Monday, November 21, 2011

Cognitive Reliability vs. Supernatural Deception

Today we join presuppositional apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate in mid-session with the Goodness Over God crew, Ben Wallis and Michael, Long, on their recent podcast featuring both Sye and Dustin Segers, who also practices presuppositional apologetics (and has his own blog). The TAG team are at it again, battling non-believers and doing what they can to shut the mouths of atheist spoilsports.
Make no mistake about it: Christians are eager to increase their numbers. They desire to “plant” more churches and lure more gullible fish into their nets. And given some statistical reporting, the pews in many American churches are growing cold, so to speak. So heat is on apologists to turn things around, to “vindicate” the Christian worldview in the public light. What better way to do this than to make critics of their worldview look like dimwits in front of audiences composed of their peers as well as other Christians? Presuppositionalists are predatory by nature, continually seeking out new object lessons in humiliation to hold up as trophies before throngs of admiring comrades.

In the discussion with the folks at Goodness Over God, the presuppositionalists can be found pushing the same old chicanery, with no positive information whatsoever to offer on behalf of their own worldview. The impression I often get while listening to presuppositionalists dialogue with non-believers on the notion that there is a god, is that they’re continually trying to find ways to get into someone’s mind in order to locate some vulnerability that can be exploited for the sake of taking control of it. This disintegrate-and-conquer motif is ever-present throughout presuppositionalism. Its “vigor” is thought by its enthusiasts to be found in the skill with which apologetic “debaters” seek basically to demolish other minds, reducing them if at all possible to mere rubble, and hoping to re-image them according to the template of their religious program if their apologetic efforts ever make it this far.

Much of their apologetic methodology almost seems to regard any instance of ignorance in the human mind as evidence for the existence of their god. One element which virtually all deployments of the presuppositional apologetic that I have observed have in common is the asking of a series of “How do you know…?” questions, often asked in unending succession in order to keep the critic continually on the defensive. It appears that presuppositional apologists are after any instance of “I donno” in order to fill it in with “God did it.” To the extent that this accurately characterizes their apologetic methodology (and after examining literally hundreds of examples of presuppositional methodology in action, I think it does), presuppositionalists genuinely seem to think this is a legitimate means of vindicating their worldview.

Among their ranks, some apologist apparently believe that they have been “called” by their god to drop their fishing nets as it were, and take up absurd arguments intended just for this purpose. It may seem most ironic to hear Christians preaching how their worldview “accounts for” human dignity, when their worldview in fact regards human beings as an inherently depraved blemish worthy of the eternal trash bin that needs to be bathed in someone’s blood.

Both the view that human beings are inherently depraved and the view that human beings were created in their god’s image, allow apologists to presume that they have some special right to other individuals’ minds. They are in essence would-be body-snatchers who seek to score their successes by invading individuals’ minds and destroying all confidence in their ability to think for themselves. A broken spirit is a mind that more easily releases itself to the control of others and offers no prevailing resistance to subjugating suggestion. They belch forth a load of pretentious filibuster in the hopes of absorbing new victims into the Christian matrix and setting them back out into the field to belch forth the same load of pretentious filibuster.

With these observations about the general character of the presuppositional method in mind, let’s take a look at a brief snippet from Sye Ten Bruggencate’s latest verbal spew. We start at the minute marker 30:59 where our swashbuckling hero STB launches into yet another interrogation of the presumably defenseless Michael Long:
[Start: 30:59]
Sye: "So you’re saying that there are some things you cannot be wrong about."
Michael: "Yeah, there are some things where it’s meaningless to suggest that I could be wrong about it."
Sye: "Okay, so that follows then, I’d like to ask the question: What do you know for certain and how are you able to know it? And if you appeal to your senses, memory and reasoning, I’d like to know how you know they are valid."
Presuppositionalists are conspicuously concerned about any expression of certainty on the part of a non-Christian. If a non-Christian claims to be certain about something, the presuppositionalist acts as though there were a fire that needs to be put out, and that he’s the only one able to extinguish it. So off he goes in his little red fire truck, sirens a-whirrin’. When he shows up to the conflagration, he whips out his hose and starts spraying the entire scene with a barrage of “How do you know?” questions that are intended to keep the fire from spreading.

But if we step back and observe the apologist’s own behavior, we just might find that it is he who is reluctant to address on behalf of his own worldview the very questions he so casually fires off in rapid succession to representatives of other worldviews. He enjoys posing questions which ask, “How do you know?” but tends to resist answering those very questions with respect to the knowledge claims he makes.

Now there is no tu quoque fallacy in pointing this out. For one thing, I am happy to address such questions. (And I would if I thought Mr. Bruggencate were sincere in his inquiries.) But second, I am not affirming my worldview on the claim that it is sourced in divine revelation, that its originator is both omniscient and infallible, that the collective truth of all its claims is itself the necessary precondition to sense-making, or that failure to subscribe to my worldview will result in eternal torment. Christians make very tall claims on behalf of the importance of believing their worldview, so they should be more than prepared to address questions about its epistemology. Unfortunately, it is precisely here where presuppositionalists hold things closest to their chest, as though they were afraid to have their cards seen while placing their bets. Such behavior is not indicative of someone in possession of unchallengeable truths.

Now in response to Sye’s questions to Michael here, I could go on and point to certain facts that are themselves preconditions to the points he lists as objects to which one might appeal in answering his questions (such as the fact that there is a reality, the primacy of existence, that man is biological in nature, and so is his consciousness, etc.), thus heading off his quiver of objections at the pass. Sye’s own line of questioning itself presumes that both he and his interlocutors are conscious, and thus he assumes the validity of his own consciousness. But how does he validate it without begging the question? If he says his god validates it somehow (which he can be predicted to say), he would be begging the question, for he would be using his consciousness – and thus assuming its validity – in the answer he gives. But since he’s apparently willing to grant validity to consciousness as such in his line of interrogation, then we must ask: What’ the problem?

But here’s the rub: If I believed that there are invisible magic beings running around the universe “back of” everything I see, touch, smell, etc., beings which I believed to be in possession of the ability to manipulate anything that exists, including the things that I perceive, then clearly I couldn’t reliably appeal to my senses, memory and reasoning to establish anything resembling what we know as ‘knowledge’, for they could, for all I know, be subject to such manipulation.

The Christian at this point will probably say that his god does not lie and therefore would not deceive, and therefore this is not a worry. But even if one accepts the premise that the Christian god itself does not lie and therefore would not deceive, it would not follow from this that this worry is thereby dissolved. For Christianity teaches that there are other invisible magic beings which possess supernatural powers as well, such as Satan, devils, demons, fallen angels, and perhaps other nefarious beings whose existence has not been revealed by the Christian god. And these beings are explicitly characterized by the Christian bible as deceitful beings which do have powers beyond human understanding and, importantly, detection.

This bears emphasizing. Christianity affirms the reality of “the supernatural.” We have to keep in mind the fact that, for the Christian, the category ‘supernatural’ is broader than just his god. It includes a whole pantheon of other beings, all or many of which are imagined to have powers beyond human estimation, control, and awareness as such. And since the Christian worldview affirms the existence of such beings, its epistemology must take their supposed existence into consideration, and from the looks of things, it doesn’t.

So while the Christian might maintain that his god does not lie and therefore would not deceive man, his worldview does in fact teach that there are other beings which can and do deceive man. So on Christianity’s own premises, man’s senses, memory and reasoning are hopelessly vulnerable to supernatural manipulation, including deception. This can only mean that one who accepts all of Christianity’s teachings and takes those teachings seriously, would have to concede precisely what the presuppositionalist playbook seeks to compel non-believers to admit: that man’s senses, memory and reasoning cannot, on Christianity’s premises, be presumed to be either valid or reliable, regardless of how certain they want to think they are in their belief that their god guarantees them, since they are subject to manipulation which lies beyond one’s ability to detect, which means: they are open to deception.

The apologist might respond to this by claiming that his god would not allow lesser supernatural beings to fiddle with reality or cause mischief in man’s mind which results in deception, misunderstanding or misinformation about the world or his own spiritual plight. But how would he know this with certainty? Claiming that his god has the ability to reveal things “such that” one can be certain of them, does not overcome this problem. Indeed, it seems to be a manifest attempt to simply wish it away by positing hypothetical possibilities. Indeed, appealing to supernatural revelation is really nothing more than an admission that one does not know, and in fact begs the question by assuming precisely what’s being challenged, namely the reliability of his own cognitive faculties and the assumption that some supernatural being whose existence Christianity affirms or at least allows (e.g., devils, demons, and the like) has not already deceived him.

Once supernaturalism is granted validity in the mechanics of one’s worldview, all bets are off on the reliability of human cognition. The unknown and the unknowable will always hold epistemological primacy in the worldview of the true believer.

So the problem which the presuppositionalist is trying to raise against the non-believer, is actually an inescapable problem for the believer himself.

By contrast, the non-believer can simply say that his senses, memory and reasoning are valid because there’s no supernatural being that can mess with it. And that’s all one needs to say to the presuppositionalist. Any attempt on the presuppositionalist to inquire, rebut or challenge this response, would require the presuppositionalist to make use of his senses, memory and reasoning, and as we’ve already seen, on his worldview’s premises, they are unreliable.

So the presuppositionalist is beaten at his own game, and without recourse. It is in such a manner that we see the presuppositionalist’s own gimmicks get the best of him, and choke him where he stands.

by Dawson Bethrick

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126 Comments:

Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

As always, your blog entry got me thinking, and it really drives home the following point that Rand made:

"Men have been taught either that knowledge is impossible (skepticism) or that it is available without effort (mysticism). These two positions appear to be antagonists, but are, in fact, two variants on the same theme, two sides of the same fraudulent coin: the attempt to escape the responsibility of rational cognition and the absolutism of reality—the attempt to assert the primacy of consciousness over existence."
(“Consciousness and Identity,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 79)

You've made it clear to me that believers like Sye are really, fundamentally, no different than skeptics.

Thanks for the new material!

Ydemoc

November 21, 2011 8:44 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Rand said: "Men have been taught either that knowledge is impossible (skepticism) or that it is available without effort (mysticism). These two positions appear to be antagonists, but are, in fact, two variants on the same theme, two sides of the same fraudulent coin: the attempt to escape the responsibility of rational cognition and the absolutism of reality—the attempt to assert the primacy of consciousness over existence."
(“Consciousness and Identity,”


Great Ayn. By the way is it rational to smoke yourself to death?

What happened to values?

November 21, 2011 10:12 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

Let me guess: You didn't even read Dawson's latest blog entry, did you?

Please answer honestly. And please don't evade.

Ydemoc

November 21, 2011 10:26 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

I read it. So, what's the problem?

November 21, 2011 12:26 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "I read it. So, what's the problem?"

In this context? Just the fact that your first comment out of the box was not directly related to the topic at hand. I'm not suggesting that *all* of your comments (nor mine) should always be on point as to the topic of Dawson's blog entry, but it would be refreshing to see from you a minimal amount of interaction with the material that he has written, rather than carrying on with what you have already written in a previous thread.

Ydemoc

November 21, 2011 1:07 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ok,


Dawson said: "By contrast, the non-believer can simply say that his senses, memory and reasoning are valid because there’s no supernatural being that can mess with it.


Well, the burden is on you boy.

Dawson said: "Any attempt on the presuppositionalist to inquire, rebut or challenge this response, would require the presuppositionalist to make use of his senses, memory and reasoning, and as we’ve already seen, on his worldview’s premises, they are unreliable.

Not really. I take them for granted.The questioning stops there.

However, my senses are reliable. It's interesting because God's senses are reliable. See the "proof"?

