Monday, January 02, 2012

A note from a Christian correspondent concerning CSLDI

A redated post.

DeeJay wrote, his comments are in bold, mine are not:

Hi, I am currently reading your C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea. (It is a very great book, by the way.) I have not completed the book yet, but I wanted to pose an issue that came up as I scanned the chapter third chapter, "Assessing Apologetic Arguments." I certainly do agree that it is not correct to refer to one with an opposing belief as being irrational, simply on the grounds that he or she disagrees with you; nevertheless, I do think that Christianity is true and, in my opinion, this requires certain things to follow (although I surely could be mistaken in some or all of what I am about to say).


The fact that something is true entails nothing about the people who believe that it is false. Some things are true that it is irrational to believe. If surprisingly enough, the Arizona Cardinals are the next Super Bowl winners (still a mathematical possibility), it would nevertheless be irrational to believe this.

The Bible suggests that if one is to earnestly seek the Truth then He will find God. Bertrand Russell said that he would tell God that there just wasn't enough evidence to warrant a belief in Him. I find it unlikely that God would respond by saying, "Your right. Tough luck!" If after deep and honest inspection, one is completely rational in holding a nontheist worldview, then I think we could say that that person is justified in holding that viewpoint. But I don't think the Bible would agree with that conclusion.

No one possesses perfect intellectual honesty. However, I find that I am not competent to diagnose bad faith in others (though I might know some things that might cause someone to disbelieve out of bad faith, such as a desire not to be ruled by a greater being). I am just unwilling, on the weight of my arguments, to issue charges of intellectual bad faith.

The Bible refers to the one who in his heart says there is no God as a "fool." Of course, this is not to be misconstrued by interpreting the term using modern-day assumptions.

I think some discussion of the "fool" passage has come up on this blog. I suspect it is not about atheistic philosophers like Russell, but rather refers to those who believe that God exists but do not reckon on God in their lives.

But, given that we interpret this passage (Psalms 14:1) correctly, this still is aligned with the claim that a nontheist is ultimately rational or justified in holding that belief. I say "ultimately" because I would agree that one could be prima facie justified in holding a nontheist worldview, but that under closer analysis (which would follow if one were to earnestly seek the Truth) then this worldview just doesn't hold. I think the following web page (which contains a few quotes from Greg Banhsen) helps explain: < http://members.aol.com/BaxterInstitute/Fool.html>. I'm sure you're already aware of all of this and I've only recently began to take my faith seriously, so I'm not trying to "educate" you at all here. I'm just expressing one concern I had with part of the third chapter of your book.

Looking at the evidence that I use to support belief in God (insofar as I use evidence), and here "evidence" is being used broadly, including presuppositional evidence, I would say that I do not know that it is so strong that anyone, say, Keith Parsons, if he knew all the arguments I knew, would be a theist. I don't believe reasoning takes place in a vacuum, that it is contextual in nature and rightfully impacts different people differently. People make deep world-view commitments and try to accomodate the information they have based on these, changing world-views relatively infrequently. It does happen (as it did with C. S. Lewis, and in part as it did with Antony Flew) but when it does there are more contributing factors than anyone can put in a book.

