Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sunday school atheism

“Christian philosopher James F. Sennett has said: ‘By far the most important objection to the faith is the so-called problem of evil. I tell my philosophy of religion students that, if they are Christians and the problem of evil does not keep them up at night, then they don’t understand it’.”

I haven’t authorized Dr. Sennett to be my spokesman. He doesn’t speak for me.

The problem of evil doesn’t keep me up at night, for if there is no God, there is no evil.

Notice that Loftus has never made a case for secular ethics. He has never said if he believes in moral absolutes. He’s never said what school of secular ethics, if any, he subscribes to.

Even assuming that secular ethics can get off the ground, Loftus has never explained how it’s possible to wrong a meat machine.

He’s never explained his position in relation to eliminative materialism.

“I’m arguing against the theistic conception of God, who is believed to be all powerful, or omnipotent, perfectly good, or omnibenelovent and all-knowing, or omniscient.”

As I pointed out in my review of his book, which he never responded to, the omni- prefix has snuck into the definition of divine goodness. From what I can tell, this is a fairly recent development.

It’s one thing to define God as benevolent, another to define him as omnibenevolent. That is not self-explanatory, but it tends to bias the debate by suggesting that if God is good, then he must treat all his creatures equally.

If so, then that prejudges the debate by defining goodness in Arminian terms. To be good is to be equitable.

As a Calvinist, I reject that definition. The correct formulation would be equal treatment all other things being equal. But things are often unequal.

The egalitarian definition of goodness is radically individualistic, as if creatures are discrete, self-contained units.

Paul Helm has pointed out some of the conceptual difficulties with this assumption. Cf. “Can God Love the World? K. Vanhoozer, ed. Nothing Greater, Nothing Better (Eerdmans 2001), 168-85.

Let’s remember that a Bible-believing Christian is only concerned with defending the God of Biblical self-revelation, and not a semantic abstraction, in which we infer the nature of God from an unrestricted definition of words like “omniscience,” “omnipotence,” or “omnibenevolence.”

To the contrary, we don’t begin with categories from philosophical theology, but from Biblical descriptions of God. That’s where the definitions come from, not vice versa.

“But what reason is there for creating anything at all? Theists typically respond by saying creation was an expression of God’s love. But wasn’t God already complete in love? If love must be expressed, then God needed to create, and that means he lacked something. Besides, a perfectly good God should not have created anything at all, if by creating something, anything, it also brought about so much intense suffering. By doing so he actually reduced the amount of total goodness there is, since God alone purportedly has absolute goodness.”

One of the problems with this discussion is a systematic equivocation of the nature of the “good.” “Good” is a relative term. Good *for what*? Good *for whom*?

The world isn’t good for God or bad for God. It has no effect on God.

The question is whether the world is good for others. And does the existence of evil subserve the ultimate good?

“Well over 100 million animals are slaughtered every year for American consumption alone, while animals viciously prey on each other.”

Is Loftus a vegan? Does he subscribe to the “meat is murder” philosophy?

I am not a vegan. I don’t regard a meat diet as unethical, and Loftus has given me no reason to think otherwise.

I daresay that many unbelievers enjoy their steak and lobster, so Loftus objection isn’t limited to Christian theism.

“If, however, God did not give us free will, then Calvinistic theology must justify why our world brings God more glory than a different world where he decrees from eternity that his creatures all perfectly obey him.”

Reformed theology has, in fact, mounted such an argument. Loftus simply chooses to ignore the argument—because he can’t answer it.

“No tornado’s, no floods, no hurricanes, no earthquakes, no devastating fires, no volcanic eruptions, no lethal parasites, or major diseases like cancer, polio, malaria, pneumonia or AIDS. There should be no poisonous creatures like the brown recluse spider, and no poisonous plants like Yew (eat it and you die within minutes).”

This is a very odd string of objections from someone who says he believes in natural science. These natural forces and natural events have a natural function in the balance of nature, in a physical, functional universe, with a self-contained ecosystem.

“If God exists he should stop all natural disasters too, like the Indonesian tsunami.”

Other issues aside, if you live on the coast, you are subject to coastal flooding. That’s a calculated risk.

“If God allows these disasters for a greater good, what’s the greater good here? Any paltry benefits to the victims could’ve been gained by other means. To say the victims are going to be rewarded in heaven for their suffering can never morally justify why they suffered in the first place, otherwise the final eternal state, even if it’s pleasant for them, only compensates them for their sufferings.”

i) This falsely assumes a one-to-one correspondence between victim and compensation.

ii) It also disregards the fact that, as sinners, we are morally liable to natural disasters even if there is no one-to-one correspondence between a particular sin and a particular catastrophe.

“If God exists he should not have created predation in the natural world, either.”

An assertion, not an argument.

“The amount of creaturely suffering here is atrocious as creatures prey on one another to feed themselves.”

i) How does he know what animals suffer? Does he know what it’s like to be a bat?

ii) Does he believe in animal rights? What is his secular justification for animal rights?

What does eliminative materialism have to say about animal suffering?

iii) Shouldn’t he at least draw a distinction between higher and lower animals? What’s a lobster’s capacity for pain and suffering?

“All creatures should be vegetarians.”

An assertion, not an argument.

Why should all animals be herbivores? Is it a miscarriage of cosmic justice when a sparrow eats an earthworm? Has the sparrow deprived the earthworm of its annelidan rights? Is this based on annelidan social contract theory?

Which version of annelidan social contract theory is Loftus appealing to? Hobbes? Locke? Rousseau? Rawls?

“And in order to be sure there is enough vegetation for us all, God could’ve reduced our mating cycles and/or made edible vegetation to grow as plenteous as wild weeds do today.”

I don’t see many human beings complain about the fact that they can have sex year round.

“In fact, there is no good reason for God to have created animals at all, especially since theists do not consider them part of any eternal scheme.”

If Lotus were God, there would be no rose gardens or camellias.

Loftus has a Scrooge-like view of the good. If Loftus were God, he would pave over Yosemite Park to put in a shopping mall.

But something doesn’t have to be an ultimate good to be a finite good.

Loftus is a good example of the atrophied worldview of unbelief. He knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It’s all about the bottom-line. The profit margin. Unadorned utility.

“As a result, William Rowe’s argument about a fawn that is burned in a forest fire and left to die a slow death without any human witness is gratuitous evil, plain and simple. It serves no greater good.”

Once again, this is an absurdly romantic notion of nature for someone who believes in natural science.

Animals die in wildfires because of animals, trees, and fire. It’s a natural side-effect of animals, trees, and lightening.

Electricity has a natural function in a physical universe. Trees have a natural function in the ecosystem. There’s nothing gratuitous about a forest fire.

“If God created the laws of nature in the first place, then he could’ve created a different set of laws.”

Now he’s shifting gears. He’s tacitly admitting that these are not gratuitous events, but purposeful events in a physical universe.

Yes, God could have created a world without “useless” creatures like camellias and butterflies.

Notice a fundamental tension in Loftus’s objections. On the one hand, he complains that nature is too ruthless, too efficient. On the other hand, he complains that nature is too gratuitous, too inefficient. Which is it?

Loftus is a standard-issue apostate, and, as a result, he exhibits the intellectual and emotional schizophrenia of the typical apostate.

Loftus looks at nature from the viewpoint of a disillusioned idealist. If Loftus were coming at this issue from scratch, as a purebred atheist with no Christian conditioning, he wouldn’t hold the natural world to this Edenic standard of perfectionism.

Ironically, his argument for naturalism comes from of an idyllic frame of reference which doesn’t come out of a naturalistic worldview.

He’s comparing the natural world with a sentimental preconception of how the world ought to be.

But that hardly represents a secular point of departure. Rather, it represents a theological starting point.

Moreover, it represents a very provincial starting point, which is just what you’d expect given his Church of Christ background.

He’s rebelling against the theological naïveté of his parochial Christian experience. His disappointment with that standard of comparison is what continues to supply the standard of comparison.

Instead of growing into a more sophisticated and exegetically astute Christian outlook, he simply revolts against his Sunday school version of the Christian faith.

34 comments:

  1. Steve wrote:
    ---
    That is not self-explanatory, but it tends to bias the debate by suggesting that if God is good, then he must treat all his creatures equally.
    ---

    This line struck me, as it is applicable to Arminians and Atheists alike, and is based on a fundamental error (on the Atheist/Arminian side, not Steve's side).

    If we take their definition that God, in order to be omnibenevolant, must treat all people the same, then the only way this could result in good is if all people are identical in the first place. In other words, the only way that God could treat everyone equally is if there is no diversity.

    A simple illustration ought to bear this out. Consider our legal system in the United States. We have different laws for different people. Children are not prosecuted as adults if they break the law. There are different standards in play, because children are not small adults; they are children.

    Surely, Loftus would not advocate a long jail term and a severe fine for the ten-year-old who steals a PlayStation 3 from Wal-Mart. Surely, he would see that some level of difference here is actually a good thing.

    Of course, Loftus could instead argue that children are bad in and of themselves (that is, that having the diversity in the first place is the evil). This would be hard to prove to most. The vast majority of people would look at it in this way:

    1) Children are good.
    2) Treating children the same as adults is bad.

    Thus, we have diversity being a good thing, but equality in action being a bad thing. This demonstrates that, if the Arminian and/or atheist seeks to use this argument, he must do more than just assert that equality is good, for we know of at least one instance where it would not be good. And the reason it is not good is because what is good for one person is not good for another, due to the differences between the two.

