Posts Tagged by theism

Story and Evidence, a Response

I think it goes to my larger point. Story moves. Yes, Story can move more than evidence. And yet even if that is the case, nowhere do I suggest that I think that is good! Indeed, this whole event illustrates just how unfortunate it can be when evidence is divorced from Story. Oh yes, there is a Story here. There is a Narrative. This Narrative is one that Myers and his many fans are drenched in, so much so none of them actually need evidence to know that me and my stories are [fill in your favorite pejoratives here]. The Narrative fills in the gap. It is the skeptical storyline: Christians, dumb. Christians, blind faith. Skeptics, geniuses. Skeptics, reason and evidence. Nothing more needs to be said because everyone is already agreed on how the story ends, anyway. The ‘evidence’ ends up being just a ‘literary’ flourish that adds little to the accepted Narrative.

This Narrative appears to be driving Dave’s response, though to his credit, he is exceptionally mild and measured compared to many of the other responses I observed.

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Atheists on Morality: Jumping out of the Bottomless Pit

Atheists have a problem.  Ok, they have lots of problems.  🙂  But this one is a big one:  how to explain morality. Now, for some reason atheists remained confused on some basic aspects of the issue.   It is common to hear from their camp something to the effect, “We do not need God to be […]

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The Courage of Their Convictions: Jared Lee Loughner, James Jay Lee and the Power of Belief

We live in a curious time. Good people who are otherwise sane entertain the notions that Lee and Loughner embraced and acted on. Over against those notions they have some memory of the bloodsport of the 20th century and are keen to avoid it a second go around. What they don’t ask is: “Maybe it isn’t just one particular application of these beliefs that ought to be discredited… maybe the beliefs themselves should be chucked?”

To illustrate.

Let us imagine that someone believed that all people with red hair should be killed because they aren’t really people. You talk to him. He’s a perfectly pleasant fellow. Very sane. “So, you aren’t going to actually kill any red haired people or advocate that others do?” you ask him. “Of course not,” he says. That’s a relief, of course. “Why believe it if you won’t carry it out?” you persist. “That would be horrible. I would feel terrible,” he says. “Hmmm,” you might say, “Perhaps the fact that you are deeply uncomfortable with wiping out those with red hair is because even though you say they aren’t people, in fact, you think they are. Why not then dispense with your belief that they aren’t really people?”

Something very much like this is at the root of much thinking among secular humanists. They don’t really believe what they’re saying. If they did, we’d all be in a lot of trouble and they’d probably go a little nuts.

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What Does Atheism Become?

About five years ago I published a collection of essays that is no longer available for purchase. The collection is titled after the essay below. It is not, as far as I know, something I’ve published elsewhere. I was thinking of it recently and decided it should be dusted off. It seems as relevant today as when I first wrote it.

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That Which Atheism Becomes

Some might say that I just like to argue. The truth is that I believe that ideas have consequences and some consequences are more severe than others. Arguing, or more precisely, debating, these ideas helps everyone on all sides of a position understand a position better. In theory, if you could of got Bin Laden to sit down to have a nice debate you could of aroused for him some of the critical consequences of his beliefs and demanded that before he acted on them he had a much firmer basis. According to many Muslims, such a basis does not exist. I will leave that issue to them to sort out. But Bin Laden does have this going for him: he takes a belief to its rational conclusion. There are many dangerous beliefs out there that people consider harmless simply because they aren’t taken to their rational conclusion.

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KFUO AM radio interview on the existence of God

Yesterday I was on KFUO AM radio out of St. Louis, MO. You can listen to the segment here:

KFUOInterviewJune17 (12.5 MiB, 1,167 hits)

I believe I’m in the first half of the segment.

Topic: “Can you prove there is a God?”

We could tackle this topic another 3 times before we’ve covered a fraction of what could be said.

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On Free Will, Fair Trials, and the Problem of Evil

Here is the part of Mark’s argument where I saw a parallel: the KSM trial won’t be a ‘show trial’ because the outcome isn’t rigged. I retorted that there was no doubt in my mind that if KSM was declared innocent, whether on the merits of the case or because of a technicality, there was no way that KSM wouldn’t end up in custody again, which is in effect an unfair trial under the constitution, for if a person is declared innocent under the constitution, he is free to go. Mark replied that what happens after the trial is irrelevant to the fairness of the trial.

I will leave aside other aspects of the conversation which you can read for yourself.

I find this to be an interesting argument that seems to be the same argument that many atheists appear to be running with when they decide that it is likely that God doesn’t exist because a loving, omnipotent and omniscient God wouldn’t allow such horrible evils to occur.

What is the alternative? Let us imagine that every time someone did an evil thing, God swooped in and prevented it. If this happened, would we imagine that that person really had free will?

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Some More Thoughts on ABC’s Visitors

So ABC’s “V” was on again tonight. I enjoyed it. It lacked the same punch as the first episode but I still liked it. It seems a little hurried to me. Maybe there are too many commercials? I’ve seen other hour long shows that seemed to really carry a narrative so I know its possible. I can’t put my finger on it with “V” but it isn’t enough (yet) to push me away from future viewings.

In my previous post, I hoped that I would see some metaphysical conversation. Perhaps its too early in the series, but there wasn’t much in that regards. Ie, unlike the first episode, this one seemed to lack substance. It still got me thinking anyway. I will now outline some of those thoughts.

The visual effects are far superior to the previous incarnation of the series. Indeed, far superior to any show from the 80’s and earlier. The miracle of CGI!

But isn’t it interesting that we are able to recognize that just because the space ships we see hovering over American cities in this show, despite their incredible life like detail, are fictional? This uncanny ability (most) people have is interesting given our “Seeing is believing” society. There is a great deal on television, movie, and computer screens that appears to be absolutely real. Yet, we know it isn’t.

