Thursday, July 13, 2006

The naturalistic fallacy

***QUOTE***

Jim said:

Steve,

Interesting post. However, I don't think that it applies in every case of an atheologian's use of the "problem of evil."

Usually the a-theologian will claim that "evil happens" (therefore there is no God) and your criticism would apply. However, he doesn't NEED to do this to formulate an argument. All he needs to state is that "'evil' - as a theist would define it - exists" while maintaining a relativist position, and he could sidestep your objection.

BTW - I believe your criticism of George is accurate - he is clearly appalled by the actions he posits. But what if he formulated his argument by saying that the THEIST should see these things as evil - even though he views them reserved nonprescriptive stance?

***END-QUOTE***

Jim,

Good questions.

1.Yes, it is possible for a moral relativist to mount a purely internal critique of the Christian faith.

Since, however, George and Sam Harris are clearly including their own moral intuitions in the way they frame the problem of evil against Christianity, I didn’t bother to address your example.

2.But let’s play along with your example a little further. A moral relativist can press the problem of evil against Christian theism, but he will pay a price.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that he’s successful in showing that the problem of evil disproves the existence of the Christian God. What has he accomplished?

As a moral relativist, he doesn’t think it’s wrong to hold false beliefs. So even if the Christian faith were a false belief-system, there would be nothing morally objectionable, from his viewpoint, about continuing to adhere to the Christian faith.

So his victory would be a Pyrrhic victory.

***QUOTE***

George said:

“I don’t have to do any such thing, I just have to point to what theists consider evil, and show that their myriad gods are doing nothing to stop it.”

There are a couple problems with this claim:

i) Yes, you can point to events which a Christian would regard as evil. But that’s not enough to make an internal case against the Christian.

Rather, you need to point to events which a Christian would regard as gratuitous evils.

ii) To say that God is doing nothing to stop evil is fatally ambiguous.

It’s true that God doesn’t prevent every evil. But by common grace, he prevents many evils.

And in terms of Christian eschatology, there will be a day of reckoning.

“Most theists don’t want to die, or have their loved ones die slow painful deaths from diseases. Thus, they pray to their gods to intervene and provide a supernatural cure for these illnesses.”

This does nothing to disprove Christian theism. Christian theology doesn’t deny the existence of death and disease.

And prayer is not unconditional in Scripture.

For you to successfully mount an internal critique of the Christian faith based on the problem of evil, you need to cite phenomena inconsistent with Christian theology.

Your anecdotal examples don’t achieve that objective.

“Yet these alleged caring gods who allegedly ‘intelligently designed’ these killer viruses and cancers, don’t cure theists, or Reformed Protestant Christians, with any greater frequency than Buddhists or humanists or atheists.”

All you’ve done is to frame a straw man argument.

1.If some Christians labor under the misimpression that God will answer every prayer, the fact that their false expectations will be disappointeed does nothing to falsify the Christian faith. To falsify a false belief does nothing to falsify a true belief.

George, you need to try a little harder to be logical. You are letting your emotionalism get the better of the argument.

2.Also, I expect that Christians are healed at a higher rate than Buddhists or humanists or atheists.

“Again, if you want to claim that your god wants a little 12 year old Christian girl, to die a slow, painful death of cancer, and have her parents and her whole church, racked with anquish, as their prayers to this god go unanswered, that’s fine. I'm sure it can all be rationalized as "god's plan". But please don’t pretend that this god ‘cares’ about the welfare of this little girl or her family in this life and this world.”

Again, George, you’re substituting hysteria for reason. As Paul Helm has stated:

“There is no reason to think that God intends the details of the universe separately; there is one divine will, which encompasses all events. It would be fallacious to suppose that the divine attitude is the same with respect to every detail of what god wills…As Aquinas put it, ‘God, and nature, and indeed, every causal agent, does what is best overall, but not what is best in every part, except when the part is regarded in its relationship to the whole.’ We may suppose that when God knowingly and willingly permits certain events he does so in furtherance of some wider consideration wholly consistent with his character with respect to which they are a logically necessary condition. And likewise, some of those things which he causes are means to some further end,” J. Beilby & P. Eddy, eds. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (IVP 2001), 182.

“Your gods, as usual, are nowhere in sight.”

You are falling into a fallacious all-or-nothing argument. The fact that God doesn’t intervene every time doesn’t mean that God doesn’t intervene anytime.

Once again, try to be rational about this.

“As far as your cliché strawman that I can’t critique your invisible god’s impotence, in the face of the death and destruction of his loyal followers, ‘without an external standard of comparison’. I believe if I commissioned a poll, most Christians would agree that they don’t want to die slow, painful, premature deaths. Nor do they want their children to. And I believe the same poll would show most of these Christians believe they can petition the Christian god to change the course of events should they be stricken with a deadly disease. They may even say that there god is ‘watching out for them’ or perhaps he has assigned an angel the task, or some such superstition.”

This is not an internal critique of the Christian belief-system. Every step of the way you fail to make good on your stated claim.

The fact that some churchgoers get their theology from “Touched By An Angel” rather than the Bible is irrelevant to the coherence of Christian theism.

“I’m not sure who told you that naturalists can’t believe that certain human behaviors are atrocious or gratutious or even ‘evil’ without the benefit on your three headed Hebrew tribal deity. But I assure you, you’re wrong. Just because someone accepts the universe and natural world for what it is, and perhaps can even identify the causes of disease or violent tendencies in certain humans, doesn’t mean we surrender our value judgments of what we believe is good or right behavior.”