    It's good to keep a fish submerged; not so much a dog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Steve, you consider this a devestating response to my initial post here? You just can't meet my objections head on, can you? I'm stating a problem that is internal to what theists believe. To say that as a naturalist I can't do this is skirting the issue, and you do that so often here. You must answer my arguments on your own grounds since I am pointing out problems inside what you believe. Did you read my statement of the problem? It's your problem, not mine. You want to talk about my problems, okay, but right now I'm talking about yours.

    To say God is not omnibenelovent may be correct from a Biblical perspective though, since God creates disasters (Isaiah 45:7). But the God you end up believing in is barbaric and unworthy of worship. By the way, tell us all what the Reformed answer to this problem is. You skirted that too. It's obvious that your God could've done everything I have suggested, even creating people who always obeyed, and it is also obvious that this world does not bring more glory to God than one is which he purportedly created. I would think that my objection to your Calvinistic faith should cause you to rethink why you accept a pre-scientific and superstitious historically conditioned set of documents found in the Bible, rather than rejecting my argument.

    And as far as your rant about my book goes, you never once addressed what I said there about the problem of evil, until now. But your response here obviously comes from your blinded faith, not from a serious look at the issues I wrote about. For instance, I eat meat, okay? Why? Because humans are at the top of the food chain. I'm arguing that the law of predation itself does not reveal a good God when there were others things he could've done, even if I don't personally eat meat. To say we would miss sex misses the point (you seem to be fixated on that subject lately for some reason--not getting any, are you?). And to say there are risks if we choose to live somewhere on the coasts also misses the point. Where is a safe place to live? There are always risks wherever we live from different natural disasters, poisonous creatures and plants. Even if we found one place that was completely safe to live it would soon become overcrowded and lead to different kinds of sudffering.

    If you were my student I would hand this back to you and say "try again." Seriously. If I were to grade what you wrote I would say it was on a high school level. If you were in college I would give you a D- (since you correctly mentioned the Biblical God is not omnibenelovent I didn't give you a F). Again, I'm serious. You did not meet my objections head on. So, back to the drawing board for you. Try again. This time make it at least on a college level, even though you may think you write on an even higher level than that. First graduated from High School, and then college, and then we can actually deal with this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Steve, why have you dropped the charge that I am a racist? Come on now. You said, and I quote: "To say, as Loftus does, that the world would be a better place without all these races, that we'd be better off if we only had one race, is definitive racism. You can't get any more racist than that."

    I replied, and I quote: "But the racist charge is absolutely ridiculous. For that charge to stick I would have had to argue that God should've created one particular race, and specified that one race. In fact, I don't care which race he would've created at all, for it wouldn't matter. Furthermore, none of us would've known that there was such a possibility as different races of people if God had done so."

    Are you so easily dealt with? Do you still maintain what you said, or do you back down with just a few sentences written by me? If you back down that show's how flimsy you think and write. If you don't, well then, let's hear it. I'll be interested, and so will others, for it reveals one of the stupidest thoughts you have ever expressed (and there are many of them to choose from.

    Ahhhh, if only I were dealing with more than Sunday School Christians here at Triablogue. *sigh*

    ReplyDelete

  4. To say God is not omnibenelovent may be correct from a Biblical perspective though, since God creates disasters (Isaiah 45:7). But the God you end up believing in is barbaric and unworthy of worship.


    What is your non-arbitrary epistemic warrant for this assertion. As usual, you're long on assertion, short on argument.

    Seriously. If I were to grade what you wrote I would say it was on a high school level. If you were in college I would give you a D- (since you correctly mentioned the Biblical God is not omnibenelovent I didn't give you a F).

    In all honesty if what persons write in response to you here is "on a high school level," it is rather clearly due to the simple fact that we have dumb down the answers in order to peg it to the material offered. Improve your writing level, and things will change.

    Let’s remember that a Bible-believing Christian is only concerned with defending the God of Biblical self-revelation, and not a semantic abstraction, in which we infer the nature of God from an unrestricted definition of words like “omniscience,” “omnipotence,” or “omnibenevolence.”

    To the contrary, we don’t begin with categories from philosophical theology, but from Biblical descriptions of God. That’s where the definitions come from, not vice versa.


    Actually, I'll give this one to Loftus for two reasons:

    1. This is precisely what Arminian theology does. It begins with certain preconceived notions about God's justice and mercy and what constitutes human responsibility and then proceeds to construct it's theology accordingly. The history of the trajectory of their theology has proven this time and again.

    2. Likewise, Calvinism gets charged with this frequently, and, given Loftus education in the Arminian tradition, it is no surprise he thinks this. It's a classic example of mirror-reading from their side of the aisle. However, all this does is show us he is more familiar with Bray, Kickel, Armstrong and others, who are all so frequently trotted out in their seminaries and little familar with the historiographical and historical-theological analyses of Muller, Clark, Trueman, Klauber, et. al. over the past 30 or so years. For one who teaches at the college level, one would think he'd at least make the attempt to familarize himself with the topic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. john w. loftus
    "I'm stating a problem that is internal to what theists believe."

    Two flaws in your reasoning:

    i) There is no generic Christian theodicy. That depends on one's theological tradition. What's an internal problem for one theological tradition is not necessarily an internal problem for another theological tradition.

    ii) No, you are mounting an external critique under the guise of an internal critique. You are taking examples of what *you* regard as paradigm-cases of *gratuitous* evil, according to *your* criteria, such as they are.

    You have made no effort to demonstrate that these natural or moral evil would count as gratuitous evils within a Biblical framework.

    "To say God is not omnibenelovent may be correct from a Biblical perspective though, since God creates disasters (Isaiah 45:7). But the God you end up believing in is barbaric and unworthy of worship."

    Notice how Loftus instantly illustrates my very point. He is not mounting an internal critique. Rather, he is judging the God of Scripture by an extrascriptural standard of barbarity and unworthiness.

    In order to pull that off, he must defend his own value-system.

    "By the way, tell us all what the Reformed answer to this problem is."

    I've done that on several occasions, such as my two-part rely to Jim Lazarus. He raised the objection on his blog, I responded on mine—he had a rejoinder, and I had a surrejoinder.

    "For instance, I eat meat, okay? Why? Because humans are at the top of the food chain. I'm arguing that the law of predation itself does not reveal a good God when there were others things he could've done, even if I don't personally eat meat."

    You (John Loftus) don't have to eat meat to survive. You eat meat because you like it.

    Either you think your carnivorous diet is moral or immoral. Presumably you wouldn't be eating meat if you thought it was immoral to do so.

    Assuming that to be the case, you can't raise a carnivorous diet as a moral objection to the existence of God.

    You can't do that on your own grounds, and you can't very well do it on Biblical grounds, since there is no blanket ban on carnivory in Scripture.

    This is another example in which Loftus is tacitly launching an external critique of the faith. And, in this case, as in others, his position is inconsistent with either Biblical values or his own values, such as they are.

    "Even if we found one place that was completely safe to live it would soon become overcrowded and lead to different kinds of sudffering."

    This assumes that there is such a thing as pain and suffering. Do you believe that? Or is that a relic of folk psychology?

    "You did not meet my objections head on."

    It's difficult to meet your objections head-on when your objections are facing backwards. You say you're going to mount an internal critique, but as soon as you illustrate your argument, all your examples assume an external standard of reference.

    ReplyDelete
  6. John W. Loftus said...
    "Steve, why have you dropped the charge that I am a racist?"

    Who said I dropped the charge? The charge remains. Racism takes more than one form. Your racism is one version among many.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi John,

    "Steve, you consider this a devestating response to my initial post here? You just can't meet my objections head on, can you?"

    Didn't Steve write up a thorough review of your book? What else should he do to meet your objections head on? Have you responded to it yet? Maybe you think Steve meets objections in a side-swiped way, just not head on? Well, that's better than not meeting them at all, right? So, you might consider responding to the review before you bully people about not meeting objections.

    "I'm stating a problem that is internal to what theists believe."

    John if you were to meet Steve's (as well as what others here have told you time and time again) response "head on" you'd note that we're pointing out that you're *not* offering an internal critique. You're taking *some* of our beliefs, but them importing beliefs we do not hold into the overall story. So, you're not offering an internal critique. If you wrote this for a high school paper I'd hand it back and say, "try again."

    "You must answer my arguments on your own grounds since I am pointing out problems inside what you believe."

    Tell you what, why don't you documment what Steve "believes?" You can't just conjur up Steve's beliefs for him; or did you think you could do that? So, as anyone who's written an A paper knows, if you say that S belives that P, then you documment that S believes that P. No, what you're doing, at best, is giving an internal critique to what *you* used to believe.

    "You want to talk about my problems, okay, but right now I'm talking about yours."

    But your problems do come to bear, John. You say things like "God should have done X rather than Y. But on our view God always does what he "should" do. So, you must be holding God to a *different* normative standard than the Bible tells us God has (i.e., His holy character). Thus, you're not offering an internal critique (which mitigates against what you say above) but you're importing your norms on God. Hence, Steve asks you to justify those norms. If this is not the case, then on God's norms, what God does isn't immoral.

    "To say God is not omnibenelovent may be correct from a Biblical perspective though, since God creates disasters (Isaiah 45:7). But the God you end up believing in is barbaric and unworthy of worship."

    Of course Steve said that he doesn't hold to the definition of "omnibenevolence" that you do. There are some who would unpack that term and Steve would agree with their unpacking.

    But, more devastating, is that it looks as if you just admitted that you didn't offer an internal critique against what Steve "believes." If Steve doesn't hold to your concept of "omnibenevolence" then you didn't critique what *Steve* believes, now did you?

    Lastly, the above admission of yours serves to undercut the arguments by Freud et al that God is the product of wish fulfillment. Despite the question begging epithets, people don't just "make up" the kind of God you see us believing in.

