May 27 2010

Romans 1:22 proven once again.

I look at it this way. If science disappeared from human memory, we would soon be living in caves again. If theology disappeared from human memory, no one would notice.

Thanks to Debunking Christianity, which seems to post one incredibly stupid thing after another, I was directed to this opinion piece in the Guardian UK by Terry Sanderson, who is the head of something called the National Secular Society.

As I’ve followed various atheists over the past 2-3 years, I’ve found that the writing is getting more and more ridiculous, and at times desperate.

Oh well, on to bigger and better things…


Jul 18 2009

I can’t help myself

Like I said yesterday, every day brings more support for Romans 1:22.  Yes, and it makes some people angry for me to suggest that they’re fools for being atheists.  But, many of them think I’m a fool for not being one, so I think we’re even, except that I’m right.

Today someone named Spencer over at Debunking Christianity asks, “Why does God give up on nonbelievers?”  He begins:

If rejecting God is a grave mistake, then why would God not wish to help nonbelievers see the error of their decision? Why would he let them perish in hell for all eternity (or simply perish) without any hope of redemption? The reason, Christians tell us, is one of respect: God respects the decision to reject him, and therefore will not devalue this “free choice”—however irrational—by interfering. Below, I show why this answer is problematic.

He spends a couple of paragraphs trying to deal with the issue of free will vs God’s obligation to rescue man even when man rejects God’s offer to save him.

Huh?

I’m confused… does this guy want to be saved, or not?  Most atheists will say that there’s nothing to be saved from, and no God to save him anyway, so it’s a moot point.  But, then why do atheists like Spencer continue to be plagued by his question?  I don’t give one second of thought to wondering why Krishna or Zeus don’t save me.  It doesn’t bother me that I won’t reach Nirvana, or wherever.  Seriously… it’s not an issue.

He closes his post with:

Hence, the obvious answer to the question of when God should give up is ‘never.’ It is what a fully compassionate and loving being would do, and therefore what God would do, if he exists.

So, what does “never” mean to an atheist?  If Spencer gets invited to Heaven and tells St Peter (or whoever watches the gates now), “No thanks,” is God obligated to tie him up and drag him inside anyway?  Many parents have tried this approach to their kids… does it ever work?

I was reminded of the fairly worn-out story about a guy stuck on the roof of his house as flood waters rose.  He believed that God would save him, so when a neighbor offered to throw him a rope, he refused. “God will save me,” he replied.  The waters continued to rise, and soon a motorboat came by and offered the man a ride. “No, God will save me.”   Within a short time all that was showing of the man’s house was his chimney, and the man was hanging on for dear life.  Just then, a helicopter came over and dropped down a ladder.  “Thanks, but no… God is going to save me!”

Eventually, the man drowned. When he got to Heaven, he went up to God and said, “Why didn’t you save me?  If you loved me, you would have rescued me!”

God looked at the man. “I sent you a rope, a boat and a helicopter. What else did you want?”

Nothing’s changed

God even came to Earth (that would be Jesus…).  In spite of the miracles he did, idiots still had the audacity to demand that Jesus do a sign for them, so that they could believe.  It was so completely obvious that no sign would have been enough, for those who choose not to believe.  Jesus’ reply was essentially, “I’ll show you a sign…”  So, he died and resurrected.

And, that hasn’t changed anything, except for those who believe.  Paul explained in Romans 1 how men who could see God evidenced in creation were without excuse.  Now that a boat and a helicopter has been sent, they think they’ve got an excuse?  The reality is, God keeps sending more and more rescuers. At what point exactly should people start taking responsibility for themselves?


Jul 17 2009

Another Romans 1:22 moment

Debunking Christianity, which occasionally has some good discussions, typically provides daily proof of Romans 1:22.  Today is not exception, with this post, in which the author concludes his argument with “Therefore, it cannot be the nonbelievers’ fault for willfully choosing to reject God.”  It is wasted effort, however, as the very first proposition is flawed. He assumes that to make a choice to disbelieve in God must be irrational if God exists.

However, I don’t think this is the case at all.  Just follow Paul’s line of thought in Romans 1.  Man doesn’t begin a fool, he (or her, for that matter) becomes a fool by his decisions.  But then, I’m sure the author wouldn’t give any weight to Paul’s argument in the first place, as his conversion, so to speak, is already complete.

It is still beyond me how people can direct so much energy into not believing something.  I tend to think many of them have “jilted lover” syndrome.


Jul 16 2009

Credo ut intelligam: an approach to modernism

Credo ut intelligam is Latin for “I believe so that I may understand,” St. Anselm’s famous quote, who also used the phrase fides quaerens intellectum, or “faith seeking understanding.”  The full quote is actually, “Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand. For this, too, I believe, that, unless I first believe, I shall not understand.”

Anselm, like Augustine, believed that faith and belief preceded understanding, not exactly a respected position among modernists.  Ironically, an analysis of modernism would reveal that they, too, depend upon the credo ut intelligam formula.  For example, look at Hector Avalos, a good example of Romans 1:22.

Avalos is a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Iowa, and author of a number of books, including The End of Biblical Studies. He is also a former Pentecostal child evangelist (meaning he was an evangelist as a child, not that he necessarily evangelized children).  He appears to have quite a large chip on his shoulder when it comes to Christianity.  In a current post at Debunking Christianity, he  restates his belief that “the field of biblical studies is still permeated by religionist biases.”  Yes, that’s a Romans 1:22 moment if ever I’ve heard one.

Now, I don’t think that anyone would disagree that the study of the Bible is permeated – even dominated – by “religionist” biases.  Avalos, however, seems to believe that it shouldn’t be.  He states:

I want to end THE WAY the Bible is studied. In fact, I provide three scenarios on that page:

1) Eliminate biblical studies completely from the modern world.

2) Retain biblical studies as is, but admit that it is a religionist enterprise.

3) Retain biblical studies, but redefine its purpose so that it is tasked with eliminating completely the influence of the Bible in the modern world.

Of these 3 options, he prefers the third.  One of his goals, as a professor of religion, is to eliminate the influence of the Bible in the modern world, so “there should be no function or value left to the Bible anymore than there is to Homer’s Iliad in modern society.”

Back to Epistemology

Here, I think, is a modernist example of Anselm’s maxim.  Avalos has chosen to believe – I would say ‘to have faith in’ – modernism, meaning a naturalist, materialist, rationalist worldview (there are other views of modernism, but his is prevalent within the scholastic community).  As I’ve argued elsewhere, atheism, scientism, materialism, etc. have to be taken on faith; at some point a Kierkegaardian leap made from whatever set of data he relied on, to a conclusion that modernism with all of it’s baggage is truth, as far as it can be known.  Epistemologically, this position cannot be proven; rationalism, science and the rest require belief in order to go anywhere.

Avalos cannot use the tools of modernism to show that modernism is superior to any other worldview; it is inconsistent even from within modernism.  He must start with a choice to believe; once he believes in modernism, in logic, in reason, then he can begin to understand. It does not – it cannot – work the other way.

Credo ut intelligam.  Understanding can indeed assist belief; but, in the beginning, we must believe.