This is how Religion Blinds your Humanity and Decency

I commented recently on post called “Mild Paedophilia in Light of Atheism1. The post decried Dawkins for his use of the phrase “mild paedophilia”, and I didn’t mention in the comment that without context the phrase may have been entirely legitimate2. What I did mention is that the blogger was being inconsistent: where the blogger would not accept Dawkins’ suggestion of some sort of low-level and culturally acceptable paedophilia (via some sort of history-based moral revisionism), the blogger himself is at no odds with the slavery of the Bible. When I pointed this out I got some predictable excuses and responses, so I wish to discuss them on my blog. I’ll quote the blogger and then respond. If you are worried about me taking him out of context, the source material is linked at the top3.

“A popular critique of the Biblical God often involves slavery, but it shows a great misunderstanding of both God and the Bible’s description (not prescription) of slavery. God allowing slavery to exist was a concession, not a decree, because of the hardening of man’s hearts. God knew mankind was heavily inclined to engage in the practice, so He gave them over to their own sin, but regulated it (Ex. 21:16) to keep it from getting worse.”

The first issue with this is that of an accommodationist God, who allows us to get away with whatever our culture permits. It is of no moral value to look at a crime (even systematic and cultural crime) and simply permit it because it is rife. An accommodationist God could not overturn slavery; humans could. And we did this as we got a better understanding and experience of the supposed difference between people being simply untrue4. An accommodationist God, who allows for the crimes of society, is an immoral God; humans bother to enforce laws.

The second issue is more damning: it’s an outright lie. God did not just describe slavery. I wrote a post about this (Slave!), but I thought I’d share a few quotes again: “you may purchase male or female slaves” Leviticus 25:44; “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years” Exodus 21:2. I don’t mean to be overly patronising about this, but compare those two sentences to something that is a description: The Hebrews purchase male and female slaves; When the Hebrews buy male5 slaves, he serves his master for 6 years before he goes free. You will notice the present simple tense and the lack of permission words (e.g. “you may”) in my examples. God did not just describe slavery, He permitted it.

“Something else to note is that slavery in ancient times was unlike the race-based slavery we have come to know in the last few centuries.”

Is it not race-based, because I thought “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.” (Leviticus 25) Again, slaves are foreigners and Israelites must not treat fellow Israelites ruthlessly. How is that not race-based?

“Slavery was often entered into willingly to pay off debt (Lev. 25:39-43; Dt.15:12). Slaves were often trusted and esteemed (Gen. 15,24). Slavery was the merciful option for captured enemies (Num. 31:26-27; Deut. 20:10,11), and a means of restitution for crime (Ex. 22:1-3)(We do this now by imprisonment–prisoners are slaves to the state). Slaves were ceremonially freed after a set time (Ex. 21:2; Deut. 15:12). God does not regard the free over the slave (Gal. 3:28), and His followers encouraged respect and fairness for them (Eph. 6:8, Col. 4:1).”

Imagine that in front of me is a delicious steak; a medium rare, juicy steak marinated in a chilli and lemon sauce. As a side I have homemade, crisped-to-perfection lightly salted chip, and roasted vegetables with an Italian herb coating and mature cheddar cheese melted through. You walk past me as I describe the brilliance of my meal and how perfect the chef must have been to create it, and you notice that someone has clearly defecated right on top of it all. You point out the defecation smeared across my otherwise delightful meal and all I do is respond that you are cherry-picking and then repeat my description of the bits of the meal I like. I am wrong to accuse you of cherry picking; the fecal matter has ruined my meal, and I just don’t seem to want to accept it. That’s what’s going on here, the blogger is going on and on about the acceptable (arguably… certainly not the ‘good’) mandates of slavery and simply ignoring “If, however, the slave survives [being struck by a rod] for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property” (Exodus 21:21, the defecation). Even if it could be deemed acceptable to own another human being, the permitted and mandated accessories to the slavery in the Bible mean that the system is barbaric.

The moral outlook gets bleaker when we consider the idea that slavery is the merciful option for a prisoner of a religiously commanded war. If slavery is the merciful option, then “turn the other cheek” obviously was not an option on the table; religious warriors couldn’t choose to win a war and announce “I hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson” or start a new system of government. Clearly, God left two options: genocide or slavery. Why or when is that ever good? Jesus wouldn’t put up with that.

“Abuses no doubt occurred, and slavery was never the ideal, but God’s attitude is clearly against slavery–but FOR the slave. From the times of freeing the entire nation of Israel from Egyptian slavery to the atonement of Christ intended to free us from the slavery of sin (Rom. 6:18), God is an abolitionist (1 Cor. 7:21-23).”

