Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dawkins explains his refusal to debate WLC

Now it's not about resumes, it's about genocide.

83 comments:

Steven Carr said...

'Now it's not about resumes, it's about genocide.'

Before Dawkins did not know about Craig.

Now he does.

Craig can't really win.

Either people have never heard of him, or they read his articles about killing children, pardon me, sending children directly to Heaven.

It's a lose-lose for Craig.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, if you can't beat a genocide defender in a debate, what does that say about you? I mean, you should be able to prove, based on universally acceptable moral principles, that genocide is wrong, always and everywhere, right?

Hiero5ant said...

Victor, can you?

If you can, why don't you?

You have equal access to this Prince of Tongues as your boogeyman Dawkins does. Could you beat him in a debate about whether genocide is defensible?

Matthew G said...

I could comment on that, but everything has basically been already said:
http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2011/10/richard-dawkins-for-prime-minister/

Steven Carr said...

Why debate Craig, who is going on public radio in Britain reinforcing the belief that Christians will justify genocide if it is in their Holy Book?

You seem to forget that a lot of people in Britain are not religious and don't think to themselves 'That bit about killing children sounds bad, but the guy is a Christian, so it must be OK'

People tend to stop listening in Britain just after the words 'this is why the children had to be killed'.

Just a cultural thing.

Anonymous said...

'Victor, can you?

If you can, why don't you?

Could you beat him in a debate about whether genocide is defensible?'

No, because there is no good argument to the claim that what God did was indefensible. Just atheist bluster.

B. Prokop said...

Dawkins' doesn't care twopence about the ancient Canaanites, and whether or not they were slaughtered in a 3000 year old military campaign. Dawkins' main problem here is that, despite his own Jewish roots, he shares in his countymen's currently fashionable (and unfortunatly all-pervasive antisemitism), which takes the all-too-transparent guise of "pro-Palestinianism". I believe he is using WLC's invitation as yet another chance to take a swipe against Israel. How convenient (and utterly cynical) that he can employ feigned outrage against some event lost in the mists of time, while essentially lobbying for a repeat performance of the Final Solution, were the Arab states actually to get their wishes and annihilate the state of Israel.

Some relevant Dawkins quotes on this issue:

"[Zionism (i.e., the State of Israel)] is an injustice against the Palestinians."

"What the hell are [Jews] doing in the greater Jerusalem area in the first place?"

In 2002, Dawkins called for a boycott of Israel in a letter to The Guardian, accusing Israel of being "impervious to moral appeals" and guilty of "violent repression".

Dawkins, in a 2007 interview, asserted that the "Jewish Lobby" is in control of US foreign policy (shades of "Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy" theories).

He also characterizes Israeli security policy as "appallingly racist".

The man has zero credibility when it comes to condemning genocide.

Stagnato said...

What a stupid hacky gimmick from Craig. Who can take this sideshow freak seriously now? Is he 12 years old? Are his followers falling for this stupid gimmick? I guess they believe in magic sky fairies too, so all hope is lost for this epistemically crippled lot.

Stagnato said...

Proskop: if anything in any of those quotes advocated genocide, I would congratulate you for using tu quoque. As is, because he doesn't, they are simply red herrings. You are usually more on your game, Bob.

B. Prokop said...

By denying the reality of Israel's security perils while actively encouraging its enemies, Dawkins may not advocating genocide, but is certainly turning a blind eye to its real and present danger.

Of course he's not out in the streets, yelling "Kill the Jews!" I didn't say that. But he is giving aid and comfort to those who are (just read the Arab press).

B. Prokop said...

Stagnato,

Re-reading my own comment, I see where I wrote that Dawkins was "essentially lobbying for a repeat performance of the Final Solution". Very poor choice of words on my part, and I see how they could lead you to write what you did. I hereby admit my error, and would like to replace that line with "Dawkins is essentially lobbying for those parties who would like nothing less than a repeat performance of the Final Solution".

Stagnato said...

Thanks for clarifying, Bob.

BenYachov said...

What is Dawkins' view on Partial Birth Abortion I wonder? I think we all know.

Gotta love New Atheist Hypocrites who cry over Canaanite children but care nothing for modern children who are painfully executed everyday.

OTOH if we believe Paul Copan there is reason to believe Canaanite Children where not killed.

But then what is Dawkins excuse?

Walter said...

OTOH if we believe Paul Copan there is reason to believe Canaanite Children where not killed.

There are good reasons to believe that the Canaanite conquest never happened at all. What is deplorable is Craig's defense of it under the assumption that it really did happen.

And for the record, I believe that Dawkins does not want to debate because he would clearly lose against a professional philosopher and experienced debater like Craig. Dawkins ought to just admit it.

BenYachov said...

>What is deplorable is Craig's defense of it under the assumption that it really did happen.

I fail to see how it is deplorable for God to take any life or order the taking of any life?

By Definition God has the absolute right of life and death over us. God sustains our existence and could do worst than kill us. He could damn us or worst than that allow us to fall into nonexistence.

BenYachov said...

Of course Walter Dawkins still supports abortion across the board doesn't he?

So I ask again what is his excuse? Unless you are a pro-life Atheist/Deist you have no moral standing criticizing Craig.

None at all.

BenYachov said...

Of course in an Atheistic Universe Abortion even the less painful forms is worst if I believe the Pro-Life Atheists.

