Thursday, October 24, 2013

Behold How the Holy Ones Speak!

Take a look at this Christian who posts under the moniker “Truth Unites… and Divides” (TUaD hereafter) over on theology served undercooked. Here’s what TUaD wrote recently in response to our very own NAL:
Hey MALformed, another laughably stupid atheist who's spending so much time on this blog thread when considering your atheistic convictions and worldview. You only have a limited time on earth before you die. Why spend those precious moments debating Hodge and other Christians?  
LOL, the MALformed atheist! That's a good one!
There, there. Feel better now, TUaD?

No doubt TUaD is trying his level best to conduct himself admirably in his exchanges with NAL and Rian. The only question then would be: who admires this? Of course, this moral ambitiousness on TUaD’s part explains why he continually wants to remind the audience that he thinks NAL and Rian are stupid. But given the great lengths TUaD goes to maintain civility and charitableness in his conversation, it is unclear why he would be so concerned about what NAL and Rian do in their spare time. After all, by interacting with some as intelligent as TUaD so clearly is, some of that great intellect might rub off on these presumably less-endowed fellows. One would think that, given his astounding display of unquestionable virtue, TUaD would be pleased to share his unrivaled prowess with such puny earthlings. Indeed, isn’t knowledge revealed from the heavens something one as magnanimous as TUaD would want to share with others?

Clearly NAL and Rian have misunderstood and underestimated the excellence of moral character that TUaD has clearly achieved and demonstrates before all. It could only be a gift from the supernatural!

That’s right, it’s so uncanny, “must be God did it!

I suppose it has not dawned on TUaD that he might very well be taken by non-believers as a representative of Christianity, and that his behavior will be seen as an example of the smug self-righteousness that characterizes the incalculable hordes of the holier-than-thou specimens that have come before him. Maybe TUaD is simply doing what he can to be, as one source puts it, “less ‘artificially womanly’.”

Now it is not necessarily the case that TUaD’s honed skills in name-calling and his “you’re so stupid” attitude were picked up on the playground. Given the age level that TUaD demonstrates here and elsewhere in the thread, I’d say he has yet to step foot on a playground. That won’t come until he begins kindergarten.

So I surmise that TUaD has learned this behavior from other Christian believers. After all, church really is a monkey-see, monkey-do environment, especially for “baby saints” like this one.

Indeed, it may very well be one of the first items on the curriculum at Sunday school: “Insult non-believers. That’ll get ‘em!” No doubt TUaD is doing his best to make Christianity attractive to whatever remnant of the imago dei may still be residing in the hearts of those whom he so delightfully berates. It’s all part of Evangelism 101. Another holy one, the late John Robbins, reminds us of this when he points out that
most professed Christians today seem never to have gotten past Matthew 7. That’s too bad, for they should proceed to read Matthew 23. In that chapter alone, Christ calls the scribes and Pharisees names 16 times. The names are “hypocrites” (7 times), “son of Hell” (once),”blind guides” (twice), “fools and blind” (3 times), “whited sepulchres” (once), “serpents” (once), and “offspring of vipers” (once). Since Christ was without sin, we may deduce by good and necessary consequence that name-calling as such is not a sin. Since everything Christ did was righteous and virtuous, we may deduce by good and necessary consequence that accurate name-calling is a virtue. (The Virtue of Name-Calling)
So the tactics of the schoolyard bully are a "virtue," according to the New Testament. Well, they might as well be since there’s so much else wrong in that internally discordant set of primitive texts.

Egads, someone might call me an "offspring of vipers" next! Now, don't anyone do that, because that would really put me in my place!

Now, we should not fool ourselves here. No matter how many disclaimers are given in evangelistic instruction about how each human being is “the image of God” and how they are to “speak the truth in love” (as we see so beautifully rendered in TUaD’s exchanges with NAL and Rian), it really is irresistible for missionizing believers (and apologists in particular) to look down at us “lost sinners” who are “hardhearted” and “given over” to all manner of carnality and iniquity, just as it is ultimately impossible – even if they do their best to resist – the temptation to assume a position of moral superiority over people who have not bought into their imaginary fairy-tale.

