Sunday, September 05, 2021

OT Genocide does not defeat Christianity

Randal Rauser is a Canadian Phillosopher who teaces at a University in Canada. He is a Christian apologist and he may be best known for his unique approach to Genoscide and related isssues in Old Testaemt. The "Counter Apoloogost" (CA) is an atheist who makes a attack on Plantinga's eposteopgy. He attacks Rauser at the points were he backs Plantinga.[1][2] In this essy I will deal only with one small point the CA makes agaist Rauser.

Rauser's approach is different because he does not suppoprt wipping out the pagans but instead finds fault with the OT.It is what he is best known for. I do not understand all of his moves so on this piont I will use my own approch athough I think the two are simiilar.

The logic to falsify the idea that even if there is a God, Yahweh - the Christian deity, cannot be God is straight forward:
1. God, if one exists, is all good.

2. An all good being cannot command an evil act

3. The bible’s description of Yahweh’s explicit actions are factually accurate (Christian assumption)

4. The bible shows Yahweh explicitly commanded killing infants on the basis of their race/nationality

5. Killing infants on the basis of their race/nationality is an evil act

6. Yahweh explicitly commanded an evil act.

7. Therefore, Yahweh is not all good

8. Therefore, Yahweh cannot be god[3]
Before turning to the major problem, there are a couple of things to say about the argument itself. First, p1-2 must be granted but no 3 is a problem:3. The bible’s description of Yahweh’s explicit actions are factually accurate (Christian assumption) That is notthe only Chritian assumption. It's the fimdamentalost assmptopm. It is a demonstraly false assumption. For example the unierse was not created in six days,there is not eidece of a world wide flood. We need not make that assmption.Atheist argumemts often depend upon Christoanity being represented by the fundies.

4. The bible shows Yahweh explicitly commanded killing infants on the basis of their race/nationality Those passages are not it. We are no more oblogated to believe God did that than we are six day creation.

5. Killing infants on the basis of their race/nationality is an evil act\\ Killimg infants for any reason is wrong. But the fact is God did not say kill them for their race but kill them for their socioetie's ills.

6. Yahweh explicitly commanded an evil act. If we assme the historocal validity of those passages. But we need not do so.

7. Therefore, Yahweh is not all good

Iff one acccepts those passages

8. Therefore, Yahweh cannot be god[3] Or we could just as easiy conclude that given p 1-2 God did not order those thigs.

He says of this argument:

This is a particularly powerful argument against Christianity in particular, and its power is compounded by the fact that some of the most popular apologists working today will defend the Canaanite genocide as a justifiable act by a loving god! William Lane Craig expressly states that it was morally obligatory for the Israelite soldiers to put broadswords into babies. Paul Copan wrote an entire book either minimizing or justifying the Old Testament atrocities and he got the various big names in conservative apologetics to endorse it! As an atheist looking to help move people away from Christianity, this is basically a gift.[4]
It is ashame that so many apologists try to defend thse pasages. But that has nothing to do with the truth of the argument. This is not a powerful argument becaseor only works with fnsanwentalists who feel hamstrung to accept te entire OT.

Nothing discredits a Christian apologist faster than having them present the moral argument for god’s existence and then in retort force them to become an apologist for slavery and genocide.[5]
I think that is true, however, we need not accept those passages. WE can't reject them on the bassis of our shame at the commads. That leaves it a moot point. There are reasos of textal criticim to assume that those passages are emendations.

Let's focus on I Sam 15.2f the injunction to slaughter the Amalekites. this contains the infant passage.The text of 1 Samuel is one of the most heavily redacted in the Bible. As we will see, it's very presence in the canon has been brought into question, but the version we have is probably a corrupted second rate copy, and the LXX is closer, and Q4Sama at Qumran closer still, to the actual original.[6]

"For the past two centuries textual critics have recognized that the Masoretic Text (MT) of 1&2 Samuel has much textual corruption. The Samuel MT is shorter than the LXX and 4QSama. The Samuel MT has improper word division, metathesis, and other orthographic problems. Certain phrases and clauses go against the Hebrew grammar rules. Parallel passages vary from each other" (See Charlesworth, 2000, pp.227-8).;'[7]
The scribes at Qumran believed first Sam was not even Canonical. for a ,ich ore imdpeth loo
Thus, it is evident that the canon in Sirach consisted of the Law and the Prophets. Daniel (9.2) cites Jeremiah (25.11 ff.) as "the word of the Lord to Jeremiah."

This tells us that the place of Samuel in the canon was by no means assured. Because the redactor didn't feel the former prophets were canonical, great libertties were taken. We also see differences between the Ms which form the parent of the LXX translation, and those of MT. What all of this amounts to is that 1 Samuel is a very corrupt text, and the likelyhood is quite high that the passage is redacted. This is even more certain when we consider that the infant passage itself has been redacted.[8]
The possibility presents itself that the genocide passages were emendations from the exile an attempt to build Isarel's sense of prode while in Bblyonian exile.

for more depth and detials see my essay[9].

