Unbelievable Providence

If you have a weak stomach, you might not want to watch this one. You can read the story here. The text that comes to mind is Psalm 139:16: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

79 Responses to Unbelievable Providence

  1. ex-preacher September 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    It is a fascinating story, but I come away with a very different reaction. First of all, she was unfortunate to be the random victim of a random tree, but fortunate that the tree randomly missed her jugular. It’s hard to conceive that a divine being was responsible since thousands of other people around the world today will die or be horribly wounded through random accidents. It is to be expected in a purely natural world that some will be randomly harmed and others almost randomly killed.

    Secondly, and most importantly, I am impressed with the scientific medical advances of humans that made her survival and recovery possible. For all of human history prior to about 50 years ago or so, such an injury would almost certainly have ended in eventual death. What has changed is not the existence or sudden awakening of any gods or “providence” but medical advances.

    Two thousand years ago, the Romans who lived as sailors erected thousands of statues to thank the gods’ providence for their safety from the dangerous sea. Those who died erected no statues.

  2. Larry S September 18, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    Hey Ex-preacher

    You raise important questions – things in our broken world (I’m guessing you know the creation groans text) can appear quite random. At times, I have somewhat the same response when my fellow Jesus followers praise God when they narrowly escape an accident. What about my friend last year who died in a car accident just before Christmas?

    But within a biblical framework, Psalm 139.16 is entirely true – like it or not, questions and all, God is in control.

    By the way, I’m an ex-preacher also. But, unlike you, I stayed on the reservation 🙂

  3. Brian Krieger September 18, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

    Ep: I don’t share your atheistic view. Just as the Lord tells us that the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous, God’s providence is represented in a tree spearing a young woman who lives and a wheelchair cutting a young man who died*. You know, our pastor asked a question one day. “Why do good things happen to bad people?’ A: “There are no good people.” Our finite brains like to try to place ourselves in judgment of God (how could a God be so loving….etc.). I was brought to Christ in painful circumstances. I place myself in judgment of God to have said “wow, that was random” or shaking my fist at God and saying that I was a good person and this shouldn’t be happening. I suppose it makes me sound weak and pitiful, but, honestly, that’s what I am. That’s the reflection of the power that each and everyone of us has. And, for me (and for the vast majority), it took a moment of pain (or moments) to realize how helpless and in need of something larger than this bag of bones I am. And, while I’ll assume you disagree, it’s depressing to think of a world as total random with no purpose and no being. That God is as helpless as I am at doing anything or that there are these surprises that God “wakes up” and says “whoa, didn’t see that one coming. I better do something.” I suppose a total divergence of world views there.

    * – a local man got cut on a wheel chair which imparted a flesh eating virus and was dead within a few days.

  4. Ferg September 19, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    “But within a biblical framework, Psalm 139.16 is entirely true – like it or not, questions and all, God is in control.”

    Funny how Calvinists and all those who believe every death, including the murder of children is ordained by the hand of our Father never quote the King James version of Psalm 139:16

    “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

    It mentions nothing about all the days being ordained, just that our limbs are formed together in the womb in adherence with the rest of the Psalm’s poetry.

    Just thought I’d throw that in here.

  5. Larry S September 19, 2009 at 10:49 pm #

    Ferg

    I am not a Calvanist

  6. Ferg September 20, 2009 at 4:33 am #

    I hear that Larry, however I did sa calvinists AND all those who believe every death, including the murder of children is ordained by the hand of our Father”.
    If you believe God is in complete control then you fall in to the latter half of the sentence.

  7. Darius T September 20, 2009 at 9:04 am #

    Ferg, I don’t believe an understanding that God is in control hangs on that verse. I’m fairly sure I’ve seen a bunch of Scriptural texts that speak to that. Furthermore, the KJV is one of the least accurate translations, so no one should rely on it for the final say (much less any say).

  8. Darius T September 20, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    Ferg, go look at net.bible.org. You’ll see that the Hebrew word there (yowm) means “days.” Like with pretty much the whole Bible, the KJV gets it wrong.

  9. Matthew Staton September 20, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    Things like this remind me that there are psalms of orientation and psalms of disorientation. When things were up, the psalmist would praise the Lord his blessings. When things were down, the psalmist would trust that God was still in control and was working and would work yet again.

    I think it’s choice; the psalmist chose to interpret life this way. All religions need to face the issue of brokenness and pain and some version of sin. People who reject all religion entirely have a different set of tensions to deal with (where do beauty and creativity come from, for example? or why does it matter to us that this woman lived?)

    On one hand, it is possible to ask why didn’t God just stop the branch altogether. I don’t know.

    It is also possible to ask why it went into her 8″ and didn’t move the fraction of inch further to kill her. How does a branch sink 8″ deep into a person, rest on the juglar, and stop right there? For someone who chooses to see God as sovereign in some way over this whole fallen world, it only makes sense to believe that God allowed this event, yet spared her life. Perhaps he was saying hello.

  10. Brian Krieger September 21, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    Matthew:

    I think I disagree with you (sort of). I may be taking this in a completely wrong manner, so sorry if I misunderstood. I would say that if you hold to the sovereignty of God, you hold that His hand was in the 30 minute response time that saved the life of Pastor Tom Nelson and also the lack of response time for my aunt who died of the same ailment (heart attack, home alone). What we do, however, is to have a tendency to focus on the here and now. When we survive (or have someone survive), we’re here to say “how great is the sovereignty of God”. My aunt wasn’t around afterward to say “God has called me home, how great is the sovereignty of God, I no longer suffer in that bag of bones!” I think you are spot in that this (and something like my aunt’s death) should serve as a reminder of a life dedicated to God (see Piper’s messages around his dad’s death….and another recent post that caused much consternation….).

    As a person who holds to the sovereignty of God (Psalm 139, Prov 16, Isa 37, Psalm 65, Matthew 10, Col 1, etc.), a God who isn’t all knowing or without plan is scary (to note, I’m sure the feeling the other direction might be mutual). If there is not plan by God, then He is a reactionary God, who essentially lives by the seat of His pants. He doesn’t know the end from the beginning, thus, where is all of this really going? I also hold that we don’t get to question God (as Christ said to Peter, what is that to you?). So we mourn, we may rhetorically ask “why”, but when it comes to God’s motives, we are not to question. Doubts, fears, yes. But His plan is perfect. His will is perfect. His reasons are unflinchingly for good. I suppose mostly, knowing something in advance doesn’t imply enjoyment in the individual pieces of the plan. God knows when the wicked prosper, the righteous suffer and when seemingly nothing happens in our lives as we go to work, play with the kids, eat dinner and go to bed, then wake up and do exactly the same thing again.

    Ferg: Good to hear from you again. I’m glad your visit didn’t cause you to stop talking to us :-).

  11. Ferg September 21, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Good response Brian.
    I agree that the option that there is genuine free will and Satan actually is a force of evil of himself and not a puppet of God’s does make for a riskier view of God’s control.
    I totally get the view that one can get comfort from a loved one dying and going to heaven at the hands of God, it’s when there loved one is not christian and one has to reconcile that it’s part of God’s perfect plan to have one of your kids or your father to spend eternity in hell. That’s what I really struggle with, never mind the countless number of children suffering the most outrageous evils upon them. to think that that’s from the hand of a loving Father in whom we’re meant to trust disturbs me.

    But, I do need to say that I don’t doubt the sincerity or more importantly people’s love for Jesus who hold to that view.

    Darius, thanks for the heads up on Psalm 139.

  12. ex-preacher September 21, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    If God is totally in control of each person’s date of death, doesn’t that eliminate the need for me to eat healthily, exercise or wear a seatbelt? Can a bullet-proof vest stop the bullet (or branch) with your name on it?

  13. Matthew Staton September 21, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    Brian,

    If I understand your second paragraph, you are reading me as an open theist. I am not. I’m not a Piper-brand Calvinist, either. I believe God knows the end from the beginning and all history is going exactly where he knows and ultimately controls it. Somehow, I also believe that things happen in real-time to us and that we have the ability to make choices that affect others. I see this as a sovereignty-free will paradox similar to paradoxes in physics, such as problems that involve frames of reference.

    I am not sure how best to verbalize some things. Still figuring it out. I think we should respond realistically to sentiments like ex-preacher’s:
    It’s hard to conceive that a divine being was responsible since thousands of other people around the world today will die or be horribly wounded through random accidents.

    I think there is a choice to see God as sovereign, even when things don’t turn out like we’d hoped. My wife was taken to the ER a couple weeks ago with a sudden heart problem (A-fib). My 10-yr-old son (who was emotionally rather upset) and I prayed about it and the next day she was released, no further problems. I explained to him that God answered our prayer but even if, even if mom had not gotten better, even then God is still good and would still be in charge. He would be with us, his hand would be working, he would comfort us and help us even then. This was not easy for my son to process. Good = mom gets better. Yet God would have still been sovereign even if my wife had not recovered. Someone like ex-preacher can claim that we hold to a non-falsifiable belief that no matter what, God is in control. God can’t lose. But I see this same choice of perspective reflected in the Psalms. Psalms of orientation = “Praise God! Life is great!” Psalms of disorientation = “God, I know you are in control but life stinks right now and I don’t get it! And frankly, it could look to outsiders like you aren’t keeping your end of the bargain.” Often, these tend to lead again to Psalms of orientation “You’ve been working the whole time.”

