Saturday, July 31, 2010

Godlessons Doesn't Think Logic Exists

The Atheist at Godlessons has a post on whether God can be said to exist being that He is immaterial. He says, "When we speak of immaterial things, we are speaking of something that has no physical substance. Now, if you think about this, everything we know to exist has physical properties."

Not to mention that this is a very recent definition of what it is for something to exist, formulated by logical positivists of the 19th and 20th centuries, it also would nullify many of the concepts that Godlessons wants to use to disprove the existence of God, namely the laws of logic. Do the laws of logic exist? If they do, then they are not material objects, rather they are ideas. They are what philosophers refer to as abstract objects. They obviously exist, because they determine how we determine truth. But they aren't physical objects.

Mind-body dualists also have no issue with thinking that immaterial beings exist, as we are partly such beings. Not to mention that objects we conceive of in our minds, such as pink elephants, don't exist materially, but within the immaterial area of our minds.

Also, the proposition, "everything we know to exist has physical properties," itself is an immaterial object. Propositions exist whether we bring them materially into being by typing or writing them down. The proposition 2+2=4 would exist whether or not anyone else did or not.

Another bad atheist argument.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Answering the Challenge From Arizona

Google has led me to the blog of one Arizona Atheist. He has posed a challenge to theists to deal with what he's written. He's written a lot, and I'm not sure I want to go back and read it all and then respond to it all, so I hope we can focus on one or two topics if he responds to me. I really want to see an argument from him for atheism. Then I would like to take his objections to some of the more famous theistic arguments and defuse them.

My initial comment on his challenge:

From what I've read, what you've written interacting with scholars such as Bill Craig has been spotty. You've offered meager responses to his work and have ignored the vast amount of material he's written to deal with the very objections you've put up.

For instance, in dealing with his cosmological argument, you've written, to dispute the first premise that everything that begins to exist has a cause, "According to modern physics, however things can seemingly happen without cause.  There are several things we observe that appear to have no cause."

This is just ignorant. You would seemingly claim that things, in this case, can come into existence uncaused out of nothing and that quantum physics has corroborated this. But this isn't the case at all. For starters, the quantum vacuum where these particles seemingly pop into existence is not nothing. This quantum vacuum is demonstrably not nothing. As Craig writes, "a quantum vacuum is a sea of continually forming and dissolving particles, which borrow energy from the vacuum for their brief existence. This is not "nothing," and hence, material particles do not come into being out of nothing. Popular presentations of these models often do not explain that they require a specially fine-tuned, background space-time on the analogy of a quantum mechanical vacuum. The origin of the observable universe from this wider space-time is not a free lunch at all. It requires an elaborately set table, which must be paid for," and, "a quantum a rich physical reality possessing physical properties: it is not creation from nothing."

That's not to mention the sketchy waters we get into with quantum vacuum models, since there are several that take the same data those who present this indeterministic model and develop deterministic models.

That's just one instance.

To respond to your questions here:

I welcome one and all to attempt to refute any argument I place on my blog

Ok. Please point me to one of your arguments for atheism. A refutation of an argument, which I've seen you have attempted quite a few of, is not an argument for your position. Could you give me a good positive argument that there is no God?

Do you think you can prove the existence of the supernatural

It depends on what you mean by "prove." This word has become very vague since the epistemologic systems like verificationism and logical positivism were introduced. It is near impossible to prove 100% much of anything. Can you prove to me that you're not a brain in a vat being stimulated to sense the external world? What kind of evidence could you give for that?

Now, I could give you some good reasons to think that there is a realm of supernatural activity, some would be philosophical arguments such as the cosmological or moral arguments. I could give you good reasons to think that the resurrection of Jesus was an historical event.

can you prove that atheism caused the atrocities by the communists

That's for historians to decide, I suppose. From my reading, most communists were atheists and their philosophical worldviews did lead them to do things those who look to a higher moral authority might not have otherwise done, but the question is ultimately uninteresting when it comes to the question of whether or not God exists.

do you think you can prove any god exists (the one exception being a Deistic god)

Again, depends on what you have in mind when you say "prove." Can you prove God doesn't exist?

