Friday, October 22, 2010

Some Thoughts on Presuppositionalism and the Problem of Evil

Christian apologist Dan of Debunking Atheists agreeably affirms Greg Bahnsen’s solution to the problem of evil, which reads as follows:
God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists. (Always Ready, p. 172)
Bahnsen offers this statement (for which he cites no biblical citation specifically supporting it) as an overlooked premise which satisfies the problem of evil:
1. God is all-good.
2. God is all-powerful.
3. Evil exists. (Ibid., p. 171)
Bahnsen adds to this formulation of the problem of evil the claim that his god “has a morally sufficient reason” for evil. Bahnsen does not tell us what that alleged reason is. He does not even suggest possible candidates for what it could or might be. Bahnsen’s concern is to claim that his god does have a reason for allowing and/or committing evil, and that reason is “morally sufficient.” In essence, Bahnsen is passing judgment on something he has not seen; he is pre-judging as “morally sufficient” something which he cannot even show actually exists, and whose identity is unknown. Bahnsen nowhere explains how we can morally evaluate something that is unknown, and yet attempts to solve the problem of evil by affirming a premise which does exactly this. Such prejudice is rash and baseless, and the opposite of morally responsible.

All this is to say that Bahnsen offers a defense against the problem of evil, but fails to validate a crucial component integral to that defense, namely the notion of a “morally sufficient reason” for evil. As we examine Bahnsen’s own statements around his proposed defense against the problem of evil, and Dan’s additional comments on the matter, consider what kind of mind is required to take the view that there is such a thing as a “morally sufficient reason” for evil. Bahnsen himself shows no indication that he winces at the idea; in fact, he seems gleeful in affirming it.

Bahnsen clues us in on the psychological process by which the Christian mind comes to the evaluation of reasons which are unknown, as “morally sufficient” when he states the following:
If the Christian presupposes that God is perfectly and completely good -- as Scripture requires us to do -- then he is committed to evaluating everything within his experience in the light of that presupposition. Accordingly, when the Christian observes evil events or things in the world, he can and should retain consistency with his presupposition about God's goodness by now inferring that God has a morally good reason for the evil that exists. God certainly must be all-powerful in order to be God; He is not to be thought of as overwhelmed or stymied by evil in the universe. And God is surely good, the Christian will profess -- so any evil we find must be compatible with God's goodness. This is just to say that God has planned evil events for reasons which are morally commendable and good. (Always Ready, pp. 171-172)
Observe Bahnsen’s procedure here, and notice how its entire weight is borne on faith-based assumptions:
Step 1: Assume on faith (i.e., on the basis of hope and desire) that there is a god.
Step 2: Assume in advance of anything else, that this god “is perfectly and completely good.”
Step 3: Commit yourself “to evaluating everything within [your] experience in light of [these assumptions]” – i.e., deliberately allow them to predetermine the outcome of any evaluation, inference, supposition, judgment, conclusion you may make about said god.
Step 4: When you observe evil in the world, “retain consistency with [these assumptions] about God’s goodness by now inferring that God has a morally good reason for the evil that exists.”
Step 5: Don’t worry about what specifically that reason might be; you might never know what it is (in fact, it’s preferable that you don’t know what it is). Bahnsen himself concedes that he has no idea what this “morally sufficient reason” could possibly be when he writes:
the Bible calls upon us to trust that God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which can be found in this world, but it does not tell us what that sufficient reason is.
The apologist finds delight in such ignorance, pretending that it indicates some “higher knowledge” to which man has no access. The purpose here is not to establish the claim that the Christian god has a “morally sufficient reason” for evil. Rather, it is simply to assume, on the basis of prior assumptions accepted on faith, that whatever reason said god supposedly has is, sight unseen, a “morally good reason” for evil. Don’t even worry about knowing what such a reason could be; don’t try to hypothesize examples; don’t think critically about what you are expected to accept as knowledge. The important thing is not to evaluate specific instances, but to settle in your mind at any cost that whatever reason this god might have for allowing or committing evil, it’s a “morally good reason.”

Step 6: Rationalize Steps 4 and 5. For example, remind yourself that “God certainly must be all-powerful in order to be God; He is not to be thought of [i.e., imagined] as overwhelmed or stymied by evil in the universe. And God is surely good.” Given these assumptions which are affirmed in advance of contemplating anything that might be called evil in the world, pretend to have drawn the conclusion “[therefore] any evil we find must be compatible with God’s goodness.”

Step 7: Put out of your mind the fact that the very notion of evil being “compatible with God’s goodness” is indistinguishable from evil being compatible with the nature of an evil god. I.e., suppress genuine moral judgment in order to replace it with morally bankrupt prejudices resting on faith-based assumptions which are to be accepted in advance of any judgment for no good reason whatsoever (for to evaluate a reason as “good” would defy the very procedure under consideration).

Step 8: Having gone through Steps 1 through 7, pretend that you’ve established as a conclusion to prior reasoning that “God has planned evil events for reasons which are morally commendable and good.” Again, do not inquire as to what these reasons might be; what is important is that you presuppose that they are “morally commendable and good.”
If those reasons are in fact “morally commendable and good,” then, by deeming them as such, the apologist is essentially saying everyone should go and do likewise, for they are “morally commendable and good.” But what if everyone went around, like the Christian god, allowing and/or committing evil and claiming to have a “morally sufficient reason” for doing so? If this would not be a suitable formula for man’s choices and actions, then how can one call the Christian god’s supposed “reason” for allowing evil “morally commendable and good”?

In attempting to turn the problem of evil into merely an emotional difficulty as opposed to an actual contradiction, Bahnsen openly admits that he does not know what reason his god might have for allowing or using evil to achieve its ends:
The problem which men have with God when they come face to face with evil in the world is not a logical or philosophical one, but more a psychological one. We can find it emotionally very hard to have faith in God and trust His goodness and power when we are not given the reason why bad things happen to us and others. We instinctively think to ourselves, "why did such a terrible thing occur?" Unbelievers internally cry out for an answer to such a question also. But God does not always (indeed, rarely) provide an explanation to human beings for the evil which they experience or observe. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God" (Deuteronomy 29:29). We might not be able to understand God's wise and mysterious ways, even if He told us (cf. Isaiah 55:9). Nevertheless, the fact remains that He has not told us why misery and suffering and injustice are part of His plan for history and for our individual lives. (Always Ready, p. 173)
I have already written on a broader problem in Christianity, what I call the problem of imperfection, in my blog Was Adam Created Perfect? Bahnsen avoids addressing, even acknowledging, that Christianity is unable to resolve the inherent contradiction in affirming the view that the universe was created by a perfect creator, while imperfections exist in that creation. The problem of evil is essentially a more isolated aspect, or manifestation, of this broader problem, which few apologists ever consider.

In trying to downplay the logical conundrum raised by the problem of evil, Bahnsen proposes a solution which affirms the notion that evil is justifiable if one has a “morally sufficient reason” for it, and, apparently pleased with himself, proceeds to call the persistence of the problem of evil a “psychological” problem rather than a philosophical problem. Bahnsen thus announces that he sees no philosophical problem in affirming the notion that evil is justifiable if one has a supposedly “morally sufficient reason” for it.

He says that the psychological problem of evil arises as a result of not knowing what that reason might be, for not having a suitable answer to the question, “why did such a terrible thing occur?” Bahnsen’s claim that whatever reason his god has for allowing or using evil to achieve its ends, it is a “morally sufficient reason,” is intended to calm the believer’s mind by appeasing the wrong end of the contradiction: by camouflaging evil with the guise of goodness to make it seem acceptable.

Bahnsen complains that “Unbelievers internally cry out for an answer to such a question also,” but “unbelievers” are not the ones whose worldview brews such a philosophical quandary in the first place, nor is it the “unbeliever’s” worldview which posits the notion of a “morally sufficient reason” for allowing or using evil as the solution to the problem of evil.

In spite of the raging nature of this question, given its mystical premises, Bahnsen reports that “God does not always (indeed, rarely) provide an explanation to human beings for the evil which they experience or observe,” that “He has not told us why misery and suffering and injustice are part of His plan for history and for our individual lives.” Bahnsen even suggests that believers “might not be able to understand God's wise and mysterious ways, even if He told us.” So Bahnsen acknowledges that he does not know what reason his god might have for using evil to achieve its purposes, and says that he probably wouldn’t understand it even if he were to learn of it, and yet he still calls it “morally sufficient.” For Bahnsen, the moral is not the understood, but the obeyed. Understanding plays no central role in the Christian conception of morality.

The bottom line for Bahnsen and his worldview, then, is that evil is morally justifiable so long as one does not disclose his reasons for adopting its use. Something does not need to be known or understood in order to call it “morally sufficient,” and Bahnsen was the type of individual who found this “solution” to the problem of evil satisfying.

Bahnsen does affirm that evil is a serious issue. He writes:
It is important for the Christian to realize –indeed, to insist upon – the reality and serious nature of evil. The subject of evil is not simply an intellectual parlor game, a cavalier matter, a whimsical or relativistic choice of looking a things a certain way. Evil is real. Evil is ugly. (Ibid., p. 164)
But if Bahnsen takes evil so seriously, why then does he offer as his solution to the problem of evil the claim that his god has a “morally sufficient reason” for evil? In giving this as his solution to the problem of evil, Bahnsen is essentially conceding that his god is ultimately responsible for the reality of evil in the world; we have already seen that Bahnsen thinks that “misery and suffering and injustice are part of His plan for history and for our individual lives” (p. 173). And, presumably, since this god is supposedly both omnipotent as well as free, it should be able to achieve its ends and create a universe without evil ever coming into the picture. So the conclusion that the existence of any evil anywhere is ultimately the responsibility of the omnipotent creator which is supposed to have created everything in the first place, seems unavoidable. Indeed, if Bahnsen didn’t think his god were responsible for the reality of evil, he wouldn’t need to claim that his god has a “morally sufficient reason” for evil. As I pointed out above, Bahnsen does not tell us what “morally sufficient reason” his god supposedly has for the evil that exists in the world; he doesn’t even give an example of a reason which he considers “morally sufficient” for allowing or committing evil. Indeed, to do so, Bahnsen would simply be giving us a glimpse into his own views, which he prefers to keep private for obvious reasons. So it comes as no surprise that Bahnsen does not elaborate on this point.

