16 August 2010

The Fruit of Their Own Way

by Phil Johnson

Prologue:
I imagine lots of PyroManiacs readers are familiar with Chris Rosebrough. His blogs, The Museum of Idolatry and Extreme Theology are always insightful and interesting. His most ambitious project, Pirate Christian Radio, is a listener-supported ministry, streaming excellent Christian programing (mostly teaching and commentary) 24/7. Chris's own broadcast, Fighting for the Faith, is PCR's flagship broadcast. I listen to "Fighting for the Faith" via the podcast, and one of my favorite segments is called "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." That's where Chris analyzes sermons of all varieties, sometimes refuting a bad sermon's errors; other times underscoring the gospel message in a good sermon—and offering poignant observations of all kinds in between.
    Recently I tuned in and was surprised (and a little fearful) to hear Chris say he was going to put one of my sermons under the microscope on that day's broadcast. (My sermons usually fit nicely in "The Ugly" category, in case you were wondering.) Anyway, I enjoy hearing Chris interrupt my preaching with his commentary, and his replaying of that particular sermon reminded me of the following excerpt, which I thought would make a good blogpost.




theism is a destructive belief that breeds immorality and wickedness.


If you're 25 years old or older, you probably remember Madalyn Murray O'Hair. During my childhood and adolescent years, it seemed she was in the news all the time. She wasn't an intellectual; she wasn't even particularly likable. (And that's putting it mildly. Usually she came across like a screeching, abrasive, angry old crone driven by intense hatred for God and an equally passionate craving for publicity.) She was indefatigably persistent—and completely committed to her cause.

Atheism was her god.

Mrs. O'Hair founded an organization, American Atheists, and for the past 45 years they have spearheaded a relentless campaign to eliminate God from civic life and public discourse in America.

Then suddenly Mrs. O'Hair vanished in 1995. Not a single one of her atheist "friends" even reported her missing when she first disappeared. Instead, they moved in and took over her home, her organization, and her assets. Six years later her body was discovered, alongside the bodies of her son Jon and a granddaughter, Robin. Their corpses had been burned and buried on a ranch in west Texas. A group of fellow atheists, led by an employee of American Atheists, had kidnapped the O'Hairs, tortured them for weeks, and finally murdered them in an act of revenge—apparently as payback for a mean-spirited article Mrs. O'Hair had circulated among employees of her organization.

Mrs. Murray was survived by her eldest son, Bill (Robin's father), who had become a convert to Christianity years before his mother's disappearance. He told reporters his mother liked to hire violent felons because "She got a sense of power out of having men in her employ who had taken human life." It was one of those outlaw employees who orchestrated the kidnaping, torture, and murders. That man and his cohorts were simply acting out the logical ramifications of the amoral philosophy Mrs. O'Hair had always championed.

Thus the godless culture Mrs. O'Hair promoted destroyed her in the end. As Proverbs 1:29-31 says, "They that hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord . . . shall eat of the fruit of their own way." "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man [or woman] soweth, that shall [s]he also reap" (Galatians 6:7).



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147 comments:

damewood said...

As a young Christian in the early 90s I became mesmerized by Mrs. O'hair and her rather dull son Jon on their public access show. It was quite the comedy. Prior to Christ I would have been sympathetic to their cause. I'm thankful that God opened my eyes.

Still there is a sadness at lives wasted in service of a ridiculous ideology and the tragic end that resulted.

Lee Shelton IV said...

We have our own local version of Ms. O'Hair here in Minnesota. I'm just thankful that most atheists aren't all that consistent with their worldview.

Stephen said...

OT, but you mentioned Rosebrough in the intro so it may of interest: Chris mentioned on the radio show a few weeks ago that he's looking at phasing out the extreme theology blog and replace it with a new blog http://www.letterofmarque.us/

I didn't really catch his reasoning for the switch, it was mostly that his blogging style has transformed a little bit over time and he wanted a new site that more reflects that or something. Though I really haven't noticed a difference in the two, just an assortment of short Bible or Christian author/theologian quotes, sarcastic images that make a pithy point about modern heresy, and mildly sarcastic articles about scripture and/or the way people mangle it. You know, a Lutheran version of team pyro!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"The Fruit of Their Own Way"

Her murderer ate the same hellish fruit that Mrs. O'Hair ate and promoted.

Hellish life. Hellish death. Ending up in Hell.

I'm glad and thankful her son converted to following Christ.

stratagem said...

"What goes around, comes around"

Too bad she didn't, or wouldn't, see it coming.

Robert Warren said...

Phil:

I listen to Rosebrough alot as he is one of my favorite Lutherans.

Chris has presented your messages before, always approvingly. You can generally tell his opinion of the sermon he is about to present by the version of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" he plays beforehand. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain version signals a good sermon. The other renditions of the song, not so.

T. A. Lewis said...

"Atheism is a destructive belief that breeds immorality and wickedness."

Yeah that's why countries like Japan and Denmark and Sweden where rates of atheism are over 50% are seething kettles of crime. Go ahead and turn on your TV to see the smoldering destruction.

Go ahead.

I'll wait.

Oh, wait, they continually score as some of the countries with the lowest levels of crime and highest indexes of happiness in the world - all without your little pop the magic dragon god.

Given these demonstrable facts, I have to conclude that you are either ignorant of relevant world demographics or are a liar.

Ignorance is probably the safest bet.

Sir Brass said...

T.A.

Japan? Really? Where suicide rates are skyrocketing?

Talk about working out a hopeless worldview: you came from nothing, will be going to nothing and life sucks right now. It means nothing, and you just dishonored your company with poor performance. Why not take the "honorable" way out and end your life?

That happens ALOT in Japan.

I think I'll chalk up your statement to ignorance as well.

Steve Drake said...

T.A.,
Would you consider yourself an athiest or a Christian?

donsands said...

Man! What a story. Sounds like a story right from the OT Bible.

I live in Baltimore, but I never heard of Madalyn Murray O'Hair a whole lot. I knew of her though.
It's sad the way she died, without the Lord.


There have been martyrs who have been burned alive,and tortured, and that is horrible to think of, but it's not sad in the end.

Thanks for the great post.

Seth said...

I think crimes rate are terrible way to measure this idea. For instance Denmark, Finland and New Zealand (whose atheism levels probably are comparable to Switzerland) all have higher rates than the U.S and Switzerland is still in the top 20.

But as the note at the bottom of the page points out "
Note: Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence."

So culturally some of these countries are stricter about pursuing crime. Probably one of the reasons the U.S. is in so high is that we have so many laws and we pursue criminals even over small offenses. Unfortunately our media gives us this rap of being a violent crime ridden nation, but unless you live in certain areas you are fairly safe in the U.S. Talk to a European immigrant or visitor and one of things they are usually astounded by is there isn't as much crime as they had been led to believe.

One source of stats.
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_percap-crime-total-crimes-per-capita

I actually use to have another link to the WHO's website that showed Switzerland as in the top 5 above the U.S. in crime since I can't find that source I won't make that claim.

T. A. Lewis said...

Sir Brass,

Nice tactic trying to shift the debate away from the topic at hand. We are talking about crime rates.

I see you conveniently left out Denmark and Sweden.

Why?

Because they didn't fit your rhetorical needs.

If you want to go at this by stats, I'll win hands down.

The claim made in the original post that "Atheism is a destructive belief that breeds immorality and wickedness"

is a demonstrably false claim born out by verifiable statistics.

Robert said...

T.A.,

You seem to be making a correlation between immorality/wickedness and crime rates, but those don't necessarily go hand in hand. One can be very immoral and wicked without being a criminal.

T. A. Lewis said...

As an added note, I really do hope the typo in the circus graphic is an attempt at some self-satire.

Otherwise, it has the opposite effect of its intention.

Steve Drake said...

T.A,
I see you responded to 'Sir Brass' but not to me. I'm still waiting to hear from you to see where you're comin' from. Will you admit to being an athiest or not?

T. A. Lewis said...

Robert,

You are right. But there are no statistics on what is considered legal but immoral.

And I will add, one can be very immoral and wicked and be a Christian (contra any no-true-Scotsman claims) or an atheist or a Hindu or whatever.

This entire line of debate is moot since all relevant data (especially the recent empirical work done by Marc Hauser as well as Jonathan Haidt) show ethical and moral judgments are largely the same despite whatever metaphysical beliefs are held by the individual.

Religious beliefs are only used in an ad hoc fashion to justify moral and ethical decisions, not as a base guide.

The entire OP besides being demonstrably false, is merely one extended ad hominem attack.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve Drake,

In such haste to label me huh?

I do not believe in anything supernatural. If that includes your god, then yes, I'm an atheist.

