Intelligent Design

Snowflake Barbarians

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Why did liberal democracy arise in the West and nowhere else?  Because of the influence of Christianity on Western politics.  Consider the most famous expression of classical liberalism the world has ever known, the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .”

Compare that passage to Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s message in Galatians was not political.  He was making a theological statement about the equality of Christians in the body of Christ.  Nevertheless, the implications of his argument for a predominantly Christian polity are nothing short of radical.  It took a long time for these implications to sink in, but eventually it dawned on Christian thinkers that certain political institutions that had been taken for granted for all of human history were fundamentally incompatible with Christianity.  Institutions such as slavery.  If my slave is my brother in Christ, how can I continue to hold him in slavery?  There isn’t a good answer to that question, and that is why abolitionism as a political movement arose in Christian Europe, and it is also why for the most part the abolitionists – from Wilberforce in England to Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe in the United States – were Christians making Christian arguments to Christian political communities receptive to such arguments.

As the Declaration expressly states, the Christian idea of equality of all men before God is the foundation of the political idea of the equality of all men under the law.  Don’t take my word for it.  Atheist professor Yuval Noah Harari agrees.  In his international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harari wrote:  “The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation.  The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God.”

This passage comes from a longer passage in which Harari argues that the ideas expressed in the Declaration are so much imaginary drivel.  He writes:

Both the Code of Hammurabi and the American Declaration of Independence claim to outline universal and eternal principles of justice, but according to the Americans all people are equal, whereas according to the Babylonians people are decidedly unequal. The Americans would, of course, say that they are right, and that Hammurabi is wrong. Hammurabi, naturally, would retort that he is right, and that the Americans are wrong.  In fact, they are both wrong.  Hammurabi and the American Founding Fathers alike imagined a reality governed by universal and immutable principles of justice, such as equality or hierarchy.  Yet the only place where such universal principles exist is in the fertile imagination of Sapiens, and in the myths they invent and tell one another. These principles have no objective validity.

It is easy for us to accept that the division of people into ‘superiors’ and ‘commoners’ is a figment of the imagination. Yet the idea that all humans are equal is also a myth.  In what sense do all humans equal one another?  Is there any objective reality, outside the human imagination, in which we are truly equal? . . . According to the science of biology, people were not ‘created’. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be ‘equal’.  The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation.  The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God.  However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creation and souls, what does it mean that all people are ‘equal’?  Evolution is based on difference, not on equality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences.  This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival.  ‘Created equal’ should therefore be translated into ‘evolved differently’.

Just as people were never created, neither, according to the science of biology, is there a ‘Creator’ who ‘endows’ them with anything. There is only a blind evolutionary process, devoid of any purpose, leading to the birth of individuals. ‘Endowed by their creator’ should be translated simply into ‘born’.

Equally, there are no such things as rights in biology. There are only organs, abilities and characteristics.  Birds do not fly because they have a right to fly, but because they have wings. And it’s not true that these organs, abilities and characteristics are ‘unalienable’.  Many of them undergo constant mutations, and may well be completely lost over time.  The ostrich is a bird that lost its ability to fly. So ‘unalienable rights’ should be translated into ‘mutable characteristics’.

And what are the characteristics that evolved in humans? ‘Life’, certainly. But ‘liberty’? There is no such thing in biology. Just like equality, rights and limited liability companies, liberty is something that people invented and that exists only in their imagination. From a biological viewpoint, it is meaningless to say that humans in democratic societies are free, whereas humans in dictatorships are unfree.

Harari’s analysis is remarkably clear-eyed for a materialist atheist.  He admits that under materialism, human dignity does not exist; universal principles of justice and equality do not exist; human rights do not exist; liberty does not exist.  All of these things are social constructs resulting from entirely contingent physical processes.

For a couple of centuries, we in the West have enjoyed a polity based on an attempt to infuse Christian doctrines into our political practice.  While the result has been far from perfect, compared to the great mass of men over the long stretch of history, that effort has produced a civilization that has been, by far, the freest, most prosperous, and most democratic the world has ever known.  Is that civilization sustainable when its Christian foundations are crumbling under a relentless onslaught of metaphysical materialism?

That question brings me to the title of this post.  In recent months, the news has been full of stories about the “Snowflake” phenomenon on college campuses.  We have read story after story about illiberal college students cracking down on anyone attempting to express any view contrary to progressive dogma.  It is not hard to connect the dots here.  The Snowflake movement is an offshoot of political correctness, which is in turn the handmaiden of progressivism, which is fascistic at its root.

Properly understood, the Christian worldview, infused as it is with notions of the fallibility of man, supports an epistemological humility upon which true tolerance and pluralism can rest.  Metaphysical materialism, not so much.  Materialism denies any transcendent morality and the objective existence of justice.  Might makes right.  Is it any wonder that fully 70% of college students support restrictions on the right to free expression?

Lincoln wrote that the principles of the Declaration are “the definitions and axioms of free society” and that the abstract truths in that document would “in all coming days . . . be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.”

Maybe.  The Declaration is built on a Christian foundation.  But what will happen if that foundation is destroyed when its essential truth claims are denied?  We are about to find out.  Darwin’s great triumph was not so much scientific as it was metaphysical.  The publication of Origin of Species marked the beginning of materialism’s long march though our institutions, especially our universities.  And we have an inkling of what it will look like when that march is finished and materialism reigns triumphant.  It looks like this:

 

melissa_click_c0-17-640-390_s885x516

“I need some muscle over here.”

 

Below I answer some responses that I anticipate.

  1. Liberalism is entirely consistent with materialist metaphysics. We know this because many liberals are materialists.

The term “liberalism” can be confusing.  When I use the term in the post, I mean “classical liberalism,” the political ideology that emphasizes private property, economic liberty, the rule of law, and constitutional guaranties of fundamental rights, such as freedom of religion.  Ironically, in the United States at least, classical liberalism is known as “conservatism.”  Classical liberalism is not to be confused with modern liberalism, which is also known as progressivism, which is a variant of fascism.  Classical liberalism is in fact the exact opposite of modern liberalism.

  1. Everyone knows the Founders were all Deists, not Christians.

No, they were not.  In fact, very few of them were.  Yes, Thomas Jefferson was not an orthodox Christian, and Benjamin Franklin was a deist, but those religious positions were by no means representative of the founders.  The signers of the Declaration itself were, for example, overwhelmingly orthodox Christians (52 of 56).  Jefferson knew he was writing a document that, if it were to accomplish anything, required the assent of an overwhelmingly orthodox Christian audience (both the men who would sign it and the population that would be called to rally around it).  He responded by writing a document that was consciously intended to appeal to that audience.

  1. Slave owners used Biblical arguments.

Yes, they did.  And they were wrong.

  1. Metaphysical materialism did not begin with Darwin.

Of course it didn’t.  Democritus (ca. 400 BC) was probably the first systematic materialists, and the Epicureans based a large part of their philosophy on his ideas.  I did not say that materialism began with Darwin.  I said that the triumph of materialism in formerly Christian western institutions began with Darwin.  On this point, Richard Dawkins is correct.  Atheism predated Darwin, but Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.  As an aside, Dawkins’ s statement was true for Darwin’s fellow Victorians and perhaps for a couple of generations afterward.  In an age where atheist true believers are increasingly required to grit their teeth in the face of the overwhelming evidence of design (particularly at the cellular and molecular level), this is no longer true.  But the damage has been done.  History will show that Darwinism was a bridge between evidence based epistemology and post-modern epistemology.  In other words, by the time it was revealed that the evidence no longer supported Darwin, evidence no longer mattered.

  1. Christians are bad, as the Wars of Religion proved

This argument is based on a flawed conception of Christian doctrine.  Christianity does not teach that Christians are good and non-Christians are bad.  Christianity teachers that everyone is bad and that is why everyone stands in need of Christ’s grace for salvation.  Christianity also teaches that the Holy Spirit works in Christ’s followers to sanctify them and lead them to good works.  From a Christian perspective, it is entirely unsurprising that evil men will start unjust wars using religion as a pretext.  It is also entirely unsurprising that atheists such as Stalin and Mao will kill tens of millions in a quixotic quest for earthly atheist political utopia.  For the Christian, history is one long blood-soaked lesson in the truth of doctrine of the depravity of man, whether that depravity is cloaked in perverted religion or materialist madness.

  1. “Materialism” is not a thing (or no one has believed in Materialism since the 1800s).

Here I use the term as a shorthand for a metaphysical monism that denies the existence of God.  If you prefer physicalism, naturalism, priority monism, etc., OK.

106 Replies to “Snowflake Barbarians

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Great excerpt from Harari:

    The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God.

    What should be obvious to all atheists is, as the text says, in the evolutionary view, there are no rights, no liberty, no equality. It goes farther – there are no values. Even survival, the one driver of life supposedly, is unnecessary.

    There is only a blind evolutionary process, devoid of any purpose, leading to the birth of individuals.

    All talk of education, justice, progress … it’s just nonsense in the evolutionary view. Talk like that from atheists is proof that they don’t even believe the doctrine they profess.

  2. 2
    Seqenenre says:

    A history of the voting rights in the United States, see for example here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_rights_in_the_United_States, gives the impression that not all souls were considered equal enough to vote.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Seqenenre

    As said in the op …

    abolitionism as a political movement arose in Christian Europe, and it is also why for the most part the abolitionists – from Wilberforce in England to Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe in the United States – were Christians making Christian arguments to political communities receptive to such arguments.

  4. 4
    john_a_designer says:

    Yuval Noah Harari asks,

    And what are the characteristics that evolved in humans? ‘Life’, certainly. But ‘liberty’? There is no such thing in biology. Just like equality, rights and limited liability companies, liberty is something that people invented and that exists only in their imagination. From a biological viewpoint, it is meaningless to say that humans in democratic societies are free, whereas humans in dictatorships are unfree.

    Indeed, on naturalism there is no ultimate or transcendent basis for “objective” moral values or universal human rights. Therefore, from the perspective of progressive secularism (which is grounded upon metaphysical naturalism) there is really no such thing as social justice, moral progress or moral obligation. There can only be personal opinion and/or mindless herd-like group think. To claim otherwise is either badly mistaken or dishonest

    To have any basis for objective moral values or universal human rights you must accept the reality of moral truth and interpersonal moral obligation. In the Sermon of the Mount Jesus taught:

    “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 7:12, NIV)

    That’s interpersonal moral obligation. It is absolutely foundational, as Jesus himself claims, to any system of moral values or human rights.

    As a Christian I believe that democracy must allow for dissent and disbelief. So, we must respect the right of an atheist to be an atheist. This is entirely consistent with the freedom of thought, conscience, belief and expression (freedom of speech, press and assembly.) However, what the atheist or secularist does not have is a moral basis or foundation for the very freedoms they enjoy.

    The danger comes when people start thinking that human rights are a human inventions. That’s when they start making up rights whole cloth and making up the moral obligation for everyone to recognize. That is what we have been seeing for the last fifty years. Tragically, the result of man made rights are that they undermine and destroy natural God-given human rights. Only God given right have any claim to truth and universality.

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    Seqenenre, your comment was as predictable as the sun rising. I don’t know why I didn’t add it to my list of predictable responses.

    Yes, men usually fail to live up to their ideals. The Founders were no exception. Let me clue you in on the sequence of events.

    1. 1776: The Declaration expressed an ideal based on Christian doctrine. Obviously slave owners failed to live up to that ideal.

    2. 1865: The Christian abolition movement reaches its ultimate goal with the adoption of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Still, minorities are oppressed.

    3. 1964. Christian civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. achieve the passage of the Civil Rights Act (and the following year the Voting Rights Act).

