My Comment on the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology

As of this posting it has received 0 out of 11 votes, my worst record ever. What do you think?


Eternal Truths said...

John ,

I read your review and think the aim of the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology is to engage the philosophical arguments for God's existence without including religious experience. While I have not read this book yet (waiting for the price to go down), I think Natural Theology offers cogent support for the existence of God or general revelation, but doesn't go much further than that. This is why I think deism may make the most sense.


dvd said...

but i think someone who came to faith another way would still be able to make the same arguments as in the companion to natural theology. what is important, is the depth of argumentation. they are defedning some classical arguments and adding some new twists. it is a very compelling work and i don't think that can be denied, especially maydole's argument.

what if the way they came to faith helps them be more careful rather then just completely bias in their approach? i think reppert is a very balanced believer and seems open minded.

Steven Carr said...

The Ontological Argument tries to prove there is a maximally great god in every logically possible world.

Plantinga is lauded by Christians because it is alleged he managed to find ONE logically possible world where a god could exist, given the reality of evil.

And yet we are now supposed to believe that this god exists in every logically possible world, something not even Plantinga was foolhardy enough to try to show when he tried to defuse the Problem of Evil

So the Ontological argument is dead in the water, as not even Plantinga claims a maximally great God and evil can co-exist in *every* logically possible world.

Goldstein said...

John, you are abviously now stacking the vote count over there.

You can't even see how dishonest you are, can you?

You have become totally reprobate.

You are an evil guy, John.

Have you ever thought about how your ex thought about you protraying her as "lacking passion" in your book?

Has it occured to you that if a woman lacks passion, it is because the man in his life is INADEQUATE.

You are not a man, John.

Dave said...


I agree entirely with your comment. I think it was received poorly because (a) not many atheists were aware of it until now (let's not pretend that it's not mostly about voting up or down the guy who agrees with you) and (b) you didn't have much to say about the substance of the book itself, which is what a review is supposed to do (although, to be fair, you were commenting on a review not reviewing yourself :) )


Should we take you as an example of the decency of Christianity?

Goldstein said...

Now I want to debate you, John.

Are you man enough?

Goldstein said...

John, I give credit where credit is due.

Congratulations on not moderating comments!

Now we can get down to brass tacks!

You have stated that it is irrelevant to question your motives for deconverting, and yet in your review you state that that Craig and his co author do not state their reasons for deconverting.

You are using double standard John...and yes, we have noticed that most other comments have 8 or 9 votes but yours has over two dozen.

Who is fooling who, here?

ismellarat said...

But the next 19 out of 21 gave it a thumbs up. A modern miracle!

And my word verification this time was "bleson" - "blessing?" - it must be a sign from above. ;-)

ismellarat said...

His motives are in his books, Goldstein. I'm not sure what you mean.

There's rarely a reason to attack a person directly like that. My favorite response to that has always been what someone said his philosophy prof kept saying: "give me an argument."

Steven Carr said...

Why should a book which includes 'argument from religious experience' not indicate the religious experiences that led the authors to belief?

Why should John not look at a book which has a whole chapter called 'argument from religious experience' and not ask what a religious experience is?

dvd said...

steve carr

"the Ontological argument is dead in the water."

Completely untrue.

John W. Loftus said...

I just posted a second reply answering some of the objections:

For the record, my earlier comment was mainly a critique of the way believing scholars adopt and defend their beliefs. I understand what Natural Theology is meant to show, and I do not expect autobiographies or a defense of the Bible from historical criticism in it. Although, since there is a chapter in it on religious experience then my questions about the religious experiences of the authors are legitimate ones. I did say that the arguments in this book should be evaluated separately on their own terms too. And I never said this is not a great book. I have it and I agree with the reviewer from what I've read so far. But I do not think the genetic fallacy is that big of a deal, since if I can show how people first came to believe in something, and doing so was because of brainwashing techniques (for instance), or because believers uncritically accepted what they were taught to believe due to childhood indoctrination, or because of a superstitious mindset among ancient first century people, then that is an undercutting defeater to their beliefs regardless of whether or not I commit the genetic fallacy by arguing for this. I do not think one can get to religious ontology before wading through the quicksand of religious epistemology.

Personal autobiography is extremely important, I argue, for assessing one's argument when it comes to religious beliefs; beliefs which do not have a mutually agreed upon scientific test to determine between rival hypotheses. I argue that moving from the theistic God to the evangelical God is like flying a plane to the moon. There are too many additional arguments which all must be true for that to happen. Since the larger the claim is then the harder it is to defend, and since extraordinary claims demand a lot of evidence for them, this cannot be reasonably done. Furthermore, no one should ever be required to refute every argument to the contrary of one's acceptances before s/he can affirm or deny a set of beliefs, otherwise we'd have to wait for the next round of counter-arguments and the next round of counter-arguments and so on, that will take place long after we die.