Note the spelling.

donsands said...

"..ethical and moral judgments are largely the same despite whatever metaphysical beliefs are held by the individual." ta

I wonder though. What would the world look like today if Christ had not died and risen, and commissioned His people to take His truth to a pagan and heathen world. Evene with all the evil in the world, without Christ, what would it look like.
More Madalyn type of a world perhaps, or Jihad world?

Just thinking.

Joey Phillips said...

Steve,

I think its safe to say from T.A.'s favorite non fiction authors that he is an atheist.

It's also probably safe to say that crime rates aren't exactly the most compelling argument against a truth claim like the one Phil made.

Incidentally I think T.A.'s claim that "Religious beliefs are only used in an ad hoc fashion to justify moral and ethical decisions, not as a base guide" is true for a lot of people.

Steve Drake said...

T.A. Lewis,
Thank you for explaining your starting presuppositions. I appreciate a man with backbone who is willing to state unequivocally that he is an athiest, not an agnostic, and certainly not a Christian.

May I begin a dialog with you on the nature of God, and your presupposition that He doesn't exist?

stratagem said...

Leave T. A. alone - he's obviously a young guy who isn't aware of the Soviet Union, North Korea, Nazi Germany, Cuba, or other modern-day, atheist-run societies and their human rights track records.

Show mercy.

Robert said...

T.A.,

I would submit that there are countless nominal Christians (especially here in the US), and that the immorality of such people skew the results. I will submit that all people are sinners, but a true Christian does not continue pursuing sin. The life of a Christian should reflect true repentance and progressive sanctification.

As a premise, though, the atheist has no moral basis whatsoever. If there is no God and there is no one truth, then every person can define their own beliefs as being the truth. In which case, a pedophile can say that he/she needs to be with as many children as possible to truly express their love. And serial killers need to kill as many people as they feel led to. Where do you get a standard from?

Marx, Nietsche and Hitler all followed that line of thought and had evolution/natural selection as their basis. And that is the logical end of the philosophy that Sagan throws out with the cosmos being the source of all. If we are all just here with no objective truth, then why be hindered by those who are weaker, less intelligent, etc.?

Paula said...

T.A. Lewis said: "...one can be very immoral and wicked and be a Christian..."

Then he is no true Christian. One of the marks of a true Christian is that he is becoming more like Christ as time goes by & is no longer a slave to his former life of sin. If someone is living a "very immoral and wicked life" it is very unlikely he is Christian - perhaps a CINO (Christian in Name Only). Paul said it this way:

"For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord(Romans 6:20-23).

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi T.A. Lewis,

Out of curiosity, how did you come to find and comment upon this blogpost?

Note: I do hope that you continue to engage and comment in this thread.

T. A. Lewis said...

Stratagem,

I know right? We should outlaw mustaches since all dictators had mustaches.

Unless you can show that atheism was the reason for the atrocities, and not power, nor political gain, nor economic gain, nor any of any other mitigating factors, your claim is sophomoric and has been debunked many times over.

Only your low-brow moron apologists like Ray Comfort and Ravi Zacharias and Ken Ham still use that argument.

Maybe read a philosopher once in a while?

T. A. Lewis said...

Robert, Paula

Please look up the no-true-Scotsman fallacy on wikipedia or another source.

I even mentioned it first as a warning "contra any no-true-Scotsman claims" and you guys still committed it.

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth Unites,

I followed someone's comment handle from Ray Comfort's blog.

Robert said...

T.A.,

You might call it a fallacy, but I call it Scripture. If you want to comment about people with certain religious beliefs, be prepared to do your own homework and learn the basis of those beliefs (that being the Bible).

That aside, do you not care to address the logical end of having no God? No objective truth? I gave you examples of people who actually worked out that thought to its logical end. Or do you care to say there is a different logical end? That it makes sense for the stronger, smarter, etc. to carry the weight of the weaker, less intelligent? I don't see how that works itself out. Please explain.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

T.A. Lewis to Stratagem: "Only your low-brow moron apologists like Ray Comfort and Ravi Zacharias and Ken Ham still use that argument.

Maybe read a philosopher once in a while?"


(Chuckling) I have no problem with insults. (Except when used to derail an argument down the ad hominem trail.)

Question to T.A.: Can you take insults back too? Or are you the kind of atheist that can only dish it out?

Frank Turk said...

TA --

Just to join the pile-on, I wonder: given your list of atheist countries (an interesting list, to be sure), would you care to note any significant difference between what is called a crime in those countries vs. what is criminal behavior here? How about merely-moral behavior -- for example, what's morally-acceptable in a relationship in Japan that's not morally-acceptable in the US? Isn't it true that the rate of abortion in Europe is 4 times what it is here in North America?

You have slid some definitions under the door, dear reader. It would do well to take a look at them.

Frank Turk said...

Also, vis. the One True Scotsman:

The difference between the one true Scotsman and an actual Christian is that there are actually moral and philsophical definitions for Christianity. Sadly for TA, he doesn;t know this.

That should be a clue as to who and what sort we are dealing with.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve Drake,

"May I begin a dialog with you on the nature of God, and your presupposition that He doesn't exist?

Although I very much doubt that there is anything new that we can cover, begin away. I'm intimately familiar with all arguments for God, historical apologetics, origins, etc, etc.

My academic areas are rhetoric and cognitive science of religion. This requires I be very familiar with all this material. Deconstructing C. S. Lewis is particular favorite of mine.

My "presupposition" that God doesn't exist would only be an accurate representation if I accepted Plantinga's argument of properly basic belief. He commits a category error. Other minds are properly basic, not all-powerful supernatural minds.

Robert said...

T.A.,

Has anybody ever presented the gospel to you? I mean, what do you think the gospel is? I ask this out of concern because it is the biggest need that all sinners have...including all Christians.

Frank Turk said...

All the rest of you:

Play nice. Beware of feeding the trolls.

Steve Drake said...

T.A. Lewis,
Okay, great. Let me begin by setting some boundary questions. First question: Are you finite, as opposed to being infinite? In other words are you yourself sufficient enough to know all there is about 'everything' there is to know?

T. A. Lewis said...

Robert,

"That aside, do you not care to address the logical end of having no God? No objective truth? I gave you examples of people who actually worked out that thought to its logical end. Or do you care to say there is a different logical end?"

It's not a logical end at all since it is fallacious reasoning. Particularly the naturalistic fallacy. It, in no way obtains, that since that is the way something is that that is the way it ought to be.

Joey Phillips said...

"Only your low-brow moron apologists like Ray Comfort and Ravi Zacharias and Ken Ham still use that argument."

Is your philosophy reading where you learned to throw comments like that into an argument? If you are talking about Dennett and Dawkins when you mention reading philosophers then it wouldn't be that surprising I guess.

BTW no true Scotsman fallacy doesn't apply to belief systems in the same way it applies to...say...nationalities. Unless there are a bunch of fake Scots running around.

T. A. Lewis said...

Robert,

Yes, I've been presented the Gospel multiple times. I've even presented it myself a few times others during my decade as a "born again."

My immersion into apologetics as a function of wanting to be a "better Christian" is what led to my atheism.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"My immersion into apologetics as a function of wanting to be a "better Christian" is what led to my atheism."

YEEEEeeeesh.

Not funny. Tragic.

Apostasy is an ugly thing to behold.

Robert said...

It is fallacious reasoning that you need an objective truth in order to establish morals? So you can establish morals how? You can try to talk in circles all you want, but there has to be a logical answer. Or are you saying that it is OK for people to murder, rape, steal, etc.? Whether you like it or not, there is an actual end to what you propose. People act based upon their values, morals, and beliefs, so I would think that you have some basis for things you would or would not do, right? Where does that come from?

T. A. Lewis said...

Frank Turk,

"The difference between the one true Scotsman and an actual Christian is that there are actually moral and philsophical definitions for Christianity. Sadly for TA, he doesn;t know this.

The crux of the no-true-Scotsman fallacy is changing the application of a label of something in an ad hoc fashion, which you must do as a function of defining a "true Christian" by behavior.

Or didn't you realize this?

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth Unites,

"Apostasy is an ugly thing to behold."

Rather, critical thinking is a beautiful thing to behold.

Robert said...

So please explain the gospel to me...just to make sure we're on the same page as far as that is concerned. Because many professing Christians haven't the foggiest idea what it really is.

T. A. Lewis said...

Robert,

My morals come from the same place that yours do - empathy, intuition, and cultural learning. There's no transcendent truths guiding anyone's behavior and I'll demonstrate it.

Is slavery wrong?

You didn't get this answer from the Bible as it is at best ambiguous on the matter. You got this moral judgment from empathy, intuition, and culture.

