Tuesday, September 05, 2006

More S-T-U-P-I-D objections

Loftus is on the warpath again:


JL: Really? Let’s backtrack and take a deeper look.

SH: Translation: Loftus lost on the first round, so now he wants a second chance to recoup his loss by shoring up his crummy argument.

JL: Hays started out by claiming that all objections to his faith are stupid ones. That’s what he said. Again, he said that all objections to his faith are stupid ones, including what I'm going to argue for here. That’s stupid—as in S-T-U-P-I-D.

SH: For the record, Loftus was the one who originally cast the question in terms of “stupidity,” not me.

I, being the agreeable guy that I am, simply accommodated his usage. If he doesn’t like the adjective, then he should have chosen another.

JL: Then I argued that as far as he knows the total evidence may be against his faith but that his Calvinistic God is making/decreeing him to believe against the available evidence. In his response does he dispute this? No! Can he? I doubt very much that he can. Nonetheless, he calls such a possibility a “hypothetical.”

SH: What I did was to play along with his silly scenario for the sake of argument.

JL: But I’m still very interested in why such a possibility is merely a “hypothetical.” Based upon Calvinism he just does not know. There is no way for him to determine whether the “hypothetical” is true or false. In fact, such a possibility has as much plausibility as the alternative possibility that he believes.

SH: This is all assertion and no argument.

JL: Now back to his claim that all objections to his faith are stupid ones. If my “hypothetical” (as he calls it) is true, then the objections against his faith are not stupid ones. In fact, the objections against his faith are right on target, and surely some of them, if not most of them are intelligent, whereas his rejection of our objections is not very intelligent. And if this is the case, then who wears the dunce cap now?

SH: Answer: Loftus continues to wear the dunce cap. Next question?

1.Of course, if his hypothetical is true, then certain consequences follow therefrom.

But Loftus is posing a hypothetical which he himself regards as false.

Loftus doesn’t believe in God. Moreover, his atheism is hardly tangential to his own position. Rather, his atheism is central to his own position.

His objections to the faith are predicated on the nonexistence of God.

But if his hypothetical were true, then all his atheistic objections would be false.

So if, for the sake of argument, we affirm his hypothetical, then, by definition, his atheistic objections are stupid, as in S-T-U-P-I-D.

After all, how could his atheistic arguments be “right on target” if they target the nonexistence of God when, according to his hypothetical, God does, in fact, exist?

Continuing with his devastating argument against my position:

JL: Furthermore, what happens as a result of granting this “hypothetical” as he calls it? The total available evidence is against Calvinistic Christianity. That’s total as in T-O-T-A-L.

SH: I’m afraid I don’t see how a box of cereal disproves the Christian faith, but maybe Loftus will clarify that inference in his next post, when he tries to shore up the even crummier argumentation in this post.

JL: The available evidence would be against believing in Calvinistic Christianity. Now let’s say he grants this possibility. What follows? Epistemologically once someone accepts this as a fact then he should cease believing. It’s that simple. To be on the side of intelligent thinking and to have integrity with oneself such a person should reject Calvinistic Christianity…EVEN IF THE CALVINISTIC GOD EXISTS! That’s right....even if the Calvinistic God exists! One cannot continue to believe unless one accepts what he believes are false beliefs, and that IS stupid!

SH: It’s only “that simple” if you’re simple-minded.

1.Long ago, George Mavrodes drew a distinction between truth-oriented and rationality-oriented theories of knowledge, and took the position that “if push comes to shove, I think I would opt for truth over rationality every time.”

Now, on Loftus’ hypothetical, even though the evidence is apparently arrayed against me, I am still correct in what I believe.

And, given the artificial dilemma postulated by Loftus’ hypothetical, I’d rather be right despite the illusory evidence to the contrary, than be “justifiably” mistaken.

I opt for truth over warrant. What’s so great about warrant if you’re wrong?

2.Likewise, it doesn’t follow from his hypothetical that I would accept what I believe to be false.

I would believe in the existence of the Calvinistic God in spite of the alleged evidence to the contrary. I would not believe that my creed was false. Rather, I would believe that my creed was true while the evidence was false.

Loftus doesn’t understand his own hypothetical.

Moving along:

JL: Again, the problem here is how Hays would know his faith is correct if what I suggested is true about the total available evidence being against his faith?

SH: Suppose, for the sake of argument, that I didn’t know my faith was correct. Who cares? I’m still correct in what I believe, even if, ex hypothesi, I don’t know it, and at the end of the day I will be saved.