So the nature of the “moral ambitiousness” which TUaD’s behavior exhibits in all this, is the ambition accurately summed up in the following: “Become a Christian today, and you too can talk down to people like we do!”
Boy, that'll show 'em!

I have the sneaking suspicion, however, that TUaD’s efforts have not been successful in persuading Rian and NAL of any claim to truth on the part of the Christian worldview. Of course, TUaD might very well say something to the effect that this is their fault, not his, and certainly not his god’s. He might say, for instance, that they’re “hard-hearted”. But this would only imply that the opposite, “soft-hearted,” means being thin-skinned and easily manipulated by insults and condescension. So that would not be a very productive excuse. On the other hand, TUaD might say he’s not trying to persuade anyone in the first place. But that’s already evident: a person does not persuade another to his cause with insults and condescension. Such are not the tactics of someone with a truth to persuade others to accept; rather, these are the tactics of someone who scorns mature discussion and seeks to intimidate those who disagree. But let’s be fair to TUaD: maybe this is the only way he knows how to demonstrate that he’s the real McCoy.

But I would not say that TUaD’s behavior is entirely ineffectual in regard to persuading us on anything. On the contrary it is highly effective in persuading us that he’s irrational. Which brings us to the final question: if TUaD is not trying to persuade anyone, what is he hoping to accomplish with his barrage of insults and condescension? Isn’t this significantly similar to the question he posed to NAL above?

I suspect that TUaD is really just trying to find some momentary way to feel better about his losses resulting from his commitment to Christianity – personal losses, such as maturity, character, spirit, the chance for happiness, etc. After all, if he has not lost these, then he hasn’t surrendered them to Christ. Which means: he has not obeyed the biblical instruction that he “die to self.”

I’m sure glad these aren’t my problems!

by Dawson Bethrick

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12 Comments:

Blogger Daniel GodIsTime said...

Remember that pal I said I was talking to? Well, my conversation with him has devolved precisely to this state. He has yet to counter a single argument I've raised. It's all about pitying the state of my soul and how angry I am. That's the totality of our exchange. I'm done with him. It's just never worth it; except if you approach it with the intention of only having a little entertainment.

Daniel

October 24, 2013 10:32 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hi Daniel,

You wrote: "He has yet to counter a single argument I've raised. It's all about pitying the state of my soul and how angry I am."

I frequently get this same treatment from various Christian relatives when interacting with them. Should I ever joke, mock, scoff, disagree, or otherwise "disrespect" their beliefs, they demand that I show some respect for their faith and/or ask me why I'm angry at Christ. Talk about a charge packed with assumptions!

Many times, they end up telling me that they feel sooo bad for me because I'm on the road to hell.

I find this reaction on their part quite interesting, because doesn't their storybook in Luke 6:22 (New International Version) tell them that, instead of being sorrowful about such treatment, they should be happy and rejoice because...

22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

And doesn't Matthew 5:11 (Bible in Basic English) say the same?

11 Happy are you when men give you a bad name, and are cruel to you, and say all evil things against you falsely, because of me.

Ydemoc

October 24, 2013 10:50 AM  
Blogger NAL said...

TUaD is a piece of work. When he/she can't make an argument, he/she resorts to name calling.

Hodge is not much better. When he runs out of arguments, he'll claim your previous argument is "illogical" or "nonsense" or "self-refuting" or "already been refuted." He wisely avoided any discussion regarding infinities.

Michael Martin described a neglected argument of Roland Puccetti, that I like, that shows the incoherence of the concept of omniscience. Patrick Grim also has some good arguments.

Steve Hays never came back to discuss evolution. It seems like this blog doesn't get the quality of Christian apologists like it used to. And why is it that we have to go to their place?

October 24, 2013 12:05 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

TUaD is just an idiot cheerleader. So I give him mostly spoonfuls of his own soup. He has little imagination, so he does not know what to do with those spoonfuls, which he swallows while babbling further insults, but never saying anything of substance.

