Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Infidel Delusion

“…this book completely destroys Christianity.”

Those words by atheist Michael Martin are located in the blurb he wrote that appears on the back cover of The Christian Delusion, edited by John Loftus (speaking of back cover blurbs, Dale C. Allison, Jr. starts his blurb by instructing us to “Forget Dawkins” and that’s sage advice no matter who gives it). Furthermore, Keith Parsons states of The Christian Delusion that “there can have been few works as effective” at debunking Christianity. Ken Pulliam states: “It demonstrates that those who believe in the tenets of evangelical Christianity truly are deluded.”

The book contains chapters written by a wide range of modern atheists, including Hector Avalos, Richard Carrier, and Edward T. Babinski[*]. (If those names sound familiar it’s because we’ve engaged with each of them many times on Triablogue.) Of his contribution to the book, Carrier slapped both of his chapters with a “tour de force” label and confidently assured us, “I doubt I'll ever have to write another [refutation of the resurrection].” He says: “My debunking of [Christian claims on science] is so decisive in this chapter, you won't need to refer anyone anywhere else.”

But such hubris vastly overreaches reality, and Triablogue is here to demonstrate it with The Infidel Delusion.

The Infidel Delusion was written (in alphabetical order) by Patrick Chan, Jason Engwer, Steve Hays, and Paul Manata. This is a true tour de force. By the time I got to Manata’s debunking of Valerie Tarico’s naturalistic reductionism in chapter two, the perfect metaphor had formed in my head: Collectively, these Triabloggian authors were firing intellectual howitzer shells point-blank into a cardboard shanty town.

Each chapter of The Christian Delusion is thoroughly debunked by Hay’s philosophical and theological acumen, Engwer’s encyclopedic knowledge of history, Chan’s scientific training, and/or Manata’s philosophical prowess. Contrary to the tactic The Christian Delusion used—to attack the weakest arguments put forth in the name of Christianity—the authors of The Infidel Delusion dismantled the strongest arguments atheists had to offer. Indeed, if there truly are “few works as effective” as The Christian Delusion, as Parsons claimed, then Triablogue shows atheism to be in a sad state indeed.


A Quick Overview of What’s in The Infidel Delusion

After introductions from Hays, Engwer, and Manata, the debunking of The Christian Delusion begins. In chapter one, Eller’s entire premise is shown to be at odds with the rest of The Christian Delusion, making that book internally incoherent. Eller’s belief that there is no real Christianity, but instead thousands of Christianities, actually destroys the basis for The Christian Delusion by rendering the idea that there is such a thing as Christianity (singular) to refute moot. If atheists are to be consistent, either Eller’s contribution must go or it must stand alone.

Chapter two shows Tarico’s cognitive research to be nowhere near adequate to explain what she thinks it explains. In addition to showing the argument to be self-refuting, Manata makes an excellent case that Tarico doesn’t even understand the issues involved in naturalism and scientific reductionism. Additionally, Chan includes a great deal on the medical issues involved, including debunking the idea that Paul’s vision of Christ on the Road to Damascus could be explained by a frontal lobe seizure.

Chapter three deals with Long’s attempt to show cultural background determines how one will believe. This sort of cultural relativism is a double-edged sword, however. If it works against Christianity, it is only at the expense of destroying atheism in the process.

Chapter four gets us to the heart of The Christian Delusion, the Outsider Test for Faith that forms the key of Loftus’s atheistic apologetic. Hays demonstrates how Loftus doesn’t consistently apply this test since it equally destroys his own view. Engwer shows that the attitude Loftus has about how beliefs are formed doesn’t cohere to Christian experience. And finally, Manata demonstrates that the outsider test is “vague, ambiguous, invalid, unsound, superfluous, informally fallacious, and subject to a defeater-deflector.”

Chapter five reviews Babinski’s flawed view of Jewish cosmology based on uncharitable assumptions about the stupidity of ancient people and their lack of ability to understand figurative language; chapter six shows Tobin’s repeating of common objections to Scripture (creating “dilemma” by ignoring all conservative scholarship, and even most liberal scholarship); and chapter seven refutes Loftus’s claim that Scripture is unclear, ironically in part by showing that if Loftus’s chapter is true, Babinski’s and Tobin’s must be false! But internal consistency is not something The Christian Delusion was concerned with.

Chapter eight deals with Avalos’s claims that Yahweh is a “moral monster.” Yet this once again requires us to reject Loftus’s chapter seven, and furthermore Avalos’s moral relativism defeats his own argument.

Chapter nine deals with concepts of animal suffering as evidence for the non-existence of God. Amongst other arguments they present, Hays deftly shows how Loftus’s claims are unsupported anthropomorphisms, while Engwer focuses on the ludicrous demands Loftus requires of believers to “answer” this “problem” and Manata shows Loftus’s argument is really nothing short of wishful thinking completely divorced from the Christian theology it was supposed to debunk.

Chapter ten reviews Price’s misuse of methodological naturalism, including the fact that Price actually ignores the vast majority of modern scholarship in rejecting the very existence of Jesus as a historical figure. Chapter eleven examines similar weaknesses of methodology in the claims Carrier makes regarding the resurrection.

Chapter twelve examines Loftus’s poor exegetical skills and his inability to understand even simple Biblical passages in context. In critiquing Christian prophecy, Loftus manages to all but ignore the preterist movement and makes some rather basic label errors on the positions he does look at.

Chapter thirteen deals with Eller’s moral claims, especially in light of his rejection of objective morality. The Infidel Delusion shows how his evolutionary claims are insufficient to create any type of morality.

Chapter fourteen shows that Avalos’s argument that atheism didn’t cause the Holocaust is irrelevant to the issue of whether Christianity is true. Finally, chapter fifteen shows that Carrier’s historical claims that Christians are not responsible for modern science is both irrelevant to the issue of the truth of Christianity as well as focused on the wrong issues, even within the context of his argument.

The last section of The Infidel Delusion consists of ten appendices that give us more detail into some of the arguments presented within the various chapters, as well as a look at some of the specific claims made by contributors to The Christian Delusion outside of the scope of that actual book.


Conclusion

The Infidel Delusion debunks the entirety of The Christian Delusion. This is not to say it addresses every single flaw in The Christian Delusion—such would take multiple volumes. But there is no major claim made in The Christian Delusion that withstands the criticism leveled at it in The Infidel Delusion. As Steve Hays wrote in his introduction, “…if The Christian Delusion turns out to be just another white elephant in the overcrowded zoo of militant atheism, then that‘s a vindication of the Christian faith.”

The Infidel Delusion certainly demonstrates this.

Full disclosure: While I did not contribute any writing to The Infidel Delusion, I did edit, collate, and format the ebook.

UPDATE:
[*] To be fair, Babinski classifies himself as an agnostic.

60 comments:

  1. "Contrary to the tactic The Christian Delusion used—to attack the weakest arguments put forth in the name of Christianity—the authors of The Infidel Delusion dismantled the strongest arguments atheists had to offer."

    Much thanks Triabloguers for team-writing The Infidel Delusion!

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  2. MUCH looking fwd to reading it. Right after I finish Hays' Apostasy and Perseverance on the iPod.