Abuses not only occurred, but God allowed them. Slave owners are not to be punished if their slave can hold on for two days after a beating with a rod. And the idea that an omnipotent Being cannot meet, and a moral Being did not obviously try to meet, the ideal is simply ridiculous. The closest God got to abolishing slavery is God preference for the Israelites, as the blogger himself admits6. Maybe Christians did lead the way to abolition (and in a society where it was very good for your health to proclaim to be a Christian, it would very much have looked that way), but the Bible itself isn’t exactly dripping with passages to support that.

The rest of this post is going to be bit-responses to other fragments of conversation that are available in the comments section of the post I linked. They relate to God’s self-righteous indignation.

“Christians believe in a God who is jealous because God alone is justified in His jealousy. As Creator He owns everything and has the inherent right to feel the pain of loss when His people are unfaithful.”

You will, undoubtedly, have noticed that these same “inherent rights” are not extended to the people who more immediately created you: your parents. And there is no pattern of increasing these rights as we look at people who less directly created you: your grandparents, your great grandparents, and so on. But the assertion is that when you get to the Being who least-directly created you–the Being who created your very earliest ancestors, Adam and Eve–suddenly infinite rights are granted.

“Christians believe in a God who waged war in judgment against evil nations because God must judge sin, and as author of all life has the right to give it and take it according to His plan that we as finite beings would logically not expect to be able to see and understand fully.”

Actually, “God’s plan” was easy to understand; it can be understood by its remarkable resemblance to the blood thirsty and vindictive cultures that existed at the time, and it can now be understood by its commitment to post-Enlightenment understandings of the universe. God used to judge sin by waging war (in a time when having God talk to you wasn’t going to get you sectioned). Now, with video cameras, God judges sin by letting us succumb to natural death or natural disaster.

“Christians are absolutely concerned, as God is, with the well-being of others, improving their experiences, and minimizing suffering in others. But as our ultimate standard for morality, this doesn’t go far enough. You still use even more basic moral principals to justify why well-being is important, why improving life is a good thing and what makes suffering bad. Accepting God as the origins and authority of objective morality is, like atheism, naturalism, or any other religion, an act of faith. But it is a position (the only one I’m aware of) that rationally makes sense of how we treat morality. That we are created in the image of a God (Gen. 1:27) who possesses the same type of morality provides a logical basis for morality. Otherwise you’re left with a shallow definition of morality (i.e. preserving well-being) or no way to account for objective morals, order and direction that can’t exist in an orderless, directionless universe.”

Let me first express my deep confusion at the idea God made us in His image: I find it unlikely that I look like you, or think like you, or that our moral intuitions line up exactly. Which one of use was made in God’s image? There seems to be no part of my identity that lines up with everyone else, so there is no way we are all made in God’s image.

I also find it very difficult to imagine how the safeguarding of the wellbeing of all conscious things is a shallow definition of morality, but “accepting God as the origins and authority” is deep. There seems to be nothing particularly complicated or encompassing about morality being built on compliance to an authority or command. However, taking the time to think about and realise the importance of wellbeing, and how it doesn’t really make sense to think of anything being more important7, seems to be much more encompassing and deep.

1 – Sometimes I think I shouldn’t draw attention to the drivel I read, and only engage with things that look intelligent. But then I run out of material

2 – I have complained in the past about the word “rape”; there is, and should be, a real difference between something at its mildest (even if that is still immoral) and it at its worst (where it is highly likely to be absolutely heinous).

3 – The post links to a Salon article, which in turn does not give a raw transcript of the Times Magazine interview in question. In fact, I can’t find it. There are certain parts of the quotes that make me think Dawkins is trying to make the same nuanced point I made about rape and a comment on historical culture. I disagree with Dawkins, if indeed he is suggesting that we need to engage with some level of historically based moral revisionism; what’s wrong is wrong. However, if he is saying that we shouldn’t condemn people throughout history as if they had access to the same information we have today, that is a different discussion.

4 – We still enslave dogs because the differences between people and dogs are demonstrable. Dogs actually enjoy serving. That said, most of us still condemn the abuse and mistreatment of animals.

5 – The rest of the quote makes it clear the passage is only talking about male slaves: “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are” (Exodus 21:7)

6 – The reference to being freed of slavery to sin is a stretch, and I’m not inclined to deal with cryptic metaphor.

7 – Importance is a thing that arises in our conscious experience. So if we think we have prioritised something over our wellbeing, we simply haven’t realised the extent to which that thing affects our wellbeing8. To think that making money is more important that our wellbeing is simply to not understand that you think the money will make you happy. Because happiness is the real goal, you should focus more directly on it.