Dan writes:
This can't be a discussion as to "God is going to clear up the mess." He will, but that is not an adequately sufficient answer for the non-believers here. The question the Atheists here have is not whether God will 'take care of it' but, why did God allow it? Why is there a mess to begin with? Is God sadistic or impotent?
Actually, the question is more like:
How could a good god, which is characterized as a “loving father,” choose to allow it?
Or, consider the following:
How is a god which allows evil, and/or makes use of evil to achieve its goals, any different from a god that is evil?
If the Christian god is supposed to be “all-good,” then presumably any action it chooses to do must originate from good intentions, since all its intentions would supposedly be good. Also, bear in mind that this god is supposedly in control of everything. Presuppositionalists in particular are eager to affirm such a view. Observe:
God controls whatsoever comes to pass. (Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160)
God’s thoughts make the world what it is and determine what happens – which is why all facts are revelatory of God… (Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 243)
God controls all events and outcomes (even those that come about by human choice and activity) and is far more capable and powerful than modern machines. (Van Til's Apologetic, p. 489n.43)
So how does the Christian square events and outcomes which are not good in nature, with the view that the Christian god, which is supposed to be “all-good” and only “all-good,” is in control of everything? Bahnsen’s own proposal, that his god has “a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists,” does not reconcile the matter. On the contrary, all it accomplishes is portraying the Christian god on cozy terms with evil. So the problem persists.

Predictably, Dan writes:
The Atheist are [is] in a real quandary when he tries to argue for the problem of evil, he has to first make a moral judgment that is objectively correct. Objective moral judgments can only be grounded in the transcendent God of Christianity.
Several points here:

First, Dan misses the internal nature of the critique launched by the problem of evil. The problem of evil points to a state of affairs which is inconsistent with what the Christian worldview would have us believe. Christianity affirms both horns of the conflict, namely that an all-good, omnipotent and omniscient creator created the entire universe and all its contents, even “control[ing] whatsoever comes to pass” within it, and that evil exists in the world. The conflict is thus confined within the Christian worldview.

Contrary to what presuppositionalists typically say, the conflict to which the problem of evil draws our attention is not the non-believer’s (alleged) failure to ground moral judgment without reference to the Christian god. On the contrary, since both sides of this conflict are affirmed by Christianity, so the problem obtains regardless of what the non-believer can or cannot do.

This conflict not only destroys the Christian worldview from within, it also has profoundly damning implications for the moral character of those who actively seek to defend it, especially in a manner like Greg Bahnsen. By definition and by virtue of its nature, an all-good being would not willfully use evil to achieve its ends: its all-good nature would preclude any willingness complicit with evil. Consequently, a being which does make use of evil to achieve its ends cannot rightly be called “all-good.” But this is what Christianity essentially teaches in this respect: that its god is all-good, but also that its creation contains evil, and the “all-good” god is ultimately responsible for the evil. The task of the apologist is to reconcile these teachings without contradiction. But the contradiction cannot be reconciled without compromising either side of the conflict, even if the believer wants to say that his god has a “morally sufficient reason” for the evil it uses to accomplish its ends. Indeed, the very notion of a “morally sufficient reason” to allow or make use of evil is a contradiction in terms: that which is morally sufficient abstains absolutely from evil. Is there such a reason as a “morally sufficient reason” to commit murder? Is there such a thing as a “morally sufficient reason” to rape children? Is there such a thing as a “morally sufficient reason” to burglarize a house? Is there such a thing as a “morally sufficient reason” to evade relevant facts in one’s reasoning? These are questions for the Christian who affirms the notion of a “morally sufficient reason” for allowing or committing evil to consider.

Second, Dan incorrectly assumes (most likely because he wants it to be the case) that “objective moral judgments can only be grounded in the transcendent God of Christianity.” He does not establish this claim; no apologist really does. Apologists love to repeat this kind of claim, but it is typically accepted by believers on faith: they want it to be true, and on the basis of this desire, they affirm it as if it were true. A dead give-away here is the use of the concept ‘objective’ in qualifying “moral judgments,” a concept that is anathema to the Christian worldview (see here).

We’ve already seen that the Christian worldview is opposed to moral judgment as such. Actions which are chosen by a volitional agent are always subject to moral evaluation. But Christians have imperatively insisted that no one has the right to judge their god’s chosen actions. Even this insistence, however, is at odds with what Christians like Greg Bahnsen urge us to swallow: they tell us that their god and all its actions are good, which is a moral evaluation. And yet we’ve been denied the right to make any moral evaluations. In fact, we’re told that we have no basis to make moral evaluations to begin with.

Now the apologist speaks of “objective moral judgments.” But does he understand what objectivity is? His claim that “objective moral judgments can only be grounded in the transcendent God of Christianity.” In other words, in the apologist’s view, objective moral judgments are not grounded in reason. The presuppositionalist literature in fact confirms this analysis. Bahnsen explains the presuppositionalist understanding of objectivity as follows:
For Van Til, objectivity in the Christian worldview is not a matter of having no presuppositions (and letting a pretended neutral reason find the pretended external truth, which is actually organized by the subjective mind of man), but a matter of having the right presuppositions – that is, having the divine point of view gained through revelation. (Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 286)
So clearly, for the presuppositionalist, reason has nothing to do with objectivity. If it did, why wouldn’t Bahnsen make mention of this when he gives the Christian “understanding” of objectivity?

Moreover, the presuppositionalist conception of objectivity does not rule out the view that wishing makes it so. On the basis of the Christian worldview, wishing does make it so, especially if the wisher is the Christian god (see here). Think of it: a conception of objectivity which allows wishing to make it so!

This is how the Christian worldview divorces “objectivity” from reason: by underwriting its conception of objectivity with the primacy of consciousness, and doing away with reason in epistemology. It manifests itself by accepting an enormous sum of mystical premises as “truth” which are said to be “divinely revealed” and are consulted as the ultimate guide to understanding the world. It should be obvious that one can easily claim to “know” anything by an appeal to “revelation,” especially when it comes to “knowledge” of “the supernatural” and “duties” which men are supposed to adopt and follow. So the appeal to divine revelation offers absolutely zero safeguards for ensuring genuine objectivity in one’s identifications and conclusions.

Of course, apologist Dan does not anticipate this objection, for not only does he take it for granted that reason has nothing to do with moral judgment (he voices no concern over the absence of reason's mention in the presuppositionalist script), he expects his claim that moral judgments need the Christian god in order to be objective, to be accepted on faith (i.e., on the wish that it be true), essentially on his own say so. He gives no argument, so he does not even present this claim as a conclusion to prior reasoning. It’s a stipulation, not a conclusion, not a discovery one makes by applying reason to the world.

But perhaps I’m hasty in assuming that Dan means the same thing as Van Til does with the word “objective.” In that case, what could he possibly mean by “objective”? He uses this term as if its meaning were self-apparent. But going by what I understand by the concept ‘objective’, his claim that objective moral judgments need to be grounded in the Christian god is clearly false. This is because objectivity is essentially the methodical application of the primacy of existence to knowledge, while Christianity is fundamentally opposed to the primacy of existence (see here). Consequently, the apologist is using a concept (the concept ‘objectivity’) while ignoring its genetic roots (the primacy of existence) by underwriting it with a worldview which explicitly denies its roots (i.e., Christianity). In other words, we have here an instance of the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Dan writes:
The Atheist cannot logically generate the problem of evil.
What Dan means here is that, by virtue of his atheism, an atheist has no rational basis for moral concepts (like ‘good’ and ‘evil’) that is consistent with his non-belief in the Christian god. Of course this overlooks the internal nature of the problem of evil. As I pointed out above, the problem of evil is a problem within Christianity regardless of what any particular atheist can or cannot do.

Additionally, notice that Dan nowhere establishes this claim by means of proof. He simply asserts it, apparently expecting everyone to accept it on faith. After all, that’s how he accepted it. Accepting a claim on faith essentially means supposing it is true because you want it to be true. Dan wants this claim to be true, so he pretends that it is true. In this very sense, faith is a pretense.

Dan write:
Its not a problem for the believer
What Dan is really saying (without the courage to come out and say it plainly), is that the believer doesn’t have a problem with evil. He’s already conceded that, according to Christianity, his god has a cozy relationship with evil since it uses evil to achieve its purposes. Dan does not explain how this can be morally good, and apparently doesn’t see any need to. Indeed, he doesn’t see any need to explain this because he ultimately doesn’t care.

Like any believer, Dan’s concern is to be an obedient worshiper who disallows himself the freedom to judge his god as anything other than a “good” god. But by doing so, he destroys the meaning of the very concept ‘good’. Since his god is on friendly terms with evil, it is a god which deliberately chooses not to take an uncompromising stance against evil. So just by worshiping such a god and calling it “good,” the believer concedes by his own actions that he has no problem with evil. Just as the god he worships, the believer is ultimately indifferent to evil, because he’s ultimately indifferent to values, and this is because he is ultimately indifferent to life on earth. So logically, while the believer has no problem with evil, he has an insurmountable problem with good.

What should be noted here, however, is that even the believer himself is not consistent with the logical implications of his worldview’s stated position on its god and evil in the world. On the contrary, the believer routinely acts as if his own values were important. In other words, his own actions defy the moral ambivalence inherent in his theism.

Dan writes:
but it is, ironically, the problem for the unbeliever.
Not the Christian problem of evil. The atheist does not posit an “all-good,” “all-knowing” and “all-powerful” god which uses evil to achieve its own ends. That’s the problem of evil. This is a problem for the Christian worldview. As we have seen, the Christian’s “solution” to this is essentially to wipe out all rational meaning from the concept ‘good’ in order to justify his belief in a god which deliberately uses evil to achieve its ends. Notice that even when Dan repeats Bahnsen’s claim that the Christian god “has a morally sufficient reason” for evil, he does not (just as Bahnsen did not) identify what this supposedly “morally sufficient reason” might be. This only indicates that the apologist is not looking for a way to resolve the logical conflict highlighted by the problem of evil, but rather to prop up a psychological means of rationalizing belief in such a thing. He’s essentially trying to have his cake, and eat it, too. Most non-Christians should see right through this farcical distortion of morality.

