Intelligent Design

Irony of the Day

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“God is an imaginary friend for grownups.”

This seems to be one of the materialists’ favorites catch phrases these days.  Last year one group even went so far as to put a version of the phrase on billboards here in Denver.

billboad

As near as I can tell from my research, the phrase originated in a 2004 Owen Wilson bomb called The Big Bounce.  Wilson’s character Jack is talking to his friend Walter played by Morgan Freeman:

Walter:  “Have a little faith.”

Jack:  “Faith?  You mean like faith in God?”

Walter:  “No, God is an imaginary friend for grownups.”

As readers of my posts will know, finding irony is one of my favorite pastimes.  Today we will explore the irony of the “dogmatic skeptic.”

I invite you to visit the website of the Colorado Coalition of Reason (“COCORE”), the group that put up the billboard in Denver.  Look at the self-descriptions of the various groups that formed the coalition.  Nearly every one contains the word “skeptic.”  My dictionary defines “skeptic” as “a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of accepted beliefs.”  My dictionary defines “dogmatist” as “a person who asserts his or her opinions in an unduly positive or arrogant manner; a dogmatic person.”

The billboard asserts as an undoubted fact that God does not exist in reality.  That is what it means to describe him as “imaginary.”  But has anyone ever disproved God’s existence?  Of course not.  Even Richard Dawkins, the most famous anti-theist in the world, admits that he cannot have apodictic certainty that God does not exist.  In his famous 2012 dialogue with Rowan Williams ,Dawkins would go only so far as to say, “I think the probability of any supernatural creator existing is very, very low, which is why I say I’m a 6.9.”

The number “6.9” is an allusion to Dawkins’ own “scale of theist probability” from his book The God Delusion.  The number “6” on the 7 point scale correlates with:  “I don’t know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”

My point is not to show that God exists.  My point is that all honest people will admit that his non-existence has not been proven as a certain fact.  Even Richard Dawkins admits that he cannot be certain about God’s existence, and that there is at least some possibility that God does exist (though, in his opinion, the probability is very low).

Now consider the tone of the COCARE billboard.  Is smug certainty such as that expressed in the catch phrase the sort of tone one would expect from a “skeptic”? After all, isn’t a disdain for haughty certitude the very essence of skepticism?  The tone of the billboard is not the least bit skeptical.  In fact, the billboard has a kind of dogmatism about it wouldn’t you say?  So-called “skeptics” like those who put up this billboard like to make fun of “fundies.”  But their billboard demonstrates an uncritical arrogant dogmatism that would make the most committed fundamentalist blush.  And that, my friends, is the irony of the day.

32 Replies to “Irony of the Day

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    BA:

    Good point, though — pardon my directness — I would phrase it a bit differently, given the major intellectual deficit problems of the so-called new atheists:

    rudely dismissive, arrogant sophomoric bombast, manifested through indulgence in ill informed, overconfident and self-refuting selective hyperskepticism

    I think that we live in an era where far too often manipulative rhetoric, ad-hom laced strawman tactics and the fallacy of confident manner substitutes for sober worldview-savvy thinking.

    As we are ever so familiar with from the debates over design.

    It’s time for a major worldview thinking reboot.

    KF

    PS: Given the weak form PSR and the resulting logic of necessary vs contingent beings, we should note that the actual challenge atheists — not agnostics, those who (never mind the self-serving definition tactics) assert or imply they KNOW there is no God — face is that God as a serious candidate necessary being, will either be impossible or actual. And by impossible, that means that there would have to be the kind of inconsistencies of key characteristics we see with a “square circle.” Post the Plantinga free will defence’s withering of the deductive problem of evil, good luck with such a line of thought. And, that is before we look at the cumulative force of dozens of lines of evidence pointing to the reality of God. But, if we deal with people who struggle with self evident first principles and facts, what do we expect?

