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Dawkins speaks: Why he won’t debate William Lane Craig … Craig advocates genocide

Dawkins bio pic

Here (The Guardian, October 20, 2011). Craig, he says, advocates genocide. Referencing the Hebrew wars recounted in the Old Testament, he quotes Craig,

You might say that such a call to genocide could never have come from a good and loving God. Any decent bishop, priest, vicar or rabbi would agree. But listen to Craig. He begins by arguing that the Canaanites were debauched and sinful and therefore deserved to be slaughtered. He then notices the plight of the Canaanite children.

[See also: Historian: Fool or coward? For Dawkins, that is not an easy choice]

But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel’s part. In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods’ (Deut 7.3-4). […] God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. […] Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

Do not plead that I have taken these revolting words out of context. What context could possibly justify them?

Hey, wait a minute. If Dawkins did not want to debate Craig because he purportedly advocates genocide, why didn’t he say that up front many months ago?Are we to believe that Dawkins kept this serious accusation under his hat until now?

Surely, it is more likely that he never intended to debate Craig, because he is more used to receiving adulation than critical analysis. And then conveniently someone forwarded him a useful excuse.

Let’s hope Craig’s team offers to debate him on the points he raises, as long as Craig is allowed to raise others later, like the widely doubted plausibility of ultra-Darwinism.

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254 Responses to Dawkins speaks: Why he won’t debate William Lane Craig … Craig advocates genocide

  1. Video – Richard Dawkins who allegedly thinks highly of the human race and says Craig ‘advocates genocide’, apparently thinks we’re nothing but chunks of matter.

    William Lane Craig comments on Dawkins’ horrific view of human life. – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmudsZbo32c

    And exactly how is Dawkins going to prove to us that we live in a completely meaningless materialistic universe if all his statements on the subject really are meaningingless as he himself holds all things to be???

    The Irrational Atheist: Why Christianity Is True
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqMtMp8tS2w

    further note:

    If Dawkins hates genocide so much that he takes pot shots at Dr. William Lane Craig away from the debating platform, then perhaps he should take a very close look at his chosen religion of Atheism:

    Stalin’s Brutal Faith
    http://www.icr.org/index.php?m.....038;ID=276

    The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression:
    Excerpt: Essentially a body count of communism’s victims in the 20th century, the book draws heavily from recently opened Soviet archives. The verdict: communism was responsible for between 85 million and 100 million, non-war related, deaths in the century. (of note: this estimate is viewed as very conservative by many, with some more realistic estimates passing 200 million dead) (Of Note: Atheistic Communism is defined as Dialectic Materialism)
    http://www.amazon.com/Black-Bo.....0674076087

    The unmitigated horror visited upon man, by state sponsored atheism, would be hard to exaggerate,,,

    Chairman MAO: Genocide Master
    “…Many scholars and commentators have referenced my total of 174,000,000 for the democide (genocide and mass murder) of the last century. I’m now trying to get word out that I’ve had to make a major revision in my total due to two books. I’m now convinced that that Stalin exceeded Hitler in monstrous evil, and Mao beat out Stalin….”
    http://wadias.in/site/arzan/bl.....de-master/

    paganism certainly shared its own burden of bringing us senseless horror

    From Darwin To Hitler – Richard Weikart – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_5EwYpLD6A

    Was Hitler influenced by Darwin or by Christianity? Some thoughts on posts by Mr ‘Godwin’
    http://hitchensblog.mailonsund.....odwin.html

    How Darwin’s Theory Changed the World
    Rejection of Judeo-Christian values
    Excerpt: Weikart explains how accepting Darwinist dogma shifted society’s thinking on human life: “Before Darwinism burst onto the scene in the mid-nineteenth century, the idea of the sanctity of human life was dominant in European thought and law (though, as with all ethical principles, not always followed in practice). Judeo-Christian ethics proscribed the killing of innocent human life, and the Christian churches explicitly forbade murder, infanticide, abortion, and even suicide.
    “The sanctity of human life became enshrined in classical liberal human rights ideology as ‘the right to life,’ which according to John Locke and the United States Declaration of Independence, was one of the supreme rights of every individual” (p. 75).
    Only in the late nineteenth and especially the early twentieth century did significant debate erupt over issues relating to the sanctity of human life, especially infanticide, euthanasia, abortion, and suicide. It was no mere coincidence that these contentious issues emerged at the same time that Darwinism was gaining in influence. Darwinism played an important role in this debate, for it altered many people’s conceptions of the importance and value of human life, as well as the significance of death” (ibid.).
    http://www.gnmagazine.org/issu.....-world.htm

    fn: the body count for abortion is over 50 million now in America since it was legalized in 1973:

    “180″ Movie – Hitler, Holocaust, Abortion – Award winning documentary
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI

    Whereas on the other hand:

    From Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity, in giving examples of the influence of Jesus Christ cites many examples. Here are just a few:

    1. Hospitals
    2. Universities
    3. Literacy and education for the masses
    4. Representative government
    5. Separation of political powers
    6. Civil liberties
    7. Abolition of slavery
    8. Modern science
    9. The elevation of the common man
    10. High regard for human life

  2. Dawkins’ recent flatulent rant seems to be a bit contradictory to what he has said in the past, notably….

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    That’s an interesting statement coming from someone who also said

    “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

    Dawkins himself does not appear to be too indifferent about issues concerning the existence of God. One wonders why he all of a sudden cares so much for Canaanite children. Maybe we don’t live in a Dawkins universe after all?

    Aside from Dawkin’s outbursts, let’s hold Darwinism (unguided, purely natural evolutionary processes utilizing natural selection and random mutation) to the same standard of critique.

    Wouldn’t Darwinist evolution be “unjust” in its “callous” indifference to “all suffering”, for continually picking off the weak and sickly? Wouldn’t Darwinist evolution be an “unforgiving control freak”, “megalomaniacal” and “petty” for (as Darwin himself stated)….

    “…daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the slightest variations, rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good, silently and insensibly , whenever and wherever opportunity presents itself”

    Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species, Chapter 4, “Natural Selection”, pg.91

    Wouldn’t Darwinist evolution be “sadomasochistic” in it’s use of “suffering, destruction and death” as a means to create new forms of life? Wouldn’t Darwinist evolution be a “capriciously malevolent bully” in it’s callous indifference to such suffering? Wouldn’t the apparently grumpy ol’ Darwinist evolution be a “bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser”, “genocidal” and “racist” in it’s continually pitting one species population against another in a constant and severe struggle, specifically struggles among humans taking place between tribes and races throughout human history?

    Comparing apples to oranges here, it appears that when held to the same standard of critique, Dawkins’ own Darwinist faith appears to be substantially more evil than any caricature of the Christian God.

  3. Born Again….just to expand on your theme from above, please check out the numbers from around the world; check out what happens when Atheists/evolutionists/non-Christians take control of Government:

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

    “169,202,000 Murdered: Summary and Conclusions [20th Century Democide]

    I BACKGROUND

    2. The New Concept of Democide [Definition of Democide]
    3. Over 133,147,000 Murdered: Pre-Twentieth Century Democide
    II 128,168,000 VICTIMS: THE DEKA-MEGAMURDERERS

    4. 61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State
    5. 35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill
    6. 20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State
    7. 10,214,000 Murdered: The Depraved Nationalist Regime
    III 19,178,000 VICTIMS: THE LESSER MEGA-MURDERERS

    8. 5,964,000 Murdered: Japan’s Savage Military
    9. 2,035,000 Murdered: The Khmer Rouge Hell State
    10. 1,883,000 Murdered: Turkey’s Genocidal Purges
    11. 1,670,000 Murdered: The Vietnamese War State
    12. 1,585,000 Murdered: Poland’s Ethnic Cleansing
    13. 1,503,000 Murdered: The Pakistani Cutthroat State
    14. 1,072,000 Murdered: Tito’s Slaughterhouse
    IV 4,145,000 VICTIMS: SUSPECTED MEGAMURDERERS

    15. 1,663,000 Murdered? Orwellian North Korea
    16. 1,417,000 Murdered? Barbarous Mexico
    17. 1,066,000 Murdered? Feudal Russia”

    This is, in reality, is probably just a drop in the bucket. Who knows how many undocumented murders there were. It also doesn’t count all the millions of abortions from around the world.

  4. Dawkins won’t debate Craig for the same reason he would not debate Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo. Dawkins is an intellectual coward. He hurls taunts from columns. That is equivalent to a child acting brave from behind his mommy’s dress tail. http://www.insectman.us/testimony/dawkins.htm

  5. Onlookers:

    The above — sadly, but tellingly — is a blatant well-poisoning, atmosphere-poisoning distractive fallacy to cover up that Dawkins plainly realises he would be crushed in an open debate with Craig. (No great surprise: Craig WRITES quite useful textbooks on philosophy — let’s leave off the professional phil papers for now. Dawkins’ pop sci and atheism polemical books are filled with elementary philosophical errors on such matters that happen to be persuasive talking points for those who have not learned better.)

    Having spewed a poisonous ink-cloud, Dawkins plainly hopes to get away unscathed without having to account for a long string of venomous, ill-founded assertions he has made — which too many in the media and on the Internet have helped promote.

    In fact, any number of serious responses have been made to this known false accusation, which is based on twisting what Craig and others have said, to slander decent men as supporters of genocide.

    As in, your’e a theocratic, Christofascist Nazi would-be mass murderer.

    Disgusting and shameless.

    This unworthy tactic clearly removes Dawkins from the pale of civil discussion.

    It is also utterly, sadly telling on his underlying hostile and contempt-laced, supercilious attitude to those who differ with him.

    From this time forth, no decent or serious person should take Mr Dawkins or his arguments seriously.

    GEM of TKI

  6. Poor Dawkins…it’s clear he didn’t want to debate Craig because he FEARS him. He knows he can’t refute Craig’s arguments nor can he defend his own. Dawkins is more mouse than lion.

  7. The above — sadly, but tellingly — is a blatant well-poisoning, atmosphere-poisoning distractive fallacy to cover up that Dawkins plainly realises he would be crushed in an open debate with Craig.

    There are absolutely no ground for this inference at all. At the beginning of the article Dawkins makes it perfectly clear that he has no intention of debating Craig, and never has had.

    There is no “cover-up” as you call it.

    And plenty of reasons other than “cowardice” for his refusal.

    What spin would you put on:

    “So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli [sic] soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalising effect on these Israeli [sic] soldiers is disturbing.”

    Or is this a misquotation from Craig?

  8. Golly, it isn’t!

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....38;id=5767

    Does anyone here seriously defend Craig’s position as expressed in this piece?

  9. Dr Liddle:

    Not at all so.

    First, you ground the existence of objective morality on evolutionary materialistic grounds as anything beyond emotional manipulation or rhetoric — as Dawkins has cynically, venomously abused our moral sentiments through in the above — then we can have a basis to reasonably discuss the rights and wrongs of Craig’s reasoning and views.

    (Onlookers, here is my reason for raising this issue and here is Plato on the same matter, 2350 years ago, in warning against the amoral manipulators who would ground their views in materialism. [For my views on the side-track atmosphere-poisoning issue, onlookers, cf. here. Dr Liddle, TWT et al -- and yes, on this you have some pretty unsavoury company; I refuse to stand in your rhetorical dock for strawmannising, demonising and cynical moralistic rhetoric until you, on your evolutionary materialism, can ground morality as more than manipulation of tastes and feelings to be manipulated at will by power elites, e.g to justify the ongoing abortion holocaust or the attempt to eat out our consciences through promotion of addiction to pornography, and ever so many other cynical propaganda ploys.])

    As to the no intention to debate Craig, the precise reason is that Dawkins plainly full well knows he would be publicly spanked, very properly spanked for his many errors and venomous statements against Judaeo-Christian theists over decades.

    He has simply chosen a particularly nasty smear job to try to escape with decades of slander and venom. Shameless.

    Dr Liddle, the above is seriously disappointing from you.

    GEM of TKI

  10. Elizabeth,

    His quotation is actually not the point of this article. Dawkins has been refusing to debate Craig for years. I saw him once say that he just doesn’t debate Creationists because he’s too busy. Fine, that’s his choice. But this is clearly a new reason he has concocted now that the pressure has been put on him to actually debate Craig. And why not debate someone who has said what Craig said? I don’t see the connection. It’s only a put down and a distraction.

  11. 11

    Let Craig defend it himself (from your link):

    “By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. The Canaanites are to be destroyed “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20.18). God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.”

    This is not genocide. It is about moral judgment. If it were genocide, then God would not later judge Israel. Fail.

    This is about a coward atheist who wrote a book about God and who then refuses to debate about God, (specifically the arguments he set forth in his book) in a scholarly arena in his own backyard because he does not have a sufficient argument to support his arguments. The same for his minions grayling, and polly t. This is telling. I wonder if it were the Christians hiding under their beds afraid to debate a single atheist, if the propaganda would be the same? Of course it would not be. It would be front page news in London: “Christians afraid to debate enlightened Atheist thinker!” Instead we have the opposite. I feel bad for all those that sold their faith based on Dawkins books. The man should at least have the courtesy to argue on their behalf. Instead, it is like the con-man selling snake oil at the county fair, takes your money then grins and scurries away.

  12. Elizabeth, Norman Geisler has a excellent response to the atheists objection of evil in the world:

    If God, Why Evil? (Norman Geisler)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtOOPaNmJFY

    Perhaps the most concise response against the atheist’s argument from evil being that the existence of evil itself necessitates the existence of God.,,, Moreover, the atheist who is consistent in his materialism must ultimately try to deny the existence of both good and evil since materialism cannot ground either of them, but when a atheist strays off his consistency towards materialism and tries to claim that materialism can ground morality, then he will run head on into absurdity:

    First Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism;

    Can atheists trust their own minds? – William Lane Craig On Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byN38dyZb-k

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind? – Joe Carter
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

    It is also interesting to point out that this ‘inconsistent identity’, pointed out by Plantinga, which leads to the failure of neo-Darwinists to make absolute truth claims for their beliefs, is what also leads to the failure of neo-Darwinists to be able to account for objective morality, in that neo-Darwinists cannot maintain a consistent identity towards a stable cause for objective morality;

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris’ ‘human flourishing’ morality – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvDyLs_cReE

    “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”
    CS Lewis – Mere Christianity

    The following interview is almost comical as a evolutionary psychologist realizes, at the end of the article, that neo-Darwinism can offer no guarantee that his faculties of reasoning will necessarily correspond to the truth, not even for the truth he is trying to relate in the interview;

    Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think – October 2011
    Interviewer: You could be deceiving yourself about that.(?)
    Evolutionary Psychologist: Absolutely.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....think.html

    Related article;

    Evolutionary Guru Deceives Himself – October 12, 2011
    http://crev.info/content/11101.....es_himself

    ,,,But as Norman Geisler had related in response to the Atheist’s objection of evil in the world, in the first video I posted, basically it boils down to the fact that God has a much higher purpose for allowing evil that many cannot fully understand right now, in fact I dare say, when in the midst of suffering, no one can fully understand. So in trying times, are even when times are good, are we going to lean on our own fallible reasoning, or on God’s infinite wisdom???

    2 Corinthians 4:17
    For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

    Experiencing Jesus Christ – Francis Chan – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4928919

    Erasing Hell by Francis Chan – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnrJVTSYLr8

    Mandissa – Stronger (Live In The Studio) (Official Music Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFY2Hdh7cvA

  13. He didn’t “concoct a reason”. He refused ages ago.

    I think Craig makes him very angry. I have to say, I found that piece by Craig quite shocking.

  14. What atheists object to, ba77, is the alleged condoning and even commanding of “evil in the world” by God.

    And the weaselly excuse inerrantists give on God’s behalf.

    Not that I think for a moment that God commanded the Israelites to massacre the Canaanites. But the idea that someone should think so, and still think that God worthy of worship, simply defeats me.

  15. 15
    material.infantacy

    And I’ll never understand atheists’ moral indignation at the judgment of any sin, who also refuse to bat an eye at the holocaust of abortion.

  16. Let Craig defend it himself (from your link):

    “By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. The Canaanites are to be destroyed “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20.18). God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.”

    And that’s a defense?

    And have you read the rest of the piece?

    This is not genocide.

    Of course it’s genocide. Sheesh.

    It is about moral judgment.

    If it were genocide, then God would not later judge Israel. Fail.

    Well, that’s a circular argument if every I saw one. Fail.

    This is about a coward atheist who wrote a book about God and who then refuses to debate about God, (specifically the arguments he set forth in his book) in a scholarly arena in his own backyard because he does not have a sufficient argument to support his arguments.

    Or doesn’t have the time or stomach to debate a man who worships a God whom he thinks ordered soldiers to slaughter women and children because they were a different race.

    And Dawkins doesn’t “refuse to debate about God”. He just refuses to debate Craig.

    The same for his minions grayling, and polly t. This is telling. I wonder if it were the Christians hiding under their beds afraid to debate a single atheist, if the propaganda would be the same? Of course it would not be. It would be front page news in London: “Christians afraid to debate enlightened Atheist thinker!”

    Fear or disgust? I see no reason to conclude “fear”.

    Instead we have the opposite. I feel bad for all those that sold their faith based on Dawkins books. The man should at least have the courtesy to argue on their behalf. Instead, it is like the con-man selling snake oil at the county fair, takes your money then grins and scurries away.

    He does “argue on their behalf”. He just won’t debate Craig.

    And having read that piece on the genocide of the Canaanites (which we must only hope is myth), I wouldn’t want to shake his hand either.

    That piece by Craig is a better argument for atheism than anything Dawkins has ever written.

  17. Disappointing????!!!!!

    A “nasty smear job”????!!!!!

    Those words are Craig’s, not Dawkins’!

    Have you read that piece, kf? Seriously? Including all that stuff commending God for prohibiting miscegenation?

    There is no “straw man” here, kairosfocus. That piece by Craig is simply appalling.

    Be honest with yourselves, guys – do you really agree with Craig in that piece?

    Is that really the God you worship?

  18. 18
    material.infantacy

    EL, does your disgust for Craig mean that you won’t debate him if given the opportunity?

  19. The tu quoque fallacy, eh?

    So why are we supposed not to “bat an eye” at the holocaust of Canaanite children? Oh yes, because it’s all fine, they go straight to heaven, so that’s OK then.

    It’s OK to worship a God who demands the slaughter of babies, because atheists slaughter the unborn.

    Does that make any sense material.infantacy?

  20. It’s certainly put me off.

    I had listened to some of his talks and debates, and while I thought they were fallacious, he seemed decent enough. But that piece certainly turned my stomach.

    But yes, to be honest, I would. And, as Dawkins suggest, I’d take that piece with me.

    But I won’t be given the opportunity. I think he only eats celebs.

  21. 21

    “And having read that piece on the genocide of the Canaanites (which we must only hope is myth), I wouldn’t want to shake his hand either.”

    Dawkins doesn’t need to shake his hand. Nor do you. WLC could care less where you people put your hands. WLC is calling out Dawkins to defend the arguments put forth in the book “God delusion,” in Oxford, in front of all Dawkins peers. But Dawkins, like a cockroach, knows how to survive, and is avoiding what would inevitably be a public stomping. Because the goal is not to argue and debate intellectual issues and seek truth, the goal is to sell his ideology anywhere he can with the least resistance.

  22. 22
    material.infantacy

    It makes no sense that you’re utterly disgusted about a past event that you’re doubtful even took place, and yet apparently have no issue with a currently accepted practice of murder which is incomparably greater in numbers, and capriciousness, and is undoubtedly taking place right under your nose.

    It’s not tu quoque for all those reasons.

    Care to offer a defense of abortion now, after your righteous indignation, which apparently becoming a habit of yours?

  23. 23
    material.infantacy

    Also, I juxtaposed judgment with abortion, not the Canaanite slaughter. Please be more careful with your scoldings.

  24. 24

    If Dawkins is taking the moral high ground not debating WLC, then are the atheist that are standing in less moral than Dawkins?

  25. 25

    It is amazing how atheists that have no basis for objective morality often utilize moral arguments.

  26. What I’m disgusted by, material.infantacy, is not “a past event that [I'm] doubtful even took place” but that someone can believe that it not only took place but was commanded by the God he thinks we all ought to worship. And furthermore, that it is quite reasonable to do this, because the Canaanites were wicked, except for the children, and they would have gone to heaven anyway. And as for brutalising the Israelite soldiers, well, life was brutal anyway.

    Worse still: that a thing that is normally a sin isn’t a sin if God commands it.

    And no thanks, I’m not going to discuss abortion on this thread. I don’t know why it even concerns you – after all, don’t all those unborn babies go to heaven, like the Canaanite babies?

    And yes, I’m indignant – morally outraged in fact. Is that a bad thing?

  27. Yes, I know you did.

    But I justaposed it with the Canaanite slaughter, as defended by Craig, who is apparently defended by you.

    But perhaps you don’t defend Craig’s piece?

    In which case, I certainly withdraw the implication that you were being inconsistent.

  28. Isn’t it amazing?

    Perhaps that’s because actually they do have “a basis for objective morality”.

    A somewhat better one, IMO, than the subjective choice of a God who commands genocide, and declares that sinful things are not sinful if God commands them.

    Where is the “objectivity” there?

    Objectively, the Canaanite slaughter was evil. Atheists can see that. Craig, and apparently some other Christians, can’t.

  29. Onlookers:

    Please, observe carefully.

    Having had a rhetorical gauntlet laid down by an advocate of evolutionary materialism, I have responded above that before materialists have grounds to appeal to objective morality they should first justify it relative to their worldviews. (As well, we should recognise that the fact that we find ourselves inescapably under Moral Government is a strong clue that we live in a world that is under a moral Governor.)

    These pivotal issues are of course being side-stepped by Mr Dawkins and co in their haste to poison and polarise the atmosphere for discussion.

    Do they understand what it means to smear people unjustly that they are in effect fascists, nazis and would be mass murderers?

    That is telling about the root problem: evolutionary materialism is inescapably and destructively amoral and manipulative; even as Plato warned against 2350 years ago.

    Will Hawthorne is telling:

    Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can’t infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces]. (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)

    Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

    Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’.

    For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

    Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.

    Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can’t infer ‘ought’ from [[a material] ‘is’.

    In short, materialist atheism is clearly irretrievably amoral.

    A grim warning.

    The sharp contradiction between that amorality and the inescapable sense that there is a real right and a real wrong, then highlights that such materialism is in blatant contradiction to something we know about reality that is really important: we have rights, and so also we have moral duties to one another. We are under moral government.

    When Mr Dawkins’ rhetoric of moral outrage is then set against such a backdrop, it takes on a very different colour.

    It is plainly little more than a vindictive distraction from a fatal flaw in his own system, above and beyond serving as a convenient atmosphere-clouding and- poisoning tactic to escape publicly accounting for the ill-grounded, vitriolic polarising, smearing rhetoric he has spewed forth for decades.

    So, let us hold that in hand as a chief lesson.

    And if we then need to deal with the troubling and even disturbing issues on God’s warning to and judgement of rebellious and defiant nations, we can then do so — and, please note the absence of engagement with this as well above after my first linking of it earlier this evening — in a far more reasonable atmosphere.

    GEM of TKI

  30. 30

    “Fear or disgust? I see no reason to conclude “fear”.”

    So a fighter that refuses to fight when called out does so out of disgust, not fear? A wuss is a wuss. Very simple.

  31. What an odd attitude.

    Give me a wuss any day.

  32. 32

    “Objectively, the Canaanite slaughter was evil.”

    How are you determining an evil act? Based on what?

  33. kairofocus: what is moral about commanding genocide, including the slaughter of innocents, and what is moral about worshipping such a deity?

    The idea that without religion there is no morality is simply fallacious.

    What is disturbing to me is that something plainly immoral – genocide, is considered “moral” if sanctioned by God.

    That seems an extraordinary inversion of morality to me.

  34. 34
    material.infantacy

    I’m morally outraged by abortion, what do you suggest?

    Of course you’re not going to discuss abortion, it’s indefensible.

  35. I’m happy to discuss abortion, but not on this thread.

    I might post a piece on my own site.

  36. Unless a thread comes up here.

  37. Dr Liddle

    Pardon, but behind the projection of moral outrage, you are ducking a very important issue that was put to you specifically as a challenge: before you can appeal to objective morality, you have to first ground it on the foundations of your evolutionary materialistic worldview.

    Otherwise, it becomes little more than a divide and rule tactic, rhetorical manipulation of moral feelings in pursuit of the agendas of the cynically powerful manipulators who willfully play on our moral feelings even while they themselves are rooted in a system of thought that is utterly and irretrievably amoral.

    In that context, please note that in the above (and in what I just posted), I took time to link a fairly extensive discussion of the relevant issues with onward links to quite serious discussions of the ostensible issues being raised.

    NONE of these were responded to by you.

    How must I then understand the sort of tone and assertions being made again and again above?