    "It's obvious that your God could've done everything I have suggested, even creating people who always obeyed, and it is also obvious that this world does not bring more glory to God than one is which he purportedly created."

    But John, you commit a modal fallacy here. Let's assume that God "could have" done all the things you suggest (we're ignoring, for the moment, trade offs and compromises of the design plan). But, your argument is that God should have done x, y, and z. 'Could' does not get you to 'should,' John. It's a fallacy.

    "I would think that my objection to your Calvinistic faith should cause you to rethink why you accept a pre-scientific and superstitious historically conditioned set of documents found in the Bible, rather than rejecting my argument."

    No, John, your objections are concrete instantiations of why we reject your philosophically shoddy worldview. Your objections are used by God to strengthen our faith and cause us to rejoice all the more. Thank you God, for rescuing me (us) from this foolishness. See, John's still doing "God's work."

    "I'm arguing that the law of predation itself does not reveal a good God when there were others things he could've done, even if I don't personally eat meat."

    Well, (1) you need to prove that there's something immoral about eating meat, (2) our worldview doesn't say it is immoral and so we don't see a conflict with God being all-good, (3) you already admitted that the Bible doesn't say that God is "omnibenevolent" so it looks like you're not offering an "internal critique," (4) and so the above is inconsistent with what you said in your opening paragraph. A man who cannot keep his thoughts straight from the 1st to 3rd paragraph is just not a man who should be sharing his thoughts publicly. You might want to keep these cognitive defects to yourself, John.

    "If you were my student I would hand this back to you and say "try again."

    If you were my teacher (or the teacher of my children) I'd sue the school for child endangerment - unless, of course, this was just an extended prank the local fraternity was playing on the school.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "For instance, I eat meat, okay? Why? Because humans are at the top of the food chain. I'm arguing that the law of predation itself does not reveal a good God when there were others things he could've done, even if I don't personally eat meat."

    Assuming his belief in evolution, coupled with his atheism, on what grounds does Loftus morally impugn God?

    As it is, it would appear Loftus is unable to mount a critique of Christianity without likewise subscribing to some sort of a Christian morality.

    "To say we would miss sex misses the point (you seem to be fixated on that subject lately for some reason--not getting any, are you?)."

    Since Loftus is hitting below the belt, it might be useful to remind him that he committed adultery at one point in his life. Worse, he's never acknowledged he was wrong in doing so, but has rather tried to explain it away.

    "If you were my student I would hand this back to you and say 'try again.' Seriously. If I were to grade what you wrote I would say it was on a high school level. If you were in college I would give you a D- (since you correctly mentioned the Biblical God is not omnibenelovent I didn't give you a F)."

    Perhaps Loftus would like to try teaching in South Central LA (where I briefly taught) and explain to the predominantly Hispanic and black children his view that humanity would be better off if God created only one race?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I don't have the time to deal long with the kind of foolishness I see here. I've made my argument. You deal with it as you see fit. I know by now that there isn't anything I could say to get you think about the very remote possibility that I might have made a very minor point on at least one of my arguments. ;-). Gene thought so, so Kudos to him.

    But if my writing is so below you, then why bother with it? You'll no doubt respond because people are listening to me, that's why. But then why are they listening to me? It couldn't be because I make sense to people? Naw.

    As far as this old canard about an internal critique goes, your demands are unreasonable. I dare say that there can be no internal critique of your beliefs, because you raise the standard too high. A true internal critique of your faith is impossible, because you demand I must accept everything you believe in order to critique your faith. But if that's the standard then I would believe exactly as you do. Naw, you don't do that, do you? But based upon a much more reasonable standard, you clearly and obviously do not offer an internal critique of my beliefs.

    Steve, it's obvious, obvious, obvious, that there is pain and suffering, and if that's not good enough for you, then YOU TELL ME. Is there pain and suffering, or not? If you say there is, then my argument proceeds irregardless of what I think and irregardless of whether I need some standard to say what suffering is or not.

    It's idiocy, sheer idiocy, to suggest that God could not have created us all as one race, and that it wouldn't have eliminated all race based conflict, and race based slavery, and that such a hope is racist. Idiocy. And this is obvious, very obvious. So think on this. In order to continue believing the things you do you have to deny what is obvious. So choose. Deny the obvious time and time, or deny that a superstitious people living in a pre-scientific era could write truths that you have properly interpreted. Let's see. Choices, choices: the obvious, or the disputable. Make your choices...Oh, I guess you have.

    Paul, when I say "God should have done X rather than Y" it's once again obvious to any thinking person, which I assume you claim to be one, that God could do this, and that it would alleviate suffering. Again, this is obvious. Now you respond with a faith statement when you said, "But on our view God always does what he "should" do." Well, that's fine if you want to deny the obvious, I guess. But what I'm doing is causing you to think about whether your faith statement fits the empirical and philosophical facts. Did you miss this? You need to respond with a reason why God did not do things differently, not punt to a faith statement you learned from a historically conditioned book written by superstitious people who made claims about things that are incoherent on many theological doctrines.

    Paul wrote; "you need to prove that there's something immoral about eating meat."

    I do? Where does that come from? I am talking about the pain that comes as the result of the law of predation among all animals, and sometimes we ourselves are prey if we fall in shark invested waters, or alone and bleeding while a hungry bear attacks. I don't consider it immoral to eat meat, okay? I like it, I am a carnivore, I am at the top of the food chain, we are the fittest. So?

    Paul: "our worldview doesn't say (eating meat) it is immoral and so we don't see a conflict with God being all-good."

    Can you read? Do you have the faintest idea of my argument? It's not about whether eating meat is immoral, okay? I see nothing wrong with it, like you.

    But when it comes to the suggestions I am making you are once again denying the obvious in favor of a faith statement. We believe this way, despite what is obvious in front of you. Try to explain this, okay? Or I could just respond to everything you write by saying, "well, this is what my atheist worldview leads me to believe. Go ahead. Ask me a question, and let me respond not with an explanation but with a faith statement: "Well, that's just what I believe." That's exactly what you do time and time in order to deny the obvious.

    Paul: "(3) you already admitted that the Bible doesn't say that God is "omnibenevolent" so it looks like you're not offering an "internal critique,""

    I made one statement in the debate that critiqued the Calvinist theodicy, and it was a rhetorical question. The rest of what I wrote was geared toward people who actually want to think about the issue rather than responding with faith statements.

    Chan: "Perhaps Loftus would like to try teaching in South Central LA (where I briefly taught) and explain to the predominantly Hispanic and black children his view that humanity would be better off if God created only one race?"

    What the hell does this have to do with anything? I would do just as I did in the context I said it you complete moron.

    Sunday Schoolers, all of you. *sigh*

    I cannot deal with such ignorance, so I'm done here for now. It's way too frustrating to me. I don't tolerate stupidity on this level by people who claim to know better. And it is largely about stupidity here, and not merely that we disagree, I think. No wonder David Wood has better arguments than all of you put together and I can deal reasonably with him. HE'S NOT STUPID!

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I cannot deal with such ignorance, so I'm done here for now. It's way too frustrating to me. I don't tolerate stupidity on this level by people who claim to know better. And it is largely about stupidity here, and not merely that we disagree, I think."

    Wa, wa, waaaaa, you tooook my baba and my binkie

    ReplyDelete
  11. John,

    Do you realize that you sound like a complete dork?

    ReplyDelete
  12. John takes the bait every time. throw out come rational arguments, decimate his arguments, and watch him throw a major temper tantrum.

    John, have you been emotionally and psychologically cleared by a psychiatrist?

    ReplyDelete
  13. John, your initial quote of Sennett:

    “Christian philosopher James F. Sennett has said: ‘By far the most important objection to the faith is the so-called problem of evil. I tell my philosophy of religion students that, if they are Christians and the problem of evil does not keep them up at night, then they don’t understand it’

    Is a good one (to my mind), but has gotten you off the rails if you are hoping to address presuppositionalists, like the crowd chiming in here. It's implicit in the development of a theodicy that there is some kind of external standard of "evil" with which the theodicy must interact. It's a "problem of evil" only insofar as we rely on an innate/intuitive sense of "evil", axiomatically.

    When these folk tell you that you are mounting an external critique by suggesting all the complications that the Bible introduces in terms of suffering and (what even non-Christians generally call) evil, I think they are being exceedingly parochial, but sincere. Presuppositionalism is the pinnacle of philosophical parochialism; that's something you will just have to deal with in this crowd.

    That means that the term "evil" has no innate meaning, transcending the internal/external borders of the debate. Reformed theology (in particular) recognizes no outside formal concepts of "evil". Internally it's not "evil" if God causes the violent deaths of millions, including small children, simply because the idea of evil is predicated on God as the Lawgiver. Just is as Just does, and so what you're dealing with here is a definitional maneuver on the part of Steve and others.

    The ramifications of this are sweeping. There *are* no internal critiques for Reformed theology, since it is completely, exhaustively self-defining. That's one reason why guys like Steve are drawn to this theology, it's completely unaccountable philosophically to anything else. There are no axioms that are brought to bear on it that might give rise to arguments of internal inconsistency. Evil's not a problem if what God does is not evil, by definition.

    That's what you're up against here, and frankly I'm surprised you're not well aware of the asymmetry afoot here; maybe you are and you're just playing along with them. If your opponent reserves the right to define any and all terms in any way he sees fit, than an internal critique is a fool's errand. As we see here, the problem of evil is just waived off by defining evil as necessarily something that isn't attached to God.

    QED.

