Monday, July 03, 2006

Jumping From Pillar to Post

Daniel Morgan just can't seem to keep his thoughts and arguments straight. I'll try to help out...

So far, I'll paraphrase the dialogue, skeptics bold, apologists italicized:

Fetuses/infants can be spared an eternal agony by committing a temporal murder/killing

Not necessarily, only the elect go to heaven, and there are some texts in the Bible that suggest that some babies/fetuses may not be elect

It would seem you are hard-pressed to show any verse that speaks of the fate of the unborn in the afterlife, since they cannot commit willful sin

Original sin taints all mankind, and we assume it taints from conception, not birth, nor at an arbitrary age "of accountability"

Original sin is an intrinsically flawed concept of justice/morality -- you cannot claim to justly hold one person accountable for actions committed completely beyond their control or influence by another

The logical basis is the idea of federal headship, or representation.

Now, if you feel I haven't fairly represented the dialogue, feel free to rewrite this.


i. No, Daniel, you're jumping from pillar to post.

ii. Notice that you *start* the argument by arguing that I would be had pressed to prove my point, *from the Bible.* Then notice that you *end* the argument by claiming that I would be hard pressed to prove my point, *from ethics.*

iii. The one is an internal critique, the other is external.

iv. There are two arguments going on here and you can't seem to sit still long enough to follow one of them through. Here's the state of the debate:

One argument [A1] is that Christians should murder infants since it ensures that they go to heaven. The response here is that they should not because, [1] it ensures no such thing, only the elect go to heaven and, if all infants who die in infancy were elect then, counterfactually, if they had not been killed they *still* would have entered glory. And, [2] Christians (indeed, anyone) does not have the right to murder. Now, this first argument can be directed at the Christian *internally.* That is, is the Christian inconsistent, or morally failing, given his system of thought, if he does not murder infants? My response here is to show that there is no *internal* inconsistency within Christian doctrine. That is, given what the Christians say about the world, man, and God's revelation, we *should not* murder infants to ensure they get to heaven. Therefore this fails as an internal critique against Christianity.

The second argument [A2] is different than the first. [A2] claims that despite what the Bible says, it is morally repugnant to think of children as coming into the world already defiled. This argument *does not* assume a biblical code of ethics but rather a non-biblical and humanistic code of ethics. This is an external critique. Whereas [A1] exonerates Christianity by appeal to its internal consistency, my approach to [A2] has been to show that [1] the arguments have not been valid, [2] the arguments beg the question, and [3]the arguments have no weight given the worldview of the one offering the argument, i.e., if his worldview were true he could not even make such an argument.

If I am correct on [A1] then the Christian should not murder infants. In Daniel is correct on [A2] the Christian should not murder infants (since Christianity would be false and therefore no one will be going to heaven). Thus the only way for Daniel to prove his *original* argument, i.e., that we should murder infants, is to meet me head on over at [A1]. Now, I can deal with [A2] and show that he cannot use it, but [A2] will not prove that we should murder children. [A2] is *only* external. Now, Daniel might think [A2] proves his original point but that is because he imposes his theory of ethics onto the Bible. For him to prove his original point, i.e., Christians should murder infants to ensure the enter glory he *must* engage in an internal critique. But he doesn't want to do this. Fine. But let's note that he has *failed* to prove his original point.

V. Why does it seem that I'd be hard pressed to prove my point from *the Bible* and then when he notes that I do prove it from *the Bible* he then says, "well, forget the Bible, original sin is a nasty idea?"

vi. Daniel is the one who wanted to get into flawed morality but then balks when I try to see if he can account for morality given his physicalism and view of man as a meat machine. If he has no absolute, perfect, universal standard of ethics then he cannot say what is *flawed* now can he? Daniel cannot say that a line is crooked if he doesn't have a picture of a straight line. Daniel cannot say that there are flaws on students math test if he does not have the perfect template by which all the answers are judged.

If you like. Suffice it to say that I do not have the time nor interest to use resources like this one to attempt to argue against original from an exegetical/theological standpoint, or this one, but they obviously exist.


But Danny *must* argue against this since this is the defense! I mean, look at the pillar-to-post mentality here. Above he says I'd be "hard pressed" to argue for original sin but when I do he says, "Well, I don't want to get into that." Then he hedges his bets by posting links, as if that is his rebuttal to my claim but since he doesn't claim allegiance to it then if I spend my time refuting it he'll just say, "But I didn't want to get into it, I just pointed out that critiques exist." But we already knew they existed, didn't we?

Now, I've claimed victory on this point and Daniel said I could if I'd like. Thus [A1] has been granted and therefore the Christian has no problem with the argument.