    Obviously, this goes to theodicy for me. As a kid, I had the impression of the psalmist (and Job) as calm, collected, without a doubt, calmly trusting God not matter what, not expressing doubt or emotions. My image now is completely different. Now I envision real people, in the throes of doubt and pain, refusing to give up on God, yet suffering from the cognitive dissonance that he is not behaving as expected. Something about these ancient people expressing their pain and confusion in such expressive terms, being so honest with God, comforts me.

    Similar to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: If God saves us, great. If we burn, well, that’s OK too. Either way, we’re sticking with him.

    It is right to see this branch as God’s hand, stopping it within a faction of an inch after stabbing in 8″. But this doesn’t remove all questions, like, what if the branch had killed her? What then? What about my uncle that died a few years back in a freak accident day after Thanksgiving? What about a lady from my work whose friends held a special prayer meeting for her Friday, yet she died over the weekend? God is still sovereign, even then, even now. And like I say, theodicy is a question that all religions have to deal with, not just Christianity. Not implying I accept all religions equally, just that this ancient problem is not unique to my religion.

    Having said all that – I am moved by God’s hand protecting this lady, stopping the branch and letting it rest on her juglar.

  14. Matthew Staton September 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    If God is totally in control of each person’s date of death, doesn’t that eliminate the need for me to eat healthily, exercise or wear a seatbelt? Can a bullet-proof vest stop the bullet (or branch) with your name on it?

    If all history were fated to be a certain way, regardless of our input, then I would think this a reasonable opinion.

    But God is working WITHIN and AMONG this world; he’s not just outside acting upon it. His hand is not expressed only in miracles and not absent when no miracle is present. He works with us and withe consequences of our actions. From our frame of reference, we can make choices that have consequences. From God’s, he is still sovereign. It’s a paradox. That’s how I see it.

    So, eat your Wheaties, buckle up, work out at the gym, look both ways, learn and gain as much knowledge and wisdom as possible, help your fellow man, mind your own business as much as possible, keep putting one foot in front of the other, Love God, Love Others. I think all of those things reflect balanced, biblical wisdom. The day will come, in God’s time, that your heart will stop, no matter what. BUT – no point in rushing that day!

  15. Matthew Staton September 21, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    I think “withe” must be a new word that means “with the.”

  16. ex-preacher September 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    I guess where you put “paradox,” I would put “obvious contradiction.”

  17. Brian Krieger September 21, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Matthew:

    You were spot on about how I read your comment. Excellent clarification. I agree and well said. I love the picture you paint of putting real people in the place of my pictures of Job or David, etc. Lewis mentions the mental picture that we often have of “togas and sandals and armour and bare legs”. These were real men and women, fearing just as we do.

    I am moved by God’s hand protecting this lady, stopping the branch and letting it rest on her [jugular].

    Very well said! And I always crack up at the string literal post stuck between aging and child marriage.

    Ferg:

    I, too, understand the struggle you mention. I wouldn’t say anything different from those a few months ago when this came ‘round back then, so I suppose we disagree at that point (as a reasoning for going against sovereignty….if I understand you correctly, that is). Good to hear from you again.

  18. Matthew Staton September 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    ex-preacher, what is a paradox but a contradiction? The twin brother paradox is a convincing paradox to me. There may be a resolution to it but not one I readily understand. The dual particle and wave nature of light is also seemingly a paradox. Perhaps there is an explanation for that one as well, but again, probably not one I would readily understand. So free will vs. sovereignty creates a seeming paradox. I believe that from God’s perspective it makes sense but unfortunately, I’ve only got my perspective.

    I don’t expect that to convince you. It’s just how I see it. Thanks for the conversation.

  19. Brian Krieger September 21, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    Ep:
    For me, sovereignty does not negate the responsibility. You can do all of the things you state. If you did, I could, with all confirmation, state that it was in God’s plan. Any millisecond after right now (in the future), though, is entirely in God’s hand. So to flatly answer you question, no, you cannot avoid the “bullet (or branch) with your name on it”, but neither should you live your life pretending you know which branch is the one for you or pretending there isn’t a branch with your name on it. It’s the consequences of your decision (ordained and fully known from the beginning).

    Take a personal example. God called me through a very painful divorce. I learned through that pain. I could have sulked and wallowed in the “why God?” questions (I was blessed to not fall into that trap). But a greater good came out of what, individually, was evil. We sometimes get a glimpse of the sure outworking of God’s plan. It’s beautiful. The danger comes when we demand the view of the outworking of that plan as a right.

  20. ex-preacher September 21, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    Matthew,

    I normally think of “paradox” as only “an apparent contradiction that can be resolved.”

    Perhaps this is a sign of my own weak mind, but I have difficulty holding to a belief system that has obvious contradictions. Both of the examples (wave-particle and twin paradox) you mention have solutions, but I can’t see one with sovereignty-free will. I realize that many believers appeal to the possibility of a divine resolution to this contradiction, but I am stuck with my own human perspective.

    Brian,

    So, was your divorce part of God’s plan?

  21. Matthew Staton September 21, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    ex-preacher, I am intrigued by a couple things. First, I think paradox is actually defined as contradiction, not apparent contradiction. A dilemma with a resolution is an apparent paradox, not an actual paradox, or so I have understood. I’m wondering what your source for your definition of paradox is?

    Far more interesting to me would be to know how you would explain a resolution to the wave-particle paradox.

  22. Brian Krieger September 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    ep:

    Yes, without question for me. He used evil to work for good.

    Actually, that’s something that strikes me when I think about it. One of the questions could be why I wasn’t angry about “having” to go through that. Or why, if God hates divorce, did He allow it. The answer is that I don’t know. But one thing I do know. I am glad that God is so longsuffering in patience that I, even I, now call His name.

  23. DennyReader September 21, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    It’s hard to conceive that a divine being was responsible since thousands of other people around the world today will die or be horribly wounded through random accidents.

    The problem with ex-preacher’s sentiment like this is nonsense. In an atheistic framework there is no difference in the death of a human being from a monkey, snake, catfish or a virus. We are nothing more than a subgroup of catarrhines made of nothing more than the meaningless collection of star dust.

    Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. – Carl Sagan

    Have a nice day. Absent of a transcendent personal God, any talk about suffering and evil is just nonsense. A staunch atheist like Jean Paul Sartre is right to consider moral rules as slavery to a bad construct. In the last sentence of his book Being and Nothingness, Sartre writes “all human activities are equivalent”, and “it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone or is a leader of nations.” Objections like those from ex-preacher are nothing more than a puff of dissipating smoke with nothing to stand on.

    From a theological perspective and in terms of providence, I like what John Piper said a few weeks back regarding the tornado incident. I also like R.C. Sproul’s book “Willing to Believe : The Controversy over Free Will”. There is always tension between sovereignty and free will in this side of eternity, but is God sovereign over all things. The answer would have to be a resounding yes, in the sense that He allows all things to happen. Some will choose to question why He allows certain things to happen the way they did, because we don’t understand it. If we ask this then the obvious question would be how much should God allow to happen? Should God only allow good things to happen and not bad things? Yes. Well, does that include bad things like us? But if we are going to ask why then we need to go back, way back to when all these problems began. Why did Eve eat the forbidden fruit? Or even further back, why did God put the tree of good and evil in the Garden in the first place. I don’t know the complete answer but I think a major factor to that answer has to be what U.S. and most of western civilization pride on the most, freedom. Freedom to choose whatever we want even when it is detrimental to our well being.

    I don’t know if the outcome of this girl was specifically providential but like the incident with Tommy Nelson, I really appreciated the lessons he learned from his near death experience. Ultimately as Christians do we not live by faith and not by sight? 2 Cor 5:6-10

  24. ex-preacher September 21, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    From Merriam-Webster’s entry on “paradox”

    1 : a tenet contrary to received opinion

    2 a : a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true
    b : a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true
    c : an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises
    3 : one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases

    I suppose 2a is the definition I normally use. In the realm of logic and debates, though, I believe your understanding is correct.

    I don’t claim to understand quantam mechanics, but I am told that there are some proposed resolutions. What appear to be contradictions in the natural world are usually resolved as we gain new information. Contradictions in theology – it seems to me – only multiply over time.

  25. DennyReader September 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm #

    I don’t claim to understand quantam mechanics, but I am told that there are some proposed resolutions. What appear to be contradictions in the natural world are usually resolved as we gain new information. Contradictions in theology – it seems to me – only multiply over time.

    You are right you, you don’t understand QM. As a matter of fact physicists working on QM don’t understand QM. And the Copenhagen interpretation is a contradictiony.

    What bothers some people about this interpretation is the random, abrupt change in the wave function, which violates the Schrödinger equation, the very heart of quantum mechanics. Everett argued that this approach was philosophically a mess: it used two contradictory conceptual schemes to describe reality, the quantum one of wave functions and the classical one of us and our apparatus.

    Nothing that I’ve read on QM has demonstrated to me that physicists understand what the fundamental essence of nature is. Your faith in science to eventually provide you will all the answers is laudable. And yet, you hypocritically mock Christians for believing that our question will one day be answered before the Creator?

    You are good at asking questions, but before you make another criticism about Christianity, why don’t you answer some of the questions I’ve posed to you on atheism. Your questions and challenges are utter nonsense until you are able to develop a viable platform to launch your questions from.

  26. Matthew Staton September 21, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    ex-preacher, not to be rude, but to press the point a little:

    particle-wave nature of light is just that something that is a wave does not have mass; something that has mass is not a wave. Yet, for some calcualtions, light has mass (photons) and for others it is a wave. It cannot be both, yet physics students accept the contradictory nature all the time.

    You say there is a resolution that you don’t understand, you just accept it exists. So in fact from your perspective you are forced to accept a paradox, isn’t that correct?

