More Grim

Let’s have a further look at our friend Grim’s comment on my post about free will. One caveat though: his subsequent comments suggest that what he seems to be saying (or at least, what I think he seems to be saying) may not be what he actually means. But let’s drive on anyway; there’s some good stuff here, and if I misunderstand him, I’m sure he’ll be happy to provide a correction.

One of my critiques of the free will argument is that the knowledge of God can hardly be an impediment to free will if Satan is still evil despite knowing that God is real. Grim’s reply?

Basic flaw here: That Satan and his brethren are like us. Which is (of course) completely false. You have to understand that Lewis is talking about abolition of free will in Humans, no other life-forms applicable in that statement.

Notice that this idea of multiple free wills is what I call an Expedient Fiction. The Bible does not tell us that Satan has a different kind of free will than humans do, nor can we find any justification in real-world observations for the conclusion that different types of free will exist. Grim (or someone Grim is referring to) simply invented this notion of multiple free wills because it seemed like an idea suitable to the rhetorical need of the moment. Except, of course, it doesn’t really address the problem.

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A sneer is as good as a wink to a blind man

Check this out. The Tekton Apologetics Ministries guy has finally decided to “address” some of the comments I’ve made about stuff on his web site.

Not long ago I discovered yet another site by a pissant Skeptic with zero credentials and no inclination to use any sort of Biblical scholarship. In fact, it seems that his most advanced source is stuff like Strobel. Not that there’s anything wrong with Strobel: As I always say, his stuff is good “gateway” material. But as is typical, our man here — who I’ll call Dumplin’ Dumbash — seems to think that making a few cutie-pie comments is enough to do the job.

What is it with Christians and this compulsion to commit the same “sins” they accuse me of, in the very act of accusing me of them? Cutie-pie comments indeed!

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Looking Grim

My response to Geisler and Turek’s free will argument has attracted a visitor who goes by the handle of “Challenger Grim.” At least, he was here long enough to leave one comment, though I suspect that, having had his say, he has since departed the vicinity. In any case, he has left us a rich vein of blog fodder, and I am only too happy to take advantage of it.

He begins by addressing the remarks of another commenter who said,

I have NEVER understood this whole Lewis-based argument that if God revealed himself to us more openly we would be deprived of out free will. How could having better access to the information most relevant to my decisions make me less free?

Grim’s response is short and sweet, but full of potential.

Now that answer is obvious, because then you wouldn’t be atheist any more would you?

Notice, not only is Grim confusing “will” with “knowledge,” he’s also assuming that the atheist does not want to know the truth about God. Individually, they’re obvious mistakes; taken together, they may be telling us more about Grim’s mindset than he wants us to know.

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TIA Tuesday: god is not Great

We’re up to Chapter 9 of TIA, which brings us to Christopher Hitchens. Reading the first few pages, one gets the impression that Vox feels a certain kinship for Hitchens, if not a grudging admiration. That, however, does not stop him from criticizing. After a few pages, we get to the first substantial critique, based on a published debate between Hitchens and theologian Doug Wilson. Vox claims that Hitchens bobs and weaves, avoiding Wilson’s pointed question about where atheists get their morality.

From the very first of his six responses to Hitchens, Wilson is forced to repeatedly ask Hitchens for his atheist basis of respect for the individual, for the reason why an individual should care one way or another about what Hitchens, or anyone else, happens to believe is good or evil, and exactly what the fixed standard by which Hitchens declares Christianity to be not good happens to be. After initially ignoring the question, followed by evasive digressions into everything from etiquette to Epicurus, from Spinoza to innate human solidarity, from slavery to stem cell research, Hitchens finally breaks down under the unrelenting pressure and answers

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Pro-life materialists

Here’s a “talking point” I’ve been meaning to bring up for a while. Did you know that the pro-life movement is even more materialistic than atheists are? Who else but a die-hard, extremist materialist would insist that personhood could be reduced to mere DNA molecules? Talk about reductionism! Yet that is what they tell us. A single-celled organism (i.e. a fertilized egg) is a person, with all the rights and liberties of a person, just because it possesses human DNA. Simple, chemical molecules are the essence that makes that single cell a complete human being, a person, a living soul. Simple, physical chemicals.

Isn’t it ironic that those who will preach the loudest, and with the greatest indignation, about the evils of materialism, become such ardent materialists themselves when it suits their rhetoric? Yet this expedient sort of materialism is not, in fact, very well thought out. While it’s nice to see pro-lifers endorsing a purely materialistic definition of humanity and personhood, I can’t praise their application of materialistic principles because they do it so badly. Reducing the meaning and worth of human life to a mere tinker-toy assemblage of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and other atoms, is taking materialism blindly and clumsily. There’s a lot more to materialism than that.

