens to like." I'm glad you see it that way. Ben
War on Error,The evidence won't let anyone read Victor that way. After all, what do you say to someone who intimates that the God of Calvinism may be omnipotnet, but he's not worthy of worship? How do you persuade someone who says that the Bible can't mean what Calvinists say and, if it does, then it's errant? How do you persaude someone who trumps all of your arguments with pre-argumentative intuitions? How can you respond to someone who says that since he is a libertarian, then it's just impossble that responsibility be compatible with determinism. Shoot, one might think the falsity of Calvinism is Victor's cogito.
The point is that if we are expected to change our mind, we must be given a sufficient reason for doing to. You know what kinds of work my doctoral degree is based on. Of course, lots of naturalists would like to dismiss me as a quack. http://www.skepticaleye.com/2009/04/crackpot-in-philosophers-clothes.htmlThe point is one I defended at some length, that you have the right to believe what you already do unless the other side provides evidence.
And the other side has provided evidence. Ample, copious reams of evidence. Your response has been, "Well, I just don't have those intuitions".
Victor said:"The point is that if we are expected to change our mind, we must be given a sufficient reason for doing to."It's interesting to note how Victor started out trying to show why Calvinism is false. Now he's trying to show how he's not forced to accept it. This subtle shift, probably unaware to Victor, speaks volumes about how the Calvinist side has done in the debate. Victor, you began this whole thing by trying to show that Calvinists should drop their beliefs. Now they have you struggling to defend how you're not forced to accept the logic of their position. Good job, triabloggers.
I have reached the conclusion that there are certain epistemological presuppositions held by Calvinists which have to be responded to if there is to be an effective critique of Calvinism that a Calvinist will take seriously. Calvinists typically begin with a kind of biblical positivism in which the inerrancy of Scripture is not only accepted, but is considered epistemologically fundamental. I could believe in inerrancy while at the same time thinking that certain types of evidence about what the Bible taught might make me reconsider. Calvinists typically think that that would render me inadequately dedicated to the authority of Scripture.The next step is to argue that the primary type of evidence relevant to the interpretation of texts of Scripture is of the grammatico-historical type. So if I say "this makes no sense, God could and surely should do it differently" the primary objection is that the text says God did it that way, so "so much the worse for intuition." To object as I have done would be to present an a priori argument against Calvinism, not an exegetical argument. The next step is to produce reams of Calvinist exegesis of the relevant passages. This includes arguing that Calvinist texts (Eph. 1, Rom. 9) really do fully support Calvinism, and cannot be interpreted in any other way without doing violence to the meaning of the text. Anti-Calvinist texts I Pet 3:9, John 3:16, James 1:13, 2 Cor 5:15, etc.) can be reconciled with Calvinism without doing violence to the meaning of the text. At the same time I can come up with anti-Calvinist exegetes who say that the Calvinist texts don't support Calvinism, and the Calvinist interpretation of anti-Calvinist text really do undermine Calvinism. The thing that is hard not to notice is that people like Moo, Schreiner and Carson on the Calvinist side, and Witherington and Hamilton on the Arminian side are all professional exegetes. However, so far as I can tell, none of us over here in the blogosphere is a professional exegete. How do you guys figure out who to trust, besides trusting exactly those people whose ideas support the theology you are already committed to? By the way, I do not appreciate how all the points of the post were ignored, except for the one line in the discussion that you thought you could ridicule. The purpose of this post was not to engage my arguments, but to discredit me. This type of what I call biblical positivism seems to me to be deeply problematic, for many reasons. However, any argument against Calvinism that doesn't come to terms with this approach to the relation of Scripture to knowledge is going to end up talking past the Calvinist.
Calvinists typically begin with a kind of biblical positivism in which the inerrancy of Scripture is not only accepted, but is considered epistemologically fundamental... This type of what I call biblical positivism seems to me to be deeply problematic, for many reasons.Which is why no one takes it seriously any more when you call yourself a Christian. You don't think that the word of God is epistemologically fundamental. That's a basic Christian thing to do.
The Dude,"How do you persuade someone who trumps all of your arguments with pre-argumentative intuitions?"I've been reading a bit of the exchange, and granted I've only gotten through round 1 of 39, but it seems to me that Victor is presenting Biblical reasons for his moral intuitions. I have a ways to go before I know if you are overreacting or not. For now though, I'm wondering if you would really want someone to believe in your version of Christianity against their own conscience? Victor,"The purpose of this post was not to engage my arguments, but to discredit me."It does seem like they are expressing their frustration in a somewhat less than civil way.Dominic,"Which is why no one takes it seriously any more when you call yourself a Christian. You don't think that the word of God is epistemologically fundamental. That's a basic Christian thing to do." Is it really Victor's fault if he doesn't have the same level of confidence in Biblical inerrancy? Ben
I never allocated blame. I simply pointed out that when someone claims to be a Christian, that claim implies that they take God's word as superlatively authoritative. When it becomes obvious that they do not afford such status to God's word, it commensurately becomes obvious that their claim is either false or confused.
