Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tightening the Noose

How do you stop an atheist's argument from drowning? Take your foot off its head!

Today, I don't think I'll do that. Instead I'll continue to press my foot down on the argument, submerge it, and watch it's lifeless body float away.

It all started with THIS POST, which prompted THIS RESPONSE, which generated yet ANOTHER RESPONSE.

At this juncture we have yet another response by Daniel Morgan. His latest response is a telling commentary on the state of the debate, and how he, at least sub-consciously, views it. It's to his latest that I now turn.

"This whole matter boils down to two important concepts, original sin and "election"."


Fine, and I take this as a tacit admission that all the other points I've been arguing for are counted in our favor.

"Original sin has been argued against by fellow Christians and by heretics for years."


Yes, I'm sadly aware of this. Of course this has absolutely ZERO logical weight in the argument at hand. Furthermore, the problem with these arguments is that these people cannot turn around and now claim the imputed righteousness of Christ on their behalf! If they want to deny Adam's imputed unrighteousness then they don't get the imputation of the second Adam either.

"It is a foundational doctrine, against which I will not argue that it can be supported from the present Christian Bible (just as slavery can be)."


Is this how Morgan handles the arguments I gave for original sin in my second post? The question is *does* the Bible support this.

Secondly, notice the red herring brought into the discussion (i.e., slavery).

"That said, I strongly disagree with the logical basis of such a doctrine."


Notice below that he will not at all show how the "logic" of original sin is faulty.

The logical basis is the idea of federal headship, or representation. But Daniel Morgan failed to bring this up. Therefore it appears that Daniel Morgan didn't know what the "logical basis" of the argument was. If he didn't know what the logical basis was, then why say he has a problem with said basis? If he did know what the basis was, then why not mention or critique the basis.

"Because you presuppose the Bible as true, and I do not, as has often been pointed out, this comes down to a matter of premises."


Notice the tacit admition of defeat. The original question was: "does the BIBLE teach original sin." Daniel previously had challenged me to prove this idea from the Bible. Morgan had originally postured this way:

"Of course, the way to resolve this is to explain how "original sin" is attached to election of a fetus, how it has some kind of intrinsic sin value which is justly met with the wrath of God. Personally, I see you descending into some pretty obscure interpretations to support your contention. The idea that fetuses and infants have some sort of willful sin is obvious nonsense. So, original sin is then all you have to go on, and aside from poetic references to David's "i was conceived in sin" I challenge you to substantiate your P2."


See, he challenged me to prove this doctrine from the Bible. At this point what he now is doing is saying, "well forget what the Bible says about it, let's just look at it from an ethical perspective and see if it holds (as we'll note he does below).

Originally the hub-bub started when I critiqued the view that we should shoot infants to get them to heaven. I argued from a biblical basis and showed how this argument cannot be given if biblical premises are assumed. Thus the argument attacks a straw man. The first counter was to try and show that I could not show the Bible supported my argument. Whence I did we don't here an "oh yeah, you're right, well, let's move on to something else; I have other criticisms to give." What we see is a sneaky and underhanded attempt to shift the ground of the debate.

Second, I don't see how this comes down to a matter of premises? I don't even know what that means. What it comes down to is exegesis, and Daniel Morgan is out gunned in this fight. That being the case, he tries to retreat to his outlaw hide out and fight on more familiar turf.

But the problem is that back in town he was shot. He is bleeding all the way to the hide out. He can try to go down in a blaze of glory, and the law can oblige, but we already know he's been shot and his last little outburst is an attempt to go down in the history books as at least having done something. This is all fine, as long as we know that the real fight happened back in town and the kid (as they call him) lost there. Let's now turn to his last hoorah.

"I will argue original sin is false on the basis of the following premises, while you presuppose the Bible is true [which entails a million necessary other premises and explanations and interpretations] and argue it is true:"

And let's remember all that originally mattered was if the Bible taught said doctrine. I already knew you disagreed with it. You didn't need to wait three posts to let us know that.

