Friday, December 18, 2009

Those Who Live in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones

It was asked on a previous thread (*) whether Surah 2:106 solves the problem of the missing verse on stoning. The short answer is, it doesn’t. For a slightly longer answer, see below (For those who need the back story on this issue, as well as more detailed treatments of the problems this poses for Muslims, see here)

Here is how Surah 2:106 reads in various translations:

“None of Our revelations
Do We abrogate
Or cause to be forgotten,
But We substitute
Something better or similar:
Knowest thou not that Allah
Hath power over all things?” (Yusuf Ali)

Such of our revelations as We
abrogate or cause to be forgotten,
We bring (in place) one better or the like
thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is
able to do all things? (Pickthall)

Whatever a Verse (revelation) do
We abrogate or cause to be forgotten,
We bring a better one or similar to it.
Know you not that Allah is Able to do all things? (Hilali)

One problem with this would be that Muhammad never said anything to abrogate the verse on stoning, as is proven by the fact that it was only discovered to be missing from the Qur'an by Umar after the time of Muhammad’s death, and neither was it caused to be forgotten, as is once again demonstrated in the case of Umar. If Umar was nonplussed by the fact that the verse was not to be found in the Qur’an, then according to the testimony of Umar it was never abrogated. If Umar remembered the verse in order to make this observation, then the verse was not forgotten.

A second problem is that Surah 2:106 says that any verse/reveation that is abrogated or caused to be forgotten will be replaced by Allah with something better or similar. Once again this runs aground on the fact that Muhammad was dead at the time the verse on stoning was discovered to be missing. In other words, Muhammad was not around to replace the verse with another one.

In light of this, it is surely ironic that Muslims so often accuse the Jews of removing things from the Torah, such as the command to stone adulterers, and anyone familiar with Muslim commentators knows just how often this example comes up, when the command to stone adulterers is still there in the Torah to this day but is nowhere to be found in the Qur’an.

This is a prime example of the proverb, "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones". Surely God catches the wise in their craftiness. (Job 5:14)

20 comments:

Jon said...

Did Jesus ever say anything to abrogate the OT stoning mandate? Did Paul? It's one thing to say that the OT mandates are not required for salvation and another thing to say they should be positively rejected.

Another question. Is stoning for adultery wrong? If so why did your God command it for so many years, assuming he's since withdrawn it?

What was your point about glass houses? Or another way to put it. Why not deal with the beam in your own eye?

Semper Paratus said...

Jon,

Since my point about glass houses has nothing to do with your other questions, let me just clear up that point.

Muslims claim the Jews removed the command to stone adulterers from the Torah.

Muslims sources tell us the Qur'an originally included a verse on stoning adulterers.

When we look at the Torah we still find such a command. When we look at the Qur'an, we don't.

In spite of this, tafsir after tafsir brings up the issue of stoning as proof that the Jews corrupted the Torah. The shoe is actually on the other foot.

Here is an example from Jalalayn:

فَوَيْلٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَذَا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا فَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ

"فَوَيْل" شِدَّة عَذَاب "لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَاب بِأَيْدِيهِمْ" أَيْ مُخْتَلَقًا مِنْ عِنْدهمْ "ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَذَا مِنْ عِنْد اللَّه لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا" مِنْ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ الْيَهُود غَيَّرُوا صِفَة النَّبِيّ فِي التَّوْرَاة وَآيَة الرَّجْم وَغَيْرهمَا وَكَتَبُوهَا عَلَى خِلَاف مَا أُنْزِلَ "فَوَيْل لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهمْ" مِنْ الْمُخْتَلَق "وَوَيْل لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ" مِنْ الرِّشَا جَمْع رِشْوَة

Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: "This is from Allah," to traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands write, and for the gain they make thereby.

"Then woe" refers to the severity of the punishment of "those who write the Book with their own hands", meaning those who invent (words) of their own accord.

"Then say: ‘This is from Allah,’ to traffic with it for a miserable price" this refers to the Jews who wished to gain a profit in this world (from their writings) in which they changed (removed) the description of the prophet (Muhammad) and the verse of stoning and others from the Torah. They (the Jews) wrote differently from what was revealed.

"Woe to them for what their hands write" meaning their invented sayings. "And for the gain they make thereby" referring to the profit they made from bribes; which is plural for a bribe.


[For more on this, see brother Sam Shamoun's article here.]