  2. 2
    scordova says:

    “I don’t know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”

    If by improbable on the Dawkins scale, that translates into

    (7.0 – 6.9) / 7.0 = 1.43%

    So he estimates he has a 1.43% chance of being wrong. Let us suppose being wrong carries with it a 1.43% chance of facing God’s judgment, which is worse than an serious car accident resulting in permanent disablement.

    Say we had group of parents that collectively had 1000 kids that wanted to have fun playing a game that is mostly safe but will result in 1.43% chance of them being permanently disabled by playing the game just for a few hours. Would rational parents encourage such an activity. That would translate into an expectation that about 14 of the kids will be seriously injured.

    If there is a 1.43% chance the Christian God is real, then given the consequences, choosing to ignore the possibility of God, and worse, doing so because of Darwinism (which has been logically and empirically falsified) is profoundly unwise.

    Do people play games with remote odds, and prevail in the end. You betcha. Examples:

    1. Jack-of-Better video poker. The chances of scoring a Royal Flush are less then 1 out of 40,000 through optimal plays and holds (a 0.0025% chance of success), but because the payoff is substantial on a Royal Flush, the expectation value of the game, combined with cash-back compliments and promotional rewards is a positive expectation game. Bob Dancer made a million dollars playing this game. The rational be was to go after the improbable odds with a sufficiently high payoff.

    See:
    Million Dollar Video Poker

    2. Even though skilled blackjack play has about a 1.5% edge over the casino, it may be surprising to know that the odds of being in the red at any given time is about 98%! This is because of the phenomenon related to gambler’s ruin. 98% of the time my collective lifelong winning are less than my all-time high, but the 2% of the time I had kept setting new all time highs is what ensured continued profit.

    Bottom line: the “wisdom” offered in that billboard is foolishness. Atheism has far more to lose by being wrong. The billboard is not only wrong in terms of dogmatism, but it is also wrong in claiming life will be better. If we defined “better” in terms of expectation values, disbelieving in God is clearly the far worse alternative.

    The irony is anti-theist culture promotes itself as being highly rational, math and logic say, anti-theism is a foolish wager.

    I’ve yet to meet an atheist that will argue atheism is a positive expectation play. He cannot make that argument except out of pure supposition and faulty logic.

    As degenerate as the gambling industry is, it has always surprised me there has been an persistent minority of very devout theists who beat the games. There is a certain rationality to it. Doyle Brunson’s story is especially heartwarming to me. And there are other believers in gambling industry. But if we look at it, everyone is making wagers everyday on how to live life.

    I posted this thread to see if atheists could make the case that atheism offers superior expectation relative to theism. I don’t think a convincing case was made. Readers can judge for themselves:

    Holy Roller, Pascal’s wager and if ID is wrong it was an honest mistake

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    ‘rudely dismissive, arrogant sophomoric bombast, manifested through indulgence in ill informed, overconfident and self-refuting selective hyperskepticism.’ – kairosfocus

    How Ironic, indeed, that the very doyens of Evolution’s atheistic, nescientific Establishment should declaim and posture with all the jejune bombast of school-children, kairosfocus, never mind sophomores; that the power and wealth of corporate sponsors, akin to the German industrialists, the corporate sponsors of the Third Reich, should have managed to elevate a deviant, corporatist, totalitarian subculture within the context of the history of science, despite being uniquely malign intrinsically, both socially and intellectually, to hegemony within the academy and corporate research.

    ‘Manufactured consent’, as Chomsky put it, is their real stock-in-trade. I can’t wait for the day when the Catholic church ‘lowers the boom’ on the them – I hope through its Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

    The punitive cost to mankind of the marginalisation of Christianity seems to know no end. But end it will, and soon, by the looks of things.

    Bye-bye corporatist, myrmidon nobodies. You can hand in any Nobel knick-knacks on your way out, but not before bowing deeply before a line of statues of real theoretical scientists, Intelligent Design men, such as Einstein, Planck, Bohr, Godel, Pauli.. the great paradigm-changers, whose intellectual integrity 60-80 years ago, provided your living, today, while leaving a template that will be a standing monument of derision at your endless folly.