October 24, 2013 12:45 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Perhaps when they start to get nasty with their name-calling and self-righteous condemnation, Christian apologists need to be reminded of passages like Mark 7:15, which put the following words into Jesus’ mouth:

There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

But I’m guessing they will do what they can to shape-shift and rationalize away such teachings such that they don’t apply to them. After all, many have become completely unaware of just how self-righteous they've allowed themselves to become. Like the Apostle Paul, they're above the law.

Regards,
Dawson

October 24, 2013 5:03 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Regarding the latest over on the Hodge blog:

Rian wrote: “Ok, so who is it that decides to accept the claimed [divine] revelation as veridical?”

TUaD explained: “I don't regard myself as the ultimate authority of Truth.”

Of course, if he did regard himself as his “ultimate authority of Truth,” we would not expect him to say as much. Also, he may not “regard” himself as “the ultimate authority of Truth,” but does this mean he does not *discriminate* between what he believes is true and what he does not believe is true? Has he relinquished all say on what he will accept as true? I would certainly hope not, but I'm not very hopeful for TUaD on this.

Presumably, like other human beings, TUaD would want to vet any propositions he considers before accepting them as truth. So how does he do this? This is the issue: what *method* does he employ to come to the assessment “the Bible is true”?

If he is saying that he has not applied any method in determining whether or not the claim “the Bible is true” is true, then he’s simply not using his mind – he’s not thinking, he’s not examining, he’s swallowing whole without knowing what he’s swallowing, which is simply an act of ignorance. This would indicate the degree of value he places on his own mind: not much!

TUaD writes: “I fully believe that I'm a sinful, fallible, oftentimes wrong person, and knowing that, there's no way that I could be the Authority and Arbiter of Truth.”

So TUaD has no doubt accepted a pile of unearned guilt, and now he’s making good on repaying his creditors on this by racking up more guilt.

But what TUaD and folks like him do not seem to recognize is that it is because we are fallible that we need an objective *method* by which we acquire and validate our knowledge. And that method is called reason. But reason does not work by simply renouncing your mind and surrendering it to something that we can only imagine, or by accepting an incredible number of claims (the vast majority of them of a historic nature) as true before one has even examined any of them.

So a TUaD needs to come out into the light and simply make it plain for all to see: either he used reason to determine that “the Bible is true,” or he didn’t. (We already know the answer, but he should make this explicit.)

[continued..]

October 24, 2013 5:09 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

TUaD writes: “I yield to Divine Revelation.”

Here TUaD is confessing that he has performed an action – he “yields” to what he calls “Divine Revelation.” So the question at this point is: is this something he has *chosen* to do? Or, is he a robot and he’s done this against his own will, without any thought - without reason? Or, would he suggest some third category here?

If he admits to having *chosen* to do this, on what basis did he govern this choice? If he says he based it on “Divine Revelation,” then he needs to back up to the step at which he chose to “yield to Divine Revelation” in the first place. Naturally he’s going to be as slippery as he can be on these points, but notice the following:

TUaD writes to Rian: “In comparison, you make yourself your own God, your own Authority,”

Here TUaD suggests that Rian has done something on purpose, that he has *chosen* to do something, which assumes: available to Rian was some *alternative* and he had the means and opportunity to select from whatever alternatives were available. So TUaD seems very much to be allowing that Rian has made a choice – and insists that it was the wrong choice.

But at the same time, TUaD seems very reluctant to admit that he made a choice as well.

Rian asked point blank how according to TUaD’s view one *decides* these things. It is here that TUaD wants to put himself and Rian in two incompatible categories. But they are not contemporaneous: the category that TUaD reserves for himself assumes his embrace of Christianity; the category he assigns to Rian applies prior to any choice he’s made, for he is saying that Rian has made the wrong choice. This is nothing more than a very slippery evasion going on here. TUaD likely doesn't even see it.

TUaD writes: “and as Hodge has pointed out: It's the Religion of Self, and you worship yourself.”