I'm sure even you can see the irony in all this, and I really don't think you should have too much trouble seeing the humor in saying, in response to this, "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."

The point here is not about the morality or immorality of stoning. It has nothing to do with "beams" and all the rest. It is a textual issue. The Qur'an simply hasn't preserved the command to stone adulterers, the very thing Muslims assert to be the case with respect to the Torah.

As for the beam in my eye, I think it is pretty clear that something is obstructing your vision. You simply don't seem to be able to see what the point of any post is about; your agenda seems to keep getting in the way of clear understanding.

Nevertheless, if you really want to talk about moral questions, I will be happy to revisit that issue with you. As I recall, when last we left off, you were explaining to me how you have no way to warrant the moral judgments you can't avoid making, which means you wouldn't know what a log was if I took one from the forest in your eye and clubbed you with it.

Jon said...

Sure, let's talk about my moral judgments. First of all you're misunderstanding me. I'm not saying that I "have no way of warranting moral conclusions." What I'm saying is that I don't necessarily have a complete theory of morality worked out. That's different. I do not fully understand the nature of moral principles. This means their source, their causes, etc.

I know you do because you'll just say Godidit, which is fine, but my view is basically that there's more to it than that and I'm comfortable saying "I don't know."

It would kind of be like me asking you if you can prove that 1+1=2. If you know how mathematical proofs work you should know that this is probably not something you know how to prove. It's not easy. On the other hand are you justified in expecting a person to give you two fives back when you ask for change for a ten? Yes you are, even though you don't have the proof for 1+1=2 at your disposal.

So when I say I don't know how to warrant moral conclusions what I'm saying is there are fundamental moral principles that I don't know how to prove, just like I honestly don't know how to prove that 1+1=2, but this doesn't prevent me from rationally making mathematical judgments. There are mathematical axioms taken for granted that form the basis for mathematical conclusions, and in the same way there are moral axioms that form the basis of moral judgments.

One axiom is that it is wrong to hold a person to a set of standards that you yourself are not obligated to hold under identical conditions. If it's wrong for OBL to attack civilians in New York then it is wrong for the United States to attack civilians in Nicaragua. Well, how do I prove that? What is the warrant for this assertion? I don't necessarily know and frankly I don't care to even try to prove it. It is so obvious to all that if anybody in their efforts to avoid looking in the mirror attempts to deflect to different questions I'm inclined to just walk away from the discussion, mostly because there's nothing more for me to learn and it's to the point where my antagonist is probably unable to learn anything from me.

It would kind of be like me asking you to break a $10 and you offering $3 in return and when I object you say "I don't see your proof that 1+1+1 does not equal 10." But you know that it doesn't and it doesn't matter that I don't have a proof. You are distracting in an effort to take advantage.

So when I ask you to demand that your government stop slaughtering civilians and you start with the "Who cares about your feelings, prove these moral axioms" it looks to me like you want to give me $3 for my $10. I don't have to prove basic moral axioms to know them. You don't want to talk about your double standards and this is how you avoid dealing with it.

Semper Paratus said...

Jon, I'll get back to you after the holidays. Merry Christmas.

Semper Paratus said...

Jon, the more I think about it, the more you remind me of the prodigal son in the parable that Jesus told (Luke 15:11-32). I think it is highly likely that you have heard and maybe even read that story before. After all, you do claim that you were once a believer, that you grew up in a Christian home, and that you went to an Evangelical church. I hope, however, that your (presumed) familiarity won’t prevent you from looking at it with me again.

You see Jon, just like you don’t believe that God exists or that you are under the Father’s control and authority, so the prodigal wished his father was dead so that he could do what was right in his own eyes. The prodigal expressed this by going off to a far country where he could live unto himself.

The fact that you are also presently living on the borrowed moral capital that you received from God, something you took with you when you left the faith, also has the prodigal son written all over it. The prodigal, too, you see, was living off the money he received from his father. And just like you don’t like being asked questions about how and where you got these “obvious” moral “axioms” or “principles” that you like to flaunt, pretending all the while that it proves other people have a beam in their eye, so the prodigal probably did not like being asked where his money came from; to even raise the question would remind him of his father and of his treachery. It is not hard to imagine that any tavern owner who did press this question upon the prodigal son lost the prodigal’s business. One can almost hear the prodigal now: “If you persist in asking me such questions every time I come in here for a beer, then I am inclined to walk away and take my business elsewhere.”

Semper Paratus said...