    Especially, in the context of the underlying context of Mr Dawkins’ behaviour and that of his fellow New Atheists?

    Do we not see where such poison will end if it is left to fester in our civilisation?

    Let us stop now, and do better than this.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Dr Liddle, please calm down. Dr Craig is a serious and sober thinker, so I would be very careful indeed about judging him harshly on the strength of a snippet taken out of context by his enemies.

  38. 38
    material.infantacy

    I haven’t read Craig’s piece. I’d be more interested in discussing my own views than his in this regard, for the most part.

    However it doesn’t make any sense to debate possible rationale for the Canaanite slaughter with someone who will accept for the sake of argument that it took place, but who won’t accept for the sake of the same argument that: God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, that the Bible is His inspired word, and that He created the universe and everything in it, from atom to acorn, and from mathematics to morality; and that concepts like heaven and hell, eternal life, etc., are real, again, even for the sake of argument.

    It’s pointless to argue God’s judgment with someone who cannot accept God as judge, and the reality of sin.

  39. 39

    Was eliminating the Nazis immoral? Why or why not? Were the Nazis eliminated because they were German, and therefore evil, or were the Nazis German, that happened to be doing evil? Were the Canaanites destroyed because they were Canaanites and thus evil, or were the Canaanites destroyed because they were Canaanites engaging in evil? Do we look at WWII as the genocide of Germans and Japanese? Or the genocide of Jews? Was the destruction of the Jews moral or immoral? Was the destruction of the German Nazis moral or immoral?

  40. Dr Liddle:

    You have again tried to appeal to what you have no right to appeal to on your worldview without grounding it.

    In addition, in the teeth of repeated pointing out of the issues and serious responses that you need to engage before making the sorts of declamations you have been doing all evening, you have been utterly unresponsive.

    I think a time out is in order, and some reflection on your part.

    Especially, given the utterly poisonous New Atheist venomous accusatory context of all this.

    Good evening, Dr Liddle

    GEM of TKI

  41. 41
    material.infantacy

    …don’t all those unborn babies go to heaven, like the Canaanite babies?

    Yes, I believe so. That itself should not be cause for any sort of outrage, unless the concept of heaven is itself offensive to you.

    And fair warning, if you’re going to take the “provocative and belittling” approach with me, then you’re ceding the moral high ground in regards to offense taken at motive mongering.

    In addition, if your moral outrage at Christianity can’t be contained to these threads in which it is a subject, then polite discussion elsewhere will prove impossible.

  42. Wow, just Wow!!!,,, so smart as to consider yourself wiser than almighty God?!? I Suppose you see absolutely no arrogance in that whole line of thinking do you??? But pardon me if I just don’t buy your claims for such exceeding wisdom as to judge almighty God, for I am pretty sure you can’t even create a single photon of light, much less a entire universe, (or is creating universes something you just don’t brag about?) nor can you, in all your self indulgent wisdom, come any where near defeating death and hell.,,, Perhaps, in all your wisdom, you also consider me a fool for sticking with God rather than following you into nihilistic atheism, but alas, that is a scorn I’ll gladly suffer the consequences of!!!

  43. 43

    You have your wuss in Dawkins. enjoy.

  44. I know that you guys all worship Craig as much as you say atheists worship Dawkins, but really, you can’t bring yourselves to condemn the views he expresses above? It’s scary to think that you would (presumably) be prepared to slaughter people if your God commanded you to. KF, all your righteous indignation over your interlocutors debating position (or whatever it is, its never really clear why you get so indignant all the time)and yet you are silent at Craig’s moral position? I think Craig needs to check in to a psychiatric institution. I truly believe he is seriously ill.

  45. Timbo, apparently you have never served in the military!

  46. Timbo And I keep wondering, just where do you atheists ground morality?

    Cruel Logic – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qd1LPRJLnI

  47. Dr Liddle I noticed you asked earlier, in reference to Craig’s answer to a question at Reasonable Faith, “Is that a defense?”

    Dr Liddle, you have not demonstrated that the Judeo-Christian God has done something that requires a defense. You on the other hand, have at some point in your life probably lied at one time or another, stolen something at one time or another, or used God’s name in vain at some time or another. If there is anyone guilty and in need of a defense, it is you.

    Additionally, who did something that requires moral correction? A Canaanite people who were sacrificing children in cultic, ritual fire sacrifices, or a completely holy and just God who is the locus of objective moral goodness and who has a right to expect moral laws to be observed?

    According to the narrative, God gives people sufficient opportunity to conform to a civil, moral and just set of laws, sends prophets and messengers to warn people of impending judgement if they do not repent of their sinful ways, and finally and repeatedly, spares the innocent during times of judgement. This sounds like a God who goes out of his way to allow the optimal number of freely made decisions to repent from sin as possible before enacting a judgement that inevitably, benefits future generations.

    Trying to make God out to be evil will not change the fact that it is you who are under indictment, not God. If not for the grace of God, what else can your defense be?

    Hebrews 2:3 “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard”

  48. Elizabeth, within an atheistic worldview, how do you judge what is moral or immoral? What is morality based on?

  49. Moral outrage from those who claim no real basis for morality, that believe the whole show is an accident, always tickle me.

    I guess Dawkins doesn’t want to debate this topic either with Craig. Let’s be honest, Dawkins is scared to debate Craig, that’s obvious. If Dawkins thinks he has such a blatant moral high ground, why not debate Craig?

  50. What I want to know is if the Christians on this forum think that killing the Caanite children was morally acceptable or praiseworthy.

    There seem to be a lot of responses on the lines of atheists do even worse things or how can anyone condemn things who have no real basis for morality. Neither of these are relevant to this question. This is a question about the morality of this act and about Christians, not atheists. Christians presumably believe they have real basis for morality. Does this basis approve of the killing of the Caananite children?

  51. Dr Liddle,

    You find God’s order to take innocent human life indefensible, yet you defend the taking of over a million innocent human lives per year (in the U.S. alone).

    You find WLC’s defense of God appalling. What is your defense? Is God free to choose or do you only grant the right to choose to those who participate in slaughter with which you personally approve? Is it God’s method that disturbs you or must the taking of innocent human life be done with forceps and chemicals to be acceptable in your sight?

  52. Who “claims no basis for morality”?

    Not me. Not any atheists I know.

    And if the “basis of Christian morality” includes attempting to justifiy genocide on the grounds tht God ordered it, then, I’ll stick with the basis I’ve got, thanks.

    The bizarre thing is that Craig seems to assume that we all will share the view that genocide is appalling. His article is written from the point of view that every right-minded-person would find God’s alleged behaviour over this, “difficult”.

    Yes indeed.

    However, rather than base morality on the self-evident principle of fairness, namely that you should treat others as you would want to be treated, he insists that a dreadful act is not a sin if ordered by God.

    What kind of “morality” is that? What kind of morality justified atrocities if ordered by a higher authority?

    This was the defence rightly rejected at Nuremberg.

  53. Dr Liddle, you have not demonstrated that the Judeo-Christian God has done something that requires a defense. You on the other hand, have at some point in your life probably lied at one time or another, stolen something at one time or another, or used God’s name in vain at some time or another.

    Well, I’ve certainly done things that I think were wrong. I don’t think they “require a defense”. I think I owe the wronged people an apology, and reparation.

    If there is anyone guilty and in need of a defense, it is you.

    As I said, I don’t attempt to defend myself against the indefensible. I would certainly like a defense if I was wrongly accused.

    Additionally, who did something that requires moral correction? A Canaanite people who were sacrificing children in cultic, ritual fire sacrifices, or a completely holy and just God who is the locus of objective moral goodness and who has a right to expect moral laws to be observed?

    Bantay, God allegedly ordered the murder of those children. In what sense was that “moral correction”? What is more he ordered the Israelites to slaughter them. Was that supposed to demonstrate to the Israelites that slaughtering children to appease your god is wrong? In what sense were those Israelites not sacrificing children to their god? What else do you call it when a god demands you kill children? And I take it you know what God allegedly ordered the Israelites to do to the Midianites?

    Bantay, the story of the Israelites and Canaan is a story of brutal tribal warfare and genocide, given a post hoc justification on the grounds that the deity of the winners commanded it.

    If the story wasn’t supposed to be about the God you happen to worship, you would have no difficulty in seeing it for what is.

    Fortunately there is no archaeological evidence that the story is true at all.

    But the attempt to defend it by someone who thinks it is true seems to me prima facie evidence of the warping effect of certain theistic belief systems (including “biblical inerrancy”) on basic principles of fairness and humanity.

  54. Treat others as you would be treated.

    Seems pretty obvious to me. And to most cultures in history, because the precept crops up over and over again.

  55. You have again tried to appeal to what you have no right to appeal to on your worldview without grounding it.

    Ground it in what way, kf? In a fundamental principle of justice? I do.

    On the basis of what a subjectively selected collection of ancient texts suggests?

    Not so much.

    In addition, in the teeth of repeated pointing out of the issues and serious responses that you need to engage before making the sorts of declamations you have been doing all evening, you have been utterly unresponsive.

    What “issues and serious responses” do I need to engage before pointing out that genocide is wrong?

    Please be specific.

  56. Was eliminating the Nazis immoral? Why or why not? Were the Nazis eliminated because they were German, and therefore evil, or were the Nazis German, that happened to be doing evil?

    The blanket incendiary bombing of civilians was of dubious morality IMO.

    But even that does not compare with the selective slaughter of women and children that God allegedly commanded – selective because the female virgins were to be spared. You think this is morally comparable to the Allied defeat of Germany? You think the Allies were attempting German genocide?

    And the Nazis were tried in a court of justice. Not “eliminated”.

    Were the Canaanites destroyed because they were Canaanites and thus evil, or were the Canaanites destroyed because they were Canaanites engaging in evil?

    The idea that an entire population is “evil” is pernicious and racist, junkdnaforlife, as you would readily recognise were it not for the extraordinary special pleading that is mounted when the tyrant is (allegedly) Jehovah.

    Do we look at WWII as the genocide of Germans and Japanese? Or the genocide of Jews? Was the destruction of the Jews moral or immoral? Was the destruction of the German Nazis moral or immoral?

    We look at WWII as the genocide of the Jews. And we rightly condemn it. As we should condemn all attempts to wipe out a population because of its perceived “evil”.

    The defeat of the Germany was not an attempt to “wipe out” the German people. There is no moral equivalence here, though much to regret.

  57. I did not judge him “on the strength of a snippet taken out of context by his enemies”.

    I navigated to the original piece and read that.

    However, I now see the post you reference below. I will attempt to address it later.

  58. Well, it only seems obvious to you, whereas in fact it’s not at all obvious. This is why I encouraged you to read Dostoevsky, Elizabeth. Who says I should treat others the way they treat me? Well, I understand that this can serve a pragmatic purpose for a society up to a point, for example to keep the middle class at bay. But if I have money and power why bother? Who can stop me from doing what I want. In atheism there is no notion of conscience. Because conscience is a religious concept. What is a scruple in social Darwinism? Positively, a weakness. What is conscience? A code of behaviour? What a trifle when I have the right to define it for myself!

  59. And BTW, this precept that crops up over and over again does in fact crop up in religious societies. We have experienced how it worked in atheistic societies in the XX century.

  60. You are right in pointing to hypocrisy. That is a great evil, perhaps the greatest of all because hypocrisy and envy can lead to God being crusified.

    But I think that you are mistaken in that you judge what was done in the Old Testament with the New Testament norm. The old norm was ‘an eye for an eye’. Another point is that it was wartime. If I remember rightly, there were other small Palestinian nations at that time, which God commanded Moses not to touch. Anyway, when humanity was prepared to accept full truth, the same God commanded us to love our enemies.

    Irrespective of that particular issue of the Canaanites, I agree that great crimes in the New Testament times were in fact committed in the name of God. But we will all be judged at some point.

    The question is, what would have happened had there been no religious “constraints”? I think humanity have experienced in practice by now the consequence of renouncing them. We know what happened during the French and Russian revolutions, in Nazi Germany, in Korea.

  61. Morality is non-existent in atheism proper. What you, Elizabeth, and other good atheist advocate is not atheism per se. Your norm, ‘Treat others as you would be treated’ has been borrowed from religious contexts. Atheism per se is, ‘everyone for himself’ and ‘homo homini lupus est’.

  62. Even children can easily grasp the fact that morality cannot exist without God;

    Does God Exist? – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4007708/

  63. What is “atheism proper”? Atheism is simply a-theism. Lack of belief in a god or gods.

    It is nothing to do with morality at all.

    “Treat others as you would be treated” is not “borrowed from religious contexts”. It’s a rule that is found in many cultures theist and a-theist. It is very simply derived.

    And nothing to do with the oxymoron of of an evil act allegedly commanded by a good God. And evil act is not rendered good because a deity commands it, and the principle is extremely dangerous – how many evil acts are perpetrated by those who think they are commanded by some deity?

    That’s a subjective standard, not an objective one.

  64. Children easily grasp that commanding genocide is evil. My son saw that aged four.

  65. “I agree that great crimes in the New Testament times were in fact committed in the name of God. ”

    Thank you Eugene. You have restored my faith in Christians.

  66. I haven’t read Craig’s piece. I’d be more interested in discussing my own views than his in this regard, for the most part.

    OK, I’d be interested too.

    However it doesn’t make any sense to debate possible rationale for the Canaanite slaughter with someone who will accept for the sake of argument that it took place, but who won’t accept for the sake of the same argument that: God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, that the Bible is His inspired word, and that He created the universe and everything in it, from atom to acorn, and from mathematics to morality; and that concepts like heaven and hell, eternal life, etc., are real, again, even for the sake of argument.

    I’ll accept it for the sake of argument. My challenge would be: if the above is true, why should we consider that God worthy of worship?

    It’s pointless to argue God’s judgment with someone who cannot accept God as judge, and the reality of sin.

    I accept the reality of sin. I’m prepared to accept God as judge for the sake of argument.

  67. An evil act is one that violates the principle that we should treat others as we would want to be treated.

  68. Actually, on closer reading I do not see a list of things you wish me to respond to.

    So I will respond in more detail to the above post instead:

    Pardon, but behind the projection of moral outrage, you are ducking a very important issue that was put to you specifically as a challenge: before you can appeal to objective morality, you have to first ground it on the foundations of your evolutionary materialistic worldview.

    I am ducking nothing, kf. I asked people how they could possibly defend the alleged command of God to commit genocide. Perhaps I should have asked how it squares with the teachings of Jesus.

    Otherwise, it becomes little more than a divide and rule tactic, rhetorical manipulation of moral feelings in pursuit of the agendas of the cynically powerful manipulators who willfully play on our moral feelings even while they themselves are rooted in a system of thought that is utterly and irretrievably amoral.

    There is no “tactic” here, kf. I simply do not understand how anyone can reconcile this story with a good God. I am not “play[ing] on [your] moral feelings”, I am, I guess, challenging you to confront a challenge to the coherence of biblical inerrancy when it comes to moral precepts.

    In that context, please note that in the above (and in what I just posted), I took time to link a fairly extensive discussion of the relevant issues with onward links to quite serious discussions of the ostensible issues being raised.

    NONE of these were responded to by you.

    If you want me to respond to a specific point, or take me up on a specific point, then please make it explicitly in the thread. Simply linking to lengthy essays elsewhere is not a practical way to conduct an internet conversation.

    How must I then understand the sort of tone and assertions being made again and again above?

    Especially, in the context of the underlying context of Mr Dawkins’ behaviour and that of his fellow New Atheists?

    I am not talking about Dawkins. I am talking about Craig’s own words on his own site. He seems to think that the alleged divine commandments to genocide are compatible with a good God. I am relieved that at least one Christian here finds that problematic.

    This atheist does too.

    Do we not see where such poison will end if it is left to fester in our civilisation?

    I think there is something very poisonous in the view that evil deeds cease to be evil if commanded by God. It’s exactly the view that drove the planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and Christian history is littered with examples to. This is the view that Craig is justifying. My view is that is both wrong and dangerous.

    Let us stop now, and do better than this.

    Yes indeed.

  69. Onlookers:

    Overnight.

    Dr Liddle, I have of course been quite specific above, up to and including a substantial citation from Hawthorne that has (unsurprisingly) been passed over in silence — evo mat is inherently, inescapably amoral thus reducing morality to manipulation of subjective feelings and perceptions, and so the just above is evasive.

    You know better, and should do better.

    Until and unless evo mat advocates can ground morality objectively in their worldviews, appeals to outrage from such are tainted by that subjectivism.

    And, I contend that a serious examination of the grounds for why we find ourselves inescapably under moral government, in light of wider worldview warrant issues, will dramatically shift the estimates on the degree of warrant attaching to materialism and theism.

    In that context, and on the general warranting grounds of Judaeo-Christian theism, we can then address acknowledged points of difficulty on an even keel in the light of knowing the balance of warrant at worldview level.

    (A first point of departure for that assessment will address the issue that we, individuals and nations, are under moral government, and are accountable to our Creator for our behaviour and response to the truth and the right we know or should know. A responsible exegesis of the texts — and a responsible evaluation of attempts to come to grips with such — will then reckon with the genre of calls to battle in that context, and with the features of the text that should tell us that they are not meant literally: slaughter all but then address how to deal with the defeated, language of displacement of power systems and of populations, records that show individual and mas conversions, a wider context that shows Israel under God’s similar judgement at the hands of pagans, the classic case of Jonah and the potter’s house parable in Jeremiah. None of these will be seen in the poisonous rhetoric of Dawkins et al. Whilst the same are ever so eager to manipulate our perceptions of morality while refusing to address frankly the inherent amorality of their own system and its far more recent track record of democides. Incendiary rhetoric that tries to reframe such serious issues simplistically in terms of “genocide” — and we can see the Nazism smear subtext — is irresponsible and venomous. Indeed, it reeks of SLANDER by irresponsible or willful misrepresentation in the teeth of accessible corrective information.)

    All of this will first require acknowledge that the fundamental issue put on the table by Dawkins et al is an atmosphere poisoning dismissal to duck having to account publicly for some very irresponsible and toxic things he has said for decades now.

    I also suggest that we all need to pause and listen to a key remark by Paul on the subject of God’s judgement, our degree of responsibility and the source of our inescapable sense of right and wrong:

    Rom 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

    5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger . . . .

    13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

    Rom 13: 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. [NIV 84]

    It is time to return to a wholesome approach to morality, and to the issue of the implications of our being under moral government as an undeniable fact of experience, with core morality written on the tablets of our hearts.

    The time for red herrings, led away to ad hominem-soaked strawman caricatures ignited to cloud, choke, polarise and poison the atmosphere is over, professor Dawkins and co.

    And, it is high time that you and ilk had to seriously explain some astonishingly irresponsible and venomous rhetoric sustained over decades now. The current attempt to smear and dismiss Dr Craig is simply out of order.

    Shame on you!

    GEM of TKI

  70. ES is of course too modest to highlight that he grew up in part under the USSR, and knows the living memory track record of atheistical regimes all too directly.

  71. And you don’t find Craig’s apparent approval of god-commanded genocide “irresponsible and venomous rhetoric”?

    Seriously, kairosfocus, I am astonished. Your only response to Craig’s piece has been to accuse atheists of venom and amorality. No-one has “smeared” Craig. I have simply read Craig’s own words, and all Dawkins did was quote them and link to the piece they were quoted from.

    Do you honestly agree with it?

  72. Dr Liddle

    Please, please, please.

    Dr ES is one who grew up in the USSR, under one of the major attempts to institutionalise atheism. He knows where such things begin, and where they end.

    As did that great Russian writer who in effect prophesied what happened at the cost of 60 million lives.

    You would do well to heed the caution that ES gives.

    GEM of TKI

  73. LIAR!!!! SLANDERER!!!!

  74. Directed to MF, who is taking the venom to the next step.

  75. I do not for a moment claim that atheistic regimes are immune from the problems that beset theistic regimes. My own view is that fanaticism of any sort is what is dangerous, fanaticism being the disavowal of uncertainty. Uncertainty is good. I would never go to the stake for my convictions, but I would probably go to the stake for my right to remain uncertain.

    What I do say is that specific theistic claims, in this case, the claim that if an evil deed is commanded by God it isn’t evil, is morally untenable.

    Some atheistic claims are morally untenable too, such as the claim (although I’ve only ever read it as alleged by a theist) that there is no morality and everyone can do what they like.

    I’m not the one polarizing here. I’m asking Christians how they can defend a very specific claim made by a prominent Christian proselytiser that seems to me self-evidently evil.

    Eugene so far is the only Christian here even to recognise the problem.

  76. Whoa Kairos, take it down a peg.

  77. OK, I guess we’d all better take five. I am utterly puzzled though. I’d have thought that most Christians would find Craig’s piece seriously problematic. I simply cannot understand why being appalled by it should be considered “venomous”, or “slander”, and I cannot see a single lie in Markf’s post.

  78. Um… Weren’t the caananites burning children at this point? Should they have let that kind of culture continue?

    Could’ve sworn Id read that somewhere… hold on.

  79. The institutionalisation of any belief system is a serious encroachment of human freedom.

    I neither advocate it nor defend it.

    And the issue at stake is not atheism.

    It is Craig’s gloss on the allegedly God-commanded genocide of the Canaanites.

  80. Eugene

    Like Lizzie I appreciate your attitude in answering this question. I am still confused as to whether you think the killing of Canaanite children was wrong. I assume that (unlike me) you believe in objective morality so presumably it is not just a matter of the norms of the time.

  81. But which is more evil- genocide of a race that is doing evil to humanity or allowing the evil to grow unfettered?

  82. I am trying to work out how a question can be a lie!

  83. “Races” don’t “do evil” Joseph. People do. People who ascribe evil-doing to a “race” are called “racists”.

    The Nazis, for instance.

  84. Elizabeth, you simply refuse to grasp the fact that you have no moral basis in which to express moral outrage at God if you deny the reality of God. ,,, as the child in the short video showed the ‘wise’ professor who had denied the reality of God because of the presence of evil in the world.,,, It is clear that you have no intention of being reasonable in this matter, thus I will refrain from the topic with you.

  85. Huzzah! Wiki!

    Bear in mind of course that, as it’s wikipedia, anyone could have wrote this up. However, according to the website that sorta got me through college:

    -”A number of scholars maintain that there is significant evidence of living child and animal sacrifices made to Molech idols, based on numerous claims from the ancient Hebrews and Romans, coupled with the discovery of Molech statues[citation needed] with charred skeletal remains, as well as the graves of many children near certain Punic religious sites in North Africa, such as Carthage. Opponents of the theory of Punic human sacrifice suggest that these children died naturally, some perhaps in an epidemic and point to the few undeveloped fetuses amongst the other dead as evidence for this, though this remains speculative and unfounded.[<-Obviously not me]"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....n#Pantheon

    Course, Wiki says citation needed, so take that with a grain of salt.

    Anyway, burning children to death sounds a lot worse than cutting them down with a sword. At least with the sword it was quick. And they (Caanan) would have been doing this for several generations, yes? Sorry, but that's one of those cultures I'm not sorry to see go.

    My two cents.

    - Sonfaro

  86. Glad to see you aren’t holding yourself to the same standards of civility that you demand from others.

    Do I need to quote the bible passage about hypocrisy at you again?

  87. Assuming this is true, why was it necessary to kill the children end the culture?

  88. Because it’s not a fact, ba77, and even if it was, which it isn’t, it’s irrelevant to what is a fact, which is that Christians here are apparently not disagreeing with Craig that an evil act ceases to be evil if God tells you to do it.

    Which I find quite preposterous.

  89. Being a Christian, I believe that God is the One who defines the law. So morality is an absolute category, as is truth. In fact, truth is even a “who”, not a “what”. Did I answer your question?

  90. So how do you figure out what those definitions are?

  91. Races can do evil, Elizabeth.

  92. I’ve heard that some people oppose abortion, even though it spares the children from suffering.

    I wasn’t aware that genocide could be justified by the fact that dead children are saved from suffering.

    Think of all the children Hitler spared from the horror of circumcision.

  93. pfft- Ask God

  94. —Elizabeth: “Children easily grasp that commanding genocide is evil. My son saw that aged four.”

    So, are you saying that morality is an objective reality?

  95. All,

    Again, looking from within the New Testament at the Old…
    Yes, it is a huge moral issue no matter how you look at it.
    But who tells us what’s good and bad in the first place? It is God. All other codes (when I was a kid there was such a thing as the Moral Code of the Builder of Communism!) are derivatives of it in the best case. No wonder, we are all here basing our positions on the Ten Commandments anyway.

    In contrast, for a genuine atheist, there is no God, there is no problem of conscience, just the problem of convenience and comfort. Lenin and Trotsky were examples of true atheists. They invented what they called the “revolutionary code”, i.e. anything that serves to quicken the victory of the international revolution is good, anything that is in the way is bad.