  27. ex-preacher September 21, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Matthew,

    From the little I know about the wave-particle duality, the apparent discrepancy is between two competing theories of how energy behaves. That is, there is no contradiction of fact, simply a contradiction of theories. It is possible that one or the other is right or that both are wrong.

    The sovereignty-free will contradiction is not about competing theories, but about a contradiction in fact. Either God is in sovereign control or he is not.

    For the religious believer, such a contradiction should be of paramount concern, since he is supposedly reading a divinely inspired perfect book with the guidance of a divine spirit. For the student of science, there is no such need to reconcile obscure and contradictory teachings with reality. The task is simply to understand reality. Theories are “best explanations” which can be changed or tossed out if they are found to be inconsistent with reality.

    Brian,

    Are all divorces part of God’s plan?

    Are abortions part of God’s plan?

    DennyReader,

    You have brought up a number of different issues, not many of which seem directly concerned with the matter at hand. I understand your desire to go on the offensive rather than defend your beliefs, but this conversation is about the belief in divine providence, not the existence of God.

    Perhaps in another thread we can focus on atheism, but for now, I think we’ve got hands full. Meanwhile, I suggest you read both Sartre and Sagan in fuller context. I think you’ll find something a little more substantial to chew on.

  28. DennyReader September 22, 2009 at 1:21 am #

    I understand your desire to go on the offensive rather than defend your beliefs, but this conversation is about the belief in divine providence, not the existence of God.

    And how is the nature of QM related to providence? Yet you seem to be perfectly willing to promulgate your error in that also. I think my questions are well within the purview of this topic. Let’s be honest ex-preacher, aren’t your questions and criticisms design to deny the existence of God?

    What has changed is not the existence or sudden awakening of any gods or “providence” but medical advances.

    It is quite clear your intention is to refute the existence of God, so don’t play coy. If you are going to challenge the existence of God then it is only logical to challenge the basis of the alternative from where you make that challenge from.

    I understand Sartre and Sagan well enough. The quotes are well representative of Sartre’s atheistic existential belief and Sagan’s worship of the cosmos over human significance. If you want to be an atheist that is fine but at least have the courage of facing truthfully what you actually believe in. Your atheist heavyweights are willing to face the consequences of their faith head on, shouldn’t you?

  29. Brian Krieger September 22, 2009 at 7:02 am #

    ep:

    Yes.

    This comment hardly seems posting since it’s too short. Ooo, there, now it’s more than just 8 characters. OK, now.

  30. Matthew Staton September 22, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    It is quite clear your intention is to refute the existence of God, so don’t play coy.

    Perhaps if you get right in his face and yell it at him it will change his heart and mind…

  31. ex-preacher September 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    DennyReader,

    The quantam mechanics point was relevant as it was suggested as a example of contradiction similar to the sovereignty-free will contradiction.

    I do not deny that I am an atheist and am fully aware of its implications, but again, this thread is focused on providence. You seem to be arguing that there are only two positions and that if one is falsified then the other must be true. This is a false dilemma. There are other possibilities, such as Arminianism and Open Theism.

    I am curious if others agree with Brian that everything that happens – including all suffering, abortions, divorces, the election of Obama, the Holocaust, etc – is part of God’s plan. Doesn’t this completely eliminate free will?

  32. Matthew Staton September 22, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    First, your hand-waving about the particle-wave nature of light doesn’t remove the contradiction. My car is not a wave and radio waves don’t have mass, to pick two random examples. You can’t treat things that have mass as waves, you can’t treat waves as though they have mass. Yet, light behaves both as having mass and as being a wave. Things can’t do this, yet light does.

    As you say, the contradiction is not light’s problem, it is because there are things we don’t presently know or understand.

    I would say that spiritual matters can involve paradoxes. Joy can come through suffering, death through life, etc. God can give us a free will yet still be in charge. The problem of the apparent contradiction is not God’s, it is in our own limitations, our own lack of understanding.

    God allows us to make choices. This means he allows consequences, even negative ones. People have the power to hurt other people. I believe that God knows what will happen. Sometimes he intervenes in a miraculous way but for the most part he allows nature to behave naturally (including us). He works in and through situations to make of them something good, even though the situation itself is not good. This is the power of the resurrection, of life over death. We bring death, yet he is capable of raising life out it. We bring evil, yet he is capable of bringing good out of the consequences of our evil. That is ultimate power and goodness.

  33. Brian Krieger September 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    This is the power of the resurrection, of life over death. We bring death, yet he is capable of raising life out it. We bring evil, yet he is capable of bringing good out of the consequences of our evil.

    Well put, Matthew.

  34. DennyReader September 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

    I do not deny that I am an atheist and am fully aware of its implications, but again, this thread is focused on providence. You seem to be arguing that there are only two positions and that if one is falsified then the other must be true. This is a false dilemma. There are other possibilities, such as Arminianism and Open Theism.

    I have never even suggested that falsifying atheism proves Christianity. What I said was you need a framework/foundation to launch your questions regarding issues such as suffering, abortions, divorces, morality and especially providence. What I am saying is atheism is incapable of providing such a framework. All these issues only make sense outside of atheism and in the context of a personal God.

    The analogy would be someone who does not believe in gravity, and this gravity denier comes to you and questions you on the different theories for gravity and argues in favor of relativity over any of the non-relativistic theories. This is nonsense since that person doesn’t even believe in gravity. In the same way you don’t believe that there is a God, for you to debate the differences between Calvinism vs. Arminianism or sovereignty over free will is nonsense. They have no meaning if there is no God. You can’t argue for something you don’t believe in.

    And in addition to that you don’t even have a viable foundation to judge what is moral or immoral, what is fortuitous or ordained, what is providential and what is blind chance. Until you can establish that atheism has some foundation to value these differences, your challenges to providence is really vacuous. From an atheistic view point there is no such thing as providence or morality. Life is nihilistic and absurd as described by Sartre and Camus. Another one of your great atheists also said this.

    That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

    I give him credit to face the true nature of his maker. Unfortunately, he was wrong about his ability to build any sort of values from this foundation.

  35. ex-preacher September 22, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    Matthew,

    Your last post seems to affirm free will in a way that Arminians would fully support. Or maybe it’s called having your cake and eating it too.

    DennyReader,

    I think you would be better served by trying to understand and explain your own beliefs rather than constantly inventing beliefs that you attribute to others. My foundation is reality. More specifically: reason and experience. You either have a lack of knowledge about atheism or are intentionally misrepresenting it. First, let me assure you that atheists do not agree on philosophical approaches any more than it could be said that all theists (Hindus, Mormons, Episcopalians, Muslims, Catholics, Baptists) agree on theology. It is thus somewhat amazing for you to presume to know my views on matters of which I have not spoken. Second, neither Sartre not Camus were nihilists – they were existentialists. Incidentally, in an earlier post where you claimed to give Sartre’s final line from Being and Nothingness – you actually were ripping a quote out of context from earlier in the last chapter. I think you might find his actual last sentence more intriguing. Look it up.

    AS far as the value of me pointing out contradictions in Christian theology when I don’t even subscribe to it – it is similar to attempts you might make to show internal contradictions in Mormonism or Islam to prove their incoherence.

  36. DennyReader September 23, 2009 at 3:00 am #

    constantly inventing beliefs that you attribute to others.

    If by inventing you mean quoting directly from the writing of the most famous atheist thinkers in the last 130yrs then I am guilty as charged.

    My foundation is reality. More specifically: reason and experience. You either have a lack of knowledge about atheism or are intentionally misrepresenting it.

    I actually would like for you to provide some rational reason to support an atheist framework for morality and purpose. Some of the smartest atheist minds have not been able to do it, but maybe you can. I haven’t even mentioned any of the more contemporary scientists who are suppose to be the pinnacle of modern reasoning and science, they have failed to provide rational atheistic framework for morality and purpose. But maybe you can. I am waiting.

    It is thus somewhat amazing for you to presume to know my views on matters of which I have not spoken.

    All theists have at least one thing in common, they believe in a personal God. All atheists have one thing in common they deny the existence of any deity. I don’t need to know any grievances that you might have with your fellow atheists. The mere fact that you are an atheist is sufficient for me to know that you have no rational foundation for morality and purpose.

    Second, neither Sartre not Camus were nihilists – they were existentialists.

    It would appear you don’t know your atheist thinkers as well as you think you do. I was careful to order the phrase “nihilistic and absurd” with “Sartre and Camus”. It could be argued that Camus is not a nihilist but Sartre was certainly a nihilist before he became an existentialist. Did you actually read any of their writings? Sartre’s nihilist roots can be found in his early novel Nausea where he played out his despair and meaninglessness, toward the end of the novel, he faces his meaninglessness.

    “happy?” his look is disconcerting, he has raised his eyelids and stares harshly at me. “you will be able to judge, monsieur. before taking this decision I felt myself in a solitude so frightful that I contemplated suicide. what held me back was the idea that no one, absolutely no one, would be moved by my death, that I would be even more alone in death than in life.”

    Ultimately, existentialism can find its roots in nihilism as expressed by Camus.

    There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest— whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories—comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer. And if it is true, as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the importance of that reply, for it will precede the definitive act.

    I wish you would put these quotes into context. The giants of atheism can face up to their absurdity why can’t you? At least try to make an effort to build a meaningful framework from meaninglessness. I am still waiting.

