Monday, April 28, 2014

Francis Beckwith on religious arguments in the public square

Here. Arguments are good or bad, and whether they are religious or not is irrelevant.

65 comments:

Saints and Sceptics said...

Oddly enough, we've just published an article on this :
http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/saints-secularism-and-sectarianism/

It follows the British Prime Minister's comments on "Christian Britain" and the secularist response.

Saints and Sceptics

Saints and Sceptics said...


London's Daily Telegraph describes the argument here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/10777417/David-Cameron-fosters-division-by-calling-Britain-a-Christian-country.html

Ilíon said...

"Arguments are good or bad, and whether they are religious or not is irrelevant."

But, but, but! How are the anti-religionists' "arguments" ever to prevail if they can't rule opposing views or arguments as invalid-by-definition?

planks length said...

This is related to all the times a well-known unskeptical person on this website will dismiss an argument or a citation because it's from (horrors) an apologist!

im-skeptical said...

"This is related to all the times a well-known unskeptical person on this website will dismiss an argument or a citation because it's from (horrors) an apologist!"

Where did you ever hear that? Citation, please.

Let's not forget that this is coming from someone who automatically dismisses all arguments against the accuracy of the New Testament. And yes, you have said that you've heard them all and found them lacking.

planks length said...

And that is "automatic" how?

im-skeptical said...

How is it automatic? How do you think it's not? There is no argument that you find to be worthwhile, no matter what it is. There happen to be some pretty good ones. Just no t good enough to get past your automatic rejection.

Ilíon said...

Someone has a "projection" going on.

Ilíon said...

... which may explain why he's so unbalanced.

planks length said...

"How do you think it's not?"

It is not, because unlike you, who are the most unskeptical person I have ever come across, I have examined the arguments in depth over a period of many years (decades, actually), and found them woefully lacking.

Were you not so uncritically and unskeptically bound to your materialistic atheism, it would be blindingly apparent to you that even the very best arguments against the veracity of the New Testament narratives are built on a foundation of sand out of tissue paper.

The only "automatic" dismissals here are yours, and this is apparent to all except the willfully blind.

planks length said...

You beat me to it, Ilion. We must have been typing simultaneously!

im-skeptical said...

Faith beats physics, empirical evidence, history, and logic. And if you think otherwise, you are "uncritically and unskeptically bound to your materialistic atheism".

planks length said...

"Faith beats physics, empirical evidence, history, and logic"

Well, let's see here:

1. physics - has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the New Testament narratives are reliable. (But he likes to say "physics" - makes him sound kinda intelligent.) Strike one for im-gullible.

1. empirical evidence - what? Gullible doesn't have any? He just throws the word around like some magic incantation? Well, OK then, strike two.

3. history - What's that you say? Really? The New Testament texts have more confirmation any any other ancient document? Wha.. sorry to interrupt. You say that no one has ever successfully contradicted even the smallest historical detail in the Gospels? Really, never? In fact, you say, archeology is continuing to verify the details in the Gospels, while never, ever casting doubt on anything in them? Nothing at all? All right then, strike three.

3. logic - Wait, what's that you say? Gullible is already out? Tell you what, let's give him a foul ball here, OK? Just to be charitable. All right, so you say there's no logical fallacy connected to acknowledging the veracity of the New Testament accounts of historical events?

I guess there's only one thing left to say, then: "Ye-e-e-er out!" (And the Home Team wins!)

im-skeptical said...

1. physics - tells us that people don't walk on water.

2. empirical evidence - shows us that stars are distant from earth, and don't hover over a town.

3. history - reveals that there there was never a Roman census where people were required to travel to their ancestral homes.

4. logic - refutes the existence of any supernatural beings.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"logic - refutes the existence of any supernatural beings."

You are the gift that keeps on giving.

planks length said...

1. "people don't walk on water
Of course they don't! If they could, then Jesus having done so wouldn't be a miracle. What are you, dense? If every Tom, Dick, and Harry could walk on water, it would never have been recorded in the Gospels as something terrifying and awe inspiring to its witnesses.

2. "stars ... don't hover over a town"
Ah, but they do, im-dense, they do. See HERE.

3. "reveals that there there was never a Roman census where people were required to travel to their ancestral homes."
Oh, yeah? Where? You cite your historians, and I'll cite mine. You are aware that Argumentum ab auctoritate is a fallacy, right?

