Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Loftus answers Torley

Here.

27 comments:

B. Prokop said...

I'll start this one out by re-posting what I wrote three threads below this one:

Everyone should read Loftus's unbelievably callous statement: "My view is that when the wound is fresh then is the time to apply the medicine, not later. ... What I wrote was medicinal." How unhumanly cold is this person! Here we have fellow human beings grieving in the worst possible circumstances imaginable, and Loftus can only think of using their pain as a springboard for converting them to his (dis)beliefs. Now I know why C.S. Lewis termed the Devil the "Unman".

Beyond amazing.

Dr. Evangelicus said...

Like a lot of New Atheists, Lofty's ability at self-reflection appears minimal.

Papalinton said...

"How inhumanly cold is this person?"
This is not the issue, Bob. Please do not strawman the thread.
The question Loftus is putting is "How inhumanly cold is the Abrahamic God for sitting on his arse and not lifting a finger to prevent this god-sanctioned massacre, although you claim from the highest pulpit that he is omnipotent, omnibenevolent?

Catholics cannot in all conscience claim omnipotence and omnibenevolent and sit on their hands about an explanation why such an occurrence should deprive these babies a life, and expect to Garner any form of credibility among normal reasoned people. WLC has already come out and claimed this tragedy as an early Christmas present for the parents about the important meaning the blessed birth of those children's saviour, Jesus h christ. No, let me guess. You violently oppose WLC's christian take on this tragedy, right? But he is one of greatest contemporary Christian apologists of our time.

To respond to this as one of God's mysteries, is not an explanation. It is religious cop out.

Loftus provides the only reasonable and rational explanation to account for this tragedy. There is no God. Period.

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

Thank you for publishing this link. It helps to remind us just how intellectually bankrupt the atheist "argument" (if one can dignify it with that word) is. Every time some new tragedy occurs, they act as though it's the first time in history and they're the first people ever to wonder, "Why didn't God prevent this?" It's like they've never read the Book of Job, or the prophet Habakkuk... or even listened to Bob Dylan, for Pete's sake.

These issues have been raised and dealt with millennia ago. At least half of the Old Testament is concerned with "Why do bad things happen to good people?" One would think that with all the supposed brainpower the atheists lay claim to, they'd come up with something new after all this time, but like C.S. Lewis wrote in Perelandra, originality is not one of the devil's strong points.

William said...

What Loftus fails to realize (and Torley too perhaps) is that Job's complaint is not intellectual as much as it is existential and emotional.

In pop psych terms, it is the System 1 of the intellect that doesn't get it.

So the arguments do nothing of value to anyone existentially affected by the tragedy in question. Pointless and tacky, all of them.

B. Prokop said...

William,

What Job tells us is that if you're looking for a bumper sticker answer to the problem of pain, you're not going to get it. It's pretty much a fool's errand to attempt a summary of Job that doesn't gut the meaning. One has to pay attention to the whole great dialog of Job and his three friends, not passing over a single line.

Ultimately, grief is not meant to be comforted. Allow me to quote myself (From my book Eyes To See):

"My heart breaks every time I hear an account of individuals and families who have lost everything they own (or worse, everyone they loved) in a fire, flood, hurricane, or some manmade disaster like war or other violence. And always, just one step behind that vicarious grief, is the feeling of relief that such hasn’t happened to myself. For I have somehow escaped in my own life the catastrophe of losing everything. The closest I’ve come is when [my wife] Diane died almost four years ago. But even in that blackest of moments, I still had my two wonderful daughters, my utterly indispensible sister-in-law and the rest of her family, and the invaluable support of my brother. My loss was real, but it was far from total.

In the final analysis, no one’s loss is ever really total. Yes, we can lose our property, our livelihood, our family and everyone we love. We can see the defeat of all that we cherish and hold dear. We can (and will) eventually lose our own life. But we can be assured that on that other side of death, there is Someone waiting to welcome us in, to console us beyond our imagining, to truly make all right once more (and forever). There has really been only one Person ever of whom it can be said that He lost everything. We read in Paul that Christ “was in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6), but that rather than clinging to His status, He “emptied himself” and willingly embraced poverty, pain, suffering and death itself. Just ask yourself this – when God dies, who is there on the other side to welcome Him? This is a great mystery beyond our comprehension. It is so simple to recite the Creed, and to say the words that the Son is submissive to the Father unto death, but it is impossible to understand the greater part of what such words really mean. And when we realize that we are probing into the very nature of God Himself, that suffering and loss are fundamental to the very source of existence itself, then we see that the experience of loss is baked into the DNA of the universe. It is an essential part, not only of the way things are, but of the way they are supposed to be."