    AS far as the value of me pointing out contradictions in Christian theology when I don’t even subscribe to it

    But I never said that. This will be at least the third times I say this. It has nothing to do with whether you are a Christian. It is about you as an atheist. What I said was you need a framework/foundation to launch your questions regarding issues such as suffering, abortions, divorces, morality and especially providence. What I am saying is atheism is incapable of providing such a framework. All these issues only make sense outside of atheism and in the context of a personal God. Again it would be akin to you denying the existence of gravity and yet you want to dispute the difference between relativistic and non-relativistic theories. It is nonsense.

  37. Matthew Staton September 23, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Your last post seems to affirm free will in a way that Arminians would fully support. Or maybe it’s called having your cake and eating it too.

    I’m more Calvinistic than Arminian, though not as much as, say, Piper. But that’s not really the big issue here.

    The whole point of the discussion about paradoxes is that from my frame of reference I have free will; from God’s, he is sovereign. He hasn’t shown me the page out of his book, he’s only allowed me to see the one from mine.

  38. ex-preacher September 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    Thank you, DennyReader, for admitting that Camus and Sartre were not nihilists. To call Sartre a nihilist is as accurate as calling C.S. Lewis an atheist. Both men may have flirted with various ideas, but should be judged by where they ended up, not where they started.

    There certainly have been atheists who were nihilists, but many atheists reject nihilism. Again, there are a variety of philosophical and ethical views espoused by various atheists. The fact that all are atheists only means an agreement on the non-existence of god(s). To lump them all together would be like lumping together everyone who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. Or, as I said earlier, it would be like lumping all theists together. Should I judge you by the views espoused by your fellow theist Osama Bin Laden? By the way, not all theists believe in a single, personal god.

    It is interesting that atheists can be grouped into a relatively few schools of thought while theists have managed to divide themselves into tens of thousands of separate groups, each convinced of its exclusive hold on absolute truth.

    Most atheists, including me, build an ethical foundation using the tools of reason and experience. I would argue that our foundation is far more secure than the multiple and conflicting voices of theists who claim to follow the infallible commands of an invisible deity.

    I would also maintain that my ethical views are irrelevant to the discussion at hand. That question is whether divine providence and free will are mutually compatible. Using your bizarre analogy, would you listen to a useful and salient observation on relativity made by someone who doesn’t accept the theory of gravity? Or would you stick your fingers in your ears and start singing loudly? I think I know the answer.

  39. MRATHEIST September 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    DennyReader said: “What I said was you need a framework/foundation to launch your questions regarding issues such as suffering, abortions, divorces, morality and especially providence. What I am saying is atheism is incapable of providing such a framework. All these issues only make sense outside of atheism and in the context of a personal God.”

    OK. Prove it. Aside from the mere assertion, where is your evidence for this?

  40. DennyReader September 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    Most atheists, including me, build an ethical foundation using the tools of reason and experience. I would argue that our foundation is far more secure than the multiple and conflicting voices of theists who claim to follow the infallible commands of an invisible deity.

    I have no doubt you believe your foundation is more secure. Now, please explain how through reason and experience you can develop a moral, meaningful and purposeful system for you to judge suffering, abortions, divorces, morality and especially providence.

    I would also maintain that my ethical views are irrelevant to the discussion at hand. That question is whether divine providence and free will are mutually compatible. Using your bizarre analogy, would you listen to a useful and salient observation on relativity made by someone who doesn’t accept the theory of gravity? Or would you stick your fingers in your ears and start singing loudly? I think I know the answer.

    On the contrary, any discussion that contrast one system over another involves epistemology. The problem right now is that your atheistic framework does not provide you with a tool to judge suffering, abortions, divorces, morality and especially providence. So why don’t you stop dancing around and start building that solid foundation of yours and demonstrate how you can judge difference between morality and provide meaningful and purpose. I am still waiting.

  41. MRATHEIST September 23, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    Dennyreader wrote: “The problem right now is that your atheistic framework does not provide you with a tool to judge suffering, abortions, divorces, morality and especially providence.”
    I’m still waiting for you to attempt to show this. Where is your argument?

  42. ex-preacher September 23, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    Are you a presuppositionalist by any chance?

  43. DennyReader September 24, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Are you a presuppositionalist by any chance?

    This is also irrelevant in your effort to build a solid atheistic foundation for morality, meaning and purpose. But in the interest of fostering good will, no, I would not consider myself a presuppositionalist or any particular branch of apologetics. For the purpose of this discussion consider me a rationalist to aid you in your effort in building that solid atheistic foundation for morality, meaning and purpose. 😀

  44. Brian Krieger September 24, 2009 at 8:44 am #

    I heard a funny classic line from Allan Sherman this morning:
    And when Ben Casey meets Kildaire, that’s called a paradox.
    So we’ve had it wrong this whole time.

  45. ex-preacher September 24, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    Brian,

    You must be either, um, mature in years, or a student of old media, to know that Casey and Kildaire were a pair ‘o docs.

    DennyReader,

    Your helpfulness is truly astounding. I still don’t see why you need my moral foundation to accept that I can see logical contradictions in Christianity. At any rate, I’ve already told you that the foundation is reason and experience. Using those as a foundation, one can develop moral responses to any situation.

    If you really want to be helpful, why don’t you set an example by explaining your foundation and framework for judging my atheism and for your morality.

  46. Brian Krieger September 24, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Not a student per se, but familiar enough with references from my mom and dad and stuff I had read. I don’t consider myself mature in years quite yet……..

  47. MRATHEIST September 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

    DennyReader wrote: “But in the interest of fostering good will, no, I would not consider myself a presuppositionalist or any particular branch of apologetics.”
    OK, so unlike the presuppers, you don’t just naively *assume* that Christianity is the only worldview that makes sense with regard to moral judgment. Since you claim that atheistic views of the world cannot support “morality meaning, and purpose,” it is incumbent upon you to show that there is something about your worldview that CAN support morality, meaning, and purpose, and then demonstrate that the atheist view lacks this property.
    Get started. Or are we just supposed to take your word for it?

  48. DennyReader September 24, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

    I still don’t see why you need my moral foundation to accept that I can see logical contradictions in Christianity. At any rate, I’ve already told you that the foundation is reason and experience. Using those as a foundation, one can develop moral responses to any situation.

    If you really want to be helpful, why don’t you set an example by explaining your foundation and framework for judging my atheism and for your morality.

    You don’t see why, well let me try to explain it to you again. If you are going to question my moral values and judgments then it is only reasonable to see if you are capable of moral judgments yourself. If you are incapable of moral judgments as I have postulated then your inquiry is irrelevant. And as a man/woman who claims to base your foundation on reason, it seems to me you might be a poor practitioner of reasoning. Just stating that you would use reason and experience is not sufficient to support that foundation. You need to provide the how and why they are capable of creating that foundation.

    I am sorry but explaining my moral framework will not help you in building yours. And I am sure you would agree that atheism is more than just a giant negative argument right? Beside I suspect that you probably know more about it than I do, since you have a D.Min and 12 yrs of experience as a preacher and associate professor. But more importantly, you are the one that began questioning my moral values, I don’t need to show you all the quotes where you have done that do I?

    But again I want to be helpful so let me start the ball rolling and summarize what some of the great atheists from your past have said about your belief system. Human beings are nothing than the random collection of star stuff. We are formed by the random collision of atoms, without purpose and without meaning. Life is absurd and the fundamental question is should we commit suicide. “Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” – Bertrand Russell. So let’s get started and build that solid atheistic foundation of morality, meaning and purpose based on these wisdoms from your forerunners.

  49. ex-preacher September 24, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    Why am I not surprised that you refuse to do the very thing you demand that I do?

    And where exactly did I question your moral values? It’s possible I did – I just don’t recall doing that.

  50. DennyReader September 24, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Of course you are not surprised, that is why you could even provide a cogent answer my reasons why you need to support your atheistic foundation. If you don’t think you have questioned my Christian moral values, go look up your own comments, I can’t do all the work for you.

  51. MrAtheist September 24, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    DennyReader wrote: “Of course you are not surprised, that is why you could even provide a cogent answer my reasons why you need to support your atheistic foundation.”

    You don’t seem inclined to make any attempt to support your alleged theistic foundation. If you place so much stock in what Russell says, why don’t you quote the parts where he says that religion can’t provide a foundation for morality? Prove him wrong. Why won’t you try to show that religious ethics have something necessary to ethics that atheistic ethics lacks?

  52. DennyReader September 25, 2009 at 12:47 am #

    MrAtheist, so you agree with ex-preacher that atheism is one giant negative argument then. And I don’t know where you got the impression that I put a lot of “stock” in Russell. I quote him because he is recognized in general by atheists as one of your great thinkers. Since you might have missed what I quoted from Russell, let me remind you what he said.

    That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms

    If you want to help ex-preacher build that solid atheistic foundation for morality, meaning and purpose, tell me on what basis can Russell make any judgment even about his own morality let alone someone else’s? Until you can answer that question you don’t have any basis to ask me about my moral foundation.

    No Christian thinkers have made any statements to put our foundation in doubt as those of your great atheist thinkers. Unless you can produce evidence to the contrary stop trolling and stop wasting my time.

  53. DennyReader September 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    ex-preacher, you remind me of someone. Are you still teaching?

  54. ex-preacher September 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    Yes.

  55. MrAtheist September 25, 2009 at 4:01 pm #

    DennyReader wrote:
    “Since you might have missed what I quoted from Russell, let me remind you what he said.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    Yes, and he was writing in that passage about what someone might believe that would be discouraging or depressing regarding the meaning of life. Russell did not agree that life is meaningless, amoral, or depressing without belief in God. Can you quote those things in his writings too? No? Then you commit the fallacy of biased evidence, as well as the straw man fallacy regarding Russell.