    Get the picture? Each of these great advances was pushed by Christians making Christian arguments. Your observation does nothing to rebut that fact.

  6. 6
    SteRusJon says:

    Harari launches his whole piece from a very wobbly platform. He does not seem to be able to comprehend the meaning of Declaration.

    I will highlight a couple of words (some implicit) in it.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,[in] that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

    Jefferson (and those that accepted his words) did not mean to even suggest that all men are equal by every conceivable measure. He stated that they were equal in that they are all endowed with certain unalienable rights. He listed three of them. Three that were important for pressing the case for the independence of America from Britain. Does anyone really believe that these are the only rights the colonists believed in at the time?

    A few years later they would hammer out the Constitution, followed by a Bill of Rights. There they codified some of the rights that were implicit in those listed in the Declaration. In the years since, amendments and court decisions have further refined the extent to whom those rights are recognized to be applicable. That process was slow and flawed. The founders did not perceive all that their initial words entailed. Even yet, we have not got it all worked out.

    Harari is committing one huge category mistake. Physical attributes are not in the same class as the rights of humans. Every thought that flows from that error is crap even if evolution is accepted to be true.

    Stephen

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    Stephen writes:

    Harari is committing one huge category mistake. Physical attributes are not in the same class as the rights of humans.

    From your perspective he is making a category error. From his perspective he is not. If materialism is true, ALL attributes are ultimately physical attributes. And his conclusions follow from that premise. From a theory of logic perspective an argument can be perfectly valid (the conclusions follow from the premises) but nevertheless false because it is unsound (the premises are not well founded).

    Harari’s argument is perfectly valid (his conclusions follow from his premises). It is nevertheless false, because it is unsound (his premises are not true).

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    BA:

    You cite Harari:

    the only place where such universal principles exist is in the fertile imagination of Sapiens, and in the myths they invent and tell one another. These principles have no objective validity.

    This points to an ancient, chilling warning:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    I think we need to go back to the history of the collapse of Athenian Democracy, and draw some sobering lessons.

    Those who refuse to heed the sobering lessons of history doom themselves to repeat or echo its worst chapters.

    Our civilisation cannot say it did not have opportunity and evidence to guide it to a better path.

    KF

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Yes, KF, I had this passage constantly in the back of my mind as I wrote this.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I find it instructive that there does not seem to be a major epic movie about Alcibiades. As historically based movies teach for good or ill, that speaks volumes — including about what the entertainment elites do not want hoi polloi thinking about.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Barry, that passage and its wider context have much to teach us. For one instance, I think about “grab em . . . ” and the cuckolding of the Spartan King by Alcibiades. For another, the issue of Athens’ march of folly in the Peloponnesian war — esp. the Sicilian expedition — speaks volumes. KF

    PS: I did a youtube search, much about a Haitian comedian. But then I saw ABBA, Take a Chance on Me and it took me back years to a sound of such clean voices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-crgQGdpZR0

  12. 12
    john_a_designer says:

    Not all atheists or secularists believe that there no foundation for moral values and universal human rights. The question is: on atheism can they logically justify the existence of such a foundation?

    Dr. Louise Antony, a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is an example of an atheist who thinks you can have objective moral values without God. She defended that view in a 2008 debate with William Lane Craig, before a large audience on her home campus. Craig challenged her to “show us, as an atheist, how you can give an account for objective moral values, duties, and accountability.”

    However, Antony did not respond to Craig directly. Instead she countered by claiming that as an atheist, unlike Ruse and Dawkins, she believed that there were grounds for believing that that there was a basis for objective moral values—that is, there are some actions that are really morally right and really morally wrong. But how are Louise Antony’s belief’s and opinions binding on anyone else? The short answer is: they’re not. But maybe that wasn’t really her argument. And to be fair, whether it was or it was not, she did have another argument.

    Antony’s next move was to introduce the so-called Euthyphro Dilemma, which is a well-known moral problem that the ancient Greek philosopher Plato writes about in his dialogue between Socrates and a man named Euthyphro, who is taking his father to court for murder. It is “Socrates’s problem with the traditional stories about the gods” which gives rise to the dilemma. “If we try to define the holy as what is loved by all the gods (and goddesses), we will be faced with the question ‘Is the holy holy because it is loved by the gods, or do they love it because it is holy?’”

    Putting it into contemporary terms Antony describe the dilemma this way: “Are morally good actions good because God favors them or does God favor them, because they are, independently of him favoring them, morally good.” She then claims that this is a dilemma that the theist cannot resolve. For example, if on one hand, moral actions are good because God favors them then commands them that makes morality arbitrary. If on the other hand an action is morally good independently of God favoring it then morality exists independently from God. Therefore, Antony reasons, if morality is independent of God, you don’t need God, or need to believe in God, to be moral.

    However, Craig pointed out that the Euthyphro dilemma was not a real dilemma but a false one. “In a real dilemma” he explained, “you have only two choices – A or not-A. There isn’t any third alternative… Because [A or not-A are] contradictories to each other… [that] is a real dilemma. In a false dilemma, you are given two choices A or B. The immediately question arises, why A or B? Why not C? Or D? Or some other alternative? So… what the Euthyphro’s Dilemma presents us is a false dilemma because… there is a third alternative – namely, God wills something because he is good. That is to say, God’s own nature determines what is good and evil. His own nature is the paradigm of moral goodness. This nature then expresses itself toward us in the form of divine commandments which constitute our moral duties.”

    Craig goes on to argue that for Antony’s argument to work she “would have to show that this is impossible. That the theory that I offer [that God wills something because he is good] is somehow incoherent or impossible, and she really wasn’t able to do that.”

    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....z3rJne1dpk

    However, there is another point that Craig could have made. He could have pointed out that if Antony’s argument was an honest reflection of her true beliefs then to objectively ground her morality she had to believe, like the ancient and medieval Platonist’s, in some kind of transcendent good. Is Antony, an avowed atheist, a closet Platonist? Or, was she using the Euthyphro dilemma, as a kind of taxi cab argument? That is, once you’ve used an argument to reach your destination (your conclusion) you just dismiss it, like a taxi, and pretend that how you arrived where you are is irrelevant.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, indeed, the dilemma argument points to the need for a world-root who bridges is and ought. After centuries of debates, there is only one serious answer, one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of our loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. The good, Himself. KF

    PS: it also inadvertently shows the contrast between the gods of the Greeks and I AM THAT I AM.

    PPS: Music night, Boney M with By the Rivers of Babylon:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ybv4DOj-N0

    PPS: Divna Ljubojevic – Agni Partene

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE1FzSC8DBs

    –> And yes, this is part of the argument.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    rvb8 says:

    There is truth in Barry’s point. But I have to say that just because a sound idea (Christian first principles), has led us to a modern democracy, it is in no way an argument that they can not be improved upon; they are a good start, but today we can do better.

    Also, all of the counter arguments Barry is so dismissive of can not be dismissed they are sound rebuttals. The same book used to attack slavery was used to justify it. Indeed for two thousand years no one thought anything of this crime until the Enlightenment (not Jesus) began to question it.

    You quote Paul; don’t go down that road too far because soon you start upon the versus expressing Paul’s fear and contempt of women; you know the ones. And note, Saul’s conversion to Paul on the road to Damascus can just as easily be explained by an individual having a brain fit.

    Finally some quotes, and an observation. First the observation, the great moaral teacher Christ, once cursed a fig tree, because it had no figs, hmmm temper? impatience, anger? And the quotes from some leading Christian thinkers, which I think particularly apt for this site; Thomas Aquinas, ‘I am a man of one book.’, Ignatius Loyola, ‘We sacrifice the intellect to God.’, Martin Luter (my personal favourite), ‘Reason is the Devil’s harlot, who can do nought but slander and harm whatever God says and does.’

    This argument that Christianity is a necessary precursor to civilisation is also a slap in the face to China and Japan.

  16. 16
    Barry Arrington says:

    rvb8

    I have to say that just because a sound idea (Christian first principles), has led us to a modern democracy, it is in no way an argument that they can not be improved upon; they are a good start, but today we can do better.

    We can do better? Yes, by all means lets do better than the Christian principle of the equality of all men. Let’s start by insisting that human dignity, universal principles of justice and equality, human rights, and liberty do not exist. That’s a firm foundation for a just society.

    Then there was this howler:

    the Enlightenment (not Jesus) began to question [slavery]

    Oh yes, Wilberforce, Stowe and all the other abolitionists were metaphysical naturalist children of the Enlightenment. God help us.

    You quote Paul; don’t go down that road too far because soon you start upon the versus expressing Paul’s fear and contempt of women . . .

    You really shouldn’t comment on matters about which you are obviously ignorant. The very passage I quoted rebuts your assertion: “There is neither . . . male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Are you really unaware how radically pro-woman that statement was in the 1st Century Roman Empire? Women were equal to men? It was literally unheard of until Christ and his followers came along and taught it. rvb8, it is really unseemly to make stuff up that is the exact opposite of the truth to support your argument.

    And then you wrap it up by standing in judgment of Christ? Your arrogance really knows no bounds.

  17. 17
    rvb8 says:

    The secnd chapter of the first letter to Timothy:

    “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjugation.”
    “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over man, but to be in silence.”
    “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in transgression.”

    These are not even the most mysogynistic, wait till we delve deeper into Pentateuch.

    Barry we have just proved a well known fact, that the Bible, Koran, Torah, and probably Budhist, and Hindu scripture can be used by any side to say both yeh and neh!

    It is a poor source for definitive information about anything, let alone modern law.

    Basically you and I can quote mine the Bible and it will contradict itself rather unambiguously, to support you and me both.

    You know this, so why hold it up as proof of a humanism it scarcely promotes; are we going to have a Biblical quoting war? To no one’s edification I might add.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    There is truth in Barry’s point. But I have to say that just because a sound idea (Christian first principles), has led us to a modern democracy, it is in no way an argument that they can not be improved upon; they are a good start, but today we can do better.

    Translation:

    “Move over God, I got this now!”

    Although rvb8 may feel he is ‘morally empowered’ enough to improve on God’s morality, this ain’t going to end well for him 🙂

    Empowered – Progressive Insurance
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qan-HBGLZQ

  19. 19
    Querius says:

    These are not even the most mysogynistic, wait till we delve deeper into Pentateuch.

    Not at all.

    These were Paul’s behavioral standards for a congregation in a first century Greek town now located in modern-day Turkey. In the Greek, it seems to indicate that wives weren’t to dominate their husbands or compete with each other with expensive clothing and hairstyles, perhaps as a counterpoise to Paul’s declaration of racial, class, and gender equality that he gave earlier to the congregations in what is now central Turkey (Galatia).

    The larger question is what exactly gives you the RIGHT to pronounce judgment on another culture just because it doesn’t conform to your modern white European values?

    -Q

  20. 20
    mike1962 says:

    Barry: Might makes right

    This is always true, no matter what the religion/philosophy.

    Surely you can see this. After all, we’re just squirrels looking for some nuts. (And you’re included.)

  21. 21
    Marfin says:

    Dear rvb8 – After many requests from you for a definition of morality ,which were greeted by a deafening silence I fear I will get the same silence again but here goes .Can you please give a definition of equality, seeing that you believe Pauls teaching were so unequal, please define equality.

  22. 22
    rvb8 says:

    Modern white European values:) Heh! Next step, rvb8 is a NAZI; I’m not.