Let's now look at his argument (against original sin, remember):

1. Morality is based upon the thoughts, choices and actions belonging to a conscious agent
2. If agents are not conscious, they cannot be moral [at any particular moment in question - don't be silly and say that sleep negates this premise]
3. Fetuses are not conscious moral agents
C2. Therefore, fetuses cannot be held to any standard of morality.


This argument fails for many reasons:

i. I deny P1 and so does Christianity, thus it cannot be leveled against the doctrine of original sin since that doctrine cannot be taken out of the system which it's found in.

ii. This premise (1) leads to moral relativism.

iii. P1 allows no moral utterances to ever be the same. When Tom and Pete say that murder is wrong what's happening is that Tom thinks it's wrong because it's based on *his* thoughts and Pete thinks it's wrong because it's based on *his* thoughts.

iv. What is meant by "choices" here? Is Daniel not a physicalist who believes the laws of physics, biology, chemistry, etc determine our thoughts, choices, and actions? If so, then Daniel cannot believe is own P1 for what sense does it make to say that moral prescriptions are based on descriptive laws of physics and such.

v. P2 does not argue against original sin, and thus Daniel can't use this argument against original sin. P2 assumes actual transgressions committed by an agent and not the imputed guilt "inherited" by all of his. This comes nowhere close to dealing with the concept of representation and corporate solidarity taught in the Bible.

vi. P3 is unproven, and, originally, we were talking about all children before the age of accountability. Furthermore, what is "consciousness" on Daniel's materialist point of view? It may be that consciousness is a myth given materialism, and thus no one is a conscious moral agent on Daniel's view. So, his argument does not even follow.

vii. The worst here is the conclusion. Notice that he affirms the antecedent which would bring the conclusion "they cannot be moral." But notice that Daniel changes his conclusion to "they cannot be held to a moral standard." But this was not the consequent of his modus ponens! An egregious logical blunder.

viii. On a representationalist view all men can be held accountable to the moral standard that Adam was under.

ix. Thus since Daniel didn't even come close to touching the biblical doctrine of original sin, his argument totally fails. Furthermore, his conclusion goes beyond the premise, he uses vague and ambiguous terms and, prima facie, uses terms inconsistent with his materialism.

His second argument is more to the point:

1. Individual morality is based upon personal responsibility
2. For justice to occur, moral agents are held responsible for their own choices and not for the choices of others, nor actions over which they have no control
3. "Original sin" implies that individuals are responsible for the choices of other conscious agents
4. Therefore, "original sin" cannot be the basis of a just and logical moral philosophy


i. Note that p1 differs from p1 above. Which one is morality "based" on? Responsibility or thoughts, choices and actions.

ii. P2 is denied by the concept of federal headship. There's no *argument* against original sin here, just an assertion against it.

iii. P2 is demonstrably false. People, schools, and nations are constantly "held accountable" for the moral choices of others. For example, if the football team cheats then the whole school gets blacked-out. If my son smashes my neighbors window and kills her dog, I'm held responsible. These examples can be multiplied ad nauseum.

iv. P2 assumes a freedom that Daniel's materialism doesn't allow for. If we are all determined by the laws of physics how can we have "control" over those actions."

v. Adam did what we all would have done.

vi. Daniel cannot even account for morality.

vii. The conclusion goes beyond the premises.

viii. I deny that "original sin" is "the basis" for morality, so this is no argument against Christianity.

ix. Thus we're justified in rejecting this argument as well.

So much for going down in a blaze of glory, Daniel's firing blanks.

We can go on all day, and I am far from a philosopher, but I can dredge up far better arguments than mine from a text on ethics, I am sure.


Is this the point where I insert one of these: LOL?

The point remains crystal clear -- to hold a fetus morally accountable for something its great-great-great grandfather chose is as logical as a purple elephant circling the earth as a satellite. Your doctrine is intrinsically flawed.