  96. This ought to make some atheists mad:

    Richard Dawkins is either a fool or a coward for refusing to debate William Lane Craig – By Tim Stanley Religion Last updated: October 21st, 2011
    Excerpt: We are left with two possible conclusions from Richard Dawkin’s flimsy sick note. The first is that he doesn’t understand Christian apologetics, which is why he unintentionally misrepresents Craig’s piece. The most frustrating thing about the New Atheism is that it rarely debates theology on theology’s own terms. It approaches metaphor and mysticism as if they were statements of fact to be tested in the laboratory. Worse still, it takes the crudest equations of faith (total submission to an angry sky god) and assumes that they apply to all its believers at all times equally. That most Christians living in the 21st century don’t know who the Canaanites were and only go to church because it brings them an intangible inner peace, totally escapes these atheist pedants.

    The second explanation is that Dawkins is a coward. He likes to pick fights either with dunces (like the deliciously silly and obviously gay Ted Haggard) or with incredibly nice old Christians with no fire in their belly (like Rowan Williams). Dawkins has gotten away with his illiterate, angry schtick for so many years because his opponents have been so woolly. This is a damning indictment not only of him, but of the clerical establishment of Great Britain.,,,
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/n.....ane-craig/

  97. F/N: It is worth the pause to actually cite the exchange at Dr Craig’s site, here, as it exposes the rhetorical patterns that play out in Dawkins’ rhetoric and in the exchanges below all too well, in particular how Dr Craig has been strawmannised, smeared and burned in effigy by snipping out of context bits and pieces of a much wider and more nuanced analysis than you would realise from the snippets presented.

    I am sure he won’t mind the full article being presented here, by way of letting the attacked man speak for himself:
    ______________

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....38;id=5767

    >> Subject: Slaughter of the Canaanites

    Question 1:

    In the forums, there has been some good questions raised on the issue of God commanding the Jews to commit “genocide” on the people in the promise land. As you have pointed out in some of your written work that this act does not fit with the Western concept of God being the big sugar daddy in the sky. Now we can certainly find justification for those people coming under God judgement because of their sins, idolatry, sacrificing their children, etc… But a harder question is the killing of the children and infants. If the children are young enough along with the infants are innocent of the sins that their society has committed. How do we reconcile this command of God to kill the children with the concept of his holiness?

    Thank you,
    Steven Shea

    Question 2:

    I have heard you justify Old Testament violence on the basis that God had used Israelite army to judge the cananites and their elimination by Israelites is morally right as they were obeying God’s command (iif would be wrong if tey did not obey God in eliminating the cannanites) . This resembles a bit on how Muslims define morality and justify the violence of Muhammad and other morally questionable actions (muslims define morality as doing the will of God). Do you see any difference between your justification of OT violence and Islamic justification of Muhammand and violent verses of the Quran? Is the violence and morally questionable actions and verses of the Quran, a good arugument while talking to Muslims?

    Anonymous

    Dr. Craig responds:

    According to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), when God called forth his people out of slavery in Egypt and back to the land of their forefathers, he directed them to kill all the Canaanite clans who were living in the land (Deut. 7.1-2; 20.16-18). The destruction was to be complete: every man, woman, and child was to be killed. The book of Joshua tells the story of Israel’s carrying out God’s command in city after city throughout Canaan.

    These stories offend our [--> as in, first person, plural] moral sensibilities. Ironically, however, our moral sensibilities in the West have been largely, and for many people unconsciously, shaped by our Judaeo-Christian heritage, which has taught us the intrinsic value of human beings, the importance of dealing justly rather than capriciously, and the necessity of the punishment’s fitting the crime. The Bible itself inculcates the values which these stories seem to violate.

    The command to kill all the Canaanite peoples is jarring precisely because it seems so at odds with the portrait of Yahweh, Israel’s God, which is painted in the Hebrew Scriptures. Contrary to the vituperative rhetoric of someone like Richard Dawkins, the God of the Hebrew Bible is a God of justice, long-suffering, and compassion.

    You can’t read the Old Testament prophets without a sense of God’s profound care for the poor, the oppressed, the down-trodden, the orphaned, and so on. God demands just laws and just rulers. He literally pleads with people to repent of their unjust ways that He might not judge them. “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ez. 33.11).

    He sends a prophet even to the pagan city of Nineveh because of his pity for its inhabitants, “who do not know their right hand from their left” (Jon. 4.11). The Pentateuch itself contains the Ten Commandments, one of the greatest of ancient moral codes, which has shaped Western society. Even the stricture “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was not a prescription of vengeance but a check on excessive punishment for any crime, serving to moderate violence.

    God’s judgement is anything but capricious. When the Lord announces His intention to judge Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins, Abraham boldly asks,

    “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen. 18.25).

    Like a Middle Eastern merchant haggling for a bargain, Abraham continually lowers his price, and each time God meets it without hesitation, assuring Abraham that if there are even ten righteous persons in the city, He will not destroy it for their sake.

    So then what is Yahweh doing in commanding Israel’s armies to exterminate the Canaanite peoples? It is precisely because we have come to expect Yahweh to act justly and with compassion that we find these stories so difficult to understand. How can He command soldiers to slaughter children?

    Now before attempting to say something by way of answer to this difficult question, we should do well first to pause and ask ourselves what is at stake here. Suppose we agree that if God (who is perfectly good) exists, He could not have issued such a command. What follows? That Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? That God does not exist? Hardly! So what is the problem supposed to be?

    I’ve often heard popularizers raise this issue as a refutation of the moral argument for God’s existence. But that’s plainly incorrect. The claim that God could not have issued such a command doesn’t falsify or undercut either of the two premises in the moral argument as I have defended it:

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

    2. Objective moral values do exist.

    3. Therefore, God exists.

    In fact, insofar as the atheist thinks that God did something morally wrong in commanding the extermination of the Canaanites, he affirms premise (2). So what is the problem supposed to be?

    The problem, it seems to me, is that if God could not have issued such a command, then the biblical stories must be false. Either the incidents never really happened but are just Israeli folklore; or else, if they did, then Israel, carried away in a fit of nationalistic fervor, thinking that God was on their side, claimed that God had commanded them to commit these atrocities, when in fact He had not. In other words, this problem is really an objection to biblical inerrancy.

    In fact, ironically, many Old Testament critics are sceptical that the events of the conquest of Canaan ever occurred. They take these stories to be part of the legends of the founding of Israel, akin to the myths of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome. For such critics the problem of God’s issuing such a command evaporates.

    Now that puts the issue in quite a different perspective! The question of biblical inerrancy is an important one, but it’s not like the existence of God or the deity of Christ! If we Christians can’t find a good answer to the question before us and are, moreover, persuaded that such a command is inconsistent with God’s nature, then we’ll have to give up biblical inerrancy. But we shouldn’t let the unbeliever raising this question get away with thinking that it implies more than it does.

    I think that a good start at this problem is to enunciate our ethical theory that underlies our moral judgements. According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill. He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are. For example, I have no right to take an innocent life. For me to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition. He can give and take life as He chooses. We all recognize this when we accuse some authority who presumes to take life as “playing God.” Human authorities arrogate to themselves rights which belong only to God. God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second. If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative.

    What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit. How long they live and when they die is up to Him. [--> Indeed, as governor of the cosmos, every life and its end is under the purview of God's superintendence. This should then be seen in light of the biblical frame: this life is a prelude and a test for those of age to be accountable, as is implied in the discussion in Jonah 4 on the innocents. Sufferings and injustices of this age will be compensated in the life beyond the grave. And, given God's goodness, as Rm 2 highlights, those who walk towards the good in light of what they know or should know, he will welcome.]

    So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives. The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them. Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder? No, it’s not. Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder. The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

    On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command.

    All right; but isn’t such a command contrary to God’s nature? Well, let’s look at the case more closely. It is perhaps significant that the story of Yahweh’s destruction of Sodom–along with his solemn assurances to Abraham that were there as many as ten righteous persons in Sodom, the city would not have been destroyed–forms part of the background to the conquest of Canaan and Yahweh’s command to destroy the cities there. The implication is that the Canaanites are not righteous people but have come under God’s judgement.

    In fact, prior to Israel’s bondage in Egypt, God tells Abraham,

    “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. . . . And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites [one of the Canaanite clans] is not yet complete” (Gen. 15. 13, 16).

    Think of it! God stays His judgement of the Canaanite clans 400 years because their wickedness had not reached the point of intolerability! This is the long-suffering God we know in the Hebrew Scriptures. He even allows his own chosen people to languish in slavery for four centuries before determining that the Canaanite peoples are ripe for judgement and calling His people forth from Egypt.

    By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. The Canaanites are to be destroyed “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20.18). God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.

    But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel’s part. In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods” (Deut 7.3-4). [--> notice something Craig seems to miss which Copan highlights (and which is linked onward from my previously linked discussion), this issue of intermarriage points to conquest rather than genocide, i.e. the genre of the offensive declarations is a particular kind of war-rhetoric not intended or understood by those commanded directly, as genocidal. And even intermarriage is to be understood in light of Rahab and family, who turned to God and were received into Israel] This command is part and parcel of the whole fabric of complex Jewish ritual law distinguishing clean and unclean practices. To the contemporary Western mind many of the regulations in Old Testament law seem absolutely bizarre and pointless: not to mix linen with wool, not to use the same vessels for meat and for milk products, etc. The overriding thrust of these regulations is to prohibit various kinds of mixing. Clear lines of distinction are being drawn: this and not that. These serve as daily, tangible reminders that Israel is a special people set apart for God Himself.

    I spoke once with an Indian missionary who told me that the Eastern mind has an inveterate tendency toward amalgamation. He said Hindus upon hearing the Gospel would smile and say, “Sub ehki eh, sahib, sub ehki eh!” (“All is One, sahib, All is One!” [Hindustani speakers forgive my transliteration!]). It made it almost impossible to reach them because even logical contradictions were subsumed in the whole. He said that he thought the reason God gave Israel so many arbitrary commands about clean and unclean was to teach them the Law of Contradiction!

    By setting such strong, harsh dichotomies God taught Israel that any assimilation to pagan idolatry is intolerable. It was His way of preserving Israel’s spiritual health and posterity. God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God.[--> note as just above, sons and daughters o be not married implies that there was not an expected wiping out. I here differ with Craig, who admits struggling with a painful difficulty. I think Copan has made a key observation]

    Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

    So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

    But then, again, we’re thinking of this from a Christianized, Western standpoint. For people in the ancient world, life was already brutal. Violence and war were a fact of life for people living in the ancient Near East. Evidence of this fact is that the people who told these stories apparently thought nothing of what the Israeli soldiers were commanded to do (especially if these are founding legends of the nation). No one was wringing his hands over the soldiers’ having to kill the Canaanites; those who did so were national heroes.

    Moreover, my point above returns. Nothing could so illustrate to the Israelis the seriousness of their calling as a people set apart for God alone. Yahweh is not to be trifled with. He means business, and if Israel apostasizes the same could happen to her. As C. S. Lewis puts it, “Aslan is not a tame lion.”

    Now how does all this relate to Islamic jihad? Islam sees violence as a means of propagating the Muslim faith. Islam divides the world into two camps: the dar al-Islam (House of Submission) and the dar al-harb (House of War). The former are those lands which have been brought into submission to Islam; the latter are those nations which have not yet been brought into submission. This is how Islam actually views the world!

    By contrast, the conquest of Canaan represented God’s just judgement upon those peoples. The purpose was not at all to get them to convert to Judaism! War was not being used as an instrument of propagating the Jewish faith. Moreover, the slaughter of the Canaanites represented an unusual historical circumstance, not a regular means of behavior.

    The problem with Islam, then, is not that it has got the wrong moral theory; it’s that it has got the wrong God. If the Muslim thinks that our moral duties are constituted by God’s commands, then I agree with him. But Muslims and Christians differ radically over God’s nature. Christians believe that God is all-loving, while Muslims believe that God loves only Muslims. Allah has no love for unbelievers and sinners. Therefore, they can be killed indiscriminately. Moreover, in Islam God’s omnipotence trumps everything, even His own nature. He is therefore utterly arbitrary in His dealing with mankind. By contrast Christians hold that God’s holy and loving nature determines what He commands.

    The question, then, is not whose moral theory is correct, but which is the true God? >>
    _______________

    Now, we can see a much more nuanced picture of a serious thinker addressing a serious and difficult matter. He is by no means an advocate of genocide, nor is he a nazi as Dawkins et al subtly invite us to think by using that loaded language.

    I think he errs in thinking the commands were meant, understood and carried through literally and with the sort of thoroughness that we of the C21 would use; it meant conquer, do not compromise. There would be horrors of war aplenty, and death and slaughter, but that is a common lot of men across history. There is a terrible calculus in war, by which innocents will die, but at the same time if we are unwilling to fight, the evil will triumph and will destroy the good.

    The true blame for that lies in those who resort to evil and violence until they become plagues on the earth and a menace to other nations. Let us never forget that had France and Britain been willing to face a relatively minor war in the mid 1930′s we would have been spared the death of 60 millions a few years later as Nazi Germany gained more and more power to prosecute war.

    A sobering lesson of history.

    And, one we need to heed now that Iran is apparently 6 months out from having nukes to put on its missiles, or smuggle into other countries with nuke suicide bombers.

    We may disagree with some aspects of Craig’s analysis and views, but even so, Craig clearly struggles with the issue, and seeks to face its consequences. He is NOT an advocate of genocidal slaughter, unlike the ruthlessness of Hitler who wrote as follows in Mein Kampf, rationalising his views on the stream of Darwinist thought that had been deeply embedded in German culture through Haeckel and others, despite the terrifying — and in the event dead accurate — 1831 prophetic warning of Heine:

    Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents . . . Consequently, it will later succumb in the struggle against the higher level. Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life . . . The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he after all is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development of organic living beings would be unthinkable.

    The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice . . . .

    In the struggle for daily bread all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb, while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right or opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. [That is, Darwinian sexual selection.] And struggle is always a means for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of its higher development.

    If the process were different, all further and higher development would cease and the opposite would occur. For, since the inferior always predominates numerically over the best [NB: this is a theme in Darwin's discussion of the Irish, the Scots and the English in Descent], if both had the same possibility of preserving life and propagating, the inferior would multiply so much more rapidly that in the end the best would inevitably be driven into the background, unless a correction of this state of affairs were undertaken. Nature does just this by subjecting the weaker part to such severe living conditions that by them alone the number is limited, and by not permitting the remainder to increase promiscuously, but making a new and ruthless choice according to strength and health . . .

    It is time for a much more balanced and sober addressing of the issue.

    GEM of TKI

  98. I have taken liberty to post an annotated article by WLC at 7.3 above [the one being snippeted, and IMCO out of context], to give us a chance to hear the attacked man speak in context in his own voice. On fair comment, WLC — who openly acknowledges FACING DIFFICULTIES ON THE MATTER — has been strawmannised and demonised by Dawkins et al. As per usual.

  99. When it is accusatory and laced with invidious insinuations, as you full well know.

  100. Son, this one, sadly, reaches to that level.

  101. Matthew chapter 5.

  102. Sorry, that’s predictably snide. You have been corrected on your abuse of that text as well. Good day.

  103. Kindly read the above at 7.3, to see what is going on in and around Craig’s remarks.

    Then, kindly provide the evo mat justification for objective morality as a basis for sitting in moral judgement of “the Christians on this forum” from your declared view.

    Good day, sir.

  104. Here’s where I’m coming from, and I may be off the deep end but hear me out…

    (Also remember, we’re assuming the existence of God here, and answering why he’d order the removal of this culture)

    In a nutshell… where were they gonna go?

    Most of the men would have been killed in the ensuing battles right? There were a few that tucked tail and ran sure, but had they escaped they’d just have set up shop elsewhere. And I don’t think it was just the men who were tossing junior on the grill, no? Momma wouldn’t have been innocent either.

    Had any parent survived would they give up their gods? Probably not – I’m pretty sure they’d be convinced that the gods had cursed them and started looking for a way to get back in their favor or something. I don’t think there was much in the way of Atheism here (least not that I know of).

    So this would leave a bunch of pissed off, confused zero to thirteen year olds (jewish manhood’s thirteen right? Did I mix that up?) who’ve been breed in a war-like, hardcore, creepy-religion-y environment and, for some, would have a natural built in reason to hate Israel forever. Which would’ve posed Israel a problem.

    I mean, they can’t take ‘em as your own – the older ones would remember what happened. I doubt the pre-teens would have looked to Israel as saviors in any circumstance. Hates a pretty powerful poison, right? They also can’t take ‘em as slaves (to young for one), and the Israelites weren’t exactly doing to well from all that wandering if you remember. They could barely support themselves (Moses had to make a rock spring water for ‘em, and God had to send bread from the sky to feed them if the stories are true). Honestly its a wonder they blazed through their enemy the way they did. And they can’t just let them go wander out into the wilderness. They’ll get killed for sure then, and there’s no gaurantee it would be quick.

    If Craig is right (and I don’t know that he is, but lets suggest it is for now) then the best option for the souls of these kids is a return to heaven… or wherever it is souls existed pre-Jesus. It’s not ideal, I’m sure God would have been thrilled with cleaner, friendlier, non-pedocidal cultures in the area. But short of blasting them all away himself, Israels the next best thing. Not to mention the instant message it sends to the rest of the area – “don’t screw with us, we’re just looking for home.”

    Anyway, that’s where I’m at. I hope I explained it. There’s probably a hole or two somewhere you guys can pick apart that I’m not seeing, but whatever. We’ll get there when we get there. My point of course was that this wasn’t just Israel being a bully or Caanan being ‘innoocent’. I hope I was clear. Ciao.

    - Sonfaro

  105. Dr Liddle, you obviously are not aware of just how mistaken you are. If you were better read on the subject, you may retract your statement.

    For one, it was not God who tortured children in ritualistic fire sacrifices, it was the Canaanites. It would do you well to confirm this for yourself, by reading in context, Jeremiah 19:4-6 among others where it clearly illustrates this.

    “They have built me the high places of Ba’al to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Ba’al – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call this place Topheth”

    and

    Leviticus 20:1-5 clearly admonishes Israel to NOT sacrifice their children, warning them prior to their exposure to the cult of Molech who was engaged in ritual child sacrifices.

    ” The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. 3 I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.”

    and in Deuteronomy 12:30 God commands Israel through Moses…

    “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way because in worshipping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”

    Wow. Looks to me like it was the Canaanites who were performing the ritual child sacrifices, even burning them alive. What do you think?

    In Leviticus 18 (see also Lev. 20:9ff) the stipulation against child sacrifice is listed among various sexual sins, e.g. incest (18:6ff), adultery (18:20), homosexuality (18:22) and bestiality (18:23).

    It looks to me that God considers this detestable and made it abundantly clear in multiple times and places that it should not take place. What do you think?

    Like Dawkins, I suspect you are not qualified to debate on such matters, and as I have showed earlier, you are also not qualified to indict God on a charge of being evil or sinful. But you are qualified to seek forgiveness for your rebellion and unrepentant sin, and I hope you do in the manner described in the Bible. It’s got nothing to do with what you or others do, but what Jesus did for you.

    You say here, regarding the Canaanite wars (or battles, rather)

    “given a post hoc justification on the grounds that the deity of the winners commanded it.”

    Your assumption both false and inconsistent with other portions of the Canaanite narrative that describe instances in which the Hebrews were not victorious.

    Here you say “Fortunately there is no archaeological evidence that the story is true at all.”

    That’s a fallacious line of reasoning. Just to illustrate why, let’s play.

    Fortunately, there is no positive evidence that the atheist faith is true (which is meant to imply that it is not true).
    That doesn’t work for you either, does it?

    Remember Dr Liddle, absence of evidence counts as evidence of absence only in the case that an hypothesis or theory is put forth that first explains why there is not more evidence than what we already have.

    And in any case, there is abundant evidence that the old testament as a whole is entirely reliable as an historical document and is used by historians regularly for research and location of places and events mentioned in the Bible. The fact that there is no direct evidence for a particular event in the Bible does not mean it did not occur.

    And finally, you say here in closing “on basic principles of fairness and humanity.”

    Are you referring to principles of equality and a high regard for human life….which happen to be values set forth from God to Israel?

  106. Link.

    (By way of explanation of my resort to language I do not lightly use: On fair comment, to snip a man struggling with a difficulty out of context and project on him a false caricature is slander. To project that slander by poisonous questions unto an entire class of people who one knows or should know better about is a willful misrepresentation, one of the subtler forms of lying — often unconsciously indulged. Sadly, it took shouting in effect to get attention for at least a moment from one who studiously refuses correction on flimsy excuses.)

  107. 107

    “Objectively, the Canaanite slaughter was evil. Atheists can see that…An evil act is one that violates the principle that we should treat others as we would want to be treated.”

    I dont care to read this whole thread, can someone tell me if Dr Liddle ever answered the question if this applies to abortion as well?

  108. Well, I don’t think a ‘race’ can be evil, so I agree with you there I guess (sorry Joseph).

    But I’m not sure that’s what happened here.

    I mean, weren’t the Israelites and Caananites the same race? Weren’t both semitic(semetic)? I was under the impression that it was the culture of the Caananites that sealed their doom, not the color of their skin (or whatever physical attribute one can think of here.)

    It’s like East Coast rap vs. West Coast rap. Both were pretty much the same ethnicity (black, for those of you who don’t do hip-hop) but their cultures they came out of were pretty different. To the point where things ended up getting violent (well, that and Shug Knight) and we ended up losing biggie… and Tupac fled the country (He’s still alive darnit! >:[ )

    Joking aside, I think that's the situation we have here: A really bad culture that needed weeding. Tragic? Sure. But it [the child burning thing] had been going on for a long time. And I’m pretty sure there had been people coming through warning them.

    So it’s my opinion that cutures can be evil: like Nazi-culture, or Gang-culture, or Twilight-fans culture (too much?;-P) and that this was the case here.

    My two cents.

    - Sonfaro

  109. Son,

    Please see 7.3 above and the onward linked discussion by Copan, accessible here courtesy RZIM.

    My own linked here is possibly helpful.

    It is an outrage that something that a great many Christians openly acknowledge struggling with is being rhetorically abused to smear us with support for genocide with all sorts of hints of nazism lurking just beneath the surface.

    For shame!

    GEM of TKI

  110. BA:

    Tim Stanley is cutting:

    Dawkins writes that he is so disgusted with Craig’s thesis that he cannot possibly agree to meet him in person. “Do not plead that I have taken these revolting words out of context,” he adds. “What context could possibly justify them?”

    Actually, the context is called “Christian apologetics”, and it’s been around for centuries. It’s the attempt by scholars to present a rational basis for belief in God. Part of that process is running difficult bits of the Bible past the tests of reason and ethics. To return to the entire post that Dawkins quotes from (because, contrary to what he wrote, context does matter to a serious thinker), Craig begins thus: “These stories offend our moral sensibilities. Ironically, however, our moral sensibilities in the West have been largely, and for many people unconsciously, shaped by our Judaeo-Christian heritage, which has taught us the intrinsic value of human beings, the importance of dealing justly rather than capriciously, and the necessity of the punishment’s fitting the crime. The Bible itself inculcates the values which these stories seem to violate.”

    Ergo, Craig’s purpose in writing this piece is to unravel the paradox of a moral Bible that also includes lashings of apparently random violence. Craig stresses that these passages of the Bible are difficult for us to read because we are not of the age in which they are written – they are just as alien to us as Beowulf or the Iliad. That’s because Christian society has been shaped by the rules of life outlined in the New Testament, not in the section of The Bible in which this massacre occurs. Far from using this passage to celebrate the slaughter of heathen, Craig is making the point that the revelation of God’s justice has changed over time. The horrors of the Old Testament have been rendered unnecessary by Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. That’s why the idiots who protest the funerals of gay soldiers or blow up abortion clinics aren’t just cruel, they’re bad theologians.

    We are left with two possible conclusions from Richard Dawkin’s flimsy sick note. The first is that he doesn’t understand Christian apologetics, which is why he unintentionally misrepresents Craig’s piece. The most frustrating thing about the New Atheism is that it rarely debates theology on theology’s own terms. It approaches metaphor and mysticism as if they were statements of fact to be tested in the laboratory. Worse still, it takes the crudest equations of faith (total submission to an angry sky god) and assumes that they apply to all its believers at all times equally. That most Christians living in the 21st century don’t know who the Canaanites were and only go to church because it brings them an intangible inner peace, totally escapes these atheist pedants.

    The second explanation is that Dawkins is a coward. He likes to pick fights either with dunces (like the deliciously silly and obviously gay Ted Haggard) or with incredibly nice old Christians with no fire in their belly (like Rowan Williams). Dawkins has gotten away with his illiterate, angry schtick for so many years because his opponents have been so woolly. This is a damning indictment not only of him, but of the clerical establishment of Great Britain. But this time, he understood that he was up against a pro. In America, evangelicals have to compete in a vibrant, competitive marketplace of different denominations. That breeds the very guile and theatricality that are so sorely lacking among the Anglican clergy. In Craig, Dawkins met his match. Like Jonah, he was confronted by the truth and he ran away.