Not really. As I pointed out above, many things can be drawn from the Bible, and have been. That whole "interpretation" thing is where it all gets pretty fuzzy, like with "all mankind" including fetuses. As I said, other Christians and theologians would argue with you that "Adam's imputed unrighteousness" is irrelevant in the face of "the individual's own unrighteousness", and that the latter is the basis of God's judgment, because the former is just the intrinsic propensity of humans [as conscious moral agents] to keep eating the apple that brought the universe to its knees.


i. Again, the original debate was about post-natal INFANTS, not fetuses. Danny wants to move it to fetuses since he knows he has a problem proving the original argument. Daniel's whole point with bringing up fetuses is to claim that they might not be persons and, therefore, not part of "mankind." But this is an external argument. According to the Bible the unborn was considered a person.

ii. Notice that he brings up "interpretation" while also saying that he doesn't "have the time" to get into a "exegetical/theological debate." This is pillar-to-post mentality folks. Actually, its a bit underhanded. If we wants to get into interpretation then we can do so, but when I do he says, "you can have it, I'm not into debating exegetical/theological issues."

iii. He points out that original sin may be irrelevant to God's judgment! Well now we've shifted again! Has he admitted original sin but now wants to argue that people are not judged by it? Who knows. If I try to argue then will I get the response, "but I don't care about theology?" Who knows. Debating pillar-to-post atheists is a mind-numbing experience.

iv. Those "theologians" assume that the reatus culpae was not imputed. Furthermore, I've argued that you cannot have your cake and eat it too. You can't deny Adam's imputed unrighteousness while wanting to grab hold of Christ's imputed righteousness!

v. The first sin was not simply "eating the fruit." It was a denial of God and his authoritative Word. Man determined what he would be metaphysically and how he would knew epistemologically and how he would behave ethically. It was an usurping of the Creator/creature distinction. Indeed, Adam and Eve would have sinned if they had *not* eaten the fruit but for reasons such as, say, they were watching calories. Therefore, if you admit that original sin was imputed then it could not have been just that they would keep eating the apple, nay, it was a God-hating and self-serving nature, dead to all things Spiritual, that was imputed. This type of person does not enter glory.

"Simply put, I didn't say, "oh yeah, you're right" and even if I did, it isn't whether I, non-theologian that I am, say it or not, now is it? It's whether the other theologians take you to task for inferring fetuses can be held to judgment by God for sins they "inherit".


There you go hiding behind "other theologians" again. Why don't *you* put your money where your mouth is. I've offered refutations of those "other theologians" but yet you keep posting them. You're like a child who thinks his blanket will protect him from the monsters. And, it does matter what *you* and *I* have to say and the matter since it is *you and *I* who are debating!

"I grant to you that it can be supported exegetically, hinging on specific interpretations where "fetus/infant" get "read in"...and I further admit that I really don't care if it can be supported or not, neither whether human sacrifice or slavery or anything else can be."


i. The question is the interpretation biblically sound and warranted.

ii. Get "read in???" What, you think "all men" just means "all people who have penises?" So why don't you tell me that all women go to heaven since only "men" sin?

iii. You can't play the part of the annoying fan in the bleachers, unless that's what you want to be, is it? If not, then *engage* in the interpretations and arguments. Don't just sit in the stands and yell "you stink, my grandma could hit better than you." If you think you're all that then step up to the plate and face the 100 mph fastball.

iv. You think that pureness can come from impure parents. Job 14:4 "Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!" Job 15:14 "14 "What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?"

v. If you don't care if it can be supported then why ask me to support it? Pillar-to-post mentality at large. If you don't care then you've *lost* the debate. I present argument showing Christianity is consistent in denying that it should murder infants, and you let me have it. Thus [A1] has been established.

"Admission of defeat if you like, but I could waste my time in trying to trash the illogical doctrine of Augustine being extrapolated to the unborn using other scriptures, if I held them as authoritative, as this person has."


i. Notice that he now acts that he *could* engage in exegesis and theological debate if he so chooses to lower himself. He does a little study, finds out Augustine was involved, name dropps, and pretends to be learned on this subject. We all know, though, that he's not and so he covers his tracks by saying it's such a bothersome trifle to get involved with.

ii. He *could* use other scriptures and exegete them? But earlier he said, "I'm not an exegete, the pay stinks." Inconsistency is a mark of irrationality, irrationality is an effect of the fall.