Since there is no afterlife this life is all you get so when you abort someone or kill them as an infant you rob them of their one and only chance at existence.

There is no Heaven or Limbo consultation prize.

So Pro-Abort Atheists are morally inferior & thus have no standing in critiquing Craig.

Anonymous said...

The Canaanites were a disgusting bunch that regularly and willingly engaged in the propitiatory sacrifice of their own children to Molech. Israel did no wrong whatsoever in wiping them out.

And Dawkins is a truly sordid, mendacious clown, in that he's trying to make it seem now as if his refusal to debate Craig was made from moral principle rather than from sheer cowardice: He knew full well that his "arguments" against theism would be systematically demolished by Craig.

In short, Dawkins is intellectually dishonest. But we already knew that.

Walter said...

So I ask again what is his excuse? Unless you are a pro-life Atheist/Deist you have no moral standing criticizing Craig.

I am generally against abortion, except where the life of the mother is at stake.

I fail to see how it is deplorable for God to take any life or order the taking of any life?

Since God is capable of supernaturally slaying his enemies, there is no good reason to have to order human beings to kill one another. God can do his own killing. Of course, I tend to agree with Thom Stark that the Canaanite genocides never occurred.

http://thomstark.net/copan/stark_copan-review.pdf

BenYachov said...

>Since God is capable of supernaturally slaying his enemies, there is no good reason to have to order human beings to kill one another.

There is no reason not too. God has no moral obligations to us. Assuming God does have moral obligations to us it might be problematic to ask a modern man to kill a Canaanite child but ancient persons seemed insensitive to the process. See the story of Troy for details.

>God can do his own killing. Of course, I tend to agree with Thom Stark that the Canaanite genocides never occurred.

Paul Copan believes a good case can be made the Commands to owipe out the Cananites where not literal.

Still even that being the case the Church Fathers taught only by a Public Revelation can such a thing come to pass. Since the Death of the Last Apostle there can be no public revelation till the Second Coming.

Stark believes in a Theistic Personalist Deity which I don't believe can or does exist and he is a liberal fundamentalist believer in Biblical errancy. I don't think much of his arguments.

He gives away the store.

Anonymous said...

It's almost gotten to the point where I feel sorry for Dawkins and his topic-changing, excuse making running for the woods. And that's saying something.

Victor Reppert said...

The fact is in Dawkins' universe, statements like "It was wrong of the ancient Hebrews to kill all those Canaanites and Amalekites" is neither true nor false. He may dislike it pretty intensely, and no doubt he thinks it conflicts with some strong moral intuitions that he has, but his philosophy doesn't even allow him to charge Craig with error on this point.

It isn't that Craig holds such a preposterous position that this proves his total irrationality. In fact, he holds a view that Dawkins himself would not consider to be false, let alone refutable.

Walter said...

God has no moral obligations to us. Assuming God does have moral obligations to us it might be problematic to ask a modern man to kill a Canaanite child but ancient persons seemed insensitive to the process. See the story of Troy for details.

Genocide is a moral atrocity--period. The systematic killing of women, children, and elderly non-combatants can never be successfully defended. We are told that God just killed an entire world of people in a global flood, not to mention that he supernaturally slew the firstborn in Egypt to secure the release of the Hebrews, so why would God require the Hebrews to commence a great slaughter to clear out the Holy Land, when he could easily have caused the Canaanites to drop dead in their tracks? I don't believe for one instance that any deity ordered the murder of all the Canaanites.

Anyway, I do agree that the genocide excuse is probably just that--an excuse. Dawkins knows that he would not fare well in a debate with Craig and he is attempting to save face.

BenYachov said...

So to be clear Walter you don't believe it is immoral for God to kill people even "innocent" people directly?

You agree in priciple He has the absolute right of life and death?

BenYachov said...

>Anyway, I do agree that the genocide excuse is probably just that--an excuse. Dawkins knows that he would not fare well in a debate with Craig and he is attempting to save face.

Correct & Dawkins and His Gnu partisans should just man up and admit that.

I have no problem admitting the first time Craig debated Victor Stenger that Stenger did very very well.

The Second time around Craig learned from his mistakes and creamed him by focusing more on philosophy and less on physics and thus turning Stenger's Scientism and Positivism and weak grasp of philosophy against him.

It's not hard.

BenYachov said...

If Craig tried to debate the truth of Evolution with Dawkins or took the affirmative on the scientific Truth of Young Earth Creationism Dawkins I believe would mop the floor with him.

But Craig is too smart to do that he would debate philosophy with Dawkins and Dawkins would eat it because of his pathological ignorance in that field.

Stagnato said...

It is indeed an excuse, but also a way to get a dig in at Craig where Craig is weak, morally indefensible, where people think their moral faculties tell them a wrong has been done, so the God of Craig is either not all that good, or doesn't exist.

Way to get a debate shot to the face of Craig without having to dirty himself with the christian mob.

BenYachov said...

Stagnato,

I agree the cheap appeal to emotion will always score more points then actual rational debate.

Walter said...

Live debates are not a good way to get to the truth; they are at best something akin to rhetorical boxing matches. Each side cheers when a jab lands on the opponent.


Lengthy written debates OTOH can be much more effective, as each side can rigorously flesh-out their respective views.

BenYachov said...

I've read Craig's writings he would do well in a written debate IMHO.

Walter did you see my question above?

B. Prokop said...

You mean, like on blogs like this one? It often seems like WWF to me, even here!

