Friday, March 27, 2009

Discussion with Dave Ellis

in response to my discussion with Hermit about morality Dave Ellis, another loyal friend opponent joins in the discussion:

Experiencing love is not like a preference for chocolate over vanilla ice cream.

If you can experience love deeply with no psychological trauma or distortion of objectivity marring one's judgment I do not believe you can fail to value it.

Meta: But without any sort of metaphysical hierarchy in which to ground that value it is nothing more than sentiment. You can't make it be more important than it is if there is no transcendent place for it to register in the meaning of the universe. If it's just as and that's all there is then its just the way we feel and that's worth nothing more than my own little personal feelings.

It's so odd how atheists smirk and deride and belittle the subjective when it's used in a God argument. then their ethical foundation is based upon the subjective.

You simply cannot have it both ways. Atheists usually belittle the idea of "objective" morality. So that means the alternative has to be "subjective." so which is it?

Your claim that its just a "matter of taste" is simply a denial of the intrinsic value of love.
Meta: No it's being honest about the consequences of a universe with no transcendence. I am perfectly happy to carry the banner for the cause of the value of love, but only because I think love proves the reality of God in some strange mystical way.

You seem to think nothing has any value, even love, if that value isn't derived from a transcendent source.

Meta: Not that it doesn't have any value, but it's value is realities, limited and discordable. Come on you know people. One day it's hooray for love and that's why I'm moral, the next day it's "O well there's no sin so I can sleep with a married woman it wont really hurt anything." I mean come on, these things are easy to discord when the time comes and it's more convenient to do so.

you know people do this. How many people talked big about democracy then when the 9/11 happened they were willing to give up freedom for security? Or they supported torture for protection from terrorism, because suddenly all those find words about democracy and decency and all that didn't sound so fine when theyw ere afraid of being blown up.

I contend that the value of love derives solely from its own intrinsic qualities.

Meta: But how can it have any intrensic qualities if it's just a side effect of chemicals in our heads? It's nothing more than an accident that got out of hand. Unless of course it has some source beyond that.

Me (before)
Love is subjective, another time atheists would saying "that's subjective" meaning it's worthless.

Here is my central point on meta-ethics. The place where most people go dead wrong on the issue from the very start:


Meta: I'm glad to hear that, you are a rare individual. I really do think you are. But how do you base anything on that unless you are willing to see love soemthing beyond just biological organisms in a cold empty universe that has no meaning?

Subjective simply means experiential as opposed to somethings existence independent of experience.
Meta: Yes and no. It derives from the subject/object dichotomy. So the subject is the individual the object is something everyone can observe. Subjective is more just experience, it's also closed to the view of others, it's one person's view point that can't be shared with another (except in so far as it is inter-subjective, meaning they don't share it but have similar subjectivity). Those are tied in of course.

DE: Naturally, morality is all about the experiential. Where there are no experiences there can be no morality. Rocks and trees don't suffer, they don't hope, they don't love and they don't face moral dilemmas.

Meta: Obviously morality is practiced by subjects, But it's not about experiences. ti's about grounding axioms. That's what makes ethics work. Grounding axioms is what it's all about. you can't ground them in subjectivity.

You are not just listening. You think I'm telling you some Christian stuff this is standard ethical theory that you would get in any college class.

Its only when subjectivity (combined with sentience) enters the world that morality becomes a possibility.
Meta: of course but that doesn't mean that subjectivity is a grounding for axioms. That's like saying your care wont work without gasoline so therefore you can put gas in your radiator.

I don't know. I'm usually short when I try reaching for a good analogy.

DE:To illustrate what I mean by subjective not being equivalent to arbitrary let's look at the example of physical agony. We'd all agree that the experience is, in and of itself, a bad thing (though, of course, possibly a sometimes necessary thing in some circumstances). No one in their right mind values it in and of itself.

Meta: no now wait a minute. you have hold of the wrong end of the stick here. My argument was never that it's arbitrary. Its' that it doesn't' count for anything if there is no transcendence. Unless there is a higher meaning how can it have higher meaning? The only meaning it has is the meaning you want it to have. but because it is subjective you can't use it to sort between competing feelings. If You feel love dictates that you help people, I say I don't feel that way, what are you going to say to get me to believe that I should care what little personal feelings you have?

And why is agony to be devalued? If we look for some "objective" reason we go wrong from the very start. Its devaluation is due precisely to the subjective content of the experience itself.
Meta: what if you encounter members of a warrior culture and they don't value agony they see it as something to be ignored, a weakness? How do you sort out the value of it from their person feeling that it should be ignored?

Meta (before):
I'm not saying atheists don't love I'm saying most of the time they don't value the subjective until they need to like now.

Subjectivity as such is highly relevant (central in fact) to ethical questions (since such questions are in large part about what the subjective experience of life would be like for people as a whole who followed one set of values as opposed to another).
Meta: No it' s not. name one major ethicist who believes this? you don't find that in any major ethical idea. G.E. Moore with emotivism said that morality si emotive but he didn't try to say that that was a grounding, he used it to discorded the value of morality. He was an atheist and as such he felt that morality was an outmoded concept. that's the closest you come in real ethical theory.

do you not understand that there are major conversations that have been highly developed about ethical theory? I( mean you seem to be blazing a trail of your own. Shouldn't you care what the major thinkers have said?

You have not come to terms with duty and obligation nor have you told me how ethical axioms are grounded.

It is not pertinent to many other questions. Not all questions are about our subjective experience. Many are about how things are independent of that experience.
Meta: how do you choose between competing values if your grounding is relative and subjective?

Me (before):
If love is just a chemical reaction due to a side effect of the neural transmitters how does that ground moral axioms? just subjective.

Again, subjective does not mean arbitrary. Unlike you I do not dismiss subjectivity in moral questions. Subjectivity is at the heart of the issue.

Meta: saying it's not arbitrary does not expalin how it's grounded.

(1) what grounds it?

(2) how do you sort between competing values

(3) if there is no higher meaning in life why would this meaning anything?

Some subjective experiences (like love) are intrinsically positive in nature (though of course they can be distorted toward harmful objects and twisted in various ways, one of the things that makes meta-ethics complicated is the intricate ways subjective experience and objective fact are intertwined in questions of morality).

Meta: without prior grounding how do you determine a standard by which we could say the departure therefrom is "twisted?" That would seem to suggest a prior standard.

Meta (before)
If love is the character of God it grounds them becasue God created the universe so love is written in as the basic meaning of our being.

All I have to do is experience love to see it as the basic value for any sane and psychologically sound human being.

Meta: This is recusive. How do you determine what is "sane and psychological?" without a prior standard? You can appeal to love because that's the thing is question. So how do you say we can see that love is sane and psychologically sound? That's the thing you are judging not the grounding of itself. So you have to have a prior standard by which you judge love in order to say that it is so.

how do you translate "psychologically sound" into ethical? why should we think those are the same thing?

Lets imagine there is no god. Can you honestly say you would see no valid reason to think it better to be a loving person than a sociopath? Part of a community of loving individuals rather than a community of sociopaths?
Meta: Of course I would, but that doesn't make it moral. You are not answering the basic questions about grounding. All you are doing is telling me what you like. It's just the yeah boo theory. You have no basis for grounding other than "I think think is good." what is good, It's what I like. what if someone doesn't like it, what if I say "no?" How to do you handle that?

hypothetically let's say I answer that by saying "no, I don't care about love you are nuts. I take what I want and the only moral grounding is 'don't get caught.'" what can you tell me to make that bad other than "that's not what I would do?"

why should I care what you would do?

see you have to answer that to answer the thing about grounding.

The answer is obvious. All you have to do to recognize it is to get over this strange, unfounded idea you seem to have that subjectivity equates to arbitrariness.

Meta:arbitrary is your gig, that was not my statement. i never said that. you are the one with that problem. My argument is your axioms are not grounded. The subjective by its nature as relative cannot ground anything. to ground something we have to objective standards.

that's apt to create a misunderstanding and lead to the conclusion that I'm one of these people who runs around talking about "objective morality." That's not really the issue either. But the point is, yes we are subjective creatures and objectivity is largely a pretense. But we have to have moral grounding that has some teeth. We can't just apparel to feeling niceness and subjective things that can't translate inot standards that everyone can know up front are putting the "ought" into the equasion.

you can't get an ought out of subjectivity.