Well, speaking for myself, let’s say it’s true that I worship myself. Well, in my judgment, I am far more worthy of worship than the Christian god simply on the account that I would never, in a million years, abandon my child if her life were being threatened by evil people. On the contrary, I will stand up for her, I will do everything I can to protect her, and although I am no omnipotent being with the power to zap entire universes into existence, I will intervene if something or someone threatens to harm my daughter, and I’ll leave no question that they were sorry to start something. So yes, in my judgment, I am in a completely different moral category. But this is why Christians rebuke me for using my judgment: they don’t want me to go by my judgment. They want me to go by theirs. And look where it has led us!

Regard,
Dawson

October 24, 2013 5:18 PM  
Blogger blarkofan said...

Hi NAL,

Thanks for the link to the Michael Martin article, which I enjoyed. It's a nice collection of well-written anti-theistic arguments. Regarding the Puccetti argument ("God can't be certain that he knows everything"), I don't think any Christian would find it convincing. Most Christians would accuse Puccetti of treating God's knowledge as if he has to acquire it like we do. A probable Christian response: "God would not have to search space & time to confirm that he knows every fact, because he exists everywhere and at every time. How does God know that there isn’t any time or place of which he is unaware? He just does. God doesn’t have to investigate all mathematical entities and the relations between and among them; he already just knows it all automatically." Does God know the last decimal place of pi? Sure - and if pi is infinite, God knows the entire infinite series of decimal places of pi. He doesn't have to compute them, like a supercomputer; he just knows them (and always has).

It's hard to convince people who believe in magic which can do anything with no further explanation required.

October 28, 2013 7:12 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Smug self-righteousness and a penchant for judging and ridiculing others (in an attempt to be clever) is certainly not limited to religious folk. As this post reveals. Unless you count atheism as a religion, which some do. It has been wisely said that it takes more ‘faith’ and mental gymnastics to disbelieve in an Intelligent Designer (and to regard the origin of the universe as from some “law of randomness” -- so where did that law come from?) than it does to believe in such a God.
The only real psychospiritual reason for NOT believing in God is the attempt to avoid accountability for one’s selfish and sometimes downright evil choices. Of course, IF there IS a God as portrayed in the Bible, disbelieving in Him won’t make Him go away. We will still reap what we sow. The subjective philosophy of existential relativity (truth is what I say it is) will never hold water, much less provide protection from the consequences of our choices and actions. As both Judeo-Christian and eastern religions believe, karma extends far beyond this short life. I find it far easier to believe in an omnipotent, just and loving God than in some Principle of Randomness which “miraculously” produced this universe of amazing order and beauty (not to mention human beings). This latter idea is humorous to the extreme.

November 05, 2013 6:26 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Unknown,

You wrote: “Smug self-righteousness and a penchant for judging and ridiculing others (in an attempt to be clever) is certainly not limited to religious folk. As this post reveals.”

Actually, in the case of my post, it’s called sarcasm. Call it a weakness of mine if you like.

You wrote: “Unless you count atheism as a religion, which some do.”

Those some who do are typically Christians who are simply anxious to find some way – any way, no matter how desperate – to vilify non-belief in their invisible magic beings. Calling atheism a religion does not make atheism a religion.

You wrote: “It has been wisely said that it takes more ‘faith’ and mental gymnastics to disbelieve in an Intelligent Designer (and to regard the origin of the universe as from some “law of randomness” -- so where did that law come from?) than it does to believe in such a God.”

Yes, many have asserted this, but where is the argument for this? Indeed, what does “the origin of the universe” even mean? It seems that this notion would first have to be validated (i.e., one would need to explain what this means and prove that the universe had an origin to begin with) before one could get around to the task of actually arguing for what that alleged origin was. Crucial to this would be clarifying what exactly is meant by ‘universe’. But many of these steps are typically overlooked in attempts to assemble some kind of case for the view that the universe was "created." And they never validate the notion that it was created by an act of consciousness.

