Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dawson's Doltish Diatribe

Remember that movie "Airplane?" Remember that scene when the guy is getting his ear talked off and so tries to kill himself? Well, that was what I was like earlier tonight when I read Dawson's doltish diatribe.

As Engwer points out below, there are FAR too many errors in Bethrick's phlegmatic post that to address all of them would involve one in posting a tome; and his post his not worth the effort. Indeed, I actually dreaded responding. I don't know about you, but it is actually harder to critique and correct doltish dullards than it is to deal with someone who has a grasp on the issues of what he's talking about. I really don't feel up to this, and it's actually an offense to my time to have to respond to Bethrick. I'm responding, though, because good reasoning must exist if for no other reason than to expose bad reasoning. I will try to make my responses as short and to the point as possible.

DB = Dawson Bethrick (or, dumb bell)

PM = Paul Manata


DB: This time, Paul tried to take me to task for my quotation of Matthew 19:26

PM: Not "tried," did.

DB: I pointed to this verse to remind Christian believers (so forgetful they often are) of their own 'worldview presuppositions' which commit them, like it or not, to a chaotic and unpredictable reality (or surreality) in which "all things are possible," since an omnipotent spirit is personally directing its every whip and wiggle. I have pointed out before that presuppositionalism's own hallmark slogan to the effect that Christianity is true "because of the impossibility of the contrary" is incongruous with the worldview such contrivances are intended to defend; for, in a worldview which affirms that "all things are possible," it makes no sense to turn right around and start enumerating things that are impossible.

PM: Note well, DB's entire argument here is based off his understanding of the phrase "all things are possible." His understanding will be refuted below. This is a foundational premise of his. Refuting it, refutes the other premises which are inferred from his warped, self-serving understanding.

Here's my argument:

If the all in "all things are possible" is not to be understood as a quantitative universal, then DB's inferences that anything is possible, since all is a quantitative universal, is false.

I obviously affirm the antecedent.

DB's position is that if we take the view that all things are possible, given that all is a quantitative universal, then we cannot say that anything is impossible, even God's existence, Jesus' resurrection, etc.

DB: This has apparently gotten on Paul Manata's nerves,

PM: Yes, stupid half-witted arguments get on my nerves. Apparently they don't for DB.

DB: for he has sought to undermine my understanding of this clause by suggesting that I have stretched it beyond its intended context.

PM: No, I did undermine it.

DB: For instance, he tells us that the claim that "all things can happen" applies in a very narrow scope:

1) Dawson's verse he uses to show that "anything can happen, willy-nilly" in a Christian theistic universe, is specifically talking about salvation.

PM: Now watch how DB tries to show that it cannot be talking about salvation.

DB: Coming after such a question, the statement "with God all things are possible" may seem at first blush to have relevance to salvation to a novice. But seasoned Christians should surely know better,

PM: Dawson admits Jesus says that this question is in regards to salvation, but he wants to say that this isn't what it means. But Dawson argues that when Jesus said all things are possible, we should take him at his word. Dawson can't pick and choose. So, we're agreed that the Bible (Jesus) says that "all things are possible" is referring, in this context, to salvation. DB tries to critique this, we'll address that below, though. The point here is to point out that I am correct that this phrase speaks to salvation, in this context, and, therefore, cannot be eisogetically used to talk about other things that might be possible (i.e., God causing hallucinations). So, we can agree that this verse does not mean, in context, what Dawson needs it to mean. He then goes on to show how that in salvation it is not true that "all things are possible."

I quote at length:

DB: For though the topic of the dialogue between Jesus and his disciples in Matt. 19 relates to salvation, Jesus is made to say "with God all things are possible" (v. 26) right after declaring that "a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven" (v. 23). Evangelists typically emphasize Christianity’s view of salvation, which is marked by its exclusiveness, and contrast it from the eastern adage that "there are many paths to the summit of a mountain." Christianity hardly promotes a soteriology in which the possibilities are endless. On the contrary, "strait is the gate" to the magic kingdom (cf. Mt. 7:13-14), and many denominations stress the teaching that there is no allowance for even minor deviation from the plan. James 2:10 tells us that "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." The gospel of John has its Jesus exclaim that "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (14:6).

