Saturday, April 16, 2016
Bill Evans IMO while Calvinists claim that they believe that they firmly believe in God's grace, they spend a whole lot of time "looking down their noses" at those who live in an especially depraved manner. They act as though they have not "received" from God but as if they have earned it. This guy's article is the epitome of pride and self effort. His comparison of those people who have perpetrated heinous acts clearly points to the glory of man, not the Glory of God as they Calvinists so claim.
Sergey Koryakin "He acts as though it's a self-evident truth that God must love everyone"... Ha! smile emoticon. God even loves those who nailed God to the cross!
Alex C Smith The author comes across as saying, "God couldn't possibly love this nasty person". However, I thought that no one is entitled to God's love, that everyone is nasty so God doesn't use that as a criteria for His love? Also surely a Calvinist isn't allowed to presume to know whether or not the nasty person example is one of the Elect?
Sandy Mimi Pierce See my comments on the Triablogue site (signed with my WordPress Blog, The Mourners Bench)
A man repeatedly molested and eventually raped a 9 year old little girl with a door knob. I wonder if she shared Walls' moral intuitions that God must love her rapist? She absolutely does share Walls' intuition about the depth of God's love, because if it were not for the fact that God was capable of loving such a man who was so utterly undeserved of that gracious love, then I would not have ever been able myself to extend grace to such a disturbed and wicked man. Instead, I would have been condemned to hate, not only him, but filled with self-condemnation and self-hatred. How could I love such a man if God Himself could not love such a man. But, because my God is so loving and IS love that He so full of grace, enough even to cover a man such as this man who harmed me, I share in that very grace, the very same grace that He has shown to that man.
Aaron Duvall So he can appeal to random stories as "proof" but you can appeal to your own?
Sandy Mimi Pierce I started to reply with that very same thing, but he would never see it. He sensationalized those children's stories…
…and diminished them by pretending to speak for them.
…which is why I spoke up. But, this is a man who clearly has never experienced the saving grace of Christ.
Tully Borland I'm just wondering if Steve thinks that "The Starry Night" was painted by Gogh.
The belief that God is love is not a piece of a priori theologizing, but revealed through the self-sacrifice of Jesus on behalf of all (1 Jn 2:2, 4:7-10). Steve ignores that you based your contention with Calvinism on the biblical affirmation that God is love, not your a priori moral intuitions.
It becomes (subjectively) morally abhorrent once your intuitions have been informed by the revelation of God in Christ. 1 John 4:7-10 comes first, then the intuitions.
We think of our argument as unapologetically appealing to general revelation… (67).
Whereas biblical authority trumps in the realm of theological norms, there are more basic philosophical processes at play that hold logical priority in the realm of basic epistemology (67).
The Bible is taken as authoritative in the realm of theological truth. But before we can rationally believe such a thing, as human beings privy to general revelation and endowed with the ability to think, we must weigh arguments and draw conclusions, that is, do philosophy (68).
At a minimum, for example, scripture must be understood in a way that's consistent and coherent, not just internally, but also with what we know outside of scripture (76).
What violates our reason or nonnegotiable moral intuitions in contrast, is beyond the pale and so irrational to believe (77).
If the Bible did indeed teach such a doctrine [i.e. "unconditional reprobation"), wouldn't it be more rational to believe that it's not morally reliable? (78)?
And he's run this kind of argument in the past to try to prove that God doesn't have to love everyone.
It hardly negates the point to refer to some cases of bad sinners!
The second problem is that he always, always conveniently fails to mention his own conviction that those evils took place because a logically and causally prior decision on God's part that they occur, for some reason only he knows and from which not everyone will ultimately benefit—and yet somehow this will not morally objectionable to everyone with properly functioning moral faculties who hears it. It's always the same spiel.
They will have on excuse.
Friday, April 15, 2016
Natural evil, according to the expanded free-will defense, is a special case of evil that is caused by the abuse of free will; the fact that humans are subject to destruction by earthquakes is a consequence of an aboriginal abuse of freewill (90).