    DennyReader wrote:
    If you want to help ex-preacher build that solid atheistic foundation for morality, meaning and purpose, tell me on what basis can Russell make any judgment even about his own morality let alone someone else’s? Until you can answer that question you don’t have any basis to ask me about my moral foundation.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    You made the assertion. He who asserts must prove. YOU claim that a worldview without belief in God cannot support ““morality meaning, and purpose,” so where is your argument?

    You chastise Ex-Preacher for (allegedly) not providing evidence for his claims, but you do the same thing.

    If you have no argument, you have no case. It’s that simple.

    DennyReader wrote:
    “No Christian thinkers have made any statements to put our foundation in doubt as those of your great atheist thinkers.”

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”–Bertrand Russell

    MrAtheist writes:
    What matters are REASONS. Arguments. Evidence. Name-dropping and odd quotions here and there mean nothing unless you can support their claims with evidence. Crowing that people on your side never doubt anything is hardly a matter that you ought to call to anyone’s attention. Rather, as I see it, it should be a source of embarassment. If it were true.

    “Faith is holding on to uncertainties with passionate conviction.”–Kierkegaard.

    “Without risk there is no faith. Faith is precisely the contradiction between the infinite passion of the individual’s inwardness and the objective uncertainty.”–Kierkegaard.

    And, of course, it is false that Christian thinkers do not assert that the Christian view has uncertainty. Bishop Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Soren Kierkegaard, and others are considered “Christian thinkers,” yet they say that the level of certainty that you claim is unattainable. (For Kierkegaard, undesirable!)

    DennyReader wrote:
    “Unless you can produce evidence to the contrary stop trolling and stop wasting my time.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    I am asking the same thing of you that you are asking of Ex-Preacher. So are you trolling?

  56. DennyReader September 25, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    ex-preacher, you wouldn’t by any chance be the John W. Loftus who teaches philosophy at Kellogg Community College or know of him would you? 🙂

  57. DennyReader September 25, 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    I am asking the same thing of you that you are asking of Ex-Preacher. So are you trolling?

    I know you want to change this debate to about attacking me, but the context of what I ask ex-preacher to do is completely different than what you are asking. If you would stop for a minute to think about what I said and stop attacking like a mad dog, I think it might become clear to you.

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”–Bertrand Russell

    ”Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Pr 26:12

    Yes, and he was writing in that passage about what someone might believe that would be discouraging or depressing regarding the meaning of life.

    Really? Can you quote where he actually said that? You see, people can actually read that book online. He begins that paragraph saying,

    Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home.

    I agree with Russell, in his atheistic worldview, we are nothing more than random purposeless and meaningless product of matter. Do you not agree as an atheist that the modern Homo sapiens are the result of a random purposeless and meaningless interaction between matters? Or are you one of those atheists who believe in magic dusts that created humans just to discover itself? This is what Russell has to work with. He understands exactly what atheism’s foundation is, and that is why he said “Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” If you don’t understand this then you are not nearly as smart as one of your great atheist thinkers. Which is also why I said, “I give him credit to face the true nature of his maker. Unfortunately, he was wrong about his ability to build any sort of value from this foundation.” Some of the wiser atheists have learned long ago to accept this bid of cognitive dissonance, but some of the more foolish atheists continue to play the role of Sisyphus.

  58. MrAtheist September 26, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    DennyReader wrote:
    “I know you want to change this debate to about attacking me, but the context of what I ask ex-preacher to do is completely different than what you are asking.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    I am not attacking you. I am asking you to provide evidence for an assertion that YOU made a number of times in your attacks on Ex-Preacher. Asking for evidence for a claim is hardly an “attack.” It only seems like an attack because you are obviously loathe to attempt to support your position. I’ve asked you to do so several times now and you refuse to do it.

    DennyReader wrote:
    “If you would stop for a minute to think about what I said and stop attacking like a mad dog, I think it might become clear to you.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    So I am unthinking and a mad dog. Instead of evidence I just get ad hominem abuse.

    MrAtheist had written:
    “Yes, and he was writing in that passage about what someone might believe that would be discouraging or depressing regarding the meaning of life.”

    DennyReader writes:
    “Really? Can you quote where he actually said that? You see, people can actually read that book online. He begins that paragraph saying,

    “Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    Yes, you see how he is laying out the problem, and then he characterizes the world as devoid of meaning and ideals. Then he explains the solution.

    First, note that he says that “ONLY within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” [emphasis mine]

    Obviously, he believes that the despairing characterization of the cosmos can be overcome. Why didn’t you quote that part, DennyReader? Again, the fallacy of selective evidence.

    Russell writes (in “A Free Man’s Worship”):
    “Let us learn, then, that energy of faith which enables us to live constantly in the vision of the good; and let us descend, in action, into the world of fact, with that vision always before us.”

    And:

    “Very brief is the time in which we can help them [our fellow human beings], in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instil faith in hours of despair…And so, when their day is over, when their good and their evil have become eternal by the immortality of the past, be it ours to feel that, where they suffered, where they failed, no deed of ours was the cause…”

    MrAtheist writes:
    So it is clear that Russell holds that life is not meaningless, and we ought to help our fellow men and women, and refrain from harming them. This is the opposite of the view you ascribe to him.

    DennyReader writes:
    “I agree with Russell, in his atheistic worldview, we are nothing more than random purposeless and meaningless product of matter.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    As you can now see in that same essay (and even more clearly in others), he held that we are more than that, and that we have obligations to our fellow human beings.

    DennyReader wrote:
    Do you not agree as an atheist that the modern Homo sapiens are the result of a random purposeless and meaningless interaction between matters?

    MrAtheist writes:
    Yes. But it is the genetic fallacy to assume that we cannot have meaningful lives because our biological origins did not have meaning. That is an inference that makes no sense.

    DennyReader wrote:
    “Or are you one of those atheists who believe in magic dusts that created humans just to discover itself?”

    MrAtheist writes:
    Not only am I not one of those, of the hundreds of atheists I do know, I know of none who believe in magic dust, or dust with any such intent. The straw man fallacy, of course.

    DennyReader writes:
    “This is what Russell has to work with. He understands exactly what atheism’s foundation is, and that is why he said “Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” If you don’t understand this then you are not nearly as smart as one of your great atheist thinkers.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    Read “A Free Man’s Worship” again. Russell says that we must START there, with the realization that the world does not have inherent meaning, but he is clear that we can have meaningful, ethical lives. In fact, he says that this starting point is the only one that CAN lead out of the meaningless abyss. If you missed that, you need to re-read your Russell.

    Now, are you going to just come out and admit that you are not going to attempt to support your claim that atheism cannot support “morality meaning, and purpose,” or are you going to keep ducking and weaving?

  59. ex-preacher September 26, 2009 at 1:04 am #

    No, DennyReader, I am not John W. Loftus. The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I don’t know him and don’t recall reading anything he has written. I teach U.S. History.

    Unless and until you are willing to do yourself what you are asking me to do, I don’t see a reason to coninue in this thread. Besides, it looks like you have your hands full dealing with excellent points raised by Mr. Atheist. By the way, I cannot find where I have attacked your moral values. I am curious to know where you think I did that. Or, if you just made it up, I think you should admit it.

  60. DennyReader September 26, 2009 at 2:56 am #

    Russell says that we must START there, with the realization that the world does not have inherent meaning, but he is clear that we can have meaningful, ethical lives.

    Right. More power to you. You just keep on rolling Sisyphus.

  61. DennyReader September 26, 2009 at 2:56 am #

    I cannot find where I have attacked your moral values.

    I am a Christian, and when you challenge Christian morals then you are challenging my moral values.

    Utter and complete bunk. If his argument were valid, we would expect to see millions of people killing their own born children.

    Sep 16, 2009—12:55 am

    So how do you explain the fact that the abortion rate, teen pregnancy rate, divorce rate and crime rate are all higher in overwhelmingly Christian America than in overwhelmingly secular Europe, Australia and Japan?

    Sep 18, 2009—11:26 pm

    If the only hope for “beating back immorality” is the gospel, how do you account for Europe’s relative success?

    Sep 19, 2009—1:35 am

    What sort of justice is that? Personally, I don’t think anyone – no, not even Hitler – deserves an eternity of torture. But babies? What a sad religion you have. Does it bother you at all that you may be more merciful than the God you worship?

    Aug 29, 2009—8:20 pm

  62. DennyReader September 26, 2009 at 2:57 am #

    I was wrong, but there are a lot of similarity between you and John Loftus. For instance,
    EP: I hold a B.A. in Bible, and M.Div. and a D.Min. I was a minister for 12 years and an associate professor of Bible at a conservative, large Christian university for three years, became an atheist.
    JL: I have three master’s degrees in the area of the Philosophy of Religion along with the equivalent of a Ph.D. degree. Ministered for 14 years in several area churches, and taught at several Christian colleges, then became an atheist.

    There are other minor similarities between EP and JL, but another main similarity I saw between EP and JL is their debating style and there seems to be an agenda behind their arguments. What do I mean by this? You can listen to an interview of Loftus in the link below. (I don’t know if I am allowed to post links, if it doesn’t show up then you know why.) Loftus asserts that Christians don’t really know what they believe. (16’48”) So about 25 minutes into the interview Loftus said this.

    “I want to push them off centered. … So that they will have to think for themselves. And then once they are moved in the direction where they have to think for themselves, some of them will follow my path and be an atheist, some of them will become deists and some of them will become liberal Christians. … I am trying to lead the way out of that morass. … They will be less obnoxious. They will be less certain of themselves.”