Dan writes:
The Atheist need to make good on the statement that its evil first.
Again Dan ignores the internal nature of the problem of evil. It is Christianity which affirms the existence of evil in the world, regardless of what specifically the atheist’s worldview might happen to teach. Presuppositionalists guarantee us that they will continue in their failure to address the problem of evil so long as they ignore the internal nature of its critique of Christianity.

But presuppositionalists do have an incentive to ignore the internal nature of the problem of evil, namely the fact that it cannot be defeated. Christianity says that the world was created by an all-good, all-knowing, all-controlling and omnipotent god, and it also says that evil exists in the world. As an example of evil in the world, Dan himself cited the torture of children (he quoted Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov at length to give an example of this). If one accepts the premise that an all-knowing, all-controlling and omnipotent god created the world, he cannot logically escape the implication that any evil that exists in the world is ultimately there because that god put it there. Essentially, the apologist needs to explain how evil finds its source in something that is supposedly “all-good.” Bahnsen fails at this task. So does apologist Dan.

by Dawson Bethrick

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69 Comments:

Blogger Paul Baird said...

Excellent post Dawson.

Christians created the notion of evil, so now Presuppositionalists seem to be saying that it's like medicine - it tastes foul but it's for a good reason.

So, how do Presupps address the issue of self harm then ? I commit suicide, that is an act of evil perpetrated against myself, how does that work out ?

October 22, 2010 1:34 AM  
Blogger rhiggs said...

Dawson,

Nice post, but I can't help but feel this will all go over Dan's head and he will just keep parroting the usual presupp one-liners. Evidence that Dan has no clue what he's talking about include a recent time when he was caught out arguing that, by certainty, he means proof beyond a reasonable doubt (in direct contrast to what presupp's certainty means):

Dan: "When I speak of proof I want to say proof without reasonable doubt. That is a reasonable approach to situations. Agree?

proof without reasonable doubt = certainty."



He is a Ray Comfort wannabee. Commenters at his blog have to tirelesly refute the same arguments again and again. They will lead him down one logical path and *occasionally* get him to change his mind on something. But he then completely ignores this and repeats the same nonsense on the next post, meaning any rational debate with him is, well, pointless.

October 22, 2010 5:15 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Paul: “so now Presuppositionalists seem to be saying that it's like medicine – it tastes foul but it's for a good reason.”

The very notion that allowing or using evil to achieve one’s ends is justifiable if one has “a morally sufficient reason” for it, is morally reprehensible. It can only indicate a willingness to compromise with evil on the part of those who affirm such a view, in which case evil will always prevail over the good. (Notice that good comes about only when human beings choose to make it happen. It does not happen as a matter of default, as if some invisible magic being were behind the scenes bestowing blessings on its creation.)

That a Christian would use such a defense against the problem of evil, is an autobiographical statement on his part about his own character, the character he has chosen for himself as a result of his devotion to a morally bankrupt worldview.

To liken evil to medicine, tasting foul but good for a reason, can only cheapen and denigrate both good and medicine as well as its purpose. Medicine is not evil; its purpose is to preserve life, which is the goal of morality (something Christianity does not teach and actually condemns - see Mk. 8:35).

Let the apologist enlist his miserably weak analogies and endorse a worldview that is indifferent to the good. This is the real lesson to be learned from the problem of evil. It is not needed to disprove Christianity; a proper metaphysics is more than sufficient for this. But the problem of evil allows believers to tell us who and what they are. We just need to learn to listen.


Rhiggs,

Everything you say about Dan is correct from what I have observed. I have interacted with him at length in a couple of his blogs (see here and here), and he demonstrates no ability to respond intelligently to my points. Occasionally he exhibits the consistency of butter, softening easily, almost showing a willingness to consider an alternative view. But then a wall goes up and he’s back to reciting the presuppositionalist playbook as if its baseless, unargued stipulations and accusations have not already been answered. He basically puts his own mind on ignore in preference for shilling for a party line.

I will say that he’s not nearly as nasty as many presuppers I’ve engaged, which makes him a more tolerable to interact with. But I don’t expect him to sincerely consider objections to presuppositionalist slogans (which is really all he has). I’m still debating whether or not to post a link to my blog on his. He’ll just poo-poo it, saying it’s too long and complain that I don’t follow his “rule of three” or something along those lines (which does not bother me). And that’s what you can expect from many presuppers when you answer their tired, outworn and baseless claims: excuses for not looking into the matter further. And they pretend to be intellectuals?

Regards,
Dawson

October 22, 2010 9:30 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Yet another great post!

Some further thoughts...

When it comes to explaining the problems of evil and suffering, I've often heard believers claim that god will explain it all in the next life, i.e, when they get to heaven. So, in heaven, a place supposedly free of tears, pain and suffering, a place where disturbing thoughts are presumably non-existent -- where it's "all happiness, all the time" -- believers are finally going to get the answer to the mystery of evil and god's reasons for allowing it.

But wouldn't this explanation (however it's acquired) of evil and/or suffering give rise to disturbing images and thoughts in the minds of heaven's inhabitants? And, if this is so, it seems it would be difficult to reconcile the notion of a place of eternal bliss with the idea that it's also a place where evil and suffering will be explained (not to mention the same problem that would arise when some of heaven's inhabitants become curious as to why a friend or loved one is absent and happens to be suffering eternal torment in hell).

Ydemoc

October 22, 2010 11:08 AM  
Blogger Whateverman said...

I disagree, Ydemoc. The Christian concept of heaven shows it to be a place absent of thought. It's the best of everything all the time - not a place where questions are asked, or where problems (past or present) are confronted.

Even if God were to explain the presence of evil, the listener would be so overwhelmed by God's awesome awesomeness that images of hell-bound loved ones wouldn't even register.

October 24, 2010 8:38 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Whateverman,

Then I suppose it almost goes without saying that the believer who made that statement to me that "God will explain everything (evil, suffering, etc.) in the next life" doesn't really have a clear grasp of the kind of inconsistencies contained within his own belief system.

Ydemoc

October 24, 2010 3:07 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

The Christian bible does not say much when it comes to describing what “heaven” is supposed to be like. It thus leaves more to the imagination than does its conception of hell. I remember being told as a little child how I will know all things when I get to heaven. I don’t think I ever found a passage in the bible which suggests this. Regardless, from what it does say about heaven, it does not seem to be a place where one would be able to value anything.

In regard to this and the problem of evil, it is curious what John Frame says:

“Is there an answer to the problem [of evil]? That depends on what you mean by an answer. If you are seeking an explanation that will vindicate God’s providence in every instance of evil, I certainly cannot supply that, and I doubt if anyone else can, either. Nor, I think, can we supply a totally satisfying theoretical reconciliation between divine sovereignty, goodness, and evil. The mystery of God’s relation to evil is one that will, I am convinced, never be completely dissolved in this life, and I am not sure whether it will be in the next.” (Apologetics to the Glory of God, p. 151)

Frame’s expressed attitude is quite different from Bahnsen’s. Frame devotes two chapters in his book to the problem of evil. In the first chapter, he critiques no less than 10 different answers to the PoE which Christians have throughout history proposed, showing that they are in fact unbiblical. They include:

- Jay Adams’ proposal that evil exists in order for God to display his power and glory in defeating it (which should happen any day now…)
- The Unreality-of-Evil Defense
- The Divine-Weakness Defense
- The Best-Possible-World Defense
- The Free-Will Defense
- The Character-Building Defense
- The Stable-Environment Defense
- The Indirect-Cause Defense
- The ex Lex Defense
- The Ad Hominem Defense

In the second chapter which Frame devotes to the PoE, he gives what he calls “a biblical response” to the problem. In this he tries to apply his “triperspectivalism” to the problem, and divides the issue into three different “perspectives”:

- The Past: The Wait and the Dialectic: “The whole [OT] period may be described as a period of waiting” which “accentuates the problem of evil” and “produces a kind of dialectic between justice and mercy” while “Christ is the theodicy of Romans 3:26” (pp. 181-2).
- The Present: The Greater Good Defense: “God is using evil to bring about greater good” (p. 186).
- The Future: Some Scripture Songs: “We are… still waiting” and “have not seen how all of God’s purposes result in good” (p. 187), so have faith that they eventually will result in good and tranquilize your mind by singing some psalms in the meantime.

The second of these seems to come closest to affirming what Bahnsen affirms, even though Frame does not come out and explicitly state that there’s such a thing as “a morally sufficient reason” for evil.

How a person can find any of this intellectually satisfying is beyond me. Reading between the lines, these people seem to be admitting that there is no solution to the PoE (Frame says as much), and to the extent that they think they can solve it, they compromise the good by getting friendly with evil, essentially implying that the ends justify the means.

Regards,
Dawson

October 24, 2010 3:09 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Ydemoc: “Then I suppose it almost goes without saying that the believer who made that statement to me that ‘God will explain everything (evil, suffering, etc.) in the next life’ doesn't really have a clear grasp of the kind of inconsistencies contained within his own belief system.”

I think the bottom line is that each believer is going to imagine heaven somewhat uniquely, given the few inputs that the literature provides on the matter. We can’t lose sight of the fact that the Christian heaven is just a fantasy, and anything can take place in the realm of fantasies, since it’s imagination guided by wishes.

What’s interesting to note is the believer’s response to questions about what he believes he will feel, emotionally, when he gets to heaven and finds that any of his loved ones didn’t make it and are suffering in unspeakable torment in hell for all eternity. Say he finds that he makes it into heaven, and finds that his mother, his father, his wife, his son and/or daughter aren’t there. Is he going to have a blissful existence in heaven in spite of his loved one’s being burned alive forever and ever? Who could do this? Who could detach themselves from their own values like this?

I’ve asked this question to many believers over the years, and quite frequently they say that they’ll be happy because they’re in their god’s presence. When I probe a little deeper, asking them to imagine their loved ones basking in the searing pain of eternal flames, they say something to the effect either that their god will just withhold this knowledge from them (deliberately keeping them ignorant), possibly by erasing their memories of this life (a real break in the continuity of personal identity I’d think), or that their god will simply overwhelm them with “happiness” by force (i.e., they have no choice in the matter; the Christian form of "happiness" is not earned - it's inescapable). Other believers have expressed a most hideous delight with the prospect of being in heaven and watching “the damned” suffer in hell.