March 27, 2009 7:01 AM
Blogger David B. Ellis said...

morality is about duty and obligation not just good vibes and candy ass sentiment.

What is duty but a codification of the behaviors natural to a person motivated by love?

Meta: no. why would you think that? that's the Hume's fork fallacy. you are trying to derive an ought from an is. Nature says "you are this way." But it can' tsay "You should be this way." It does not have it in itself to say "ought." just saying "this is" is not the same as saying we ought...

March 27, 2009 7:08 AM
Blogger David B. Ellis said...

it's about doing what you should do.

And are not the things we should do the ones that come naturally to the person motivated by love?
Meta: you are making groundless assertions. you have no ability to slip ought in there. how can you go from 'is' to 'ought?' Hume says it's a fallacy.

Call it candy-ass sentiment if you like but its the sort of sentiment that makes people willing to risk life and limb. There's nothing candy ass about it.
Meta; no it's not. it's great stuff. but it's great stuff not because it makes me feel nice and it's what I like but because it's written into the nature of reality, the ultimate goal of being, it's the basis upon which being is.

many theologians have recognized a basic connection between being and love. Both are united in God. God is the ground of being and the basis and source of love.

March 27, 2009 7:11 AM
Blogger David B. Ellis said...

I don't feel that I have the right to force others to like them just because I do. So that's not morality. But don't commit adultery, that can be forced upon everyone, because it's a moral motion.

that which is moral = that which we can legitimately force others to do?

I can see a lot of problems with such an idea.

I thought you put great stock in free will. In people's opportunity to CHOOSE to do right or wrong rather than their being forced to do right.

Meta: Free will is not canceled by the need to be moral. In fact beign moral would be impossible if it was not a free choice. Moral decision making reqjuires taht one choose freeling to be good. that's the basis of life, that's why God created us in the first place, so we could be free moral agents and willingly choose the good.

but we have to undrsatnd the nature moral agency and then choose it forourselves.

March 27, 2009 9:47 AM

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Loyal Oppositoin Speaks

Friend and Loyal opponent Hermit makes comments on the last post about Loftus views on atheists and morality. I decided those comments deserved spotlighting so I'm answering them here.

Hermit is answer what I said previously in answer to his question about how God grounds moral axioms.

"how do human needs ground axioms? We have a need not to be killed so therefore killing is wrong, like that? what about competing needs?"

Morality is about human behavior (I'd even say it's a form of human behavior) so our judgements about what makes any particular behaviour moral, it seems to me, rely on the effect that behaviour has on us and those around us. Certainly competing needs complicate theose judgements, but I don't see how belief in God makes those competing needs go away.

"besides I don't think you understand how belief in God grounds axioms. I'll do a blog thing on that in a couple of days."

I'll look forward ot it...

Metacrock (Hermit quoting me)
"the mystical experince is about love. The essence of God is love. That's the whole point of the connection between being and love. love requires that God be intimately connected to people. The whole self actualizing aspect of the experience demonstrates God's intimate connection with humans."

Well, I'm all for love, but I don't see any need for a God to connect with people in love. In fact, I've found that for me love is more meaningful if understood as a product of our humanity; it requires a connection with each other, with our environment, with ourselves but trying to connect all of that to anything called "god" is just a distraction in my experience.

Metacrock: of course it is about us, we are made in the image of God, God is love we are capable of loving we are made in God's image. Love is powerful, so for us to be able to love we have understand it our own terms. We have our own kind of love that we can understand, God has divine love that only God can understand.I'm sure the two have a lot in common, the one is just a microcosm of the other.

And important as it is, there's more to morality than love; honour, dignity, courage...but these are all, like love, like morality itself, products of our humanity. We're talking about human emotions, human behavior when we talk about morality; I can't see how grounding it in something non-human makes any sense.
Metacrock: Calling them products of humanity doesn't mean that there is no divine nature inovled in the process of moral decision. Of cousre human morality concerns emotion emotions and ideas and problems, so it's clearly going to be partly grounded in our own concerns and understanding. That doesn't mean that it doesn't have a higher grounding in duty and obligation.

Ethical is based upon a hierarchical value system and means of understanding the goals or outcomes of decision making. There are two major types of ethical thinking: teleological, which is consequential, outcome oriented. That says what makes someting good is the derived outcome. The other is deontological. In it's simplistic from that means rule keeping, but it's really about duty and obligation. To have a moral system one must have one of these two kinds thinking as the base of one's ethics. But for my money the deontolgocial is the best. The teleological has been largely abandoned by ethicists becasue it can be reduced to ledger keeping and often requires one to violates one's creed in order to assume the desired outcome.

Duty and obligation are the basis for moral thinking. In oder to have a code of duty and to keep obligations one must understand who is owed the obligation and to whom one id pledged to duty. God is the most certain object of such devotion becasue man, individuals, society, one's own conscience, all are empty and pointless without a standard that is not relative or based upon personal taste or personal advangage. Without duty or obligation to higher court, higher meaning, higher power, the whole concept is empty and pointless. So there has to be something at the top of the metaphysical hierarchic that makes behaviors duties or obligations.

People don't think this way much anymore, which is to say we are degraded. Our Civilization is had died and is in decay, because we have forgotten what makes things moral. Rather than understanding the basis of morality we have come to identify morality with personal tastes and sense of individual desires. We confuse it with modern autonomy. This has made us forget the basics of ethical thinking.

"but as wonderful as humanity is, it is also weak, sick, frail, sinful, silly, selfish, violent, ignorant foolish and so on. So just because we need something doesn't we know what we need or how to legitimate getting it."

That's why human beings are always having conversations like this one...we need to recognize our iognorance and our weakness and work through it. And let's be honest; the God described in the Christian Bible is surprisingly human in his behaviour; He seems to exhibit the same of kind of petty jealousies, insecurities and anger that so often undo us mere mortals...a terrific metaphor for human behaviour, perhaps, but again taking the idea of God as more than a metaphor and trying to make it the basis for morality seems like a distraction from the real issues that confront us human beings trying to find a way to live together in this world.


Of course we filter our experiences of the divine through cultural constructs because all we can understand. That's our thinking. We literally think in cultural constructs. We cannot do otherwise. We can't relate to God at all in any other way. The wise approach is to understand what the metaphors tell us without liberalizing them.

But no modern ethicist thinks that ethical axioms can be grounded in feelings alone. There's no way to gain leverage for one value over another or for competing internal senses. All we have is an admixture of personal sentiments but not an ethical system, if we try to ground ethics only in what we feel.

Meta: (before)
"Grog need woman. Og has woman. Grog kill Og and take woman. This is moral because it's a human need."

And that would the "silly, comic book version" of humanistic morality, wouldn't it? Human need doesn't just mean fulfilling every biological need, and damn the consequences; our need for security rules out Og's behaviour here because non of us want to live in a world where it's OK to just kill someone and take what you want; our need for self determination rules out men just "taking" women...I can think of all kinds of ways in which Og's behaviour here violates human centred morality and never have to appeal to a God to do so.

Metarock: of course now congnizent of the weakness of a relatiivistic ethics based only on feeling, you to tro indotuce consquentualism to put more fiber in it. It's just a natural working out of practicality that grounds the notion of the good in outcomes. But that doesn't work and it's been abanoned by most modern ethicists. But the fact that you resort to something more than just feelings means you recognize the fact that you need some sort "more objective" orobter in which to ground axioms.

Metacrock (before)
"...the love that we have in us is not merely a side effect of brain chemistry it's the fact of our being created in God's image. So the values of God's character that make up the nature of the good are part of us by virtue of our creaturilness."

Why does God get the credit for all of the good parts of our nature, and never gets the blame for the bad parts?
Meta: becasue he's the basis of goodness. we would have no concern for the good if not for God. Because he's not bad in any way, everything of god is good. We introduced bad. we rebelled. we did it. we put our feelings and our desires above the good. That created sin. We are the authors of sin not God.

There is neither good or bad in nature. nature is neutral. Is not a good or a bad. Its' just there. Good is transcendent of nature.

I think this is part of the reason I reject the use of a God idea as a basis for morality; it seems to me to create a false dichotomy between the conflicting parts of our nature; bad things are human, good things are divine...I think that's unfair to humanity, it puts the good part in a sense beyond our reach instead of recognizing it as the thing that makes us truly human.