So even if his hypothetical were true, how is that a problem for me? I still win the jackpot.

JL: According to Calvinism he has no reason to suppose that the evidence supports his faith and yet he continues to have the gall to call all objections to his faith stupid objections.

SH: Of course, that is not “according to Calvinism.” Rather, that is according to his hypothetical.

Reformed theology does not imply that all the evidence is stacked against Reformed theology.

That is not a Reformed hypothetical. And it isn’t even a secular hypothetical—as Loftus has chosen to frame it. So it’s not something which is either entailed by my position or his own.

JL: How does he know they are all stupid objections if God is decreeing what he believes against the total available evidence? Our objections might be intelligent objections whereas Hay’s arguments might be the stupid ones. The only difference is that Hay’s God decrees what he believes. But the truth would be that our objections are not stupid objections.

SH: I’ve already pointed out some of the flaws in his reasoning. But let’s make another point.

Remember that Loftus doesn’t believe in his own hypothetical. So why is the onus on me to disprove something which he himself cannot begin to take seriously?

This has become a popular tactic among militant unbelievers. They float a hypothetical which they don’t pretend to believe, then they pretend that the Christian is under some intellectual duty to disprove this bogus hypothetical, and is in serious straits if he cannot do so.

But even if I couldn’t disprove this hypothetical, why is the burden of proof on a Christian to disprove a hypothetical which his opponent views as utterly false?

It shows you just how stupid, as in S-T-U-P-I-D, atheism must be if it has to resort to these duplicitous hypotheticals.

Moving along:

JL: Not so fast Steve. Here is where you must deal with yet another twist, and I want you to think real hard about this, okay? If the total available evidence is actually against your faith even though the Calvinistic God exists and decrees that you believe, then you also have no reason to suppose that those who believe in the Calvinistic God will be rewarded in heaven while the skeptics will be punished when facing God’s judgment. That’s right. Just like God may decree you to believe in him against the evidence, God may also have a secret will to save those skeptics whom he decrees to follow the actual available evidence where it leads! God may actually have a secret will to only save those who do not believe in him! If you think otherwise, tell me upon what basis you think this? You may argue that such a God is duplicitous all you like, but duplicity isn’t a serious criticism of the Calvinistic God, now is it? He can reveal what he wants us to do in the Bible, like "love one another," and yet he can also have a secret unrevealed will that decrees someone to murder his neighbor.

A God like that can make the available evidence against what you believe AND he can also save those who follow the available evidence, at the same time he's sovereignly decreeing all of this.


1.All Loftus has done here is to stop the clock, freeze my position in place, change the rules, move his players ahead of mine, then restart the clock.

If he’s going to tweak his hypothetical, then I reserve the right to tweak my reply.

2.But the basic problem with his modified hypothetical is that he is no longer talking about the Calvinistic God.

He has redefined Reformed theism. But, at that point, it ceases to be Reformed theism.

JL: Steve, maybe you’d better take another good hard look at the available evidence.

SH: I’m all for looking at the available evidence. Indeed, I see it every day.

Unfortunately for Loftus, what he has shown me is not a smidgeon of contrary evidence.

Rather, all he’s done is to contrive a counterfactual masquerading as a hypothetical. One which he himself doesn’t regard for a moment as a live possibility.

Neither is this hypothetical generated by my own belief-system.

JL: Maybe it just isn’t stupid after all.

SH: I agree. There’s nothing the least bit stupid about the evidence. Rather, the stupidity lies with Loftus’ hypothetical.

JL: Your eternity may be at stake. And as far as you know, based upon YOUR theology, your God is using me right now to speak to you.

SH: Once again, I heartily agree. God is using Loftus right now to show everyone how stupid atheism really is. I couldn’t have done it better myself.

JL: Who knows, right? He’s brought you into contact with me to help you see the light of day.

SH: Reminds me of a Bible verse. How does that go again?

“And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God” (Jn 3:19-21).

JL: How do you actually know otherwise…that’s what I’m still waiting to hear.

SH: Depends on what you mean. Are we proposing one of those cutesy little scenarios like: “Am I a man dreaming I’m a butterfly—or a butterfly dreaming I’m a man?”

Well, if I’m really a butterfly, then one thing I now know is that butterflies have a very impressive dreamlike.

JL: Until you take seriously this objection to your faith and deal with it head-on how do you know our objections are really stupid?