4. " logic - refutes the existence of any supernatural beings."
Excuse me while I get off the floor from laughing so hard. Really? Really? REALLY? Show us, O Great Logician, this most excellent refutation. Syllogism, please.

planks length said...

O, grodrigues,

That is so perfect! We need to include that link in each and every response to im-dense from here on out!!!

im-skeptical said...

If I have an hour to waste, I'll watch your little religious propaganda movie.

Meantime ...

Faith beats physics, empirical evidence, history, and logic. And if you think otherwise, you are "uncritically and unskeptically bound to your materialistic atheism".

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

logic - refutes the existence of any supernatural beings.

That has got to be dumbest fucking thing you have ever said. Let me explain something to you; logic is a neutral entity and heavily subjected to the GIGO (Garbage-In, Garbage-Out) principle. If you start from the premise that the supernatural doesn't exist, then it will logically follow that supernatural creatures don't exist; if your initial premise is wrong, while everything that still follows will still be logically sound, just wrong as hell. See, smart skeptics understand this; that is why they try to attack the initial premises in CS Lewis's little argument because the entire argument is logically sound. You, however, aren't smart and have notable inclination to commit multiple logical fallacies to boot.

Victor Reppert said...

The point that seems to be missing here is that laws of nature tell us what will happen when nature is not interfered with from the outside. They are laws OF NATURE, which means they tell you what nature will do left to itself. If I release a ball in the air, it will fall to the ground, UNLESS I grab it before it hits the floor. To get the results you are claiming here you have to assume, without argument, the causal closure of the physical.

im-skeptical said...

"laws of nature tell us what will happen when nature is not interfered with from the outside"

And empirical evidence tells us that there is never any "interference from the outside". We just don't see it. Ever.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't think this is given in experience. People experience what they take to be the miraculous. If we come in with the idea that whatever happens can't be miraculous, then of course we won't decide that it is miraculous.

im-skeptical said...

"People experience what they take to be the miraculous."

People don't experience anything that belies the laws of nature. They have emotional or subjective experiences that are absolutely natural, but they interpret as miraculous. That proves exactly nothing. It's not objective empirical evidence that the laws of nature are ever violated.


Papalinton said...

Grod: ""logic - refutes the existence of any supernatural beings.""


Uh Oh! We're in la-la land here. This doesn't even comport with Hart's concept of a GOB, you know, the big GOB that amorphously pervades and is everything, the pantheistic GOB that Sophisticated™ Theologians bang on about, not the personalistic pantheon of putatively live unnatural entities that Grod refers to.

Grod, perhaps you have not kept up with Hart's Sophisticated™ Theology because the god of Abraham is not the GOB of Hart.

Steve Lovell said...

Hi Skep,

I'm not normally as hard on you as some of the other commentators here, but you've really not done well in this thread (so far).

I can see something to be said for your points 2 and 3 (though I don't buy them), but points 1 and especially 4 are so ridiculous as to be genuinely funny.

I'll not bother with your point 4, except to say that I'd love to see someone attempt to publish such an argument in the Journal of Symbolic Logic.

On point 1 you said in response to Vic:
"And empirical evidence tells us that there is never any interference from the outside. We just don't see it. Ever."

Now as an attempt to support your initial assertion that "physics tells us that people don't walk on water" this doesn't really help. People do sometimes walk on water. Normally with some outside physical assistance, and physics can't rule out outside assistance (physical or otherwise). You've moved the goalposts. Vic was happy to fight on the new territory and replied:
"I don't think this is given in experience. People experience what they take to be the miraculous. If we come in with the idea that whatever happens can't be miraculous, then of course we won't decide that it is miraculous."

You again:
"People don't experience anything that belies the laws of nature. They have emotional or subjective experiences that are absolutely natural, but they interpret as miraculous. That proves exactly nothing. It's not objective empirical evidence that the laws of nature are ever violated."

Do you see how you've shift the goalposts again here? You started off saying that experience tells us that there never is interference from outside, but have finished by saying that any experiences that suggests otherwise don't prove anything, and even to do that you've had to describe those experiences as "emotional or subjective". That is a conclusion you might reach after research, and I can see that there is plenty that could be said for it ... but the dialectical situation doesn't permit you to bring in that conclusion here.

