Yes, I Am Pretty Certain I'm Right

I am as certain that Christianity is false as Christians are that people are wasting time and money on cold fusion. [I know someone is trying to make headway in that field so don't get me wrong]. I am as certain that Christianity is false as I am that Scientology or Mormonism is false. If I'm risking hell you would think I must be sure of it, right?

We are all justifiably certain that some ideas and theories are wrong. It's easy to do. We merely conclude the case has not been made.

But these are not beliefs of mine. I am not affirming anything. I'm denying something. I deny the cases have been made. Some cases I have never even considered before, but tell me of them and I'll deny them without further thought. We all do this. So I am not doing anything out of the ordinary when I do so.

Take what happened at Custer's last stand as one example. What happened? Well I know for certain what did not happen and I could name you off-hand about a hundred things that did not happen. Jesus didn't appear and kill Col. Custer and his company of men. THAT didn't happened. Nor did Satan do it. Nor did aliens. My great great great grandmother was not killed there either. And on and on and on I could go.

But once I switch to making a positive or affirmative case for what did happen at Custer's last stand I am on different territory. There is a great amount of debate about it and the cases made seem reasonable. It's hard to know what exactly did happen. But it's easy to know what did not happen. We do it all of the time. Christians are in the position of arguing what happened in the Bible, repeatedly, over and over. They must also argue that of the many different historically conditioned understandings of these texts theirs is the correct one. Coupled with the extraordinary claims found in the Bible that are similar to the ones we read in other ancient cultures--claims we deny when others make them--I can easily deny the case Christians make much as I can deny the case that Mormon's make.

32 comments:

busterggi said...

Christianity is wrong?

But which one? There are thousands (possibly more) of versions & they each claim to be the only right one.

Expat From Hell said...

I read that the Lakota pierced Custer's eardrums with an awl after he died, so that he would listen better in the next life. It makes me wonder how many Christians need awl-holes in this life, even. EFH

Rob R said...

I'm just as certain that the OTF is bad for epistemology and doesn't gaurantee that one is more likely to find or hold the truth.

Rob R said...

But which one? There are thousands (possibly more) of versions & they each claim to be the only right one.

Amazing, you are familier with thousands more than I am familiar with cause I find ecumenically minded people in all sorts of denominations.

There's that outsider's perspective working again for ya.

Jim said...

I'm just as certain that the OTF is bad for epistemology and doesn't gaurantee that one is more likely to find or hold the truth

Then what is good for epistemology? How do you know that Hinduism is wrong? Because you know (or have faith) that Christianity is right?

I get the feeling from Christians that their epistemology includes the provision that we as a human species can know something is wrong if it's not Christian. That is foundational and not derived from any more fundamental assumptions.

Islam? Not Christian = Wrong
Paganism? Not Christian = Wrong
Shinto? Not Christian = Wrong

This epistemology stuff is easy!

Or perhaps revealed truth is part of your epistemology? If it existed, revealed truth would be a way of increasing ones knowledge. I.e. it would be included in epistemology, but as I see it, only for the individual the revealed truth was revealed to.

It wouldn't have any bearing on general epistemology of the human species because it can't be transferred except through faith.

Faith and epistemology are two separate domains.

Am I on the right track for your epistemological outlook?

Brad Haggard said...

John,

I'm pretty certain that this isn't even an argument.

Jim,

Before we get to epistemology, are you the final arbiter only in things related you (as in a previous thread), or do you think there is such as thing as objective knowledge?

Rob R said...

Then what is good for epistemology?

coherence, experience, not just with classical empirical facts, but emotional/subjective considerations deserves to be part of a human epistemology, trust in communities. Careful balance of trust and skepticism. Too much skepticism goes nowhere. Modern philosophy has proven this, especially in the writings of david hume.

But it's not like anyone can start from scratch. No one really does. I start from what I already believe. I wouldn't tell anyone anyone different, muslim, hindu, atheist or otherwise. It's not that an outsider's perspective isn't worth considering. it very much is and it deserves to affect what we believe. But to preference it, that is nonsense.