As you probably recall, there was also an older brother in the story that Christ told. Although we are not told that the older brother ever sought his brother out – indeed, given the older brother’s attitude, we can assume that he didn’t – it is not hard to imagine the kind of conversation that might have transpired if he did so and if he had a slightly better outlook.

-----------
Older Brother: “What are you doing in this place, wasting our father’s money?”

Prodigal Son: “I don’t know you or your father. This money is mine. It is obvious to everyone that I have money.”

Older Brother: “Yes, you do have money…the money you took from our father. You are an ungrateful son.”

Prodigal Son: “You are just trying to divert things from the real issue. The government where you guys live has engaged in unjust wars with various people at different times.”

Older Brother: “I thought you said you didn’t know me? How do you know about where I come from? And didn’t our father teach us that a just war is one that is defensive in nature? Wasn’t it our family that developed this notion? And what is this between us anyway? How is this relevant to the issue at hand, which is your unfaithfulness to our father?”

Prodigal Son: “Leave me alone. You obviously have a double standard. How did you get the money to get here anyway? Never mind. Don’t tell me, I can already guess: You are just going to tell me ‘Fatherdidit’, aren’t you? You wish it were that simple. That’s fine; you can say that all you want. I think it is more complicated than that, and I am comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know how I got all this money.’

Older Brother: “If you don’t know how you got all that money, then perhaps it is stolen. Stolen money is as good as no money, at least once the authorities find out.”

Prodigal Son: “Well, it works just fine until then. Here’s a hundred dollars. Go away and say you never saw me.”

Older Brother: “Your money is no good with me. I know you got that money from our father. To think you could use it to get me to betray our father is no different than asking me to be like you. The very fact that you would try to use the money that way exposes you for the unfaithful son that you are; it shows that you are just the kind of person I have accused you of being.”

----------

Semper Paratus said...

As with the prodigal in the story, you will probably continue to ignore the obvious claim of the Father on you, and will likely need to come to an end of yourself. Like the prodigal you will continue to squander the moral capital that you received from God the Father; you will continue to press the logical implications of your atheism into all the corners of your philosophy, something you have not yet done. When you do that, you will see that your “obvious” moral principles are no longer so obvious on your God-denying assumptions. You will come to see what other, more consistent atheists and atheistic societies have realized: no God, no morality; know God, know morality.

My prayer is that you will come to see this before it is too late and you find yourself feeding at the Muslims’ swine trough, the very thing that the prodigal nations of Europe are slowly being forced to learn. But perhaps that is what it will take. Perhaps once you have reaped the fruit of what you are trying to sow, smoothing the path for Islam to conquer the world and bring everyone under its tyrannical yoke, you will realize what you left and the mess you have made of things and will come to your senses.

If that ever happens, and, unlike the older brother in Christ’s parable, I hope that it will, and I really hope it is sooner rather than later, I would be only too thrilled if you returned to the household of faith. I would love to see the fattened calf sacrificed for you. I would rejoice with the angels in heaven over your repentance.

Alas, until then, I can only continue to call you to repent and believe. I can only do as my Father taught me, and tell you that you are misusing His money. As you know from your upbringing, the Father is very longsuffering and gracious. He will allow you your time in the far country to which you have gone, and will readily forgive you if you return, but eventually His patience will come to an end, and He will come and war against you and the land which harbors you if you prove to be an incorrigible son. When that happens, it will do you little good to point out that that war was not declared by congress.

Semper Paratus said...

Just thought I would also provide you with some inspirational atheistic quotes on your philosophically naive assertions that morality and mathematics are obvious or true on anti-theistic premises.

Michael Ruse: The position of the modern evolutionist is that . . . morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says 'Love thy neighbor as thyself,' they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.

Richard Rorty: " To say that there really are objective values out there, that there is a moral reality to be corresponded with, seems as pointless as saying that God is on our side."

Bertrand Russell: "Mathematics is the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true."

If you would like more quotes, I would be happy to pull more books off the shelf. Just say the word.

Jon said...

Semper, it's got nothing to do with me being uncomfortable being asked certain questions. It's got everything to do with the fact that many theists like to return to this complex question "Where do morals come from" whenever they find themselves facing a moral conundrum, and I don't necessarily want to let them off the hook at that time and switch gears to another topic.

Any moral disagreement we have can be diverted to that subject. But I don't necessarily think it's appropriate to divert to a new subject. Not because I have a problem with the subject but because I want to focus discussions. Diverting to new subjects is often simply a way of clouding the issues and avoiding difficult questions.