**By "evidence" I mean factual, scientific proof

What do you mean by factual and scientific? I think there are truths that are untouchable by the scientific method that we can know to be true. Do you mean empirical evidence? How do you know empirical evidence is a good means of discovering truth? Empirical evidence is useless unless it is examined and interpreted. This seems like deck stacking, and it's not fair in a debate to set the boundaries to your presupposed epistemology.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dealing With a Dealt With Deal: An Overview of the Author of Sin Controversy

Even though many of us Arminian e-pologists (as we are affectionately known) have dealt with this issue (see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here), it is still thought to be just the death blow to our argument.

Here's how it goes. We say, "determinism means God is the author of sin, because everything that happens happens because God has made it happen." The Calvinist says, "well so does Arminianism because God knows about sin and lets it happen anyway!"

Okay, imagine the worst sin you can imagine. The worst evil that could ever happen. Now, imagine that a guy named Evil Evanston is performing this heinous act. If Evil Evanston has free will, in that he is not under constraint by a force outside his own will to act, and has it within his power to not act as he will (the power to do otherwise) then it is Evil Evanston who is choosing for himself to sin and then carrying out that sin. He authors the evil. If God, on the other hand, did not grant us free will, but has deterministically ordered the universe such that everything that happens HAS TO happen, happens necessarily, then God is the origin of all events and choices. God is the one who came up with the evil thought and evil act that Evil Evanston is going to commit, and nothing but what God has determined to happen could otherwise occur. Evil Evanston is just carrying out the pre-scripted programming that God set up. God, in this case, authors the evil. The author of the evil is the morally responsible party.

The Arminian knows, as the Bible teaches, that God only does good. All good things are from God. In fact, since God is by nature good, it is logically incoherent to think He could make evil. We measure acts against God's nature to determine if they are evil. If all acts are from God, then no act is evil. But we all know there are evil acts.

"But," the Calvinist will interject here, "God allows evil to occur on the Arminian view! He just stands there and watches Evil Evanston commit his heinous act, which is obviously in the same ballpark as determining it will happen!"

I'm not sure if Calvinists have had their coffee when they say something like this. Allowing a sin is tantamount to making the sin happen? That's just bad logic, as I pointed out in my response to James Swan. Say I knew what Evil Evanston was going to do, and I had the ability to stop him. Would I, as Swan says, "share responsibility" for the sin that Evil Evanston commits? No. There would be two separate actions taking place; Evil Evanston's sin and my allowing his sin.

Is allowing someone to sin a sin in itself? It depends on a whole host of things. Parents sometimes will allow their children to sin to allow them to experience the consequences of that sin. The police will sometimes arrange a situation where they know a criminal will sin so they can arrest the criminal. In other instances, I think it would be utterly negligent to allow sin. If someone was going to kill someone and you had the power to stop it. There are obvious instances where non-action would be negligence (which is a separate sin than the sin committed).

Okay, so the Calvinist must be saying that God is utterly negligent on Arminianism because He isn't stopping sins He knows about and has the power to stop. Is this the case? No. As creatures of God, He has charged us with certain moral duties, one of which is to help people when we can and not be negligent. That is a moral duty that flows from God's moral nature. But, as the dispenser of moral duties, God does not issue command to Himself. God has no duties to follow. He holds the power over life and death and has the right to take away the life of whoever He wants whenever He wants. Obviously, we don't share that right. In fact, that is one of the things that makes His grace and mercy so amazing. God had no obligation to rescue us from our sins, to conserve us in being, or to ever show anyone any grace. But He does!!

Okay, so can we say that something is still wrong with God allowing evil? Would an all good God do such a thing? If God has decided to give us free will, then there may be no way for Him to create a world where no evil happens. Free creatures may always choose evil in no matter what set of life circumstances they live in. Could God stop them? Well, if He has decreed to make them free, no. It is logically incoherent to speak of making someone freely do something. It is as nonsensical as speaking of a married bachelor or square circle. Beyond this, it is probable that God has morally sufficient reasons to allow the evils that currently happen.