So you've moved the goalposts twice, and even then only managed to reach that twice revised goal by bringing in an assumption that is dialectically out of bounds.

So as I said, you've really not done well in this thread (so far).

What you want to do about that is entirely up to you.

Best,

Steve

P.S. The citation you requested from PL would probably point to any number of recent contributions here from Paps.

P.P.S. Grod's response links to a YouTube clip that is less that 30 seconds long, so you needn't worry about wasting an hour.

Papalinton said...

Steve your commentary is plain silliness.

"Now as an attempt to support your initial assertion that "physics tells us that people don't walk on water" this doesn't really help. People do sometimes walk on water. Normally with some outside physical assistance, and physics can't rule out outside assistance (physical or otherwise)." What a load of codswallop. You know as anyone does physics has pretty much ruled out walking on water as a normal occurrence. Try it yourself. Talk to the parents of the children that make up these 2013 statistics" about how physics can't rule out how their kids can walk on water.

There's been no shifting of the goalposts. It's the loopy idea promulgated that someone who doesn't give credence to the 'miraculous' that can never know or understand what is meant by the 'miraculous' that is the nonsense of superstition.

Of course we don't understand because there is nothing to understand other than whatever is claimed miraculous is simply the ignoramuses' way of saying, "I can't think of an answer." In the laziness of their supernatural superstitious haze the miracle-pundits punt straight to 'Goddidit'. That's not an explanation. That's an excuse.

Karl Grant said...

Paps,

What a load of codswallop. You know as anyone does physics has pretty much ruled out walking on water as a normal occurrence.

Really? There is currently about 1,200 species of animal that evolved with the ability to walk on water and they do it every damn day. That strikes me as being a fairly normal occurrence.

planks length said...

Karl,

I think I realize what you're doing here, but such examples are irrelevant to the central issue in im-dense's first point. He has fallen into the trap of thinking that the New Testament writers, along with all other ancient peoples ("ancient" in this case meaning everyone prior to Copernicus * ), were unaware of modern science, and were therefore more susceptible of believing in virgin births, walking on water, and rising from the dead.

What is so ludicrously silly about such "reasoning" is that the New Testament writers knew quite well that such events were outside of normal, naturally-occurring experience. They were in fact the opposite of being gullible in recording them. Just look at the response of the eyewitnesses to New Testament miracles:

"They were all amazed and glorified God, saying 'We never saw anything like this!'" (Mark 2:12)

"And the men marveled, saying "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?'" (Matthew 8:27)

"Fear seized them all; and they all glorified God, saying 'A great prophet has arisen among us!'" (Luke 7:16)

"But when they saw [Jesus] walking on the sea ... they all were terrified ... and they were utterly astounded." (Mark 6:49-51)

And many, many other examples. Point being, they knew darn well that these events were not "in accordance with the laws of nature" (as we would say today), but were extraordinary, one-of-a-kind miracles. Why else record them at all? If they were everyday occurrences, no one would have noticed them.

So we must be absolutely unapologetic in affirming that the miracles of Jesus are indeed miracles, and cannot be explained away by any appeal to the natural order of things.

* Copernicus - that devout Christian, Catholic Bishop, and great man of science.

im-skeptical said...

Steve,

Allow me to address your objections individually.

> I'll not bother with your point 4, except to say that I'd love to see someone attempt to publish such an argument in the Journal of Symbolic Logic.

That's good because I don't really care to bother trying to argue logic with theists who pre-suppose the existence of gods and supernatural entities before making any logical arguments about them. It is pointless to point out to them the fallacy of their arguments, as we have seen over and over again.

> On point 1 ... People do sometimes walk on water. Normally with some outside physical assistance, and physics can't rule out outside assistance (physical or otherwise).

No, they don't walk on water with assistance from "outside" the natural world (which is the kind of supernatural interference that Vicrtor referred to). If you can document a single case of anything like that happening (not from the bible - after all, we are arguing about the truth of the NT) I'll retract everything I have said, and issue my most sincere apology. As it is, that is a violation of natural law, and it simply never happens. And I have not moved any goal posts. This is entirely consistent with my original statement.

> Do you see how you've shift the goalposts again here? You started off saying that experience tells us that there never is interference from outside, but have finished by saying that any experiences that suggests otherwise don't prove anything, and even to do that you've had to describe those experiences as "emotional or subjective".