If you are a naturalist, then where are you getting your value judgments if not from the natural world? So why are you so disapproving of what you seen around you? For a naturalist you’re pretty ill-adapted to your natural surroundings.

“No, the ‘problem of evil’ only exists when there is an allegedly omnipotent god that could prevent evil...but doesn't, for unknown reasons that theists like to rationalize.”

This is a simple-minded caricature of the problem. The fact that God doesn’t prevent every instance of evil, here and now, is not a defeater for Christian theism.

Also, the fact that we may not know why every individual evil takes place does not mean that we are in the dark regarding the general role of evil in a Christian theodicy.

“Perhaps you are the kind of theist who upon witnessing a rape, thinks ‘I’d better not do anything to stop it, I’m sure my personal god has a good reason for allowing this evil to occur.’

This is false with respect to the preceptive and decretive will of God alike. Rape is a sin. Rape is contrary to God’s moral law for man.

Conversely, if God had decreed me not to intervene, then I’d be unable to intervene. If I’m able to intervene, then my intervention does not run counter to his decretive will.

***QUOTE***

I thought I explained that in my reply. That's a really nasty fallacy spread by theists, in order to distract from any argument, that has a moral component. Theists, especially Muslims and Christians, certainly don't have the patent on human morality. Nor do their alleged killer gods.

If you want to argue with me over rape being wrong, thats fine. If you agree its wrong, please don't pretend we don't share that same moral standard, in an effort to sidetrack the main discussion.

"Rape" is wrong by definition. The value judgment is contained in its definition. Just like it is in the word murder.

***END-QUOTE***

There are a couple of basic problems with this reply:

1.The association of moral relativism with secular humanism isn’t a malicious rumor spread by Christians.

It was Hume who brought up the is-ought problem. It was Moore who brought up the naturalistic fallacy.

Various unbelievers subscribe to some version or another of moral antirealism, whether emotivism, non-cognitivism, social constructivism, cultural relativism, descriptive relativism, &c.

These debates crop up all the time in varieties of evolutionary ethics, such as social Darwinism, evolutionary psychology, and sociobiology.

For an overview, cf.:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/evol-eth.htm

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-cognitivism/

And this is applied to cases of rape. Consider academic studies such as:

A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (MIT 2000)
by Randy Thornhill, Craig T. Palmer, Margo I. Wilson

Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Mariner Books 1997)
by Dale Peterson, Richard Wrangham

Or consider the following exchange between Bertrand Russell and Fr. Copleston:

***QUOTE***

R: You see, I feel that some things are good and that other things are bad. I love the things that are good, that I think are good, and I hate the things that I think are bad. I don't say that these things are good because they participate in the Divine goodness.

C: Yes, but what's your justification for distinguishing between good and bad or how do you view the distinction between them?

R: I don't have any justification any more than I have when I distinguish between blue and yellow. What is my justification for distinguishing between blue and yellow? I can see they are different.

C: Well, that is an excellent justification, I agree. You distinguish blue and yellow by seeing them, so you distinguish good and bad by what faculty?

R: By my feelings.

C: By your feelings. Well, that's what I was asking. You think that good and evil have reference simply to feeling?

R: Well, why does one type of object look yellow and another look blue? I can more or less give an answer to that thanks to the physicists, and as to why I think one sort of thing good and another evil, probably there is an answer of the same sort, but it hasn't been gone into in the same way and I couldn't give it [to] you.

C: Well, let's take the behavior of the Commandant of Belsen. That appears to you as undesirable and evil and to me too. To Adolf Hitler we suppose it appeared as something good and desirable, I suppose you’d have to admit that for Hitler it was good and for you it is evil.

R: No, I shouldn't quite go so far as that. I mean, I think people can make mistakes in that as they can in other things. If you have jaundice you see things yellow that are not yellow. You're making a mistake.

C: Yes, one can make mistakes, but can you make a mistake if it’s simply a question of reference to a feeling or emotion? Surely Hitler would be the only possible judge of what appealed to his emotions.

R: It would be quite right to say that it appealed to his emotions, but you can say various things about that among others, that if that sort of thing makes that sort of appeal to Hitler's emotions, then Hitler makes quite a different appeal to my emotions.

C: Granted. But there's no objective criterion outside feeling then for condemning the conduct of the Commandant of Belsen, in your view?

R: No more than there is for the color-blind person who's in exactly the same state. Why do we intellectually condemn the color-blind man? Isn't it because he's in the minority?

C: I would say because he is lacking in a thing which normally belongs to human nature.

R: Yes, but if he were in the majority, we shouldn't say that.

C: Then you'd say that there's no criterion outside feeling that will enable one to distinguish between the behavior of the Commandant of Belsen and the behavior, say, of Sir Stafford Cripps or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

R: The feeling is a little too simplified. You've got to take account of the effects of actions and your feelings toward those effects. You see, you can have an argument about it if you can say that certain sorts of occurrences are the sort you like and certain others the sort you don’t like. Then you have to take account of the effects of actions. You can very well say that the effects of the actions of the Commandant of Belsen were painful and unpleasant.

C: They certainly were, I agree, very painful and unpleasant to all the people in the camp.

R: Yes, but not only to the people in the camp, but to outsiders contemplating them also.

