Sunday Toons: For old time’s sake

It’s been a while since we’ve had any real Sunday Toons, but since Mr. Holding has seen fit to award me the highest honor he has to bestow, it seems like a good time to stop in for another visit. Holding, for those of you who may not yet have had the pleasure, is a self-styled Christian apologist whose approach is perhaps best typified by this insightful analysis:

Having now read more than 50 books on the subject, I can say without qualification that you are stupid in this regard.

In fact, it’s amazing how many of his analyses end with “…and therefore you are stupid,” or variations thereof. It’s a defense mechanism of sorts, a tactic intended to discourage critics from hanging around long enough to pose a real problem, though from my perspective his best defense is the relentless mediocrity of his scholarship and apologetics. It doesn’t take long to exhaust his repertoire of social maneuvers and rhetorical ploys, and after that it gets fairly repetitive and uninteresting. He’s read a lot of books, and therefore you are wrong (though sadly he has trouble providing any specific articulation of what those books contain that actually proves you wrong). Ok, yeah, we get it, that’s your schtick and you’re schtickin’ to it. Ha ha.

Still, he does now and then come up with an actual argument for his beliefs, and some of them are actually interesting to consider. It’s not that they’re right, exactly, but they’re wrong in interesting ways. One of these arguments appears in his attempt to debunk what I said about I Cor. 15.

For example, he says that “the reason Paul wrote [1 Cor.] 15 isbecause, as verse 12 tells us, he was unhappy with the number of believers who did not buy this whole resurrection business.” Um, not quite, Dumplin’. Their issue was not with whether the resurrection of Jesus happened; their issue was with what was thought to be the impossibility of resurrection (point 3) according to pagan philosophical principles. There’s no room to say that doubted that Jesus was raised; but they did doubt that they could be. As I noted in replies to The Empty Tomb, this does mean they were holding inconsistent positions. Paul’s appeal to Jesus as a model is for the purpose of saying, to persons of a collectivist mindset, “If you deny that it can happen to you, then how do you explain that it happened to our ingroup leader?”

Ok, so they weren’t denying that it did happen, they were merely denying that it was even possible for it to happen. I can see this is going to be good already.

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Posted in CAMWatch, Field Trip, Sunday Toons, Unapologetics. 2 Comments »

An obligation to the facts

Let’s see, where were we? Oh yes, cleaning up some loose ends in Anthony Horvath’s attempted rebuttal.

The important thing for now is that we recognize that our chief obligation is to the facts of our existence, and sometimes reality appears inconsistent and contradictory- and yet there it is.  What does one do in this situation?  Do you throw out your data?  The point being is that you must deal with your data and if you are reasonably confident that your data is legitimate it does not cease to be so just because you perceive it to be ‘inconsistent’ or contradictory.

I say all this because it is absolutely wrong headed to apply Herr Professor’s technique and attitude to supernatural claims and deeply ironic.  Herr Professor, like so many other atheists, deeply imbibes on scientism.  But science itself- meaning, the natural framework alone- provides us with contradictory notions, and yet the data compels us to consider them.  And that’s just within our natural framework!  Never mind revelatory claims!  Nature itself confounds us.

My approach is to verify the facts and to interpret them in the light of the principle that truth is consistent with itself, so it’s hard to see why it would be “wrong-headed” to apply that approach to claims about the supernatural. But I don’t think he really meant to imply that the supernatural is somehow resistant to attempts to discover the truth about it. I think he just wanted to insinuate that scientists have some kind of systematic filter that causes them to reject otherwise-valid evidence just because it happens to be “supernatural.”

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Posted in CAMWatch, Realism, Science, Unapologetics. 4 Comments »

Flatland: the rest of the story

I’m pleased to see that Anthony Horvath wants to discuss my analysis of his attempt to excuse the contradictions in the Gospel story. Alas, in true Gypsy Curse fashion, he seems to have misunderstood my arguments, and consequently accuses me of having misunderstood him. For instance, I remarked early on that, while Horvath’s announced topic concerned transcendence and immanence, the bulk of his discussion concerned what God can and cannot do, i.e. how transcendence applies to the question of what God can and cannot do. Horvath apparently understood that to mean that I thought transcendence was an entirely separate and unrelated topic, which gives him a license to dismiss my entire argument as the irrelevant consequences of an incorrect analysis.