November 21, 2011 2:45 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 21, 2011 3:03 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 21, 2011 3:04 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 21, 2011 3:05 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Dawson

Your post has got me reflecting on my earlier exchanges with Nide concerning certainty and the nature of knowledge. I think one thing I never really made clear is that I see a clear distinction between knowledge gained thru reason and knowledge gains thru the senses. This later type being the perceptually self evident. When asked about whether I can be certain or not I tend to assume the person is talking about the former type of knowledge, that is gained by reason because well of course it goes without saying that I am certain of the perceptually self evident. Reason however being a method of the mind is fallible and we can make incorrect conclusions based on faulty or incomplete information. Who here has not had to revise a conclusion about something before? The perceptually self evident however is just want the senses report, that is, it is the precondition for reason, logic and proof. Now of course someone always brings up the optical illusion example. George Smith himself covered this. The pencil in a glass of water that appears bent as it enters the water. The perception that the pencil is bent is however valid. The pencil does indeed appear to be bent, further if we had never had any interaction with this type of optical illusion and did not actually examine it further then our conclusion via reason that the pencil is actually bent would be justified. Wrong, but justified. To those who use this as an example of why you cant trust our senses forget the fact that this illusion was discovered by those very same senses. So I am actually certain absolutely of some things. One of them is I have to trust my senses, I have no other choice. I find it most curious and even a little humorous when one asks if I can trust my senses or my consciousness for as you pointed out, they them selves are presupposing there validity by even asking me that.


@Nide

“Not really. I take them for granted.The questioning stops there.”

well, something else we agree on, :)

“However, my senses are reliable. It's interesting because God's senses are reliable. See the "proof"?”

no not really. For one I know I have senses, I don't know god exists, so I cant say what the status of its senses are one way or the other. It simply does not logically follow that because I have reliable senses that there is a god. In an earlier post to you I brought up the principle of parsimony, I raise it again. My senses are valid, positing god to explain this is an unnecessary entity.

November 21, 2011 3:07 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Nide

I have not forgotten your interesting question concerning the nature of consciouness, but if it is ok with you I will email you directly when I have writen up my reply.

November 21, 2011 3:09 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Justin,

Ok. Great

By the way you know God exists. That's why you said your senses are valid. That's the game.

Either you take them for granted or you know for sure they are valid which shows you know God exists so which one is it?

By the way this is something I wanted to say yesterday. Occoums Razor has nothing to do with shaving away Supernatural beings. It only says we should take the simplest explanation of an occurence.

November 21, 2011 3:55 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

If, as you affirm, the senses are valid, and as you have affirmed, that we as human beings *learn* about the world (universe, existence) through our automatic sense perception of it (i.e., valid instruments automatically provide the data, data which when properly identified and integrated by man's conceptual faculty, results in knowledge), then not only does one have all the "equipment" one needs to acquire knowledge, but there is no need, nor does it make any sense (i.e., it's incoherent) to take a leap and posit some kind of entity that is responsible for or the basis of anything, let alone everything.

In other words, you, as a Christian, have no knowledge base from which to make your leap to the assertion of a god. The only base that you have to jump from is a product of your wishes and your imagination. It is a fantasy (and really not a very pleasant one at that).

Happy Producers' Day.

Ydemoc

November 21, 2011 6:04 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

(re-posted -- first attempt did not appear)

Trinity,

If, as you affirm, the senses are valid, and as you have affirmed, that we as human beings *learn* about the world (universe, existence) through our automatic sense perception of it (i.e., valid instruments automatically provide the data, data which when properly identified and integrated by man's conceptual faculty, results in knowledge), then not only does one have all the "equipment" one needs to acquire knowledge, but there is no need, nor does it make any sense (i.e., it's incoherent) to take a leap and posit some kind of entity that is responsible for or the basis of anything, let alone everything.

In other words, you, as a Christian, have no knowledge base from which to make your leap to the assertion of a god. The only base that you have to jump from is a product of your wishes and your imagination. It is a fantasy (and really not a very pleasant one at that).

Happy Producers' Day.

Ydemoc

November 21, 2011 6:19 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Nide,

Remember me?

By the way, I agree with Ydemoc: both mysticism (e.g., the Christian religion) and skepticism are essentially joined at the hip: they both treat the human mind as though it were epistemologically impotent. But just to consider either of these variations of hatred for man and evaluate their claims to being true, the mind would have to be epistemologically competent. So just by proposing either alternative and expecting others to understand it, undercuts its claim to truth, for understanding requires epistemological competency.

Nide wrote: “Great Ayn.”

Yes, Ayn was definitely great.

Nide: “By the way is it rational to smoke yourself to death?”

No, I’d say it’s not rational.

Nide: “What happened to values?”

They’re still there, waiting for us to take those actions we need to take to identify them properly and achieve and/or preserve them. The choice is ours, just as it was Ayn’s.

Nide wrote: “I read it. So, what's the problem?”

Now that the case has been made that Sye and his ilk up the creek without a paddle when it comes to the question of whether or not they may be supernaturally deceived, there is no problem – at least for us (e.g., Justin, Ydemoc, myself). If Sye can’t show that the assumption that his senses, memory and reasoning are reliable is consistent with his worldview’s teachings and affirmations, that’s not our problem.

I wrote: "By contrast, the non-believer can simply say that his senses, memory and reasoning are valid because there’s no supernatural being that can mess with it.

Nide: “Well, the burden is on you boy.”

Specifically, what burden do you have in mind? And how do you know that the burden is on me? How do you know that there’s no devil or demon or other unrevealed malevolent spirit deceiving you into thinking that the burden is on me? Appealing to supernatural revelation will only beg the question, for that’s what opens the door to the possibility of supernatural deception in the first place. You’re in a really tight spot there, Nide.

I wrote: "Any attempt on the presuppositionalist to inquire, rebut or challenge this response, would require the presuppositionalist to make use of his senses, memory and reasoning, and as we’ve already seen, on his worldview’s premises, they are unreliable.”

Nide: “Not really.”

Yes, really.

Nide: “I take them for granted.”

Of course you do. But that’s only because you do not consistently adhere to *all* the teachings of your mystical worldview. You borrow from mine when you take the validity of the senses for granted.

Nide: “The questioning stops there.”

How do you know? How do you know that you’re not being supernaturally deceived here? See, the problem will never go away so long as you affirm the reality of “the supernatural.”

Nide: “However, my senses are reliable. It's interesting because God's senses are reliable. See the ‘proof’?”

If this is supposed to be proof that you regularly confuse yourself with the god you claim to worship, why yes – I do see the proof.

Regards,
Dawson

November 21, 2011 6:34 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Ydemoc: "(re-posted -- first attempt did not appear)"

Sorry about that, Ydemoc. I've fished your comment out of Blogger's spam bin. It's annoying, but it tends to happen without any consistent cause. Some get through, others don't. I don't know how to fix that.

Regards,
Dawson

November 21, 2011 6:36 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Thanks for fishing my comment out. That's the first time that has ever happened to me.

Also, another curious thing happened to me last week. I tried to sign in with my Google account, but I was informed that my account had been suspended or something.

A short time later I was able to reinstate it with little inconvenience (I had to instruct Google to call my home number and give me some kind of code). But, considering other factors, it was a little curious. Probably just a glitch, though.

Ydemoc

November 21, 2011 6:56 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Dawson Buddy,

Are your really this dumb?

Remember I'm a heretic. So, are you ready to recant?

None of your questions apply. I take it all for granted.

In other words I count it as true. Nice try


Ydemoc,

They work. However, they are reliable and not reliable.

I take them for granted to avoid answering the fools(Dawson) dishonest questions.

By the way how do you know I have wishes and a imagination?


P.S. Dawson how do you know your not a maniac?

November 21, 2011 7:17 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Sometimes it's hard to tell what he is writing about, but in this instance, Trinity wrote the following, regarding the senses -- at least I think that's what he's referring to: "They work. However, they are reliable and not reliable."

Now you're just back to being sillier than your baseline silliness.

Trinity wrote: "I take them for granted to avoid answering the fools(Dawson) dishonest questions."

Based upon this sparkling display of intellect, you also seem to take for granted your lack of cordiality, as well as the self-destructiveness of your ability to think and communicate. Then again, perhaps one can't take for granted that which one never actualized.

Trinity wrote: "By the way how do you know I have wishes and a imagination?"

Because you have expressed as much here on this blog. Also because you claim to believe in beings that are no where to be found in reality. There are other reasons; can you imagine what they might be?

Ydemoc

November 21, 2011 7:47 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Gadget,

Said: "Based upon this sparkling display of intellect, you also seem to take for granted your lack of cordiality, as well as the self-destructiveness of your ability to think and communicate. Then again, perhaps one can't take for granted that which one never actualized."


A little ad hominem on there please. The burden is on you.


Then again: "Because you have expressed as much here on this blog. Also because you claim to believe in beings that are no where to be found in reality. There are other reasons; can you imagine what they might be?"


Well, I know Rand's people are fond of arbitrary claims.

However, Where is the evidence? Where is the proof?

November 21, 2011 8:03 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity had written: "I take them [the senses] for granted to avoid answering the fools(Dawson) dishonest questions."

I responded: "Based upon this sparkling display of intellect, you also seem to take for granted your lack of cordiality, as well as the self-destructiveness of your ability to think and communicate. Then again, perhaps one can't take for granted that which one never actualized."

Trinity then wrote: "A little ad hominem on there please. The burden is on you."

The burden is on my to do what? To show that you display a lack of intellect as well as self-destructiveness of your ability to think and communicate in the comment that you wrote above? I don't think I need to show it, for you've done a fantastic job of showing it -- your words speak for themselves.

Or did you have something else in mind in attempting to shift the burden onto me?

Trinity wrote: "Well, I know Rand's people are fond of arbitrary claims."

Who are these people? And what "arbitrary claims" do they make? What makes their claims arbitrary? What would have to be in place before any kind of claim could be made about anything?

Please, name the claims and the people that make them. Once you do, can you tell me how you know that the people you list are "fond" of these claims? And what makes them "Rand's people"?

Trinity wrote: "However, Where is the evidence? Where is the proof?"

Where is the evidence and proof for what, exactly?

Ydemoc

November 21, 2011 8:43 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide wrote: “Remember I'm a heretic.”

Yes, I remember. You have continued to reiterate your pantheism. This is contrary to Christian teaching.

But then again, I can’t say I don’t know any Christian who is above the charge of heresy, for any Christian is going to be a heretic according to some other Christian’s understanding.

Nide: “So, are you ready to recant?”

Recant specifically of what? If you affirm the existence of “the supernatural,” then the point I argue in my blog necessarily applies to you. Heretical views do not give you a pass.

Nide: “None of your questions apply. I take it all for granted.”

How do you know that you take it all for granted? For all you would know (and that would be primarily a backdrop of utter ignorance), a malevolent spirit has deceived you into thinking you take it all for granted.

Nide: “I take them for granted to avoid answering the fools(Dawson) dishonest questions.”

Which questions of mine do you think are dishonest, and why do you think they’re dishonest?

What could you possibly have against dishonesty given it’s a vital constant in your worldview?

Nide: “By the way how do you know I have wishes and a imagination?”

By observing what you write.

Nide: “P.S. Dawson how do you know your not a maniac?”

Like Sye, you need to make this a *personal* matter. This only tells us that you can’t deal with the issues in an intellectual manner.

Nide: “Well, I know Rand's people are fond of arbitrary claims. However, Where is the evidence? Where is the proof?”

Indeed, where is the evidence, where is the proof, that “Rand’s people are fond of arbitrary claims”?

More Nidean blank-outs please. They’re fun!

Regards,
Dawson

November 21, 2011 8:55 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

Well, the least you can be is honest.

I can copy and paste to. It's not that hard.

What part of I take it for all granted you don't get?

Looks like you hit a wall. Ouch!!!!


Ydemoc,

Goodnight.




P.S. Dawson when you are sleeping what are you conscious of?

November 21, 2011 9:39 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Hey Dawson,

Here's another cup of coffee on me again:

http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa212.htm

November 21, 2011 10:15 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide: “Well, the least you can be is honest.”

Well, the least you can be is honest, Nide.

Nide: “I can copy and paste to. It's not that hard.”

I can copy and paste too. It’s not that hard.

Nide: “What part of I take it for all granted you don't get?”