As regards physical suffering and untimely death, rebelling against God is like disregarding a clearly worded notice, climbing a fence, and wandering about in a mine field. If someone does that, it's very close to a dead certainty that sooner or later something very bad will happen to him. But whether it's sooner or later, when and where it happens, may well be a matter of chance. In separating ourselves from God, we have become, as I said, the playthings of chance (103).
And all specialists on John agree this was written in the early to mid second century, by authors unknown (yes, plural: John 21:24).
Richard Carrier saysApril 13, 2016 at 4:11 pm
I especially like how he insists there are specialists on John alive today who date it before 100 AD. And then doesn’t name a single specialist on John alive today who dates it before 100 AD.
I will assume he means fundamentalists. I don’t count fundamentalists as reliable scholars. Any more than I count astrologers as reliable astronomers.
Richard Carrier saysApril 14, 2016 at 2:31 pm
(P.S. I should allow that some non-fundamentalist specialists do at least allow the possibility John was written in the 90s. But not as a definite conclusion. And they generally all agree John used Luke as a source, so the specialist dating now of Luke to the 90s puts John unlikely so early.)
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Lotharson: And what about four-point Calvinists rejecting limited atonement?
Jerry Walls: That is only because it is rather embarrassing to admit you don’t really believe “God so loved the (whole) world” and gave his Son for all. But that is only a feeble attempt to mask the hard reality that the Calvinist God does not truly love all persons.
Such claims make shambles of the claim that God is love.
Jerry Walls: Calvinists are skillful at employing the rhetoric of love and most people do not really understand what Calvinists are saying. So Calvinism maintains credibility by way of misleading rhetoric about the love of God that their theology does not really support.
Jerry Walls: The idea of unconditional election to salvation and damnation is morally abhorrent, and applying it to your own children only makes it more graphic. But that is Calvinist piety at its best. You sacrifice not only your child but also your moral intuitions in the name of worshiping a God whose “goodness” is utterly at odds with the normal meaning of that term.
In 1978, Singleton raped 15-year-old Mary Vincent, cut off her forearms and left her naked in a ditch near Modesto to die.
A 9-year-old girl [Jessica Lunsford] was raped, bound and buried alive, kneeling and clutching a purple stuffed dolphin.
Mengele promoted medical experimentation on inmates, especially dwarfs and twins. He is said to have supervised an operation by which two Gypsy children were sewn together to create Siamese twins; the hands of the children became badly infected where the veins had been resected. (Snyder, Louis. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich Marlowe & Co., 1997.)
Victims were reportedly skinned alive, scalped, "crowned" with barbed wire, impaled, crucified, hanged, stoned to death, tied to planks and pushed slowly into furnaces or tanks of boiling water, and rolled around naked in internally nail-studded barrels. Chekists reportedly poured water on naked prisoners in the winter-bound streets until they became living ice statues. Others reportedly beheaded their victims by twisting their necks until their heads could be torn off. The Chinese Cheka detachments stationed in Kiev reportedly would attach an iron tube to the torso of a bound victim and insert a rat into the other end which was then closed off with wire netting.
If the story is true, much of the evil in the world is due to chance…It could well happen that a woman was raped and murdered only because she yielded to a sudden impulse to pull over to the side of the road and consult a map. There may be, quite literally, no more to say than that in response to the question, "Why her?".
According to the story I have told, there is generally no explanation of why this evil happened to that person…It means being the playthings of chance. It means living in a world in which innocent children die horribly, and it means something worse than that: it means living in a world in which innocent children die horribly for no reason at all. It means living in a world in which the wicked,through sheer luck, often prosper.
But whether a particular horror is connected with human choices or not, it is evident, at least in many cases, that God could have prevented the horror without sacrificing any great good or allowing some even greater horror.
No appeal to considerations in any way involving human free will or future benefits to human beings can possibly be relevant to the problem with which this case [Auschwitz] confronts.