"Thus, in the end, the direction of the conversation does leads back to our presuppositions. Call me a pud if you want, whatever. I am tired of using the Bible to argue the Bible, as if that matters."


i. It leads back to our presuppositions, you admit I'm presupposing the Bible, but you don't want to argue the Bible??? Boy, you're all over the map.

ii. You're afraid to deal with my presuppositions, but I'm not afraid of yours. That's usually what happens when you have the truth on your side.

"Consider that my arguments were invented in about 3 minutes' time. I will take the time to look up something on the web which is a little less hastily written for you in my response post."


i. It can't be because he's arguing from an illogical position, he just didn't have the time to put into putting forth a cogent argument, yeah, and I'm a pink elephant circling the earth. ;-)

ii. You offered a modus ponens, you don't need more than 30 seconds to write it out. It's simple, if p then q; p; therefore q. All you had to do was copy what you had for q.

iii. Notice his *a priori* commitment against my position. He's so sure that I'm wrong that, even though he's not put forth a good argument, he's going to go look up some "better ones" in a book.

"I think my premise isn't clear. I am attempting to say "what does morality evaluate?" not "what determines the morality of thoughts, choices, and actions?" I'm pointing out that morality, which to you = God's commands, always involve human actions, thoughts, and choices. Have I clarified?"


i. Morality does not = God's commands. God commands are moral though.

ii. People *use* moral notions *to* evaluate, but some impersonal moral imperatives that you've made up don't "evaluate" anything. People evaluate.

iii. If you're going to bring up the Bible then you must also add the concept of representation and covenant solidarity.

"Let's not get sidetracked onto physicalism. The laws of physics, chemistry, and biology certainly do determine our thoughts, choices, and actions. So? Do you disagree with this? Can you somehow think something, or act something out, that violates them? Using moral responsibility in a deterministic worldview is not illogical. Not when you consider that people are a product of the physical world and their social environment, and that enforcing rules falls into the latter camp, and that the social environment does indeed correct and train behaviors. I doubt you disagree that our environment shapes our choices and behaviors."


i. Let's not get into physicalism? But you said you wanted to deal with "presuppositions." Pillar-to-post, I tell ya.

ii. I will bring physicalism up, since you're offering a moral argument against original sin I want to know how morality is even possible given your worldview.

iii. I don't see how responsibility is cogent within a phsyicalist's determinative worldview.

iv. I know you talk about making society all nice n fluffy, but that's not what we're referring to when we talk about morality. All you have are the strongest enforcing their rules, if the pedophiles win the day then they'll be enforcing their rules.

v. It makes no sense to tell a zombie that he *should* not have killed that kid.

vi. If the laws of physics determined your thoughts, then why believe them and why believe that they are geared for truth? Evolution only requires that they're geared towards survival, not truth. Hear fellow physicalist Pat Churchland:

"Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four F's: feeding, fleeing, fighting and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive...Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost."

"Yeah and the Bible has a few other "concepts" that are just as ridiculous. How does one inherit "guilt"? Is it inside the atoms of your sperm? Is there some spirit magic, tainted with sin, that rides on the back of the sperm? I'm sorry, but the concept is silly."

i. But the point of my rebuttal was to show that your premise begged the question, not that Christianity wasn't "silly."

ii. By "inherit" I mean that we are born with our sinful condition because of our connection with Adam. Anyway, on this point I'm a trauducianist.

"Perhaps you missed it, but twice now, you've switched from arguing against original sin to arguing against materialism. Self-awareness is a part of our subjective individual experience, whether it can be objectively described, studied, whatever, using physics or not [whether it is an illusion or not]. Arguing that a fetus is self-aware is like arguing that a rat is. They have probably around the same mental capacities at some point in development."

i. Perhaps you missed it, but I was arguing against your external critique and attempting to show that you cannot raise a moral objection to my worldview since in your worldview universal, non-arbitrary, objective morality is not possible.

ii. You said consciousness was required for morality, I pointed out that consciousness doesn't exist on your worldview, unless it's redefined or eliminated, if so, it doesn't exist! :-) You're such a folk psychologist.

"Okay, my bad. I should have written it more carefully in those 20 seconds I was giving thought to each line. It doesn't seem such an egregious logical blunder though...I would have to say that one implies the other -- if you are not moral, can you be justly held to a moral standard?"


i. Well, it was an egregious logical blunder. You need to connect your conclusion to your premises. If your conclusion uses terms not used in your premises then you conclusion goes beyond your premises and hence it's a non-sequitur.

ii. I don't know what you mean by "if you're not moral you can't be held to a moral standard." Not-moral could mean, "immoral." Some people are "not moral" in this sense, but yet we hold them accountable. Or, do you mean by someone not being moral that, by nature, their not moral? Well then on physicalist assumptions where is your morality, between your toes? So, you're still confused here.

