Archive for the ‘ A Slice of Life ’ Category

Thoughtful Young Men

How often have we heard an excuse for heresy made out of the desire to impress “thoughtful young men”! Young men, whether thoughtful or otherwise, are best impressed by the gospel, and it is folly to dream that any preaching which leaves out the truth is suitable to men, either old or young. We shall not quit the Word to please the young men, nor even the young women. This truckling to young men is a mere pretence; young men are no more fond of false doctrine than are the middle-aged; and if they are, there is so much the more necessity to teach them better. Young men are more impressed by the old gospel than by ephemeral speculations. If any of you wish to preach a gospel that will be pleasing to the times, preach it in the power of the devil, and I have no doubt that he will willingly do his best for you. It is not to such servants of men that I desire to speak just now. I trust that, if ever any of you should err from the faith, and take up with the new theology, you will be too honest to pray for power from God with which to preach that mischievous delusion if you should do so, you will be guilty of constructive blasphemy. No, brethren, it is not our object to please men, but our design is far nobler. – Charles Spurgeon

Just for fun

One of the disadvantages of having an eclectic position is that you might be the only one who holds that position, and the first to use the words you use. Case in point:

“be slaughtered, never to live again”

“lifeless, unconscious corpses”

Reminiscent of StrongBad:

“For death metal, you have to scream from the bowels of your lungs; words like decay, deranged, decrepit,and… um, deloused.”

“Creeping, rusty, meat. Truly the heart and soul of all death metal.”

For days, the blogs and facebook statuses have been replete with pro and anti Prop 26 messages. What I haven’t seen from the anti side, however, is much of anything that isn’t a Slippery Slope fallacy.

The common refrain is that this proposition will *likely* lead to the banning of abortion, IVF treatments, stem cell research, and human cloning. It will keep women from receiving chemo while pregnant, deny them treatment in case of ectopic pregancies or other life-threatening pregnancy problems, “most” birth control options will be removed, that if a woman’s miscarriage is “suspicious” they will be subject to investigation,in vitro fertilization will almost certainly be regulated and priced out of existence, the State should force a pregnant woman to carry a dying fetus until it miscarries naturally, victims of rape (including the mentally disabled and girls as young as 8 ) should be forced by the State to carry and give birth to their rapists’ babies, that there will be additional thousands of babies brought to term and in foster care. That’s a selection.

The problem with all this being; it’s a fallacious argument. Namely, the Slippery slope fallacy. This fallacy is presented in this form:
Event X has occurred (or will or might occur).
Therefore event Y will inevitably happen.

Unfortunately, there is no argument typically given for *why* this will inevitably happen. More often, the wilder the claim concerning what will occur, the better. For instance, I read on a forum that this means “reproductive rights are being stripped away right before my very eyes.” Followed shortly after by another saying that the passage of this bill will make us “a country that reduces women to incubators.” Such rhetorical silliness is truly amazing, but it gets better. A woman wonders what the “future would hold in a country where abortions & birth control are illegal, and a woman is a second-class citizen compared to the fetus she carries.” One opines that women will be “required to go through inquests when they have miscarriages to determine if they were somehow at fault for “murdering” their fetus.” This is the kicker: “Do you not realize this is the first step to taking away freedom? What’s next? Your freedom to religion? Speech? To vaccinate your kids or not? Its a slippery slope.” That’s a fallacy, folks. There’s no argument for why this is the case. It’s just stating that it is the case. X, therefore y – no intervening premise.

Is there a good reason not to vote for Prop 26? Yes, actually. Because it’s considered by some to be unconstitutional. Does that mean it isn’t right? No. That’s the best argument I have seen on the matter, bar none. However, there are arguments on the other side, as well. It is not a *direct* ballot initiative – it requires legislature review. It was presented to the MS legislature early this year. Hence, the counter-argument goes, the constitution is speaking of direct initiatives. As this was reviewed by the state legislature, it does not fall under that purview. Clear as mud? Good! That will likely be the “best bet” of the folks arguing against this, if it gets adopted – but we’ll see how far they get. That, however, is just my opinion on the matter. I’m also not sure they have any federal appeal in this instance, as it’s an article of a *state* constitution.

Here’s the argument: The State Constitution says that “(5) The initiative process shall not be used: (a) For the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the Bill of Rights of this Constitution”
This initiative specifically states that it is amending Article III (the Bill of Rights, in the MS Constitution).
Therefore, the initiative is unconstitutional.

However, there are a couple ways to go, here. The first is that this isn’t a modification, addition, or repeal – but a clarification. The second is that since it was an indirect initiative, and under the supervision of the state legislature, that it doesn’t qualify under that heading. I don’t know how far that one goes, but that’s one response I’ve seen. I’m sure there are others, but there are two quick outlines.

I have yet to see an objection, save the objection of it’s illegality, that is not a slippery slope fallacy. Saying what you *think* will happen in the future is something else altogether than making a logical argument. It’s simply stating your opinion on the matter of it’s eventual result. On the contrary, I can pretty clearly tell you what it does prohibit. 1) Abortion 2) The intentional destruction of any fertilized embryo 3) Human clones being considered “non-persons” in such an eventuality 4) Killing unborn children with the “morning after” pill. This is in terms of how it defines a person; the language used, not my feelings concerning it. This is always a tough thing to do – look at an issue from the standpoint of it’s logical implications, not it’s emotional ones. Logically, murder is of a person. If a person is a fertilized embryo, then destruction of a fertilized embryo is, therefore, murder. Abortion, obviously, is murder – as is the use of the “morning after” pill. These are all issues that have surrounded the pro-life movement for the last couple decades. There should be no surprise from anyone to see the oft-discussed logical implications in other areas besides abortion.

Does this mean we will be faced with some tough choices? Sure, it does. Does it also mean that we’ll have to be ethical in terms of unborn children in a similar fashion to the way that we have to be in the case of adult or infant persons in the case of triage situations? Yes. Is there established law in these cases? Yes, there is. Saying that there isn’t is simply just untrue. Putting an unborn child on a “level playing field” with a child a matter of months older is nothing more than being consistent. What is at issue is establishing, legally, what a person is. Using rhetorical tricks such as were outlined above is, simply, beneath us. Thinking logically about these sorts of issues is what we should be doing, not making emotionally laden accusations without anything more than speculation to go on. It is not “mean”, or “condescending” to point out that an argument is fallacious. In fact, we should welcome such criticism, if it helps us think more clearly about the issue.

Since I am a Christian, let me clearly state my position. I believe that life begins at conception. This is not a slogan, but a Biblically exegeted position, culled and exposited from Scripture. This means that we are making a point of *principle*, and applying those principles to the world around us, as we all do with our principles. In the case of this position, it is exposited from the story of Samson, in Judges 13. His mother was promised a son, after having been barren for many years. She was told that this child would be dedicated to God – a vow called the “Nazarite” vow, discussed previously on this blog. She is told 1) That she *will* conceive. 2) She is told to be careful not to eat anything unclean, or to drink any wine (things forbidden by the vow) – starting now (vs 7). 3) The child is dedicated from when? From the womb. With conception explicitly mentioned, and all things related to this vow were to be put in effect, as of now, in order to ensure there was no violation. If the point at which we are concerned is not conception, then what shall we say it is? There is also the witness of John’s recognition of Christ “from the womb”, and being filled with the Holy Spirit “from the womb.” There is David’s testimony that God knit him together in his mother’s womb(Psa 139), and God’s concern for him there. There is the recognition of a spiritual state, even while in the womb, in Psalm 51. I also note Stott’s words on Psalm 139; “The psalmist surveys his life in four stages: Past, present, future, and before birth, and in all four refers to himself as ‘I.’ He who is writing as a full-grown man has the same personal identity as the fetus in his mother’s womb.”