But, on deterministic Calvinism, you can't postulate that God possibly couldn't create a world where free creatures always did good, because if Calvinism is true, we don't live in a world of free creatures. God could have created a world where no evil happens if He is making everyone do what they do.

So, it is impossible for God to make sin. God allowing sin is far different than causing sin. God has no duty to stop all sin. He may not be able to create a world where we all freely do good. And He may have morally sufficient reasons to allow sin. But what could possibly be the benefit of causing all sin?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Arguing From Analogy

Apparently, the basics of philosophy are lost on some Sophistic boy-children around the internet. I figured I'd clear something up here. Of course I'll potentially be called dumb or arrogant for doing so, but such is the penalty of speaking the truth, I suppose.

One of the first things you're supposed to learn in logic is different argument forms. One of those forms is the argument from analogy. It is one of the less precise forms of argument, but used the correct way it can be a powerful tool.

William Paley came up with one of the more famous arguments from analogy, the watchmaker analogy. Paley posited that if we were to discover a watch, we would observe its complex movements and parts that are in specified places in order for it to function. We would never attribute that to blind chance, but would conclude that someone designed the watch. Likewise, we can see other things with complex intricacies which seem to necessitate an intelligent source.

Now, obviously the argument from analogy is never a perfect science. Things you compare are never identical to one another, otherwise they would be the same thing. Rather you notice that the things are similar, and as such have the same kinds of properties or operations. It's never a perfect match. So if someone says about Paley's argument, "well, the watch has gears and hands that tell time, but this cell (or eye, or universe) doesn't and works differently than a watch does," it would be a terrible way to refute the argument. Of course we know that every aspect of a watch is not going to relate to every aspect of something else you are comparing it to to infer design. The point is we are taking one thing that we know is designed and pointing out that another thing has similar complexities, therefore that thing is designed. It's never a perfect match, but it's not meant to be.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Occasionalism = Pantheism?

If occasionalism is true, then God is truly the only will that acts in the universe. But then doesn't that make everything merely an extension of God? And doesn't that sound a bit like pantheism?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Concurrentism = Occasionalism?

Over at Billy's blog, Steven has stated that:
Concurrence leads to occasionalism. You can't paint a nude without painting her a specific way; you can't carve a wooden flute without carving it a certain way; so also, God couldn't will that something exist without willing that it exist a certain way, with determinate features. But then everything's being the way it is at any point in time is explained entirely in terms of God's willing it to be so at that time, in which case (1) there is no need of secondary causes, (2) God actively wills evil events to occur and so is directly responsible for them, (3) there is no libertarian freedom of the will. I've written a few posts on my blog on occasionalism, if you want to see more in-depth arguments for (3).
This, I think, is naive and is not a very careful consideration of the difference between concurrentism and occasionalism.

The doctrine of divine concurrence holds that for any even that happens, at the exact moment of that event, both the creature and God are causing the event at the same time. So when it comes to acts of free creatures, the creature has a distinct will that chooses something, but God is at the same time enabling, providing the power for, and carrying out the event.

Occasionalism holds that for every event that happens, divine causation is all there is. It is maximal, and there exists no causation by a separate agent.

So, when Steven says that, "You can't paint a nude without painting her a specific way; you can't carve a wooden flute without carving it a certain way," he is not recognizing that on the concurrentism view, it requires that a separate agent need to exist to decide to and also take part in the painting or flute carving such that God would only be causing the events that the other agent had chosen to carry out. As Arminius stated, "The concurrence of God is not his in, mediate influx into a second or inferior cause, but it is an action of God immediately flowing into the effect of the creature, so that the same effect in one and the same entire action may be produced simultaneously by God and the creature."1

Arminius further explains that when God has decided to permit a rational creature to act, He obviously would not refrain from giving the power to carry out that act. "Though this concurrence is placed in the mere pleasure or will of God, and in his free dispensation, yet he never denies it to a rational and free creature, when he has permitted an act to his power and will. For these two phrases are contradictory, 'to grant permission to the power and the will of a creature to commit an act," and "to deny the divine concurrence without which the act cannot be done.'"2