    Let me see, ‘modern white European values’; freedom of speech, I hope non-whites and other races can accept this. Democratically, and openly, choosing our own leaders, as Churchill said; “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other ones.” The right to have a God, or not; some Muslim, Hindu, and Budhist traditions could pay more attention to this. The right to disagree with anyone, about anything, in sound and logical argument; Putin, and Erdogan have recently removed this right. The rights of women, which moved from an unforgvable position in Europe, to a slightly better one today. If this is a ‘modern white European value’, I think women everywhere would benefit from it. The right to express your sexuality without the threat of hatred, or even violence and death. (The homosexual friends I made in university, are still great people I call friends.) The gay communities of Africa, Russia, India, China, and the Middle East are constantly harassed. The right of labour to bargain collectively. And recently in the US (but working in NZ since 1896), the right to publicly funded, quality health care.

    I could go on listing every hard fought for Enlightenment value won over the past 300 years, but I think you know them all.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    See the force of what Plato warned against (and now with multiple attempts to distract from):

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    KF

    PS: In the past 40+ years, we have been responsible for the WORST holocaust in history, that of our own posterity, to the tune of 800+ million unborn children, rising at a million more per WEEK. To do so, we have distorted law, medicine, media, education, politics and more, utterly warping and benumbing conscience. This single easily shown fact instantly implies that we are the worst, most blood-guilty, conscience-benumbed generation in history and no moral preening or presumption to superior wisdom on our unaided — darkness for light, good for evil, truth-disregarding — part is to be taken seriously.

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    as to rvb8 revisionist history where enlightenment ‘reasoning’ guided man to a better morality, here is a recent article on that particular false spin of the left as it is related to the founding of America.

    In His Farewell Address, President Obama Misrepresented the American Founding – January 11, 2017
    Excerpt: “One thing he said about the American founding was especially troubling. Mr. Obama traced “the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders” to the Enlightenment. It was that movement, which he defined as “a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression” and build a world order based on “the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.”
    This spin is common in the leftist canon, but it is historical revisionism of the highest rank.,,,
    The wisdom of the Bible and the clarity of natural law gave the founding generation the guidance they needed to frame a government suitable for an imperfectible but dignified humanity characterized by moral self-restraint and “a firm reliance on Divine Providence.”
    The shout of defiance in the President’s farewell address, that man can be made perfect through human cooperation with the “arc of history,” runs counter to the philosophy of the founding of our country and the text of the Constitution.”
    https://stream.org/in-his-farewell-address-president-obama/

    And since rvb8 believes that man’s ‘reasoning’ can lead us to a better morality, might it be too much trouble to ask rvb8 to tell us how he, as a Darwinian atheist, grounds reasoning?

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    (1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain (determinism).
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

  25. 25
    Barry Arrington says:

    rvb8:

    we have just proved a well known fact, that the Bible . . . can be used by any side to say both yeh and neh!

    No, you have proved a different well known fact: People like you can twist, distort and wrench out of context to make a point.

    It is a well-known fact of history that women in the Roman Empire flocked to Christianity in droves. Why would they do that if it were so misogynistic? It was not. The plain fact is that women achieved a status in the Christian church that was literally unprecedented in the history of the world.

    Here are some answers to frequently raised questions about this topic.

    Again, rvb8, you should make an effort to acquaint yourself with the basic facts before you comment on a subject. Spewing leftist talking points may seem like sound argumentation to you, but sadly it is not.

  26. 26
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF @ 23 – your PS is a very good point, too often ignored and under-reported.

  27. 27
    Silver Asiatic says:

    rvb8

    The gay communities of Africa, Russia, India, China, and the Middle East are constantly harassed.

    Many people feel continually harassed by promoters of atheistic-secularism (Enlightenment thinking).

  28. 28
    EvilSnack says:

    The only philosopher of note to come close to building a coherent system of human rights on an atheist basis was Ayn Rand; but since she came to political conclusions that are the exact opposite of what progressives hold dear, she has received nothing but scorn.

    It’s looking more and more obvious that the progressives did not come to their view of human rights as a result of embracing secular materialism, but embraced secular humanism because it provides a basis for the concept of human rights that they wish to see established. If the God of the Bible is real, then abortion for birth control is horrible savagery; but progressives hold that birth control is great and wonderful, therefore the God of the Bible cannot be real.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    SA:

    Let me promote it above a PS:

    In the past 40+ years, we have been responsible for the WORST holocaust in history, that of our own posterity, to the tune of 800+ million unborn children, rising at a million more per WEEK. To do so, we have distorted law, medicine, media, education, politics and more, utterly warping and benumbing conscience. This single easily shown fact instantly implies that we are the worst, most blood-guilty, conscience-benumbed generation in history and no moral preening or presumption to superior wisdom on our unaided — darkness for light, good for evil, truth-disregarding — part is to be taken seriously.

    KF

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    ES, yup, light for darkness and good for evil, all riding on reduction to radical relativism while denying the only serious candidate to ground moral principles and values. AKA, might and manipulation make that convenient illusory lever of domination, ‘right.’ The absurdities and horrors are increasingly evident. KF

  31. 31
    Silver Asiatic says:

    ES

    progressives did not come to their view of human rights as a result of embracing secular materialism, but embraced secular humanism because it provides a basis for the concept of human rights that they wish to see established.

    As with, Kermit Gosnell, serial killer.

    The true story of America’s foremost abortionist is so toxic to Hollywood that no major film distributor will go near it, claims a producer of the upcoming film about the life of convicted murderer Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

    KF

    To do so, we have distorted law, medicine, media, education, politics and more, utterly warping and benumbing conscience.

    We can see the nihilistic impact of atheistic-materialism – as you point out, a benumbing of the conscience. Along with that is a tremendous sense of guilt, and all the efforts required to silence that are easily apparent.

    Progressives cannot handle the truth about their own policies and moral decisions. The bold, taboo-breaking, fearless artists of Hollywood are too afraid of the story of a serial-killer (blacklisting Gosnell movie as mentioned) to even talk about it.

  32. 32
    Silver Asiatic says:

    From the ENV article cited by BA77

    this complication does not appear to have occurred to Harris

    He’ll continue to write idiotic books and simply ignore the issue each time.

  33. 33
    Axel says:

    Evilsnack @28

    Ayn Rand, a philosopher of note ? ROFL !!!

    Well, fair go… I’m obviously bigoted. It must take an awesome intellect to elaborate a sophisticated philosophy from the Law of the Jungle. Wow !

    How about, ‘Inayn’ Rand ? No wonder an American author, or was it a journalist, described it to his friend as below the fare produced by Mickey Spillane, advising him to throw it stright in the trash-can. Only in the US could such patently jejune, Mammon-inspired piffle have been taken half, nay, a quarter, seriously

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, the biggie tell-tale is the absence of an epic about Alcibiades and the linked collapse of Athenian democracy. All the themes for a great tragedy are there, and all the issues: money, looks, charm [that tempted and seduced women and men alike], ambition, battle, leadership, in-fighting, a trial, betrayal, cuckolding the king of Sparta who took him in, fleeing onward to the Persians — h’mm echoes of our own day! — temporary reconciliations with the Athenians, final exile, mysterious death at whose hands no one is sure of. KF

  35. 35
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF – in the U.S. we dropped classical culture in our school curriculum so very many people are unfamiliar with that foundational literature. That’s part of the problem – an indicator of the demise you’re talking about in itself.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, Yup, and the very same folks know that there’s nothing like an epic movie to move the ball forward on creating widespread cultural awareness and discussion. So, this is one point where silence speaks loudly — and after all this picks up from where Thermopylae left off, with the movie 300 (and others before that). I can see in my mind’s eye a fast forward from that point, through the time when the Greeks began to fall out among themselves as Athens converted the Delian league into Empire. The run down to war then the story, maybe with Plato’s Athenian Stranger standing in for Socrates and Plato and Thucydides, and so forth. Or, whatever. KF

  37. 37

    I used to bring high-risk teenagers to adult prisons as part of a youth counseling and intervention program. I remember the guards being glad whenever one of the inmates converted to Christianity because such inmates were much less likely to break rules or engage in violence. Christianity provided the hope, forgiveness and salvation those inmates were looking for. I would say that is a good thing.

  38. 38
    Seversky says:

    Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

    Not only is the woman, Eve, portrayed as mostly to blame for both of them giving in to temptation, she and her descendants in perpetuity are punished with painful births and are to be subject to the man. That is both clearly misogynistic and an outrageous affront to basic principles of justice.

    Genesis 19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

    Lot refuses to hand over to the men of Sodom his two guests (angels) and offers them instead his two daughters to do with as they choose. This is utterly appalling in what it says about Christianity’s attitude to women.

    Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

    Witches were always seen as women and how many died at the hands of devout Christians in the notorious witch-hunts?

    Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

    The woman’s fault again.

    1 Corinthians 14:34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

    What were you saying about equality?

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    Seversky

    What were you saying about equality?

    I was saying that under Christianity the status of women increased to a degree never before witnessed in the history of the world. I won’t parse scripture with someone who has no conception of sound a hermeneutic, far less the ability to apply one.

    I will simply note that you have failed to rebut the basic premise of the post (which even thoughtful arch-atheists concede) — that the notion of equality of men (a word which includes women) is based on Christian doctrine. Do you have anything useful to say or will you simply continue to rip verses out of their temporal, cultural, historical and textual context? If the latter, knock yourself out. But don’t expect me to correct you for the same reason I would never try to teach a pig to sing — it does no good and it annoys the pig.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, it seems you are desperate to drag the thread off focus. I suggest to you that from within the Bible onwards, Adam does not escape primary and joint responsibility for a very bad decision with sobering consequences. In that context, it is further quite plain that the said scriptures explicitly, repeatedly teach our fundamental equality, across sex, class, colour and racial divides: equally in God’s image, equally fallen and struggling, equally loved by God, equally redeemed in Christ. Indeed, it is no accident that the antislave society’s main and secondary mottos come straight from Philemon, the short epistle in which Paul, a Roman soldier chained to him and under threat of a death sentence for harbouring a runaway, laid out the principles that in time — so soon as print, freely available Bibles and increasing literacy in that context enabled civil rights oriented reforms — would be the engine of abolition. Namely, am I not a man and a brother, and am I not a woman and a sister. And yes, they didn’t teach that lesson in history class here either, I had to put two and two together to see how they made four, with help of the medallions and ceramic tokens created in that first civil rights movement. Interesting, nuh, to see how they had to picture the medallions and tokens, but would not acknowledge their direct historical and literary, documentary source. Telling. KF

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Ep Philemon:

    ___________

    >>Philemon 1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

    To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

    3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Philemon’s Love and Faith

    4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.[a] 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
    Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

    8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus,[b] whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant[c] but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

    17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

    21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
    Final Greetings

    23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

    25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. [ESV]

    Footnotes:

    Philemon 1:6 Or for Christ’s service
    Philemon 1:10 Onesimus means useful (see verse 11) or beneficial (see verse 20)
    Philemon 1:16 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface; twice in this verse
    >>
    ____________

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: How the scriptures balance equality and service:

    Philippians 2: 1 . . . if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Anyone who would translate humble service — even, obedient to death — with ontological inferiority of being plunges at once into utterly destructive heresy.

  43. 43
    EvilSnack says:

    Axel @ 33

    Thank you for providing yet another data point supporting what I said about Ayn Rand; as with everyone else who has dismissed her, you offer scorn instead of an argument.

  44. 44
    Querius says:

    Seversky quoted:

    Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

    Notice that this clearly indicates that before the fall, male domination was not in God’s plan and is a bad thing, a curse.

    rvb8 doubles down with

    Modern white European values:) Heh! Next step, rvb8 is a NAZI; I’m not.

    Let me see, ‘modern white European values’; freedom of speech, I hope non-whites and other races can accept this. Democratically, and openly, choosing our own leaders . . .