Not only that, but human life is just as valuable in the womb, as it is outside of it. Shedding of innocent blood is often remarked on, in Scripture. This, incidentally, does not mean “innocent” as in “sinless”, but “innocent” as in “unworthy of being slain.” In Gen 9, we are told that whoever sheds the blood of man, by man will his blood be shed; but this is because man is created in the image of God. The doctrine of the imago dei is far-reaching, and central to why we take the position we do. We know when life is considered to start; and we believe that the image of God is intrinsic to the life of His human creatures. As such, they are the imago dei from the very beginning. In Exodus 21, we are told that even causing a woman to give birth prematurely (even though there is no lasting harm) is worthy of the husband choosing what to fine the guilty party. Directly after, we are told that any harm is to be met with life for life, etc. This is very plain. The unborn child is considered to be human life on equal footing with the adult. Just the potential of harm, in carelessness, is worthy of punishment, because they endangered a child. Proverbs 24:11-12 commands us to deliver the innocents from slaughter. (This verse is often cited in relation to the Holocaust, as well.) Deu 27:25 states that the one who accepts money to kill the innocent is cursed. In Amos 1:13, killing unborn children is cited as a sin. In 2 Sam 4:11, David tells men who killed Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, in his bed, that that deed was worthy of them being blotted from the earth. How much more, if children in the womb are being killed in the only bed they know?

In the case of rape; are children to be held accountable for the sins of their fathers, contra Deut 24:16? Do they deserve death? In the case of “freedom”, are we allowed to use that a covering for sin, contra 1Pe 2:16? Are we to kill the disabled, rather than care for them, contra Lev 19:14? Third, a woman’s body “belongs” to her no more than a man’s does. We belong to God. Instead of using speculative excuses for why it might not be most convenient for us were we to adopt an equitable law, it would behoove us to submit our convenience to the principles laid out in Scripture. Equity is found in just laws, not in the speculative enumeration of possible abuses or inconveniences we might face as a result. Scripture tells us that conception is when God considers life to begin. We are being given problems, but no solutions for those problems in reply. A fallacy is not excused by convenience. Immorality is likewise not excused by convenience. Even if IVF is made more expensive as they retool their procedures, for example – what is that to you, if it preserves life, and restrains evil? What else is it the government’s principal job to do? Instead of offering your personal nightmare scenarios, offer me an alternative. Further, tell me why the amendment *itself* is wrong – not why the potential consequences are wrong. There is a whole network of fallacies involved in that sort of argumentation. Speculative consequences are not a conclusion for an argument, if you don’t connect premise a to conclusion c. You can’t skip b, and call it a valid argument.

To wrap this up; if you want to offer an argument, offer us a premise b. Offer us a premise b, further, which the conclusion can be shown to follow from. Saying that y will occur if x occurs, without any reason given to think that y will occur is just simply illogical. Also, note that we are talking about something 1) Unprecedented and 2) That hasn’t yet occurred. Saying that we are speaking of “facts” in a case such as this is absurd. There are no facts to be had about the consequences of a future event. You might make an inductive case, but you have to make the case! So, please work on those arguments, boys and girls.

There are a significant number of newly “converted” (to presup, at least) folks that are quite zealous for the defense of the faith. This, I consider good. On the other hand, Scripture warns us against “zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge”, in Rom 10:2. This is especially important for us to consider. All too often, we have a tendency to “jump right in,” whether we are prepared to do so, or not. Zealousness leads us, with inadequate preparation, all too often to imbalance, and from or along with imbalance, to a sub-Biblical defense. Additionally, there is the problem of not knowing what it is you are to be defending! As putative apologists, we must not overestimate our own abilities, knowledge, or proficiency. This isn’t to say that I consider myself to be “perfect” – or that anyone else should, this side of glory; What I am saying is, we must be very watchful that our desire doesn’t outrun our wisdom.

When we have something we desire to do, we often run ahead, to the detriment of our preparation for doing so. Similarly, we often dismiss preparation for either pragmatic or pietistic aims, at the expense of doctrinal orthodoxy. Part of an adequate apologetic is the ability to teach. If you aren’t convinced of that, I would point you to the instances of apologetic encounters in Scripture. If you are defending the faith, there are certain preconditions for doing so. Principally, there is the precondition of knowing what you are defending. Secondarily, there is the precondition of an ability to teach what Christian doctrine is, so that it may be clear to your audience what in fact it is to be defended. Thirdly, it must be clearly said that there is the precondition of grace; and that graciousness is the product of sanctification, not of formal study. None of these aspects can be overlooked or dismissed; and they must not be dismissed, because Scripture clearly commands them of us. In fact, dismissal of these requirements is tantamount to rebellion. To overlook these requirements is a function of ignorance – but the intent of this post is to render you, the apologist, without excuse – and hence, repentant. We cannot afford ignorance in the cause of Christ.

So, let us look at what we are called to do. Those who are called to apologetic ministry must be within, and under the authority of, the local church. They cannot be “lone rangers,” and they cannot be “loose cannons”, or “independents”. If we are of those who believe, we must be within the fellowship, and be in fellowship (Acts 4:32). If we are of those who believe, we must be under the authority of elders (Acts 14:23). Apollos, we know, was a powerful advocate for the cause of Christ. Yet, he was amenable to being instructed by those who were older and wiser than himself. In addition, he was willing to be sent, and not to send himself. It was the brethren that sent him, and encouraged him – and in that fellowshipped sending, he in turn encouraged the elect, and refuted their opponents. (Acts 18)

Next, we must see that only those with adequate preparation should be engaging unbelievers. Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord. Paul, of course, had intensive training as a Pharisaical student – but even that did not suffice, did it? He spent 3 years being “taught of God” before he began his ministry – interestingly, roughly the same amount of time the other Apostles spent with Christ. I’m not trying to say we should all go be desert dwellers of some sort – or that we are all called to be seminarians, either. What I am saying, however, is that we cannot neglect an intensive, intentional course of study in the foundations of our faith, if we are to be apologists. This is not negotiable. In order to defend the faith, we must know what we believe, and be unshakably convinced of the truth of what we know before we are involved in ministry of this sort. Apologetics is no ministry for neophytes. The Christian life is likened to warfare, in Ephesians and elsewhere. Front-line troops are experienced, well-trained soldiers. They know precisely where they fit into the ranks, what their duties are, and have undergone systematic training in the art of war. No soldier learns his trade by osmosis. His trade is soldiery. Soldiers are trained; so must we be. This training is primarily not in the assemblage of arguments, philosophical justifications, or evidenciary studies. Those of you who are in the military; where did your training start? It started with the discipline a soldier required. Next, it moved to the care and operation of your equipment. Then, training moves to the proper movements of troops, of which you are a part.

The disciplines required of the apologist are both mental and spiritual. The primary discipline is the systematic study of the Word of God, and the doctrines therein. We must also be as fervent and constant in prayer and the confession of sin as we are fervent and constant in study. We must systematically practice the spiritual disciplines along with the mental disciplines we work to cultivate.

We must also be able to teach. In a Biblical apologetic, we are responding to the anti-Christian from, and with, Christian doctrine. As I have said for some time, it seems to be the case that the vast majority of objections stem from a fundamental ignorance of Christian doctrine. As Christians, we must admit that this is often the fault of those whom we have championed; and those champions themselves are either unable, or unwilling, to defend the Christian faith as a system of doctrine, rather than a philosophical abstraction. The defense of “a god” flies directly in the face of the Scriptural testimony. Keeping the doctrines of Christianity at “arms length” in their putative defense is nothing more than folly, if that is what we are truly defending. We cannot make an arbitrary distinction between what we believe and what we defend. We can do only damage to the doctrines we love by defending an abstraction rather than the reality. If you do not know, love, and cherish the doctrines of Scripture, you are simply fighting for yourself, not the fellowship of Christ. If what you defend is unrecognizable in comparison to the God you claim to know – it is readily apparent, and worse than useless. The knowledge of the Holy is understanding, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Do not forget it for an instant.

When we as apologists engage in the defense of the faith we must be able to both recognize and correct the misconceptions that are foundational to, and undergird the objections raised to that faith. When we hear an objection, we must compare it to what it is we know. We waste an enormous amount of time responding to things that we know are inapplicable, or false. We waste so much energy that could be better used in teaching these objectors what it is they need to know about the God they reject. Objections should be filtered through the matrix of sound doctrine – and responded to as they warrant, not as the unbeliever assumes. We all too often consider the unbeliever’s conception of God to be “plausible”, or “possible” – while in reality, they are objecting to a man of straw. Instead of letting this pass unchallenged, take the opportunity to correct their misapprehensions. This is helpful to your fellow believers, as well! It is quite a redemption of the time (that unbelievers waste for themselves in their ignorance) to grasp that opportunity to teach what it is they should be addressing, and to outline for your fellows (and for other unbelievers) where it is they went wrong in their approach. Granted, we know that unbelievers both applaud and prefer their ignorance – but in responding in such a way, we leave them without an excuse, don’t we?