Because of its intolerance to alternatives in regard to salvation, the claim that "all things are possible" in this regard is highly misleading. For instance, Christians are not supposed to entertain the possibility that the god they worship is anything other than the god of the New Testament. Thus on their teaching it is not possible that the god with whom "all things are possible" is a god that also says "there are many paths to the top of the summit" with regard to salvation. Would Christians say that one can be saved by praying to a non-Christian god? No, it's not likely that Christians would admit this. And yet here is a possibility proposed in relation to salvation, and already the statement "all things are possible" patently does not apply. Would Christians say that it is possible for a sinner to be saved without repentance? No, I doubt many Christians would admit this. Would Christians say that it is possible for a sinner to be saved without faith? No, I doubt they would admit to this, either. Would Christians say that it is possible for a sinner to be saved on his own volitional instigation? Calvinists likely would not admit to this. Would Christians say that it is possible for a sinner to be saved without the intervention of the Holy Spirit? Many Christians would likely dismiss this as well. Perhaps the applicability of the claim that "all things are possible" is more specific to who can be saved, owing to the question this is supposed to answer. But even here we find another dry well. For what Christian would say that a sinner who refuses to repent can be saved? What Christian would say that a sinner who refuses to confess Jesus as his Lord and Savior can be saved? What Christian would say that a sinner who refuses to believe there's a god can be saved? It is highly unlikely that any doctrine-driven Christian would admit to such proposals, instead dismissing them as impossible. So, contrary to what Paul intimates, it seems that the statement "all things are possible" in fact does not apply to the issue of salvation at all. Rather, it seems that Paul is simply offering another dodge which misses Christianity's own teaching!

PM: This is utterly laughable! Dawson is truly an ignorant, imbecilic, impassive, lethargic numskull if he seriously believes the above. Above we see that DB takes it that "all things are not possible" in salvation because, say, it is impossible that an unrepentant sinner can be saved. Hence, we have something "impossible" with regards to "salvation." But this is not what I, nor Jesus meant, at all!

Jesus has just pointed out that no man can do enough to be saved. To be saved a man would have to keep the entire law, but no man can do this, it is "impossible." So then it looks as if it is "impossible" to enter heaven, since to enter it you must keep the entire law (this logically infers and refutes much of DB's points. Jesus obviously was not implying that there were many ways to be saved, but only one - keeping the law, being perfectly righteous). Jesus tells them, in effect, not to worry, that man can be saved, because what is impossible with men is possible with God. How can this be done? Jesus keeps the law in the place of the elect. This righteousness is credited to man. Thus with by the judge declaring man righteous, on the basis of Christ's righteousness, man can enter heaven, since in Christ he has kept the law.

This passage is not trying to say that anyone can be saved by any number of possible ways. DB would actually have to engage in some exegesis. He would need to grapple with the text. He needs to show how the text demands his interpretation. I mean, it's as if he thinks he can refute someone with mere conjecture. He thinks he can throw out any ole reading he chooses, whether it finds support in the text and in history. This text argues that salvation if of God's doing alone. Man cannot pull himself up by his bootstraps, for it is impossible for him to do so. The disciples recognized this.

Furthermore, what merit does DB's reading have? Would the Jewish disciples have understood Jesus as implying that he was saying that anyone could enter heaven by any number of ways? No. DB's rendering finds zero support in the broader context of the Bible as a whole. His rendition is simply uncharitable. This kind of interaction with a text would receive an -F in any textual criticism class.

DB: Since it is clear now that the statement "all things are possible" could not apply to salvation,

PM: No, it does apply to salvation. By saying that I did not mean, though, that it applied to saying that any type of salvation was possible. DB's understanding is a logically different proposition than what I had said.

DB: Even though many apologists might prefer the safety of non-commitment, it seems that some apologists are in agreement that the Christian god could cause hallucinations on a large scale basis.