And I didn't talk in circles. You claimed atheists must derive morality from nature. I said that is fallacious, as it is.

T. A. Lewis said...

Robert,

"So please explain the gospel to me..

Romans 10:9

stratagem said...

Only your low-brow moron apologists like Ray Comfort and Ravi Zacharias and Ken Ham still use that argument.

If it's that easy, then debunk away. I'm waiting to hear it. Oh and let's add Communist China, the killing fields of Cambodia, Vietnam, Romania, and other officially-atheist states.

Robert said...

T.A.,

First, I want to get back to the gospel...what do you think the Gospel is?

Then...back to your last comment. What is the source of empathy, culture, and intuition?

And I am a slave of Christ freed from slavery to sin. That is from the Bible.

The Bible doesn't condemn slavery, but it does condemn the wrong attitudes for the masters of slaves. The problem with slavery is how man has applied it.

The same can be said for money, sex, etc. Man has perverted each of these from the way it was intended to be used.

T. A. Lewis said...

stratagem,

"If it's that easy, then debunk away."

Did you not read my previous comment?

"Unless you can show that atheism was the reason for the atrocities, and not power, nor political gain, nor economic gain, nor any of any other mitigating factors, your claim is sophomoric and has been debunked many times over.

Robert said...

T.A.,

OK...back to the Gospel. So what do we need to be saved from? Why do we need to be saved? What does it mean to confess that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead?

Chris H said...

T.A. Lewis,

Not to wade into someone else's conversation, but your comment:
Unless you can show that atheism was the reason for the atrocities, and not power, nor political gain, nor economic gain, nor any of any other mitigating factors, your claim is sophomoric and has been debunked many times over skips something very important.

Perhaps atheism specifically was not the reason for these countries' emergence, but it can be shown that atheism provided the outlook for these other things you cite. Why not pursue power at any cost if you hold that there are no moral absolutes? Why not seek power for its own sake? Why not chase after these things as the ultimate, without a Godly moral center?

If atheism wants to wash its hands of these travesties, then it needs to demonstrate that it leads people to place a proper priority of these things. But, then it will be forced to admit it is the source of moral absolutes...

Steve Drake said...

T.A. Lewis,
I feel like the girl you brought to the prom and left standing in the corner, while you went away and danced with all the other girls. Why won't you answer my question?

T. A. Lewis said...

Robert,

"OK...back to the Gospel. So what do we need to be saved from?

According to Christian mythology, original sin. "There is no one righteous, not even one."

"Why do we need to be saved?

Repent and believe. Maybe get Baptized later, but that isn't absolutely necessary per se.

"What does it mean to confess that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead?

Acknowledge Him as Lord of your life, that He is to be in a personal relationship with you, that God is manifest in the Word, that He is "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

That God loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son...

and all that Jazz.

Tim Bushong said...

"Although I very much doubt that there is anything new that we can cover, begin away. I'm intimately familiar with all arguments for God, historical apologetics, origins, etc, etc."

Wow- exhaustive knowledge of a subject- nothing to learn... sounds suspicious to me.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve Drake,

I'm not here to be your reading tutor.

I made a contingent argument: THAT UNLESS you can show atheism is CAUSAL in the atrocities

(Which you can't.)

it is as useless as saying they did all that because of their mustaches (which is merely correlational).

This answers your claim.

Robert said...

I think Steve is leading into the rest of my thoughts...and I feel like I hijacked the conversation. So I'll let him dialogue with you on the nature of God and man. I'm sure that will be a lengthy discussion.

although, I think Chris H does a good job of stating my problems with your position. There has to be some final source outside of ourselves for our moral beliefs or there can not be one defined set of morals...no right and wrong...just what we think or feel ourselves.

Robert said...

I just read a passage in a book that quoted 1 Corinthians 1:21 and I think that most definitely applies here...anybody else think so?

T. A. Lewis said...

Tim Bushong,

"exhaustive knowledge of a subject- nothing to learn... sounds suspicious to me."

It seems my visit to this blog has turned out to be a logic lesson.

Non-sequitur: noun

1. An inference or conclusion that does not follow from the premises or evidence.
2. A statement that does not follow logically from what preceded it.

It does not follow at all that intimate knowledge equates to nothing to learn.

I freely admit I have much to learn.

It is just that I already know exactly what I stated - all the arguments for God (or at least all the major ones which accounts to about 40), I have familiarity with historical apologetics (particularly NT) and most issues in origins including genetics.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

FWIW, it's not impossible to evangelize an apostate. It's just exceedingly difficult and pretty rare.

Remember the title of this post:

"The Fruit of Their Own Way"

Myself? I'm graciously blessed to have been called to be a part of His Vine.

T.A. Lewis has cut himself off from the Vine. But if the Spirit wills, T.A. Lewis can be re-attached.

Carry on.

Steve Drake said...

T.A. Lewis,
Thank you for responding. I was beginning to think like Cinderella that my ugly stepsisters had simply forgotten me. I notice you failed to answer my question however. Something about not wanting to be my 'reading tutor'. Wow! Not sure what that answers, but since you claim to be an entity unto yourself, with all knowledge about everything, I guess there's not much more I can say, except the words of God himself: 'The fool says in his own heart there is no God...

T. A. Lewis said...

Chris H,

"Perhaps atheism specifically was not the reason for these countries' emergence, but it can be shown that atheism provided the outlook for these other things you cite. Why not pursue power at any cost if you hold that there are no moral absolutes? Why not seek power for its own sake? Why not chase after these things as the ultimate, without a Godly moral center?"

This always astounds me when I hear this claim put forward by Christians. You are basically saying that there is no reason to be good outside of a god.

This is exactly like saying there is no reason to not beat your wife in the absence of domestic violence laws.

Seriously, you are making this claim.


"If atheism wants to wash its hands of these travesties, then it needs to demonstrate that it leads people to place a proper priority of these things. But, then it will be forced to admit it is the source of moral absolutes..."

Human nature and human culture, not "atheism" are the sources of human morality.

This scares the bejesus out of people and is why they hold to the "veneer" theories of morality where gods and commands and hellfire and heavenly reward provide the philosophically untenable props to morality.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve Drake,

Answering so many people on here got me confused as to which question and to whom I was answering. I thought you were blathering on still about Hitler and Pol Pot, etc - a question I had answered multiple times.

But, on to your other question about me having infinite knowledge. I'm sure you think this is a clever philosophical question don't you? Most amateurs do.

No, I do not claim to be omniscient, nor do I need omniscience to reject a theistic god.

I would only need omniscience to reject a deistic- non-intervening type of god.

Your god supposedly does stuff in this world doesn't he? Like prayers? And miracles and such?

When I have examined these claims, which are soundly within the epistemic realm of all humans, and found them to be flatly false or better explained by other means, I can reject your god.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

As a side note,

T.A. Lewis, I think you'll do well in Academia. Your committee will sign off on your dissertation, you should be able to spin off a couple of publishable articles from your dissertation, and, if you're lucky, you'll probably land a tenure track position in some university's Department of Religion.

Or maybe you could get a job at some Episcopalian seminary.

Chris H said...

T.A. Lewis,
You said: You are basically saying that there is no reason to be good outside of a god.

That's not quite it. I'm saying there's no reason to refrain from being "bad" aside from God. I believe atheists can do morally good things, but there can be no moral outrage from an atheist if someone decides she doesn't agree with social norms and does whatever she pleases, no matter how abhorrent her peers may think it is.

VcdeChagn said...

According to Christian mythology, original sin. "There is no one righteous, not even one."

Actually, you need to be saved from YOUR sin.

I'm not the judge of that, God is, based on the standards of the Bible.

If, as I suspect, you do not see yourself to be a sinner and wretched before God, then the rest of the Gospel will have no meaning to you.

Steve Drake said...

T.A. Lewis,
T.A. said:
"I made a contingent argument: THAT UNLESS you can show atheism is CAUSAL in the atrocities".
(Which you can't.)

Hmmm, not sure that was my question T.A.

My question was whether you consider yourself finite or infinite? Can you answer that please?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Chris H.,

I think there are some/many atheists who'd be outraged at Mrs. O'Hair's murder and her murderer.

But would they be justified in their outrage given their grounding in an atheistic worldview?

T. A. Lewis said...

Chris H,

First, thanks for the reasoned response.

""That's not quite it. I'm saying there's no reason to refrain from being "bad" aside from God. I believe atheists can do morally good things, but there can be no moral outrage from an atheist if someone decides she doesn't agree with social norms and does whatever she pleases, no matter how abhorrent her peers may think it is."