Then what is good for epistemology? How do you know that Hinduism is wrong? Because you know (or have faith) that Christianity is right?

What Hinduism. The variety of Hinduism is far greater than Christianity.

Hinduism isn't completely wrong. There is a branch called the path of devotion where one seeks to reach god through love.

So to say that it is all flat out wrong and only my perspective I hold to is right is half measures. The common ground is important.

So what is wrong with Hinduism? As mentioned, the path of love is closer to the truth than other forms, forms that treat our humanity as a liability. Part of our human nature is our moral intuition, that the world is not the way it ought to be. Now with Hinduism, everything is balanced out with Karma. So if you are homeless or if you suffer due to a birthdefect, you are paying for it. If you receive compassion, then you are not paying off that karma. Hence Hinduism treats the ills and afflictions of humanity as if they are all supposed to be there. Christianity is eschatological though and while the miseries of this world are part of our context of redemption, the world is slated for an overhaul. It is eschatological.

That's just one consideration and I know it wouldn't be the final word. But you see, it's not just enough to say there are other religions therefore we have to treat them all the same. They aren't the same. The details matter and they matter in evaluating them.

And whether I am right or not, as an outsider, I have a disadvantage. I could be mistaken on some aspect (I'm pretty sure I'm not in the sparse details I gave here) and thus I must give latitude to correction as an outsider.

but as I see it, only for the individual the revealed truth was revealed to.

You must be mistaking us for Islam (if having truth revealed to just one individual, or only one that we can trust as the other witnesses have had their records corrupted). The revelations of the Judeo-Christian faith are for many people, they are integrative, they are ongoing in the witness of the Holy Spirit.

Rob R said...

post 2 of 2



It wouldn't have any bearing on general epistemology of the human species because it can't be transferred except through faith.

Most everything that we believe as moderns comes through faith/trust whether you are speaking of history or science. Even with mathematics, most of us would trust some formula or theory from a text without having to perform it ourselves. It is strong because much of it can be powerfully integrated (yet again, we generally trust that other people have integrated other parts because each of us only sees a small piece).

With science for example, you can read a book on particle theory, but the fact is, we are dependent upon the experiences of a very tiny fraction of humanity for these claims. Most of us for example will never be able to walk into one of the top particle accelerators to personally confirm the results they are getting. And most of us will not have the training to appreciate those results. Most of us cannot even practically spend the time and money to get the training (somebody's got to run the rest of the world, running businesses, fixing cars, mop floors, pilot airplanes, perform scientific research that will never land one anywhere near a particle accelerator).

No, we have trust in areas where we wouldn't even think to be skeptics.

Faith and epistemology are two separate domains.

Epistemologists tried that. It doesn't work. See David Hume.

Rob R said...

post 3.

Just an additional clarification to my discussion on Hinduism and Karma. A moral problem I find with it is that compassion becomes a liability. Some abused child for example may be Adolf hitler in his next life, and if you seek to be his rescuer, you are preventing him from working off his karma (and getting what he deserves.)

Jim said...

Before we get to epistemology, are you the final arbiter only in things related you (as in a previous thread), or do you think there is such as thing as objective knowledge?

Yes, I am the final arbiter in things related only to me.

Yes, I believe there is objective knowledge.

Things related only to me include my beliefs. Objective knowledge isn't related only to me, it's related to us.

If that's confusing, let me give an example: I don't believe there is any such thing as objective morality. Morality simply exists within our own minds. We each have a conception of what is moral and what is not moral (or ethical). I have read or heard theistic and atheistic philosophies on this topic, trying to establish some sort of objective morality, but it just doesn't sit well with me. We could have a much larger discussion on this issue. But morality concerns only me and therefore I am the sole arbiter of what is moral. Sometimes we may agree and sometimes we may disagree, but I can't make you think what I am thinking.

My height, on the other hand, doesn't concern just me. It concerns us both. You may use meters and I may use inches, but those two systems (or any two systems) relate by defined objective amounts.

