Monthly Archives: July 2010

Triablogue Launches E-book Response to The Christian Delusion

Several of the contributors to Triablogue have launched an e-book response to The Christian Delusion, titled The Infidel Delusion. It is available for download from CalvinDude, here. I haven’t read it yet, but when I get a chance, I’ll probably comment on it.

It is telling that none of the contributors to The Christian Delusion care to comment on the refutation. They are interested only in monologue, not dialogue.

Loftus’s reaction, very emotional and not even in the same zip code as rational, can be found here. Two comments from Neal refute Loftus’s rebuttal perfectly. Here are the comments, combined for clarity:

“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?

Summary of Internet Atheism in One Comment

User Ranger left a comment on Triablogue that sums up Internet atheism quite well:

Not many outside of their little camp (Pulliam, Loftus, Long, Carrier and a few others that are only known online for this stuff), think they offer much of substance. Yet he gets so angry when people disagree.

I used to think it was funny, and I used to think it was legitimate. I no longer do. I think his rants are not out of anger or frustration, but because their suppression of truth (don’t read this…there’s no need to respond to non-scholars…why waste your time on this drivel, etc.) and angry attitudes attract those who are actually afraid to deal with the issues comprehensively themselves and would rather rely on their idols to deal with the issues for them.

It goes like this:

Internet Infidel A: This is the greatest book ever! I may not have read it, but these guys have degrees in important fields of study like the history of ancient science, psychology and dentistry, so they must be right. Christianity is doomed and irrational!

Triablogue: We’ve written a 250-page response showing some of the flaws of this book.

Internet Infidel A: Oh? Wow, could Christians write such a long response…it’s surely not well thought out…or is it? Do any of them have doctorates in dentistry? Well…I do claim to be a rational person and should probably read it…first though, let’s see what Loftus and friends have to say about it.

Loftus: What idiots! These guys aren’t scholars. Don’t waste your time reading their critique. They just want to claim that you are destined for hell and therefore can’t reason legitimately, etc.

Internet Infidel A: Loftus is probably right. They are just saying that I’m going to hell. They probably haven’t said anything new against our views anyways…we’re validated in still saying this is the best book ever…This is the best book ever! Christianity is doomed and irrational!

And that’s the type of person that Loftus wants to keep in his fold, because they are the type who will continue to support him and his goals of influencing college aged ignorants.

Object Lesson in Why Some Hate Calvinism, part II

Mike from the blog Finding Bliss has objected to Calvinism. He says, “I find it spiritually abusive,” calls it “reckless [sic] doctrine”

In my previous post, I showed that Mike isn’t objecting to Calvinism proper. In that vein, I will answer some of the objections he then comes up with in the latter section of his post, most of which can be defused by appealing to what Calvinism actually teaches, not what Mike thinks it teaches. First objection:

How many nights have people laid awake at night questioning whether or not God chose them first? Or if like me you first believed and then you fell then that could very well mean that I was never truly saved in the first place. Read the rest of this entry

Can Ontological Discrimination Be Justified?

Vjack of Atheist Revolution asked his Twitter followers whether they thought atheism was a choice. Most responded that it wasn’t; rather, it was a conclusion reached after the analysis of the available data. They didn’t consciously choose atheism; they arrived at it naturally.

So atheism is part of their ontology. To that, Vjack says:

Suppose we decide that one’s initial discarding of theism and one’s continued lack of belief in gods are not conscious decisions and instead reflect one’s appraisal of the available data. This has a number of important implications. For starters, it would make anti-atheist bigotry even less tenable. If atheism was not something one chose, bigotry directed at atheists would indeed resemble anti-gay bigotry or even racism and would be equally difficult to justify. (source)

This presupposes that ontology is inherently good, and that something considered a part of one’s basic nature can’t be bad or harmful by definition. That’s faulty reasoning.

Addictive patterns of behavior are known to be inherent to one’s ontology. Heart disease is often caused internally. Certain folks are predisposed to types of cancer. These things are all hardwired into DNA; i.e., they are inherent to the nature of the person. Is anyone going to try to argue that those things are good, despite their origins?

Of course not. So why would we just automatically assume that homosexuality or atheism is good just because it is in the person’s nature to be that way? No one would try to argue that alcoholism, compulsive gambling, cancer, or heart disease are good things even though they are also part of a person’s nature.

Why, then, is atheism good just because it is in someone’s nature?

As an aside, my previous post took a look at the errors of Mike from Finding Bliss in regard to Calvinism. Experential evidence, though typically disregarded by atheists as proof of God, can be helpful in worldview debates. What we see here is an example of predestination at work: the unbelievers have convinced themselves that there is no evidence for God, and are therefore justifying their lack of belief by crying, “It’s my nature!”

Of course it is! First and foremost, humans are bonded to sin. It’s inescapable, and Vjack has perfectly illustrated it right there. Though this blog post points it out, it will not be regarded as evidence validating my Reformed worldview by any atheist.

Object Lesson in Why Some Hate Calvinism, part I

Mike of the Finding Bliss blog demonstrates why some people hate Calvinism. They hate a strawman caricature of it, and they don’t understand what the five points really teach. This is why I plan to make my musings on the topics of the five points of Calvinism available as an e-book.

Let’s look at what Mike got right, and what he got wrong. Mike writes, “I’ve attempted to present the 5 points as a Calvinist might present them which is not easy to do, I don’t agree with it and what’s worse I find it spiritually abusive.” It’s important to note that Mike is attempting to present these points accurately. He failed in a few places. Read the rest of this entry

Catholic Response to Atheism

I was wondering when I’d see a Catholic response to New Atheism. Most books I’ve seen have been by Protestant authors, though I know Dave Armstrong has done a continuing series on his blog addressing an atheist on YouTube, and recently detailed the Top 10 Atheist Arguments and exposed their fallacies.