    Sometimes a short snippet just will not do.

    GEM of TKI

  111. When it is accusatory and laced with invidious insinuations

    Sounds like a lot of your own comments (ad hom laced oil soaked straw-men ignited to poison the atmosphere etc etc ….) Pot, meet kettle.

    You really need to take a long hard look at your own behavior KF. A little charity and humility would go a long way.

  112. I think the real problem is your own belief that you are infallible, and that everyone is out to get you.

  113. Dr Liddle

    Sorry, that’s just more ducking and dodging.

    Before you can make moral judgements that rise above “ick, I don’t like prunes,” [HT, CS Lewis] you need to warrant the binding nature of morality beyond might and manipulation make right, i.e. nihilistic amorality such as engulfed Russia.

    Let’s focus what is really on the table given the push of Dawkins et al, by citing Provine:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent [--> as in we are programmed by blind chance and necessity, and have grounds for neither morality nor sound reasoning. ABSURD! But, dress up absurdity in the holy lab coat and see how ever so many will bow down before it.]. . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. [--> they intuitively recognise the absurdity, and the blatant mismatch to our experience of real and significant choice] I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [--> reductio!] . . . .

    How can we have meaning in life? When we die we are really dead; nothing of us survives. [--> so, if you have the power to get away with it why not do as you please]

    Natural selection is a process leading every species almost certainly to extinction . . . Nothing could be more uncaring than the entire process of organic evolution. Life has been on earth for about 3.6 billion years. In less that one billion more years our sun will turn into a red giant. All life on earth will be burnt to a crisp. Other cosmic processes absolutely guarantee the extinction of all life anywhere in the universe. When all life is extinguished, no memory whatsoever will be left that life ever existed.

    Yet our lives are filled with meaning. [--> should tell you you have gone off the rails] Proximate meaning is more important than ultimate. Even if we die, we can have deeply [[subjectively and culturally] meaningful lives . . . .

    [[Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life, Second Annual Darwin Day Celebration Keynote Address, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, February 12, 1998 (abstract).]

    Utter, self-referentially absurd amorality!

    GEM of TKI

  114. Dr BOT, that is patently false slander.

  115. Is the act of kllling children objectively wrong?

  116. Atheist: I claim that God violated the objective moral law which I also claim doesn’t exist.

    LOL

    Atheist: I believe that morality is subjective and that everyone should be able to arrive at his own personal code–except for God.

    LOL

  117. Please see here, in context; I am not punching at shadows.

  118. Note the all too predictable effect of Dawkins’ trifecta fallacy: distraction, polarisation and atmosphere poisoning. I only hope some of the more thoughtful objectors — and those puzzling over real difficulties will benefit from the materials that address such.

  119. Elizabeth,

    Oddly enough, I was ready for that kind of answer. No, I must disappoint you. The answer is wrong. History-wise, it is ungrounded to speak about atheistic societies because until very recently by history standards, there were no such societies. So it necessarily has been borrowed from religious contexts. I positively cannot remember any state of the past that would be atheist. Correct me if I am wrong.

    So could you tell us more about atheistic societies you mentioned. How many of them do you know about? I am sure we shall be able count using a single hand. Remember, officially atheist societies. So, North Korea, Soviet Union. Two? Maybe I missed something else… Tell us please.

  120. I was really sorry to read your response. What is human freedom, Elizabeth? Sometimes you are speaking headlines behind which I can’t see any personal attitude. There is no true freedom without responsibility. True freedom is understood only in terms of sin and virtue which are again religious notions. Cf John 8:32-34.

    “32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”

  121. Richard Dawkins: Free will does not exist.

    Richard Dawkins: William Lane Craig abused his free will by defending the God of Old Testament.

    LOL

  122. F/N: Above the poisonous miasma of racism has been cast. Let us just say that the cases of Rahab [Canaanite] and Ruth [Moabite] — both of whom were ancestors of King David and thus of Jesus as well — suffice to demonstrate that RACE is not the issue, rather than syncreticism and assimilation to the corrupt pagan practices (as was actually a problem). It is time for a far more responsible reading of the texts in context by objectors.

  123. Can you cite where Richard Dawkins says that “free will does not exist”?

    Thanks.

  124. Golly.

    How about actually citing some actual atheists on this?

  125. No, it is my sincerely held belief, a belief I have come to by reading your comments.

  126. I have seen nobody smearing Christians with support for genocide. I see Dawkins, and myself, challenging Craig’s declaired conclusion that something as self-evidently evil as genocide is not evil if God commands it.

    If you do not share that view, fine. If you do share it, I challenge you to defend it.

    And far from “all sorts of nazism lurking just beneath the surface” of Dawkins’ (and my) words, what is rearing its head above the surface of Craig’s words is – nazism.

    Literally. Genocide on the basis of a blanket condemnation of an entire race as evil. Genocide on the basis that another people need – dare I call it lebensraum? Genocide on the basis that some higher authority commands it, and obedience trumps conscience, the very defense rejected at Nuremberg.

    No, I am not “smearing” people with support for genocide. I’m trying to open your eyes to what Craig is actually saying – and, if you will, to reject it. tbh, I don’t expect he even really means it. I can only think he has failed to notice the implications of his conclusions.

    Kairosfocus – I am glad to hear that Christians openly acknowledge struggling with these texts. Craig seems to have lost his struggle. I wish the rest of you well with yours.

  127. Races can do evil, Elizabeth.

    Which ones, Joseph?

  128. 128

    Dawkins tends to avoid the question of free will in the same manner that a used car salesman avoids pointing out bald tires. It is his best interest in order to make the sale. He says “I’m just not interested in free will, it’s not a big question for me.”

    But his position is understood.

    “a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility… mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live” – Richard Dawkins

  129. Eugene

    Being a Christian, I believe that God is the One who defines the law. So morality is an absolute category, as is truth. In fact, truth is even a “who”, not a “what”. Did I answer your question?

    To be honest – no. My question was – do you think the killing of the Canaanite children was wrong?

    I am finding it difficult to get a straight answer to this question from the Christians here!

  130. OK, I am glad to hear at least some Christians here acknowledge “real difficulties” with the treatment of the Canaanites (and it is not a lone example, as I am sure you are aware – the story of the Midianites is as shocking).

    I also hear, bizarrely, that some people think that people like Dawkins and myself have no right to criticise theistic morality (or any morality) because – well, I’m not sure what it’s because of. We don’t believe in objective morality or something, or we don’t have a basis for morality, or we think that anything goes and anyone can make up their own morality.

    As far as I can see, the alleged position of atheists on morality has no bearing at all on the ethical questions raised by Craig’s interpretation of the Canaanite story. Those issues could be raised by anyone – Christian, non-Christian, atheist, whatever.

    But they do go to the heart of the problem incurred when you delegate to a deity the task of arbitrating between right and wrong: is something right because the deity says so, or is the deity the right deity because s/he says what is right? And in that sense the two issues are related – not because atheists cannot mount a legitimate ethical critique of Christian morality, but because there is a real divide here over what constitutes “objective morality”.

    Let’s get some terms straight: I do not think there is an “objective morality” in the sense that somewhere in or beyond the universe there is a moral True North that would be there whether or not humans existed. However, I do think that there are two styles of deriving moral principles: one is from a perceived authority; the other is from philosophy.

    The first I regard as essentially subjective, because the choice of authority is a subjective one, or at least culturally transmitted one. Given that there is more than one claimed moral authority, and that the moral precepts differ between those authorities, and indeed the moral precepts derived from each authority differ from sect to sect, the moral precepts you emerge with seem little better than choice or chance. Not objective, anyway, at least I am not persuaded that there is any objective way of deciding which is the True Authority.

    The second I’d call relatively objective, because independent people can come to the same conclusion given the same pair of pretty fundamental premises.

    First is: Morality is about what we ought to do. But what do we mean when we use the word “ought”?

    The word “ought” is the word we use when there is a conflict between the execution of actions that will fulfill our own inclinations and some alternative. We say: “I’d like to do this, but I ought to do that”. So “ought” is used to indicate a course of action that deprioritises self-centred (literally self-ish) interests in favour of the other-centred interests.

    So we have:

    Morality is about what we ought to do.

    What we ought to do is that which benefits others no less then ourselves.

    Therefore, morality is rooted in the maxim “treat others as you would be treated”. Or, if you prefer “love your neighbour as you love yourself”.

    Anyone can derive that maxim, and it has been derived, repeatedly, in just that way, by many cultures over many generations and places, including a-theistic cultures such as buddhism, and the pagan culture of ancient Greece. It’s simple, it make sense, as humans were are almost uniquely capable of observing it because we possess the almost uniquely human capacity for “Theory of Mind”.

    And, as I said, even a four-year old can tell that a God who is capable of parting the Red Sea to let the Israelites through, but cannot or will not prevent the following Egyptians from drowning, is not Loving His Neighbour As Himself.

    So how to reconcile the God who became man and told us to love our neighbours as ourselves, who told us that whatever we do to the least of our brothers we do for him, and who forgave his torturers and killers even as he hung in agony, with the vindictive, jealous, genocidal tyrant of much of the Old Testament?

    Easy. You don’t. They can’t be the same guy. Something really is Wrong With This Picture, and any four year old could tell you what.

    That’s because morality really is objective. Even a four-year-old is capable of figuring out that he ought not to poke his sister, because he wouldn’t like to be poked, even if its fun to hear her wail. He may choose to ignore the “ought” in his head, but it’s still right there, in his head, because figuring out that kind of thing is what human heads are rather good at. Or, if you prefer, you can consider that God put it there when he made us human – that it’s what constitutes our humanity, our soul, our “knowledge of good and evil”.

    Whatever.

    We have it, clearly. And we can use it to tell quite easily what is evil and what it good. We can warp it a bit by deciding that “others” are only our own kin, and that it doesn’t apply to Canaanites, or Midianites, or Jews, or Poles, or the Irish. And we can argue about where we place the boundaries of our neighbour-hood. At least, finally, we are starting to draw them more and more broadly, although we still argue about whether it includes the unborn, and, if so, at what stage after conception, whether it includes even the unconceived – our descendents. Or other species.

    But the principle is so simple a four-year-old can do it.

  131. Do you even know what my position is on abortion, Waynekent00?

    And what on earth, even should you be correct, does it have to do with whether a good Good could possibly advocate genocide?

    Or whether an evil act could possibly become good just because it is commanded by a deity?

  132. On abortion:

    Unlike most people here, from what I can gather, I’ve been pregnant. At least eight times, in fact, although only on the last occasion did my pregnancy go to term.

    Some of the pregnancies I only found out about after they had aborted. One was decribed as a “chemical” pregnancy – my test was positive but the implantation failed.

    My longest, apart from the one that went to term, was 11 weeks, although the foetus had almost certainly died at seven weeks.

    I will never forget the sight of the heart of what would be my son, beating at 8 weeks gestation, and the reassurance that I now had an “85% chance of going to term”. And indeed I did. And yes, he’s gorgeous, turned eighteen last week.

    I grieved over every one of those pregnancies. I even had a name for the one that went to 11 weeks, “Robin”. The day I bled irrevocably, was the day I heard my sister was pregnant – my parents’ first grandchild. It was a huge relief to be feel that in away my pregnancy had been transferred to her. Strangely, she gave her son the middle name “Robin” – just coincidence. She never knew about the name I’d had in mine for my baby.

    But my grief was not for the embryos that died, the embryos that in a technical sense never were (before implantation, there isn’t really an “embryo” and the early fertilised ovum used to be called a conceptus until the primitive streak appeared). And in a way it was no less for every slightly late period I had. The grief was for the children that might have been but never were. For litter of children I would never have, and for the son I thought I might never have. And as some estimates are that 80% of conceptions never get as far as implantation, there may have been far more even of those than I ever knew.

    So why do people think that the end of a pregnancy is the death of a human being? It’s the end of the possibility of a human being. But the process of becoming a human being is not an instantaneous one. There is no moment at which there was a human being now, that wasn’t there an instant ago, or at least there is no biological reason to think so. A human being develops over a life time, and certainly over a pregnancy, from an avolitional cluster of cells to a baby capable of deciding which thumb to suck, learning what feels good, and what feels bad, and looking forward to the next good part.

    And so my view on abortion is: the longer the duration of the pregnancy, the more heavily does the foetus’s life weigh against the mother’s in the question “who is my neighbour”? And from the end of pregnancy, when the interests of the two can, if necessary, be considered quite separately, then I think the law must regard the baby as in possession of full human rights.

    But before that – no. Before that, the mother’s and foetus’s interest are deeply interdependent, and must be weighed against each other’s, in my view, and the mother’s, being the more fully human of the dyad, must take priority.

    In other words, I support a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry her pregnancy to term, and advocate that the longer the pregnancy lasts, the more weighty she should consider any decision to terminate to be. But forcing an 11 year old, for instance, to carry to term a pregnancy incurred by rape, is, I think, clearly unjustified morally. I would draw the grey boundary round our neighbourhood between that 11 year old and her potential child.

    I am aware that people will vehemently disagree, but I consider it right to state what are my very long-considered views on this issue.

  133. Any race that was brought up to do so.

  134. Example?

  135. Thank you UBP.

    Can you tell me what it is from? (I profoundly disagree with it, btw).

  136. They have all been killed off. :)

  137. Any race that lived by darwinian rules…

  138. Who was killed off? Give a name.

  139. Elizabeth,

    It is extremly clear to me that Dawkins is simply grasping on to this latest excuse in an attempt to distract everyone from his cowardice. He is clearly an intellectual bully, and is trying to divert away from the real issue (he is afraid to defend his views where they can be critically evaluated by an intelligent and informed adversary). He doesn’t fool anyone, and its extremely obvious what he’s doing.

    That being said, I have no issues with the commands God gave the Israelites regarding the Canaanites, so I’ll happily defend that issue if you wish. Hit me with your best shot.

    wgbutler


  140. But forcing an 11 year old, for instance, to carry to term a pregnancy incurred by rape, is, I think, clearly unjustified morally.

    And how do you feel about a 24 year old who engages in casual unprotected sex with some random guy she met at a bar and decides to abort the baby because she doesn’t want to be obligated?

  141. Dr Liddle

    Pardon, but this is again a strawman.

    The first Christian to acknowledge that there are difficulties is Craig.

    He does so in the opening words of his response to the challenge, from which Dawkins et al have taken a snippet out of context to smear and dismiss him instead of addressing the need to publicly explain some very vitriolic assertions and fallacious arguments to persuade others of these, over the course of decades.

    Dawkins, as cited, dismisses responsibility on his materialistic darwinian narrative, i.e he implies the exact amorality that disqualifies him from making ANY serious moral judgement that has been raised in this thread form the beginning.

    That leaves only a cold-blooded, cleverly calculated manipulativeness multiplied by the media power he commands. Which he is using to get some jumped up apes to turn on others in hostility, on his command and to his advantage.

    Utterly cynical and inexcusable.

    I notice, now, that you say you disagree with Dawkins’ determinism on darwinian forces for mind and will.

    Now, then, as was raised form the beginning: kindly ground objective morality on your evo mat premises for us, as a basis for facing your own difficulties. (Otherwise, in the end, you are in the same basic problem as Dawkins, though I think you are not a cold blooded manipulative and deceptive cynic like he plainly is.)

    Yes — as you said — four year olds do feel moral intuitions, but that perception is not the issue; a 4 year old is hardly an authority on any subject beyond 1 + 2 = 3.

    The issue is whether they are just feelings, and whether those who hold worldviews that entail that are playing emotional manipulation games while refusing to attend to the import of the fact that they too find themselves morally obligated in their more lucid moments.

    The Judaeo-Christian, Biblical view, is that the 4 year old, and for that matter the 40 or 80 year old, are here reflecting the real authority on morality: the innate voice of implanted conscience that comes form our Creator.

    That, BTW, is just the context in which we are troubled by some passages in the Bible and the seeming cutting across our sense of justice or fairness or entitlement to rights.

    Yes, there are some troubling Biblical texts, esp some of the OT ones. That is a commonplace, it is not something that some few Christians acknowledge. (That suggestion just above on your part is unworthy.)

    As to the notion promoted by Dawkins that any significant number of Christians or Mr Craig support genocide, that is cynical slander. The evidence is just the opposite. Slick talking points like “he has lost his struggle” do not do him or a great many Christians I know, justice. Please, stop.

    If you doubt me, kindly go back to 7.3 above.

    (And, where there ARE those who do in significant numbers support genocide of Jews in the name of deity, we are talking about Hamas [not even most Muslims], not “The First Church of God in Christ, Blood washed and triumphant” or the like. To suggest differently in the teeth of abundant and easily accessible evidence is to propagate a willful and cynical mischaracterisation, i.e. it is a poisonous false accusation or snide insinuation, a slander and a lie. [And yes, we come to those strong words again. Sadly, in too many cases on this matter, they are deserved. And those who have unthinkingly taken up the rhetoric of false accusations, snide insinuations, slander and lies need to think about what they are enabling and stop. NOW.])

    Onwards, the point is that moral obligation, so soon as it is seen to be real points to our being under moral government, hence obligated under moral law. Which raises the very serious issue of our being under a moral lawgiver.

    If worldviews are to be seriously discussed — Mr Dawkins’ rhetoric is precisely not serious in this sense — difficulties have to be compared.

    And that is where I began above and it is where I remain.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: The logic with a swivel by which those who want to play the Dawkins bash game then pivot to justify the slaughter of millions of innocents in the womb, is saddening. As is the failure to make the connexion that the same Christians who oppose slaughter of innocents in the womb obviously also oppose slaughter of children outside the womb, or innocent people in general. If anything, the problem Christians really have is that the tendency is to undermine the principle that government properly bears the sword in defence of the civil peace of justice from enemies foreign and domestic. That leads to a situation where the hesitation to act vigorously in good time can have perverse effects, e.g. had Britain France and the US acted in good time in the mid 1930′s WW II with the slaughter of 60 millions would have been averted. And, today, we need to think very hard about what is happening now that Iran’s regime seems to be 6 months development time away from a nuke bomb if recent expert reports are even nearly true.

  142. Elizabeth please, I am summing up their position and the irony inherent in it. I am not quoting them.

    However, if you want quotes, try this one from Darwin:

    “A man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution and reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones”

    This comes from Will Provine:

    “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. No gods worth having exist; no life after death exists; no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; no ultimate meaning in life exists; and human free will is nonexistent”

    “The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them”

    Why are you asking me to document that which is obvious? It isn’t fair for you to waste my time like this.

  143. Because ascribing a pair of positions to an entire group of people who share only a lack of belief in God or gods is completely unjustified.

    Moreoever, your quote from Darwin is a quotemine. The full passage shows something quite different:

    A man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution and reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones. A dog acts in this manner, but he does so blindly. A man, on the other hand, looks forwards and backwards, and compares his various feelings, desires and recollections. He then finds, in accordance with the verdict of all the wisest men that the highest satisfaction is derived from following certain impulses, namely the social instincts. If he acts for the good of others, he will receive the approbation of his fellow men and gain the love of those with whom he lives ; and this latter gain undoubtedly is the highest pleasure on this earth. By degrees it will become intolerable to him to obey his sensuous passions rather than his higher impulses, which when rendered habitual may be almost called instincts. His reason may occasionally tell him to act in opposition to the opinion of others, whose approbation he will then not receive ; but he will still have the solid satisfaction of knowing that he has followed his innermost guide or conscience.–As for myself I believe that I have acted rightly in steadily following and devoting my life to science. I feel no remorse from having committed any great sin, but have often and often regretted that I have not done more direct good to my fellow creatures. My sole and poor excuse is much ill-health and my mental constitution, which makes it extremely difficult for me to turn from one subject or occupation to another. I can imagine with high satisfaction giving up my whole time to philanthropy, but not a portion of it; though this would have been a far better Line of conduct.

    And I suggest you read another prominent atheist, Dennett, on the perils of “creeping exculpability”.

  144. Elizabeth:

    You wrote:

    “Eugene so far is the only Christian here even to recognise the problem.”

    I recognize the problem. And I certainly would like to distance myself from many of the moral arguments (and also the tone) of some of the Christians who have posted here.

    I personally find Craig’s argument repulsive, both morally and theologically.

    I agree with you that the question whether atheist regimes have carried out horrible brutalities is completely irrelevant to the rightness or wrongness of the slaughter of the Canaanites. The fact that atheists have done wrong could never justify the wrongdoing of Israelites, Jews, Christians, etc.

    If the question is which societies win the prize for the most inhumanity, atheist or Christian ones, then, on the historical evidence we have so far, the atheist societies win handily. But that is not the question of this thread, and it irritates me that some Christians would be so evasive as to try to change the question from the one that is being asked to the one they would rather answer.

    The first question of this thread is whether Dawkins is right to refuse to debate Craig. The secondary question, which has come up in debating the first one, is whether Craig’s conception of God is worthy of worship.

    I’ll answer the second question first. No, Craig’s conception of God — at least that part of his conception of God which is set forth in the quotation in question — is not one of a God who is worthy of worship.

    As a Christian Platonist I absolutely repudiate the “command morality” that is implicit in the typical modern Christian defenses of the Canaanite slaughter.

    As for the first question: It is my understanding that Dawkins has refused to debate Craig from the beginning, since a time long before he knew Craig’s views on the slaughter of the Canaanites. If that is true, then his motivation, at least originally, was not because he found Craig’s moral views repugnant. So what was Dawkins’s motivation for his original refusal?

    I have read and listened to Dawkins’s thoughts on religion, which are shallow and trite, and I have heard Craig debate many times, and, while I dislike Craig as a Christian apologist and don’t think he is even a very good philosopher (despite his degrees), he certainly knows far more philosophy and theology than Dawkins and would have no problem crushing Dawkins on any debate (over anything but the slaughter of the Canaanites) concerning religion. Dawkins’s arguments are poor and unscholarly, historically uninformed, vulgar and demagogic, and academically dishonest, as prominent non-Christian philosophers have pointed out. (E.g., Ruse, Flew, Berlinski) I would guess that Dawkins knows that he is uneducated in philosophy and theology and doesn’t really want to take on anyone who really knows those fields, lest he embarrass himself. It is one thing for someone like Dawkins to take on some half-educated Anglican clergyman or zealous Christian lay leader who doesn’t really know the Christian tradition, or any philosophy; it is another thing to take on someone who studied philsophical theology in Germany under Pannenberg. I therefore think that Dawkins’ original motivation for ducking Craig was to avoid taking a drubbing.

    A subsidiary question arises whether Dawkins would be morally justified in first accepting an invitation to debate with Craig, but then withdrawing it when he discovered Craig’s view on the Canaanites. I admit that a moral case could be made for Dawkins’s pulling out in such an eventuality. But as far as I understand the chronology, that is not what happened.

    T.

  145. Homo jerkian evilitus

  146. Thanks Timaeus. My theology, such as it was, was along those lines too.

  147. Elizabeth,

    Given your moral revulsion to the taking of innocent human life I would guess that you’re “pro-life”, but your silence on the matter makes me suspect that you believe that the taking of innocent human life is justified under certain circumstances.

    You find Craig’s defense of God commanding the slaughter of innocent human life appalling. If you are pro-choice, as I suspect you are, I’d like to hear you defend the position. When is it acceptable to take innocent human life?

    As to your questions, I’m working on a response which I’ll post as a new comment.

    Thank you for your time.

  148. Hi Mrs. Liddle,

    For most of this argument you’ve been really upset at God and the Israelites for killing Caananite kids. But when some of us brought up that the Caananites were doing it before Israel even got there (killing kids) and had been doing so for a long time, ritualistically, and in a far more gruesome way, you didn’t respond. Can I ask the reason? Sorry to bother you.

    - Sonfaro

  149. —Elizabeth: “In other words, I support a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry her pregnancy to term, and advocate that the longer the pregnancy lasts, the more weighty she should consider any decision to terminate to be.”

    Well, of course you do. Atheism and subjective morality go together like the proverbial horse and carriage. This brings me back to the salient point. If morality if subjective, as you believe it to be, then God has His legitimate moraltiy, you have your legitimate morality, and I have my legitimate morality. Under those circumstances, you have no grounds for criticzing God’s behavior in the Old Testament. I am amazed that you do not grasp this.

  150. 150

    “The issue is whether they are just feelings”

    –I would say that morality is feelings, but I wouldn’t say “just” feelings. Love, hate, fairness, empathy etc are “just feelings” but what would we be without them?

    I would hope that everyone’s morality is grounded (at least partially) on such things as empathy and reason.

    What is morality according to Christianity? Is it anything more than obedience to an authority for the sake of being rewarded or to avoid punishment?

    How is morality any more objective with Christianity than it is with atheism? Even if God objectively exists, and even if God objectively said “Don’t do X”, how is it then “objectively” true that doing X is immoral? How is objective morality grounded within Christianity?