8 – Yes, that’s where we are now; I’m doing a footnote out of a footnote. It seems easy to assume that because our wellbeing is the more important thing that the reasonable response is selfishness. The point is more nuanced than that; wellbeing is the most important thing, and if the net wellbeing is raised by your own suffering then so be it. However, we would understand if you refuse to do that.

Advertisements

30 thoughts on “This is how Religion Blinds your Humanity and Decency”

  1. “Sometimes I think I shouldn’t draw attention to the drivel I read, and only engage with things that look intelligent”

    i have this thought from time to time, but its just so very hard not to dive into the utter nonsense when you see it. Reason and sanity have to be defended.

    1. It is amazing how God, in all His wisdom and grace, can equip His followers with nothing more than lexical effluvium and asinine verbiage. It’s indistinguishable from them coming up with it all by themselves.

      1. Hahaha… I penned something last week along those very lines. Looks like we’re channelling the same vein:

        “apologists have chosen to engage in mesmerizingly elaborate verbiage designed to dazzle the curious and inquisitive by pulverising them with a million flashing strobe lights composed of nothing but painfully long-winded word salads transported along rainbow streams of exudate effluvium… or what others might call, vaporous discharges of utter bullshit.”

  2. Slavery is just a means to end- controlling people.
    And with that being said, Religion(in my book) is the highest form of slavery.

    But just when you think, we humans are gonna get it all together and be nice to one another(the powers that be) develop a new way of controlling us. Control not through chains, whips. Control not with God or whatever unseen force, but with the power of money. We are all Financial slaves.

    I am gonna make a prophecy about this…
    The credit score is the REAL mark of the BEAST.
    Lets face it. EVERYONE in AMERICA has one.

    sorry but I just started ranting and the last part just popped into my head.

    sadly its late and Im tired. And I got to wake up in 5 hours and goto work.

    but in closing, I believe in my personal GREAT SEVEN rules –
    1) Do not kill.
    2) Do not steal.
    3) Do not lie.
    4) Do not waste.
    5) Do not be stupid.
    6) Do not do any of the above.
    7) Be nice, consderate, respectful and tolerant.

    1. I can add an 8th, from the words of Christopher Hitchens: “Turn off that fucking cell phone; you have no idea how unimportant your call is to us”.

      Thanks for your thoughts, interesting stuff

  3. Thanks for keeping this discussion going here. Very interesting stuff. Some comments in your post.

    “The first issue with this is that of an accommodationist God, who allows us to get away with whatever our culture permits.”

    God doesn’t. We don’t know what we would have done if God had chosen not to intervene, or limited the scope of the sin we pursue. And what exactly do you mean by “get away with”? : “…people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Heb. 9:27) And it’s certainly true that we suffer the consequences of our sin in this life also.

    “…God could not overturn slavery; humans could. And we did this as we got a better understanding and experience of the supposed difference between people being simply untrue.”

    God COULD overturn slavery, but He didn’t. Instead He used it for His ultimate good. Joseph, whose brothers who sold him into slavery, through that ended up in a position of influence that allowed him to protect the known world from famine. He told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the savings of many lives.” (Gen. 50:20) And we haven’t actually overturned slavery either. The African Slave Trade was effectively abolished, but tens of millions remain enslaved around the world in labor and sex trades. Apparently we really don’t have “a better understanding” of the concept that human beings are created equal. And we employ forms of slavery that most cultures accept: criminals are revoked of most freedom; anyone who takes out a loan or mortgage realizes they are financially enslaved to debt and a payment program.

    “you may purchase male or female slaves” Leviticus 25:44; “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years” Exodus 21:2. I don’t mean to be overly patronising about this, but compare those two sentences to something that is a description: The Hebrews purchase male and female slaves; When the Hebrews buy male5 slaves, he serves his master for 6 years before he goes free. You will notice the present simple tense and the lack of permission words (e.g. “you may”) in my examples. God did not just describe slavery, He permitted it.”

    I haven’t argued that God did not permit humans to enslave other humans. In fact the passages you have selected, like the rest, are in light of a culture that already committed itself to practice slavery. They are guidelines made under the assumption that people were already making slave purchases. “you may” and “If/when you buy a Hebrew slave…” is not an order to buy them; God presents conditions IF they choose to buy slaves. God of course knows what they will choose, but what you’re really looking for are commands along the lines of “You must make slaves of freemen” without slavery as a precondition, and there is nothing in scripture like that.

    “Slave owners are not to be punished if their slave can hold on for two days after a beating with a rod.”