So even how the believer imagines heaven and the experience he expects to have there, represents an autobiographical glimpse into his psychology. Some prefer to bury their heads in ignorance, others are looking to be compelled against their will, while others see it as an opportunity to take delight in others’ sufferings.

With a worldview that fosters these types of psychological monstrosities, no wonder this world is so screwed up!

Regards,
Dawson

October 24, 2010 3:25 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Thanks for your in-depth analysis!

One other thought (and maybe you've touched upon this in your post on "The Problem of Divine Lonesomeness") and that is the idea that if god created everything, then he must have created evil. And if he created evil, he must have thought about or visualized every kind of vile act that human beings are capable of. Not only would he be the source and creator of rape, incest, pedophilia, but he also would have had to visualize such acts in his mind. Notwithstanding such a scenario violating the primacy of existence principle, I wonder how believers justify such unholiness originating from a being they hold in such holiness? Perhaps, once again, their justification is centered somewhere in their imagination.

October 24, 2010 4:05 PM  
Blogger DormantDragon said...

@Whateverman,

The Christian concept of heaven shows it to be a place absent of thought. It's the best of everything all the time - not a place where questions are asked, or where problems (past or present) are confronted.

Sounds like a soma-holiday in Huxley's Brave New World...

As I've just posted over on Dan's blog, I don't think there is any coherent way to argue one's way out of the problem of evil. But Bahnsen's description of the mental process going on in the believer's mind is quite telling. Once one has accepted belief in the Christian god, it's relatively easy to accept that there simply must be a reason for evil and suffering, no matter how counterintuitive it seems to think so.

Speaking as a former Christian, I remember all the tricks of the mind that went along with it, both internal and external. There was the awareness, underneath it all, that doubt and disbelief were frowned upon, and questioning, as an expression of doubt, was discouraged. It was absolutely necessary to suppose that god had his reasons, and if we couldn't figure out what they might be, so much the better - it just enhanced the 'mystery' of what we were supposed to accept purely on faith.

October 24, 2010 7:53 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

And after re-reading your post, "Some Thoughts on Presuppositionalism and the Problem of Evil" I am reminded how believers would answer my most recent comment about god being the source and creator of evil. Believers would simply say god has a "morally sufficient reason."

But, as you pointed out in your post, such a view presents a major problem for believers. You write, "Indeed, the very notion of a "morally sufficient reason" to allow or make use of evil is a contradiction in terms..."

Upon re-reading your post, what you have written addresses my comment quite nicely.

Thanks

Ydemoc

October 25, 2010 1:28 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Dawson,

To reason with you against your point is futile. Not because I am unable to, but because you are unwilling to accept any counter argument. That being said, and even if that is true, I will touch on a few points that you made.

Your "steps" were almost fine up until they started to break down after step 5 when the injection of biases. But the problem was from the beginning due to your presuppositions, of course.

>>Step 1: Assume on faith (i.e., on the basis of hope and desire) that there is a god.

You are misinforming right from the beginning. Understandable due to your hostility to Christians though. To be more accurate though lets define faith.

Faith is a strong belief in a supernatural power that control human destiny, complete confidence in a plan, a loyalty or allegiance to a cause.

Webster says:

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs.

Faith, in a sense, is synonymous with loyalty and TRUST. In fact the synonyms are: confidence, trust, reliance, conviction, belief, assurance, devotion, loyalty, faithfulness, commitment, fidelity, constancy, fealty, dedication, allegiance

>>Is there such a thing as a “morally sufficient reason” to rape children?

Yes. Obviously it is for the perpetrator. I am sure they can 'justify' their actions but as for a broader stance even, yes. As fearful of a statement that is, there is indeed a reason for it. I can only speculate as to why though. One reason may be to simply allow the person doing the raping to know how much he deserves hell and eternal suffering. It will not be a question as to why they get that extreme fate. It will be known. Even so I cannot even begin to justify it from my mere perspective. I can be eons away from reality.

>>He’s already conceded that, according to Christianity, his god has a cozy relationship with evil since it uses evil to achieve its purposes. Dan does not explain how this can be morally good, and apparently doesn’t see any need to. Indeed, he doesn’t see any need to explain this because he ultimately doesn’t care.

Not true, its aching to understand why these horrible things are happening. My worldview cannot come to terms with horrible things though. Yours can. Without a moral standard you cannot adequately stand on your presuppositions that evil in inherently wrong. Ultimately evil is wrong and God says He will address it in a very permanent way, I have faith that He will follow through with that.

What do you have to offer that child that was raped or dying? Tough luck? Too bad? That’s the way it goes? That’s all that’s left. "Because if there is no God then we are trapped in a world filled with senseless and unreadable suffering with absolutely no hope from deliverance of evil. For the Christian, God does exist, evil and suffering can result in the greater good and there is hope and meaning for the future because life doesn't end in the grave."

October 25, 2010 4:13 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed reading it. I have some thoughts in response to what you have written.


Part I:

Dan: “To reason with you against your point is futile. Not because I am unable to, but because you are unwilling to accept any counter argument.”

Dan, I am unwilling to strike a compromise with evil. Your worldview requires that one does precisely this by affirming the reality of a “morally sufficient reason” for evil. In essence, your worldview is against my morals, Dan.

I wrote: “Step 1: Assume on faith (i.e., on the basis of hope and desire) that there is a god.”

Dan: “Faith is a strong belief in a supernatural power that control human destiny, complete confidence in a plan, a loyalty or allegiance to a cause.”

That’s not the biblical meaning of faith. If you think it is, please find one passage in the bible which equates faith with belief. Even Hebrews 11:1, which gives a definition of faith, does not equate faith with “strong belief in a supernatural power…,” but underwrites it with “hope.” Observe: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…” (emphasis added).

In fact, as more than one pastor has explained it to me, faith is an act of will that is independent of belief. That’s the beauty of faith (so I’ve been told): even if one’s belief in something wavers, he can still have faith by choosing to act as if it were true. In other words, one can always have faith, even if his beliefs are racked with doubts.

What’s interesting is that all the examples of faith given in Hebrews 11 are examples of acts of will, not merely “believing.” Also, the book of James 2:19 tells us that “the devils also believe,” but you wouldn’t say they have “faith,” would you?

You went on to quote Webster’s to bolster your point. But that’s odd, since Webster’s is not the bible. Why not go with what the bible says?

Regardless, by inserting the parenthetical phrase “i.e., on the basis of hope and desire” in my step 1, I’m indicating what I mean by the expression “assume on faith”: believers want their god to be real, even though they, like everyone else, have no alternative but to imagine it.

[Continued…]

October 26, 2010 12:05 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II:


I asked: “Is there such a thing as a ‘morally sufficient reason’ to rape children?”

Dan: “Yes. Obviously it is for the perpetrator. I am sure they can 'justify' their actions”

By saying this, Dan, you’re essentially putting your god on the same “moral” level as a rapist. Bahnsen says his god has a “morally sufficient reason” for evil, and you’re saying, “so does the rapist.”

As I’ve pointed out before, the Christian’s reaction to the problem of evil brings out an autobiographical glimpse of his real feelings on the matter. You’re right on schedule here.

Bahnsen merely asserts that there’s such a thing as a “morally sufficient reason” for evil. He does not present an argument for such a thing. Can you?

Dan: “but as for a broader stance even, yes. As fearful of a statement that is, there is indeed a reason for it.”

I’m not inquiring on a mere “reason for it,” but on what Bahnsen calls “a morally sufficient reason” for evil. The rapist does have a purpose, e.g., to forcibly submit another person to his will (sound familiar?). But what “morally sufficient reason” could justify the rapists choices and actions? Bahnsen’s “solution” to the problem of evil essentially says that evil actions are justifiable. This is your worldview, Dan. How can a reason to allow or make use of evil ever be “morally sufficient”? Please, if anything, speak on this, as this is the issue at hand.

Dan: “I can only speculate as to why though. One reason may be to simply allow the person doing the raping to know how much he deserves hell and eternal suffering.”

What value could this possibly accomplish? Let me guess: there’s a chance that the rapist will repent and be saved? Then justice is ultimately withheld, for the rapist is rewarded (“grace” and “mercy”) even though he deserves punishment. And what of his victims? Clearly there’s no concern for the victim here. Again, evil prevails on the Christian scheme of things.

Dan: “Even so I cannot even begin to justify it from my mere perspective. I can be eons away from reality.”

So, like Bahnsen, you cannot identify what this alleged “morally sufficient reason” is or might be, but you affirm its existence nonetheless. Translation: “Evil is justifiable, I don’t know how, but whatever reason there is for justifying it, it’s a just reason.” Do I have it right?

[Continued…]

October 26, 2010 12:06 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part III:

I wrote: “He’s already conceded that, according to Christianity, his god has a cozy relationship with evil since it uses evil to achieve its purposes. Dan does not explain how this can be morally good, and apparently doesn’t see any need to. Indeed, he doesn’t see any need to explain this because he ultimately doesn’t care.”

Dan: “Not true, its aching to understand why these horrible things are happening. My worldview cannot come to terms with horrible things though.”

You worship a horrible god, Dan. That’s the only answer that can suit all the pieces on the table.

Dan: “Yours can.”

If by “come to terms with horrible things” you mean understand how they are caused and why they are caused, my worldview definitely can come to terms with it. My worldview recognizes that man faces a fundamental alternative (namely life vs. death), that he must act in order to preserve his life, that he must choose to act, and that he does not automatically know which actions will result in those values which his life needs (i.e., he needs reason). It also recognizes that forces of nature do not intentionally serve man’s needs, and sometimes pose a threat to his existence (e.g., floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.). So my worldview comes to terms with natural evils quite well. It also recognizes that men choose their actions according to their code of values, and this is determined by the worldview which they have adopted. A worldview which promotes self-sacrifice (such as Christianity), will produce individuals who think they are entitled to someone else’s sacrifices, and will force them if they are not volunteered. In other words, my worldview recognizes that a corrupt worldview will lead to corruption among individuals.

Dan: “Without a moral standard you cannot adequately stand on your presuppositions that evil in inherently wrong.”

