The missionary position

Sometimes a short post is all that’s needed to convey a deep thought. And Makagutu’s posts is both.

While I do side with him on his thoughts, my own position on the matter is a little bit more complicated.

Firstly the easy bit. It think the Christian Missionary culture brought with it much that is bad. They ravaged local cultures and customs and forced those living in the lands they invade to convert to their doctrines. The side affect of this is that those who followed found it easy to pillage the occupied lands and take the wealth back to their own nation. Leaving those who knew and loved the lands worse off. I think that is a terrible legacy that is yet to be redressed.

I am a product of that which I condemn. I grew up in Zambia and spent many of my formative years cocooned within the missionary environment there. I have benefitted from it. Emotionally I love Zambia as a country, it is beautiful and those who live there are beautiful. Humans and other animals, all of them are beautiful.

It’s been more years than I care to admit since I visited and I miss the country still. I miss the dust and the smell of rain and the many sounds and the fabulous food.

Yet, much of what I love is tainted by the knowledge of injustice that took me there. Injustice that I once supported. Injustice that I once thought was godly and right. Injustice that in some small way was carried out by my own family line. it is done, it is past and I can do nothing about that. Sometimes that knowledge hurts.

Without that, I could never have seen some of the wonders I have seen. I would not have the memories that lead me to call the Victoria Falls my favourite place on earth. A name that itself is a product of that culture.

I was taught that those who died making first contact in the spread of the gospel were heroes and martyrs. There are Christians today who still think that.

I can only shake my head in disbelief, tainted with a small amount of shame.

Random thoughts

In this post I wrote, following, Professor Makau Mutua, that indigenous religions should be protected against the proselytizing religions, that is, Christianity and Islam.

Those of you who don’t live under rocks have heard about the missionary, John Chau, who met a not very good fate when he went to spread the not so good news of chesus to guys who were not interested.

Maybe had my ancestors meted the same treatment to early missionaries, the profile of our world would be different. If the missionaries believe their god is everywhere and can perform miracles, I would suggest they pray and fast, while at home, and ask the gods they pray to to convert whoever it is they are interested in saving from a death that meets us all.

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Creationism – Still a problem for Christianity

Here in the UK, the main publisher of Christian content is Premier Christianity. They do radio broadcasts, podcasts, a magazine and host various blogs.

This week they published a pair of blog items that were guaranteed to grab my attention.

https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/10-questions-to-ask-a-young-earth-creationist
https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/10-questions-to-ask-Christians-who-believe-in-evolution

The ten questions for Creationists are:

1. Can we start by agreeing that the Gospel is more about the Rock of Ages than the ages of rocks?
2. Does the age of the earth – or its shape – matter to a Christian?
3. Does the Bible teach that the earth is spherical?
4. How could people in 1000 BC grasp the idea of geological time?
5. Does the Bible always speak in a direct literal way?
6. Why do you assume that animal death only began to happen after Adam ate the fruit?
7. Is young earth creationism the traditional Christian view?
8. Were early geologists opposed to Christianity and did they use their geology to undermine belief?
9. Did Christians oppose old earth geology in the past?
10. Why do you claim that so many geologists in the last 350 years got their geology wrong?

The ten questions for those who accept evolution are:

1. If the Bible was your only source, would you ever suggest that Jesus Christ used evolution?
2. Why do you believe rocks containing thorns are millions of years old?
3. Why would you believe that Jesus the Creator used such processes to create the world, and then hypocritically declared it to be “very good”? (Genesis 1:31)
4. Why would God use a process which favours the strong over the weak?
5. How do you reconcile the truth of God’s word with millions of years?
6. At what point did humans become humans?
7. Was Jesus mistaken?
8. How can we trust God?
9. If evolution is true, then why didn’t God simply tell us that?
10. What would the Apostle Paul make of the theory of evolution?

Some of the questions (like Creationist question no.3) look to me like ‘softballs’, unserious questions designed to allow a standard response to a common internet meme. Given the majority readership of these posts is likely to be Christians, this seems like a waste of a question. Why not present a question that promotes deeper dialog between different Christian factions? I for one am not interested in this sort of question, it’s not challenging.

I’m also disappointing by the depth of the answers to the questions, they are all brief and only cover the the question superficially when some of them (like evolution question no.5) deserve much longer answers. Maybe what should have been done is cover each question in a single blog post and allow a bit of dialogue between the two individuals involved in the questions. That would have been my preference anyway.

Questions aside, it’s the public comments below that have produced the most heat. I have weighed in with my own views and predictably ran into the expected presuppositionalist telling me what it is I believe. I find those highly irritating and it is always a test of patience to remain civil in my replies.