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    Here is another irony, there is empirical evidence life is better not being an atheist.

    1. evolutionary biologists have concluded the religious impulse is selectively favored, thus life is better for the theists if one defines “better” as more reproductively successful

    2. and this article:
    http://old.richarddawkins.net/.....-needs-god

    That billboard is symbolic of anti-theism, and we now know kind of people are anti-theists:
    Angry, Narcissistic, Un-agreeable, Anti-social dogmatists.

  5. 5
    Bruce David says:

    It is my experience that the vast majority of self-styled skeptics limit their skepticism to phenomena that don’t fit neatly into their metaphysical position, which is invariably atheistic materialism. So in fact they are not skeptics at all, but rather apologists for their own metaphysical point of view.

  6. 6
    LarTanner says:

    Here’s a deal for you, BA:

    I will email the CCOR and ask them to amend the slogan to “God is probably an imaginary friend.”

    You can email the folks near me and ask them to change the sign from “Jesus saves” to “If he existed and was a man-god, Jesus might save you if you believe in him, worship him correctly, and follow other behavioral mandates to be disclosed by a duly-appointed male cleric.”

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    Larry Tanner @ 6: Nice little “tu quoque” fallacy you’ve erected there. Here’s why it does not work: The whole point of my post (which seems to have been lost on you) is that supposed skeptics are being dogmatic. It is no retort to say, “Yeah, but all those people who subscribe to the dogmas of Christianity are also being dogmatic. Neener, neener neener!”

  8. 8
    Graham2 says:

    So, Barry, does Jesus save or not ? Just a simple yes or no will do.

  9. 9
    LarTanner says:

    Your point wasn’t lost on me — or anyone, probably.

    Just some Monday humor for you.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    G2: If you want to go down that road, I suggest you start with a 101 here on in context on the specific point you raised, backed up by this on on the worldview foundation question being begged by those pushing the sophomoric talking point as if it were unquestionable fact. There is a little matter of evidence and warrant that is being brushed aside without serious consideration by those pushing the sort of irresponsible and ill informed smart aleck sophomoric bombast and dogmatism BA has skewered in the OP. The further turnabout attempt fails, fails on the all too revealing assumption that those of us who are Christians could not possibly have serious, soberly considered reasons for our views. KF

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    G2@8: Yes.

  12. 12
    Axel says:

    They are dim enough to think science is coterminous with skepticism. Like a dog with a bone, ignoring a nearby dish with big, fat, juicy steaks. Messrs McGoo.

  13. 13
    Axel says:

    Einstein’s dictum about the superiority of imagination over intelligence would have gone right over their heads, Bruce David.

    Unless, of course, it was imagination grasped in desperation, to avoid having to contemplate the existence of God. And then nothing, at least nothing that doesn’t evoke the fear of God in their wee breasts, is ruled out – a multiverse, nothing changing itself into everything, insignificance of the Cambrian explosion, Piltdown man, evolution, random configurations which really LOOK as if they might have been designed…etc, etc.

  14. 14
    Graham2 says:

    I prefer Barrys answer.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Axel says:

    More irony… Judgment Day, when the once sneering atheist wishes he had had a real friend.

  17. 17
    LarTanner says:

    Axel @ 16, How wonderful that your fondest desire seems to be the utter torture and suffering of the vast majority of all humanity from the ultimate abusive parent.

    You, of course, know for certain worship the right god in the right way, and uphold all of the god’s important moral instructions. Again, how wonderful.