I don't think this dichotomy holds. If our moral judgment is rooted in empathy and intuition, and emotion, there is no reason why it cannot equally hold for good or bad.

If someone decides she doesn't agree with the social norms, those of us who do can choose to remove her from our society. We can have moral outrage in relation to our morals.

I can anticipate the objections; this system isn't perfect and it seems to teeter on a knife edge to someone used to the transcendental scheme. I would counter, its the system we've had all along.

The biblical morals are the moral rules/ values of the people 2,000 years ago. This is blindingly clear with the issue of slavery in the bible.

Chris H said...

TUAD,

They could express their dislike of the event, or their sadness at the deaths of their friends, or their annoyance at the violation of the law, but without moral absolutes, it doesn't seem like an atheist is able to express outrage at the immorality of an event.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve,

I did answer the infinite question in a few posts up. I had gotten confused as to who I was answering and what question I was answering.

Steve Drake said...

T.A. Lewis,
He who considers himself finite, and not infinite. Thank you for your answer about you being finite. Second question: Jean Paul Sartre stated that: no finite reference point has any meaning unless it has an infinite reference point.

Can you explain and justify your knowledge that there is no God from Sartre's position that you as a finite reference point are sufficient to make sense of the infinite reference point he alludes to?

RealityCheck said...

T.A.,

“This scares the bejesus out of people”

It should… because it would mean that there are no objective morals and that anyone is really free to just do whatever they want. For example, let’s say that I find you particularly annoying and if I wasn’t a Christian, or at least an atheist created in Gods image, but just a glorified ape, I might decide to kill you. Now of course, that is against the law… man made law… and I might end up in jail… but as far as it really being wrong… it wouldn’t be… would it?

Chris H said...

T.A. Lewis,

But the problem goes deeper than that, I think. Atheism doesn't present any good evidence for why I should value empathy, nor why I should trust your intuition. You and I may have nothing in common, and I'd be a fool to trust myself to your empathy and intuition - law of the jungle, man.

Appealing to empathy and intuition is only going to work if you can demonstrate why everyone's should be trusted. But that's going you to answer for groups like Nazi Germany, or the Khmer Rouge, whose empathy and intuition are substantially different. The worst you can say is that you don't like what they did, but you can't tell them they were "wrong" to do so.

Chris H said...

Just a follow-up:

You can't say they were "wrong" to do what they did - and then you have to answer for why you feel so strongly that they are wrong, in a very real way.

Frank Turk said...

The part that makes me sad in this thread is that TA can't even remember what he posted or responded to.

It turns out that he started the "True Scotsman" meme in this thread by saying:

And I will add, one can be very immoral and wicked and be a Christian (contra any no-true-Scotsman claims) or an atheist or a Hindu or whatever.

To which Robert repsonded:

I will submit that all people are sinners, but a true Christian does not continue pursuing sin. The life of a Christian should reflect true repentance and progressive sanctification.

The problem is that TA was the one making the fallacious application, not Robert.

Again to all: beware of feeding the troll.

donsands said...

"The biblical morals are the moral rules/ values of the people 2,000 years ago. This is blindingly clear with the issue of slavery in the bible." TA

have you studied what slavery was in the Bible? Just wondering.
Or are you presumptuously assuming the worse?

God has His ethics. It doesn't matter what our's are, really.

NoLongerBlind said...

TUAD: "T.A. Lewis has cut himself off from the Vine. But if the Spirit wills, T.A. Lewis can be re-attached."

Minor correction - he was never part of said Vine. His apostasy only revealed the falseness of his profession.

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." 1 John 2:19

John said...

T.A.,

First off, I am saddened by your loss of faith. I suppose your destiny is your choice, but I would rather you choose life in Christ rather than eternal damnation.

I've read most of the New Atheist stuff, and most of the old atheist stuff, especially Camus, who is a personal favorite, so I am fairly well informed in this old conversation.

The only thing that confuses me up to this point is two things you said:
"Yeah that's why countries like Japan and Denmark and Sweden where rates of atheism are over 50% are seething kettles of crime....Oh, wait, they continually score as some of the countries with the lowest levels of crime and highest indexes of happiness in the world - all without your little pop the magic dragon god." (Which, setting aside the somewhat disappointing language, I take to mean that countries with higher percentages of atheism have lower crime rates and more happiness than dominantly religious countries).

"Unless you can show that atheism was the reason for the atrocities, and not power, nor political gain, nor economic gain, nor any of any other mitigating factors, your claim is sophomoric and has been debunked many times over." (Which, setting aside the somewhat disappointing language, I take to mean that the atheism of evil dictators was not necessarily responsible for their evil actions).

These two statements are inconsistent - unless of course you are presupposing that atheism is only ever good. I think maybe someone who touts their own commitment to critical thinking should consider this.

T. A. Lewis said...

Frank Turk,

I see you did not address the way that I showed your understanding the non-true-Scotsman fallacy to be superficial.

Oh, and labeling me a troll doesn't get you a pass to dismiss my arguments. That's one even your buddy Jason Lisle decries in his latest book as the "pseudo-refuting epithet".

Steve Drake said...

Hi Frank,
2nd warning about feeding the troll. I, like others may be confused about what that actually means. I realize we are not to cast our pearls before swine, and that we are to answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes, so how should this thread continue?
Your brother in Christ,
Steve Drake

T. A. Lewis said...

Reality Check,

Thanks for demonstrating your morality when you wrote:

"For example, let’s say that I find you particularly annoying and if I wasn’t a Christian, or at least an atheist created in Gods image, but just a glorified ape, I might decide to kill you."

For the morally stunted among us, I do recommend a belief in the invisible surveillance camera in the sky if that is what you need to behave.

It's kinda like young children might only behave for Santa, but an older one realizes there is reason behind moral and ethical decisions.

I guess some need Santa though.

T. A. Lewis said...

John,

One was a correlational claim, the other causal. It was not inconsistent.

I never claimed atheism is the cause of the low crime.

I was refuting the claim that atheism does cause crime - by which mere correlational data does work quite well.

T. A. Lewis said...

NoLongerBlind,

Thanks for adding to the running count in this thread of people who have committed the no-true-Scotsman fallacy.

T. A. Lewis said...

donsands,

"have you studied what slavery was in the Bible? Just wondering.
Or are you presumptuously assuming the worse?"


Yes.

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

That's just one. There's all kinds like that.

And for the "oh that was the OT, the NT changed all that", look up Ephesians 6:5

The Bible never condemns slavery, ever.

And if someone offers the "oh that was the way society was back then" defense, then you've just assented to a changing moral landscape that does not have absolutes.

"God has His ethics. It doesn't matter what our's are, really.

That is a moral relativist position. You are saying one set of morals applies to one being in one set of circumstances that do not apply to others in other situations - a moral relativist position.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dear T.A. Lewis,

You have a vested interest in remaining an apostate atheist. You've likely got a dissertation chair who's approved your topic of interest.

There's virtually no way that you could convert (for the first time) to genuine Biblical Christianity and tell your chair that out of intellectual integrity you have to change your dissertation topic. To maybe something like: "The irrational cognition gripping the darkened minds of staunch atheists."

You'd be laughed out of the doctoral program, wouldn't you? You lack the bravery and the moral courage to stand up against the entrenched environment your in. And so you capitulate.

Your moral cowardice is understandable. Most people would do the same thing.

I understand where you're coming from. It's too bad.

You've carved out your academic career path. But it'll cost you your soul.

RealityCheck said...

T.A.

How about an answer to my question?

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth Unites,

You know what a person often becomes when they assume?

When did I say anything about a dissertation?

"There's virtually no way that you could convert (for the first time) to genuine Biblical Christianity"

NO-TRUE-SCOTSMAN for about the tenth time! LOL! This is getting comical.

"You'd be laughed out of the doctoral program, wouldn't you? You lack the bravery and the moral courage to stand up against the entrenched environment your in. And so you capitulate."

You've never been in academia have you? You do know that diversity of thought is encouraged? Right? You do know that almost all people in those positions are highly professional and wouldn't be so petty? Right?

Oh, who am I kidding. The most you know about academia is what Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh told you.

"Your moral cowardice is understandable."

My moral cowardice? LOL! It takes courage to stand up for what is right, not what your are merely told what is right. My position is akin to Huck Finn who had to say "Alright, I'll go to hell" in order to do the right thing.

What's yours? To keep doing the "Christian" thing?

T. A. Lewis said...

RealityCheck,

I did answer you. You keep right on believing in God if you think you might kill people if you don't.

If I had a problematic 3 year old nephew who only behaved if he thought Santa has been watching about him being naughty, I'd tell him to keep believing until he was ready to grow up too.