Notes [1]The Counter Apologist, "Countering Christian apologetics arguments with logic, evidence, and reason." blog (June 21,2012)

[2]R,Rauser,"Biblical Violence and Epistemology: A Conversation with Counter Apologist"(Aug 28, 2021) " Rauswer's answers [3]Counter Apologist, op cit [4]Ibid [5]Ibid [6]Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies "The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Text of the Old Testament," website updated 2021

[7]James H. Charlesworth "The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Volume One: The Hebrew Bible and Qumran edited".Institutte Bibilcal Scientific Studies: Bible Press, 2000.227-8

[8]Albert C. Sundberg, Jr Thomas J. Sienkewicz and James E. Betts "The Old Testament of the Early Church"published by Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois in 1997.

[9]Joseph Hinman 'The Amalekite Problem' D0xa 2000

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Superstition in Atheist Ideology

The word superstition is often used to refer to a religion not practiced by the majority of a given society regardless of whether the prevailing religion contains alleged superstitions.[1] Let's look at an authoritative definition of the word, webster:

Definition of superstition

1a: a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causationb: an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition2: a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary. More Webster:Recent Examples And the superstition has bled outside of stories — even today, many hotels don't have a 13th floor.— Wyatte Grantham-philips, USA TODAY, "It's Friday the 13th. In 2020. Here's a brief history about the superstitious date and some hilarious tweets to get you through the day.," 13 Nov. 2020While the other 3 out of 4 Americans might scoff at this, there is actually psychological science to back superstition.— Marika Gerken, CNN, "Friday the 13th: How it came to be and why it's considered unlucky," 13 Nov. 2020These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'superstition.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.[2]
When I first read this definition in Webster I said to myself they will use the bit about ignorance and deard of the unknown to indicate the mystical and the bit about causation to impune the cause argument. I think Webster's meant things like a black cat crossing your path is bad luck. The atheist take it to mean argument from first cause. The Wiki article footnotes Webster as it's source..
A superstition is "a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation" or "an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition."[Wiki 1][Wiki 2] Often, it arises from ignorance, a misunderstanding of science or causality, a belief in fate or magic, or fear of that which is unknown. It is commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, prophecy, and certain spiritual beings, particularly the belief that future events can be foretold by specific (apparently) unrelated prior events.[Wiki 3] [3]
They justify these additions by citing other sources. No one beyond that segment of atheism i call "Dawkamentalism"' believes that belief in God per se is superstition. There is another funny thing about that quote. It starts out telling us "A superstition is 'a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation' or 'an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition.'' What that actually says is that superstition results from Superstition. It defines the word by itself. Their reasoning is circular, they define the term by itself. That tells me they don't really understand they are just regurgitating party lines.

At this point it would be well to examine the origin of religion and superstition. The two did actually come out of the same phase of human development and their origins are linked. Since I don't buy a literal Genesis account I attribute human origin to evolitom. At one point humans began to notice the sense of God' s presence and mystical experience. All experiences of the divine must be filtered through cultural constructs, or symbols. God is beyond our understanding, thus beyond language. If we are talking about our experiences, however badly, we must filter them through culture.

RELIGION, although inherent in man, borrows its expressions from the setting or milieu in which man appears. The forms through which man expresses the supernatural are all drawn from the cultural heritage and the environment known to him, and are structured according to his dominant patterns of experience.In a hunting culture this means that the main target of observation, the animal, is the ferment of suggestive influence on representations of the supernatural. This must not be interpreted as meaning that all ideas of the supernatural necessarily take animal form. First of all, spirits do appear also as human beings, although generally less frequently; the high-god, for instance, if he exists, is often thought of as a being of human appearance. Second, although spirits may manifest themselves as animals they may evince a human character and often also human modes of action.[4]

In his work The Evolution of God,[5] Robert Wright distills the work of anthropology over the last two centuries and demonstrates an evolutionary development, form early superstition that personified nature (prehistoric people talking to the wind)[6], through a polytheistic origin in pre-Hebrew Israelite culture,[7] to monotheistic innovation with the God of the Bible.

The point is we left superstition ages ago. It was an attempt at coping with the unknown, but divine revelation proved a better one. We outgrew it. Lest one argue that this still implies a weakness in religion let's not forget astrology and astronomy grew up together and out of the same thought and the same stars. As did Chemistry and Alchemy


[1]Vyse, Stuart A. (2000). Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 19–22.