Meta: how could anyone seriously entertain the notion of tagging God with the origin of evil? If you ever had a sense of God's presence, if you felt God's love for real you would understand how absurdly absurd that is. That would be like the Addam's family thing about the evil snarling Babi. The evil little deer running around snarling and hateful. Why deny waht human nature is? you see it in the world. Think the death squads in El Salvador? you seriously think they tortured and murdered because they believed in God? They were such strong believers that's why murdered persists and the arch bishop right?

God does not murder, humans do. God did not teach the contras to attack schools and hospitals, humans taught them to do that. You want to shuck your guilt. You don't want to be forgiven of it, you aswage yourself so you don't feel it. So you want to blame God for it rather than facing the fact of human nature is.

Ironically the atheist concern for individual feelings will actually mean less concern for the individual in the working out of ethical systems. John Rawls in his great work A Theory of Justice Dirves the final nail in the coffin of consequentialist ethics. He argued that Utilitarian thinking reduces ethics to the equation of a ledger sheet and buries the individual moral agent in the "bottom line" of that ledger sheet. The conscience of the individual must be sacrificed to "the greatest good for the greatest number." Christian morality, on the other hand, protects the feelings of the individual to a much greater extent. This is because as Augustin pointed out Christian morality is based upon eternal values. We love the eternal and we use the temporal. Humans are eternal since we are made in the image of God and have a life after death in eternity with God. Thus each and every individual human is an end in him/herself. We are each one as valuable as the entire of project of the ethical system. Thus we are to love to each other. The is the basic motivation of Christian ethics that ground ethical axioms. But doesn't make individual whims the orbiter of the good, it makes the individual the recipient of moral concerns.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

DC crowd at it again; Atheism and Morality

Loftus goes off on Christian notions of morlatiy again (2/24/2009) this is on the DC blog.

Okay, there are several arguments I am damned tired of having to argue over and over and over. The issue of atheist morality is one of them. If you have not yet read an atheist response to this question, or if you are truly interested in how an atheist responds to it then check out the following links.

I believe morality is a social construct, and yet I'm a still a good person.

Scroll down on our FAQ sheet to Atheism, Christianity and Morality, and take special note of this link.

Please read these posts before commenting on morality any more...please.


Summary only...

That's all he says about it. Here are some comments from the comment section.

3:56 PM, March 24, 2009
Blogger SE said...

Trying explaining it to the Christians at Reppert's blog. Any time I, or any other atheist, makes the case for morality without God, they just keeping repeating the mantra that atheism equals nihilism and if you don't agree with them, they say you're "intellectually dishonest" and a "pretend atheist".

I'm tired of wasting my time over there.

5:32 PM, March 24, 2009

Meta: But what case do they actually make? they can't ground their axioms so they can't demonstrate the nature of the good. Its' all basically grounded in personal tastes.

Blogger Kel said...

I've found this as well. The notion that religion gives morality is one that has to die. Though if they want to prove that morality needs God, they can take the Bear Challenge I made.

5:33 PM, March 24, 2009

Meta: irrational emotive comment. I suspect its he can't answer the problems that theists raise that he brings this up. that's why it has to die, so I guess they will ridicule it and try to assassinate its reputation.

Blogger Deist Dan said...

Since only religious people have morality, how shall we decide whose to use? Fight some wars like the religious ae used to?

Which bible morality? The old testament morality....the jesus morality...or the paul morality?

How about islamic sharia morality, or Hindu morality? Witches and Voodoo priests have their own morality also.

What makes christians think they are the only religion with a moral code, or that their's is somehow more superior or absolutely true?

Christians have no argument here, religious freedom, freedom of speech, democracy, representative republic, and due process came not from the bible.

As Kelly from the rational response squad said to Ray Comfort on their nightline debate..(paraphrasing)....morality no more comes from god than democrary comes from captain america. Boy did Comfort and Kirk Cameron get humiliated in that debate.

Meta: Christians really do have to stop making the argument about the people and start making it about the ideas. The moral turpitude of atheists comes into it with the argument that one can't live consistently with one's belief system without the Holy Spirit. But that's an argument I would not expect an atheist to understand. It has to be handled real delicately or it will be misunderstood, and I think it's misunderstood by most of those who make it as well.

the "problem" of many moralities in religious belief is not a problem. That should be lost in the averages between the various systems. For example C.S. Lewis' list of cultures that all have the same basic moral systems he draws upon the major civilizations, sociologists who are fond of talking about the relativity of human culture focus on primitive tribes, soemthing Lewis didn't deal with. But the real difference is in terms of social and cultural evolution. But there will be some level of difference between say the moral motions of Saudi Arabia and those of Alabama. But these are problem of minutia, they come with the package of culture difference. None of them mean that we can have ethical systems without grounding our axioms. So the atheist argument falls.

6:47 PM, March 24, 2009
Blogger Jeff said...

John, you're just tired of arguing about this because you're selfish and immoral! You atheists are all the same, why don't you go out and just kill babies?!


Meta: ahahahahaah there you go! Never say die! keep those misunderstandings flying!

7:05 PM, March 24, 2009
Blogger Eric said...

"Any time I, or any other atheist, makes the case for morality without God"

Se, could you give me a summary of the case you advocate? All I ask is that you clarify your premises and conclusions.

The answer to Blogger Eric:

8:51 PM, March 24, 2009
Blogger Eric said...

Kel, your 'Bear Challenge' does no work whatsoever because you've approached it with the supposition that 'protecting one's young' is moral.

Here's what I mean: there are plenty of 'hardwired' acts that you *wouldn't* consider moral if human beings performed them (think of the female praying mantis devouring the male after mating); hence, it follows that the mere fact that X is hardwired cannot justify the notion that it's moral.

In short, you decided before you chose the specifics of your challenge that 'protecting your young' is moral, and you didn't choose this merely because it's 'hardwired.'

Meta: this is the tactic of a reductionist. try to baffle them with pseudo science. This statement serves no metaethical function.He doesn't draw a conclusion now does he demonstrate a case. Nothing he says tells us what is good, or how to live without a notion of the good.

9:03 PM, March 24, 2009
Blogger Kel said...

Eric I agree it's hard-wired, and in that is my point. That such behaviour has evolved in us as well as other species, and thus if you take God out of the picture it changes nothing. We are moral creatures, we have moral instincts. And as such if we are programmed to behave in a certain way, then those who don't will be seen as immoral.

The point was not whether a particular behaviour is moral, rather that a particular behaviour exists without the need of divine mandate. Society wouldn't fall into chaos if people stopped believing, after all our ancestors survived millions of years as social creatures before religion came about.

Meta: Here we have the typical misunderstanding of the biological ethicsits. He assumes that the behavior would still be there without belief in God that that means it still moral thus atheists have morality. But he doesn't' understand what makes moral vs immoral. He's just assuming it's inherent in the behavior. What makes it moral is the system of valuations that seeks to attach moral value to an action. Without that sytem it ceases to be a moral act. Thus you can't ground the morality of an axiom merely in the fact that said behavior is "natural." Without a means of grounding axioms, which will be a system of ethics, it's not moral anymore. It's amoral. That's why atheist metaethics is basically a theory of amorality.

3:22 AM, March 25, 2009
Blogger J.L. Hinman said...

you are a good person because you have Christian memories, and because you have a moral law God put inside you. There are good people in other cultures and other religions too. But they are not good because goodness is a natural byproduct of evolution.

Jut telling us that you are good (and I know you are) is not proof as to why you are good. Now tell me how nature can make you good when nature is neutral and not charged with moral motions?

I would love to see you confront the higher realities of meta ethics. What makes for "good." How do you derive an "ought" form what is?

10:40 AM, March 25, 2009

Christians may at times overplay the atheism = Nihilism bit. That doesn't mean that there isn't a sound argument there about the groundless basis for ethical axioms once we assume there is no transcendental signifier. That is a whole different ball game that most atheists are not even willing to touch yet.

Without a fixed metaphysical organizing principle to mark out a hierarchy of approbations there is no way to guarantee that what is good today will be evil tomorrow int he shifting sands of relativism.That doesn't make atheists bad people, that's not the issue. The issue is that it makes atheists bad ethicists. They don't understand the basic nature of an ethical system and they can't offer a meta ethical theory that would explain the nature of the good or mark out a hierarchy of values.

