What's the Likelihood that Calvinists are Wrong?

Out of this discussion Calvindude said: That we recognize something happens according to the will of God does not in any manner mitigate against the responsibility of those involved in the action. And on the face of it, it is most certainly not illogical to hold to this:
1. Those who murder are guilty and ought to be punished.
2. God ordains that John murder Bill.
3. John is guilty of murder and ought to be punished.
God’s ordination of these events does not alter the responsibility of the actors involved. Whether you agree or disagree with this is, at this point, irrelevant. It is only a matter of simple logic here.


There is indeed a problem here, depending on what you mean by the words “ordain” and “ordination.”

If we understand these words to mean that God caused John to kill Bill in the sense that: 1) God made John desire to kill Bill (that is, there was nothing John could possibly do to resist the God-implanted desire to kill Bill), and 2) God made John kill Bill (that is, there was nothing John could possibly do to resist this God who decreed that John should kill Bill). Then God killed Bill.

How in the world is it possible to blame John for killing Bill? Under these circumstances John is blameless. If I forced John to kill Bill (that is, if I had the means and the power to do this) then I would be guilty of killing Bill. No reasonable court would think otherwise, providing there is evidence I did this. There is no dual causation here. God decrees both man’s desires and his actions, and man cannot resist.

So how in the world is it remotely possible that John can be blamed in any way shape or form for killing Bill, even though he wanted to kill Bill? Yes, he wanted to kill Bill, and he executed the evil deed. But God “caused” him to want to kill Bill in the first place, and God “caused” him to actually do the deed! To understand this in any other way is to participate in what I call Logical Gerrymandering. God is to be blamed for all of the evils in human history, period.

This Calvinistic God is not a God of love at all, by our moral standards. But it’s claimed God has transcendental standards, and we cannot presume to judge God. What possible standards could God have for claiming he’s a God of love with all of the suffering he “causes” in our world? His ways are mysterious, we’re told. He is the potter, we are the clay, we’re told. But few of his actions makes any sense coming from a purported God of love. And yet we’re told to believe, in spite of these difficulties, even though whether we believe or not is also decreed by God. We are a painting, created by God, we’re told. He puts us in our place to make a beautiful painting. In his painting he needs dark ink that serves to highlight to bright ink. Who are we to judge what he’s doing with the painting?, we’re asked.

But on this side of death we are trying to figure out whether we should believe and worship such a God. And from this side of death he isn’t a God we can respect or love at all. There are people who spend their whole lives in prison because God decreed that they should murder someone, and then God also decreed that they should be convicted of the crime. But that's not all. When they die God then sends these prisoners to hell to suffer forever because he decreed this too. Who punishes God for this? I could go on and on here about the pain and suffering God has inflicted on us as “his loving creatures,” especially the whole notion that God decrees billions of our mothers, siblings, spouses, children and friends to spend eternity in hell in a conscious torment for what they’ve done (which God also decreed). How this gives glory to God is utterly nonsensical. It utterly shames him, because it's obvious he could've likewise "ordained" that all of his creatures obeyed him and will be in heaven for eternity. But having people suffer forever in hell purportedly brings him more glory. There's only one word I can think of to describe this: BULLSHIT!

To answer that God can do whatever he wants to because he created us, merely says God has the power to do whatever he wants. He is a bully and will have his way with us regardless. He doesn’t love us. He’s just making a painting, or a jar of clay. We are just pawns.

According to Clark Pinnock, “One need not wonder why people becomes atheists when faced with such a theology. A God like that has a great deal for which to answer.” [Predestination and Free Will , ed Basinger, (IVP, 1986, p. 58).

Given the nature of this horrible Calvinistic God, and the fact that Christians disagree over almost every doctrine of theirs, what is the likelihood that the Calvinistic God actually exists versus the possibility that their exegesis of the Bible is faulty? To me it's obvious.

Of course, I go further and deny the Bible too, but one step at a time....baby steps.