This is not to say though that this is not a worthwhile subject to discuss in its own right, so let's do it. I've explained my view. I think it is rational to accept certain propositions even if you can't prove them. We do this with mathematics. We do this with basic rules of logic (which I know you'll also assume have their source in God.) But take the assumption you make that you are not a brain in a jar being stimulated to experience the thoughts you experience. Can you prove that this is not the case? Not really. But you will assume it despite the fact that you can't prove it, and I think this is justified. And I think fundamental moral axioms can be justified in the same way.

I view your explanation that "Godidit" as nothing different from the old explanations for lightning, thunder, and meteorites. The present gaps of knowledge are filled with God. Used to be that we didn't understand lightning, thunder, and meteorites, so the priest would just say "Godidit" and would probably ridicule anyone that didn't accept that. He'd probably say "We have an explanation and you don't." So what though? Is that so much better? The "Godidit" explanation explains every observation that can ever be made, but some people think it's worth it to ignore that explanation and probe deeper. Look for natural causes. The track record of that approach is pretty good, whereas the track record for the Godidit explanation is quite poor.

I'm on the same epistemic footing as the man that was skeptical of his Hindu priest 7K years ago when he was told that earth rests on the back of a turtle. "So what are you claiming?" asks the Hindu priest. "What holds the world in place then? Why aren't we falling? You lack an explanation and we have one. Turtles." Well maybe I don't know, but your turtle explanation seems poor to me.

Semper Paratus said...

Semper, it's got nothing to do with me being uncomfortable being asked certain questions.

You need to work on your poker face.

It's got everything to do with the fact that many theists like to return to this complex question "Where do morals come from" whenever they find themselves facing a moral conundrum, and I don't necessarily want to let them off the hook at that time and switch gears to another topic.

Jon, as always your hobby horse is off topic. I didn't say anything about America's wars or the killing of civilians or anything like that in this or any other post. You also don’t know my views on such matters so that you could even pretend that I advocate a double standard with respect to them. So I am hardly failing to solve any moral conundrum you have found in my thinking. This is purely a problem of your own making; it exists only in your head.

If you want to go off topic and talk about morality, and if you want to pass judgment on God and what He has commanded, then of course I am going to ask you to give some account of yourself and your authority to do so. I don’t think you are in a position to contend with the Almighty; I do not think you have any objective standard apart from Him in terms of which you can make your criticism intelligible. Since you want to reject an absolute God and still want to assert that there are moral absolutes, and since you are so reluctant, apart from a little arm twisting, to confront this conundrum, I think it is fair to say that you are trying to evade a fundamental issue by turning around and attributing certain views to me and pretending that I now have some kind of conundrum on my hands. You want to look at the (trumped up) beam in other people’s eye, but you avoid like the plague applying such a standard to yourself. Interesting behavior for a guy who castigates people for applying double standards and refusing to look in the mirror.

This is not to say though that this is not a worthwhile subject to discuss in its own right, so let's do it.

See what a little arm twisting will do. My next goal is to get you to cry “uncle”.

Semper Paratus said...

I've explained my view. I think it is rational to accept certain propositions even if you can't prove them. We do this with mathematics. We do this with basic rules of logic (which I know you'll also assume have their source in God.) But take the assumption you make that you are not a brain in a jar being stimulated to experience the thoughts you experience. Can you prove that this is not the case? Not really. But you will assume it despite the fact that you can't prove it, and I think this is justified. And I think fundamental moral axioms can be justified in the same way.

Here's the problem Jon. It is sometimes rational to believe things for which you can't offer proof, and thanks again for admitting that you can't prove logic, morality, mathematics, etc., but my point is actually more fundamental and problematic for you. You need a worldview in terms of which things like rationality, ethics, and mathematics can be made intelligible. You can say all day long that you don't know how to warrant your belief in rationality, moral standards, and laws of mathematics, and I certainly agree with you that you don't, but as long as you wish to hold to an underlying philosophy predicated on the denial of an absolute God, asserting instead that there is nothing more than time and chance acting on matter, that all is sound and fury signifying nothing, that all is chaos and old night, such things become utterly unintelligible and impossible. It is not just that you don't know how to get universal and objective moral standards that are binding on people given your denial of God; it is that in principle such a thing cannot be done. You cannot get from a description of the world, which on your principles is all there is, was, or ever will be, i.e. nothing but time and chance acting on matter, to the notion of ethical obligation. As David Hume showed, you can't get ought from is, especially not from what you say "is". In addition, ethical obligation is not material in nature; neither is it in motion.