    As for looking these issues head on, I think it goes with out saying that the problem of evil is the Big Issue for Christianity and all forms of theism. It's a cheap cop-out for me to simply smirk and say "Just is as Just does, John! Next!". And as we see here, that's what Steve is for.

    There really is a big gap though between the innate sense of justice and morality that we humans have and what God demonstrates in the Bible. It's important to remember though, that justice and morality are inherent to the being itself. It's not unjust or immoral or evil for an eagle to swoop down and snatch a baby gosling from the edge of the lake out my window, and proceed to tear it to shreds and eat it, while it remains alive throughout much of the process. Eagles don't live by the same moral laws as humans do (although killing an eating a baby gosling isn't a moral problem for humans either, as far as I can see, maybe an eagle killing another eagle is a better example).

    Ultimately, the problem of evil nets out to subordination of a deity to human morals and sense of justice. Why doesn't God behave like we think He ought? The peanut gallery here will just snort and snicker, but it's an important question, and there's a good lot of examples around that smug reactions from presuppositionalists makes a good argument against the credibility of Christianity.

    Since God isn't human, I will join the peanut gallery here this far: there's no good basis for presuming that God should behave according to human morals. At the same time, it's a natural and important application of human reason to juxtapose our own innate sense of justice, good, evil, mercy and cruelty with what we see in the Bible. That's a challenge, indeed, and to read people like C.S. Lewis and other leading lights on Christian theodicy puts the shame to the junior-high playground responses you've gotten here by way of "apologetics" (Hi Patrick!).

    The bottom line though, here, anyway, is that you are trying to get blood from a stone. The above is about as serious a treatment of man's innate sense of good and evil as you're likely to get here, which is to say not much at all. Presuppositionalists, particular of the Reformed stripe are architecturally unable to do apologetics in the traditional sense on issues like this. In the age of Van Tilian presuppositionalism, what you're dealing with is "anti-apologetics" -- declaration of victory by the denial of any common ground of reason. There's totally depraved notions of morality (yours, in their view), which are utterly worthless, and there are regenerate views which are blessedly informed by the Holy Spirit, and thus unassailable, and a nice comfy platform for smirking apologists like Steve. When you have the Holy Spirit and all the definitions on your side, you don't really have to be much of an apologist (or anything else) to dominate the playing field.

    At least in your head.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  14. John,

    I'd like to respond by distinguishing between necessary and sufficient conditions.

    For there to be racial discrimination, it is necessary that there be racial differences. But racial differences are not sufficient for discrimination. There also needs to be humans who, because they are sinners, end up discriminating. Freedom is therefore another necessary condition, but it isn't sufficient either. Only when the humans use their freedom and their racial differences for an evil purpose do we at last get discrimination.

    So there are two ways for God to get rid of racial discrimination, and you argue for both of them. First, God could create us so that we lack free will--that is, we wouldn't have the ability to hate, because God wouldn't give us the freedom to hate.

    Second, God could create us without racial differences. Then, even if we decide to hate, we couldn't do so based on race.

    If you're going to build an argument based on the first alternative, you would have to show that free will isn't very important, and I don't see how this can be done. If people had to choose between a life with free will and a life without pain, many would choose the life with free will. (I'm one of them.) Thus, you'll never get very far here.

    Your other approach is to suggest that God should remove the other condition necessary for discrimination. What I've argued is that any difference at all between people can be a condition for discrimination. Hence, you would have to argue that God must remove all differences whatsoever, leaving only a collection of cookie-cutter people made from the same dough and the same cutter--same height, same weight, same beliefs, same opinions, same attitudes, same likes and dislikes.

    But is this a better world? Again, many people would simply say no. You're saying that a world without freedom and a world without diversity would both be better than a world with freedom and diversity as long as pain is a part of the latter. However, this is something that just can't be proved, and it will therefore never succeed as an argument against theism (unless you're arguing with a person who doesn't like freedom or can't stand diversity).

    ReplyDelete
  15. john w. loftus said...

    “I've made my argument.”

    Yes, you’ve made the best of a bad argument.

    “You deal with it as you see fit.”

    Yes, we’ve chopped it up into fish bait and fed it to the guppies.

    “As far as this old canard about an internal critique goes, your demands are unreasonable. I dare say that there can be no internal critique of your beliefs, because you raise the standard too high. A true internal critique of your faith is impossible, because you demand I must accept everything you believe in order to critique your faith. But if that's the standard then I would believe exactly as you do.”

    An ignorant misstatement of an internal critique. You only need to accept the opposing position *for the sake of argument*.

    So if, for example, you are going to use predation as an internal objection to Christian theism, then you need to show that predation is incompatible with the Biblical outlook.

    But, of course, it’s clear from passages like Ps 104 that predation is not incompatible with the Biblical outlook.

    “Steve, it's obvious, obvious, obvious, that there is pain and suffering, and if that's not good enough for you, then YOU TELL ME.”

    Several basic problems:

    i) Yes, it may be obvious that there is pain and suffering, but secularism is prepared to deny the obvious in the interests of secularism. In particular, eliminative materialism is prepared to deny the obvious phenomenon of pain and suffering because that is incompatible with naturalized epistemology. So you, as an atheist, don’t get to invoke common sense if the most consistent brand of atheism relegates the common sense appeal to pain and suffering to folk psychology.

    ii) Since the inference or imputation of animal pain and suffering involves an extrapolation from human experience, you also need to deal with Nagel’s classic essay. Remember, Nagel, like the Churchlands, is a secular philosopher.

    iii) The existence of pain and suffering isn’t the issue. In order to make your case, you need to establish the existence of *gratuitous* pain and suffering.

    And if this takes the form of an *internal* critique, then you need to establish that such pain and suffering would be gratuitous on *Biblical* grounds.

    “Is there pain and suffering, or not? If you say there is, then my argument proceeds irregardless of what I think and irregardless of whether I need some standard to say what suffering is or not.”

    Unfortunately for your sorry argument, the objection doesn’t proceed regardless of where you personally stand; for unless you can establish the existence of what the *Bible* would view as *gratuitous* pain and suffering, then your objection will shift from an internal critique to an external critique—at which point your own worldview comes back into play. At that juncture, you need to deal with Nagel and the Churchlands.

    “It's idiocy, sheer idiocy, to suggest that God could not have created us all as one race.”

    Notice that Loftus is now changing the subject. That’s a tacit admission that his original argument was fatally flawed.

    The question at issue is not whether God could have made just one race—although, as Walton points out—race is largely a social construct.

    No, the issue is whether, according to you, a world with only one race rather than many would be a better world.

    You regard a world with racial diversity as a lesser world. To regard racial diversity as a morally inferior state of affairs is a paradigmatically racist attitude.

    Your problem, John, is that your irrational animus towards the Christian faith betrays you into raising any objection you can think of, however reprehensible, to debunk the Christian faith.

    “Let's see. Choices, choices: the obvious, or the disputable.”

    John, what makes you think we have choices? According to secularism, we are the sum-total of our genetic programming and our social conditioning.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi John,

    JL: "I know by now that there isn't anything I could say to get you think about the very remote possibility that I might have made a very minor point on at least one of my arguments. ;-)."

    I know by now that there isn't anything I could say to get you think about the very remote possibility that I might have made a very minor point on at least one of my arguments. ;-).

    JL: "But if my writing is so below you, then why bother with it? You'll no doubt respond because people are listening to me, that's why. But then why are they listening to me? It couldn't be because I make sense to people? Naw."

    Well, John, since you've responded to all of us at various times, and since you call us stupid and ignorant (see this combox for one of many examples), then you think our arguments are below you.

    But if that's the case then, "if my writing is so below you, then why bother with it? You'll no doubt respond because people are listening to me, that's why. But then why are they listening to me? It couldn't be because I make sense to people? Naw."

    JL: "As far as this old canard about an internal critique goes, your demands are unreasonable. I dare say that there can be no internal critique of your beliefs, because you raise the standard too high. A true internal critique of your faith is impossible, because you demand I must accept everything you believe in order to critique your faith. But if that's the standard then I would believe exactly as you do."

    John, this is confused on many levls.

    An internal critique *just is* taking at least any two beliefs one holds and showing that there is an inconsistency between those beliefs. That is, the critique is *internal* because it "goes inside" the others position and shows that there are "internal" problems.

    For example, as an extended analogy, if I had internal problems in my body that would be, say, that my heart and lungs weren't working together. It would make no sense to say that I have internal problems given that my heart is not working properly with *your lungs.*

    Or, a company might have internal struggles. That would be, for example, that the CEO and the XO didn't see eye to eye. It's not an internal critique to point out that the CEO of company A doesn't see eye to eye with the XO of its competator, company B.

    Lastly, it's very vague of you to say that a true internal critique would mean that you would have to "accept all of our beliefs." On one level, this is true. You would have to take into account our beliefs. Something that we didn't believe could not be shown to be *internally* inconsistent with something else that we in fact believed. But, if you mean by "accept" that you'd have to *believe* what we believe, well that's just wrong. One can "accept" our beliefs for *arguments sake.*

    JL: "Paul, when I say "God should have done X rather than Y" it's once again obvious to any thinking person, which I assume you claim to be one, that God could do this, and that it would alleviate suffering."

    Again, that God *could* do something, does not mean that he *should.* God could make your crap smell like roses, *should* he? Your argument is that God *should* do X. Well, I'd like to see how you get there from a premise that says, "God *can* do Y."

    JL: "Now you respond with a faith statement when you said, "But on our view God always does what he "should" do." Well, that's fine if you want to deny the obvious, I guess."

    Well, the main purpose of that response was to point out to you that you weren't offering an internal critique.