  151. Dr Liddle,

    please look again at what is going on. This whole deal is precisely a smear job based on a distraction led out to an ad hominem laced strawman set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise.

    A cynical manipulation on the part of the leading new atheists who KNOW where the sort of willful misrepresentations they have pushed for many years now predictably lead.

    For instance, they KNOW that neither Craig nor any other responsible Christian thinker or leader promotes genocide, and they KNOW that biblical morality is not the caricature they are painting.

    But, they know that polarised people do not usually think straight when they have been stoked to see those being attacked as demons or dummies.

    Alinsky’s polarisation technique works, until we wake up and realise the horror that has been done.

    Usually, too late.

    And, that is why I have spoken so strongly today.

    Let no man come to me after and say, but we were not warned.

    (As, I once warned a country on the eve of a volcano crisis. Ironically, I just had to remind an official who was trying to tell me nothing really happened — but, where is the former Capital? [Under up to 40 ft of ash.])

    Good day.

    GEM of TKI

  152. —Elizabeth: “Because ascribing a pair of positions to an entire group of people who share only a lack of belief in God or gods is completely unjustified.”

    That is incorrect. Atheism = subjective moralilty. I cannot be otherwise. You are an atheist; your morality is subjective. Hence, you support abortion rights because you have made up your own code to satisfy your own personal feelings.

    In like fashion, you cannot provide any good reason for criticizing the God of the Old Testament who, by your philosophy, is justified in embracing any morality that hje might choose. You cannot make your case.

  153. 153
    material.infantacy

    “I’ll accept it for the sake of argument. My challenge would be: if the above is true, why should we consider that God worthy of worship?”

    If the above is true, then God is worthy of worship because He is our creator — the creator of our bodies, minds, spirits, and the source of our sense of morality and justice. That answer is simple, stipulating those attributes of God, because we can’t avoid the implication that he is the source of all things, and we can’t escape the fact that those attributes establish Him above His creation, which separately do not possess that divinity. If one accepts God’s divinity, expressed in the omni-attributes, then one must also accept His holiness, which is an expression of all that is good. God’s holiness denotes his righteousness, that right what is right and good is a direct reflection of his nature, and not capriciously established.

    The reason God is justified in making life and death decisions for each and every one of us is because He is responsible for His creation. We however are not divine. We do not possess the omni-attributes, and thereby, lack the moral authority to make life and death decisions regarding the innocent. This has to be self-evidently true, if God’s holiness is taken for granted.

    I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. — Isaiah 46:10

    In order to make known the end from the beginning, one must know the end, in the beginning. This means that God can judge righteously at any point along the way — and that the things He does, as well as the things He doesn’t do, all satisfy His purpose in conformity with His holiness. That should make us uncomfortable, but not because it allows God to judge capriciously (He does not) but because we have no such capacity, and hence lack the authority to do all that God can do, Him knowing the end in the beginning.

    We should certainly be uncomfortable with wholesale slaughter, even if God commanded it, because it should remind us of both our separation from God’s holiness, and the cost of our sin as expressed in God’s judgment.

    It’s not my intention to make anyone feel better about the Canaanite slaughter, there’s nothing to feel better about. It’s awful and terrible, and we should find no comfort in the act itself. This doesn’t mean that if God commanded it, He was wrong to do so. Such is impossible, for he cannot violate his nature. Again, if the omni-attributes are taken for granted, then it follows that God’s actions are righteous, even if we don’t understand or have difficulty reconciling them. This is in part because we have no such authority to make these judgments, because we do not possess holiness, because we do not possess the omni-attributes.

    I’d like to point out that the Canaanite slaughter is an event buried in the sands of time. No Christian worth his salt would claim that because God commanded a slaughter of an entire human line, that he issues these commands today, and that we can enact such “justice” in His name. However if we’re going to fault God for a judgment which satisfied his omniscience, we should also take note of something, as outlined, is arguably yet to come.

    I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”a He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

    KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
    And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.” — Revelation 19:11-18

    Here I’m suggesting that we go big or go home. According to the book of Revelation, half the world’s population will be swallowed up in judgement. That’s nearly 3.5 billion people if it were to happen today. Should we spend our time with the Canaanite slaughter, which pales in comparison, or cut to the chase and determine if God is justified in judging the entire earth in wrath?

    Ask and see:
    Can a man bear children?
    Then why do I see every strong man
    with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor,
    every face turned deathly pale?
    How awful that day will be!
    None will be like it.
    It will be a time of trouble for Jacob,
    but he will be saved out of it. — Jeremiah 30:6-7

    “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’b spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. — Matthew 24:15-22

    It is not my goal here to present Christianity as inoffensive. Even the name of Jesus Christ is offensive to many, if not most. Anyone will be offended by Christianity who cannot reconcile history and prophecy with God’s right — even responsibility — to judge mankind for its inherent wickedness.

    You say that you accept the reality of sin. Whose definition of sin are you using? I’m not asking what definition, I’m asking whose.

    As a rhetorical point, I’d like to call attention to the fact that your morality endows women with the right to terminate their own pregnancy — that is, endows them with the moral authority to end the life of their unborn child. My challenge to you is, how do you reconcile your willingness to endow women with the moral authority to kill the unborn, each knowing nothing about what kind of life that child might have had, but yet cannot extend to God the moral authority to exercise his purpose over his own creation, Him seeing the end of things from the beginning, given any contingency?

  154. Stephen, I’d be grateful if you’d read, and perhaps respond, to my post about objective and subjective morality.

  155. No, I’m not upset at God, or the Israelites. I have no reason to think that God ordred the genocide of the Canaanites, nor much that it was actually carried out.

    What astonishes me is the special pleading on behalf of both by those who seem to think it actually happened.

  156. Atheism and subjective morality go together like the proverbial horse and carriage.

    From where I’m standing, the “subjective morality” is that claimed by those who have made subjective decision to nominate a specific deity as the arbiter of that morality, not that that solves anything, as the details seem far from clear.

    At least the morality I am advocating has the virtue of being based on universal principles and can be derived by anyone, regardless of their beliefs, and thus considerably more claim to objectivity than the special pleading for a minor middle eastern deity I’m reading here.

  157. Okay, so let me suggest a scenario and we’ll see where it gets us:

    Imagine a general who had, in addition to an exemplary military record, a well deserved reputation as a humanitarian. At several points during his career he put his own life on the line in order to protect civilians, even going so far at one point as to disobey orders which would have resulted in innocent people being put in harms way.

    Some years after his death, a story surfaces, the known facts of which are indisputable: as a young commander, the officer participated in an incident which took place around a village in Laos during which U.S. troops encircled the village and watched from a distance while the commander repeatedly ordered napalm strikes, after which he ordered his troops, still at a distance, to open fire on anything that moved. It was known at the time that many women and children were in the village. The operation continued until the commander was satisfied that nothing had been left alive.

    Some questions for those inclined to engage:

    Is there any circumstance which would justify the above?

    Is there any information about the event which, once known, would rightly result in the general’s actions being lauded?

    Assume that the general’s reputation for humanitarian decency is based in truth: should what is known of the general’s character keep us from rushing to judgement in regard to this incident?

  158. GUN:

    FYI, morality is grounded long before we get to the specifically Christian tradition. As was linked long ago now above.

    The issue here is not whether or how to ground morality in a worldview anchored on the Necessary Being who is the good God, it is to ground morality on evolutionary materialist premises.

    And it is that issue that is the point where it becomes absolutely clear that such materialism has no objective grounds for moral judgements. In short, it reduces to might and/or manipulaiton make right, which is patently absurd.

    In that context, when we see a Dawkins playing on perceptions of morality to try to distract from his irresponsibility and decades of slanderous vituperation by slandering a responsible Christian leader for supporting genocide, that sort of cynical strawman-slander tactic is utterly revealing on Dawkins’ underlying attitudes and power-centred amorality. (Remember, the first thing Craig does in discussing the matter is to speak — in the first person plural –about the moral struggle Christians routinely have with destructive judgements of nations.)

    Then, when we see others asking questions of the order of “have you stopped beating your wife . . . ,” that simply underscores how deep the rot is.

    Saul Alinsky has done his fell work very effectively.

    And, before we can do the amputation that just possibly might save the patient (I am using metaphors here), the blood poisoning may prove fatal.

    GEM of TKI

  159. Elizabeth: Your position is logically flawed. There are only three options.

    1 [A just God exists and created man in his image, therefore, morality is objective]

    2 [A just God doesn't exist, therefore, morality is subjective]

    3 [Man invented God and conceived Him in man's image, therefore, morality is subjective]

    Your position is #2, which means that you cannot escape the charge that your morals are subjective and based on your feelings.

    My position is #1, which means that, if I am correct, morality if objective.

    In order to distract attention from the fact that your morality is subjective, you seek to change the subject by arguing that my position is really #3 because you can’t conceive that position #2 could be true.

    Logically, your morality MUST be subjective. Mine need not be.

  160. You are appealing to objective morality — “the morality I am advocating has the virtue of being based on universal principles and can be derived by anyone, regardless of their beliefs”, in a context where you have no grounds for it on your acknowledged worldview.

    Does that not tell you that something has gone very wrong indeed in the foundations of evolutionary materialism?

  161. “Is it anything more than obedience to an authority for the sake of being rewarded or to avoid punishment?”

    There are three kinds of people who want to save their souls by doing what God tells them, for three different reasons. Those who do it for fear of being punished if they don’t, are in the state of a slave. Those who do it for a reward are in the state of a mercenary. But those who do it purely out of love for God, are in the state of a son and heir.

    I do not care how one would call it, objective or otherwise. The most important thing is that God is the source of law, i.e. it is up to Him to determine for his creation what is right or wrong. Humans are not autonomous. We are not entitled to decide for ourselves what is good or bad. The desire to be independent of God was the fall of man.

    The commandments are in fact safety precautions. God is not a policeman but a Father. If He says that we shall not do this or that, it is for our own sakes, not for the sake of forbidding. If we do contrary to His will, we will deeply suffer because we bear His image within us. The greater our sin is, the greater the suffering becomes, which may, in the worst case, be eternal. And on the other hand, if we do what He wants us to do, we get a spiritual reward, a clear conscience and joy, which in the best case scenario, may be eternal.

  162. Also, Elizabeth, you have not answered the problem that, if we can all make up our own morality, then God can also make up his morality, which means that you should not be criticizing Him for exercising the option that you claim everyone should have. Your position falls apart at every level.

  163. Almost any basis for morality is superior to one that allows someone to claim that genocide can be justified by appeal to morality.

  164. ‘Course you don’t have ‘reason to thing God ordered the genocide’. You don’t believe in God. :-)

    But we’re opperating on the assumption that he exists in this discussion right? Asking “why would we serve a God that does this”. Retaining your position while engaging in a hypothetical seems a bit weird to me.

    I mean if it did happen it would be tragic. I don’t think anyone, christian or otherwise, is denying that. What some of us are saying though is that it wouldn’t be wrong: which is what you’re saying, right? It sucks, and makes folks uncomfortable. But then so does watching a mom pop her kid in the grocery store. Not on the level of mass bloodletting, no. But the same basic principle.

    If this culture was, as the bible says, filled with child burning deviants with a taste for warfare, why would it be wrong to remove them from the earth? Wouldn’t they fit the definition of evil? As I’ve already stated that this wasn’t an act of racism: Caananites and Israelites were both semetic peoples. This was a case of several cultures doing things that were actually wrong for long periods of time and, after recieving their warning, getting destroyed utterly, so they could never rise again.

  165. Since no one has said anything nice about God for a while, I will take up his defense:

    I think the first order of business is to establish the proper priorities. If God were to send a child to an eternal death (Hell) without allowing the child a choice in the matter, then it would be impossible to reconcile a good God with such evil actions. A good God, then, would settle this matter first and make sure that no eternal injustice is visited on the child, or anyone for that matter. So, we can logically begin with the principle that God will send no one to hell unless they volunteer to go there in some way. If the innocent person (the child) ends up with a positive eternal destiny, God has not been unjust to that person, even if that person’s life is cut dramatically short.

    From a temporal perspective, it is important to understand that there are no spiritual planes, either for people or for nations. Individually, for example, we are getting progressively better or progressively more corrupt. One can argue whether or not individuals reach a point of no return, but it is clear that nations or groups do. There was a time that the Canaanite culture had not reached this point, and God warned them many times that this could happen. Even today, God warns nations and individuals the same way, though usually through other people and institutions.

    With respect to the Canaanites, God knew that the time would come that they would reach that point of return, so apparently He held back until they did, indeed, reach it, and, as a result, they finally exempted themselves from his protection. Up until that time, God made every effort to pull them back from the brink, just as, even now, God is trying pull the United States and some other countries, back from the brink. When a nation or people are hell bent on destroying themselves, God eventually lets them have their way.

    Even so, the Bible teaches that God finds a way to turn these tragic events into something good. Apparently, in order to make it possible for billions of people to learn about and experience the Christian God, it was necessary for him to eliminate some nations and start over. Even God must clean house sometimes. True, innocent people suffer with the guilty, but what else is new. Millions of babies suffer abortion every year because the so-called adults insist on making up their own morality as they go along, even as they blaspheme God as an immoral tyrant.

    Still, from a Biblical perspective, history has a point. We know that God wanted to create for Himself a distinct people that would transmit his message to the world. If God allows these kinds of disasters to occur, it can only be because there is no other way to establish a culture that would be willing to advance his message. When society is organized by tribes, war is about the only way of changing the equation. Also, if God allowed elements of the Canaanite culture to survive, then God’s people might well have been tempted to polytheism and end their capacity to convey God’s truth.

    Further, keep in mind that life is a gift from God. No one is entitled to even one moment on this earth. What God gives, he has every right to take away because it is His to give or take away. It is not ours to keep. For me, the key question is this: Can God compensate the Canannite children who were destroyed? In many ways, it is related to another question: Can God make it up to all those aborted babies in the contemporary culture? If, indeed, heaven exists, the answer in both cases is yes. According to St Paul, the joys of heaven are so great, that the tragedies of this world are not worthy to be compared to it. So, if God sends all these destroyed babies to heaven, he has made up for everything. Thus, God is just if heaven exists and God is unjust is heaven doesn’t exist. I think heaven exists.

  166. OK. It would be helpful if you would tell me where that might be.

  167. Dr Liddle:

    In light of the history of our civilisation and the world, and especially contributions of men who paid dearly for serving God for the betterment of man [just research Wilberforce if you need a name to start with . . . ], think about the implications of an ever so revealing phrase just above:

    a minor middle eastern deity

    Sadly, tellingly revealing.

    GEM of TKI

  168. Theres a Samuel L. Jackson movie based on this premise I think. There were people taking potshots at his men from a crowd of civilians and they had started doing real damage. Sams team was unable to discern who was the civillian and who wasn’t, and they were running out of time. Sam reluctantly ordered his men to fire into the crowd in retaliation, basicly telling them to ‘shoot anything that moves’ (it’s a Samuel L Jackson movie… there was more colorful language involved). A lot of civilians died in the crossfire, and the whole thing got caught on tape, which set up the movie.

    Can’t remember the name. Think a terrible ‘a few good men’ mixed with ‘a time to kill’. Sam was good though.

    To your hypothetical, I don’t think anyone would praise the general for it. However, there are circumstances where I’d understand the order.

    If, say, the villiage in question was housing a cell of the enemy, and that enemy posed a serious threat to both the generals men and the war effort at large, and the enemy had been using both women and children as distractions, decoys, suicide bombers and what not to the point where the General can no longer discern who is a civilian and who is not, then I can understand it. I wouldn’t pin a medal on him but I wouldn’t strip him of rank either. The men he leads have to take priority in that case, because, while he’d knows that there were civilians, he wouldn’t be able to know who was and wasn’t one.

    This, coupled with an understanding that said General typically is humanitarian, would lead me to believe that the general thought he had no alternative. I mean, I suppose he could have surrendered or retreated but I don’t think for a general during wartime that those are viable options.

    My two cents.

    - Sonfaro

  169. Petrushka:

    You are slandering and willfully misrepresenting people [in the teeth of easily accessible corrective information; just scroll up], to foment hostility to and rage against them.

    In so following Dawkins’ footsteps, guess what — you are taking the sort of first rhetorical steps that in Russia, in Cuba and elsewhere led to the mass murder of Christians. (And BTW, more Christians were murdered for their faith in the past 100 years than the previous 20 centuries together. It is NOT a coincidence that this was the century of atheistical and other militantly antichristian regimes and ideologies.)

    Think again, before further falsely accusing people like that.

    If you have a shred of decency left.

    Good night.

    GEM of TKI

  170. Sonfaro,

    Thanks for your two cents.

    I have in mind a bit of information which, once learned, would completely exonerate the general and whereby the entire world would salute him in gratitude. Not only that, but if he had failed to act as he did, knowing what he knew, he would be guilty of grave evil.

    I’ll hold onto this a bit longer to see if anyone else wants to chime in.

  171. Coo!

  172. Ms. Liddle,

    You really make these conversations lively. Thanks for posting even though you get a lot of abuse.

    I agree with Timaeus to a point. I also find Craig’s defense problematic and troubling. But he is forced to make it because he has accepted the inerrancy of the bible.

    I believe in the bible and that it contains the word of God. Some parts of it though are merely inspired and others are false (imho: Sampson). It seems to me that the slaughter of the Canaanites were justified after the fact.

    BUT! I will attempt to put some things in context, not to justify what the Israelites did, but perhaps to show what they may have been thinking.

    1. They knew (and possibly God knew) that if Israel did not wipe away the Canaanite culture that Israel would eventually adopt it and take part in the Canaanite practices of sacrificing children. It turns out that they eventually did that.
    2. In pre-industrial societies, children were seen as economic assets. God (supposedly) did not want the Israelites to think that they were profiting from the destruction of the Canaanites. That is also why their goods were to be destroyed, not used by the Israelites.

    Please remember that I’m not saying these are justifications, but important cultural context.

  173. “So why do people think that the end of a pregnancy is the death of a human being? It’s the end of the possibility of a human being. But the process of becoming a human being is not an instantaneous one. There is no moment at which there was a human being now, that wasn’t there an instant ago, or at least there is no biological reason to think so. A human being develops over a life time, and certainly over a pregnancy, from an avolitional cluster of cells to a baby capable of deciding which thumb to suck, learning what feels good, and what feels bad, and looking forward to the next good part.”

    The terms “embryo”, “fetus”, “newborn”, “child”, “teenager” all describe stages of human development. A teenager is not more human than a newborn and a fetus is not more human than a conceptus. The human life is maturing, but it isn’t becoming more human.

  174. —Petrushka: “Almost any basis for morality is superior to one that allows someone to claim that genocide can be justified by appeal to morality.”

    How can you discern which moraltiy is superior to any other morality including your own, if you have no objective standard by which you can measure them all?

  175. Petrushka said:

    “Almost any basis for morality is superior to one that allows someone to claim that genocide can be justified by appeal to morality ”

    Please note that WLC and most Christians will never claim that a mere mortal can make moral judgements that encompass the ultimate good. If, however there is good reason to belief that a being with the ability to judge and affect the ultimate good then it has to be clear that pain and suffering can ONLY be part of that beings’ moral judgements.

    What would qualify any human to make this type of judgement? What qualify humans to know or even be able to find the “greater good”.

    I am sorry, but the “golden rule” cannot be entrusted to humans because we have no idea of what the greater good really is.

  176. Elizabeth

    Atheism is the belief there is no god, Not a lack of belief.

  177. I not slandering anyone. I’m just expressing amazement that anyone would try to justify genocide. If you don’t think genocide is morally justifiable, then my comments are not directed at you. It’s that simple.

  178. Petrushka

    Deny away all you want, sorry, the facts here speak for themselves.

    You have — in the teeth of easily accessible corrective information above [cf. e.g. 7.3 above] — and in light of the context of drumbeat false accusations in the above, tried to further insinuate that Christians support genocide; supporting a rising tide of — let’s be frank — hatred against Christians in our civilisation.

    A responsible position would instead have highlighted just where Craig began: our civilisation, historically, has had a strong respect for life, for justice and for protecting innocent life shaped by a moral climate deeply influenced by its Judaeo-Christian, biblical foundations.

    In that light, many people, Christians and otherwise, struggle with the apparent meanings of instructions given to the Israelites during the Canaanite conquest, presented as a divine judgement of seven nations that — after 400 years of warnings dating to Abraham and the exemplary judgement from heaven against Sodom and Gomorrah — had defiantly filled up the cup of divine wrath [and as foreshadowing a similar fate hovering over Israel (and by extension other nations) if it too would forget and utterly rebel against God], and similar cases.

    There are different final views taken, but none are without fairly serious difficulties of one form or another.

    However we may conclude, it seems well established in the theology of the Bible that God is judge of the nations, which are its tenants, and that the ultimate fate of nations is hinged to the question of national righteousness. So, historically, those who have been influenced by this tradition — e.g. the US founders when they looked at how they had come to the sad pass of oppression by England and war in the calls to prayer of Mar 16 1776 and Nov 1 1777, Tho Jefferson in his well known “tremble” remark, and similarly Abraham Lincoln in his 2nd inaugural address — have been deeply concerned that the nations reform themselves from injustice and ungodliness.

    A balanced, responsible view would simply not have sounded like you did just above.

    It is as simple as that.

    Please, do better than that next time.

    GEM of TKI

  179. F/N: Cf my updated remarks here.

  180. Timaeus, I’ve looked up Christian Platonism but am still far from understanding it. Could you expand a bit on your view of the Canaanite slaughter in particular and the Old Testament in general?

    Thanks,
    Steve.

  181. T,

    I agree with you that the question whether atheist regimes have carried out horrible brutalities is completely irrelevant to the rightness or wrongness of the slaughter of the Canaanites. The fact that atheists have done wrong could never justify the wrongdoing of Israelites, Jews, Christians, etc.

    But I don’t think anyone here is saying that the slaughter that atheist regimes have engaged in “justifies” any wrongdoing of Israelites, Jews, Christians, etc. I think what’s being rejected is the idea that atheist morality either historically has a great track record, that atheist and materialist metaphysics are consistent with the idea of moral evil (while there’s the usual huffing and insisting that atheists can create these or those ethics, just what those ethics reduce to is legitimate to point out – along with just what it would mean to condemn others on moral grounds given those assumptions), or that – really – Dawkins’ claim on this front is given honestly.

    You say that Craig’s God is not worthy of worship. But you also come from a Platonist viewpoint, where ‘worthy of worship’ presumably is a thing of objective justification – in other words, it’s not just a statement about your personal preferences. But for someone coming from an atheist materialist viewpoint, “worthy of worship” IS a thing of personal preference. And I think those responses which have called the that metaphysical bluff are legitimate – Dawkins’ grandstanding about moral revulsion loses all of its superficial impressiveness the moment we start to account for what these words mean given his metaphysics.

    That said, I can absolutely understand how other Christians, other theists, other non-materialists could more easily talk about the moral qualms they have with Craig’s views – though in this specific context (Dawkins is an admirer of Peter Singer, keep in mind) it doesn’t carry much weight. But more than that, I say this: I defy anyone to say that they believe Dawkins is ducking out of a debate with Craig for any of the reasons he has so far given. I think it’s very obvious that Dawkins is avoiding Craig because he wants to avoid getting stomped in debate again, and with such high stakes.

  182. steveO:

    For a good layman’s historical account of the Platonic tradition in Christianity, have a look at *Platonic Tradition in English Religious Thought* by W. R. Inge. It’s available in a cheap facsimile reprint from Kessinger. Inge also wrote a number of works on Christian mysticism which have a Platonic bent. Another great 20th-century exponent of Christian Platonism (though of a quite different personal temperament from Inge) was Simone Weil, whose powerful long essay, *The Iliad: Poem of Force*, should give you an idea of why a Christian Platonist would reject the story of the Canaanites.

    T.

  183. The situation is as follows:

    A UN team of doctors had been called into the village in Laos and discovers that all the men, women and children have contracted a virus which is 1) highly contagious, and 2) always deadly. As the medical team comes down with the virus, they realize that the survival of the human race may depend on complete and immediate eradication of the virus and thus of the entire village. Knowing that they’re ordering their own deaths, they quickly arrange and coordinate the napalm attacks which the general carries out.

    What can we learn from the above hypothetical:

    1) It is possible that a circumstance which seems completely morally inexcusable is actually morally justified when all of the facts are in.

    2) In the absence of key information, it might not be possible to tell if an act is a moral atrocity or not.

    3) When an act is committed which appears to run contrary to well established character, it may be appropriate to hold judgement in abeyance.

    Related to the Canaanite situation:

    1) It may be the case that what appears to be morally inexcusable is actually justified–and would be recognized as such if all the relevant information were known.

    2) We likely do not have all the relevant information and therefore may not be in a position to judge rightly.