My comments up to this point had do with how I think saying one is completely rational or justified (where it is assumed they have honestly sought after the Truth) in holding a nontheistic worldview doesn't completely align with what the Scriptures have to say (although I could be wrong here, and I'm not at all claiming that you're being unbiblical or anything else "ad hominemistic"—not a word I know). I would also add that from personal experience (which has just been in the last year or so when I began taking my faith seriously—I'm 23 by the way) I've found that several nontheists seem to make crucial errors or ad hoc interpretations, which seem to trace back to their unwillingness to give up their belief. I have only debated the cosmological argument (the Kalam version) and the moral argument (or really the existence of objective morals and how that supports a theistic worldview). But, in doing so, I have come across some nontheists making, in my opinion, absurd statements. I have absolutely no problem with someone holding the types of beliefs a nontheist would hold in, say, an argument against objective morality. My issue is when I seem to soundly refute what they have said and they respond either by (intentionally?) misrepresenting my argument or simply with an inadequate response. I admit that this is not the case for all theistic arguments but for some (such as the Kalam cosmological argument, some moral arguments, and the argument from reason, to name a few) the conclusions, while they don't conclusively prove Christianity to be true, seem to rule out any serious possibility of a nontheistic worldview. But even given this, most don't accept the conclusions and still maintain a nontheistic worldview; they reject one of the premises or claim the argument is invalid. For example, some reject that there are objective morals, but when shown the logical conclusions of this worldview (and even in the face of gut intuition) they remain steadfast in their denial. Anyways, I could be wrong here, but I would just find it perplexing that God would send some to hell even though, after earnestly seeking the Truth, they were completely justified in holding their beliefs. I was just wondering what your thoughts on that were.

Yep. Nontheists make lousy arguments. So do theists. It is important to seek out the best, most mature nonbelievers if you really think your experience in debate supports these sorts of conclusions.

One last question. I was recently in a debate about morality and the existence of God. I took the an argument I had seen, modified it, and presented the following argument:



If evil exists, then an objective moral standard exist.
Evil exists.
Therefore, an objective moral standard exist.
If an objective moral standard exist, then there is a way things ought to be.
Therefore, there is a way things ought to be.
If there is a way things ought to be, then there is a design plan for things.
If there is a design plan for things, then there must be a Designer.
Therefore, there must be a Designer.


I talked about this argument recently on this blog when I discussed an argument from Plantinga, and when I posed the question of whether anyone who uses the argument from evil has to be a moral realist. The response seems to be that even if the advocate of the AFE is not a moral realist, the theist must be, and therefore the AFE can be run as a reductio ad absurdum.

As a note, the "ought" in my argument was used in a moral/functional sense (I was attempting to show that the functional sense is inherent in the moral sense), not in a deterministic sense. I noted that from a nontheistic worldview no justification could be given for why evil ought not exist, no matter how one defines evil. Many try to redefine evil in order to maintain the Problem of Evil argument. I noted that from a nontheistic perspective no justification for why evil ought not exist could be given in order to maintain the Problem of Evil as a problem at all—if evil ought to exist then there would be no problem! Many accused the beginning premise, (1) though (3), of my argument of being circular. I maintained that (3) just necessarily followed from (1), but that it was not circular because you can't reason from (3) to (1), where I believe you should be able to do if the argument was circular. Anyhow, I noted that anyone could simply deny premise (1) in order to avoid (3). Nevertheless, could you briefly analyze my argument and if I am making some errors could you clarify where and how, because I don't want to be using some faulty argument.

I would just call your attention to the past entries on this blog where the issue was discussed.

12 comments:

Dee Jay said...

Thanks for the response Mr. Reppert! I kept checking my email to look for one, but I should have checked back here sooner.

(In the manner of Mr. Reppert, his comments will be in bold and mine, Dee Jay's, will be in normal font-style.)

The fact that something is true entails nothing about the people who believe that it is false. Some things are true that it is irrational to believe. If surprisingly enough, the Arizona Cardinals are the next Super Bowl winners (still a mathematical possibility), it would nevertheless be irrational to believe this.

I'd say that truth of God now existing is different from the truth of future events insofar as the future hasn't yet occurred. I'm not majoring in philosophy so I don't know how to technically distinguish the difference here but, nonetheless, I would insist that there is some difference there. Also, when we are discussing deductive logic (or any form of logic), that is, giving reasons for a belief, I think it is important to stress rationality; otherwise there would be no reason to have any discussion on that level at all. In the case of the Arizona Cardinal scenario, the only reason, aside from wishful thinking, for believing that they would be the next Super Bowl champs would occur if one were to have foreknowledge of the event (that is, if one were to know that it would be so). We're just not privy to that information. I think the Arizona Cardinal scenario speaks more toward a discussion of foreknowledge, involving counterfactuals, truth-maker theories, and so on, than toward intellectual rationality. But that may be beside the point.