    And you don’t seem to be sneering at all.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    LT: That seems rather a projective reaction formation, if I have my freudian terms right. Axel is warning — thus, implying, bridge out, turn around — that those who turn from the truth they know or should know and insist on living by what they should know is wrong and false will face serious consequences. As for your loading up on terms freighted with “put God in the dock” moral censure, I think first you need to objectively ground moral judgements on a foundational IS that can ground OUGHT; a tad of a challenge for inherently amoral evolutionary materialism, lending to the inference that you are actually simply appealing to negative emotions — notorious for warping sound judgement. Next — since you want to talk theology, my reading of Rom 2: 6 ff in context points to, the challenge is not that you got it all right but that you got the direction of your life right, even when you stumble. The sort of rhetoric you just used seems to me too often used to excuse getting the direction of life patently wrong: angrily, lazily or lustfully running away from the truth or right you do or should know. Finally, the punishment in “eternal punishment” seems, per characteristic Dominical remarks, to be the ultimate case of regretting getting what one wants; to be left permanently alone (save for others of like ilk) by the source of right and good. KF

  19. 19
    scordova says:

    One point that should be abundantly clear to the readers and critics of UD, “there is no salvation in Charles Darwin nor evolutionary theory” yet the way Darwin’s falsified theory is defended, one would think some people’s salvation depended on Darwin.

    LarTanner:

    I will email the CCOR and ask them to amend the slogan to “God is probably an imaginary friend.”

    Well in light of what I pointed out, you should also tell them to remove the claim “life will be better for all of us” by disbelieving God. They need to remove that.

    That is theoretically and empirically false. Which Korea would you rather live in, the Jesus-loving South Korea or the Jesus-hating North Korea. Enjoy your anti-theist utopia.

  20. 20
    LarTanner says:

    KF

    Axel is warning — thus, implying, bridge out, turn around — that those who turn from the truth they know or should know […]

    Well, they don’t know the truth. Did you read Barry’s OP? Barry doesn’t like “smug certainty.” So, they — including you — should remember not to be smugly certain that you know the truth.

    […] and insist on living by what they should know is wrong and false will face serious consequences

    This vague bafflegab again points out your dangerous attraction to smug certainty…and self-righteous negative judgment of those who think (with good reason) your Greek New Testament is fictional, wicked, practically useless, and best considered an anthology of religious stories and thinking from a bygone era.

    I think first you need to objectively ground moral judgements on a foundational IS that can ground OUGHT

    Oh you think this, do you? I don’t buy your moral theory, and the problem of grounding OUGHT on IS — well, that’s your pretend problem, not mine.

    my reading of Rom 2: 6 ff in context points to, the challenge is not that you got it all right but that you got the direction of your life right, even when you stumble.

    Your reading, eh? Let’s take a look. Here’s the KJV, the most influential version in the English language, and for context let’s have Romans 2:1-11:

    1 – Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

    2 – But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

    3 – And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

    4 – Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

    5 – But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

    6 – Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

    7 – To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

    8 – But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

    9 – Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

    10 – But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

    11 – For there is no respect of persons with God.

    I don’t know, KF. There seems to be a mighty fine line between verses 7 and 8. That is, your “getting the direction right” may look a lot like contentious disobedience. Beware the smug certainty!

    Maybe Saul/Paul was just a kooky ol’ zealot.

    The sort of rhetoric you just used seems to me too often used to excuse getting the direction of life patently wrong

    Oh, really? Well, if you are so concerned, you will be happy to know why I used the rhetoric I did: it was to reveal the patent ridiculousness of Axel’s “warning” to atheists. On the one hand, Axel seems to agree that the CCOR atheists have made a smugly certain statement in their advertisement. On the other hand, seems to take delight in the certainty that those same atheists will suffer for their erroneous (he supposes with what seems like smug certainty) belief.

    My rhetoric identifies and mocks Axel’s smug certainty and tittering sadism.

    angrily, lazily or lustfully running away from the truth or right you do or should know.

    Well, I don’t know anything about this. Yet you seem to be awfully concerned with my personal emotions, behaviors, beliefs, and knowledge. That’s rude and presumptuous. Stop it. Why don’t you act like the moral person you must think you are?

    the punishment in “eternal punishment” seems, per characteristic Dominical remarks, to be the ultimate case of regretting getting what one wants; to be left permanently alone (save for others of like ilk) by the source of right and good.