(As a side note, I find it very intriguing that the people who are first to deny they are animals are the first to hypothesize about acting like them. Very curious.)

RealityCheck said...

T.A.

“I did answer you”

Nope.. you didn’t… and you still haven’t. In fact… you’ve dodged the question twice now. I find that very revealing.

T. A. Lewis said...

RealityCheck,

Yeah, you're right honey. You win.

*Pats on head*

Run along and play now.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

T.A. Lewis: "You know what a person often becomes when they assume?"

Yeah, I know the joke.

"You've never been in academia have you?"

I have.

"You do know that diversity of thought is encouraged? Right?"

Snicker. So naive.

"You do know that almost all people in those positions are highly professional and wouldn't be so petty? Right?"

You really don't know much about academia, do you?

"My moral cowardice?"

Yup. Yours. You're not tough enough to be a Christian.

Steve Drake said...

T.A.,
You really haven't addressed the epistemological base for how you know that God doesn't exist, let alone how you know anything at all. You've beat around the periphery, but have failed to address my question about Sartre and his statement that no finite reference point has any meaning without an infinite reference point. You've admitted that you yourself are finite and don't have sufficient knowledge to know everything about everything there is in the universe. So on this presupposition, since you haven't been to every place in the universe and don't have infinite knowledge, you proclaim there is no God? Please justify yourself based on your own presuppositions.

RealityCheck said...

"Yeah, you're right honey. You win."

Wow… that was easy. A question that a child, could not only answer, but wouldn’t hesitate to answer, you’ve had to dodge three times. I guess we’ll move off of morality now that we have established that you have no basis for any.

Let’s see if you do any better with this. Why are you here? I mean this Christian blog. Why would such a (self pro-claimed) smart guy waste time at a place like this? Seriously… I don’t get it. It makes sense why a Christian would hang-out at an atheist site considering their concern for the atheists well being. But why would an atheist care what a bunch of Christians are talking about? It’s like Dawkins obsession with a God he claims doesn’t exist… it makes no sense.

You scoffed at Truth Unites doing the “Christian” thing. Are you just doing the atheist thing?

donsands said...

"That is a moral relativist position." TA

No it's not, it's Holy Scriptural position; a God's final Word and all sufficient position.

There's a lot more to slavery then those couple verses TA.

There were those who were indebted, and so they had to work this off. More as servants, but slaves nonetheless.
And Paul reprimanded the masters of the slaves.
paul also said, don't worry about your freedom so much, because you are free in Christ. But if you can get your freedom, then surely take it.

And this is a deeper subject than you think.

I hope to study slaves, slavery, and all that, very soon.

But TA, if you reject Christ, and His death, and His ressurection, then you are spiritually dead, just like we all are, until Christ quickens our spirits, opens our hearts, and sets us free, when we fianlly answer the call: "Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest, and peace, and joy. And most of all forgiveness for your sins."

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth Unites,

"My moral cowardice?"

Yup. Yours. You're not tough enough to be a Christian."


You mean to have the exact same morality as everyone else but pretend to have some great pietistic moral code and be a homophobe on top of that?

You're right; I don't have the toughness for that.

I guess you do have more mettle than me.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve Drake,

I covered this distinction.

A theistic god (intervening) is supposed to intrude upon our existence. This is a necessary part of the definition of a theistic god. We can know this type of god via normal epistemic methods.

We can examine these claims in the form of prayers, miracles, etc. When these are found to be false or better explained by natural means, we can say that type of god does not exist.

Might I reiterate, your argument that I must be omniscient to disbelieve in a god, only works for a deistic (non-intervening) god.

I cannot know whether this type of god exists because he never intrudes upon our existence.

But I know for sure that isn't the type of god you are talking about.

I'm doing you a favor even answering this question because in the normal course of events, the burden of proof rests on the positive claimant.

Chris H said...

T.A. Lewis,

I recognise you're taking on the masses, here, but please don't forget about me. I am very interested in your response to my comment at 1:50pm. Legitimately, I think this is the big question atheists need to come to grips with, and I wonder how you've done it.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"You mean to have the exact same morality as everyone else but pretend to have some great pietistic moral code and be a homophobe on top of that?"

Ultimately, there's a difference between an unredeemed sinner and a redeemed sinner.

Second, define homophobe.

If a homophobe is defined as someone who affirms God's Written Word that same-sex behavior is a sin, then yes, I'm a homophobe. I'm not going to dilute and neuter God's Word so that I can cowardly avoid being called and labeled a "homophobe", and in my cowardice, seek the approval of others.

But of course, you wouldn't or couldn't do that. And that's why you're a moral coward.

Don't feel bad. You have plenty of company.

Steve Drake said...

T.A.
What are normal 'epistemic' methods my friend?

T. A. Lewis said...

Reality Check,

Seriously, it's like you've stepped out of the stereotype catalog of horrible Christian arguments and talking points.

If you STILL don't grasp that I made a point by the way I answered you, you are not going to get it and I'm not going to explain it to you. Look up Dunning-Kruger effect.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve Drake,

"What are normal 'epistemic' methods my friend"

Empirical observation, for one.

Oh, I see you grasped at one straw in my entire argument. Why not address anything else?

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth Unites,

You keep calling me a moral coward.

Keep doing it if it makes you feel better.

Look at the big, tough Truth Unites who stands for the morality of the Word of his God...

A Muslim has the same "morality" when he puts his wife in a bee suit.

So do many of a lot of other religions.

It's not morality. It's following orders because you are comfortable doing that so you don't have to think for yourself.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"You keep calling me a moral coward."

Yup. The shoe fits.

"Keep doing it if it makes you feel better."

That's not the reason. It's helpful to name and properly identify the situation. Just like you're an apostate atheist.

So altogether we have: An apostate atheist who's a moral coward.

BTW, you still haven't defined what you mean by homophobe.

Steve Drake said...

T.A.
Empirical observation is not sufficient in and of itself to be a true epistemology. How can you rely on your experience to determine truth over mine or anyone else's experience?

T. A. Lewis said...

Chris H,

"But the problem goes deeper than that, I think. Atheism doesn't present any good evidence for why I should value empathy, nor why I should trust your intuition. You and I may have nothing in common, and I'd be a fool to trust myself to your empathy and intuition - law of the jungle, man."

You're right about atheism. It doesn't provide anything. It is simply a non-belief in gods.

Game theory provides the answers, however. The law of the jungle in a sufficiently complex society of individuals settles into a fairly stable tit-for-tat strategy wherein the vast majority of individuals are cooperators (over 95%) while there is a small (albeit stable) population of cheaters. Almost exactly as we have reflected in reality.

"Appealing to empathy and intuition is only going to work if you can demonstrate why everyone's should be trusted."

It is in your interest to cooperate if I cooperate and retaliate if I do not because we are in a non-zero sum game.

"But that's going you to answer for groups like Nazi Germany, or the Khmer Rouge, whose empathy and intuition are substantially different."

Within groups morality is fairly stable no matter what. Over time, overlapping interests lead to between group cooperation. Not always, but nobody said it is perfect.

"The worst you can say is that you don't like what they did, but you can't tell them they were "wrong" to do so."

I don't fully grasp why you consider this to be such a linchpin. I can say that they are wrong relative to another set of ethics and I may have better set of reasoning behind mine.

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth Unites,

Homophobe- someone with an irrational fear and/ or hatred of homosexuals and/ or people of non-heterosexual orientation.

The irrational part can often be ascertained by the justification that is used. Such as "The Bible Says such and such against homosexuality."

But then you don't hear about this person's equal crusade against seafood eaters which is equally condemned by said book. (Lev 11:12)

The difference: a personal dislike and/ or discomfort with one and not the other.

DJP said...

Oopsie.

RealityCheck said...

Of course you didn’t answer the question… you couldn’t… that’s why I asked it… I knew you would dodge it. The word “objective” to an atheist is like kryptonite to superman. You atheists love to talk about morality in vague terms but as soon as someone says the “O” word, you all run for cover (aka hiding behind smart remarks). Without God the best you can do is a subjective morality which is basically a useless morality. You say it’s wrong to kill you (although you didn’t even have the courage to say that…lol), but that’s just your opinion. Someone else says it’s not wrong… and that’s just their opinion.

I don’t know if you have kids or not but I hope for their sake if you do, and if someone is ever threatening their life, you have more to offer than references (aka dodges) to santa, invisible surveillance or the Dunning-Kruger effect.

http://vimeo.com/5355398

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

T.A. Lewis: "Homophobe- someone with an irrational fear and/ or hatred of homosexuals and/ or people of non-heterosexual orientation."

Thanks for providing your definition. By that definition, I'm not a homophobe.

