Wednesday, August 24, 2016

God bless you please, Bishop Robinson

A gay Episcopal Bishop defends gay marriage. Atheist Greta Christina is not impressed.


bbrown said...

Greta needs to take a step back and understand that Christianity is not anything like what she describes in her caricature. She seems to value logic, evidence, & sound reason. Yet she seems overwhelmingly ignorant about Christianity and how strongly it is supported by these. So, all of her resultant conclusions are based on faulty premises, rendering her essay basically jabberwocky and blatherskite.
She is clearly afraid that bringing in the Bible might lead many to the obvious conclusion that homosexuality is a significant evil.

B. Prokop said...

I lost her at "Religion is based on faith -- and faith, by definition, is uniquely resistant to evidence. Even at its best, faith ultimately comes down to, "I feel it in my heart."

What rot! To save myself the trouble of re-typing, I'll just link to how I respond to such nonsense.

Ilíon said...

I see what you did there, VR.

Steve Lovell said...

Reading the article what struck me was that she doesn't engage with Robinson's argument at all, only with the form of the argument: that's it's an argument from (an interpretation of) the Biblical text.

Now I can understand why an atheist wouldn't take that seriously, but she seems to think that a Christian shouldn't either regardless of how that argument goes. What planet is she from?

jdhuey said...

Greta is from the planet Earth where history is rife with religious conflicts over just such interpretations.

In mathmatics, there is a rule that you can not divide by zero. The reason for this rule is that if you do divide by zero then you can prove anything, even statements that are obviously wrong, like "2 is equal to 5". Introducing any supernatural factor into a discussion of human concerns is like dividing by zero - you can then argue that your position is correct no matter what it is (even if it is obviously wrong).

bbrown said...

No, she is either being dishonest to further an agenda that cannot be supported by logic and rational thinking, or she is really woefully ignorant of history and the substantial arguments on the other side, or both. I fear that the "both" option applies. Either way, this was a pathetic essay full of straw man fallacies and preposterous statements.

bbrown said...

BTW, your comment about the nature of zero (and the supernatural) is askew. Your definitions are off, causing you to arrive at the wrong conclusions. Not unlike Greta's problem.

jdhuey said...


Exactly how is my analogy askew?

And, exactly which definitions do I use that are off?

BTW, I have read Greta for many years and she is neither dishonest nor ignorant. I don't always agree with her but she is alway upfront about her agenda and she is very well informed, smart and IMHO a very good writer.

Ilíon said...

^ For starters, it is not true that "In mathmatics, there is a rule that you can not divide by zero." There is no such rule. Rather, it is simply a fact of the matter that one cannot divide by zero. Or, to be more precise, one cannot within the rules of arithmetic complete the operation of division by zero. In computer terminology, this is an example of "the halting problem".

By the way, I have just demonstrated above that the human mind is not analogous to a program, that thought is not merely computation, and why there will *never* be an AI that *is* a mind. The demonstration is the fact that you -- a human mind -- can grasp:
1) that the operation of division by zero cannot be completed arithmetically;
2) and that the answer is "infinity"
and that no computer program, programmed strictly by the rules of arithmetic, can.

"The reason for this rule is that if you do divide by zero then you can prove anything ..."

There is no such rule, and there is no such reason for having this non-existent rule.

Introducing a term of division-by-zero into an equation is introducing "infinity" into the equation.

jdhuey said...

Well, stricly speaking the rule is that the results of division by zero is undefined.

If you violate this rule and treat the results as defined then you can prove anything.

Ilíon said...

That 1/0 is "undefined" does not mean that we do not know what 1/0 equals. It's "undefined" only in the sense that one cannot derive the result using the rules of arithmetic, and one cannot prove the result to be correct using the rules of arithmetic.

There is no rule in arithmetic that 1/0 is "undefined"; that's just what they told your second grade teacher to say to "explain" why we can't divide by zero.

It's not breaking a rule that doesn't even exist that allows you to "prove" anything if you try to divide by zero. It's that when you try to introduce "infinity" into arithmetic, you "break" it. Arithmetic is counting -- that's all it is -- and it is logically impossible to count to "infinity".

jdhuey said...


Nice to know you are consistent: always wrong but never uncertain.

bbrown said...

Of course, infinity does not exist because you can never get to it. However, as we all know, it's a useful concept for calculus, physical chemistry, quantum mechanics, much of physics, etc.
It was quite a revelation to me when I first realised that past time is doubtfully eternal. Most of the scientific evidence and philosophical reasoning indicates that it had a beginning. I just assumed from early childhood that it had to be eternal. Einstein thought that too, so I did not feel too bad.

Victor Reppert said...

In one sense I would agree that if you introduce a supernatural element you will get a mistaken answer if the supernatural does not exist. But a believer could make the reverse claim, that of course you are going to get mistaken ethical results if you view mistakenly view human beings as evolutionary accidents and not people created in the image of God.

Nevertheless we can to a remarkable extent find rules of conduct in our society despite these differences.

But many people do think there is a God, and they also think that God has spoken to us. It should be of some interest from Greta's perspective that even on those assumptions, a result she no doubt considers correct, that gay marriage is justifiable, is defended by someone with those assumptions.

jdhuey said...

Although Greta does not express her point in these terms, I think that the issue is public versus private information. The One True God may indeed speak to you and tell you moral Truths that you are suppose to share with others; however, there is another guy on the street corner that is saying that the One True God spoke to him and he has a different set of moral Truths. How to decide which of you is delusional and which has actually been in contact with the Almighty? I can't think of any way to tell the difference - there is no public information about the contact. Plus, any public evaluation of the merits of the Moral Truths will rely strictly on the secular impacts. The source of the Moral Truths (God or delusion) is of no use in determining which Moral Truth is correct. So, if the source of a Moral Truth is not useful in evaluating that Truth there is no good reason to bring that source into the discussion.

My point is somewhat different than what Greta is saying. Even if we assume that the supernatural is real, given our complete ignorance of how the supernatural works (other than by non-natural means) we can always make up supernatural influences to support any position we want. God hates X, therefore kill people that X. God loves Y, give me money so I can do Y. Our troops are losing the war, Baal must be angry, sacrifice some children. A huricane has hit New Oleans, God is angry, stop gay marriage.

bbrown said...

"....I can't think of any way to tell the difference"

God speaks through the Bible, through our God-given conscience, though the church (thousands of years of tradition), through prayer, and through nature (his creation).

The supernatural is just a part of reality, so don't get thrown off by the term itself.