I always enjoy when I get interaction with my blog post because it just makes it more interesting. A blogger with the under the title Allallt gave a little response to my last post where I decided to give some responses to anti-God comments made by the actor/comedian/etc. Stephen Fry. I will respond to whatever comments I find interesting. Forgive any typos for the time being…
- “Blakodeel of Deal of Theology posts their disagreement…”
My name is Blake Deal for future refence. blakodeel is just a username. But I suppose that is obvious.
2. “Blakodeel’s objections are basically twofold: Fry isn’t allowed to have moral opinions because he’s an atheist”
Not true. I was not saying that he is not allowed to have moral opinions, but that Mr. Fry’s moral opinions are arbitrary and inconsistent with his worldview. Big difference. Saying that they are arbitrary is not restricting Mr. Fry’s political right to moral opinions, but criticizing their significance.
3. “and God is infallible because the Book It supposedly wrote says It’s infallible”
I was giving a response from a Christian perspective. He is not seriously objecting against me using the Bible to explain the Christian worldview is he? It would seem so. Objecting to the truth of scripture is irrelevant to the fact that using scripture as an explanation of the Christian worldview is valid. Arguing whether or not scripture is true is an entirely different topic.
However, furthermore, there is no causal connection between scripture being infallible and God being infallible. God is infallible regardless of the revelation which he freely gives us. I never said God is infallible because of scripture, though scripture obviously teaches God’s infallibility. I never brought this issue up, yet Allallt is bringing these issues up for some reason. I do not need to justify the truth of Christianity in order to give a Christian response from the Christian worldview. These comments miss the point and obviously misrepresent me, since they distort the purpose of my blog post.
4. “God’s ‘not guilty’ plea is the strangest of the defences. So much value is given to God’s claim of innocence through the Bible that any evidence of pointless suffering, capriciousness, vindictiveness, moral ineptitude or any criticism you can think of is dismissed. The dismissal is not based on evidence and it doesn’t matter what case you bring forward. Blakodeel is happy to define God as innocent. He may as well have left the entire discussion there. The post could be summarised as ‘I define God as innocent, so your criticism isn’t important’.”
God is not guilty of anything by definition. To posit that God is guilty of sin is to assume that God is not God. By definition, the notion that God is guilty or culpable of anything is contradictory. God is the standard that dictates what is and is not guilt. I do not need to present evidence, since this issue is cleared up when we clarify the definition of God. Demanding evidence to support that God is incapable of being culpable is analogous to demanding evidence in favor of the proposition that circles are circular. To say that circles are circular and that God is incapable of moral culpability is a tautology; it is a truth embedded in the definition of what it means to be a circle and what it means to be God.
Also, these atheist objections are never clear since this objection is always implicitly stated and not explicitly stated. Let me formulate this objection into a syllogism so that we can examine it:
Premise 1 – If God causes evil, God is evil
Premise 2 – God causes evil
Conclusion – Therefore God is evil and culpable
Atheists, Arminians, Pelagians, and everyone else cannot establish premise one. Premise one, that “If God causes evil, God is evil” is constantly asserted, but never justified. Atheists, Pelagians, and other unbelievers can assert this, but it can never be established. In order to establish premise one, the Bible would have to be rejected (since the Bible teaches that God is holy but also causes evil), but that would merely be begging the question. In essence, the atheist, or whoever it may be, tells the Christian, “You should accept my definitions and premises because they are right and you are wrong!” but we reject this in the first place, so there is no reason these objections are compelling. I reject your claims because you are either begging the question (reasserting that which is in dispute), or irrelevant by superimposing a non Biblical proposition onto the Bible. The God of the Bible is not evil when he causes evil, so why would you argue against an irrelevant god that is evil for causing evil? This critique does not apply to Christianity since we have a different framework and set of definitions. To dogmatically assert that atheism should be accepted is stupid because it is already self evident that we reject atheism.