Without a moral standing, no one could. But my worldview includes the component of an objective morality. If you have any specific criticisms of the Objectivist ethics, I’d be happy to take a look at them with you.

Dan: “Ultimately evil is wrong and God says He will address it in a very permanent way, I have faith that He will follow through with that.”

I think you’re onto something here: on your worldview, evil is only wrong in an “ultimate” sense, which means: down here on earth, evil is not wrong because the earth is not ultimate. Earth is a staging area according to your worldview, so ultimate criteria do not apply. This sentiment afflicts the Christian mindset. We see this in cultures where Christianity is the dominant worldview, especially if it is not tempered by non-Christian values.

Also, that you believe your god will take care of evil someday, does not resolve the problem of evil. It only acknowledges that evil is a real problem for your worldview, while the god you imagine simply sits idly by, allowing the wanton destruction of values to have its reign. Notice that evil is only opposed when men choose to act against it. If good men do not act, evil will take its course unimpeded. No god will step in and protect our values. We have to protect them by our own efforts. So your god is not on the good men’s side.

Dan: “What do you have to offer that child that was raped or dying?”

What do I personally offer? What do you expect me to offer? I’m just a man, a mere human being without the benefit of omniscience and omnipotence. Your god is supposed to be both of these things, so what does it offer? The rape still happens. The child still dies of malaria. The village is still destroyed by the typhoon. Believing that there’s a god that could stop all this, but doesn’t for unknown reasons, is neither rational nor psychologically comforting. When the disease hits the believer, he can’t count on his god to intervene and prevent the suffering and painful death. Look what happened to Greg Bahnsen. Dead at 47.

[Continued…]

October 26, 2010 12:08 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part IV:


Dan: "Because if there is no God then we are trapped in a world filled with senseless and unreadable [unreasonable?] suffering with absolutely no hope from [for?] deliverance of evil. For the Christian, God does exist, evil and suffering can result in the greater good and there is hope and meaning for the future because life doesn't end in the grave."

Dan, if your god exists, it has made itself irrelevant by virtue of its indifference to evil. If your god exists, does that change the fact that evil things happen down here on earth? The rapes still happen. Diseases still strike down children in their infancy. Nature still sends its forces against us. If by “trapped in a world filled with” these things means that so long as we are alive on earth, we will face threats to our values and our very existence, then the only alternative to being so “trapped” is to check out, expire, drink the Kool-Aid and lie down to die. So the alternative, as your statement puts it, is either to be “trapped” in a world filled with senseless suffering, or to die. How ironic, for neither option seems to bring much hope at all.

You say that, if your god does exist, then “evil and suffering can result in the greater good… because life doesn’t end in the grave.” Tell me:

How does rape result in any good, let alone a “greater good”?

How does a cholera epidemic in Haiti result in any good?

How does a tsunami wiping out 286,000 people result in any good?

If your god exists, it is ultimately responsible for every occurrence of evil since it created the world.

The answer to your quote above is: whether or not your god exists, the solution is to guide ourselves by a genuinely rational philosophy and act in the interest of our values, beginning with their source: our lives, even if your god does not approve.

Regards,
Dawson

October 26, 2010 12:08 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Dawson,

>>That’s not the biblical meaning of faith. If you think it is, please find one passage in the bible which equates faith with belief.

You think there are multiple definitions of faithful?

>>Even Hebrews 11:1, which gives a definition of faith, does not equate faith with “strong belief in a supernatural power…,” but underwrites it with “hope.” Observe: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…”

Well first that is not what I said, quote miner. I said that Faith equates to a loyalty or allegiance. Remember I said "Faith, in a sense, is synonymous with loyalty and TRUST."

I looked up faithful (Strong's H539, H540), little faith (Strong's G3640), faith (Strong's G4102), they all agree with my assessments.
pistis (πίστις) Same word, but translated to "assurance", in Act 17:31 and translated to fidelity in Titus 2:10. But it means belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) or allegiance.

As far as your James 2:19 comparison that word is pisteuō (πιστεύω ~Strong's G4100) believe "to think to be true, to be persuaded of" which is close but not the same.

The thing is that, I feel, you know all of this. You have admitted to reading the books. You need to see that "those who suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness inescapably "become vain in their reasoning...Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools" (Romans 1:21-22. Their opposition to the faith amounts to no more than a "knowledge falsely so called" (1 Timothy 6:20-21, by which they actually " oppose themselves" in ignorance (2 Timothy 2:23,25)." ~Van Til's Apologetic. Bahnsen

>>You went on to quote Webster’s to bolster your point. But that’s odd, since Webster’s is not the bible. Why not go with what the bible says?

Semantics, but fine and did. You certainly have not.

>>Dan. How can a reason to allow or make use of evil ever be “morally sufficient”? Please, if anything, speak on this, as this is the issue at hand.

From what I cannot understand such as a child being raped I place my trust, confidence, allegiance, and loyalty to God. I have faith there is a morally sufficient reason as to why that evil must happen.

>>Translation: “Evil is justifiable, I don’t know how, but whatever reason there is for justifying it, it’s a just reason.” Do I have it right?

Yes

>>You worship a horrible god, Dan. That’s the only answer that can suit all the pieces on the table.

Loading the dice (gambler's fallacy?) There is a morally sufficient reason is the other choice.

>>whether or not your god exists, the solution is to guide ourselves by a genuinely rational philosophy and act in the interest of our values, beginning with their source: our lives, even if your god does not approve.

Let me quote ~Van Til's Apologetic. Bahnsen, for you yet again...

October 26, 2010 12:11 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dan: “You think there are multiple definitions of faithful?”

The word in question is “faith” (a noun), not “faithful” (primarily an adjective). Besides, your quibbling here is really beside the point as I already indicated in my step 1 what *I* mean by faith as I use it in the given context.

And though you don’t make it clear, your statement about the meaning of faith could be interpreted as giving several definitions for ‘faith’. You wrote:

“Faith is a strong belief in a supernatural power that control human destiny, complete confidence in a plan, a loyalty or allegiance to a cause.”

This appears to be three different definitions strung together into a single sentence. You lead with “faith is a strong belief…” I had challenged you to find one passage in the bible which equates faith with belief. I don’t see that you have done so. I pointed out that Hebrews 11:1 gives a definition of faith, and predicates faith on hoping, not “belief.”

Now you seem to be moving away from the faith = belief view by choosing not to reaffirm it, and instead focusing on “faith equates to a loyalty or allegiance.” But this simply makes the concept ‘faith’ redundant, for we already have the concepts ‘loyalty’ and ‘allegiance’. Also, neither loyalty nor allegiance is properly defined as “the substance of things hoped for.” Nor is trust.

Dan: “As far as your James 2:19 comparison that word is pisteuō (πιστεύω ~Strong's G4100) believe ‘to think to be true, to be persuaded of’ which is close but not the same.”

‘Pisteuo’ is the verb form of the noun ‘pistis’. So it’s certainly close enough for purposes of raising the question whether you think the “devils” mentioned in James 2:19 have faith. If you define ‘faith’ as mere belief (as Bahnsen does; see below), then apparently the answer is yes. If you define faith as “trust” or “allegiance,” then perhaps not.

Dan: “The thing is that, I feel, you know all of this. You have admitted to reading the books.”

I’ve read many of the books, yes, and I don’t think authors are infallible. For instance, when Bahnsen writes that “to ‘have faith’ that something is true… is the same as ‘believing’ that the claim in question is true” (Always Ready, p. 202n.1), I think he’s completely mistaken. Bahnsen acknowledges that other thinkers are in disagreement with him. In fact, it’s clear that he does not subscribe to the idea that faith is “a personal matter of trust or commitment” while ‘belief’ is “a matter of intellect” (Ibid.). Bahnsen must be in the camp which supposes that James’ “devils” have faith.

I asked: “How can a reason to allow or make use of evil ever be ‘morally sufficient’?”

Dan: “From what I cannot understand such as a child being raped I place my trust, confidence, allegiance, and loyalty to God. I have faith there is a morally sufficient reason as to why that evil must happen.”

I.e., your trust in your god is not founded on understanding; it's founded on "hope" - i.e., a wish. Many bloody dictators throughout history have believed in the notion of a “morally sufficient reason” for evil, happily sacrificing entire portions of the populations over which they rule on behalf of their agenda. You seem not to have much insight into what could constitute a “morally sufficient reason” for evil, nor do you have any rational basis for believing there is such a thing. If faith is a form of belief, it would be belief without the benefit of supporting facts, and you exhibit how far faith can go.

I wrote: “You worship a horrible god, Dan. That’s the only answer that can suit all the pieces on the table.”

Dan: “There is a morally sufficient reason is the other choice.”

That just leads right back to a horrible god, Dan.

Your god has a cozy relationship with evil; it does whatever it pleases (Ps. 115:3), and it uses evil to achieve its ends, which means it is pleased to do so. What is the difference between an evil god and a god which uses evil to achieve its ends?

Regards,
Dawson

October 26, 2010 2:13 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

You wrote: "What is the difference between an evil god and a god which uses evil to achieve its ends?"

This seems to hit the nail on the head, a question which I have failed to see a good answer to.

Ydemoc

October 26, 2010 2:49 PM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Dawson,

>>What is the difference between an evil god and a god which uses evil to achieve its ends?

Before we address that you have made some assumptions of your point that you will have to defend before the claim is even valid. Like Razi Zacharias said that I highlight in one of my posts, you have just invoked a moral law, or standard in raising that claim that your worldview cannot account for. That is your presupposition of the claim, is it not? Otherwise, the claim self destructs.

>>...Bahnsen must be in the camp which supposes that James’ “devils” have faith.

This whole thing is a Ignoratio elenchi and you know it. You sir, are a time waster.

October 26, 2010 4:09 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I asked: “What is the difference between an evil god and a god which uses evil to achieve its ends?”

Dan: “Before we address that you have made some assumptions of your point that you will have to defend before the claim is even valid.”

My question above is for the Christian to answer according to his worldview. Unless you want to admit that my worldview must be true in order for you even to consider yours, your answer to my question should not depend on anything in my worldview (since it does not affirm any gods in the first place).