    Oh, hallelujah! Source of right and good — and you dare to criticize my rhetoric! Your glib projections of your own petty values and beliefs mean nothing to me.

    Ah, Sal. I ask for no “salvation” (your made-up concept, not mine) in Charles Darwin, evolution, or anything else. Where I wish to live is right where I do, in a secular country with stable laws and a democratic-republican form of government. I wish to live, as I do, in a nice area with good public schools and in a good home with my wife and children. There are plenty of Jesus-loving nations that suck. There are plenty of Jesus-hating nations that suck, too. There are also many secular and non-religious nations that are quite happy and prosperous, thank you very much.

  21. 21
    Bruce David says:

    KF, re. #18:

    I think first you need to objectively ground moral judgements on a foundational IS that can ground OUGHT

    It’s a nice theory, KF, but it cannot be done. There are lietrally thousands of Christian sects, each deriving a different OUGHT from the same IS. Then when you throw in all the myriad sects of all the other religions, the set of OUGHTs from which one must choose expands beyond our ability even to consider them all. If a loving God really meant for us to live according to a standard that He set up, wouldn’t He have made it clear to all of us what that standard was? Obviously, He has not. There simply is no way to derive an unambiguous standard of right and wrong from any kind of IS, much as you would like that to be the case.

    In the Conversations with God series of books, God clearly states that there is no moral right and wrong in His eyes. He is not interested in us being good little boys and girls while we are here on earth. Rather, He is interested in our becoming more and more what we really are—His image and likeness. This includes, but is not limited to, ever expanding our ability to relate to each other and the world from love. Morality is discarded. In its place is the invitation to act in every moment according to our inner answer to the question, “What would Love do now?”

    Finally, the punishment in “eternal punishment” seems, per characteristic Dominical remarks, to be the ultimate case of regretting getting what one wants; to be left permanently alone (save for others of like ilk) by the source of right and good.

    Now why would an unconditionally loving God leave us “permanently alone” after death when we have every opportunity to return to Him before that moment? What kind of love would turn its back on someone who wants to be in His presence just because she is no longer incarnate in a body? The whole notion of Hell, however you characterize it, contradicts God’s unconditional love. With all due respect, KF, the Christian idea of God is an oxymoron.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    LT & BD:

    UD is not properly the venue for theological exchanges, for many reasons. Nor, do I currently have time, energy or inclination for a long back-forth, due to unrelated circumstances. However, a few remarks are needed, for record given the above.

    It is also quite evident that such remarks as follows will be most unlikely to have any persuasive effect [Ari pointed out long ago how polarised attitudes affect our judgement of cases], but a note for record is in order anyway.

    LT, I am astonished at the strawman distortion you have made.

    Even in the 400 year old translation you have used, it is quite evident that my point about the direction of one’s life in light of the truth one knows or should know rather than the perfection of it, is what is at pivot. Let me cite as a more modern and widely used rendering, NIV:

    Romans 2:1 You, therefore [context is Rom 1, where inter alia — like it or lump it — dismissal of the cumulative force of evidence without and within us pointing to God and his just, loving moral character is deemed a sign of culpable, willful rebellion against that which is more than adequately evident, cf discussions here on], have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

    5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

    12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

    So, quite plainly, direction of life is the pivot, what you do with the truth and right you should know and acknowledge, and the very standards that come out of one’s mouth in judgement. Where, core morality is in-stamped on conscience, though its message can be suppressed or distorted through willful turning away from that which is evident from the world without and the mind, heart and conscience within [a major point of Rom 1].