PM: I agree that God could cause mass hallucinations. I never said he couldn't. I simply argued that not all things are possible, and refuted your attempt at proving that they were.

DB: But here Paul is on the verge of reducing "Scripture" to a game of "that’s what it says, but that’s not what it means."

PM: This is such an electuary linguistic blunder, it's actually making me feel sad for DB. DB's confusing sense and referent. I could say, "I have bread in my pocket." By that I might mean that I have money in my pocket. But given DB's ignorance he'd fight, come hell or high water, that I have Rye bread (or something) in my pocket. The meaning is what's important, especially since I hold to propositional revelation. All DB succeeds in doing is making the atheist community look like a bunch of hicks.

DB: We saw above that there are many hypothetical possibilities that can be conceived in regard to the salvation of man's soul, the issue to which Paul contends the meaning of the statement in Matt. 19:26 is constrained, which Christians themselves, on the basis of statements taken from the New Testament, would reject.

PM: No, there's only one possibility given the Bible's teaching on this matter: "Be ye perfect." Since no man is perfect, no man can enter heaven, it is impossible. But, this is not impossible for God.

DB: Now Paul asks if the verse in question can "really mean that anything can happen, that anything is possible." Christianity answers this question in its characteristic yes-and-no fashion,

PM: "Christianity" does? Can we get quotes rather than naked assertions?

DB: The Christian wants things both ways: he wants to say, on the one hand, that his god is all-powerful, possessing unlimited sovereignty, completely and unexceptionally in control of its creations; and yet, on the other hand, he wants to say that there are constraints in place which cannot be altered, constraints which even his god must observe (even though those constraints owe their very existence to this god).

PM: Christianity wants to argue how the Bible does. DB assumes that "all powerful" must mean "can do anything, whatever that is." But this is not the Bible's definition of omnipotent. Indeed, the Bible tells us that there are things God cannot do. God can do, as we teach our children, "All His holy will." That's what it means for God to be omnipotent. Of course DB can choose to set up the Christian doctrine of omnipotence in a way that suits his argument, but in doing so he does what he does best, knocks down straw men. The "constraints" DB speaks of are those constraints of God's character. So, yes, Christianity has always taught that God has constraints, and has never taught that God can do "just anything." Therefore, DB sets up "the Christian" as an imaginary opponent, and then beats his chest like a Neanderthal man after he knocks him down. Furthermore, can we get some quotes of "Christians" who want it both ways? This is an utterly pathetic attempt at atheology. No wonder the larger atheist community distances themselves from Bethrick's Blunders.

DB: I need to provide an argument to the effect that the words "all things are possible" mean "all things are possible"?

PM: Yes, you do. What, did you think that we here a T-blog would allow you to get away without offering an argument for your position? I mean, this is the height of irrationality. The man thinks he doesn't need to offer arguments for his understanding of certain passages.

DB: If we do not allow the words to speak for themselves, what good will it do for me to present an argument, which itself consists of words?

PM: Okay, let's let DB argue against DB. I'm, gonna take a break and let Dawson beat Dawson up. You see, we have hear an example of what I was referring to above. DB does not mean what his "words" do. I mean, I guess he does if he thinks that words have vocal cords and mouths by which they can "speak for themselves." Indeed, are words individual persons that have "selves?" This is utterly embarrassing for poor DB! So, we can conclude that if DB is going to be consistent with his argument he gives above, then we must agree that DB thinks that words are personal agents with bodies. And he thinks we have an irrational worldview!

DB: We saw above that his initial point completely misfires,

PM: No, we didn't.

DB: and even then he does not shed any light on exactly how Mt. 19:26 should be understood.

PM: Yes, I did. I just took it for granted that you wouldn't respond with the dim bulb answer you did. So, I put up, now it's your turn. Engage the text, or shut up.

DB: This is quite odd, especially coming from Paul himself. For elsewhere he has affirmed that a statement that is not qualified automatically defaults to universal scope of meaning, and yet in the present case, when the statement is in fact explicitly qualified universally, it is not to be taken as such.