As is to be expected, the more thoughtful comments come from the Christians who accept an old earth and some form of evolution and the more antagonistic comments are from the creationists, who espouse a much more literal version of the bible accounts. Sadly, they don’t continue their biblical literalism into the verses that talk about loving your neighbour and witnessing with respect and gentleness.

Oddly, I find myself welcoming the terrible comments from Creationists, not because I enjoy reading what they say, I don’t. I welcome the comments because it permits the rotten part of Christianity to expose itself. The more this literal and unloving section of Christianity floats to the surface and spews it’s bile, the more people will be turned away from it and be unconvinced by its claims. The clutter and chaos created by the creationists acts as an inoculation against the more attractive aspects of Christianity. Because at the very core, Christianity is still a myth trying very hard to be taken seriously and Creationism reveals that in the most effective way possible.

Why ice cream makes me love Jesus more.

Why ice cream makes me love Jesus more.

This blog post raises a theme I have often seen made in Christian circles and it really is among the dumbest claims that get made by Christians. It comes under the banner of validation by self identified victimisation. Apparently, being mocked validates your beliefs. Or rather, mocking something means it’s real because no one ever mocks a not real thing. Golly!

Well, that must mean the earth is really flat, unicorns exist, there’s a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, and amazingly, atheism really is true! Oh the contradiction!

But, the question that you really want me to answer is….

Would I try this Ice Cream? Hell yes!

More importantly, why didn’t I know about it when I was in Toronto last summer? Oh well, guess I’ll have to arrange a trip back one day.

6 days / 66 books / 6000 years

Recently we read about an ice cream in Canada called ‘Sweet Jesus Ice cream.’ 1

  • The ’t’ of ‘sweet’ is an inverted cross.
  • The ’s’ of Jesus is the sign of an ‘SS style “S” that was popular among Satanic metal bands of the ’70s and ’80s.

#  Some of their promotional slogans 

  • ‘Everyone has a cross to bear.  Yours won’t be hunger.’
  • ‘Eat like its your Last Supper.’
  • ‘Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain, but God Damn that’s delicious.’
  • ‘Love is patient, love is kind, but you can’t lickit.  So who cares?’

#  They are a good advertisement that Jesus is real.

Nobody mocks a non-entity, a fiction or a fable.  They do what the Bible says:

  • Jesus will be mocked.  He was mocked at the Cross, “Then they spat in His face and struck Him with their fists.  Others slapped Him and said, ‘Prophecy to…

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Being Anti-Theist

I spend quite a bit of time on Facebook discussion boards on religion. I generally try to be polite and considered, but there are also times when I let that drop and I respond to theists in the manner that they have spoken to me. The result of that is that I have been called anti-theist.

I don’t especially object to that label, mainly because how a theist wishes to describe me is of little concern to me. Over the years I’ve been called lots of things by theists and as a general rule I’ve noticed that theists who apply labels to those like myself tend not to be bothered by the accuracy of their proclamations. SO being labelled anti-theist by a theist isn’t something that bothers me at all, though it’s not a label I would necessarily apply to myself.

That’s not to say I don’t find some things abhorrent that come from the religious, those things do exist and when I see those things I do shake my head and wonder to myself “Where does this poison come from?”

One such example happened only this weekend, in response to the following story.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/14/nyregion/david-buckel-dead-fire.html

I can’t even comprehend what would drive someone to do that. The story makes me shudder at the imagined pain such an act would cause.

So what is my anti-theist beef today?

Well, I was alerted to the story when a Christian posted it to Facebook with the comment

Everybody’s got a religion…

Reasonpress site launch and a Book that I’m very Excited About

I hope the title of this post isn’t seen as click-bait because it’s all true. I am excited and it is about a book and a website , but it’s also more than that.

For the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project to get a book out, it’s been running under the title of The response Book Project and it’s gone live and there are plans to expand the site into something more. The something more will have to wait for now, this post is about the book.

But first the link, the curious can click this link and come back here for the boring bits later.

https://reasonpress.net/

 

Why?

It all began with a Christian radio show and podcast called Unbelievable? I’ve been a regular listener for a number of years, as are many atheists. It’s the only religious podcast I regularly listen to, because it is generally interesting, relaxed and stimulating to listen to. Details can be found at the link below:

https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes

Last year, the host of the show released a book to state why, after ten years of hosting the show and talking to atheists, he was still a Christian. The book was officially launched at the Unbelievable? conference in London and I attended, along with a handful of other atheists to get our hands on the first copies of the book so that the response project could get underway. On balance we were not all that impressed. It seems that talking to atheists does not involve listening to them.

Find the book here, if you dare:

https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Unbelievable-the-Book

 

What now?