The only way to sort between competing values is to mark out an organizing principle which lexically orders ethical axioms. Belief in God is not the only way to do this, but it is probably the best. What really gets me is that the atheist so far are not willing offer one. Loftus doesn't offer one. They substitute instead their alleged goodness for a clearly understand set of priorities that mark out a value system and ground it in something other htan their own tatstes.

Grounding is important because once have marked out values, and anyone an do that, there has to be something that sorts them out as important and mere matters of taste. The atheist's typical approach is one of the three ways:

(1) personal likes and dislikes

(2) grounding in nature or science

(3) utilitarianism

(1) is merely inadequate because they can't deal with competing tastes.

(2) violates Hume's fork, you can't derive and ought from an is.

(3) Util has bee soundly thrashed and most mosdern ethcistsi don't take it seriously. Read John Rawls A Theory of Justice.

that basically leaves some form of religious grounding for ethical axioms and that is still the best and most durable approach.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Carrier vs Carig debate

This was last night. I'm sure we will be getting the fallout for a while.

Here's a summary form one eye witness who posted on Carig's board:
Today at 02:52 AM
Fellow Reasonable Faithers,

Well I was at the Richard Carrier Vs Lane Craig debate tonight, and I will be as objectively accurate as I can, when I say that Craig literally wiped the table with Dr. Carrier. All Carrier talked about all night long was the fact that certain events in the new testament, mirror those of certain events in the old testament. He claimed that "Barnabas" was a fictional character based on the fact that his name means "son of a father", which I found to be an incredibly weak argument. He goes on about how mary magdaline was a dirrect reflection to merriam (of Moses I believe) and this is again evidence of mythical legend. Carrier did not even try to attack any of Dr. Craig's 4 main facts. He said nothing in regards to the empty tomb really, or the origin of the Christian Faith. He then claimed that ALL of the appearances to the disciples and Paul were 100 percent hallucinations and that none could be trusted...of course we all know the problems with the hallucination theory, mainly that the tomb's emptiness cannot be explained...(which Craig Failed to point out!!)

Anyway Dr. Craig opened with his typical 4 fact approach, the empty tomb, the location of the tomb, the postmortem appearanc]es, and the origin of the Christian faith. When it came time for rebuttal number 2, Craig simply scolded Carrier for tyring to Change the topic midlfight. Carrier was trying to poke errors in the NT gospels all night, rather then actually trying to disprove the resurrection. There were several Fine points in the debate that Craig had, including the end of his first rebuttal where he finally concluded after refuting ALL of Carrier's little claims that were not even relevant to the resurrection, quoting Craig "I honestly cannot think of any reason that one would reject the resurrection based on historical grounds, only on a presuposition against miracles. So the real question is if you have an open heart, and can actually allow the idea that God just actually Might exist" and he went silent for a few seconds, and closed the rebuttal....but it was very powerful, and he nearly got a STANDING ovation at a secular university! haha

Dr. Craig also had other very funny things that he did to poke holes, and fun at Carrier, he Claimed that Carrier had "Failed to learn how to read between the lines", he claimed that Carrier had used "crank exegies that no serious scholar would except", That Carrier invoked a "casper's ghost theory into the gospel narratives" and on and on. At one point after Craig sat down, Carrier got up and was very upset that Craig had accused him of invoking a Casper the Ghost type story, while Dr. Craig Simotaneously threw his hands up and made very humerous facial gestures toward Carrier, while the entire audience could not hold back the laughter....haha.

Anyway No doubt Dr. Craig made a slam dunk here, he made such an impact, that after his first rebuttal, even Dr. Carrier's first words at the podium were "Wow that certainly was a shotgun of an argument, there is simply no way I can respond to all of it". Craig seemed calm and sophisticated throughout the debate, while Carrier almost seemed lost at times, rummaging through papers with large amounts of time lapsing while he had no words, it was just not a good day for Carrier.

They were videotaping the debate, so I suspect Craig will have it on the site before long.,/.......... any questions comments???????!!!

Craig talks about it on his blog.

Carrier on Infidels:

Regarding historicity, Craig is right that (I'd say) at least 95% (probably more) of qualified experts agree Jesus existed, and that's enough for an expert consensus. So he can validly rely on that premise. Unless we were debating historicity (in which case presuming historicity would be circular and citing consensus would be only one argument in favor of it, subject to the very sorts of rebuttals you consider here), and we weren't, I see no reason to criticize him on this point. I have no problem granting historicity. I will be challenging historicity in my forthcoming book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ but that would only be a first step towards opening a more serious debate among experts, not a conclusive proof they're wrong.

Regarding the things he actually cites a consensus for, Craig's source is an article by Gary Habermas that appeared in the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus (with material repeated a few other places), which counted published authors. In his database nearly all authors conceded or argued for three basic points (Jesus was crucified, Jesus was buried, Jesus was then "seen" by followers), which I suspect is accurate (it matches my experience communicating with scholars around the world). Also in his database 75% of authors conceded or argued for a fourth basic point (Jesus' tomb was found empty). However, this is not a scientific data set, because he didn't control for publication bias (defenders of empty tombs specifically, and believers in Jesus as God generally, publish more papers than deniers of either).

Thus Craig is distorting the facts when he uses a study that measured a ratio of publications as measuring the ratio of opinions among scholars. The latter will be entirely different from the former, so no one can say what the latter really is (only that Habermas' findings do confirm a very large segment--I think possibly hundreds of scholars by his own count--don't believe there was an empty tomb). Another bias Habermas didn't control for was dogmatism (he includes even Christian apologists who have no relevant training in ancient history or documents, like Richard Swinburne, as statistically equal to qualified experts writing on-point papers in objectively peer-reviewed journals). I suspect a proper scientific poll (a valid random sample) of actual scholars (e.g. professors in directly pertinent fields at accredited universities worldwide) would find fewer than 50% are convinced there was an empty tomb (that would accord with my experience communicating with scholars around the world).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lessons in Ideology


The Arguments in the two previous articles (made Arizona Atheists) are Prefect illustrations of what I call the "ideology of hate group atheism." Just to be clear what I maintain: I am saying that the atheist community is spread out on a continuum. It goes from reasonable knowledgeable thinkers to "fundamentalists" much as Christianity or any other community. The atheist "fundies" or "Dawkamentalists" are extremists who basically exhibit many of the same characteristics of a hate group found in the FBI profile of hate groups.

AA contuied to insist that his arguments were logical and mine are not, and that I know no logic, even though he failed to name a single law of logic that I violate. Some of his arguments were actually logically construed, but they were not arguments about logic. So when it came time to give examples of why he thinks my logic is bad. all he ever did was insist that it's so. Never did he give a single argument other than his original assertion that all God arguments are God of the gaps arguments. I went through ten of my arguments and showed that none of them were God of the gaps. He never answered a single one but continues to assert that it must be the case and that I know nothing of logic.

AA exhibited perfectly circular reasoning and other fallacious assumptions. He argued from analogy, which is a fallacy. He used circular reasoning. Consider his final parting face saving attempt:

I'm the hateful one?! Now I know you're nothing but delusional. I'm not the one who said I wanted to make christians illegal. One more chance for what? To prove what a dipshit you are? No thanks. I'm not doing the same things you are; I'm responding to your asshole behavior.

But remember I didn't say that. He didn't quote me. He claimed to have proof but never showed it. What he originally said was "I heard that you said this." So then I denied it so then he asserts that I did. Here we see the ideology at work. The stubborn insistence that I must be illogical and his views are the standard of logical thought, despite any ability to demonstrate any knowledge of logic or to refute my arguments in any way. The "don't confuse me with the fact" attitude, and the insistence that I must be the hateful one despite the fact that I resisting any personal insults until the last exchange when he had just gone so far over the top I couldn't hold back any more. He resorted to insulting my intelligence. I did not resort to call him names such as "stupid" until well after he called me that several times. His speak was loaded and peppered with hateful tones and innuendos. I was truly trying my best not to resort to personal remarks. But of course he doesn't take any of that into account.

Just because you're unable to recognize a logical argument when it's presented to you doesn't mean I didn't make one.