Arminius explains how this separates God from the sin He concurs in carrying out:
But this concurrence is to the act as such, not as it is a sin: And therefore God is at once the effector and the permittor of the same act, and the permittor before he is the effector. For if it had not been the will of the creature to perform such an act, the influx of God would not have been upon that act by concurrence. And because the creature cannot perform that act without sin, God ought not, on that account, to deny the divine concurrence to the creature who is inclined to its performance. For it is right and proper that the obedience of the creature should be tried, and that he should abstain from an unlawful act and from the desire of obeying his own inclinations, not through a deficiency of the requisite divine concurrence; because, in this respect, he abstains from an act as it is a natural good, but it is the will of God that he should refrain from it as it is a moral evil.3

In other words, God first permits the sin, and is then the effector of it. If the rational creature had not have chosen to sin, God would not have concurred with it and it would not have happened.

I think it's obvious that God working with a free creature in causation is leaps and bounds separate from God being the only cause, and that concurrentism does not entail occasionalism.

I personally am not even sure if holding to divine concurrence is necessary. I think the third option other than occasionalism and concurrentism, conservationism, is also a viable position. I think God has so ordered the universe so as to be completely in control and yet does not need to cause all events, yet He must conserve all things in being for them to actually exist. He must allow all events, and in the case that His ordering of events actualizes them He in a far removed sense is a reason for them coming about. However, that view doesn't seem to be one that has been traditionally held to by classical theists. Maybe someone could explain the reasoning to me?


2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

Argument From Discovery

I'm not sure if anyone has argued along these lines or not. I was just thinking of this yesterday.

  1. If atheism is true, then we evolved solely to survive (premise).
  2. If we evolved solely to survive, then we would behave such that we avoid things that could kill us (premise).
  3. We have evolved such that we desire to discover and explore the unknown (premise).
  4. Exploring the unknown is extremely dangerous and could kill us (premise).
  5. We follow our desire to discover explore the unknown (premise).
  6. We do not behave such that we avoid things that kill us (follows from premise 4)
  7.  Therefore, we did not evolve solely to survive (modus tollens from 2 and 6).
  8. Therefore, atheism is not true (modus tollens from 1 and 7).
I think premise 1 is uncontroversial. 2 I think is not as uncontroversial, but I think if naturalistic evolution is true, then we should see behavior geared for survival. I think that is inexplicable why, in a world where we all our behaviors are tuned so that we survive, that we would be compelled by an urge to discover things and knowingly put our lives in danger for those ends. We climb mountains, go on voyages across the ocean, fly 30,000 feet in the air, leave the earth's atmosphere to explore space and go to the moon. We have this insatiable urge to know things, and people purposely put their lives in jeopardy so that we can learn new things which may be ultimately neutral or detrimental to our survival.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On Glenn Beck

I watched Glenn Beck's show last night and saw something that I never thought I'd see. Someone on a mainstream secular news channel (the most watched cable news channel actually) talking about a perversion of Christian theology (liberation theology) and correcting it. I listened very closely when Beck, who consulted Richard Land and Anthony Bradley for the show, described what the gospel actually is. He was pretty spot on, saying, "salvation is an individual relationship between a person and God through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Jesus said, 'I am the way, and the truth and the light [sic].' I can't be saved for someone else and they can't be saved by me." He also mentioned at one point that our sins were placed on Jesus. This was a very evangelical sounding gospel message.

He was also spot on on how liberation theology twists the entire gospel message of personal forgiveness of sins by grace alone. Liberation theology teaches that the oppressed minority is saved, and for the rich to become saved they need to give to the oppressed minority.

Glenn also recognized that there are those who would question him because he's a Mormon. It is true that I scrutinized the episode for any hints of Mormon theology. Beck let none get in there.

Now let me say that I am a big Glenn Beck fan, and have listened to him for about 6 or 7 years now, and have known he is a Mormon for about 5, I think. I think Beck, especially in the last year and a half, has been an indispensable resource for the conservative movement in America. I think he's sincere and honest and has the personal qualities that so many in his position lack. I just like the guy. He's awesome.