Speaking of evidence, piggy-backing off of the last paragraph, please give me your evidence that premise one is true from a Christian perspective. There is nothing internally problematic within our system of theology. You just reject it. And, once again, to say that God is incapable of incurring culpability and guilt is a tautology; it is a part of the definition of what it means to be God.
Why should I accept your definition of moral ineptitude? God defines morality and your morality is arbitrary.
Why can’t God be vindictive? God takes vengeance on his enemies. This is not an objection since there is nothing internally problematic about the Christian position. To say that God ought not take vengeance against his enemies is arbitrary. Why?
5. “The other defence is something I have mentioned a few times. Inspired by Nietzsche’s definition of Christianity as the ultimate nihilism, I refer to ‘religious nihilism’. We often hear religious people appeal to religious nihilism. This is when people claim that any world view an atheist can possibly have is necessarily a nihilistic one; a view devoid of meaning and value.”
Once again, I do not say that atheists do not or ought not have values or meaning, just that there is no reason based upon their worldview for them to have these things. In order to be consistent, atheists ought not assert their values as universal and significant, but they still do. Also, all of this atheistic “meaning” is arbitrary. There is nothing ultimate about any of it. It is not objective, but relative to the individual. If this meaning changes from person to person, why does Allallt desire to hold me to his standards? I possess my own. By the way, Nietzsche has made other comments regarding ideas of truth and value in his book Beyond Good and Evil:
“The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it…The question is, how far an opinion is life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps species-rearing; and we are fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest opinions…are the most indespenable to us….the renunciation of false opinions would be the renunciation of life, a negation of life. To recognize untruth as a condition of life [italics his]: that is certainly to impugn the traditional ideas of value in a dangerous manner, and a philosophy which ventures to do so, has thereby alone place itself beyond good and evil” (Taffel 15).
Can anyone keep a straight face when reading these Nietzsche quotations? Nietzsche does not object to me (according to this quote) for being wrong, but he would object to my Christianity on the basis that it is inimical to life, and he defines life as the will to power in The Antichrist:
“What is good? — All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. What is bad? — All that proceeds from weakness. What is happiness?…What is more harmful than any vice? — Active sympathy for the ill-constituted and weak — Christianity ….”
All that is contrary to the will to power, including truth, is bad according to Nietzsche. However, his philosophy seems contradictory since he says people should make their own values:
“Quite the contrary is demanded by the most profound laws of self-preservation and of growth: to wit, that every man find his own virtue, his own categorical imperative. A nation goes to pieces when it confounds its duty with the general concept of duty.”
If Nietzsche wants everyone to make their own values, then I reject his values regarding atheism and the will to power, and establish my own values by following the revelation of God found in scripture. I can simultaneously submit to Nietzsche’s philosophy while disobeying it, since by rejecting Nietzsche’s philosophy I establish my own values, just as Zarathustra spoke:
“Now I go alone, my disciples! You too go away now and alone! So I will it! Go away from me and protect yourselves against Zarathustra! And better yet: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he has deceived you…Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I return to you…”
Therefore, I shall abandon Nietzsche and find myself. I will reject his teaching, and by rejecting him, it is in this way that I follow him. What glorious nonsense. Are not Nietzsche’s half intelligible rants themselves a nihilism? Indeed, from what I have read, they are. What’s so bad about nihilism? If nihilism can be twisted to support the will to power, then nihilism is one of the greatest goods according to him.
6. “I call this religious nihilism because it often misses the mark as an accusation towards an atheist, but reveals a lot about the world view of the religious person.”
How does it miss the mark? What is the mark? Is there any? And if there is one tell be how it is significant? Questions that atheism cannot meaningfully answer…
7. “They believe that nothing has meaning, except with God. (And the mechanism by which God imbues everything with meaning and value is never explained.)”