    3) If the character of God is best revealed (as Christian theology asserts) by the person and work of Jesus, God’s character is predominated by love, mercy, grace and care directed toward the entire world. Assuming the above, and given an incident which appears on the surface to be inconsistent with the revealed character of God, we who hold to the above can reasonably consider the Canaanite conquest narrative as an anomaly which remains unexplained, but which could, if we knew all of the relevant information, be entirely justified.

    Christians such as WLC (and myself, I should add) recognize that the text in question is problematic in light of God’s nature as revealed in Jesus. The Canaanite narrative doesn’t sound like the God we know and love. Although we are not able to fully understand or explain the Canaanite narrative, it is important to recognize that it is the seeming incongruity which draws our attention to it. (No one finds the infant sacrifice commanded by Baal incongruous with the character of Baal–that’s just Baal doing what Baal does.)

    Given the above, I’m content to consider God’s commands within the episode in question an anomaly which I can’t explain in light of God’s established character and given the limits of my knowledge, but I also suspect that if I could know the mind of God, his actions would be revealed to be entirely just and justified.

  184. nullasalus:

    I don’t agree with your analysis of what has happened on this thread. Elizabeth has been pressing the Christians here to say whether or not they agree with Craig’s defense of the slaughter of the Canaanites. She hasn’t argued that atheist regimes have been models of virtue or even that they are better than Christian regimes such as that of the Medieval Papacy; but we are getting all kinds of comments here about how bad atheist totalitarian states have been. This is to evade the question she is asking. It is equally evasive to ask Elizabeth what is the atheist basis of morality. The question is not whether atheist states have been moral, or whether atheist individuals can be moral, but whether certain passages of the Bible contain notions of God that are intolerable from a moral point of view, or even, for that matter, from a Christian point of view. I would like the Christians who are posting here to stand up and be counted on this question.

    I’ve stated my position. I think that there are parts of the Bible that are sub-Christian in theology and morals. Of course, Dawkins misuses such passages from the Bible to attack Christianity itself, and more generally, all religion, all notions of God, etc. His arguments are trite and deeply flawed, as even secular humanist philosophers have pointed out. But it doesn’t follow that Dawkins is entirely wrong in what he says about parts of the Bible.

    I, for one, don’t want the success or failure of ID tied to some of the views expressed on this thread, or for that matter on many other UD threads. I don’t want the cause of ID wedded to the cause of Christian apologetics. Christianity could be entirely false, and ID could still be sound. ID is compatible with Judaism, for example, or Islam. And if ID doesn’t even need “Christianity in general” to function, still less does it need extreme Biblicist forms of Christianity to function. If the Bible turns out to be a less than perfect book, nothing is at stake for ID. This is what ID proponents should be making clear to the world. This is what makes ID different from Creation Science.

    If people want to argue that atheism cannot provide a firm basis for morality, that is a discussion for a thread of its own, but in my view such a thread should be on another website altogether, because this is not a website about the ontological grounding of ethical systems, it is a website about design in nature. People boast about how ID is science, write whole books about how ID is science, and how it is not religion and how the Dover verdict was horribly unjust. But then, here on the main ID website (after Discovery), we get tens of thousands of words annually of Christian apologetics. So why should the world believe us when we say that all we are interested in as IDers is good science, and that ID is religiously neutral?

    That said, once a thread is introduced that is clearly motivated by Christian concerns — the concern that Dawkins is ducking Craig — I think that attacks on the Christian position are fair game. If ID people stick to the science, they have a right to insist that their critics stick to the science, but if they keep dragging religion in, their critics have the right to shoot back on the subject of religion. This is why I’m defending Elizabeth’s question here. UD led from the chin by raising Dawkins/Craig in the first place.

    As for your last couple of sentences, I entirely agree with you about Dawkins’s probable motivation for avoiding Craig, and I said as much to Elizabeth.

    T.

  185. 185

    T,

    In what manner should a Canaanite culture engaging in child sacrifice, (along with other nefarious activities) be dealt with? Keep in mind the department of social services, the police, the courts, foster care and the threat of nuclear exchange did not exist then.

    It’s easy to monday morning quarterback this thing.

  186. T,

    Well, I’d agree with you that ID should not be tied to any specific faith, or really, any faith at all. And I’d even agree that threads like this tend to get very far afield of what the ID focus should be.

    I disagree that the thread is ‘clearly motivated by Christian concerns’, at least in terms of topic presented. It’s not merely Christians who have been calling Dawkins out on his ducking Craig – atheists have been doing so as well. Nor do you have to be a Christian to think that Dawkins’ excuse of why he’s avoiding Craig (an excuse which has changed pretty quickly in the past few days) is pretty damn unbelievable. I’d go so far as to say I doubt a single person here really believes Dawkins is being honest in why he’s avoiding Craig. (Actually, the closest he came to telling the truth was saying that it would look better for Craig’s CV than his. Being the premiere atheist who gets his head handed to him by a Christian apologist in debate tends not to do wonders for the CV.)

    I’d also disagree that it’s evasive to point out the problems with making more claims given assumptions of atheism and materialism – in part because defenses of Craig’s position inevitably entail discussing what is and isn’t moral, what does and does not constitute grounding for moral claims, etc. If someone says “genocide is immoral!”, then that invites the reply of, “Why?” or “Says who?” And if in the end immorality melts down to “Well, that just happens to be my personal standard, at the moment”, the discussion is going to proceed from there.

    But frankly, I think I’m in agreement of what I see as your larger concern here. If this is an ID site – the main ID blog, as it were – then we probably should focus on ID. I’m not the boss around here, nor do I care to be, so if I’m in the minority on the question then that’s that. But I do think discussing and/or promoting ID and the ID perspective should take priority far more than they’ve been. These conversations are worth having, but not necessarily needed here of all places.

  187. 187

    Timaeus, nullasalus

    I have to say that I agree that Uncommon Descent is rather unfocused at times in its presentation of different subjects. While I enjoy following some of the conversations that spring up regarding theology and philosophy, it would be wise to concentrate more on ID, and less on tangential topics. The title at the top of the browser states: “Uncommon Descent – Serving the Intelligent Design Community” or something to that effect. However, it often seems like the blog serves more as a news dump for “News” (Denise O’Leary?). Couldn’t she be posting these kinds of stories on her own private blog (those concerning apologetics, politics, off-topic subjects in general)? I don’t mean to single her out, and I mean no disrespect, but it would be wise if more discretion were exercised in what was posted and when. I find it difficult to track certain conversations just due to the overwhelming number of daily posts (I’ve lost count!). Of course I realize that there is little tie between Behe, Dembski and other prominent ID theorists to this blog, but it should still try its best to represent mainstream ID thought, literature, and so on.

  188. I’m glad it was “telling”, kf: it was meant to be.

    The challenge, as I see it, for Christians, or indeed a member of any Abrahamic faith, in reconciling the alleged divine commands to genocide with a good God, is to establish that (on the assumption that the stories are rooted in actual events) that their good God is in fact the same deity as what I am calling the “minor middle eastern deity” who is alleged to have issued these commands.

    For half a century I believed devoutly, in a good God. There is a sense in which I still have a referent for that signifier. However, I did not ever identify, for what seem to me pretty obvious reasons, that good God with the alleged divine agent to whom the order to commit genocide on the Canaanites and other populations was attributed.

    At best, it seemed to me, the writers of those accounts are reporting a misinterpretion divine command. More likely the whole thing was made up long afterwards. History, is, notoriously, written by the winners. And there is, as you probably know, a conspicious dearth of evidence for any wandering in the desert at all.

    None of this presents a theological problem unless you are committed to some kind of biblical inerrancy. I am actually not challenging theism, or even any specific mono-theism – merely the bizarre (to my mind) notion that there is a single divine text that represents an “objective” source for our knowledge of God and divine morality.

    That is the sense in which I find the accusation that atheists do not believe in “objective” morality actually inverted. From where I’m standing, a reasoned derivation of moral precepts derivable by anyone from pretty fundamental premises, independent of their position on the existence or identity of God of gods, has far more “objectivity” than any precept that depends for its validity on what seems to me a highly subjective choice of allegedly sacred text.

  189. Apologies! I hate it when people do that to me!

    Here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-404990

  190. Dr Liddle,

    Pardon, but you are referring to a post in which you state objective morality but refuse to acknowledge its source or grounds:

    That’s because morality really is objective. Even a four-year-old is capable of figuring out that he ought not to poke his sister, because he wouldn’t like to be poked, even if its fun to hear her wail. He may choose to ignore the “ought” in his head, but it’s still right there, in his head, because figuring out that kind of thing is what human heads are rather good at. Or, if you prefer, you can consider that God put it there when he made us human – that it’s what constitutes our humanity, our soul, our “knowledge of good and evil”.

    A FOUR YEAR OLD, WITH GUIDANCE, IS PERHAPS CAPABLE OF FIGURING OUT THAT 1 + 3 = 4. On morality, he is responding to the testimony of his conscience so the real issue is whence that conscience and where does it derive its wisdom from.

    An examination of the evolutionary materialist account shows that instead of explaining conscience and its wisdom, it leads straight to self-referential absurdity on the cognitive capacity of mind, to a breakdown of the concept that we are significantly free and able to decide, and to amorality. (All of this is documented in the linked, here on and here on.)

    In fact, the record of the past century where such materialism has become a mass movement and has had power, is that it leads to benumbed conscience, absurd and abusive ideologies, and — to often heavily bloody — chaos.

    The basic grounds of the moral value of our fellow human being in our civilisation is that it recognises, under biblical influence through the influence of the now much despised and demonised Christians and their churches, that we are all equally made in God’s image, and so must not be violated. Similarly, the conscience is the Lord’s implanted candle, that speaks to us with God’s core moral law, save where it has been corrupted and/or benumbed.

    That is why we see in Locke, in the intro to his essay on human understanding, sect 5, the following that has been brought to your attention previously several times — and ignored:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 - 21, Eph 4:17 - 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 - 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 - 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke's allusions and citations.]

    I think we need to look seriously at the counsels of Locke on this matter.

    GEM of TKI

  191. One scenario is that the village holds a nuke or a germ warfare infection, and cannot be quarantined.

  192. kf, I did not “refuse to acknowledge its source”. I gave my derivation quite explicitly. Here it is again:

    The second [style of deriving moral principles] I’d call relatively objective, because independent people can come to the same conclusion given the same pair of pretty fundamental premises.

    First is: Morality is about what we ought to do. But what do we mean when we use the word “ought”?

    The word “ought” is the word we use when there is a conflict between the execution of actions that will fulfill our own inclinations and some alternative. We say: “I’d like to do this, but I ought to do that”. So “ought” is used to indicate a course of action that deprioritises self-centred (literally self-ish) interests in favour of the other-centred interests.

    So we have:

    Morality is about what we ought to do.

    What we ought to do is that which benefits others no less then ourselves.

    Therefore, morality is rooted in the maxim “treat others as you would be treated”. Or, if you prefer “love your neighbour as you love yourself”.

    Please do not accusing me of “refusing” to provide things that I explicitly provided, although feel free to criticise it by all means.

    However, if your criticism is that it does not come from some Authority, then I would say that is circular, because my position is that moral precepts do not come from “Authority”, but are derived from fundamental principles inherent in the way we choose our actions.

  193. “Genocide” is not restricted to the attempted elimination of populations with some kind of genotypic similarity. It is more often, in fact, applied to the attempted elimination of an ethnic group, more likely to be defined by culture than by genetics. Indeed, genetically, the concept of “race” is pretty hard to justify at all. Variance in the genes that cover the kind of superficial (literally) differences between population are trivial compared with variance that spans so-called “racial” groups.

    So, we are talking about the attempted elimination of an ethnic group here, not a racial group. Does that justify it?

    No. Not in terms of modern international law, nor in terms of basic ethics, IMO. Sure some cultural practices are abhorrent – female genital mutilation is one that springs to mind in modern times. But would that justify the elimination of an entire cultural group? Of course not. It would justify attempts to eradicate the practice, but certainly not the eradication of the population.

    If the allegedly divine command to eliminate the Canaanites was motivated by the divine wish to end child slaughter, why was it only accomplishable by military action that involved the slaughter of Canaanite children? Why is the allegedly omnipotent God, allegedly capable of all kinds of miraculous intervention, including the transmission of clearly articulated verbal commands to Israelite military leaders, unable to articulate those verbal commands to the Canaanite child sacrificers? It make no sense. Worse. It implies that God told the Israelites that killing babies was fine if they did it to please their god, but not if the Canaanites did it to please theirs.

    In other words, it underlines the subjectivity of any moral system based on the principle that right=equals what is divinely commanded.

    i.e. it begs the entire question of we are supposed to discern divine command.

  194. Dr Liddle:

    Pardon some fairly frank words. It seems only some fairly plain speaking will get through — perhaps not immediately, but eventually.

    It is quite plain to me that you have not worked through either the implications of the Dawkins/new Atheist demonise the Christians Alinskyite agenda (you would doubtless be shocked to see where it is already at and where it is heading — criminalisation and persecution or even murder of decent people . . . and that is exactly what has happened within living memory so do not try to brush it aside) nor the balance of relevant issues as can be seen here as an introduction.

    The persistent attempt to belittle and demonise — I recall here Pullman in the Golden Compass and Brown in the Da Vinci Code etc, as well as Dawkins’ fulminations and the machinations of the radical homosexualists in pursuit of their agenda for our civilisation — the God we read of in the Bible and whose influence has so positively shaped our civilization, tells far more about those who do it than it does about the God we read in scripture, in history and in the transformed lives of millions who have come to know him in the face of Christ.

    In short, as I have pointed out here on from the beginning, your angry reading of the text, following that of Dawkins et al and those of like ilk, is irresponsible and unbalanced.

    It is dangerous, and predictably leads to justifying oppression of decent people of conscience. (I already have pointed out to you several cases right there in the UK, the last being the Christian coffee shop in Blackpool reported to the police and threatened with prosecution under the Public Order Act for the thought crime of showing a scripture readings DVD on a TV on its wall. Is that what you really want?)

    It caricatures, demonises and sets up people who have honestly and responsibly faced and struggled with difficulties in their worldview — ALL worldviews have difficulties, some more insuperable than others [e.g. up to now, you have had no coherent account of the basis of objective morality in evolutionary materialism, cf my comment on your linked comment on p 2 of this thread, here; BTW, this means that you have no grounds in your system for objecting on moral grounds, other than the very borrowed Golden Rule from the very system you now so plainly despise and would belittle].

    Let me snip from the updated discussion on the Potter’s house, to suggest what a more reasonable and responsibly balanced reading would look like (go here for onward links):

    _______________

    >> we may examine leading new atheist and multiply best-selling author, professor Richard Dawkins’ notorious quote as he begins his attack on what he terms “the God Hypothesis,” in his best-selling book, The God Delusion (2006):

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully . . . ” [Cf. Lennox- Dawkins debate, here. For a quick initial response to this sort of rhetoric, cf. CARM here and JPH of Tektonics here, here, here and here. Also cf. Vox Day's short book length critique of the new Atheists in a free to download format here. (Available from Amazon here.)]

    The rebellion-rooted anger at God, the dismissal as “fiction[al],” the demonised strawman caricature, the multiple inaccuracies practically leap out.

    At least, to the reasonably informed reader who knows the balance of the Biblical and OT teachings and records on the good and just God who loves, is concerned, and therefore redeems, forgives, often relents even on the brink of destructive judgement (once there is penitence), and as a rule rescues a remnant — whether a Noah and family, or a Rahab, or even the brands plucked from burning who save themselves from an untoward generation in the New Testament — even in the midst of destructive judgement.

    Given the rising intensity of especially the snide insinuation deeply embedded in the above, that Bible-believing Christians are followers of an imaginary, barbarous bronze-age tribal deity and so are would-be theocratic tyrants, terrorists and supporters of racially-tinged genocide — and the resulting rising tide of outright hostility or even hate, we should pause and notice how a more responsible reading would approach the troubling texts on God’s destructive judgement of the nations:

    a: Instead of the sort of incendiary rhetoric resorted to by Mr Dawkins, a responsible view would have highlighted that: our civilisation, historically, has had a strong respect for life, for justice and for protecting innocent life shaped by a moral climate deeply influenced by its Judaeo-Christian, biblical foundations.

    b: In that light, many people in our civilisation, Christians and otherwise, struggle with the apparent meanings of instructions given to the Israelites during the Canaanite conquest.

    c: This conquest is presented as a divine judgement of seven nations that — after 400 years of warnings dating to Abraham and the exemplary judgement from heaven against Sodom and Gomorrah — had defiantly filled up the cup of divine wrath [and as foreshadowing a similar fate hovering over Israel (and by extension other nations) if it too would forget and utterly rebel against God]; and there are other similar cases.

    d: There are different final views taken on these texts, but none — including the dismissive — are without fairly serious difficulties of one form or another. (This is part of why these passages, across the centuries, have troubled many concerned readers. [Cf recent discussions accessible online: Craig, Woods, Chin, Wade, Copan, Miller.])

    e: However we may conclude, it seems well established in the theology of the Bible that God is judge of the nations, which are his tenants, and that the ultimate fate of nations is hinged to the question of national righteousness.

    f: So, historically, those who have been influenced by this tradition — e.g. the US founders when they looked at how they had come to the sad pass of oppression by England and war in the calls to prayer of Mar 16 1776 and Nov 1 1777, Thomas Jefferson in his well known “tremble” remark, and similarly Abraham Lincoln in his 2nd inaugural address — have been deeply concerned that the nations reform themselves from injustice and ungodliness.

    g: So, whatever our final conclusions about the passages, a responsible view should reckon with these factors instead of playing at the rhetoric of polarisation that Mr Dawkins has unfortunately resorted to.

    From this, we can see how the object lesson-parable of the potter’s house in Jeremiah 18:1 – 10 speaks to us as a key text for understanding passages on God’s judgement of the nations (including Israel):

    Jer 18: 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

    5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. 11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

    In short, the “whole counsel” of the God of the Bible on his judgement of the nations includes an implicit conditionality. Penitence, even on the brink of disaster, can change the course of impending judgement.

    As a rule, we do not hear that side of the biblical story from the likes of a Dawkins.

    Indeed, from Jonah 4, we may see how the prophet, in a misguided sense of patriotism, had tried to run away from his call to prophesy a warning of judgement to the Assyrians, mortal enemies of Israel. And surely enough, the warning: “forty days and Nineveh [now Mosul] shall be destroyed” opened the door to national repentance led by the king, and to relenting in judgement.

    The prophet, still only half understanding the heart of God, complains (and God responds):

    Jonah 4:1 . . . it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” . . . . 11 ” . . . should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

    Jonah was concerned and depressed about a plant that grew up, gave him shade then withered. God was more deeply concerned about a nation — even, an enemy of Israel — blindly heading for disaster, that it should have occasion to repent.

    So, a more balanced, better informed and nuanced, less angry-at-God reading of the texts, will give a very different view from prof. Dawkins’ dismissal.

    But that is exactly the rhetorical point: all too many in our day have little or no knowledge of the Bible, not even a Sunday School level exposure. So, when they see the sort of distorted, out- of- context and slanderous summary above, that tries to push God into the dock, they are often misled to think it is an accurate and fair summary. And then, to try to correct the misperceptions and anger of those whose minds have thus been poisoned, is very hard.

    As a first balancing corrective, it is helpful to point the doubtful to the texts that lay out the core principles that Jesus highlighted as the support-hooks from which all the law and prophets hang:

    Deut 6:1 “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

    4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.2 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [ESV]

    Lev. 19:9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

    11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

    13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

    15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

    17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. [ESV]

    Such principles, concerns and contexts are unparalleled in the context of the Ancient Near East, and historically have been the bedrock foundation for reformation and liberation in our own civilisation. We would be most unwise to lightly walk away from them.>>

    _______________

    I think the time for some serious reconsideration of some very poisonous rhetoric directed against God and those who take him seriously, has come.

    So, the ghosts of 100 millions from the past 100 years tell me. And anyone else willing to listen.

    GEM of TKI

  195. No I cannot bring myself to condemn what he has stated as a person of conscience.

    Elizabeth is simply wrong. She makes an emotionally charged case for an issue that requires a sober and humble look at what can be known from what is written and from what we understand about God as a just judge of what is evil.

    Craig is not advocating genocide, and the Canaanite slaughter is not a genocide, but a judgement.

    Elizabeth in one instance challenged us to reconcile the Canaanite slaughter with Jesus’ own views;

    Well in case we don’t believe that Jesus is a judge in the same manner, let’s take a look at scripture once more…….

    Update: Having read further posts, I see that this has turned out to be a rather heated debate.

    Let’s just understand that Christians reconcile the Canaanite slaughter and other such problematic passages of scripture with what can be known by scripture of the whole character of God, and to Christians, while it seems problematic on the surface, given our proclivities to a moral society that is far removed from the barbaric nature of life in ancient times, it can be reconciled when we consider that God is our judge and sometimes executioner when our evil gets out of hand; which in most cases it does. We all die in the end, and that is our fate; it’s no different with Canaanites as with us.

    I find it interesting that people like Dawkins likes to bring attention to this one instance as if it exemplifies something that is out of character for the God of the scriptures, but our own destinies should illuminate that it is not.

    God is our judge. God can also use human beings as judge and executioner, as our own laws founded on Christian principles demonstrates. If you do evil, you will be punished and in some cases, die.

    It might seem then that the real problematic nature of the Canaanite slaughter is with certain discriminations – women and children. I don’t think anyone who has a human soul could not be repulsed by even the thought.

    However, given that we all die as a judgment for our sins, I fail to see how that makes a difference and why this particular passage is singled out.

    The whole of scripture points to how death is in the end defeated. Evil is defeated such that there is no more need for death and destruction.

    And yes, Jesus is not only loving, but will return as our judge. Is that surprising to anyone? This is not only Craig’s view, but the view of most mainstream Christians. I was going to quote scripture, but I think most of us know where to find those references.

    Again, you have to soberly look at what scripture states as to the nature of God’s character, and understand that human beings, despite our evil and deserving of death, are valued to the extent of God’s own sacrifice, bringing us in the end to eternal life.

    It is in this context (knowing Craig’s writings quite well) that Craig speaks.

    Moral outrage and grandstanding is really uncalled for in this light.

    If you can’t understand that, then I daresay you don’t understand scripture and it’s many subtle contexts, and furthermore you don’t really understand human nature and our long documented history of evil. If we were left to our own devices as a race, any hypothetical outsider would have the right attitude of satisfaction in justice done when we are as an outcome judged in a manner not unlike that of the Canaanites.

    But understand that if what is described in the bible is true, it doesn’t end with the Canaanite slaughter or any other judgement. It ends with a glorious new beginning where there is no more evil, and we are a part of that new beginning. It’s the end of Christianity (to borrow a phrase), which reconciles the passage with God’s loving nature.

  196. It is quite plain to me that you have not worked through either the implications of the Dawkins/new Atheist demonise the Christians Alinskyite agenda (you would doubtless be shocked to see where it is already at and where it is heading — criminalisation and persecution or even murder of decent people

    Here is a good discription of what you wrote above:

    It caricatures, demonises and sets up people who have honestly and responsibly faced and struggled with difficulties in their worldview

    Now this:

    I think the time for some serious reconsideration of some very poisonous rhetoric directed against God and those who take him seriously, has come.

    EL:

    At best, it seemed to me, the writers of those accounts are reporting a misinterpretion divine command. More likely the whole thing was made up long afterwards.

    KF PLEASE have the decency to actually read and respond to peoples comments on their merits rather than creating and knocking down straw men.

  197. Onlookers:

    I have responded to Dr Liddle’s turnabout attempt on the worldview foundations for objective morality on p. 2 here.

    It should be now transparently obvious that evolutionary materialism is inescapably amoral, and that the moral principles Dr Liddle puts up are borrowed form the very same worldview that she would belittle and dismiss.

    GEM of TKI

  198. Dr BOT:

    You have just above simply given yourself over to the irresponsible rhetoric of turnabout. Please, pause and think again.

    Onlookers,

    Please take time to read here on and see for yourself just what Dr BOT is trying to cavalierly dismiss with turnabout quips.

    GEM of TKI

  199. nullasalus:

    I agree with your points about Dawkins vs. Craig; certainly any comments about why Dawkins is avoiding Craig, and why Dawkins should or should not avoid Craig, are on topic for this thread. It was when the discussion moved to “How can an atheist have any moral standards?” and “Atheist countries do more evils than Christian ones” that it started sounding more like apologetics to me.

    I agree that defenses of Craig’s position inevitably entail discussing the basis of morality, but I think that the at least at the beginning of the discussion, it is Craig’s side that has to clarify things. After all, Christians are always saying how much Christianity improved the morality of the world, getting rid of slavery, treating women better, raising standards of sexual behavior, making people kinder, etc. But then they say that their God ordered the destruction of whole peoples, the taking of women as concubines and servants, etc. It is the Christians who have something to explain.