Semper Paratus said...

I view your explanation that "Godidit" as nothing different from the old explanations for lightning, thunder, and meteorites. The present gaps of knowledge are filled with God. Used to be that we didn't understand lightning, thunder, and meteorites, so the priest would just say "Godidit" and would probably ridicule anyone that didn't accept that. He'd probably say "We have an explanation and you don't." So what though? Is that so much better? The "Godidit" explanation explains every observation that can ever be made, but some people think it's worth it to ignore that explanation and probe deeper. Look for natural causes. The track record of that approach is pretty good, whereas the track record for the Godidit explanation is quite poor.

Talk about simplistic. Christians have never believed that God does everything directly. There is a difference between creation and miracle on the one hand, and ordinary providence on the other. There is also a difference between ultimate and proximate causes. Your criticism assumes that Christians do not believe in the reality of secondary causes or that such matters can be probed into.

Accordingly, I have no problem probing for natural explanations, but to pretend that these are “deeper” answers misses the issue entirely. Furthermore, when you say that morality is just “axiomatic”, no explanation needed, you aren’t even doing this. As well, to repeat the above, ethical obligation is not a natural phenomenon. When was the last time you bought a pound of ethical obligation at the store, Jon?

If you wanted to make an analogy to science to describe what it is you think I am arguing, you would have been closer to the point if you asked how science is possible in the first place. On your atheistic approach to the world, the very assumptions on which science rests would be utterly unintelligible. For example, it is impossible to give an anti-theistic answer to the problem of induction, the underlying basis of all empirical science. More than that, the inductive principle is contrary to atheistic approaches to the world. Your buddy David Hume taught me that as well. Bertrand Russell was also no small help.

Jon said...

OK Semper, let's see if I have this straight. First of all you bring up an off topic issue in the following thread and attempt to switch topics to the grounding of morality. Or perhaps that I'm "squeamish" about eschatalogical realities. All in my opinion an effort to avoid discussing the double standard with which you treat the Bible and the Qur'an, which is a tough conundrum.

http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2009/11/does-quran-2256-show-that-islam-is.html

When I tell you I'd rather not go so far off topic you re-initiate the conversation in this thread. Fine. Let's talk about it here if you like. So I do. In response you tell me that I'm uncomfortable talking about these things. I'm perplexed. Didn't I just agree to discuss this topic? Why would I do that if I'd rather not?

But now you're asking my why it is that I want to go off topic and talk about morality, as if I not only am not uncomfortable talking about it, I'm actually pushing the conversation in this direction. But I'm not. We're talking about it because you re-raised the issue and I agreed to go with it. So which is it? Am I uncomfortable talking about this or am I trying to push the conversation in this direction?

You said:

but as long as you wish to hold to an underlying philosophy predicated on the denial of an absolute God

And what if this is NOT what I wish? Because it's not. My philosophy is certainly not predicated on a denial of an absolute God. The criticisms you offered which followed are based on this mistaken claim regarding my wishes. I of course cannot know that there is no God at all with certainty. This is like saying my worldview is PREDICATED on the belief that there are no unicorns. Why would my worldview be predicated on such a thing? What if unicorns are discovered? What do I care? God might exist. He could show himself if he wanted. For instance, he could answer a prayer, which he doesn't do. He could give us a sign, which he never does. But maybe he's really out there and one day he will. Fine. I'll be very interested to know. My worldview does not preclude that.

Talk about simplistic. Christians have never believed that God does everything directly.

Talk about missing the point. I'm not denying that. I'm saying that many things now known to have natural causes were once attributed to supernatural causes simply because they weren't presently explainable. This is how you operate. Today we understand the natural causes of meteorites. So you, unlike our ancestors, feel no need to attribute them to your God. Our ancestors did. But today you have new gaps in your knowledge where you stick your God. I'm justified in rejecting that explanation despite the fact that I don't have an explanation of my own because your God of the gaps methodology has a poor track record, whereas the replacement of supernatural causality with natural causality has a very good track record.

When I say it is not necessary to explain the source of moral axioms in order to use them to draw moral conclusions, this is not the same as saying the causes SHOULDN'T be studied. They should be. It's just that they aren't needed, just as my expectation of receiving two $5's for a $10 is justified even if I don't have the mathematical proofs for how these values are identical.