    Exodus 21:21 shouldn’t completely ruin your steak dinner. Again the law states that “If a man strikes” a servant. The Israelites already knew that beating people was wrong, and there is punishment doled out for both situations: if the slave dies, the owner will “be avenged”, and we might assume that “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” applies. If the slave lives for days afterward, it might be that the beating was not intended to kill, as a murderer would have finished the job immediately. Manslaughter still brings the financial penalty for the cost of his slave, who “is his money.” Personally I would have looked for more severe punishment, but the overarching alignment of scripture against slavery still outweighs any sentiment here that God may favor slavery.

    In the same vein, the best way to understand slavery in the Bible, or really any subject matter, is to try and take into account ALL of what it says about it—just as you would when reading anything else. I think it’s fairly obvious that you haven’t ventured much beyond a few difficult passages in the OT, judging by what you’ve buried in your footnote #6: “The reference to being freed of slavery to sin is a stretch, and I’m not inclined to deal with cryptic metaphor.” The connection of slavery to sin and freedom to Christ is the foundation of the Gospel message, which is the central theme and point of the entire Bible… not cryptic metaphor. Everything from Genesis 3 points forward to the redemption of God’s people culminating in God sending His Son, who taught that “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin,” (John 8:34-36) and gave Himself up to free us “so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6) Everything following the Gospels points back to the same event, evident in Paul’s reiteration of the same message that “Christ has set us free… do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) To ignore the big picture here is to cherry-pick, as the larger context of the Bible demonstrates an obvious position for freedom and against slavery. But if you’re “not inclined to deal with” it, then you absolutely won’t see it.

    Much of Biblical history is also used as an object lesson. God’s separation of Israel from other nations taught holiness, and that God must separate good from evil. The repeated necessity of atoning sacrifices of Israel teaches the futility of the law to rid us of sin, thus pointing us the perfect atoning sacrifice of Christ. And slavery fits in as a picture of our bondage to sin. Christ fulfilled much of this. For that matter, I’m wondering why the preoccupation with slavery. God not only permitted slavery to exist, but every other kind of sin exists in the Bible and in our world today. Maybe our discussion should be simply over the problem of evil in general.

    On to morality:

    “these same “inherent rights” are not extended to the people who more immediately created you: your parents.”

    I’m not sure how this is relevant to the idea that “as Creator [God] owns everything and has the inherent right to feel the pain of loss when His people are unfaithful.” Our parents are not ‘creators’ in the sense that they have control over what their children are like. God created man to reproduce “according to his kind”; genetic and biological processes set up in Adam and Eve are also fundamentally upheld by the Creator (Colossians 1:16-17). That makes God the owner of all creation, not just the first generation of humans.

    “Let me first express my deep confusion at the idea God made us in His image: I find it unlikely that I look like you.”

    For one, being made in the image of God does not speak to physical likeness, as God is spirit, but rather God’s character, attributes, and way of thinking. And “likeness” (from the Hebrew term tzel) means shadow or reflection. Shadows are not a complete image, and reflections, in an age pre-dating perfect mirrors, didn’t reveal the entire image either. We are human, imperfect and incomplete shadows of the Creator, who have become even more imperfect and incomplete because of sin. Yet every human, wherever he is lacking, nonetheless employs an amount of reason, has a moral awareness, a sense of a Creator, capacity to love and admire beauty, sensory experience, creativity, emotion, understanding of laws, yearning for justice and fairness. These and other universal human traits are found in the God of the Bible. Sin turns many of these attributes on their heads (I.e. love lacking is hatred), but here they are, defying adequate explanation on a Naturalistic worldview.

    You speak of well-being as the foundation of morality in your last 2 footnotes, but you don’t address one of the major problems facing atheism: What makes seeking the well-being of self and others a good thing?

    1. You assert that God has some sort of inherent rights either to me or over me because He created me. I don’t know what stage between fornication and labour He is supposed to have had a hand, if any. My mum and dad created me. And to no extent does that line of argument permit those rights to my parents.

      As for wellbeing, that is not an issue facing atheism. Atheism is completely compatible with moral relativism, nihilism, Kantian duty and many other moral stages.
      To save me some time, here are some links to writing I’ve done on the issue before:
      https://allallt.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/deep-in-rivers-of-the-moral-landscape-secular-morality-drowns-religious-morality/
      https://allallt.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/the-ought-problem/

  4. Thank you for commenting. I thought it was an interesting dialogue, but I could tell it was about to sprawl, which is why I chose to make it a post.