I get it just fine. My point is that, given the mystical affirmations of a worldview which holds that the “supernatural” is real, you can’t know this with any certainty, for a malevolent spirit could be deceiving you into thinking this, or thinking that you've written something else when you wrote "I take them for granted." You can't even be sure you're reading what I've actually written, because a malevolent being could be causing mischief in anywhere in your cognition between the input of sensory information to your identification of what you think you've perceived. I won’t even ask you how you could know one way or another, because I know you can’t know this.

Nide: “P.S. Dawson when you are sleeping what are you conscious of?”

All kinds of wondrous things.

Nide wrote: “Here's another cup of coffee on me again: http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa212.htm”

Put another pot on the stove – you’re in for a long night: http://www.reocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/bahnsen_dialogue.htm

Regards,
Dawson

November 21, 2011 11:06 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

Said: "I get it just fine. My point is that, given the mystical affirmations of a worldview which holds that the “supernatural” is real, you can’t know this with any certainty, for a malevolent spirit could be deceiving you into thinking this, or thinking that you've written something else when you wrote "I take them for granted." You can't even be sure you're reading what I've actually written, because a malevolent being could be causing mischief in anywhere in your cognition between the input of sensory information to your identification of what you think you've perceived. I won’t even ask you how you could know one way or another, because I know you can’t know this."


And how do you know I can't no this?

Once again do you know what taking something for granted means?

All the excess dross is easily removed this way. For example, your dishonesty.


By the way why is that apostate christians are often the most resentful and dishonest, for example, you and Thorton?

November 21, 2011 11:20 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide: “And how do you know I can't no this?”

“…can’t no this?” Do you mean “can’t do this?” or “can’t know this?”

At any rate, I know this to be the case (what I described in my previous comment) for reasons that I’ve already articulated. Go back and read my blog entry and my comments if you’re still unclear on this.

Nide: “Once again do you know what taking something for granted means?”

Yes, I do know what it means. Do you know what “supernaturally deceived” means?

Nide: “All the excess dross is easily removed this way. For example, your dishonesty.”

You insinuated earlier that my questions were dishonest. I asked you to explain this, but you haven’t. Now you continue to charge me with dishonesty. Why won’t you explain yourself?

Now if you really think I’m so dishonest, why do you continue to seek dialogue with me?

Nide: “By the way why is that apostate christians are often the most resentful and dishonest, for example, you and Thorton?”

I don’t know who “Thorton” is, so I don’t know what you’re talking about here. As for me, again I’ve asked you to explain why you think I’m dishonest. You haven’t done so. Now you ask me a question which assumes that I’m dishonest, even though I’ve been honest with you. And “resentful”? Why suppose I’m resentful? I’m reminded of the Twilight Zone episode – “To Serve Man” – “It’s a cookbook!” shouted the lady who discovered the truth about the aliens. I can really relate to her situation. You just don’t want to admit that the bible is a type of cookbook – and you’re dinner. Look how it’s fried your mind.

Off to the beach… again!

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 12:04 AM  
Blogger Sye TenB said...

”Once supernaturalism is granted validity in the mechanics of one’s worldview, all bets are off on the reliability of human cognition.”

Are you certain Dawson? If so, how are you certain? If you appeal to your senses, memory and reasoning, please include how you know that they are giving you reliable information.

”By contrast, the non-believer can simply say that his senses, memory and reasoning are valid because there’s no supernatural being that can mess with it.”

Aside from blatantly begging the question, even an unbeliever with non-valid senses, memory and reasoning could say this, and you have no way of knowing if that’s you :-)

Still though, with all this blustering and bravado, you’d think you would not be afraid to debate. Hmmmm.

November 22, 2011 6:35 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Nide

Nide said... "By the way this is something I wanted to say yesterday. Occoums Razor has nothing to do with shaving away Supernatural beings. It only says we should take the simplest explanation of an occurence."

Very true and I was not dismissing god because it is a super natural being, that is not my position. I dismiss god because there is no reason to accept it and in the context of my post you are referring too, god is an unnecessary entity. It is not needed to "accounting for" the senses. It is not needed to explain anything and it is on that basis that I apply Occam's razor not that it is super natural.

@Syn TenB
Given that the people involved in this forum live across the country and in Dawson's case outside the country it would seem most convenient for all involved if we could have the debate right here on this forum. Speaking only for myself, I would greatly enjoy witnessing such a debate.

November 22, 2011 8:04 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

I'm gonna go start another pot of coffee. Things just got interesting.



By the way, BB, how do you remember things?



Justin,


The burden is on you bud.

November 22, 2011 9:26 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 22, 2011 9:50 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Nide
You say the burden is on me, however what burden would this be? I am not the one saying something (god) exists, a metaphysical claim to fact. A statement that x (god) is y (exists) where x is neither obvious nor perceptually self evident. Let me give you an example, someone comes up to you and says there is an invisible pink dragon on your shoulder and it is required that it be there in order for you to make sense of the world. I can not provide any argument for this but unless you can provide an argument that the pink dragon is not required then you have no rational basis to reject it. Would that sound convincing to you? Do you think that would sound convincing to me? Now just substitute god for pink dragon.

November 22, 2011 9:52 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

As Dawson wrote in his blog entry:

"Sye’s own line of questioning itself presumes that both he and his interlocutors are conscious, and thus he assumes the validity of his own consciousness. But how does he validate it without begging the question? If he says his god validates it somehow (which he can be predicted to say), he would be begging the question, for he would be using his consciousness – and thus assuming its validity – in the answer he gives. But since he’s apparently willing to grant validity to consciousness as such in his line of interrogation, then we must ask: What’ the problem?"

Exactly. Where there is a performative confession as to the use of consciousness in his line of interrogation, what's the problem?

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 9:52 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Ydemoc

Yup, their question its self knocks all the wind out of their sails. I find it curious that presuppers who implicitly at least use foundationalist logic in their reasoning would not see this as well.

November 22, 2011 10:01 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Justin,

It's almost as if some of these presuppers don't read Dawson's blog entries in their entirety, but instead just read the first and last few paragraphs; or they skim and cherry pick.

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 10:05 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Justin,

My nephew's wife is bringing another sinner into the world, and I'm going to the hospital to celebrate the birth of another depraved, potentially hell-bound soul. So if I don't respond to any of your posts to me, you'll know why.

By the way, my suggested name for this newborn? "Sinner."

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 10:08 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 22, 2011 10:09 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Justin,

I did provide an argument for the absolute necessity of YHWH.

Even though it is impromper. I thought go outside the box for a while.



You are the one who keeps saying we don't need YHWH. Without even bothering to give a reason for the hope that is in you with gentlness and respect.


BB,

You asked: "Now if you really think I’m so dishonest, why do you continue to seek dialogue with me?"


Remember it's part of the program. That is, Im supposed to get you coffee til you repent.







"That we argue, therefore, by "presupposition." The Christian, as did Tertullian, must contest the very principles of his opponent's position. The only "proof" of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of "proving" anything at all. The actual state of affairs as preached by Christianity is the necessary foundation of "proof" itself."- Van Til

November 22, 2011 10:16 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

@Ydemoc

Ok, be well and I hope the delivery is without complications.

@Nide

yes, and I pointed out several problems with your argument as I interacted with and commented on each of its 6 premises.

November 22, 2011 10:18 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I will be absent as well for a while, have some coding to get done, take care everyone.

November 22, 2011 10:24 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 22, 2011 11:50 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

To all:

Perhaps Dawson has used the following phrase in his writings (I'm not sure), but this might be a good phrase to describe what believers are doing when they question non-believers as to a basis for reasoning, senses, and memory. In doing so, such believers would be making a...

Performative Confession of the Validity of Consciousness (i.e., the senses, memory, and reasoning).


Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 11:58 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: ”Once supernaturalism is granted validity in the mechanics of one’s worldview, all bets are off on the reliability of human cognition.”

Sye asked: “Are you certain Dawson?”

Of what I wrote above? Yes, I am.

Sye asked: “If so, how are you certain?”

I gave reasons for my position in my blog entry. You might want to read it if you’re really interested in my answers to your questions.

Sye wrote: “If you appeal to your senses, memory and reasoning, please include how you know that they are giving you reliable information.”

Actually, I appeal to the axioms – they identify the preconditions of intelligible experience and knowledge. My understanding of the senses, memory and reasoning is the result of subsequent discoveries. And, as Ydemoc has rightly pointed out, your very asking of your questions performatively concedes the point in my favor. My senses, memory and reasoning would have to be sufficiently intact just to understand and consider your questions – and clearly you’re not questioning whether or not I could do this, for you’ve posed your questions for me to consider. Are you really trying to suggest you don’t grasp this?

I wrote: ”By contrast, the non-believer can simply say that his senses, memory and reasoning are valid because there’s no supernatural being that can mess with it.”

Sye responded: “Aside from blatantly begging the question,”

Explain how I am “blatantly begging the question” here. Or, how I’m begging the question *at all*. Don’t just make the charge and run off like this. Presuppositionalists are always doing just that – they’ll come along and say “you’re begging the question” but won’t support this charge, as if their mere say so were sufficient to make the charge stick. That may be the case in your back-slapper guild, but it isn’t here. If you don’t support your charge of fallacy, then it probably isn’t tenable in the first place, which means: your apologetic is running on empty.

Sye wrote: “even an unbeliever with non-valid senses, memory and reasoning could say this,”

Really? How do you know? What do you mean by “non-valid senses”? What would that even be like?

But you see, Sye, you’ve missed the point. All your affirmations are philosophically worthless, for on the premises of your worldview, you can never know whether or not you’re being deceived by one or more of the malevolent spirits which Christianity posits as real. My worldview does not have this problem. It’s yours, and it remains confined to your worldview.

Sye wrote: “and you have no way of knowing if that’s you :-)”

How do you know this? Unsurprisingly, you don’t explain. You just make the claim and run. With the possible exception of Nide, your words are not going to be accepted on your mere say so here. You will need to defend them. But given your worldview’s premises, as I have shown, this is impossible to do with any reliability.

Sye: “Still though, with all this blustering and bravado, you’d think you would not be afraid to debate. Hmmmm.”

I’ve already indicated reasons why I have no interest in joining you on Skype, and being “afraid” was not among those reasons. You seem unwilling to consider the reasons that I have given – and the conditions which I laid out that you would need to meet before I would consider such a venture – and all too eager to insert your own projections in their place. I won't ask why. I already know.

Besides, I’ve shown that you have nothing of value to defend, which is consistent with your own actions: you don’t defend what you yourself affirm when you affirm it. There’s no need to try to board a boat that’s already sunk – it won’t take us anywhere.

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 4:18 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide wrote: “I'm gonna go start another pot of coffee. Things just got interesting.”

You appear to be suggesting that it wasn’t interesting when Ydemoc and Justin were raking you over the coals for the last couple weeks. But in fact, I’ve looked at some of the comments, and it appears to have been a very interesting discussion indeed. Perhaps you might want to apologize to Ydemoc and Justin, who’ve demonstrated boundless patience in trying to rehabilitate your mind.

Nide asked: “By the way, BB, how do you remember things?”

By reducing the things that I want to remember into economically usable units, integrating them conceptually and retaining them in a manner that affords ready recall when needed. That’s how.

- - - - - - - - - -

I asked: "Now if you really think I’m so dishonest, why do you continue to seek dialogue with me?"

Nide responded: “Remember it's part of the program. That is, Im supposed to get you coffee til you repent.”

Then clearly you’re sadly delinquent in fulfilling your duties, Nide. For you haven’t bought me one cup of coffee yet. And once you do, expect to continue getting me coffee for the rest of my life. I’m looking forward to that!

Yes, yours is a great god – it tells its worshipers to cover my coffee expenses for the rest of my life! I could get used to that!

But again, here we see one’s actions which do not correspond well with his words: Nide has charged me with dishonesty, has failed to support his charge, and when asked why he continues to seek dialogue with me (note that he has not disputed the validity of this question), he gives an answer which indicates that he’s delinquent in performing the duties he says his “program” prescribes for him. On just this one question, we find indications of profound incoherence.

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 4:54 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

Said: "By reducing the things that I want to remember into economically usable units, integrating them conceptually and retaining them in a manner that affords ready recall when needed. That’s how."


