Thursday, March 10, 2011

Robert's rules of disorder


"But John can make this criticism even if he doesn't accept objective morality, or indeed any morality whatsoever. Because the Christian DOES accept an objective morality, and so we can ask whether God's acts in the Bible are consistent with Christian morality."

I already anticipated that counter in my post, when I said: "In addition, he can’t logically limit this to a merely internal critique of Christian theism, for if nothing is intrinsically good, then there’s nothing intrinsically good about criticizing Christianity on its own terms (even if his argument was sound). There’s nothing intrinsically good about being an atheist, nothing intrinsically evil about being a Christian. So why does he bother?"

Were you asleep at the switch when you got to that part of the post?
"The dilemma for the Christian is this: either certain horrifying acts (e.g. genocide, see 1 Sam 15) are NOT objectively wrong, or God is guilty of commanding wrong acts."

How is that a dilemma? How is 1 Sam 15 contrary to Christian morality? Christian morality accepts the inspiration of the OT. How is the command to Saul objectively wrong according to Christian ethics?

3/01/2011 4:36 PM  


Expressing your disapproval is not an argument. It begs the question. Do you have anything besides your emotional displeasure to go by?

Likewise, alluding to some passages in Scripture which you don't bother to exegete, or analyze in relation to the socioeconomic conditions to which they were adapted, is not an argument.

Thus far you've illustrated the anti-intellectualism of the stereotypical village atheist. Did you think you could skip the argumentation and jump straight to your conclusions?
3/03/2011 8:38 AM  


To take one example, what makes you think lying in some situations is inconsistent with objective morality? Where's your argument? Do you even have an argument? Or is this your kneejerk impression?

Likewise, to say "murder" begs the question. I that your tendentious synonym for taking human life?

What makes you think taking human life is ipso facto equivalent to "murder," or at inconsistent with objective morality?

If atheism is that simple-minded, then so much the worse for atheism.
3/03/2011 8:43 AM  


"Um, Steve, I'm not 'expressing my disapproval.'" 

Now you're resorting to prevarication. Of course the examples you cite express your personal disapprove. You cite examples which you think make the Bible look bad.
"I'm just trying to understand your position. Is it your position that genocide and slavery are not intrinsically wrong?"

i) Of course, you're using loaded words.

ii) "Slavery" is a word with various connotations. And it can be used to denote very different things. For instance, one type of biblical "slavery" is indentured service."

No, I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with indentured service. If you think there is, give your reasons.

Likewise, if it's a choice between enslaving POWs and executing POWs, the former option is more humane.

If you disagree, make your case.

iii) Likewise, it is wrong execute the wicked? No. Did Israel have a right to defend herself against her enemies? No.

Keep in mind that these were warrior cultures.
3/03/2011 3:20 PM  


"Please explain how a newborn baby is "wicked" and deserving of execution."

i) Original sin. Human beings have a predisposition to evil which manifests itself as they become self-aware and able to carry out their wishes. An omnipotent 5-year-old would be the most dangerous person on earth. A junior serial killer. In a fit of rage he’d murder his parents, siblings, playmates–anyone who got in his way.

ii) We see children as children. God sees children both as children and adults. What the child will become.

You bring up Hitler. Well, Hitler was a child once, too, you know.

iii) A pagan child will be further corrupted by the pagan culture in which he is raised. Boys in warrior cultures grow up to be warriors.

iv) Due to common grace and/or special grace, children also have many wonderful characteristics. But that shouldn’t blind us to the dark side of children.

v) The fact that people die in mass judgments doesn’t imply that every individual who perished was being punished for his sins, as if there’s a one-to-one correspondence between sin and judgment. In the nature of the case, corporate judgments are more indiscriminate. In Scripture, the righteous can also perish in mass judgments. There were pious Jews who died in the course of the Babylonian exile.

This life isn’t all there is to life. What happens in this life doesn’t tell the whole story.

vi) Peter Singer is a secular bioethicist famous (or infamous, as the case may be) for his advocacy of infanticide. Do you think that discredits secular ethics in general?
“How exactly am I supposed to keep this in mind? Do these warrior cultures have a different standard of morality than our own? But that's moral relativism! So what was the point of this remark?”

You can’t maintain peaceful coexistence with a warrior culture on your border. It’s you or them.
3/05/2011 7:35 PM  


Cont. “Steve, I think your position here is just as weak as that of the radical moral relativist. You have no grounds on which to condemn (for example) Hitler, because Hitler COULD have been following the command of God, like Saul supposedly was.”

i) That’s an argument from analogy minus the argument. Where’s the supporting argument to explicate and defend the alleged analogy?

ii) Hypotheticals cut both ways. We might just as well (or better) hypothesize that Hitler could not have been following the command of God.
“If you dislike 'Genocide', feel free to replace it with 'killing every man, woman, and child in a city.'" 

That’s hardly synonymous with genocide. The population of a “city” is not a race or ethnic group.

God didn’t command the execution of the Canaanites because they were Canaanites, but because they were wicked.
“Your attempt to soften slavery by calling it indentured servitude is dishonest.”

Your bare assertion is not an argument. Exod 22:3 is a textbook case of indentured service.
“Would you advocate a return to slavery? It would be a return to a more Biblically based way of life!”

A return to indentured service for property crimes would be a great improvement over incarceration. It would force the convict to make financial restitution for his crimes. And teach him a trade.
"Likewise, if it's a choice between enslaving POWs and executing POWs, the former option is more humane." False dichotomy. You could allow them to return to their country when the war is over.”

i) The war is never over for a warrior culture. There is always another battle to fight.

ii) Repatriating enemy war captives to a bordering warrior culture is a recipe for cyclical invasion. They will simply regroup and fight you another day.

Let’s hope you’re a better physicist than you are a military strategist.
3/05/2011 7:37 PM  


“Good, so you've made it clear that, by your moral standards, neither slavery nor mass murder are intrinsically wrong.”

i) National defense is hardly equivalent to “murder.” Rather, that’s a logical extension of the right of self-defense.

Executing the guilty is hardly equivalent to murder. Even taking innocent life is not inherently murderous in double-effect situations.

You also blow past the actual arguments and qualifications I present.

ii) “Slavery” is a cipher. That needs to be defined. For instance, you haven’t shown that indentured service is wrong. Once again, you blow past the actual arguments and qualifications I present.

iii) Apropos (i-ii), what you have done is to illustrate the anti-intellectual character of atheism. You never get beyond your little buzzwords and catchphrases.
“You started out by sneering at John for saying that nothing is intrinsically good. (Though you don't seem to have made any effort to understand what he means by this before attacking it.)”

You have made no effort to show that I misunderstand what he means.
“What I'm wondering is, what, according to your moral code, is intrinsically wrong?”

That’s too vague and open-ended to merit a response.


  1. Where is the original posted?

  2. Hi Byron,

    The original is here.

    You might also be interested to read this.

  3. Speaking of Loftus, my wife was checking the computer this morning and told me about Japan and I said "Well I predict that before too long, Loftus will have a post up about this as proof that there is no God."

    Well I checked on DC this morning, as I do regularly for my laughs, and lo and behold, my prediction was right on.

    Too easy.

    Just like Loftus to immediately exploit a personal tragedy for atheism.