    Now if one wants to make another argument, i.e., that atheists have no basis for their morality, that is a legitimate question, but I don’t see why it has to be answered in order to deal with the first question. Let’s suppose that Elizabeth has absolutely no basis for her moral judgments, except personal taste. It may still be the case that there is an objective moral standard, and that the action of Israel in the Canaanite case violated it. It also may still be the case that the Old Testament story teaches a morality that falls beneath the standard set by Christ.

    I’ll give a parallel. Suppose someone from a totalitarian country was a shrewd observer of the USA. Suppose that, during the McCarthy era, this person observed that the USA was betraying its own vaunted commitment to freedom of speech and expression, by blacklisting, prosecuting and persecuting dissident artists, writers, etc. Would it be a legitimate argument against the truth of this observer’s criticism to say: “You should talk! You come from a country where there is even less freedom of speech than in the USA!” I don’t think it would be. Sure, one might say that the person who argues in this way is like the pot who calls the kettle black, but that doesn’t mean the kettle isn’t black.

    T.

  200. KF, ‘the irresponsible rhetoric of turnabout’ – all you have there is a self proclaimed methodology for conducting debates in which you are allowed to criticize, slander, make claims of moral inferiority and issue accusations of lying and deceit, but your opponents aren’t.

    I stand by my claim that you are a hypocrite – in fact, I would argue that it is an empirical observation!

  201. Dr Liddle

    The Golden Rule, in our civilization has a well-known provenance. Historically, when that Judaeo-Christian tradition is scanted, the GR is left in the dust and the nation or region suffers. The course of history from 1789 – 1989 is replete with examples.

    And as for its grounding, kindly tell my WHY, on evolutionary materialist grounds I OUGHT to treat my neighbour as I would like to be treated, and so also why we are under an obligation of OUGHT and why we therefore have rights.

    Oughtness is precisely teh opposite of how we choose our actions, it id=s prior to choice and conditions where we should — but too often do not — go.

    In addition, you need to ground the premise that choice is real, on said premises, in the teeth of say Provine’s observations as follows:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . .

    [[Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life, Second Annual Darwin Day Celebration Keynote Address, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, February 12, 1998 (abstract).]

    This and related issues have been put before you repeatedly over the course of months and earlier in this very thread. I find nowhere in your responses a satisfactory answer.

    What I am finding is unacknowledged borrowing that fails to ground the value of the human being that lies underneath the validity of the GR.

    The consequences of dominant evolutionary materialism in a culture are long since known, as the memory of Judaeo-Christian values fades under the impact of the propaganda and rhetoric of materialism presented as progress. Just ask those 100 million ghosts from the century just past I keep noting on.

    Plato, in The Laws, Bk X, 2350 years ago, warned in a similar vein, on how might makes right becomes the dominant view when evo mat seizes cultural and institutional power:

    Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny. )] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.

    This too has been highlighted for months and ignored:

    They are told by them that the highest right is might . . . . these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others

    I think you do not realise the matches you are playing with.

    GEM of TKI

  202. junkdnaforlife:

    In what should all the other cultures which practiced abominations be dealt with? God isn’t represented in the Bible as ordering the destruction of Amazonian headhunters or Indonesian cannibals. The only “abominable” cultures that he orders the destruction of are those who stand in the way of Israel’s *lebensraum*. A bit of a double standard, wouldn’t you say, if God’s goal is to erase abominations from the world? And rather convenient for the Israelites to have a suspension of the Geneva Convention, just as they are looking for a lush homeland. Otherwise, they would have to wander in the desert, like the descendants of Ishmael (who ended up surviving quite well).

    Besides, why couldn’t the children who were, say, under the age of two, or four, or some other young age, where they would not yet have learned wicked Canaanite ways, be spared, and raised as Israelites? And if the Canaanite women were equally guilty of the abominations, why weren’t they slaughtered too, instead of being kept alive as concubines for the pleasure of the Israelite men? The whole episode smacks of the moral standards of war as practiced in the ancient Mediterranean, which were not Christian standards.

    And if you argue, well, God taught a higher morality later on, that might solve the problem, except that many fundamentalist Christians insist on treating all parts of the Bible as equal, and proof-text their morality from the Old Testament as freely from the Gospels. What Elizabeth is trying to get Christians to say is that the morality taught in the story in unacceptable, and what she is getting is largely defenses of the unacceptable.

    Of course, at rock bottom here is the difference between two ways of reading the Bible. If we take the Bible as a sort of videotape of past reality, so that every word recorded, including the speeches of God, must be taken as wholly accurate, then the Bible is teaching that God did indeed order this slaughter. If we take the Bible as a collection of writings by imperfect humans, who had no direct access to the events of the distant past, and in interpreting them found their understanding elevated by sporadic encounters with the Holy Spirit, then we would expect a mixture of the high and the low in the understanding of God. We would expect some of the carnal motivations of Israel to be imputed to Israel’s God. We would then be very careful how we drew moral lessons from the Bible, even in cases where God is said to have commanded or done something. We would measure all Biblical statements against the present-day witness of the Holy Spirit and the standard set by Jesus in the Gospels.

    I suspect that Craig holds for the most part to the first view of the Bible. So does a good chunk of American Protestantism. I hold to the second. This is not the place to argue why one might take one position or the other, but it does explain why I react to the Old Testament story in much the same way as Elizabeth does. She thinks God should be held to a higher standard. The difference between us is that she thinks one has to step outside of Christianity to find that standard. I think we have to step outside of Deuteronomy and Joshua to find that standard, but not outside of Christianity.

    T.

  203. Bingo, kairosfocus! Please see my application to the Canaanite situation below.

  204. Dr BOT:

    Have you actually taken time to look here on [including he next section as is clipped above]?

    It is not apparent from your continued turnabout rhetoric.

    All that that seemingly clever game does is to advance the polarisation tactics Dawkins set out on to duck having to account for some very ill advised polarising and contempt-filled rhetoric over decades; and which several others have taken up above. What is diagnostic that something is very wrong is the lack of responsible balance in the remarks, and on the latest point that has stirred your ire to resort to personalities, no responsible review of our civilisation’s history would dismiss the God of the Bible as a minor middle east deity.

    Which is an allusion to a huge false accusation and slander: those who believe in the God of the Bible are followers of a moral monster and are fascistic, theocratic would be terrorists and tyrants.

    That is poisonous slander, and it is predictable that if unchecked it is going to lead to persecution and even murder of decent people of conscience.

    If you do not see that, you do not understand the matches that are being played with.

    That, FYI, is why I take such things so seriously, and it is why your tossing out silly labels like “hypocrite” as shut-up rhetoric, is no help.

    And, it still remains the case that until evo mat thinkers can ground oughtness in a worldview foundational is, they are left with might and manipulation make “right.”

    100 million ghosts from the century past warn us on what is at stake.

    Please, for the sake of our civilisation, listen to them.

    So, please wake up.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  205. We should not forget that all souls before the Redemption took place went into hell (the Hebrew, sheol). After his Crucifixion, Christ descended into hell and freed all those souls who waited for Him there and wanted to be liberated, from Adam until that day. John the Baptist had preached to them beforehand in hell, having been murdered before Christ.

    I believe that those poor souls of Canaanites could have been granted salvation and then taken to Heaven by Christ.

    I agree with Waynekent00 (#34.1.2) that we may not know everything. So I would not delve too deep into such problems. Here is something that happened to St Augustine, who at some point in his life was thinking heavily about Providence and peoples’ fate. Some accounts maintain that it was in a dream others that it was an actual fact of his life. He saw a little boy who was playing by the sea. St Augustine came to him and asked what he was doing. He answered that he wanted to pour out the see into a small hole he had dug in the sand. St Augustine says that God wanted to educate him by means of this conversation with the boy, not to touch subjects that are beyond human understanding.

  206. …until evo mat thinkers can ground oughtness in a worldview foundational is

    1. The theory of evolution has nothing to do with morality; it is a scientific theory.

    2. I have, in this very thread, explained a perfectly good derivation of moral principles that is not premised on the existence of a deity

    3. The threat from atheism is no greater – and I would argue much less – than the threat from non-atheistic ideologies. What constitutes a worrying threat, AFAICT, is fanaticism, whether it be Islamic, Christian fundamentalist, racist, eugenicist, communist, or any other …ist that is grounded in intransigence.

    4. However, I would say that a very particular danger is posed by any philosophy that defines what is good in terms of a perceived Authority, rather than deriving it from basic humanitarian principles. There may be False Gods and a True God, but you need a moral touchstone to distinguish the True from the False, not the other way round.

    IMO.

  207. Dr Liddle:

    As the current thread on the matter will at once reveal — and as you know or should know after months of discussion now, evolutionary MATERIALISM is an a priori worldview imposition on science, education, institutions and society.

    That is what is being dressed up in a lab coat and passed off as “Science.”

    GEM of TKI

  208. evolutionary MATERIALISM is an a priori worldview imposition on science, education, institutions and society.

    No, I do NOT “know” this, kairosfocus. I know you think this, and that you have presented persuasive argument and evidence for it, but I beg to disagree.

    BTW, I have now posted my response to your 14 points on the Lewontin thread. I apologise for the lateness of the post.

  209. There is a problem finding which reply goes where. Pardon.

    Dr Liddle,

    The foundational IS that can ground ought is not an arbitrary authority, but the necessary being who is inherently good as to character. (In short, Euthyphro’s dilemma fails, as is expected, it was designed to answer to the old Greek gods who are not the foundational IS nor are they anything more than Nietzschean supermen writ large.)

    Since we are bound by ought, as even you acknowledge, and are contingent, such an IS exists.

    As a result, the ought will be reasonable and right.

    GEM of TKI

  210. Elizabeth,

    What you allowed yourself to say, and to mean it, about God tells a lot about your own moral standards.

  211. Please specify what you are referring to, Eugene, and what exactly you think it says about my own moral standards.

    Thanks.

  212. E.g. those who lived before the flood, apart from the eight people saved by God in the ark.

  213. There was no global flood.

  214. Geez there is evidence for a snowball earth and a global flood could produce the same evidemce…

    Oh and for those who think snow = water then evidence for a snowball earth IS evidence for a global flood.

  215. No, I don’t want to do it. I think you know it yourself. I don’t want to continue the conversation until you apologize for what you said about God. If you want respect for yourself, you should respect beliefs of others. Isn’t it the principle you said you followed?

  216. T,

    The main problem I have with your reply is that, oddly enough, I agree with it. Like I said, I could easily understand a Platonist or the like running an argument against a particular instance of OT morality and saying “This OT act was immoral and evil and wrong!” – because when the question “What makes an act moral or immoral?” comes, you’re presenting a metaphysics that has, or can have, an objective, concrete answer. But if the reply to that question instead amounts to, “Whether I like it or don’t like it” or even “Whether most people like it or don’t like it”, then I’m tempted to say the conversation is over.

    Now, you give an example of the Totalitarian person condemning McCarthyism. (I happen to think McCarthy’s role in that era is misunderstood, but let’s run with this for now.) The problem is that this seems to presume that the American would agree that McCarthy’s acts were unjustifiable. But if someone is biting the bullet and saying McCarthy’s acts were justifiable, and if their critic is from a totalitarian state (I assume for the purposes of this example this person endorses that state’s acts), then it seems like a reasonable move for the American to say, “I could understand your condemning McCarthy’s acts if you thought that under no circumstances was it right to prosecute dissidents. But clearly you don’t – in fact, your standards are such that those acts are entirely justifiable. So on what grounds are you criticizing me here?”

  217. I am sorry, but the “golden rule” cannot be entrusted to humans because we have no idea of what the greater good really is.

    So why did Jesus entrust humans with it?

  218. 218

    T,

    Thanks for the response, you raise a lot of interesting points, I’ll have to think them over.

  219. Elizabeth, I read your comments @29, and I thought you might be interested in my response.

    Rightly and wisely, you recognize the universal nature of the moral code when you describe the four-year old child who realizes intuitively that it is wrong to beat up on his sister. In keeping with that point, you also recognize that most people in most cultures perceive this same universal standard that defines the difference between right and wrong. One could ask, therefore, what it is, how we come to understand it, and is it is sufficient to guide and instruct us in all areas of life.

    For you, the moral code is derived, for me, it is apprehended. You identify its source as the mind of man and I identify its source as the mind of God. With your scenario, we survey the world and draw inferences about which behaviors will benefit us and our neighbor. With my scenario, we sense the activity of our conscience, which teaches us about our obligation to follow the natural moral law.

    The local question, it seems to me, is this: How do we advance in virtue and how do we avoid the trap of deluding ourselves into believing that we are better than we really are? What about the abortionist, for example, who says, “Oh yes, I love my neighbor as myself, but the babies that I kill are not really my neighbors.” Is he really a good person? Or what about the college professor, addicted to pornography, who says, “Hey, I gave to the Red Cross and I paid for my daughter’s college education. What else do you want?” Is he moral?
    What about the more subtle elements of morality which deal with unobserved realities, such as personal intentions and motivations. Quite often, people do the right things for the wrong reasons. If I help someone across the street in order to impress onlookers, am I being a good person? According to the Sermon on the Mount, perfect morality goes beyond actions and addresses the problem of the human heart.
    Though not easy to do, it is easy enough to say that we ought to love our neighbor as ourselves. But what about applying that same rule to our bitter enemies? Did Bentham, Mill, or even Aristotle ever attach such a high standard to morality? No. That challenge comes exclusively from Jesus Christ. Theories of mind are designed to avoid hard sayings. It is easy enough to say that we should not do evil to another person, but what about the command that forbids is to even wish evil on another person. This is another hard saying. Theories of mind tend to produce convenient recommendations that allow us the luxury of avoiding change.

    It is easy enough to say that we should not murder, but what about the more perfect version of that command that forbids cruelty of language? True morality requires exertion. Yet, man made moralities gravitate toward the soft virtues, such as compassion and kindness, while avoiding the hard virtues, such as chastity and humility. Further, advanced morality tests and challenges our character because we can grow in one virtue even as we regress in another. Theories of mind cannot provide us with a model that we can use to test our progress. Only the examples provided by Jesus Christ or the saints that followed Him can do that.

    Indeed, this raises the most important question of all. To what end is virtue supposed to take us. Everything turns on what we are, where we came from, and where we are going. Are we risen beasts or fallen angels. It makes a difference. If we were created for a specific purpose, and if that purpose is to achieve union with God in the next life, then anything that facilitates that journey, both for ourselves and others, is a moral act and anything that impedes it is an immoral act. If, on the other hand, we have no purpose, then it really doesn’t matter what we do because no relationship lasts and no act has any eternal significance.

    In the final analysis, though, I still think, in spite of your protests to the contrary, it is fair to say that you have no consistent standard for making moral judgments. On the hottest topic of the day, abortion, you stand with the pro-choice contingent on the grounds that it just seems right to you. I know that abotion is wrong because it violates the natural moral law, the Ten Comandments, The Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes. There is a difference beteween feeling and knowing.

    On the subject of God’s actions with respect to the Canaanites, see my post at 35

  220. Also notice her magnificent retooling of the words “subjective” and “objective”, along with “ought”. Once you slice away what amounts to “I think most people have similar moral intuitions, and I’m going to call this objective because I define objective to be agreement”, there’s not much there.

  221. I’d just like to point out that the average four year old also sees the world as teleological and purposeful – hell, the average person sees the world as that.

  222. Elizabeth, I posted a response to your discussion on morality @29, where you originally made your points. Thanks for directing me to the proper place.

  223. OK, I responded @29. I am just now getting the hang of placing my posts in exactly the right place.

  224. My usage is absolutely standard, nullasalus. More to the point, I have explicitly defined my terms so that there can be no charge of equivocation.

    Do you agree, or disagree, with my reasoning, given my definition of the terms?

  225. The world is “teleological and purposeful” (how are you distinguishing those two terms?), nullasalus. It’s full of purposeful creatures like other people and other living things. Moreover “the average four year old” herself is extremely purposeful, and capable of recognising herself as part of the world, and of other people as purposeful agents like herself (part of ToM capacity).

    For some reason you, and some others, seem to think I must be saying the opposite, even though I make this point frequently, and that it is intrinsic to my points above!

    Stephen, thanks – I don’t have time to respond in detail now, but I will read and digest it, and try to post a response maybe later today.

  226. “I have seen nobody smearing Christians with support for genocide. I see Dawkins, and myself, challenging Craig’s declaired conclusion that something as self-evidently evil as genocide is not evil if God commands it.

    If you do not share that view, fine. If you do share it, I challenge you to defend it.”

    What it all comes down to is with the Christian view of evil as stemming from human sin and not from God.

    God can kill at will for reasons we don’t understand. God can sanction killing for reasons we might not understand; but humans by their own will are not to kill for reasons that go beyond self-defense or in an application of justice.

    It could be argued that the Canaanite slaughter was an issue of self-defence, but I think more appropriately as an act of judgment, as I discussed more at length in a previous post.

    But bottom line is that your dismissal of thinking of this sort stems from your rejection of scripture as being authoritative. Once that issue is settled, it then becomes much more reasonable that God is above us and that his commands are just. I think it is quite substantially argued that the reason we seem to have misgivings on the surface when confronted with the narrative regarding this event is that we’ve been well-fed from the morality that stems from New Testament Christianity, where much of our modern understandings are based, and rightfully so.

    Anyone who uses Old Testament acts like the one in question as a mandate for genocide is to be viewed as evil. Yes, the bible can be used to justify much evil, but it does not mandate nor condone any such acts. There’s no part of scripture where genocide is condoned in any context – particularly for any modern displays of such evil.

    Direct judgment from God, however, is an entirely different matter.

    We should hope that there is judgment for some of the evil acts we witness today. Just this week, for example, a woman and two men in Philadelphia were arrested after a property owner found some mentally retarded adults locked in the basement of his property, malnourished and with clear signs of physical abuse – and leading to the evidence of perhaps 50 or more other victims of this abuse. After reading several comments on this story from various individuals, the common sentiment is that there’s no punishment too great for such an evil act. Justice must be done in accord with the law, but such sentiments are quite common and justified when we consider the evil these people perpetrated against defenseless human beings.

    God’s judgements are often severe, but in all cases justified.

    Craig does not view the Canaanite incident as genocide, but as God’s judgment. So yours and Dawkins’ argument is an exercise in smear semantics.

  227. And I’ll just add: revelation is intrinsically subjective. And choice of whose reported revelation to believe is just as subjective.

    In contrast, reasoning from fundamental principles is much more objective because independent reasoners can reach the same conclusion from the same principles.

    That’s why I find this “divine command theory” fundamentally incoherent. Yes, it presupposes some absolute and “real” morality “out there” somewhere, but what use is that if our only access to it is via subjective revelation?

    And also dangerous, as it leads to the justification of patently evil acts (flying planes into tower buildings for instance) on the basis that the act was divinely commanded.

    The only reliable approach to morality, therefore, I would argue, is one based on reason and observation. And the maxim that repeatedly emerges is: treat others as you would be treated.

  228. F/N: I forgot to mention another factor in all of this — the culture of the irreconcilable blood feud (family/tribe/clan, not race, all of these Semites and relatives were racially very close — if we can project back such an anachronistic term).

    Let us not forget a further relevant factor: how that coming on 1,000 years later, under the Persian Empire, the Prime Minister Haman [the King's drinking buddy . . . ] — a surviving Agagite — felt obligated to try to wipe out the Jews, on any flimsy excuse. And we should not forget what moved the king to the final fury that put Haman on the gallows he had built for Mordecai: the King saw him falling on the couch where Queen Esther was, to plead for his life and thought this was sexual assault.

    Strange to us are the ways of an Honour/Shame culture.

    So, let us pause . . .

    What do you do in a culture where descendants of survivors of the hard core — usually, city/fortress based (as opposed to the peasantry who probably would adhere to anyone who would give less burdensome conditions) — nigh on 1,000 years later are quite willing/feel obligated to continue an existential blood feud?

    [Notice, this incident is one resolved through intervention of Mordecai and Esther, where there was a licensed internal civil war/feud in which the Jews and allies were permitted to arm and defend themselves from their enemies. The anticipated slaughter of the Jews turned into a bloody defeat of their enemies. This is the last incident of this order recorded in the Bible.]

    Just as a provocative question: could this be one of the missing factors in our view?

    Just think — nigh on 1,000 years later, a hereditary enemy seeks to renew the existential battle and wipe out the nation of Israel.

    In that culture, what do you do about the hard core that is like that, and which has already filled up the cup of its iniquities?

    Less than 200 years ago, the English authorities and local Quislings kangaroo courted and hanged one of my relatives (essentially for speaking up for the literally starving poor — they blamed him for the explosion he warned against, when it came), but all I can think about is that we must learn form the sad history. There is no eternal blood feud over this. (Didn’t the Romans plough Carthage under and sow its land with salt?)

    The more I think on this thing, the more alien the culture of those times and places seems, and the more significant and deeply ingrained the softening impact of the gospel-based, Biblical moral tradition becomes.

    What now chills me to the bone — as the ME now moves across the nuke threshold, is that it seems that significant aspects of that blood feud culture seem to still be in place.

    So, maybe this matter is not so remote after all.

  229. F/N: I think there is another missing factor in all of this [cf here above], the irreconcilable, hereditary blood feud that could — and historically did — come back to bite, the better part of 1,000 years later.

  230. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the GR does not stand on its own. It is the second of two prime principles of morality: Love to God our Maker, Lord and common Father, and Love to fellow man also made in God’s image, leading on to living in nation and community under God as mutually supportive neighbours. There are many, many subtle balances and nuances in that that remove from the table a lot of the problems that happen when the GR is taken in isolation.

  231. Good point, nullasalus. Someone might argue that McCarthy’s acts were justifiable, and I see the parallel here. But let’s run with that.

    We know that Americans were divided over McCarthy. Some thought that the policing of speech and writing, and of political association, was justified by the danger of Communism to the American way of life; others thought that the means employed to combat the perceived threat were just as dangerous to the American way of life, and incompatible with it. I think the same is true regarding Christians and difficult Biblical passages. Some are inclined to shut the gates and man the ramparts to defend the literal accuracy of every last word and action attributed to God in the Bible; others are more inclined to say: “Well, there is a human element in the composition of the Biblical stories, and from time to time lower notions of God, reflecting the human limitations of the authors, such as parochial nationalist self-justification, appear. As Christians our duty is to filter out the lower from the higher, using as our sieve the teachings preached by Jesus Christ and his self-sacrificial life.”

    The application of my observation is this. An American who despised the McCarthy-generated policies might say: “When this Communist points out that we are behaving in a totalitarian manner and are contravening our own principles, he is entirely right. True, his motivation in making the criticism is not to uphold the American freedoms he is weeping crocodile tears over; he is an enemy of those freedoms and I do not trust him as far as I can throw him. But the criticism itself is quite right. We should be ashamed of ourselves, for willfully extinguishing the flame of freedom passed on to us by our Founders.” Similarly, a Christian might say: “Dawkins is right when he says that certain acts and speeches of the Biblical God which are praised by the Biblical narrator fall for short of the love and compassion and justice that Christians habitually preach. True, his motivation is not to help Christianity purify itself, but to destroy Christianity altogether, and I do not trust him as far as I can throw him. Nonetheless, he is right to say that if we do not disown these passages, our claim to champion a consistent and high spirituality and ethics, one which the world ought to follow, will not be credible.”

    In other words, if Christianity were a monolith, with all Christians holding to a pure “divine command morality,” there would be no purchase for the criticism of Dawkins, because the defense of the Bible would be: “Whatever God commands, is right and just and good, by virtue of the fact that he commands it; if he command murder and rape and betrayal of one’s country or friends, that is right, and people should obey him just as quickly as if he commanded the opposites.” But as long as some Christians feel certain in their guts that God would never have said or done some of the things he supposedly said and did in the Old Testament, then Christianity is divided between a “divine command morality” and what might be called a “natural law morality,” and criticisms like those of Dawkins, even when they are clearly not disinterested, will still sting Christendom, or at least, a portion of Christendom. I myself am clearly on the side of the “natural law morality,” and if that means sundering Christianity into two parts, the fundamentalists versus the natural law party, I’m willing to do that. I’d rather be a schismatic than uphold what seems to me to be a false picture of God. And if Craig etc. tell me I am just a blasted liberal, judging God by man’s standards, I will reply that I’m judging God by God’s standards — where God’s standards are best seen in the Sermon on the Mount, not in the narration of parts of the Old Testament.