Of course he doesn't demonstrate any knowledge of logic at all. He made no attempt to analyze the logic of any argument I make. He didn't use any terms of logic or talk about any rules of logic. One wonders if he is even aware that logic has a special vocabulary. It's clear that all he's really doing is comparing what I say to the ideological slogans that he thinks in and then since what I say fits the criteria for the hated target and doesn't match that of the ideological slogans, then I must be illogical because that's the way ideologues see the world.

AA has demonstrated far better I could have just why I think there is a hate group at the extreme end of the atheist spectrum. Some part of the atheist community is motivated by the need to feel superior by creating a scape goat among religious people especially Christians. Like the Nazis that segment of atheists use Christianity as the scapegoat on which to pin all the ills of society. That explains the bogus social science approach such as the "Paul study" which tires to say (my misreading statistics) that Christians are morel likely to go to prison. Clearly AA derives a sense of supiriority form his venting of hate and insult. When mocking and derision of others is the basis of one's self esteem we know that one is bound to suffer a miserable life. I do not hate these people, I pity them.

For his own good I pray that AA will find the basis in self esteem based upon the concept that he is loved rather than the ability to mock and deride scape goats. That's the true power of the Gospel. It's based upon the assertion that God is real and God loves each one of us, rather a false sense of supiriority that comes from putting others down.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hate group atheism at it again

I am using this thread to give Arizona Atheist one final chance to prove he can muster actual arguments and do more than name call. failing that he's history.

The very fact that your god has never been proven puts the burden of proof squarely on you to prove its existence. Your continuing insults and ignorance is pitiful, really.
No it doesn't. Why should I have the burden of proof? How can you have a burden to prove something which already say can't be proved? I can only have a burden of proof if I'm trying to convince someone.

Meta: "that make him a big man? that make you feel real tall hu? listen little one I was a sociology major. I know far more about social sciences than you ever will.."

AA: If I actually attempted to study that subject in depth maybe you'd know more, maybe not, but that has nothing to do with the topic of natural selection and innate morality. Clearly, if anyone is trying to act like a "big man" it's you.
You brought it up. You made the statment that I don't know about human behavior. Well what do you think sociologists study? Social stcutrue but also human behavior in social structures.

Meta:"there is no proof for genes of morality. That's a lie"

AA:Very good, precise scientific argument. Where did you learn it? One of those many discredited christian diploma mills? Like I said, you badly need to read up on the subject.
You are not making yourself seem clever wtih that tone. Any number of atheists here will tell you are not making a fool of yourself. I made my argument now answer it. Stop trying to show how clever you are by making a childish wise cracks and say something that matters.

btw everyone knows my Ph.D. was in a secular universtiy. If you do't bleieve go ask John Lofuts on Debuncking Chrsitiantiy. The big atheist author remember? I proved that he studied with Craig and he proved that I went to a secular department as a Ph.D. student in history of ideas. I studied the hsitory of science.

Meta:"I never said that either. It looks you are willing to believe wild rumors and you don't check out the facts very well."

AA: ) Funny stuff. I know that's a lie. I have proof, but you go ahead and say you didn't. Bigot.
bring it. let's see?

I remember a time when I was angry and I considered weather nor not to argue for that. But I never actually got around to pushing it. Baning not killing.

AA:Old (not to mention hateful and bigoted) man with your ever increasing anger in your replies I think it's time for your nap.

you are doing the very same things. why is it not hateful and bigoted when you do it?

Well, it's been uneducational, but interesting. Like I said, you might want to crack open a few books and learn more before you make yourself look silly again.

and you made a complete fool of yourself. you proved that you can't make a logical argument. you can't respond to a logical argument in a decent manner. you can' understand complex argumetns. You can't take part in a civilized discussion.

you still have not made a single logical argument against my God arguments.

i will give you one more chance. make a logical argument and behave like a civilized person and discussion without insults or you are banned.

I don't think it's wise to allow childish hate mongers who are just out to prove they are superior in the most childish way to take part in a real discussion. They will ruin it every time.

i'll give you one more chance.

why do they do it?

The Childish Arizona Atheist tries to respond, but is unable to muster a single refutation of any argument I linked to. He gives us nothing specific to deal with, only his constant whining demand that he as to be right just because he is. That's hate. He's merely demonstrating that he is full of hate, he doesn't know why. He can't mount a rational argument for his view point.

Anyone over the age of 8 should be able to see where your tremendous error is.

Funny you can't. Name the rule of logic that i violate? give me any kind of specifics that we can nail down. you don't.

Your ridicule of that very reasonable picture (and my comment) demonstrates your ignorance and, yes, stupidity.

Name calling and ridicule that's all he's got. Does he do anything more than this? He does not. No arguments, no analysis. Just whining.

The very fact that you conjure up something, a particular god, to explain something in effect doesn't explain anything because your god is also in need of an explanation! I also wouldn't call your beliefs "ordinary."
Yea I made up God. Like belief hasn't been around for 65,000 years. But the reason they thinks I made up liberal theology is because he's an idiot. He doesn't know anything about theology, he's never heard of liberal theology so he thinks I made it up just to get out of a bind. But the only bind he offers is whining.

Your beliefs only make up one out of many branches of what is called christianity, and that's not even mentioning all the other religious beliefs, both the theist and atheistic religions (ie. religions that contain no gods). And yes, faith is bullshit. And, by the way, all your arguments are either illogical or nothing more than 'god of the gaps' crap. I feel no need to elaborate. I've written about your errors extensively and don't feel like rehashing it.

He uses name calling to insult my argument but he doesn't actually argue against them. Saying "your arguments are illogical," is not an argument. why is it illogical? name the rule of logic that violates. Do you even know what logic has rules? Do you even know that it has it's own special langauge? Do you know one word of that lagnaue? I doubt it. He speaks of Chrsitainity as "taht which call" to sound impressive becuase he has nothing to say.

what is the basis for this kind of knee jerk non thinking other than hate? It has to be pure demonanic hate becasue hey can't put two sentence together to make an analytical statment.

The very illogical nature of your claims are so mind numbingly silly I don't even see why I'm replying.

then why the hell are you? If they are so silly and so illgoical why can't you give me a single reason why they are? Hmmmmm? can' you just stop whining that must be right no matter what long enough to actually give it some thought? Not that I mean to start your brain hurting.

My "ideology"??? Sorry, but I have none, and yes a 'god of the gaps argument' is in fact a non-argument.

I went though 10 of my arugments and showed why they are not God of the gaps arguments. I don't see a sinlge coutner reason that you offer. You are not saying anyting little one. You are just whining. You say you don't have an ideology, I'm sure that is over heard anyway, but obviously you do. You are totally filled with rage because I believe in God and you can't even tell me why you don't like it?

I've run across this nonsense before but your little brain can't seem to comprehend why that "answer" isn't really an answer at all. Simply put, your "answer" (the christian god) has never been proven so cannot be relied upon as the answer.

Not only did I show why it can't be proved the way you want it to be (empirical scientific evidence) and why its unfair to expect that, but I also gave 1o reasons why is rational to believe in it. I don't see a single concept refuting any of that. All you do is whine, "I have to be right! I want to be right! I must be!" why? you don't even know do you? Do you even know why you hate belief in God? Do you even have an idea you can put into words? Please don't say "it's stupid." that's not a reason! that's an insult it'sn ot an argument.

It's so funny to read someone who believes in the absurd things as you do (a dead man rising from the dead after being dead as a doornail for 3 days, virgin birth, etc.) talk about logic (something you clearly know nothing of). Priceless! Thanks for that bit of humor. You should be a comedian.

why? can you give me a single reason? I think anyone with any real brains can see this is the ideology at work. he's just foaming at the mouth become someone dares to believe in God but he can't formulate a single sentence to tell us what's wrong with it.

I gave 10 reasons to believe in God. Now if you believe in God, then you have to accept that God can create universes and the whole multiverse, that God is not just the creator but the basis of all that is. If that is the case why can't he raise someone from the dead? He invented death, he invented life, he gave life to all that is living, why can't he raise someone form the dead? Moreover, we find examples where people come back to life from death. It happens a lot in fact. You can't give me a reason not to believe in God. So once believing why isn't resurrection possible? In fact I knew a man in real life who was dead for three days and came back to life. I talk about him in my list of God arguments (NDE).