Ok, can you send me a series of pictures(like the cartoons) or a video of you doing this?

I'm really getting tired of the arbitrary claims.
Aren't you embarrased by your dishonesty?


I handed Ydemoc his hat a long time agao. Justin, the science guy, refuses to take his. Looks like I'm gonna have to use a litte force.

November 22, 2011 5:30 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "By reducing the things that I want to remember into economically usable units, integrating them conceptually and retaining them in a manner that affords ready recall when needed. That’s how."

Nide: “Ok, can you send me a series of pictures(like the cartoons) or a video of you doing this?”

I don’t have the technology to do this. But even if I did, as a rule I don’t share pictures of myself on my blog. You see, it’s not about *me*. It’s about *ideas*. I realize Christians have a really hard time understanding this, but that’s because they don’t have any ideas to begin with.

Nide: “I'm really getting tired of the arbitrary claims.”

Join the club.

Nide: “Aren't you embarrased by your dishonesty?”

Are you ever going to support your charge of dishonesty? Or are you going to just let it remain in the realm of the arbitrary for the rest of eternity?

Nide: “I handed Ydemoc his hat a long time agao.”

Really? I must’ve missed it. Can you show me where?

Nide: “Justin, the science guy, refuses to take his.”

Judging by the picture that Justin has on his profile, he doesn’t wear a hat to begin with. Perhaps you’ve confused him with someone else? Or, perhaps a malevolent spirit has deceived you into believing that you’ve been successful in your sparring with Justin and Ydemoc. If so, that must be one mighty powerful malevolent spirit to make you believe that!

Nide: “Looks like I'm gonna have to use a litte force.”

Of course. As Rand pointed out, faith and force are corollaries. You have no alternative but to resort to the initiation of force to make your “program” stick.

Meanwhile, WHERE THE FUCK IS MY DAMN COFFEE, BONEHEAD???????

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 5:39 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "I handed Ydemoc his hat a long time agao."

Sorry, Trinity, I know you keep borrowing my hat like you borrow from my worldview; but not only have you not handed my hat back to me (you can keep it if you want), but you fail to see or admit that you have even borrowed it, even though you have.

That was fun.

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 6:00 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

I think another one of my comments got hung up just now in your spam folder or something. It didn't post.

Ydeomc

November 22, 2011 6:05 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Okay, Ydemoc, got it.

By the way, Ydemoc, let me know if Nide brings you any coffee when he returns your hat to you. I'm wondering if he's singling me out or something. I really want my coffee!!!

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 6:16 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Thanks. I see that it has posted now.

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 6:17 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson wrote: "Meanwhile, WHERE THE FUCK IS MY DAMN COFFEE, BONEHEAD???????"

That is funny!!!

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 6:21 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

Where is my hat and where is Dawson's coffee?

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 6:24 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

It's almost 9:30 in the morning here, and Nide still hasn't gotten me any coffee. What the hell's going on here?

Nide, can you explain your incompetence here?

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 6:27 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

Said: "Meanwhile, WHERE THE FUCK IS MY DAMN COFFEE, BONEHEAD???????"


Is this how you talk in front of your family? How embarrasing.


Anyway, Like atheists, you need to make this a *personal* matter. This only tells us that you can’t deal with the issues in an intellectual manner.


By the way how do you remember things?




P.S. Your coffe is on the table. Enjoy

November 22, 2011 6:33 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

I'm suddenly reminded of Kevin Nealon, who once said, "I know someone who's paralyzed from the neck up. Now, for the rest of his life, he's confined to a hat."

Trinity, where's my hat?

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 6:33 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ydemoc,

Idk. I handed it to you about 6 months ago.

November 22, 2011 6:53 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "Meanwhile, WHERE THE FUCK IS MY DAMN COFFEE, BONEHEAD???????"

Nide asked: “Is this how you talk in front of your family?

You aren’t my family, Nide. And what business is it of yours how I speak with them?

Do you think there’s anything wrong with what I stated in my question to you?

Now where’s my coffee????????? You said you’ll keep bringing me coffee until I repent. Either you think I’ve repented, or you’re shirking your duties. Either way, your explanation for why you seek dialogue with me continues to ring quite hollow.

Nide: “How embarrasing.”

Nide, are you ever going to spell ‘embarrassing’ correctly? How embarrassing!

Nide: “P.S. Your coffe is on the table. Enjoy”

No, it’s not. I just checked the table. You must have misplaced it… again.

Now, do you have anything of value to offer here, Nide? We already know that there’s nothing you can reliably affirm given your worldview’s premises. Even Sye has apparently left the scene.

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 6:54 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

I am curious as to what "force" Nide thinks he can bring?

November 22, 2011 7:49 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

Said: "Do you think there’s anything wrong with what I stated in my question to you?"


Um yea. You were complaing about me asking if you were a maniac. Then you turn around and do the same. There's a good example of your dishonesty.

November 22, 2011 7:50 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "Do you think there’s anything wrong with what I stated in my question to you?"

Nide responded: “Um yea. You were complaing about me asking if you were a maniac. Then you turn around and do the same. There's a good example of your dishonesty.”

Several points here:

1) I was not “complaing” (complaining?) about you “asking if [I] were a maniac.” I merely pointed out that by doing so you were attempting to make this a *personal* matter, and that this indicates an inability to deal with the issues before us in an intellectual manner. If I were complaining about this, I’d have expressed dissatisfaction, uneasiness, resentment or grief over your statement, and I did not do this. I simply stated what it means in the context of the dialogue you want to have with me.

2) I did not “turn around and do the same.” I have not asked you the question “how do you know you’re not a maniac?”

3) Both of your points are quite off the mark, so I hardly see how they constitute an example of my dishonesty. You’ve misread what is plainly written, and have drawn the wrong inference from it. So we are still without an example from you which supports your charge of dishonesty against me.

4) You still haven’t stated what’s wrong with my question, which is what you were apparently intending to answer (since you started with “Um yea” in your response to it).

5) You're the one who stated "Im supposed to get you coffee til you repent." So my question back to you, inquiring where my coffee is, is legitimate given what you have affirmed. You then said it was "on the table," and it's not on any table that I can see. So to fulfill what you're "supposed" to do, you need to get your butt on a plane bound for Cha'am, Thailand, hustle up some hot brew (I take mine black), and bring it to me PRONTO. Understand?

I suggest exercising more care in your conversation, Nide.

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 8:13 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

Aren't maniacs a part of your god's plan?

Isn't dishonesty a part of your god's plan?

Is your dereliction of duty in bringing coffee to Dawson also a part of your god's plan?

Ydeomoc

November 22, 2011 8:15 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

You called me a "BoneHead" whatever that means. Actually, that's a lot worst. I simply asked a question. You came hurling insults. So, your the one making this personal. See the dishonesty? See the contradiction?


Let me ask it plainly:

By you calling me a "Bonehead" aren't you making this personal?


By the way the pot is always roasting. Your always welcome to pull up a chair.

Ydemoc,

Go find your hat.

November 22, 2011 9:02 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

What pot is roasting? Where is the chair? What about Dawson's coffee?

Ydemoc

November 22, 2011 9:28 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide: “You called me a ‘BoneHead’ whatever that means. Actually, that's a lot worst. I simply asked a question. You came hurling insults.”

I see. You’ve been offended by something you’ve read, and now you’re sore at me. Apparently you’re blaming me for this. But isn’t this all part of your god’s plan? Doesn’t your worldview teach that “God controls whatsoever comes to pass” (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160)? If so, you really should be thinking that it’s ultimately your god who “came hurling insults” at you. Are you ever going to be consistent with what your worldview preaches?

Nide: “So, your the one making this personal. See the dishonesty? See the contradiction?”

Not at all. You’ve been trying to make this personal all along. I didn’t try to make it personal. I’ve tried to keep things focused on the issues. Now when it does get personal, after your insistence, you don’t like it. See the contradiction?

Nide: “By you calling me a ‘Bonehead’ aren't you making this personal?”

Your question misrepresents the context of the discussion up to this point: You have already made it personal. You wanted it personal, but now you don’t like it.

Nide: “By the way the pot is always roasting. Your always welcome to pull up a chair.”

So you’re not going to get me coffee as you said you’re supposed to do? Remember, you’re the one who said: “Im supposed to get you coffee til you repent.”

Are you glorifying your god by shirking your duties?

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 9:31 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

Your hat is by the door. You're gonna have to
find someone else to get you coffee. I only deal with honest people.


By the way have you ever lied?

November 22, 2011 10:25 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Justin,

Pull up a chair let me get you a cup of coffee:

" The unbelieving scientist borrows or steals the Christian principles of creation and providence every time he says that an "explanation" is possible, for he knows he cannot account for "explanation" on his own. As the image-bearer of God, operating in a universe controlled by God, the unbeliever contributes indirectly and adventitiously to the development of human knowledge and culture." Cornelius Van Til

By the way, Justin, why does logic work?

November 22, 2011 11:48 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide: “Your hat is by the door. You're gonna have to find someone else to get you coffee.”

I see. Well, that was easier than I expected.

Nide: “I only deal with honest people.”

And my how you have dealt with me. Several hundred comments in fact.

In fact, I just did a search for e-mails in my inbox from “Hezekiah Ahaz.” The results showed about 590 messages beginning from August 9 of this year. This of course does not include comments that you’ve submitted under “Nide Corniell” (I counted about 22 of these). I have not searched for messages you submitted prior to August 9 as I don’t even recall the moniker you were posting under back then. But needless to say, well over 600 messages in the past three months from you, Nide!!! And there’s no question you’ve been dealing with me in many of those comments. So I guess putting your words and your actions together indicate that I must be honest.

Nide: “By the way have you ever lied?”

Yes, I have. For instance, I was walking through Haight-Ashbury one night back in the late ‘90s and a bearded guy darted in front of me. It appeared that he had a small knife in his hand, though he was trying to conceal it so that people on the street would not see it. He asked me how much cash I had on me. When I told him I had no cash, he looked at me for a moment, as if he were hesitating or struggling over a decision, and then walked away quickly. In fact, I had about $80.00 on me at the time. So yes, I lied, and the thug apparently believed it. And I’d do it again if I thought I’d “get away with it” in such a situation. So, no repenting going on here.

Regards,
Dawson

November 22, 2011 11:54 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

And I remember you saying "feel free to post when you're ready to present an argument" So, I must be presenting arguments because you haven't been able to keep your mouth shut.

By the way are liars dishonest?

November 23, 2011 12:12 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide: “And I remember you saying ‘feel free to post when you're ready to present an argument’"

Yes, I believe I stated something to this effect.

Nide: “So, I must be presenting arguments”

Non sequitur.

Nide: “because you haven't been able to keep your mouth shut.”

There is nothing I can do to shut your mouth, Nide. Just as there’s nothing you can do to shut mine.

Nide: “By the way are liars dishonest?”

For sure some are.

Regards,
Dawson

November 23, 2011 2:10 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote to Dawson: "And I remember you saying "feel free to post when you're ready to present an argument" So, I must be presenting arguments because you haven't been able to keep your mouth shut."

Is Dawson not keeping his mouth shut a part of your god's plan?

Was the murder of 6 million Jewish people during the 1930's and 40's all part of your allegedly non-imaginary god's orchestration?

Do you think that had some of those Jewish people lived longer they might have embraced your god and been saved?

Isn't the notion of "all people people have an opportunity to be saved before they die" really a big lie, since your god built hell for it to be occupied and not for it to sit empty?

Can you tell me any significant difference between the actions of all-evil god and an all-good god if the so-called good god either allows and/or orchestrates and/or plans the slaughter of 6 million Jews?

Can you tell me any significant difference between an all-good god and an all-evil god if the all good god created the blueprint for evil to enter the world?

If an all good god allows the murder of 6 million Jews with many of them ending up in the hell that your god created, how is that significantly different than what an all-evil god would do?

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 11:18 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Gadget,

Yea, First you need to account for your sense of morality then maybe I'll get you some coffee.

November 23, 2011 11:26 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity had written to Dawson: "And I remember you saying "feel free to post when you're ready to present an argument" So, I must be presenting arguments because you haven't been able to keep your mouth shut."