    Actually, the fact that you cannot even conceive of a non-competitive, polite society, and have expressed your desire that alien values be imposed on non-western societies, is strong evidence that you indeed harbor callous and coercive attitudes toward non-western people groups.

    As a result, I can’t say that it would be unfair for more educated people to consider you a cultural Nazi. You might want to reflect on growing up in a culture where deference to elders and community cooperation is held in higher esteem than what would appear to them as reckless slander.

    I noticed that you never answered the question of what gives you the *** RIGHT *** to pronounce judgment on another culture just because it doesn’t conform to your modern white European values?

    . . . and why you would let people starve to death by not providing them with a nutritious source of animal protein.

    -Q

  45. 45
    john_a_designer says:

    Barry began the OP by saying, “Why did liberal democracy arise in the West and nowhere else? Because of the influence of Christianity on Western politics.”

    There was a good example of that influence on the National Mall in the Washington D.C. this evening (1/19/17) as part of the festivities for inauguration of the next U.S. President.

    At the end of a concert at the Lincoln Memorial members of a U.S. Military chorale group, along with a spectacular fireworks display over the Potomac River, sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic. They included the verse:

    In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
    With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
    As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
    While God is marching on.

    It is a fact of history, the democratic republic of the United States has deep Christian roots. While other democratic forms of government have come and gone, freedom and democracy in the U.S. has endured 240 years.

    John Adams, the second U.S. President said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    Is that why American has survived so long? I believe it is.

    Adams, also cautioned us: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

  46. 46
    rvb8 says:

    ‘Q’,

    those are serious accusations. You say that I can’t see the value of a culture that holds, “deferance to elders and community cooperation”, as values higher than the ones I described; freedom of speech, democracy etc.

    My name is Robert Leonard van Bakel, my parents were Dutch and moved to New Zealand in 1962. My inherited culture of northern Europe holds respect for elders, and community cooperation in high regard. Indeed if you look at this part of the world today you can see this inheritance in their strong socialised protection systems of the very weakest in those societies. This is real support, not the Islamic, Buddist, fake Russian communist support, but genuine future building hope for the oppressed.

    When I look at African, Russian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Far Eastern culture I see none of this concern you so adamently (with no evidence but emotion) defend. This is not cultural condescension, this is fact.

    For example, with all of the oil wealth that Russia, Nigerai, the Middle East, has had for decades, where is the community concern for even one of their ctizens?

    Norway discovered oil in the 1950s and unlike Britain, made the operation state owned and operated, it now is one of the most, if not the most solvent nations on earth; Norway said we don’t want BP, Exonn, Shell etc, we will have Norway Statoil; very ‘community’ minded don’t you think?

    ‘Q’ I care about people, not tiny gods, or supposed profundity; real results.

  47. 47
    Marfin says:

    rvb8- Just as I suspected deafening silence re a definition of equality, just as with the definition of morality I asked you for.At this point you need to be honest with your self, and ask why you choose to engage in and defend a position you cannot define, you need to ask if I cannot define them then maybe my position on them is ill informed and wrong maybe I need to do some soul searching and follow where the evidence leads and not hold to a world view just because its the one I prefer.

  48. 48
    Marfin says:

    Seversky- Just as I have asked rvb8 for a definition of equality I ask the same of you please define equality, and also seeing you bring it up a definition of justice would be nice.

  49. 49
    rvb8 says:

    I know what ‘equality’ means Marfin, but I suspect what I can define in one sentence, you will need thousands to obfuscate:

    ‘Equality’, then is the profound respect for all human beings, to the exclusion of what a God has told you about the evils of Canaanites, Hittites, Hindus, Catholics, Asians, Africans, European, or any other God ordained infidel.

    I know this will not be enough for you, and you and BA will blather on with pointless, obscure references, and meanderings, but as Martin Luther said, “Here I stand, I can do no other!”

  50. 50
    Marfin says:

    Rvb8 – How do you know the definition you have just given me is the right definition, if someone disagree`s with your definition how can you know which one of them is the right definition of equality.
    I am not trying to be smart here I am just making the point that unless you can ground your definition in something concrete, then it is just opinion, and why would your opinion on equality be any more valid than anyone else`s and why would we base anything as important as equality on the opinion of any man or woman.

  51. 51
    rvb8 says:

    I ground it in the self serving notion that if I follow my defined view, then hopefully most other people will also follow this definition.

    I know you are fishing for a God foundation to understanding equality. I find that foundation to be utterly unecessary, and indeed in many points of history positively ruinous to the notion of ‘equality’.

    Christianity in the West is being challenged today by atheists, who even as late as 1970 in the West (and not even today in the East, Middle East, Russia, Africa), are beginning to feel safe enough (yes! safe enough) to discard with faith, religions, gods, and holy books.

    After 2000 years of persecution and, ‘inequality’, atheists are at last allowed (in small parts of society) an ‘equal’ hearing, and the religious are not happy.

    Have a nice evening,
    Cheers:)

  52. 52
    Marfin says:

    rvb8- Ruinous to the notion of equality you say , but then admit that this notion you speak of is no more than your self serving opinion .Is it unequal to have so few white guys on the average NFL team is it unequal to have no women at all on any NFL team , is it equal or unequal that in most western countries that if a woman wants to abort her child that the man whose child it also is, has no say.If someone takes my life should their life be taken or is my life less equal to their life. I would love to hear the wisdom and opinion of rvb8 on these matters please tell me how you know, and if someone disagrees with you, who is right and who is wrong.
    and if your decision is final is that not inequality.

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8,

    I suggest you ponder how this thread is being wrenched off focus i/l/o the issue of the classic dishonest trifecta rhetorical pattern of red herring distractors dragged across the trail that leads to truth, and led away to handy strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, choke, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    That speaks volumes, as you know full well that if you were interested in actual serious sorting out of theological questions, there are competent fora out there with more than adequate answers. This is not that forum, so it can only be that you find yourself driven to try to drag away from where you do not want to go. That speaks volumes, revealing volumes. (BTW, if you do actually wish to address matters seriously, I suggest you start here on as a 101, with here also in context as a way to look at the wider problem of evils post Plantinga — actually, post Boethius.)

    The core issue from the OP remains cogent and pivotal, whether or not studiously ducked and dodged:

    Why did liberal democracy arise in the West and nowhere else? Because of the influence of Christianity on Western politics. Consider the most famous expression of classical liberalism the world has ever known, the Declaration of Independence:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .”

    Compare that passage to Galatians 3:28:

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Paul’s message in Galatians was not political. He was making a theological statement about the equality of Christians in the body of Christ. Nevertheless, the implications of his argument for a predominantly Christian polity are nothing short of radical. It took a long time for these implications to sink in, but eventually it dawned on Christian thinkers that certain political institutions that had been taken for granted for all of human history were fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. Institutions such as slavery. If my slave is my brother in Christ, how can I continue to hold him in slavery? There isn’t a good answer to that question, and that is why abolitionism as a political movement arose in Christian Europe, and it is also why for the most part the abolitionists – from Wilberforce in England to Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe in the United States – were Christians making Christian arguments to Christian political communities receptive to such arguments.

    As the Declaration expressly states, the Christian idea of equality of all men before God is the foundation of the political idea of the equality of all men under the law. Don’t take my word for it. Atheist professor Yuval Noah Harari agrees. In his international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harari wrote: “The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God.” . . . . .

    For a couple of centuries, we in the West have enjoyed a polity based on an attempt to infuse Christian doctrines into our political practice. While the result has been far from perfect, compared to the great mass of men over the long stretch of history, that effort has produced a civilization that has been, by far, the freest, most prosperous, and most democratic the world has ever known. Is that civilization sustainable when its Christian foundations are crumbling under a relentless onslaught of metaphysical materialism?

    That question brings me to the title of this post. In recent months, the news has been full of stories about the “Snowflake” phenomenon on college campuses. We have read story after story about illiberal college students cracking down on anyone attempting to express any view contrary to progressive dogma. It is not hard to connect the dots here. The Snowflake movement is an offshoot of political correctness, which is in turn the handmaiden of progressivism, which is fascistic at its root.

    Properly understood, the Christian worldview, infused as it is with notions of the fallibility of man, supports an epistemological humility upon which true tolerance and pluralism can rest. Metaphysical materialism, not so much. Materialism denies any transcendent morality and the objective existence of justice. Might makes right. Is it any wonder that fully 70% of college students support restrictions on the right to free expression?

    Lincoln wrote that the principles of the Declaration are “the definitions and axioms of free society” and that the abstract truths in that document would “in all coming days . . . be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.”

    Maybe. The Declaration is built on a Christian foundation. But what will happen if that foundation is destroyed when its essential truth claims are denied? We are about to find out. Darwin’s great triumph was not so much scientific as it was metaphysical. The publication of Origin of Species marked the beginning of materialism’s long march though our institutions, especially our universities. And we have an inkling of what it will look like when that march is finished and materialism reigns triumphant.

    That is what you and others of like ilk need to soberly face, at the brink of a crumbling cliff.

    In that context, I find it diagnostically highly significant that there seems to e simply no epic movie on the decline and fall of Athenian democracy, with a particular focus on Alcibiades as a key historical figure.

    There would be abundant and rich material for a movie on the grand scale there and a well done non-cynical movie would draw support from hundreds of millions. If close to reality, it would even be useful in Civics classes and with an accompanying seminar, in College.

    Easy money, big money.

    So, why is it still on the table?

    because, it would not serve the world-cultural and ideological/agitprop agendas of those who dominate relevant institutions.

    That is, the bias comes out yet again in what we do NOT see.

    Just as the BBC news item that hit me like a bombshell by speaking of 50+ million abortions per year as current global total studiously avoided drawing out the implications that my simple calculation show: a linear growth model across 40 years peaking at 50 mn/yr then slice off 20% to be conservative.

    800+ million abortions constituting the worst holocaust ever.

    The central evil in our time, one that utterly warps and benumbs consciences, professions, institutions, education, media and parliaments alike. To feed a holocaust that mounts up at a million more victims per WEEK.

    The silent holocaust.

    Here’s my diagnosis: unless someone can respond appropriately to this test of conscience, his or her thought, speech, argument and the like on ethical things or things affected by ethics will be utterly untrustworthy.

    (Where, as the very act of reasoning to seek truth and right exists under the governance of conscience pointing to our being under binding moral law, this directly implies that the reasoning and arguments of anyone unable to pass such a test will in the global context be highly suspect, and in the narrow confines of particular matters, needs very careful scrutiny, for that person is benumbed and warped by blood guilt. As one sign of this, such a person will stubbornly resit the point that there comes a threshold where the cup of the iniquity of the Amorites, or the Israelites, or the Babylonians, or the Romans, or the Germans, or the Americans, or our Civilisation as a whole fills, brims over and becomes a spring of taint across the face of the earth. At that point, such a community has become a plague upon the earth and — having disregarded the logic of moral government, and having defied correction, there remains only, destruction else the cancer spread and taint the whole. Where also, this generation is obviously the wickedest in history, with utterly unprecedented evil rampant on a scale that has never been seen before. the blood of 800+ million innocents cries up from the ground against us, and we cannot answer to it. In biblical terms, Mene, Mene, Tekel Uparsin.)

    It is time to wake up.

    KF

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: here is my initial analysis at UD: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-of-dooms/ (And yes, I argue that until C17 – 18, modern democracy was not possible, absent printing with Bibles in wide circulation, growing literacy [fuelled by printing and the accessibility of the Scriptures] a reformation and revivals that opened up hearts, and leaders with hearts strangely warmed. It is in that context that the process of governance reforms was able to move ahead that resulted in modern liberty and linked constitutional democracy, with the USA the pivotal breakthrough.)