C: Yes, quite true in imagination. But that's my point. I don’t approve of them, and I know you don't approve of them, but I don't see what ground you have for not approving of them, because after all, to the Commandant of Belsen himself, they're pleasant, those actions.

R: Yes, but you see I don't need any more ground in that case than I do in the case of color perception. There are some people who think everything is yellow, there are people suffering from jaundice, and I don’t agree with these people. I can't prove that the things are not yellow, there isn't any proof, but most people agree with him that they’re not yellow, and most people agree with me that the Commandant of Belsen was making mistakes.

C: Well, do you accept any moral obligation?

R: Well, I should have to answer at considerable length to answer that. Practically speaking -- yes. Theoretically speaking I should have to define moral obligation rather carefully.

C: Well, do you think that the word "ought" simply has an emotional connotation?

R: No, I don't think that, because you see, as I was saying a moment ago, one has to take account of the effects, and I think right conduct is that which would probably produce the greatest possible balance in intrinsic value of all the acts possible in the circumstances, and you’ve got to take account of the probable effects of your action in considering what is right.

C: Well, I brought in moral obligation because I think that one can approach the question of God's existence in that way. The vast majority of the human race will make, and always have made, some distinction between right and wrong. The vast majority I think has some consciousness of an obligation in the moral sphere. It's my opinion that the perception of values and the consciousness of moral law and obligation are best explained through the hypothesis of a transcendent ground of value and of an author of the moral law. I do mean by "author of the moral law" an arbitrary author of the moral law. I think, in fact, that those modern atheists who have argued in a converse way "there is no God; therefore, there are no absolute values and no absolute law," are quite logical.

R: I don't like the word "absolute." I don't think there is anything absolute whatever. The moral law, for example, is always changing. At one period in the development of the human race, almost everybody thought cannibalism was a duty.

C: Well, I don't see that differences in particular moral judgments are any conclusive argument against the universality of the moral law. Let's assume for the moment that there are absolute moral values, even on that hypothesis it's only to be expected that different individuals and different groups should enjoy varying degrees of insight into those values.

R: I'm inclined to think that "ought," the feeling that one has about "ought" is an echo of what has been told one by one's parents or one's nurses.

C: Well, I wonder if you can explain away the idea of the "ought" merely in terms of nurses and parents. I really don’t see how it can be conveyed to anybody in other terms than itself. It seems to be that if there is a moral order bearing upon the human conscience, that that moral order is unintelligible apart from the existence of God.

R: Then you have to say one or other of two things. Either God only speaks to a very small percentage of mankind -- which happens to include yourself -- or He deliberately says things are not true in talking to the consciences of savages.

C: Well, you see, I'm not suggesting that God actually dictates moral precepts to the conscience. The human being's ideas of the content of the moral law depends entirely to a large extent on education and environment, and a man has to use his reason in assessing the validity of the actual moral ideas of his social group. But the possibility of criticizing the accepted moral code presupposes that there is an objective standard, and there is an ideal moral order, which imposes itself (I mean the obligatory character of which can be recognized). I think that the recognition of this ideal moral order is part of the recognition of contingency. It implies the existence of a real foundation of God.

R: But the lawgiver has always been, it seems to me, one's parents or someone like. There are plenty of terrestrial lawgivers to account for it, and that would explain why people's consciences are so amazingly different in different times and places.

C: It helps to explain differences in the perception of particular moral values, which otherwise are inexplicable. It will help to explain changes in the matter of the moral law in the content of the precepts as accepted by this or that nation, or this or that individual. But the form of it, what Kant calls the categorical imperative, the "ought," I really don't see how that can possibly be conveyed to anybody by nurse or parent because there aren't any possible terms, so far as I can see, with which it can be explained. It can't be defined in other terms than itself, because once you've defined it in other terms than itself you've explained it away. It's no longer a moral "ought." It's something else.

R: Well, I think the sense of "ought" is the effect of somebody’s imagined disapproval, it may be God's imagined disapproval, but it's somebody's imagined disapproval. And I think that is what is meant by "ought."

C: It seems to me to be external customs and taboos and things of that sort which can most easily be explained simply through environment and education, but all that seems to me to belong to what I call the matter of the law, the content. The idea of the "ought" as such can never be conveyed to a man by the tribal chief or by anybody else, because there are no other terms in which it could be conveyed. It seems to me entirely....

R: But I don't see any reason to say that -- I mean we all know about conditioned reflexes. We know that an animal, if punished habitually for a certain sort of act, after a time will refrain. I don't think the animal refrains from arguing within himself, "Master will be angry if I do this." He has a feeling that that's not the thing to do. That's what we can do with ourselves and nothing more.

C: I see no reason to suppose that an animal has a consciousness or moral obligation; and we certainly don't regard an animal as morally responsible for his acts of disobedience. But a man has a consciousness of obligation and of moral values. I see no reason to suppose that one could condition all men as one can "condition" an animal, and I don't suppose you'd really want to do so even if one could. If "behaviorism" were true, there would be no objective moral distinction between the emperor Nero and St. Francis of Assisi. I can’t help feeling, Lord Russell, you know, that you regard the conduct of the Commandant of Belsen as morally reprehensible, and that you yourself would never under any circumstances act in that way, even if you thought, or had reason to think, that possibly the balance of the happiness of the human race might be increased through some people being treated in that abominable manner.