B. Prokop said...

(My last post referred to Walter's comment.)

Walter said...

Walter did you see my question above?

Yes. I would say that if a Creator "switched me on" in the first place, then it would have the right to "switch me off." However, if this Creator tells me that he is not happy with my neighbor and wishes me to go end her life with my ax, then I would have to ask the Creator why he can't handle his own dirty work. If you can create a vast universe complete with sentient life, you can certainly go kill one of your toys yourself. My moral objection would override any blind obedience to power.

Hiero5ant said...

This is too important a question to let you squirm out of with apologetic tricks.

You just demanded a transitional fossil, were shown 100 of them, and retorted "why is there something instead of nothing, mr. naturalist smartypants!"

Does WLC hold a morally odious view, and does he go about claiming in public that his morally odious view is representative of your religion? You don't (and can't) deny it.

Can you beat him in a debate on this issue, as you taunted Dawkins for not doing?

If you can, why don't you?

cidsons said...

That this is treated seriously rather than more circus silliness....

What have we become

Anonymous said...

"if this Creator tells me that he is not happy with my neighbor and wishes me to go end her life with my ax, then I would have to ask the Creator why he can't handle his own dirty work. If you can create a vast universe complete with sentient life, you can certainly go kill one of your toys yourself."

You can, ergo you should?

Doesn't follow.

"Does WLC hold a morally odious view, and does he go about claiming in public that his morally odious view is representative of your religion?"

Why is Craig's view morally odious?

Tip: in philosophy, you don't just assert something, you argue for it. Dawkins take note.

BenYachov said...

Thanks for the clarity Walter I say more later.

Cheers man!:-)

Matt said...

Hiero5ant,

Are you asking Victor for his personal view on genocide in the OT? Because his comment only says that there is an inconsistency on Dawkin's view that
"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference"
and the assertion that defending genocide is wrong. Victor's own views are irrelevant to this. Are you simply curious or do you somehow see Victor's view as relevant to the assertion that Dawkins is being inconsistent here?

BenYachov said...

Murder is the immoral and unlawful killing of another human being.

Genocide is murder on a mass scale or would we call the Sun a murderer when it goes into it's Red Giant phase and burns the Earth?

God by definition if we believe Walter (i.e. our Deist Biblical skeptic friend) cannot be guilty of Genocide(if in Walter's view God does the killing Himself) since he cannot murder anyone.

The question is is it moral for God to command you to kill someone.

Victor Reppert said...

I disagree pretty strongly with Craig's way of defending such things as the ban on the Amalekites. At the same time, if I refused to engage anyone who held a position that I considered to be morally repugnant, there probably aren't going to be a whole lot of people to talk to.

I don't really have trouble with the idea of Dawkins refusing to debate Craig, if, for example, he thought that the sort of timed debate that Craig excels at would be a bad venue for him. The problem is that his work attacks religious belief but never comes to grips with such things as the Kalam Cosmological argument, or some of the other arguments Craig uses.

It's one thing to be poorly informed about theology. It is another thing to be poorly informed about the kinds of arguments that are used to defend belief in the existence of God.

Dawkins makes the claim that the theist is delusional, by which I take it he means that the case against theism is overwhelming. Yet he doesn't, in any serious way, engage any of the arguments in natural theology, and he seems to imply that it is beneath him to engage leading defenders of belief in the existence of God, and their arguments. I don't care whether he does it in a debate format or some other format, but somewhere, somehow, he needs to show that he knows how the Kalam Cosmological Argument and the Thomistic Cosmological Argument restrict the class of what needs a cause, so that a simplistic "Who made God" can't refute them in any direct way.

Craig is a leading defender of arguments for the existence of God. Regardless of whether some of his statements are morally repugnant, Dawkins needs to come to terms with him and those like him if he is to have any credibility with respect to his delusion charges. Putting his nose in the air does not replace confronting the actual relevant arguments.

Hiero5ant said...

I know where to find some pretty sick things on the internet, but if you ask me, "where can I find an anonymous poster talking up the glory of murder and saying I don't get to 'just assert' that genocide (genocide!!!) is wrong" then the only place I know is on Christian blogs and message boards.

@Matt if Loftus's behavior didn't convince you that whining and taunting about being "quaking in their boots afraid to debate me" is unbecoming, I'm not sure what would.

Victor taunted "if you can't beat a genocide defender in a debate, what does that say about you"; I regard this as an unfortunate outburst, not in character with his normally more reserved and thoughtful demeanor. As though it were some sort of moral or intellectual cowardice to refuse to give a public platform to science-deniers and cheerleaders-for-babykilling.

BenYachov said...

Hiero5ant,

You boy Dawkins thinks it moral to support the stabbing of babies in the back of their heads & sucking out their brains in the name of "choice".

This is really happening today as opposed to what happen in a book you regard as fiction anyway.

Geez and Atheist like you being mad at Craig over the Bible is like really being mad at Grand Moff Tarkin for genocide against Alderaan.

Gnu's I can't take your kind seriously anymore. If I lost my faith tomorow I could never be a Gnu without loosing a few hundred IQ points.

Anonymous said...

'I know where to find some pretty sick things on the internet, but if you ask me, "where can I find an anonymous poster talking up the glory of murder and saying I don't get to 'just assert' that genocide (genocide!!!) is wrong" then the only place I know is on Christian blogs and message boards.'