There's much more to that passage, but let that suffice.

Walter said...

when God dies, who is there on the other side to welcome Him?

The other two-thirds of the Trinity, that's who.

Seriously though, no orthodox Christian believes that God died on the cross.

BeingItself said...

I love the story of Job.

Yahweh tortures Job to win a bet with Satan.

What a jackass!

Of course for the Christian, Yahweh = Love.

William said...

BI: Channeling Job's wife, are we?

Papalinton said...

"These issues have been raised and dealt with millennia ago."

No Bob, this is obfuscatory apologetics at its most egregious. These issues were raised millennia ago and yet, to this very day, still no answer from the uberwoo-meisters. Not in 21 centuries is there yet a satisfactory explanation to why god would allow such a massacre with such depraved indifference. Why? Because the ubiquity of the 'we cannot know the mind of god' claim is no explanation, never has been, never will be. You, yourself throw your hands in the air, "This is a great mystery beyond our comprehension." But as Loftus so correctly infers, it is only a mystery if one cravenly subscribes to the 'god hypothesis'.

HERE is WLC's "A Christmas Reminder from God". What say you? You haven't responded yet to the reasons put forward by the foremost contemporary christian apologist about God's christmas message to the parents of Newtown? Perhaps as Herod's slaughter of all the male children two millennia ago was the consequence of the coming of a christian messiah, there may be a silver lining [if not a silver bullet] somewhere in the Newtown massacre; the portent of the messiah coming back to Earth? I mean, this is the social level and the cultural context in which the original stories of the bible were written.
The story of Job is another great example of this context. [But we both know, except you won't admit it publicly, it is, if anything simply a look into a primitive author's mindset, imagining god's little arm-wrestle with Satan as reality, as an explanation of why shit happens.]

It embarrasses me to the core to this day to recall that I too, for almost three decades, was sucked in by all this claptrap, imagining that somewhere in this tragic saga there is a god-inspired element to this travesty.

The continued belief in god's omnipotence and omnibenevolence, even after allowing this terrible thing to happen, is no more a truth statement of reality than to believe there are 72 virgins waiting just for you in heaven as a martyr. Idiotic, insensible, opaque and embarrassing.

Sorry, Bob. Been there, done that. Wrotye home to Mum about it. Got the T-shirt. Totally unconvincing.

B. Prokop said...

"Seriously though, no orthodox Christian believes that God died on the cross."

You're not an Orthodox Christian if you don't. It's right there in the Creed.

Walter said...

"Seriously though, no orthodox Christian believes that God died on the cross."

You're not an Orthodox Christian if you don't. It's right there in the Creed.


I am not sure which creed you are adhering to, but Christian theology as I understand it states that God is immutable. All that died on the cross was a temporary human nature that the second person of the Trinity adopted for thirty some odd years. To say that God himself died borders on Christian heresy.

B. Prokop said...

Nope. You're wrong on this one. What you're most probably thinking of is Monophysitism, which held that Christ's human nature was somehow subordinate to His divine nature. The Chalcedonian Creed states the Orthodox position quite clearly:

One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.

See? You can't say the human Christ did such-and-such, but His divine nature did not participate. Now that would be heresy.

Walter said...

Bob, what you are advocating for sounds suspiciously like theopassianism or patripassianism.

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/it-accurate-say-god-died-cross/

Who can blame you for not understanding all that Trinitarian nonsense anyway. Jesus died. God did not.

BenYachov said...

Your both right and wrong.

I'll deal with it later.

BenYachov said...

Actually now that I think about it. It's mostly Walter who is wrong.

Again I will address it later.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

No, I am most definitely not advocating theopassionism. The two extremes of that heresy and your own comments both display a profound misunderstanding of the doctrines of the Trinity (what you term "nonsense") and the Incarnation.

These two doctrines are the very core and substance of the Christian Faith, and cannot be understood (insofar as we finite human beings can understand them at all) in isolation from each other. It is in the very nature of the Son to be submissive to the Father, to "empty Himself" as Paul says, to "descend into hell" as the Apostles' Creed states. When I say (and I emphatically do) that "God died", I am in no way referring to a human death (which of course also occurred), but am facing up to the ultimate implications of the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity. God doesn't take half-measures. If Christ is to "empty Himself", then it's going to be all the way.