R: No. I wouldn't imitate the conduct of a mad dog. The fact that I wouldn’t do it doesn't really bear on this question we're discussing.

C: No, but if you were making a utilitarian explanation of right and wrong in terms of consequences, it might be held, and I suppose some of the Nazis of the better type would have held that although it’s lamentable to have to act in this way, yet the balance in the long run leads to greater happiness. I don't think you'd say that, would you? I think you'd say that sort of action is wrong -- and in itself, quite apart from whether the general balance of happiness is increased or not. Then, if you're prepared to say that, then I think you must have some criterion of feeling, at any rate. To me, that admission would ultimately result in the admission of an ultimate ground of value in God.

R: I think we are perhaps getting into confusion. It is not direct feeling about the act by which I should judge, but rather a feeling as to the effects. And I can't admit any circumstances in which certain kinds of behavior, such as you have been discussing, would do good. I can’t imagine circumstances in which they would have a beneficial effect. I think the persons who think they do are deceiving themselves. But if there were circumstances in which they would have a beneficial effect, then I might be obliged, however reluctantly, to say -- "Well, I don't like these things, but I will acquiesce in them," just as I acquiesce in the Criminal Law, although I profoundly dislike punishment.

http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p20.htm

***END-QUOTE***

To finish up on George:

“The fact remains, the alleged, caring, omnipotent, Christian god chooses not to stop rape, in the worldview of Christians. He doesn't stop rape in my worldview, because he doesn't exist, he's a figment of theist imagination. Thus his failure to act, to protect, and to cure, like any loving parent would, is a problem for Christians to rationalize, and they've become very good at it over the years.”

This is not an internal critique of Christian theism. All George has ever done in this course of this thread is to pull certain adjectives like “loving” and “caring” out of the air, apply them to God, point to some instance of evil, then exclaim: “Aha! God doesn’t exist!”

You are attacking your own homegrown version of Christian theism.

16 comments:

  1. You did a great job dismantling his arguments. I don't understand why these guys think their arguments flex such muscle. I wish they could at least accurately represent the Christian position they think they're refuting. But hey, if they want to refute a false understanding of Christianity, destroy away! They are blind to the fact they have an inate moral compass within them, put there by the God they so venomously revile. The atheistic moral value system has no more teeth than, "you just shouldn't hurt other people"...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Steve said:
    ---
    Yes, it is possible for a moral relativist to mount a purely internal critique of the Christian faith.
    ---

    As much as it pains me to say this, I think you're wrong here, Steve! (Actually, we do agree on the principals; it's just this specific statement.)

    An internal critique of Christianity would need to take into account all aspects of Christianity and demonstrate a contradiction; this is something that cannot be done, and thus it is not "possible" for a relativist to do so :-)

    Specifically in regards to the problem of evil, we have this framework (all of the following are truths internal to Christianity, and thus would be necessary for the internal critique to work):

    1. God is a good God.

    2. Evil actions occur.

    3. God ordains these evil actions.

    4. God has a reason for ordaining these evil actions.

    5. God's reason for ordaining these evil actions is morally sufficient within Christianity.

    6. There is no tension between 1 and 2 because of 5.

    .: There is no internal problem in Christian theism.

    The relativist normally disagrees with 5 by claiming that God does not have a morally sufficient reason for evil. At this point, however, the relativist is importing his relativistic philosophy into the argument and then judging the Christian argument. This is then an external judgment, not an internal critique.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Steve Said:

    There are a couple problems with this claim:

    i) Yes, you can point to events which a Christian would regard as evil. But that’s not enough to make an internal case against the Christian.

    Rather, you need to point to events which a Christian would regard as gratuitous evils.

    LOL…I’m not really interested in playing your games of semantic hair splitting Steve. I must have missed the big list of “gratuitous” versus “garden variety” evil in my copy of the bible.

    You’re dodge is noted for the record.

    I'm sure it will be a trend.


    ii) To say that God is doing nothing to stop evil is fatally ambiguous.


    Nope, it simply is the result of observation. Anytime you want to offer evidence of YOUR personal god showing up and stopping some evil, (gratuitous or garden variety), I’ll be interested to take a look. From what I hear, it usually goes something like this:

    “Grandpa had a really bad backache, and we all prayed…and it went away…praise God!”


    I’m not sure if a backache makes the list of gratuitous evil. And not being superstitious and credulous, I am also not convinced that every piece of good fortune a Christian prays for, and comes true, is the result of your personal, invisible gods’ intervention.

    That’s called the Fallacy of Coincidence. It’s the fuel that keeps the engine of your Christian superstition burning. Please light a candle, or sacrifice a goat, or say a prayer for my continued good health, the next time you're at your temple.


    It’s true that God doesn’t prevent every evil. But by common grace, he prevents many evils.

    Again, feel free to provide me the list, and the evidences, of all the "evils" your personal Christian god has prevented using this nebulous process you call “common grace”. I assume this is your fancy term for “my god’s magic powers”.

    Do you believe in all the miracles allegedly performed by all the Catholic saints?...including the last pope? I would guess not...you being a good conservative, bigoted Protestant...


    And in terms of Christian eschatology, there will be a day of reckoning.

    Will there be a day of reckoning for your god, and all the evil he caused, and all the evil he allowed to transpire, that he could have allegedly stopped, and all the evil that his followers did to others who wouldn't believe like they required?