33 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Some of my critics have asked why I'm getting involved in a debate between Calvinistic and Arminian Christians.

Here's why: I regard Calvinism as a very ugly form of Christianity; most of my critics seem to be Calvinists; and each of them will be criticized by me in their own turn.

CalvinDude said...

Meanwhile, I won't hold my breath waiting for you to show where the logical contradiction is. I also won't hold my breath waiting for you to demonstrate how "our moral standards" are actually standards in the first place. You do a lot of blustering and emotive writing, but not much of substance. Not that I expected anything different.

John W. Loftus said...

Calvindude. Will you think with me through this? It doesn't have to be logically contradictory to be wrong. It's utterly, completely and thoroughly implausible though. And such a theology makes many an atheist.

But if you want to speak about logic, I will. Your God is an evil potentate, an uncaring bully, a murderer, and a thief. How his deeds can ever be reconciled to the picture of a loving caring father type God is simply beyond my understanding, and that's all I have to judge things by. I can see no possible way to reconcile the God you believe in with a moral being, a loving being, a caring father. He's only interested in himself, and not about us.

Besides, as I have already argued, God's actions fly in the face of nearly every moral precept in the Bible, not only the normal moral understanding of every Joe who walks the street. God is exempt from these precepts, you say, because he supposedly created us. Fine. But then he cannot be a good God. Anyone who "ordains" or "causes" murder, rape, molesting, torture, and eternal suffering in hell is a devil, pure and simple. This is inescapable logic.

Yet, you prefer to believe your exegesis is correct when there is another alternative in Arminianism. I'm only asking what are the odds that you are wrong about your exegesis.

John W. Loftus said...

Calvindude:
I also won't hold my breath waiting for you to demonstrate how "our moral standards" are actually standards in the first place.

It doesn't matter. Your own moral standards found in the Bible itself indicts your God for crimes against humanity.

Do you think you should help people?
Do you think you should refrain from harming people?
Do you think you should care for people?
Do you think you should try as best as possible to "save" people?
Do you think you should be an honest person?
Do you think you should not kill, torture, molest or rape?
Do you think you should not commit adultery?

......and so on and so on and so on.

You'r God repeatedly flaunts and disobeys the very things you believe are moral actions--the very things he commands you to do.

Your God tells us not to do them and yet "ordains" or "causes" us to do them.

And then he has the audacity to blame us alone for what we do to the point of casting us in hell?

Again.....Bullshit! Absolute Bullshit.

You are blinded....blinded by your faith, which was initially gained through the "accidents of your birth."

You are defending the indefensible and in the process creating more atheists as a result.

Brandon said...

"But on this side of death we are trying to figure out whether we should believe and worship such a God. And from this side of death he isn’t a God we can respect or love at all. There are people who spend their whole lives in prison because God decreed that they should murder someone, and then God also decreed that they should be convicted of the crime. But that's not all. When they die God then sends these prisoners to hell to suffer forever because he decreed this too. Who punishes God for this?"

Your critique, as I mentioned in another post, puts forward enough presuppositions that itself must be critiqued.

How do you know that you have adequately understood the relationship between God's will and man's will? Contrary to popular opinion the simplest explanation is usually wrong.

How do you know that in any given action of God's will you have adequately "peered into the mind of God" and seen evil in it?

How do you reconcile this blameworthy God with the fact that he has also from the beginning promised salvation for everyone who believes? Or is it that while he is trustworthy in giving a promise of salvation and following through on that, he is not trustworthy in calling everyone to believe in it as if we are all responsible to believe? An interesting position to hold.

How do you reconcile your blog with the fact that you would not even know what justice was unless it was written on your heart to be just by this same God that you villify?

And as I also said last time, how do you know that you have the capacity for answering this question? All signs point to the fact that we don't have the ability to know.

Mr. Loftus, at the end of the day one has to be a convinced atheist before he can consistently accept the argument you made, because one must accept atheistic presuppositions (and *your* athetistic presups at that) prior to considering your question valid.