Dominic,"I simply pointed out that when someone claims to be a Christian, that claim implies that they take God's word as superlatively authoritative." I can appreciate that that is your definition of a Christian, but the "word of God" doesn't exactly come explicitly labeled as such in the exact way you seem to mean. Why can't God communicate to humanity through a mostly correct collection of human writings? And if they are not completely correct, then shouldn't other considerations be able to chime in at some point? If the claim that Victor is a Christian is false and it is contrasted with the alternative of Victor being confused about his Christian status, then it appears you are willing to call him a liar over this mere disagreement. I don't know exactly what Victor's view is, but I don't think imposing on him your view of what it means to be a Christian is serving the conversation. Isn't this "Calvinism vs. Arminianism" and not "who is the real Christian?" Naturally you can do whatever you want. I'm not your keeper. It would be nice though to see more civil conversations from the intelligent and knowledgable folk around here, like yourself. Ben
If I appear uncivil, it is because Victor has lost the right to my civility during the course of many tortuous discussions.
War on Error,Yes, do read them all. To answer your question. Suppose that it goes against someone's consciencew that Socrates was mortal, would I expect them to believe this conclusion if the premises were true:All men are mortal.Socrates is a man.Ergo . . .
Dominic,"If I appear uncivil, it is because Victor has lost the right to my civility during the course of many tortuous discussions."Perhaps your experience is different than mine, but when I allow someone else to define for me what my response is, it is generally bad for everyone. The Dude,"Suppose that it goes against someone's conscience that Socrates was mortal, would I expect them to believe this conclusion if the premises were true:"I just don't think it's ever that simple. People are complicated and not everyone is at the same stage in life or coming at what may seem like a simple issue to you or me. I've read through Dominic's first reply to Victor and there are dozens of things I starkly disagree with. *I* think I could point them out very easily and the deal would or should be done. Right? Is that a realistic expectation? Probably not. As a Calvinist Christian (perhaps that is redundant to some ears here), his value-scape is very different than mine as a non-theistic humanist. I don't expect that to change overnight (or even over the course of 39 rounds). And even if I think any given issue is as simple as 1+1=2, I wouldn't want Dominic to accept something that was grossly against his conscience if he didn't see things the way I did. It would probably hurt him and be quite unproductive. That takes time and patience if it even happens at all. Of course, it also assumes I would be the one that doesn't need to change my opinion. :DAssuming that Calvinism and Biblical inerrancy represents the "stronger faith" in Christianity, doesn't Paul advocate a similar acceptance of those "weak" in the faith? I don't have functioning "faith-dar" I'm afraid, but it seems you might have some options set up for you on your own terms. Perhaps you don't think something like that applies for some reason though. Just a thought I had. Ben
Ben,You've moved beyond what you asked me. You asked me if I would "want" someone to believe something against his conscience. The answer is, "of course!" I tried to bring that out by claiming that I would "want" someone to believe the truth over against his conscience. Whether it is easy to show is a different question. Suppose someone feels like all humans are evil aliens that he needs to kill. Suppose that it would wound his conscience to argue that he is wrong. Still, if he believed this I would "want" him to believe against his conscience. If this didn't persaude you then perhaps a reductio will. It is against my conscience to believe that I shouldn't want people to believe the truth if it might go against their conscience. Therefore, by replying to me and trying to persuade me to see it your way you are wanting me to go against my conscience, something you staunchly forbid. So by responding I win and by not responding I win. :-)
The Dude,I'm guessing you don't think there is a valid universal category (no matter where you are coming from on any issue in relation to convincing someone else) where you allot a certain amount of respect for a person's subjective feelings on the matter even if you think they are outright intellectually mistaken, because you know convincing someone is a complicated and delicate a-rational process that doesn't work the same for everyone. We're just going to have to disagree there if you are somehow unaware of that. "I tried to bring that out by claiming that I would "want" someone to believe the truth over against his conscience."Well, it sounded like ideologically justified psychological cruelty to me since it is explicitly and actively "against his conscience." I'm not saying the conscience is inerrant or that you give up, but it does make sense to me to give people their space when it comes to asking people to think or do something that they honestly (currently) feel is wrong. Shameless Star Wars reference:Obi-wan Kenobi: "You must do what you feel is right of course." At least Jedi agree with me, if not Calvinists. hahaBen
War on Error,Do you still think I should believe something against my conscience? It seems so since you continue to try and convince me. Apparently you think I am wrong and would "want" me to see things your way. I'm sorry that you don't understand the self-refuting nature of your position. Now, of course I make room for and understand the person-variable nature of debate, but that to see this somehow means that I can't want someone to belive the truth even if that goes against their conscience is simply a non-sequitur. I'm really at a loss as to why you don't grasp this simple point. I answered your question and you have yet to show me how I am wrong. Yes, I would want someone to believe the truth even if their conscience (and on Christian terms let's not forget the fall and man's continual desire to reject God, his law, and his gospel) loved a lie. Apparently you disagree and don't see the problems inherent in this. I would also assume that Victor would like to believe as many truths as he can.