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  3. Will have to print this one!

    Thanks so much for writing the book.

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  4. You guys are nuts. I mean that in the best possible way.

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  5. Thank you very much, Triabloggers. I want to see the backlash from the Debunking Christianity crowd...

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  6. Richard Carrier: "The Christian religion is so manifestly contrary to the facts, belief in it can only be held with the most delusional gerrymandering imaginable."

    I really appreciate this honest comment by Richard Carrier.

    Obviously, I don't agree with him, but if we can't achieve agreement, the next best achievement is clarity.

    And I really like this helpful clarity that Carrier brings to the table. Because either Christians are delusional or Christ-rejecting atheists are delusional.

    It's perfectly cast. One or the other. Thank you Richard Carrier. I take utterly no offense at being called delusional for being a Bible-believing Christian. I just ask that you take no offense when I call you a delusional atheist.

    Fair is fair.

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  7. Peter wrote:

    "Engwer’s encyclopedic knowledge of history"

    I've never seen an encyclopedia that small.

    As Peter said, he didn't write any part our review of The Christian Delusion, but the book wouldn't be available this early, and in such good form, if he hadn't done a lot of editorial and technical work that we asked him to do on short notice.

    I should also say that the book wouldn't even exist without Steve Hays' initiative. It was Steve's idea, and he got it off the ground. Peter got it organized and edited and out early.

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  8. I've read the first five chapters and will say you've done a good job so far. Looking forward to the meat and potatoes chapters in the middle.

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  9. Gaa, I saw that in my haste this morning I mistyped the comment from Martin. I've fixed it now.

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  10. 257 pdf pages, w00t!

    I don't think I'll be printing this one, but I'll be reading it, right after I finish Owen's TDODITDOC.

    In Him,
    CD

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  11. John Loftus quotes one of the contributors to The Christian Delusion as saying the following:

    It’s a treadmill because they don’t honestly care about what is real (which in their minds is a foregone conclusion)—just about winning arguments. I’d rather spend my energy writing for people who are engaged in some kind of growth process.

    1. What's wrong with "winning arguments"? After all, a major point of "arguments" would be to see which side has the better argument and hence which side "wins."

    2. In fact, that's what the contributors to The Christian Delusion are trying to do as well - win arguments. They too have strong beliefs about what's "real." They too are convinced "in their minds" that Christians are deluded. To them it's "a foregone conclusion." Why else would this contributor write a chapter(s) for a book called The Christian Delusion?

    3. However, they're trying to spin it so it makes it look like they have the higher moral ground or are better people than us since they're not interested in picking fights or whatever, but rather interested in exploration and growth and so on. But it's just a facade. They're just as belligerent and combative, if not more so. They're trying to win arguments as well. I mean, it's not as if publishing a book titled The Christian Delusion is somehow indicative of their openness.

    4. Plus, their version of "some kind of growth process" would be something like going from Biblical Christianity to liberal Christianity to agnosticism to atheism to secular "spirituality." That's not growth. Among other things, that's trying to recruit others to their position. That's trying to persuade others to become hardened in apostasy just like they are.

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  12. Patrick,

    Nothing quite like having someone boast and brag that they are t3h ub3r AWSUM!!!1!eleventy!!! at winning arguments, demanding that you interact with their devastating claims, then get in a huff that you take them up on the offer.

    I mean, poor ol' Loftus was just boasting: "So long as Christian defenders remain silent about my books more believers will walk away from their faith."

    Then again, Loftus was never consistent. I mean, he actually complained that, in his view, Calvinism drives people to atheism. It's almost like he secretly doesn't want anyone to be an atheist.

    Actually, that would explain a lot about the poor argumentation in The Christian Delusion....

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  13. Lol, true dat, Peter! :-)

    And, to say so publicly, thanks again for all your super duper hard work on this, Peter! Much appreciated. :-)

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  14. Thanks for doing this for the Kingdom of Christ. I pray that it leads many not just to defend the faith (Jude 4) but also to see many atheists come to faith in Christ.

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  15. If I ever had the chance to suggest an epitaph for Loftus et al it would be "A life consumed by God, now ended...or is it?"

    Speaking about 'growth', it seems to me that at least 90% of atheistic writing is simply anti-theism whereas about 10%-15% of Christian writing is apologetical. So I was wondering hypothetically what Loftus et al would do if they managed to rid the world of all religion and it's vestiges (art, music, culture, law etc.). What would it look like? What world could he build directly from his worldview with no vestiges of religion.

    Next in series...

    The Love Delusion
    The Beauty Delusion
    The Morality Delusion
    The Hope Delusion

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  16. Sadly, John Loftus is the same sort of person he was in seminary--smug, self-assured, and always wanting to win an argument. We weren't friends, but shared classes and conversations together.

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  17. I am currently working on an extensive discussion and rebuttal of Michael Martin's The Case Against Christianity which was written in the 90's. It sounds as if this lastest effort of the Evangelical Atheists, as I call them, is much the same as what I am discussing.

    The primary errors that I see are first, defining things in such a way as to immediately skew the argument; second, a form of pseudo-scholarship that quotes some poorly known source, touting it as representative, and ignoring all the real scholars in the field, and third, overreaching every argument including the goals of the book.

    In this particular book, the intellectual arrogance is breath-taking. Apparently some things don't change in twenty years.

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  18. There is a thread on this book in the TheologyWeb forum here:

    Triablogue Responds to Loftus' New Book

    I copied a page from the book authored by Steve Hays so I could could criticize it, and I received a moderator warning for copying more text than allowed by the fair use policy. If it isn't too much trouble, can someone from Triablogue leave a post on that thread granting permission to copy long strings of text? It would make the exchange of ideas a lot easier, and I may get an unnecessary blight on my record removed. Thanks. If we truly do not have permission to copy from the book (with appropriate credit given), then I am sorry for the trespass.

    Abe

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  19. And 'The Infidel Delusion' is touted as a scholarly rebuttal of 'The God Delusion'? A bit of self-deception, really.

    And Bill you say: "The primary errors that I see are first, defining things in such a way as to immediately skew the argument; second, a form of pseudo-scholarship that quotes some poorly known source, touting it as representative, and ignoring all the real scholars in the field, and third, overreaching every argument including the goals of the book."


    Well this if straight from the horse's mouth: Tertullian, an early church father of christianity, said. "I believe because it is absurd."

    Question: Did he mean that absurdity is a sufficient reason to believe something, or that the only way to hold an absurd position is by belief?

    Question: If he believes because it is absurd, how does he decide which absurdities to believe?

    There are so many to chose from.
    Ergo, the god delusion.

    Cheers

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  20. Papa,
    Please don't take this as rude, as it's not intended in that way. You might want to do a little research before quoting that Tertullian saying again. Here's a place to start:

    http://www.tertullian.org/works/de_carne_christi.htm

    "Tertullian is best known by a famous misquotation from ch. 5, verse 4: 'credo quia absurdum' -- 'I believe because it is absurd.' The usual implication is that Tertullian believed in Christianity because it was absurd. Tertullian thought nothing of the kind"

    Heck...even wikipedia realizes that it's a misquoted and poorly translated/remembered statement that wasn't in the context of how you are trying to use it.