These are excuses for unbelief, not reasons for it.

-Brandon

John W. Loftus said...

Mr. Loftus, at the end of the day one has to be a convinced atheist before he can consistently accept the argument you made, because one must accept atheistic presuppositions (and *your* athetistic presups at that) prior to considering your question valid.

This is absolute poppycock. I believed these things when I was a Christian. I believed Calvinism makes atheists then, and I believe it now.

CalvinDude said...

John wrote:

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And such a theology makes many an atheist.
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Why, then, if your whole purpose in this site is to convince people to become atheists, would you want me to abandon Calvinism? If my theology results in making many people atheists, would that not be good for you?

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But if you want to speak about logic, I will. Your God is an evil potentate, an uncaring bully, a murderer, and a thief.
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What is evil, John? You keep throwing this term around when it has no possible definition in your philosophy aside from "my opinion." Frankly, I couldn't care less what your opinion is. The more you say God is evil without demonstrating how you can hold to the idea of evil in the first place the better my side looks.

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I can see no possible way to reconcile the God you believe in with a moral being, a loving being, a caring father. He's only interested in himself, and not about us.
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So? How is this wrong?

John, you have to realize that you are looking at everything anthropocentrically. Everything you look at is going through the lens of what you like or do not like. Newsflash: You are not God.

Your morality is based upon you. It is centered on you. It revolves around you and you alone. In other words, you are just as interested in yourself as you claim God is in Himself. Again I ask, by what standard could you judge God?

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Besides, as I have already argued, God's actions fly in the face of nearly every moral precept in the Bible, not only the normal moral understanding of every Joe who walks the street.
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A) Who cares what the normal moral understanding of every Joe is?

B) You still have not dealt with the fundamental point that God is God and He can make the rules whether you like them or not.

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God is exempt from these precepts, you say, because he supposedly created us. Fine. But then he cannot be a good God.
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Your last sentence does not follow. What is good?

And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." (Mark 10:18).

That is how good is defined, John. You can disagree, but what's your objective standard?

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Anyone who "ordains" or "causes" murder, rape, molesting, torture, and eternal suffering in hell is a devil, pure and simple. This is inescapable logic.
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I'm glad that you think things like murder, rape, molesting, and torture are wrong--but they are not wrong because of your worldview in which it is just random actions of atoms.

Your argument really is nothing more than the one that Paul addressed:

You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:19-24)

This gives us not only the fact that God can do what He wants with people, but it also demonstrates that He has a purpose: "order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy." Who are you, John Loftus, to say that that is not a morally sufficient reason for God to ordain evil? What is the basis for your condemning God in this matter?

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I'm only asking what are the odds that you are wrong about your exegesis.
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Again, I see no reason why you would be concerned with this in the first place if your intent is actually to convince people to become atheists and you think that Calvinism will cause them to abandon Christianity. As to the odds, since Paul addresses the very objection that you raised, the odds are on my side that my exegesis is correct.

John W. Loftus said...

How do you reconcile this blameworthy God with the fact that he has also from the beginning promised salvation for everyone who believes?

From what I hear God's expressed will in the Bible isn't his true will. Therefore I cannot trust what God says in the Bible at all! According to Calvinism, God says one thing yet decees another, so not even a Christian can be assured he means what he says when he promises salvation to everyone who believes. Since God operates by a different moral standard then it might be the exact opposite.

Maybe Dan Barker's question below is appropriate, what if God rewards those who have the courage to disbelieve?

John W. Loftus said...

Calvindude quoted Paul in Romans 9:19-24.

Now here's a further question: given the evil nature of the Calvinistic God as unworthy of worship and untrustworthy when he speaks, what are the odds that this God exists versus the odds that some guy named Paul living in an ancient and superstitious world actually knew God enough to tell us what God is like?

Given this particular choice, I know what I'd choose. Paul was wrong. Although for you there is another choice...Arminianism.