Oh, let's note the irony of your moniker. Turns out I'm the one at war with error. For you, a person's subjective conscience justifies calling a truce on error. ;-)
The Dude,"Therefore, by replying to me and trying to persuade me to see it your way you are wanting me to go against my conscience, something you staunchly forbid. So by responding I win and by not responding I win. :-)"Haha. If I weren't the one advocating shades of gray there might be an inconsistency on my part. As it is, I'm violating your conscience in regards to what? A slight change of tact? You are violating someone's conscience in regards to *eternal torture* among various other Biblical extremes. Slight difference in magnitude. I'm not too worried about hypocrisy over these shallow technicalities and never said you shouldn't confront anyone at all. It's about knowing when to say when and how you go about doing that. "For you, a person's subjective conscience justifies calling a truce on error. ;-)"This isn't a matter of epistemology, but tact. The one does not cancel the other. Not being tactful would be yet another error in my book. You are of course free to be as errant as you like, but I did point out how even in your worldview Paul seems to feel similarly when it comes to those weaker in faith. He could have justified himself by claiming those people who disregarded God's word in regards to clean and unclean food were in rebellion against God (as you've attempted to do), but apparently he didn't think that was relevant. Allowing people a difference of conscience there was a "truce on error" was it not? I think I've explained myself adequately. I understand you may not be willing to put this unsolicited advice into practice and that's fine. I'm not your mother and I struggle to apply it myself. So if you like, we can say that you won the conversation and that I lost. take care,Ben
War on Error,Seems to me that if I am civil then there is no violation of tact in "wanting" someone to believe the truth as opposed to holding on to a false belief out of a false conscience that one should. I'm unaware how "I" am violating someone's conscience with respect to eternal torture and, how, if I am, this makes a big deal when you are asking me to violate my conscience. I'm sorry, I just don't see how you've escaped the dilemma I've proposded for you. Your continued posts are refutations of your initial post. That's the way I see it.Your appeal to Paul is off-base since Paul was never once content to let the gospel or the nature of God be the subject of false beliefs for te sake of a weaker brother's conscience. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. You are misrepresenting the tradition of Christian liberty and applying things to that category that have never belonged there. I understand your misuse of the Bible as you are a "humanist" and probably don't spend your time learning either Christian theology or how to interpret the Bible.Anyway, keep posting and proving that believing truth is more important than not asking people to go against their conscience.
The Dude,"Anyway, keep posting and proving that believing truth is more important than not asking people to go against their conscience."I don't see how this post or your comments could be about "truth" when there have been 39 rounds of actual debate. If the arguments that you support there were good, then shouldn't that have been sufficient? As Victor noted, this post was to discredit him and you apparently jumped on the bandwagon. By my count, if literal mindedness is the standard going on here, I have many more rounds to go before we get to 39 and a snarky post venting about you on my own site long before I'm contradicting myself. I'm all for civil debate and I asked my original question to you in the context of a lengthy and apparently definitive debate in the can. So in that context, it makes little sense to respond to my comments as though I expect that everyone has to be treated like they are delicate flowers or that the truth is unimportant. Victor apparently got himself into this, so there's nothing to complain about there. But at the same time, this post and the subsequent comments have nothing to do with maintaining an arena where ideas are freely expressed and defended without unnecessary embitterment. For whatever reason, you don't seem to respect that. No one likes to be corrected and I understand you don't know me or necessarily how to take my comments. It is unfortunate that things had to get drawn out this far. I don't think it would have cost you anything to say, "Oh hey, you're right, Ben. I guess we could lay off since our case is so awesome." Please note I did not start attacking anyone and as far as I can tell have not been mean spirited to you or anyone else. I will continue to explain myself though if there is further miscommunication. "Seems to me that if I am civil then there is no violation of tact in "wanting" someone to believe the truth as opposed to holding on to a false belief out of a false conscience that one should."You are absolutely right in the technical sense, that wanting someone to believe the truth is no crime. I never suggested otherwise. "I'm unaware how "I" am violating someone's conscience with respect to eternal torture and, how, if I am, this makes a big deal when you are asking me to violate my conscience. I'm sorry, I just don't see how you've escaped the dilemma I've proposded for you. Your continued posts are refutations of your initial post. That's the way I see it."I don't know yet what (if any) contribution you've had to the actual debate, but you apparently condone the nature of this post and Steve's and Dominic's perspective in general. So to join with them in "rubbing it in" is the "violation."