    So in the future, you might want to refrain from saying it, because it makes you appear ignorant (whether or not that is the case) to people who have actually studied these things.

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  21. Hi G. KYLE ESSARY
    No it isn't a misquotation.

    Prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est.
    It is to be believed because it is absurd.
    De Carne Christi (5.4)

    You will appreciate that De Carne Christi is a polemical work in which Tertullian is said to have proved that the body of Christ was a real human body, taken from the virginal body of Mary.

    Of course! From a theist's point of view it would seem a misquotation. The trinitarian notion, the impregnation by a spectral numen, and the virgin birth are all purely theological constructs. And many in the faith are now coming to realise today that the historical claims of this beautiful story are significantly more tenuous than when Tertullian was around, perhaps not in the Calvinist camp, but surely is elsewhere.

    Cheers

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  22. ABEL SAID:

    "If we truly do not have permission to copy from the book (with appropriate credit given), then I am sorry for the trespass."

    As long as they quote it accurately, folks are welcome to quote from the book at length.

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  23. Hi Papa,
    I'm glad you're able to read a summary statement from Wikipedia and copy/paste it into your comments (evidence of word for word quoting here...well until someone changes it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Carne_Christi).

    In the future, you might consider reading the actual work, or at least reading what actual Tertullian scholars and those who have studied the passage (theist or atheist) say about the phrase and its context. None of them believe that Tertullian says it as you are implying nor do any think he is even supporting fideism at this point, since his other writings definitively show this is not the case.

    I've already given you some references, but here are some more.

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/bets/vol05/tertullian_klem.pdf

    http://www.tertullian.net/articles/sider_credo.htm

    Of course, ineptum doesn't translate as "absurd" anyways (as you imply) since the Latin word absurdum does a fine job of manning that post. At best, you have given a poor translation.

    Now in light of your misuse of the passage, poor translation, and rejection of the unanimous opinion of scholars on the subject, you can either admit your misunderstanding, submit yourself to rationality and move on to fight another theist another day...trying to avoid ever using this "argument" again. Or, you can continue to ignore the historical and linguistic data (not to mention the context of the passage).

    I have a sneaky suspicion based on your other views which option you will choose...

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  24. Papa,

    Should read J.N.D Kelly's "Early Christian Doctrine," it's basic enough and introductory enough that I think it would be great for someone like Papa --- although introductory, very sound and based on actual research by an authority in the field.

    But I presume, Papa doesn't really care; in all reality even if Papa wasn't pretexting Tert. who cares, Christianity doesn't stand or fall on the Patristics --- although they are part of an important time and heritage (but let's avoid reductionism, Papa).

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  25. Hi evangelicalcalvinist
    Thanks for the tip on the book. I will place an order to Amazon. In kind, perhaps a few that you might find interesting:

    Dr Bart Erhman, has published a range of highly scholarly works on the scriptures that has palced them appropriately in the historical contexts in which they were written. Of particular note: Misquoting Jesus; The Lost Scriptures; The Lost Christianities; and Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium.

    John Shelby Spong also has some quite interesting insights, writing from the perspective of a long and distinguished career as a practicing christian.

    Cheers

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  26. Hi G. Kyle Essary
    I am very interested in the notion of rationality and "the historical and linguistic data" of the basis for belief. You may wish to read whatever into Tertullian's words, he did none-the-less say them, didn't he? This is what goes for evidence in a court of law.
    However, on a wider note,

    " Let children acquire reason and critical thinking, then introduce them to religion and let them choose for themselves."

    What religion has ever said that? I posit, 'They would not dare'.

    I am mindful of the saying attributed to St Francis Xavier, ""Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man".

    I ask this question simply because, if the evidence clearly supports the historical accuracy of the gospels, where is the need for faith? And if the historical reliability of the gospels is so obvious, why have so many scholars failed to appreciate the incontestable nature of the evidence?


    Cheers

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  27. Pap,

    Thanks. Ehrman is a sad story indeed; he's taken himself too seriously. You might want to read Gary Habermas' work on the resurrection; but you're real problem, Pap, is a noetic/heart issue (so the "evidence" isn't going to really work in your case --- I follow the "Faith seeking understanding" paradigm). I really don't like the anecdotal stuff that it "seems" you want to engage in.

    I'm sorry that you take Spong seriously. These are rather "popular" guys, but nothing real substantial.

    I mentioned Kelly because he was a Patristics scholar of scholars; and you had mentioned Tertullian, which Kelly deals with. Context is everything my friend.

    Taste and see that the Lord is good!

    Peace out.

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  28. “My debunking of [Christian claims on science] is so decisive in this chapter, you won't need to refer anyone anywhere else.”- Richard Carrier.

    Last I checked, the pitcher isn't supposed to be the umpire.

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  29. What is the need for faith? Well, as every epistemologist I've read would agree...it's a necessity for knowledge.

    Faith in Christianity comes from the Greek word pistis which deals with belief.

    Knowledge can be summed up (in simplistic terms) to "justified true belief." A syllogism might look like:

    1. Christianity is true.
    2. Kyle believes Christianity is true.
    3. Kyle is justified in believing Christianity is true.

    Therefore, faith is a requirement of knowledge. Let me give another example with slightly different wording:

    1. Whales evolved from land mammals.
    2. Papa has faith that whales evolved from land mammals.
    3. Therefore, Papa is justified in believing that whales evolved from land mammals.

    Of course, this runs into Gettier problems, but that doesn't help the atheist as the only seemingly plausible response would be something like either Van Til's or somewhat similarly Plantinga's theories of knowledge and warrant. Some primers for reading material would be Plantinga's Trilogy (particularly "Warrant and Proper Function") and Van Til's "Christian Theory of Knowledge."

    So what is the need for faith? To move abstract facts into personal knowledge...so that we are able to think God's thoughts after Him.

    By the way, I've read almost everything Ehrman's ever penned. What's interesting is how he makes more radical claims about early Christianity in his popular books (i.e. the ones you mention), but is much more reserved in his scholarly ones that will be peer-reviewed (see for instance "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture"). He does a similar thing in his debates. In his presentations he is very bold about his claims, but during interaction with his debaters and Q&A he often backs down from his strongly stated opinions. Methinks he still has some evangelical preacher in him ;-)

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  30. Papa,
    By the way, you might want to check this wikipedia article because it deals with your fallacious reasoning concerning the Tertullian quote:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_quoting_out_of_context

    I agree with EC "context is everything my friend," which is why I continue to suggest that you read up on the passage, it's actual context and what scholars have said about it.

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  31. Hi G. Kyle Essary
    I surmise we have divergent notions, or differences in the meanings of some words.

    As you say, "Faith in Christianity comes from the Greek word pistis which deals with belief." I agree with the synonymity. Indeed within a theological context faith is not different from belief, nor is it the basis of belief. It is the same thing as belief: accepting that which is not substantiated on fact.
    If one has belief, knowledge is lacking. If one has knowledge belief is unnecessary.

    You write: "So what is the need for faith? To move abstract facts into personal knowledge...so that we are able to think God's thoughts after Him.

    ...."move abstract facts into ....... knowledge...."