    God allowed slavery, I assume we are agreed that far. I assumed also that God is unchanging, but let’s not down down that route, just yet. God has, therefore done two strange things, if I accept your claims. (1) God will punish people for something He permitted to them (or He will not punish them for slavery, both are strange) and (2) “God COULD overturn slavery, but He didn’t.” The ‘ultimate good’ argument is an argument to be taken on faith; we must have faith that good came from permitting slavery; we must have faith that people would have gotten much worse if these (rather loose) regulations were not put into place. I don’t have that faith. Can you substantiate the claim?

    I once had a discussion with a blogger called Physics and Whiskey, where I asked him whether God would permit the killing of prostitutes, if a culture was already committed to it? And would it really be seen as “regulation” if GOd simply dictated the weapon you should use?

    The punishment, again, for beating a person mercilessly, so long as it’s not manslaughter or murder, is NOTHING. No punishment. Because the victim is a slave.

    As for the ‘sin is slavery’ metaphor, firstly, it is a metaphor. Secondly, there are no clear parallels between being the property of another person who may beat you and inherit your children as property and misbehaving. Sin, if it exists at all, is a responsibility. I have read the New Testament.

    I will come back to you on the morality bit. Watch this space.

    1. Agreed that God allowed and allows slavery (along with the others sins we choose) meaning that He chooses not to prevent it from occurring. God created us with a free will, but desires that we do not sin. Some sins are named (i.e. Ten Commandments) and others we can deduce their sinfulness by the attitude that God takes against them, even though “Thou Shalt Not Enslave” is not expressly written. That the gospel message so often uses slavery to describe our bondage to sin and highlights freedom possible in Christ makes it clear that God does not think slavery is a good thing. In a post-Genesis 3 world, human propensity for certain activities (slavery, war, divorce) are so prevalent that wiping them out might require judgment along the lines of another global flood, which God promised not to repeat. A father, who knows his son has so given himself over to an unhealthy behavior that to eliminate it would mean eliminating his son, he might introduce boundaries to limit its harm. Think of it as divine damage control.

      As for the “strange things”:

      (1) <>

      God punishes sin. A just God cannot let it go unpunished. His judgment may appear differently; sometimes consequences are immediate, sometimes they come later. In the end, “all have sinned and fall short”, so judgment is imminent, unless the atoning sacrifice of Christ is accepted by faith (in which case the wrath of God is turned on Christ).

      (2) <>

      Aside from testimonies of some good coming from slavery (i.e. Gen. 50:20) and God’s promise that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” (Rom. 8:28), yes, faith is required to accept that evil plays a part in God’s ultimate plan for good to triumph, and that slavery would have been far worse unregulated. ALL ultimate convictions require faith. While you choose not to have faith in this, or the God of the Bible, you place faith in other convictions which you cannot prove. We are all people of faith. The difference is that a Christian, who adopts Christian Theism on faith, can see a logical explanation for what we can observe; not just ethics, but our use of reason, science, universal order, etc (A short discussion of this here http://wp.me/p2jkYM-ea).

      “My mum and dad created me. And to no extent does that line of argument permit those rights to my parents.”

      That line of argument doesn’t permit your parents those rights because they actually are not your creators. Many parents do destroy their children, but this is not necessarily because of atheism or an understanding of ownership over them. However an atheistic worldview of course doesn’t scribe authority to anything above humanity, so I understand why you call parents creators; they are perceived as the upper limit. You create sandwiches, artwork, and doghouses out of materials you acquire and own, so you have the right to keep your creation, discard it, or do whatever you like with it. All human beings are inherently valuable, and most recognize this endowment to be from God. If you were the ultimate creator of your children, you ought to feel free to discard them, but you don’t. You may say this goes back to preserving well-being, but you still don’t have a law that obligates you to follow that law. Christians would say a child’s well-being is valuable because they are God’s creation, and murdering them is morally wrong, which actually makes sense of the value we ascribe to our “created” children.

      “Atheism is completely compatible with moral relativism, nihilism, Kantian duty and many other moral stages.”