Objectivism holds that existence exists, that existence is not created, that matter is not a product of conscious activity. If you think you know a way of disproving each of these tenets, by all means show us what you’ve got.

You wrote: “The only real psychospiritual reason for NOT believing in God is the attempt to avoid accountability for one’s selfish and sometimes downright evil choices.”

I think you have things turned around entirely. The Christian legend of Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane (“not my will, but thine be done”) only suggests to me that such faith is a means of evading the responsibility of making one’s own choices in the first place. Acquiescing the responsibility of making one’s own choices according to his own judgment and requirements for his life is surely no form of fulfilling accountability. It’s simply a means of shirking it altogether.

[continued…]

November 05, 2013 2:35 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

As for “evil choices,” what worldview accommodates those better than one which promises that you’ll be forgiven of all your evil choices, that there’s a way to enjoy mercy and avoid justice? I don’t know of one.

But this is a common view among those whose worldview has it that the imaginary holds metaphysical primacy over the real. For instance, John Frame writes: “Like all forms of unbelief, atheism is essentially an escape from responsibility” (Apologetics to the Glory of God, p. 194). Of course, Frame offers no argument for this, but this apparently matters not to the over-credentialed apologist. It seems to me that the opposite would likely be the case: someone who is afraid to stand on his own choices, who has no rational confidence in his judgments and choices, may very well seek a surrogate for his own mind, claiming that an invisible magic being is guiding his way. That gets him off the hook. So when a suicide bomber blows himself up on a bus, it wasn’t his choices and actions – Allah was leading the way all the while. A rational atheist is not someone who’s going to behave in such a manner. He knows that this life is it, that there is no substitute for his own thinking, his own judgment, his own choices. He knows that he has the responsibility of making them, and he’s not going to be able to point to some imaginary being and say “I vaz just folloving orders” ala Abraham preparing his son as a sacrifice at the behest of a voice he allegedly heard in his head.

Accountability? Yes, you have things completely turned around.

You wrote: “Of course, IF there IS a God as portrayed in the Bible, disbelieving in Him won’t make Him go away.”

Now you’re borrowing from Objectivism. You’re making use of the primacy of existence principle in defense of a worldview which rejects the primacy of existence principle. It won’t work. The Christian cannot defend his worldview in this way and still be consistent with its metaphysics.

You wrote: “We will still reap what we sow.”

This is a profound difference between a Christian and someone like myself: I want nothing less than to reap everything I sow, while the Christian wants to reap and sow not. He wants the unearned; I accept only what I earn, and I intend to get what I earn. The Christian thinks that earning is wrong. He thinks people should accept the unearned – he has already accepted unearned guilt, he desires unearned forgiveness (“mercy”) and he expects those to whom he sacrifices himself to collect those sacrifices without earning them. Christianity is literally dog-eat-dog. You can have it! As for my motto, it’s: May we each get what we deserve. And you say I’m the one who is seeking to evade accountability?

I think you need to give these matters some deeper thought.

[continued…]

November 05, 2013 2:37 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “The subjective philosophy of existential relativity (truth is what I say it is) will never hold water, much less provide protection from the consequences of our choices and actions.”

Which is why Christianity needs to be rejected. What could be more in line with the subjective philosophy that you describe here than a worldview which essentially says “It’s true because God said it is”? It is Christianity that stands on the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, not Objectivism.

You wrote: “As both Judeo-Christian and eastern religions believe, karma extends far beyond this short life.”

We can all imagine such things, but the problem is that we have no alternative but to imagine these things. They’re imaginary. Show me one thing that is both imaginary and real.

You wrote: “I find it far easier to believe in an omnipotent, just and loving God than in some Principle of Randomness which ‘miraculously’ produced this universe of amazing order and beauty (not to mention human beings). This latter idea is humorous to the extreme.”

If this is any indication of the “method” by which you choose your beliefs (which sounds quite autonomous to me), it appears that “ease” of believing one thing as against another is your standard.

I’ll go with reason. Any alternative to reason is self-destructive to the extreme.

Regards,
Dawson

November 05, 2013 2:39 PM  

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