This is pathetic. Is that the best you have? We all know that genocide is typically wrong, but you need to demonstrate that it is always wrong, such that no other conlflicting duty can outweigh it. On any plausile analysis of wrongness the Christian will give, to boot.

Craig gave a theodicy for the Canaanite slaughter anyway. It's on his website. Tell us all where he goes wrong. If it's all as obvious as you says it is, you should have no problem.

And of course, if atheism is true then there is nothing wrong with me if genocide gives me joy. It's not like I violate some design plan for humanity or anything.

Walter said...

Rauser on Copan on Divinely Mandated Genocide in the Old Testament




The link above will take you to a good Christian critique against genocide put forth by Randal Rauser.

BenYachov said...

I've read that essay before Walter, the problem is Randal's whole philosophy of God is just plain wrong. He clearly has a Theistic Personalist view of God not a Classical Theistic view.

He conceives of God as a being alongside other beings accept more Uber not Being Itself. He is a Neo-Theist. Thus his Protestantism is IMHO the least of his errors.

He conceives of God being a Perfect Moral Agent unequivocally compared to a hypothetical human moral agent. The problem is the goodness of God has nothing to do with the goodness of moral agency. God is not a moral agent and given the classic view of God it is logically incoherent to ascribe moral agency to God. Just as it would be incoherent to say just because God is perfect He must have perfect muscle tone. Well for God to have perfect muscle tone God would need muscles. But if God had muscles his substance would no longer be Simple he would be composite. Thus imperfect. He would no longer be purely actual he would contain potencies and thus be imperfect.

To be a Moral Agent a person would have to belong to a community of roughly equal being under a common moral code. But given the nature of God He can no more belong to a moral community with us then a political community with us.

God is Good in that he is the source of our being and goodness but God is not a moral agent. God has no obligations to us. God can't be morally praised or condemned. As Aristotle said it would be both insane and vular to do so.

Walter said...

God can't be morally praised or condemned. As Aristotle said it would be both insane and vulgar to do so.

Alrighty.

Walter said...

Let Nothing That Breathes Remain Alive

My earlier link wasn't good. This directly links to Randal's critique of biblical genocide.

BenYachov said...

Well Walter if you are interested I would recommend INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION by Brian Davies & look up both the Chapters on Concepts of God & the Problem of Evil.

also

THE REALITY OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL also by Brian Davies.

I was once a big fan of Plantinga's FREE WILL defense before I read that book. Now I refuse to accept it's phone calls.

Theodicy by definition is wrong headed in the first place since it assumes an Anthopomorphic "god".

Cheers.

BenYachov said...

BTW thanks for correcting my s***y spelling guy.

Your a real pal.

Cheers.:-)

Anonymous said...

BTW, Ben, It's "its phone calls", not "it's phone calls."

It's is a contraction for "it is." Its is the possessive.

BenYachov said...

>if this Creator tells me that he is not happy with my neighbor and wishes me to go end her life with my ax, then I would have to ask the Creator why he can't handle his own dirty work.

Technically speaking if we take the hard view(i.e. God literally commanded Haram on the Canaanites down to the women and Children vs the soft view those commands where not literal) God commanded the nation of Israel to wipe out the nation of the Canaanites. Not every Israelite could carry out this command but only members of their military. Thus it doesn't seem to be enjoined on specific individuals but the nation.

If I believe the Tradition of the Rabbis the Canaanites where given the choice to accept the 7 laws of Noah or leave peacefully. If they refused both then they where attacked.

I have little empathy for jerkoffs being driven from their homes because they refused to give up their right to burn their infant children alive in a slow painful death or have them grow up in a society that practiced Incest, Bestiality, Sodomy, public nudity and God knows what they did to children who lived in that society.

Anonymous said...

BenYachov,

If God can command murder without loss of his morally perfect status, then couldn't he also command rape? Child abuse? Bestiality? Torture?

BenYachov said...

>If God can command murder without loss of his morally perfect status,

God has no "moral status" anymore then he has perfect muscle tone.

God cannot be coherently called "morally good". Now that is not the same as saying God isn't in some sense like what a morally good person is.

What part of he is not a moral agent do ye not understand my friend?

>then couldn't he also command rape? Child abuse? Bestiality? Torture?

No they are absolutely intrinsically evil. Killing is extrinsically evil. If killing was intrinsically evil then God could not even command the death penalty for even the guilty anymore than he can command a guilty person be raped.

But God does have the right to turn off any of his light switches as Walter puts it.

But we can't turn off any light switch in God's house (i.e. our existence) without permission from The Owner.

Maybe these links will help.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/laws-evil-god-challenge.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-obligation-and-euthyphro-dilemma.html

This essay bellow needs it's terminology tweaked but is otherwise good. It's close to what I am saying and what Brian Davies says.

http://www.crvp.org/book/Series01/I-24/chapter_iv.htm

I hope that helps & I hope you are not some smart arse Gnu'troll who is going to post something stupid in reply. Because that shit is getting old.

Cheers.

Matt said...

Hi Heiro5ant,

I was not referring to anything Craig or his supporters have said about Dawkins being a coward. All I was talking about in my comment was that you seem fixated on Victor's view of OT genocide (which I now see he has a post on) when that is irrelevant to the statement that moral relativism is inconsistent with moral outrage.

Anonymous said...