And as far as your Calvinistic theology creating atheists goes...yes it does, and I'm trying to show how you should be one too. But it'll take more than information. Still, that's what I'm providing here.

sdanielmorgan said...

Calvindude,

I think the logical conundrum comes when we try to say, "God is good", then turn around and say, "we are fallen, and our sense of good is all whacked out".

It's like you want to have your cake and eat it too. Either humans are incapable of rendering judgments such as "good" and "bad", in which case we may as well be saying, "God is wefoiwejfweoikwelkjfw" when we say "God is good", or humans *are* capable of appraising ethical values.

Daniel said...

Brandon and Calvindude,

I see that you are wagering a presup question about assigning ethical values. Personally, I don't have the ability, nor do I particularly care to, foray into analytic philosophy to examine your premise that god is necessary for goodness. In that sense, goodness is contingent upon god's existence, and so applying it as necessary for god to *be* good is illogical and absurd. If, as I suspect, pattern recognition and mathematical truth underly the evolutionary cognitive abilities we humans have, values, morals, and ethics are contextualized and relative. I take a sort of neo-utilitarian approach: Killing a baby is wrong not because it is intrinsically so, but because there is no context within which one can justify or necessitate taking the life of an infant. Then again, there is Ugolino's paradox...which is a bit like the inverse of us eating Jesus' flesh, right (snark)?

Anonymous said...

sdanielmorgan says, "I see that you are wagering a presup question about assigning ethical values. Personally, I don't have the ability, nor do I particularly care to, foray into analytic philosophy to examine your premise that god is necessary for goodness."

It's remarkable that you noticed that I am presup, because you went on to critique a position which is not presuppositionalism. I believe God is good because he has revealed that he is in nature and Scripture, not because of a law of contigency.

John W. Loftus says, "This is absolute poppycock. I believed these things when I was a Christian. I believed Calvinism makes atheists then, and I believe it now."

I would never dream of saying that every Christian has a consistent view of epistemology. If you are at all familiar with the in-house debate between presuppositionalism, evidentialism, and classical apologetics, then you are aware that the critique presup gives to the other views is that *methodologically* they have more in common with atheism than Christianity.

Just because you were a Christian and were convinced by the argument, says nothing about the quality of the method used, nor your ethical state when agreeing to it.

-Brandon

John W. Loftus said...

then you are aware that the critique presup gives to the other views is that *methodologically* they have more in common with atheism than Christianity.

Interesting observation Brandon.

Then I have you both coming and going.

Want to join this Blog as a team member someday?

CalvinDude said...

sdanielmorgan wrote:
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I think the logical conundrum comes when we try to say, "God is good", then turn around and say, "we are fallen, and our sense of good is all whacked out".
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We do not believe God is good based on how humans define good; God is good because He is. This is an axiomatic position. It is not dependent upon how we view good or evil anymore than Geometry is invalid because we can't actually visualize a point (since it has no size) but have to look at a dot on paper.

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Either humans are incapable of rendering judgments such as "good" and "bad", in which case we may as well be saying, "God is wefoiwejfweoikwelkjfw" when we say "God is good", or humans *are* capable of appraising ethical values.
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No one ever said humans aren't able to appraise ethical values. The question is on what basis can we judge ethical values? You have to have a standard to start with.

The problem with John's argument is that he takes a Christian worldview (one that has it's own distinct moral standards) and then imposes his moral view onto the Christian system, and then complains that it's contradictory.

His moral view, however, has no standing on itself. Not only does it not exist in the Christian worldview, he has no reason to hold to it in his own atheistic view either. It's like trying to force a square peg into a round hole and then complaining that it doesn't fit right. What do you expect?

Anonymous said...

"Then I have you both coming and going.

Want to join this Blog as a team member someday?"

Thankfully, there is such a thing as inconsistency in such matters. One can use improper methods and still reach the right conclusions. I would argue that Christians using false methodologies are so in spite of their methods, not because of.

Thanks for the invite (lol), but I view atheistic methodology as begging the question (and stealing from my worldview!).