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Colson on how gays persecute the church.

The Christian Post brings us this column by Chuck Colson on how the gay rights movement is really just a front for a blatant attempt to persecute Christians for their faith. No, seriously, he’s really saying that.

It is all about equal rights, the gay “marriage” lobby keeps telling us. We just want the right to marry, like everyone else.

That is what they are telling us. But that is not what they mean. If same-sex “marriage” becomes the law of the land, we can expect massive persecution of the Church.

And therefore the oppression of gays must be allowed to continue unopposed.

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Posted in Current Events, Politics, Society. 10 Comments »

XFiles Friday: Defining “Miracle”

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 8 )

It’s time at last for Geisler and Turek to define what, exactly, a miracle is. They’ve been talking about miracles all chapter, and have given us a few pointers as to traits that miracles must possess, but now at last it’s time for a formal definition. To lend their definition a little extra authority, they define a “miracle” in terms of their arguments for the existence of God, telling us that miracles ought to reflect the attributes we “discover” about God via our “scientific” examination of Creation. According to Geisler and Turek, therefore, true miracles ought to meet at least the following criteria:

A. An instantaneous beginning of a powerful act, as evidenced by the Cosmological Argument (the beginning of the universe);

B. Intelligent design and purpose, as evidenced by the Teleological Argument (the precise design of the universe for the purpose of supporting life, and the specified and complex design of life itself);

C. The promotion of good or right behavior, as evidenced by the Moral Argument (the Moral Law pressing on us).

Conspicuously missing from this list is attribute D, which should have been based on God’s inability to give us real proof of His existence (as Geisler and Turek claim on page 200, citing C. S. Lewis for support). But we’ll get to that in a moment. For now, let’s start by looking at the list they do give us.

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Christians launch new offensive in War on Freedom

The online Christian Post is reporting a fresh attempt by Christian-led activists to introduce government interference into personal liberty.

After the California Supreme Court’s infamous ruling that approved gay “marriage” two months ago, pro-family advocates talked endlessly for the need to strengthen the institution of marriage at the national level with a federal amendment.

Last week, pro-family groups finally saw their prayers answered when Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi re-introduced the Federal Marriage Act in the Senate for the first time since it stalled in the House nearly two years ago.

The measure, which reads, “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman,” would effectively outlaw gay “marriage” if it reaches a two-thirds majority approval in Congress.

It would also mark the second time in US history that a Christian-led political movement modified the Constitution to diminish its protection of individual liberty, contrary to the core principles on which this great nation was founded.

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Posted in Politics, Society. 5 Comments »

Cultural Greed

In the Declaration of Independence, whose signing Americans will celebrate on Friday, our founding fathers declared that every person has been endowed with certain inalienable rights, including the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Sadly, a number of our fellow citizens suffer from a kind of cultural greed, a selfish and insatiable appetite that leaves them unable to be content with their own religious liberties, and drives them to try and rob other citizens of theirs.

Here, for example, is Chuck Colson, fantasizing about What McCain Could Have Said to Ellen Degeneres on the subject of gay marriage.

McCain’s response? “I just believe in the status of a marriage between a man and a woman . . . We just have a disagreement.”

Maybe, given the sensitivity of the situation, that was the best answer Senator McCain could come up with. But suppose the senator and Ms. DeGeneres could talk backstage, away from the glare of TV lights. What could he say to seize the moral high ground? To start, he could discuss the true meaning and purpose of marriage.

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TIA Tuesday: Imagine there’s no heaven

Last week, we left Vox cackling gleefully amongst the flaming debris of what he thought was the wreckage of Dawkins’s Ultimate 747 argument—an argument that Vox “demolished” by the unexpected strategy of admitting that Intelligent Design is a self-defeating sham. This week, he serves heaven as well as he has served ID, in his presentation of the anthropic principle.

As we saw before, the flaw in the anthropic principle, as an argument for an intelligent Creator, is that it fails to distinguish between imaginable alternatives and those which are actually possible in the real world. As Vox correctly points out, there is not—so far—any conclusive scientific reason for supposing that any other configuration of the fundamental physical constants of the universe could actually occur in objective reality.

Only by postulating a potentially infinite number of universes can our wildly improbable universe become mathematically probable. Of course, there are no signs of any of these other universes, nor did science ever take the idea of parallel universes seriously until the alternative was accepting the apparent evidence for a universal designer.

If, however, the total number of actual possibilities is limited to one, then it is at least an exaggeration to refer to the 1:1 probability as “wildly improbable.” By Vox’s own argument, the anthropic “problem” is not so much an improbability as a misperception.

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Posted in Science, Superstition, TIA. 3 Comments »