RD RAUSER SAID:
“In order to assess the plausibility of his claim we first have to identify what the worldview of biblical Christianity is. I presume it is, minimally, a set of metaphysical/theological claims. So what are those claims?”
That depends on how detailed an answer you’re looking for. Biblical theologies by Tom Schreiner, Bruce Waltke, Frank Thielman, and Gregory Beale (forthcoming) provide fairly detailed expositions.
“What is that set of claims the denial of which is sufficient to deem one irrational? You've talked in general terms about adopting the narrative and canonical perspective of scripture but like Dustin you have provided virtually no insight into what that set of claims is. So could you please get down to brass tacks? What is the set of claims about the nature of reality called ‘biblical Christianity’ the denial of which constitutes an irrationality?”
It doesn’t have to be a set of denied doctrines. There are a number of individual doctrines, the denial of which renders a belief-system irrational.
If the Biblical God exists, then he’s the source of all things actual, possible, and necessary. By denying the existence of God, the atheist can’t supply an ultimate explanation for anything.
If you deny the Biblical doctrine of creation, and punt to naturalistic evolution, then you sabotage the basis of human rationality–by attributing human rationality to a mindless process.
If you deny the Biblical doctrine of providence, you uproot the foundations of induction.
If you deny the Christian afterlife, you rob human existence of ultimate consequences. When we die, it’s as if we were never existed.
If you deny the efficacy of prayer, then your belief-system lacks the explanatory power to account for many events (large and small) in world history.
I could give other examples. And I could elaborate on the examples given.
“You said that I hold to a ‘low’ view of scripture. I wonder how you could know that since I didn't say anything about my view of scripture…”
You tipped your hand when you imputed contradictory diversity to Scripture. Likewise, your review of Babinski’s contribution to TCD betrays a low view of Scripture.
“…(or inerrancy, though I have been a member of ETS for 8 years in good standing, if it matters to you).”
That would mean something at the time the ETS was founded. It means preciously little today.
“I didn't say anything about my view of theological diversity in scripture. I only said that a reasonable person could believe such exists and thus come to a different set of beliefs about the claims that constitute a biblical Christian worldview than another person.”
Now you’re revising your original claim.
THE ATHEIST MISSIONARY SAID:
“Does this quote mean John Shelby Spong is evil?”
Yes, John Spong is evil.
However, I didn’t entitle my post “atheists are evil.” I entitled my post “atheism is evil."
Due to common grace, atheists range along a moral continuum. Some retain more residual decency than others.
RD RAUSER SAID:
“Let's say that atheism is constituted by the proposition "God does not exist." That can't be evil. It's just a proposition!”
There can be evil ideologies. Take Nazism. Or Satanism. And the thought is father to the deed (as the saying goes).
“So in fact we are talking about the evil of atheists and not the evil of a proposition that denies God's existence.”
Human beings have an obligation to their Creator to acknowledge him and thank him. It’s like the obligation of children to parents–only higher. Atheism displays monumental ingratitude to God for the being and wellbeing of men. It also evinces a deep-seated hatred of the good. For God is the summum bonum, and the source of all mundane goods.
“Oh yeah, and you might want to take up Atheist Missionary's suggestion to read some Peter Singer. I'd suggest you also read some Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, atheists who demonstrate more moral integrity on a whole plethora of issues than most Christians I meet.”
i) That’s one of the most revealing statements which Randal has made thus far. Let’s see. Peter Singer. Fanatical lobbyist for abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.
Chomsky, apologist for Stalinism, Red China, and the Khmer Rouge–among other things. Cf. R. Posner, Public Intellectuals, 85-89.
Finkelstein, the classic self-hating Jew, who identifies with Hamas and Hezbollah.
Such paragons of moral integrity!
ii) Given his view of human nature, why does Singer care about the poor (if we accept the propaganda at face value)? Wouldn’t social Darwinism make more sense given his presuppositions?
“But my concern is with people who can't find the good in somebody with whom they disagree strenuously on other matters. Close to forty years ago Singer wrote a powerful paper in ethics on the culpability of rich people in allowing the poor of the world to die.”
Randal is such a dupe for empty liberal symbolism. Affluent liberals have always made “poverty” a radical chic cause–to deflect attention away from their own standard of living and provide some cover for their abhorrent ideology. It’s like the Al Gores and John Edwardses–who live in McMansions and fly by private jet while they purchase carbon offsets to excuse their lavish lifestyle, then lecture middle-class Americans on minivans.
What’s the standard of living for the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University?
“And yet rather than read that paper and Singer's other work on the plight of the world's poor, self-righteous suburban evangelicals continue to drive their big fat SUVs, tithe 4% of their income (on average) and stand in judgment of his views on abortion. What damnable hypocrisy.”
Well, that’s another revealing statement. Is it the combination of these putative vices that renders one hellbound, or are they individually damnatory?
i) Is it damnable to live in a look-alike house and shop at a strip mall? How is living in a suburb damnatory, but living in residential Vancouver BC (Randall attended Regent College) pious by contrast?
Or does Randal think evangelicals should live in a cardboard box under a bridge, then use the money they saved on housing to purchase books by Noam Chomsky, Peter Singer, Norman Finkelstein, and Peter Unger?
ii) Aren’t SUVs the contemporary equivalent of station wagons? Is it damnatory to drive a Chevy SUV, but pious to drive a Chevy station wagon?
iii) If evangelicals didn’t have to fork over so much of their earnings in federal, state, and local taxes, they’d have more disposable income to tithe.
What about evangelicals who also donate to Christian charities and parachurch ministries? Did Randal take that into account?
What about an evangelical couple with a stay-at-home mom who homeschools the kids? Because they squeeze by on a single income, there’s not much disposable income.
Or what about an evangelical couple where both parents work outside the home to send their kids private Christian schools? How much money do they have left over after tuition and textbooks?
Or what about evangelicals who financially support their aging, failing parents? Say, assisted care.
Or what about evangelical parents with a drug addicted son or daughter? Their disposable income goes to rehab.
Or what if a father spends money taking his young sons on a camping trip? Is that damnable?
Or what if he buys a pet dog for his 8-year-old boy. Is that damnable?
iv) There is also the unspoken assumption that if we just transferred money from middle-class wage-earners to Third World countries, that would eradicate global poverty.
Is that how it works? What about all the foreign aid to Haiti and Sub-Saharan Africa. Has that eradicated poverty? What about welfare programs? Has that eradicated poverty?
What about our nation-building efforts in Afghanistan?
If we just diverted middle-class wages to Somalia, that would transform Somalia into Switzerland, right?
v) What, exactly, is Randal doing to eradicate global poverty? Did street kids in Calcutta go to bed well nourished because he wrote a review of James Beilby’s Epistemology as Theology for Ars Disputandi?
“Before you call Peter Singer evil try reading the parable of the sheep and goats half a dozen times whilst setting aside your self-righteous certainty that you're a sheep and Singer is a goat.”
In context, the parable of the sheep and goats concerns the obligation of Christians to care for fellow Christians in need.
“How sad that none of the theologically correct Calvinists at this blog thread seem particularly interested in what you, or Singer, or Unger, have to say about the world's poor and our moral obligations to them.”
I was planning to make a contribution to World Relief until I blew my spending money on a $120 book about global poverty at Randal’s recommendation. So the poor will have to go to bed hungry while I read Unger’s book on poverty–then pat myself on the back for what a kind, generous guy I am.