    "move" is the operative word here, rather than build or discover or grow. I think you may well be right. Theology has been discussing the very same issues for millennia with no resolution, and each final decision largely based on personal intuition at the time, repeated over the centuries. The question I ask is why have we not resolved all of these questions and moved on and developed? It seems religions do not and cannot progress the way that, say, science can progress. When science progresses, it abandons old and false ideas. Once we discovered oxygen and the principles of combustion, we stopped thinking that there was a substance called phlogiston. Once we discovered that the earth is round, we stopped thinking that it is flat. Science and reason are substitutive and eliminative: new ideas replace old ideas. Religion is additive and/or schismatic: new ideas proliferate alongside old ideas. For instance, the development of Protestantism did not put an end to Catholicism, and the development of Christianity did not put an end to Judaism. With science, we get better. With religion, we get more. (to be cont)

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  32. (cont)
    I suspect you would take a differing view Kyle, but for me religion is a natural state, in the sense that it is a social construct fashioned by our forebears as an explanation about their existence and the environment in which they lived to account for things of the natural world which seemed to them inexplicable (in the absence of science as we now know it); and in that regard, was human kind's first attempt to explain matters scientific (be it floods, lightening, thunder, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc). There were many and varied explanations that formed the basis of people's worldviews well before Christianity and indeed there are numerous extant worldviews today. It would be fair to say that the very number of the myriad theistic [and not even including non-theistic] religions today is a testament to it being a natural social phenomenon, relative to the needs of the societies they served, that have provided at least some succour to their adherents in their time. It would also be a reasonable deduction to infer that such viewpoints were unlikely to be provided by revelation, as some variants claim. It is also unlikely that such revelations were divinely inspired by some causative active supernatural force as also claimed by other variants of belief. Why should the various christianities need the case for 'special pleading' that it is different to all the other (false?) religions and declaratively affirm it to be the one true religion? It seems somewhat bizarre that the range of christianities can claim as fact that their particular corpus of belief is the inerrant, inalienable, absolute and sacrosanct work of god so earnestly, and yet at the very same time repudiate with such off-handed flippancy those equally closely-held beliefs of other faiths or strains of the same faith. From my reading such a held position is somewhat baffling and quite incredulous. From my reading, the case against religion is all the other religions. I simply have no reason to posit that the works of the early christian fathers, together with Aquinas, NT Wright, William Lane Craig, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson etc etc including 'The Infidel Delusion' commentary, should be given any believability whatsoever, as we forget that these debates are undertaken in unmindful isolation of all other religions, which you (perhaps not but more than likely) and other christians (of which I am sure) would in the main agree with me are assuredly spurious. I simply say they are ALL spurious, with their roots grounded in ancient times for an ancient people living in a very different and ancient world in which they (without the benefit of modern thinking and the level of knowledge in so many areas of human endeavour we now can draw upon) posited very different responses to explain their world. (to be cont)

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  33. (cont)
    You say ..."I agree with EC "context is everything my friend". And as luck would have it I completely concur with the sentiment. And when you research the context from which the Judeo-christian writings emerged, that is, the foundations of the christianities, we find they fit well within its milieu, a great collection of stories expressing the great trials and wonderful experiences of the human condition over time. They were formed from the stories and legends derived from our forebears need to make sense of their existence, their relationship to the world around them and the cosmos. They are as you would expect them to be, just as they would be, as you read the Egyptian experience, the Babylonian experience, the Zoroastrian experience, and the Roman experience prior to christianity. All is in order. The Bible has a rightful historical place in the library of human experience. Science goes on. Life goes on, even for the billions of others who have never heard of Jesus, pretty much as you would expect it to be, without christianity ever needing to come close to these people. Christianity is a social construct, a culture-specific activity that emanated from a small group of people in the middle east. And yes, it does give meaning to people’s lives. But it is only one of a number of worldviews that have informed humanity over time. We now live in different times.

    Cheers

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  34. "So what is the need for faith? To move abstract facts into personal knowledge … so that we are able to think God's thoughts after Him."

    I must say that this ranks VERY high on my list of most self-congratulatory statements from believers. Well done.

    I must also say that it is good to see folks like Paplinton still trying diligently to bring sight to the blind, as I no longer have the patience or stomach for it.

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  35. (Part 1)

    Papa,
    I can't continue to jump around from topic to topic with you, as I don't have the time, so this will be my last response. Hopefully though, you will look around this site as well as the many others that more than adequately answer your questions (which are fairly common thus far). Tertullian to faith to justification to worldviews to a bad atheist cliche.

    To stay on the initial topic, I don't know if you've read either The Christian Delusion or The Infidel Delusion, but I suggest you read both (as I did...well, I'm about half way through TID but will finish today). I hope you read both, as you will see that the claims of TCD cannot be made so easily.

    Let me begin by saying that my phrase, "To move abstract facts into personal knowledge," had nothing to do with theology in particular, but with any realm of knowledge. Belief, or faith, is a necessary requirement for any knowledge in any field. This is epistemology 101. As I stated above, to have knowledge that phlogistons do not exist (i.e. justified true belief), they must both not exist and you must have faith that they do not exist. Thus, faith is a necessary and unavoidable component of all knowledge.

    You changed topics though before actually discussing this much. You moved from discussions of belief to discussions of justification or warrant. You never reached this destination either though as we never received justification for your worldview. You got distracted by changing subjects to how science progresses versus how Christianity has progressed. I don't disagree that there have been many schisms in Christianity, yet the core remains the same. I don't disagree that science has made a lot of progress, but schisms remain. Of course, the scope of science is vastly limited compared to the scope of Christianity. Science (done rightly) only deals with empirical observations and cannot assess the validity of moral facts, theological facts, metaphysical claims, as well as countless other things including its own rules of justification. Christianity on the other hand lays claim to everything, and part of that claim is that man is fallen and sinful and therefore prone to error. At every opportunity he will use the ability to rebel against God. Thus, error creeps in. Surely you know how it was this belief (along with beliefs in the constancy and sovereignty of God) that led to the creation of the scientific method. I have yet to hear a solid justification for the laws of logic and science (not to mention a justification for doing science at all) from an atheistic perspective. Well...I haven't heard one that doesn't beg the question in regards to induction, logic, etc. Regardless, you changed the topic again and moved to cultures.

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  36. (Part 2)
    You may not have checked my profile, but I live in unquestionably one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world. 50% claim to be Muslim, 25% claim to be Buddhist (Chinese), 10% claim to be Christian and 10% claim to be Hindu. The other 5% are a mixture of Bahai, Christian/Islamic cults, animists, etc. I know that there are other worldviews. I've lived in one of the most totalitarian atheistic countries on Earth (China) and one of the most totalitarian Islamic (Yemen). I've known people who have been imprisoned and their churches destroyed for refusing to accept atheism (in China) and people who were daily beaten for not converting to Islam (Yemen). Despite being born in a country that was blessed with the Protestant idea of religious freedom, I know that people continued to use Christianity to oppress others even there, and conversely people use the ideal of "religious freedom" in order to persecute. I say this to say that I have a pretty good grasp on how worldviews affect people and societies. I've been shaped by my culture, and you undoubtedly have been shaped by yours...after all, you live in one of the most secular nations on the Earth. That's reality, and actually fits perfectly within my worldview. See for instance this wonderful essay by Cornelius Van Til "Why I believe in God" which deals specifically with this issue:

    http://www.reformed.org/apologetics/index.html?mainframe=/apologetics/why_I_believe_cvt.html

    Unfortunately, you move to the tired atheist cliche of, "You already reject so many gods, I just reject one God more."