I am saying significance and meaning is ultimately inconsistent with atheism. You can place value on the ice cream you are eating, but it is a relative value and not a universal one. As for the theistic “mechanism” by which meaning exists, God gives meaning to everything since he has created all things and gets to define what is what. Since God is absolute and universal, what he defines as meaningful applies universally. Once again, this has to do with clarifying the definition of God. By definition God is universal and defines all things, and all things have their meaning and purpose as a result of God decreeing it to be so. If anyone refuses to acknowledge the Christian conception of God and make arguments against some irrelevant, incompetent god that cannot do this, then the one who objects only succeeds in arguing against some random deity that we do not believe in.
8. “You open by assuming that atheists have no honest ability to make value claims about the universe.”
No you certainly have the ability to make value claims, but your value claims are stupid and arbitrary.
9. “Fine, you can keep that tyrannical and capricious definition of God if you want, but you have then forgone the ability to turn around and talk about a loving God.”
My mother has been angry at me a few times, and therefore I have forgone the ability to turn around and talk about a loving mother. Likewise, God is angry at the wicked, which means that God does not love his elect. Are you listening to yourself? Loving in what way and what sense? How does it make sense in your world to say that God controls everything and therefore I cannot believe God is loving? There is no connection. God loves his elect and hates the reprobate. All things work together for the good of God’s elect, even disease, though it does not work together for the good of the reprobate. So why can’t I talk about God being loving at all? You have a bad habit of making extremely bewildering statements. The presence of one attribute of God does not negate the rest.
Why are tyrannical and capricious bad qualities in your worldview and why should I care? Calling God tyrannical and capricious is not an objection or an argument unless you tell us why he cannot be these things. Careless, emotive language is worthless in this context. Furthermore, “tyrannical” assumes injustice, so tell me where you get your arbitrary definition of justice? God is the one who defines justice so by definition he is not unjust. If you assert that God is unjust, then we are talking about two different deities, and thus your criticism does not apply to me. Also capricious… An immutable, eternal deity is capricious? Please tell us how and eternal, changeless being is “given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior.” Once again, if we merely clarify the definition of God, we can see that he is not capricious, and that your criticism does not apply to him.
10. “He is a tyrant. I’m glad you, Fry and I are in agreement that God also is a tyrant.”
Again with the misrepresentation. You are not very intelligent are you? Tyrant presupposes injustice, but God is not unjust. I never hinted that God is a tyrant. However, if you have a different definition of tyrant then please explain what this definition is.
11. “When you speak of God’s ‘rights’, you must also talk about other people’s responsibilities.”
That’s like saying that I have to talk about water balloons after talking about Socrates. Look up the definition of a non sequitur because that is what this is.
12. “God, apparently, has no responsibilities.”
If what you mean is that God has moral responsibility, this implies that there is a power greater than God that constrains God to make certain decisions. Why would you possess such an assumption? God is not morally culpable (if this is what you mean by responsibility) because God is the one that defines who is morally culpable in the first place. God who have to decree himself morally culpable, or to contradict himself in order to do so, but God cannot do so, so obvious God is not morally responsible. Tell me why I ought to believe God has responsibilities?
Furthermore, where do you get this concept of responsibility in the first place? If responsibility is a Darwinistic social convention that humans have developed over time, then why couldn’t we just change our current social conventions? What lasting value does this concept of “responsibility” have, and why must I apply it to God? Can you even begin to address even the most basic issues before you constantly beg the question?
13. “And we, as humans, are forced into a position we had no say on; a position where we have the responsibility to get bone cancer and degenerative diseases and all the rest.”
A “responsibility” to get diseases…? What your definition of responsibility? What do you mean by this? This sentence is either confused or a confused misrepresentation.
14. “Except, it’s not a responsibility because it was not discussed with us.”
Why does something need to be discussed with us before we are responsible? Scripture says this is not the case, so asserting that I must accept your arbitrary definition is just begging the question. Also, if you break a law without knowing that it was a law, you will still be punished through a fine or incarceration, so this assertion does not even make sense in real life.
15. “Responsibilities must be accepted, else it isn’t real.”
16. “And rights must be granted. This is how they work.”