The assumptions on which science rests are unintelligible? How so? I think the word "unintelligible" is one of those words people throw around and they don't quite know what it means. Explain how scientific assumptions are impossible to comprehend for me.

Semper Paratus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Semper Paratus said...

Yours is a rather truncated and selective version of how we got here. After distinguishing the Old Testament requirement on stoning from the teaching of the Qur'an and Sunnah, something you weren't able to do without a little kick in the pants, you said, "That's similarly awful." I met this charge head on, asking you to prove that you had some warrant for saying this and weren't just spouting your own subjective and arbitrary opinion. It turned out, by your own admission, you didn't have any basis for saying this. All you could say was, "I don't know." In other words, my challenge to you was directly relevant to your claim, and you couldn’t meet that challenge so you dropped the matter and never returned.

In spite of the fact that the present thread is about a theological and textual issue – sorry the label at the bottom, i.e. “Qur’an Preservation,” was so misleading – you once again tried to pontificate on moral issues. You said I have a beam in my eye because the Bible’s teaching is just as immoral as the teaching of the Qur’an. You also said this shows I have a double standard. But I wasn’t making a value judgment at all. To the extent that I do hold the Muslim practice to be immoral, it is because it contradicts the Bible, whether we are talking about the Old or the New Testament. I also reject your criticism because it contradicts the Bible. Hence, my standard is the same throughout.

In any event, you raised the moral issue again, and you can expect that any and every time you do so I will ask you to do the same thing I ask Muslims: show that what you are saying does not contradict the Bible. If you want to say that the Bible is not the standard I should be using, then you need to show that you are warranted in holding to some other standard. I maintain that you cannot account for laws and standards given your atheism, and that you are (selectively and inconsistently) borrowing from the Christian worldview to say what you do.

If you want to go around preaching, then you need to stick to the text. The problem is as an atheist you have no text. You want to pretend that nature is all there is and that science is the path to knowledge, but things like morality, logic, mathematics, etc., are not natural objects, neither can they be studied scientifically. Science rests for its validity on such things. Science presupposes that nature is uniform, that logic and math apply to the world of fact, and that there are objective moral standards. These are not things that science has or can demonstrate. Pretending that the advances of science have done anything to answer these questions, filling in gaps previously thought to be filled by God, shows incredible ignorance on your part of Christian theology and general philosophy. It makes it look like you never progressed beyond your Sunday school understanding of the Christian faith before you decided to head for the nearest tavern, and that you were too drunk every time you showed up for your philosophy classes to learn anything. The kinds of questions that science asks and answers pertain to secondary causes. Trying to plug “Mother-Nature” into things that fall into the former category is thus a godless-of-the-gaps argument, and is entirely out of place. She simply cannot do the trick you want done.

Jon said...

Let's note the items you failed to address. You're back and forth on whether or not I'm scared to talk about moral questions or whether or not I'm trying to push the conversation in that direction. You haven't addressed your confusion so I'll assume you concede it.

You base several arguments on the assumption that I for some reason WISH to hold to a philosphy predicated on the denial of an absolute God. I reply that this is false and hence all of your arguments that are formed on that basis collapse. You didn't address this so I'll assume you concede it.

I talked about how you missed the point with regards to the poor track record of attributing supernatural cause to the currently unexplainable. You didn't address the point so I'll assume you concede it.

You asserted that the assumptions of science are "unintelligible" given my worldview. I challenged you to explain what you mean because this basically makes no sense. You ignored the question so I'll assume you concede your criticism is nonsensical.

Now I'll address the substance you offered.

After distinguishing the Old Testament requirement on stoning from the teaching of the Qur'an and Sunnah, something you weren't able to do without a little kick in the pants,

Was it that I wasn't "able" to make irrelevant distinctions or was it that I saw no need to?

You "met the charge head on" by saying that it's OK for your Deity to demand that those that attempt to persuade others of a different faith be stoned whereas it's wrong for Muslims to follow the mandates that they regard as coming from their Deity basically because yours is true and theirs is false. I tend to think you can see how weak that sounds, and hence the change of topic.

All you could say was, "I don't know."

That's right. And I've elaborated in this thread on why that is rational to continue to draw moral conclusions without a complete theory of morality worked out. I talked about how mathematical conclusions are rational without proof of 1+1 is 2. I talked about how attributing supernatural causes to the currently unexplainable has a poor track record. You just won't address my replies.