One last thing. I cannot express all that I know, much less all that I know in one short comment or two here. You must assume far too many things to think I have not thought about your objections. I have.

Steven Carr said...

If the Ontological argument is not dead in the water, why does Plantinga struggle so much to construct *one* logically possible world in which an all-good god can co-exist with evil, when this all-good god is alleged to exist in *every* logically possible world, regardless of how much evil it contains?

Goldstein said...

I can not express all that I know.

You must assume far to many things to think I have not thought about all your arguments, and looked into the so called reasons for your "deconversion".

I have.

ismellarat said...

I guess I'll play the dopey little kid, here, who, after almost 15 years after having read this "No Other Name" article by Craig, is still asking, "but Mommy, why isn't the emperor wearing any clothes?"

It was back then when the thunderbolt had hit me that REAL people - like those non-Christians who died because of the likes of Stalin, Mao, and Hitler - were going to an eternal Hell. Not just abstractions I'll never have to think about.

I was looking for answers and learned they're all gonna burn - because God foreknew that they wouldn't have converted anyway, had he given them a chance, so he didn't bother. Therefore, he really can't be said to be evil, according to Craig.

But guess what Craig says at the end:

"No orthodox Christian likes the doctrine of hell or delights in anyone's condemnation. I truly wish that universalism were true, but it is not."

Craig (and all orthodox Christians) apparently believes God is evil, BY HIS OWN STANDARDS. Of course that must mean that Craig's (and my) standards must be the problem, here, not his conception of God.

Somehow, reading that in hopes of looking for an answer to the dilemma of having to wish that good people burn in Hell didn't satisfy my soul back then, and I've been giving Craig the credit for my backing off much of what I used to believe ever since.

Most Christians are blissfully unaware that such repulsiveness might lie at the bottom of their faith. They posit some sort of cosmic teddy bear, have a "relationship" with it, and figure that that's all they need to know.

And I'm to believe that God's plan for their salvation COUNTS on them having a view of his nature that conflicts with the sick stuff that Craig says the Bible apparently teaches - since almost every one of them do this?

Stupid, stupid me, if that's the case. I tried to actually think about what the hell I was saying back then, and I got burned for having taken the trouble. I should have done what they did and whiled away my hours with more video games instead. I guess God would have liked that more.

How does Craig keep from freaking out, believing that God is evil, and at the same time churning out so many scholarly books and articles in his defense?

Part of him sometimes seems to willfully forget "the bad parts," which he also omits here, where he summarizes what I still think are pretty good reasons for wishing to believe, starting at the 22:50 mark:

I wish everybody could see that 25-minute speech, because it lays out exactly what I still wish to be true. No, "if the Jews think Hitler was bad, just wait until Jesus gets through with them," here.

Hell, I don't know what's true, but I'd be happy if the universalists were right, just as Craig admits he does.

But just what makes the guy tick? He does appear to be sane, and seems so darn likeable.

ismellarat said...

Hey Goldstein, I'm going to hazard a guess: You're Jewish, right? (I'm smart, as you can tell.)

How do you keep your sanity, when you tell your own relatives - with probably a few holocaust survivors among them - that Hitler's camps were a cakewalk, compared to what Jesus has in store for them?

Golly, I sure am glad you like debates!

Gandolf said...

Goldstein is a very very faithful fellow he has great faith in the great book and gracefully has received the never ending love of God,reading and carefully following the footsteps of Jesus! and tossing stones opps! i mean small pebbles! at John.

Quick John! be ready to duck under these fearful ferocious life threatening blows.

Dear me dear me John how extremely terrible, oh the great sin !

You have dared to admit some imperfections in your books etc it seems.

Oh how shocking !.Shame on you :)

Gandolf said...

Goldstein the lovely faithful fellow said..."You are using double standard John"

Know this one Goldstein"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone " (John 8:7).

You never ever! are one to go using double standards right?

Oh how wonderfully wonderful

Hallelujah !

ismellarat said...

Hey Andrew, I'm not sure if you're the real one or the "imposter," since the comment is now gone, and I can't click the name to see which one.

Where you get "Jew hater" from in my post, I don't really know. I want them (and all of Goldstein's relatives, and even you, whichever Andrew you may have been) to all go to a Heaven which I wish I could prove exists. Maybe the "hey Goldstein" didn't sound quite right, but that was meant in the same way as "hey Andrew," like I might address any other handle I see.

Now that I've explained myself, perhaps you can explain to the world exactly where YOU would like the (non-Christian) Jews to end up in the next life. You know - people like Anne Frank, and such? Craig, I believe, is forced to say he shouldn't want to change a thing about the God he believes in and therefore should want them in Hell also. I believe this must necessarily be your own position, unless you're one of a minority who thinks Jews fall under a separate covenant. Or maybe you're a hopeful universalist, which would be alright with me.