As for virgin birth, that s scientifically possible even in a naturalistic setting (but the offspring has to be female). Again, once you are the basis of all that is and you can do anything that is logically coherent, why can't you do that? It's just genetic engineering. We can do in laboratories.

"logic, something you know nothing of." So how is it that you can't mention a single rule of logic? why can't you tell me any rule of logic that my arguments violate? God of the gaps is not a rule of logic, it's an analysis of certain kind of argument that is not even illogical in and of itself. The problem with a God of the gaps argument is not that it violates logic but that it doesn't tell us anything. However, none of my arguments are g of g and I showed you why they are not.

let's have it, show me a law of logic that I violate.

I can understand why people don't believe. I was an atheist. I can understand that. But what I can't understand is why they are so angry about it. What is it about the fact that I believe something they don't buy that makes them so angry? why get angry about other people's beliefs? This guy is sheathing with hatred. why? He doesn't believe that he has an ideology but the mere fact of disagreement and he's foaming at the mouth. That's ideological.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Atheist Incredulity: Do they live in fear?


Some atheists are so angered at the mere expression of ordinary beliefs that they can't contain themselves. This doesn't apply to all atheists, so in this article I'll just be talkign about this one certain type, the Dawkamentalists. For example in response to my statement "don't let atheists steal your faith" Arizona Atheist throws a tantrum:

Faith is bullshit. Your claiming it's "complex" does nothing to solve your problem. Theists have no evidence for their beliefs and that's that. All "arguments" are simply "god of the gaps" arguments and nothing more. Due to the tremendous lack of proof/evidence for all theistic claims it's all based on "blind faith." So, yes Loftus is correct. Faith is nonsense.

I think it's ridiculous that anyone older than fourteen can't allow others to express their views without a hissy fit. That's exactly what this is, crying, pouting shouting "how dare you disagree with my ideology.!"

Let's just take this statement apart:

Faith is bullshit. Your claiming it's "complex" does nothing to solve your problem.
So what problem is that? Why is it necessary for him to say this? Does he provide any sort of logical analysis? no he's merely venting. Does he offer scientific data to back up his irrational emotive assertions? no.

Theists have no evidence for their beliefs and that's that.
Not at all. We don't have any! So if we actually then he's wrong isn't he? How does one expalin my 42 arguments? that's some! he may disagree with them, but it's some. not an an absence of any at all.

Read them ignorant little puddle duck. read them and tell they are just stupid. show me why. Name the law of logic they violate! They never do. Not one of the little hate mongers has ever named a single law of logic that arguments violate.

All "arguments" are simply "god of the gaps" arguments and nothing more.
I really doubt that this guy even knows what the phrase "God of gaps" means. He is insisting that all God arguments are G of G. But he can't prove to anyone that even of mine is. No one can because they are not. I am willing to let him try. If fact if he can prove to a rational nuetral person that any of argumetns are God of gaps I'll take this blog down.

God of the gaps means the arguments turn upon a gap in knowledge. It means nothing more than that. A God of the gaps argument is not necessarily illogical. Its' not a rule of logic that you can't base an argument on a gap. It's not very smart to do it, but therer is law of logic that ays you can't. Neverthless none of mine are. Now we have to be clear what a gap is and what it is not. A gap is not a logical problem which be sloved. That's the answer to any charge of G of G. If you can show a gap based upon not merley a dirth of knowing but upon a logical problem something that can't be resolved wtih an explaination of naturalism then there is no God of the gaps. None of my arguments rest upon merely not knowing, they all rest upon problems with a naturalistic solution.

Let's go through the first 10 and I'll give examples:

1.Argument from Cosmological Necessity

this does not turn upon merely not knowing something, it turns upon the concepts of ontologcial necessity and contingency. Thus it takes more than just filling in a gap to solve the argument. All naturalistic phenomena are contingent, but you can't have continency without a necessity. That meanst here has to be some sort of eternal necessaity at the level of being itself, that means God.

2.Everything Has to have a ReasonNEW!

That is not merely a gap in knowing, it's a logical problem becasuet there is no reason for there pure accient that a totally naturalistic univesrse would be.

3. Fire in the Equations

Where do the laws of physics come from. Atheists typical mistake this for gap. It's more than a gap, it's logical barrier to an naturalistic explaination.

4. Anthropic Principle (2 Pages)

Doesn't Doesn't turn on merely not knowing something. It turns upon the imporbablity of the univerrse to bear life. There's nothing in this that's a mere gap in knowledge, we understand it quite well.

5. From Religious Instinct (3 pages)

There's no gap in kniowledge here. The vast majority of people who have ever lived have believed in god in some sesne. That incates genetic basis because it's universal to the species. There no gap involved.

6. From Religious a priori

How could an a priori argument turn upon a gap in knowlege? The only way you can have a god of the gaps argument is if you have a gap in knoweldge. That means it ahs to be an empirical argument which is inductive. An a priori argument is dedictuve. It is not based upon empirical data. So it can't have a gap in knowledge at the crux of the argument. So no a prori ;God arguements can ever god of the gaps arguments.

7. From Mystical experience, (3 pages)

Doesn't turn upon not knowing, it's justification argument for rational warrant so it cant' be a god of gaps arguments. it's based the positive knowledge about the effects of religious experince. It's not based upon a gap.

8. Thomas Reid Argument, (2 pages)

Based upon what we do know not what we don't know so it can't be God of the gaps.

9. Argument from the Sublime

based upon positiave knowledge

10.Existential Argument.

based upon positive knowledge and phenomenology.

Just because an argument conatins a gap in knowledge doesn't mean it's a god of the gaps argument. the entire argument itself, the pay off, the punch line, the point upon which it turns, has to be based upon that gap in kowledge and that means upon not knowing. Argumetns that turn on logic or upon what we do know can't be God of the gaps arguments. Arguments based upon logical falws in naturlism can't be god of the gaps arguments.

AA goes on to whine:

Due to the tremendous lack of proof/evidence for all theistic claims it's all based on "blind faith."
Of course I just disproved that because none of my arguments are based upon blind faith. But more improtantly, I agued that faith is not belief without evidence, we have evidence. Just becuase childish people have not intelligence or training to understand logic or get the ponit of argument doesn't mean the argument is not good. Atheists are always saying stupid childish arrogant things like this and they are always stupid because they have to ignore gobs of material that is simpley away over their heads.

So, yes Loftus is correct. Faith is nonsense.

But of course he's ignroing my statment that faith is complex because it is made up of many parts: belief, faithfulness, loyalty and so on> I prove that by the defition from the dicitonary. I argue that faith is placing confidenc ein a proposition, so it has nothing to do with blind faith (faith is blind faith, that's defining the word with the word). Of course he innores that like most atheists who are hateful enough to while like this and vent their ignorance. There's no evidence at all not a single big. When they start saying that we know they have never read the major thinkers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Answering Accusations That I Misread Stats on Unbelievers


Hermit says in response to my argument that they read the tables wrong on atheists and Christians in prison "you constantly misread the number of unbelievers. But these are two very different things.

Look at the tables used by atheists who say this (that Christians are 20 times more likely to go to prsion than atheists) they present a table and in that table it says some percentage of atheist and it's like 0.209% and that is just a couple of hundred people. Then below the chart there's another figure that says "none, no religion or other." IN that was are like 65,000 people or something. It's a huge difference. Obviously these these are both atheists. "none" for religious would probably include some atheists if not be totally atheists. Well then these contradict. Since they are in the same table you have to ask "what exactly is being counted?" The few hundred it says "religious preference." So those are atheists who put "atheism" as their religious preference. The rest as atheists who do not list a religious preference. But the people doing the web site count it as though the bottom group didn't exist.

that is clearly different than the matter of trying to count atheists in society. The prison population is easy to define and since they do that questionable they are easy to tag as "religous" or "non religious."

I have pages on Doxa in which this is all explained. There are about four major studies that proport to count this. They all give different facts, but if we remember there is a three percent margin of error in any survey then it makes sense that the Pew study finds as few as 1.6% of the American population as "do not believe in any sort of God or higher power" while some other study finds as many as 4%. So that is an honet reason why are there aer different figures. But it's safer to round it off at the median average of 3%.