    I think that the New Atheist criticism of Christianity is extremely shallow and inadequate, but it gets traction among undecided, borderline, thoughtful, might-become-Christian decent agnostic people, precisely because of the existence of a certain kind of militant fundamentalism. That fundamentalism sees God as a terrifying cosmic despot who will send you to eternal punishment, no matter how good and moral or even Christlike a person you are, if you don’t believe literally in every word of the Book he allegedly wrote, including the words which make him repulsive and impossible to accept as the Father of Jesus Christ. I think it is necessary for those Christians who are firmly centered on Jesus Christ, rather than on a mechanical affirmation of the historical veracity of a book, to distance themselves from the other kind of Christian in word and deed. So I’m as angry at fundamentalist Christians as I am at Dawkins. Indeed, I see them as feeding off each other, strengthening each other, and as together completely obscuring the real meaning of Christianity from the religious seeker. And because the journalists love a great conflict — conflict sells papers and magazines and television specials on religion — they play up precisely the wrong notion of Christianity.

    Thus, while I think it is wrong for ID people to wade into these religious questions in the first place, when they do so wade in, I want to claim my right to disagree with some of my fellow ID supporters over religion. If someone is going to try (whether overtly or implicitly) to identify the cause of ID with the cause of a narrow, Biblicist notion of Christian faith, I have the right to argue that ID requires no such connection. I simply want readers of UD to know that ID is a very big tent on religious matters and that the sort of person who expresses adulation for William Lane Craig (or, worse, Ken Ham) does not exhaust the religious breadth and depth of ID supporters. Many of us are just as uncomfortable with divine command morality, and with the literalism and inerrantism that sustains that morality, as non-Christians are. No one who posts here can claim to speak for Christianity as a whole, or even for the Christian faith of ID supporters as a whole. When they speak about religious matters, they are speaking not for ID, or for UD, but for themselves. I hope that ID critics who visit this site understand that.

    T.

  232. Timaeus, Nullasalus, I am moved by your discussion because I perceive in both of you an uncompromising fidelity to the truth as best that you can both apprehend it. First of all, I fully recognize the Christian principle inherent in Timeaus argument, namely that God commands acts because they are good. They are not good simply because God commands them. This point sets Christianity apart from other world views such as Islam, which proposes the doctrine of “abrogation,” the problematic notion that God can literally change His mind about what is moral, leaving his poor creatures scratching their heads and trying to build their lives around a moving moral target.

    Naturally, this creates problems for rational Christians who understand the natural moral law, The Ten Commandments, and the Sermon on the Mount. Is God, as God, bound by his own moral laws, and if not, how can we identify with him? In one respect, it would seem that HE is. Did God not create numerous covenants with his people and did He not always remain consistent in keeping His part of the bargain even when His creatures failed to hold up their end? If He was not bound by his moral laws in that sense, that is, if we could not count on his word, then his covenants would be meaningless.

    On the other hand, God is NOT bound by every standard expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, which, as we know, is the gold standard of morality for humans. Among other things, we cannot judge our neighbor, but God does, and has, and will judge our neighbor. Does this constitute Divine Command morality? No. God judges us because his justice demands it, and his justice is inherently a good thing, as is His mercy. What happened to the children of the Canannites matters, of course, but the bigger question is: Where are they now?

    There is a related point here that I think everyone is missing. As important as a person’s actions are, their reason for doing it is always more important. If I help a little old lady across the street solely to impress onlookers, it may appear as a moral act, but it isn’t. More to the point, when Moses participated in the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, it may have appeared as an immoral act, but it wasn’t; it was the only way God’s people could have been saved. What mattered was his (and God’s) reason for performing the act. This was not a case of something being good because God commanded it; it was a case of God commanding it because it was good. Granted, some acts, like abortion, are intrinsically evil; no good intention can change that fact. Still, there is such a thing as a good act that is also violent.

    But, again, what about the children one might say? Since when have children been spared from the sins of their Fathers? The broader point, though, is this: until we know WHY God did what he did (I speculate on that @35) we cannot pass judgment on the morality of His actions.

  233. 233
    material.infantacy

    “…God commands acts because they are good. They are not good simply because God commands them.”

    I’m struggling with something here. If God is held to a standard, one that is independent of His nature, then there is a moral authority that surpasses God. This is impossible. Therefore, what God commands is good, because He is commanding it. He is bound by nothing but His own uncompromising nature — that is, His holiness. God can command nothing that is not good, not because God is obligated to be good, but because He is obligated to His nature.

    Perhaps the distinction is not apparent, or perhaps I’m just confusing matters. However I reason that what is good proceeds from God’s nature — God’s nature does not conform to what is good. God is the source of goodness, he doesn’t conform to an independent standard of it. He is the standard, that is, the definition.

    This is not to say that God is unconstrained, chaotic, capricious. He is constrained to act according to His nature, which is specific, non-chaotic. It’s that non-chaotic nature that delineates good from evil, that what is good specifically conforms to God’s nature, and everything else is evil.

  234. material.infantacy (peculiar name!):

    Your initial objection to StephenB is that there cannot be a standard higher than God. But you are also aware of the danger of making God unconstrained, chaotic, or capricious. Your solution to the problem — that God is constrained to goodness not by something external to him, but by his own nature — is perfect Christian Platonism. You and I are in agreement. I suspect that StephenB would be willing to modify his expression, as I suspect that in the end he would agree with your formulation above.

    T.

  235. Good to see this discussion :)

    Yes, I’m moved too.

    Stephen – sorry I didn’t get back to your post today. I haven’t forgotten, and will respond when I can.

  236. 236
    material.infantacy

    Hello Timaeus,

    “peculiar name!”

    I’ve tried changing it; but when I do, I end up in the great abyss, also known as the moderation filter.

    “You and I are in agreement.”

    I appreciate that. I wasn’t sure if I had properly expressed what was occurring to me, or if perhaps I was overlooking something.

    “Your solution to the problem — that God is constrained to goodness not by something external to him, but by his own nature — is perfect Christian Platonism.”

    Again, appreciated. However I’ve only dabbled in theology and philosophy, so I didn’t know I was a Christian Platonist! If there are any pass words or secret handshakes, please let me know. xp

    Best,
    m.i.

  237. T,

    I entirely see where you’re coming from, I think. First, let me note that I disagree with William Lane Craig on plenty – but there’s one criticism you have of him that strikes me as entirely off-base, if I read you correctly: The idea that he operates from a perspective of ‘My way of understanding the bible/Christ is correct and any other Christian understanding is that of a damn dirty liberal’ strikes me as very much mistaken – in fact, Craig is pretty liberal when it comes to understanding the bible. If I recall right, he considers Christianity compatible with evolution even while having a positive view of ID. You can even find Craig arguing that one can reject biblical inerrancy and still be Christian. Again, I bring this up not to endorse all of Craig’s views, but to point out that he’s not exactly a man who stamps his feet and draws lines in the sand where if you disagree with him you’re some dirty liberal.

    Of course I’d also agree that ID shouldn’t be tied to any theology at all. You’re talking to a guy who tried to round up the agnostic and atheist ID proponents and ID sympathetic sorts on this site to speak up and join the conversation. (With, I’ll add, nary a word of discouragement from much of anyone around here, and plenty of encouragement.) I’d probably have some disagreements with you on the particular OT question, but absolutely I endorse that desire to make it clear that ID proponents come from a diversity of perspective – and, again, to want more of an ID focus on ID sites in general.

  238. nullasalus:

    I’ll accept your description of Craig’s views because I don’t know his thought all that well. What’ve I’ve heard him say up to this point, and what I’ve heard about him, I admit, tallies with your account. It was his defense of the Canaanite slaughter that called up visions of literalism and inerrantism, and the sort of person who usually calls non-literalists liberals. But it’s unfair to impute the whole conservative schtick to him, just on the basis of one passage he wrote, so I accept your correction and I’ll remove Craig from the group of people that I am criticizing.

    T.

  239. I suspect that we are all Christian Platonists insofar as we agree that God is constrained to goodness by his own nature.

  240. Take your time. I appreciate the dialogue.

  241. For some reason you, and some others, seem to think I must be saying the opposite, even though I make this point frequently, and that it is intrinsic to my points above!

    When you say ‘the world IS teleological and purposeful!’, you are pretending that those words are what you know I mean them to be. You know this is not the case – what “purpose” and “teleology” cash out to given the conjunction of materialism and atheism are not what is meant by the innate teleological reasoning of most children or many educated adults. Put simply, it is not derived intentionality, it is intrinsic and/or related to a metaphysical view you explicitly reject.

    I’d go into what “teleology” means given your views, along with “purposeful” again – we’ve talked about this at length in the past – but frankly, I have a low opinion of how you interact in arguments. Other people are willing to discuss things at length with you while you manipulate words and definitions to the point of dishonesty – I am not one of them. And I’ve reached the point where I’m not interested in wasting the time.

    My interactions with you have led me to this conclusion: You are intellectually dishonest. You mangle words and concepts intentionally and flagrantly to obscure your views and your positions. The fact that you do so while talking cheerfully does not excuse this. Yes, I know, this is where you’ll stamp your feet and insist you are never intellectually dishonest and so on – and I’ll reply, exchanges like this, as well as your general track record with me, have simply solidified my views.

  242. Waynekent00:

    I agree that there are situations in real life in which we might have to withhold judgment due to lack of information.

    In the Biblical case, however, we have an “omniscient narrator” who frequently tells us God’s thoughts, God’s speeches, and so on — things which an observer at the time would usually not know. And if we assume that the text is meant to teach us something, then, given the power of the omniscient narrator, it is prima facie unlikely that the narrator would withhold an explanation from the reader that was necessary to avoid misunderstanding. Presumably the narrator would have thought of the fact that to many readers, these actions would seem brutal, and would have included all that is necessary to justify them. (This would be even more the case if one believes, as some do, that the narrator not merely a human influenced by God, but God himself, who would certainly know how people centuries afterward would understand the teaching of Jesus, and would know that they would compare the divine actions in the OT story to the teaching of Jesus.)

    The problem, then, is that what is there does not appear to be enough to vindicate God’s action. Why would the narrator not apprise us of the extenuating circumstances, if there were any?

    The larger question behind this, of course, is what the historical status of the story is. If one is committed to the view that the events happened exactly as described, and that God said exactly what he is said to have said, then one has only two choices: (1) Denounce God as behaving wickedly; (2) Take your position, which is that God must have a good reason, even if we may never know it on this side of mortality. On the other hand, if one is not committed to the view that the events happened exactly as given in the story, then one has the option of hypothesizing that the story as we have it is distorted in some way, or possibly even invented. But the debate between these two possibilities — did it happen that way or is the story at least partly fictional — is not a debate that is appropriate for this forum, which is not a Biblical theology forum but an ID forum. All that can be said is that some ID-Christians read the Bible in the former way, and others in the latter way, and that ID per se has no way of addressing the question and cannot endorse either view.

    T.

  243. More to the point, when Moses participated in the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, it may have appeared as an immoral act, but it wasn’t; it was the only way God’s people could have been saved. What mattered was his (and God’s) reason for performing the act. This was not a case of something being good because God commanded it; it was a case of God commanding it because it was good. Granted, some acts, like abortion, are intrinsically evil; no good intention can change that fact.

    Why is abortion an exception? Are you saying that if God massacres a large number of Egyptians (some of whom may well have been pregnant women) that is OK because of the larger consequences.  But killing insentient foetuses is never OK whatever the larger picture and however early in the pregnancy?

  244. 244
    material.infantacy

    Agreed, as long as goodness is not understood as external to God’s nature. That is to say, goodness cannot be juxtaposed with God’s inherent nature because they are one in the same — for, “He cannot deny himself.” I hope I’m not splitting any unwarranted hairs. Thanks for your patience.

  245. MI:

    Have a look at the discussion of the Euthyphro dilemma here.

    GEM of TKI

  246. Onlookers: MF is here discussing the destruction of the equivalent of a Panzer army in hot pursuit, in the Red Sea; i.e. the defeat of an armed force prosecuting an act of war: a 600-chariot force. It is maximally unlikely that there were any pregnant women in that force, and it is not a “massacre.” Let this serve to help us understand the way in which issues are being presented rhetorically by champions of the “genocide” talking point. Please, it is time to treat the text and issues with a lot more responsibility. GEM of TKI

  247. Onlookers:

    In one of the follow up threads, from here on, we can see how the underlying polarising rhetoric issue comes out, and why it needs to be taken seriously as a red warning flag on what is happening with our civilisation’s public square.

    GEM of TKI

  248. MI you are quite correct and in line with not only classical theology but the scriptures, e.g. when it talks about how God cannot lie.

  249. SB:

    Actually, I think we start to run into trouble long before we get to God.

    Start with how the Civil Authority bears the sword as God’s agent of wrath to restrain and punish the wrongdoer. (Which starts with the policeman on the corner, with an upgrade from the literal sword in our day: a 9 mm semiauto pistol or the like.)

    One of the big temptations for Christians thinking on ethics is to absolutise, e.g. turn the other cheek [in response to an insulting slap]. We forget there is a problem of the bully or the wolf on two legs, who has to be restrained by governmental force. Otherwise, civil society collapses into anarchy and a bloody war of all against all.

    All of this being compounded by the wolf pack then hitting on the bright idea to dress up in shepherd’s clothing, so we now have a gangster government that becomes a menace to other societies. If it goes far enough, we have a wolfish culture to deal with.

    So, we see war to deal with a pirate culture.

    The proper non-waspish response to a slap on the face, is not the same as the necessary governmental response to the wolf packs.

    Which brings us to the question of forted-up hard-core wolf-packs with a culture of irreconcilable blood feud.

    Which is what this thread is really having to deal with. (Cf discussion here.)

    GEM of TKI

  250. Drs ES & EL:

    The above little exchange captures the unfortunate breakdown that is happening in not only the thread but the wider culture, sadly but aptly.

    And, Dr Liddle, you still have not gone beyond borrowing one of a cluster of key principles from another system of morality. The GR is an OUGHT, not an IS that grounds OUGHT. (For instance, the rationale behind abortion, precisely, pivots on imagined superiority and ownership of the adult over the unborn child. The only safe grounds for the equality that is the hinge of the GR, is that we are equally made in God’s image and have duties set for us by our moral Governor, so that to play at being “god” is an offence not only against our fellow man but his or her maker.)

    Your assertion that you have an IS in your worldview foundation that can ground OUGHT is, pardon the pun, groundless.

    I am also increasingly seeing the sort of loaded, poisonous rhetorical work that is being done by a key term injected by Dawkins: genocide.

    Genocide is of course a coinage to deal with the Nazi slaughter of the Poles, Jews, Gypsies, Russians etc that they — under Hitler playing god [more exactly, Nietzschean superman playing will to power [a]morality] — attacked without provocation.

    The very concept of drawing such a parallel to the general subject under discussion is highly questionable, first to Craig and other responsible Christian leaders and participants in this blog. If you would not be able to stand up in our faces and — with concrete evidence to back it up — call us “Nazis,” or the like, then please back off on highly poisonous and loaded terms.

    (And, it is clear that Dawkins knows or should easily know better than this. Christians root their morality in the wide pattern of scripture, and struggle with this case precisely because the sort of destruction of a nation being described seems at first glance to be at odds with the general principles of Biblical morality. If responsible Christian thinkers DID support genocide, they would not have that as a challenge, any more than say al Qaeda had any qualms about launching the 9/11 attacks in the name of God as they misunderstood him.)

    When we turn to God in the Bible, we must reckon with the wider context, in which for instance the prophets tell us how Israel suffered defeat, mass slaughter in that defeat, conquest and exile for its defiant sins — at the hands of pagan armies seen as instruments of God’s judgement of his own covenant people; this is far from the idea of a superior race not subject to the same requirements of righteousness in the nation that “genocide” is about. So, the principle of accountable tenancy under God applies to Israel too.

    I again invite a more balanced reading.

    GEM of TKI

  251. And BTW, a priori evolutionary materialism — a la Lewontin, US NAS, NSTA etc — has everything to do with the rise of Amorality in our day.

  252. Have you had a chance to read through this comment?

  253. Elizabeth, I read your comments @29, and I thought you might be interested in my response.

    Rightly and wisely, you recognize the universal nature of the moral code when you describe the four-year old child who realizes intuitively that it is wrong to beat up on his sister. In keeping with that point, you also recognize that most people in most cultures perceive this same universal standard that defines the difference between right and wrong. One could ask, therefore, what it is, how we come to understand it, and is it is sufficient to guide and instruct us in all areas of life.

    Yes indeed. Good that we start off in agreement!

    For you, the moral code is derived, for me, it is apprehended. You identify its source as the mind of man and I identify its source as the mind of God. With your scenario, we survey the world and draw inferences about which behaviors will benefit us and our neighbor. With my scenario, we sense the activity of our conscience, which teaches us about our obligation to follow the natural moral law.

    Actually I think we “sense the activity of our conscience” too. We do learn about which behaviours will benefit us and our neighbours, the development of empathy is part of the human developmental trajectory. But you are right that I don’t identify its source as the mind of God (except in so attenuated a form that you wouldn’t recognise it).

    The local question, it seems to me, is this: How do we advance in virtue and how do we avoid the trap of deluding ourselves into believing that we are better than we really are? What about the abortionist, for example, who says, “Oh yes, I love my neighbor as myself, but the babies that I kill are not really my neighbors.” Is he really a good person?

    Well, that references one of the points I was making. It is relatively easy to derive the maxim: “treat others as you would be treated” but that leaves open the question of who constitutes “others”. Which of course is why Jesus specifically addressed that question, and made it clear that the boundary included non Jews as well as children. All too often people draw the boundary too narrowly, and include only members of their own community. However, there are real ethical issues here – do we include members of other species? Do we include our descendents? Do we include a conceptus? Do we conclude an embryo? I don’t think the answers are obvious, and I certainly wouldn’t condemn gynaecologist for drawing the line between conception and birth, for reasons I gave in my other post. More importantly, I’m far less interested in who is a good person than in what is a good act. A good person can commit a bad act, because s/he does not understand the harm s/he is causing; conversely a beneficial act can be performed with malign intentions. It seems to me there are two separable issues here: Why should we try to do the right thing? And what is the right thing to do? I think it’s important not to muddle them.

    Or what about the college professor, addicted to pornography, who says, “Hey, I gave to the Red Cross and I paid for my daughter’s college education. What else do you want?” Is he moral?

    Well, assuming for the sake of argument that we agree that watching pornography is immoral, then my response is: watching pornography is doing the wrong thing, giving to the Red Cross is a good thing (I’ll leave the jury out on paying for your daughter’s college education), and the two don’t cancel out. It doesn’t help the people you injured by watching pornography (if you injured any) that you helped the clients of the Red Cross. I don’t think this is difficult.

    What about the more subtle elements of morality which deal with unobserved realities, such as personal intentions and motivations. Quite often, people do the right things for the wrong reasons. If I help someone across the street in order to impress onlookers, am I being a good person? According to the Sermon on the Mount, perfect morality goes beyond actions and addresses the problem of the human heart.

    Exactly. But, as I said, I’m not concerned with whether people are good or bad, but whether they do good or bad things. If someone does good things by accident, regardless of malign, or at least selfish, intentions, then maybe they don’t deserve much credit, but with a bit of luck, the good consequences may be a good influence on their future behaviour. If not, well, at least the old lady got helped across the road.

    I think this is a very important distinction between camps here, actually. One thing that perennially crops up in these discussions is two very different concepts of “justice”. In my conception, justice means fairness – things is unjust if someone systematically gets a worse deal than someone else. But for many people justice is about “deserts” – making sure that people who behave badly are punished (even if by proxy). That’s where I really part company with a lot of theists (though by now means all – not with Peter Abelard, for instance).

    Though not easy to do, it is easy enough to say that we ought to love our neighbor as ourselves. But what about applying that same rule to our bitter enemies? Did Bentham, Mill, or even Aristotle ever attach such a high standard to morality? No. That challenge comes exclusively from Jesus Christ.

    Yes indeed. It’s why I was a Christian for most of my life, and why I still regard myself as an atheist with a Christian flavour. But we don’t need to be persuaded that Jesus was divine to feel its force. And, in any case, it’s the part of Christ’s teaching that is most frequently ignored in my experience. And it certainly is not consistent with the genocide-commanding deity of much of the OT.

    Theories of mind are designed to avoid hard sayings. It is easy enough to say that we should not do evil to another person, but what about the command that forbids is to even wish evil on another person. This is another hard saying. Theories of mind tend to produce convenient recommendations that allow us the luxury of avoiding change.

    I was talking about Theory of Mind capacity. We may be at cross-purposes here.

    It is easy enough to say that we should not murder, but what about the more perfect version of that command that forbids cruelty of language? True morality requires exertion. Yet, man made moralities gravitate toward the soft virtues, such as compassion and kindness, while avoiding the hard virtues, such as chastity and humility.

    I don’t think so. “Treat others as you would be treated” may well mandate chastity, and certainly humility. Indeed it’s the maxim that deprioritises the self – bids us see ourselves as only one of many, with only one of many possible points of view.

    Further, advanced morality tests and challenges our character because we can grow in one virtue even as we regress in another. Theories of mind cannot provide us with a model that we can use to test our progress. Only the examples provided by Jesus Christ or the saints that followed Him can do that.

    Well, I’m not quite sure what you mean by “theories of mind”, but sure we can “test our progress”. What is stopping us?

    Indeed, this raises the most important question of all. To what end is virtue supposed to take us. Everything turns on what we are, where we came from, and where we are going. Are we risen beasts or fallen angels. It makes a difference. If we were created for a specific purpose, and if that purpose is to achieve union with God in the next life, then anything that facilitates that journey, both for ourselves and others, is a moral act and anything that impedes it is an immoral act.

    Well, I can see that that is one way of constructing an effective normative model (and at its best it probably works pretty well – it has undoubted pitfalls though, IMO).

    If, on the other hand, we have no purpose, then it really doesn’t matter what we do because no relationship lasts and no act has any eternal significance.

    And this is the assertion that makes atheists so cross! Of course it “matters what we do”! OK, our relationships may not last for eternity, but they last for a lifetime, if we nurture them, which is the timespan that matters to us! And, indeed, if we care for those who will outlive us, and indeed for those that we love my love in their turn (my child’s as yet unborn children, for instance) then of course our concerns extend into the future, well beyond our own demise. The idea that if people don’t have eternity to look forward to (or fear) that they will have no reason to live, or love their fellow beings, seems extraordinarily odd to those of us who neither expect nor dread eternity, yet still hold our fellow beings dear! Likewise the idea that if we allow the possibility that we were created without a purpose that we can have no purpose. That makes no sense to me. I have plenty of purpose in my life, and so do the vast majority of people. Indeed, we often regard people who seem to lack any sense that their lives have meaning as mentally ill, and in need of help. We are purpose-making beings, with an extraordinary capacity and drive to devise and seek goals.

    In the final analysis, though, I still think, in spite of your protests to the contrary, it is fair to say that you have no consistent standard for making moral judgments. On the hottest topic of the day, abortion, you stand with the pro-choice contingent on the grounds that it just seems right to you.

    Not in the least. I gave the grounds, and argued them fairly carefully. Again, while people can disagree, as with any ethical dilemma, we have good philosophical (and, I’d argue, scientific) tools for weighing up the choices.

    I know that abotion is wrong because it violates the natural moral law, the Ten Comandments, The Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes. There is a difference beteween feeling and knowing.

    I neither know nor feel whether abortion is wrong or not. I think it’s an ethical dilemma, in which two sets of interests must be balanced. This is true of many ethical dilemmas. Sometimes the right answer is not clear. That does not absolve us of the duty of trying to make the best decision. But I would argue that your claim to “know” that abortion is wrong, is no such thing. For a start, your choice of moral text is subjective – you could have chosen differently. You could have chosen, for example, the replacement tablets that God gave Moses when he broke the first set. For a second, you have interpreted those texts by “feel” – none of them mention abortion. The Ten Commandments tell us that we must not kill [people], but most Christians condone killing [people] in some circumstances. Many condone it in more circumstances than I would, for example. But I do not think, for example, that a 12 week foetus is a person. You almost certainly disagree, but the matter is not, AFAICT, resolved by looking at the texts you cite.

    BTW, at my school, which was called “The Mount”, there was a standing prize for learning The Sermon on the Mount by heart, which I did. I can still do most of it, including “judge not, that ye be not judged”. That may be why I am more interested in whether an act is good or bad, than whether a person is :)

    On the subject of God’s actions with respect to the Canaanites, see my post at 35

    OK.

    Anyway, nice to talk to you, and thanks for your response!

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  254. 254
    material.infantacy

    Thank you KF. I liked the way this was worded:

    …the inherently good Creator of the cosmos made a world that — in accordance with his unchangeably good character — not only is replete with reliable, compelling signs pointing to his eternal power and Deity as the root of our being, but also builds in a real, reasonable, intelligible moral principle into that world.

    The very rationality of the universe allows us to perceive, necessarily, aspects of the nature of our creator. This itself is an indicator of goodness, IMO, proceeding from a Nature that necessitates rational correspondence between that which exists, and that which is perceived. This is a highly contingent and very specific state of affairs, which IMO precludes a chaotic God — and is a positive indicator of Intelligent Design.

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