Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Off with their heads!

I've had enough. I am sick and tired of Christian intellectuals, from Paul Copan (my friend), to Victor Reppert and a lot lower down the totem pole to David Wood, in their attempts to say that the slavery in the American South was different than what the Bible allows, and so it should never have been used to justify it. If you want to see me hot tempered, then just raise this asinine argument. I try to get along here at DC by being respectful of Christian beliefs, but on this issue I cannot bend for one nanosecond. Don't even suggest it, as Dr. Victor Reppert just did.

Loftus sounds like a 5-year-old princeling in the midst of his daily temper tantrum. As the heir presumptive, courtiers cringe in the presence of his Lilliputian highness lest they lose their noggins every time he has a conniption fit when king’s cocker spaniel chewed his favorite toy. 

What does it say about the inverse relation between his vaunted self-importance and his real role in the great scheme of things that Loftus imagines his mere disapproval should reduce the rest of us to quivering masses of Jell-O? Have the fluffy dust-jacket blurbs gone to his wee head? 

Sorry to be the one to break it to you, John, but you’re not that important to the universe. 


  1. John begs to differ:

    "Again, I am better than your God, and I can prove this. I can prove it. I would have never allowed any human being to misunderstand that slavery is a complete abomination."

    He is so completely self-absorbed that he will never be dissuaded from his delusions of grandeur, short of regenerating grace.

  2. Loftus is the gift that keeps on giving. In what has to be the single greatest, most unintentionally humorous, self-assessment I have ever come across, Loftus offers us these words about himself:

    "I specialize in the Big Picture. This is true and it's no joke. I gather as much of the relevant material as a mortal can possibly muster and try to make sense of it. Confound it though, all of the Big Picture specialists are gone. ;-)

    I know as much about the Big Picture (i.e., the forest) as you do about any one of the trees (or a species of tree in that forest.

    Do you understand this? Do you think this could make me more dangerous that any given specialist when it comes to the Christian faith, since I'm a Big Picture Specialist about all things Christian?"

    This is fantastic stuff. I was ready to consider it brilliant satire when I first saw this message appear on the Prosblogion. When somebody pointed out, however, that it was a parody of Loftus's own words -- which I've reproduced above -- it hits me that Loftus may just represent the zenith of self-parody.

  3. Like everything else, 'slavery' is a word that can be taken different ways, according to taste.

    Structurally, Roman slavery was different than American slavery. However, indentured servitude (of the Irish) in the Yankee north, was nearly indistinguishable from Roman slavery structurally.

    So do we say Roman slavery is no different than American slavery (of the South)? Or do we say indentured servitude was also slavery?

    If one's goal is find hypocrisy within Christianity, one has to apply the Biblical example (which was Roman) onto the American south's example (which was Christian example), even though it fits better with indentured servitude example of the Irish (in the North), than it does with the African American example (in the south).

  4. Nothing quite like watching atheists moralize.

  5. Sad truth is he is morally better than your god.

    Slavery is moral bankruptcy - even the 'oh, but it wasn't like the chattel slavery of the American south .... it was all warm and fuzzy and sorta like being a butler' type.

  6. "Slavery is moral bankruptcy" -David

    Selling humans for $$$$$ is an abomination. How about if I buy 100 slaves, who were being treated like filthy dogs, and gave them food, and good clothes and loved them, and even gave them shelter.

    Would that be wrong?

  7. donsands:

    If the price of these things was freedom, then yes. It would be wrong. I'd rather be a free pauper than a pampered slave.

  8. David,

    I haven't studied this issue enough to have a strong stance, but I was wondering:

    What if someone values economic security over "freedom"?

    Doesn't being poor entail a certain restriction on the exercise of freedom? The impoverished generally have no practical freedom to pursue anything, even if they are not technically in legal bondage to a master.

    I note the issue of poverty, because if I had to choose between being a "slave" (as the term would be understood in the ANE) and a "freeman," the former entailing a good life of education and material security for both me and my family, with the latter entailing sickness, the inability to properly feed and cloth my children, living in a crime-ridden part of time, etc., the choice would actually be very difficult to make.


    "Sad truth is he is morally better than your god."