At any rate, if there’s some premise in my position that you think needs to be substantiated, please let me know what it is. If it is of a general nature, it is very likely already covered in the Objectivist ethics. The standard of my worldview’s morality is reason. This is probably new territory for you.

If you want to compare moralities side by side, yours and mine, I’m up for it. My first questions to you would be:

1. What is morality?

2. Does man need morality?

3. If so, why?

I'm sure you'd agree that these are reasonable questions to consider when examining a moral view.

Meanwhile, I will stand by for your answer to my question at the top of this comment.

I wrote: “Bahnsen must be in the camp which supposes that James’ ‘devils’ have faith.”

Dan: “This whole thing is a Ignoratio elenchi”

Not if Bahnsen equates faith with belief (and I already showed where he does this).

Dan: “You sir, are a time waster.”

Perhaps I’m just doing what Luke has Jesus say: “occupy till I come” (Lk. 19:13). You couldn’t have a problem with that, could you?

Regards,
Dawson

October 26, 2010 4:38 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

Dawson provides tough question, Dan panics and reverts to non-sequitur presuppositional script.

Quelle surprise.

October 27, 2010 5:56 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Curious that presuppos insist that "other worldviews reduce to absurdity," yet they don't see that the problem of evil is inside their worldview. No need to visit any other.

October 27, 2010 7:10 PM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Boo-boo correction:

I should of said:

Not true, its aching to understand why these horrible things are happening. My worldview can come to terms with horrible things though. Yours cannot.

Freudian slip in my hasty response. Oops.

Photo,

>>Curious that presuppos insist that "other worldviews reduce to absurdity," yet they don't see that the problem of evil is inside their worldview.

As I said: What do you have to offer that child that was raped or dying? Tough luck? Too bad? That’s the way it goes? That’s all that’s left.

"Because if there is no God then we are trapped in a world filled with senseless and unreadable suffering with absolutely no hope from deliverance of evil. For the Christian, God does exist, evil and suffering can result in the greater good and there is hope and meaning for the future because life doesn't end in the grave."

I don't see a problem here. Your worldview cannot rectify evil or even account for the existence of evil. Seems like its you have the problem.

October 28, 2010 11:09 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Hi Dan,

My comment was not directed at you.

I want to leave you alone as per what I told you before. But your comments here are showing that despite anything in your life you have nothing but contempt for human suffering. I would never dare say that there is a "morally sufficient reason" for the atrocities you heartlessly describe. I would rather shut up than show such inhumanity.

------
You are answering with a red-herring though. I don't know if I can "offer" anything to any victim of anything. I am merely me. But my comment was not about what you can offer victims, my comment was about the hypocrisy and the inconsistency of the presuppo "worldview."

Presuppos try to wiggle away from the problem of evil by demanding that atheists have to be able to define evil "in their worldview." No need. Your worldview defines evil, yet shows a supposedly good, omnipotent, and omniscient god which allows such levels of evil that it [your worldview] is in itself, with no help whatsoever from other worldviews, absurd. It self destructs.

In other words, the hypocrisy is that presuppos want to show that other worldviews are absurd within themselves, but if anybody dares show the presuppo's worldview to be absurd, then they want to get out of such worldview so that the absurdity "dissipates." No such luck. The absurdity is inside.

Anyway, my last to you here. Hope you see the red herring for what it is, then the double standard I was trying to show.

October 28, 2010 7:28 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Dan,

Welcome back to my blog.

You wrote: “Your worldview cannot rectify evil or even account for the existence of evil.”

I realize that you were addressing Photosynthesis with this comment. But I can’t help but notice that you tend to direct this kind of statement to anyone who does not profess belief in your god. What’s more, you affirm this statement without any supporting argument, so that it does not appear to be a conclusion drawn from previously established premises. Additionally, I suspect that any argument you might give for it (if you were to do so) would include the presumption that your god exists. But this would end up begging the question, for the discussion here is the problem of evil, and the problem of evil raises a significant (and, I’d add, insurmountable) objection against the claim that such a god exists in the first place. So it seems you need to address the problem of evil before you could reasonable make the charge that you give here.

Also keep in mind that it is your worldview which affirms the notion of a “morally sufficient reason” for evil. Given that, I’m still wondering what practical difference could exist between an evil god and a god which uses evil to achieve its ends.

On a broader level, I suggested in my previous reply to you that we compare our differing moral views side by side. If you want to make claims like the one you recite above, this might be a fruitful exercise in at least determining which, if any, is better suited to human life on earth. To get the ball rolling, I posed three questions for you to address in terms of your worldview’s moral doctrines. In case you did not see them, I’ll repeat them here:

1. What is morality?

2. Does man need morality?

3. If so, why?

The first question is looking for a definition of the concept ‘morality’ as your worldview informs it. Of course, feel free to cite the source of that definition. The second question concerns the relevance of your moral system to the life of the human individual. The third question assumes, according to your position, that man does need morality, and seeks to uncover its purpose in his need for it. If your worldview has answers to these questions, I’d like to see them.

Regards,
Dawson

October 28, 2010 10:47 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Re: Dan's comments: I don't see how appealing to an (borrowing from Dawson) "invisible magic being," who, supposedly, happens to be the creator of all -- including all that is evil -- rectifies anything.

Ydemoc

October 29, 2010 1:49 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I would very much like to hear Dan's answers to Dawson's three questions. This should be vary interesting.

October 29, 2010 10:37 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Justin: “I would very much like to hear Dan's answers to Dawson's three questions.”

I would, too. And if Christianity is the only worldview which can “account for” morality, then these questions should be a snap for Dan to answer. But he hasn’t addressed them, and he’s probably not going to address them without further prompting. But why is that? If we’re all so misguided when it comes to worldviews in general and morality in particular, and Dan’s got the benefit of “divine revelation” on his side, why isn’t he sharing what he knows? I’d think he’d be itching to tell everyone about “the Truth” which his worldview supposedly has a monopoly on. So far, he’s given us silence.

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Mt. 7:16

Regards,
Dawson

October 30, 2010 5:06 PM  
Blogger openlyatheist said...

Dawson,

Just found this link off of Debunking Christianity.

Realism and Religion: A Physicist Examines the Basis for Belief

I think it bears some striking relevance to your recent discussions with Dan & Andrew.

November 03, 2010 4:41 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Sadly I don't think Dan is going to rise to the challenge. His inability or unwillingness to answer 3 basic and fundamental questions pertinent to ethics only underscores that he has no case at all. It furthermore leads me to conclude that the claim that only Christianity can account for morality is laughable.

November 03, 2010 8:03 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Hi Dawson I'm trying to set up a debate with Sye (although he's being curiously shy) on Skype.

As I'm organising it I'm extending an invitation to participate to the various people who have debated with him.

Let me know if you're up for it.

November 04, 2010 11:51 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Justin Hall,

>>Sadly I don't think Dan is going to rise to the challenge.

Yea, just doing what I am instructed to do.

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." ~Colossians 2:8

God instructs to give a reasonable defense and I have.

Like Bahnsen said, "Reason is not the platform (precondition) for faith, but vice versa."

November 04, 2010 12:02 PM  
Blogger rhiggs said...

"Reason is not the platform (precondition) for faith, but vice versa"

Everything before the comma is correct...

November 04, 2010 12:07 PM  
Blogger Vagon said...

"Yea, just doing what I am instructed to do."

No you're wrong. That passage only instructs you to beware not to ignore the challenge. Your old book says you need to always respond (1 Peter 3:15)and that you can demolish these arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5).

At least try.

November 04, 2010 7:31 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Even if Dan is correct in what the passage means, he is basically letting a book do his thinking for him, very sad.

November 05, 2010 8:27 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Thankfully Scripture has answers for people like y'all to: ”Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” Titus 3:10 (I’ll let you read verse 11 on your own.)

November 05, 2010 9:28 AM  
Blogger rhiggs said...

Reminds me of Dubya...

"Fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."

November 05, 2010 9:38 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dan,

In my 26 Oct. comment, I suggested that we compare our respective moral positions against one another and posed three basic questions about morality for you to answer from your position. They are:

1. What is morality?

2. Does man need morality?

3. If so, why?

Since I first posed these questions in this comments thread, you have posted three comments of your own, and in none of them have you even attempted to address any of these questions. In fact, you seem anxious to justify your choice to evade my questions. If your worldview really had any legitimate substance to inform a defensible view of morality, I’d think that you’d be more than willing to address my questions and compare your worldview’s morality against mine. That you choose not to address them suggests either that your worldview really has no substance to offer on the topic of morality, that you simply don’t know the answers to my questions, or that you have little confidence in either. Neither option bodes well for the philosophical solvency of your worldview.

An individual's most fundamental choice is to think or to evade thinking. Since one’s morality is what guides an individual’s choices and actions, and your chosen actions thus far appear very strongly to be geared toward evasion, one can reasonably infer that your morality teaches you to evade rather than to think. Thus it disqualifies itself as a suitable guide to choices and actions for man.

So your sloganeering to the effect that non-Christians have no basis to raise the problem of evil in the first place, is entirely contentless. You won’t even address basic questions about morality.

Regards,
Dawson

November 05, 2010 10:21 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 05, 2010 11:15 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Dawson,

>>If your worldview really had any legitimate substance to inform a defensible view of morality, I’d think that you’d be more than willing to address my questions and compare your worldview’s morality against mine.

Are definitions subjective? If you are looking for a definition of morality then just look it up. I suppose that is not all you are seeking though. Are your motives moral? (Is the new question)

Second, its not the questions in themselves that are bothersome to me, its your attitude towards the questions that is bothersome. Anyway, why are you are so hard pressed that I answer these particular questions? I feel like you are trying to coax me into something bad...is that moral?

>>That you choose not to address them suggests either that your worldview really has no substance to offer on the topic of morality, that you simply don’t know the answers to my questions, or that you have little confidence in either.

Oh Yea! ...(is the desired response)

Is it moral for someone (read you) to attempt to act like they are interested in someone's viewpoint but are only interested in baiting them or guide them into the dark woods? Tactics of a pedophile :7)

I really just don't see any point in discussing things with you after our last exchange.

November 05, 2010 11:17 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

"I really just don't see any point in discussing things with you after our last exchange."

...and yet you keep coming back for more?