[2]Superstition, Merroam-Webster online (accessed 1/10/21)

[3]Siperototom, Wikepedioa,prevailing%20religion%20contains%20alleged%20superstitions.(accessed 1/10/21)

Soirces used in the Wiki artickle:

w1:cf. w2:Drinkwater, Ken; Dagnall, Neil. "The science of superstition – and why people believe in the unbelievable". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-09-21. w3Vyse, Stuart A. (2000). Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 19–22. ISBN 978-0-1951-3634-0.

[4]Ake Hultkrantz, “Attitudes Toward Animals in Shashoni Indian Religion,” Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 4, No. 2. (Spring, 1970) © World Wisdom, Inc. no page listed,online archive, URL:, accessed 3/21/13

[5]Robert Wright, The Evolution of God, New York: Back Bay Books, reprint edition, 2010. The book was Originally published in 2009. The company “Back Bay books: is an imprint of Hachette Books, through Little Brown and company. Wright studied sociobiology at Princeton and taught at Princeton as and University of Pennsyania. He edits New Republic and does journalistic writing of science, especially sociobiology.

[6]Wright, ibid, 9

[7]Ibid 10

Monday, August 23, 2021

Transcendental Signifier Argument

The argument

1. Any rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe must of necessity presuppose organizing principles (Ops)

2. OP's summed up in TS

3. Modern Thought rejects TS outright or takes out all aspects of mind.

4. Therefore, Modern thought fails to provide a rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe.

5. minds organize and communicate meaning

6. Therefore universal mind, offers the best understanding of TS

7. Concept of God unites TS with universal mind therefore offers best explanation for a view that is Rational, Coherent, and Meaningful (RCM).


Randal Rauser's Interview of me On this argument new

(1) Any rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe must of necessity presuppose organizing principles (Ops)

OP 's make sense of the universe and explain hierarchies of conceptualization: effects need causes, conclusions are mandated by premises, meaning in language is organized by rules of grammar. (RCM (rational, coherent, and meaningful) = Hierarchical order).This premise is rooted directly in observation, a coherent view of the universe requires OPs, and observation. That a rational and coherent view requires a principle that organizes reality according to some aspect of logic or math should be obvious. That's really no different than saying to really understand things we need a logical coherent view. At this point the skeptic might assume that the argument is a design argument or that it is saying that “laws imply a law giver.” Jerome E. Bickenbach and Jackqueline M. Davis tell us that the argument “laws require a law giver” is the fallacy of equivocation.

[1] Right they are, since scientists don't mean the term “laws” in the sense that early modern scientists such as Newton and Boyle meant it. They really meant a divine command that the universe must behave in a certain way. The term “law” is a hold-over from a former age. “The laws of physics, and other scientifically discovered laws of nature are principles formulated by scientists (not prescribed by lawmakers) in order to describe regularities and patterns observed in the natural world...while there may be a God this is not shown by taking the existence of laws of nature as evidence.”

[2] Whether or not physical laws are evidence of God remains to be seen, but this argument is neither design nor laws imply a law-giver. First, it's not a design argument to the extent that the inference is not drawn from design per se. Design works through either fitness, function, or the resemblance to things we know are designed. Since it does turn upon order there is overlap with design, especially the latter kind (resemblance to known design). Yet the point of inference is not taken from resemblance to known design but to the all pervasive nature of necessary to contingent order

, Secondly, the argument is not based upon the assumption laws imply a law giver. That idea assumes that physical laws are a simple list of rules mandated by a God. That concept of God is based upon the Suzerain model. The argument does not assume a set of rules but a more organic relation. The point of inference does not turn upon a set but upon one central, simple, and elegant idea that frames and grounds the metaphysical hierarchy in a single all-encumpasing first principle. Since I don't assume that scientists speak of “laws of physics” in the same way we speak of “laws of traffic” or The U.S, Code Annotated, or Black's Law Dictionary, then there is no fallacy of equivocation. How I connect physical “law” to a prescriptive sense without reducing description to prescription will be dealt with in chapter four.

Above I point to grammar as an example of a TS. The skeptic might argue that grammar is just cultural, that would be wrong. First of all it doesn't have to be innate to be an example. If language is just cultural constructs ideas might still be formed in their function from logical necessity (not the actual signifiers themselves but the concepts to which they point). An example would be the logical rule A cannot be non A. That is not arbitrary, but self evident. A thing cannot be other than itself. Thus the logical law marks the fact as a road map marks geography, but like a map the two might not always line up. In that case, if grammar is a purely cultural construct, its still an example of hierarchical conceptualization. Secondly, there is a lot of good evidence that generative grammar is genetic. Children of one month old can distinguish between different phonemes in a language, such as “b” and “p.” Researchers know this by reaction of the infant to the sound. A phoneme is a unit of sound in a word. Two such studies are one by Kuhl and one by Scott, et al.