BenYachov,

But if God has no moral obligations to us, then what does it matter that rape and torture are inherently evil? If he has no moral obligations towards us then why couldn't He command inherently evil things to be done to us? It would be wrong for us to do but not wrong for Him to do it, since, on your view, He's not a moral agent.

Also, you keep reverting in your explanations to the idea that the Cannanites deserved their punishment. Isn't that beside the point if you're right that God has no moral obligations towards us? It wouldn't matter if they didn't deserve it, on your view. Since God has no moral obligations whatsoever, He's obviously not morally obligated to only exterminate populations that deserve it. He could wipe out a pre-school full of innocent children if He wanted to, because He has no moral obligation not to do so.

For the record, no, I am not a "gnu atheist"; I am a Christian. I just struggle with your anti-personalist view of God.(I'm the Anonymous who has questioned you about it before in the past). It seems to be much more a product of Aristotle than of Jesus.

Actually, this notion that God is not a moral agent even seems to go beyond Aquinas and Aristotle, as I understand them. They say that any positive attribute applied to God must be understood as an analogy. But by your complete denial that God is a moral agent, you seem to be saying that moral goodness cannot be applied to God even analogically. Because what would it mean to call a non-moral agent morally good?

So, I'll ask you directly, is God morally good, even analogically?


(Thanks for the links. I am actually currently reading Feser's The Last Superstition and I plan on pressing on to read his book on Aristotle.)

Anonymous said...

Anon,

A better way of understanding Ben's view is this:

1) God has no duties toward other beings.

It doesn't follow from this that

2) God might do anything to anyone,

because some things God won't want to do. He will only do things he wouldn't otherwise want to do for good reasons. But obligations to other beings won't form part of those reasons.

Also, there is a response to Dawkins up:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timstanley/100112626/richard-dawkins-is-either-a-fool-or-a-coward-for-refusing-to-debate-william-lane-craig/

This guy pulls no punches.

Anonymous said...

But if God is not a moral agent, doesn't it follow that the moral status of an action won't play any part in God's decision to perform or not perform that action?

And if that's the case, why should we think that God can't commit actions that would be evil were they to be committed by moral agents?

And if THAT'S the case, why call God good, even by way of analogy? The analogy would seem to have broken down completely at that point.

Anonymous said...

Heh. Dawkins wrote:

"Don't feel embarrassed if you've never heard of William Lane Craig. He parades himself as a philosopher, but none of the professors of philosophy whom I consulted had heard his name either."

Who those professors were? What was their special area? Philosophy of religion? Philosophy of biology? Philosophy of dogs? Craig's publication list in the professional journals is however very long:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=publications_main

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't construe the classical conception of God as claiming that he isn't a moral agent. I'd read it as claiming that God isn't a moral agent of the same order as we are, such that talk of wronging God and God owing us things are category mistakes (at least without God establishing some sort of convention). But that doesn't preclude analogical talk.

BenYachov said...

So Anon "Christian" you didn't actually read the links I gave did you?

Because they contradict your erroneous assertions.

BenYachov said...

Anon October 22, 2011 12:34 PM
gets it & has obviously read the links.

Go on you man(woman?)!

Cheers!

BenYachov said...

>But if God is not a moral agent, doesn't it follow that the moral status of an action won't play any part in God's decision to perform or not perform that action?

You question assumes God is a being aloneside other beings who acts like we do....

He's not.

Anyway I am sick as a dog right now. So I am punking out & posting links to answer some of these replies.

Just read them people I am not in the mood.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/09/classical-theism.html


http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-man-and-classical-theism.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/04/one-god-further-objection.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/05/davies-on-divine-simplicity-and-freedom.html

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/laws-evil-god-challenge.html

BenYachov said...

Anon Christian

>I just struggle with your anti-personalist view of God.(I'm the Anonymous who has questioned you about it before in the past). It seems to be much more a product of Aristotle than of Jesus.

I'll try to answer you better when my head stops pounding.

God bless

Ilíon said...

Were Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... and Dresden and Berlin, etc … intrinsically immoral?

Most “liberals” will either say “yes”, though few can give any coherent reasons why, or will attempt to evade the issue. But then, most “liberals” are either foolish (i.e. intellectually and/or morally jejune) or are outright fools (i.e. intellectually, and morally, dishonest). Certain foolish Catholics, such as Ed Feser, also assert that the Allies’ actions in destroying so many lives in these cities were intrinsically immoral.

When the West, or what’s left of it, finally acts decisively in response to the existential threat of resurgent Islam, will the horrific actions we shall then undertake be intrinsically immoral?

And, in both cases, on what grounds are these actions, whether having occurred or yet being hypothetical, rightly judged as being intrinsically immoral?

The point here is that no one need point at God’s orders to the ancient Israelites; we can point at our own selves and our parents and grandparents.

Alternately, one can also see that our (and our immediate ancestors’) actions were likewise ordered by God … even if we, as a culture, no longer speak and think in those terms.

Hiero5ant said...

@Matt your chronology is wrong. Victor only attempted to change the subject to "lol you can't prove objective morality" after he had been challenged on his Loftusian taunting, to the effect that Dawkins (or any decent moral human being) is somehow obligated to share a stage in mutually respectful debate with genocidal villains.

Perhaps you didn't notice the switch (which I analogized to someone demanding transitional fossils but what they "really" meant was "I don't believe in evolution because atheism doesn't explain why there is something instead of nothing") because apologetics is not a habit of thinking aimed at the discovery of truth, it is a grab bag of "stumper questions for atheists".