There are many horrors, vastly many, from which no discernible good results–and certainly no good, discernible or not, that an omnipotent being couldn't have achieved without the horror; in fact, without any suffering at all. Here is a true story. A man came upon a young woman in an isolated place. He overpowered her, chopped off her arms at the elbows with an axe, raped her, and left her to die. Somehow she managed to drag herself on the stumps of her arms to the side of the road, where she was discovered. She lived, but she experienced indescribably suffering, and although she is alive, she must live the rest of her life without arms and with the memory of what she had been forced to endure. No discernible good came of this, and it is wholly unreasonable to believe that any good could have come of it that an omnipotent being couldn't have achieved without employing the raped and mutilated woman's horrible suffering as a means to it.
If the Mutilation had not occurred, if it had been, so to speak, left out of the world, the world would be no worse than it is. (It would seem, in fact, that the world would be significantly better if the Mutilation had been left out of it…
If the expanded freewill defense is a true story, God has made a choice about where to draw the line, the line between the actual horrors of history, the horrors that are real, and the horrors that are mere averted possibilities, might-have-beens. And the Mutilation falls on the "actual horrors of history" side of the line. And this fact shows that the line is an arbitrary one; for if he had drawn it so as to exclude the Mutilation from reality (and had excluded no other horror from reality), he would have lost no good thereby and he would have allowed no greater even. He had no reason for drawing the line where he did.
In the bright world of good sense, this is why God did not prevent the Mutilation–insofar as there is a "why". He had to draw an arbitrary line, and he drew it. And that's all there is to be said. P. van Inwagen, The Problem of Evil (Oxford, 2006), 89,95,97,105,108.
The more Ehrman proposes that sources prior to Irenaeus had a different collection of gospels, the worse of an explanation he's providing for why there's such widespread agreement about the four canonical gospels from the time of Irenaeus onward. Why do the different gospel collections that allegedly were accepted earlier leave no explicit trace in the historical record and so few allegedly implicit traces?
And all specialists on John agree this was written in the early to mid second century, by authors unknown.
Richard Carrier saysApril 13, 2016 at 4:11 pm
Wow. That’s weak. They actually aren’t embarrassed that’s their rebuttal?
I especially like how he insists there are specialists on John alive today who date it before 100 AD. And then doesn’t name a single specialist on John alive today who dates it before 100 AD.
I will assume he means fundamentalists.
I don’t count fundamentalists as reliable scholars.
Any more than I count astrologers as reliable astronomers.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The core issue, as I indicate above, is how to account for the claims of Jesus’s postmortem appearances. I think that they are accounted for in much the same way that we account for UFOs and alien abductions, sightings of Bigfoot, homeopathic “cures,” and the innumerable visions, epiphanies, theophanies, visitations, possessions, hauntings, and so forth reported in all cultures throughout history.
7. Finally, the Resurrection is infinitely more consequential than Bigfoot. If we discovered that Bigfoot exists, that would be very interesting, but it doesn't affect human destiny. By contrast, the Resurrection is all-important. Therefore, there's incomparably more reason to have an informed opinion on the Resurrection than Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or even alien abductions. In terms of what to study, that takes absolute precedence.
From Brian Seagraves:
It's common today to hear statements like, "God can't exist because there's too much evil in the world. God wouldn't allow such a thing, so he doesn't exist," or how about this? "Christians don't treat other people that are different than them with dignity. They don't treat LGBTQ individuals with the worth they are due," or a third example. "From science we've been able to determine that God does not exist," or, "We've been able to determine some other claim that contradicts Christianity." All of this could be put in the category of sitting in God's lap to slap him in the face. Now, I didn't coin this term. I would be proud if I did. I heard apologist, Frank Turek use it several years ago. What's being described here is that this other person is borrowing something from God in order to then argue against him. They're borrowing something that only fits in the Christian world view to then argue against that world view, which is actually kind of a circular argument.
Now, I want to give you three examples, and they're those three we started out with. Evil, dignity, and what I'm going to call rationality.
How is it contradictory for someone to say “there's too much evil in the world, so God does not exist?” There are many ways to address this, like “how much evil is too much? Would you be satisfied with a little less?” Now, I'm not being glib there. There are multiple ways to address the problem of evil, but what I want to do today is suggest a way to not even have to deal with the problem of evil. To put the question back on the person and say, "What do you mean by evil?" Let's say they're not a Christian. Let's say they're an atheist. Where does evil fit in your world view? How is evil a thing in a world view that has no immaterial realities, that has only things that are physical? Because a consistent atheist isn't going to believe in God. They're not going to believe in objective morality (That's morality grounded outside of what I think about it. That's the same for everyone in a given set of circumstances and time).