No one possesses perfect intellectual honesty. . . I am just unwilling, on the weight of my arguments, to issue charges of intellectual bad faith.

I'm not saying that anyone is "100-hundered-percent" perfectly intellectually honest, but that doesn't preclude our attempt to be so. Even if someone is being as intellectually honest as they can at a certain point that doesn't justify their belief. In being as intellectually honest—and I use the term "intellectually" loosely in this sentence—as I could be right now, I could say a lot of things about neuroscience, all of which would probably be wrong. Intellectual honesty isn't a pass for ignorance. Seeking the truth involves more than merely being truthful. Also, I think we might be confusing intellectual honesty with plain old honesty.

I think some discussion of the "fool" passage has come up on this blog. I suspect it is not about atheistic philosophers like Russell, but rather refers to those who believe that God exists but do not reckon on God in their lives.

Well I'm not a biblical scholar so can't comment, as of now, on what would be a correct interpretation of that passage. Nevertheless, many other biblical passages insist that God has given all of mankind some knowledge of his existence, whether that be moral knowledge, knowledge derived from God's "handiwork," a sense of awe (what Plantinga might refer to as a sensus divinitatis), or anything else.

Yep. Nontheists make lousy arguments. So do theists. It is important to seek out the best, most mature nonbelievers if you really think your experience in debate supports these sorts of conclusions.

I wasn't claiming that all nontheists have lousy argument and all theists have great arguments. Obviously that's not correct. Nor was I boasting of "winning" debates against nontheists. (That's the main reason I quit debating, on forums, with others. Too much stress was put on "winning" a debate, thus I saw very few, if any, from both sides, ever relent their position even if it was strongly shown to be problematic.) My issue was that if I, or anyone else, had shown one person's belief to be incorrect they often wouldn't acknowledge it and, more importantly, I would see them just days later touting the same viewpoint in different threads. And this goes for both sides, nontheist and theists. (But I better stop now before I began to rant on that.)

However, my point is that I don't think it's correct, nor does it make sense, to adopt a view based on reason, thus making it a rational belief (at least from that person's perspective), and then say that alternate beliefs are rational as well. Well, let me be clearer. I think it is okay if a person holds a certain view in a probabilistic sense, in that he or she thinks that view is more probable, given the evidence, than any alternatives. But many conclusions are not reached (or not held) in this fashion. (This can apply to entire worldviews, a single argument, or even a single premise of an argument.) If one holds a view in a probabilistic sense then it makes sense to say that alternative views are rational as well (but just that the one held seems to make slightly more sense). The person that holds a view more towards certainly can't claim this though. If both sides of a viewpoint are completely rational, then to avoid being arbitrary or blatantly biased one should be entirely agnostic about the issue (or accept one belief, with a moderate amount of uncertainty, in a small probabilistic sense). But to say that I'm certain this view is true, or even to say that I'm certain this view isn't true, one must hold (to avoid being arbitrary or biased) that the alternate view is irrational. However, that doesn't mean that the person holding that view is irrational. I'm not saying that. Just that a certain view they hold would have to be deemed irrational. But holding an irrational view doesn't make one irrational any more than not knowing how to spell "preposterous" makes one illiterate. (I had to look that word up by the way.) I've done many stupid things in my life; that doesn't make be stupid . . . I hope (although some might disagree with that).

As an example of probable versus certain beliefs, I believe that the Kalam cosmological argument (KCA) probably, but not certainly, indicates that God exists. (But given the entirety of theistic arguments, and how they make sense of the world, I think, with certainty, that Christianity is true and that God exists.) In contrast to my probabilistic belief with regards to the implications of the KCA, I certainly believe that its premise and conclusion—that there must exist a cause of the universe—is true. I, thus, believe that anyone who argues, for example, against the assumption that everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence, to be mistaken, even irrational, in their assessment. For instance, often some will object saying that if God exists then he requires a cause of his existence. Obviously this misconstrues the premise but I let it pass and, instead of saying that God didn't begin to exist, just to make a point, I reply, "God just began to exist for no reason. He's the only being that can do that." The objector will quickly say, "How can your God be the only thing that can began to exist for on reason. That doesn't make any sense." I'll reply, "Your right. It doesn't make any sense, so you can't say that the universe began for no reason either." But often this same person will use that exact argument further along in the discussion. So, I would say that this indicates an irrational belief.

