"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." [Deuteronomy 5:8-10]

Monday, August 09, 2010

William Lane Craig, Steve Hays and undivine revelation

Time and again when talking to religious believers, I come across the spectacle of them asserting how their own spiritual experience validates their religion and beliefs, while rejecting the reported spiritual experiences of those of other faiths as being mistaken, delusional, demonic or even just wrong.

The Christian Apologist William Lane Craig explains on his website:

"Of course, anyone (or, at least any sort of theist) can claim to have a self-authenticating witness of God to the truth of his religion. But the reason you argue with them is because they really don't: either they've just had some emotional experience or else they've misinterpreted their religious experience."
He says he is, philosophically at least, open to the possibility of being wrong (emphasis added):
"So you present arguments and evidence in favor of Christian theism and objections against their worldview in the hope that their false confidence will crack under the weight of the argument and they will come to know the truth. (This also is what the atheist should do with me.)"
In practice, however, Craig makes it clear that no evidence could shake his self-authenticating "witness":
"...if Jesus' bones were actually found, then the doctrine of his resurrection would be false and so Christianity would not be true and there would be no witness of the Holy Spirit. So if Jesus' bones were found, no one should be a Christian. Fortunately, there is a witness of the Holy Spirit, and so it follows logically that Jesus' bones will not be found."
Craig's problem is that by assuming his religious beliefs to be true a priori, he leaves no room for him to examine or challenge his own assumptions to any rigorous standard. Every challenge to his beliefs is met by apologies and rationalization, without any real consideration that he might just be wrong. In short, the burden of proof Craig demands of challenges to his beliefs are much higher - and arguably impossible to achieve - than those he asks or offers in support of his own preconceptions.

This means Craig never examines his own beliefs with the rigour that he challenges the beliefs of others. It is fair to say that Craig is simply dishonest in his handling of evidence for and against Christianity.

Further, Craig's defence of his beliefs leads him to support ludicrous conclusions, such as this:
"God ensures that no one who would believe the gospel if he heard it remains ultimately unreached. Once the gospel reaches a people, God providentially places there persons who He knew would respond to it if they heard it. He ensures that those who never hear it are only those who would not accept it if they did hear it. Hence, no one is lost because of a lack of information or due to historical and geographical accident. Anyone who wants or even would want to be saved will be saved."
Craig argues here that given a free and fair choice, most people created by God would rather be punished eternally in hell with no possibility of reprieve than spend eternity in heaven. He says God placed non-Christians specifically in locations and situations where they were less likely to hear the "Gospel". He says that no matter how sincere a non-Christians religious belief or life is, they deserve nothing less than to burn eternally in hell.

As John Hick, Theologian and Philosopher of Religion, puts it:
"this is manifestly an a priori dogma, condemning hundreds of millions of people without any knowledge of them; and even many other very conservative Christian philosophers have found it repugnant. For on any reasonable view exclusivism, practiced within any religion, is incompatible with the existence of a God whose grace and mercy extends to the entire human race."
In Craig's favour, however, his position does at least allow for the possibility of reasoned argument.

Steve Hays of Triablogue bases his belief on what he calls "divine revelation":
"At the level of basic epistemology, science can never disprove the Bible because divine revelation is our only clear window onto the world. Otherwise, we perceive the world through the stained-glass solipsism of our inescapable subjectivity."
Here Hays denies even the possibility of rationality or reason as the basis for anything. That his beliefs are inescapably subjective will be obvious to everyone else - but it seems this will forever be a mystery to poor Steve.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Battleground God

PhilosophersNet have an interesting quiz they call Battleground God. Here are my results:

You have been awarded the TPM medal of honour! This is our highest award for outstanding service on the intellectual battleground.

The fact that you progressed through this activity neither being hit nor biting a bullet suggests that your beliefs about God are internally consistent and very well thought out.

A direct hit would have occurred had you answered in a way that implied a logical contradiction. You would have bitten bullets had you responded in ways that required that you held views that most people would have found strange, incredible or unpalatable. However, you avoided both these fates - and in doing so qualify for our highest award. A fine achievement!

They say of 494264 people have completed this activity to date, 45.99% took very little damage and 8.06% emerged unscathed with the TPM Medal of Honour.

How well do your beliefs stand up?


Friday, August 06, 2010

Triablogue Documentary Hypothesis Fail

I'm forbidden from commenting at Triablogue, but that hasn't stopped their continuing inanity.