Well, the site is not intended to be a static site. All the chapters of the response book are free to read on the site and there is a Discus comment block under each one so the hope is that there will be a chance to take the response further and have an active back and forth and not a stale opinion page. There are plans to extend the site beyond just this response book, but those ideas will have to wait until they are made real before I announce them here. For now it’s just the book and that’s about all the excitement I can contain anyway.

A Personal Update

It’s been a while since I gave a personal update, so for those who are interested, here it comes.

I continue to engage in discussion with theists, mostly on facebook in a closed group that exists for that purpose. My experience so far is that reasonable Christians who are prepared to engage with atheists who will directly challenge their beliefs are vastly outnumbered by those who prefer to throw insults and avoid addressing direct challenges. I think this is a feature of the medium being used rather than a true slice of the Christian demographic.

The interface theism and atheism continues to interest me and so I have booked myself to go to the following Christian conference in a week.

https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Features/Unbelievable-The-Conference-2017/Seminars-Topics

Unbelievable? is a weekly UK Christian radio show that focuses on that interface and is pretty much the only religious themed show I listen to. I download the podcast version each weekend.

I am disappointed that the conference based on the show does not have any atheist or non Christian speakers. I am looking forward to hearing what the Christian speakers have to say about atheism and atheists. I am expecting to hear them confidently state what it is that atheists think and believe and I am expecting these projections to not match my own thoughts and ideas. I am stating this up front because it is a common experience I have when Christian leaders talk on the subject. Let’s see how right I am!

I am considering tweeting my thoughts during the event, we shall see. I’m not a big twitter user, so it would likely increase my number of tweets ten fold!

Specifically, I am interested in hearing the talk by Justin Brierley; he is the host of the Unbelievable? radio show and he’s written a book titled “Why after ten years of talking with atheists I am still a Christian”. I am expecting to that I’ll be buying a copy since it’ll be launched at the event. I am also interested in hearing what John Lennox has to say about the case for god, he was on the Unbelievable? a month or so ago and his argument consisted of a list of assertions without evidence, I wonder if the talk will be any different.

Do any of those seminars pique your interest? Which, if any would you go to and what questions would you ask?

I took a big step on my facebook page over Easter last month. I got bored of seeing the same comment item from the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, I can’t find the item right now but it essentially gave a serious of arguments why we should believe the bible account of Jesus, his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. So many of my Christian friends shared it that I put up a post linking to a counter list of arguments poking at all the holes and showing why it is valid to question the bible accounts of Jesus. It’s the first time I have been that blatant. I’m not aware that it’s lost me any friends, and I didn’t get as many bites as I expected, but there was some comment and one person in particular has said he wants to have a conversation on the subject. It’s someone I respect so we’ll see what results.

Away from religion I continue to try to write, I have a handful of fiction projects I want to work on, progress is too slow because time is hard to find. I am also looking forward to visiting the great Canadian state of Ontario later in the year. It’s been about 15 years since I saw Niagara Falls and I am looking forward to seeing them again.

The Story of Naaman – That’s one mean god

The second book of Kings contains the story of Naaman, the head of a foreign army, who is cured from his leprosy by Elisha.

It’s a story I’ve read and heard preached about many times. For those wishing to extol the virtues of faith and the overcoming of doubt, it makes for a great narrative.

What is less well known is that at the end of the story Elisha’s servant gets a little greedy and claims the payment for the healing after Elisha has turned it down. It’s not clear how Elisha finds out about the deception, but he isn’t best pleased and promptly curses the servant and all his descendent to be forever plagues with leprosy. Nice.

It is this sort of ending that justifies the challenge that the Christian god isn’t a god of love but a moral monster.

Subjective moral values aside, the story creates a narrative that should be testable today. The servant’s descendents were cursed to suffer with leprosy forever. Which means that there should be alive today a family line whose descents all suffer with this disease. This would make for an interesting medical case, especially since leprosy isn’t a genetic disease. Does a family line exist today where all members suffer from leprosy?

The existence of such a family would surely be evidence for the authenticity of this story and therefore affirm the existence of such a curse, which surely would conclude that the Christian god isn’t a myth after all. It would also confirm that the Christian god is a petulant vengeful scumbag that we should be afraid of but is not at all worthy of worship. So if this story can be confirmed to be true based on the servant’s curse, then maybe Christians don’t want the lineage to be identified after all.

There are some Christian objections though:
– maybe it’s not leprosy, the English says leprosy, but the original could mean any skin disease.

My ancient language knowledge isn’t good enough to read the original; there is strong support for it being leprosy and also for a less specific diagnosis. Whatever it is or was, it doesn’t cancel out the many generations being cursed with a disease forever. If that disease isn’t a genetic disease, then how does each descendent get it? Does god arrange for each one to succumb?