Whether or not there is actually a god concerns us both, so there is some objective truth to this matter. But, of course, we would have to agree on the definitions of such a god before we endeavor to discover whether the objective truth is that such a god exists.

However, whether I believe there is a god concerns only me, so again I am the final arbiter on the statement "I believe a God exists."

Does that make sense, or am I creating more confusion?

Jim said...

coherence

So if the Bible, for example, were to make conflicting claims, or time-constrained prophecies that haven't come true, then epistemologically, this would falsify it in your mind?

experience

So if ancient people found that sacrificing virgins to the rain gods made it rain (occasionally), then this would epistemologically bolster the truth value of their religion?

If through controlled experiments, we find that prayer doesn't achieve anything different than a random result, would that epistemologically detract from the truth value of the existence of a god to whom the prayer was directed?

Brad Haggard said...

Jim,

I think morality concerns us both, especially if we were infringing on each others' "private" morality.

The height example doesn't take into account that our perceptions, even including our perceptions of the tools we use to measure, may be distorted.

And whether or not you believe there is a God will affect how we relate with each other, so I think even private beliefs have a public dimension.

Roger Penrose summed it up pretty well on Unbelievable? last Saturday. He talked about the nature of Matter being very elusive and it becomes more and more dependent on mathematics to model it. But where do we access mathematics? From our own consciousness. So we're in a chicken or egg situation.

Jim said...

Rob,

I just answered a few quips from your post, and then went back and read it through and found myself shaking my head even more . . .

It's a thoughtful post, and I appreciate your attempt to answer it, but it actually created more questions than it answered.

You claimed there are "varieties of Hinduism" when a few posts earlier you claim Christianity is ecumenical. What's the objective measure of whether, for example, Christianity is more ecumenical than Hinduism? And does more ecumenical = more coherent? You already stated that you believe coherence is part of epistemology. So people who participate in ecumenical belief systems are more likely to believe in a god who actually exists, I guess. Or is this where you need to add the "subjectivity" you mentioned as part of epistemology? Yielding the subjective objectivity I was accused of a few threads back?

I do agree we need to balance trust and skepticism. The way I apply that, though, to this question, is that we did experiments throughout our academic lives that confirmed to us what scientists say is true. And given enough time and resources, I believe I can recreate other scientific experiments, say a Bose Einstein condensate. So I trust scientists and the scientific method (together with measured skepticism) as the best path to truth.

But no matter how much I try, I can't recreate any Christian claims like "prayer works" or "ask and it shall be revealed." And guess what? Unlike scientific experiments, I have all the resources required! All I need is my mind! Something God allegedly gave me--and yet, the null hypothesis is all that is ever confirmed.

The revelations of the Judeo-Christian faith are for many people, they are integrative, they are ongoing in the witness of the Holy Spirit.

They are integrative only to the extent that you believe that Christianity is ecumenical. From the outside looking in, they don't integrate all that well. God has allegedly told mothers to kill their children:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/god-told-me-to-kill-boys-says-mother-558706.html

Is that the witness of the Holy Spirit or delusion? God told Moses to murder the Midianites in Numbers 31. Witness of the Holy Spirit or delusion? Was that ecumenical?

I could go on . . . I know you believe, but your reasons just don't "cohere" with me.

zenmite said...

"Just an additional clarification to my discussion on Hinduism and Karma. A moral problem I find with it is that compassion becomes a liability. Some abused child for example may be Adolf hitler in his next life, and if you seek to be his rescuer, you are preventing him from working off his karma (and getting what he deserves.)"

Rob, as you say there are many 'hinduisms' and some indeed view karma as you outline it. Just as some christians see God the father as an old grey-haired man in the sky. But there are other views within hinduism as well. Some teachers maintain that it is possible to be free of karma without 'working it out' or getting what you deserve. Teachers such as Ramana Maharshi suggest that karma is obliterated or transcended when the actual nature of the self is understood.