[3] More on this in a subsequent chapter.

Western thought has always assumed Organizing principles that are summed up in a single first principle (an ἀρχή) which grounds any sort of meaning: the logos or the transcendental signified (TS). When I have made this argument skeptics have argued that there is nothing in science called an “organizing principle.” One opponent in particular who was a physicist was particularly exercised about my use of this term. While there is no formal term such that scientists speak of the “organizing principles” along side laws of physics or Newtonian laws, they speak of organizing principles all the time. A google search resulted in 320,000,000 results.[4] On every page of this search we see articles by cell biologists, cancer researchers, environmental biologists. Mathematicians, physicists, and so on. Yes there are also articles by crack pots, new age mystics, people with all kinds of ideas. There is even a book by a physicist who argues that the scientific thinking of the poet and dramatist Johann Wolfgang Goethe is valid in modern terms of quantum theory. He talked about organizing principles.[5] An Article in Nature entitled “Organizing principles” discusses a famous experiment in developmental biology: in 1924 carried out by Hilde Mangold, a Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Hans Spemann in Freiburg. “It provided the first unambiguous evidence that cell and tissue fate can be determined by signals received from other cells…This experiment therefore demonstrated the existence of an organizer that instructs both neuralization and dorsalization, and showed that cells can adopt their developmental fate according to their position when instructed by other cells.”[6]vi

M.J. Bissell et. al. Discuss malignancy in breast cancer. “A considerable body of evidence now shows that cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions are essential organizing principles that help define the nature of the tissue context, and play a crucial role in regulating homeostasis and tissue specificity.”[7] All objects in nature are connected to other objects. This can be demonstrated easily enough, as William Graham makes clear in discussing “Natures Organizing Principles.”[8] He turns to ecosystems as an example. Fish in a school work by individually possessed set of common principles such that they act in unison without a leader. These are not evidences of God they are not a design argument. They merely serve to bring home the point there are organizing principles about. I know this general informal use of the term does not mean that the Ops I want to talk about exist. But it is clear there are plenty of structures that organize and guide the way things turn out we do not have an understanding of what organizes the OP. Yet modern science still seeks a logos or a TS that would bind them all together and unite them in one over arching principle.


[1] Jerome E. Bickenbach and Jackqueline M. Davis, Good Reasons for Better Arguments: An Introduction To The Sills and Values of Critical Thinking. Calgary: Broadview Press, 1996, 189.


[3]Patricia Kuhl, “Early Language Acquisition: Cacking the Speech Code.” Nature reviews

Neuroscience 5, (Nov. 2004) 831-843, doi:10.1038/nrn1533. Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences and the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA. Email: See also: Sophie K Scott et al, “Categorical speech representation in human superior temporal gyrus. Is Categorical perception a fundamental property of speech perception?" Nature Neuroscience,(2010). 13: 1428-1432.

[4]Google search, organizing principles in nature, accessed 5/3/16

[5]Henri Bortoft, Wholeness of Nature of The Universe: Goethe’s Way Toward a Science of Conscious Participation in nature. Herdon VA:Lindisfarne Books originally published by Steiner Books,1971, 1985, re worked version 1992, 69. Henri Bortoft, (1938 – 29 December 2012) received undergraduate degree at university of Hull then did Postgraduate research at Beirbeck college. He studiedQuantum Physics with David Bohm.

[6]Barbara Marte, “Milstone 1: Organizing Principles,” Nature.Org (july 1,2004) doi:10.1038/nrn1449 URL: accessed 6/3/16 Marte is senior editor Nature.

[7]viiM.J. Bissell, D.C Radisky, and A. Rizki, “The Organizing Principle:Microenvironmental Influences In The Normal amd Malignant Breast.” Pub Med, NCB, Dec;70(9-10): 2002, 537-46. on line resource URL: accessed 6:3/16 [8]viiiWilliam Graham, “Natures Organization Principles,” Nature’s Tangled Web: The Art, Soul, and Science of a Connected Nature. Oct. 30, 2012, Online resource. accessed 6/3/16.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Anti vaxers have been around

Our ability as a society to conquer disease, to discover cures and implement them  through the commonweal, constitutes one if the greatest measures of modern civilization and the progress that is its hallmark:
Vaccination is widely considered one of the greatest medical achievements of modern civilization. Childhood diseases that were commonplace less than a generation ago are now increasingly rare because of vaccines. In order to be effective at eliminating communicable diseases, vaccines must be administered to sufficient levels of persons in the community. Because of this, public health officials have mandated vaccination for certain diseases as a condition to school attendance.[1]
“Vaccines are one of the most important measures of preventative medicine to protect the population from diseases and infections. They have contributed to decreasing rates of common childhood diseases and, in some cases, have even wiped out some diseases that were common in years past, such as smallpox, rinderpest, and have nearly eradicated malaria and polio...”[2] The progress we have made in combating disease came after long centuries of struggle, first to understand sickness,  then to know how to fight it. Now we embark upon the realization of global efforts to conquer disease world wide:  “Globalization’s emerging transnational social organization and epidemiological structure have transformed national public health into an international issue and necessitated the development of global health policy and governance. ”[3]  With diseases like Ebola virus and commerce between the United States. and in other Ebola laden countries there are no real borders to control disease. This is why being able to control disease locally and nationally is fundamental to the process of civilization. That is why curtailment of that process spells reversal for civilization.