– People with leprosy tended not to reproduce due to being outcast so don’t assume the servant did

Well, that puts paid to the all descendents forever part of the curse. Who’s at fault there? The godly Elisha or god? Someone surely messed up.

– Maybe god chose not to honour Elisha’s curse beyond the servant.

This is a good one. It rescues god from the evil very not loving accusation but also removes the testable part of the story. No confirmation means the bible is once more in the cupboard marked myth. Christians probably like it because it means the bible can’t be falsified either. Perfect for those with blind faith.

Seen in a fresh light, the story of Naaman isn’t one of grace and faith, it’s one of betrayal, vengeance and downright nastiness. Who wants that sort of god to rule over them? Not me.

On The Alleged Atheist Assumptions

There are Christians who claim that atheism assumes there is no god (https://lyleduell.me/2017/02/02/the-assumptions-of-atheism/). This is typical of theists who are self-styled atheist experts. Apparently this assumption (which hasn’t actually been established, merely claimed and assumed to be true) is false because

No one can prove that there is no God

If it’s not possible to prove there is no god, then equally it’s also not possible to prove that there is a god, which leaves the theist in the uncomfortable position of assuming there is a god, with no proof, while pointing a finger that the atheist saying you can’t assume there is no god because you can’t prove there is no god.

I participate in regular conversations with theists and atheists and the claims of atheists vary a lot. There are those who confidently claim there is no god and there are those who take the softer road that belief in god is not reasonable if said god cannot be demonstrated. The majority take the latter. It’s not clear from the blog post I linked to if all atheists are lumped into the assumption claim or if it’s only the former. What’s also not clear is how the author thinks atheists come to these assumptions. If the assumption if merely because the lack of a god can’t be proven, that that is an entirely reasonable position to take. Given that you can prove neither the existence nor the non-existence of a thing, assuming it exists is the least reasonable position to take.

Next we get to

The second assumption, which I have found in most atheists, is the belief that they are smarter than those who believe in a God.

Yes, there are many atheists who will comment along the lines of “only a stupid idiot would believe in a god”, or other less salubrious phrases. These are equally matched by those theists who quote Psalm 14:1 or other bible verses which justify looking down their noses at non-believers. I am pretty sure I’ve been called all sorts of variations of stupid by theists far more times that I’ve seen atheists bat it back. The numbers aren’t actually important though because the insult isn’t useful regardless of the direction it flows. It is a tad dishonest to accuse the atheist of assuming higher intelligence while not acknowledging the reverse is an equal problem.

The blog post then makes a reference to poll that claims that 51% of scientists believe in god. The link associated with the claim didn’t work for me but it seems to be this:

http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/

Note that it’s 33% believe in god and 18 believe is some form of higher power that’s not god. 10 of those 33% are religions other than Christian. Those stats don’t looks so great compared to the 41% with no belief. But I’m not sure what that has to do with intelligence and belief. Intelligent people sometimes believe dumb things. That happens the world over. Trying to point score on an intelligence comparison achieves nothing other than making it look like you are trying to justify an assumption you have.

What an Abortion

Oh boy what an emotive subject this one is!

I think it is fair that I lay out my views on abortion at the start. Hopefully they’ll be clear but I already suspect that someone will see something in the next paragraph that they can use to call me inconsistent or bigoted or immoral, let’s see.

I am pro choice but I am not pro abortion. I think a world in which abortion is never an option is a better world. However, I do not subscribe to the view that restricting access to abortion is the way to achieve that. My view is that an environment where access to education, health and whatever else is necessary so that an abortion never needs to happen is how that goal is met. When a woman gets to the point that abortion is an option then it means that something else has not gone right and removing abortion as an option should never be considered as the appropriate way to fix that. I refuse to hold judgement over any woman who finds herself in that situation and I will defend her right to have an abortion.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the meat…

New president Donald Trump has signed a ban on aid money going to international groups who provide any information on abortions, not just those that get involved in providing them; they can’t even talk about abortion.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38729364

The recipients of this aid are now gagged with respect to abortion information. This is precisely why I oppose religiously motivated morality. Don’t like something? Then prohibit everybody from being able to have anything to do with it. That’s nuts, but not the subject of this post.

In an ideal world, contraception would be equally available to all citizens and there would never be a case when a woman finds herself unwillingly pregnant. This isn’t the case though. Rural areas don’t have easy access to contraception. Rural areas are also the poorest areas, so a woman who finds herself pregnant is more likely to be part of a family which can ill afford another mouth to feed. Is reducing the chance of her having a safe and legal abortion the right option here? A woman in a poor, large rural family is more likely to find herself unwillingly pregnant. She’ll also be more likely to seek an abortion than her relatively wealthier city dwelling fellow citizens. Where is the justice in mandating that she, her family, her children and her community all must bear the cost? I don’t just mean financial.