"But then you don't hear about this person's equal crusade against seafood eaters which is equally condemned by said book. (Lev 11:12)

The difference: a personal dislike and/ or discomfort with one and not the other."


Read this post by Fred Butler about your "shellfish" argument: Here.

Next!

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth Unites,

Your type of "morality" is the same type that burned witches in medieval times and stones adulterers today.

But hey, it's all for your god and he'll supposedly reward you for it so good for you.

I guess I am a coward in regard to this; I'm afraid to have such a heinous moral code.

T. A. Lewis said...

Reality Check,

Check for your hat in the floor. My points must have knocked it off when they flew right over your head.

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth Unites,

I don't even have to read it. I know what it is - something about civil codes of Israel versus moral codes. Or wait, maybe something about a New Testament covenant nullifying Judaic law.

The point is, you are picking and choosing.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

T.A. Lewis: "I'm afraid to have such a heinous moral code."

Ironic. Looks like you whiffed badly at understanding what other commenters have been trying to educate you on.

You have no objective basis to judge the Christian moral code as "heinous."

Your remark about the Christian moral code being "heinous" is simply your subjective, morally relative opinion.

Of course, does anybody here expect you to understand and acknowledge this?

Try harder next time.

T. A. Lewis said...

Truth unites,

It is my "subjective, morally relative" judgment.

I don't care to admit this. The thing is though, my subjective, morally relative judgment is informed by reason, empathy, intuition, and philosophical deliberation.

However, on the other hand, your subjective, morally relative judgment has settled on the subjective, morally relative positions of bronze age goatherds in order to maintain the illusion of some type of "absolute standard."

John said...

T.A.

I understand that the first statement was correlative and exclusionary. In the case you cited, societies constitute a domain, while the range includes atheism, crime rate, and index of happiness. If I understood you correctly, you were saying that it is illogical to claim that a domain characterized by atheism is also characterized by high crime and low happiness. This conclusion is not incorrect (as far as it goes and assuming the claims are true), although it doesn't actually address the quote, which was that atheism breeds immorality and wickedness.

However, your second point was also correlative. The domain is no longer societies but individuals, and the range includes dictatorship, evil, and atheism. It is logical to conclude that correlation does not equal causality. Just because these men were evil does not mean their evil was caused by their atheism. However, the reverse is also true. We have two different groups, both characterized by atheism. One group is characterized by low crime rates and high index of happiness, the other is characterized by mass murder and genocide. Assuming these two arguments to be relatively accurate, we cannot say atheism causes evil or good. We can only say that some atheists are law abiding and happy, while some are ruthless killers. Both are correlative arguments.

However, I believe this construct is inaccurate because it compares atheism to crime rate et cetera as essentially equal characteristics. I believe this is a categorical error. Atheism is nothing at all like index of happiness or crime rate. Atheism is a belief and because it logically entails other beliefs, it is a belief system. If someone is a consistent atheist, their beliefs will influence their behavior. I hardly think a self-proclaimed atheist who went to church every Sunday would be taken seriously. In the same way, a Christian who does not love God with all his heart, and love his neighbor as himself is not taken very seriously.

The question becomes one of what behavior does atheism lead to? The Christian answer given here (immorality and wickedness) is entirely logically consistent with the Christian worldview. Denying God is not only the very definition of foolishness, but it is the height of immorality and wickedness as well. I would also add that while their are some very docile and downright nice atheists, there have been many who believed and wrote that their atheism led them to great evil by anyone (else's) standard. Marx and Stalin both became the harshest persecutors of religious freedom in the history of mankind, and both wrote that this was absolutely necessary as a result of their atheism. Neitsche wrote something very similar in also sprach zarathustra.

I think it would be disastrous and dishonest to paint all atheists as Nazis and Communists, but it is equally dishonest to pretend that no atheistic philosopher has ever concluded that great evil was necessarily entailed by atheism (although it was not evil to them - which is rather the point).

donsands said...

"The thing is though, my subjective, morally relative judgment is informed by reason,"

No way.

RealityCheck said...

T.A.

Ahh… more snide remarks (and dodge #5). You really are an example of “Professing to be wise, they became fools”.

I love it when atheists prove the bible true.

T. A. Lewis said...

John,

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I've read it twice and don't really see anything I disagree with.

I'll make one ancillary remark however. You wrote: "I hardly think a self-proclaimed atheist who went to church every Sunday would be taken seriously."

I'm fairly convinced as an atheist and while I don't attend every Sunday by any means, I go fairly often to different churches. My interest in the rhetoric and cognitive science of religion leads me there to learn.

Little known secret: if you dress nice and carry a bible, smile and shake a firm hand, everybody assumes you are a believer.

RealityCheck said...

“It is my "subjective, morally relative" judgment.”

Which brings me back to my other question that you also didn’t answer? Why are you here? Why, if it’s all subjective, would you spend your time debating it? It reminds me of Doug Wilson’s example of two soda pops fizzing. If that’s all we’re doing… just fizzing… why would you care what someone else is fizzing? Or do you really think, in a subjective world, YOU’RE the only one not fizzing?

Sorry bud… but in case you haven’t noticed, you’ve spent the day cutting the branch that you’ve been trying to sit on.

Enlightening?... no... but it has been entertaining. Thanks.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve Drake,

I'm not playing whatever pseudo-Socratic game you are at.

I gave you a clear response on your point about claims and omniscience.

Until you extend the courtesy, I'm through with your line of inquiry.

Steve Drake said...

T.A.,
TA said:

I gave you a clear response on your point about claims and omniscience.


But that's the point, isn't it? You gave me no clear response on your presuppositional starting point for any knowledge. You claim empirical observation is clear and concise. I claim there are no 'brute' facts, that everything goes through an interpretive grid. As if you can reach out and grab a bunch of facts and determine truth for yourself. Very naive Mr. Lewis. To say that you no longer wish to dialog with me is to say that you have lost the argument. Very well Mr. Lewis, bon voyage in your athiestic endeavors to find meaning for your existence.

greglong said...

Wow. And I thought Christians were supposed to be arrogant, self-assured, judgmental, and rude.

T. A. Lewis said...

Steve Drake,

Thanks for giving me an idea about your philosophical knowledge. I see it is a mish-mash of middle-school level post-modern retreat from knowledge probably peddled by Ken Ham and maybe some icing by some other Christian apologist.

"everything goes through an interpretive grid."

Of course everything goes through an interpretation. What doesn't follow (see my definition of non-sequitur in an earlier post) is that then everything is disconnected completely from empiricism. And you have the nerve to call me naive LOL!

The entire Christian embrace of po-mo relies on that non-sequitur.

"To say that you no longer wish to dialog with me is to say that you have lost the argument."

You asked me about omniscience and claims. You never addressed my answer that I wrote twice.

You simply kept asking questions.

It is common courtesy to reciprocate (oh wait, that is secular morality, I guess Christians don't have to unless their god tells them to).

I refuse to play your game, until you reciprocate.

Anyone who reads through the thread sees that you retreated from my argument way before I decided to quit playing your game.

Rachael Starke said...

T.A

You said:

Little known secret: if you dress nice and carry a bible, smile and shake a firm hand, everybody assumes you are a believer.

Now there, you speak the truth. It was certainly true for me when I was a committed atheist hiding out at a namebrand Christian college. You'd think I'd keep that in mind in the midst of some reaaaallly interesting after-the-sermon chats with the people sitting next to me every Sunday at church. But I forget repeatedly. Thanks for the reminder. It may be the most helpful thing you've said here.

;)

bp said...

TA, you said:

The law of the jungle in a sufficiently complex society of individuals settles into a fairly stable tit-for-tat strategy wherein the vast majority of individuals are cooperators (over 95%) while there is a small (albeit stable) population of cheaters. Almost exactly as we have reflected in reality.

How do you come up with this statistic that 95% are cooperators when you have to take into consideration WHY people cooperate?

Did you take into consideration that there are myriads of people all over the world who "cooperate" because they have a fear of what will happen to them in the next life if they don't. They may not be Christians, but simply religious folk who were raised in a home where they were taught that they they will answer to God for how they live and treat others in this life. Take that into consideration when when you envision a world of cooperation without God and the Bible.

In the same way that FEAR causes many people to obey the law by not killing or stealing or speeding or drinking and driving, or whatever! FEAR of a literal hell, possibly being sent there, and accountability to God motivates MANY people to cooperate.

This fear is one of the ways in which God graciously reigns in the evil and CHAOS that would erupt and abound if you had your way, and nobody believed in God or the Bible. It's not hard to envision what would happen, just look at Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong or Iosif Stalin or the many, many people who followed and obeyed them. No fear of God and answering for all their atrocities is what allowed them to continue on their evil pathways! (BTW, do you consider the myriads of people who "cooperated" with these evil men to be in the 95% or the 5%?)