I think that you, Mr. Reppert, stated in your book (but correct me if I'm wrong) that one might be rational in holding a belief but just not realize that the logical implications of that belief aren't consistent. I think that one can surely be intellectually honest in holding a belief prima facie. But when he or she becomes aware of these inconsistent logical implications (or aspects of their belief that don't cohere with reality) then one is being irrational in holding on to that belief in spite of this. This goes for both theist and nontheist alike. In your book you make claims, which I agree with, such as "Therefore, naturalism is false," which indicate certainty rather than probability. I think a probabilistic claim would have been "Therefore, naturalism is probably false." If the arguments and reasoning presented in your book are sound, then it only follows that upon seeing this evidence one would be irrational in continuing to hold naturalism to be true. Again, I am not saying that one who continues to hold naturalism to be true would be an irrational person but merely that (from the view of those who hold the evidence presented to be sound) the naturalist's belief, in the face of the presented evidence, that naturalism is true would be irrational. As I see it, the only other alternatives are that either one would have to hold a probabilistic view—naturalism is probably not true—or one would have to be entirely agnostic about the issue (given that both sides are rational and, thus, warrant belief).

Dee Jay said...

I apologize for the length of my last post. I didn't realize how ridiculously (or "preposterously") lengthy it was until after I posted it.

Dee Jay said...

As an aside, on the claim that the argument from evil can be used as a reductio ad absurdum, I would say it certainly can but this forces the person who claims this to be a moral relativist, at absolute best, and really forces him or her to be a moral nihilist. This person, outside of presenting the argument from evil, could never then claim, in any meaningful way, that evil exists. They'd have to adopt some sort of pantheistic "evil is an illusion" theme, which flies in the face of human experience and innate awareness. This person could not claim that raping little child is evil, which is appalling. So the claim that one can use the argument from evil as a reductio ad absurdum, although that may surely be allowed, really hurts that person's case more than it helps it. Moreover, as I see it, there are several theistic arguments from evil with fair much better than their atheistic counterparts. Also, it is widely known that the atheistic logical problem of evil doesn't hold. Thus, the nontheist is merely left with the probabilistic, "gratuitous suffering" argument from evil, and it can be shown that none of us is in any position to even offer up this argument (since it assumes to know much more than we can know).

Jason said...

Heh. I like Dee Jay already... {g!}

Your questions are addressed to Victor, so I won't intervene much; except to say that a lot depends on how you and he are using the word 'rational'. You may be using it a somewhat different way than he is. (It's certainly a somewhat different way than I would use it.)

So, for instance, because I use 'rational' in a particular way (and try very hard to keep my use of it consistent) in discussions of this sort, I am able to agree that an opponent can be justified in his belief, even if he is thereby making (what amounts to) claims of deductive truth mutually exclusive to my own. (But then, I am using a somewhat older--indeed rather more Biblical {g}--meaning for 'justified', too...)

Dee Jay said...