Don't you think you have an interesting way of pigeonholing me? I supposedly hate Jews and want them all saved, but you don't and want them in Hell?

I wish the moderator will allow Andrew's response to stand. I like it when someone throws me insults. I feed on that stuff! :)

John W. Loftus said...

Andrew is banned, but since you asked for it, here is what he wrote:

Andrew has left a new comment on your post "My Comment on the Blackwell Companion to Natural T...":

Looks like ismellarat is a Jew hater.

And why not?

After all, as Hitchens points out, if they had been wiped out at the battle commemorated by Hanukkah, we could have been spared the whole thing.

Everything can be blamed on the Jews according to the New Atheists...Dakwins warns us of the NOTORIOUS JEWISH LOBBY on pages 4 and 44 of his Delusional book.

ismellarat said...

Thanks for reposting that. I was actually thinking about anything he might say directly to me about this later. There's still hope for people like him. :)

ismellarat said...

Speaking of hating Jews, check out the following, all but forgotten exchange between Adolf Eichmann and the Rev William L Hull, who had tried to convert him before his execution, from Hull's later 1963 book, The Struggle for a Soul:

This guy

makes the usual observations from the Christian point of view (which I don't necessarily disagree with here), but he also left out some things which ought to be mightily embarrassing to him. Maybe he only saw the parts he wanted to see.

Read those 4 pages and consider who had the more repulsive worldview. Eichmann was a mass murderer, but in the end wouldn't convert because he thought it unfair that most of those he murdered were going to Hell.

Hull (the good guy, don't forget, because it's easy to) basically said that yes, indeed, they were "lost" (a pleasant-sounding euphemism - which I ironically find similar to Naziisms like "liquidated") - and was apparently oblivious as to why Eichmann just didn't "get it."

This source

has this to say about Hull's Christian beliefs:

"Hull told the correspondent of a Toronto newspaper that the six million Jewish victims of the Nazis were doomed to perish in hell, and would not enter paradise, because they had not accepted the belief in Christ. Moreover, he said, Eichmann’s sins were not as great as those of the average man who denied Jesus as the redeemer."

If nothing else were known about Eichmann besides what's in those 4 pages, and that quote, one would be tempted to conclude that the Rev Hull and his wife were the real whack jobs.

But the idea of one denial of Christ being worse than 6 million murders is still a pretty common one, isn't it?

Goldstein? Andrew? Any opinions?

ismellarat said...

BTW, links that run off the page can still be copied and pasted in their entirety.

dvd said...

steve carr

maydole's argument is sound and i haven't seen a good refutation on it. i don't think it is the 'magic bullet' but it sure is not 'dead.'

Steven Carr said...

So Maydole claims a perfect Yahweh exists in all logically possible worlds, even logically possible worlds with vast amounts of totally pointless suffering in them?

Anthony said...

I may be mistaken ismellarat, but I think Goldstein is Andrew, or Andrew is Goldstein. Goldstein sounds too much like Andrew (or KC_James on Amazon) to not be the same person.

PhilosophyFan said...

I must admit I have no read your book yet. I've been eying it for a while, but I have 4 classes this summer to graduate!

Maybe you can be the first to make me sure that Christianity isn't true! (While I doubt you could do it for theism, my knowledge in the bible is way less but I do like to read Wright and Witherington--esp his blog).

ismellarat said...

I have no idea who's behind which handle, Anthony, but I'm no one's enemy anyway.

I think I have good reasons for partly backing away from what I used to believe, and think the best way to illustrate them is to reproduce the same "my conscience vs my beliefs" dilemma in others that I was facing. If someone can actually resolve it, great, let's hear it. I can think of some approaches they might use that might soften it a great deal, but judging by the way Christians generally want to avoid this issue, I think they're in the same predicament as I was, and are petrified at the thought of it being brought up.

Or else they must make themselves out to be more learned and intelligent than someone like Albert Barnes, who had this to say, after publishing a bookshelf full of commentaries:

"I confess, when I look on a world of sinners and sufferers – upon death-beds and grave-yards-upon the world of woe filled with hosts to suffer for ever – when I see my friends, my family, my people, my fellow citizens when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and danger, and when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned, and when I feel that God only can save them, and yet he does not do so, I am stuck dumb. It is all dark, dark, dark to my soul, and I cannot disguise it. – Albert Barnes, Practical Sermons, page 123."

My general impression is that they're ashamed of some of their own beliefs (and is that really any different from denying them?), and simply pointing that out will easily undercut most of their enthusiasm for "doing battle with the 'bad guys.'"

"We're all in the same boat, so let's try to sort this out," should be everyone's approach.

I think you guys make it too hard on yourselves sometimes, when you already have something that works so much better. :)

But take away the "bad stuff", and I still very much want to believe some of the rest. I too want that video in John's other post to be the whole truth.

Of course they also commit the sin of denial, by their omission of what they apparently judge to be bad. I'd keep hammering away at that...