PM: It is qualified (and I never said what you said I said). You see, unless you beg the question against my worldview, the same God authored the entire Bible, in which we find that some things are impossible, hence it is qualified. This is a basic and elementary blunder, Bethrick.

DB: So, is Paul saying that it is not the case that "all things are possible with God"?

PM: Yes, that should be obvious.

DB: It is limited? To what extent?

PM: To what God has revealed about himself and the nature of reality. Anyway, to disprove your claim I need only point out that God says ONE thing is impossible. God has, therefore your claim is refuted.

DB: The original issue was whether or not the Christian god could cause mass hallucinations.

PM: I grant he could.

DB: Is Paul actually trying to say that the Christian god could not cause mass hallucinations?

PM: No.

DB: What should not be overlooked is the fact that Paul's concern to tone down the scope of Mt. 19:26 by suggesting that its use of the modifier 'all' is unnecessary, can easily be taken as criticism of the bible's own wording.

PM: No it couldn't. Unless you want to defend the thesis that words are persons with mouths?! It would only criticize the Bible's own meaning if "all" always means "all." But since the Bible itself, in many places, uses the word "all" while not meaning "all" then I've not critiqued the meaning of the passage.

DB: For here he's saying that there is a better way for the bible to have stated its message (it just happens that this better way matches Paul's apologetic interpretation).

PM: No I'm not, it stated it just fine. I, and almost every other Christian (and non-Christian, for you'll be hard pressed to find any textual critic who agrees with your understanding here), have no problem understanding the meaning, given the broader context.

DB: Mt. 19:26 says "all things are possible," and yet here Paul is telling us that not "all things are possible."

PM: And you said words "speak for themselves" so I guess you'll be telling us that it is not the case that words do not really "speak for themselves." You see, I didn't even need to show up for this debate, your beating yourself up just fine without me.

DB: Contending against the bible itself, he quotes one line from a college intro text on the philosophy of language to suggest that the "all" in "all things are possible" might not really mean "all" after all, but may instead refer to "particular cases roughly presupposed in context."

PM: Juts pointing out a simple fact that all does not always mean all, and most people, except those with an axe to grind, agree with this premise.

DB: This is exegesis by retreat to the approximate. But as we saw above, if the particular case in this context is the issue of salvation, then exactly what is Matt. 19:26 saying?

PM: You already asked this question above. Your repetition is so boring and makes for poor writing.

I had written,

"c) Is there more to the story? That is, should we assume that this is not to be taken universally because of other basic presuppositions? Well, the Bible tells us that, indeed, not everything is possible. For example, God cannot lie or deny Himself (Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:13). Also, it was "impossible" that death should hold Jesus (Acts 2:24)." DB responded

DB: This just demonstrates that Mt. 19:26 is in conflict with other New Testament teachings.

PM: This is question begging at its finest. It only "contradicts" other passages if the all is meant to be universal. DB would need to provide an argument for his rendition in order to draw the contradiction. But remember folks, DB has the cushy position of not having to argue for his understanding of the passage. Why? Because "words speak for themselves."

I have refuted DB's foundation premise. he writes,

DB: It does not follow from the question "does that verse really mean that anything can happen, that anything is possible?" that my "foundational premise has been refuted." In fact, what does he think my "foundational premise" was, if not Mt. 19:26? Is Paul claiming to have refuted a statement in the bible?

It does not follow from the absurd claim that I need to provide an argument to the effect that the words "all things are possible" mean "all things are possible," that my "foundational premise has been refuted."

It does not follow from the fact that there are verses within the New Testament which conflict with Matthew 19:26, that my "foundational premise has been refuted."

PM: If all does not mean all, quantitatively universally, then your argument for drawing absurd conclusions about what sort of silly things can happen in our worldview has been refuted. It does "follow" given my modus ponens argument at the beginning of this post. Now, if DB wants to deny rules of inference then I guess he can say it doesn't follow all he wants.

DB: If I did that, I never would have become a Christian myself in my early 20s

PM: How were you a Christian when you don't even understand the elementary basics of the Christian worldview, along with elementary reading principles? Heck, you don't even know what the Bible teaches on salvation.