Lastly, we are to answer with gentleness and reverence. This does not mean that we do not step up boldly to answer; it does, however, mean that we are not to savage our opponent on a personal level, or to respond in kind when we are personally attacked. This does not proscribe a righteous zealousness for the doctrines of God; it does, however, proscribe an unrighteousness zealousness for personal vengeance and returning offense when it is given. It is often the case that unbelievers act like fools. We are to answer a fool according to *their* folly – as it deserves – but NOT to become like them. This is a trap many fall into – myself included. We are to be reverent of God, and mild in our responses.

We must also see that the Lord’s slave must NOT be quarrelsome; must be able to teach; must be patient when wronged; and must gently correct those in opposition. They must not engage in foolish or ignorant speculations – they produce the quarrels warned against.(2 Tim 2) Be mindful of your limits. Be watchful of your temper. Be wise concerning where and when you engage with unbelievers. Be discerning in your responses, and teach whenever and wherever it is appropriate. Be patient when you are attacked, or offended, or wronged. Do not engage in endless quarrels; know when and where to enter, and when and where to leave a discussion.

All of this I have given above is the product of the work of God, friends, not of your own efforts. It is the work of God; sanctifying and preparing you for His own work, not your own. We are bought and paid for – we are not our own possession, but His. Whatever you think you might be, you are either His, or you are your own – and God surely knows His own. You think you’re a presuppositionalist? Let me tell you what a presuppositionalist is.

We are to be those who have a deep, abiding love for the Scriptures, and the God whose revelation they are. We are to have a healthy, humble assessment of where we are in our relationship to God, and a deep understanding of whose we are. We are to immerse ourselves in the doctrines of Scripture; We are to flee speculation, and embrace the certainty Scripture provides us. We are to teach patiently, correct patiently, and learn patiently. We are not to be self-serving, not arrogant, and always mindful of the grace which we ourselves have received. We are to understand that what we have, is ours by the grace of God, and by no other means. We are not to coddle doubt, but to destroy it by the means God has provided. We are to know, to the depths of our soul, that what we defend is that which God has given – and how we are to defend it is also given by that same grace. Does all of this humble you? Does all of this make you feel inadequate? Does it remind you that we are, indeed, bought with a price, and not our won, and must thus work to the benefit of His church? If so, you might be a presuppositionalist – but be wary, lest you fall. We are all warned, and we must heed those warnings.

I’ve mentioned before that Presup is Sola Scriptura in an apologetic context. If you study Ephesians 6, the only weapon we have is Scripture. Hence, that is the only weapon we use. All of defenses are also God-wrought, so we have nothing to fear. Fear not – and stand.

I’m not going to link all of Paul’s posts in this – they’ve been linked ad nauseum from here, already. His blog is Patient and Persistent – I trust our readers are more than capable of finding these comments of his 🙂

There are times when I’m engaged in an exchange with someone and I’m not sure if I’ve understood them correctly. That’s how I felt reading Chris Bolt’s stuff. It turns out that I did understand him correctly.

Note: Paul does not here explain 1) What he understood correctly, or 2) How it is the case that he understood Chris correctly. I don’t think he understood Chris correctly. If he did, he wouldn’t say what he does. I cheat. I ask Chris 😉

Missing Clarity

So, let’s be clear then. The solution to the problem lies in a transcendental proof?

It’s quite unclear which problem Paul is referring to, here. From the quote from Chris that he has cited, there are several we can choose from.

(a) “the alleged problems he (Paul) cites with either APR or my (Chris) dismissal of PR2.”
(b) “the disagreement between Person A and Person B above”
(c) “how their respective revelations ground their abilities to engage in rational discourse.”
(d) “a discussion of how the respective revelations differ from one another.”
(e) “the disagreement between Paul and I, since we both claim to have worldviews which ground our abilities to engage in rational discourse.”

If I were giving Paul the benefit of the doubt, (and providing a healthy dose of speculative translation for our audience) I’d vote for (e), as that obviously makes the most sense in context. However, since Paul is an exceedingly “muddy” writer, with what seems to be a tendency to avoid specific referents for terms such as “that”, “what,” when the context is either extensive, or his referent is vague, this is guesswork, at best. Further, he fails to provide specificity when referring to something using the definite article – such as “the problem,” when there are many problems present. For a writer who (I would imagine) wants to communicate clearly, this tendency toward a lack of clarity is exceedingly unfortunate.

Just for clarity, is that a transcendental proof or a transcendent proof? I wouldn’t want to be pedantic or anything.

We’re speaking of transcendentals. It’s not pedantic to ask for clarification. I sincerely wish that objectors would do so more often. It saves trouble for everyone in the long run. However, nobody was talking about “transcendental proofs” that I saw.

Also, given that, on Paul Jenkins analysis, Chris posts his comments at a ratio of seven to one I think you can understand a request for the edited highlights of this transcendent/transcendental argument.

First, while this might be fascinating societal conversation, is there some sort of relevance to be had by mentioning this?

Second, where was this request made, and what does it have to do with the conversation thus far? Or, perhaps, are you confusing “transcendental proof” with “evaluating the exchange transcendentally”? There is a difference. Feel free to ask. We do teach this, after all 🙂

Is ‘yogic flying’ involved for example? Is it available on the NHS? Does it come it pill form, or, more importantly, is it falsifiable and repeatable?

I have no idea what this is even supposed to be. What does “yogic flying” have to do with the transcendental argument, and since you have, and I quote:

heard the PA argument and a host of other Theistic arguments and none of them interest me enough to divert my attention

Can you tell me how this supposed connection between the two makes any sense whatsoever? Or did you try listening for comprehension? If you don’t, it’s a waste of time.

Missing the Plea

Then, here it comes

This is not the Christian position. Perhaps Paul does not mean to represent the Christian revelation here. I do not know. He is, again, exceedingly unclear.

and that, is the expected special pleading. Hook, line, sinker, fishing rod, keepnet and the meat paste sandwiches to boot.

Can you cite a Reformed Systematic theology, confession, or author that gives this:

by it’s very nature is an internal mental experience

as the definition for “revelation” please? I’m extremely confused as to why you think this is special pleading, to use the terminology of theology in describing… theological terms. If you’re unaware of what the term’s definition is, that’s one thing – but reacting as if we’re “special pleading” when we’re using terms with a long-defined meaning is truly remarkable.

For instance, from the 1689 London Baptist Confession:

I.6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

For the Christian, “revelation” is the Word of God – the Scriptures. This is nothing new, nor should it be a new phenomena to Paul. Unfortunately, what should be the case, and what is the case in the realm of internet atheism is something else altogether. You see, Paul is equivocating. He is equivocating the *experience* of a direct communication with God with what Christians are committed to – the finished revelation of the Christian Scriptures. For what I can only see as rhetorical points, at the expense of accuracy, he is insisting that what we actually believe, and have confessed, at this point, for over three centuries, is special pleading. Yet, without an argument. This is also sadly typical of internet atheism. It is no wonder that Chris has had to attempt to painstakingly walk Paul through a simple modus ponens – which Paul himself requested.

Missing the Argument

You see, it has been exceedingly difficult to watch the exchange. Paul asks a question, Chris answers, perhaps asks a question in return – Paul responds with mockery, yet does not address Chris’ answers, or questions with any seeming understanding of what is being discussed. At this point, one is left to wonder; is Paul really this obtuse, or is he simply engaging in sophistry in order to make himself look good? Perhaps both? I really cannot see another option. In fact, given Paul’s utter lack of argumentation in favor of whatever position he is attempting, I don’t think it’s even arguable that one or the other is in fact the case. This same pattern has recurred throughout this exchange. From what we have been presented with, Paul is apparently incapable of following even the simplest of arguments, even if they include premises that he specifically agrees with. If, and let’s illustrate, Paul asserts the following:

“I have had a revelation from a non-Christian supernatural transcendental entity that I use to ground my worldview.”