And in response to Trinity, I had asked him the following questions:

"Is Dawson not keeping his mouth shut a part of your god's plan?"

"Was the murder of 6 million Jewish people during the 1930's and 40's all part of your allegedly non-imaginary god's orchestration?"

"Do you think that had some of those Jewish people lived longer they might have embraced your god and been saved?"

"Isn't the notion of "all people people have an opportunity to be saved before they die" really a big lie, since your god built hell for it to be occupied and not for it to sit empty?"

"Can you tell me any significant difference between the actions of all-evil god and an all-good god if the so-called good god either allows and/or orchestrates and/or plans the slaughter of 6 million Jews?"

"Can you tell me any significant difference between an all-good god and an all-evil god if the all good god created the blueprint for evil to enter the world?"

"If an all-good god allows the murder of 6 million Jews with many of them ending up in the hell that your god created, how is that significantly different than what an all-evil god would do?"


Trinity responded: "Yea, First you need to account for your sense of morality then maybe I'll get you some coffee."

I can, but why would I first need to do that before you address my questions? Just for the sake of argument, let's suppose I can't account for my morality, or let's suppose the way I account for my morality is by basing it on your allegedly non-imaginary god, what would be your answers to my questions?

I look forward to your evasions, non-answers, and imaginary cups of Joe.

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 11:46 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ydemoc,

Said: "I can".


Ok, get to it.

And remember morality doesn't come from immorality.

To all,

Enjoy your turkey.

November 23, 2011 12:52 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide wrote: “And remember morality doesn't come from immorality.”

Which can only mean that morality does not and cannot come from a worldview which holds that evil can be morally justifiable (like Christianity, for instance).

Regards,
Dawson

November 23, 2011 2:49 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

Maybe you can help, Gadget, account for his sense of morality. Remember explanations assume Christianity.

By the way are you eating turkey tommorrow?

November 23, 2011 3:04 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide wrote: “Maybe you can help, Gadget, account for his sense of morality.”

Sure. Existence exists. There you go. Objective morality has been accounted for.

Nide: “Remember explanations assume Christianity.”

Wrong. My explanation does not assume a worldview which holds that evil can be morally justifiable. That rules out Christianity.

Nide: “By the way are you eating turkey tommorrow?”

No. Probably shrimp or pork. The usual fare here.

Regards,
Dawson

November 23, 2011 3:22 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

I asked Trinity a series of questions about how he can tell an all-evil god from an all-good god given the fact that the god he worships created hell, planned, allowed and/or otherwise orchestrated the murder of 6 million Jews, taking the life of some of those people who, had they lived just a little while longer, might have embraced the god Trinity worships.

To my questions, Trinity responded: "Yea, First you need to account for your sense of morality then maybe I'll get you some coffee."

Notwithstanding the fact that I wouldn't use Trinity's terminology, I responded with: "I can, but why would I first need to do that before you address my questions? Just for the sake of argument, let's suppose I can't account for my morality, or let's suppose the way I account for my morality is by basing it on your allegedly non-imaginary god, what would be your answers to my questions?"

To this, Trinity said: "Ok, get to it. And remember morality doesn't come from immorality."

I believe I have answered this question from you before. If you really want to know, go back a few months and read my comment entries. I think you will find your answers there. I don't need to repeat myself. If I'm mistaken and, in fact, haven't addressed your questions in the comments section, Dawson has written plenty on the Objectivist view of morality.

But as I have stated, why should it matter to you as it pertains to my questions to you, whether or not I have a code of values to guide my choices and actions? Why do your answers to my questions depend upon whether or not I hold man's life as the standard of value? Why do your answers to my questions depend upon whether or not I hold reason as man's basic means of survival? Or whether or not I recognize that which is proper to the life of a rational being is good, and that which negates, opposes, or destroys it is the evil? Or whether or not I think that morality pertains only to those actions which can be chosen? Why should any of this matter to you as it pertains to answering the questions I've posed to you? (Source for some of the above: Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Now, how about addressing my questions?

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 3:27 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

"Sure. Existence exists. There you go. Objective morality has been accounted for."


Don't you ever get tired of the worn out slogans and canned statements?

Ydemoc,

I'll address your questions right after you account for sense of morality.

November 23, 2011 4:26 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "Sure. Existence exists. There you go. Objective morality has been accounted for."

Nide: “Don't you ever get tired of the worn out slogans and canned statements?”

It’s not about *me*, Nide. Remember? You asked for an account for one’s sense of morality. I gave you one. Now you ask *me* if *I* “ever get tired” of something. Apparently you can’t even stick to a topic that you raised. Your question was about morality and what accounts for one’s sense of it, not about whether or not I ever get tired of something. Try to stay on topic please.

Regards,
Dawson

November 23, 2011 4:40 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "I'll address your questions right after you account for sense of morality."

Like Dawson says, all accounting is grounded in "Existence Exists." For more details on morality, please see my previous comment above.

And far from being in the category of "worn out slogans" and "canned statements, "Existence Exists" identifies explicitly that which not only makes morality possible, but it also makes possible worn out biblical slogans and canned biblical statements. Imaginary god knows, there's plenty of those to go around.

Now, would you mind answering my questions?

November 23, 2011 5:01 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Yea, right after you and Dawson account for your sense of morality.

November 23, 2011 5:06 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Nide: "Yea, right after you and Dawson account for your sense of morality."

Good. Then your answers should be coming very soon now, since we have given our account for our sense of morality.

Now, your answers?

Regards,
Dawson

November 23, 2011 5:12 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "Yea, right after you and Dawson account for your sense of morality."

Like Dawson says above, it has been accounted for. I realize you don't want to answer the questions I've posed since they are difficult for you to answer because they hit upon a flaw, the incoherent nature of Christian belief. Nonetheless, we would really enjoy seeing your attempt to answer these questions.

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 5:15 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Your condition for answering Ydemoc's questions have been met, Nide.

Your answers?

Regards,
Dawson

November 23, 2011 5:18 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

And just in case you've forgotten what they are, here they are again:

a) "Is Dawson not keeping his mouth shut a part of your god's plan?"

b) "Was the murder of 6 million Jewish people during the 1930's and 40's all part of your allegedly non-imaginary god's orchestration?"

c) "Do you think that had some of those Jewish people lived longer they might have embraced your god and been saved?"

d) "Isn't the notion of "all people people have an opportunity to be saved before they die" really a big lie, since your god built hell for it to be occupied and not for it to sit empty?"

e) "Can you tell me any significant difference between the actions of all-evil god and an all-good god if the so-called good god either allows and/or orchestrates and/or plans the slaughter of 6 million Jews?"

f) "Can you tell me any significant difference between an all-good god and an all-evil god if the all good god created the blueprint for evil to enter the world?"

g) "If an all-good god allows the murder of 6 million Jews with many of them ending up in the hell that your god created, how is that significantly different than what an all-evil god would do?"

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 5:18 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

Oh, and I forgot a few:

h) "...why should it matter to you as it pertains to my questions to you, whether or not I have a code of values to guide my choices and actions? Why do your answers to my questions depend upon whether or not I hold man's life as the standard of value? Why do your answers to my questions depend upon whether or not I hold reason as man's basic means of survival? Or whether or not I recognize that which is proper to the life of a rational being is good, and that which negates, opposes, or destroys it is the evil? Or whether or not I think that morality pertains only to those actions which can be chosen? Why should any of this matter to you as it pertains to answering the questions I've posed to you? (Source for some of the above: Ayn Rand Lexicon)"

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 5:27 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Good questions, Ydemoc.

Indeed, what could possibly distinguish what the Christians call their "all-good" god from a god that uses evil to achieve its ends (as Greg Bahnsen says the Christian god does in his book Always Ready)?

When used in such a manner, the word 'good' no longer represents an objectively formed concept, for has lost its meaning, and simply becomes contentless descriptor employed purely for emotional effect. There is no objective content in such a case.

Questions like Ydemoc's bring this fact out into the open, and believers want to keep it hidden away in the shadows.

Regards,
Dawson

November 23, 2011 5:35 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Where has it been accounted for I must have missed it?

November 23, 2011 5:41 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Thanks! Of course, you've written much about this and it was your writings that really got me to thinking about this.

Funny enough, I posed these questions to a Christian I happen to know, just last evening. And he couldn't give me a direct answer either.

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 5:42 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "Where has it been accounted for I must have missed it?"

Here's a hint: According to Objectivism, what doesn't "Existence Exists" account for?

Answer: Nothing.

You'd know and understand this if you simply looked around without your faith-blinders on. It's amazing how much better you're able to focus once you take them off.

Now, how about answering those questions.

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 5:46 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Ydemoc: "Funny enough, I posed these questions to a Christian I happen to know, just last evening. And he couldn't give me a direct answer either."

I predict that no Christian will be able to give you a direct answer to these questions, unless they simply come out of the closet on the matter and openly expose the irrationality of their worldview. Their "answers" will swing from evasive gerrymandering of the issues to confessions of ignorance or failure to comprehend (e.g., "I don't understand"). Of course, there's always the redirect: "How do you know...?" and "How do you account for..?" And even when these questions are answered, they pretend that they haven't been answered.

I wish we had a recording of your conversation from last night. It would be quite informative I'm sure.

Regards,
Dawson

November 23, 2011 5:47 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

I think another one of my comments got hijacked by your spam filter.

As for my conversation last night, the person I was asking redirected the conversation by talking about god's sovereignty (whatever that rationalization could possibly mean).

The only question he acknowledged as being a good one was the one about hell not being created to sit empty. But it took a while for me to arrive at the point where I could ask him that, and where he would understand the implications -- which I'm not sure he fully did since he quickly tried to talk his way around it.

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 6:31 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

You wrote: "Of course, there's always the redirect: "How do you know...?" and "How do you account for..?" And even when these questions are answered, they pretend that they haven't been answered."

The person I was talking to last night (a Reformed, John MacArthur church-goer) is still in the "I know because I know" phase."

When I told him that Muslims could say the same thing, he just says, "They're evil! Because they want to kill non-believers!"

When I ask him to read Deuteronomy 13, he says that that was a different time or that I'm taking it out of context.

When I point it out to him that this doesn't change the fact that his god -- at one point in time -- ordered believers to kill non-believers, he usually says he has to hang up the phone.

I still don't believe he's recently read Deuteronomy 13.

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 6:41 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

I see that the comment that addresses Trinity's concerns regarding "accounting for morality," -- the one that I was concerned about being hung up, has posted.

Thanks.

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 6:59 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ydemoc,

Unlike, BB, at least your honest. Your exactly right Rand can't account for anything. If you insist the burden is on you.

Let's see if for once you are gonna present an argument. I highly doubt it.

I'll get a pot of coffee going just in case.

November 23, 2011 7:08 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "Unlike, BB, at least your honest. Your exactly right Rand can't account for anything. If you insist the burden is on you."

I think you need to ask your imaginary god for an upgrade on your reading comprehension skills, because what you have written here is not in accordance with what I stated to you. Observe:

"Here's a hint: According to Objectivism, what doesn't 'Existence Exists' account for?

Answer: Nothing."

Did you catch that? What DOES NOT "Existence Exists" account for?

The answer is: Nothing.

In other words, everything is accounted for by the explicit recognition that "Existence Exists."

But you're right, I am honest. And so is Dawson.

Now take your faith-blinders off and have a look around. It's a really interesting world if not seen through a biblical filter.

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 7:41 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity,

Now, how about answering my above questions (a) through (h)?

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 7:43 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

To all,

Have a happy thanksgiving.

November 23, 2011 7:51 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 23, 2011 8:28 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

(previous comment deleted due to additional material being added)

Trinity,

Really, how happy can your Thanksgiving be with my questions left unanswered? The only way I can see you able to handle this is the same way you handle all other issues that you have been confronted with on this blog: Imagination, evasion, rationalization, or compartmentalization. Or, as has been characteristic of your exchanges here on this blog: Maybe you really don't have an answer.

Happy Producers' Day!