    I'm looking forward to it...let me know when it is, so I can put it on my calendar.


    This does nothing to disprove Christian theism. Christian theology doesn’t deny the existence of death and disease.

    Sure it does. I’m surprised you’re not familiar with your own mythology. Your mythology claims your god created the first man and woman in an idyllic garden where there was no death and disease. Then one day. a talking snake convinced the gullible woman to eat a piece of fruit, that your god told them not to eat, and your god cast them out of this garden, and introduced the concept of death and disease, and pain during childbirth, and that poor Adam was going to have to become a farmer to grow his own food.

    I know it sounds hilarious, given our modern understanding of our species biology and anthropology, but believe it or not, psuedo-intellectual Christians like you, actually have to believe this stuff for real, due to their confessional need to idolatrize the sacred myths of their ancient ancestors, over the truth we have discovered.

    So again, according to your mythology, your god is completely responsible for death, and for designing the viruses that kill us. I guess Noah is partly to blame since he had to load all the viruses on the ark…two by two. SNORT!

    So it seems according to your mythology, your bible god has the capability at anytime to end his sentence of death, and return us to the idyllic garden. But he chooses not to. He prefers that the race of people he created continue to suffer and die..for eating that piece of fruit.


    And prayer is not unconditional in Scripture.

    Jesus allegedly told his followers:


    "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."


    Again, I’m kind of surprised you are not familiar with the words or your Lord and Savior. But perhaps you’ll have another lame rationalization or excuse to explain why he really didn’t mean that.



    For you to successfully mount an internal critique of the Christian faith based on the problem of evil, you need to cite phenomena inconsistent with Christian theology.


    1. Christians don’t like to die premature, painful deaths from disease. They think that this is a “bad” thing. Some may even call it “evil”.
    2. Christian theology states that their god loves them and cares about their well being, and also the well being of sparrows.
    3. Christian theology states that “things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
    4. Christian children get sick with diseases, and they, and their believing parents, friends and entire church congregations, pray for their recovery.
    5. Yet the children still die.
    6. Thus, Christians like you, have to rationalize why your god doesn’t care, or only cares "sometimes".
    7. That's your problem in a nutshell.


    All you’ve done is to frame a straw man argument.

    I know I’m making progress when my opponent starts crying “strawman!”



    1.If some Christians labor under the misimpression that God will answer every prayer, the fact that their false expectations will be disappointeed does nothing to falsify the Christian faith. To falsify a false belief does nothing to falsify a true belief.


    I must have missed the part where the Christian god appointed you the Bishop of “right expectations and true beliefs”. I think perhaps your little blog site has gone to your head.

    You're just one of countless internet apologist wannabes, who calls himself a 'Christian' and who is trying to convince me that he speaks for the one true god. So far I’m not impressed with your intellect or your authority to speak for yourself, much less a god.


    George, you need to try a little harder to be logical. You are letting your emotionalism get the better of the argument.

    And you need to try a little harder to insult me with your smug, smarmy comments. So far its not working.


    Also, I expect that Christians are healed at a higher rate than Buddhists or humanists or atheists.

    Well then I would hope you have evidence to support that claim, you being so “logical and unemotional” in your presentation of your arguments. Do you?


    Again, George, you’re substituting hysteria for reason.

    I’m not hysterical Steve. Again, you’re substituting an attempt to insult me for an argument. So far it seems I’m not logical, I’m emotional, hysterical and I’m only arguing against strawmen and false Christian beliefs…Anything else Steve? Does my mother dress me funny as well?


    As Paul Helm has stated...

    I’m not really interested in what Paul Helm or Bertrand Russell or any other atheist philosopher has to say right this moment. They are not here to debate me. And you are wrong to assume they have some magical authority over my position, like Saul of Tarsus does for yours.

    You are falling into a fallacious all-or-nothing argument. The fact that God doesn’t intervene every time doesn’t mean that God doesn’t intervene anytime.

    And you’ve yet to convince me with any evidence that your personal Christian god has ever “intervened” at anytime to stop any gratuitous evil. But I’m sure if I wait long enough, you’ll get around to that.

    It seems your position is:

    I know my personal god isn’t intervening much, but I think he might be intervening some, I just can't offer any conclusive evidence that he is, or why he is only doing it for certain situations.

    Sounds like a perfect rationalization of projecting your invisible god onto the probablistic events of a natural world where no gods are ever intervening.

    Once again, try to be rational about this.

    Steve, please, stop beating your wife and make an argument.


    This is not an internal critique of the Christian belief-system. Every step of the way you fail to make good on your stated claim.

    The fact that some churchgoers get their theology from “Touched By An Angel” rather than the Bible is irrelevant to the coherence of Christian theism.

    The fact that you’re a smug, pusedo-intellectual Christian, who's read a few books on logic and philosophy, and who looks down his nose at other. lesser educated Christians…

    …doesn’t really surprise me.

    You’re what I call a Christian Pharisee. The irony is deep.


    If you are a naturalist, then where are you getting your value judgments if not from the natural world?

    I am getting them from the natural world. You and I are part of the natural world.

    So why are you so disapproving of what you seen around you?
    Because I have the capacity to make value judgments and disapprove of things I don’t like. Is this hard for you to grasp?

    Try and be “logical and rational”, Steve. Try and not be so “emotional and hysterical”, and maybe you will understand.