DB: (Of course, I do not find a theory of individual rights in any of my bibles, and the concept of rights only applies in the sphere of chosen actions, and Reformed Christianity teaches that the believer does not have a choice about his beliefs since they are divinely chosen for him.)

PM: Perhaps that's because rebellious creatures have no "rights."

DB: Paul asserts that "God is the determiner of what is possible and impossible." I recall imagining things like this as well when I was a Christian. But on Christianity’s own premises, the claim in Mt. 19:26 that "all things are possible" is a divinely revealed truth which settles the question here quite explicitly.

PM: Since your take on 19:26 has been refuted, and was refuted previously, all reference to this as a premise in your argument is null -n- void.

DB: Paul should have stayed in his dinghy. For since I do not posit any gods to begin with, I cannot be charged with this modal fallacy. For I have not argued a) that there is a god, b) that this god can deceive people, or c) that it did deceive people. Naturally, both b) and c) assume a), so I'm simply being consistent in rejecting them along with a). Also, the fallacy with which I am charged presumes a), b) and c), and since these are not my premises, any fallacy here is not to be charged to my position.

PM: No, but you argued that given our worldview we should hold that because God COULD cause a hallucination this would mean that he possible WOULD have done so here, but since I'm not going to reason fallaciously I won't concede that. You ask the Christian to reason fallaciously, and then he'll find problems with his worldview.

DB: Because it grants metaphysical primacy to an imaginary ruling consciousness, supernaturalism (of which Christianity is only one variant-type) relinquishes its ability to provide any objective analysis of real-world proposals because of the subjective orientation inherent in its affirmation of a ruling consciousness controlling the universe of objects. Since, in such a view, all the objects in the universe owe their very existence and distinctions to the creative wishing of the ruling consciousness, the ruling subject serves as its own standard as well as the standard of everything it creates (which is said to be everything distinct from itself). In this way, the Christian effectually reduces what he might call 'objectivity' to pure self-reference by denying reference to any objects distinct from itself which exist independent of its intentions and resist conforming to its wishing. It is this paradigm of ultimate subjectivism which affirmations purported to have objective backing (such as assessments as to what is 'likely' and 'unlikely') are hired on to defend. It simply does not work.

PM: Bethrick spouts tired Objectivist slogans here.

The Christian position is that an eternally existing and conscious God creates everything distinct from him (including you, me, and the universe). Note that this position entails that: [a] some existence is *not* the result of consciousness (since God does not create himself). Thus, the Christian position is not metaphysical subjectivism, the idea that all existence finds its source in a form of consciousness. [b] our consciousness is a result of existence (God's existence), thus satisfying the central impulse of metaphysical objectivism.

Furthermore, my (and DB's?) consciousness creates thoughts all the time. In writing this entry my consciousness created thoughts that were not there before. Does DB want to conclude that [a] thoughts do not exist, or [b] that his thoughts are subjective and not objective?

This is just sophistic rhetoric intended to make the Christian position look bad. But, DB has no non-arbitrary way to tell us how his finite and fallible mind actually matches up to the world outside him. How does he know the world is the way he thinks it is? On his view, total skepticism rules. Our position is not some capricious God who creates an irrational world. We have a rational God who created a rational world, and made our minds, and made them with the aim of discovering truths about Him and how to serve and glorify Him. And God made our minds to be in contact with the world, learning how to subdue it for His glory. DB can give half the story all he wants. At the end of the day, though, he's forced in to solipsism. He's a zombie and has no rational basis to conclude that he's not a brain in a vat. He thinks he thinks with his own mind, but it might be a alien scientist who is thinking for him, how would he know otherwise? Indeed, how does he know that all that he thinks exist is not just the product of images produced from the aliens mind, and transmitted to DB brain via electrodes. For all his railing against metaphysical subjectivism, he has no epistemic basis to say he's not living in a cartoon universe.