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: RVB8, care to answer Plato’s concerns about evolutionary materialism and where it ends?

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

  56. 56
    bornagain77 says:

    rvb8, contrary to your claim, you have no clue what equality truly means

    Words & Dirt – Quotes 10-21-2015 – by Miles Raymer
    Excerpt: Let us try to translate the most famous line of the American Declaration of Independence into biological terms:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    According to the science of biology, people were not ‘created’. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be ‘equal’. The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God. However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creation and souls, what does it mean that all people are ‘equal’? Evolution is based on difference, not on equality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ‘Created equal’ should therefore be translated into ‘evolved differently’.,,,
    So here is that line from the American Declaration of Independence translated into biological terms:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men evolved differently, that they are born with certain mutable characteristics, and that among these are life and the pursuit of pleasure.

    http://www.words-and-dirt.com/.....0-21-2015/

  57. 57
    Silver Asiatic says:

    rvb8

    Norway discovered oil in the 1950s and unlike Britain, made the operation state owned and operated, it now is one of the most, if not the most solvent nations on earth; Norway said we don’t want BP, Exonn, Shell etc, we will have Norway Statoil; very ‘community’ minded don’t you think?

    I find the emergence and growth of neo-Nazi groups in Norway (and Scandinavia in general) to be an interesting topic to read about.

  58. 58
    Axel says:

    Argument, EvilSnack!?!? The law of the jungle is what it is. To cast it, under Rand’s pen, as a philosophy is as clear an example of putting lipstick on a pig as I can imagine.

    Actually, Hitler had the same arrested moral development, i.e. arrested at the ‘Young Emperor’ stage of infant development, though he wasn’t inAyn enough to designate it as a philosphy, putting it instead very plainly :

    “Barbarism is not something to be ashamed of ; it purifies a nation.”

  59. 59
    Axel says:

    Silver Fox, the UK has been in the thrall of its plundering hybrid-Norman (norseman) ruling classes, since 1066.

    The latter had become so comfortable with their parasitism of occupation at home and empire abroad that the Germans had begun to industrially slaughter us before WWI. Indeed, that and the fear of Germany’s concluding a trade-pact with Russia was the real motivation for Britain’s waging that war. The British empire seems to have been simply a prolongation of that earlier Norman empire.

    Having said that, the Barbarian upstarts such as Thatcher (Baroness Lady Cardboard)and a certain NuLab(c) ex-PM, are far worse than today’s Norman toffs – who are mostly very personable, nice types, although the literally fascistic, Tory backwoodsmen would have been a match for the likes of the ‘leaderene’ in their depraved power mania, and in fact were her puppeteers.

    The backwoodsmen, of course, had never gone away, but simply remained beavering away in the background, biding their time. Now returned to power in government, and more than present in the opposition, they re-privatised the railways (among all the other public assets that had been nationalised, because incompetently managed privately), they increasingly under-funded British Rail, then, still effectively owning the MSM, had TV comedians (in more sense than one, alas) making British Rail a staple joke in their repertoire.

    Now, the monied people responsible for the re-privatisation, who are perhaps the only ones who can afford to travel by train, are complaining bitterly at both the ticket charges and the shameful over-crowding of the carriages and corridors.

  60. 60
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Axel – that’s a very interesting look at what is happening. It would otherwise seem strange that privatization would benefit the government, but it makes sense that there would be less responsibility for the same amount of taxpayer income.

  61. 61
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 42

    Anyone who would translate humble service — even, obedient to death — with ontological inferiority of being plunges at once into utterly destructive heresy.

    I have no problem with voluntary service or submission but I do have a problem where it is coerced or assumed without warrant.

    If a Muslim woman chooses of her own free will to wear the hijab as a symbol of her faith or a sign of her piety I see nothing wrong with that. But where a woman is shamed by her peers into wearing one or even threatened with having acid thrown in her face if she doesn’t then I most certainly have a problem with that.

    If students of a particular faith wish to gather together in school in order to pray then I have no problem with that. If the school mandates some form of daily religious observance which all students are compelled to attend, regardless of whether they are members of that faith or have no faith at all, then I have a problem with that – and I wasn’t the only one in the case of compulsory school prayer in the US.

    If one tenet of a particular faith is that the woman shall always hold herself in submission to the man then I certainly have a problem with that as well. A man and a woman should be equal partners in a marriage, happy to serve each other out of their mutual love and respect. Neither submission nor subjection should have anything to do with that.

  62. 62
    Seversky says:

    Marfin @ 48

    Seversky- Just as I have asked rvb8 for a definition of equality I ask the same of you please define equality, and also seeing you bring it up a definition of justice would be nice

    For me, in this context, equality means that all members of a society should be entitled to the same opportunities, rights, respect for their interests and protections of same and the same treatment before the law, regardless of any other considerations.

    Justice is a process whereby, for example, if one member of society causes harm to another or infringes on their rights, then society or its appointed agents can investigate and, if necessary, take punitive action against the offender on behalf both of the victim and society as a whole. This is essential to any ordered society since otherwise people would turn to personal revenge or vendetta against others who, rightly or wrongly, are held to have harmed them in some way.

  63. 63
    Mung says:

    Isn’t it obvious that the doctrine of atheism leads to the conclusion of equal rights for women, blacks, and atheists?

  64. 64
    Seversky says:

    Dean_from_Ohio @ 60

    Seversky @ 38:

    Not only is the woman, Eve, portrayed as mostly to blame for both of them giving in to temptation, she and her descendants in perpetuity are punished with painful births and are to be subject to the man. That is both clearly misogynistic and an outrageous affront to basic principles of justice.

    Based on what? On what platform do you stand to condemn God and the Bible? Read Romans 5 and tell me who, in the Christian world view, has the primary responsibility for the fall of mankind, or humankind if you will?

    Your omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omnipresent God has primary responsibility. Nothing happens but by His will and, as a perfect being, He doesn’t make mistakes. If Adam and Eve were capable of being tempted and of giving in to that temptation then that is how they were created and their omniscient Creator would have known their limitations and weaknesses full well. He would also have known from the beginning what that outcome was going to be. Adam and Eve behaved as they were created to behave and as their Creator knew they would behave. Where is the justice in punishing them or the rest of us for that?

    Let’s do a little thought experiment. Let’s say that you know abortion to be wrong, dead wrong, and you have the authority and the power to decide for everyone whether abortions will be permitted, and if so, to what extent, and what, if any, punishment should be meted out to those involved in the commission of that act. If you object to abortion used as an example (which is telling in itself), let’s pick a cause celebre of the Left, amassing wealth without regard to the poor.

    As a believer in Western liberal democracy, it should not be for me or any other individual to decide these matters alone. It should be for a society of equals as a whole to decide what best serves them.

    In the case of abortion, I believe that the right to life should be extended to any detectable zygote or blastocyst except where there is a threat to the life or long-term heath of the mother. Anyone who wants to end abortion will have to persuade a majority of society that this should be the case and have a law passed to that effect.

    As for the uncontrolled accumulation of wealth by the fortunate few at the expense of the rest of us, again, society as whole must decide where to draw the line, if any. Personally, I find it obscene that one woman who is a marginally talented singer can earn more in a year than a nurse can make in a lifetime of hard and often unpleasant work. Society as a whole disagrees with me. They show which they really value by what they pay each.

    I would submit that God knows what he is doing, and you do not, and your words are a remarkable example of both pettiness and dangerous foolishness.

    Yes, God knows exactly what He is doing, He knows everything that has happened and He knows everything that will happen.

    That last is important. In the Bible, the account of Jesus telling Peter that he will deny knowing him three times before the cock crows is clear evidence that God knows the future. And if God knows the future then that future will happen. In the Bible, Peter did deny knowing Jesus three times. If this was bound to happen then Peter had no free will in the matter so can he be blamed for doing what he had no choice but to do? An omniscient God who knows the future means there can be no free will. What He knows will happen, will happen regardless of what we might want.

    You owe thanks and praise to God that he abides by the latter and not the former.

    I see very little about the God of the Old Testament to praise or give thanks for.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky,

    side-stepping and distracting still.

    You have already been directed to go to proper venues to deal with your exegetical problems (if you really want to deal with them), I will return focus to the OP, again, highlighting what is being ducked by use of the trifecta fallacy:

    Why did liberal democracy arise in the West and nowhere else? Because of the influence of Christianity on Western politics. Consider the most famous expression of classical liberalism the world has ever known, the Declaration of Independence:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .”

    Compare that passage to Galatians 3:28:

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Paul’s message in Galatians was not political. He was making a theological statement about the equality of Christians in the body of Christ. Nevertheless, the implications of his argument for a predominantly Christian polity are nothing short of radical. It took a long time for these implications to sink in, but eventually it dawned on Christian thinkers that certain political institutions that had been taken for granted for all of human history were fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. Institutions such as slavery. If my slave is my brother in Christ, how can I continue to hold him in slavery? There isn’t a good answer to that question, and that is why abolitionism as a political movement arose in Christian Europe, and it is also why for the most part the abolitionists – from Wilberforce in England to Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe in the United States – were Christians making Christian arguments to Christian political communities receptive to such arguments.

    As the Declaration expressly states, the Christian idea of equality of all men before God is the foundation of the political idea of the equality of all men under the law. Don’t take my word for it. Atheist professor Yuval Noah Harari agrees. In his international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harari wrote: “The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God.” . . . . .

    For a couple of centuries, we in the West have enjoyed a polity based on an attempt to infuse Christian doctrines into our political practice. While the result has been far from perfect, compared to the great mass of men over the long stretch of history, that effort has produced a civilization that has been, by far, the freest, most prosperous, and most democratic the world has ever known. Is that civilization sustainable when its Christian foundations are crumbling under a relentless onslaught of metaphysical materialism?

    That question brings me to the title of this post. In recent months, the news has been full of stories about the “Snowflake” phenomenon on college campuses. We have read story after story about illiberal college students cracking down on anyone attempting to express any view contrary to progressive dogma. It is not hard to connect the dots here. The Snowflake movement is an offshoot of political correctness, which is in turn the handmaiden of progressivism, which is fascistic at its root.

    Properly understood, the Christian worldview, infused as it is with notions of the fallibility of man, supports an epistemological humility upon which true tolerance and pluralism can rest. Metaphysical materialism, not so much. Materialism denies any transcendent morality and the objective existence of justice. Might makes right. Is it any wonder that fully 70% of college students support restrictions on the right to free expression?

    Lincoln wrote that the principles of the Declaration are “the definitions and axioms of free society” and that the abstract truths in that document would “in all coming days . . . be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.”

    Maybe. The Declaration is built on a Christian foundation. But what will happen if that foundation is destroyed when its essential truth claims are denied? We are about to find out. Darwin’s great triumph was not so much scientific as it was metaphysical. The publication of Origin of Species marked the beginning of materialism’s long march though our institutions, especially our universities. And we have an inkling of what it will look like when that march is finished and materialism reigns triumphant.

    KF

  66. 66
    Querius says:

    Seversky asserts

    An omniscient God who knows the future means there can be no free will. What He knows will happen, will happen regardless of what we might want.

    You’re confusing foreknowledge with determinism. Let’s say that you make a free choice. Let’s say before you make your choice and unbeknownst to you, I travel into the future and see what you’re free choice will be. Does my knowledge suddenly make your choice not free?

    Maybe God can step out of time. In fact, if God actually created the space-time of our universe, then that is pretty reasonable to assume.