The implications for human suffering are profound. When we experience loss of what we love, we grieve. The only way we can shield ourselves from grief is to shut out Love (unthinkable alternative). God is Love, as John states. And love makes us vulnerable to loss. And the source of this pain is hardwired in the very nature of God Himself (in the submission of the Son to the Father), and therefore in reality itself - in the way things are, and the way they are supposed to be.

This is what I meant when I wrote, "This is a great mystery beyond our comprehension." Another commenter on this thread termed this "throwing my hands up in the air", but it is not that at all. It is the very reasonable acknowledgement that we mortal and finite human beings cannot possibly grasp "the height and the depth, the width and the breadth", of God. It would be the ultimate arrogance to think we could.

Walter said...

When I say (and I emphatically do) that "God died", I am in no way referring to a human death (which of course also occurred), but am facing up to the ultimate implications of the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity.

What you are stating is that God felt the pain of Jesus' death and that stands in direct contradiction to the philosophical concept of God's impassibility and immutability. You either have to reject this philosophical belief about God in favor of a more anthopopathic understanding of God or you must conclude that only the human nature of Jesus suffered death while the divine nature remained impassible.

Another option is to reject the belief that Jesus was an incarnated God-man. One can still accept that Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead as a way of showing approval to Jesus' doctrinal teachings. Unitarians do not have to subject themselves to all manner of mental gymnastics in vain attempts to explain how a human can be both a limited, personal, emotive being and also an impersonal, abstract, immutable, impassible, omnipotent, omniscient ground-of-all-being at the same time. "Throwing your hands up" is all anyone can do when trying to explain a doctrine that is so ludicrous.

B. Prokop said...

Why is it "ludicrous" to assert that an infinite God is forever beyond the comprehension of a finite mind? The Book of Job hammers this very point home. The Psalmist says in several places that to count the thoughts of God, one would need an eternity.

You have no point here, Walter. for us to be able to wrap our minds around God would mean he was not infinite.

As for the other issues, I am squarely and firmly within the orthodox position. What you are advocating is fairly close to Docetism, the very first Christian heresy - dating back to the time of the Apostles themselves. The Docetists claimed that Christ's suffering was not real, but a sort of play-acting on the part of God. St. John blasted this idea in the harshest imaginable terms. It's actually the origin of the (much-misused) term "antichrist".

No, no, and again No. The doctrine of the Incarnation demands that God is fully present in every moment and aspect of Christ's life on this Earth. This is basic catechism, but it appears that it needs to be said:

"The Word was God ... The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."

"To have seen me is to have seen the Father." (Jesus)

"[Jesus] bears the very stamp of God's nature, upholding the universe by his word of power."

"Many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is a deceiver and the antichrist."

"In [Jesus] the fullness of God was pleased to dwell."

And on, and on, and on...

No, the Unitarians are simply wrong.

B. Prokop said...

"One can still accept that Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead as a way of showing approval to Jesus' doctrinal teachings."

Oh, you must mean such "doctrinal teachings" as "Before Abraham was, I Am."? Or perhaps this one? "The Father and I are one." Or this? "I tell you that one greater than the Temple is here."

Etc.

The dirty little secret that people who want to praise Jesus's teachings while denying His divinity don't like to hear is that there is nothing whatsoever original about any of His teachings. They can all be traced to the Old Testament (often word for word), except... except His statements about His own identity.

Walter said...

"One can still accept that Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead as a way of showing approval to Jesus' doctrinal teachings."

Oh, you must mean such "doctrinal teachings" as "Before Abraham was, I Am."? Or perhaps this one? "The Father and I are one." Or this? "I tell you that one greater than the Temple is here."


You do know that there are alternative ways of interpreting what was being said there, don't you? Thom Stark dealt with those very passages in a pdf titled Undivinizing Jesus. I linked you to that file in a previous discussion we had. (I am sure you never bothered to read it)

B. Prokop said...

Probably not. I almost never go to links... Nothing personal, I just don't do it. I figure if someone's got something to say, then say it.

Walter said...

Why is it "ludicrous" to assert that an infinite God is forever beyond the comprehension of a finite mind? The Book of Job hammers this very point home.

I meant that the doctrine of the Trinity is ludicrous. Incoherent would have been a more better choice.