This is precisely the scenario where a desperate woman will seek out the most convenient abortion she can. If you remove the safe option through aid banning, you effectively force her into an illegal and less safe one. A dead woman is of no use to her family.

Among my facebook friends is a very vocal Christian who I’ve known since school. Like most of my friends from that era, she has retained her faith and it is very literal. She is rabidly against abortion and in her defence of this action by Trump she has used the phrase ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. I’m not sure which is the first wrong she is referring to, but it’s clear the second wrong is the act of abortion. I argue that in this situation the woman taking home a baby to a large and poor family and increasing their level of poverty is also wrong. There is no ‘right’ solution here, every option is ‘wrong’. Yes I am sad that a woman has felt the need to seek an abortion, I am pretty sure she is too; there is no joy in this scenario. If the alternative was better she would not be considering abortion.

The reason the woman is seeking an abortion is because she knows it’s worth it over the alternative. It is the utmost arrogance to decry her actions as morally reprehensible from the comfort of another country where the level of education, medical care and contraception are better in every conceivable way.

Abortion Stats

In checking facts about Mexico, I was surprised to read that contraception is used by about 70% of women in Mexico (http://www.d.umn.edu/~lars1521/BC&Mexico.htm). I understand that Catholicism is the dominant religion, and therefore that means that contraception is shunned doesn’t it? Well apparently not. Adherence to Catholicism is declining and commitment to contraception by those Catholics is very low (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/10/a-snapshot-of-catholics-in-mexico-pope-francis-next-stop/).

The state of women’s health regards to childbirth in South America and the Caribbean is depressing (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673241/), restricting abortion does not solve it, it exacerbates it. In this action, Trump has condemned thousands to greater poverty and health risks and criminalized those who work hard to against poverty and illiteracy.

A Response to Answering The Skeptics

My last post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/answering-the-sceptics/) received a very long reply, so rather than accept a single huge comment, I decided to replicate the whole thing here and respond. At close to 3000 words, the reply is considerably longer than the post it addresses, a tad unreasonable and I suspect the sort of essay I should expect from the poster. (Note to poster, try to keep your comments shorter and to a minimal number of topics in future, it makes maintaining a conversation a whole lot easier.

The reply I received is repeated verbatim below, with outdented commentary from yours truly.

“Presuppositions are fatal. One should never presuppose anything before an argument because that makes the whole point of the argument moot.”

Presuppositions are necessary. You are falsely identifying the fallacy of begging the question with an axiom or an apparent or necessary truth. You must presuppose several things to even make your claim intelligible. One thing you are presupposing is that the fallacy of begging the question is fallacious. And even before that you assume logic…and some sort of concept of truth. But worst of all you have also claimed in multiple places that you do presuppose atheism because you falsely believe that atheism requires no evidence and illogically you presuppose the epistemology of evidentialism & scientism, both of which are demonstrably false yet they are necessary for your worldview to function.

Missed the point that presupposing the conclusion before making the argument makes the whole point of the argument pointless. The writer thinks he can tell me what I believe too, experience tells me that christians who take that attitude tend to be insufferably rude and prone to not listening. Instead of asserting what I believe based on questionable theology, I recommend actually finding out.

“You’ve already decided the result so why bother at all. Unless by argument AiG means those things where spouses shout at each other and throw things. What has happened here is that the non believer has been framed to be just as bad as the believer because ‘they believe we’re wrong’. The correct way to this to have no presupposition and to weigh each option on the evidence available and then test the claims that are produced. AiG can’t do this though because as christians they have to assume and assert their god and in their attempt to balance the scales they project onto those who are sceptical of their claims the opposite presuppositions. That’s deceitful and dishonest.”

Much of this is simply arguing against yourself since you presuppose at least as much as AiG. I’m not a fan of AiG since their misuse of the doctrine of innerancy has led to much confusion amongst both evangelicals (creationists in general) and Darwinists (and anti creationists in general). But as you’ve shown AiG is essentially right unless you’re saying you don’t assume that the universe must have arose from purely naturalistic mechanisms? You can say that your “testable” models are successful and provide evidence for their truth but Darwinism is totally dependent on the presupposition of naturalism/materialism/physicalism.

Christians don’t have to “assume and assert” their God…I’m not sure what that even means. Loads of Christians aren’t YECs. And claiming that the scales are imbalanced is just more presumption on your part. Your sort of atheist is essentially the left wing equivalent of a YEC…which means that the scales are relatively balanced between you. People like Dick Dawkins are essentially left wing versions of Kent Hovind (except Dawkins & co will probably never go to jail…). Its pretty obvious that you’re actually being more deceitful and dishonest because they at least are willing to grant their presuppositions.