You have distorted my words. I said "empirical evidence tells us that there is never any "interference from the outside". We just don't see it. Ever." Empirical evidence is objective. Subjective experience, as I explained, is not the same as empirical evidence. And subjective experience is not evidence of anything but what someone feels in his mind. Once again, I have not moved any goalpost, but I think you're trying to.

> P.S. The citation you requested from PL would probably point to any number of recent contributions here from Paps.

Citation, please.

> P.P.S. Grod's response links to a YouTube clip that is less that 30 seconds long, so you needn't worry about wasting an hour.

Grod has proven to be someone who merely snipes from the sideline. His remarks are usually not worthy of response. But the religious propaganda movie I referred to is the one that planks linked at 3:47 PM.



im-skeptical said...

Incidentally, that movie is the kind of thing that appeals to someone who already believes, and is gullible enough to swallow most anything to justify his irrational belief. I was curious enough to listen to what they had to say about how a star could "go before" the magi and stop over a town. Needless to say, it was laughable how they had to first revise history to get the timing right, then explain away the star hovering over Bethlehem as part of Jupiter's retrograde motion in the sky. What a load of crap. But if you're a gullible believer, I suppose it's good enough for you.

Karl Grant said...

Planks Length,

I understand that, I am just reinforcing Steve Lovell's point about moving goalposts. Paps and Skeppy claim that physics tells us that walking on water doesn't happen when in actuality it does; just not typically with humans unaided by technology. But by moving the standard from one species (humans) to animals in general, I can render Paps statement You know as anyone does physics has pretty much ruled out walking on water as a normal occurrence as a load of crap.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

That's good because I don't really care to bother trying to argue logic with theists

Then why even make a statement "logic - refutes the (condition) of (subject)" to begin with if you don't bother to argue logic? Because that is the kind of statement somebody makes when they are trying to argue logic, poorly. In other words, you fucked up and are now in damage control mode.

If you can document a single case of anything like that happening

Suppose we did, said documentation would most likely come in the form of eye-witness reports and you have got an automatic dismissal for that already lined up (i.e., Subjective experience).

Subjective experience, as I explained, is not the same as empirical evidence. And subjective experience is not evidence of anything but what someone feels in his mind.

Really? And how many cases do we have of a person physically leaving the confines of their own mind to objectively examine the evidence? Why none. I can't step outside of my own mind and dispassionately look at things and neither can you. Which means that if the above statements are true, than objective evidence exists for no one; including your ass.

planks length said...

" If you can document a single case of [a person walking on water] happening (not from the bible - after all, we are arguing about the truth of the NT) I'll retract everything I have said"

Note im-constantly-moving-the-goalpost's weird "reasoning" here. We're talking about a miracle, which by definition is a non-repeatable event. Yet he nevertheless demands a repetition of a one-of-a-kind occurrence before he'll accept the validity of the singular event. I'm not even sure what to call such an outrageous fallacy. It's worse than circular logic - it's more like a Möbius strip!

Heck, we even have non-repeatable events in the natural world that needn't be miracles. JFK was assassinated only once, and can't be a second time. Yet, by im-illogical's standards, before he would believe that JFK was assassinated, we'd have to provide an example of his being so other than the time that he was.

im-circular, you go on and on about "theists who pre-suppose the existence of gods and supernatural entities" while ignoring your own presuppositions concerning the impossibility of miracles. You need to take heed to Matthew 7:5.

im-skeptical said...

"We're talking about a miracle, which by definition is a non-repeatable event. "

OK. I don't insist that the events you believe in have to be repeatable. Just that they be documented. Witnessed by reliable and impartial observers. But the fact is, that never happens. Never. Ever. Period.

"JFK was assassinated only once, and can't be a second time."

Yet the event is well documented. I have no reason to doubt it.

Now who's moving the goalposts? I didn't ask to see miracles repeated. I only asked for you to show me that they happen. They don't, and you can't.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

Just that they be documented. Witnessed by reliable and impartial observers.

Define reliable and impartial observers. In fact, let's try a thought experiment here concerning a topic you and Bob were recently discussing: extra-terrestrial intelligence. What kind of impartial and reliable observer would it take to convince you that UFOs were a real phenomenon?

planks length said...

You want a provable miracle not in the Bible. Well...