Thanks for the comment Jason. I think you are probably right in your assessment here. Also, since I'm not a philosopher in any sense (I've only taken one philosophy class and, aside from that, haven't done any extensive study in that field) I'd only be "rational" to conclude that I probably have things mixed up here. (Maybe I'm just too opinionated.) As an aside, I wasn't implying, previously, that everyone who doesn't agree with me or hold my exact beliefs is irrational. Most of my beliefs are probabilistic, rather than certain, thus I can see the justification (from my earlier point of view) of someone holding a contrary belief. Most of my stances of certainty were held from a negative point of view. For example, I believe that it is certain that naturalism is false, that it is not true. However, I'll withhold from referring to others who, after evaluating all the serious cases for and against naturalism, continue to hold that view as true as being irrational (in holding that view—not as a person it general). I'd like to note that I wasn't previously saying that all people who adhere to a naturalistic worldview are adhering to an irrational stance. I agree that that position seems appealing and rational, at first glance. Rather, I was suggesting that those who have evaluated serious cases against that position (such as C. S. Lewis's, Dr. Reppert's, and others) and continue to adhere to it in light of the seemingly irrefutable evidence against it were, then, holding an irrational view.

I don't think it's irrational to hold a view that seems rational when one is not aware of the evidence against it. I doubt we would think of all people pre-14th-century (or 15th-century or whatever it was) as being irrational for believing that everything revolved around the Earth. Obviously that had little to no reason to believe otherwise. There was no evidence to the contrary. But for someone to believe that now, in this present day, we would simply shake our heads, not in total awe of their cleverness to out-wit all available evidence, but, rather, at their irrationality to maintain a belief contrary to it. But still, I think I'll relent on my previous claim, or at least give it some serious reconsideration.

(Also, Jason, what does {g} mean?)

Dee Jay said...

I was just thinking, as a continuation from my last post, that we would be more than likely to perceive someone who holds an "absurd" view (in today's society) as be irrational, given that they understand the evidence against their position. Someone it today's society believing that the Sun rotated around the Earth would be an example. Or someone who still believes the Earth is flat. So, if we would hold this person to be irrational, why not someone else who adheres to a belief which we deem to be evidently false? Take naturalism, for those who believe this view to be unquestionably flawed. What stops us from also believing this person has engaged in irrational thinking when he continues to believe that naturalism is true in the face of all of the (compelling) arguments against it. Maybe it's that we don't think this person is necessarily being irrational, but that he merely doesn't fully understand the issue. So, in suggesting that one was irrational for continuing to hold to naturalism in the face of compelling arguments against it, I actually may have been giving this person the benefit of the doubt in assuming that they can comprehend the arguments against naturalism, rather than saying well they're just mistaken, which implies that they just don't comprehend the issues at hand. Of course I'm just musing here. And again, just so it's clear, I'm backing off from my initial claim which entailed viewing as irrational people who continued to adhere to beliefs that are (so I say) unquestionably flawed. (Even though it only applied to views which I thought were undeniably wrong, not just probably wrong, I think that might have been to strong of a claim to make.)

Jason said...

Dee Jay,

Oy. I'm even pickier and more careful about how I use "irrational" than I am in how I use "rational". {g}

(Adn that's an emoticon. It stands for 'grin'. I use fancy brackets to keep the system from thinking I'm trying to give .html commands. 'Grin' and 'smile' are the only two I never spell out--and 'wide grin'. Everything else I spell out, I think. Exclamations points are for emphasis. 'Smile' is quieter than 'grin'.)

{{What stops us from believing 'x' person has engaged in irrational thinking when he continues to believe that naturalism is true in the face of all of the (compelling) arguments against it?}}

Well, charity, for one thing. {shrug} We have a responsibility to presume in favor of rationality, unless and until we see clear signs that someone is simply doing a knee-jerk reaction to what they could be actively thinking on. Neither an error (in logic) nor a mistake (in factuality of premise) is irrationality (one could describe them that way, and people often do, but we already have good terms for those.) Intentional fudging is irresponsible, and can be considered 'ir-rational' along that line, but I prefer not to jump definitions even that far; and I'm careful about making judgments of that sort about someone until I've known and studied them a while. (Besides, the intentionality of such a mistake tags it as a rational behavior.)

I know irrational behaviors in fact happen, because I experience them myself on occasion. But we should be highly cautious about claiming that someone is (in effect, even if only briefly) behaving insanely; as cautious as we should be about claiming someone acting dishonestly. Especially when they're the opposition.