Now, Patrick Madrid has released a new book, The Godless Delusion, with coauthor Ken Hensley. Madrid’s book tackles philosophical objections to atheism, and isn’t a defense of theism per se. Madrid took note of some atheists commenting on his book at Fascinatingly enough, none of them had actually read the book. User xwizbit seems the lone voice of reason:

I have to point out that when I was (an admittedly very wishy-washy and doubting) Christian I challenged myself to test my faith against a reading of The God Delusion, for various and sundry personal reasons. It hammered home what I was already secretly thinking about god, and turned me into the radical atheist I am today.

Nevertheless, had I merely mocked and jeered at the book, I’d still be wandering about in a fog of confusion instead of splashing in the waters of a clear-thinking oasis. Is it too much to ask that we might dare to challenge a book by reading it and then commenting?

After all, thankful as I am to Mr Dawkins, I at least read his book before wholeheartedly embracing it!

Which, of course, meets with invective of its own, despite the fact that xwizbt all but recanted this position in the very next comment (after having read the introduction). This one from user TrumpetPower!:

xwizbt, in this case the very description is more than ample to dismiss the whole thing as purest nonsense: “With remorseless logic, wit, skill, and boundless, joyful enthusiasm it lays waste that stronghold, routs the enemy, occupies the high ground for Christ their king, and dares anyone to retake it.”

Anybody who thinks it’s a good thing to occupy the high ground for an ancient zombie hero in a religious snuff porn anthology isn’t deserving of serious consideration.

Defending the indefensible: sharp critique of a book that one hasn’t read. And a statement that clearly shows this person doesn’t understand anything about the Christian faith.

And an anonymous commenter said this:

It’s astonishing. Believers come about their superstition via faith, which has nothing to do with reason. Then they pretend that they can defend their faith with reason. It just makes no sense to me. All they should do–all that they are entitled to do–is to stand there and say “I have faith”. That’s it.

While most atheists scream at us to defend our faith, this guy says that we aren’t even entitled to defend our faith. Obviously, he doesn’t actually understand what faith is. Actually, no atheist I know of knows what authentic faith is. Faith and reason are certainly not incompatible; where did this serious error in logical thought originate? That might make an interesting e-book some time in the future.

Religious Bigotry

I have tried to fight a fight that I’m not destined to win with skeptics of Christianity. None of them are ever going to see the grounds for homosexuality being a sin since they do not accept the authority of Scripture. It’s the same with the clearly defined roles of gender in the church.

Women have achieved a measure of equality within secular society. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s very good. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes a woman selecting and purchasing property, managing the household, running the family finances, and bringing in a second income through work. But, the apostle Paul precludes the possibility of women serving in church leadership roles. Of women in general:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Tim 2:12-14)

He clearly defines that church leadership will be male. He says of bishops:

If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive. . . . He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:1-4, 6-7)

Of deacons:

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. (1 Tim 3:8-12)

But notice why Paul forbids the woman from teaching authority: it goes back to the Fall.  God’s pre-Fall intention was for the woman to be a helper and a companion. But, what ended up happening? Eve first ate of the forbidden fruit, and then Adam because of her. God then decreed:

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. (Gen 3:16)

But that wasn’t the original intent. The woman being submissive to the man is punishment because of sin. Once sin entered the world, it corrupted everything, including the intended relationship dynamic between a man and his wife.

So what we see today is a corruption of the pure and good intent of the original created order. Despite this, it is still God’s command that the woman remain subservient to the man, since it was first the woman who was deceived by the Enemy and by the woman the man fell into transgression.

Call it religiously-motivated bigotry if you want, but the intended order of creation will be restored after the Final Judgment, and in eternity we will exist as equals, in perfect fellowship with the Creator. The woman will not remain subservient to the man forever, but for now it must be.

This Hurt My Feelings

I scanned my blog stats for yesterday (July 14, 2010) and found out that someone located me by a very unflattering search:

Yes, that’s right: look at the last line. Someone located this blog by searching on the phrase “dumb things on the internet.”

Go ahead, make fun of me. Take your best shot.

New Atheist Graphic

I just saw the following graphic on Common Sense Atheism. It’s new to me, so forgive me if it’s really old:

This, of course, has it completely wrong. God always was, there was never a time when he didn’t exist. He has existed in eternity before time, before anything else ever was, and that renders the facetious argument of this graphic invalid. He didn’t come from nothing, he never “sprang into being.” He simply existed, always.

Luke (of CSA) on Kent Hovind

While I disagree ideologically with Luke of Common Sense Atheism on the problem of evil, he does raise some good points on that post that I probably should address at some point. Specifically, he points out an interesting double standard that Christians have for God’s plan:

In a world so obviously indifferent to our pain or pleasure, Christians must embrace an incredible double standard to believe a God of the universe is perfectly good. They must say that many good things happen because they understand God’s ways and he wanted those things to happen, but they must also say that all bad things happen for reasons we can’t know because we don’t understand God’s ways.

It’s pretty late here, so I’m not going to try to think through Luke’s proposed quandary tonight. Instead, I wanted to agree with Luke on this post about Kent Hovind. Hovind represents the worst of creationist arguments. Even other creationists agree with that. And any academic institution that accepts a Ph.D dissertation with the opening sentence of “Hello, my name is Kent Hovind” should not only be shut down, but burned to the ground.