For the Christian, though we do tremble at the thought of you spending an eternity in hell, the heart is literally changed by God so that we don't obey out of fear, but rather out of love. This is what I wish and pray for you, TA.

Anyway, take this info into consideration before you start throwing out numbers, like 95%. It doesn't take much study to see that right from birth, and on into senior citizenry, unregenerate people are self-seeking, rebellious, God-haters, who don't need much convincing to hurt others for self-gain. Sure, there are many people who do nice things, but you have to dig deeper and find out why.

People are not born with this sweet, "cooperative" disposition you claim to have. Quite the opposite, actually. Any lay person observing a nursery, elementary school playground, high school, business office, retirement home, (or government, for that matter) can see that.

John said...

LOL, T.A.
I'm a baptist - I've known this secret my whole life!

evangelicalcalvinist.com said...

@ TA,

From one troll to another; you do realize that an atheist must presuppose the reality of God in order to negate Him, right? All an atheist is, is a cancer (which I know all too much about, unfortunately) that tries to suck the life from what is "normally" a healthy reality.

Beyond my little anecdotal forray above; you also realize that you have caricatured what Christians believe (so fallacious) in order to make your points. You have said that the ground for ethics within Christianity (or any belief system wherein supernaturalism is its shape) is a certain kind of moralism driven by a reward or punishment system (this kind of thinking was roundly rejected as heretical by the "early church" [which you apparently know nothing of] --- known as Pelagianism [do your homework, bro]).

Christianity, instead, is grounded within an ethic of love; shaped by a God of love. We do what we do because He first loved us that we might love Him.

As far as evidence (which really won't make a dent for you, since your noetic stucture is all screwed up); the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an indubitle fact of history (see The Apostle Paul I Cor 15, the Gospel narratives, and then go look at the work of Gary Habermas in this area).

You assume a rationalist/emperical basis for determining if something is true or not; but ironically you cannot demonstrate your own system of belief (its principles) emperically (which demonstrates how you operate: by assuming what you deny, in order to assume it --- or that the whole basis of your thought is simply petitio principii).

When you figure out how to think, and figure out how to argue against Christianity w/o staw-manning her to death (and an array of a whole bunch of fallacious errors); then get back to me, I'd love to discuss the "truth" with you.

RealityCheck said...

O.k. funny story. About a year ago or so I was on YouTube and following some links having to do with creationism and I ended up watching a video by some guy named eddy or eddie something. The picture that T.A. uses looks very much like the guy I remember from the video. In addition to that, they both brag about how much they know and debate/argue the same way (meaning… neither really offers much argument but lots of dodges instead). Anyway, here’s the funny part. In the YouTube video the guy debated… now get this… himself! IOW, he played the part of both himself and some creationist (who I had never heard of) having a debate. Of course when he spoke as himself he tried to come across as very smart and intellectual and then when he impersonated the creationist he came across dim-witted. It was actually pretty entertaining…which seems to be T.A.’s specialty as well… although, I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy.

T. A. Lewis said...

Bp,

”How do you come up with this statistic that 95% are cooperators when you have to take into consideration WHY people cooperate?”

It is the approximate mathematical outcome of game theory exchanges. Myriads of actual simulations have been conducted with this outcome. Read Matt Ridley’s “The Origin of Virtue” for a nice synopsis.

”Did you take into consideration that there are myriads of people all over the world who "cooperate" because they have a fear of what will happen to them in the next life if they don't. They may not be Christians, but simply religious folk who were raised in a home where they were taught that they they will answer to God for how they live and treat others in this life. Take that into consideration when when you envision a world of cooperation without God and the Bible.”

Not all the world believes in a “next life.” And if they do, it certainly isn’t the dualistic poker and carrot Christian system.

”In the same way that FEAR causes many people to obey the law by not killing or stealing or speeding or drinking and driving, or whatever! FEAR of a literal hell, possibly being sent there, and accountability to God motivates MANY people to cooperate.”

You make the mistake, like most people do who haven’t studied this in depth, of equating fear of punishment (which is not a real motivator most of the time) with moral intuition, which is a real motivator as is born out by actual data.

”This fear is one of the ways in which God graciously reigns in the evil and CHAOS that would erupt and abound if you had your way, and nobody believed in God or the Bible.

Demonstrably false claim. Sweden is ~70% atheist and about 98% non-believers in the bible. Go there and see if it is chaos.

Your claim here is just one of the many things the fundamentalist congregations use as fear to keep its members in line.

“But if you don’t believe everyone will immediately start raping and pillaging and murdering! AHHHHAHAAAAAAAA!!!!”

”It's not hard to envision what would happen, just look at Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong or Iosif Stalin or the many, many people who followed and obeyed them. No fear of God and answering for all their atrocities is what allowed them to continue on their evil pathways! (BTW, do you consider the myriads of people who "cooperated" with these evil men to be in the 95% or the 5%?)

We’ve already dealt with this in this thread. I’m not answering it again.

T. A. Lewis said...

EvangelicalCalvinist,

”From one troll to another; you do realize that an atheist must presuppose the reality of God in order to negate Him, right?”

Not at all. Merely the belief in gods in my fellow humans which is all too apparent.

”Beyond my little anecdotal forray above; you also realize that you have caricatured what Christians believe (so fallacious) in order to make your points. You have said that the ground for ethics within Christianity (or any belief system wherein supernaturalism is its shape) is a certain kind of moralism driven by a reward or punishment system (this kind of thinking was roundly rejected as heretical by the "early church" [which you apparently know nothing of] --- known as Pelagianism [do your homework, bro]).”

Wrong. I haven’t caricatured what “Christians in the pews” believe. Read through the comments above for evidence. With RealityCheck saying without fear of god he might kill me and bp saying there’d be chaos without fear of hell, I’m right in this estimation.

”Christianity, instead, is grounded within an ethic of love; shaped by a God of love. We do what we do because He first loved us that we might love Him.”

Again, I refer you to the thread above to see contrary evidence.

“As far as evidence (which really won't make a dent for you, since your noetic stucture is all screwed up); the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an indubitle fact of history (see The Apostle Paul I Cor 15, the Gospel narratives, and then go look at the work of Gary Habermas in this area).

I literally nearly fell out of my chair laughing at “the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an indubitle fact of history” !

You clearly don’t know much about the concept of legendary development which takes about 30 years – the time after the supposed life of Jesus that the NT began being written down.

You assume a rationalist/emperical basis for determining if something is true or not; but ironically you cannot demonstrate your own system of belief (its principles) emperically (which demonstrates how you operate: by assuming what you deny, in order to assume it --- or that the whole basis of your thought is simply petitio principii).

Didn’t you mention something about straw men? Yeah, that’s what you’ve done here.

”When you figure out how to think, and figure out how to argue against Christianity w/o staw-manning her to death (and an array of a whole bunch of fallacious errors); then get back to me, I'd love to discuss the "truth" with you.”

Nah, someone who doesn’t know the first thing about epistemology and critical history isn’t worth my time.

bp said...

You make the mistake, like most people do who haven’t studied this in depth, of equating fear of punishment (which is not a real motivator most of the time) with moral intuition, which is a real motivator as is born out by actual data.

lol, if only parents, teachers, principals, police officers, lawyers, judges, and leaders of the world only knew that fear of punishment were not a real motivator! It could be utopia! (I'm thinking of just telling my kids that from here on out, there are no consequences for breaking any rules. I'll just appeal to their moral intuition and see how that goes. lol).

Data shmata. As I said, any lay person can observe the depravity of mankind by simply observing them or reading history for that matter. I'll take a look at the book you reference, but it's my guess that there are significant, underlying reasons people cooperate that aren't addressed.

Tim Bushong said...

"It does not follow at all that intimate knowledge equates to nothing to learn."

Close enough for hand grenades, it seems.

Tim Bushong said...

"Nah, someone who doesn’t know the first thing about epistemology and critical history isn’t worth my time."

You can't be serious- you, whose fundamental assumptions can't begin to provide a basis for logic or reason.

Or, given your world view, do you actually think that you can account for ANY non-material abstract absolute?

bp said...

My guess is that it's "fear" that drives people like TA to come to Christian blogs and vent. I can imagine the fear (in his quiet, alone times) of the possibility of being wrong. So it makes sense that he would be driven to angrily and desperately try to prove Christians are wrong.

...that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. -Heb 2:14-15

evangelicalcalvinist.com said...

TA said:

Not at all. Merely the belief in gods in my fellow humans which is all too apparent.