    Behold, an atheist evangelist at work! The funny thing is that he asserts that evangelical Christians live in a bubble and we don’t know much about other religions, let alone our own. We have what he calls “God glasses” on. So Loftus wants us to think for ourselves. Well, if that is true how about if we start by learning what a great religion atheism is. Let’s learn about atheism in its full glory, in its amoral and absurd existence. And when we decide to follow his path to become an atheist, the first serious question we must ask ourselves is should we commit suicide. But Loftus doesn’t really want us to think for ourselves regarding atheism, Christianity or any other religion. He doesn’t actually want Christians to think for themselves. He wants Christians to think about Christianity according to what Loftus wants us to think. Thanks, but no thanks.

    There is one difference between EP and Loftus and that is Loftus admits that there is no reason for the atheist to be good.

    Loftus interview, click here to play the mp3.

  63. ex-preacher September 26, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    I’m trying to exit this thread, but I feel the need to respond to Denny Reader’s latest posts.

    Re: challenging your morality. In the first three quotes you posted, I wasn’t questioning Christian morality, but rather the logic of the arguments being made. The only way you could see the fourth quote as a challenge to your morality is if you view unending torture of babies as moral.

    Re: John Loftus. You say that Loftus “admits that there is no reason for the atheist to be good.” I found his website
    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/
    and book on amazon
    http://tiny.cc/hz6XC
    and learned that, once again, you have completely misrepresented an atheist’s view on ethics (surprise, I know).

    Loftus argues that atheists do have a reason to be good. He advocates an ethic that he calls “rational self-interest.” He distinguishes this from selfishness and argues that all moral codes are based on self-interest, including Christianity. Indeed, he says, Christian theology contains the greatest reward (heaven) and threat (hell) system ever devised. Christians are encouraged to be good to gain heaven and avoid hell – even if being good means the genocidal killing of babies (as in the book of Joshua).

    One more point – from the beginning of this discussion, you have been comitting the fallacy of consequences – This “is an argument that concludes a premise (typically a belief) to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences. This is based on an appeal to emotion and is a form of logical fallacy, since the desirability of a consequence does not address the truth value of the premise.” (wikipedia)

    You say that atheism leads to bad morals, therefore atheism must be false. Your premise is false, but even if it weren’t, your logic is faulty. By this reasoning, a religion that produces an even higher level of moral behavior – says Mormonism or Buddhism – must be true. I would rather know the truth, even if it is uncomfortable, than believe a comfortable myth.

  64. DennyReader September 27, 2009 at 1:13 am #

    once again, you have completely misrepresented an atheist’s view on ethics (surprise, I know).

    Surprising? Yes, each time you have accuse me of this you have been proven wrong, which leads me to conclude that you do not want to be confused by the facts. Listen to the audio again starting at time index 10mins and 45secs.

    He advocates an ethic that he calls “rational self-interest.”

    Your problem is that you don’t understand atheism. An atheist can always create a set of codes or morals to try and live by, but that code has no relevance beyond the nose that created it. No one is obligated to live by anything you or an atheist conjures up. If you think that it is in your interest to be nice, great more power to you. If you decide to torture and kill others in your interest, because it is exciting and fun, that’s fine too. The problem is your self interest may not align with anyone else’s self interest. Who gets to decide which self interest to live by if they are diametrically opposed to one another? Atheist morality is totally subjective and vacuous. Which is why if you want to kill millions of unborn babies, this is perfectly acceptable to most atheists because no one else have the right to tell the other person what to do, right? When the truth about atheism is exposed, you always fall back to attacking Christian morality as if somehow that will give atheism legitimacy. I will say again, atheism is a giant negative argument.

    But the problem with atheism is bigger than that. I said atheists can try to create a set of codes to live by, but even that code which have no relevance beyond the nose that created it, has to be created outside the framework of atheism. An atheist can claim that he wants to live morally, his life have meaning and purpose because of his family, but that is outside of the context of a random, meaningless and purposeless materialism. The entire human race could be wiped out tomorrow and it would have no meaning as far as the material universe is concerned. An atheist can claim to have purpose and morality but he is just an object. An object composed by the accidental collision of atoms. Even the very thought of morality is merely the result of an interaction of mindless, purposeless, and meaningless atoms.

    What atheists have done is to build a facade, a house of straw on top of an amoral and absurd foundation. And everyone knows that the house is only as strong as its foundation.

    You say that atheism leads to bad morals, therefore atheism must be false.

    In fact you are the one with a bad habit of misquoting and misrepresenting what others say. I’ve never said that atheism leads to bad morals. Atheism is amoral. I’ve said as much in my last post. Atheism is not false. Atheism is so untenable is not even wrong.

  65. ex-preacher September 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    Let’s go over the fallacy of consequence again. You say that atheism is amoral. You further postulate that in a society where everyone is an atheist, there would be essentially moral anarchy(sort of like Switzerland or Japan, I suppose). Please don’t get hung up on the exact words. You and I know that this is your basic argument. Besides your false premise, you are wrongly stating that the desirability of the consequence dictates the truth of the belief.

    You say that “No one is obligated to live by anything you or an atheist conjures up.” This might have some validity to it, except that “rational self-interest” is universal. The job then becomes to convince others to act in their own self-interest and to create a set of laws that reflect this. Certainly, there will be some who refuse to do this, but that is why laws are set up to deter and/or apprehend such individuals. Rationality is a far better basis for law than creating laws because your deity said to. The problem there is that not everyone agrees on whose deity is the real one. Furthermore, vast numbers of people who agree on which deity, can’t agree on exactly what laws this deity wants.

    Alan Dershowitz said “Morality based on religion is often no morality at all. If you do it because of heaven or hell, or because an instruction book told you to, it’s not morality. It’s morality when you have decided yourself, without benefits or threats, that this is the right thing to do.”

    One of the most basic principles that emerges from rational self-interest is that one should treat others the way one wants to be treated. We immediately recognize this as the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12, but this principle predates Jesus.

    Some examples:

    “When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good must suffer with him.”
    – Euripides

    “All virtue is summed up in dealing justly.”
    – Aristotle

    “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
    – Confucius, The Confucian Analects 15:23

    Hinduism: “This is the sum of the Dharma (duty): do naught to others which would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517.

    Islam: “Not one of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” The Prophet Muhammad, 13th of the 40 Hadiths of Nawawi.

    Jainism: “One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.” Mahavira, Sutrakitanga 1.11.33.

    Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.” Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a.

    Sikhism: “I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.” Guru Granth Sahib, pg. 1299.

    Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” Lao T’zu, T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien.

    Zoroastrianism: “Do not to others whatever is injurious to yourself.” Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29.

    Native American Spirituality: “We are as much alive as keep the Earth alive.” Chief Daniel George.

    Baha’i Faith: “Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you and desire not for anyone the things you would desire for yourself.” Baha’u’llah.

    Buddhism: “…Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” The Buddha, Udana-Varga, 5.18.

  66. MrAtheist September 27, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    Mr Atheist had written:
    “Russell says that we must START there, with the realization that the world does not have inherent meaning, but he is clear that we can have meaningful, ethical lives.”
    DennyReader responds:
    Right. More power to you. You just keep on rolling Sisyphus.

    MrAtheist now writes:
    You assert that atheists can’t have meaningful lives. Atheists, including Russell, claim otherwise. You made the original assertion. Support it or admit that you can’t. Or won’t. Either way, you are arguing by mere assertion. Excuse me if I don’t find that compelling.

  67. MrAtheist September 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    DennyReader writes:
    “Your problem is that you don’t understand atheism.”

    MrAtheist writes:
    Why do you feel you have to belittle your debate opponents? You refer to us as unthinking, ignorant, “mad dogs,” etc. Strive to be better than that. Let your arguments do the talking.

    DennyReader writes:
    An atheist can always create a set of codes or morals to try and live by, but that code has no relevance beyond the nose that created it. No one is obligated to live by anything you or an atheist conjures up.

    MrAtheist writes:
    If you were to take a standard class on ethical theory at any major university in the U.S., you would find that 99% of the moral theories you would study would NOT make reference to a divine being or use a supernatural being in any way in order to provide the foundation of the moral theory. You are speaking without knowledge or experience here.

    And, you seem to be falling into the typical fundamentalist mistake of thinking that ethics is a function of “might makes right,” so if you can’t make people obey your ethical theory by force, then it doesn’t work. God, on your view, can force people to do things by threatening hell, so therefore he is the only one that can have a working ethical theory.

    This is a mistake. First, even the Bible is quite clear that God can’t make people do things, even with the threat of hell. So if that is a necessary condition for ethics, then there is no ethics, on your view.

    Second, I don’t think basing ethics on “might makes right” is a very mature view of ethics. Ethics is not about rules and threats. Ethics is about having good character, i.e. being a certain kind of person. (In this I agree with Aristotle.)

    DennyReader writes:
    The problem is your self interest may not align with anyone else’s self interest.

    MrAtheist writes:
    A. People have very similar interests with regard to living a successful life. Everyone wants love, a good income, peace, etc. I don’t see how anyone could doubt this.
    B. If you don’t think that people have similar interests, take that up with Jesus in the beatitudes.
    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “ Another way of putting it: “If you want to inherit the earth, be one of the meek.” “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Another way of saying it: “If you want mercy, be merciful.” “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” Another way of phrasing it: “If you want to see God, be pure of heart.” Here we see that Jesus clearly advocates a morality of self-interest pure and simple. No question about it: “If you want X, then do Y.” He is giving a prescription of how to get these things. If you don’t like self-interest as a motive for morality, you condemn the Jesus of Matthew 5.