On October 13, 1917, Our Blessed Mother appeared to 3 Portuguese shepherd children near the town of Fatima, an event well-documented and witnessed by more than 70,000 people, many of whom were more than 40 miles away! The witnesses were so great in number (some crowd estimates are as high as 100,000) that most were not even in sight of the others. "Mass hallucination" (an unscientific term, by the way) cannot by any stretch of the imagination be an explanation here - not with such dispersion.

Atheists are forever demanding that the stars spell out "GOD" or some such thing. Well, here with O Milagre do Sol we have an occurrence quite like that.

Yes, yes, I know of all the debunking sites, so spare us the links, please. Already looked at them.

im-skeptical said...

Here's what is actually documented about Fatima:

"No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was recorded by scientists at the time. Not all witnesses reported seeing the sun "dance". Some people only saw the radiant colors, and others, including some believers, saw nothing at all." - Wiki

planks length said...

Well, we may not have come to consensus on the historicity of the New Testament or the existence of miracles, but I think we can all agree on one thing - that im-closed-minded's "contributions" to this conversation amply demonstrate the validity of Francis Beckwith's proposition (which is what this topic is supposedly about), that non-religious people dismiss out of hand ("automatically", to use im-hardheaded's terminology) any argument that they can comfortably label "religious". They feel no need to go any further. Note im-credulous's own words; " I don't really care to bother trying to argue logic with theists."

But we all knew that already.

im-skeptical said...

Correction. Make that what I actually said: "I don't really care to bother trying to argue logic with theists who pre-suppose the existence of gods and supernatural entities before making any logical arguments about them."

planks length said...

"theists who pre-suppose the existence of gods and supernatural entities"

I have yet to meet one such. Strawman, im-not-skeptical, strawman.

Papalinton said...

So tell us Karl, we're all ears, was Jesus a slapper or a glider, as he stepped out of the boat?

From the information you have so generously provided, from science, Jesus must have been a real slapper.

Papalinton said...

Miracles?
No. One can either subscribe to the reality of science as an explanatory tool or continue the tradition of relying on religious superstition as the base explanatory tool.

The choice is quite simple. Either we go with science, as a society,, or we continue basing our public policy decision-making on the homeopathy of religious truths.

"When miracles are admitted every scientific explanation is out of the question." Johannes Kepler

grodrigues said...

@planks length:

"Strawman, im-not-skeptical, strawman."

Actually, it is more like blatant and contemptible intellectual dishonesty. Was not the alleged circularity mentioned not long ago in this very blog? Why yes, see here and, foe example, my comment from April 17, 2014 7:35 PM.

im-skeptical said...

And my reply at 8:08 (3 comments later). Yes, talk about intellectual dishonesty. Why don't you address what I actually say, instead of your strawman?

im-skeptical said...

"I have yet to meet one such. Strawman, im-not-skeptical, strawman."

Look in the mirror.

Karl Grant said...

Paps,

So tell us Karl, we're all ears, was Jesus a slapper or a glider, as he stepped out of the boat? From the information you have so generously provided, from science, Jesus must have been a real slapper.

How cute, like nobody saw that coming given your pre-adolescent level of wit. Unfortunately, I do not have a good comeback to a slapping expert such as yourself. I mean when you have to shave the palm of your hand and dip it in gasoline every two hours to prevent it from looking and smelling like the Everglades nobody is going to rival you in slapping experience. In some ways, it is a minor miracle that your children managed to be born given your...dedication to slapping on various test material. But hey, it is certainly a creative way you managed to weasel your way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Ilíon said...

I don't know what either 'skeptical' or 'physics' mean: "physics - tells us that people don't walk on water."

Carl Sagan: "Consider this claim: ... once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street. [That's]absurd! But [it is a] consequence[] of quantum mechanics ... Like it or not, that's the way the world is. If you insist it's ridiculous, you'll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe."

So, according to Sagan, and to use the sort of language that resonates with I-pretend, Im-selectively-hyperskeptical is a "science-h8er!"

The thing to understand and always keep in mind about God-haters isn't that they reject miracles because they supposedly "break the laws of Nature" (*), but rather that definitionally a miracle is intentionally caused and serves a purpose.

It's the ascription of intentionality and purpose to miracles (or possible miracles) that gets their panties in a bunch. If the very same event were believed by everyone else to be just some meaningless event that happens from time to time for no reason and from no particular cause, they wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow.