November 05, 2010 11:19 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dan: “Are definitions subjective?”

Are you asking generally here? I would say no, for the definitions which my worldview provides are objective. But the definitions of your worldview (if it has any definitions) could very well be subjective. We can confirm or refute this if we know what your definitions are and examine their basis.

Dan: “If you are looking for a definition of morality then just look it up.”

I’m asking how your worldview conceives of morality, how it defines the concept ‘morality’. Why do you not produce an answer to this very basic question?

Dan: “I suppose that is not all you are seeking though.”

I stated what I am seeking: to compare our respective moral systems. To begin this, I presented three pertinent questions.

Dan: “Are your motives moral? (Is the new question)”

Yes, my motives are indeed moral, for they are geared toward achieving and/or preserving values.

Dan: “Second, its not the questions in itself that is bothersome to me, its your attitude towards the questions that is bothersome.”

What specifically do you identify as my attitude toward the questions? Is it that I wonder how your worldview answers them? I’d think you’d appreciate my interest in this. Why do you let your impression of someone else’s attitude stop you from anything?

Dan: “Anyway, why are you are so hard pressed that I answer these particular questions?”

Because they are fundamental to the issue at hand: the problem of evil, and the presuppositionalist refrain that non-Christian worldviews are philosophically unable to raise the problem in the first place, a claim that you have repeated on numerous occasions.

Dan: “I feel like you are trying to coax me into something bad...is that moral?”

“Coax”? I’ve simply asked you to answer basic questions about morality from the position of your worldview. How is that “coaxing”? how is that “something bad”? It’s “bad” to explain what your worldview means by morality, and explain why man might need it? This is tantamount to saying that knowledge and understanding are bad.

Dan: “Is it moral for someone (read you) to attempt to act like they are interested in someone's viewpoint but are only interested in baiting them or guide them into the dark woods? Tactics of a pedophile :7)”

Dan, you’re describing the tactics of presuppositionalism. Presuppositionalism’s signature strategy is to barrage non-Christians with questions as to how they “account for” everything from the uniformity of nature, the laws of logic, universals, moral principles, etc. And when non-believers provide answers, as I have, it’s clear that presuppositionalists are not interested in considering them, but either ignoring them or generalizing that they are wrong, deficient or invalid without any argument at all.

Dan: “I really just don't see any point in discussing things with you after our last exchange.”

Dan, you're reaching for any excuse not to dialogue on an important issue which you realize, deep down, that Christianity cannot provide any intellectually warranted answers to.

Regards,
Dawson

November 05, 2010 12:09 PM  
Blogger Paul Baird said...

Dan - I'd be really grateful if you'd consider participating in the second debate that I'm setting up with Sye Tenbriggencate about Presuppositional Apologetics.

Could you post a comment either or on my blog (http://patientandpersistant.blogspot.com/) when you've made a decision ?

Thanks.

November 05, 2010 12:17 PM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Dawson,

>>Dan, you're reaching for any excuse not to dialogue on an important issue which you realize, deep down, that Christianity cannot provide any intellectually warranted answers to.

You're right, your not trying to coax anyone. *pshaw

Christianity cannot provide any intellectually warranted answers to morality? Wow, that is rich. Good luck with that.

November 05, 2010 12:52 PM  
Blogger rhiggs said...

It's hard to know which side would benefit more from Dan participating...

Actually, wait, it's not. Sign him up!

:-D

November 05, 2010 12:53 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dan: “Christianity cannot provide any intellectually warranted answers to morality? Wow, that is rich. Good luck with that.”

So far it’s proven to be extremely successful. Just look at the foregoing. Simply posing a few very basic questions about morality sends the apologist running. If you think Christianity *can* provide intellectually warranted answers on morality, then again here are the questions:

1. What is morality?

2. Does man need morality?

3. If so, why?

But so far you’ve been reluctant to address any of them.

Regards,
Dawson

November 05, 2010 1:02 PM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

I am so sick of you throwing past thought experiments in my face. I obviously have recanted that position long ago but you still bring it up to the point it is abusive. So it disappears into the oblivion of past thought.

I admitted I was wrong then. I was merely attempting to persuade instead of preach the Word and that is where I went wrong. I compromised my position for your benefit and it backfired. I recant

November 05, 2010 1:07 PM  
Blogger rhiggs said...

Thought experiment? Is that the new explanation?

So, you claim with one breath that it was a 'thought experiment', implying that you knew all along it was wrong but that you were accommodating my position. Then with the next breath you say that you 'admitted' you were wrong, implying that you initially actually thought that you were right. Those are mutually exclusive positions Dan. Stop lying.

Plus, the only reason you reversed your position was because I had to explain to you that you were actually saying the complete opposite of what presuppers claim. You never 'compromised [your] position for [my] benefit'.

My point, then and now, is that you have NO CLUE of the tenets of the position you claim to support, yet you continue to blab out the same lines. And as long as you continue to do so, I'll continue to link to the evidence that you're parroting lines that you don't even understand.

Stick to your ABC evangelising Dan - you're way out of your depth here. Srsly.

November 05, 2010 1:25 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 07, 2010 6:34 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

riggs,

Are you saying that presupping has any depths? Unless you are talking dishonest rhetorical depths I would disagree.

Anyway, please just carry on.

G.E.

November 07, 2010 6:39 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Ditto all the compliments Dawson. You've got a knack for clarifying complexity.

Robert M. Price in and interview with D.J. Grothe and starting at 1:42 has an interesting opinion on positions like those of Dr. Greg Bahnsen.

Best Wishes and Regards

November 14, 2010 3:09 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

I'm eagerly waiting for your next post.

Far be it for me to suggest things for your blog, but I would enjoy seeing some "teaser posts," that would let us readers in on what subjects you plan to cover in the near future.

One area I would like to see you tackle is the notion of "common grace." One apologist I'm acquainted with loves to invoke this whenever he is questioned about why non-believers are able to enjoy and appreciate all that which is available to our senses (sunsets, beauty, etc.), even though we, as "non-believers" are "totally depraved" and do not deserve such enjoyment.

Thanks.

Ydemoc

November 14, 2010 6:03 PM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 14, 2010 8:20 PM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Bumbalough,

I giggled when I heard at around 4:15 of that interview where he says that any valuation "must" be subjective. Kinda blows everyone's (you and Dawson's) position here out of the water. Thanks for that. You appear to be your worst enemy. Keep up the great work.

I also noticed that they were talking about Rick Warren and the like. That is certainly not in any realm of Bahnsen and Til. Warren's most popular book speaks of a purpose without ever mentioning the Gospel or Salvation, the actual purpose of life. He feels that if you do work that is 'good enough' that you enjoy time with God in Heaven. Rick Warren is a false teacher that the Bible speaks of. (2 Peter 2:1) Your comparisons are hardly fair.

The Bible is infallible, not because some pastor says it, but God Himself says it in His Word and then proves it daily and hourly.

That link was a very weak argument. In fact it was not an argument at all, they were gripes and complaints.

November 15, 2010 10:27 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Thanks for the link, Robert. As always, Price makes some very interesting observations. I agree that the biblical view of man presumes that his life is inherently meaningless, since it teaches that this is man's default condition, that meaning/purpose/value must be injected into man’s life from outside it. This is essentially the very same point I have made in regard to the presupper view of the uniformity of nature. Since, according to presup, uniformity must be imposed on nature by the Christian god, nature on this view is inherently chaotic, precisely what they say it isn’t when we perform inductive inferences. Without this premise, there’d be no role for the Christian god in the matter to begin with. The presupper relies on the same tired gimmick in both cases.


Dan wrote: “I giggled when I heard at around 4:15 of that interview where he says that any valuation ‘must’ be subjective. Kinda blows everyone's (you and Dawson's) position here out of the water.”

You grant Dr. Price much power, Dan, able to “blow everyone’s… position… out of the water” with a single statement. But what you ignore is the fact that, if Price is right, then what he says applies across the board, not only to those whom you select. So if Price’s statement “blows everyone’s… position… out of the water,” it blows yours out of the water along with everyone else’s, and you’re just in denial about it.

Of course, I don’t agree with everything Dr. Price says, and reserve the right to think with my own mind, thank you. Then again, what do you think Dr. Price means when he says that any evaluation “must be subjective”? Given the context of what he says, he seems to be saying that moral evaluation is internal, essentially that it is a firsthand conscious action, in which case I would completely agree. I don’t get the impression that he means moral evaluation necessarily has no objective basis, which is apparently how you’re interpreting his statement.

Dan: “I also noticed that they were talking about Rick Warren and the like. That is certainly not in any realm of Bahnsen and Til. Warren's most popular book speaks of a purpose without ever mentioning the Gospel or Salvation, the actual purpose of life.”

That’s an odd statement, Dan. You must reject the Westminster Shorter Catechism then. It states that “man’s chief end [i.e., his purpose] is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” This says nothing about “the Gospel” or “Salvation.” John Frame endorses what the WSC states as “man’s own chief end” (Apologetics to the Glory of God, p. 185). So to be consistent, you should say that Frame is “certainly not in any realm of Bahnsen and Van Til,” even though Frame was one of Van Til’s own pupils.

Dan: “He feels that if you do work that is 'good enough' that you enjoy time with God in Heaven.”

Can you support this charge, Dan? Where does Warren say this specifically? I’m not saying he doesn’t, just want to see it in his own words if in fact he does say this.

Dan: “Rick Warren is a false teacher that the Bible speaks of.”

Dan, anyone who “teaches” Christianity as truth, is a false teacher by definition, for he’s teaching falsehood. So Warren’s right in the same camp as Bahnsen and Van Til.

Dan: “The Bible is infallible, not because some pastor says it, but God Himself says it in His Word and then proves it daily and hourly.”

You grant much power to the imaginary, Dan. But what’s crucial for everyone to recognize is your assumption that truth conforms to what someone *says* it is, rather than conforming to independently existing facts. In other words, your entire epistemology is based on the assumption of subjectivism.

By the way, Dan, I’m still wondering how your worldview would answer the questions I’ve posed to you about morality. That’s because you’ve avoided answering them. But what have you got to lose?

Regards,
Dawson

November 15, 2010 4:36 PM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Dawson,

>>So if Price’s statement “blows everyone’s… position… out of the water,” it blows yours out of the water along with everyone else’s, and you’re just in denial about it.