Commenter Mr Fosi complains:

'Google search results showing that "documentary hypothesis" appears within the syllabi of some classes at "evangelical" schools is not proof of your claim (that I have paraphrased) that it is a "widely accepted hypothesis taught as sound methodology at the majority of evangelical schools".'
Here is what I actually wrote:
If you cannot accept that even Evangelical Seminaries teach the documentary hypothesis, then seriously I have to wonder...

Here is Conservapedia of all sources on the subject: "The great majority of Bible experts accept one or another version of the Documentary Hypothesis. However it is rejected by some Fundamentalists... The Documentary Hypothesis is taught in at most universities and seminaries."
Did I say that Evangelical seminaries taught the DH as "sound methodology"? No I did not. I said they taught it, which they clearly do - as it is the standard understanding in Biblical scholarship. Certainly many reject it - where they reject anything which contradicts the "truth" of the Bible.

As Fundamentalist scholar Bryant Wood withered in 2002:
"...in academia it's an established fact that this whole time period is legendary... there’s a strong anti-Bible bias in the academic journals that publish archaeological findings..."
Here's more of Mr Fosi, lecturing the ether:
"I bring it up not to ridicule you, but to provide one bit of evidence that, contrary to your fallacious claim, that I have noticed your links. The point here is not that you haven't furnished links or information, but that what you have provided does not appear support the claims you are making."
According to his profile, Mr Fosi is "struggling to finish his phd". I hate to think in what.


Triablogue: Stupidity By Definition

Over at the bizarre Christian blog Triablogue, I got into a
discussion with "Steve" about the consensus in archeology that much of the Old Testament is mythological. Here is my last post, which he deleted from the thread, coz he got pwned...

Update: And, of course, I'm now banned and airbrushed from their blog...

Uodate 8 August: Have I been unbanned? The deleted comments are still gone :/

The original threads are preserved as PDF files here:


"You’ve circularly defined “consensus” to mean center-left “consensus” to the exclusion of center-right scholarship."

No. Consensus mean the elements agreed by majority of scholars working in the field. Of course there are disagreements. But let's just look at your logic:

There is no consensus that Jesus existed, because some people say he didn't. There is no consensus that an walked on the moon because some people say we didn't. There is no consensus that the world is round because some people say it is flat. There is no consensus about quantum physics because some people reject it.

Jumpin' jehosephat. Even Conservatives say there is a consensus:

"...in academia it's an established fact that this whole time period is legendary... there’s a strong anti-Bible bias in the academic journals that publish archaeological findings...

A Good News Interview with Bryant Wood, Ph.D., The Bible vs. Modern Scholarship, John Elliott, UCG Canada 2002

How there can be an "anti-Bible bias", of course, when jew and christians are part of that consensus is another matter. (Yeah, I know, they aren't "true scotsmen").

And you know what? The consensus can be wrong. Just look at Triceratops. It now looks like it may not have been a separate dinosaur species after all... But that change in knowledge does not throw out everything we understood before. It modifies it.

Sure, more knowledge may came to suggest more of the OT is historical. Or it could be the other way. For now, amongst those scholars who do not assume the "truth" of the Bible no matter what, the consensus is that the early parts of the OT are mythological. (You do know what that word means, right?)

You can't accept there is a consensus of opinion, because that consensus is (you say) "centre left" and says things you don't like.

You say there is a conservative consensus that "The Exodus" did happen - but your conservatives can't agree on the date or on what scale! All they agree on is that if the Bible says it happened, it must have happened, and any evidence to the contrary must be ignored...

'You mean, like rusting RVs from the 2nd millennium BC? Maybe some Bronze Age beer cans?""

What do you think I mean? Do you not think 2 million people traipsing thru the Sinai for forty years would leave some sort of trace? Anyway, archeologists say we do have a heap of evidence - that the Hebrews came out of the existing Canaanite population.

For that matter, Christian and Jewish academics don’t rubberstamp your irreligious beliefs."
Of course not - but unlike you I don't pretend their beliefs don't exist just because I don't like them.

"Feel free to quote a representative sampling of “Fundamentalists” who say that. Titles. Pagination."

"That’s what the archives are for."
Let the records show Steve doesn't have the courtesy, decency or courage to provide a link or even a one line summary.

Ya know, Steve, I was gonna say that I'd ready your blogger profile and it looked like you were an interesting guy. I love "The Third Man". I think Graham Grene was an amazing guy. You certainly seem to know a lot some interesting stuff.

But here you go, all thru this thread, being an absolute asshole right up to the end.