Doesn’t know what sort of atheist I am. In the desire to regurgitate AiGs’s ‘atheists presuppose’ trope what I was saying has been missed, again. Is this going to be a theme? I hope not.

“when a Christian is debating with a skeptic, the skeptic will want the Christian to give up their presuppositions and approach the debate “neutrally.” For example, the skeptic may ask the Christian to “prove” that there is a Creator without using the Bible.

That is a very fair thing to do, you want to assert that something exists, demonstrate it. Opening a book and saying ‘it says so here’ isn’t good enough. You need to show your workings and then demonstrate why the conclusion is valid. Don’t do it and you won’t be taken seriously.”

I’ll admit there are problematic things about this sort of approach. But Atheists constantly try to exclude the evidence of history. The apostolic witness contains excellent evidence of God’s activity in the world. But yes if God exists we should be able to provide arguments for his existence and that’s why there are many apologists & philosophers that do exactly that. But to be fair if you have come to the conclusion that the scriptures & apostolic witness are true then you are perfectly justified to use them as evidence for God’s existence. That’s not illogical, it actually follows perfectly. What is illogical is reading a statement in scripture that says scripture is authoritative and that claiming that is why scripture is true. There are Christians that do that…and AiG may be doing that here, I don’t know.

There are claims that apostolic accounts are accurate witness statements of a god. I am sure many believe it, however it can’t be known for certain and certainly can’t be demonstrated. Many historical records contain accounts of events which are rightly doubted. The gospels and other bible books are no better.

“But Christians cannot give up their presuppositions because this results in adopting the skeptic’s presuppositions

If you can’t give up your presuppositions, then you are not being honest with yourself. Claiming that the opposite view has their own does not get you out of that.”

You presuppose the scriptures & apostolic witness don’t give good evidence for the basic facts about Jesus’ life…you can’t argue for that…it’s clearly a presumption… based mostly on your presumption of the impossibility of miracles. In other words “claiming that the opposite view has their own (presuppositions) does not get you out of anything.”

I believe what can be demonstrated. What can’t be demonstrated doesn’t get believed until that changes. Presupposing it’s impossible is as bad as claiming it’s happened but being unable to show it. I take the middle ground, if it’s not been shown, there is no reason to accept it. It will be believed to be impossible when it’s impossibility is demonstrated. Until either happens, neither is presupposed. Want to promote one over the other? Show it.

“There is no such thing as achieving “neutrality” in an argument. Jesus makes this clear when He says, “He who is not with Me is against Me”

I think by “neutrality”, AiG means something akin to the Null Hypothesis (http://psc.dss.ucdavis.edu/faculty_sites//sommerb/sommerdemo/stat_inf/null.htm) in experiments. In an argument context this will mean to take no position and weigh each argument. If the Christian can’t, won’t, or is incapable of doing that, then they have already decided their answer and the argument is pointless. If the only correct conclusion to an argument is to conclude your starting position then you are not being honest with yourself or to your sceptic. This why a Christian should be challenged to prove their god claims using something other than the circular activity of opening the self referencing bible.”

No I don’t think they mean the null hypothesis. They mean that all questions have a right answer and a wrong answer, and since they believe God exists that “neutrality” over whether he exists is not virtuous or desirous. To be fair if God exists the “objective” position will always be Theism. Neutrality is only virtuous in a situation where a null hypothesis is helpful. But because of the implications of Theism & atheism neutrality on either isn’t going to benefit us.

Cool, so until god is shown to either exist or not exist, the correct position to take is the one I hold. No belief either way.

The correct conclusion is the correct conclusion to an argument. Everything you’ve argued for presumes loads of things and you keep arguing for the same position…so I guess you aren’t be honest.

Do at least try to accurately represent what I’m saying. I think this is deliberate.

And as I’ve already demonstrated referencing the Bible isn’t a viciously circular argument (it’s really not circular at all) unless you are making an argument that it is truthful because it is truthful.

“Don’t Accept Atheist Presuppositions

But christian presuppositions are all fine and dandy! Really? The correct sub heading should be don’t accept ANY presuppositions.”

Incorrect. You should assume a lot of things…and you clearly do assume loads of things.

More telling me what position I take, are we all bored yet?

“The skeptic knows that God exists because God has made it plain to everyone through the general revelation of creation.

If that was true they wouldn’t be sceptical.”