Vaccines are a chief weapon in controlling disease. “Vaccines are one of the most important measures of preventative medicine to protect the population from diseases and infections. They have contributed to decreasing rates of common childhood diseases and, in some cases, have even wiped out some diseases that were common in years past, such as smallpox, rinderpest, and have nearly eradicated malaria and polio .”[4] Yet now there is an anti-vaccine movement, although such a movement dates back to the early days of vaccinesv[5] now that movement has caught fire for at least two major reasons:

(1) a paper in The Lancet by ex-physician Andrew Wakefield, “which suggested credence to the debunked-claim of a connection between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and development of autism in young children.”[6]

(2) While Republicans on the national level still advise Vaccination, on the state and local level Republican interest in anti-vaccine ideology has been picked up by libertarians with notions of medical freedom and is fueling the movement. It is now beginning to gain steam on the national level. [7] “The smallpox vaccine has eradicated a disease that was responsible for centuries of outbreaks and had a 30% fatality rate.” [8]  Yet, as of May 29,2019, 940 cases of measles (thought irradiated in  02) have been found over 26 states.[9]  Alarming not only for the number but also the range of the problem. But this represents an increase of 60 cases in a week.

It is the greatest  number of cases reported since 1994.[10]   Even More alarming is the tendency assertion on the part of the movement that the government has no right to mandate vaccination, that is to say,  has no right to mandate a measure for the good of the community.  This represents a new element in the movement [11] and one that probably comes from the libertarian camp. The denial of the government the right to impose public health measures is a true direct affront to civilization itself. Civilization is an ethical choice about how we organize our living arrangements. If we can't mandate measures for the common good in what sense are we organizing living arrangements?

As Azhar Hussain and Syed Ali, et al. Conclude their report:

The rise of anti-vaccination movements in parts of the Western world poses a dire threat to people’s health and the collective herd immunity. People of all ages have fallen victim to recent outbreaks of measles, one of the most notable “eliminated” diseases that made a comeback as a direct consequence of not reaching the immunization threshold for MMR vaccines. These outbreaks not only put a strain on national healthcare systems but also cause fatal casualties. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that all stakeholders in the medical world - physicians, researchers, educators, and governments - unite to curb the influence of the anti-vaccination movement targeting parents. Research has shown that even parents favorable to vaccination can be confused by the ongoing debate, leading them to question their choices.[12] 


[1]Ben Balding, “Mandatory Vaccination: Why We Still Got To Get Folks To Take Their Shots.” LEDA home page, Harvard Law School (April, 27, 2006)   (acessed May 29,2019) Ben Balding Class 2006

[2]Azhar Hussain and Syed Ali, et al. “The Anti-Vaccination Movement: A Regression in Modern Medicine,” PMC US National Library Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Original Publication:  Cureus 2018 Jul; 10(7): e2919. PMC6122668  doi: 10.7759/cureus.2919 ,   (accessed May29,2019) work cited:

Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999 Impact of Vaccines Universally Recommended for Children -- United States, 1990-1998. [Jun;2018 ]; National Library of Medicine; April 02. 1999 /:48–12.[Google Scholar]. Rinderpest is an acute infectious disease of ruminant mammals (such as cattle)  (Webster)

[3]The National Academies Workshop summary: 4 “Creating a Framework For Prioress,”    The Impact of Globalization on Infectious Disease Emergence and Control: Exploring the Consequences and Opportunities: Workshop Summary. NCBI, National Academy of Sciences, 2006.  (acessed May29,2019)

[4]Azhar Hussain and Syed Ali, et al. “The Anti-Vaccination Movement: A Regression in Modern Medicine,...” op cit.



work cited: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, et al. Lancet. 1998;351:637–641. Pub Med:   (accessed May 29,2019)

[7]Arthur Allen. “How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Crept into The GOP Mainstream,” Politico, (May 27,2019)     (accessed May29,2019)

[8]Ben Balding, “Mandatory Vaccination...” LEDA Harvard...op cit.

[9]CDC, “Meales Cases and  Outreaks”  CDC Measles Home,  Center for Disease Control and prevention,  (May 24,2019)   (accessed May29,2019)


[11]Arthur Allen, Politico, op cit.