When you help the abused child, you aren't necessarily cheating him of working off his karma...your very helping him is his karma (and yours). Lastly, karma is not fate or determinism. It actually means action. When we hit our finger with a hammer it hurts. Our hurt is not 'punishment' for hitting our finger, but only a result of that action. Similary, when someone suffers due to karma, it is only reaping the result of some action.

The christian view that hell is a choice of the individual soul in rejecting god is very similar to karma in some ways. The individual chooses certain actions and this leads to certain results. Is it possible to examine hinduism without viewing it via a christian lens?

Jim said...

Brad,

I think morality concerns us both, especially if we were infringing on each others' "private" morality.

Yes, infringing on each other's "private" morality is an objective fact, and it of course concerns us both. But that regards ACTIONS instead of BELIEFS.

But it is simply an objective fact--neither objectively right nor objectively wrong.

I might think you killing me is subjectively wrong, you might think it is subjectively right--but that's as far as I can take it.

And our subjective judgments of morality will probably agree about 95% or more. Probably because of mirror neurons and a sense of empathy that we have evolved over the eons. Neuroscience will probably be able to tell us more and more about this topic in the future.

The other (nominally) 5% that we disagree on may be minor or major, but objectively we really can't say anything about their truth value.

The universe just doesn't care what interaction any specific collection of atoms has with any other collection of atoms.

That may sound depressing, I'm sorry--we're just matter in motion.

So we need to get our zest for life from another source--using our evolved mind to develop our own purpose and passions, being creative, etc.

I know you probably find comfort in other "truths." So be it.

truthinreligionandpolitics said...

I have to say, this is probably the most intellectually dishonest treatment of a defense of atheism I have come across in all my years in apologetics. It amazes me what "Debunking Christianity" considers evidence and proof.

Rhacodactylus said...

Fun argument guys, way to run the thread off into a ditch =)

As far as positive assertions go, I agree that it is a very different thing to make a claim for the nature of the universe than to be skeptical of a claim that has already been made.

~Rhaco

Brad Haggard said...

Jim, I think there is a lot in your response that is unexplored. I'll number them to keep them ordered in my mind.

1. I'm not sure how you distinguish beliefs and actions. It seems to me like they are causally connected.

2. If our morality is subjective, then how do we codify it? In other words, how do we enter into politics and legislation?

3. If we are simply matter in motion, then what is the value of our subjective judgments? It seems like there really isn't anything such as "judgment" or "subjectivity" to matter. If "the universe doesn't care", and we are products of the universe, then how can we legitimately "care" about anything?

4. How do you say "we're just matter in motion" as objective fact? Is this a subjective judgment that you've made which you are trying to assert, or is there another method for determining objective propositions?

5. Does the universe not caring cause you to be depressed subjectively, or do you think that is a more objective judgment, since you attributed that to me?

MikeH said...

John, I have had one semester of
Seminary, and was challenged to read your book by some activists I was debating at a book table in the Student Union.

But my question is, you say you are simply denying that a case has been made, but in your book Why I Became An Atheist you state point blank that there is no God.

But that is not what you are saying here.

Am I misreading WIBA on that point?

John W. Loftus said...

Hi MikeH. There is no difference.

Why do you think there is?

There are propositional statements which can be stated several different ways.

Let's eat.
Time to eat.
Dinner's ready.
Come and get it.

What did you think of the book? And have you read "The Christian Delusion" yet?

I think you did an admirable thing in reading it.

Cheers.

John W. Loftus said...

Actually Mike what I said was much more nuanced than how you characterized it, don;t you think? I did after all, tell the reader I was a "protest atheist."

MikeH said...

Good points about nuance John, but in this case, as I recall, you said bluntly 'There is no God." Not much nuance there. That is not the same as saying that the case has not been made.

In my opinion, of course! LOL!

However, I don't have the book with me but will retrieve it from my parents basement (where I keep a lot of good stuff, that is not a put down) this weekend.

My opinion of the book? Well, you did a good job, given your presuppositions (or control beliefs) but I disgree with it on a number of points.

I do plan to get to the Christian Delusion next.

Lvka said...