    As I'm sure you know, it's not nearly that simple. Embracing the rejection of all gods entails all sorts of metaphysical claims, beliefs about society, government and all sorts of things. At the core, you and I cannot look at a pint of beer in the same way, because there are no facts that can be abstracted from the religious (or non-religious) beliefs that affect how we see them.

    Any neuropsychologist would tell you that you have bundles of beliefs related to God, even though you are an atheist. Your culture, being in this world, hardwiring, etc. have produced them. Fortunately, you did not fall into the extremely naive atheist claim of "I simply lack a belief in god(s)," as though this itself is not a metaphysical claim about God and His nature...not to mention impossible from a neuropsychological and epistemological perspective.

    What you are really saying is that you hold to one of many worldviews that does not include God and I hold to a worldview that submits to His sovereignty over everything. It's not that you "just reject one god more" as Dawkins says, but that you have made metaphysical claims against my worldview from within your worldview. You have rejected every other worldview but your own and so have I.

    From the Christian perspective, we see the vast array of worldviews and claim that they are all heresies of the one, true worldview, Christianity. You do the same thing and say they are all heresies of the one true worldview, atheism.

    We're in the same boat my friend. May you ultimately submit yourself to the God who made you, gave you the capacity to reason and upholds your very existence today.

    ReplyDelete
  37. GentleSkeptic,
    Self-congratulatory refers to having an undue sense of pride in ones achievements...I'm pretty sure it's impossible to draw that from my comment. Maybe you meant self-confident? Even then I'm not sure how that fits since you argue for a view that upholds human autonomy over God's autonomy and I hold the opposite...which would be more self-confident?

    Regardless, the statement you quoted as "self-congratulatory" was basic epistemology (at least if you agree that knowledge is "justified true belief" or similar) and basic Christian theology. It had nothing to do with my achievements. The concept of "thinking God's thoughts after him" is much older, but the phrase actually comes from Johannes Kepler, a scientist.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hi G. Kyle
    Yes, I have read TCD, haven't received TID yet.

    You say:
    Belief, or faith, is a necessary requirement for any knowledge in any field

    Papalinton
    'Belief' yes, 'faith' no. Faith has derived a particular connotation that is specific to theology. We must not confuse faith as being anything other than acceptance of something without and evidentiary support. I consider 'trust' a more useful word around which I can posit my feelings because of fact and evidence that can be sourced or searched separately and can stand on their own merit. 'Belief' can be something that is useful for both theists and non-theists.

    All your other claims about theology is speculation, handed down from parents to children, as most things are. But that does not make the foundations of the christianities any more substantive or based on fact. For example, you say, "Christianity on the other hand lays claim to everything, and part of that claim is that man is fallen and sinful and therefore prone to error." The first part is wishful thinking, mere assumption. The second part is pure theology, and you are welcome to it.

    And interestingly, I agree with you as you say, "[a]ny neuropsychologist would tell you that you have bundles of beliefs related to God, even though you are an atheist. Your culture, being in this world, hardwiring, etc. have produced them.
    (to be cont.)

    ReplyDelete
  39. (cont)
    There has been some very interesting research of late. It seems that during the Great Depression one form of institution did very well while most others collapsed; at the worst of times the strictest and most authoritarian churches were party to a huge surge in the number of people attending. It seems people have a natural tendency towards religious belief, especially during tough times. The more insecure we are the harder it is to resist the pull of the supernatural. Recent research is beginning to support the notion that religion is an evolutionary adaptation that makes people more successful and likely to pass on their genes through improved survival rates by forming tightly knit groups. Not all research groups share this proposition. However, it is very early days in this area of study. The other perspective gaining solid support is that religion is a natural by-product of the way the human mind works. This view is most significant in the study of children, who are seen as revealing a ‘default state’ of the mind that persists even into adulthood. This view posits that there are two systems in the mind that work autonomously in which people make the assumption that mind and matter are distinct ‘common-sense dualism’. There is plenty of evidence that thinking about disembodied minds comes naturally. People readily form relationships with non-existent others. Research by Justin Barrett at Oxford University discovered that roughly half of all 4 rear-olds have had an imaginary friend, and adults often form and maintain relationships with dead relatives, fictional characters and fantasy partners. As Barrett points out, this an evolutionary useful skill, without which we would be unable to maintain large social hierarchies and alliances or anticipate what an unseen enemy might be planning.

    Useful as it is, Jesse Bering of Queen’s University Belfast, found that common-sense dualism also appears to prime the brain for supernatural concepts such as life after death.

    To paraphrase, Paul Bloom, Yale U, posits that religion is an inescapable artefact of the wiring of the brain; all humans possess the brain circuitry and that never goes away. Scott Atran, Uni Michigan, Ann Arbor, suggests a clue that the fact that trauma is so often responsible for why adults find it so difficult to jettison their innate belief in gods is what he calls ‘the tragedy of cognition’. Humans can anticipate future events, remember the past and conceive of how things could go wrong - including their own death, which is hard to deal with. Atran says, “You’ve got to figure out a solution, otherwise you’re overwhelmed. When natural brain processes gives us a get-out-of-jail card, we take it.”

    Researchers generally now think that the religion-as-adaptation argument is not mutually exclusive of the idea that religion-co-opts-brain-circuits that evolved for something else, and that both are robust working theories.

    Based on current research and experiments, Bering considers a belief in some form of life apart from that experienced in the body to be the default setting of the human brain. Pascal Boyer, Washington Uni, St Louis, Mo, says from here there is only a short step to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and gods. Boyer points out that people expect their gods’ minds to work very much like human minds, suggesting they spring from the same brain system that enables people to think about absent or non-existent people.

    More importantly, education and experience teaches us to override it, but it never truly leaves us. Religious belief is the ‘path of least resistance’ while disbelief requires effort.

    G. Kyle, an article by Michael Brooks in the Feb 7th 2009 issue of New Scientist provides some of the background to this rather interesting research.

    Cheers

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. (Part 1)

    Papa,
    Your most recent comment had so many errors that I can't help but respond. This will definitely be my last, no matter the number of errors in your next response. You have a track record thus far of attempting to play on reader's credulity only to be shot down by the evidence(*cough* Tertullian *cough* copy/paste from Wikipedia), so I guess I shouldn't be surprised by your most recent contribution. ;-)

    Thanks for teaching us Christians what "faith" actually means. I thought that since it is our worldview and our perspective that we might know what faith means, but I guess I was wrong. Honestly though, you have no place to define our worldview for us. Maybe instead of telling us what we believe you should start listening to what we are actually saying?

    In Christianity, from the beginning until today, faith and belief have been the same thing...same Greek root pistis. From our perspective, and the perspective of modern epistemologists, it is a requirement for knowledge (I'm not going to rehash this again).