DB: Since my worldview does not posit a supernatural ruling subject, the changes which occur in the world are, according to my worldview, not at all analogous to changes that occur in cartoon, which are directed by the designer of the cartoon.

PM: Positing a worldview, and having it actually be the case, having it marry-up to the real world, is a whole different animal. So, DB's a subjectivist. He thinks his consciousness can "posit" a world and therefore that's how the world really is. You can't escape skepticism by "positing" what you "wish" were the case.

DB: According to Genesis, we have dust becoming a human being, and yet dust is non-moral while human beings are moral. Thus we have, according to Genesis, the non-moral becoming moral.

PM: Except that pesky little fact that God also endowed Adam with a rational soul. How could you miss that part, after all, you were a "Christian" in your 20's.

DB: I remember scolding fellow Christians when I was a believer, explaining to them that they simply did not grasp Christianity at all well since they insisted that a cow becoming a whale is impossible. As a believer, I thought: "If my God can turn water into wine, who can say that He cannot turn a cow into a whale?"

PM: God certainly could. But this is a far cry from "nature" doing this through multiple mutations, which all need to be beneficial to the species, and all without aim or purpose. I mean, how did the whale sonar gradually "evolve" from a cow, all by blind and purpose-less naturalistic processes?

DB: If Paul were half as concerned with understanding his opponent's position as he is with winning debates, he might actually learn something. However, he shows not only that he does not have any actual arguments against the position he cites, but also that he's not very original, either.

PM: If Dawson were half as concerned with understanding his opponent's position as he is with winning debates, he might actually learn something. However, he shows not only that he does not have any actual arguments against the position he cites, but also that he's not very original, either.

How's that for originality?

DB: In fact, I think there are better explanations for the development of the early Christian record, namely that it developed along the lines of an evolving legend.

PM: You see, that's your problem, you're "thinking" again.

DB: As for the claim that there was an empty tomb, what proof does anyone really have that there was an empty tomb to begin with? Even the apostle Paul, the earliest Christian writer, made no mention of an "empty tomb."

PM: There goes DFB, stuck on "words" again. Paul did mention a resurrection. Since a resurrection implies one was dead, then Paul mentions an empty tomb, by logical inference. Furthermore, does this argument go like this: Paul did not mention an empty tomb, therefore they did not believe in it? This is called an argumentum ad ignorantium.

DB: For instance, he states that "Dawson needs to show now [sic] naturalism can do anything." But to whom am I supposed to show this? And why do I "need" to show this?

PM: Oh, that's right, I forgot that you don't feel the need to argue for your position.

DB: At any rate, the most concise answer to this that comes to mind is Francis Bacon's famous dictum: "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." That is, naturalism allows man to accomplish his goals by teaching him how to work with nature on its own terms and according to its own constraints.


i. How does an inanimate, impersonal, and mute abstraction you call "nature" command you to do anything?

ii. I know you like to focus on the "words," so.... how does an inanimate and impersonal mute, deaf and dumb at that, abstraction "teach" you?

iii. Way to reify nature.

iv. Nature teaches one man one thing and another, another thing. Hence, you have anarchy, subjectivism, and skepticism.

v. I thought what you said about how the Christian behaves very interesting, in light of your hippie-esk nature worship. You wrote,

"What I love is my life as an end in itself, and this is what Christianity resents. Steve Hays made this clear when he wrote: "we need to serve God. We are creatures. We are not our own end. We find our fulfillment in serving one greater than ourselves." The view expressed here conceives of the individual as the means to someone else's ends."

So, let me re-phrase the above in DB terminology:

"What I love is my life as an end in itself, and this is what Bethrickism resents. DB made this clear when he wrote: "we need to serve nature. We are creatures. We are not our own end. We find our fulfillment in serving one greater than ourselves." The view expressed here conceives of the individual as the means to someone/thing else's ends."

DB: Questions such as "why trust our senses?" can be dismissed as invalid on the basis of the fact that they commit the fallacy of the stolen concept.