So your narrative fits into the Christian meta-narrative; interesting. See Gen. 3 **debunked**

TA said:

Wrong. I haven’t caricatured what “Christians in the pews” believe. Read through the comments above for evidence. . . .

Sure you have. There is a range of belief within Christianity, even "wrong" belief (since you study the sociology of religions you should be aware of "folk" belief within belief systems vs. actual and historical). Anyway, I'm just giving you what scripture says about God and thus the subsequent ethic that should follow.

TA said:

You clearly don’t know much about the concept of legendary development which takes about 30 years . . .

Actually it takes much longer (like I said see Habermas). No matter, though, we have fragmentary evidence from I Cor 15 that is within 8 yrs of its probable writing.

Beyond that, even granting your point on the chronology of "legend building" (which in actual fact takes much longer) this represents an argument from silence. You haven't proven anything in re. to the Christian story (even if we grant your fallacioius assertion); you've only asserted something in a post hoc fashion (again your thinking is riddled with formal fallacies).

TA said:

Nah, someone who doesn’t know the first thing about epistemology and critical history isn’t worth my time.

You remind me of a kindergartener who just learned some "big words," who then just keeps repeating them because it makes him feel "big." I have a graduate degree that is partially shaped by studying the relation between ontology/epistemology (or in layman's terms [for you] this is called theology --- the "Queen of all the sciences," your asserted discipline is just my handmaid). Your not a serious interlocuter Lewis . . . grow up, bro!

ABurkholz said...

TA:
"When I have examined these claims, which are soundly within the epistemic realm of all humans, and found them to be flatly false or better explained by other means, I can reject your god."

Too bad that our future is not determined by whether or not we reject God, but whether or not He chooses us. I'll pray for you TA, not because you want it, but because I don't just BELIEVE IN God, I BELIEVE GOD, and He commands me to.

He also exhorts me (and others)to stand here and take your self-righteous puffed up insults, which I GLADLY DO FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE. You can never study apologetics enough to be able to figure out the gift of faith.

Unless you're given a heart of flesh for your heart of stone, you can study and know the Bible all you want and NEVER experience the forgiveness of Christ. God's not about making us smarter to be able to debate better, He's about making us humble to be able to love more.

The absence of any agape love or humility in your posts has only served to PROVE THAT GOD DOES EXIST. Whether you believe in Him or not, He's still using you to bring Himself glory!

Praying for you to be one of the ones on your knees by choice and not by force when Our Lord comes back. Phil 2:10

Mike Riccardi said...

Nah, someone who doesn’t know the first thing about epistemology and critical history isn’t worth my time.

LoL. You really are just throwing around phrases and trying to wear the big boy pants.

We're not worth your time, yet you've devoted to us 47 comments spanning 8.5 hours of your time.

Yesterday must have been your day off from work.

lawrence said...

What's so funny about this whole exchange is that T.A. has much to say about reading a "philosopher" and academia and logic and whatnot and yet he committed, whether his point was correct or not, 5 fairly basic logical fallacies (and that was just while briefly scanning the comments) and confused at least 3 major philosophical beliefs.

All kidding aside, though, I'm impressed. Seriously. In one day, he managed to sum up almost all the arguments from the first week or two of my Ethics course.

Kim said...

Dear Mr. J. I'm a big F4F fan, and believe me, you help us keep our sanity. I have enjoyed every lecture or sermon I have heard you give. That would put you squarely in the "good" camp.

Joshua Cookingham said...

Here's my issue:

Every poster here is right when they say that without God, there is no objective morality. Typically the atheist will retort with, "But there is reason, which typically leads to a moral outlook" or, "The only reason you believe in objectivity is because God says so, and without Him you'd go killing, raping, etc?"
3 things:

1. Without God, there is no REASON, only opinion. Sure, we can come up with our own little sources of 'morality'. Doesn't mean they're right, just that they're 'better than nothing'. But even saying that argues that there is an objectivity that states that no morality is bad. Sure, we can say, "Suffering is evil and should be prevented" but that's assuming that suffering IS evil.
2. Atheists typcially miss the point of the Divine command argument. The point is not that Christians WILL kill without God, the point is that without God there is no reason for them NOT to. And no, saying "preventing suffering is the ultimate good." is NOT a good reason for arguing one subective morality over another.
3. The fact of that matter is, without God, atheists would go doing the same things too. the ONLY reason that anyone on earth has ANY sort of morality is because God made us in His image.

Phil said...

Be careful to heed the warning to not rejoice over the calamity of another. Not saying you are but I do not read any remorse for the suffering she endured. I love ya Phil Johnson but please be careful to heed the scriptures warning when writing about those who have fallen prey to sin. "Do not rejoice when calamity befalls another or I will turn and destroy you." Or something like that says the Lord.

donsands said...

"I love ya Phil Johnson but please be careful to heed the scriptures" -Phil

Do you realize what you are saying?

Steve Lamm said...

Phil (not Johnson):

Since remorse is defined as sorrow or regret for one's own sins or failings, why should Phil Johnson be remorseful over O'Hair's sad end? He had nothing to do with it!

You loosely paraphrased Scripture suggesting that Phil was gloating over this women's sad demise. But I see nothing of the sort in his post.

Brother, I think you ought to retract your comments.

Steve Lamm

Sir Aaron said...

Talk about feeding trolls...this thread is like a giant smorgasbord.

This guy is obviously very angry and likes to use his spare time to drum up angst at Christian blogs. He's been presented the gospel and various apologetics and has unequivocally rejected Christ. I'm not sure what the point of arguing with him is.

CR said...

T.A. Lewis: You clearly don’t know much about the concept of legendary development which takes about 30 years – the time after the supposed life of Jesus that the NT began being written down..

The gospels are not "lengendary development." The gospels are testimony. All history relies on testimony and even in modern instances (take for example, the Holocaust where testimony was crucial for adequate historical access to events). Testimonies are a unique and means of access to historical reality.

The gospels (especially Mark's) were written within living memory of the events they recounted and well within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses. Ancient historians like Thucydides, Polybius, Josephus and Tacitus were convinced that history could be written only while events were still within the living memory and that is exactly how and when the Gospels were written.

Two examples - first the women at the cross and the tomb. The gospel writers were careful to name precisely the women were well known to the readers of these gospels as witnesses to important events. The second is the naming of Simon of Cyrene and his sons, Alexander and Rufus. The only reason why Mark is mentioning these names is because he is appealing to Simon's eyewitness testimony.

CR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CR said...

Bp: My guess is that it's "fear" that drives people like TA to come to Christian blogs and vent. I can imagine the fear (in his quiet, alone times) of the possibility of being wrong. So it makes sense that he would be driven to angrily and desperately try to prove Christians are wrong.


Yes, probably. Sadly, as Hebrews 6 clearly teaches, no new instruction will do an apostate any good. The writer of Hebrew (in chapter 6) says so. First, because they are rejecting the Son of God, they are openly proclaiming Jesus as an imposter. They are doing something more terrible than the Pharisees ever did. Pharisees never admitted that Jesus was the Messiah, apostates, once did. It's wicked and demonic because the demons know the power of Jesus and his authority, and they reject Him.

The gospel is simply not something for a guy like TA. All we're going to do is cause him to blaspheme God more and more. Look at some of the good comments responding to TA. All they are doing, however well intentioned, is getting him deeper and deeper and deeper into blaspheming God.

I don't mean this disrespectfully, it's biblical, but what happens when you give a swine a pearl? They're like, blaaaah! They spit it out and want to just wallow in the mud more. So, we don't instruct an apostate with the gospel. We saw that when Robert asked TA to explain the gospel.

But (and thank God for this) for God nothing is impossible and He may bring TA to repentance. As with all of us salvation is totally impossible for us and it is of God alone. That's true for the apostate and all of us.

We may not be able to explain the gospel to TA, but what we can do is when God brings men like to TA to repentance from an impossible situation, we give great glory to God and see people who have apostatized and come back to repentance as a great monumental trophy of grace.

I, and certainly others, do think it's important to address some of the points he brought it, like "legendary development" but it was addressed for our benefit, not necessarily his.

Robert said...

CR,

I agree with you, but the reason I had TA spell out the gospel is because we can't truly call him apostate if he did not know the true gospel. I'm convinced that there are a large number of people who think they are Christians, but have never had the true gospel presented to them. Thus, we need to know whether people have had the true gospel presented to them before labeling them apostate.

What if TA's only experience had been with a charismatic church that told him he had to be able to speak in tongues to truly be saved? That could definitely drive somebody from the church quickly. I'm just saying we really need to take the time to know who we're talking to before we decide how to speak to them.