-Brandon

John W. Loftus said...

Well, Calvindude, I prefer my square peg that says it is morally wrong to torture, rape, kindnap, molest, or murder. I also say it is wrong for God to use people as a means to an end.

Now I might not have an ultimate justification for such a morality, but God has a lot of explaining to do as to why he can treat us this way and yet claim that he's a "good" person.

The characteristic of Goodness, applied to that kind of God, merely means whatever God does, and hence he is the devil. He merely maintains he's good while doing evil to all of us in some form or another.

For someone to act like the devil and yet demand that others think of him as a good person adequately describes the devil anyway!

Peter Pike said...

John wrote:
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Now I might not have an ultimate justification for such a morality, but God has a lot of explaining to do as to why he can treat us this way and yet claim that he's a "good" person.
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And you accuse me of Logical Gerrymandering? Let's sum up your argument:

1) I don't have a justification for my morality.

2) I prefer that my morality is right.

3) Therefore, God has to answer to my moral morality.

Yeah, that follows really well, John. Let me try that now:

1) A is not non-A

2) I would prefer that A was non-A

3) Therefore it is.

Wow, that's a great debate tool. How did reason ever last for so long without this tactic?

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He merely maintains he's good while doing evil to all of us in some form or another.
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Here you go again using the terms "good" and "evil" without providing a meaningful definition as to what they are! All you've got is your preference, John. Your preference doesn't cut it with me. I prefer chocolate to vanilla. Let's base morality off that.

John W. Loftus said...

Look, I don't need to go into this now, but I teach college ethics classes and there are several non-ultimate justifications for morality based in duty and based in happiness. Relativism isn't the boogey man Christians think it is either.

I do not need an ultimate justification to say the Calvinistic God shouldn't be using people as he purportedly does, and I don't need to have an ultimate justification for saying it's wrong to sadistically burn babies alive for the fun of it. But God does. He decrees these things almost everyday.

While I may not have an ultimate justification here, I am better person than the Calvinistic God. He uses and abuses people in the worst ways possible. No society would allow him to live if he were a human being. No one's ethics are so sadistically low as that.

Instinctively you know this too.

Besides, I can compare God's behavior to his claims in the Bible. He repeatedly breaks all of his commands every single second of the day. And no one can trust a single thing he tells us in the Bible, either, because he speaks out of both sides of his mouth--would you even want a friend who does this?

You worship the devil, plain and simple. There is no ethical position I know of that will say doing any of these deeds are right. Everyone of them I know of would condemn your God's behavior in the worst possible ways, even the ethical standards he himself supposedly set up for Christians.

And I'm asked to trust this God...to pray to him....to praise him....to worship him? There is nothing praiseworthy about such a God at all. I abhor such a Calvinistic God.

The only reason you defend such a God is because you were taught to believe in such a God in the first place. If you were born in Japan or Iraq, or Israel you would be defending something different right now. And if you were born into a good Arminian family you'd more likely than not deny Calvinism like I do.

Blind people, following the "accidents of their birth."

If nothing else, what are the odds that you misunderstand the Bible rather than such a God exists? The odds are extremely high that Arminianism is true, given the nature of your God. And the odds are higher yet that Jesus and Paul were both superstitious men who believed they were speaking for God like many in their day believed.

John W. Loftus said...

Calvindude:

Elsewhere I see that you quote the Bible to defend your position. You can do that, of course, but I'm asking whether the position you attribute to Paul is consistent with a good God, that's all. My claim is that it is not. So you can go along quoting what Paul said all you want to. After you're done describing what Paul said, then you can take a look again at my questions. Then you can ask, if what Paul says is correct, then what kind of God exists? I'm thinking you'll see that such a God is nothing more or less than a devil ON YOUR OWN GROUNDS!

DagoodS said...

calvindude, may I join in?

What is evil, John? Ah. The easy questions. Violation of a criminal code. Intentional infliction of unnecessary pain. Acting toward someone else, that which you yourself are averse to. We can start with those as basics.