    Just because you “labor under the misimpression” that Naturalists can’t disapprove of something they don’t like, does nothing to falsify naturalists ability to do so.


    For a naturalist you’re pretty ill-adapted to your natural surroundings.

    And you’re long on insulting, ignorant sound bites, and cut and paste philosopher quotes, and smug Christian bigotry…

    …but just a little short on intellect and argument.

    I’m not surprised.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sigh...oh look a Triablogue groupie...

    You did a great job dismantling his arguments.

    And you are doing a wonderful job cheerleading...why not fetch us a a snack as well, while the men discuss theology.


    I don't understand why these guys think their arguments flex such muscle.

    And I don't understand your use of wretched metaphor. You should try flexing some of your neurons next time.

    I wish they could at least accurately represent the Christian position they think they're refuting.

    LOL...I wish there was just ONE Christian position to refute. Unfortunately, they are a dime a dozen.

    Perhaps some day I'll know yours! But, I guess that would require something more than cheerleading...eh?


    But hey, if they want to refute a false understanding of Christianity, destroy away!

    And if you want to chearlead and make snide remarks...be my guest.


    They are blind to the fact they have an inate moral compass within them, put there by the God they so venomously revile.

    LOL...no dear...but I do acknowledge I have an inante set of behaviors put there by the combination of my parents DNA and my social learning experiences.

    Sorry hon...you're personal, invisible god didn't put anything in me, and I don't hate your god anymore than you hate Posiedon.

    But thanks for condensing your ignorance of human nature and biology into a few words.


    The atheistic moral value system has no more teeth than, "you just shouldn't hurt other people"...


    Again, in your abject ignorance, and simpleton, blinkered view of the world, you imagine there is a single “atheist moral value system”. Sorry, to burst your bubble, there isn’t. Nor is there a “single “Christian moral value system”, as is evidenced by the history of Christians disagreeing on everything from slavery, to women’s rights.

    As far as “teeth”, last I checked, my secular police are well armed, and my prisons are near capacity. So feel free to attempt to stone blasphemers or adulterers to death, as your god commands, and you’ll soon discover the “teeth” of my country’s current, shared moral system.

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  5. George wrote:
    -----
    LOL…I’m not really interested in playing your games of semantic hair splitting Steve. I must have missed the big list of “gratuitous” versus “garden variety” evil in my copy of the bible.

    You’re dodge is noted for the record.

    I'm sure it will be a trend.
    -----

    Steve wasn't dodging the issue any, George. Apparently, you can't even find the issue yet. So let me give you a concrete example.

    Look at Genesis 50:20 where Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, said: "As for you [his brothers], you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

    Thus we have an instance where God intends an action to occur. This action is evil by the people who did it, but God's intention was to save lives. God meant it for good; but it was an evil action that occured.

    Christianity says that God's intention to save lives is morally sufficient for Him to intend Joseph to be sold into slavery. Thus, God did good. Joseph's brothers, however, did not intend to save lives; they intended to harm Joseph. Thus, they did evil.

    Do you see how it is not a contradiction here to say that God is good while Joseph's brothers are evil? Can you understand at least that much so we can move to a generalization from the specific?

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. CALVINDUDE:

    I can respond (to your first comment) at two different levels:

    1.First, I could roll out the Loftus Syllogismus:

    i) CALVINDUDE is a high school student.

    ii) CALVINDUDE disagrees with me.

    iii) Ergo, CALVINDUDE must be wrong.

    However, in the unlikely event that you don’t crumble into dust under the flawless logic of the Loftus Syllogismus, here’s my backup argument:

    2.Yes, we really agree. My point is that it would be possible, in principle, for someone to deploy the problem of evil against the Christian faith without recourse to his own moral norms, or absence thereof, by working with the moral norms of Scripture.

    He would be doing this for the sake of argument.

    But I agree with you that, as a practical matter, this hypothetical will not succeed in the absence of what Scripture would recognize as gratuitous evil—for the reasons you yourself have given in your 6-point syllogism.

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  8. Geroge,

    I was making a comment, not cheerleading. Your intellectual acrobatics are astounding. You're unrefutable. Could you share some more of that brilliant argumentation? I would really appreciate it. Thank you for the edifying contribution...

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  9. Steve,

    *lol*

    The funniest part about the whole thing is how long it's been since I was in high school (over a decade now).

    I'll admit for Loftus (as if it mattered) that I'm not yet 30 years old. My earliest memory attached to a specific date is the Mt. St. Helen's eruption (unlike Loftus's earliest memory, which would be the Mt. Vesuvius eruption that buried Pompeii).

    I admit, when I graduated high school, I was all the way down at 5th in my class and so far I have not applied for membership in Mensa, so I must be pretty stupid all things considered. I never took the SAT, but my ACT was a whopping 32, so I'm a miserable failure (although I did get the "CalvinDude is to 'young and inexperienced' as Loftus is to 'old and incapacitated'" question right).

    I only majored in Philosophy and English in college, and am one of the 10 people in the United States who not only owns but has read at least part of Euclid's The Elements, including the Greek footnotes. (While not a NT Greek scholar, I can read most of the book of John in Greek now; the Greek footnotes for Euclid are not Koine Greek, but there are still enough similarities that I can understand some passages quite well.)

    Other than that, I drink way too much coffee at Starbucks. So, yeah, Loftus has a point when he says I'm young and stupid.

    But at least I'm caffinated.