I understand what you mean about how people, when they look about to lose an argument, will suddenly jump their facts or their validity, in order to keep going. I see it happen all the time (and on all sides of the aisle). But mostly I reserve judgment, even to myself, about _why_ they're doing it. I'm simply not in a position to know, most of the time. (At best I can only assign an intuitive probability to it.)

It's more important for me to watch to catch when _I'm_ doing it--and then fix it.

I don't distinguish in this, btw (that's "by the way" {s!}), between people holding to views which are (in my own estimation) _probably_ wrong vs. _certainly_ wrong; any more than I distinguish _in this_ (are they behaving irrationally or not?), between whether they are attempting to draw inductive or deductive conclusions.

In any case, no correct (and rational) estimate of mine about the incorrectness of their position, necessarily entails _their_ irrationality. Indeed, they might be quite correct in their claims (against me!) _and still be behaving irrationally_ in the making of the claim.


But then, I'm using an extremely tight definition of irrational. Most other philosophers (including ones who, unlike me, make their livings teaching and writing the topic {g}) don't fixate on that one definition so tightly. Which, of course, is fine--so long as they don't make jumps between meanings of irrational in merely convenient ways, introducing category errors. (Which is _exceedingly_ tempting to do, in the field. Which is why I specially discipline myself to avoid doing it, in regard to this word.)


{{And again, just so it's clear, I'm backing off from my initial claim which entailed viewing as irrational people who continued to adhere to beliefs that are (so I say) unquestionably flawed.}}

Good. {g}


I recall you had a very pertinent and practical question, in regard to various levels and types of disbelief, and the judgment of God (whence the discussion of 'irrationality' came.) But I'm a bit iffy about my potential success in reproducing it in connection with... um... all of your above writing. {g} Would you ask it again, please? (Perhaps with reformulations based on subsequent musings?)


Jason

Don Jr. said...

Thanks for the comments Jason. You requested that I reformulate a previous question I asked, but, unfortunately, I'm not actually sure about which question you're referring to. In my initial message (emailed to Dr. Reppert) I said, "The Bible suggests that if one is to earnestly seek the Truth then He will find God. Bertrand Russell said that he would tell God that there just wasn't enough evidence to warrant a belief in Him. I find it unlikely that God would respond by saying, 'Your right. Tough luck!'" I still find that unlikely. Although that's not excatly a question, if that is what you were referring to then I don't think it needs any reformulation. That concern still stands. I find it hard to believe that God would condemn people to hell who, given the evidence available to them, were perfectly justified in adhering to naturalism over theism (or any worldview or belief that preculdes them from accepting Christianity). I try to picture what God would say to these people and it just never turns out right: "Hello My child. You chose not to believe in Me. And that certainly was a rational decision. In fact, I might have done the same thing if I was in your shoes. Unfortunately, your choice now means that you must spend all of eternity in hell. Better luck next time. Oh yeah. I guess eternity kinda rules out any chance for a next time. Oh well." To be frank, that just doesn't seem "God-like." Of course I'm being slightly facetious in my depictions of what God might say to these unfortunate souls, but, given that their beliefs would be fully rational and justified, I'm not be entirely inaccurate.

Jason said...

Mm-hmm; that was the question. {g!}

And I think you're right to have a problem with this. But the problem you're actually having, is against (what amounts to) a gnosticism prevalent in Christian doctrine for a very long time. You're pinging against a technical heresy (_in favor of_ charity and justice--which is even better {g!}).

Since I reject the gnostic heresy, I reject that doctrine (prevalent though it and its scriptural interpretation is in the Church); I don't believe for a moment that _that_ doctrine accurately represents the judgment of God.

Does that mean I think Russell was let off the hook? No. God knows which of Russell's own opinions and judgments were right, which ones were mere error, and which ones (a _very_ distinct question) were _sins_.