    Anyway, it's not obvious to me, care to argue for your position rather than couch it in question begging epithets and emotional terms?

    I could just as easily respond that it's just obvious to any thinking person that God always does what he should and to deny this is to deny the obvious.

    JL: "But what I'm doing is causing you to think about whether your faith statement fits the empirical and philosophical facts. Did you miss this? You need to respond with a reason"

    Facts don't speak for themselves, John. One's faith committment, ultimate authority, worldview, - call it what you will - determines what counts as empirical evidence which could overturn a belief.

    Take the old story about Apollo, for example. If S believs that (a) Apollo is a god, and that (b)all gods are immortal, but then S is presented with the empirical fact that (c) Apollo died in battle, which belief does S give up? It could be either. His more basic belief determined how the evidence affected his noetic structure. (c) could cause S to drop belief (b), thus believing that some gods are mortal. Or, (c) could cause S to reject (a), thus disbelieving that Apollo is a god, and so (b) was more basic for S than (a) was.

    Anyway, even though I reject your evidentialist, internalist, deonntologist constraint on me - i.e., that I *need* to give you a reason otherwise my belief is given some derogatory name like, irrational, absurd, etc, I have nevertheless written on the topic, and so now that ball's in your court.

    JL: "I am talking about the pain that comes as the result of the law of predation among all animals, and sometimes we ourselves are prey if we fall in shark invested waters, or alone and bleeding while a hungry bear attacks. I don't consider it immoral to eat meat, okay? I like it, I am a carnivore, I am at the top of the food chain, we are the fittest. So?"

    Well, my position doesn't say eating meat is immoral, and neither does yours, and so why is God somehow morally deficient for allowing the eating of meat. God made us at the top of the food chain, we're the fittest. So?

    JL: "I made one statement in the debate that critiqued the Calvinist theodicy, and it was a rhetorical question. The rest of what I wrote was geared toward people who actually want to think about the issue rather than responding with faith statements."

    So you're afraid to debate Calvinists? Why didn't you just say-so?

    ReplyDelete
  17. So, you must be holding God to a *different* normative standard than the Bible tells us God has (i.e., His holy character).

    Man, that's convenient -- having a pre-determined perfect standard that you can insulate from any criticism.

    Where else do they sell those? There one of those in the Qu'ran?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi anonymous,

    Thanks for admitting that Christianity can withstand any criticism.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Touchstone and David; You two are the voices of Christian reason, and it's a real joy to read what you write. I won't engage you here. You two don't belong here. You are both a cut above the rest. Excellent arguments! Kudos.

    Touchstone, something might wake them up, so I try, especially when they are being ignorant, not merely arguing our of their worldview, as that's what I saw above. Maybe what you say will have a greater impact on them than what I say. And David, you could teach them a few things yourself. There is nothing wrong with arguing as you do against me even if you were a Calvinist. But they don't even try. Maybe they just cannot do it?

    Anyway, maybe my answer to them on any argument from now on will be, "that's just what I believe," without also offering any reasons why? Maybe then they might get the point? But not with me...never with me. They have an unassailable intellectual fortress built on a superstitous set of ancient writings. That's what they have. So this forces them to deny the obvious time after time, after time, after time. All I'm asking is why they must deny the obvious in order to believe the disputable, time after time?

    It's just not the same with you two. You will defend what you believe, and that's admirable. It produces better arguments, and doing so is what everyone does in every other set of beliefs.

    Where's their God who asks of us "Come reason with me?" I just don't see it here (and they'll claim I took it out of context...big deal).

    I see Paul just commented. I'm not even going to bother reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Touchstone's arugment crystalized...

    A) Christians believe God is the standard of "good" and what violates that is "evil"

    B) God doesn't have a God that defines these things for God.

    C) Therefore, the words are meaningless.

    But this is the same thing as arguing:

    A) Words have a meaning defined by a dictionary.

    B) Dictionaries don't have a dictionary above them that defines them.

    C) Therefore, all words defined by the dictionary are meaningless.

    In other words, Touchstone's arugment (as his relativism requires) resorts in the utter destruction of all meaning. Touchstone relies on an assumption that there's always another standard above the standard that standardizes the standard. Thus, he is stuck in a meaningless, infinite regress, coming out of it only to gasp for air.

    But we've been over this ground before. And the fact that Touchstone uses words as if they have meaning--indeed, even words such as "good" and "evil"--demonstrates that he does not believe his own nonsense at the practical level.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Callin John's Bluff1/16/2007 7:36 PM

    Will John respond to Paul's post? I see that Paul went out of his way to respond in a way that no one should have a problem with. All that's there is argument. If John doesn't respond, given what he told touchstone and David, he looks like a hypocrite.

    ReplyDelete
  22. CalvinDude,

    I'm thinking words mean what people intend them to mean. No more, no less. A dictionary simply records common usage. That's a bit of grace for presuppositionalists, though, isn't it? By consensual standards -- the way language works in human cultures -- there *would* be a problem of evil for Reformed apologists to address. "Evil" in that case would not be a term re-defined on as-needed basis by Calvinists or other Christians, but would simply be a label pointing at behavior that causes unnecessary suffering, damage, and distress.

    It's a bit ironic here that you'd respond this way, as I'm interested in responding to Loftus on his terms -- according to his understandings of the words. I'm not trying to play 3 card Monty with the definitions here. That's Steve's game, and maybe yours? According to a generic meaning of the term evil, there does exist evil, natural evil and moral evil, that is a challenge to reconcile with a benevolent God. Not just an omni-benevolent God, whatever that is, but a benevolent God.

    Simply saying, "Well, according to us, none of that is evil if it's attached to God, because by our definition of evil, it *can't* be attached to God." doesn't do anything more than duck the actual question. It's become so reflexive here that I think many of you don't even notice any more. Apologetics here is like "God mode" in arcade games when you enter the cheat codes so that you can't be touched, you have all the weapons, and you never run out of ammo.

    Congrats, when you own all your own defintions, get to choose the initial axioms, and don't need to address inbound arguments, you're gonna feel like "God-mode Apologists", which it's clear you do.

    But remember, it's quite transparent how you've rigged all the cheat codes into your discussions here. You don't really ever take on an opponent in earnest, any more than the 12 year old laying waste to the sorry ogres in "God mode" playing Doom on his Dad's PC...

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  23. touchstone said...

    Is a good one (to my mind), but has gotten you off the rails if you are hoping to address presuppositionalists, like the crowd chiming in here. It's implicit in the development of a theodicy that there is some kind of external standard of "evil" with which the theodicy must interact. It's a "problem of evil" only insofar as we rely on an innate/intuitive sense of "evil", axiomatically.

    When these folk tell you that you are mounting an external critique by suggesting all the complications that the Bible introduces in terms of suffering and (what even non-Christians generally call) evil, I think they are being exceedingly parochial, but sincere. Presuppositionalism is the pinnacle of philosophical parochialism; that's something you will just have to deal with in this crowd.

    That means that the term "evil" has no innate meaning, transcending the internal/external borders of the debate.

    *****************

    One of T-stone's gimmicks is to apparently defend a second party as a pretext to ventilate his own opinions. This gives him the moral satisfaction of acting as if he's sticking up for the next guy when he's only using the next guy as a human shield.

    He then proceeds to systematically represent both the second party and the opposing side.

    Let's remember how Loftus explicitly chose to frame the debate:

    "Steve, you consider this a devestating response to my initial post here? You just can't meet my objections head on, can you? I'm stating a problem that is internal to what theists believe. To say that as a naturalist I can't do this is skirting the issue, and you do that so often here. You must answer my arguments on your own grounds since I am pointing out problems inside what you believe. Did you read my statement of the problem? It's your problem, not mine. You want to talk about my problems, okay, but right now I'm talking about yours."

    It's Loftus who emphatically and angrily insisted on the fact that my theological terms define the terms of the debate.

    In customary fashion, T-stone immediately attempts to rewrite the history of the thread.

    Let's also remember the concrete examples which Loftus used to illustrate his thesis:

    Many theists believe God set the Israelites free from slavery, but he did nothing for the many people who were born and died as slaves in the American south. These theists believe God parted the Red Sea, but he did nothing about the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people. Many theists believe God provided manna from heaven, but he does nothing for the more than 40,000 people who starve every single day in the world. Those who don’t die suffer extensively from hunger pains and malnutrition all of their short lives. Many theists believe God made an axe head to float, but he allowed the Titanic to sink. Many theists believe God added 15 years to King Hezekiah’s life, but he does nothing for children who live short lives and die of leukemia. Many theists believe God restored sanity to Nebuchadnezzar but he does nothing for the many people suffering from schizophrenia and dementia today. Many theists believe Jesus healed people, but God does nothing to stop pandemics which have destroyed whole populations of people. Lethal parasites kill one human being every ten seconds. There are many handicapped people, and babies born with birth defects that God does not heal. As God idly sits by, well over 100 million people were slaughtered in the last century due to genocides, and wars. Well over 100 million animals are slaughtered every year for American consumption alone, while animals viciously prey on each other.

    http://adebateontheproblemofevil.blogspot.com/2007/01/extent-of-suffering-in-our-world-makes.html

    What's wrong with this as an internal critique of Christianity?

    Well, now, doesn't the Bible record the existence of slavery? And famine? And disease? And death? And natural disaster? As well as insanity? Predation? Parasitism? Birth-defects? Warfare?

    Every single one of Loftus' examples has its analogues reported in Scripture. So how is this litany supporting evidence for an internal argument against the existence of the Judeo-Christian deity?