    DennyReader writes:
    Atheist morality is totally subjective and vacuous. Which is why if you want to kill millions of unborn babies, this is perfectly acceptable to most atheists because no one else have the right to tell the other person what to do, right?

    MrAtheist writes:
    On utilitarianism, Kant’s categorical imperative, John Rawls’s contractarianism, and other nontheistic moral theories, one can most definitely tell others what to do. Because you are not familiar with nontheistic ethical theories, you make the typical mistake of thinking that all nontheistic moral theories are subjective moral theories. There are nontheistic, subjective moral theories, but the most popular ones in the field of ethics, the “major players” in the field, are not subjective.

    DennyReader writes:
    When the truth about atheism is exposed, you always fall back to attacking Christian morality as if somehow that will give atheism legitimacy. I will say again, atheism is a giant negative argument.

    MrAtheist writes:
    Of course it is a giant negative argument. It is the view that one is not justified in belief in God. (In its stronger form, it is the belief that God does not exist.) But having ethics in the absence of belief in God is not a negative argument. Having a meaningful life in the absence of belief in God is not a negative argument. Those are not views about the existence of God, and they are not negative.

    DennyReader writes:
    But the problem with atheism is bigger than that. I said atheists can try to create a set of codes to live by, but even that code which have no relevance beyond the nose that created it, has to be created outside the framework of atheism. An atheist can claim that he wants to live morally, his life have meaning and purpose because of his family, but that is outside of the context of a random, meaningless and purposeless materialism. The entire human race could be wiped out tomorrow and it would have no meaning as far as the material universe is concerned. An atheist can claim to have purpose and morality but he is just an object. An object composed by the accidental collision of atoms. Even the very thought of morality is merely the result of an interaction of mindless, purposeless, and meaningless atoms.

    MrAtheist writes:
    That is a textbook example of the fallacy of composition. You are claiming that the worldview of the atheist cannot have properties (such as meaning) that individual components (the physical matter) lack. This is false. For example, I am a father, but none of my atoms are fathers. I am a teacher, but none of my internal organs are teachers. As a whole, I can have properties that my components lack. So pointing out that atoms are “meaningless” or that human bodies are “objects” does absolutely nothing to show that atheists can’t have meaningful lives. Yes, I can be composed of meaningless atoms, but that does not mean that my life must be meaningless. That is just a fallacious inference.

    DennyReader writes:
    What atheists have done is to build a facade, a house of straw on top of an amoral and absurd foundation. And everyone knows that the house is only as strong as its foundation.

    MrAtheist writes:
    The fallacy of composition again. My atoms can lack properties that I, composed of atoms, do not lack.

    DennyReader writes:
    I’ve never said that atheism leads to bad morals. Atheism is amoral. I’ve said as much in my last post. Atheism is not false. Atheism is so untenable is not even wrong.

    MrAtheist writes:
    If atheism is incoherent, then so it theism, since atheism is just the negation of it. That just follows logically. If –X is incoherent, it can only be that X is incoherent. Unless, and this is your only “out,” you want to maintain that belief in God is a tautology (a truth by definition, basically). But if you do that, you rob the claim “God exists” of all meaning in its relation to the world. You would be relegating “God exists” to the realm of a linguistic truth, not an empirical truth. I doubt that you want to go that route.

    You have finally given arguments for your claim that atheism cannot support morality and meaning in life, so I give you credit for that. But I am unimpressed by your arguments, as you can see above. Most of them are based on fallacious reasoning or just plain uninformed assertions.

  68. DennyReader September 28, 2009 at 2:03 am #

    Why do you feel you have to belittle your debate opponents? You refer to us as unthinking, ignorant, “mad dogs,” etc.

    I don’t think I’ve ever called you unthinking or ignorant, did I? As for mad dog (singular, in reference to you alone), this was wrong. I love dogs and I didn’t mean to insult them. [Just kidding. It’s a joke.]

    Why did I say that? Consider what you were doing. In your very first post, you jumped into the middle of a conversation and without stating any explanation of what your views were and demanded that I “prove it” to you. Your second comment was just as terse, demanding that I show you something. Your third comment was to insult the presuppositionalist as naive Christians and again demand that I answer you. I then tried to explain to you why I was justified to insist ex-preacher needed to defend his atheistic foundation and offer for you to help him. But again you come back and demand that I answer your charges. That is when I said you were “attacking like a mad dog”. I didn’t say you are a mad dog, you just attack like one.

    Strive to be better than that. Let your arguments do the talking.

    Right. You mean I shouldn’t level false accusations against someone like you are doing to me right now, and question my integrity like you are doing to me and just let your arguments do the talking instead of jumping into the middle of a conversation and demand someone to answer you. Is this what you mean? I think I am doing just fine, thanks.

  69. DennyReader September 28, 2009 at 2:04 am #

    You say that atheism is amoral. You further postulate that in a society where everyone is an atheist, there would be essentially moral anarchy

    No. No. No. I never said that amorality would necessarily mean there would be moral anarchy. That is not my basic premise, so please stop putting words in my mouth. You are trying to build a straw man just to knock it down.

    except that “rational self-interest” is universal. The job then becomes to convince others to act in their own self-interest and to create a set of laws that reflect this. Certainly, there will be some who refuse to do this, but that is why laws are set up to deter and/or apprehend such individuals.

    It all depends on what you mean by self interest. If by self interest you mean that a person will always do what they deem right and desires to do then yes that is universal. However, if by self interest to mean that everyone will conform to a certain moral value then that is absolutely not true and it is not universal. (Even if it is universally accepted, it still does not justify morality under atheism, I will explain this again later). What you are proposing here is not even a moral code. It is “survival of the fittest”, it is “the law of the jungle”, it is whoever has the biggest gun gets to dictate the rules. With this type of self interest “morality”, it makes killing 6 million Jews in Nazi Germany moral, because that was the law of the land at the time. It is also in the self interest of all the German people to support and follow that law. What if Hitler was able to achieve his goal and conquered the world? Could his rules be functional? I don’t know how many times I’ve said this already but you don’t seem to be listening, popular opinion is not the same as moral correctness.

    It’s morality when you have decided yourself, without benefits or threats, that this is the right thing to do.”

    This is very similar to what I’ve said, that’s why he is almost right. Everyone can decide to do what is right in their own eyes and no one can judge the value of another’s value. He is right except for the fact that this is not morality. This is amorality. When you believe in everything then you believe in nothing. When you say that everything is right then nothing is right or wrong Q.E.D. amorality. Your problem is that you don’t really believe in atheism. You try to make an end run around it and conflate what amounts to nothing more than a social contract and morality.

    One of the most basic principles that emerges from rational self-interest is that one should treat others the way one wants to be treated. We immediately recognize this as the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12, but this principle predates Jesus.

    This is a construct that can not possibly be supported under the framework of atheism. You just proved it in the paragraph before. You are creating a moral construct in complete thin air. There is no moral oughtness to treat anyone in any fashion. You just said the equivalent of each person must decide for themselves what seems right in their own eyes. I know you quoted some examples to try to support your assertion but you know there are also countless examples like those of Hitler that would refute what you’ve just said.

    And specifically, your appeal to Scripture is even more ludicrous. You are an atheist remember. You don’t believe that there is a God. How could you completely leave your atheistic framework and cite the very idea that you are against for support?

    Now let me get back to what I said I would defer until now, that is your idea that self interest is universally accepted. Even if that is true it still does not make it a moral oughtness. As in the hypothetical of Hitler, if he was able to rule the world and install his social rule, and for the sake of argument that everyone decided without coercion that only the white Aryan race “should” be allowed to live. They are the only people that exist (because those who refuse to accept this are “apprehended” and eliminated) and their “morality” is universal. Would this mean that this is what morality ought to be? This is obviously a more extreme example but the same is true for any form that you may construct. Under the framework of atheism which you seem to constantly try to run away from and ignore, is how you can construct a moral oughtness that regardless if one believes or follows, must nevertheless be morally correct.

    Let me remind you once again that atheism says that you are nothing more than a subspecies of catarrhines made from the mindless collection of star dust. There is no difference in the creation process or essence between pieces of rock, a cockroach, or a walking and talking primate. If you want to claim that your morality, meaning and purpose is somehow different than anything else that is in this universe, that is fine. You can cling to your delusion and invisible fictitious belief that is not confirmed by science. Unless you can show from science that the universe created you with some moral oughtness and purpose then you are just punching in the wind. Someone credits this quote to G. K. Chesterton, it may serve you well to consider it for your edification. “It is not that atheism has been tried and found wanting, you see, it’s just never been tried at all in its pure form.”

  70. DennyReader September 28, 2009 at 2:12 am #

    Since ex-preacher gave a couple links to John Loftus, I shall likewise reciprocate for the interest of balance. This does not mean that I endorse or agree with these sites but just something for balance and to jumpstart more research if anyone so desires.
    Debunking Loftus
    John W. Loftus: Profiling and Critiquing Material

  71. ex-preacher September 28, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    DennyReader: “No. No. No. I never said that amorality would necessarily mean there would be moral anarchy. That is not my basic premise, so please stop putting words in my mouth. You are trying to build a straw man just to knock it down.”

    It seems that you are relying on the fallacy of consequence, but apparently I can’t phrase it in a way that’s acceptable to you. So, let use X.

    As I understand it, you are saying:

    1. Atheism leads to X.
    2. X is a bad thing.
    3. Therefore, atheism is false.

    What is X? You tell me – is it amorality, uncertainty, Hitler?

