Thursday, December 24, 2015

The light of nature

Pearls of wisdom from Sean Gerety:

I confess I thought the Van Tillian belief in biblical paradox and their systematic rejection of WCF 1 was about as destructive and as bad as it gets.
Here's how WCF 1 begins: 
Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable…
Notice that that's an appeal to natural revelation, including empirical evidence for God's existence. So it's actually a Clarkian like Sean who rejects WCF 1. But Sean is too dim to realize that he just contradicted himself. 
You can read Hays’ musings on the existence of the magic lizard people here and here.
I assume "magic lizard people" is an allusion to M. Scott Peck's report about two of his demonically possessed patients who manifested a serpentine or reptilian appearance during exorcism. 
So what is Sean making fun of? The existence of demoniacs? How is the dismissive, pejorative use of "magic" on his lips any different than a village atheist? Or is he dismissing the notion that demoniacs might have metamorphic abilities? 
Yet, according to the person who pointed me to Hays’ defense of the magic lizard people; “He’s not kidding. Hays believes that all paranormal claims must be accepted at face value unless proven otherwise…"
Sean provides no textual evidence that I believe all paranormal claims must be accepted at face value unless proven otherwise. 
One would think Hays and the other contributors to Triablogue (are there any others left?)…
Yes, there are other active contributors.  
…would have learned their lesson after Michael Sudduth renounced his once feigned belief in Jesus Christ for his new found faith in his demonic Lord Krishna. 
How does a Clarkian like Sean distinguish real belief in Jesus from feigned belief in Jesus? Didn't Sean's idol, Gordon Clark say "Assent can never be hypocritical, for it is the voluntary act of according belief to a given proposition" (Today’s Evangelism: Counterfeit or Genuine?), 69.
Now we see Hays favorably quoting Sudduth’s fascination with the occult and his belief in poltergeists and haunted houses. 
I quote Sudduth's experience of living in a haunted house. 
I suspect Hays thinks the Amityville Horror is real too.  But the weirdness doesn’t stop there.
There's a difference between the horror film and the alleged experience on which it was loosely based. I haven't studied that in-depth. But why does Sean react to reports of occult entities with the same knee-jerk derision and disbelief as an atheist? Evil spirits are part of the biblical worldview. Therefore, it wouldn't be surprising if some people encounter evil spirits. Sean is a functional atheist.
Hays goes on to quote a series of tales from his unidentified “friend” who claims to have been on a bus traveling at 85mph while being chased by a “skinwalker.” 
I didn't identify that person as my friend. Rather, I said a friend shared that material with me from Reddit. 
According to Hays these stories, along with Sudduth’s dive into spiritual darkness, all provide “extrabiblical evidence for shapeshifters.” 
No, I wouldn't say Sudduth's experience provides evidence of shapeshifters. Rather, that provides evidence for the existence of occult entities (of which shapeshifters might be a subset). 
It seems to me that once you accept extra-biblical evidence for anything, then anything is what you’ll believe in. 
Once again, Sean is too dense to realize how he contradicts himself. He begins his post by referring to the WCF. But how does he know the WCF even exists? Based on "extrabiblical evidence".  
He repeatedly mentions Michael Sudduth, including incidents in Sudduth's life. How does Sean know about that? Based on what Sudduth says about himself. Testimonial evidence. So Sean relies on "extrabiblical evidence" in the same breath as he mocks "extrabiblical evidence." He's such a dimwit. 
Sean treats Sudduth's autobiographical claims as trustworthy when Sean wishes to discredit Sudduth, but when I cite Sudduth's autobiographical claims, Sean does an about-face and acts like these are utterly untrustworthy. Sean is such a knucklehead. 
I don't have a firm position on the existence of shapeshifters. I didn't vouch for the anecdotes from Reddit. I keep my interpretive options open on that score. 
However, why does Sean act as though that's antecedently preposterous? Supposedly, Sean believes in the supernatural, although you wouldn't know it from how he acts and reacts. 
Historically, the Navajo were heathen. They used to practice witchcraft and necromancy. Given that background, why would the presence of shapeshifters or "desert demons" on Navajo land be incredible? Why is Sean's reaction indistinguishable from James Randi or Michael Shermer? If an environment has been saturated by centuries of black magic, trafficking with evil spirits, &c., isn't that where you'd expect occult entities to concentrate? 


  1. I'm not surprised that some Clarkians are functional atheists. John W. Robbins rejected Catholic medieval demonology wholesale. Not sifting through the genuine and discarding the erroneous, superstitious and legendary. He also seemed to have rejected the existence of witches who actually experience and operate by or in occultic power. He acknowledged that demons can plant evil and heretical thoughts in people, but seemed to deny that demons can manifest in preternatural/paranormal activity among self-proclaimed witches, warlocks etc. I say this based on his 18th lecture in his series "Thinking Biblically." The lecture is titled The Devil. The lecture can be accessed from The Trinity Foundation's webpage of free mp3s:

    Apparently, many modern Clarkians have adopted Robbins' (and possibly Clark's) functional atheism regarding the paranormal.

