Thursday, July 22, 2010

Neal on TCD

I'm posting some comments which which Neal left at DC:


July 22, 2010 10:58 AM
Neal said...

"[John Loftus] this is such a nice version of Christianity developed by angry men for angry men, isn't it?"

What is evident from this posting is that the only one who appears to be angry is you.

"Over and over we read where atheists have no right to make moral judgments if there are no absolute objective morals. This is simply false. They are ignorant to say otherwise. But this is true of most Christians."

I see you are a graduate of the Dan Aykroyd school of argumentation.

“Then too, the authors are Calvinists which I think is a reprehensible theology, as I posted here.”

You'd think that someone who touts the importance of scholarly creds wouldn't make such an amateurish mistake as engaging in ad hominem fallacies. Or maybe you are just giving us autobiographical information here on your psychological makeup? What is not clear is what if anything it has to do with the truth or falsity of Christianity. You seem to think any argument from a Calvinist can be dismissed at the outset by the mere fact that it came from a Calvinist. In fact, this whole posting is nothing more than one ad hominem attack after another. Epic FAIL.

"Over and over the authors contrast their brand of Christianity with atheism which is left undefined but understood by them to be equivalent to metaphysical naturalism. I don't think they truly know what atheism is, as I explained right here, and again here."

Most people understand atheism as the belief that there is no God. Metaphysical naturalism is a consequence of atheism as it is usually defined. Your links failed to make any distinctions between atheism and metaphysical naturalism. As Hays said, metaphysical naturalism is a euphemism for atheism. If you disagree, how does atheism not entail metaphysical naturalism? And does not metaphysical naturalism entail methodological naturalism? It seems that you are merely attempting to escape some criticisms here.

"Besides, the options before us are not between their brand of conservative Calvinism and non-belief. The options are myriad with everything in-between. There is Arminianism, moderate and liberal Christianities, as well as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, Orthodox Judaism, Islam, and many eastern religions to choose from."

But you titled your book "The CHRISTIAN Delusion". Why should they be concerned about all these other religions in a refutation of a book that purports to be a critique of Christianity? And why should they respond to it in terms of what they consider to be weaker and heretical forms of Christianity?

"So it really does not make a whit of difference who is making a particular argument against their brand of Christianity. The argument either stands on its own or not."

Hypocrisy. This coming from someone who thinks he can dismiss Calvinists because he doesn't like "their brand" of Christianity.

"They cannot assert, for instance, that an atheist cannot make this or that kind of argument because he has no standard for morality, since Process Theologians can make that same argument as can Arminians like Christian philosopher Victor Reppert (which they have repeatedly attacked) or liberals like James McGrath."

I thought you just said the argument stands or falls on its own, regardless of who makes it? Why do you bring up irrelevancies? Do atheists have an objective standard of morality or not? What process theologians and liberals have to say about Calvinism has no bearing on that question.

"In areas where it’s obvious we should expect a perfectly good God to communicate his will better, he didn’t do so, which caused a great deal of harm done in his name by the church (think Inquisition, crusades, witch hunts, Christian attempts at genocide during the Thirty Years War directed at other Christian groups, Slavery, the treatment of women, and denial of the democratic ideals of the freedom of religion and of expression)."

This argument is incoherent until you can demonstrate that you have an objective standard of morality by which you can judge all those things as evil. Until you can demonstrate that, your objection to those things amounts to little more than your personal preferences.

"On that same page Manata claims “the last two chapters have no bearing on whether Christianity is a delusion.” Really? Surely whether Christianity is beneficial to society bears some relationship to whether it’s true. I mean, you really wouldn’t want to hold to something as true from a perfectly good God if it wasn’t beneficial to society, or would you?"

Pragmatism is not a standard of truth. Something can be useful but be totally false. In order to determine whether something is "beneficial" or not, you have to have some objective criteria by which you can judge what is and is not beneficial. And atheism provides no objective criteria whatsoever. So even here Christianity is superior in that it provides objective foundations for society. The gulag was "useful" in Stalin's Russia as were the gas chambers in Hitler's Germany. Do you think these men did not have what they considered to be valid moral justifications? They each had a view of what would benefit their respective societies that I assume conflicts with yours. Why should yours prevail?