If, in further illustration, he demands the following:

Disprove that revelational epistemology, preferably in less than 1,000,000 words.

Then, naturally, we should expect Paul to be able to follow the response given to him, should we not? Unfortunately, Paul has proven especially unable to comprehend that which was presented to him, which was as follows:

If atheism is true, then PR is false.

Atheism is true.

Therefore, PR is false.

So, for those who are able to grasp a simple modus ponens, let’s break this down.

PR, I gather, stands for “Paul’s Revelation”. If, and this is apparently a big if, Paul actually is an atheist, then he would agree – If atheism is true, then PR is false. He seems to have completely failed to understand the point in question. Here is how it breaks down.

1) Paul is not attempting to say that this “supernatural entity” is a god, and the mere assertion is enough to “counter” our Revelational Epistemology in some way (he doesn’t say, as far as I can tell)
2) Paul is positing this “supernatural entity” as a god, and that mere assertion is enough to “counter” our Revelational Epistemology in some way (he doesn’t say, as far as I can tell)

In the case of 1), I really don’t see how he could mean anything else apart from “a god”, given the use of the negation of “Christian”, as well as “supernatural”. If he wants to make this an argument with any sort of force in regards to RE, it must a) Be parallel to RE, and therefore be a potential defeater. b) If there is some parallel to be had, despite not being revelation from a “deity”, *yet* supernatural, that’s Paul’s case to argue. Simply asserting that there is some vague “defeater” is frightfully poor argumentation. c) I would, simply, ask Paul to provide us with this revelation for examination, since his assertion is that it supplies, in contradistinction to RE, the preconditions of intelligibility. As I commented to him previously, it would be eminently useful for such dialogues if he would do a bit of research on these types of objections prior to offering what is, frankly, an objection we’ve dealt with many times previously, and which he has shown no awareness of in the course of this discussion – from either side. The assumption of novelty due to ignorance is a rather poor starting point for a meaningful discussion. It seems that Paul thinks this objection is either new, or unanswered. Neither is the case.

In the case of 2), Paul is forced into the argument Chris posits. Paul is an atheist. He is not a “non-Christian supernatural entity-ist”. So, Paul is not actually arguing his own position. He is offering a hypothetical he doesn’t even believe to be the case. As such, there is no argumentative force here. Paul agrees with all the premises of Chris’ response to his posited hypothetical, obviously. Paul believes that if atheism is true, then PR is false. Paul believes atheism is true. Paul therefore believes that atheism is true. This argument defeats Paul’s assertion, from within his own worldview. This is an internal critique. Now, Paul cannot do the same thing when addressing our worldview, because we actually believe it to be the case. There cannot be an *internal critique of our position* on the same basis that he is positing here. It is not a parallel, it does not affect our worldview, it is not a defeater, and it is, in all honesty, irrelevant. This is self-defeating. Paul cannot be an atheist and not-atheist at the same time, and in the same way. He cannot be an atheist to this supernatural entity, and believe in the revelation of this supernatural entity. Therefore, 2) fails internally.

I purposely gave Paul two challenges at this point – both in the case of 1), and none in the case of 2), because 2) is self-defeating. In the case of 1), Paul has to provide an argument for one or the other of these positions:

1a) Paul is not attempting to say that this “supernatural entity” is a god, and he must make an argument that this is sufficient to “counter” our Revelational Epistemology in some way, as well as prove that it originates within his OWN worldview.
1b) Paul is not attempting to say that this “supernatural entity” is a god, and must provide the content of PR2 to “counter” our Revelational Epistemology in some way, as well as prove that it originates within his OWN worldview.

Note that these options include Paul making an actual argument, not an assertion. This, I hope, will be instructive both to him, and to our readers. Shotgun assertions are simply that, assertions. The wider the pattern of the shot, the more ground you cover, and the less lead penetration you get. Shotguns are terribly ineffective weapons in the field of logical argumentation. Arguments are what we deal with, not assertions. In order to “make this stick”, Paul will have to come up with a real live argument, all on his own (hopefully after studying the requisite literature on his not-as-novel-as-he-thought attempt).

Further thoughts on 2)

There is a problem with Paul attempting to use 1) at this point, however. The problem is, of course, that he has already committed to 2) as his argument. So, any usage of 1) will be ultimately, inconsistent.

“As a non-Christian Theist I have had a revelation from my ‘God’. It reveals to me some things that I know for certain. This enables me to ‘ground’ my worldview such that I can critique the Christian worldview.”

Paul, at this point, has to resort to 2a) and/or 2b) – so let’s examine those.

2a) Paul is attempting to say that this “supernatural entity” is a god, and he must make an argument that this is sufficient to “counter” our Revelational Epistemology in some way, as well as prove that it originates within his OWN worldview.
2b) Paul is attempting to say that this “supernatural entity” is a god, and must provide the content of PR2 to “counter” our Revelational Epistemology in some way, as well as prove that it originates within his OWN worldview.

So, let’s break it down some more.

Why does Paul have to prove that it originates within his own worldview? Obviously, because he’s trying to say that you could make arguments, if it were true. If this is truly a parallel to CT, it must prove that without it, “one could not prove anything.” Given that he’s asserting that you can make an argument, it’s hardly the case that he can make the argument from his own worldview, atheism, deny the one he is proposing, yet say that that worldview he just denied provides the preconditions for intelligibility. So, let’s examine Paul’s statement in his previous comment:

“I don’t have to actually hold that worldview in order to put it forward as a successful counter to the exclusively Christian PA.”

If he’s going to actually object to our worldview, if he’s going to prove that this “other revelation” is a real defeater, it has to have a defeat for our argument from the impossibility of the contrary, which he claims to have studied, or at least to know. To do that, it must *actually be the case* that this worldview provides the preconditions of intelligibility.

Missing Theology

But let’s step out of his claims for a minute, and deal with what he doesn’t seem to be taking into account at all. In the first place, he is dealing with a revelation that actually exists, has a multi-millenial history, and has more written about it than any other body of writing in the world’s history. It has it’s own, tremendously massive body of literature to accompany it – the accumulated scholarship of the ages, to deal with, and to address. The *basic* tool of the churchman in dealing with this tremendous body of work is the creed, which summarizes very compactly, what it is we believe. At the next level of detail is the confessions and catechisms, whereby we teach and instruct the church in what it is they are to believe. Then, there is the systematic theology, which is probably the most accessible format for someone who wants to learn what it is, precisely, we believe. Instead of availing themselves of these resources, it is all too often the case that the unbeliever will simply do some cursory research, and ignore these invaluable tools. A systematic theology puts all of the theology and doctrine of Christianity into a system – organized, referenced, and cohesively designed. As I wrote in my recent paper for our Journal, “we are defending something very particular, and our opponent must, in order to actually address us, object to something very particular. … In essence, in order to be actually objecting meaningfully, they must object to God, as He reveals Himself in Scripture.” Paul dismissed the Journal, apparently, as a “waste of 30 minutes” recently. If he wants to understand what we are saying, and to interact meaningfully with us, those articles are far more than a thirty minute read, and what they urge on the unbeliever is what they truly must understand in order to be taken seriously on any level.

At the level Paul is operating at the moment, he has, as Bahnsen put it, “made himself ignorable”. This is unfortunate, as his ignorance seems to merely feed his pride, and fuel his mockery. Even more unfortunately, his mockery is of something he doesn’t even understand. The modern atheist’s unwillingness to engage in any serious study of his opponent’s position reduces his objections to shadow-boxing. He is not “landing punches” if he cannot even see what he is swinging at. Paul is merely tossing a “Flying Spaghetti Monster Style Counter” out into the room, and acting as if this is some philosophically meaningful action. The FSMSC is a chimera. It has no substance. He isn’t dealing with a “parallel” of Christianity – he’s just making stuff up, and saying “nuh uh!” Not only that, but he just asserts that he doesn’t have to believe it, but it’s still a valid counter! Is this really what we’re supposed to be impressed by?