That’s a very poor argument because self deception is extremely common and well understood. I think it’s quite clear that many atheists are willfully atheists because their arguments & reasons are of such low quality that it’s hard to believe they think these are good reasons…the same can probably be said for many Christians. The claim that everyone knows God exists but that some suppress that knowledge makes a lot of sense. Humans suppress beliefs all the time.

If that’s what is really thought I think then I don’t see much change of a rational or engaging conversation. Take some time to understand what it is that atheists are saying.

“If there was any doubting as to just how dishonestly AiG wants the christian to argue, there it is, decide you’re right and then tell them you’re right because they are already wrong because they have presupposed the wrong presupposition. Awesome!

Never Assume

Errr!

Most atheists assume several things to be true.

Okay ….

they assume the existence of morality, logic, and the consistency of the laws of nature

Odd choice of assumptions to list and it depends how existence is defined. I’m pretty sure this is wrong about morality and logic, while the laws are nature are demonstrated facts so assume is a redundant option.”

It’s not odd, thats basically the same argument I made earlier.

What definition of reality are you working with?

You really don’t assume logic or morality? That’s pretty hard to believe since almost everything you write presupposes both.

Point missed, again.

“Most skeptics believe in the existence of morality

Blatant assertion with no reference to source. Also still missing key definitions to determine context and meanings.”

Well…it’s true. I mean I guess we could find a poll about whether or not skeptics/atheists are all moral relativists. I haven’t met anyone who was willing to say that the holocaust wasn’t evil…Sam Harris claims to believe in morality even though he really doesn’t. If you really don’t believe there is such a thing as right and wrong then I think you’re right that this argument doesn’t work against you but that doesn’t give good evidence for your beliefs, it makes them seem prima facie absurd.

And again.

“they will often argue against the biblical God by claiming that God is an immoral monster for acts of judgment like the global Flood

True, they do, and for good reason.”

That’s a complete contradiction of what you just said. You can’t argue that something is immoral for “good reason” if you don’t believe in right or wrong.

And again.

“But what standard do they have to claim that God is immoral

Any standard that says it’s wrong to eliminate those whom you don’t like. People who take that view normally get their moral values from themselves, or they conform to the value as a socially accepted norm. I think that the bible also holds that not killing those you don’t like is a good value. How come god gets a pass on that? Isn’t it supposed to be his perfect rules of conduct or something?”

This moral reasoning is arbitrary.

Christians, always giving god a free pass.

The flood is a recreation event within the broader context of the Torah narrative. The people being eliminated have demonstrate their lack of repentance so it has nothing to do with God not liking them. This is childish straw manning and represents your consistent anti intellectual bias. God disciplines those he loves within the narrative of the scriptures. The writer of Genesis clearly views the timing of the flood as merciful because Methuselah lives longer than the other long lived patriarchs and his name means something like “my death brings judgement.” In other words God gives humanity loads of time to repent. Before you lose your mind remember I’m presenting the text as it should be understood in contrast to your straw man and inaccurate understanding. God isn’t being flippant with his judgement, the writer of the Torah always portrays God as being slow to judge. But additionally the univocal teaching of the scriptures and the New Testament is not that taking a human life is always wrong. Killing someone you “don’t like” could be moral. Capital punishment is moral from the perspective of this tradition and humans tend not to like the sort of people that usually suffer capital punishment. Of course not liking someone isn’t relevant to a just cause for taking life. In any case murder is wrongful joking and the Torah and Jesus are clear that wrongful killing is of course wrong. God’s righteous judgement upon wicked people would of course not be wrong.

“If life just evolved naturalistically from matter and energy, then where do immaterial laws of morality come from? And who establishes these laws? Government? Society? The individual?

One wonders if these are genuine and serious questions or if they are being used as rhetoric to shore up the aforementioned christian presuppositions. Giving AiG the benefit of the doubt, the answers are: natural selection, ourselves and societal norms, all three.”

I wonder if you’re being serious here because this makes your worldview evil. This means you deny human rights because you deny natural rights since rights are socially constructed by humans and governments. They just legal fiction. In other words you believe that nothing is wrong…or right. So the Nazis weren’t evil. Slavery wasn’t evil…nothing is evil. And nothing is right or good. If all their is is matter in motion then there simply is no meaning or value to life.

The meaning our lives have is the meaning that we assign to ourselves. It comes from what motivates us, which in turn is driven by what we like, which comes from the chemicals in our brains. It’s a very well understood process, there is no need for any god at any stage.

“If this is the case, and murdering and stealing are right for me, then why shouldn’t I murder and steal from you?

So not serious question then. Is the only thing keeping them from doing bad stuff the belief that god said you can’t? How come so many people who don’t accept the christian god do not do this? Could it possibly be that natural selection has already dealt a dealth blow to the DNA encoding that brings about those characteristics? I wager that a society that finds those actions acceptable is one that would not last very long.”