[12]Azhar Hussain and Syed Ali, et al. ...op cit.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Alisa Childers Other Gospel

Ranal Rauser is a Canadian philosopher who is also a Christian apologist. He takes fundmetalist preacher Lady Alisa Childers to task for her hard line. I will use Rauser's own words to tell the story.[1]

Randl Rauser's statement:

I just finished reading Alisa Childers’ book Another Gospel?. It is a hugely popular book that came out a year ago and has almost two thousand reviews. As I will note briefly below, it does have some diamonds embedded in the coal. But there is a lot of coal. Indeed, this is one of the most harmful books I have read in a long time. Although it is praised by Christian apologists like Lee Strobel, Sean McDowell, and Frank Turek, yet page after page it exhibits poor argumentation, utterly unchristian caricatures of opposing views, and attacks of a woolly target that Childers has described as “progressive Christianity.”
According to Childers, progressive Christianity is a new movement whose leaders include people like the late Rachel Held Evans, Richard Rohr, Peter Enns, and Brian Zahnd.  But it is not a new movement: in her view, it is another religion altogether. And as Childers says at the end of the book, those who fail to assent to the set of doctrines she deems essential, including (by implication) all these false teachers of another religion, are going to hell.
The idea that progressive Christianity is a whole new religion and everyone in it is going to hell is  reactionary hog wash.It ignores Phil 3:15 "All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you."NIV.In other words he doesn't say 'O you are in another religion so You are going to hell he says if you disagree that's cool God will show you (It's ok to differ).

Now there is a pssage where Paul says if we or an angle from heaven preach anotherJesus and another gosple let us be damned! So yes there ae some things that are beyond disagree, but fundamentalists who seek to create their own litmus test for the Gospel are actually seeking to make a new gospel.

Rauser does a second blog piece on Childer's 8 points of conversion.[2]

“Today we have God’s final revelation, and Geisler concluded that, according to the New Testament, the essentials one must believe (at least implicitly) in order to be saved are"

1.human depravity (I am a sinner);
2.God’s unity (There is one God);
3.the necessity of grace (I am saved by grace);
4.Christ’s deity (Christ is God);
5.Christ’s humanity (Christ is man);
6.Christ’s atoning death (Christ died for my sins);
7.Christ’s bodily resurrection (Christ rose from the dead); and
8.the necessity of faith (I must believe).” (232)

I believe these eight points are true I believe they reflect the truth of the Gospel.But when we set them up in an eight point plan they seem to intimidate agreement we create another Gospel. Romans tells us we only need two points to be saved: "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Take it literally, they always do.Rauser makes his attack:

Infants do not believe these doctrines, not even “implicitly”. So it follows that according to Childers’ view, infants who die in infancy go to hell. So does a twelve-year-old Jewish girl who dies in Auschwitz. So does every person who rejects proposition 8 in favor of a Christian inclusivism (or even hopeful inclusivism). No doubt, by this metric, Childers also believes that adherents to that non-Christian religion she calls Progressive Christianity, people like Peter Enns, Richard Rohr, and Brian Zahnd, are also going to hell where they will suffer eternal punishment, being tortured day and night forever.[3]
Those points reflect the truth of the gospel they are never presented as an eight point plan that must be accepted in all eight points.The idea that a progressive otloois a diferetfaith servigof hell is arroant and mean spirited.Thefdieswhothin thisway havecreated teirowdifferent gospel. They offersalatio y agreeet with their views.

[1]Randal Rauser, "According to Alisa Childers, People Like Me Are Going to Hell: A Review of Another Gospel?" Randal Raues blog, (July 11, 2021 )

[2]Randal Rauser"An Open Letter to Lee Strobel and Sean McDowell," Randal Raues blog, (July 12, 2021)

[3] Ibid

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Review of: The Trace of God, by Joseph Hinman

I came accross a splended review of my book [1] ----------------------------------------The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief

Joseph Hinman

Reiew by Don McIntosh

Dallas: Grand Viaduct, 2014

418 pages

---------------------------------------- In The Trace of God, author Joe Hinman has presented a sophisticated argument for rationally warranted belief in God on the basis of religious and mystical experience. As an avid reader of all things theological, apologetic and scientific, I found The Trace of God both illuminating and compelling. It quickly became evident to me, as it should to any reader, that Hinman has done his homework (and then some) in order to lay out a fresh and powerful presentation of the old argument from religious experience to the existence of God for a twenty-first century readership.