    Moreover, the Bible doesn't merely record the existence of natural and moral evils. It also gives reasons for their existence, as a result of the Fall, and God's overarching design for history (e.g., Rom 11:32; Gal 3:22).

    So Loftus' litany of natural and moral evils doesn't even constitute *prima facie* evidence in support of an internal argument from evil.

    What Loftus has done, instead, is to simply *abstract* three divine attributes, and then generate an ersatz antithesis by plugging in a series of what *he* considers to be paradigm-cases of *gratuitous* evil.

    There's nothing the least bit internal about his critique because there's nothing the least bit inductive about his critique.

    "Internally it's not "evil" if God causes the violent deaths of millions, including small children, simply because the idea of evil is predicated on God as the Lawgiver. Just is as Just does, and so what you're dealing with here is a definitional maneuver on the part of Steve and others."

    I don't know if T-stone is merely advertising his pig-ignorance of Reformed theology, or if he's indulging in rank mendacity.

    In my many discussions of the Euthyphro problem, I've explained at length that God's moral law for man is not an arbitrary fiat. Let's see T-stone actually quote a Reformed confession which codifies theological voluntarism. Calvin, for one, rejected theological voluntarism.

    "The ramifications of this are sweeping. There *are* no internal critiques for Reformed theology, since it is completely, exhaustively self-defining."

    This is a stupid statement. As Manata points out, you could perform an internal critique on Reformed theology by simply showing that two or more articles of the Reformed faith are logically inconsistent.

    "That's one reason why guys like Steve are drawn to this theology, it's completely unaccountable philosophically to anything else."

    Since T-stone doesn't know me from Adam's off-ox, he's in no position to know what drew me to Calvinism. It illustrates his contempt for the truth that he makes airy claims he can't possibly know to be true.

    "There are no axioms that are brought to bear on it that might give rise to arguments of internal inconsistency."

    Of course, one of the problems with an axiomatic system like T-stone's (whatever his axiomatic system actually amounts to) is that since the axioms, being mere postulates or unprovable posits, are treated as true by stipulation, the axioms are completely unaccountable philosophically to anything else outside the axiomatic system. T-stone has a real knack for emulating the error he imputes to others.

    "Evil's not a problem if what God does is not evil, by definition."

    Once again, this is either a simple-minded caricature of Calvinism or else a malicious caricature of Calvinism.

    "If your opponent reserves the right to define any and all terms in any way he sees fit, than an internal critique is a fool's errand."

    Observe the way T-stone systematically disregards the way in which Loftus deliberately chose to place the burden of proof.

    "It's a cheap cop-out for me to simply smirk and say 'Just is as Just does, John! Next!'."

    What's a cheap cop-out is for T-stone to either lie through his teeth about Reformed theology or else exhibit such utter disregard for the truth that he doesn't bother to acquaint himself with the position he attacks.

    But that's fine with me. If the only attack which men can mount against the doctrines of grace is a dishonest attack, then Calvinism is vindicated by the willful ignorance or willful malice of its opponents.

    So, thanks, T-stone, for polishing the golden doctrines of grace with your dirty rags of rage and ridicule. It gleams all the brighter.

    "In the age of Van Tilian presuppositionalism, what you're dealing with is 'anti-apologetics' -- declaration of victory by the denial of any common ground of reason. There's totally depraved notions of morality (yours, in their view), which are utterly worthless, and there are regenerate views which are blessedly informed by the Holy Spirit, and thus unassailable, and a nice comfy platform for smirking apologists like Steve. When you have the Holy Spirit and all the definitions on your side, you don't really have to be much of an apologist (or anything else) to dominate the playing field."

    Let's see T-stone offer some direct, verbatim quotes from Bahnsen, Van Til, or Frame in which they appeal to the witness of the Spirit as a substitute for reasoned argument. Let's see him offer some direct, verbatim quotes from me in which I lodge that same appeal.

    We're waiting for you to back up your accusations with hard evidence, T-stone. Show us the quotes. Where's your documentation?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Touchstone said:
    ---
    I'm thinking words mean what people intend them to mean.
    ---

    Unless those people are Calvinists, in which case they're "redefining" the word...

    Touchstone continued:
    ---
    "Evil" in that case would not be a term re-defined on as-needed basis by Calvinists or other Christians, but would simply be a label pointing at behavior that causes unnecessary suffering, damage, and distress.
    ---

    But of course, that is not the Bible's definition of evil. It is your definition of evil. And this is why you continually miss the internal critique. You are using external definitions (your own) and importing them into the debate. You are not allowing the Bible to define the terms.

    Touchstone also said:
    ---
    It's a bit ironic here that you'd respond this way, as I'm interested in responding to Loftus on his terms -- according to his understandings of the words.
    ---

    And Loftus's understanding of the words have NO BEARING on what the Bible itself teaches. You as much as admit you're not even interested in bothering to come up with an internal critique here.

    Loftus's (and your own) argument boils down to this: "I don't like what the Bible says." That's all it means. To demonstrate this in a logical format:

    1) The Bible says "evil" is X.

    2) Touchstone (reading Loftus's mind, somehow) says "evil" is Y for both Touchstone and Loftus.

    3) God does Y, in Touchstone/Loftus's opinion.

    4) God is incompatible with 2, not 1.

    The contradiction is external to theism. Theism takes premise 1; YOU take premise 2. It is premise 2, not premise 1, that has the conflict.

    In order to actually have an internal critique, it's really simple.

    1) God says "evil" is X.

    2) God does X

    3) Therefore, God is evil.

    Here is the internal critique. The definition of evil is the definition used BY GOD, not by John Loftus or Touchstone, and that is the definition that God violates. If, and only if, you can demonstrate this can you say there is an internal inconsistency in theism.

    As it is, you want to take the short cut. You want people to agree with your man-made definition of evil and pretend that God's violation of it causes an internal inconsistency in Christianity. It doesn't. It cannot. It is logically impossible for it to do so.

    You have to demonstrate the internal inconsistency, Touchstone. Since you cannot, it is for that reason that the mean ol' presups aren't going to be convinced by your bloviating.

    Oh, and one other thing. Before you get so bent out of shape that presupps simply "define away" the problem of evil, remember something about you atheists (and yes, you are an atheist: if it looks like one, sounds like one, speaks like one, thinks like one, is indistinguishable from one...). It is the atheist who has defined into being the problem of evil in the first place. It is the atheist who seeks to define the word "evil" apart from the way God Himself uses the term. It is the atheist who has created this fictional "problem" by playing with words. If you can define a problem into being, I can certainly define it out of being by the same logic.

    ReplyDelete
  25. CalvinDude,

    I don't know how you get that kind of stuff out of what I wrote. I say to you as I said to John: Just is as Just does. Repeating myself (in hopes it ay help), there's no reason to assume that God is bound by the moral law that binds his creatures, or any moral law. God's not *bound*.

    The point I'm working toward is the disingenous of playing games with defintions in response to serious questions like the one Loftus poses. I think the reflexive animus towards Loftus gets people here off on the wrong track, forgetting that theodicy isn't just a matter of mischievious definitions.

    I don't know what Loftus would say, but for my part I'd simply try to defuse the "definitional shell game" here by stipulating the presuppositional axiom that God cannot be associated with evil, and instead ask what we might make of the instancess of suffering, trauma and distress that Loftus is pointing to. He calls is "evil" -- that's his term. But simply saying "it's not evil" doesn't answer the question he's getting at. It's a pity that seems to fly over the heads of folks here.

    Other places where I talk to Reformed believers, I get earnest answers about the "federal headship" of Adam and compatibilism between determinism and agency. They understand what is meant by the "problem of evil" as a term of art in theological and philosophical circles.

    Just so the record is clear, I don't think God can do evil -- it's a badly formed expresssion, a logical error to suppose such. Evil is only a coherent concept withing the framework of law, and God isn't subject to law. The beef here is that when an atheist (or another theist, Christian or no) brings up the issue of natural evil or moral evil, I understand that the intended meaning of the speaker is something apart from Christian theology's categorial rejection of the God/evil association.

    I can be a jerk about the matter in responding, or I can try to respond on point, directly to the idea that was being advanced. What does it say about a God who allows so much suffering among his creatures, even in view of Adam's fall? That's a surmountable problem, in my view, but it's a question worth asking. There are a very large number of plausible other scenarios that *might* have been chosen by God, but which were not. Why?

    I think the why is generally an intractable question, but the question of why things are as they are *does* go to a profound inquiry as how or if God's creation (fallen or no) reflects His nature.

    But the presup fixation here keeps things really shallow. Anti-philosophical, really. You're so worried about the sneaking prospect of a internal inconsistency, you marshal definitional refutations but in the process miss the substance of what was being offered. If Loftus said "Fine, it's not evil according to Reformed defintions, but what are the implications of all this... negative stuff we see around us", I get this sense, he would just be greeted with the retort that "negative" according to Loftus isn't "negative" according to presuppositional Reformed apologetics. At which point Loftus would be right in just throwing up his hands. Apologetics has become an art for the avoidance of discourse, a discipline of evasion. At some point, the well is poisoned thoroughly enough through definitional and presuppositional jockeying that people just shrug and give up, capitulating to the futility of trying to discuss matters of import with such people.

    As for atheists defining a problem into being, you're stuck in your "definitional framework". Call it what you want -- make up a word if you want. There's something that pricks the human conscience when considering the violent killing of small children, no matter what the context. There's a tension in many cases between and innate conscience of a man and systematic theology; natural theology and systematic theologies often clash.