    Since John Loftus admitted to David Wood that he (Loftus) doesn't believe anything is intrinsically good or evil, then Loftus couldn't be intrinsically morally better than my God.

    And he can't say that slavery (of whatever variety) is intrinsically evil.

  10. Matthew:

    Situations like the one you describe would present a difficult decision. I would argue, however, that a society that made such a choice necessary was a failed society. When the cost of feeding a hungry child, or caring for a sick loved one is freedom itself, then the foundations of that society are fundamentally flawed.

    Poverty CAN be a terrible limitation, but I would hazard to guess that people enslaved, in any era, would clamor for the choice.

  11. For those interested, here is an insightful article on slavery, especially the comments on 1Cor7:21:


  12. "If the price of these things was freedom, then yes. It would be wrong. I'd rather be a free pauper than a pampered slave." -David

    The heart of the one buying the slaves is to release them from being treated like animals. His heart tells him, "If I leave them to this cruel taskmaster, then these people will suffered terribly. I can relieve their pain and restore some dignity.

    And perhaps the government of the land will one day in the near future see the cruelty of slavery, and will bring and end to it completely."

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Of course the great irony here is that Loftus doesn't realize that he is a slave!

    He's a slave to sin, chained to it and mastered by it. He is in utter bondage, but is too blind to see it thinking himself "free".

    Such a sad fool...

    In Christ,

  15. David said:
    Slavery is moral bankruptcy

    Except that unless you agree to objective morality, you're complaining that someone went bankrupt with Monopoly money.

    By what basis can you make any moral determinations? I don't care *that* you do, you need to justify *why* you do. Until you do so, it makes little sense to moralize to anyone. It would be like you arguing that anyone's system of logic that rejects unicorns being gray is bankrupt. Who gives a fig?

  16. "Except that unless you agree to objective morality..."

    I find the Argument from Morality to be a rather weak one. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that point. :)

  17. If atheism were true, what would be so wrong with slavery? Hey, if homosexuality is natural because it happens in the animal world, then slavery is natural too.


    Some ant species make slaves of others. Those in the subfamily Formicinae will go out and raid the nests of other species nearby, and steal their eggs and pupae. These are taken home, when the resulting young are raised as slaves, having to do all the foraging, cleaning and babysitting for their masters."

  18. "I find the Argument from Morality to be a rather weak one. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that point. :)"

    Translation: "I'm not going to tell you why you should treat my moral preferences as any more binding than my preferences in ice cream toppings, but I will keep making moral pronouncements and expecting you to treat them as binding upon your God."

  19. In my own understanding of the slavery issue, I have found Glenn Miller's article at the Christian Thinktank to be helpful:

    Slavery in the Bible

  20. Other "natural" things that go on in the animal world include cannibalism (e.g. eating one's own offspring), killing a mate after mating, killing or mutilating the genitals of one's rivals, "theft" (e.g. one dog "stealing" another dog's bones), eating one's own feces, and a whole bunch of other things.

  21. Slavery in the ancient world was meant for the benefit of the poor and not their exploitation. It was also notably not ideal. So what? The goal was not to use the Law to create Utopia.

    Of course with Loftus, let's be fair now. Why should he let a little thing like truth get in the way of an argument?

  22. David said:
    I find the Argument from Morality to be a rather weak one. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that point. :)

    I didn't give you the Argument from Morality. *YOU* are the one making moral claims. I merely told you that you have to establish them. At no point did I make any argument that only Christianity could establish morality.

    So your reading comprehension is as bad as your philosophy.

    Be that as it may, you don't get to make pronouncements without upholding your burden of proof. So you either establish your basis for morality such that slavery is objectively wrong, or you can shut up. Those are your only options here.

  23. In addition to what Sean and Peter have said, from now on we can assume that David will be satisfied if we reply to his objections to Christianity the same way he's responded to Peter's comments. On the issue of slavery, for example, we can say, "I find the Argument from Slavery to be a rather weak one. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that point."

    Of course, if David thought such a response was sufficient, why did he post about the slavery issue to begin with? We could have "agreed to disagree" without any posts from David. I suspect that David posted his objections because he isn't satisfied with the sort of response he gave Peter. He's satisfied with giving that response, when he wants to be evasive, but not with getting it. It's a double standard, and we get that from a lot of the skeptics who post here.