They're not going to believe in those types of things, so when they complain about evil, they're actually complaining about something that doesn't even have a category or a place in their view of the worldview if they're consistent. That last part is key. We often talk in settings like this on podcasts or in books, like an atheist is consistent, or like Christians are consistent. All too often, we are not consistent with our beliefs. We hold contradictory views.
One of the processes and steps in growing up and maturing as a Christian, is to constantly be refining, constantly be reforming our views, and hopefully getting rid of the ones that are poor and don't fit, and harmonizing more and more aspects of how we view the world, how we view God, how we view scripture.
One of these is evil, and Christianity best explains the existence of evil and why people know there is evil. When someone starts complaining about evil, just ask them what they mean by that. “What does that mean? Do you think there's objective right and wrong? Has it always been wrong to, let's say murder someone? Would it be wrong if no one thought it was wrong?” If the atheist is consistent, they're going to have to say, "Well, if people didn't think it was wrong, then it wouldn't be wrong." What they've just shown is, is that the "evil in the world" is just a matter of human opinion. What they're really complaining about is something that goes against their preference or the preference of a large group of people, because actual, objective evil doesn't fit in their world view. They're having to borrow the existence of evil, which fits in a theistic world view from Christianity, in order to then argue against Christianity, argue against God by saying evil isn't compatible with God.
Now, we also need to be able to address the problem of evil: How is it that God exists and evil exists in the world? We'll tackle that another day, but my point is that often the person bringing this up doesn't even have a category in their world view for the very thing they're complaining about. This is an example of sitting in God's lap to slap him in the face.
What about dignity? How is this an example of the same type of principle? Well, just to put a little context on it, we often hear “equality,” or you see that equals sign on someone's social media icon. What they're really saying is we should treat everyone the same. I think in general there's a good principle there. We should treat same things the same way. Now, we disagree on what a same thing is. I think all men should be treated the same when it comes to what bathroom they could use. I also think that what makes someone a man is their anatomy, their genetics you could even say. We should treat all men the same way. We should treat all women the same way. We do not treat men and women the same way in areas where their sex actually is a meaningful factor.
Now, all of that to say, when someone comes along and says, "Well Christians are not treating everyone fairly. They're not treating everyone with dignity. They're denying someone the right to have a cake made for them, for their same sex wedding." Or, "They're denying a transsexual person the ability to use a certain restroom. They're denying their dignity. They're disrespecting them." To which I'm going to ask, "Are you a Christian?" They're going to say, "No." I would reply, "Well what do you mean by dignity? How do people have dignity? Is that conveyed to us by a majority? By our opinions? By the Supreme Court?" (Some people do think the Supreme Court's job is to bestow dignity. That actually came up this past summer in the Obergefell decision.)
Nonetheless, I'm going to ask, "Where does dignity fit in your world view? What is dignity to you?" More importantly, how can a creature that's just simply a little more evolved than other creatures have this kind of transcendent thing called dignity? Well, I doubt the person's going to have satisfactory answers to these questions. The reason for that is dignity actually doesn't fit in a world view without God. If we are not created, we do not have dignity. Cats do not have dignity in spite of them preening themselves, and acting, and holding their head up at you and pretending like they're better than you when you just want to pet them. Cats do not have dignity. Animals do not have dignity. Humans have dignity because they're created in the very image of God. If that is not true, then men and women do not have dignity and don't need respect in the way we talk about respect. This is an example of borrowing something from the Christian world view -- that people have dignity -- all the while denying the source of the reason for that dignity, which is that we are created in the image of God, as Genesis 1:26 and 27 says.