Where do I get that definition? Where I get most definitions—human convention used effectively. Is there anyone that claims this is not evil?

Again I ask, by what standard could you judge God? Our human concept of morality. I hope you saw the humor in the fact that the theist who responded immediately previously said that justice was “written on our heart.” Apparently brandon feels we have the ability!

To be clear, and a bit precise, I do not “judge” God. I don’t know him. I don’t know what He does, I don’t know by what moral code he does it. What I “judge” are humans that perform certain actions and claim they are in God’s name. Or humans claiming God will do something, and then attempt to justify it as not evil.

The interesting part is that if you have enough of these discussions, you can see that both theist and atheist recognize the problem areas of God being evil. I have never seen a discussion of “Love your neighbor” as God being evil. Or God saving a child. Or God being kind. We all have the same discussions about genocide, and undeserved punishment, and killing.

To talk about “how do you know what is evil” and then always have the same discussion makes it obvious we know exactly what we are talking about.

You still have not dealt with the fundamental point that God is God and He can make the rules whether you like them or not. Thus eliminating any reason to discuss anything about God. If God can define murder as evil one day and moral the next, we are left in a position of never knowing whether murder is evil at that moment. Or good, but evil the next moment.

God can “make the rule” that a square has four sides today, and tomorrow “make the rule” it only has three. Here is the problem—we can’t verify anything God does or does not do. By claiming “God is good” you have merely defined any action, regardless of whether it is moral, immoral, amoral, non-moral, happy, sad, enthusiastic, you name it, it is all “good” as God does it. ‘Course we could equally say, “God is evil” (since such a thing exists) or “God is flowery” or “God is peeling” shout, you can say anything!

It becomes useless to even talk about God, as the theist will simply define some action as intrinsically the same as God (again, by definition only) and then state God could never be “not” that, by definition.

And the more interesting point is that God, according to the Bible theist, DOES care whether I like it or not. Apathy would place me in heaven, if God didn’t care whether I like it or not. The fact I do not like it, according to traditional doctrine, places me in hell.

“God makes the rules, and if you don’t like it, he gets angry” is a more accurate statement, perhaps.

That is how good is defined, John. You can disagree, but what's your objective standard? Did you mean “objective” (as in exterior to oneself) or “absolute”? I see some confusion in this area in many discussions, and don’t want to have more. “Not breaking the law” is an objective standard. We can determine the law (outside of ourselves) and determine whether the law is broken.

One may claim, due to the changing of laws, that it is not absolute, but it is still objective. Again, though, defining God as “good” doesn’t really progress the conversation much, due to the lack of verification. God is not even clear as to what “good” is or not. For example, when did eating rabbits become unclean, and when did it become clean again?

I'm glad that you think things like murder, rape, molesting, and torture are wrong--but they are not wrong because of your worldview in which it is just random actions of atoms. Well, I don’t know about John, but my worldview certainly doesn’t consider this “random” actions of atoms. Odd use of the word “random.”

What theists and atheists sometimes don’t see is the common ground in morality. Atheists, realizing that humans are working out their situation the best they can, see morality as a set of rules used to guide human societies to their betterment. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail. Theists believe that God is the author of morality, but unfortunately we, as humans are trying to work out what that morality is as best we can. Is a female wearing gold a sin? For example.

In both situations, the individuals are working out the best plan of morality. Theists somehow think having a God they cannot talk to, with morals they cannot confirm, somehow “one ups” the atheist. Why? You’re doing the same thing, pragmatically.

Yes, Paul addressed this in Romans. Did a rotten job. If everything that is done, moral, immoral or non-moral, is for God’s glory, and God’s glory is the greatest goal, then everything performed achieves the greatest goal—God’s glory. I sin, God gets glory. I do not sin, God gets glory. I perform a good act, God gets glory. If all items achieve the same great goal, then all items are “good.” Some may be more good than others, but on the scale, they still are good.