    You say, "We must not confuse faith as being anything other than acceptance of something without an(y) evidentiary support." Of course, nobody would agree with that definition. I can't think of a single person in any religion that would hold this view, but I can only speak for Christianity and your definition of faith is completely foreign to our worldview. Sure, Richard Dawkins tries to project this definition of faith onto believers, but his projections are delusional.

    To the Christian, everything is evidence. Every blade of grass made by God to the human ingenuity that will discover a cure for cancer, and thus reflect the creative ingenuity of the Triune God, are evidence. The pain that we feel at the death of a loved one as well as our natural desire to rebellion are all pointers to God. I'm sorry you are blinded to the evidence, but your assertions against this evidence do not change the evidence itself. They only confirm your rebellion and persistence in unbelief. You and I are not, after all, in a position where we can put God in the dock.

    ReplyDelete
  42. (Part 2)
    I'm well aware of the recent work being done in neuropsychology on relationships. Here's the complete article for those interested in more than the summary posted by Papa:

    http://www.mindpowernews.com/BrainGod.htm

    I will say that I am impressed by the article's alliteration from Barrett to Bering to Bloom to Boyer, haha. Reading Boyer's work makes the most speculative theologian seem rather concrete as his book "Religion Explained" jumps from speculation to speculation, but Barrett's book on God and his book on CSoR are both brilliant. Have you actually read any of these books? You might be surprised and find that Boyer and Bloom are not as objective and rational as you might currently assume.

    Barrett, you may not know, is an evangelical Christian in the Reformed tradition (similar to the posters at this blog). These findings (not the just-so stories by Boyer heaped upon the actual scientific work, but the actual data itself) are perfectly in line with standard, orthodox, Reformed Christianity.

    He has some interesting videos on childhood theism that you may want to see at the Faraday Institute on this very topic.

    http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/Multimedia.php

    It's a non-sequitor (more formally a genetic fallacy of logic) to claim that our natural inclination to believe in God has any bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim. To paraphrase D.B. Hart for a moment, "claiming that what Christianity has long called the natural inclination for God is natural isn't saying much."

    To conclude this discussion, let me step out of the "debate mode" for a second and thank you for the fun. I enjoy your rhetoric and playful language and a good sparring and hope you feel the same. Whereas I do pray that you submit yourself to the Triune God, regardless I'm thankful for your candor in our discussion.

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  43. Hi G. Kyle
    An atheist is not a person who knows too little about religion. An atheist is a person who knows too much about religion. In the matter of belief and faith, if one has belief. knowledge is lacking. But if one has knowledge belief is unnecessary.

    This is an interesting piece published in the Journal of Religion and Society, 2005:

    "[Globally], higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, the U.S. ... is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly ..... No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of social health...... The more secular, pro-evolution democracies .... feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion.

    "[Within the U.S.,] the strongly theistic, anti-evolution South and Mid-West have markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the Northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms."

    You say: ..."I'm sorry you are blinded to the evidence, but your assertions against this evidence do not change the evidence itself."
    Unfortunately the evidence you propose is bunkum, and unfortunately the theist's use of the word 'evidence' has been conflated to include all manner of ridiculous 'knowledge' posing as fact, when indeed it is simply a theological factoid.

    I guess there is evidence , ... and then there is evidence.

    Cheers

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  44. "Regardless, the statement you quoted as "self-congratulatory" was basic epistemology … and basic Christian theology. It had nothing to do with my achievements."

    Oh, naturally. My bad. Perhaps it was Keppler that was self-congratulatory.

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  45. I was once a Christian but I chose to stop. I just didn't see any better behavior among those who assert they had the "truth" than those who didn't. Most of the Calvinist fueled posts here seem self-evident to that fact for me.

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  46. Chuck O'Connor said:

    I was once a Christian but I chose to stop. I just didn't see any better behavior among those who assert they had the "truth" than those who didn't. Most of the Calvinist fueled posts here seem self-evident to that fact for me.

    I was once an atheist but I chose to stop. I just didn't see any better behavior among those who assert they had the "truth" than those who didn't. Most of the atheist fueled posts elsewhere seem self-evident to that fact for me (e.g. Debunking Christianity).

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  47. Oh! Patrick. Don't lie for Jesus. And what a shallow reason for conversion.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Papalinton said:

    Oh! Patrick. Don't lie for Jesus. And what a shallow reason for conversion.

    Oh! Papalinton. I can't believe someone actually fell for it! Wow. I mean, my comment was so obviously a parody, so obviously pegged on Chuck O'Connor's previous comment, with flashing lights and neon signs proclaiming the point, yet you still somehow managed to walk straight into it! Man, "fooling" you is easier than taking candy from a baby: if you think this is "a shallow reason for conversion," then your comment would apply to Chuck O'Connor's reason for deconversion. After all, all I've done is take his comment and change a couple of words around in order to lampoon it. But the form or structure of the "argument" (such as it is) is still Chuck O'Connor's. So since you think it's "shallow," then I suppose you can tell Chuck what you think! Hopefully he won't take it too badly though. :-)

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  49. Hi Patrick
    That was no parody from you Patrick; you actually believe what you said. I took the liberty of looking through your previous post on this site and sure enough, my suspicion is confirmed. You say:

    "....3. However, they're trying to spin it so it makes it look like they have the higher moral ground or are better people than us since they're not interested in picking fights or whatever, but rather interested in exploration and growth and so on. But it's just a facade. They're just as belligerent and combative, if not more so. They're trying to win arguments as well. I mean, it's not as if publishing a book titled The Christian Delusion is somehow indicative of their openness."

    and

    " ...4. Plus, their version of "some kind of growth process" would be something like going from Biblical Christianity to liberal Christianity to agnosticism to atheism to secular "spirituality." That's not growth. Among other things, that's trying to recruit others to their position. That's trying to persuade others to become hardened in apostasy just like they are."

    And if you so firmly believe in the substance of the parody by definition how can it be parody? If you think it was a parodical victory, it is such a pyrrhic victory as to be rather asinine.

    As for Chuck O'Connor's stance, my claim of your silliness does not in any way devalue his position. Atheism is not against god[s]; why would one want to argue against something which is patently not there? There is simply no need for a god[s] to meddle in one's daily affairs in an atheist's worldview.

    No, your attempt at parody is as shallow as your beliefs. And given the tenor of your previous responses on this site, you lied for Jesus, and that still stands.
    Cheers

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  50. Papalinton said:

    That was no parody from you Patrick; you actually believe what you said.

    1. You sure are a silly guy, Papalinton! I mean, for one thing, I had no idea you could somehow read my mind and conclude: "you actually believe what you said." How did you know I was lying? How do you know that I "actually" believed that my parody wasn't a parody? This is news to me!

    2. But I suppose this is your indirect attestation for some sort of extrasensory perception power or ability? :-)

    And if you so firmly believe in the substance of the parody by definition how can it be parody?

    Sigh. I do feel bad for you that you're so confused, Papalinton. So I'll try and help clear up your muddled thinking for you. I don't know that I can do it since it's pretty messy. But I'll give it a go.