"Yes, I Am Pretty Certain I'm Right"


So I guess there's nothing in the world anybody can say or do to make you change your mind, right? :-\

goprairie said...

"There is no god" comes down to this: Define your god to me. Any definition you can come up with becomes self-refuting. Therefore, there is no god, because there cannot be a god. By definition.

Rob R said...

post 1



Jim,

So if the Bible, for example, were to make conflicting claims, or time-constrained prophecies that haven't come true, then epistemologically, this would falsify it in your mind?

It might. It might also falsify it that I understand what I am reading. I don't know everything about how the bible ought to be read. No one does. Biblical scholarship is ongoing and has come very far even in recent times. And I am a continuing student in that. I read commentaries and books on the historical Jesus or historical Paul for a reason (of course my emphasis is on orthodox scholars).

Some conflicts are not important. Coherence is a feature of truth, but our ways of communication are very flexible and anyone can express truths in superficially contradictory ways. This is why we have the phrase in English "it is and it isn't". Most people uttering this phrase don't actually believe there is a contradiction, but they are going to explain who two notions that can be articulated in ways that are contradictory are actually properly understood as coherent.

I have long abandoned that Scripture for example was written with the intention of telling us exactly what happened in history. What exactly happened isn't the point. that is a modernistic concern that we wrongfully read into scripture. But rather, ancient minds crafted the historical narrative to reflect the meaning of what happened.

So if ancient people found that sacrificing virgins... If through controlled experiments, we find that prayer doesn't achieve anything different than a random result

experience does not interpret itself. It is essential that we place our own experiences and the experiences into an interpretive grid. Yet the empirical data is not infinitely flexible.

This is just part of good epistemology. It doesn't stand on it's own. None of it does. we need reason(coherence), we need experience, we need the emotional/subjective, the tradition, community, we need it all. If you treat all of these independently, of course it will make for an easy strawman to pick apart. Humanity was given much to work with. No sense in impoverishing us to just a few sources of knowledge (as with scientism) which is an irresponsible and arbitrary and in some cases incoherent approach.

You claimed there are "varieties of Hinduism" when a few posts earlier you claim Christianity is ecumenical. What's the objective measure of whether, for example, Christianity is more ecumenical than Hinduism?

I wasn't making a blanket statement about Christianity and ecumenicism. That was a response to a very poorly thought out claim by busterggi that every Christian denomination claims to be the ONLY right one. My pastor only a few weeks ago said the exact opposite about our denomination, that it wasn't the only good perspective, and he mentioned that a book came out that argued that the multitude of denominations was actually a good thing. I agree that there can be a good aspect to it.

Rob R said...

post 2



As for an objective measure, I don't have one. I trust what I read from Huston smith on Hinduism and this is the result of my own studies, and it seems to me that in practice and belief, the difference between Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga is far more different than the difference between pentecostals and Roman Catholics. Yet I find it facinating that there is an intereligious debate through most of the world's great religions that is mirrored in the difference between these two yogas where Jnana, the path of knowledge emphasizes ultimate reality as impersonal contrasted with Bhakti, the path of devotion/love, where the divine is viewed as personal and the goal is to have a loving personal relationship with the divine. Similar debates and emphases runs through other religions, through Buddhism, Islam, Ancient pagan greek/roman religions (consider polytheists vs the god of the philosophers), and partly through the influence of greek thought, even we Christians have this debate. That tells me that there is something very important about this issue. And I side with those who say that the divine is personal. Within our immeadiate experience, nothing would matter if there were not persons with subjective experience to value anything. Nothing within our common immeadiate experience is greater than personhood and nothing more sacred. If God is worth worshipping, then God is personal. And no religion capitalizes on this more than Christianity where God is not simply and incidentally some person, some human with super powers but he is the quintessential person, he is perfect personhood personified, the uber person. It makes sense why God has revealed himself through historical interaction, and why we learn of God through narrative. It makes sense that God is triune, because personhood as we know it is essentially communal. And the deep sacredness that we intuit of each other is explained as we are said to be created in the image of God.