Saying rights are granted does not even relate to the last sentence… And I agree on this point. God is the one who grants us our rights. How does an atheist believe that “rights” exist? Perhaps you have rights given to you by the state which they can later take away, but you certainly have no natural rights. Besides the state, where do you derive your rights from? Also how do you know this is how rights work? Is this really consistent with your worldview? How are the rights you are describing not arbitrary?
17. “And the violation of those rules of rights and responsibilities are why it is right to call God tyrannical.”
God is the one who gives us our rights in the first place; we have no natural rights which God can infringe upon. “Has the potter no right over the clay?” (Romans 9:21). And honestly, “rules of rights?” Who makes these rules? All rules and laws and rights are derived from God, so how can God contradict this external “rule of rights” which does not exist? Also, is this “rules of rights” universal? If they are universal, where are they derived from and how is this consistent with your atheism, and presumably, you materialistic Darwinism? If this is not a universal rule, then why are you applying this universally?
18 “You attempt to rebut Fry’s horror of creation subpoint by arguing that Adam was set up to fail by an omnipotent being, duly failed (as was inevitable), and then the entire universe and every child and grandchild forever and ever will be punished.”
I was not rebutting anything, I was just clarifying that God did not make the world originally originally miserable (as Fry seemed to indicate), and then I gave the account of how it became that way. I was merely clarifying.
19. “Again, we’re looking at horrific management and political systems here.”
Tell us what the standard is of determining what is or is not a horrific political system and why horrific political systems ought to be avoided. Then explain how your standards are universal and significant. You cannot.
20. “This is like a police officer forcing a person to buy drugs, and when he does the officer sentences the family to death.”
No, because the police officer is not God but a creature who is responsible to God and the state. False analogy. Also this sentence is not even coherent. First you talk about “a person” and then you mention a family. I also have no clue what country has the death penalty for buying drugs…
21. “And that’s before we get into why the ‘before the fall there was no death’ argument is evidently nonsense. Look at creation: It has teeth and claws and digestive systems and parasites where the life cycle depends on burrowing into eye balls and flesh. Why would dog give a wolf sharp teeth and claws if it’s not going to kill anything? Biology is set up for there to be death. The pre-Fall world you stipulate makes no sense.”
Easy, these claws, parasites, and whatnot developed after the Fall. You assume that things were always as they were now. This is the fallacy of induction: taking a particular instance and either universalizing it, and/or projecting it into the past or future. To say that our present observations can be projected into an unobserved past is invalid. If it were valid, I would be able to say that Darwinism is not true since I have never witnessed a chimp give birth to an intermediate species, which gives birth to another intermediate species, which gives birth to humans.
Also, belief in the predictability and uniformity of nature is completely unjustified in the atheist worldview. You cannot verify these things through observation, they are assumptions that make no sense in atheism. Assuming that nature is predictable or intelligible presupposes the same creator that you reject, since it is God who created this orderly arrangement. All of this gets into epistemology as well and the justification of knowledge, but this is enough. Your reasoning is fallacious, it relies on induction and presuppositions that your worldview does not grant. However, if you think you can justify these things from your worldview, then I would like to see it.
22. “You rebut this again with an appeal to what I call religious nihilism.”
Actually earlier you said Nietzsche was the one that came up with this concept regarding Christianity and nihilism, but who cares what Nietzsche said? Nietzsche was a lunatic that believed “The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it.” It is funny that you mention nihilism because I wrote a little blog on Christianity and nihilism a few months ago that can be found here.
23. “And God had violate that God-given value when It wants, because tyranny”
Not true. God does not contradict himself. He does not violate anything, but you do not ever explain what you mean very well so there’s not much I can say on this.
24. “Let’s be clear about this, God cursed us and you’re arguing it is intelligible to call that our fault.”
Obviously. God holds us accountable, therefore we are the ones at fault. Let me make a syllogism for you again since you are so incompetent at forming objections.