    That's not a matter of definitions, not something that simply gets "undefined". It's a fundamental philosophical tension in the mind of man. I realize that in many Reformed circles systematic theology annihilates natural theology, and that's your answer. So be it. That's one's witness to the world, if that's the response offered. Whatever the case, it's exceedingly superficial thinking to suppose that you might "define it out of being" by some sort of rhetorical device you find clever.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  26. Steve,

    Here's a quote that was recently offered from Van Til on an email loop I participate on. This is from a letter Van Til wrote to Francis Schaeffer in 1969 (link):

    The “natural man” assumes that there is a “principle of rationality,” including the laws of logic, i.e. the law of identity, the law of excluded middle and the law of contradiction which is, like the “facts,” just there. The facts he speaks of he assumes to be non-created facts. There is no “curse” that rests upon nature because of man’s sin. The “natural man” assumes that he himself, being “just there,” can relate the space-time facts which are “just there” by means of a “principle of rationality” that is “just there” to one another or that if he cannot do this, no one can. It does not occur to him to think of God as the one whose thoughts are higher than his thoughts. How do I, as a Christian, know all this information about the “natural man.” Christ tells me this in Scripture. Moreover, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit gives me life from the dead so that I understand this not merely in intellectual fashion but existentially, I have been born again unto knowledge. Once I am born again I know that I am a creature made in the image of God. I now know that together with all men I became a sinner, a covenant-breaker, subject to the wrath of God. I now know that Christ died to redeem me from the curse that rested upon me for my disobedience of the law of God and that in him I am now justified. I know that I am, together with the body of the redeemed, on the way to my Savior’s presence. In the words of the Heidelberg Catechism I am now persuaded that “I belong, not to myself, but to my faithful Savior and that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair shall fall from my head.” Everything in the I-it dimension as well as everything in the I-thou dimension is unified by means of the all-directing control of Jesus Christ, the Savior of his people. The city of God will be victorious over the city of men. The powers of hell cannot prevent the victory of the work of the triune God for the salvation of the world.

    But I'll admit I feel a bit stupid even going to the bother of pasting that link and quote in here. Van Til's major contribution to the dialog is that "natural man" cannot know anything -- reason is corrupt and illusory on its own. Knowledge is only realized by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, in Van Til's view. So not only is the knowledge obtained supernaturally -- borne of the Holy Spirit -- a preferable substitute to natural reason, natrual knowledge is completely worthless, counter-knowledge, in the face of revelation from God - special or general.

    One can't read very much of Van Til without encountering the thorough inadequacy (in his view) of natural man in trying to use logic, rules, induction -- all the stuff of reason -- to address abstract principles and derive abstract knowledge. In his view, reason only proceeds to knowledge through revelation; reason alone accomplishes nothing toward true knowledge itself.

    (Weird how similar Van Til was to Derrida in some ways!)

    So yeah, I'd say it's a non-starter to push Van Til as promoter of reason for reason's sake. I fully understand and expect the reaction to this that Van Til "was actually promoting reason, but a higher form of reason, reason infused by revelation", or some such. That's fine, but again, that's a bait and switch with meanings again. That's not at all what people generally understand when you say Van Til or anyone else values "reasoned arguments". You gotta wink and cross your fingers when you try to pull that line off when talking to anyone who's not a subscriber to the Van Tillian view of the world.

    -Touchstone



    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  27. Touchstone said:
    ---
    Repeating myself (in hopes it ay help), there's no reason to assume that God is bound by the moral law that binds his creatures, or any moral law. God's not *bound*.
    ---

    In which case, there is no logical force to the problem of evil. All you have left is an emotional response, which is the atheistic equivelant of me saying, "I feel God when I pray." That won't convince the atheist; why should his emotional appeal carry more weight?

    Touchstone continued:
    ---
    The point I'm working toward is the disingenous of playing games with defintions in response to serious questions like the one Loftus poses.
    ---

    No, what's disingenuous is you thinking that Loftus's question is serious. Loftus frames the Problem of Evil as if it's a logical problem for Christianity. I, Steve, Paul, and others have demonstrated literally hundreds of times by now that there is no logical problem here. Loftus (and you) refuse to see this.

    If Loftus were serious with his objection, he would at least pay attention to how Biblical theism defines evil. He would actually look at that and attempt to do an internal critique, as he claims to be doing.

    The fact of the matter is that both Loftus and you have made claims far too strong for you to support, and when that is pointed out to you you claim you're being persecuted. You might get away with that in other spheres of the internet, but I won't let you do it around me.

    Touchstone continued:
    ---
    I think the reflexive animus towards Loftus gets people here off on the wrong track, forgetting that theodicy isn't just a matter of mischievious definitions.
    ---

    How is it animus to demonstrate that reality is not what John Loftus claims it to be? If you said the sky was green and I said, "No, the definition of the color blue matches the color of the sky" would that be animus on my part for correcting you?

    The fact is, you both have the most sensitive egos possible and look for any reason to be offended by everything. It is impossible for you to read anything that disagrees with you without taking it personally. If I disagree with you on any subject, you view it as an attack on you. You're entitled to believe that, but it doesn't make it true. You can try to twist this into a personal attack, but the bottom line is that the logic of the Problem of Evil fails and, until you address that, you're not going to get far at all.

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    I don't know what Loftus would say, but for my part I'd simply try to defuse the "definitional shell game" here by stipulating the presuppositional axiom that God cannot be associated with evil, and instead ask what we might make of the instancess of suffering, trauma and distress that Loftus is pointing to. He calls is "evil" -- that's his term. But simply saying "it's not evil" doesn't answer the question he's getting at. It's a pity that seems to fly over the heads of folks here.
    ---

    This is exactly the point though. IF IT IS NOT ACTUALLY EVIL, THEN LOFTUS HAS NO ARGUMENT. His argument depends on the existence of evil. His argument requires a specific definition of the term "evil."

    Again, I've already explained this to you repeatedly (and THAT is something that continually flies over your head). It can only be an internal contradiction in theism if it is the theistic definition of "evil" that God is doing. It is not a logical problem if God does something that He does not consider evil, even if you do consider it evil. It's not an internal problem. It's your external problem.

    External problems don't harm the internal system unless you can prove the external problem is valid internally too. That is something that neither you nor Loftus have ever even begun to address.

    And it's not like secular authors don't realize that morality is meaningless apart from God. Just read up on nihilism and existentialism.

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    Other places where I talk to Reformed believers, I get earnest answers about the "federal headship" of Adam and compatibilism between determinism and agency.
    ---

    As if none of that has ever been addressed here.

    Even so, the argument as presented by Loftus doesn't require the above explanations to refute. It falls of its own weight simply because it remains an external critique and, as an external critique, requires Loftus to prove his external definitions apply. Even if the Reformed believer couldn't explain further how evil works, that would not make Loftus's argument suddenly valid. Besides which, Loftus has been shown the Reformed arguments by many (myself included) and it hasn't changed anything.

    Touchstone continued:
    ---
    The beef here is that when an atheist (or another theist, Christian or no) brings up the issue of natural evil or moral evil, I understand that the intended meaning of the speaker is something apart from Christian theology's categorial rejection of the God/evil association.
    ---

    In which case, you should see that the argument has nothing to do with Christian theism. There is no logical arugment here. It remains, as it always has been, an emotional argument.

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    What does it say about a God who allows so much suffering among his creatures, even in view of Adam's fall? That's a surmountable problem, in my view, but it's a question worth asking.
    ---

    Indeed, it is worth asking when the asker is actually interested in the response. But Loftus isn't, as he's demonstrated at every possible opportunity. We've been down this road dozens of times. Loftus doesn't want to understand, he wants a "magic bullet" to attack Christianity. He's not interested in discovering answers; he's interested in destroying faith.

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    But the presup fixation here keeps things really shallow. Anti-philosophical, really.
    ---

    This is about the farthest thing from true. The presuppositional position is what keeps Loftus from running rampant with his illusions. Our arguments disprove his foundations and challenge his starting point. How could there be anything less philosophically basic?

    You, on the other hand, are the anti-intellectual, anti-philosophical "apologist" here, who wants everything to go into emotive "everyone-share-his-feeling-around-the-campfire" mode. That's not philosophy; that's getting warm fuzzies.

    The bottom line is it's the pressups here who have been insistent on grounding everything in the logic of the situation.

    Let's do a little quiz. You claim I'm being a stickler on definitions. Who is concerned with definitions, philosophers or non-philosophers? Who is concerned with worldviews? Who is concerned with logic?

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    You're so worried about the sneaking prospect of a internal inconsistency, you marshal definitional refutations but in the process miss the substance of what was being offered.
    ---

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

    Yes, I'm concerned with internal inconsistency. Anyone who isn't is insane. If you want to believe something that is internally inconsistent, you just go march off the cliff. I, for one, cannot accept a lie as truth.

    Now consider this. I have examined my worldview and found it to be consistent. Loftus's argument does nothing to challenge its consistency, and instead is itself inconsistent. Tell me why I should abandon my consistent worldview so that I can "get the point" of his inconsistent argument?

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    If Loftus said "Fine, it's not evil according to Reformed defintions, but what are the implications of all this... negative stuff we see around us", I get this sense, he would just be greeted with the retort that "negative" according to Loftus isn't "negative" according to presuppositional Reformed apologetics.
    ---

    Yeah, that's about as bad as me saying, "If I said, 2 + 2 might not be 5, but it could be 3, you'd probably still say it was inconsistent with mathematics."

    Color me guilty.

    Here's what Loftus could do instead of that (and I've only mentioned this dozens of times already too). He could show how it is negative within Biblical theism. He could demonstrate how this would be a problem. As it is, the most he can do is say he does not like something. Such a strong argument need not be refuted.