    So, according to John (John 3:16-18 NASB), Jesus also said

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    Jesus is simply saying, trust me, I can save you from being condemned. You’re free to choose. You can choose

    A. Yes, I know I’m selfish and sinful, and I want to accept the free gift of a full pardon and everlasting life as a gift from Jesus who loved me enough to die for me.

    or

    B. No, I don’t want God in my life now or ever after. I think I’m a pretty good guy and besides, God has no right to judge me and I can find plenty of fault with God.

    You’re absolutely and totally free to choose either A or B right now. What will you choose?

    A? Or B?

    -Q

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    DfO, sadly revealing — rather reminds me of krystalnacht. KF

  68. 68
    rvb8 says:

    Let’s ask Ken Ham shall we?

    Q: ‘Is God omniscient, ALL Knowing?’
    K: ‘Yes.’
    Q: ‘Is God omnipotent, ALL Powerful?’
    K: ‘Yes.’
    Q: ‘Is God omnipresent, ALL Everywhere?’
    K: ‘Yes.’

    Do Kairos, DfO, BA, and others who post here agree with Ken on the questions above?

    If you do, then you must start asking serious questions such as, ‘Is this a God I want to follow? Is this a God that desrves my respect? Is this a moral God?’

    You see, if this is the God who exists, then I want no part of His perversion, or creation, call it what you will. Seriously, He needs to be stood up to, not bowed down to.

    God can only be described in evolutionary terms, in our evolved need to be led, to cower, to grovel. If humanity really wants to evolve,, this shackle must be removed.

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8,

    I shake my head.

    First, you are imposing your tastes and preferences (a straw god), in a context where your known worldview does not even get you to being a responsible, rational thinker and knower. Where and how do we get to a you capable of rising above delusion driven by blind chance and mechanical necessity, shaped by forces promoting survival, not acquiring and grounding truth to become knowledge?

    To this, on track record, you have no cogent answer, for the very good reason that this is a point of self referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism.

    Second, you don’t seem to have even a nodding acquaintance with basic ethical theism, starting with the relevant philosophy of maximally great being, much less the fact that if Mr Ham is citing a general theological and philosophical view commonly found in creeds and works of systematic theology or explorations of the Idea of God, the attempt to taint by “do you agree with Ken Ham” becomes the worst sort of stereotypical and scapegoating ad hominem argument. Argument by oh you agree with a man I view as an idiot or worse, is a fail. I agree with Wesley, with the Angelic Doctor, with Augustine, with Paul, with Jesus. Indeed, with the great testimony and confession of the church over the centuries on the nature of God. I can even see where a Plato has an inkling.

    The view of ethical theism has a distinguished record across thousands of years, the attempt to characterise it as if it were the sort of nonsense spouted by those you see as your intellectual inferiors speaks far more tellingly about you than it does about Mr ham or those who you listed above.

    I suspect, you wish to imply that foreknowledge [as part of omniscience], combined with omnipotence leads to a loss of freedom on our part.

    Fail.

    By that power, God has made us in his image (which grounds our fundamental, quasi-infinite worth and equality in nature), and has endowed us with the power of reason and responsibility. He is an agent, and has acted to create other agents — us.

    This is — on comparative difficulties across worldviews — the only serious candidate explanation of our known rationality, responsibility and capability to know even in small part.

    If you doubt this, simply engage the comparative difficulties at world root to see why I freely say this.

    Your attempt to create a further straw god, the god of superstitious fear fails also.

    Grossly, as caricaturing and projecting the worst sort of bigoted stereotypes, failing to recognise the vast difference between superstitious fear and attempted manipulation of forces in the world, and the serious thought framework, ethical theism.

    There are any number of people close at hand who demonstrate that an ethical theistic worldview is not the sort of crude grovelling you rhetorically project.

    You should be ashamed to resort to such street corner, village atheist rhetoric.

    As for oh, such a straw god would deserve to be rebelled against, do you not see that you are setting up a straw god in order to justify yourself in ingratitude and rebellion?

    (And if you imagine you are presenting a short form of the imagined knockdown argument from evil and/or the like, I suggest this shows you to be utterly out of date. See here on for a skeletal outline of why such arguments fail. )

    I suggest you would be better served to seriously rethink your views and arguments in light of being better informed.

    KF

  70. 70
    kairosfocus says:

    Note: i/l/o the OP, all of this is happening while we have just had “Snowflake” rioting in Washington DC and the torching of someone’s Limousine (a sign of utter disrespect for the property of small business people). KF

  71. 71
    Origenes says:

    rvb8 @70

    ‘Is God omniscient, ALL Knowing?’

    Obviously God knows enough to create all things, but my answer would be that this claim is incoherent. In order to validly make the claim, one has to be all-knowing oneself, and next one needs to check if God knows everything one knows — which is obviously absurd. Alternatively, one can be told by God that he is all knowing and choose to believe him. However, one cannot be sure that he is not mistaken.

    ‘Is God omnipotent, ALL Powerful?’

    Obviously powerful enough to create all things, but if it is meant that God holds all power all the time, then again the claim seems to be incoherent. I am not God. I have some powers. So God does not hold all power.

    ‘Is God omnipresent, ALL Everywhere?’

    No, if God is all everywhere, then there exists nothing but God. I am not God. I am somewhere. So God is not everywhere.

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, I suggest you examine the philosophy of maximally great being. KF

  73. 73
  74. 74
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @74,

    Given that I am not the greatest possible being, that I exist and that I exist somewhere, the greatest possible being cannot exist everywhere.
    Similarly, the greatest possible being holds all powers minus my (modest) powers. Given my existence and powers, the greatest possible being does not hold all power.

  75. 75
    john_a_designer says:

    Atheistic naturalism provides zero foundation for interpersonal moral obligation or universal human rights. Biblical (Jewish-Christian) theism does provide such a foundation. That is an historical fact. Trying to undermine that fact with fallacious arguments does not provide a moral foundation for atheistic naturalism. In fact, it leaves no viable foundation at all, only ethical nihilism. Honest atheists concede this fact.

    So far our atheist interlocutors have failed to honestly address that issue. Rather, they have been flailing around, grasping at straws trying to create logically fallacious strawmen. Do they really believe that their arguments have any merit? When are they going to drop the pretense and posturing and attempt to address the main issue? My prediction is they won’t simply because they can’t. If they know this they are being dishonest, if they don’t they are daft (ignorant or stupid.)

    Personally I have given up trying to engage these people. It is hard to have an honest dialogue or debate with individuals who give zero evidence that they are even capable of being personally honest. Of course, if they have no real moral or ethical foundation for interpersonal moral obligation how could they have a standard of interpersonal honesty? Do they even comprehend basic logic well enough to understand the irrationality of their position? In other words, are they even being honest with themselves?

  76. 76

    JAD @ 77: “Atheistic naturalism provides zero foundation for interpersonal moral obligation or universal human rights.”

    This is absolutely true. The strangest thing about atheism (to me) is how its adherents boldly proclaim that no objective moral standards exist, while at the same time boldly proclaiming that objective moral standards DO exist, i.e. they are morally right and you are morally wrong.

    Bizarre.

  77. 77
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Sev

    Personally, I find it obscene that one woman who is a marginally talented singer can earn more in a year than a nurse can make in a lifetime of hard and often unpleasant work. Society as a whole disagrees with me. They show which they really value by what they pay each.

    Aside from many other controversial or debatable points (as I already argued on your idea of God and justice) I found the above interesting.

    You’re pointing to a sense of justice and value – an appreciation of a hard life of sacrifice for the benefit of others, as well as the lack of care shown by society towards the same. The misplaced glory given to entertainers – it really says something about what people treasure the most.

    But I think that leaves you in a quandary. What really matters in the materialistic/atheist life?

    Whatever life is in the here and now. That’s it. Is there something good in life? If so, should you miss out on it? There’s only one chance.

    Now we look at a life of sacrifice. This means putting aside much of the “good things” that materialist/atheist life has to offer. It’s not only choosing hardships and deprivation – but as you said, not even getting the financial rewards commensurate with the value offered for others.

    Why?

    I hate to say it but the atheistic/materialist life points directly to selfishness. It points to the half-talented pop star, reaping millions of dollars and living the glam life — as an ideal. That’s the target to aim for.

    There’s only one chance. The pop star got all the sex, all the praise, all the money, all the excitement, even all the power over other people that can be had in this life. Everybody else who didn’t get that, missed out forever.

    In that scenario, the nurse is foolish. She risks her life treating patients with contagious diseases. She works long and hard, often underappreciated even by the doctors, and then as you say, getting far less reward financially.

  78. 78
    Querius says:

    Well, said!

    All I would add is that the primary mechanism that God has created is free will. That, of necessity, means that God chooses to limit his power.

    Think of the implications of what Jesus taught his disciples to pray:

    “. . . Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

    That means that on earth, God’s will is NOT being done! So whose will is being done?

    Humans, angels, fallen angels, and God all can make choices and act, and free will is maintained. This means that God does not prevent hurtful and even horrific choices, however God will sometimes mitigate the effects. Everyone dies in the end and then there’s the judgement.

    Fortunately, God provided a way out for those choosing to confess their depravity, choosing to let go of their selfish ways, and choosing to accept God’s love.

    -Q

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines,

    Pardon a citation from Paul’s speech before the Athenian elites c 50 AD, at Mars Hill:

    Ac 17: Paul at Athens

    16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he had discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place day after day with any who happened to be there. 18 And some of the [b]Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to engage in conversation with him. And some said, “What could this idle babbler [with his eclectic, scrap-heap learning] have in mind to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities”—because he was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

    19 They took him and brought him to the [c]Areopagus (Hill of Ares, the Greek god of war), saying, “May we know what this [strange] new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some startling and strange things to our ears; so we want to know what they mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the foreigners visiting there used to spend their [leisure] time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

    Sermon on Mars Hill

    22 So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus, said:

    “Men of Athens, I observe [with every turn I make throughout the city] that you are very religious and devout in all respects. 23 Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN [d]UNKNOWN GOD.’

    Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

    24 The God who created the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He [e]served by human hands, as though He needed anything, because it is He who gives to all [people] life and breath and all things.

    26 And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. 27 This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

    28 For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of [f]your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 So then, being God’s children, we should not think that the Divine Nature (deity) is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination or skill of man.

    30 Therefore God overlooked and disregarded the former ages of ignorance; but now He commands all people everywhere to repent [that is, to change their old way of thinking, to regret their past sins, and to seek God’s purpose for their lives], 31 because He has set a day when He will judge the inhabited world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed and destined for that task, and He has provided credible proof to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”

    32 Now when they heard [the term] resurrection from the dead, [g]some mocked and sneered; but others said, “We will hear from you again about this matter.” 33 So Paul left them. 34 But some men joined him and believed; among them were Dionysius, [a judge] of the Council of Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. [AMP]

    His Epistle to the Colossians, perhaps 11 years later, amplifies some of these thoughts:

    Col 1: 15 He [Christ] is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible], the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and the originator] of all creation. 16 For [d]by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, [things] visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him. 17 And He Himself existed and is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. [His is the controlling, cohesive force of the universe.]

    18 He is also the head [the life-source and leader] of the body, the [e]church; and He is the beginning, [f]the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will occupy the first place [He will stand supreme and be preeminent] in everything.

    19 For it pleased the Father for all the fullness [of deity—the sum total of His essence, all His perfection, powers, and attributes] to dwell [permanently] in Him (the Son), 20 and through [the intervention of] the Son to reconcile all things to Himself, making peace [with believers] through the blood of His cross; through Him, [I say,] whether things on earth or things in heaven.