PM: Well, I fail to see how I could "steal your concept." As a materialist you hold that concepts are neurons in your brain. Hence to "steal" one I'd have to cut your head open and rip some neurons out ( how I'd know which ones where what concepts is beyond me, though). Furthermore, you seem to think that you still have the concept I stole, but then how'd I "steal" it? Indeed, if both you and I have the SAME concept, then how can concepts be material in nature, since the SAME material particular cannot be in more than one spatio-temporal location at the SAME time. Thus it appears that the stolen concept fallacy steals concepts from a dualist position and, thus, the stolen concept fallacy rests on a stolen concept fallacy!

DB: For how does one get to higher abstractions such as ‘trust’ if his senses did not already give him awareness of any objects in the first place?

PM: Indeed! I'd love to see how the senses get you to the universal "trust." Lay it out for us all to see.

DB: Moreover, for me to acquire awareness of Paul’s question, I need to use my senses.

PM: Well this just begs the question, now doesn't it? We could be in a dream world, and therefore not using our physical senses. Nice try though.

DB: Paul did ask "why trust our reasoning?" and although I thought this point was already clear to him, I find that this too needs to be spelled out to him explicitly: I do NOT trust Paul’s reasoning.

PM: I thought this would have been obvious. Why should humans trust their reasoning? Dawson is a human. Why should he trust his reasoning. Nice dodge, though.

DB: Paul says that I "must admit that the senses do, sometimes, deceive us." But I do not accept this for the same reason that I do not accept the question "why trust our senses?" And that reason is quite simply that such a position commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. Paul has conflated sense perception and conceptual identification. There is no such thing as a "deceptive sensation." The tricky part to some things we perceive comes when we intend to identify what we have perceived, and this is a conceptual matter.

PM: This is absurd. DB could see a bent stick in the water, but he would identify it as not bent. He would know this it really was not bent. So, he identifies the situation properly, yet his senses (with the aid of refraction, ect) sends his brain false signals, even though he's not identifying them falsely.

And, assume your position. How do you know that you've ever "conceptually identified" something correctly?

DB: Paul’s apologetic is as cheap as it comes. It basically consists of asking a bunch of questions to which we’re all supposed to throw up our hands and say "Duh, I donno! Must be god did it!"

PM: Well, I stopped counting at 45 questions in DB's post (embarrassing, huh Dawson?)! He expects me to throw up my hands and say, "Duh, I donno! Must be Nature did it!"

It is most pitiable to observe an atheologian for a religious perspective, so eager to sick his naturalistic processes inside his grey matter on theist spoilsports, take a bite out of his own backside in the very trying, while haughtily congratulating himself before his peers. Even when he's fallen overboard, his colleagues do not throw him a life-preserver. Instead, he haphazardly drifts to and fro, at the mercy of torrents and eddies which carry him in no particular direction. But unlike the tale of baby Moses fortuitously caught among the reeds, Dawson is found drifting up a creek without a paddle.


  1. If people thought John Robbins was arrogant and unnecessarily belligerent, you are more so (though I do not think of Robbins this way). But you are less intelligible with many spelling mistakes. As a Reformed Christian, I appreciate you defending the faith. But some of us Christians on the internet are tired of your tirade. I doubt Bahnsen would be proud.

    You should take your advice and also spend less time on the internet:

    "PM: If Dawson were half as concerned with understanding his opponent's position as he is with winning debates, he might actually learn something. However, he shows not only that he does not have any actual arguments against the position he cites, but also that he's not very original, either."

  2. I can almost imagine the feedback I will get for the above comment from any of the contributors to this site or from other people. But I would like Paul to stick this one out and let him read about himself for once. If not, have fun.

  3. Ekn, dude, no one makes you read this blog but yourself.

  4. Paul makes a good point regarding how Bethrick doesn't want us to interpret his own words in the manner in which he's interpreting the words of Jesus. Bethrick doesn't want us to isolate his words from their larger context in the way in which he isolates Jesus' words. As Bethrick would know if he would study the issue sufficiently, the comment Jesus makes in Matthew 19:26 isn't unique to Jesus. Other ancient Jews said the same thing. Yet, the Old Testament and other ancient Jewish sources repeatedly refer to things that would be impossible for God in some sense (that He cease to exist, etc.). Bethrick should document that not only Jesus, but also ancient Jews in general, defined the concept that nothing is impossible with God in the way that Bethrick defines it. If he thinks that we should ignore that sort of context, and assume his isolated reading of Jesus' words, then on what basis would he object to our interpreting his words in a similar way, as Paul Manata suggested?