However, I do believe that, theologically, he has a lot of problems. I'm honestly a little surprised that he's still a Mormon, because the man reads--a lot. I would have thought certainly, in his studies somewhere, he would have run across the issues Mormonism faces, at least archaeologically.

Let me just be clear here: I don't believe the Mormon church is a Christian denomination. I don't think salvation can be found in that world view. Mormons believe a number of false doctrines that do conflict with essential Christian beliefs.

To list a few:

  • God (aka heavenly father) is a created, material being who was once human, like us
  • God created the universe out of preexisting material, not ex nihilo as orthodox Christianity teaches
  • Heavenly father isn't the only God, there are many gods.
  • Heavenly father and heavenly mother procreated many spiritual children, including Jesus, Satan, and all of us (meaning we are all brothers of Jesus and Satan).
  • They deny the orthodox teaching of the Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons and the one true God) and teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods (Jesus and the Holy Spirit being offspring of heavenly father and heavenly mother.
  • Jesus was conceived by a literal sexual intercourse between heavenly father and the virgin Mary
  • To reach the highest realm of glory (the celestial kingdom) one must earn their way there by doing works, which flatly contradicts the Bible's teaching of a grace based salvation
  • Shortly after the apostles died, the entire church apostatized and was not restored until Joseph Smith in the 1830's (which goes against all historical records)
I do know that in recent years, Mormons have sought to dialog with evangelicals. I also know that many of their professors and theologians have questioned previous teachings by the church. I hope and pray that Mormons will come to a true understanding of Jesus Christ and will abandon their false teachings.

I don't know where Glenn Beck stands on these doctrinal issues, but since he is a Mormon, I assume he believes them all. These teachings are a corruption of what true Christianity has taught for 2000 years. Much historical revisionism was required to lead these people down this road. I'm going to continue to pray for Glenn Beck and all Mormons.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Questions for Anti-Molinist Inerrantists

How do you explain how God knew the two divergent paths that God foresaw if Zedekiah either chose to surrender to the king of Babylon or not (Jeremiah 38:17-18)? Assuming this was a free choice, God told Jeremiah to tell Zedekiah that if he chose to submit to Babylon, he, his city, and his family would all live. But God also foresaw the other possibility; what would happen if Zedekiah did not surrender, namely his death and his city's destruction. God obviously knew what would happen, and which choice Zedekiah would make. But God also knew what would happen if Zedekiah made the other choice.

How did Jesus know what Sodom would have done IF His miracles had been performed there in Matthew 11:23?

How did Jesus know what would happen if the disciples cast their net to the opposite side of their boat (John 21:6)?

Oh, and those of you who reject Molinism because of James White's weak polemic, you really need to repudiate that ridiculous picture he has floating around the web with Craig and the Pope. That's a pretty blatant genetic fallacy if I ever saw one.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Power of Prayer to Jesus Christ

Our new daughter has been having issues with breastfeeding (latching on and whatnot). We've started praying every time she has issues that Jesus would help her and rebuking the devil, and it WORKS! Jesus answers prayers both big and small.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Special Delivery!

Monday, July 5, 2010

William Lane Craig on the Self Defeating Nature of Determinism


Universal causal determinism cannot be rationally affirmed. There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so. One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one’s mind on that basis. The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was determined by causal factors outside himself to believe and the other not to believe. When you come to realize that your decision to believe in determinism was itself determined and that even your present realization of that fact right now is likewise determined, a sort of vertigo sets in, for everything that you think, even this very thought itself, is outside your control. Determinism could be true; but it is very hard to see how it could ever be rationally affirmed, since its affirmation undermines the rationality of its affirmation (emphasis his).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4

Thank you Lord for your providential guidance of history to bring humanity this great nation of ours. I pray that you intervene and help us solve our problems and right our wrongs. I pray that we can continue being the shining city on the hill. Your will be done.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oh Baby Baby

By popular demand, more baby!