      Yes it is. But moral relativism, nihilism and Kantian duty do not accurately reflect our experience of morality as law we discover and respond to instead of invent. Kant’s ethics seem close to your conviction, ultimately resting on “good will.” Seeking the well-being of others may be what many default to, and you imply it is therefore properly basic. But that still leaves the question unanswered: What law obligates our duty on behalf of well-being? What makes good will “good”? If it is the selective benefit for survival, why is survival morally good? What makes living and ensuring your lineage what we ought to do? Isn’t life hard enough, and why care about the next generation? The reason many theists say atheists don’t think deeply enough is because they seem to refuse to see past the point of evolutionary advantage: the desire to live and pass on our genes. But something is necessary to make that all good, something that we ought (or if you like, the preferred state of affairs) to do. On Naturalism, you simply aren’t allowed to think beyond that point. As an exercise though, consider that if evolution produced human morality, then at some point in our evolutionary history, morality began in the form of the first moral act or thought. Maybe it was a selfless inclination to defend another creature’s well-being. Whatever/whenever it was, that first act or thought would have logically required a pre-existing moral standard already in place. (http://wp.me/p2jkYM-H)

      The reason we have an ought is not because we see an IS and prefer it. We can’t see a source for ought because moral values are rooted in the nature of an eternal God, who has no source. Christian or atheist, our moral understanding works the same way; we all pursue the well-being of others (unless something persuades us not to) and treat morality as universal and objective law because we are all, regardless of belief, made in the image of God, who wrote moral law on our hearts, to which our consciences bear witness (Rom. 2:14-15).

      1. Sorry, I apparently didn’t use the right enclosures () and some text didn’t appear. 🙂 Missing from the comment above are your 2 quotes…

        (1) “God will punish people for something He permitted to them”

        and

        (2) “The ‘ultimate good’ argument is an argument to be taken on faith; we must have faith that good came from permitting slavery; we must have faith that people would have gotten much worse if these (rather loose) regulations were not put into place. I don’t have that faith. Can you substantiate the claim?”

      2. We are not made in God’s image. People lust differently; people sympathise differently; people empathise differently; people abhor violence differently. These are the internal things which–if you believe in freewill–you can will to act on selfishly or morally or in accordance with some other ideal. But if different things are going on in our heads (think: sociopaths and car salespeople) how can we possible ‘be made in God’s image’?
        To clarify, the people who followed God’s commands on slavery–bought slaves from the foreigners around them and inherited their children etc–were they punished? Yes or no. You can see the issue either way. If yes, why? God said they could do it. If no, why not? It’s abhorrent (and apparently against scripture… but if you take the suggestion it’s wrong, which you suggested, again the proclamation that they may do it, which I suggested, I don’t think you have strong case).
        The different between your faith claim and my faith claim is that you’re actually making a faith claim; I am making a values claim. You claim slavery would have gotten worse, and that is either right or it is wrong. You claim that God permitting slavery prevented greater suffering, and that is either true or false. I am not saying that it’s knowable, I am simply saying that the idea that you think you know which way it is is a blind faith claim. I am simply saying that it is better for things to not suffer than it is for them to suffer, and it is better to less than it is to suffer more; it is better to be happy than it is to suffer and it is better to be happier still.
        In my other posts, which you are invited to go read, I make a further claim, which is that from a linguitic point of view, this is what people mean by morality.

        And nothing obligates us to it…

  5. “We are not made in God’s image. People lust differently; people sympathise differently; people empathise differently; people abhor violence differently…”

    We are human beings who have desires which, depending on our choices, lead to sinful lust or worthwhile causes. Why is this so? Why should we have any sympathy or empathy, or any good feelings toward others? Why abhor violence at all? Evolution doesn’t need us to realize any of these tendencies in order for us to evolve, in its inherently violent way. We are free will agents so we do most things differently, but we all do the things. Countless other possibilities exists for the types of creatures we could have been, but the creatures we happen to be share a likeness—not a perfect likeness, but a shadow/reflection (tzel)—to our Creator, who desires to relate to us (Acts 17:27), knows what we go through (Ps. 139), and abhors violence (Gen. 6:11; 9:2-6). When your thinking is based on atheism’s more limited scale, it makes sense that you wouldn’t see how differently we could operate without naturalistic assumptions.

    Yes, I’m sure those who bought and kept slaves were held responsible for their decision, because God judges all sin. You’re still assuming that God commanded slavery, which isn’t the case. God gave them over to their own sin (as in Rom. 1:24), and He issued guidelines to a people who had already committed to slavery. Divorce separates families, illicit sex ruins lives, and smoking kills, yet these are vices we’ve committed to in society. By their effects we know they are wrong, yet we permit them but accept rules to limit their effects, and if God is just, those who participate will face judgment for them. This reality should not be so foreign.

    That slavery would have gotten worse without rules or that God permitted slavery to prevent greater suffering are not things I claim to know for certain, but they are certainly possibilities, based on the fact that in contemporary society, rules do generally prevent other conditions from getting worse. And it is consistent and logical to think that an omniscient God knows what slavery would be like without limits, so I don’t have to know for certain. Add to that the wider view of God against slavery and for freedom, it’s not a stretch.