Paul would also be well-served in the study of Christian theology, and especially theology proper, should he decide to actually engage us in a serious fashion. His fundamental issues with such concepts as “revelation” serve him poorly. He may consider himself “well-read” in the field, but we have seen where he has stated that he “heard” the “PA argument” – and yet he is already asking what it is. All he has to do is do a search for “transcendental argument” on our site, and he’ll get a dozens of results. Shall we google it for you, Paul? Our site teaches the method. If he wants to know what it is – read the site. This is not difficult. We have seen where he has asserted that PA only “gets to a generic supernatural entity,” despite the amazing lack of comprehension that entails, and the appalling lack of argumentation he has provided to support this amazing claim. In fact, despite the specific argumentation we have on the site to the contrary, that isn’t addressed. I’m starting to wonder if Paul is on the outs with google, or with search engines in general.

Missing Hats

We have seen him say:

“The rebuttal is a counter-assertion of a non-Christian revelation that provides the same grounding and certainty for a worldview that can then be used to critique the Christian worlview without falling into the trap of having to accept the Christian god in order to deny the Christian god.

It’s like wearing a different hat.”

We have, therefore, seen his inability to comprehend what is actually meant by the name of our website, and what he has to provide in order to escape the argument it offers.

We have seen him assert:

“I don’t have to actually hold that worldview in order to put it forward as a successful counter to the exclusively Christian PA.”

Yet, we have not seen him prove this.

Missing the Target

Paul is very big on making grandiose assertions. He is very big on telling us what he knows. He is very big on mocking what he shows no evidence of understanding. He is, however, not especially big on making arguments. Arguments, you see, should result in proofs. Assertions apart from arguments do not provide proofs. Paul is very big on asserting what he thinks, and mocking anyone who disagrees – but I have yet to see him demonstrate a single assertion he has offered. I’m not feeling very mocked by someone who doesn’t know what it is he is mocking.

Chris also pleads for a debate – why, when it must be oh so simple to lay out, with brevity, what his transcendent/transcendental proof is ? He said I should ask. Again, I bet it will contain special pleading.

He has. You have to let your mouse do the clicking, Paul. (I googled it for you above. You’re welcome.)

If he feels insulted by my comment about his pomposity then he should reread the relevant paragraph in the style of the Rev Ian Paisley to see my point. I’ll be reading out in the Skepticule podcast recording using my impersonation of the esteemed cleric. 😀

I’m pretty sure it would have to be true, to be insulting. As I’ve read the exchange, the pomposity seems to be coming from your direction, Paul. Please hear me when I say this. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Please learn, before you embarrass yourself further. I would be more than happy to answer your questions, in whatever format you wish – but as it stands, your comments are simply embarrassing, arrogant, ignorant, and pompous. To be taken seriously requires taking the subject seriously. I’ve spent a good few years studying atheism and unbelief, despite the haphazard and inconsistent melange of ideas and contradictory positions most atheists tend to hold. If I can put the work in for y’all, please do yourself a favor and study something that’s actually meant to be studied. Your ignorance does you no favors. Oh, and just to short-circuit a repetitive little silliness from Paul – if you’d bother to write clearly, or study what you’re discussing, we wouldn’t have to spend so much time and electrons 1) Figuring out what in the world you’re saying in comparison to where everyone else is, and 2) correct the multitude of errors you keep pumping out in your (blessedly short) posts. It’s a good thing you have no interest in Presuppositionalism. I shudder to imagine what it would be like if you did. Instead of a “mere” 81 posts on the topic, you’d perhaps be approaching the insatiable obsession of Dawson Bethrick.

AOMin should team up with CAIR?

Allahu Akbar and Omega Ministries

With this utterly ridiculous post, I have officially lost my respect for Steve Hays. Disgraceful character assassination, asinine argumentation.

UPDATE: Dr. White responds.

Atheist Forum Stupidity

Some ignorant atheist called “cofty” – apparently an ex-Jehovah’s Witness, simply hasn’t fallen far from the JW tree. Our erstwhile atheist has waxed… and waxed… and waxed… on about a variety of things of which he has little knowledge, and less discernment; but then again, what do we expect from forums, after all? Let’s take a few for instances:

(BK) Brock never argued what you said he did – he never argued that the *reason* God advocates “appalling” behavior was because God was “slightly better than the Bronze Age norm.”

(Brock quoted by cofty) Simply put, the slavery laws of Exodus 21 were nothing short of revolutionary in the ancient world where slaves were simple property with NO rights and subject to un-checked abuse, punishment and summary execution at the whim of the slave owner. The Mosaic Laws changed that and made ancient Israel a stand-out exception regarding the ethical treatment of salves. Did God condemn slavery? No. He took a widespread human… practice and regulated it for the ethical treatment of those concerned.

(cofty) So according to Brock god never did condemn the practice of one human owning another and beating them to death if necessary but he did regulate it a bit. Imagine somebody today advocating a new law that would permit slavery but with some regulations to make it “ethical”. Brock wants to have his cake and eat it. On the one hand his god is the source of objective timeless morals and on the other it is sufficient if her morals are an improvement on the culture of the time. I pointed this out to Brock on page 4 and at least twice since and have received no reply.

So, according to cofty, we have a very interesting statement by Brock. It seems to bear little, if any, resemblance to the statement Brock made, but let’s examine this. He doesn’t bother linking to where Brock said it (my guess is because it actually has a context – but what do I know?) – but I’ll link to it for you. Mind you, I’m not going to endorse the whole kit and kaboodle, but let’s get real; the only use of “condemn” in the cited reply was as follows. “Did God condemn slavery? No. He took a widespread human (you know, those homo sapiens you adore) practice and regulated it for the ethical treatment of those concerned. How unenlightened and mean spirited of Him!

This sentence has now been twisted into “god never did condemn the practice of one human owning another and beating them to death if necessary but he did regulate it a bit.” Cofty’s debate skills might be shabby, but he has a future in scarecrow manufacture.

(cofty’s terminology) Quote from: Brock on Infanticide

It was divine punishment by extermination against a people whose practices of child sacrifice were so heinous that even a jaded and brutal ancient world winced at them in disbelief.

(cofty) So in her infinite wisdom god’s way of dealing with the heinous crime of child sacrifice was to order the massacre of all the children. I have put this point to Brock a few times and got no reply.

So, of course, we have to throw in a cheap shot, calling God “her”, first off. Way to be mature. Second, notice the dripping sarcasm. In cofty’s infinite wisdom, and self-asserted moral hubris, he decides that God, by default, isn’t just, a la evilbible or other assorted purveyors of nonsensical objections. In all honestly, I really don’t give a rip what his opinion is. Let’s field his objection anyway, just for giggles. To begin with, let’s use something more emotional, since I don’t think his whinefest was emotional enough. As one of the shining knights of the sciencereasonlogic New Atheist Brigade©, his arguments are, of course, utterly emotive. No surprises there, of course; those who most stridently insist on the perfection of their logic are most prone to ignoring it altogether, after all. So let’s go one further. Let’s talk about the FLOOD. (You know, the one that didn’t happen.) No, wait, even BETTER. Sodom and Gomorrah. Those gents and ladies were simply going about their free love and happiness business, homoerotically building a culture of wonderful gay love – and here comes God and wipes them ALL out. Down to the last babe in arms! Let’s be as politically correct as we can be, shall we? So, here were those peace-loving homoerotic pillars of ANE society, wiped off the face of the earth because of who they LOVED! What horrors! What meanness! What utterly repulsive behavior by that fun-quashing stern-faced murderer deity! (And their children, of course – conceived, somehow, despite the obvious superiority of same-sex relations. They probably had fertility plants up and running then, so God is also guilty of wiping out an advanced and high technology society. Obviously. God hates science, fags, and shellfish, after all. I bet there were shellfish around. That’s just how He rolls.)

Anyway, there they were, a veritable love-in, and God rains fire and brimstone down and wipes them out! Even the babehs! Far be it from me to remind our erstwhile hysteria magnate that God hates sin, and that its wages is death; but I can’t help but wonder whether he actually tried to look at a systematic theology from anything resembling orthodox Christianity, once he escaped his cultish enslavement to the Watchtower. It would probably clear up some of the fundamental ignorance he has – but once a fundy, always a fundy. Orthodox is way harder; but I digress. So, in any case, how ever shall we answer this incredibly detailed and intricate accusation of wrongdoing against God? (Namely, that He’s a big meanie, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for believing in in such an immoral deity.)