"Fine. Did the fetus eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Nope. Okay, then, it is sin-free."


And I pointed out that original sin is not talking about actual transgressions. Furthermore, I refuted the naive "eat fruit" argument.

"You can be held responsible by the state for something over which you are given custodial privelage. This only means you are held liable for your son's actions in repairing the consequences of those actions, but you can't have the morality of his action magically "imputed" to you, so that your son's wrong choice = your wrong choice. If your kid killed someone, they wouldn't put you in jail for it, would they?"


Thanks for admitting that the concept of representation is not an unfamiliar notion. Thus I think we've now defeated your external argument while at the same time buttressing my internal argument.

"Is materialism on trial, or "original sin"?"


Apropos your external argument: materialism. Furthermore, you're not arguing against original sin since you're failing to engage in exegesis. All you're doing is saying it's wrong based on your presuppositions. Well, you're a materialist and so if you're going to do that I'm going to attack materialism. I'll lay off if you want to engage in exegesis. This was I'll still prove you wrong but you wont have your worldview smashed. You choose.

"And "Adam" is a fictitious character in a creation myth. There is not only an absence of evidence for your Edenic paradise and 6,000 year old ancestor, but a plethora of evidence against the existence of both."


Doesn't matter internally. Externally, I know that's you opinion. So you believe we came from ape-like ancestors, big whoop.

"With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind...?" — Charles Darwin, Letter to William Graham, Down, July 3rd, 1881

"vi. Daniel cannot even account for morality.

What? First, is that at issue, here? Let's say he can't, or let's say that there is no morality at all. Does that make original sin "true"? Hardly."


It is an issue since you don't want to debate the Bible but want to bring an external moral complaint against original sin. If that's your approach then I'm going to take morality from you, beat you with your own stick, and send you home. So, it doesn't make original sin true, it defeats your argument against it, though.

Anyway, this is enough of this....


  1. So this image is not far from the truth, in your opinion. Correct?

  2. well, it's impossible that one loves Jesus, follows the rules, lives the life of the elect, wants to be a follower of Christ, hates her sin, trusts in Christ, etc., and for her not to be elect.

    Furthermore, the elect don't have a red E on their forehead so i don't know how that guy "found out" that she wasn't elect, especially when she had fruit.

    So, it's far from the truth in that you're taking only part of a teaching while importing false or unbiblical images in order to make the original image look silly.

    Try to represent others correctly, or lese you look liek you can't defeat us and need to resort to straw men so that you have an easier opponant to knock down.

  3. Oh, lighten up, it's not like it going to change anything.

    Actually, here's an interesting question, and you've been really good at answering questions, I'll hand that to you.

    What is the purpose of evengelism?

  4. It just keeps getting worse, for Danny boy. Nice critique.

  5. Mark Cote asked: What is the purpose of evengelism?

    This question inevitably gets asked. Ergun Caner is gonna ask James White that very question, just wait and see.

    Here are two answers, both true (since they focus on different fields of reference):

    1. For the Christian, evangelism is to obey the command of Christ. You know, "Go into all the world ..."

    2. For the non-Christian, evangelism is a presentation of the Gospel so the elect will have their election made known to them. You know, "How shall they hear without ..."

  6. Mark,

    I deny that there is *a* purpose, or *the* purpose, of evangelism.

    One purpose is to bring God's sheep in. God uses means to accomplish His ordained ends. He's ordained that His sheep will be brought in, ordinarily, by the preaching of the word.

    Another purpose could be to damn non-elect even more. That is, some people have plenty of opportunity to believe, the know the good message, but yet they harden their hearts all the more. I believe one purpose of evangelism, then, might be to harden the hearts of some people. Look at Pharaoh. God used Moses' proclimations intended to save Pharaoh some headaches, to harden Pharaoh's heart.

    Another purpose would be to stengthen believers in their faith.

    And all of these, of course, bring Glory to God, another purpose.

  7. Mark Cote has accused me of being a figment of Frank Walton's imagination.

    This has me worried, as I thought I was a real person. Mark, I suggest you read 'Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God' by J I Packer. I haven't read it yet, so don't expect a quick answer.

    The main purpose is that God has ordained evangelism as the means of bringing in the elect. Now, one could say 'God is sovereign, so I don't need to do anything at all. God will get his will done without my doing anything.' You would then starve to death.

  8. correction: I did not mean thta I deny that there is *a* purpose but that there is *the* purpose, as in one and only purpose/reason/use