This is a bit of a tangent though.

And does more ecumenical = more coherent?

Not necessarily. Christian ecumenicism emphasizes the importance of interdenominational common ground and that much of that common ground establishes our covenant identity with God.

Or is this where you need to add the "subjectivity" you mentioned as part of epistemology?

Subjectivity comes in our access to important intuitions like moral intuitions, like our value for other humans and for community itself.

The way I apply that, though, to this question, is that we did experiments throughout our academic lives that confirmed to us what scientists say is true.

This is an odd thing to suggest. At the college level, I studied physics, basic nuclear physics, chemistry, biology, anatomy, and in an internship, I have worked with some of the most sophisticated scientific and medical equipment, but I personally haven't confirmed a fraction of what the scientific community suggest. And fact is, in the lab setting, frequently, experiments do not follow predictions but are off significantly. then we would construct narratives as to why our percent error might have been off and sometimes, the lab instructor would tell us why. To get a really good result might rely on something that is as subjectively available as innate skill.

Rob R said...

post 3



What we'd see was that what we were taught is probably right, but trust is not eliminated. It is not truly the case that it was all really personally confirmed and we really rely on the fact that the person who's instructing us and the text that was published was the result of far more skill than we currently (or will ever) possess, and assists in the training of other people who make our lives very easy and convenient. but as for personal confirmation, well, there's some of that, but it is just so very small compared to all the scientific reasoning out there. Yes, faith is involved here. That's fine with me. I am one of the faithful in much of what science claims.

And given enough time and resources, I believe I can recreate other scientific experiments,

Given enough time and resources, yes. but most of us don't nor never will have that. Most scientists only have the time and resources to personally confirm only a fraction of scientific claims, let alone us laymen.

But no matter how much I try, I can't recreate any Christian claims like "prayer works" or "ask and it shall be revealed."

Yes, if you don't do things according to the manual, it won't work. But we aren't working with an impersonal regular law of science. We are speaking of a person. Scripture makes it clear that our relationship to God affects how well our prayers work.

All I need is my mind!

All you need is a loving growing relationship with God. You don't have that. And many Christians have a stagnate relationship. they are not really disciples of the Lord, so all those claims about the power of prayer to the disciples really doesn't apply.

They are integrative only to the extent that you believe that Christianity is ecumenical. From the outside looking in, they don't integrate all that well. God has allegedly told mothers to kill their children

There is no reason to envision ecumenicism as a wholesale embrace of what any Christian believes is true. You latched onto my comment on ecumenicism, but again, that was aimed at something someone said that was really poorly thought out. The places you further use it don't always even make sense in the context of this discussion.

God told Moses to murder the Midianites in Numbers 31. Witness of the Holy Spirit or delusion?

Murder is taking life that is not yours to take. This was the Lord's vengence on a people for some great evils they indulged in. We are horrified that this extends to the entire people, woman and children included. We westerners are individualistic after all. but humans are not. They are also communal, and responsibility for evil is felt communally in this life (not that they are all individually responsible and eternal judgement will not be on the communal level for this incident).

Granted, we are in a context now where we ought to treat each other more individualistically, and this is the case with Christianity which is a new covenant that is the result of much development in our relationship with God, development that was not there at that time.

did the Holy Spirit Lead Moses? Of course. Did he lead that woman to kill her children? Well what was God avenging them for (especially now that Jesus has paid for our rebellion). Of course not.

Rob R said...

zenmite, so there might be some branches of Hinduism that aren't affected by my criticism. Excellent. It was but one consideration though.

But what you said doesn't give me full confidence that this other perspective does actually help. I know that there are paths that are supposed to shorten or eliminate all the lives to work off karma. That doesn't mean that you are helping someone when you prevent them from working off their karma because they may not pursue that path and may find more earthly pursuits worth their time.