    As just one example, in Ch 13, Paul goes on to highlight how love does no harm/wrong to neighbour, directly pointing out that things like murder, theft ,slander etc are directly contrary to such. That is, once we recognise the import of imago dei in our own beings, and that others of like nature are reflective of that, the principle of neighbour love becomes quite evident. (And indeed, at the pivot in his 2nd essay on civil govt, Locke in Ch 2 refers to this principle by citing Richard Hooker form Ecclesiastical Polity, on how this grounds justice and liberty, thence modern democratic self government . . . which for stability critically depends on our mutual ability to govern ourselves by these principles.) But instead we too often turn to self serving judgements, which bring us under the stricture in the opening words highlighted above.

    And, equally clearly, divine love is in the context of divine justice. So, the act of final respect that gives to the soul who habitually chose to walk away from the presence of God what it asks for, is just though awful, we here talk about ultimate failure as a human being. Though, that justice is unlikely to be acknowledged by those walking away from God, in their haste to pretend to push God into the dock and sit in judgement on God.

    (C S Lewis’ essay on this subject, God in the Dock, is well worth the reading.)

    Nor is it a personal attack to point out that angrily, lazily or lustfully turning away from the path of the truth in love, is precisely what Rom 1 targets [and several other pivotal expositions], at individual and collective levels.

    I am simply summarising the plain teaching of the NT.

    If you want a locus classicus on such endarkenment, here are four, from different apostles (on the different sides of the imagined debates and hegelian dialectic Baur et al pushed and which lingers in our time, never mind it passed its sell-by date a century ago after Ramsay’s digs), switching to my now favoured ESV, a distant KJV update that is free to cite at any length:

    Paul, Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    Peter4, 2 Pet 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[c] his own glory and excellence,[d] 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities[f] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    James, James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

    16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.[d] 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

    19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

    22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

    John, 1 Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

    It should be quite evident that the issue here by consensus is progress to the truth and the right in love to both neighbour and God rather than perfection in any such.

    In case any more is needed, here is the common Lord and Master of the four leading C1 apostles just cited, in his most famous sermon, summarising the pivotal point:

    Matt 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

    15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

    Now, BD, you seem preoccupied to sit in judgement on the concept of Divine judgement and the possibility of being a failed human being.

    I will simply note 6to you what Paul had to say c. AD 50 to the Athenian elites on Mars Hill, and through them, our whole civilisation:

    Ac 17:16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

    2 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

    “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[d]

    as even some of your own poets have said,

    “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[e]

    29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

    He was of course interrupted at this point, and literally laughed out of court.

    Never mind our publicly admitted ignorance of the very root of being, demonstrated through a literal monument to our ignorance, we are not interested in mere evidence that cuts across our notions of the world.

    But the few who positively responded were the pivot of the future.

    As a consequence, 2,000 years later, this speech is on a bronze plaque affixed to the hill, and the street passing by is holy apostle street turning into Dionysius [= Dennis] the areopagite street. This passes by the main temples and the Agora. Dionysius is the patron saint of Athens — and IIRC Paris BTW, And, a ring of churches surrounds all.

    The long run verdict of history is in.

    The future belonged to the apostle and the gospel he spoke that pivotal day, not the politicians, the mockingly skeptical philosophers and manipulated pagan public.

    KF

    PS: Some may wish to examine as well a recent discussion on the integrity of scriptures here.

  23. 23
    Bruce David says:

    KF, re. #22:
    You may regard scripture as an authority on spiritual truth. I do not.

    When I point out that the idea of Hell fundamentally contradicts God’s unconditional love, and you quote scripture as a counter argument, you only reinforce my point: the Christian concept of God is an oxymoron.

  24. 24
    mrchristo says:

    Hi Scordova, You said

    “because of Darwinism (which has been logically and empirically falsified) is profoundly unwise”

    In what ways would you say Darwinism has been logically and empirically falsified?

    Not Challenging you but would like to know your points why.