(*) Besides which, when it suits them, they deny that there are *any* laws in nature; as see the Sagan quote.

im-skeptical said...

"So, according to Sagan, and to use the sort of language that resonates with I-pretend, Im-selectively-hyperskeptical is a "science-h8er!""

Your ignorance of science is on full display once again. Carl Sagan said nothing that disputes what I have claimed. For your information, quantum mechanics allows for quantum tunneling, but it does not people to walk on water. Your faith-above-evidence attitude makes you the science hater, not me. And my insistence on evidence does not make me a God-hater - it makes me a God-denier.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"For your information, quantum mechanics allows for quantum tunneling, but it does not people to walk on water."

Because you have pegged down the full Hilbert space of the system and its symmetries; have written down the full Hamiltonean and then solved the corresponding Schroediniger equations and proved with complete analytical rigor that there is no quantum path between the two states, right?

planks length said...

"God-haters ... reject miracles because ... a miracle is intentionally caused and serves a purpose. It's the ascription of intentionality and purpose to miracles ... that gets their panties in a bunch."

Brilliant, and absolutely correct! Were Christians to ascribe no special significance to the Resurrection, atheists would accept it without a quiver (as they now accept Creation, er... I'm sorry, I mean the "Big Bang"). It's the implications of the event that cause them to flee in panic.

im-skeptical said...

grod,

I'm all ears. Tell us how your Hilbert spaces have people walking on water. And while you're at it, tell us how dead men can get up and walk.

Victor Reppert said...

Are you telling me it is not within the power of an omnipotent being to raise the dead?

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Tell us how your Hilbert spaces have people walking on water. And while you're at it, tell us how dead men can get up and walk."

In other words, you have zip. Bigmouth strikes again.

im-skeptical said...

"Bigmouth strikes again."

That's right. Tossing around your favorite "scientific jargon" without actually saying anything is what you do best. In other words, YOU have zip.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"In other words, YOU have zip."

So predictable. So boring. I believe it was Crude that evoked the image of a little trained monkey; monkey indeed.

In May 01, 2014 10:21 AM you said in response to Ilíon that:

"For your information, quantum mechanics allows for quantum tunneling, but it does not people to walk on water."

So I asked you proof of this. But the only difference between the two scenarios is that in one Carl Sagan said it was possible and Carl Sagan is gospel, and in the other the Gospels say it happened.

Having absolutely no criterium to separate the two scenarios, you then task me to "Tell us how your Hilbert spaces have people walking on water." But I never claimed anything even remotely close to the neighborhood of this, first because it is a completely wrong way to look at the problem, and second because I have a good idea of what can and what cannot be proved. So if by having zip, you mean I have no argument to defend what I never claimed I suppose you are correct. In other words, it is exactly as I said: Bigmouth strikes again.

I get it that you know nothing about anything, whether it be quantum mechanics or Philosophy. I get it that you are really dumb and stupid and there is really nothing you can do about it. But an intellectually dishonest derp? It isn't worth a damn, you know. But then again, you have dug a hole so deep for yourself, that it would take preternatural wisdom and moral courage to climb out of it.

Is it wind that rattles your empty skull? Whistling an inhuman song?

Oh well. Dance monkey, dance.

Ilíon said...

VR: "Are you telling me it is not within the power of an omnipotent being to raise the dead?"

A better way to put that is: "Are you telling me it is not within the power of [the] being [who made living entities in the first place from lifeless matter] to [restore a formerly live entity back to life]?"

This avoids the God-hater’s all-but-guaranteed attempt to use the term ‘omnipotent’ as the basis of a red-herring distraction, and gets to the real heart of the matter.

planks length said...

Ilion, Victor, et.al.,

Please understand that I'm not in the least criticizing you, because I know what you meant by using terms like "restore a formerly live entity back to life". That said...

We must be firm in making a distinction between, say, the raising of Lazarus, and the Resurrection of Christ. Again, I am well aware that you know the difference. But the God-haters do not. Lazarus's raising was indeed a mere "revivification" - a return to the state he was in before dying of whatever illness he had. In contrast, Christ's Resurrection was no simple "coming back to life" - it was Act One in the New Creation. Jesus's resurrected body was glorified.