It’s actually very simple. We 1) demonstrate that God, as He reveals Himself to be, is the one who determines morality and 2) That cofty isn’t same It really is that simple. Cofty is under the mistaken impression that a) God is even assailable by the means he employs, and b) That we are interested in his opinion on morality. I’m sure this is breaking news to everyone, but neither is the case. Cofty’s opinion on God’s justice is, of course, sinful, but hardly relevant to whether or not He is Just. Cofty’s conception of morality is so inane that it beggars description. A sinful creature presumes to judge God on the basis of God’s judgment on sinful creatures. Why would we even entertain this seriously? He can’t even exegete a Biblical text; why should we listen to him exegete morality – let alone concerning God?

So, let’s play. Cofty’s claim is, apparently, that God is immoral, because 1) He does not “condemn the practice of one human owning another and beating them to death if necessary”, 2) He commands the eradication of children along with the adults, (order the massacre of all the children) in societies He points out to His chosen instruments. (In view is Israel, of course, but let’s include His ordination of the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, his use of Assyria, and Babylon, to boot. Just to make it interesting.) Let’s let him give a few more examples, just to make it more fun, shall we?

(again, cofty’s terminology) Quote from: Brock on kidnapping and forced marriage of virgins

this passage gives rules for the ethical treatment of women taken as spoil in battle. You see, among the brilliantly descended homo sapiens of that time, the taking of women among the spoils of battle was common place, with no regulations to prohibit their abuse (rape), use as concubines (bound sex slaves), their sale into slavery or their death. The Mosaic Laws of Deuteronomy 21 changed that for ancient Israel. Contrary to your description, they were to be treated humanely. Furthermore, they were to either be taken as wives or set free.

(cofty) Again Brock’s defense of god amounts to an appeal to consider the much worse ethics of the existing culture. Again I explained this to Brock and again no reply.

So, there’s another. Let’s see what else he has on his laundry list!

(cofty’s terminology, yet again – you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity. God… you know, God Almighty… is afraid of homosexuals?) Quote from: Brock on god’s homophobia

Yes, it was permissible to stone homosexuals, but as part of the Mosaic Laws intended to enforce sexual purity among God’s people it was ALSO permissible to stone adulterers and rapists.

(cofty) I don’t even know how this was supposed to be a defense of god at all.

Because, blockhead, if God is “homophobic”, he’s also “rapistphobic” and “adultererophobic”. Do I need to use smaller words? I hope not, because “puerile” and “ignoramus” are looking pretty accurate right now. Moving on…

Quote from: Brock on genocide

spurious declarations that the population of Palestine during the Bronze Age was on the order of 14 million people, a figure no reputable secular scholar would accept today. So “biased” a source as Wikipedia (see “Palestine – Demographics”) places the population of Bronze Age Palestine at around 1 million. Other sources, which I prefer, place it at 3 million, but NO ONE (other than Josephus) today argues for anything approaching the 14 million you suggest. My point here is simple – it would help our discussion if you could get your historical facts straight.

I explained at length why the bible demands at least 14 million (as if massacring 3 million would be OK) and asked Brock to clarify if he wants to go with the historical reliability of the bible or with reputable secular scholars. He has refused to answer. It is not a minor issue. Brock claims that “ethics are what the bible says” and yet he disputes the reliability of the bible.

Quite honestly; it doesn’t matter how many were killed. It could be 20 million, for all I care – and I really don’t insofar as it’s particularly speculative on both their parts to make the arguments they’re making, in all honesty. The point is not numbers, but the morality of it. Fair enough. What I’m wondering, however, is how cofty justifies saying it’s immoral?

But let’s break off for a moment, and summarize.

Cofty’s claim is, apparently, that God is immoral, because 1) He does not “condemn the practice of one human owning another and beating them to death if necessary”, 2) He commands the eradication of children along with the adults, (“order the massacre of all the children”) in societies He points out to His chosen instruments; we will include Israel, the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God’s use of Assyria, and Babylon, to boot, just to make it interesting. 3) God ordains “kidnapping and marriage of virgins” 4) God is “homophobic” (snicker, snicker), 5) God ordains “genocide”.

Quick points, then we’ll expand them. 1) This is stupid, and inaccurate. 2) Yes, He does – what justification does cofty have for saying it’s immoral? 3) Kidnapping is an unnecessary pejorative, and contextually handled, if he’d bother to do so, and marriage is a blessing. 4) Utterly asinine. 5) It’s not about genes, dummy. It’s about culture; or they wouldn’t marry them into Israel, would they?

So, let’s use our a) and b) above to address each of these points.

1) God is “immoral” because He does not “condemn the practice of one human owning another and beating them to death if necessary.”

Quite frankly, this has always struck me as one of the stupidest arguments an unbeliever can make from Exodus 21. What do the verses prior say? Notice, if you would, the parallel between 18-19 and 20-21.

Exodus 21:18-21 – When men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist and the man does not die but takes to his bed, then if the man rises again and walks outdoors with his staff, he who struck him shall be clear; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall have him thoroughly healed. When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

First, there is death is vs.18 and death in vs.20. On the very face of it, his argument gets unhinged. *If the slave dies, there is the same penalty as if a freeman dies*. Note, this is all under the context of Exodus 21:12: “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” The “punished” refers to the punishments already outlined. There is a difference, however; in the case of 21, there was no intent to kill, by one reading, and no lasting harm done, by the other. Note: in vs.19, there is restitution paid to the one injured. In vs.21, who is the owner to pay restitution to? The one losing money is him! I read vs.21 as describing a parallel to vs.19 – no loss of life – both because of contextual and linguistic argumentation.

In any case, in vs.20, *if the slave dies from the beating* – and it’s baldly stated, “under his hand” – the master dies. I don’t think this is even questionable. There is an argument to be made that vs.21 involves death, but I don’t think it does. Additionally, cofty is utterly ignorant of what Biblical slavery was. I encourage him to look up “Jubilee” for his future exhortation – or at least to vs.2 of the same chapter you’re prooftexting. (Then, perhaps – just perhaps – he won’t advance such silliness again. I may be overly optimistic, however.) A dog does return to it’s vomit, after all – and thus is a fool.

2) He commands the eradication of children along with the adults, (“order the massacre of all the children”) in societies He points out to His chosen instruments; we will include Israel, the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God’s use of Assyria, and Babylon, to boot, just to make it interesting.

First; so what? Remember what our mothers always said? They brought us into this world… Even more so, with God. I’m very sorry if God’s sovereignty over His creatures (including you, incidentally) offends your effete little sensibilities – but why should I care if they do? If your foundation for morality were true, I’d be no more morally bound (since all is subjective, of course) to consider “do all harm” as my paramount moral duty – and just as exempt from criticism as your apparent moral code seems to be. If that offends those same effete sensibilities, again, I’m not interested. The problem is, I have no reason, whatsoever, to consider your opinions to be binding; on you, or anyone else. Whether you’ve contorted your own self-justifications sufficiently to deceive yourself or no, the fact remains that you have no reason to believe that they are the case, in any non-circular way. As such, they are purely autobiographical, and I’ll treat them as such. On the other hand, all men belong to God. He brought them into being, and He can remove them, as well. All that God does is Just, man cannot gainsay it, as man is dependent on God, and there is no court of appeal. Let’s break this down.

God, Himself, is what he is of Himself. This is called “aseity”. God is good, God is just, God is holy, and God is creator, among His many attributes, which must be considered as a whole when presuming to address Him, since God is Simple (I suggest you look this up, if you’re unfamiliar with the context – either on this blog, or in a systematic). God’s essential justice does not change, as He is unchanging. It is eternal, as He is eternal. It is omnipotent, as He is omnipotent. In short, all of who God is goes into all of what He ordains. Your opinion on the matter is less than irrelevant – it is sinful. Should you, like many, presume to challenge God – I’d like to ask you, as I’ve asked others, what right you have to do so, and on what basis you plan to do it? God, incidentally, is not impressed by your reasoning – and frankly, neither am I. (I’m not impressed by your reading comprehension, either, but that’s neither here nor there.) So, once again – what right do you have to do so, and on what basis do you plan to do it?