    Thanks

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    BD: It is quite obvious that your view is fixed, I simply spoke for record. KF

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: More for record:

    ___________

    >> John 3

    English Standard Version (ESV)
    You Must Be Born Again

    3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you[f] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[g] 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.[h]

    For God So Loved the World

    16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. [–> a case in point of refusal in the face of what one should know] 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” [ESV] >>
    ___________

    We can come up with any definition of and demands under the term “love” that we please.

    It will not change the adequate demonstration of God’s love in the rescuing face of Jesus.

    KF

  27. 27
    LarTanner says:

    KF @ 22,

    While you were busy trying to defend your reading of Romans and rehabilitate God/Paul, you ignored virtually every point I actually made in the earlier post.

    You read the Romans passage as you do, but I in no way read it or suggested that it required people to perfect their lives/worship/whatever.

    My entire theme was in agreement with Barry’s distaste of “smug certainty.” Paul perhaps would have better served humanity to heed Barry’s advice.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    LT:

    It is quite clear that you have chosen to read into the text what you wish is there in order to object, instead of taking from it what it is saying.

    As — because of unrelated, ongoing matters — I have neither, time, energy or inclination to engage a long exchange on a matter off topic for this blog (much less thread) I will simply clip the NIV translation that was highlighted above and briefly annotate, for final record so that onlookers who wish may see why I noted as I did previously:

    Romans 2:1 You, therefore

    [a –> context is Rom 1, where inter alia — like it or lump it — dismissal of the cumulative force of evidence without and within us pointing to God and his just, loving moral character is deemed a sign of culpable, willful rebellion against that which is more than adequately evident, cf discussions here on]

    , have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

    [b –> Our judgements on others show our knowledge of moral standards, but we condemn ourselves by our own contraventions and self-serving excuses. What we need is to admit and turn from our guilt, seeking forgiveness]

    2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

    [c –> starting with the truth we attest to with our own words and finger-pointing deeds]

    3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

    [d –> we are self-condemned, acknowledging that we are under moral law when it suits us, but seeking to escape accountability. Where also, law points to law giver]

    4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

    [e –> every good gift and blessing, which we do not deserve, should melt our hearts. Instead, we want our own self-serving way.]

    5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

    [f –> heard hearted stubbornness in wrongdoing, compounding hypocrisy in judging others but not walking by the core moral principles we thereby acknowledge]

    6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a]

    [g –> judgement according to deeds in light of known, acknowledged light as above. “you unfair me” is ever so telling.]

    7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

    [h –> Notice, persistence in the direction of the right, in a direct context of stumbling by repeatedly failing the very standards we point to others about and thereby acknowledge as binding. Getting up when one stumbles and keeping on in seeking to go on to the right and the light is a sign of penitence. This is greeted with open arms by God. Thus, is highlighted the gracious mercy of God — paid for at the cross.]

    8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

    [i –> But also, if we instead seek our own way as at 1 – 3 above and in Ch 1, rejecting truth we know [we exert and exact it on others!] or should know and follow the path of wrong, that will face a frown. And, I daresay, a tear. Note also, the issue of truth and right one knows or should know. For instance, we find ourselves inescapably bound by OUGHT. As Hume correctly highlighted, this can have grounding at just one level, given the IS-OUGHT gap, the foundation of reality must incorporate an IS capable of grounding OUGHT. There is but one serious candidate, the inherently good, eternal Creator God, the necessary being at the root of reality. such is multiplied by ever so many other signs within and without. But I can easily predict that such can be denied, dismissed, talked down. In a context where I have seen all too many willing to do the same to self evident first principles, willingly clinging to absurdities because the alternative goes or points where they refuse to go. I will cite a Dominical comment from Jn 3:>> 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”>> That soberingly speaks for itself.]

    9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

    [j –> Notice, the repetition of the point.]

    12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

    [k –> The context here is Scriptural tradition vs the law written on the heart, and already manifest in how we judge others; a phenomenon not without examples close to hand, even in this thread.]

    14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.