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  10. Steve wasn't dodging the issue any, George. Apparently, you can't even find the issue yet. So let me give you a concrete example.

    Wonderful!


    Look at Genesis 50:20 where Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, said: "As for you [his brothers], you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."


    LOL…I thought you said you were going to give me some concrete? Instead I get jello.

    Sorry ‘Dude, I don’t recognize the mythology of Genesis as even remotely historical. Just like you don't believe in Homer's mythology.

    But I do understand the moral concept of establishing tradeoffs and rationale for making decisions for the greater good. So spare me the lecture.

    The concept of what constitutes "greater good" or when the "ends justify the means" is entirely subjective, and based on where you relate to the lesser and greater benefits in the equation.

    Thus I doubt you will find too many Egyptian peasants who were thrilled that their first born children were slaughtered so some Hebrew slaves could be freed as told in your mythology.

    Nor would Servetus be thrilled to hear that Calvin burning him at the stake because he disagreed with his theology was serving a greater good.


    Thus we have an instance where God intends an action to occur. This action is evil by the people who did it, but God's intention was to save lives. God meant it for good; but it was an evil action that occured.

    Thus we have a piece of fiction, where the fallacy of coincidence is written into the story.

    Last I checked, your religion claims your god is omnipotent, he doesn’t need to use slavery, or genocide, or murdering infants, or tsunamis, to bring about ANYTHING “good”. He can free any slaves or save lives with a wave of his magic wand. Your argument fails.

    It’s exactly tripe like this, that allowed southern slave owners to justify slavery was “good”, because the black African slaves they were ripping from the arms of their mothers, would be exposed to their lovely Christian message of salvation…they just couldn’t hear it in a white church.

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  11. S&BB

    You're welcome.

    Btw...If you have nothing to say, don't feel compelled to post.

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  12. STEVE>>All you’ve done is to frame a straw man argument.

    GEORGE>I know I’m making progress when my opponent starts crying “strawman!”

    Ah. I see you've heard that complaint before. I'm shocked.

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  13. Hey Steve,

    When did the snake slither in? He's awfully touchy...

    George,

    I get the impression you were one of those kids who picked a fight when somebody looked at you funny. You want to take our lunch money? While you're busy beating your chest because you just discovered you've developed some chin hair, could you explain where your parents got their DNA? Maybe your reasoning only goes back one generation.

    Quote:

    Nor is there a “single “Christian moral value system”, as is evidenced by the history of Christians disagreeing on everything from slavery, to women’s rights.

    End quote..

    There actually is one Christian moral value system, it's outlined in Scripture. Just because different groups of Christians have varied to some degree in their view of it, doesn't mean there's more than one moral value system. It's summed up in the Ten Commandments. There's one interpretation of it that is correct, and it's God's.

    Quote:

    As far as “teeth”, last I checked, my secular police are well armed, and my prisons are near capacity.

    End quote..

    They sure are, in no small part due to the atheistic worldview you espouse. Your secular police system is in place because we live in a fallen world full of sinful men, where lying, stealing, and murder, etc. are a problem. That's the fruit of your morally bankrupt system of relativism. Don't give me your little gripe about your country's current (notice: Current, may be different at some point in the future) shared moral system. I'll stick with a fixed moral law established by a good and holy God, thanks. You have no legitimate reason to condemn anything as really being wrong. You just "think" or "feel" it's wrong, and ultimately that's all you've got--all your whining aside.

    Quote:

    Your mythology claims your god created the first man and woman in an idyllic garden where there was no death and disease.

    End quote...

    There wasn't until they sinned and rebelled against God. That's when the judgement against sin came, and death and disease came into the world. Adam and Eve knew the consequences of their sin of disobedience (Oh, but you don't believe in mythology--except myths like that we evolved from a pool of primordial ooze and that life on this planet just happened by chance). Death and disease are the result of sin. Does it offend you that God judges sin? Awfully sorry...

    Quote:

    I guess Noah is partly to blame since he had to load all the viruses on the ark…two by two. SNORT!

    End quote:

    Hilarious. Well, by the noise you made there we know what animal you are.

    Quote:

    You're just one of countless internet apologist wannabes, who calls himself a 'Christian' and who is trying to convince me that he speaks for the one true god. So far I’m not impressed with your intellect or your authority to speak for yourself, much less a god.

    End quote..

    Talk about internet apologetic wannabes, please. Now slither back into your hole and come back when your testosterone level comes
    back down to normal...


    --Jon Unyan

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  14. Oh look! Another Triablogue groupie…here to welcome me with all that Christian love and humility I’ve heard so much about!

    Hey Steve,

    When did the snake slither in? He's awfully touchy...


    Well…since you already believe in talking snakes…I guess it’s not that big a leap to believe they can type as well…

    I get the impression you were one of those kids who picked a fight when somebody looked at you funny. You want to take our lunch money?


    Why would a home schooler like yourself need any lunch money?

    Don't you just ask your science teacher to fix you a PB&J after she finishes her lesson on "flood geology"?

    While you're busy beating your chest because you just discovered you've developed some chin hair, could you explain where your parents got their DNA?

    Wow…that’s quite a mystery…you’ve really stumped me!


    Quote:

    Nor is there a “single “Christian moral value system”, as is evidenced by the history of Christians disagreeing on everything from slavery, to women’s rights.

    End quote..