Premise 1 – God cannot hold us accountable unless he asks for our permission
Premise 2 – God has held us accountable without asking for our permission
Conclusion – Therefore Christianity/Blake’s position is unintelligible
You cannot demonstrate premise 1, therefore you are merely begging the question and arguing against my position with standards which I reject. Premise 1 is just your arbitrary opinion. You have to first demonstrate how premise 1 is true, and then also demonstrate how this proposition is universal and applies to everyone at all times and not just to yourself.
25. “And that’s simply because you are a willing serf to a fictional tyranny.”
Even is this were true, so what? Where is the objection? However, emotive language here is utterly useless. Saying God is fictional is just begging the question. I have already explained you abuse of tyranny. Tyranny may actually be a good thing, Thomas Hobbes said so in his Leviathan. Other collectivist political ideologists like Plato, Aristotle, and modern propose systems that some people like you would call tyrannical. Is it merely preference, or is there something inherently evil about tyranny? How would you be able to prove that? How is this consistent with your atheism? Are you smarter than Plato, Aristotle, and Hobbes? Why would liberty be a moral or practical good? Even if liberty can be proven to be good in some measure, is it a universal value? If it is not a universal value, then why are you universally applying this standard to God and myself? How would you go about demonstrating that liberty is a universal value? With your non universal particular experiences? How do these experiences give you knowledge of values at all? Your worldview does not give you any of these things, so you have to borrow them from my worldview in order to attack it.
Also, being a slave of God is a good thing, “you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God” (Romans 6:22). I am God’s child, a part of the bride of Christ, God’s slave, a slave of righteousness; all of these are positive qualities.
26. “Appeal to religious nihilism, again.”
Labeling my challenges is not equivalent to refuting it. Why is nihilism bad? Why do you oppose nihilism?
27. “You quote the Bible to say that God is unchanging and therefore not unchanging. But the actual narrative of the Bible disagrees with you. God alternates between loving and vindictive, caring and jealous, just and vengeful.”
When scripture says God is angry, or jealous, or other qualities that we regard as emotional, these are all anthropomorphic. God has no actual emotions that cause him to change internally. This is readily apparent with a few quotations:
“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4)
“And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built” (Genesis 11:5)
“Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 4:34)
God is not a chicken; the wings were obviously a picture of God’s protection. In Genesis, this was a narrative tool used to portray God’s cognizance of the Tower of Babel; you can cross reference this with Jeremiah 23:24. As for the last one, it is not saying that God has an arm made of flesh that physically lifted the people of Israel out of Egypt. God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm is used to portray God’s power. In common language, we still say “he is my right hand man.” It is an idiom. In reality, God does not have an these qualities (apart from the risen Christ, who has a resurrected body, and thus an arm). The Lord’s anger is not an emotional experience which occurs in time as it is for us, neither are any of these other descriptions. Also, God can be caring and just without having to change, so those qualities obviously can exist simultaneously.
28. “Unfortunately, ‘God is truth’ simply comes across as a deepity. It has no real meaning, even though it is very impressive-sounding.”
To say that God is truth is a tautology. To say that what God says is truth is a tautology as well. To reject this is to merely reject the definition of God. This comment is as nonsensical as questioning whether circles are circular. Reality is that which is so, and God has revealed that he is what is so by declaring I am what I am (Exodus 3:14). God is what is so, God defines reality, and God is that which is the case.
29. “I think you miss the point. Fry has more respect for the honest gods who make no bones about being imperfect.”
I did not miss the point, I just did not have much to say about it. It was so perfect that I there was hardly anything I could say in response. Humanity is so evil and regenerate that most would rather submit to the creation and lying, thieving, fornicating Greek gods than the God of scripture. The first thing that pops into the heads of Christians must be Romans 1, because we have been given yet another example of its fulfillment.
30. “You argue that God can be selfish without violating any other aspect of defining God. I’m just happy you’re remaining consistent with the tyrannical God. So many religious people would have buckled by now and started talking about love and peace and how because Jesus is God that all that love and peace should be extended to everyone. I’m content to see you at least remain consistent. I’m also content to notice you don’t defend God against the accusations of being an “utter maniac. Totally selfish”.”