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 10:02 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Gadget,

When you are ,finally, ready to present an argument. You know how to find me.




Blessings

November 23, 2011 10:09 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "When you are ,finally, ready to present an argument. You know how to find me. Blessings"

See? I was right: My questions and your refusal to answer them have caused you some consternation. Under the spell of predictable cognitive dissonance, you have chosen to employ evasion coupled with imagination in seeking your Thanksgiving happiness.

You evade answering my questions, and you imagine that I haven't answered yours.

And, as Dawson pointed out in his previous comment, you've also employed a "redirect" by asking me to answer yet another new question.

So, how about getting this monkey off your back once and for all and answering my questions, so that you can truly have a Happier Producers' Day?

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 10:38 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "When you are ,finally, ready to present an argument. You know how to find me. Blessings"

See? I was right: My questions and your refusal to answer them have caused you some consternation. Under the spell of predictable cognitive dissonance, you have chosen to employ evasion coupled with imagination in seeking your Thanksgiving happiness.

You evade answering my questions, and you imagine that I haven't answered yours.

And, as Dawson pointed out in his previous comment, you've also employed a "redirect" by asking me to answer yet another new question.

So, how about getting this monkey off your back once and for all and answering my questions, so that you can truly have a Happier Producers' Day?

Ydemoc

November 23, 2011 10:39 PM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Hi there Bahnsen Burner,
Thanks for this critique of presuppositionalism. I want to refute your claim that a presuppositionalist's supernaturalist view implies that he has no basis for trusting his own senses and cognition.

A response from a Biblical point of view might go like this: In Romans 1:18-32, we're told that all people are without excuse before God. That's because we all know deep down that God's there.
In fact, it's not just that we all know God. We also know the entire content of morality necessary to please God, and we know that we deserve death for our failures. (Romans 1:28-32)

Despite possessing this knowledge, many people suppress these truths, in a culpable fashion. That's why we have atheists - they're suppressing the truth about God, despite knowing deep down that he is there. This suppression of the truth explains the fact that though some people claim not to perceive God, they remain without excuse before him, for ignoring him.

But given we are all without excuse, it follows that our senses and perceptions must be have a certain degree of proper function. That degree of proper function must be such that (within our epistemic environment)we are without excuse before God for ignoring him.

For this to be so, it must be the case that despite the supernatural demons and whatever else might negatively impinge on our perceptions, God has so ordered the world to ensure people have no excuse for ignoring him. God makes sure there will be no saying, "you weren't clear enough God".

Moreover, in the Biblical view, God is of sufficient power that he can make sure these things are so.

You may not agree with these claims, but they are not self-refuting. There's no internal inconsistency. So no, I don't see that your argument against the presuppositionalist undercuts their system. Presuppositionalism may falter elsewhere (I think it does. See http://richaelmussell.blogspot.com/2011/11/should-christian-debater-assume-whole.html). But presuppositionalism doesn't has resources to respond to this critique of yours.

November 27, 2011 8:47 PM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

sic

presuppositionalism has the resources to respond

November 27, 2011 8:57 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Michael,

Thank you for your comment and your thoughtful reply to my post.

I wrote up a point-by-point reaction to your comment, but it delved off into so many areas that I figured posting it would only over-burden the conversation. So I’ll try to be briefer in this comment that I’m actually posting.

In my blog entry above, I pointed out the fact that Christianity affirms a wide assortment of supernatural beings, at least some of which not only have the ability to deceive men, but are characterized by the bible as actively seeking to do just this. Since these are supernatural spirits with powers beyond human detection (they’re invisible, beyond the reach of our senses, and so are their powers), a human being really has no way of knowing whether or not he’s a victim of their deceptive efforts. Their attack could be focused on a person’s senses, on perceptual integration, or on any point in the cognitive chain of knowledge that comes after that point. And puny little mortal man would be none the wiser, for he has been supernaturally deceived. Since this is a premise which Christianity essentially affirms, it is possible on these premises, that one’s faculties have been deceived, distorted, manipulated, what have you, and since you wouldn’t know whether or not you’ve been deceived by a supernatural spirit, your faculties are essentially unreliable in the sense that there’s no certain way for you to determine whether or not your faculties are clear of any such manipulation, or contaminated by it.

So that was essentially the point I was making in my blog entry.

In your response to it, you cited Romans 1 and sought to draw an inference from one of the claims made in that chapter, namely that “given we are all without excuse, it follows that our senses and perceptions must be have a certain degree of proper function.” For one, I don’t see how this follows; frankly it seems to turn things on their head: that “our senses and perceptions must have a certain degree of proper function” somehow follows from the premise that “we are all without excuse.” I don’t see any inferential relation here. Given supernaturalism, it’s hard to see how one would necessarily be prevented from claiming that since we are all without excuse, it follows that our senses and perceptions have no proper function, for they are not involved in “knowing” in the first place (I could see some Clarkians signing onto at least some of this). Supernaturalism is the ultimate wild card: once one accepts it, anything can be made to “make sense.”

But even granting your point – that it somehow follows from the premise that “we are all without excuse” that “our senses and perceptions must have a certain degree of proper function” – I don’t see how this at all overcomes the point I raised in my post and summarized above. You could hold that your senses and perception have a certain degree of proper function until the sun goes down, but given Christianity’s affirmation of supernatural spirits of a mischievous and deceitful character, your faculties are still vulnerable to supernatural manipulation, regardless of how much “proper function” they are presumed or inferred to have.

You go on to say “That degree of proper function must be such that (within our epistemic environment)we are without excuse before God for ignoring him.” But this seems to depend on a literal interpretation of “seen” in Romans 1. But if that’s the case, there appears to be a contradiction, for it clearly states that “invisible attributes” are “clearly seen,” but if something is “clearly seen,” what basis does one have to call it “invisible”?

Anyway, you can see there are still some profound problems here.

Regards,
Dawson

December 01, 2011 5:57 PM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Thanks Dawson for taking care over your reply. The care is evident in your response. I appreciated the recapping of your position and mine, and that you correctly recapped my position - not a common experience in blogger world.

You stated your doubt that
(a) “our senses and perceptions must have a certain degree of proper function
follows from
(b) “we are all without excuse.”

I would put the logic this way:
If our senses and perceptions were unreliable in terms of accessing truth within our epistemic environment, then on Judgement Day before God, each person could appeal to that unreliability as an excuse for not living as they ought:

Someone might say, 'God, since you allowed demons and others to mess with my cognitive and perceptual equipment (so diverting me away from the truth) it wasn't fair to expect me to get to the truth of the facts I needed to live rightly. Therefore it's the demons' fault, and not mine, that I didn't live rightly. That's my excuse.'

But given there will be no excuse, it follows that this excuse will not be available. Given this excuse is not available, it follows that our senses and perceptions must have a strong degree of reliability.

I think this deals with your first two points (as I count them anyway).

You then speak of the difficulties of the word 'seen' in Romans 1.
Yes, Romans says that God's invisible qualities are clearly seen. One approach to this statement is to declare it self-contradictory and move on. Of course, it's always good to find the best possible rendering of one's opponent, rather than the worst. Paul the apostle obviously thought it made sense. How? By using 'seen' in a broad sense, rather than taking it as merely about optics. That is, by seeing it (yes I use that verb on purpose, with no reference to optics) as a broad term in the vicinity of 'perceiving'. You could take the whole concept being discussed as what Calvin called the 'sensus divinitatus' (sense of divinity): 'a kind of faculty or a cognitive mechanism, which in a wide variety of circumstances produces in us beliefs about God.' (that's how Plantinga put it)

Again, you may not agree with all this (you clearly don't). But I still contend that you have not done enough here to show a necessary contradiction in the presuppositional or Reformed or Biblical system of thought.

December 01, 2011 8:51 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello again Michael,

I regret that the length of my comment responding to yours has exceeded Blogger's limits. But this discussion is so fascinating, and I'm so delighted that you've chosen to dialogue with me on it. So this will be Part 1 of 2.

Michael wrote: “I would put the logic this way: If our senses and perceptions were unreliable in terms of accessing truth within our epistemic environment, then on Judgement Day before God, each person could appeal to that unreliability as an excuse for not living as they ought:”

Is this reasoning supposed to secure the position that the human mind is immune to supernatural deception? If so, this seems to be at odds with what we read elsewhere in the NT. For instance, in I Tim. 4:1 we read: “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” The NT clearly affirms the existence of “deceitful spirits,” and indicates that they have the ability lead men away from the truth. So I have to say I’m a bit stymied here as to how your contention (if I’ve understood it accurately within the context of the issue at hand) can be reconciled with what appears to be very clear and explicit teaching in the NT that “deceitful spirits” can and will deceive human agents. In fact, it seems that I Tim. 4:1 is saying very much what you take Romans 1 to preclude: those who are led astray by deceitful spirits could feasibly (supposing they ever learn that they were deceived) blame those deceitful spirits for being led astray, and thus, in their own eyes, have an excuse.

You say that “given there will be no excuse, it follows that this excuse will not be available.” And indeed, since the Christian god sets the rules, it may not accept supernatural deception as an excuse, even though it’s hard to see how any human being would be able to resist it, since it would be undetectable qua deception. For instance, I've seen some apologists argue that the Christian god's choice to send a "lying spirit" was part of the judgment process, and thus unavailable as an excuse.

So I think we’re still right back where we started: given the possibility of supernatural deception, it’s hard to see how anyone who *truly* believes in supernaturalism would be able to acquire certainty that he has not been supernaturally deceived.

Also, you seem to have constrained the issue to so-called “saving knowledge” of the Christian god, since your objection to my point centers around the culpability of man due to undeniable awareness of the Christian god’s reality. But my point was in no way so constrained. There are entire categories of truths outside this narrow area of focus. For instance, it’s true that it’s currently Friday in Thailand. Every calendar I consult confirms this. But perhaps those calendars are all part of some supernatural plot to deceive me. I would have no way of knowing any better, if there were in fact supernatural beings which can and would, given the chance, deceive me in ways that elude my own awareness. Surely this is not the kind of deception one would appeal to on judgment day to prove oneself excuse-worthy. But it would be deception all the same, and I would be none the wiser.

[Continued...]

December 02, 2011 1:51 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Regarding the (‘apparent’) contradiction in Romans 1, you say that “Paul the apostle obviously thought it made sense.” Indeed, I’ve known many believers who think it makes sense, but typically they do not seem to have really looked closely at what it is they’re judging as sensible. Many seem to have made a general judgment about everything in the bible, supposing even before it's been examined that everything stated therein is sensible.

Also, people can and sometimes do contradict themselves, even in the same breath. And they no doubt think they're making sense. Yes, it’s possible to invest their words with meanings which seem to make the contradiction go away, but this can be rather artificial.

You suggest “using ‘seen’ in a broad sense, rather than taking t as merely about optics,” and propose that “perceiving” (a broader concept than specifically seeing) is more suitable. In that case, we would need to identify the mode of perception, and you’ve proposed Calvin’s notion of “sensus divinitatus” to satisfy this need. This seems only to deepen the mystery, though, when in fact clarity is what we should be after here. For one, as presumably a sixth mode of perception which all humans presumably possess, can it be studied scientifically, as the other five modes can be? Is it a part of our biology, like seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling? Is it associated with any specific sensory organs, as hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting are?

Or, is it altogether non-biological in nature? If so, what is it if it's not biological? How does it work? Is it infallible? How are its workings (if it has any workings) to be discovered and examined? How does one reliably distinguish it from human imagination? You get the picture.

But something that the revered apostle seems to have overlooked in his Romans 1 passage is the fact that, epistemologically, mere perception does not give us knowledge of truth. When we perceive, we have awareness of *objects*. But truth is a property of identification; it is not an object of perception(whatever mode it may be). We don't "see" truth, for instance. (If so, what color is it?)