H. Professor’s failure to see how these two fundamental claims about the nature of the thing under discussion connect to the rest of the argumentation I made is the underlying mistake of both of his posts.  That we are talking about an entity that is both transcendent and immanent is absolutely critical to the rest of the argumentation.  In fact, H. Professor makes complaints that I already answered- but because he fails to see the relation between these attributes and the rest I said, he fails to recognize them.

The last sentence reveals the second prong of Horvath’s attempt to make my arguments irrelevant: because I considered each of his arguments step by step, pointing out the problems that require further defense, he accuses me of raising objections that he had already answered (in subsequent parts of his post). He apparently did not understand that I was following the flow of his own logic: that there must be a reason why the “God can’t do nonsense” argument does not suffice to end the discussion, and why Horvath feels compelled to seek other solutions. I simply laid out what those unresolved problems are, at the beginning of the discussion, so that we could approach the rest of the discussion with an appropriate background.

There is a lot more I could have said, of course, and I’m grateful to Mr. Horvath for having given me the opportunity to explore this topic further. He raises some interesting points, and clarifies some others, and, if you can bear with me through a longish post, I think we’ll see why his defense of the Gospel actually constitutes a full-fledged concession of defeat, and a retreat into universal agnosticism.

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Posted in CAMWatch, Realism, Science, The Gypsy Curse, Unapologetics. 6 Comments »

Can God do nonsense?

There’s an interesting post up at our old friend Christian Apologetics Ministries. It presents itself as a discussion of immanence vs. transcendence, but the bulk of the discussion focuses on the topic of understanding what God can and cannot do.

I can begin with by trotting out the old ‘Can God create a rock that he cannot lift or move?’ line. The contention is that if God is all powerful he should be able to do this but in doing so he would simultaneously undermine his own omnipotence. Most of the time this is answered by pointing out that some statements are just nonsense and God’s omni-characteristics do not require him to be able to achieve the nonsensical… Something doesn’t become reasonable just because you insert ‘Can God’ in front of it.

Most people accept this explanation and I’ve found that even nonbelievers come around to accepting it. (Not all of them do, which is why 17 year olds with Google can still find the question to ask it)

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Sunday Toons: Liars, Lords, Lunatics and Ghosts

For our Sunday morning toons this week, let’s have a look at Holding’s attempts to rescue his own attempt to rescue C. S. Lewis’s famous “Liar, Lord or Lunatic” argument (aka “the Trilemma”). Holding seems to be replying to an earlier post of mine entitled “Tekton Apologetics on the ‘Lord Liar or Lunatic’ Argument,” even though he entitles his page “On ‘Compromising God’,” referring to a different and unrelated post. He begins by accusing me of trying to change the subject to something “outside the scope” of the trilemma argument.

The main way used to defuse the trilemma is to try to add to it. As I have noted, these efforts are misguided. Dumplin’ whines (as do other) that the trilemma leaves out stuff like, “How do we know Jesus did say these things?” Actually, it doesn’t; that is just outside its scope. The Trilemma does assume that Jesus’ words are recorded accurately; but positing that they weren’t does not dissolve the Trilemma; it goes outside of it.

Notice that Holding assumes that I am trying to argue that the New Testament documents are unreliable records of what Jesus actually said. That is indeed a valid concern, however that was not the point I was trying to make, nor does my post anywhere raise that particular issue. Holding claims I tried to refute the trilemma argument by asking how we know Jesus said such and such, but I never raised any such objection nor did the idea figure in my argument at any point. So right off the bat Holding is attacking a ghostly straw man, a mere figment of his own imagination.

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Posted in CAMWatch, Sunday Toons, Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

Apologetics, toon-style

As I mentioned earlier in the week, JP Holding, of Tekton Apologetics Ministries, posted an attempted parody of my blog here. Apparently, he’s not too clear on what real parody looks like, and I did give some thought to making a parody site of my own, by way of illustration. I decided not to, however. In the first place, it’s too easy. (I mean, come on, I’m being mocked by a site that sounds and acts like “ticked-eunuchs.com”? Word.) But secondly, I think it would be both more useful and more enjoyable to confront his theological arguments directly.