"Your appeal to Paul is off-base since Paul was never once content to let the gospel or the nature of God be the subject of false beliefs for te sake of a weaker brother's conscience. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. You are misrepresenting the tradition of Christian liberty and applying things to that category that have never belonged there."It was just a suggestion. I don't see how you can know for sure, since the one or two things Paul brought up in this category surely don't represent all such matters. Biblical inerrancy is a very debatable modern day Christian issue among respectable apologetic scholars, correct? Perhaps you don't think so, but it would seem to fall into the same category. If those passages on weaker and stronger faith didn't exist and a Calvinist really wanted to they could easily turn the clean and unclean foods into an assault on Christ's very atonement, couldn't they? I'm sure there are Christians who do. There would be no more fundamental a heterodox issue than that, but Paul found it in his cold ideological Calvinist heart to be a tad more understanding. I'm assuming he expected they might even come around eventually if their "weaker faith" was respected. Otherwise, Calvinists seem to have an infallible reason to disrespect everyone in all situations because anything against the party line can be absolutely be construed as "rebellion against God." When does the excuse not work? And how can we tell this excuse from the excesses of personal immaturity? Maybe you are perfectly okay with that, but having such an inhumane attitude is one of the reasons people are scared of Christians. Perhaps you don't care how bad it looks from the outside either, but I don't think it serves your ends, since apparently people are more receptive to whatever you have to say when you respect them. I was under the impression that works for everyone from any perspective regardless of their metaphysics. Even regardless of predestination, God still holds you responsible for whatever you do and don't do, right? I was under the impression Calvinism was compatibilist and that my suggestion of tact and respect after a long debate has transpired would be a matter of mere extension from your responsibility to minister to people in general. It's not like you are trolling Victor, so I've seen far worse behavior and I think you should continue standing up for truth as you see it even if that means against what I'm saying here. However, I see no reason why one cannot get away with standing up for truth *in addition* to being more respectful to one's opponents. I hope this isn't too controversial an idea, and I imagine the debate is on how far this might go in a particular context.
"I understand your misuse of the Bible as you are a "humanist" and probably don't spend your time learning either Christian theology or how to interpret the Bible."I'm not claiming to know everything, but I do know that nothing said here in this post or the subsequent comments can possibly be construed as a noble attempt to change Victor's mind about anything. I don't mean to blow this particular post or your comments out of proportion, but this kind of thing does rather seem to be an unfortunate theme on Triablogue. There are lots of much more controversial issues to debate and I'm sure we'd all rather look forward to a more pleasant atmosphere. And honestly I have just as much trouble convincing certain atheists to take the high road more often, so it's not like I'm just picking on Christians. We're all human. I've been "picking on" Common Sense Atheism and Richard Carrier lately in that regard with varying degrees of success. It never hurts to give a friendly complaint on occasion. Sometimes people do listen. I'm not looking to harass you, Steve, Dominic, or anyone else for that matter. I would like to explain myself though. If you perceive this as an attack on you personally, I apologize. All I'm looking for at best is some acknowledgment that things could be a little better here in the tactfulness department. At worst, I guess I can say I tried and we can agree to disagree. Obviously tone doesn't stop all debate completely, but in my experience it often does make it about a whole bunch of things it's not actually about. Ben
I noticed something here in Bnonn's comments that startled me. Apprently it isn't enough to actually believe in inerrancy, you have to consider it to be absolutely epistemically fundamental, or you're not a Christian. That is, if there is some other claim that I think is more certain than biblical inerrancy, I can't be a Christian? Like the idea that I am sitting in a chair right now. Or that this is a Bible in my hand and not a satanic counterfeit? So when Luther called James a "right strawy epistle" it showed that he was not really a Christian? Anyone who not only doesn't pass the test of being an inerrantist, but even someone who is an inerrantist, but thinks that some other propositions are more epistemically certain than inerrancy, also isn't a Christian? C. S. Lewis? Into the outer darkness!Wow!
Maybe in future you could take the time to educate yourself before mouthing off, given that I have explained my position in much greater detail than I did here.
But I don't see that you addressed the issue I presented here. What I had said was that incompatibilism seemed more evident to me than inerrancy. Now, I didn't say that the Bible wasn't inerrant. I said incompatibilism seemed more evident to me than inerrancy. Now since I think incompatibilism is true, this is perfectly compatible with my also believing that inerrancy is true.