    1. To be fair to (the late) John Robbins, he did affirm demonic possession during Biblical times. But I'm not sure what his position was on demonic possession during post-Biblical times.

    2. Yeah that would be interesting to know what Robbins think of demonic possessions after the Apostolic age in light of his epistemology.

  2. Steve wrote: I didn't identify that person as my friend. Rather, I said a friend shared that material with me from Reddit.

    Sean's confident statement that it was Steve's friend seems to show poor reading skills. But that's almost to be expected from Clarkians who are empirical skeptics. If you can't derive generally reliable knowledge from your senses under normal circumstances, then there'll be a natural tendency to not maintain or hone/sharpen your reading comprehension skills.

    Admittedly, when I originally read Steve's blogpost days ago I wasn't sure if Steve was saying it was his friend or not. It turns out I was right in leaning towards it not being Steve's friend.

    Here's another instance of apparent poor reading skills. Sean wrote:

    According to Hays these stories, along with Sudduth’s dive into spiritual darkness, all provide “extrabiblical evidence for shapeshifters.”

    I don't see how that conclusion follows from anything Steve wrote. A middle school teacher would not give a good grade for that kind of reading comprehension. Above (i.e. in this blogpost) Steve had to correct Sean by saying,

    No, I wouldn't say Sudduth's experience provides evidence of shapeshifters. Rather, that provides evidence for the existence of occult entities (of which shapeshifters might be a subset).

    I don't know if this is a case of general poor reading and thinking skills on the part of Sean, or whether it's a special case of sloppy thinking and consideration towards a perceived opponent. Regarding the latter case, it's a psychological fact that we (myself included) humans (in our sinfulness) tend to read our opponents in the most uncharitable ways. Not really thinking about or representing fairly what our opponents say or being rationally consistent in presenting the logical implications of what they say. And yet Clarkians are supposed to be super-logical in their use and handling of propositions. I trust their exegesis of Scripture is much better.

    BTW, I'm generally a Van Tillian partly because I don't see why God couldn't use apparent paradoxes to sift the elect and non-elect. Where does Scripture teach that there are no apparent contradictions in the teaching of Scripture?

    As Pascal wrote:

    577 There is sufficient clearness to enlighten the elect, and sufficient obscurity to humble them. There is sufficient obscurity to blind the reprobate, and sufficient clearness to condemn them, and make them inexcusable.—Saint Augustine, Montaigne, Sébond.

    574 All things work together for good to the elect, even the obscurities of Scripture; for they honour them because of what is divinely clear. And all things work together for evil to the rest of the world, even what is clear; for they revile such, because of the obscurities which they do not understand.

    562 It will be one of the confusions of the damned to see that they are condemned by their own reason, by which they claimed to condemn the Christian religion.

    This is in keeping with Paul's teaching. He wrote "For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.' " [1 Cor. 1:19]. Also, "...For it is written, 'He catches the wise in their craftiness,' " [1 Cor. 3:19]. And "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." [1 Cor. 1:25]

    What could be more ironic than the rationalistic (yet irrational) unbeliever refusing to believe because of his prideful (mis)use of logic in putting forth apparent contradictions in Scripture as a justifiable reason to reject the inspiration, infallibility and authority of the Christian Scriptures.

    Also, when push comes to shove, Clarkians can't satisfactorily answer every theological problem in a way that actually satisfies their rationalistic constraints on truth, knowledge and metaphysics.

    1. When the unbeliever in his pride and sinfulness rejects Christianity for rationalistic rather than rational reasons, his condemnation will result in the ultimate case of poetic justice.

      Clarkians don't take seriously the Biblical teaching that Revelation is often purposefully vague in order to sift the elect and the non-elect. Vagueness invites apparent contradictions. The vast numbers of apparent (but not real) contradictions in Scripture is clearly designed by God under inspiration. Jesus said, "...'To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,12 so that "they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven." ' " (Mark 4:11-12 cf. Matt. 13:10-15; Luke 8:9-10; John 12:37-40).

      "It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out." - Prov. 25:2

      "With him are strength and sound wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are his." - Job 12:16

      And I haven't even touched upon the diminished view of God in Clarkianism vs. Van Tillianism.

  3. I wonder what Gerety thinks of the book of Daniel? The occult practices of the magi are one of the main features. The *source* of their "magic" is what Daniel & co. would dispute; not the "magical" event. Where is his scripturalism, there?

  4. Sean keeps mocking "magic lizard people," but unbelievers mock "magic trees," "talking snakes," "talking donkeys," sticks turning into snakes, and vice versa, &c., in the Pentateuch.

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