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Posted in Amusements, CAMWatch, Unapologetics. 7 Comments »

Testing worldviews: pantheism

The blogger who goes by the name “schooloffish” is to be commended for taking the time to consider pantheism, a view that many apologists simply brush off without addressing. In his post “DOES YOUR WORLD VIEW PASS THE TEST?“, schooloffish writes:

Pantheism, and perhaps paganism (witches) would hold that all things are GOD or have GOD in them. Pantheist generally have a high respect for life as all life is GOD. The question of contradiction is based more on definition then everything but there are still contradictions within the world view. The most apparent contradiction is that if everything is GOD than nothing is GOD. Even if you define GOD in a very general term as say a life force (The Jedi God), the religion can not account for anything because the life force GOD has no power to create. Therefore the pantheistic god is unimportant and totally meaningless. In a nutshell pantheists stating that everything is god is a meaningless statement and meaningless as a world view.

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Testing “naturalism”

No, we’re not talking about naturalism as in the scientific study of nature. We’re back to reviewing schooloffish’s post “DOES YOUR WORLD VIEW PASS THE TEST,” and we’re ready to have a look at his critique of the naturalistic (presumably as opposed to supernaturalistic) world view. First, let’s look at the three tests he uses to evaluate a world view.

When testing a world view, you need to take into account three things. Even if you are not familiar with all the aspects of a world view, if any one of these three test proves to be false, then the entire world view must – necessarily – be false. These tests are:

1. Is the world view contradictory within it’s own view?

2. Does the world view actually align with reality?

3. What do expects and eye witness have to say about the world view?

As we mentioned before, the relativistic world view (aka postmodernism) fails the first test, so we’ll skip over that analysis and go straight to the part about naturalism.

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Testing worldviews: defining relativism

Continuing our series on schooloffish’s post, DOES YOUR WORLD VIEW PASS THE TEST, we come now to his definition of the relativistic world view.

The last category to be discussed is a relativistic world view. This has become a very popular world view as of late. In general this world view believes that all world views are true for the individual and therefore all are right as long as it right for YOU. In a relativistic world view, the word truth, right and wrong are subjective as opposed to objective truth as the world would be used by the other two categories.

I don’t expect to have too much difficulty agreeing with schooloffish here, since the relativistic view is indeed rather silly and self-defeating. As Geisler and Turek point out, you can’t claim to have an absolute truth that there is no absolute truth. To make such claims is to exalt the human mind above the real world around us, to the point of merely deceiving yourself.

I will point out, though, that in my own personal experience, I’ve encountered far more Christians advocating a relativistic (or “postmodern”) worldview than I have secularists with similar views. Not that the secular relativists don’t exist, of course, but I personally have not met so many of them. Christians, though—lots, particularly once they realize that God actually doesn’t show up in real life, the way He ought to if the Gospel were true.

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Posted in CAMWatch, Society, Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

Testing worldviews: the religious worldview defined

Continuing our look at schooloffish’s post DOES YOUR WORLD VIEW PASS THE TEST, we come now to the definition for the religious worldview.

In general a religious world view embraces that there is something greater than man. That a GOD in some form is responsible for creation, morals & an afterlife (in some form). This world views is much more broad than the naturalistic world view as there are many different religious positions.

To be nit-picky again, the religious view is certainly not the only worldview that tells us there is something greater than man. Indeed, naturalists are often criticized by religionists for failing to rank man as highly as they do. But I think it’s clear that this is not what schooloffish is thinking of here; he’s actually referring to the idea that there is something (or somethings) greater than the whole physical cosmos, namely God (or gods).

I’ve already talked at some length on the topic of the source of morality, so I want to take this post to focus on the last statement in the quote above: that the religious worldview is much more broad than the naturalistic world view. This is not a good thing for religion, as I would like to show using the parable of Mt. Sinai and the Burning Bush.

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Posted in CAMWatch, Unapologetics. 4 Comments »