    Similarly, taking the Jewish context of the New Testament into account makes Bethrick's objection to the empty tomb unreasonable. An empty tomb would have been assumed in a Jewish context, even where it wasn't mentioned. The apostle Paul apparently considered Luke's gospel scripture (1 Timothy 5:18), so it's questionable, in that sense, whether Paul was entirely silent on the subject of the empty tomb. (And it would be ridiculous to suggest that companions of Paul like Mark and Luke were familiar with the empty tomb account, but Paul wasn't, or that Paul was rejecting the account while these other people were accepting it. We know, from Paul's letters and other evidence, that the early churches were highly networked and that the earliest church leaders had a high degree of doctrinal unity.) Think of how often Paul mentions something in one of his letters, but doesn't mention it in another letter. For example, he'll go into detail about his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11, yet only mention those sufferings in general terms elsewhere. Do we assume that he must have been unaware of those details at the times when he doesn't discuss them? Do we assume that contemporaries of Paul like Mark and John must not have known of Paul's existence, since they don't mention Paul by name in their writings? We know that the resurrection appearance to James was common knowledge in the early church, as we see reflected in 1 Corinthians 15. Yet, none of the gospels mention it. Do we assume, then, that the gospel writers must not have believed that Jesus appeared to James? Why, then, did the same church that accepted the gospels also accept 1 Corinthians? Bethrick's line of reasoning doesn't carry much weight in these contexts, nor does it in the context of the empty tomb. You can't dismiss the large amount of hard evidence we have for the empty tomb by countering it with the soft evidence that the empty tomb isn't mentioned in documents like 1 Corinthians and Philemon. Bethrick's argument has all the force of a feather thunderously crashing into a bowl of Jell-O.

  5. EKN,

    What you quoted from me was me quoting Dawson, and then changing a couple of words.

    Also, different classes of pagans are to be treated differently.

    Furthermore, when you wrestle a pig, sometimes you get dirty. I don't talk to the wide-eyed innocent college student the way I talk to a Bethrick, or a Loftus. There are biblically waranted uses of sarcasm.

    I write like that mainly for commedy, a lot of people find it funny. Just like Dawson's rhetorical flourishes are intended to be funny, so are mine.

    Lastly, I can understand why Clark supporters would want me off the internet ;-)

  6. Am I a Clark supporter simply because I have no problem with Robbins? I only mentioned Robbins because you rant about him (and Clark) on the internet forums. (I still don't know how you concluded that I'm a Clark supporter.) I simply remarked at how similiar your style is to Robbin's. And I've seen your style is used on fellow Christians. Continue writing in your style, just ease up on criticizing someone else when they do they same.

    And to Kletios' comment, Paul is on a lot of other public sites besides this blog. You're right. I'm not forced to read his stuff, but I would need to in order to see how I might not have wanted to read it in the first place. So I really wonder what worth your comment even had. No one forced you to read my comment but you. So please, don't comment any further.

    Just to remind you, I appreciate PM's work. I listen to him on audio whenever it's posted and I like some of what he's written. It's just a little too much.

    To let this blog serve its purpose, I'll stop commenting on this.

  7. I was pretty much joking about the Clark suporter thing, hence the ;-)

    you'll notice that my posts on Robbins has been removed.

    Sorry for the unintended offense.

    I assume, though, that you don't like things like Matt 23 either?

    .... chill, that was another joke! :-)

  8. I saw you picking on Paul for his grammer.

    You wrote: "I simply remarked at how similiar your style is to Robbin's."

    It should be "Robbins'"

    I'll close with your words, " just ease up on criticizing someone else when they do they same."