This is another example of arguing against Christianity based on a principle that's good. I think it's a designed feature that everyone has this instinctive knowledge that people are worthy of dignity and respect. That is an actual feature of being created in the image of God. Now, can that be effaced? Can that be kind of trained out of us over time? I think so, but nonetheless, that's what it means to be created in the image of God. However, you don't have to believe in God to still have that designed feature, to still believe people are worthy of dignity. What it does mean, is you can’t account for why. You can't answer the why question. Just like you can't answer the what is evil question unless God exists. You can't answer the “why does man have dignity” unless God exists.
The third example of sitting in God's lap to slap him in the face is rationality. Now, this might be a little more difficult to track with. We don't often think about thinking, but I encourage you to try and make it through this section. It's not going to be that bad.
Science is based on a few things. We're not going to get into all of them today, but one of them is that you can observe and repeat an experiment, and if you actually do it well, then you will get meaningful data. Now, that data needs to be interpreted, and all that type of stuff, but the fact that the universe is orderly, that things will always work the same way in the same circumstances, doesn't make sense if everything came about randomly. Why would everything that came about by random chance then work orderly and non-randomly? Well, I don't think that fits.
That's one aspect where science pre-supposes things are orderly, but can't explain for why they're orderly. They're borrowing from the Christian world view, which says, "God created everything and therefore it's orderly." They're borrowing the orderly part. Then they're using that to somehow say, "Well science in some area says that God can't exist," (which is something it can't actually do as we've discussed before, but nonetheless people will make that claim.) My point is that the idea that things are orderly doesn't even fit outside of a theistic world view.
There's another aspect of doing science, that doesn't fit apart from the existence of God. That's that we can analyze data and come to meaningful conclusions. If you are consistent as a naturalist, as someone who doesn't believe there's a God, you have to say that everything is just molecules in motion. There's no mind, there's no soul, there's no in-material self, however you want to explain that. We are kind of, to borrow another Frank Turek term, "meat machines." We are no different than a computer, except better at some things and worse at others.
If that's true, then what does it actually mean to make a decision, to exercise the will, to look at data and come to a conclusion? Well, if everything is just predetermined, it's molecules in motion, it's just a really complicated version of a pool table, well then there is no such thing as making a decision, making a determination, having choice. None of that exists unless men and women have an immaterial self, have a soul. In other words, unless they're created in the image of God.
The ability to do science and come to conclusions is actually based on the idea that man is a creature that has a will, that isn't just a predetermined set of chemicals and a biological bag of skin and bones.
Now, there's so much more that could be said about these three categories, but I want to start you thinking in this way of how does a world view actually explain the different features and facets of reality, and does it fit together? Are you having to borrow something from someone else in order to then argue against them? Are you borrowing some scientific principle or experiment, which could only work in a universe God created to then argue against God? Or, are you saying that evil exists and is a problem for God's existence, but your world view doesn't even have a category for evil? What about dignity? Do you think people need to be treated well, as a bedrock principle, and that's based on nothing in and of themselves.
Well, if that's true, then you're borrowing once again from the Christian world view. You're sitting in God's lap to slap him in the face. What you will often find in conversations with people who have thought about these things, is in an intellectual way, they may be fine saying, "Well actual objective, evil doesn't exist," or, "Man is actually ... Yeah, he's just an animal. He doesn't have intrinsic dignity." What's interesting is people may give intellectual, they may give verbal ascent to that, but when it actually comes to how they live their life, how they treat their kids, what they complain about in the world, they act and indeed cannot deny the fact that objective evil exists. Men and women have intrinsic dignity, and are worthy of respect. They can't help but live that way. They can't help but live in contradiction to their world view.
I would encourage you to pay attention when people make statements about evil, or dignity, or rationality, or science, or thought, and see if you can pick up on their world view. Maybe use some questions to draw them out as I've kind of modeled here, in order to get a conversation going, to point them hopefully to the fact that their world view has some contradictions. Internal inconsistency and contradictions are the sign of a world view in trouble. There's something that doesn't fit and the person should want to address it. Who wants to have an incorrect picture of reality? I don't.
I hope you're a little more equipped to address world view concerns on a higher level when we don't always have to get into the weeds and the nitty-gritty, though we should be prepared to do that too.
Well, I look forward to spending this time with you next week on Unapologetic.