Well,

i. You'd actually have to *show* how it's illogical.

ii. There is nothing "illogical" about a "purple elephant circling the earth as a satellite." It may be false, impossible (physically), etc., but it's not "illogical" since there is no law of logic violated in saying such a thing.

iii. Holding a person morally accountable for something the laws of physics determined he'd do is about as silly as believing that purple elephants orbit the earth as satellites.

iv. Your doctrine is intrinsically flawed.

v. Hint: I'm not scared by tough talk and mere assertions that we have all these supposed problems in our system. One could say that Triablogue is very Missourian about grand assertions, i.e., "show me."

8 comments:

  1. I'm not a Frenchman because my ancestors refused to obey Louis VIV. My family lands in France now belong to another. Is this unfair?

    We all live with the consequences, moral and physical, of the decisions of our ancestors. If I was a descendant of the House of Savoy, I'd be unable to visit Italy without Government permission, for example. Can God do more than the Italian Government?

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  2. Hiraeth,

    The nations of men are hardly the same as a just God judging a creature which has never been self-aware, nor committed any acts to piss off this God, as "guilty".

    Paul,

    So far, I'll paraphrase the dialogue, skeptics bold, apologists italicized:
    Fetuses/infants can be spared an eternal agony by comitting 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.

    So here we are.

    Fine, and I take this as a tacit admission that all the other points I've been arguing for are counted in our favor.

    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.

    Notice the tacit admition of defeat. The original question was: "does the BIBLE teach original sin."
    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.

    Whence I did we don't here an "oh yeah, you're right, well, let's move on to something else
    I specifically mentioned original sin in reference to fetuses and infants, not "mankind" and "all men" etc., which is where other Christians chime in and disagree with you as well. 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".

    Second, I don't see how this comes down to a matter of premises? I don't even know what that means. What it comes down to is exegesis, and Daniel Morgan is out gunned in this fight. That being the case, he tries to retreat to his outlaw hide out and fight on more familiar turf.
    Outgunned? Yes. I never claimed to be a professional exegete. They pay sucks.

    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. 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. As I tried to point out in an act of cutting to the chase, I don't presuppose the Bible's teachings as necessary or true, any more than you presuppose Buddha's.

    You don't see the relevancy here? Yes you do. It always matters. I will admit that I shouldn't have implied that you cannot argue original sin, but specifically talking about the unborn does, indeed, require some nebulous interpretations. That part you don't see a white flag raised over.

    If an argument cannot stand on its own, it doesn't make a difference to me as to where it is derived from, or your assertion that it is God-breathed. Your assertion that an "Adam" actually existed, that a "Fall" actually occurred, and that by some magic spirit juice, or whatever, that gets mixed in with DNA and semen, we inherit "sin"...obviously, these sorts of things don't stand on their own, and require a million peripheral issues to be discussed that I have neither the time nor interest for.

    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.

    Before getting into the arguments I considered, please note that I said at the bottom of my comment,
    We can go on all day, and I am far from a philosopher, but I can dredge up far better arguments than mine from a text on ethics, I am sure.

    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.

    When Tom and Pete say that murder is wrong what's happening is that Tom thinks it's wrong because it's based on *his* thoughts and Pete thinks it's wrong because it's based on *his* thoughts.
    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 didn't say that determination of the morality of any action, thought, or choice is based upon someone else's actions, thoughts, or choices (though indirectly, they are, of course). It seemed obvious to me that I meant calling something "moral" implies it is a conscious moral agent's choice, action, or thoughs (or all of the above).

    What is meant by "choices" here? Is Daniel not a physicalist who believes the laws of physics, biology, chemistry, etc determine our thoughts, choices, and actions? If so, then Daniel cannot believe is own P1 for what sense does it make to say that moral prescriptions are based on descriptive laws of physics and such.

    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.

    P2 assumes actual transgressions committed by an agent and not the imputed guilt "inherited" by all of his. This comes nowhere close to dealing with the concept of representation and corporate solidarity taught in the Bible.
    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.

    It may be that consciousness is a myth given materialism, and thus no one is a conscious moral agent on Daniel's view. So, his argument does not even follow.
    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.