Apologetics is Conversational Wrestling. The goal is to pin one's opponent at all costs. It is thus immaterial whether 1000 transitional fossils are submitted, or whether you have to admit that not wanting to share a stage where you're forced to sit in silence while someone speaks for 25 minutes about how we should feel bad for the Israeli murderers is not "cowardice". Why bother admitting you made a mistake, when you can just say "ah yes but you haven't solved the hard problem of consciousness and provided a robust naturalistic metaethics, so really victory is mine."

I am "fixated" on this issue first because it is almost by definition the single moral issue which atheists and muslims and christians and hindus SHOULD be able to get right, metaphysics be damned. There are already a couple of posters in this thread who get it wrong, and IMO Victor is intolerably equivocal on the topic (although I do not believe it's out of any malice). It may seem that I am obstinately refusing to let a point go, but only from the perspective of a willingness to disingenuously change the subject rather than admit error. "Why are you so 'fixated' on the point I won't admit you're right about, when I've changed the subject to some vague metaphysical terrain where I think I can 'pin' you?"

Anonymous said...

BenYachov,

Okay, I've read the links you've posted, and I have some problems with Feser's argument.

He seems to want to have his cake and eat it too by saying that, because of divine simplicity, God's perfect knowledge is the same thing as his will, yet his intelligence is in some sense prior to his will. I don't understand how if his will and his intelligence are the same thing how we can be so sure that God's intelligence rules his will. It doesn't make sense to me that one could be more primary than the other if they're the same thing.

My other problem with this prioritizing God's intelligence over his will in natural law theory is that it seems to reduce God's goodness to His intelligence. As Feser explains it, God seems to command the best for us not primarily because He loves us but simply because it's the rational thing to do. He didn't send Jesus to die for us out of love, but because a cold cost-benefit analysis revealed it was the most prudent form of action.

That just goes to my biggest problem with Scholasticism, in that it seems to want us to interpret divine revelation in light of natural revelation. And to me it seems obvious it should be the other way around. We shouldn't interpret what Jesus said on the basis of what Aristotle said, but rather judge what Aristotle said on the basis of what Jesus said. And, excuse me, but Jesus seemed to be a dyed-in-the-wool theistic personalist.

At any rate, you seem to go further than he does in stating that God does not qualify for our moral praise. I would say that in Feser's article "God, Obligation, and the Euthyphro Dilemma," God is still recognizable to me as something with which I could have a relationship. Whereas often reading your posts, I find it hard to distinguish God as you characterize him from a cold, impersonal, purely rational force.

Ilíon said...

Dawkins, now: Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig -- This Christian 'philosopher' is an apologist for genocide. I would rather leave an empty chair than share a platform with him

Dawkins, then: There are no such things as 'right' and 'wrong'

Ilíon, then and now: Dawkins is an inverate liar (and even admits as much in print)

Anonymous said...

I think Dawkins just kind of played into Craig's hand. Craig will undoubtedly reply to Dawkins' comments, in earnest, and because Dawkins tossed the blood in the water, Craig's response is going to get repeated everywhere this article by Dawkins is now appearing. Which means that Dawkins is now in a public debate with Craig, whether he wants to be or not.

Matt said...

Hello Hiero5ant,

Where did I get the chronology wrong?
Victor commented about moral relativism condemning genocide then you commented asking him if he could defend genocide in a debate. That's the history this comment thread shows, are you in a conversation outside it that I should be aware of?

It sounds like you just want to hear Victor's take on it regardless of his criticism of Dawkin's position on the subject. If that's the case, I'm glad Victor has been making these recent posts to discuss these things.

BenYachov said...

Anon Christian,

Sorry if I was cranky before.

>At any rate, you seem to go further than he does in stating that God does not qualify for our moral praise.

I understand from reading Davies and Feser & others, moral praise to be something along the lines of me praising my son for doing what he is told.

Now my Son has a duty to me has his father & is indebted to me by God to obey my lawful commands to him as his Father.

Thus when I morally praise him it is for a job well done.

Well isn't it a little stupid to praise God for a Job well done? As if he could fail in doing anything he sets out to do?

Plus I thought God is not a debtor to any man?

(google that phrase and see how many Catholics and Protestant agree with that)

So he doesn't owe us anything. The praise we give is the thanks for doing something good for us we know He didn't have to do.

Dayenu-hebrew for "It would have been enough" as the Jews say.

>I find it hard to distinguish God as you characterize him from a cold, impersonal, purely rational force.

I don't believe God is impersonal I just don't believe he is a human person.

I believe He is Transcendent Intelligence and His love is not a mere animal passion or sentiment it is way pure then that. It is an Act of Eternal Infinite Incomprehensible Will.

How is that not better?

BenYachov said...

@Anon Christian

Anyway get

THE REALITY OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL also by Brian Davies.

or anything by Herbert McCabe.

If you want the spirituality connected with Scholasticism I would recommend ST JOHN OF THE CROSS, THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, NICOLAS OF CUZA, early THOMAS MERTON etc..

Changed my life.

BenYachov said...

>It doesn't make sense to me that one could be more primary than the other if they're the same thing.

Because you are thinking of God in unequivocal terms and not analogous ones.