    1. First, I have no idea why you quoted the quotes you quoted from me. How do these quotes (which are in response to other people's comments) have anything to do with us at all? Talk about quoting "out of context"! I knew some religious folks suffer from quoting texts out of context, but now there's evidence at least one atheist does as well. :-) But thanks for the data. I'll file it away under "village atheist testimonials."

    2. Moreover, how do these quotes have anything to do with the concept of parody itself? You haven't made a connection.

    3. Once again, I didn't know you could read my mind so as to conclude that I "firmly believe in the substance of the parody." Are you telepathic? Wow. Although, I gotta say, if you are telepathic, you gotta work on your telepathic skillz because you certainly didn't correctly guess what I was thinking! But you're welcome to try again, sir.

    If you think it was a parodical victory, it is such a pyrrhic victory as to be rather asinine.

    1. Man, I hate to disillusion you, Papalinton, but it's not a "pyrrhic victory" because I didn't suffer any damage.

    2. Even if it was a pyrrhic victory, it'd be a pyrrhic victory for Chuck O'Connor since my parody was based on his argumentation.

    BTW, I'm not sure why you keep attacking Chuck O'Connor's position.

    As for Chuck O'Connor's stance, my claim of your silliness does not in any way devalue his position.

    Alas, even against your best intentions to the contrary, it does devalue Chuck O'Connor's position! Sorry, I know you're trying to keep your comment from sounding any worse than it already does. But what can you do when your words are already documented above? If you think what I said is "a shallow reason for conversion," since what I said was an exact duplicate of the structure of Chuck O'Connor's argument, then by parity of logic you would have to conclude that Chuck O'Connor gave "a shallow reason" for his deconversion.

    Well, unless you have a double standard, which is possible given atheistic "morals" and "ethics." However, if you do have a double standard, then it's rather ironic that you're calling someone else out on their moral or ethical behavior!

    At any rate, like I said, hopefully Chuck O'Connor will realize you made a foolish statement which you probably wish you could take back now, not because you meant to personally criticize him or whatever, but simply because you lack the faculty for logical thinking and reasoning. Or in terms you might better follow: you're a dim bulb.

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  51. Atheism is not against god[s]; why would one want to argue against something which is patently not there? There is simply no need for a god[s] to meddle in one's daily affairs in an atheist's worldview.

    Now you're trying to change the subject. This doesn't have anything to do with Chuck O'Connor's comment, my parody, your response to my parody, or my response to your response of my parody. I suppose it makes sense though: changing subjects is a tactic often used by people who have lost the argument. Thanks, I'll accept your concession.

    No, your attempt at parody is as shallow as your beliefs.

    1. Ah, thanks again, Papalinton! Now you've acknowledged that it was at least an "attempt at parody," which would contradict your previous allegation that it wasn't a parody ("you actually believe what you said . . . And if you so firmly believe in the substance of the parody by definition how can it be parody?"). Hey, you know what? I don't even have to debate or argue with you. You just argue against yourself.

    2. From a neuropsychological perspective, it's also interesting to me how atheists like you can hold two directly contradictory beliefs at the same time. Have you read either Valerie Tarico or Jason Long's chapters in The Christian Delusion? They talk about this very phenomenon which you're exhibiting here!

    3. Also, I'll just note in passing that I never said my parody was deep or profound. In fact, I happily accept that my parody is shallow. After all, a shallow parody is good enough to lampoon a shallow comment.

    And given the tenor of your previous responses on this site, you lied for Jesus, and that still stands.

    1. How interesting, Papalinton! What you're doing here is repeating that I "lied for Jesus" but with a bit more force behind your words. I suppose you must think the more frequently and forcefully you make a statement ("you lied for Jesus"), the more likely it'll be true. It's interesting because I wonder how someone can live life with such irrationality.

    2. Even if it's true that I "lied for Jesus," what makes you think lying is always wrong? Either according to Christian morality or, more importantly for you, according to atheistic morality?

    3. Thanks for saying that I "lied for Jesus" because, usually when someone lies, he doesn't do it for Jesus. Usually he does it for himself. He does it to get out of trouble or because he's afraid of the consequences of telling the truth or something like that. So, even though you're quite mistaken in your accusation, nevertheless I appreciate that you'd think so highly of me as to say that I'm doing something for Jesus Christ. :-)

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  52. Papalinton said:

    In terms of christian morality, I should perhaps include an earlier piece I submitted:

    This is an interesting piece published in the Journal of Religion and Society, 2005:

    "[Globally], higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, the U.S. ... is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly ..... No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of social health...... The more secular, pro-evolution democracies .... feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion.

    "[Within the U.S.,] the strongly theistic, anti-evolution South and Mid-West have markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the Northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms."

    Give the statistics, christian morality is a sham and any claim for such is simply ludicrous and tendentious.


    I notice you didn't answer my question, Papalinton. I didn't ask for sociological statistics. Rather, I asked for what grounds Christian and atheistic morality in the first place. What makes you think lying is wrong according to Christian morality as well as atheistic morality.

    Once again, you're trying to change the subject. Once again, this is an oft-used tactic of someone who doesn't have a reasonable response to what's been presented, who has in effect lost the debate.

    ReplyDelete
  53. That is very interesting; Triablogue does not even have the christian decency it professes to have to post my last comment without interference. And then, if my comment was not posted, how is it that it only appears as a subset of a christian comment by Patrick with pat response already attached. It seems the Triablogue crew are somewhat timid[?] to publish my comment as a stand-alone without having had time to mull through a response so that it only appears once a response has been manufactured. What a gutless crew of sycophants to their cause. It clearly demonstrates an amorality masquerading as pious morality. You cannot display a greater level of dishonesty on a website than that.

    As far as the grounding of morality in the christianities, the statistics speak for themselves. You only have to look at the book of Job to realise how stupid, malicious and malignant that particular god is. You could not envisage a greater level of injustice and immorality than that which was thrown onto Job.

    It clearly demonstrates how in the Old Testament there is a split between human morality and the divine, as in the book of Job, in which Job is clearly morally superior to his god and God's response to Job is never to stoop to human morality but simply, "I am bigger than you, older than you, and I made all this stuff."

    It has nothing to do with moral superiority of atheism. It has everything to do with the fallacy of the basis for christian morality.

    More and more people are realising the inanity of the ethics and baseless claims made in the bible and are seeing it for what it is; a wonderful book recounting the legends, myths, and stories of the human condition of those who lived in the bronze/iron age. It has no relevance in modern society apart from a nostalgic look to the past and to get a sense how far we have travelled as a species since then. So, Patrick, don't get too upset. The bible still has a rightful place among all the other great books of antiquity that we can fondly look to settling down to read in front of a warm fire, a cup of coffee, on a cold winter's night. You must subdue the neolithic evolutionary traces in your brain and look to furthering the well-being of humanity into an exciting inclusive future.
    Yours in human friendship
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  54. Papalinton said:

    That is very interesting; Triablogue does not even have the christian decency it professes to have to post my last comment without interference.

    Howdy, Papalinton! Glad to see you're in a chipper mood as usual

    Anyway, I'll apologize in advance because I'm in a bit of a rush, so I've only got time for a couple of quick responses to your confused comments.