    [l –> Law on hearts is a valid edition. Let me clip Rom 13:8 ff, where we see Paul’s discussion of the golden rule: >> 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [NIV: “harm”] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. >> This is accessible to any person who recognises his or her own value and then realises that others are of like human nature.]

    15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

    [m –> Walking by the light one has, vs rejecting it. Not perfection, but direction of life. And, all in a context of gracious forgiveness of the truly penitent who keep on getting up to go the right way, however dim the light they have.]]

    16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

    I trust the matter is plain enough, for those who are willing.

    KF

  29. 29
    Bruce David says:

    KF re. #25:

    BD: It is quite obvious that your view is fixed, I simply spoke for record. KF

    My views have never been fixed. I used to be an atheist, now I am not, based on the evidence. I used to believe in Darwinian evolution (even after I began to believe in God), now, as you know, I am a firm supporter of ID. I used to be a political conservative, but that changed in college after taking economic courses there. I used to be a firm believer in human caused climate change, now I believe that the jury is still out, based on what I have read in this blog and elsewhere.

    Give me sufficient evidence and/or carefully reasoned arguments, and I am quite capable of changing my position on any subject.

    But KF, quoting scripture to me just doesn’t cut it.

  30. 30
    scordova says:

    Hi Scordova, You said

    “because of Darwinism (which has been logically and empirically falsified) is profoundly unwise”

    In what ways would you say Darwinism has been logically and empirically falsified?

    Not Challenging you but would like to know your points why.

    Thanks

    Here you go:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....e-fittest/

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....n-outcome/

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ss-of-nfl/

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....darwinism/

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-be-false/

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-case-yes/

  31. 31
    LarTanner says:

    KF @28: Your disagreement is with many, but not with me. Thomas Aquinas argued mot that Romans at any point had to do with the direction of one’s life. Aquinas would see you as making a serious error in understanding Paul’s epistle and God’s holy message.

    Aquinas viewed the first chapters of Romans to be about the necessity of grace for salvation. At Romans 2, the wonderful sainted Aquinas saw the Jews as being especially unworthy of grace because they glorified the law (and rituals such as circumcision), which Aquinas argued would not bring them to salvation. Paul commends divine judgment over human judgment, Jew and gentile alike.

    I could go on, but I must reiterate again that I have not contested at all your personal reading of Romans. If anything, I sought to provide greater and wider context for your reading. Now, your reading conflicts with fat ol’ Saint Tom, but you two can settle your differences in the eternal bliss of heaven.

    Our mutual friend Axel will be pleased to think I am suffering eternal damnation. You and Tommy might think differently.

    Good day. I’m out.

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    LT:

    This is not really the place or the time for a long theological discussion, but I will comment in brief.

    Rom 2 is at core a critique of hypocritical moralising, and Paul spares no-one. In the course of it, as I have highlighted step by step, he has noted how God is able to judge us out of our own mouths (reflecting an im-planted sense of morality speaking in the voice of conscience or the sense of being tramelled upon by others, a valid edition of the core law of God), in accordance with truth we testify to when we judge others. So, also he highlights that the blessings we too often take for granted point us the right direction. Then he highlights that those who follow the truth and the right they know or should know (even better: acknowledge) — a key challenge — will be welcomed by a merciful and gracious God. Given the moral struggle already highlighted, such persistence has in it a major element of penitence. In that context, it is those who refuse the truth and the right they know or should, and seek the way of evil, who become failed human beings. Which is a sad case indeed, but — in an era where we have known up to a Hitler or a Stalin [though, we do not need to be anywhere near that to fall under this] — a sadly possible one; to fail as a human being, we would have to turn from the light of truth and right we have access to, but unfortunately, that is all too possible.

    Where, response to the cumulative evidence for the reality of and our moral accountability before God as those who condemn ourselves our of our own mouths when we sit in judgement of others, and the proper response to well authenticated spiritual tradition, including specifically the gospel, are relevant degrees of light that apply to cases where we have reasonable access.

    KF

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