Learn the doctrine of analogy.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

BenYachov,

But when we praise God for doing good to us which He was not obligated to do, aren't we still MORALLY praising Him? Aren't we saying that it is supremely morally good of Him to give us what we do not deserve? It's the very fact that He doesn't owe us any good thing which makes it so morally praiseworthy that he gives it to us anyway!

I can't make any sense of the idea that we are to praise God for doing good to us despite the fact that He isn't morally obligated to do so, but that this praise isn't moral praise, it's some other kind of praise. What kind of praise would that be?

I don't think anybody in the conversation (or, really, anybody in the world) thinks the Christian God is a human person. I think both you and Feser make straw men of what non-Thomists take God to be. I agree with everything you said about God, I just don't agree with the way in which you and Feser make God out to be, ultimately, a slave to His intelligence, such that His intelligence seems to swallow His other attributes. You both seem to be saying that God is good to us because it's the supremely rational thing to do, given our natures, and thus God has no choice other than to do what he does. It seems like in your view if we could build an omniscient computer, we could perfectly predict all of God's actions, since God's will is nothing more than the acting out of the most rational form of action. That seems to make God less than a person, not more.

I don't think the doctrine of analogy is going to solve the problem of making one identical thing superior to or prior to something it is identical to. Unless of course you are using the term "identical" analogically, in which case you're just speaking gobbledygook. If God's will is His intelligence and His intelligence is His will, then neither is primary. What you and Feser seem to be advocating is that God's will (and thus his goodness) is ENTIRELY REDUCIBLE to his intelligence, and that is what I object to.

Ilíon said...

Anonymous: "I don't think anybody in the conversation (or, really, anybody in the world) thinks the Christian God is a human person. I think both you and Feser make straw men of what non-Thomists take God to be."

Indeed.

Or, to put it in the blunt terms I use: both Feser and BenYachov are intellectually dishonest ... both are fools.

Anonymous said...

I would never go that far. I don't agree with everything Feser or BenYachov says but I've learned a lot from both of them and intend to keep doing so. I don't entirely buy all of the arguments in The Last Superstition, but it's a great read and makes me want to know more about Thomism. (Feser's Aquinas is next on my reading list.)

Ilíon said...

Who ever said that a liar-about-this *cannot* speak the truth-about-that?

Intentionally building a strawman *is* intellectually dishonest.

BenYachov said...

>But when we praise God for doing good to us which He was not obligated to do, aren't we still MORALLY praising Him?

No we have a moral obligation to praise him for his gratuitous act of good towards us. But the morality is on us not Him.

We owe Him everything. He owes us nothing.

Ilíon

Question: When did you turn into Paps with god-belief?

BenYachov said...

>I don't think the doctrine of analogy is going to solve the problem of making one identical thing superior to or prior to something it is identical to.

Learn the Thomist doctrine of analogy!

God is not an identical thing to us!

Heresy!

But it is clear you don't know enough doctrine to be a true heretic in this matter.

BenYachov said...

Christian Anon

You clearly don't know the doctrine of analogy from a hole in the head. You are comparing God to man in unequivocal terms which is so many levels of wrong.

Go study. I'm still sick & my nerves are frayed!

http://faculty.cua.edu/hoffmann/courses/308_1078/308_analogy.pdf

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/analogy-medieval/

see also
Aquinas and Analogy
By Ralph M. McInerny

Anonymous said...

BenYachov,

I deny that I am doing anything that you are accusing me of!

Doing a good to someone that one is not obligated to do is morally praiseworthy, therefore God deserves to be morally praised, i.e. praised for His goodness, because of these acts. If you deny this, you are denying that God's grace is morally praiseworthy.

If x is identical to y, then x is not prior to y, and y is not subservient to x.

This has nothing to do with the Thomist doctrine of analogy but on the logical status of identity, upon which Thomism (and all rational thought!) rests.

If God's Intelligence is His will, then His Intelligence is not prior to His will, and His will is not subservient to His intelligence!

Again, the only way I can see that this could not be true is if Thomists aren't using the word "identical" in the sense we mean it. But that would mean that God's attributes weren't really identical, which would mean God isn't really simple (or Pure Act, or Being Itself, or any of the rest of it).

Notice I didn't bring up mankind anywhere in the previous paragraph. It has nothing to do with what comparing God to man, or comparing human notions of good to the God. It simply has to do with the principle of identity, which the Thomist can't say is applied analogically within the doctrine of divine simplicity without the whole metaphysical system falling apart.

Or, it's possible I'm missing something. But if I am, I don't think I'm missing the things you're saying I'm missing.

BenYachov said...

@Anon Christian

>I deny that I am doing anything that you are accusing me of!

How do you know that? You are not exactly an expert on Thomism here.

>Doing a good to someone that one is not obligated to do is morally praiseworthy, therefore God deserves to be morally praised, i.e. praised for His goodness, because of these acts. If you deny this, you are denying that God's grace is morally praiseworthy.

You are wasting my time! I am opperating according to Davies/Aquinas understanding of moral praise. Till you furnish me with your personal definition we will talk past each other.

>This has nothing to do with the Thomist doctrine of analogy but on the logical status of identity, upon which Thomism (and all rational thought!) rests.

Sorry no any comparision of God to created things is analigous not unequivocal or wholly equivocal. You are confused and you don't understand the doctrine of analogy.

>If God's Intelligence is His will, then His Intelligence is not prior to His will, and His will is not subservient to His intelligence!