There's another factor in this. Some go as high as 12% (not these major four studies but other studies). The reason they do is because they do not distinguish between people who say "I really do not believe in any sort of God or higher power" vs those who say "maybe there's a God but I don't believe in any religious group so I am not a member of a group." So if we go with that its as high as 12 or maybe (margin of error) 15. But, these are not really atheists. This could conceivably include people like me who believes in God ardently but does not go to chruch and is not a member of a group (although I consider myself to be a Methodist). It certainly includes Pantheists. So there could Pantheists who resist thinking of themselves as atheists. It could include a lot of people who say "I think there probably is a God but none of the churches I know really represent the true God." So these are not atheits!

Atheist also Play with those definitions when they want to. Most of the time they say "don't believe in god or gods" and they will be staunch about it. But when it comes to trying to inflate their numbers they will includes those who say "there might be a god but I don't like religion." If we make them stick to their own definition there are no mroe than 6% at best and probably as few as 3%. maybe as few as 1.6%.

Again the four major studies, which can be seen on my page on Doxa, find them from 1.6 to 4%. So its safe to just round it off at 3%.

But Hermit answers:

(quoting me): that's ridiculous. It's clearly more excusable than misreading a table. The reason for it is because there many different studies and some don't distinguish between actual unbelief and non religous membership."

And you like to cherry pick them interpret them in a way that supports your belief and that atheists are an even tinier minority than they are The American Religion Survey shows about 12% of Americans either disbelieve in, or doubt the the existence of, god(s), even if they don't all self identify as atheists or agnostics. That's consistent with that survey's findings historically, by the way. You can check their methodolgy at the link in my last comment.

He's not taking account of the distinction between non affliated and disbelieving. Here's the break down the Pew study gives (I think that's the one he refers to) of the overall group "unaffiliated."

  • Unaffiliated
    • Atheist
    • Agnostic
    • Nothing in particular

Other studies that back it up (in varying degrees) shows Atheists at 0.4% of U.S. Population.

Atheist 1990 adult pop: 902,000 2004= 1,272,986 Percentrage of Pop = 0.4%

a note on this statistical table says:

2004 total population numbers were calculated by multiplying each group's percent of the total adult 2001 population (207,882,353) by the 2004 total population (using the June 1, 2004 U.S. Census Bureau extrapolated estimate of 293,382,953 total Americans). The U.S. Census Bureau total U.S. population estimate for 2000, based on the actual 2000 Census, was: 281,421,906. The U.S. Census Bureau total U.S. population estimate for July 1, 2001 was: 293,655,404. The adult (ages 18 and over) population estimate for July 1, 2001 was: 220,377,406. The total adult population for 2001 used in the 2001 ARIS study (apparently counting only adults aged 21 and over) was: 207,882,353. For 2001 figures, see: 293655404 This method of extrapolating the 2004 total population of each religious group from the 2001 adult population of each group does not factor in differences in the average number of children per adult for each religious group.

Just for amazement here's the quote from an athiest on CARM making the claim that atheism was up to 17% in America. His backing was the very study I quote above that really puts them at 1.6%.The problem is he didn't read it for the break down. He also distorted the over percetrage.

Great news--new study supports the rising tide of Nonbelief

The Pew Center for Religion and the Public Life just came out with a new large poll on religious affiliations in the U.S. Tally up the numbers, and you'll see that Christians make up about 76.8 percent of the U.S. population, and those with no affiliation (atheists, agnostics, don't identify with any religious group but may consider themselves vaguely "spiritual") was 16.1 percent. Another .8 percent said the don't know or refused to answer--since that is not what any God-fearing religious person would say, I would add it to the "No Affilation" side of the ledger. Rounding, we have Christians as 77% and the non-religious at 17%. All other religions are in the low single digits.

The study overall found that people move around quite a bit religiously and a large percentage don't have the same religion as their parents. However, the "no affiliation" group was clearly growing and were losing far few people than they were gaining. The non-belief crowd is like a slow rising flood--there was a time we would have been in the low single digits, but now we are up to 17% overall and are an even higher percentage of the young. With each passing generation, more and more people are considering themselves as non-religious.

In my lifetime, I expect to see this number get up to 25% or more overall, and my kids could see a USA where the majority of Americans are finally secular rather than religious in their world view. Hallelujah!
Of course the problem is he didn't look at the break down that puts real actual atheism as 1.6%, agnsoticism as 2% and "nothing in particular" at 12%. But "nothing in particular" doesn't mean not believing in God it means no lable. But the actual "I dont' believe there is aGod" people are in another group. You have to look at the actual study. The statistical table compiled for prisions refered to atheist as religious preference and a larger "none" pile which inculded non believers who felt they did not have a religion. But this stud did not do it that way. It puts actual atheists in one group and other non joiners in another group.

you have to read the study.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Don't let atheists steal your faith


John Loftus is at it again. On Debunking Christianity (3/10/2009 "Faith is Not An Acceptable Answer") He attacks the logic of faith by trying to isolate it from the reality of God.

Atheists will always try to deride and mock believers for having faith. They fear hell, and want very badly to destroy your faith so they will feel less damned (safety in numbers). So they work real hard and at making faith seem stupid. Do to that they reduce it from belief, trust and constancy (which is what it is) to some stupid silly ideal ike "believing things without evidence." That is not what faith is. When we look at a qualified source, such as Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology we see that faith is made up of three parts, it's really a very complex concept. These three parts of faith are:

(1) belief

We make a leap of faith in order to believe something. This need not be a blind idiotic leap into nothing, nor does it require no evidence. There's nothing in the definition of faith that requires this. Faith works perfectly well with a rational warrant. It is placing confidence in a proposition.

(2) Constancy

Think of the phrase "Keep the faith." Part of faith is being faithful. Meaning loyalty, desire to please, seeking, remaining stead fast, being true to one's convictions.

(3) Trust

give God the benefit of a doubt. Trust God. God promises certain things and we must believe that God will make good on them. This is all part of having faith. As you can see it's a much more complex concept than just "believing things without evidence."

After the belief part the assumption is that belief is conviction so the test is being true to one's convictions. The attitude one takes to faith is extremely important. The atheist want's to make you hate the idea of faith to be cynical and not appreciate what God has done for you.

Examine Loftus's method of doing this.

We’ve argued against the concept of faith many times before, but let me try again. I have argued that the Christian faith originated as a purely human religion completely accountable by humans acting in history without needing any divine agency at all. But setting that important discussion aside, faith is a cop out, especially when it comes to the number of things Christians must take on faith in order to believe. Let’s recount some of them.

Now what he does here at the outside is to separate faith from the context in which faith occurs so by doing this he's merely making it seem unreasonable because faith alone outside of its context has no meaning. The question he sets aside, is the most crucial question.

1) No reasonable answer can be given for why a triune God, who was perfect in love neither needing nor wanting anything, created in the first place. Grace and Love are non-answers, especially when we see the actual world that resulted. For Christians to say God wanted human creatures who freely love him is nonsense, for why did he want this at all? If love must be expressed then God needed to express his love and that implies a lack.

What does being Triune have to do with it? why would that prevent the answer any more than a unitary God? You can't really use that sort of argument. I come on that's not valid for argument. We can wonder about it, it's not bad to ask but it can't be used as an argument becasue it's nothing more than begging the question. Why should we pretend that we understand God's purposes?

nevertheless I think my soteriological drama idea comes as close as any to providing a good hypothetical as to why God created, and why he wants us to have faith. Essentially God sought free moral agents who would willingly choose the good. But to do that one must actually seek the good. This is so because unless one seeks and finds on own own there would be no internalizing of values of the good. The search is essential to promote the externalizing of values. Of course the ultimate objective is Love. God seeks creates to love and to love him in return. Then Lofus can say "but if he's Triune why must be create? he has himself to love." That's true but then why does an artist crate art? He has himself to admire and yet still chooses to create.

2) It’s hard enough to conceive of one person who is an eternally uncaused God, much less a Godhead composed of three eternally uncaused persons. There are some Christians who maintain the Father eternally created the Logos and the Spirit, while others claim that three persons in one Godhead is simply an eternally brute inexplicable fact. Why is that brute fact more reasonable to accept than accepting the brute fact of the laws of the universe, which is all that’s needed to produce the universe? There are social Trinitarians and anti-social Trinitarians. Both sides accuse the other side of abandoning the Chalcedon creed, either in the direction of tri-theism, or in the direction of unitarianism.