I understand your point but you missed mine. I am not the one referencing Price to prove my point. I merely pointed out that this guy, that you two loved so much, counters your worldview. Of course Price's worldview clashes with mine, but I am not using him as evidence for my argument, am I? Price, and you two, are absolutely wrong by the ample of evidence, and knowledge, of our Creator and His Word.

>>It states that “man’s chief end [i.e., his purpose] is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Yes, I completely agree. We are to preach the Word (Gospel) and glorify God in all things. Submission to His Salvation is the single greatest way you can glorify God. You want to glorify God? Keep the Sabbath Holy. BTW, Jesus is our Sabbath Rest, if you didn't understand that part. (Hebrews 4:9-10, Matthew 11:28-30)

>> Where does Warren say this specifically?

On around page 58 of his purpose driven life book. He claims all you need to do is accept Jesus into your life and then you are saved. Nothing Biblical about that at all. More accurately is Jesus needs to accept you, not the other way around. Plus, he never mentions repentance even once in his book. He is a false teacher. He needs to do a Bible study (Titus 3:5-6)

>>In other words, your entire epistemology is based on the assumption of subjectivism.

*sigh. You see, this is why I avoid engaging with you. Your spin is annoying. You're completely wrong, yet again. The Bible is true because it first makes the claim that it is true, proves itself internally, AND denial of the truth of the Bible leads to absurdity. It is also the claim of the Christian that God reveals the truth of His Word to us directly such that we can be certain of it.

>>By the way, Dan, I’m still wondering how your worldview would answer the questions I’ve posed to you about morality.

I will not engage you on the topic of morality, unless you first justify your ability to reason about morality - which of course you will be unable to do.

Also, like its been said before, assuming that the Bible is not evidence for God because you do not believe God exists, is question begging.

November 16, 2010 1:41 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Dan: “I understand your point but you missed mine. I am not the one referencing Price to prove my point. I merely pointed out that this guy, that you two loved so much, counters your worldview.”

Dan, I got your point, which is why I stressed the importance of understanding what Price meant by his statement. Also, I pointed out that I don’t always agree with Price. Simply put, Price is not an Objectivist, nor do his statements speak for Objectivism. Price makes a lot of great points, but he’s not a philosopher, he’s a theologian and NT scholar. You’d have to find much more than a passing comment in a verbal interview to “blow” my worldview out the water.

Dan: “Of course Price's worldview clashes with mine, but I am not using him as evidence for my argument, am I?”

For that matter, I wasn’t using Price as evidence for mine, either. Go back and review my blog entry: I did not cite Price anywhere to bolster my points. Also, Robert B. introduced Price’s interview because he thought Price “has an interesting opinion” on the POE. Hardly any indication that everything that comes out of Price’s mouth is understood to be infallible wisdom.

Dan: “Submission to His Salvation is the single greatest way you can glorify God.”

I don’t see where the WSC affirms that “the Gospel” and “salvation” are integral to man’s purpose. You seem to be inserting this meaning into what it does say.

Dan: “On around page 58 of his purpose driven life book. He claims all you need to do is accept Jesus into your life and then you are saved.”

I was hoping you could give Warren’s position in his own words rather than a paraphrase of your own making.

Dan: “Nothing Biblical about that at all.”

Actually, the formula for salvation which you attribute to Warren bears a striking resemblance to the formula given in Romans 10:9.

Dan: “More accurately is Jesus needs to accept you, not the other way around.”

I guess the apostle Paul got it wrong when he was penning Romans 10:9.

Dan: “The Bible is true because it first makes the claim that it is true, proves itself internally, AND denial of the truth of the Bible leads to absurdity.”

This is unhelpful, for it still demonstrates your willingness to call something “true” when it has no *objective* support. All three tests that you indicate are strictly internal, and one could cite these three tests on behalf of any set of mystical writings. So my original assessment stands.

Dan: “I will not engage you on the topic of morality, unless you first justify your ability to reason about morality - which of course you will be unable to do.”

A couple questions for you here. First, you seem entirely willing to engage me on other topics, though I have not sought to present some elaborate justification for my ability to reason on those topics to your liking. So why all of a sudden do you advance this hurdle that I need to meet before you answer my three questions on morality?

Second, exactly what would I need to do to “justify [my] ability to reason about morality”? I’ve written on the topic of morality numerous times on my blog, and I’ve not seen where you’ve shown that any reasoning I’ve applied to the matter is deficient in any way. I apply morality in my daily life all the time, so that’s evidence right there that I can reason about morality. But I’m guessing you want something in addition to this. But what?

Third, in conjunction with the above, could you show me where you have justified *your* ability to reason about morality, so that I can see a model of what such a justification should, in your view, look like? Indeed, I’d think my three questions would be an ideal opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to reason about morality.

Dan: “Also, like its been said before, assuming that the Bible is not evidence for God because you do not believe God exists, is question begging.”

How so?

Regards,
Dawson

November 16, 2010 3:26 PM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Dawson,

I like you, but at times its aggravating. You are smart "enough" to know what is going on and what is at stake here. You get the message and the points but you are one to drag things out and "act" like you are not getting points and keep insisting on clarification of the obvious. As I said in the past arguments, you are unwilling to concede to an explanation of points. Remember your dogmatic position on "judge not, lest ye be judged"? Its what lead me to conclude "for any future points you make I am forced to resolve to the response of "To reason with you against your point is futile." Not because I am unable to, but because you are unwilling to accept any counter argument."

Its like you are constantly digging to find a hole.

Maybe that is a bad analogy, I certainly don't want you to twist that to mean that I believe a search for God is 'emptiness' or whatever spin you can attribute to my words. One must take a cautious approach with you, after all.

>>I was hoping you could give Warren’s position in his own words rather than a paraphrase of your own making.

In the process of looking for the exact quotes I came across this review that mirrors what I was thinking and believe when I read the book. Yes I did read it, and rejected it.

>> Go back and review my blog entry: I did not cite Price anywhere to bolster my points.

Go back and review my comment entry: I did not address you about Price. I did reference you as a believer of objectivity, but I was addressing Robert.

>>...the formula for salvation which you attribute to Warren bears a striking resemblance to the formula given in Romans 10:9.

Quote mining does not benefit anyone, especially you. You, of all people, know to take things contextually. You're better then that, as we both know. Repentance is a large part of understanding God's gift of salvation. Repentance comes BEFORE knowledge of truth, not after: 2 Timothy 2:24-26

In your writings, you are quite set in your beliefs. If you have researched and concluded about morality already then there is not much I can do here. My arguments are not intended to be convincing, I am merely commanded to speak the truth, 'convincing' is out of my hands.

In discussing things with you I do feel like a dog chasing your rabbit down the hole, read trap, that you have created. I am weary. That being said, I am also curious as to how you address matters.

I just don't understand upon what objective moral foundations do you, as an atheist, condemn whatever it is you think God has done wrong? (or whatever the subject is)

"If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true , but rather because of a series of chemical reactions… … Morality, tragedy, and sorrow are equally evanescent. They are all empty sensations created by the chemical reactions of the brain, in turn created by too much pizza the night before. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else." ~Douglas Wilson

Also, like its been said before, assuming that the Bible is not evidence for God because you do not believe God exists, is question begging.

>>How so?

What do you mean?

November 17, 2010 10:27 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your latest comment. Unfortunately I do not have time to post a reply to everything you’ve said as I’m going out of town early AM tomorrow and have to prepare for my travel. But I’ll see if I can get back to you upon my return.

In the meantime, I just wanted to address this:

Dan wrote: “Also, like its been said before, assuming that the Bible is not evidence for God because you do not believe God exists, is question begging.”

I asked: “How so?”

Dan responded: “What do you mean?”

What I mean is, precisely what I asked: how does “assuming that the Bible is not evidence for God because you do not believe God exists” beg the question? I was asking for you to explain your comment, to substantiate your claim. Please be as thorough as you can so that I understand your train of thought on this.

Regards,
Dawson

November 17, 2010 4:22 PM  
Blogger Fastdiets said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iwo4Zq-CyFs&NR=1

William Lane Craig's response to the problem of evil..."god's morally sufficient reason" for evil.

November 19, 2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger Fastdiets said...

oops lol my user name is retarded b/c its from one of my websites...this is actionjackson864 Ive spoken with dawson before. ; ]

November 19, 2010 10:25 AM  
Blogger Fastdiets said...

lol Dan compares dawson to a pedophile?!?!?!?!?!?! ooo...I just laughed so hard I gave birth to a virgin

lol sorry dawson u dont have to post this but that attempt at denigration really had me going.

November 19, 2010 10:33 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 19, 2010 10:35 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Action Jackson (on a diet),

Where I agree with Craig's response I still like Zacharias' response best to that question.

November 19, 2010 10:36 AM  
Blogger Dan +†+ said...

Action Jackson(on a diet),

>>lol Dan compares dawson to a pedophile?!?!?!?!?!?! ooo...I just laughed so hard I gave birth to a virgin

I thought someone would like that. I don't want to disapoint after all.

I really cracked up to what Yaeger said in one of my posts.

I dubbed it as Yaeger's Law: "As a discussion on morality grows longer, the possibility of someone bringing up pedophilia approaches 1."

Oh so true.

November 19, 2010 10:48 AM  
Blogger Fastdiets said...

@Dan

"The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."

come on man why are you scared to answer Dawson's questions?! ; ]

what cosmic force is holding you back? is it predestined that you wont answer? ; ]

November 19, 2010 12:06 PM  
Blogger l_johan_k said...

Hi Dawson,

just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate you work.

Do you have a fb-page for the blog?
That might be an idea.

best regards, Johan.

May 21, 2014 5:57 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Johan,

Thanks for your comment and your suggestion.

No, I do not have a Facebook account. I have never thought of using one for promoting my blog. I probably wouldn't since I would prefer to keep discussions here on my blog, and I'm not necessarily interested in "increasing traffic" per se. Blogger keeps records of "hits" on my page, and it's plenty as it is. It's enough of a challenge to keep current with everything the way things already are.

But thanks for sharing the idea.

Regards,
Dawson

May 21, 2014 6:08 AM  

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