Right you don’t believe in good and evil. More murder, rape, etc occurred in the 20th century then the previous centuries combined. We clearly haven’t evolved past these things and societies that make peace with evils like infanticide are doing quite well. Doing evil does lead to disaster and the western obsession with infanticide has hurt us badly but natural selection doesn’t select based on any criteria so natural selection cannot be the basis of determining right and wrong. You may as well roll a die. But the bigger problem is that you don’t think evil things are evil you think they are impractical. That is quite evil.

The critical difference between absolute numbers and per capita numbers is not very well understood is it!

“They can’t tell me it’s wrong! It’s just wrong for you.

And wrong for pretty much everybody else, thanks to our evolutionary heritage.”

That makes no sense. You don’t think it’s actually wrong. Explain it’s wrongness. Because you don’t like it? How does evolutionary history connect to morality? It’s a purely physical process. Right and wrong don’t ever come into it. Is it wrong when gorillas rape other gorillas? Is it wrong when wolves eat humans? Give me an example of something that is wrong, universally wrong and why it is wrong base purely on scientism. Unless you think humans are more than matter in motion then we aren’t capable of free will and rightness/wrongness isn’t even relevant to our “actions” since we couldn’t be responsible anyway. This point of view is totally absurd. These are the metaphysics of evil.

I’m skipping some of the remarks you made. Mostly irrelevant.

I’m beginning to wonder if my esteemed responder understands much about evolution and natural selection and how they affect human behaiviour.

“And yet, despite morality being immaterial and not absolute, we manage.”

The claim is that since morality isn’t material it can’t be a part of a materialist worldview…so do you think morality is immaterial as you stated above? And it’s relative? That means there’s no morality.

If it’s relative then it doesn’t exist, what an odd argument.

Yes, we managed to kill a million infants a year for the last 30 years in America alone. Atheist regimes managed to cause the deaths of over a hundred million humans in the 20th century. Your argument isn’t coherent to begin with but empirically it’s completely false anyway.

“Because individual survival depends on the group and if the individual acts against the needs of the group, they don’t survive very well.”

That’s not a reason to not murder, steal etc. That’s just a “theory” of survival. Why survive? Just because? Your worldview is dark and meaningless. Nothing is actually wrong for you.

I was right, doesn’t understand evolution.

It’s also just false. Dictators survive fine. Loads of people have done horrible things and survived just fine. The social contract theory of ethics was exploded over 2,000 years ago by Plato’s myth: the ring of Gyges. And we see that same story inverted constantly through our contemporary myths about superheroes. We consider it morally virtuous to act against our best interests (sometimes to clearly emotionally unhealthy places) and even give up personal survival for the sake of others. You can’t make sense of altruism. Social contract theory is a description not an impetus of morality. It means there is no morality.

And didn’t get my point either, sadly, it was a theme.

“in a random, naturalistic universe, why should immaterial laws of logic exist?

Another faux question I fear.

In a naturalistic universe there is no explanation for laws of logic

As I suspected. The laws of logic are man made by the way (https://www.britannica.com/topic/laws-of-thought)”

This is idiotic. You think that human minds (something you claimed not to believe in elsewhere) came up with the laws that make rationality possibility? Like the law of identity? Or the law of non contradiction? You really don’t know enough about these issues to discuss them. Citing a britannica article as evidence for your faulty claim is an embarrassingly weak argument. Especially since that article doesn’t even agree with you. Laws of logic are necessary truths. Humans didn’t make them, we abide by them.

I’m still being patient with you because I hope you will see some of the numerous errors you’re making and hopefully change.

‘Patient with me’, how about presumptuous and patronising instead.

“you have to assume that the laws of nature won’t change tomorrow.

That’ll explain why I have trouble walking straight when I stay a bit late after work. Those damnable laws of nature always changing when I need them most.”

They don’t change that’s the point. Terrible argument. Why is nature uniform?

“They are immaterial and constant throughout the universe.

That’ll be because they are dependent on the properties of the matter that makes up the universe. Take away the matter and you lose the lawful nature.”

That makes no sense. The immaterial laws depend on matter? That’s absurd. Taking away the matter just takes away the matter. It does nothing to an immaterial law.

Physics class required.

Ignoring more irrelevance.

“I’ll write my own new version, ‘answer with folly and be treated like a fool’.”

That’s exactly why I tell you when you don’t know enough and you certainly do not know enough to intelligently discuss these things. It’s hard to take you seriously. But I’m still being patient.

And relax.

I’ll repeat my suggestion from the top of this missive, if you want to comment here and have a productive conversation, keep your comments concise and to a minimal number of points and do reign in the assumptions of stupidity.