Hinman constructs his case like a high rise, meticulously laying his foundation and building on it layer by layer. He thus begins with a very useful and interesting explanation of “Preliminary Concepts and Definitions,” introducing readers to technical concepts (the “religious a priori,” religious experience and mystical experience), found throughout the book but not likely to be encountered often outside the fields of theology, psychology or sociology. This is followed by a discussion of his “Decision Making Paradigm,” one tailored for the subject at hand: Given that God is (by definition) not an object of empirical knowledge, we must decide whether belief in God (as opposed to empirical confirmation of God) is rational. Hinman proposes that in principle the evidence of religious experience is sufficient to meet a prima facie burden of proof – that is, on the strength of these experiences belief in God should be deemed rationally warranted until and unless someone presents reasons or evidence to overcome the warrant. In the process he offers a keen analysis of Thomas Kuhn’s depiction of scientific revolutions and an insightful critique of the logic behind a concept often used (and abused) by science-minded naturalists: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

From there specific arguments are presented, of two distinct types: “the argument from co-determinate,” and “the argument from epistemic judgment.” The argument from co-determinate is roughly analogous to an inference from footprints in the snow to people having been present recently. Evidence of God’s activity in the form of very basic and culture spanning religious experiences leaves a psychological imprint upon the human psyche, leaving recipients of the experience in turn understandably, and quite rationally, inclined to believe in God as a result. This, essentially, is the trace of God. Experience of the numinous – of the holy, transcendent, awe- and fear-inspiring presence of God – has been recorded at all times and cultures, and therefore constitutes empirical grounds for belief. Moreover, these experiences confer universally beneficial effects upon those who have them: an enhanced psychological outlook, physiological health, and hence overall well-being. The related argument from epistemic judgment concerns the reliability and validity of the experiences reported. These experiences are consistent in character, regular in occurrence, and shared by a majority of people. And again the effects upon the persons who have them are demonstrably and overwhelmingly positive.

Having presented the arguments, Hinman bolsters those arguments by revisiting the studies used to derive the data for human religious experiences. Here the book takes a decidedly technical turn, examining the criteria for identifying religious and mystical experience, then the methodology chosen to elicit and record human responses to those experiences, for a large and wide-ranging number of studies. This for me was the least interesting portion of the book, but for the serious-minded atheists Hinman intends to challenge it may be the most important. By carefully describing the empirically focused instruments and methods used to collect the data, Hinman preempts any objection to the effect that the argument from religious experience can be reduced to so much unscientific, subjective tale-swapping. Along the way various other objections are considered and rebutted, e.g., that emotions are unreliable indicators, or that religious experience is "mental illness."

The way I see it, the remainder of the book consists of mopping-up operations in the form of rebuttals to actual or potential objections and counterarguments. This includes a review and defense of the idea of “religious a priori” as a rational default position for believers to take. With direct experiences of God at hand believers have “no need to prove” – that is, no burden to justify – their faith, either to themselves or to others. Also in this part of the book is a critique of Wayne Proudfoot’s skeptical arguments against the religious experience inference to theism, which proceed from a faulty assumption that the experiences are purely subjective and ineffable. This is followed by consideration of various other forms of “alternate causality” other than the presence of God: brain chemistry, as postulated by researchers like Michael Presinger (this recalled a fascinating online debate I had many years ago now involving what we called the “God module” part of the brain); the effects of drugs; evolutionary mishaps; and the like.

Reading The Trace of God was for me decidedly positive. This is not to say that the book will be a page-turner for everyone. The sheer richness of the material is difficult to digest in places, if well-researched and erudite, and the presentation almost unfailingly methodical. Those accustomed to popular-level inspirational writing, theology or apologetics will need to buckle down and concentrate to take in the information and appreciate the arguments. And whereas in the interest of disclosure I should mention that Hinman is a friend of mine, I should also mention that I do not agree with everything he has to say in this book – particularly his take on New Testament atonement and soteriology. Still, he comes close to my own view with this: “…(T)he universal nature of mystical experience does not invalidate either religious truth in general or the Christian tradition. God is working in all cultures, and what he’s doing in all the cultures of the earth is moving people toward Christ” (p. 365). Amen.

All in all, this book has more than earned its place on my shelf. Much like the life-transforming religious experiences it describes with such meticulous care, The Trace of God left me with not only better informed, but with a strong desire to seek God in my experience and to share the good news of that experience of God with others. For this believ
er that makes The Trace of God a worthwhile spiritual and intellectual investment.

[1] Don McIntosh,"Review of: The Trace of God, by Joseph Hinman"Gerizim publishing, (2018)

Monday, July 19, 2021

scientific doubt vs religious faith: revisiting and old dispute

I came across an old blog post of mine from 2009. The post itself was not what I was drawn to but one of the comments. The comments by an anonymous atheist were of a nature easily answered. I think my answers were good as far as they went. Yet I negated their effectiveness with anger and insults. The heat of rhetorical battle and the abuse of atheists took their toll on my psyche. Here is what I wish I had said. I don't think it's wasted because this is a philosophical issue that cuts to the heart of the conflict with atheistic doubt.