It seems you can sustain your view only by ignoring the counters.

so you dropped the matter and never returned.

I dropped the matter and never returned? What are we now discussing in this very thread? Maybe it's not so much that I dropped the matter but that I'm addressing the matter and you're ignoring me.

If you want to say that the Bible is not the standard I should be using, then you need to show that you are warranted in holding to some other standard.

I've already explained all of this. Remember the math analogies? Remember the discussion about your God of the gaps methodology and how it has a poor track record. Sheesh.

You want to pretend that nature is all there is

Do I? Where did I say that? Why don't you stop critiquing me based upon your perception of my wishes and start replying to the statements I've actually made?

Pretending that the advances of science have done anything to answer these questions, filling in gaps previously thought to be filled by God, shows incredible ignorance on your part of Christian theology and general philosophy.

Where have I asserted otherwise, Semper? Once again, why not stop boxing with those shadows and start addressing what I've said.

Semper Paratus said...

Let's note the items you failed to address. You're back and forth on whether or not I'm scared to talk about moral questions or whether or not I'm trying to push the conversation in that direction. You haven't addressed your confusion so I'll assume you concede it.

I did address this. After much complaining over the fact that I challenged you to justify your underlying assumptions about morality rather than just let you act like a moral pope, saying that it was irrelevant, a distraction, and that you weren't going to address it, you ducked out on the discussion into some hole in the wall to drown your sorrows.

Without at all intending to make up for your earlier act of tucking tail, you came to this thread and once again tried to pontificate on moral issues (even though that wasn’t the topic of my post). You weren’t trying to press the conversation in the direction of justifying your claims; I was the one who had to remind you that you were once again acting like a prodigal, spending money that you didn’t make and cannot account for in terms of your denial of God.

You base several arguments on the assumption that I for some reason WISH to hold to a philosphy predicated on the denial of an absolute God. I reply that this is false and hence all of your arguments that are formed on that basis collapse. You didn't address this so I'll assume you concede it.

By “absolute God” I am referring to the God of the Bible, the God who created the world, the God who reveals Himself in nature and the pages of Scripture, the God who answers prayer, the God who parted the Red-Sea and brought again the Lord Jesus back from the dead. You are not simply neutral with respect to such a God; you positively deny Him:

"He could show himself if he wanted. For instance, he could answer a prayer, which he doesn't do. He could give us a sign, which he never does."

I addressed myself to this by attacking your naturalistic assumptions.

Semper Paratus said...

I talked about how you missed the point with regards to the poor track record of attributing supernatural cause to the currently unexplainable. You didn't address the point so I'll assume you concede it.

I addressed this point as well. God is the ultimate cause of everything. That doesn’t rule out the reality of secondary causes. God can work independently of the latter; He can also work through and with them. When a Christian says that God causes things like lightning, he is referring it to God as the ultimate cause. The fact that science discovers the secondary causes does not show that God is no longer needed to explain such phenomena. Consider the following analogy:

According to the Bible, God providentially brought it about that the patriarch Joseph would be sold into slavery so that he could eventually rise to prominence in Egypt and save the world from the coming famine. Your reply amounts to saying, “God is no longer needed to explain all this because we now know that Joseph was in Egypt because his brothers sold him into slavery”. But Scripture does not say that God would do this directly, as if He would come down, stick a price tag on Joseph’s head, and auction him off to the highest bidder. The fact that the historical record tells us that his brothers sold him into slavery does not show that the “earlier” supernatural explanation is not true or necessary and much less that the former is a “deeper” explanation of what happened.

"When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Gen. 50)


God is the primary agent in the story. Joseph’s brothers are secondary. God did it; they did it. The latter does not rule out the former.


Furthermore, when it comes to secondary causes, science still cannot explain them without ultimately assuming the providence of God, the same as we see in the story of Joseph. If we assume that God did not create and does not continually uphold and govern the world in an orderly manner, there is no basis for the inductive principle on which scientific explanations are based. More on this later.

Semper Paratus said...

You asserted that the assumptions of science are "unintelligible" given my worldview. I challenged you to explain what you mean because this basically makes no sense. You ignored the question so I'll assume you concede your criticism is nonsensical.

If I was so inclined, I could also play the philosophers game of asking you to explain what you mean by “nonsensical”, but I’m not so desperate. I also now recognize your philosophical short-comings and so don’t think you are being disingenuous when you say the meaning of the word eludes you. So here is the explanation you seek.