    It's a simple matter, really. Either the atheist can show theism to be internally inconsistent or it cannot.

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    At some point, the well is poisoned thoroughly enough through definitional and presuppositional jockeying that people just shrug and give up, capitulating to the futility of trying to discuss matters of import with such people.
    ---

    No, what happens is you throw up your hands because you realize your lame attempts have failed, that you have run into someone who has the ability to reason logically and who can demonstrate your seemingly fatal attack depends on the truth of Christianity in the first place! There is no morality apart from theism. If Loftus thinks anything is evil, he has to import theism at every stage. This is why he is inconsistent. He imports theism and denies that he does so. His position requires theism to be true.

    On the other hand, the theistic position doesn't require atheism to be true in order to be true. It is consistent.

    This is the whole point, and if you actually thought about it for a few minutes you'd be better off. If Loftus must assume theism to deny theism, what does that say about theism? Think about it, don't just glibly say, "You're redefining stuff." Actually answer that.

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    As for atheists defining a problem into being, you're stuck in your "definitional framework".
    ---

    You won't find me begging forgiveness for using terms correctly.

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    There's something that pricks the human conscience when considering the violent killing of small children, no matter what the context.
    ---

    Yes, AND THAT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN IN ATHEISM. Why do such behaviors prick the consciousness of those who are merely random chemical reactions in a bag of skin? How do you account for morality apart from the existence of God? Loftus doesn't want to answer that quesiton; he just wants to assume that there is a morality out there. He doesn't want to explain where it comes from, because his worldview cannot account for it.

    Theism can account for morality. Theism can explain why certain things are morally good and other things are morally evil. Theism gives a purpose for it. There is no reason for Loftus to be concerned with evil in atheism; only in theism does the term have any relevant meaning.

    Touchstone said:
    ---
    That's not a matter of definitions, not something that simply gets "undefined".
    ---

    Yes, it is a matter of definitions. How does Loftus define evil in a materialistic worldview? Something that he doesn't like? Something that gives him intestinal discomfort to think about? What does it mean beyond that? How does it have "teeth"?

    Touchstone concludes:
    ---
    Whatever the case, it's exceedingly superficial thinking to suppose that you might "define it out of being" by some sort of rhetorical device you find clever.
    ---

    Quit twisting words, Touchstone. In other words, quit redefining them. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Loftus said: If you were my student I would hand this back to you and say "try again." Seriously. If I were to grade what you wrote I would say it was on a high school level. If you were in college I would give you a D- (since you correctly mentioned the Biblical God is not omnibenelovent I didn't give you a F).

    [...]

    Chan: "Perhaps Loftus would like to try teaching in South Central LA (where I briefly taught) and explain to the predominantly Hispanic and black children his view that humanity would be better off if God created only one race?"

    What the hell does this have to do with anything? I would do just as I did in the context I said it you complete moron.

    Sunday Schoolers, all of you. *sigh*


    I admit that's true. So would it be better if I asked Loftus what grade he'd expect from Bill Craig in regard to his arguments for atheism thus far? (Loftus used to make much of having studied under Craig.)

    Touchstone said: Since God isn't human, I will join the peanut gallery here this far: there's no good basis for presuming that God should behave according to human morals. At the same time, it's a natural and important application of human reason to juxtapose our own innate sense of justice, good, evil, mercy and cruelty with what we see in the Bible. That's a challenge, indeed, and to read people like C.S. Lewis and other leading lights on Christian theodicy puts the shame to the junior-high playground responses you've gotten here by way of "apologetics" (Hi Patrick!).

    Before I address this, and as has been noted before, it is striking how often Touchstone takes the opportunity to misrepresent and/or argue against Biblical Christianity.

    And although he's been corrected on several accounts by Steve, CalvinDude, and others, it just doesn't get through for some reason. Not sure if it's because he's intellectually incapable of following an argument or if it's because he'd rather be unfair than to concede he's wrong? Both?

    Anyway, with regard to C.S. Lewis, I'd just like to say, one significant difference between Touchstone and the Oxford don is that Lewis tended to present his arguments as hypotheticals rather than as brute facts that only ignorant, fundy hill billies would be stupid enough to deny. Such is the case with Touchstone's unflinching, blind-faith zealotry for theistic evolution. Also, even though Lewis himself subscribed to what most closely resembles theistic evolution, at least he had the intellectual humility to be open-minded to other viewpoints. Touchstone, on the other hand, immediately labels everyone else a fundy, Bible-thumpin' hick Young Earth Creationist when theistic evolution is even slightly questioned. Again, one wonders why Touchstone is so zealous for his golden calf of theistic evolution? He believes far more in the inerrancy of theistic evolution than in the inerrancy of the Bible.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Steve, although I agree with almost everything you've said, I think you're going WAY too far when you accuse Loftus of racism.

    To say that God could have made one race and that that would have eliminated racial conflicts and slavery isn't racist.

    I disagree with Loftus that this would have the beneficial effects he claims for it.

    However, if you believe that doing away with racial differences would eliminate slavery, genocide, discrimination etc. (which isn't that far fetched) then it's not at all racist to think God could have made one race.

    "You regard a world with racial diversity as a lesser world. To regard racial diversity as a morally inferior state of affairs is a paradigmatically racist attitude."

    This is a misrepresentation of Loftus view.

    If a rich man hates poor people then you could accuse him of being classist. However, if he benevolently wished that there were no poor people (i.e. by giving them money) because it would prevent *other people* engaging in classism, then this wouldn't be classist. If anything it would show empathy for people of another class.

    To claim, as you seem to do, that the 'joys of diversity' outweigh the immense suffering undergone by Africans taken as slaves, or the Jews ethnically cleansed during the Holocaust, seems ludicrous at best.

    To see someone accused of 'racism' when they're just trying to make an argument is something I'd expect to find on a progressive liberal site, not on a right-wing Christian website. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  30. "To say that God could have made one race and that that would have eliminated racial conflicts and slavery isn't racist."

    Butn we want to know what the color of these people would be? Pink? Well what's Loftus got against black? White? Well what does Loftus have against brown? Brown? Well what does he have against white? See, in Loftus' world, maybe God would make us all look like a tie dye shirt. Welcome to the wonderful world of Loftus.

    Oh yeah, God would also need to get rid of the sun so some people groups didn't micro-evolve the type of skin color which would help then avoid serious sun damage to their skin. But then we'd all be "light" skinned. Or, maybe everywhere could be hot and sunny, this way all people would be dark skined tie-dyed people. But then there'd be no sno covered rocky mountains.

    Well, this is all so technical.

    Loftus is a goof, plain and simple.

    ReplyDelete
  31. "However, if you believe that doing away with racial differences would eliminate slavery, genocide, discrimination etc. (which isn't that far fetched) then it's not at all racist to think God could have made one race."

    Of course it's far-fetched. All these things have also been perpetrated by people toward others of their own race. Racial differences aren't the cause of these problems. Sin is. Dinesh D'Souza convincingly argues that even New World slavery wasn't a result of racism. Rather, racism was a result of American slavery.

    ReplyDelete
  32. anonymous said...

    "To say that God could have made one race and that that would have eliminated racial conflicts and slavery isn't racist."

    Which, as I've pointed out before, is a non-issue. What God could have done isn't the point at issue. This isn't a question of divine omnipotence.

    "However, if you believe that doing away with racial differences would eliminate slavery, genocide, discrimination etc. (which isn't that far fetched) then it's not at all racist to think God could have made one race."

    It wouldn't have that effect. As the commenter below you points out, people of the same race enslave, murder, and discriminate against each other.

    "To claim, as you seem to do, that the 'joys of diversity' outweigh the immense suffering undergone by Africans taken as slaves, or the Jews ethnically cleansed during the Holocaust, seems ludicrous at best."

    And Loftus is claiming that the way to eliminate the problem is to eliminate the victim.

    Would Africans rather not exist? Would Jews rather not exist?

    "To see someone accused of 'racism' when they're just trying to make an argument is something I'd expect to find on a progressive liberal site, not on a right-wing Christian website. ;-)"

    Several points:

    i) Since Loftus has indicated his disapproval of right-wing politics, there's nothing wrong with pointing out that his own position is to the right of the far right.

    ii) Liberals don't believe in genuine diversity. They believe in coercive diversity. Quotas. Set-asides. Group-think. Just look at how they demonize conservative blacks, Latinos, and Asians.

    iii) By contrast, there's no reason why conservative Christians shouldn't celebrate the *natural* diversity of God's good creation.

    iv) And let's remember that the Church is the paradigm of authentic multiculturalism as a multi-ethnic, transnational institution.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Touchstone said...

    One can't read very much of Van Til without encountering the thorough inadequacy (in his view) of natural man in trying to use logic, rules, induction -- all the stuff of reason -- to address abstract principles and derive abstract knowledge. In his view, reason only proceeds to knowledge through revelation; reason alone accomplishes nothing toward true knowledge itself.

    *********************

    1. Yes, it's certainly clear that you haven't read much CVT, much less Frame, Bahnsen, &c.

    2. Your quote from CVT is stock evangelical theology.

    No one except a Pelagian (is that you?) believes that argumentation alone will convince the unbeliever.

    3. Apologetics is not a substitute for regeneration, and, conversely, regeneration is not a substitute for apologetics.

    4. You are also conflating revelation and regeneration as if these were interchangeable principles.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Steve said: ii) Liberals don't believe in genuine diversity. They believe in coercive diversity. Quotas. Set-asides. Group-think.

    I'd like to piggyback on what Steve said and add that it seems to me liberals aim for equality of results (e.g. quotas) rather than for equality of opportunity.

    ReplyDelete