So you are oblivious to the fact the above is an analigious discription of God not an unequivocal one? You are treating God as a being in time that has composition with succesive operations of his parts.

So many levels of wrongness.....

>Again, the only way I can see that this could not be true is if Thomists aren't using the word "identical" in the sense we mean it. But that would mean that God's attributes weren't really identical, which would mean God isn't really simple (or Pure Act, or Being Itself, or any of the rest of it).

Only because you are pretending the doctrine of analogy doesn't apply here and are making unequivocal discriptions between God & Things.

>Notice I didn't bring up mankind anywhere in the previous paragraph. It has nothing to do with what comparing God to man, or comparing human notions of good to the God. It simply has to do with the principle of identity, which the Thomist can't say is applied analogically within the doctrine of divine simplicity without the whole metaphysical system falling apart.

The doctrine of analogyis has to do with comparing God to creatures any creatures not just man, i.e. the things in creation.

You cannot make an unequivocal comparision between the identity of things whose essence and being/existence are distinct with BeingItself in which they are the same. You can only make an analogous comparison. It's like trying to subtract one from Infinity and claiming with a straight face Inf-1 < Inf. Silly!

>Or, it's possible I'm missing something. But if I am, I don't think I'm missing the things you're saying I'm missing.

You are missing a lot of things. You need to go study. I have neither the time, patence, skill or inclination to teach you. At best I can recomend books for you to read.

Bye! God Bless! (That is your cue to quit bugging me).

Anonymous said...

BenYachov

(I'm not good at not bugging people. So, I'm not going to stop until you just stop answering me. Feel free to wait until you feel better to do so, or feel free to never do so, but your refusal won't stop me from trying to understand where one of us (probably me) is going wrong.)

My definition of moral praise is pretty simple. Someone is worthy of moral praise when they have done something morally praiseworthy. Doing good for someone who you have no moral obligation to do anything good for is morally praiseworthy. Thus, contrary to your stated opinion, God is morally praiseworthy.

Look, according to Thomism as I meagerly understand it, voluntarism errs by assuming that God's will is in some sense superior to God's knowledge, such that God's behavior wouldn't be predictable from His knowledge. The doctrine of divine simplicity says that this errs because it assumes that God's knowledge and will are two distinct things, when in fact they are the same thing. Thus, if I am reading Feser right, there is no danger of God acting in anything but the most rational manner.

Now, my problem with this view is that this seems to just commit the opposite mistake of voluntarism, in that it makes God's knowledge to rule over his will, such that God's will becomes pretty much superfluous. It seems to make God Himself subject to a kind of determinism.

But my other problem with this is it seems like an illegal move on the part of the Thomist since trying to make any part of God prior to or dependent upon any other part is to admit God has parts, and that would deny divine simplicity.

I don't see that the point I'm making has anything to do with the doctrine of analogy. That just seems to be your default retreat position, or just the thing you reflexively say when someone's questioning you about Thomism and you get annoyed.

My point is that if God's will and knowledge are the same thing, then how can the Thomist say that God's will is in some sense restrained by His knowledge? If they're the same thing one can't restrain the other, because in that case there would be a hierarchy within the being of God and the whole Thomist picture falls apart.

If anything, I would think that the doctrine of divine simplicity might lead to voluntarism on the grounds that, if God's will and power are His knowledge, then anything He wills will become true, and thus a content of His knowledge. So it seems to make just as much sense to say that God's knowledge is subservient to God's will as it does to say that God's will is subservient to his knowledge.

Now, if what you're saying is the doctrine of divine simplicity itself is an analogy, then, again, the whole system falls apart. If God's attributes are not really identical but rather something analogous to identical, then God is composite, and thus contains potency, and thus is not purely actual, etc.

BenYachov said...

>I don't see that the point I'm making has anything to do with the doctrine of analogy.

Then any discussion between us is futile if you insist on treating all statements about God comparing him to creatures in an unequivocal way instead of an analogous way.

A Theistic Personalist Deity which you confess to believing in can and must be compared to persons and creation in an unequivocal way.

You are treating them the same and they are not the same. A Theistic Personalist deity cannot have a simple substance.

That is what you are doing and if you can't see that then I will in the future ignore your responses and stop beating the dead horse.

Aquinas says with a person who denies first principles do not dispute with, since any discussion would be futile.

>That just seems to be your default retreat position, or just the thing you reflexively say when someone's questioning you about Thomism and you get annoyed.

It is like debating a Protestant who insists I must believe the Bible is the Sole Rule of Faith. A man-made human tradition every faithful Catholic must reject.

I don't mind so much Protestants interpreting the Bible alone apart from Tradition. But I will take serious issue with a Protestant who dishonestly acts as if Catholic Doctrine must follow the rules of Sola Scriptura to formulate it's dogmas. It doesn't.

So you may make the Case for a Theistic Personalist God but you may not treat the Classic Theistic God as if He where just another Theistic Personalist deity.

All your questions clearly presuppose an unequivocal description of God and not an analogous one. Till you acknowledge this I will not answer any of your arguments since they are by definition trick questions on the level of "Do you still beat your dog".

>I'm not good at not bugging people. So, I'm not going to stop until you just stop answering me.

Then you next post will be your last.

My last book recommendation.

SPEAKING THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE GOD by Gregory P. Rocca.

So you may learn about analogy and as proper questions on the nature of the Classic Theistic God.