    21 And although you were at one time estranged and alienated and hostile-minded [toward Him], participating in evil things, 22 yet Christ has now reconciled you [to God] in His [g]physical body through death, in order to present you before the Father holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 [and He will do this] if you continue in the faith, well-grounded and steadfast, and not shifting away from the [confident] hope [that is a result] of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed [h]in all creation under heaven [AMP]

    The opening words of the Epistle to Hebrews, also add to the force:

    heb 1:1 God, having spoken to the fathers long ago in [the voices and writings of] the prophets in many separate revelations [each of which set forth a portion of the truth], and in many ways, 2 has in these last days spoken [with finality] to us in [the person of One who is by His character and nature] His Son [namely Jesus], whom He appointed heir and lawful owner of all things, through whom also He created the universe [that is, the universe as a space-time-matter continuum].

    3 The Son is the radiance and only expression of the glory of [our awesome] God [reflecting God’s [a]Shekinah glory, the Light-being, the brilliant light of the divine], and the exact representation and perfect imprint of His [Father’s] essence, and upholding and maintaining and propelling all things [the entire physical and spiritual universe] by His powerful word [carrying the universe along to its predetermined goal].

    When He [Himself and no other] had [by offering Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for sin] accomplished purification from sins and established our freedom from guilt, He sat down [revealing His completed work] at the right hand of the Majesty on high [revealing His Divine authority], 4 having become as much superior to angels, since He has inherited a more excellent and glorious [b]name than they [that is, Son—the name above all names]. [AMP]

    God, in the Christian tradition, is the root of being, the creator of the cosmos and its upholder, actively present and provident every-where, every-when.

    His active, sustaining, enabling word of power is what we dimly detect in laws of nature. Our whole existence is pervaded by his undergirding active presence and support, so Paul speaks in bridging terms, quoting Greek poets, in him we live, move and have our being, we are his offspring.

    So, God’s presence is not of the same order as ours, indeed our — physical and mental, conscious, moral — presence depends crucially on his prior presence, which frames and upholds a world.

    I do not need to elaborate on how there must be a necessary being root of reality. The debate, is of what character, and a crucial insight comes when we see that we are morally governed and find ourselves accountable to truth and right reason, i.e. the moral government that obtains for our order of existence pervades the whole world of thought and intelligent, volitional action. So, that necessary being root must be able to at once be an IS and the root of all OUGHT.

    As I have often pointed out at UD, there is just one serious candidate, after centuries of debates: the inherently good creator God, a necessary [thus eternal] and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing good in accord with our evident nature.

    And no, such is not incoherent, never mind how our gaps of understanding can lead us to think such.

    KF

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    Note: the singer of talent and star power is a scarce provider, especially if s/he carries a resonating message. To consume, a concert or a CD etc is highly affordable. Add up royalties across millions and you get serious money. The nurse cannot sell services like that, and so will not make as much financially. Though, I bet proportionately far more entertainers are psycho-social basket cases than nurses. But also, the average singer likely makes a lot less than the average nurse. KF

  81. 81
    Silver Asiatic says:

    In some cultures, singing is what everyone does in their family and local community. It’s a means of bonding and sharing a communal message. As societies become more individualistic, they lose the ability to sing together, they lose communal and familial songs and they consume only recorded sounds from celebrity singers – often in a very individualistic way (note the number of people walking around with earbuds connected to ipods, etc).
    But that’s the celebrity culture where certain icons represent the desires and aspirations of the public.

  82. 82
  83. 83
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @81

    … all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity]. … in Him we live and move and exist …

    I am a responsible free rational person. I exist. Now, I hold that I would not and cannot exist without God. And it could even be that I live inside God, a Paul said. But nevertheless, I am not God and God is not me. This means that there is something (me) that is not God. He is close by, at least I like to think so, but in the sea of existence I occupy a place that is mine and no one else’s. Therefor, God is not everywhere.

    … propelling all things …

    No, I exist and by my free will and under my responsibility I propel things too.

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, yes, God enables you to be as a contingent, ensouled agent. That God is actively present and enabling you to be does not contradict that you are at a there and are a who distinct from God. I suspect you may need to work through some worldviews analysis. KF

  85. 85
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus 86@
    Unresponsive.

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, I answered in outline and pointed back to the actual theme of the thread. I add, a tad more towards conceptual clarification; e.g., agency implies significant, responsible and rational freedom of action with consequences — and, it is necessary for there to be reasoned discussion. From The Laws on, the ensouled are understood as self-moving, i.e. reflexive, able to act on oneself thence be a first cause in the world — deciding and acting to initiate chains of events, not passively and wholly determined by prior states, and/or in the blind grip of chance and mechanical necessity. We are contingent, as in not world-framing necessary beings “there” in all possible worlds. God by contrast is by core definition necessary (and BTW, thus also inherently eternal) — so that he is (as a serious candidate world root) impossible or else actual. The claim, impossibility, has never been seriously substantiated; and the moreso as the problem of evils collapsed. God’s active, enabling, aware, sustaining presence is constitutive of there being space, time and matter, everywhere and every when. Thus our current, embodied existence is in him, sustained everywhere, every moment in our space-time domain by his powerful word. As an analogy ponder how the invisible yet iron principles of the logic of structure and quantity [= Mathematics] affect everywhere, every moment and every material thing, manifesting the power of abstract mathematical realities in the familiar empirical world . . . and ponder in that context One revealed as Logos; rational communicative reality Himself. This, does not contradict our distinct identity, it sustains it; our temporal, embodied being, b1, b2, b3 . . . bn at points x1, x2, x3 . . . xn in succession at times t1, t2 . . . tn thus does not and cannot displace the active eternal presence of God. So the sense of our presence and that of God’s presence are not in contradiction, they refer to different dimensions of being. Ours, derivative; his the root of there being relevant time, place and substance. KF

  87. 87
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @89

    God by contrast is by core definition necessary (and BTW, thus also inherently eternal) …

    As Aquinas’ first cause arguments show, there are no explanatory contexts, external to God, wrt God’s existence. There is nothing outside of God that is fundamental to his existence. There is nothing outside and /or prior to God that explains his existence — including the contexts time and space. IOWs God’s existence cannot be understood in terms of time and space. For this reason, it is incoherent to claim that God is ‘eternal’ or ‘everywhere’. These terms are the result of unfounded attempts to capture God’s existence by non-existent explanatory contexts external to his existence.
    Similarly, the number 45 is not ‘red’, ‘green’ or ‘all colors’. Coloration is simply the wrong context for understanding numbers.

    This, does not contradict our distinct identity, it sustains it; our temporal, embodied being, b1, b2, b3 . . . bn at points x1, x2, x3 . . . xn in succession at times t1, t2 . . . tn thus does not and cannot displace the active eternal presence of God.

    When I speak of my existence, I’m not at all referring to my body.

    So the sense of our presence and that of God’s presence are not in contradiction, they refer to different dimensions of being.

    Surely, God’s presence and our presence are not in contradiction. However, the ill-founded concept of a God who is everywhere, who occupies each and every single part of the totality of being, is in contradiction with our presence as rational free responsible persons. Obviously, such a ‘maximally great’ God would not allow for the existence of anything distinct from him.

    Ours, derivative; his the root of there being relevant time, place and substance.

    A free responsible rational person implies independent existence; that is a prerequisite to freedom, responsibility, rationality and personhood.

    … the ensouled are understood as self-moving, i.e. reflexive, able to act on oneself thence be a first cause in the world — deciding and acting to initiate chains of events, not passively and wholly determined by prior states, and/or in the blind grip of chance and mechanical necessity.

    You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have a ‘maximally great God’ — who is the totality of all being, “propelling all things” — and ‘self-moving agents’.

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines,

    Pardon, but there is some background you are missing, starting with possible vs impossible being and of the former, contingent vs necessary. Also, nothing, sense non-being.

    Start with a fire.

    It is a contingent, possible being. It depends on external, enabling causes [heat, fuel, oxidiser, viability of a combustion chain reaction]. It begins, it can cease. There is a cluster of factors that are each causally necessary for a fire to be — block or kill it by removing, e.g. oxidiser. Likewise, certain clusters of causal factors are sufficient for a fire to be; any such sufficient cluster must have in it all necessary factors. (As a simple example, fires can have accelerants or retardants that affect them; in the case of Halon, by interfering with the chain reaction.)

    By contrast, try to imagine a world in which two-ness . . . having A and ~A [NOT-A] . . . does not exist. Not possible. Twoness is necessary and foundational to any possible world. It cannot cease from being, and it has no beginning. To understand this, go to a square circle as a proposed or candidate being. Core characteristics stand in mutual contradiction and such is impossible, a non-being. And nothingness is just this, non-being. Which, has no causal capacity.

    So, were there ever utter nothing, exactly that would forever obtain.

    So, we now see that if a world self-evidently is, something — a world root — always was. Something, that is INDEPENDENT of external, enabling factors. Were that not the case, there would be possible worlds in which that root is not.

    We already see where several key facets of an eternal, world-root being come to bear: necessary, thus without beginning and without possibility of end. More can be said, but this is enough — especially given the tangential nature.

    An eternal, necessary, world-root being is required to ground contingent beings in the world. (And no, an infinite regress of contingent beings is infeasible for many good reasons, not least the need to span an endless, transfinite range in finite stage steps.)

    Such a being is the causal root of our world, an actual, possible, instantiated world.

    “in him we live and move and have our being” and “upholding all things by his word of power” are deeply insightful, and accurate.

    But we have not got to a Creator yet.

    Further to this, reality is not just physical, we have to address responsible rational, significantly free and intelligent, morally governed beings such as we are.

    This points to the only level where such can be grounded, the same world root level. (Otherwise, we run into the IS-OUGHT gap.)

    As already noted, after centuries, there is but one serious candidate (and note, this is not a proof, it is warrant per inference to best explanation capable of rising to moral certainty): the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty as well as our reasonable, responsible service in light of our evident nature.

    More could be said, but this should be enough to see that we are not talking things that are hopelessly, foolishly incoherent.

    Going beyond, that God could create agents that albeit contingent are self-moved and capable of responsible freedom is not patent nonsense. Indeed, it allows us to be free enough to be rational and virtuous. If we can reason, know, love and be responsible, we have to be sufficiently free. By contrast, if we lack such dimensions of freedom, not only does virtue collapse, but it carries down with it responsible rationality, capability to create logically grounded knowledge and more.

    Your attempt to dismiss God as being everywhere and “every-when” reveals a perception of physicality and the implicit premise of no two entities A and B that are physical being present at given locations: ai,xi,ti vs bi, xi, ti, in an X-OR pattern.

    That is precisely what “in him we live, move and have our being” corrects. God directly enables xi, ti to exist, and bi depends on the active presence and power of God as ai to be there. We are contingent, he is necessary and sustaining, he propels the world, allowing the space and time for contingent agents to live, think, decide and act. Ultimately, he will bring all things to his end.

    For this it may help to think in terms of going up as novices in chess against a grandmaster. We freely choose our moves but the active action of the Master makes the outcome certain.

    I have only gone this far because it enables us to ponder freedom. And equality — being equally in the image of God and equally of quasi-infinite value.

    KF

  89. 89
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @91
    I’m going to ignore most of the things you wrote, because they don’t address anything I have said.

    Going beyond, that God could create agents that albeit contingent are self-moved and capable of responsible freedom is not patent nonsense.

    Well, I am afraid it is in conjunction with a ‘maximally great God’ who propels all things.

    Your attempt to dismiss God as being everywhere and “every-when” reveals a perception of physicality and the implicit premise of no two entities A and B that are physical being present at given locations: ai,xi,ti vs bi, xi, ti, in an X-OR pattern.