    There actually is one Christian moral value system, it's outlined in Scripture.

    Oh really? I must have missed the “Book of The Outlined Christian Moral Value System” in my bible…I guess its not in the OT!

    Just because different groups of Christians have varied to some degree in their view of it, doesn't mean there's more than one moral value system. It's summed up in the Ten Commandments. There's one interpretation of it that is correct, and it's God's.

    I suppose that means, with you being a good, moral Christian, that you never do ANY work on Saturday(the sabbath) according to one of your god’s commandments? You never mow the lawn, or go to the store, or clean the deep fryer at your job…

    Right?

    Thanks for amusing me.

    There is no single Christian moral value system that is agreed upon amongst Christians, and there never has been. And there is no single moral value system to be found in the bible, because the bible was written and redacted by countless men, with different moral agendas, over centuries. And these moral agendas often contradict each other.
    And now that collection of writing is being used by countless men and women, who cherry pick it, to support their own subjective moral agendas...

    Tell me little moral Jonny…what is the proper Christian punishment for a woman who has committed adultery?

    The bible is obsolete…much of it was written by some paternalistic, Hebrew tribal priests and it was meant to apply in an honor/shame, theocratic, Jewish monarchy in the ancient near east.

    Welcome to the 21st century. You can't beat your slave to within an inch of his life, or leave him to your children as part of your estate anymore...and now, women can be educated, vote, hold office, and even preach the gospel in the Methodist church! But I'm sure that's all a clever plot hatched by "relativistic evil atheist conspiracy"...LOL

    You see little Jonny, in my country, we now live in a pluralistic society, that is based on individual rights and freedoms. Rights and freedoms that stand in direct violation of your 10 commandments and other biblical laws. So please don't try stoning blasphemers to death...we now have this thing called the first amendment...


    Our U.S. Constitution is now our shared sacred moral document, and unlike your bible, it truly is a list of well defined shared values that defines our democratic system of government and the rights of its citizens.

    Sorry, you probably didn’t learn any of this in your home schooling.

    If you don’t like the "new world order", feel free to leave the country, or start a compound in Waco, arm yourself to the teeth, and take a few shots at FBI or ATF agents...


    They sure are, in no small part due to the atheistic worldview you espouse.


    Last I checked, the vast majority of my country’s citizens claimed to be Christian, and were “espousing” any number of conflicting “Christian world views”…from your hero Fred Phelps, to that gay bishop - Gene Robinson.

    Again…thanks for amusing me with the simpleton soundbite.


    Your secular police system is in place because we live in a fallen world full of sinful men, where lying, stealing, and murder, etc. are a problem.


    Not to mention all the Christian clergy child molesters…


    That's the fruit of your morally bankrupt system of relativism.

    Last I checked…that’s the “fruit” of your bungling god’s creation.

    Last I checked, Protestant and Catholic and Eastern Orthodox sects who all worship the one true three headed god were all killing, raping and pillaging each other long before anyone coined the term “moral relativism”…I guess they were all just following that one true Christian morality outlined in the bible.

    I guess world history was another subject not covered in your home schooling.


    Don't give me your little gripe about your country's current (notice: Current, may be different at some point in the future) shared moral system. I'll stick with a fixed moral law established by a good and holy God, thanks. You have no legitimate reason to condemn anything as really being wrong. You just "think" or "feel" it's wrong, and ultimately that's all you've got--all your whining aside.


    LOL…that’s right…I just “think”…while you are obviously doing something else.


    There wasn't until they sinned and rebelled against God.

    Ahhh yes…the great fruit rebellion of Eden…if only the rebels had Yoda and Obi Wan on there side…perhaps they could have beaten the evil emperor!
    LOL



    That's when the judgement against sin came, and death and disease came into the world. Adam and Eve knew the consequences of their sin of disobedience (Oh, but you don't believe in mythology--except myths like that we evolved from a pool of primordial ooze and that life on this planet just happened by chance). Death and disease are the result of sin. Does it offend you that God judges sin? Awfully sorry...


    Sorry…I’ve never seen your invisible gods judging anything. But I’ve seen plenty of his pudgy, white, pious prig, Calvinist spokesmen claim the job.

    Oops…isn’t “not judging people” another one of those absolute Christian moral values found in the bible?

    LOL


    Talk about internet apologetic wannabes, please. Now slither back into your hole and come back when your testosterone level comes
    back down to normal...


    It doesn’t take much to get you loving, forgiving, non-judgmental Christians frothing at the mouth and calling people names…does it?

    How soon before one of you throws me in the lake of fire?

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  15. Aw, Georgie, you poor baby. You come in here with your guns blazin', being so nice to everyone and all, and you're hurt because I called you a snake? We're happy to interact like adults and extend Christian courtesy to you if you want to present your argumentation, but we're not going to put up with reform school drop outs who want to pick fights to prove their manhood. So save your brilliant commentary, and when you acquire some accurate understanding of Christian theology, by all means drop back in. Some maturity would help as well, but if you can't control yourself and act civil, stay in your hole...

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  16. Having been away from this for a few days, and upon reflection of the matter, I wanted to apologize for responding to "George" in the same way he responded to me and everyone else here. I am referring to the personal barbs specifically, not everything else. I would have deleted my comments, but since they were referred to in George's response, I decided to leave them in so the objective reader could see what I originally posted. So please forgive me for the inappropriate comments and the bluster...thanks

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