    “…it is better for things to not suffer that it is for them to suffer; it is better to be happy than it is to suffer and it is better to be happier still.”

    And this is generally true, but it doesn’t work as a rule. There are many cases where the benefits of suffering can far outweigh the pain of suffering: Surgery, amputation, vaccinations, physicals, rectal exams, splinter removal, root canals, burning off a wart, cleaning a wound, cleaning septic tanks, killing in self-defense, dieting, exercise, climbing a mountain, risking your life for a drowning victim, withdrawing your hand from the fire, depriving your child of a package of Oreos before dinner, studying for finals, growing up, moving away to college, job hunting, falling in love, birthing a child, stepping out in faith. While these are the result of some evil, suffering, pain, grief, etc. are not inherently evil; Suffering can make us stronger, wiser, healthier, more appreciative, and it can save us. Furthermore, a criminal can be happy in his crime, so we know that not all happiness is inherently good.

    “this is what people mean by morality. And nothing obligates us to it…”

    I did enjoy reading the 2 posts you referenced (and was distracted by one or two others that I found interesting). Where you outline Dawkins’ and Harris’ attempt at explaining objective morality from an atheistic worldview: From this perspective, nothing ought to obligate us to it, yet we ALL live as if we are obligated to objective moral law. In fact, to say “nothing obligates us to it” is to reveal your own understanding of an obligation to the moral rightness of that very statement. To insert “nothing” is to erase the reality that something does obligate us that we may wish were nothing. Yet there it is. 🙂

    1. My argument against us being made in God’s will has nothing to do with freewill, it has to do with conscious experience. I don’t doubt that you fully believe we can choose what to do with the thoughts that occur to us. What I am saying is that the thoughts that occur to us are wildly different from person to person. I cannot isolate the part of my identity that can plausibly be thought of as ‘made in God’s image’: my abhorrence of violence is not shared by my dad; my lust is not mirrored in my gay friends; my sympathies are not mirrored by my brother. Regardless of whether we are able choose how we respond to the thoughts which occur to us, the disparity of the thoughts that occur to us draw heavy questions over what it means to be made in God’s image.
      Incidentally, there are perfectly good evolutionary explanations of why we would abhor violence. It has to do with evolution working on the societal level; we are capable of more as a society than as a group of individuals, and tendencies towards that behaviour will be favoured.
      We could all be murderers, but how could societies propagate then? We could make each other live in fear, but then how would we reap the rewards of society?
      I am not assuming God commanded slavery. I’m assuming He permitted it, and then went on to punish the people who did it…
      You’re using pre-suppositional logic, which means you assume God exists, assume God has our best interests at heart and therefore assume He was looking after wellbeing when He regulated (but not banned) slavery (and you assume this eventhough God is under no obligation to safeguard wellbeing, because that is the definition of morality I am using and God’s could well be entirely distinct from it and regardless of it).
      I put it to you that you are lacking the appropriate imagination for your analysis of my wellbeing derived morality. We don’t get amputations or deprive children of Oreos because these things are intrinsically good, but instead because we think the long-term sum of wellbeing will be greater. These things are EXACTLY wellbeing derived ideas. I also suspect you’re not paying attention to net-wellbeing. Yes, a criminal might be happy, but his victims and those who fear him and those who feel injustice are not happy!
      We do not all live as if we are obligated to objective moral law. I give you prisons, sociopaths, female genital mutilation…

      1. “my abhorrence of violence is not shared by my dad; my lust is not mirrored in my gay friends; my sympathies are not mirrored by my brother.”

        I don’t think we’ll agree on this point. I think you are fixated on what are on the whole variations of the same thing. Differing views on violence are still views generally against violence, differing tastes in what we desire in companionship still represent a category of desire for companionship, and if two people listed all their sympathies, I bet there would be more similarities than difference in the sympathies they share.

        “evolution working on the societal level; we are capable of more as a society than as a group of individuals, and tendencies towards that behaviour will be favoured.”

        But a whole lot of death and failure has to happen for a few to carry on and evolve—not to fixate on the exceptions. 🙂 I get that people generally want to avoid violence (we are all similar in that way), but without a moral law-giver, this makes the blind assumption that propagation of society is morally right, and that rewards from right living are morally better than invoking fear in others. It takes a lot of faith to assume that the moral well-being we are compelled to pursue came from undirected natural processes, and that they are worth following when we can’t pinpoint their origin.

        You’re right about presuppositional logic, except for a key element: Once the position of Christian theism is, like atheism, taken on faith, the rest of the universe begins to make sense—unlike atheism: For Christians, there is a basic purpose to moral well-being and an explanation for the universe, right down to the very laws that we use to reason about it all.