3) God ordains “kidnapping and marriage of virgins”

This, honestly, is quite stupid. Once again, the immediate context forbids it. WAY back in vs.16, we find this. “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” Not looking good. Now, if you’d like to make some anachronistic comments concerning the nature of “kidnapping”, feel free – but it will only make it worse. The context I’m sure you meant was that of women whose husbands or fathers were killed in battle. Let me get this straight. In the “bronze age” you’re so frequently tossing about, you’re seriously saying that it’s better to send the women out to be taken by others who do not have any moral prohibitions concerning the treatment of female prisoners? Seriously? Talk about misogynistic! (Not to mention anachronistic, histrionic, emotive, and ahistorical. To say the least.) Let’s have some straight talk, bud. What the Israelites are told to do is to take responsibility for the women they widowed and/or orphaned. I know, what a wild idea, but we can always have it your way, and let the surrounding peoples have their way with them. Or, maybe, just maybe, they are to take responsibility for the women whose lives they upended, and give them a place in their families. With, I might add, a) An entire month of mourning, required by law, and b) release, with no penalties applied, if they are not willing or are not suitable to marry, and c) The requirement, by law, of humane treatment. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, due to the herculean ignorance you seem to be laboring under – but for pity’s sake, you have no idea what you’re talking about. My advice would be to stop talking. It burns.

4) God is “homophobic”

Speaking of “you need to stop talking” – this is perhaps the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. God Almighty is… seriously? Are you kidding me? Afraid, of homosexuals? Please stop talking, so I can stop laughing. This is too stupid for reddit, even. As I said above, and Brock alluded to (and you were apparently unable to grasp), if God is “homophobic”, he is also “racistphobic”, “adultererphobic” – and we can throw in “murdererphobic”. Just. Stop. Talking. Please.

5) God ordains “genocide”.

So what? God will sentence all who rebel against Him to burn in Hell forever, too. Your point is? I’m being quite serious, here. Make an argument, or shut up. Your histrionics aren’t even entertaining. They’re just dumb. Make an argument, or stop talking. Emotionalism is useless, and even more useless given the high regard atheism claims to place on logic. Tell me why I should care, so I can tell you why that argument is emotional, too – because, frankly, that’s all you’re going to have. Morality is by far the weakest atheistic subject to argue. Because arguing it destroys your basis for argumentation. By all means, try – but by all means, be prepared to fail. The comments are open, feel free to comment in accordance with the comment policy.

EDIT: So, I PM’d cofty on their forum, to let him know I posted this – he posts on their forums to tell the forum all about it. After MANY ad homs were slung my direction (and boy, do they like ad hom!), I was banned from the forum. Sahweet. Way to go, champs. As I said in that thread: There’s a reason i don’t go on forums anymore.

Divided – Wow.

A short review of “Divided”, with some questions for the folks watching or the folks who created it:

1) Is it honest to present this film as a young man trying to “find answers” – to say it “shocked” him – that this was somehow a “journey”? Is it truly the case that Phillip was not an FIC proponent when he made this movie?

2) The first section talks about his father already having questions about the youth ministry – is this a “neutral” perspective, as seemingly presented to begin with? In fact, his parents pulled him out of the youth program, and later on it is revealed that Scott Brown was influential in his parent’s move. Scott Brown is presented as an “author and pastor”, when he is the director of the organization putting out this film. The manager of operations for that same organization is listed as the writer for the movie, in fact. So, are we to believe this is some “exploratory” film?

3) Instead of directing his look at Reformed churches, as the FIC movement is generally Reformed, his first stop is a massive youth gathering, at what looks like a carnival atmosphere.

4) After several fairly typical answers, from evangelical young people, he goes into his own experience with youth ministry, and “dropout rate” of teens. Hardly a “neutral” perspective, is it?

5) A “Christian concert” (in his words) is flatly called ‘music of the world’. He sees “no distinction between worldliness and Christianity”. He gives NO argument for this, whatsoever. None.

6) “Young Earth or Old Earth” is unaccountably segued to, with no explanation, other than a very short Ken Ham spot about bible teaching. First, “young earth” is not a biblical position, that I can see, not that “old earth” is either. That terminology is a modern novelty, and hardly the test of “bible teaching”. More importantly, I’d make the test to be concerning ex nihilo, 6 calendar day creation. This precludes “Old Earth”, “Theistic Evolution”, and other nonsensical positions of the sort, while not diverging into speculation, as many modern “creationist” groups tend to do. Second, we are *never told what Christian denomination he is interviewing, at any time that I can see*. My position on the subject of creation is very clear, as you can see if you read elsewhere on this blog, and because I’m confessionally Reformed, but the way that “young earth or old earth” is made a doctrinal test, without the *context* of who is being asked even defined is troubling.

7) These kids are being asked, in the context of general evangelicalism, questions their elders fail just as spectacularly on in general evangelicalism. In what sense is this an indictment of youth groups in particular? It’s a non-sequitur.

8) Reformed churches, I’d imagine, would be the target audience of this video, given who it’s seemingly directed at, and the *actual* presuppositional commitment of the makers of the video. What would induce a typical evangelical church to abandon a practice in line with it’s stated doctrinal path? This video? Hardly. If it’s targeting Reformed church practice, why aren’t they addressing Reformed youth pastors or Sunday School teachers?

9) By this point, 17 minutes in, WHO is being addressed is still unclear. Who is your audience, director?

10) My one question remains – did the film maker *really* just set out to “find answers” here? As it seems to me, he has an actual goal he is setting out to demonstrate, and is not merely being an “objective journalist”. This is a persuasive film, not merely a documentary.

11) The complaint has been made about “worldliness” earlier – is this same standard being applied to filmmaking? Are we making a persuasive film under the guise of “neutral” reporting, or investigative journalism? As a presuppositionalist, I teach about pretended neutrality. That seems to be precisely what is going on in this film.

12) The amazing leaps of logic made by Scott Brown to link Plato and Rousseau to the Sunday School movement are truly something to behold. The ahistorical conspiracy theories made by the people they interview concerning Sunday Schools and link to a rogue’s gallery of “bad guys” is truly remarkable. If you do a bit of digging, you can find most of the same ideas in Rushdoony, and the modern theonomist movement. Would you care to tell some Reformed elders about this?

13) RC Sproul Jr and Doug Phillips are used as proponents, without, again, any examination of their background, or the “axe to grind” that we all know they have. The *producer* of the movie is interviewed, and not “For 1800 years the assumption was, children are with their parents in the meeting of the church, and parents disciple their children” – Here’s a few questions – where did you go to read? Where did you learn to read the Bible, in particular? Who had all the books? How did apprenticeship work, for instance? When did that start, historically?

14) In what sense does the wholesale abdication of the authority of the elders to teach children apart from parental guidance have a historical basis?

15) Age segregation is “borrowing from an evolutionary platform” – can you demonstrate this, instead of asserting it? Would it be your assertion that, say, Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, is “borrowing from an evolutionary platform” by teaching church history or teaching through books of the Bible, in Sunday Schools? Would you like to tell the OPC, for instance, how “evolutionary” their Sunday Schools are? We’re waiting to hear the response to that, with bated breath. Further, if age-segregation is intrinsically evolutionary, is there a reason that Baptists, along with other Reformed denominations, have historically had a separate catechism for younger children? (Our church does as well.) Can Mr. Phillips demonstrate this breathtakingly daring assertion in any way, shape, or form?

16) Again, for a Reformed group, they aren’t exactly open about who and what they are, or who, exactly, they’re critiquing. Why is this? Why aren’t we hearing some specific critiques of *Reformed* denominations, or interviews of *Reformed* young people and adults in the making of this video? My modest proposal would be that, quite honestly, it wouldn’t make these practices look very bad. It’s much easier to go to an evanjellyfish “Christian rock” concert, call it “worldly”, then spend the rest of the video having “experts” making assertions.

17) There is a concerted effort to be “presuppositional” in this video, in one respect; however, it is founded on a false neutrality. There is no statement of a *presuppositional commitment* – you are drawn into that commitment *by* the video – but whatever good things they have to say are poisoned by the deceptive manner in which it is presented.