    If this does not encapsulate your basic argument, then please do it yourself instead of just complaining that I missed it.

    Here’s the point: whatever X is, your argument uses the fallacy of consequence. Even if the first premise were true, it does make the belief system (or lack thereof) false.

    Now, on to showing that your premise is false.

    There’s a saying that the first person to compare his opponent to Hitler automatically loses the debate. You lose.

    Hitler was irrational. Genocide is never in one’s self-interest for a rational person. This why a rational person can condemn all genocide – whether ordered by Hitler against Jews or by Yahweh against the Canaanites.

    I do not accept “might makes right” or “popularity makes right.” Reason makes right. Even if everyone in a society favors doing something irrational, that does not make it rational. Likewise, if everyone in a society thought that 2 + 2 = 9, that does not make it so.

    You are troubled that there is no outside force to say what morality should be. That’s true. All we have to make a good society is reason and experience. I’m sorry if that’s enough for you. That’s what was used to write the Constitution and what we use to make new laws. That’s what was used to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document far superior to the “perfect law” of the Old Testament.

    You find it ludicrous that I would quote the Bible. But even the Bible has some rational material. You may even have found something useful or true in what an atheist has written. That’s okay – you can quote that without endorsing everything else that person has written.

    Again, every great thinker and most religions and philosophies have concluded that treating others as we wish to be treated is the only rational foundation for society. The fact that it is universal is not what makes it true. It is rather the fact that it is true that makes it universal.

  72. MRATHEIST September 28, 2009 at 2:57 pm #

    I don’t think I’ve ever called you unthinking or ignorant, did I?

    MrAtheist writes:
    Yes, you did. You wrote: “If you would stop for a minute to think about what I said..,” implying that I was not thinking.

    DennyReader wrote:
    Why did I say that? Consider what you were doing. In your very first post, you jumped into the middle of a conversation and without stating any explanation of what your views were and demanded that I “prove it” to you.

    MrAtheist writes:
    So? How is that a problem? You made an assertion about an alleged shortcoming of atheism, and I asked you to support your position.

    Asking for evidence of a position is not an attack.

    DennyReader wrote;
    Your second comment was just as terse, demanding that I show you something.

    MrAtheist writes:
    Since you refused to support your insults to atheists, I asked you again to support your position. That would only be a problem if you could not support it. It turned out that, in fact, you could not.

    DennyReader wrote:
    Your third comment was to insult the presuppositionalist as naive Christians and again demand that I answer you.

    MrAtheist writes:
    a. Asking that you support your insults is not itself an attack.
    b. Presuppositionalists ARE naive Christians. Theirs is the school of begging the question. Even Alvin Plantinga thinks so, and he’s on your side.

    DennyReader wrote:
    I then tried to explain to you why I was justified to insist ex-preacher needed to defend his atheistic foundation and offer for you to help him. But again you come back and demand that I answer your charges.

    MrAtheist writes:
    Right. Why do you have the double standard? You can demand that someone show how their worldview supports morality and meaning, but no one can ask this same thing of you? And you never explained why you are exempt from this request, except for the false assertion that no Christian thinker has called your assertions into question–a claim I promptly refuted, and which you never rebutted.

    DennyReader wrote:
    That is when I said you were “attacking like a mad dog”. I didn’t say you are a mad dog, you just attack like one.

    MrAtheist writes:
    So? Since when is a chronological summary to be mistaken for a justification? Why are you just rehashing our discussion instead of attempting to further it?

    MrAtheist had written:
    Strive to be better than that. Let your arguments do the talking.

    DennyReader writes:
    Right. You mean I shouldn’t level false accusations against someone like you are doing to me right now,

    MrAtheist writes:
    What false accusation?

    DennyReader cont’d:
    …and question my integrity like you are doing to me and just let your arguments do the talking instead of jumping into the middle of a conversation and demand someone to answer you. Is this what you mean? I think I am doing just fine, thanks.

    MrAtheist writes:
    I see you just rehashed our discussion and made NO attempt to respond to my refutation of your position. You are now reduced to ad hominem abuse.

    You lose.

  73. Darius T September 28, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    Is there an echo in here? 🙂

  74. DennyReader September 28, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    MrAtheist writes:
    Yes, you did. You wrote: “If you would stop for a minute to think about what I said..,” implying that I was not thinking.

    LOL! Do you understand the difference between asking you to think about something, such as “what I said”, instead of unthinking? But if you want to insist that you are unthinking then more power to you.

  75. DennyReader September 28, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

    There’s a saying that the first person to compare his opponent to Hitler automatically loses the debate. You lose.

    I guess if you can’t win an argument on its merits, you will have to resort to cliché. Read Richard Weikart’s book From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany

    whether ordered by Hitler against Jews or by Yahweh against the Canaanites.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Does this remind you of something else? Yes, that’s right the fallacy of consequence. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    Therefore, atheism is false.

    You are obsess with the thought that I am trying to kill your god. No, I am not trying to prove atheism false. Remember, I said for the sake of this discussion, consider me a rationalist. I am not able to prove atheism false just as atheists cannot prove that theism is false.

    If this does not encapsulate your basic argument, then please do it yourself instead of just complaining that I missed it.

    Here’s the point: whatever X is, your argument uses the fallacy of consequence.

    Well if you would stop misrepresenting what I’ve said, then I would not have to tell you that you’ve missed it.

    Let’s try it your way.

    1. Atheism is amoral, meaningless and purposeless
    2. Atheists believe atheism have morality and meaningful.
    3. Atheism is internally contradictory and untenable and atheists are in a state of cognitive dissonance.

    I do not accept “might makes right” or “popularity makes right.” Reason makes right. Even if everyone in a society favors doing something irrational, that does not make it rational. Likewise, if everyone in a society thought that 2 + 2 = 9, that does not make it so.

    You proved once again why atheism is contradictory and untenable. You’ve said before that morality is when you have decided yourself, without benefits or threats, that this is the right thing to do. But now you are saying someone like Hitler who has decided for himself that killing other is a good and moral thing is unacceptable. As a matter of fact you go so far as saying even if everyone believes differently than you do, they are still wrong and you are the sole guardian of truth. This is the height of pompous and arrogant.

    All we have to make a good society is reason and experience.

    I know you’ve already said this before but you are wrong in 2 ways. But first when you say “good” that has no meaning beyond your own nose. You know that right?
    Now you are wrong because a bad construct such as Hitler’s Germany can still function effectively. The Nazis have certainly proved that. Hitler certainly ruled with reason and experience, maybe not your reason and your experience but nevertheless it is methodical. Second, what you still fail to acknowledge and understand is that regardless of your reason and experience, atheism is predicated on an amoral and meaningless construct because that is a fact of science. It doesn’t matter what reason and experience that you throw at it, until you deal with the fact that you are nothing more than a glob of molecules like a rock or cockroach, your reasoning and experience is as meaningful as such.

    You find it ludicrous that I would quote the Bible. But even the Bible has some rational material.

    Once again you don’t seem to understand the subtle difference between quoting and using it as a basis for an argument. When you quoted the Bible, you were using it as an example to support what atheistic self interest is. That is why it is ludicrous because you have to co-op something whose Source refutes your beliefs. Go back and read what I said more carefully. You are using theism to justify atheism. Your problem is that you have not been able to use atheism to justify atheism. Is that clear enough for you yet? On the other hand, when I quote Sartre, Camu, Russell, and Sagan, I am using atheists to support atheism. Do you understand the difference?

    every great thinker and most religions and philosophies have concluded that treating others as we wish to be treated is the only rational foundation for society.

    Are we back to that again? Will you ever make up your mind, if you believe that popular opinion justify morality or will you believe that you are the sole source of all morality?

  76. DennyReader September 28, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

    Is there an echo in here?

    You are right, there is a repetitious nature to this. It will end soon. 🙂

  77. ex-preacher September 28, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    I can immediately see one thing in your post I like. You say, “I am not able to prove atheism false just as atheists cannot prove that theism is false.”

    All you would have to do to prove atheism false is to prove a god exists. It looks like you and I agree that the existence of a god cannot be proven. We have agreement; this is progress.

  78. MrAtheist September 29, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    MrAtheist had written:
    Yes, you did. You wrote: “If you would stop for a minute to think about what I said..,” implying that I was not thinking.

    DennyReader wrote:
    LOL! Do you understand the difference between asking you to think about something, such as “what I said”, instead of unthinking? But if you want to insist that you are unthinking then more power to you.

    MrAtheist writes:
    A. You did not just ask me to think about what you wrote, you said I had not thought about it. That IS equivalent to saying that I was unthinking.
    B. Nailing you on the charge of calling me unthinking is NOT equivalent to saying that I agree that I am unthinking.

    DennyReader had written to Ex-Preacher:
    Read Richard Weikart’s book From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany.

    MrAtheist writes:
    I hope you are not going to bring up that old canard that Hitler was an atheist. He wasn’t.

  79. MrAtheist September 29, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    DennyReader writes:
    Is that clear enough for you yet? On the other hand, when I quote Sartre, Camu [sic], Russell, and Sagan, I am using atheists to support atheism.

    MrAtheist writes:
    Gee, why don’t you cite contemporary, professional atheist philosophers such as Michael Martin, Kai Nielsen, Ted Drange, A.C. Grayling, Colin McGinn, Graham Oppy, Douglas Krueger, Taner Edis, Keith Augustine, Evan Fales, Keith Parsons, etc. They assert and argue that atheists can have a legitimate moral point of view and that they can lead meaningful lives.

    Do your homework. Don’t commit the straw man fallacy.

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