SH: One way I know is that Loftus has just belabored a really stupid hypothetical to prove his point. The more he tries to make it work, the dumber it looks.

JL: Such an objection as this one is not stupid at all. However, your refusal to take seriously this objection of mine makes me conclude you are not thinking deeply enough.

SH: If so, then the fact that Loftus doesn’t take his own hypothetical the least bit seriously just goes to show that he is a shallow thinker.


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  2. Ditto to what Steve said.

    I also might add that Loftus continues to confuse *reasons* vs. *causes* for belief.

    I also note his amazing ability to commit modal fallacies in almost every sentence, i.e., "God *can* therefore he *is.*

    It's like I argued this: "I *can* eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, therefore Loftus can't know that I didn't."

  3. Retire already, Paul. Your family needs you.

    Or maybe there's some new dweebs in the hood you could go beat with your baseball bat.

  4. Yeah Paul, give the atheists a break.

  5. I can't take it anymore. Stuff like this is just too funny! A one-two combo of hilarity and expertise "fisking"!

    You know, a thought just struck me: it might be all too easy to forget how uncommon this sort of thing is -- because we're treated to it on a regular basis at Triablogue. Day after day, it seems, Steve et al prove it is possible to combine, say, the comic wit of a Groucho Marx with the laser-sharp logic of the HAL 9000.

    It's also odd to me that atheists often regard Christianity, and particularly Calvinism ("Puritans"), as dour killjoys and the like. Yet we see daily evidence to the contrary here, for instance.

    Considering their worldview, though, perhaps atheists just don't have much to laugh at in the first place? I dunno.

    Anyway, another hilarious, intelligent post. :-)

  6. I have a great idea, Paul!

    Maybe you could do another fake blog, and showcase your BRILLIANT writing skills and argumentive powers!

    Then...you could troll around the internet and see who is paying attention to you!

    That would rule!

    Or, you could go beat up more people. It would be ordained by the most high anyway.

  7. I opt for truth over warrant. What’s so great about warrant if you’re wrong?

    Silly silly man. You just don't get it, do you. What if I responded by saying this: "so do I? I too opt for truth over warrant."

    Saying so makes no difference if we still have disagreements about the truth.

    For you to respond that you have an inner witness of the Spirit doesn't help your case since that witness may be to mislead you due to God's secret will for you to believe against the total evidence (i.e. even your distinction between truth and warrent and what you've concluded about it, silly).

    All I'm doing is asking you what justification you have for believing if you cannot know the secretive will of God? And the answer must be that you have none. Now do you see my point? Yes or know, and I could care less what one could call such a theology, whether it be Reformed or Catholic, or even atheist. I'm asking you to go deeper into your theology than you are willing to go. And the bottom line is that you don't know that what you believe is true nor that you please the God who truly exists, nor that you will be with this God in heaven for all eternity, based upon your present theology.

    What I'm asking you is why you think you believe correctly, why you think you please this God you beieve in, and why you think you will be in heaven, based upon YOUR OWN THEOLOGY, and elucidated by me in this so-called hypothetical.

    Okay? Ready to try again. Because if you sidetrack the question again then it's obvious you cannot answer it at all.

  8. Steve,

    Just stop providing JL with logical answers to your faith. And please would you just answer the stupid question. JL won't be happy until you agree with him, despite the fact that he is not willing to do the same about his beliefs. That is dig deeper and apply the same kind of skeptism he is asking you to. :)

  9. Yes, you silly silly silly man. You're just like a barrel of monkeys. How do you know if God has decreed that STEVE HAYS is going to be saved and go to heaven? You don't know God's secretive will. You can't be sure your interpretation of this ancient book we call the "Bible" is correct. Don't you know that we can't really "know" anything? As one very astute observer has said about a thousand times here on your blog, we don't even know if God is an advance alien race. So, just admit it Steve. You're just a silly old goose clinging to some false little hopes you think you see in the Bible. It's pathetic really. Why not free yourself from this religious dogma and enjoy true happiness like me?

  10. Btw, I'm still working on that "man with wings" project (we haven't spoken in a while, so this is an FYI). I've had some very successful test runs, and now that I've recovered from all the reconstructive surgery and have completed my physical therapy, I will be making the "real" jump into New River Gorge this weekend. So, wish me luck Steve-O! I know we're enemies and all, but I'm really excited about this and I think we can at least understand each other on this level. I still think you're an ignorant Calvinist though...