This is has noting to do with faith. It's just a side bar tirade. It also tickles me when atheists on a big thing about "the laws of physics." its' hilarious because they are merely proving the existence of God. they think they have this huge major argument that debunks the need for God and they are just nothing more than reinforcing the reason to believe in God. They cannot provide the basis of a ground of being for laws apart from a mind.

Lofuts gives us no reason why a triune God would be any less efficacious than a unitary God.

3) This triune Godhead is also conceived of as a timeless being who was somehow able to create the first moment of time. How a timeless being could actually do this is extremely problematic. For if his decision to create a first moment of time is an eternal one, then there could be no temporal gap between his decision to create the first moment of time and the actual creation of the first moment of time. If there was no temporal gap between God's eternal decision to create a first moment of time and the creation of that first moment, then his decision to create would alone be sufficient for a first moment of time to be created. God could not eternally decide to create at any future point since there is no future point for him to create. So if a timelessly eternal God decided to create at all then the universe is eternal and never had a first moment in time.

this is nothing more than major confusion over the nature of time. There can be no first moment and there is no problem with the beginning of time. What passes for a first moment is eternally infinitesimal. But that's all beside the point. The Berkeley concept makes the whole of time totally irrelevant and unimportant. time is nothing more than a conventional bench mark in the mind of God. Any sort of temporal paradox or problem is resolved instantly by this realization. All God need do is conceive of Time. All values time must be totally re-calibrated to understand this. So there is no temporal paradox that limits God any more than a fantasy or a stray day dream limits us.

4) This timelessly eternal triune God who parodoxically created time must now forever be subject to events in time. He cannot become timeless again, for to do so would destroy all that happened in time as if these events never happened at all. So although God somehow existed outside of time before creating the first moment of time he must now forever experience a sequence of events. Whereas before creation he was a timelessly existing being he is now going to forever experience a sequence of events that is never ending.

I have no idea what this has to do with faith. It has a lot more to do with misunderstanding about the nature of Time. What we have here is a pseudo problem. There is no problem with God being timeless or in time. God is not in a big room of timelessness, holding an envelope of space/time which he transcends. His problem is not going down into an envelope. It's not a problem because time is in god.. God is not in time. time is in God. time is a thought in the mind of God, as is the world. God is not in a big room filled with a timeless void, God is the big room. Everything is in the mind of God. There is no point with being in or out of time, becasue that's not even an issue. It's no different if we are present in our fantasies. Can't you fantasize about doing something? then do you think "O I can't do because then I return to the real world I'll change my fantasy."

From here it only gets worse.

In other words, he gets really confussed.

5) We are told that the Logos, the 2nd person of the trinity, became a man. No conception of this God-man in the flesh has yet been able to stand scrutiny.

what a stupid comment that is. What does it mean? I certainly have no trouble understanding how God could enter history as a man. I don't know what's wrong with John's imagination. I am right now in my mind on the beach in Costa Rica in 1971 the day I swan around the cove and came right up next to a huge ocean ship which I didn't even know was there. I am now back in my study. No problem. I don't need to expalin how I did it. I just imagined it.

How, for instance, can such a being be 100% God and 100% man with nothing left over? All attempts to solve this problem have failed.

Because that doesn't mean half of him is God and half is man. It means his divine nature is truly divine and his human nature is truly human. Remember now the bible never divides Chrsit up by percentages. That's a human attempt to explain a concept.

6) But we’re not done, for we’re told this God-man atoned for the sins of man. No sense can be made of how the death of Jesus actually forgives sins. There is no relationship between punishment and forgiveness at all.

nothing more than theological ignorance. I tried to place this comment on DC but they wont publish my comments now. See my pages on Atonement where this is explained.

We forgive people who have not been punished and sometimes we won’t forgive people even after they've been punished. To say that in order to forgive someone they must first be punished does not describe forgiveness at all, anyway. It describes revenge. Revenge can never be a moral reason for acting and revenge has nothing to do with offering forgiveness. We don't even need for people to ask forgiveness in order to forgive them. Sometimes it's better for our mental health to forgive someone regardless of whether or not they're even sorry for what they've done.

It's a statement of solidarity. When we accept God's offer of solidarity it creates the ground of forgiveness. you can't be in solidarity with someone you have not forgiven. This totally and without ambiguity solves the problem of the atonement completely. it maks prefect sense, it totally defeats the atheist myth that it doesn't make sense, and it is embraced by both church fathers and modern theologians.

7) This God-man was a unique never-before-existing being who is described in the creeds as one unified person. Here an additional problem surfaces. Where is the human side of this God-man now (i.e. the human nature of Jesus)? Since this human side of the God-man was sinless he couldn’t be destroyed, nor could this human side of the God-man be separated from the divine side, for such a being was now one person according to the creeds. So theologians have concluded that the trinity includes an embodied Logos. Now we have a trinity with an embodied 2nd person in it. Picture this if you will!

Misunderstanding of the nature of incarnation. Jesus is not half man half God. There is no "human half" to be lost. There were two natures but they are not halves and they don't exist independently of each other. Such an argument is like saying if a man whose father was Japanese and his mothers was Eubangan, died, where would you bury the Japanese half? we all have different qualities and traits in our characters. These two elements made up a whole individual person. That person has been transfigured and thus transcends space/time.

8) Stepping forward a bit, sinners sent to hell retain their free will, since it’s argued they continue to rebel in hell, while the saints who enter heaven have their free will taken away to guarantee there will be no future rebellion in heaven. If free will is such a great gift why reward people by taking it away from them and punish people by having them retain it? That makes little sense to me.

no one says saints free will is taken away. Can John show us where that is in the Bible or a creed? I have never seen such an answer from any Christian source. This is also anther pseudo problem. One would think these guys would get tried of the same old dumb non starter arguments that we knock down time after time. But they are the mainstay of hate group atheism. It' amazing to me that rational well educated atheists like Lofuts will resort to this sort of pablam.

I’ve only touched on a few of the beliefs needed to make sense of Christianity. There are many others, and some Christians have different scenarios. But who in their right mind would embrace Christianity if he or she heard about them all when first being challenged to believe? Very few people. That’s what I think.

as you can see from my answers it doe not take much to destroy this kind of crap easily. These guys are just ignorant and blind. They don't' want answers. How many times has John heard the answers here? over and over just like all the other myriad atheists who are constantly ignoring the the answers which they get all the time. They say the same stuff over and over again. I never hear anything new, and they never acknowledge an answer.

But we’re not done yet. For there is the additional problem of the lack of evidence for these beliefs. Archaeology disconfirms the flood and Exodus stories. What we have are the claims of people who wrote the books that later were accepted into the Bible. Why should I believe what they wrote? Why should I believe that the sun stood still, or that a star pointed down to a specific place, or that a virgin gave birth, or that a man walked on the water just because of what a person in the superstitious past wrote? Even in the Bible itself we see how the people of that same era believed in the actions of gods and goddesses like Apollo, Zeus, Baal, Artemis, and others, which hardly anyone accepts today. So why do Christians accept one set of claims in the past but reject the others? The same evidence supports them all: Testimonies by superstitious people in the past.

Childish. this guy knows better. These are not seminal issues. Theya re not deal breakers. He's not even willing to take on the real targets. He hates the fudnies so deeply he's willing to waste his talent on third rate issues just to get a score and feel big. I find this pathetic.

Christians must defend too many beliefs, any one of which, if incorrect, would be fatal to their whole worldview. These beliefs are based upon the conclusions of historical evidence which is extremely problematic given the nature of that evidence and the nature of the superstitious pre-scientific people in the ancient past.

so very pathetic. All of this can be avoided so easily but just re framing the question with a bit of common sens and reading some theology.

In the mean time what has he actually said about faith? Nothing really. The whole thing wasn't about faith. But it is aimed at making one feel stupid for having faith while not even dealing with the concept of faith. John is a well educated and intelligent guy. He really should know better. He's wasting his talent on arguments that are the atheist equivolant of Institute for Creation Research. I do not say this to attack or hurt him. I consider John a friend and I say this as a friend: He's capable of being anther Eric Hoffer (who I considered to be pretty intelligent) and hes content to be the atheist Dwayne Gish.