18) To be truly presuppositional, there would need to be a presentation of the commitments of the proponents making the video, a critique of the other position, which attacks the *strongest* proponents of the position, not the *weakest*, and the antithesis would need to be clearly and unabashedly presented. It has done none of the above. Instead of dealing with who would have necessarily have the *strongest*, and most *Biblical* approaches to the movements they are decrying, they pick off low-hanging fruit, without any identification of what SORT of fruit it is. If they’re interested in a GOOD answer, why didn’t they ask Ligon Duncan, James White, or R.C. Sproul why they have Sunday School in their churches? Youth ministry, I’ll grant, but if they’d read their Van Til, and paid attention to Church History, they’d know that MANY things with worldly beginnings were adopted and transformed by the Church. Take the use of “transcendental”, as an example. Why aren’t the people who could give them SOME sort of answer to their questions being asked? Why not ask R.C. Sproul what is meant by “not a program-driven church but an ordinary-means-of-grace-driven church”?

In short, while I do appreciate the look into “general evangelicalism”, and it’s problems, we already knew it had problems. That’s why most of us are Reformed. If you’re going to take a position with the implication that folks like R.C. Sproul are “borrowing from an evolutionary platform”, it would serve your position well to interact with something other than low-hanging fruit, and deal with the ones most likely to be able to critique your position after the fact. That would be the Reformed proponents of at least Sunday School. I’d invite you to take a gander at James White’s Church History series *he taught in Sunday School* and say that it’s “borrowing from an evolutionary platform” with a straight face. Making an argument after that should be easy.

For full disclosure, I attend a family-integrated church. I’m quite comfortable with the way they do things, and critiquing their practices is not, I repeat, NOT the intent of this review. What I’m not comfortable with is the manipulative, at very least, direction of this particular film; nor am I impressed with their commitment to a Reformed defense of doctrine, given the pretense to neutrality it bases itself around, and the utter disregard for dealing with the opposition’s stronger champions. I’m sure I could set up some great strawmen out of their general doctrinal context too; but that does not a valid argument make. Even if everything it said is true, which I’m by no means convinced of, they poisoned the well by dipping into methods we would call, again, at the very least manipulative. There’s my take. (Incidentally, while Challies’ now-infamous review might have been a bit more nuanced, and been researched a bit better, it was by no means empty of real content, or of valid critique. Another can be found here. A ready respondent to the FIC movement, as well, can be found in Sam Waldron, whom I wish the makers of this movie had interviewed.)

Blessed be the Name of the Lord

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

I received a call I’d been half-expecting this morning, yet hoping I wouldn’t get. My wife called me, sobbing. They didn’t find a heartbeat this time. Our little girl was diagnosed several weeks ago with hydrops fetalis, a serious disorder where the interior of the body fills with fluid. She was called home sometime in the last day. We don’t know for sure. We don’t need to. What we do know for sure is this; God has a purpose for all things that come to pass. From the least to the greatest, His hand controls it all. I started packing up at work, knowing she would need me home, and knowing I needed to be home. A kindly friend at work took over for me, and I headed back. I’m not ashamed to admit that I sobbed then, too. I love children passionately, and I know I won’t see my daughter this side of heaven.

Yet, I don’t mourn as those who have no hope. I know my Redeemer lives. I trust him with my daughter’s eternal welfare as I trust Him with my wife, with myself, and with my other children. Implicitly. My God is true, He is faithful, He is gracious, He loves us all, and He is the God of HOPE. What hope could I possibly have in the world the atheist professes to believe in? I know, for certain, to the marrow of my bones, and to the depth of my soul, that there is hope, peace, and rest in my Savior. I have a depth of sorrow that I have never experienced before; I’ve never lost a child before, and I pray I never will again. This sorrow is tempered by the understanding that this mortal life is not the end. It is a mere beginning. It is the stage that God has set for His glory, and our good; even, dear brothers and sisters, this tragic event.

I learned, truly, today, how to hate. You always hear or watch the maudlin fist-shaking at God at times like these; it’s become fashionable to doubt, for uncertainty to be a part of “what it is to be human”. Friends, let me make this plain. I learned to hate today. I learned to hate sin. Sin, friends, is the bringer of death. It is the destroyer. Those wages were paid today, and my daughter was the recipient. I hate sin. Death has always been something at arm’s length from me; an abstraction. Something for the old, who have lived their appointed years in full, not something for the child in the womb, or the young. When you hold something as an abstraction, but do not yet grasp the horror that it truly is, you are somewhat insulated from it. I have been to a funeral, seen a corpse laid out at a wake; but this time, sin and death are in my household, and crouching at the door – and I no longer have merely an intellectual, abstract view of it. My wife, at this very moment, is still carrying our poor dead daughter in her womb, awaiting a delivery we will schedule shortly. Death is HERE. The curse has cast it’s baleful eye upon us, and it is terrible indeed to look upon.

Sorrow with us. Sorrow in hope, if you are of His people. Mourn with us, and rejoice in faith together with us that one day we will be reunited. If you are not one of His, and you read this today; please, consider your own time on this earth. Consider the death that awaits us all. Consider that without Him, there is no hope. There is only death, and that eternally. I do not, and I cannot, mourn without hope. I am a child of the King, and the King has taken to Himself what is His. She was under the curse; sick, weak, and crippled by sin’s result. Now, with David, I know that I will go to her, though she will not come to me. The Lord’s mercies are great, and I rest in them. If you are not one of His own; I plead with you to ask the Lord for the hope only He can grant. Salvation from sins, and the only redemption that man can obtain, though the death of Christ. All the world can give ends in death. God alone can grant life, and that eternally. I trust in that promise, and cling to it; therefore I have hope.

Only in the sovereignty, purpose, and faithfulness of God do we have an answer to give at all. Only if God turns even this great evil to good is there hope and a blessing to be found. Only in the bottomless love of the infinite Creator can be found sufficient comfort to mend the hurts we suffer. I cannot cling to doubt and act as if this is sufficient to tether me through life’s buffeting. The only foundation we may possibly have for the peace and comfort truly found in Christ is the soul-anchoring certainty of faith in the immutable God, sealed by the Spirit of Truth into the very depths of me. Doubt is soul-murdering separation for the sake of self. We cannot live that way without destroying that very self.

Hate sin, brothers. The Lord is faithful and just to forgive it; but we must learn to hate it. DEATH! Where is your victory? DEATH! Where is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! We do not mourn like those who have no hope. Therefore, we must not answer like those who have no hope, either. This is why Christ must always be sanctified in our hearts. Not just to help our arguments. We cling to Christ, and He alone keeps us and sustains us. Only then can we be always ready to give an answer for the hope within us. It is built on the Rock, and His steadfast love for us. As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.

We Ask Your Prayers For Our Baby

Our unborn child has been diagnosed with a very serious case of hydrops fetalis – a disorder where there is an abnormal accumulation of fluid below the baby’s skin, inside the abdomen, or other areas. Further, there is an incidence of cystic hygroma as well. What this means is that there is a extremely great chance the baby will not live to term, and if he or she does (we haven’t been able to find out as yet), there is a rather high chance that the baby will have long-term disabilities of some sort. This accumulation is not localized, but encompasses the baby’s entire body. These, as I understand, are symptomatic of an underlying genetic or developmental disorder or disease. We are working on obtaining a more targeted and detailed diagnosis in the very near future.

We have a plan in place with our regular OB (a righteous, loving, and spectacularly winsome man of God we have known for a decade, and whom we thank God for – Dr. Chuck Robinson), have been in consultation with a specialist, we are having regular weekly checkups. We’re looking for an amniocentesis appointment soonest. As of today, the baby’s heartbeat is strong. We’re 19-20 weeks right now, and we’re hoping and praying that the Lord is gracious, and allows our little to live long enough to be viable and treatable; it’s still too early for most treatments, and our prayer is that God will strengthen our little one, and mitigate (or heal – we believe that God is still in the healing business, and pray that God’s will be done) the horrific disease causing these symptoms. Please pray for us, that the Lord would strengthen our baby, Bethany, and myself as we prepare to fight for our baby’s life. The Fall sometimes has heartbreaking results in the lives of even little ones; but we still serve and trust a Sovereign God, who will bring His glory and the good of His people out of the midst of this trial. We trust, love and glorify our God because of this, and crave your intercession before the throne of grace. Whatever the outcome may be, Soli Deo Gloria. May His name be praised, and may He use this for His own glory, and our good.

Hosted by: Dreamhost