    The worst here is the conclusion. Notice that he affirms the antecedent which would bring the conclusion "they cannot be moral." But notice that Daniel changes his conclusion to "they cannot be held to a moral standard." But this was not the consequent of his modus ponens! An egregious logical blunder.
    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?

    On a representationalist view all men can be held accountable to the moral standard that Adam was under.
    Fine. Did the fetus eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Nope. Okay, then, it is sin-free.

    prima facie, uses terms inconsistent with his materialism.
    So I should have to clear with you what my worldview is and how my worldview accounts for X before arguing for X? Arguments should have a preface where we say, "I'm a Cartesian dualist" or "I'm an indirect realist" before we start them? Please...

    P2 is demonstrably false. People, schools, and nations are constantly "held accountable" for the moral choices of others. For example, if the football team cheats then the whole school gets blacked-out. If my son smashes my neighbors window and kills her dog, I'm held responsible. These examples can be multiplied ad nauseum.
    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?

    P2 assumes a freedom that Daniel's materialism doesn't allow for. If we are all determined by the laws of physics how can we have "control" over those actions."
    Is materialism on trial, or "original sin"?

    v. Adam did what we all would have done.
    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.

    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.

    vii. The conclusion goes beyond the premises.
    Then let me say "'Original sin' cannot be the basis of individual morality", to which you do not seem to disagree, in referring to your "corporate" examples. It seems that you [correct me if I'm wrong] don't deny that the fetus hasn't committed any sin...so God is justified in judging it for your fictitious Adam's sin. I will carefully consider the next argument that I present to account for "federal headship" and I'll take the time to do some research on it.

    viii. I deny that "original sin" is "the basis" for morality, so this is no argument against Christianity.
    So then a fetus cannot be morally judged as "good" or "bad"? Hmmm.

    ix. Thus we're justified in rejecting this argument as well.
    Perhaps. I'll refer to some texts and try again probably tomorrow.

    Is this the point where I insert one of these: LOL?
    Or, recognize that my admission of replying to you with admittedly- shallow arguments is a reflection of my own "LOL" at the silliness of a grown man who believes in fairy tales, like a talking snake and an apple that sank the universe. It's hard to take it seriously enough to really argue against, I suppose. But, you've shown me your dedication to the fables, so I'll do my darndest to reciprocate tomorrow.

    i. You'd actually have to *show* how it's illogical.
    I will.

    ii. There is nothing "illogical" about a "purple elephant circling the earth as a satellite." It may be false, impossible (physically), etc., but it's not "illogical" since there is no law of logic violated in saying such a thing.
    If something is physically impossible, which, actually, this isn't, doesn't that render it illogical to say that it exists?

    iii. Holding a person morally accountable for something the laws of physics determined he'd do is about as silly as believing that purple elephants orbit the earth as satellites.
    Humans live in social structures, if causality is not accorded, and if consequences are not enforced, chaos would break out. The enforcing of laws is itself a part of the environment which shapes us and trains our behaviors. It's nature + nurture, not "nature or nurture", since our environment is a part of nature.

    iv. Your doctrine is intrinsically flawed.
    I don't think that materialism is on trial, but feel free to change the subject at will.

    v. Hint: I'm not scared by tough talk and mere assertions that we have all these supposed problems in our system. One could say that Triablogue is very Missourian about grand assertions, i.e., "show me."
    That's respectable. I will attempt to, probably tomorrow.

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  3. Daniel Morgan appealed to "social structures" and "social environment" as distinct from individual actions. This is illogical, since on his view social systems are comprised of individual units that have no choices, as Paul pointed out. Continuing in Daniel's view they only "enforce rules" by tending toward their statistical norms without any concious agent. (This applies in all areas of conciousness, not just morality.)

    Daniel is also lazy if he wants to bring Biblical argument (from the outside, I note), since he hasn't (to my knowledge) even tried to invoke Ezekiel 18:1-4. This passage talks about individuals not being held accountable for the sins committed by another individual, in particular, their ancestors.