    I am responding to the attempt to understand God in the context of space and time, which is, as I have argued, incoherent.

    That is precisely what “in him we live, move and have our being” corrects.

    I’m afraid, as I have argued, it does no such thing.

    he propels the world …

    He does not propel the things of the world that I propel.

    Okay. You remain unresponsive to my arguments. There is no point in repeating myself again and again. Thank you for your time.

  90. 90
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, I gave you pointers to the ontological background you need to resolve concerns you raised. KF

  91. 91
    Origenes says:

    KF,

    My concerns are easily resolved by God not being a ‘maximally great being’, God not propelling ALL things and God not occupying each and every single part of the totality of being.
    I gave you some pointers, try to work it out. The most important thing is to refrain from inappropriate attempts to understand God in time space contexts.
    – – – –
    Dean_from_Ohio @93
    Unless the grandmaster is making my moves for me, it is incoherent to say that the grandmaster propels all moves.

  92. 92
    J-Mac says:

    ‘Is God omniscient, ALL Knowing?’

    God could not be omniscient, ALL Knowing because God didn’t know where Adam was hiding:

    Genesis 3:9

    “9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?

    and that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and consequently sinned.

    Genesis 3:11

    “And He (God) said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?

    God also didn’t know that Adam and Eve would sin. If He had known in advance, wouldn’t He be responsible for all the suffering and injustice their sin brought upon mankind?

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    J-M: Do you not see that the point in the narrative is for Adam to acknowledge his status of hiding from God — rather than to inform God as to his unknown location? Likewise, to acknowledge his state of disobedience? KF

    PS: Origines, the matter stands as I have already pointed out.

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    DfO, the analogy is far from original to me. KF

  95. 95
  96. 96
  97. 97
    mike1962 says:

    J-Mac @ 96

    It’s an allegory.

  98. 98
    J-Mac says:

    kairosfocus

    J-M: Do you not see that the point in the narrative is for Adam to acknowledge his status of hiding from God — rather than to inform God as to his unknown location? Likewise, to acknowledge his state of disobedience?

    I desagree.

    I’ve read the total account from Genesis 3:1-16 in several translations and different languages and it looks like God causally walked through the Garden of Eden not knowing what had happened…

    Besides, if God is omniscient and all knowing, He had already known that Adam and Eve would sin and was just staging the whole thing just to fool us while billions of angels were watching and Satan the first one to point that out to Adam and Eve that it is a set up and they are doomed to fail.

    How loving that would be on the part of God?

    This doesn’t make any sense!

  99. 99
    Querius says:

    J-Mac @ 96 speculated

    God also didn’t know that Adam and Eve would sin. If He had known in advance, wouldn’t He be responsible for all the suffering and injustice their sin brought upon mankind?

    Nope.

    See my response to Seversky in #68. And #80 is also relevant.

    -Q

  100. 100
    Origenes says:

    KF: Origines, the matter stands as I have already pointed out.

    Same here. And you have not addressed my arguments.

  101. 101
    J-Mac says:

    Querius,

    Nope.

    See my response to Seversky in #68. And #80 is also relevant

    Nope what?

    You are also speculating # 68 and #80.

    What makes your speculations different from mine?

  102. 102
    Origenes says:

    Querius: That means that on earth, God’s will is NOT being done!

    Obviously not, I would like to add. A maximally great God would indeed be “propelling all things”, however this is obviously not the case.

    Querius: All I would add is that the primary mechanism that God has created is free will. That, of necessity, means that God chooses to limit his power.

    I fully agree.

  103. 103
    J-Mac says:

    Querius,

    Maybe God can step out of time. In fact, if God actually created the space-time of our universe, then that is pretty reasonable to assume.

    I like the idea but why would someone who created time be restricted by time? If time is not an illusion in the first place…

    I speculated that God has the ability to look into the future selectively or He has the ability to intervene to make the future events turn out the way He needs to. How else would the prophecies turn out to be true?
    Any thoughts?

  104. 104
    Querius says:

    My view is that God is indeed “maximally great,” but chooses to limit his power to make room for free will.

    I also believe that God knows the future without affecting our free will. It’s not inconceivable to me that God can freely move forward and backward in time. Maybe that’s why God refers to Himself as “I am,” and “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

    Some prophesied events in the Bible are predetermined, others are conditional, and some are flexible. For example

    * Jesus said it was inevitable that the Son of Man be betrayed, but . . . (predetermined)

    * he said, woe will come to the person through whom the betrayal comes (flexible)

    * Let me wildly speculate that had the majority of Jews in Israel accepted Jesus as the Christ (Yeshua ha Mashiach) in 33 C.E., Nero would likely have been the prophesied Antichrist, and Daniel’s prophetic 69th seven would have immediately been followed by the 70th seven with the return of Messiah. My point is that Daniel’s prophecy seems to allow for such a possibility. (conditional)

    Finally, let me emphasize that while these views are based on things written in the Bible, they cannot be taken as anything but speculation, OK?

    -Q

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    J-M:

    You are free to think what you want, but not to imagine that is the last word. To give just one small point as to why your understanding is not anywhere near a view taken seriously, I clip Ps 139:

    Psalm 139English Standard Version (ESV)
    Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart
    To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

    139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
    2
    You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
    3
    You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
    4
    Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
    5
    You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
    6
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

    7
    Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
    8
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
    9
    If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
    10
    even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
    11
    If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
    12
    even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

    13
    For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
    14
    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
    Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
    15
    My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    16
    Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
    in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them . . . [ESV]

    KF

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Again, we have largely gone off on tangents. I refocus the OP, noting the conspicuous silence on making a cogent reply:

    Why did liberal democracy arise in the West and nowhere else? Because of the influence of Christianity on Western politics. Consider the most famous expression of classical liberalism the world has ever known, the Declaration of Independence:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .”

    Compare that passage to Galatians 3:28:

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Paul’s message in Galatians was not political. He was making a theological statement about the equality of Christians in the body of Christ. Nevertheless, the implications of his argument for a predominantly Christian polity are nothing short of radical. It took a long time for these implications to sink in, but eventually it dawned on Christian thinkers that certain political institutions that had been taken for granted for all of human history were fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. Institutions such as slavery. If my slave is my brother in Christ, how can I continue to hold him in slavery? There isn’t a good answer to that question, and that is why abolitionism as a political movement arose in Christian Europe, and it is also why for the most part the abolitionists – from Wilberforce in England to Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe in the United States – were Christians making Christian arguments to Christian political communities receptive to such arguments.

    As the Declaration expressly states, the Christian idea of equality of all men before God is the foundation of the political idea of the equality of all men under the law. Don’t take my word for it. Atheist professor Yuval Noah Harari agrees. In his international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harari wrote: “The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God.”

    This passage comes from a longer passage in which Harari argues that the ideas expressed in the Declaration are so much imaginary drivel . . . .

    Harari’s analysis is remarkably clear-eyed for a materialist atheist. He admits that under materialism, human dignity does not exist; universal principles of justice and equality do not exist; human rights do not exist; liberty does not exist. All of these things are social constructs resulting from entirely contingent physical processes.

    For a couple of centuries, we in the West have enjoyed a polity based on an attempt to infuse Christian doctrines into our political practice. While the result has been far from perfect, compared to the great mass of men over the long stretch of history, that effort has produced a civilization that has been, by far, the freest, most prosperous, and most democratic the world has ever known. Is that civilization sustainable when its Christian foundations are crumbling under a relentless onslaught of metaphysical materialism?

    That question brings me to the title of this post. In recent months, the news has been full of stories about the “Snowflake” phenomenon on college campuses. We have read story after story about illiberal college students cracking down on anyone attempting to express any view contrary to progressive dogma. It is not hard to connect the dots here. The Snowflake movement is an offshoot of political correctness, which is in turn the handmaiden of progressivism, which is fascistic at its root.

    Properly understood, the Christian worldview, infused as it is with notions of the fallibility of man, supports an epistemological humility upon which true tolerance and pluralism can rest. Metaphysical materialism, not so much. Materialism denies any transcendent morality and the objective existence of justice. Might makes right. Is it any wonder that fully 70% of college students support restrictions on the right to free expression?

    Lincoln wrote that the principles of the Declaration are “the definitions and axioms of free society” and that the abstract truths in that document would “in all coming days . . . be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.”

    Maybe. The Declaration is built on a Christian foundation. But what will happen if that foundation is destroyed when its essential truth claims are denied? We are about to find out. Darwin’s great triumph was not so much scientific as it was metaphysical. The publication of Origin of Species marked the beginning of materialism’s long march though our institutions, especially our universities. And we have an inkling of what it will look like when that march is finished and materialism reigns triumphant [as in, not good at all] . . . .

    Below I answer some responses that I anticipate.

    Liberalism is entirely consistent with materialist metaphysics. We know this because many liberals are materialists.

    The term “liberalism” can be confusing. When I use the term in the post, I mean “classical liberalism,” the political ideology that emphasizes private property, economic liberty, the rule of law, and constitutional guaranties of fundamental rights, such as freedom of religion. Ironically, in the United States at least, classical liberalism is known as “conservatism.” Classical liberalism is not to be confused with modern liberalism, which is also known as progressivism, which is a variant of fascism. Classical liberalism is in fact the exact opposite of modern liberalism.

    Everyone knows the Founders were all Deists, not Christians.

    No, they were not. In fact, very few of them were. Yes, Thomas Jefferson was not an orthodox Christian, and Benjamin Franklin was a deist, but those religious positions were by no means representative of the founders. The signers of the Declaration itself were, for example, overwhelmingly orthodox Christians (52 of 56). Jefferson knew he was writing a document that, if it were to accomplish anything, required the assent of an overwhelmingly orthodox Christian audience (both the men who would sign it and the population that would be called to rally around it). He responded by writing a document that was consciously intended to appeal to that audience.

    Slave owners used Biblical arguments.

    Yes, they did. And they were wrong.

    Metaphysical materialism did not begin with Darwin.

    Of course it didn’t. Democritus (ca. 400 BC) was probably the first systematic materialists, and the Epicureans based a large part of their philosophy on his ideas. I did not say that materialism began with Darwin. I said that the triumph of materialism in formerly Christian western institutions began with Darwin. On this point, Richard Dawkins is correct. Atheism predated Darwin, but Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. As an aside, Dawkins’ s statement was true for Darwin’s fellow Victorians and perhaps for a couple of generations afterward. In an age where atheist true believers are increasingly required to grit their teeth in the face of the overwhelming evidence of design (particularly at the cellular and molecular level), this is no longer true. But the damage has been done. History will show that Darwinism was a bridge between evidence based epistemology and post-modern epistemology. In other words, by the time it was revealed that the evidence no longer supported Darwin, evidence no longer mattered.

    Christians are bad, as the Wars of Religion proved

    This argument is based on a flawed conception of Christian doctrine. Christianity does not teach that Christians are good and non-Christians are bad. Christianity teachers that everyone is bad and that is why everyone stands in need of Christ’s grace for salvation. Christianity also teaches that the Holy Spirit works in Christ’s followers to sanctify them and lead them to good works. From a Christian perspective, it is entirely unsurprising that evil men will start unjust wars using religion as a pretext. It is also entirely unsurprising that atheists such as Stalin and Mao will kill tens of millions in a quixotic quest for earthly atheist political utopia. For the Christian, history is one long blood-soaked lesson in the truth of doctrine of the depravity of man, whether that depravity is cloaked in perverted religion or materialist madness.

    “Materialism” is not a thing (or no one has believed in Materialism since the 1800s).

    Here I use the term as a shorthand for a metaphysical monism that denies the existence of God. If you prefer physicalism, naturalism, priority monism, etc., OK.

    KF

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