Or, to put the onus back on me (where I prefer to keep it as a penitent {s!}): I may make a judgment which is technically correct as to factual premises and validity, but which I'm using for purposes of rebellion against even what light I _can_ see. That's quite a heinous sin!--even if my resultant 'belief' happens to be correct. Alternately, I may make a mistake and arrive at a conclusion which is not factual; my purposes, though, may in truth still be in accord with God and _His_ intents. (Why God counts as the standard of good is another question. Neither horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma represents the right answer, much less trying to flipflop between them, btw.)

It isn't my beliefs (or Russell's, either) which are the primary problem. My _sins_ have to go, and God intends (for my sake, as well as for the sake of His love, which is His glory) to see those sins gone out of me forever. He'll do what is necessary to help me see those sins as sins, but if I insist on holding to them anyway--well, He's going to make it hot for me... _so that I will turn away from the sins_ and be saved. So long as I insist, be it for the eons of the eons, that's how it's going to be: God won't give up on me, and will keep trying to salt me with fire. (Jesus tells us pretty clearly what the everlasting fire in Gehenna is _for_, in GosMark 9:49-50. He's leading in by quoting directly from the end of Isaiah, too; so any explanation of OT imagery has to keep Jesus' explanation in the accounts. Which unfortunately happens super-rarely... {sigh})

And the hope I have for myself, is the same hope I have for those who are my opponents, _whoever_ they are, _whyever_ they're my opponents--which could in principle be my fault, their fault, our faults together or no one's fault. If it's _my_ fault, guess where the fire is going to fall... {g} And rightly so. Indeed, I expect God to hold me to a _stricter_ standard, including of punishment: there's solid scriptural testimony to _this_ effect, too.


Now, obviously opinions on this differ. (To say the least! {wry g!} Though this _does_ have a long tradition within at least one very old branch of the Church... Which, itself, never kept strictly to it but kept heeling over into gnosticism instead at almost every opportunity... {sigh again}) I'm just saying: yes, you're rightly pinging on a problem; but no, (I'm saying) the problem is _not_ to figure out how God grades a person's beliefs (per se) in order to see whether or not that person is condemned (hopelessly or otherwise!) There will _never_ be a cogent solution along that line--only uncharity and injustice.

(Again, I'm not saying there _aren't_ sins of the intellect; but the sin in them is distinct from the mere content of the beliefs professed and held. Yes, if people fudge a position to protect their ideology, that's a sin, and a damnable one: as much so for a Christian as for Bertrand Russell!--_if_ the sinner refuses to let the fudging go and doesn't seek reconciliation.)

But you needn't take _my_ word for it. {g} Run out the logical math yourself; do the checks, and see where the trails go, off in that direction.

Question: if God agrees a belief is _fair_, then will He _not_ agree the belief to be fair?--i.e. will He not _justify_ the belief, ratifying it and testifying for the man to correct those of us who, by our own fault or not, misunderstood him?

On the other hand, if He judges the belief to be unfair, will He _not_ act to bring the man to fairness of belief instead?--i.e. will He _not_ _justify_ the man?

Jason

Don Jr. said...

Thanks for the reply Jason. I will consider what you have said.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Discussions about who might or might not be rational or intellectually honest are nearly always useless. Far better to propose, and counter, specific arguments.

On the argument for a designer, I would start by questioning "If there is a way things ought to be, then there is a design plan for things." For one, there could be universal abstract moral truths that were not designed. Analagous to the proposition that '1+1=2'.

PhilosophyFan said...

"Discussions about who might or might not be rational or intellectually honest are nearly always useless. Far better to propose, and counter, specific arguments."

Isn't there a specific issue at point here, though? We're not talking about whom in any specific regard, but whether or not all those who disbelieve in God's existence or Christianity's truth might be held accountable for their errors. I think that's the way I would put it, too, versus saying rational vs irrational: are these nonbelievers going to be held accountable for wrong beliefs or at least ought they to be held accountable?

If the answer is NO, then Christianity either needs to support universalism or somehow argue that the God of Abraham is holding people to too high a level of accountability.

It all seems very similar to whether or not we can be held accountable for "sins" in the grander sense.