As for the comparison with Christianity, of course we have somewhat parallel beliefs in the consequences of our actions. But with karma, those consequences or almost if not a permenant feature of the world, where with Christianity, there will be an end to suffering and evil. (you could object that an eternal hell means evil and suffering never ends, but I could object that that isn't clearly biblical to begin with and I could link you to the post by John Loftus where he argues just that).

Jim said...

Rob,

Again, a thoughtful reply, but I just see it as a whole exercise in begging the question.

How do you know that certain versions of Hinduism are more true than others? By noting that these particular versions are following a path toward the divine. (The existence of the divine is the very question).

How do you know that Moses was implementing God's vengeance? By presupposing the truth of the Bible. (the truth value of the Bible is the very question).

et al.

Scripture makes it clear that our relationship to God affects how well our prayers work.

Not true as I see it. I think Christians need this to be true (in their minds) so that it doesn't yield inconsistencies. Mark 11:22-24 just states you need faith, not a relationship with God. If the Bible were true, then Satan would exist--I can have faith that Satan exists without having a relationship with him/her/it.

Regards.

Jim said...

Brad,

1. I'm not sure how you distinguish beliefs and actions. It seems to me like they are causally connected.

1. Beliefs influence actions, certainly. I would like the the beliefs you hold that might lead to adverse actions to mirror my beliefs. Your other beliefs may be interesting, but are not really of any concern to me.

2. If our morality is subjective, then how do we codify it? In other words, how do we enter into politics and legislation?

We do what we've always done as humans--make laws, policies, and procedures. I don't propose anything different--it's just how I look at it all philosophically. We all have selfish interests, and politics is simply the playing out of this human dynamic at trying to influence other people's behaviors. The laws themselves aren't objectively right or wrong, but there are consequences for not following them. Each individual, regardless of what they believe, must make a decision to obey or disobey.

3. If we are simply matter in motion, then what is the value of our subjective judgments? It seems like there really isn't anything such as "judgment" or "subjectivity" to matter. If "the universe doesn't care", and we are products of the universe, then how can we legitimately "care" about anything?

The value is in your mind and only for you. All we can seek to do as individuals is influence other people's beliefs. The last sentence is the genetic fallacy. We as humans are part of the universe, but we are not "the universe." The universe may not care, but our minds have the ability to care--totally separate issue.

4. How do you say "we're just matter in motion" as objective fact? Is this a subjective judgment that you've made which you are trying to assert, or is there another method for determining objective propositions?

O.K. I believe we are just matter in motion because it is the most coherent way of viewing our place in the universe and all the events that have occurred and continue to occur. Sorry if I made it sound like I know for certain--all I can really say is that it seems to be the most probable and useful belief to hold. Otherwise, we're in danger of solopsism.

If I sound like I'm making an iron-clad truth statement about objective reality, there is always an implicit phrase "It seems to be" or "The evidence seems to point in this direction" attached to each one.

5. Does the universe not caring cause you to be depressed subjectively, or do you think that is a more objective judgment, since you attributed that to me?

All feelings are subjective. I'm not depressed, I embrace life. I reread my posts, and I don't know exactly what you mean by "attributed that to me."

Look, it's all just an outlook on life. We'll still get along as humans and do our normal human thing--it's just that you may find objective morality where I don't. Even if I believed in God, I still don't think that would make morality absolutely objective, just objective relative to God's desires.

Yes, I Am Pretty Certain I'm Right (But not absolutely certain.)

Rob R said...

Again, a thoughtful reply, but I just see it as a whole exercise in begging the question.

Begging the question occurs when a conclusion is explicitely stated as a premise. I don't do that. Of course, my conclusions may be implicit in my premises. But that is how normal logical thinking works. It brings out what is implicit in the premises.

You might think I am begging the question by not fully supporting my premises. But that too is not begging the question. It is just the way logical argumentation works. We cannot support the support of every conclusion. It's like the child who keeps asking why with each new explanation. Eventually, he has to learn that we don't have infinite knowledge and our knowledge rests upon assumptions that we cannot fully prove or explane. Some things are just basic. Some things are just irreducible. Some things rest upon intuitions. It is the way of the human mind.