Please note, being a former Calvinist, I tend to have some favoritism towards the position, so I do understand the sentiment behind the statements. I think it is consistent with the Bible. Wrong, mind you (wink) but still consistent.

CalvinDude said...

John wrote:
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Look, I don't need to go into this now, but I teach college ethics classes and there are several non-ultimate justifications for morality based in duty and based in happiness.
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And are any of those methods based from the Calvinistic worldview? No, of course not. This is proof that you are importing an alien system into Calvinistic in an attempt to force a contradiction that isn't there naturally.

Again, your complaint is that a Calvinistic God is an evil God. Yet He is not evil according to Calvinistic standards. He is only evil according to your standards. Your standards are not derrived from Calvinistic standards. Thus, there is no logical problem whatsoever in Calvinism--it is consistent with itself.

Now, can you impose your view of morality based on "duty" or "happiness" onto me?

John W. Loftus said...

Calvindude, these are YOUR standards too. Or do you prospose now to say doing evil is doing good?

Daniel said...

calvindude,

You said on your blog,
The Law, therefore, has nothing to do with God. His commandments are for us, not for Him.

On the face of it, therefore, God does not stand under the Law, so if He does something that were we to do it would result in our condemnation God is yet not condemned, for He is not under the Law.


This is exactly the question I was raising before when I said that if goodness is a by-product of god, if our standard of appraising actions and positions as "good" or "bad" is contingent upon god, rather than a capability we can objectively use to assign truth values (and thus have some semblance of free moral agency), then we can call god "goobledegook" or "good" and it means the same basic thing: that what we call "good" or "bad" can never be used to apply to god, because we are using a subset of god's own imposed values to judge the entire set of god's character. You can start with the premise "God is good, everything god does is good". But how would you recognize when it was god acting, and when it was not god acting? The character of god (you call it "good") establishes the very attributes (good, kind, etc.) you want to ascribe to God, by using a bunch of dusty scrolls of uncertain origins to establish who/what God is/does.

In this way, the presuppositionalist has begged a question (like they always do):1 Sam 15:3 (NASB)
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

This action was "good" because it was God's action. Killing an infant is not bad if God commands it. How do we know that God commands it? Because you take Scriptural truth as an axiom. How does one defend this, without considering the validity of the premise? How you know you ought to do that? Because you use your reason? No, because god foreordained it...so your reason has nothing to do with it...and this starts to conflict with the idea of even recognizing or acknowledging the validity of Scripture. How do you even have the ability to appraise truth values in scripture or historically, or scientifically, or ANYWHERE? If the sovereignty of the Calvinistic god, who predestines, has determined it, nothing may be logical or reasonable to anyone except those this god predetermined would see these things as reasonable and logical. There is even scriptural support to suppose this!

God has blinded the minds of unbelievers!

Why, then, do you even argue with us, when your own book claims that unbelievers will see the gospel as "foolishness" (1 Cor) and that our "foolish hearts are darkened"? If you take Scripture's validity as axiomatic, why do you waste your time arguing with those who, apparently, are predestined to hell? Those same people will *never* see any logic or reason to this circular presuppositionalism. Gordon Clark recognized this incomprehensibility feature of god, and so did Van Till.

You take god to define good. You take the scriptures as a reliable record of god's actions and character. These same scriptures (in your Calvinist hermeneutics/exegesis) make it abundantly clear that those who do not believe are not "chosen", and thus will not see the logic or reasons for establishing your premises.

Why the hell do you even bother, then? You are basically caught in a circular system that reinforces itself and ad hoc explains everything else as "because god said so, because god decided so", without having any burden to go further, since those listening will either believe or not, and that, itself, is god's decision (non-answers that those are).

At this point, my earlier comment about my disdain for presup Calvinism should be clear.

CalvinDude said...

John wrote:
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Calvindude, these are YOUR standards too. Or do you prospose now to say doing evil is doing good?
---

Whoa, stop the presses! Call the National Enquirer! John W. Loftus can read my mind! He knows what my moral standards are! Even after I told him they weren't what he said they were!!!! This is absolutely amazing.