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Connecting the dots between unbelief and abortion

These types of considerations drive me to paint a different picture of the current situation in America on the subject of abortion than normally presented. What if aiming at passage of pro-life legislation is only a small component of the solution? What if aiming to persuade people to a pro-life position is aiming too low? What if in fact we Christians should be focusing on creating more Christians and retaining the ones we’ve got?

A Christian does not believe, like the atheist, that he is god. A Christian understands that he is the product of a Creator and that Creator has the right and privilege of defining right and wrong and defining ‘personhood.’ A Christian knows that he cannot dispense with another person because it is inconvenient to someone or to a nation. All this comes in automatically once one adopts the Christian worldview. Even Christians who vote pro-choice don’t generally approve of abortion, generally, and would like it reduced.

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Would an atheist be happy in hell? Cue the Twilight Zone Theme Song…

So you see, either way you go, either rejecting the existence of the Christian God or accepting it, the atheist possesses some sort of moral standard by which to measure the conduct of God and the terms he lays out. But I find this all very ironic. After all, the whole point of disgust has to do with people being eternally punished by God and how unfair and indecent that is but when it is pointed out that the Bible further describes this eternal punishment as an eternal separation from God (relationally), shut out from his presence forever, they are not satiated? I mean, isn’t that what they wanted? If God turns out to be real and they hate him so much don’t they actually want there to be something like ‘hell’ where God will leave them to their own devices?

Yes it is. Here you see one of those classic “there is no pleasing them” scenarios. Even if there is a God they don’t like him and would rather in that case spend eternity separate from him, but when that actual opportunity is presented to them from the same texts they reject God as being unloving and Christianity (and religion in general) as fear mongering. Dudes. You’re getting what you want. Why complain?

Of course, we Christians understand that getting what you want isn’t all it is cracked up to be.

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Human Rights Without God?

Atheists and secular humanists quite obviously argue that we humans are all alone and that humans themselves determine their worth, their value, their ‘intrinsic’ dignity. The problems with this ought to be self-evident but atheists are crafty folks. History reveals clearly that humans can change their minds about the ‘worth,’ ‘value,’ and ‘rights’ of humans (usually other humans). For example, the Nazis depersonalized the Jews with consequences I need not expand on. Atheistic communist regimes depersonalized dissidents and capitalists with consequences I need not expand on. The atheistic apologetic on the point is that actually this goes to show the dangers of ‘religion.’ For, you see, anyone who ever does anything nasty, no matter what their ideology, is, by definition, acting religiously. In this way, atheists can always keep their hands clean.

However, it misses the point. The fundamental point has to do with our basis for decrying what the Nazis and communists did. If humans themselves are the sole and final arbiters for determining and dictating human value then no one can complain about what humans decide. Oh sure, the do complain. But in doing so they betray the inconsistency of their position.

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Atheists strain to demostrate my description of them is not a strawman

We knew it was coming: the accusation that my paraphrase was a strawman.

Indeed, virtually every aspect of my ‘paraphrase’ was reflected in the answers that spewed forth, from the hypersensitivity to perceived insults “lay off the ridicule” “that’s just arrogance” while barbs are flying from their own side “are you just some smart a– 12 year old kid who got a certificate in your local church “Defense of Christianity” Sunday School Class?” to the random ‘catch-all’ argument that proves atheism right, the smug reference to ‘ancient books’ such as “You base your thought process on a 1900+ year old set of desert scribblings.” Throw in the knee jerk attempt to force the theist to argue in the terms that the atheist himself is dictating, not the terms the theist is actually presenting, “what in the world does bible god have to do with the Big Bang?!? It is not in your bible, stop trying to hijack the BB theory and pretend that your god caused it.” Let’s not forget the constant ‘rebuttals’ that in fact we ‘don’t know’ and ‘can’t know’ from people who apparently are atheists, and not agnostics.

All these are variations of my paraphrasing.

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A Conversation on Final Regress and First Causes

I recently had a conversation with some gents that I thought I would paraphrase for my blog. I think I’ve had the same kind of conversation a dozen times in the last three months. I have combined all the conversations into one paraphrase. Enjoy.

Them: We believe science is the only way to learn about the world and religion is just faith-mongering superstition. There is no scientific basis for believing in the existence of God. Belief is just irrationalism. I know what you’re going to say. That there had to be something that has always existed. Why not the universe?

Me: Well, science says that the universe had a beginning. So I guess the universe can’t be the thing that has always existed. Surely that means we can explore other options.

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The Euthyphro Dilemma: Does Man Prefer it Because it is Good or is it Good Because Man Prefers it?

The Euthyphro Dilemma returns with a vengeance. Now, instead of the problem being distilled into a single entity, putatively non-contingent, transcendent, immanent, eternal, etc, it is diffused out over the billions of little gods wandering around in their little neck of the wasteland. Here the secular humanist’s attitude becomes twisted and warped. They are the first to make the argument that humans believe that God cares about them out of sheer arrogance, as if God would care about our petty affairs, yet here is an arrogance that far exceeds that, by far. For if there is no God then there is only we ‘gods’ and the Euthyphro Dilemma proves that we don’t exist. I guess.

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Sntjohnny Now Blogs on ChristianPost.com on Christianity in America

I am pleased to announce that the ChristianPost has asked me to be a blogger for them. It is an honor. The section I post in is called Christianity in Today’s America. Here is the description:

An ongoing discussion on the current state of the Church in America, how it got there, and where it is going. What are a Christian’s responsibilities in an increasingly unChristian America? This blog will tackle tough issues for the Church in uncompromising terms while continuing to meet the challenges posed by a widening body of unbelievers.

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