When we perceive objects, we have the choice to identify them, or ignore them. So since this choice is available with any instance of perception, I would say that Paul needs a stronger argument – a much stronger argument – to conclude that men are “without excuse.” We perceive, for instance, buildings, plants, mountains, lakes, stars, clouds, other human beings, etc. Our perceptual faculties in fact give us aware of much more raw data that we never even bother identifying, though as adults we’ve automatized this process for the most part. But the identification of what we perceive is in fact a subsequent step in the knowledge-gathering process, and if I perceive any object, on what basis would I identify it as an invisible attribute of a supernatural being, or at any rate indicative of such an attribute? Thus the issue becomes, not a matter of mere perceiving, but very probably a matter of inference, and this is a very complex matter, and it seems quite outrageous to hold everyone accountable for making the same inference that a supernatural being desires them to make.

Thoughts?

Regards,
Dawson

December 02, 2011 1:59 AM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Hi Dawson,
Again you've been generous in your interaction.

I want to focus on the questions you raise in 1 Timothy 4:1 "the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons."

You wrote that this seems to be in contradiction with Romans 1, regarding whether man might have an excuse before God, since the deceitful demons make a good candidate for such an excuse.

In response, I want to point out the content of the next verse in 1 Timothy 'Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.'

Notice from verse 2 that the deceitful spirits are doing their deceiving through teachings which come through human hypocritical liars. The work of demons, as described here is not of the kind that would give grounds for a thoroughgoing skepticism. The demons aren't messing with (for example) the functioning of our 5 senses, our cognitive abilities to rightly identify other persons, remember the past, use simple logic, etc. Rather, the demons are working by facilitating false teaching among humans.

If the demons were so powerful that they messed with the basics of our perceptions and thinking, that would be good cause for complaint and excuse before God. But that's not said. It's their teachings which are their method of deceit.

But does Dawson's argument hold anyway? Can we conclude that demonic teachings are a potential excuse before God on the judgment Day for our evil behaviour?
Could someone say something like, 'Come on God, I would have lived as I ought, if you hadn't allowed those demonic teachings to come to me through my mates'?

I think not. But I'll go for the lesser claim: 'Not necessarily'. A number of reconciliations of the demonic activity with our having no excuse seem possible.
Here's one:

When we (first) wickedly suppress the knowledge of God that is innate in us, God then (secondly) sends as a punishment deceitful demonic teaching, through which we come to greater error.
What I'm suggesting is: Perhaps demonic deceit ONLY comes to those who have already been wicked enough to deserve it.

Romans 1:22-24 gives a potential example:
'Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.'

Perhaps the method through which God gave them over (in verse 24) to sinful desires and sexual impurity was through the deceitful teaching of demons about sexuality.
That is, perhaps the demonic deception about sexuality was a punishment sent by God for worshipping idols.

In which case, the people in question have no excuse. They can't blame the demons or God. For the demonic deception was fair and just punishment for earlier culpable behaviour.

There may be other reconciliations or Romans 1 and 1 Timothy 4, and this one may not be correct. But one potential reconciliation is sufficient to show that Dawson's contradiction remains unproven.

December 03, 2011 3:25 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Michael,

Thanks for continuing this fascination discussion.

Michael: "You wrote that [I Tim. 4:1] seems to be in contradiction with Romans 1..."

A slight (but important) correction here. What I stated is that what we read in I Tim. 4:1 seems to provide precisely what you say your rendering of what Romans 1 supposedly implies, precludes. I am not arguing that I Tim. 4:1 is in direct contradiction of Romans 1; it may be, but I wasn’t arguing this specifically. As I mentioned previously, I could see the Christian god’s decree that men are “without excuse” as compatible with supernatural spirits actively and undetectably deceiving human minds by messing with their cognitive activity. I gave reasons for this.

Michael: “Notice from verse 2 [I Tim. 4:2] that the deceitful spirits are doing their deceiving through teachings which come through human hypocritical liars.”

I do not see that Paul specifies that the ‘hypocritical liars’ he mentions are to be understood as *human*. I say this partly because I recall, when I was a believer, how my pastor & his crew would continually refer to certain “worldly folks” as “demons” and “devils,” and very often imply that the “wicked” individuals we encountered were actually malevolent supernatural agents disguised as human beings (perhaps sort of like Jesus being the Christian god “become flesh”). In other words, given Christianity’s overt supernaturalism and the powers it ascribes to supernatural spirits, I could not take it for granted that every individual I encountered was actually a human being. I really had no way of knowing one way or another. And I don’t think this kind of self-doubt and confusion is either unbiblical or accidental.

So let me ask: Does I Tim. 4:2 state that these hypocritical liars are necessarily human beings? Not from what I can see.

Michael: “The work of demons, as described here is not of the kind that would give grounds for a thoroughgoing skepticism.”

Well, that’s really what’s in question here. I don’t think it will do to simply affirm this view. Also, I Tim. 4 is only one passage in the bible. There are also the portraits depicted in the gospels to consider.

Michael: “The demons aren't messing with (for example) the functioning of our 5 senses, our cognitive abilities to rightly identify other persons, remember the past, use simple logic, etc. Rather, the demons are working by facilitating false teaching among humans.”

So it seems, Michael, your response to my point is essentially that the human mind is immune to supernatural deception. This appears to be what you’re saying in a somewhat roundabout fashion. The deceptive spirits which Paul cites in I Tim. 4:1 are really only human beings in your view, not demons or other supernatural spirits causing havoc on men’s cognitive faculties. You’re essentially saying that there are no such spirits, or at least that deceptive spirits only work through other human beings, since they are “working by facilitating false teaching among humans.” Am I correct on this?

Is the human mind, on your view, open to supernatural deception, or not?

If not, I’m wondering how you think the “deceptive spirits” are a factor to begin with. They'd have to get started somehow, and it seems that some kind of supernatural ability is needed here, given what we read in I Tim. 4. The situation is even more extreme when we get to the gospels (which, I realize, were written well after Paul was conducting his international ministry). Your position seems to be that these demonic spirits (supernatural beings which are “immaterial” and imperceptible) have no ability to actively deceive human thinkers in a manner that they cannot detect. If that’s the case, I’m just wondering how you could know this with any certainty. What human being which has been successfully deceived by a deceptive spirit knows that he’s been deceived by a deceptive spirit? How does this “facilitating false teaching among humans” that you speak of take place?

[Continued…]

December 03, 2011 7:06 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael: “If the demons were so powerful that they messed with the basics of our perceptions and thinking, that would be good cause for complaint and excuse before God. But that's not said. It's their teachings which are their method of deceit.”

I guess I’m still confused about your position. How do their teachings get into the stream of human consciousness in the first place?

I remember when I was a church-going Christian how the leadership would denounce neighboring churches. They rejected their teachings, but they always blamed this on demons and devils, saying that demons and devils had overtaken their congregants’ minds, and needed to be “cast out,” very much like the “unclean spirits” we read about in the gospels. These anecdotes suggest that there are indeed supernatural spirits going around imperceptibly and influencing, messing with, and deceiving human minds. They are so powerful and influential that they need to be “cast out” by prayer, fasting, and incantations invoking Jesus. There are numerous examples of this in the gospels. These passages characterize the “unclean spirits” depicted in the stories as distinct from the “spirits” of those human beings they’ve infested.

Of course, were I a believer considering your words, I may have no reliable way of determining whether or not your own interpretation of Romans 1 and I Tim. 4 is an instance of what Paul describes in I Tim. 4:2 (as you’ve interpreted it, and assuming you’re a real human being, which I may not be justified in assuming) – namely that your teachings are deceptive. I would have to rely on my own inferences, and as a believer why should I trust them?

The point is: given the teachings we find in the bible, an attempt to integrate them into a unified whole will invite conflict into one’s mind, such that he will always be questioning his own faculties. We aren’t to “lean” on our own understanding of things (per Prov. 3:7), and yet navigating our way through life requires us to do just this. Already we’re in conflict if we’re trying to live. Any situation could be a situation where we may be deceived, and not know it, given the supernaturalism of Christianity. I realize that Christians themselves will have a vested interest in denying this evaluation. But it’s very clear to me, not only as an outsider trying to piece together what Christianity teaches, but also as a former believer who’s experienced exactly this firsthand. Perhaps being an outsider allows me to understand it more clearly than when I was on the inside trying to make it all work.

With all the emphasis on “believing” the right doctrines – doctrines whose content cannot be independently confirmed since they are “revealed” by supernatural means – the believer is under extreme pressure to walk a veritable tightrope – particularly in the privacy of his own mind, where doubts lurk, questions arise and imaginations develop – throughout his entire life as a Christian. In other words, if I were a believer, I might want your rebuttal to my point to be right, but in the privacy of my own conscious experience things would not be nearly so settled as your interpretation would have it seem.

[Continued...]

December 03, 2011 7:14 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael -

In your more recent message, you state that “the knowledge of God” is “innate in us,” but your previous message suggested that this knowledge came by means of some form of perception (you referred to it as the “sensus divinitatus” – I have a number of questions about this alleged mode of perception, did you see them?). To say that knowledge comes by means of some mode of perception necessarily implies a posteriori knowledge (since experience is involved); but now you say that this knowledge is “innate in us” – which I take to signify a priori knowledge (i.e., knowledge known apart from any experience). Can you clarify this? Which is it?

Perhaps really the issue boils down to the soundness of what we read in Romans 1. In my previous message, I raised some epistemological issues that count against Paul’s reasoning for concluding that (presumably all) human beings are “without excuse.” I don't think he has a strong argument at all here. He seems to be equating "seeing" (i.e., perceiving, even on your proposed interpretation) with "knowing", which I would contend is intellectually untenable.

Have you given what I wrote any thought? I’d be curious to review your reaction, for this doctrine seems to be the fulcrum upon which your rebuttal to my point hinges (and is frankly more interesting to me).

Regards,
Dawson

December 03, 2011 7:20 AM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Wow, I'm truly impressed Dawson. These are high quality responses you've made and questions you've asked.
There is no doubt I am being pushed to think new thoughts in these interactions, and I'm learning things in this interaction. let me acknowledge that at this point you are now asking me questions to which I have not before tried to formulate an answer.

Some of this comes from the fact that 'no excuse' is not normally the major theme discussed in Romans 1. It is in my view, the most important theme in Romans 1:18-32, so you're getting my unusual emphasis here. When adding this emphasis in Romans 1 to a detailed discussion of epistemology, this produces territory that I haven't seen discussed in theology or philosophy books. It could be my lack of reading, or it could be that this is a genuinely new type of discussion. Most likely the former, but I wouldn't rule out the latter.

But some of the newness to me of these latest questions of yours come from the fact that I haven't thought enough about some mainstream doctrine. A key example of this is the question whether the sensus divinitatus is a priori or a posteriori.
I need to think for a day or two. And right now, my wife's calling my four kids for dinner. (And I should go too!)

So, more to come from me, in a little while.

(A last reaction: wow, that sounds like a strange church you went to. Maybe that's just my prejudice..... Is that typical of American churches where you live? I presume you're American?)

December 03, 2011 11:49 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Michael,

I first want to say that it's very refreshing to engage in this discussion with you. It’s light years in difference from what I often get.

Yes, it’s all fascinating stuff. I’ve given these matters a lot of thought over the years. It’s all so very interesting to me.

I also wanted to offer a little about my background, since it came up in the discussion.

Yes, I am American, but I’m not living in the US now. I now reside in Bangkok, Thailand with my soon-to-be four-year-old daughter; I am working here and also raising her until my wife, who’s currently in the US, can join us a few months from now.

I can’t say whether or not my experience as a Christian is representative of typical American churches, though I’m inclined to think it isn’t. I don’t know if there is a typical church in America to begin with, given the enormous diversity in the US as well as among Christian practices in general.

I was a member of a Pentecostal church, and it was severely bible-focused, with special emphasis on “witnessing,” and none whatsoever on “apologetics.” I was not raised in this tradition; in fact, I was not raised in a church of any kind. Prior to my conversion to Christianity I had been in only a handful of churches throughout my life, and never as a member or practicing believer, but as a visitor on someone else’s behalf.