    But original sin is not "sins," (the latter is what is spoken of in Ezekiel), it's the innate propensity to sin. Daniel is, as the hosts here have repeatedly pointed out, getting caught in a category error, probably based on the use of the English words "sin" vis-a-vis "sins".

    Watching Daniel's miscategorization is like older electrical engineers thinking complex software is easy because the first syllable is "soft".

    Analogy for original sin and individual sins: I walk into a dark room. I don't know what color the walls are. Someone turns on a dim light, and I see the walls are green. The light brightens and I see the walls are dark green. The light goes higher, and (if I've spent enough time in a paint store) I can tell it's Sherwin Williams Billiard Green. The light goes higher, a spectrometer is brought in, and the Billiard Green is analyzed down to its components. This is the way original sin operates. The wall was green from the time I entered the room; I was "conceived in sin" (as Daniel quoted from Psalm 51). As the light was turned on, I could tell what the color was; my original sin was "reflected" in my actions. The light got brighter, and the green-ness didn't diminish, but increased in specificity; my sins became more and more egregious. The spectrometer is brought in and the colors analyzed; the Bible comes to convict me of my sins and my original sin. I could take the analogy farther, but this is all that's relevant for this discussion.

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  4. This is illogical, since on his view social systems are comprised of individual units that have no choices, as Paul pointed out.

    And this is the fallacy of composition.

    This passage talks about individuals not being held accountable for the sins committed by another individual, in particular, their ancestors.
    But original sin is not "sins," (the latter is what is spoken of in Ezekiel), it's the innate propensity to sin.


    Good thing we don't put people in jail for what they are inclined towards doing, eh?

    I walk into a dark room. I don't know what color the walls are. Someone turns on a dim light, and I see the walls are green.

    What point in your development did the walking into the rooc, and turning on of the light occur? When the sperm bumped the egg? Did the sperm carry with it the propensity to sin? Does sperm carry guilt?

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  5. fallacy of composition???

    Sorry, not quite, you *did* commit the falalcy of reification, though. "Society" is not a personal and so does not have a choice.

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  6. I think all I really need to know is what you have told me, and just so I‘ve got this right:

    There are two classes, those who are going to Heaven, and those who are going to Hell.

    These classes were decided and created by God before the planet started.

    These classes cannot be interchanged for any reason whatsoever.

    There are no other classes than the two above.

    Have I got that correct?

    Thanks Paul.

    Mark

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  7. Fallacy of Composition
    The second type of fallacy of Composition is committed when it is concluded that what is true of the parts of a whole must be true of the whole without there being adequate justification for the claim. More formally, the line of "reasoning" would be as follows:

    1. The parts of the whole X have characteristics A, B, C, etc.
    2. Therefore the whole X must have characteristics A, B, C.

    That this sort of reasoning is fallacious because it cannot be inferred that simply because the parts of a complex whole have (or lack) certain properties that the whole that they are parts of has those properties. This is especially clear in math: The numbers 1 and 3 are both odd. 1 and 3 are parts of 4. Therefore, the number 4 is odd.

    It must be noted that reasoning from the properties of the parts to the properties of the whole is not always fallacious. If there is justification for the inference from parts to whole, then the reasoning is not fallacious. For example, if every part of the human body is made of matter, then it would not be an error in reasoning to conclude that the whole human body is made of matter. Similiarly, if every part of a structure is made of brick, there is no fallacy comitted when one concludes that the whole structure is made of brick.

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  8. I'm not a Frenchman because my ancestors refused to obey Louis VIV. My family lands in France now belong to another. Is this unfair?

    We all live with the consequences, moral and physical, of the decisions of our ancestors. If I was a descendant of the House of Savoy, I'd be unable to visit Italy without Government permission, for example. Can God do more than the Italian Government?


    This guy is spending WAAAAAY to much time trying to convince us he's British.

    But his diction gives him away.

    I've spent many years in Europe, and this guy just keeps on using stereotypical phrases that just aren't used.

    Se Fi

    Mark

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