God is not evil for being selfish and it doesn’t contradict God likewise being a God of love and peace. You need to explain why you feel so victorious here. From God, through God, and to God are all things. Everything that exists is either God or the creation which is upheld and sustained by God’s power. It is insane to think that God creates things for their own sake, because in order for God to create things for their own sake and not for his sake, they would first have to exist. God does all things for his own sake and glory:
“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3)
“For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me” (Psalm 31:3)
“everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isaiah 43:7)
You need to explain why this is a bad thing, and if it is bad how it is consistent with your worldview. As far as the maniac part goes, if I omitted it, it was because it was obviously just another arbitrary, emotive complaint that I didn’t feel the need to reply to.
31. “You don’t seem to appreciate that thanks is necessarily sincere. That is still what God demands of us. It does demand a lease of sincere thanks. It demands it, instead of earning it.”
Please explain why God cannot demand sincere appreciation? Is it because you think God can only command that which is in our ability? Why would you think that? How do you justify any of this? What does “sincere” mean to you?
32. “Fry has stated what is objectionable about the God he describes. You just reject it on the grounds of religious nihilism.”
Giving a label to my responses is not equivalent to refuting any of my questions or statements. All of this is a smoke screen that has demonstrated that you cannot justify a single thing that you say, and that everything you have said is worthless and arbitrary. By what standard can I not utilize what you call religious nihilism? Why not? Is this a universal value that I must abide by? If so, how to you know? If not, why does it matter that I use what you call religious nihilism? And if I am justified in using it in order to demonstrate that your atheism cannot meaningfully deal with any of these issues, how come you are not able to answer my objections and arguments? It is because your worldview is a black hole and every statement you make refutes itself.
33. “All accusations of bad behaviour are deflected by God’s own impotent self-definition of innocence?”
What do you define as bad behavior and why should I accept your standard? Is your standard universal? How do you know? If it’s not universal, why are you applying it to me?
34. “Bible quotes don’t cut it”
Why? What’s the standard then?
35. “Again, you appeal to the intellectually lazy stance of religious nihilism.”
Labeling is not equivalent to refutation. If you could have answered any of my questions you would have.
36. “You also seem to be missing the point. As I said at the start, Fry is entertaining a very specific question that was asked of him: what would you say if you got to meet the Christian God? To entertain that, Fry must “violate his own atheism”. Fry is essentially saying ‘Oh, those eye-burrowing parasites were intended by an intelligence (instead of the pitiless indifference of nature and blindness of evolution). You utter bastard.’ And there is nothing intellectually problematic about that stance.”
There is because Mr. Fry finds it objectionable that these parasites exist. Why is that objectionable but not grass? What is the plumb line by which we differentiate what is rational to object to and what is not?
37. “I find your misunderstanding of that section quite insincere. What Fry is saying is that, unbound by the strange dogmas that you have espoused here about the nature of God, we would be able to make apt evaluations and judgements on God and It’s behaviour, if we had to.”
By “apt evaluations and judgements” you mean what exactly? And why are not my “strange dogmas”, “apt evaluations and judgements”? Says who? You? What should anyone listen to you? Are your judgements universal and objective? If not why should anyone care? Are not universal, objective judgements a characteristic of my worldview but not yours? If your judgements are universal and objective on these matters, then how do you know that? Why then are you borrowing characteristics from my worldview, which are not found in your own, in order to argue against my worldview?
38. “Atheists are free to actually notice what an horrific brute and egotistical bully would be, if the Abrahamic religions were true.”
Yet you have spent an entire blog not being able to establish how to meaningfully define any of those terms, you have not been able to establish how atheists objecting to these things is internally consistent or justifiable, or why it would be significant if Christianity was horrible.
Well this was silly fun. You may have the last say if you wish.
Taffel, David, trans. A Nietzsche Compendium. N.p.: Barnes & Noble, 2008. Print.