But that's not all! I see that John continues to use the terms "good" and "evil" without supplying a definition to them. He just assumes that everyone knows what they mean. So he can actually read everyone's mind!

Of course, in the meantime he hasn't offered anything to refute the fact that he is importing his view into the midst of the Calvinist view and then pretending there is a contradiction in the Calvinist view when it's really a contradiction between the Calvinist view and his view. But who needs logic when you can read minds?

CalvinDude said...

sdanielmorgan wrote:
---
Why, then, do you even argue with us, when your own book claims that unbelievers will see the gospel as "foolishness" (1 Cor) and that our "foolish hearts are darkened"? If you take Scripture's validity as axiomatic, why do you waste your time arguing with those who, apparently, are predestined to hell?
---

What makes you think I argue with you (read this as a plural) for your benefit?

By the way, regarding whether words have meaning: If "good" is nothing more than what an individual thinks regarding something, then something is only "good" in the mind of the person who thinks it's good. It is not objectively good at all. Thus, "good" and "evil" have no meaning outside the relative notions that individuals have, so it's absurd to call anything good or evil. It's not. It's only your opinion.

John W. Loftus said...

Calvindude, I'm assuming you think torturing, slavery, raping and stealing are evil coming from your own Christian Heritage? So look at the most recent post, WWJD.

I do suppose I know what you think is wrong. Just tell me if you disagree, that's all. What are your Christian ethics? Then we can start there.

And you seem to have only one argument about morality. I'll deal with that sometime soon. In the meantime, read the "Key Posts So Far..." Presuppositionalism link.

John W. Loftus said...

Calvindude, here are the links i mentioned along with a couple of extras.

Deal with these links, okay?

Presuppositionalism

WWJD

What Motivates an Atheist to be good?

The Euthyphro dilemma

John W. Loftus said...

A prior written response to Calvindude.

Dell Gines said...

That was a fun read, good job Calvindude.

Josh (Joshster@epals.com) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joshua Walker said...

Calvindude, you're not taking into account the motives of actions when you lay out your argument. What makes murder evil? What makes anything evil for that matter? The intentions and motives behind it make it evil. Someone who kills someone out of complete accident is not at fault for the evil of murder. But if the intentions are evil then the person has committed the evil act of murder. So although your argument does not explicitly break any logical rules, its premises don't correspond with reality, which is the definition of an unsound argument. People who murder do indeed deserve to be punished. But what is murder? The intention behind something is what turns killing to murdering. So, if God ordains (and by that term I assume you mean "decrees", so as there is no other option for John) that John murders, John is simply only responsible, at MOST, for the physical act of KILLING. God, however, is responsible for implanting the evil intention; therefore God would be guilty of the actual MURDER aspect of John’s act.

Joshua Walker said...

Also, calvindude, I believe it was CS Lewis who drew the analogy of our recognition of God's attributes in the description of: God's attributes are perfect circles while our understanding looks like a small child drew a circle. If indeed you hold that morality stems from God, which I do in fact believe, then our understanding of his moral qualities should be recognizable to us. To say that we understand love as a circle but God's love looks like an outline of a Boeing 747 is quite an incredible claim. We recognize his love, grace, goodness, etc because he is the source of them in the first place. To say that we can't recognize them is to claim that they really don't come from him and more importantly he has not succeeded in revealing himself to us.

Phil said...

Calvinism isn't Christianity. It is a line of "Christian" thought, but sorely misrepresents the true concept of election, which is based on God's foreknowledge, rather than His predetermined choice to save some and to damn some independently of human free will.

Please do not judge Christianity because of calvinism, for calvinism greatly distorts the loving nature of God, who desires that all be saved, but sadly knows that most will refuse to be saved.

In my book, "Eternal Security Proved!", I present the doctrine of eternal security from a non-calvinist perspective, and critique each of the 5 points of calvinism.

Phillip M. Evans

Eternal Security Proved!