Anonymous Atheist said... Wow, you sure write a lot, but don’t say much. There is truth, and that truth lies in the material world, and science is the only way to find that truth. All the philosophical notions in all the minds of all the philosophers mean nothing unless they are grounded in material reality, all else is just the endless gibberish of the human mind talking to itself, or a collection of human minds talking to each other. All of our supposed understanding exists only within human minds. This includes the supposed laws of the universe, i.e. gravity, atomic force, the behavior of light etc. The universe simply behaves as it does because … it does. We are just building models in our heads so we can think we are making sense of it.

This is not profound. Everything we know and perceive is filtered through human consciousness. Holy cogito Batman, we've known this since Descartres. That fact cannot be used to disprove the reality of God because the atheist is bound to accept the notion that there is a reality external to the human mind and we can know something of that reality. Otherwise the atheist must give up science and resort to mysticism or solipsism.

AA:All of our ideas about gods and spirituality exist only in the human mind as well. Regardless of your claims that there is any actual proof for god, it doesn’t exist.

All our ideas about matter and energy only in the human mind as well.By the logic of his argument,therefore,regardless of science's claims that there is any actual proof for energy and matter, it doesn’t exist.

AA:The concept of gods exists only within our heads. You can’t offer any more substantial evidence for your particular idea of gods than any other’s evidence of theirs.

yes of course we can because some ideas are more logical than others. Being in the mind desn't mean an idea is indefensible. Moreover . He can't prove a reason to see materialism as the external reality and not an idea involving one of spirit and matter.The proof for a materialistic external reality must come through human perception and is, therefore, not validated or proovable by the logic of his argument

AA:All of the output of all apologists is just so much detailed, convoluted rambling trying to explain the details of something that doesn’t exist. If all humans were to suddenly die off, the gods would die with them, as would the laws of the universe. The universe, however, would not be affected in the least.

Ditto science. notice he affrms there is an extrenal universe and yet how can he prove it apart from human perception?

AA:Man seems to have some inherent need to create supernatural causes for natural occurrences. Lot’s of ink has been spilled as to why this is, but just because so many are affected by the phenomenon, doesn’t make it true.

Need doesn'tmake it false either, so it must be irreluant

As has been pointed out by a philosopher who is grounded in reality, Daniel Dennet, we believe in belief.

Except atheists who seem to believe in not believing. In the modern world we have identified virtually all of the causes of things that occur around us, which should have freed us from our primitive superstitions.

sorry that is highly fallacious! We have barely scratched the surface of understanding our world. There is much more to go. Here are 10 major concepts atheists take as gospel which we can't prove or don't understand.

(1)Dark matter not proven

(2)Gravity, no definitive proof as to what causes the attraction of mass over distance.

(3)the existence of the multiverse

(4)Cause of the unified field

(5)the nature and definition or consciousness

(6) Can't prove string membranes exist

(7)why we sleep and dream

(8) the hard problem of conscioisness

(9) the cause of mystical experience

(10) case of the image on the shroud of Turin

Science is not about proving things, it's about disproving things(that is to say testing hypothesis).There is no science that disproves God.

This[modernity freed us from our primitive superstitions] has not happened, in a large part, because the purveyors of religious and spiritualistic beliefs maintain the structure of those superstitions.

He's already disproved his argument because it comes to us from the human mind. He has no more extra human proof of no God than i have for God.

In many cultures, such as ours, we are awash in these superstitions from birth. The idea of gods is pushed as the default truth, when the real default should be no gods, since there is no evidence for any.

Of course there's evidence for God. Remember above his argument is that evidence for God is only in the mind. Bit his knowledge of science is also in the mind.That's moot.He has no logical basis for the claim that there is no reason to believe in God. Of course he does not know my reasons for belief.see my eidence [2]

Most people in our culture have been exposed to the notion that God is watching you, and if you sin you will burn in hell, or at least that sinning, whatever that is, will make God mad.

That is a pathetically childish notion of religion.Reducing religion to superstition is just an ideological ploy. Science has its ideological side. Religion has its logical and complex side

I find it difficult to believe that you were really the atheist you claim to have been, although saying you’re an atheist does mean you actually believe in a rational world. I know that since I have cast of the blinders of belief and faith, the world is a much more understandable place and I cannot see any reason to ever change my mind.Red Mann

He finds it hard to believe that one can have experience that leads one to think other than he does. Welcome to the adult world.No aspect of logical or scientific thought is denied me by my faith and my faith offers a dimension he doesn;t understand.

[1] Joseph Hiinman, "Answerto Aisti Cline," Metacrock's blog(feb 5,2009)

[2] My warrant for belief page on Religious A prioi