    Actually, we reserve the right to post or not post comments we believe are appropriate. This isn't a forum for anyone to vent whatever they like.

    And, no, this doesn't contradict
    "Christian decency" as you call it.

    Besides, from your perspective, who cares, right? After all, since it's not as if you have a legit basis for morality in the first place.

    And then, if my comment was not posted, how is it that it only appears as a subset of a christian comment by Patrick with pat response already attached.

    As to your comment, perhaps you deleted it and making an allegation about us. Perhaps you're charging us wrongly here.

    In any case, all I did was bold your entire comment so nothing should've been left out. It should be there in full, in bold, above my response.

    It seems the Triablogue crew are somewhat timid[?] to publish my comment as a stand-alone without having had time to mull through a response so that it only appears once a response has been manufactured. What a gutless crew of sycophants to their cause. It clearly demonstrates an amorality masquerading as pious morality. You cannot display a greater level of dishonesty on a website than that.

    I see personal attacks are all that you're left with at this stage.

    But, once again, from your atheistic amorality, even if this were the case, it's not as if it matters in the grand scheme of things. What's pragmatic outweighs what's "moral" or "ethical." Ho hum.

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  55. As far as the grounding of morality in the christianities, the statistics speak for themselves. You only have to look at the book of Job to realise how stupid, malicious and malignant that particular god is. You could not envisage a greater level of injustice and immorality than that which was thrown onto Job.

    As usual, you're one confused dude with contradictory beliefs in his head. If "the statistics speak for themselves," then why do you make an appeal to the Book of Job in the Bible? Lol.

    It clearly demonstrates how in the Old Testament there is a split between human morality and the divine, as in the book of Job, in which Job is clearly morally superior to his god and God's response to Job is never to stoop to human morality but simply, "I am bigger than you, older than you, and I made all this stuff."

    Nice tendentious interpretation. If this is what you're arguing, then begin it with the relevant exegetical arguments. But, alas, you haven't done the hard spade work of textual exegesis for starters.

    It has nothing to do with moral superiority of atheism. It has everything to do with the fallacy of the basis for christian morality.

    So you say, but don't show. As is the case with so many who comment here, you make assertions without arguments.

    More and more people are realising the inanity of the ethics and baseless claims made in the bible and are seeing it for what it is; a wonderful book recounting the legends, myths, and stories of the human condition of those who lived in the bronze/iron age. It has no relevance in modern society apart from a nostalgic look to the past and to get a sense how far we have travelled as a species since then.

    Yawn. Same old tired assertions.

    So, Patrick, don't get too upset.

    Well, since there's no bite to your bark, okey doke, I won't get upset. :-)

    The bible still has a rightful place among all the other great books of antiquity that we can fondly look to settling down to read in front of a warm fire, a cup of coffee, on a cold winter's night. You must subdue the neolithic evolutionary traces in your brain and look to furthering the well-being of humanity into an exciting inclusive future.
    Yours in human friendship
    Cheers


    FTW! You go, Papalinton! Preach it! :-)

    Alrighty, better run now.

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  56. Hi Patrick
    Thanks for letting me know that it was only a glitch that my post was not published as such.
    Also Pat I think your's and my position is a lot closer than you think. You and I are pretty much the same in our humanity, except for the god-bit.

    You say, ..."But, alas, you haven't done the hard spade work of textual exegesis for starters."

    In that you are mistaken. After bucket-loads of exegesis and reading widely and talking to many, the tragedy for me was discovering that apologetics really only sought to juggle among all the various interpretations trying to find something that all believers could hang their hat on with confidence. But the responses, or the 'answers' were as diverse as those who wrote about them, and the variations in themselves spanned the whole continuum. An atheist is not a person who knows too little about religion, but rather, an atheist is a person who knows too much about religion.

    Cheers

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  57. Papalinton said:

    Also Pat I think your's and my position is a lot closer than you think. You and I are pretty much the same in our humanity, except for the god-bit.

    Except that's a difference at least as wide as the universe from end to end.

    In that you are mistaken.

    If so, then where's the exegetical argument (for starters)?

    After bucket-loads of exegesis and reading widely and talking to many, the tragedy for me was discovering that apologetics really only sought to juggle among all the various interpretations trying to find something that all believers could hang their hat on with confidence. But the responses, or the 'answers' were as diverse as those who wrote about them, and the variations in themselves spanned the whole continuum.

    Yes, that is a tragedy for you.

    Also it's a tragedy that you keep airing your dusty opinions without any sort of argument whatsoever.

    Which Christian works have you read and studied? Which Christians have you spoken with? Etc.

    However, based on your "performance" thus far, I highly doubt you've seriously considered what you say you've seriously considered. Rather, my guess is you had a flimsy Christianity to begin with. A Christianity built on a house of cards. When you were faced with a couple of challenges (e.g. intellectual, moral), your "faith" toppled over.

    BTW, this is certainly true of Loftus' faith. At root, he left Christianity not because he had intelligent reasons to do so, but because he committed adultery which led to a subsequent fall-out with his church and others.

    An atheist is not a person who knows too little about religion, but rather, an atheist is a person who knows too much about religion.

    It's hard to take you seriously since you make such a sweeping statement without any sort of evidence or support for it (among your many other problems which I've pointed out to you above). Some atheists know a lot about religion. But others don't. It depends on the atheist.

    If these were the only available categories and I had to place you in the one or the other, I'd say you'd fit in the latter: it doesn't seem like you know much about the Bible or Biblical Christianity at all. It seems like you just have caricatures you picked up from pop atheists like Richard Dawkins, for instance, who sadly evince so little knowledge about the Bible.

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  58. I found a post that seems applicable: Why Argue?

    Long excerpt:

    I’ve been in a long-term running argument with a particular atheist on Thinking Christian. I wrote him another long comment today, calling him to account for some obvious prejudice and stereotyping on his part, where he had been accusing Christianity of bias. After I wrote it I sat back and asked myself why? After five years, do I really expect today’s argument to change his mind? Not really. Some people might be open to convincing, but this person has remained committed to (entrenched in?) his atheism.

    Still I continue to hope, but what am I hoping for? This is what I wrote to him:

    "Why do I care about your addressing those things I just mentioned? Is it because I’m hurt by the prejudices or stereotyping? No, it doesn’t bother me in that way. Is it because I have to win this argument? Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, there’s some intellectual satisfaction in the give-and-take, but I know from long experience that to set “winning” as a goal is to chase a vapor. Chances are, both of us think we’ve out-argued the other, but there’s no NCAA, MLB, NFL, or NBA to set the rules. There are no referees; there is no scorekeeper. No one is going to pronounce one of us the winner. There is no such thing as “winning.”

    The reason I ask you to face the realities of your argument here is because I’m hoping that you’ll take a close look at the logical and ethical inconsistencies of your own position, and learn something about yourself from that close look. I’m even hoping that by learning something about yourself, you’ll give yourself freedom to be open to realities you have so far refused to allow into consideration. I’m hoping you’ll learn some of the sorts of things that we all seriously need to know about ourselves and about real life."

    I hope I learn something about myself, too, and that I learn something about life and truth.

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  59. And old post, but for some stats on atheists see http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/RevealingStatistics.html#Atheists

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