You are continuing to gloss over the point that I am making: if God is immutable and impassible, then God neither changes nor feels emotion. There has been a movement afoot in Protestant circles to reject the doctrine of divine impassibility and to claim that God suffers with us: God weeps when we weep. This may be great for tugging at the heart strings but I reject it on philosophical grounds.

If you are making the stronger claim that God did not just suffer the emotional pain of Jesus' death but that God actually died when Jesus did, then I would respond that that would entail that the doctrine of divine conservation is false, i.e., that God sustains reality continually. For God to perish would cause reality itself to cease.

There are reasons that many Protestants are moving towards a "personalist" view of God (like Bob wants to believe in)and away from the classical view of a static Unmoved Mover. This conversation highlights some of the difficulties in synthesizing the philosophy of Athens with the putative revelations coming from Jerusalem.

Walter said...

Probably not. I almost never go to links... Nothing personal, I just don't do it. I figure if someone's got something to say, then say it.

Some arguments cannot be reduced to pithy sound bites that fit nicely into comboxes.

B. Prokop said...

You're not a major offender in that arena, but some others on this site just love to string together link after link and think they've made an argument.

BenYachov said...


Why should I re-invent the wheel?

http://payingattentiontothesky.com/tag/thomas-on-the-incarnation/

QUOTE"First, in his Christological reflection, Aquinas presumes the teaching of the early councils of the church, especially Ephesus and Chalcedon. The very first question in his treatment of Christ in the Summa Theologiae concerns the fittingness of the incarnation. As such, Aquinas integrates the traditional principle of the communication of idioms into his description of the person of Jesus. Following the teaching of Ephesus, he argues that because Christ is one person in two natures, we may predicate of God that which is attributed to the human nature of Christ (Summa Theologiae III, 16, 4).

Aquinas affirms that “the passion is to be attributed to the divine person, not by reason of Christ’s divine nature which is impassible, but by reason of his human nature” (Summa Theologiae III, 46, 12). He immediately quotes the Third Letter of Cyril to Nestorius, in which Cyril asserts that “the Word of God suffered in the flesh and was crucified in the flesh.” In his exposition of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, he numbers as one of the articles of faith “that the impassible God suffers and dies” (quod in,passibilis Deus patiatur et moriatur). Because of the unity of Christ, the suffering that he undergoes in his human nature can be attributed to the one divine person.

In an essay on Aquinas and human suffering, Michael Dodds highlights the role that the communication of idioms plays in his Christology. For Aquinas, we can truly confess that Jesus’ suffering is the very suffering of God, that the human suffering of Jesus is itself the suffering of the Logos. “And what we say is not a mere matter of words but of fact and reality.” Appealing to this Thomistic teaching as an alternative to the idea that suffering touches the divine nature, Dodds maintains that if we “recognize that… Jesus of Nazareth is God, we will not be inclined to postulate some suffering of the divine nature as belonging more really to God, or being more really God’s own, than is the human suffering of Jesus.” No suffering is “more really God’s own than the suffering of the man, Jesus of Nazareth.” We are predicating of God not some sort of “divine suffering,” but “rather a human suffering like our own.” He who is like us “in all things but sin” “suffers as we do, as human; and yet that human suffering is the suffering of God.” END QUOTE

see this too

The Incarnation-Catholic Encylopedia

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07706b.htm

BenYachov said...

@Walter

>I am not sure which creed you are adhering to, but Christian theology as I understand it......

Walter I'm going to resist my dark tendency to humiliate & mock people based on their ignorance & politely point out you don't understand classic Theology.

>states that God is immutable.

Correct but we don't say God suffers in his divine nature we say the Person of the Word suffers in His human nature which he assumed. So via the communication of idioms God suffers in the Person of the Word not in the Divine Nature which can't suffer.

>All that died on the cross was a temporary human nature that the second person of the Trinity adopted for thirty some odd years.

Yeh Walter the dead Body of Jesus was still united to the Divine nature via the Person of the Word. Death did not undo that. The Incarnation is forever what you are writing here is a weird combination of Nestorianism & Adoption-ism.

But Bob was wrong in calling it monophysitism if it comforts you.

>To say that God himself died borders on Christian heresy.

No rather it tells me your only understanding of the Trinity is Unitarian Caricature not the actual concept.

The Trinity is not three persons in one person or three beings in one being. You must except this or your polemics will be forever non-starters.

PS When Bob cites the Council of Chalcedon he is citing orthodoxy not Heresy...

Does it seem probable an Ecumenical Council would endorse the very heresies it condemns?