That being said, I would surmise that Pentecostalism, while growing rapidly worldwide, is a minority movement within Christianity in the US. In fact, the emphasis of its teachings on adhering to “the letter” of “Scripture” is what led me to believe that it was as authentic a church as any church could be. I was of course extremely naïve at that time in my life, and in some ways I still am in regard to the myriad distinctions among the denominations and movements within Christianity. (There seems to be no end to all the differences.) But at the time I had no explicitly worked-out worldview, and I was raised to believe that Christianity was true, even though no one in my family was a practicing believer. I lasted not quite 18 months as a Christian. In my conscience I found it absolutely unbearable.

At any rate, I can understand being busy with the family and trying to make ends meet. I do look forward to your next set of thoughts on these matters.

Regards,
Dawson

December 04, 2011 8:45 AM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Part 1


There comes a point in every decent discussion when particular avenues of discussion must be abandoned, and some taken up with more precision, if we are to continue to be fruitful.

Of course,that means I won't be able to tackle every question and issue you raised, Dawson, and I trust you'll be understanding about that.

So, going with some combination of what you said is important, and what I think is getting to the nub of the issue, I've chosen to focus on the sensus divinitatus (SD). That's not to say that your contributions in other areas were unhelpful, or that your questions were easily answered.

So, your questions about the SD:
"As presumably a sixth mode of perception which all humans presumably possess, can it (the SD) be studied scientifically, as the other five modes can be? Is it a part of our biology, like seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling? Is it associated with any specific sensory organs, as hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting are?

Or, is it altogether non-biological in nature? If so, what is it if it's not biological? How does it work? Is it infallible? How are its workings (if it has any workings) to be discovered and examined? How does one reliably distinguish it from human imagination?

You also ask, if the SD is a posteriori or a priori.

Let me start out by saying that I don't believe I need to be able to answer all these questions to maintain that my Biblical worldview is a consistent one. A coherent worldview needn't have an answer to every question which might be asked of it.

What I can say is this:

First, most importantly, I say this: 'You know deep down that God is there, you're just suppressing that truth'.
I say this partly because it rings true to my experience, and partly because Romans 1 implies I should say just that

I know you will deny it. I know you'll say, 'No, Michael, I really don't believe God is there'.... And perhaps add, 'How arrogant of you, Michael, to presume to know what I think about God deep down.'

In response to that last potential objection, note that Freud took a similar approach.
He was full of 'you really think this deep down, even though you deny it', and he was taken reasonably seriously.

Yes, this has problems of how we can debate over what you think deep down. That's just one consequence of us having no excuse before God.

December 05, 2011 8:02 PM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Part 2


Let me also say that the SD could be a priori or a posteriori or both. That's because the key phrase in Romans is 'being understood from what has been made'
If 'what has been made' is 'that which we experience of the world around us', the SD is a posteriori, since in that case, we know God on the basis of our experience of the external world.
If on the other hand 'what has been made' is 'ourselves', then the SD may be a priori. In this case, we can say that we know God because we sense within ourselves that we are made by God. In this case, our knowledge of God may simply be in us, in an a priori fashion.

The famous opening of Calvin's Institutes are relevant here. 'Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.'

Calvin is addressing a similar question, and declares he doesn't know the answer. I am reluctant to go where he didn't.

I will however venture that the a posteriori element of the SD, which I think likely exists, does draw on the senses. So there is I think a relation between the five senses and the SD. I would say that one can look at a great sunset, for example, and be prompted inwardly to think that God made it.
Having said that, note that I reject the notion that such a conclusion can or should be argued for in a way that might convince someone else. I'm very much against trying to construct an argument for God's existence.

Turning to another question, I do say that the SD (or better, the mode of knowledge of God which Romans 1 describes) is infallible.
We are without excuse for rejecting God. Therefore no argument against his existence ought to be considered. Therefore our knowledge of him is not established on the basis of an argument (since an argument establishing God's existence could itself be potentially defeated by further argument, thus leading to a potential excuse before God).

Lastly, note there are plenty of claims in the Bible I will argue for, and present proofs for. Most important of these are the historical claims which the Bible makes. But as to God's existence, I'm soundly 'presuppositional'!?!

That's about all I can say in one post, I think.

I've got a couple of related posts on my blog, for more info. I leave it to you Dawson, to decide in which direction you would like to move from here, if at all!


http://richaelmussell.blogspot.com/2011/12/weve-been-too-skeptical-for-nearly-400.html

http://richaelmussell.blogspot.com/2011/11/art-of-persuasion-moving-from-known-to.html

http://richaelmussell.blogspot.com/2011/11/do-christians-and-muslims-worship-same.html

December 05, 2011 8:02 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Michael,

You wrote: “I've chosen to focus on the sensus divinitatus (SD).”

That’s fine, Michael, in fact I would prefer it.

Before dropping the original topic, however, I would like to know whether or not you think the human mind is subject to supernatural deception. Your previous statements on the matter have given me the impression that you think the human mind is *not* subject to supernatural deception. But I would prefer that you state your position on this explicitly, so that I don’t have to rely on inferences of my own, which may not have privy to the full picture.

Also, I would be wondering, supposing you hold that the human mind is *not* subject to supernatural deception, how you could reliably know that you weren’t being supernatural deceived into thinking this.

Anyway, in response to what you have written regarding the SD, I again had a lot to say. So I think I will keep working on what I already have in progress, and post it as an entry on my blog. I hope to be able to get it done later this evening. I’ll post a link here once it’s up.

Again, Michael, thank you so much for being willing to discuss this with me.

Regards,
Dawson

December 06, 2011 2:36 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Michael,

I spent all evening working on my new post. I tried in earnest to be completely fair to your position, and I hope that I succeeded in doing so.

My new blog entry can be found here:

Some Thoughts on the Sensus Divinitatus

Okay, I have to get off to bed now.

Regards,
Dawson

December 06, 2011 7:13 AM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Part 1

Hi again Dawson,
It was good to read your personal post about the situation in Thailand, with the floods.
Those floods were at the level of 'vague recollection from a news item' for me until you wrote about your experience.

I said a few prayers for you again on hearing this. Especially, my prayers have been for you for your marriage to stay strong while your wife is away, of thanks for your obvious intelligence and work ethic, and for your daughter, that you might do a good job parenting her alone. Also, of course, I prayed that you might turn to Jesus, so that your talents will be used to bring glory to God and have effect that will last for eternity.

The question you left me with, was a clarifying comment on whether the human mind is subject to supernatural deception.

Again, you've pushed me beyond my previous thought with our interaction on this specific point. I can see that my previous post on 1 Tim 4 would be better if complemented with discussion of the rest of the Biblical witness on the subject of demons, in particular, demon possession. I can also see that I have not accounted for how the demonic teaching first enters into humans. So let me amend (and perhaps contradict) would I previously said. It seems I need to propose some kind of ability in demons to 'propose false teaching to a person's heart and mind'. How this actually works is beyond me. The Bible says little.

Let me turn to your actual question. A one word answer to your question is 'yes', I think the human mind is potentially subject to supernatural deception. This is because the Bible teaches that human minds do get deceived by demons and their teaching.

What to add to my previous posts about this?
Demonic possession would obviously severely change the experience of the person who is possessed. But would such possession be rightly called 'deception'? In certain ways, yes. We're limited in how much we can say about this, given the limitations of what the Bible says about demon possession. We have very little in the Bible about what it feels like to be demon possessed.

I'll try a few comments, nonetheless: I don't know what it feels like to be demon possessed, or whether one manifestation of that might be to have one's faculties playing tricks on you. To lose control of one's speech and action etc. to another being who is within you, that seems to be what happens to some of the demoniacs in the Bible. But it's hard to guess what you would see and feel and think and know if that happened to you.

I can't think that anyone would choose to be demon possessed, or 'demonized' (to use a more accurate translation of the Greek verb), knowing all that it would imply. Therefore I think it's fair to say that demons work in a deceptive way, in order to end up possessing/'demonizing' a person.

December 07, 2011 7:57 PM  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Part 2

As I did before, I would discuss this topic under the theme of whether a person ends up with an excuse on the last Day before God.

For example, if a person were demon possessed at birth or at a very young age, they could complain on the last Day to God that they had no opportunity as an adult to process God's revelation of Himself to them, so they are not to blame for their rejection of him. That would seem to be a potentially good excuse for evil thoughts and actions. Lacking control over one's actions would also seem like a potentially good excuse for evil actions.

Therefore, I would conclude that God does not allow very young children to be demonized. Since people will have no excuse before God, it follows that God does not allow demons to possess children when they are very young, because that would give them an excuse on the last Day before God.

I think what likely happens is that God only allows a significant level of demonic possession/influence on people when they have done something wicked enough to deserve such possession/influence.

That's why seances and witchcraft are so dangerous - if you explicitly invite demonic power to manifest itself in and around you, there is a justice in the demons taking some control over you and (perhaps) taking some control of your cognitive powers. You invited them, after all! (There are various embedded assumptions here that witchcraft and seances have real power on account of their using the real power which demons have) I strongly recommend warning your daughter against witchcraft and seances, Dawson! (not that she's likely to think about such things any time soon......)

Incidentally, I also believe Christians can escape any potential demonization of themselves or their children, since if they 'resist Satan, standing firm in the faith... he will flee from them' (that's a conflation of a couple of Bible verses).

One strength of my take on all of this, is the number of people who actually describe 'weird' things happening through witchdoctoring, seances and so on. Dismissing the reality of all these testimonies would be a weakness of your position, Dawson. Have you not had any friends who've gone to seances and reported strange occurrences? Have you not met any Africans who ascribe real power to witchdoctors? Do you treat with sheer disbelief all the accumulated accounts all over the world of the power of witchcraft in its various forms and guises?

Bye for now,
Mike

December 07, 2011 7:57 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Dawson,

Said: "the presuppositionalist acts as though there were a fire that needs to be put out, and that he’s the only one able to extinguish it. So off he goes in his little red fire truck, sirens a-whirrin’. When he shows up to the conflagration, he whips out his hose and starts spraying the entire scene with a barrage of “How do you know?” questions that are intended to keep the fire from spreading."



This is hilarious. Thanks dawson for the laugh. I love you mannnnnnnnnnn!!!!!

December 10, 2011 11:17 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Michael,

I’ve had a very busy week, but I wanted to take some time to burrow into your comments. I enjoyed what you wrote so much that I had a thousand things to say in response. So once I started writing a response, it got way too big for Blogspot’s comments editor, and what I wrote seemed valuable enough to publish as its own entry on my blog. So I’ve posted my response to your comments here:

A Reply to Michael: Further Thoughts on the Issue of Supernatural Deception

You wrote: “I said a few prayers for you again on hearing this. Especially, my prayers have been for you for your marriage to stay strong while your wife is away, of thanks for your obvious intelligence and work ethic, and for your daughter, that you might do a good job parenting her alone.”

Thanks for your sentiments, Michael. I can use all the help I can get, especially in taking care of my daughter. She’s quite a handful, and raising her by myself in a foreign land is a compound challenge. So far I’m doing something right. But there’s a rough road ahead until my wife gets here.

What I could really use is improved eyesight. Perhaps you could say some prayers for me on this. I made a prayer request over five years ago for restoration of my eyesight, which just gets worse with every passing year. (You can find some background on this here.) It’s a real inconvenience, and switching to progressives back in 2008 hasn’t improved this as much as I would’ve liked. And my night vision is the pits, especially when it comes to driving.

But I know that the portraits of Jesus in the gospel narratives show Jesus restoring eyesight to many. It should be a cinch for an omnipotent supernatural being. I’m so confident that Jesus could do this that I don’t even think he’d have to spit into my eyes. What do you say?

Regards,
Dawson

December 10, 2011 7:57 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

BB,

Repent and believe and then you will see.

Why do you feel the need to mock and harass without any warrant?

Here I'll say a prayer for you:


Lord open Dawson's eyes.


Blessings.

December 10, 2011 8:17 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Trinity wrote: "Lord open Dawson's eyes."

When you talk to yourself like this, do you always display it for all to see, like you have above? Or do you sometimes enter a quiet place, like a closet, and do the talking to yourself there?

Ydemoc

December 22, 2011 12:54 PM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Charlatan,

No, under my bed.

December 22, 2011 2:53 PM  

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