How do you know that certain versions of Hinduism are more true than others?

see my discussion on personhood. If you don't interact with it, I won't know why it isn't satifactory.

It was a long paragraph that I called tangential. But now you are asking what I explained there.

How do you know that Moses was implementing God's vengeance? By presupposing the truth of the Bible. (the truth value of the Bible is the very question).

I don't evaluate the truth of scripture as a whole on the basis of an investigation into each individual claim. No one's knowledge works that way.

You contrasted Moses with some women who killed her children, then you just mentioned that it didn't cohere with you. I thought it fitting to explain the moral workings of it as best as I understand it. I thought it best to explain somewhat it's coherence with the broader picture because you seemingly attacked it on the grounds of moral incoherence. Explaining coherence is to give evidence of it's truth especially when criticism comes from matters of coherence. And there is more that can be done along those lines.

If you want my reasons for subscribing to the bible as a whole, my discussion on personhood works towards those ends.


Mark 11:22-24 just states you need faith, not a relationship with God.

Mark 11 has a hyperbolic statement never taken literally delivered to disciples who have a growing relationship with him.

And faith is not mere belief. A look at other historical texts demonstrates this. Josephus tells a group of soldiers "believe in me". He isn't asking them to believe that he exists. He's telling them to follow him.

If the Bible were true, then Satan would exist--I can have faith that Satan exists without having a relationship with him/her/it.

James makes this very point using the opposite example. Demons believe in God. clearly, simple consent to acknowledge a proposition as true is not enough nor is it what was meant.

JM Howard said...

Came upon your blog accidently–hmm. All I want to do is ask a few questions with the knowledge of your many degrees and books in print in mind.
Knowing that you have your own moral code and since it is custom built; Have you ever violated it?
Where did the conscience originate? If it is indeed custom built by yourself? Have you ever violated it? Do you have a remedy for those violations?
How did Jesus figure out the way to complete the Festival of Unleavened Bread to the very day and hour that was written in the Exodus story and the Law of Moses? Just how did he arrive for the lamb inspection for four days before the Passover and no flaw was found in Him, even by Pilate? How was it that He was nailed on the cross the very day and hour that was given in those accounts. How was it He was resurrected the very hour Israel reached the othe side of the Red Sea early in the morning; and the High Priest waved the offering of First Fruits? How was it the Holy Spirit was given on the very day and hour Moses received and verified the Covenant on Mt. Sinai and on the 50th day of counting the Omer after the Feast of Unleavened Bread? This is only a drop in the bucket of the hidden prophesies He completed, but will suffice. Due to your many degrees in Theology I know you are aware of the dates and times revealed in the Scriptures.
Why would a mother of one of the victims of Gary Ridgeway walk to the microphone at his sentencing hearing and say to him, “I loved my daughter, but I forgive you.” This psychopathic killer who confessed to killing 48 women broke down and cried. Every other relative of all the other victims cursed and condemned him. How could she do that?
How can you explain the millions of believers that endured a death by torture we can only imagine rather than deny that they know Him?
Can you explain love - not physical attraction that wears thin after time, but a love of a man or woman that will give their life for the object of that love? The brain, in essence, is a piece of meat, how can the brain then be the cause of such an outcome?
Why does a man of your stature spend his life debating and exposing a desire to fight against a God that does not exist? If He does not exist why spend that amount of your life’s energy?
When I came upon your blog I discounted it as just another one of those who became enamored and possessed by their own pride. I keep in mind what Charles Finney said: “It is fruitless to argue with a book infidel.” Usually I just ignore folks like yourself that have become gods unto themselves.
This time, after ruminating for a day, He impressed me to write this to you. He told me that once you were close to the Kingdom of God, but was corrupted by pride. He loves you with the love I spoke of. I did not want to write this, but I do not want your blood on my hands. When the day of appointment (Moed) comes, as it will for all men. I am not guilty of your life. You are.
If you think it is appropriate, I would appreciate it if you would let me know that you have read this. This is, I’m sorry to say, is for my benefit only.

JM Howard