  1. "In areas where it’s obvious we should expect a perfectly good God to communicate his will better.."

    The Bible is pretty good communicating from God. And not only did He sovereign-ly give us His Word, which is truth, He sent us One back from the dead to testify for the authenticity of the Holy Writ, Jesus our Messiah and Lord.

  2. "Surely whether Christianity is beneficial to society bears some relationship to whether it’s true. I mean, you really wouldn’t want to hold to something as true from a perfectly good God if it wasn’t beneficial to society, or would you?"

    This is ironic since Christianity sure gives some atheists something to live for. Though I guess this might push us back to benefits/pragmatic question.

  3. I think "The Infidel Delusion" is a really needed book. Maybe I can help make it a bit better. Here are some ***possible*** problems or typos/errata I *think* I've found in version 1.0 of TID.

    page 10
    "They fail to realize that the battle is going on down in the valley below them and their sword is made of tinfoil."

    Might it be better phrased as, "their swords are made of tinfoil."?


    page 13
    "There has been some pluralizing and secularizing of Western cultures in modern times, but there‘s still been, and is, a large Christian influence."

    Possible typo? Maybe not.


    page 54
    "―I believe in Christianity like I believe in the sun. Not only because I see it, but because of it I see everything else.‖"

    Possible typo? There are online versions of the quotation where instead of the word "of", the word "by" is there.


    On page 93 Steve quotes Wenham (with footnote # 84).
    It seems to me that a non-Christian might point out that the OT laws were supposed to be GOD'S laws, not men's. I suppose we could say that there were concessions on God's part (e.g. divorce etc.). Nevertheless, that quotation from Wenham doesn't seem to fit. Or I'm just not getting the point Steve is making.


    page 65
    "While Babinks cites Revelation 7:1 as a reference to a flat earth (n. 57 on 144)"

    Babinski's name is misspelled, and the reference should be Rev. 1:7


    page 99
    "ii) However, the NT does condemn the slave trade (cf. Rev 18:13)."

    Does that passage really condemn slavery? What seems to be condemned there is the extravagance of "Babylon". Since there's nothing inherently immoral about the selling/trading/purchasing of the other merchandise listed.

    "11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore,
    12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble,
    13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls."-Rev. 18:11-13

    Though, I do agree with the other things Steve wrote concerning slavery.

    I've finished half of the book and need to re-read first 60 pages because I didn't jot down all the places where I think there might have been problems/typos.

  4. I forgot to point out that Rev. 18:13 might not be referring to literal earthly physical slavery, but spiritual slavery depending on how one identifies "Babylon".

    The other things mentioned (e.g. gold, silver, jewels, pearls) might not be literal physical objects either. They too might refer to spiritual extravagance. Just as Jesus' admonition earlier in the book to buy gold, and eyesalve in Rev. 3:18 isn't literal.

  5. I have it on the authority of a good contact in Indiana that John is ENRAGED by TID.

    He has been totally blindsided, and realizes he is going to be tied down fighting it or be seen as abandoning the field.

    Expect DESPERATE COUNTERATTACKS and wild claims by him and his minions!

  6. John Loftus appears to be typical of what passes for debate on the secular/liberal/leftist side--pontificate and if challenged resort to ad hominum attack.

    It is a very good thing you are doing with the challenge to such arrogance. People such as Loftus and his crew never consider that they might be challenged effectively. They spend their time browbeating the poor, ill-educated students that pass for high school graduates these days.

    I am interested in what happens when all the Iraq veterans hit colleges on GI Bill.

  7. Morrison,

    John Loftus has always had this
    dream to be the one that irrefutably proves that Christianity is a delusion. To deliver the death blow as it were. He always makes comments like, "Just wait until the revised edition of my book comes out." ad nauseaum. I think he rather fancies himself as an atheist messiah and he's desparately trying to cling to eternity in the sense that he leaves some sort of enduring legacy.

    It must be exceptionally disappointing when supposed 'hacks' pick apart his and his crew's arguments with apparent ease.

    As John Mayer says, "Some of us were hardly even here. The rest of us were born to disappear." I wonder what it is that is making him figt so hard against this tenet of his worldview?