One of the assumptions of science, which I did point out in my last post, and which I could say you conceded because you did not address it, is the uniformity of nature. Without it induction would be impossible. Without induction we cannot even say what the secondary causes are of things like lightning. No induction  no science  no explanation of lightning.

When I say the world was created and is governed by a sovereign God, and that God has revealed His existence and the fact of His exhaustive control of whatsoever comes to pass, the assumption of uniformity makes sense; it comports with my worldview. When you deny or refuse to acknowledge God, saying with Aristophanes that God has been unseated and Whirl is king, the assumption of uniformity flies out the window into the storm. And with it goes the inductive principle, all the way to the mythical Land of Oz

No amount of heal clicking will extricate you from this problem. Atheism’s best minds applied themselves to it and tried to come up with an answer. David and Hume and Bertrand Russell both showed that there is no rational warrant for the belief in induction. If that doesn’t explain what I mean by unintelligible, perhaps they can help you. I think we can be sure they knew what unintelligible meant. Then again, maybe they didn’t; after all, the very use of language rests on the principle of induction.

Was it that I wasn't "able" to make irrelevant distinctions or was it that I saw no need to?

Calling it an irrelevant distinction begs the question.

By what standard do you judge the difference to be irrelevant?

You "met the charge head on" by saying that it's OK for your Deity to demand that those that attempt to persuade others of a different faith be stoned whereas it's wrong for Muslims to follow the mandates that they regard as coming from their Deity basically because yours is true and theirs is false. I tend to think you can see how weak that sounds, and hence the change of topic.

Weak? Not at all. The Qur’an acknowledges that the Bible is the Word of God. By contradicting the Bible, which Muhammad thought he was following on the matter of stoning apostates, it undermines itself. So their deity is false by their own “standards”.

And let’s not forget what you said at that time: “True, if God is really speaking through your book and not theirs, [which their book asserts to be the case – SP] then you are right because we wouldn't expect God to be wrong”?

The basis of my criticism is what their own book says. Just like I criticize you for what your “book” says. In your book, supernatural realities and explanations are disallowed, even ridiculed. The problem is that morality, mathematics, logic, and the like are not natural realities. Can you show that such things are inconsistent with what my book says? You haven’t done so yet. You just keep on insisting, each time more loudly as you do so.

Semper Paratus said...

And I've elaborated in this thread on why that is rational to continue to draw moral conclusions without a complete theory of morality worked out. I talked about how mathematical conclusions are rational without proof of 1+1 is 2. I talked about how attributing supernatural causes to the currently unexplainable has a poor track record. You just won't address my replies.

And I’ve addressed this as well. Naturalistic explanations have NO track record when it comes to explaining things like morality, rationality and mathematics. Ethical obligations, laws of logic, and principles of mathematics do not comport with your aversion to non-natural realities and explanations. Consider the laws of logic: they are abstract, universal, invariant, etc. Not only does this not fit into a naturalistic framework, but even if I gave you a pass on this, you still have to account for why they apply repeatedly in the realm of contingent human experience. Einstein was utterly baffled at this when it came to mathematics. You should be too. He also said that positivists and atheists have no hope of explaining it, search as they may.

As for the claim that you are rational to believe in such things even though you don’t have a “complete theory” worked out, that makes about as much sense as saying, “I don’t believe any non-marbles exist; it is perfectly rational for me to believe in non-marbles even though I don’t have a complete theory worked out.”

I dropped the matter and never returned? What are we now discussing in this very thread? Maybe it's not so much that I dropped the matter but that I'm addressing the matter and you're ignoring me.

Yes, you dropped the matter in the previous thread. It’s a matter of record. The fact that we are now addressing it here is because of my taunting you on the matter, pointing out that you were avoiding fundamental issues relevant to your desire to critique Christianity, and the fact that you appear to have gotten enough liquid courage in your system to step outside.

I've already explained all of this. Remember the math analogies? Remember the discussion about your God of the gaps methodology and how it has a poor track record. Sheesh.

Answered (again) above.

You also ignored my point about your mother nature of the gaps approach. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

You want to pretend that nature is all there is


Do I? Where did I say that? Why don't you stop critiquing me based upon your perception of my wishes and start replying to the statements I've actually made?


You have repeatedly rejected non-natural causes and explanations. You insist on explaining everything naturalistically. If you don’t believe that nature is all there is, then let us all know about those invisible unicorns you believe in and why its rational for you to do so given your proffered methodology.