So when atheists ask (with a sneer, usually), "Where is He now, if He's still alive?" or "Where did He go when He ascended?", we realize that such infantile queries come from a total lack of comprehension as to what Resurrection means.

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

"Are you telling me it is not within the power of an omnipotent being to raise the dead? "

My reply was to grod's insistence that I couldn't prove that biblical miracles are outside the scope of known physics, which I believe to be the case (unless he is willing to show me how physics would allow it). Of course, if there is any being that has supernatural powers, then all bets are off. So in answer to your question, I suppose such a thing would be possible for an omnipotent being. But only by suspending or violating the laws of nature.

Ilíon said...

PL: "Lazarus's raising was indeed a mere "revivification" - a return to the state he was in before dying of whatever illness he had. In contrast, Christ's Resurrection was no simple "coming back to life" - it was Act One in the New Creation."

One could say that the Resurrection of Christ is a super-set of the raising of Lazarus. By this I mean that the raising of Lazarus (or of any number of other persons) does not entail, and certainly does not "contain", the New Creation, however much it may hint at it; for Lazarus died again. On the other hand, the raising of Christ, being as you say, Act One of the New Creation, being a resurrection into immortality, being indeed the death of Death, does entail-and-contain "mere revivification" and more.

Thus, if one says that the raising of Lazarus is impossible, one has also said that the even greater raising, the Resurrection of Christ, and the New Creation, is impossible.

Whenever and to the extent possible, one should try to "meet people where they are", even when they are intellectually dishonest fools (which, in that case, generally involves contronting the dishonesty). As I see it, in this context, drawing a distinction between "mere revivification" and Christ's Resurrection isn't meeting I'm-amusingly-credulous-about-'Science!' where he's at.

I'm-amusingly-credulous-about-'Science!' is asserting that the lesser raising is impossible, and that "physics" "proves" it to be impossible, and thereby that the greater raising is impossible.

This really needs to be grasped -- a fellow who asserts (and his materialism/naturalism leaves him no other option) the patently absurd notion that lifeless chemicals, all by themselves and contrary to the *natural* reactions of chemicals when left to themselves, organized themselves into living entities and thence into rational beings, is asserting the further absurdity that it is impossible for the Rational Being who created chemicals in the first place, and created rational beings as living entities utilizing those chemicals, to cause a formerly living entity to live again.

planks length said...

Love that last paragraph!

im-skeptical said...

".. is asserting the further absurdity that it is impossible for the Rational Being who created chemicals in the first place, and created rational beings as living entities utilizing those chemicals, to cause a formerly living entity to live again."

I guess you people simply can't read, or (more likely) can't comprehend simple English. Because I made no such assertion. In fact, I said this: "So in answer to your question, I suppose such a thing would be possible for an omnipotent being."

So the question is: does such a being exist? This is where we part ways, because I see no evidence that anything supernatural of any kind has ever happened, while you are convinced (somehow) that supernatural entities do act in supernatural ways.

Papalinton said...

Skep says: "So the question is: does such a being exist? This is where we part ways, because I see no evidence that anything supernatural of any kind has ever happened, while you are convinced (somehow) that supernatural entities do act in supernatural ways.


I think it's more a case of religious conviction rather than of being 'convinced' that supernatural entities act in supernatural ways.

After all, religious metaphysics would simply fade away without its core theme of ineffable, unknowable, unseeable supernaturalism. Without a belief in the ineffable, the unknowable, the unseeable, such a belief would be unsustainable. Take away what you can't see, know, comprehend, understand, believe, and what have you got left? Nothing.

Papalinton said...

Plank: "But the God-haters do not.

It's irrational to imagine that people who do not subscribe to a god hypothesis are also viscerally riven against it. The statement is a pious furphy, a non-sequitur. As Dr David Eller so eruditely shares: "I do not disbelieve in god[s]. I do not disprove god[s]. I disregard god[s], dismiss god[s], discredit god[s]. I am disinterested in god[s]. Atheism is - or should be - freedom from god[s]."

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence". Christopher Hitchens.

Amen to that.

oozzielionel said...

"discredit" does not appear to belong in that list. It connotes an active opposition whereas the other words connote indifference. However, it does seem to better describe the effort.

im-skeptical said...

One of the definitions of 'discredit' is "reject as false; refuse to accept".