        “We don’t get amputations or deprive children of Oreos because these things are intrinsically good, but instead because we think the long-term sum of wellbeing will be greater.”

        This is true, but a worldview that says “it is better for things not to suffer [than] it is for them to suffer; it is better to be happy than it is to be happier still.” doesn’t seem to be taking into account net well-being. It seems like pure utilitarianism. Net well-being is what God can know and have in His plan for us. We are like the kid who thinks his parents the most unfair beings in the universe when we can’t have a cookie, or inflict pain on us to remove the splinter. By comparison, we have no idea of what the net well-being is, but God does. So my assumption of our best interest at God’s heart is consistent with the God described in the Bible, who says, “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11). The net well-being you miss by a fixation on physical slavery is the eternal freedom from spiritual slavery to sin fulfilled in Christ. The net worth of a saved eternity doesn’t compare to a material lifetime of slavery.

        I understand that we generally derive morality from the pursuit of happiness and well-being, but it doesn’t make sense that there is nothing below that supporting it, a foundation that explains it. Well-being is basic, but not ultimately or properly basic.

        “Yes, a criminal might be happy, but his victims and those who fear him and those who feel injustice are not happy!”

        Exactly, because happiness is not firmly tied to good or evil, and neither is suffering. Prison, sociopaths and various forms of evil are an affirmation that on the whole we understand that objective good and evil exist. That is why all over the world and throughout history we have had prisons and why we classify some as sociopaths. There is a universal standard that is deviated from, and this is a demonstration of a universal regard for objective moral law.

        1. Our disagreement on being made in God’s image is quite a big one. You seem to be claiming that everything–from complete abhorrence of violence and pacificism allthe way to a preference for violence as conflict resolution; from insatiatable sexuality to asexuality; from complete empathy to sociopathy–are all compatible with being made in God’s image. This is ridiculous. I do not share your identity to any extent if you are the polar opposite of me. How exactly can every point on the spectrum be said to be ‘in God’s image’?
          There is no assumption that what propagates society is moral. There is evidence that behaviour that propagates society is also behaviour that propagates. There is no moral value there. That behaviour becomes a part of our intuitions. But our intuitions can be wrong. Take, for example, our seeming default position to be racist. Evolution definitely propagates the tribal ‘us and them’ mindset, because that is the mindset that makes you secure resources for your tribe at the expense of other tribes. But racism does not maximase wellbeing.
          You can suffer a little for a short time to get increased wellbeing for a long time afterwards. That is still net wellbeing increase (or could be). That is the exact assumption we make when we amputate, remove splinters or deprive children of cookies. And that is why it is moral. If a child would always be happier with a splinter than without, why would you remove it?
          Atheism is not taken on faith. Atheism is the stance of not taking your claim on faith. And the claim that the laws are whatever God made them is not properly basic; why did God make them that way? Why is it instrinsic to his nature? Why couldn’t a preference for suffering be His nature? Why couldn’t hatred (and not love) be His nature?

          Lastly, nothing you have said has actually challenged my stance on wellbeing-derived morality. A criminal that doesn’t cause suffering is a criminal by what definition? If they do cause suffering, that is immoral on my stance. However, by your model, if following a religious command causes suffering, it cannot be said to be immoral because it is religiously motivated.

  6. “You seem to be claiming that everything…are all compatible with being made in God’s image. This is ridiculous. I do not share your identity to any extent if you are the polar opposite of me. How exactly can every point on the spectrum be said to be ‘in God’s image’?”

    We are created in the image of God, but not every human behavior accurately reflects who God, especially in a world corrupted by sin. The opposite of the good things God created come out when we choose the opposite of what we were made to do. The latter half of the “spectrum” is our own creation. We can’t leave sin out of the equation.

    “There is no assumption that what propagates society is moral. There is evidence that behaviour that propagates society is also behaviour that propagates. There is no moral value there.”

    Sure there is. We think it’s good and right, and that is a moral evaluation. That moral evaluation would have had to happen before anyone cared about the well-being of their own race or other races enough to realize that racism does not maximize well-being. You would then have the supposed effect before the cause. Moral law must have existed before that.

    “That behaviour becomes a part of our intuitions.”

    An assumption necessitated by a prior commitment to evolution.

    “You can suffer a little for a short time to get increased wellbeing for a long time afterwards. That is still net wellbeing increase (or could be). That is the exact assumption we make when we amputate, remove splinters or deprive children of cookies. And that is why it is moral. If a child would always be happier with a splinter than without, why would you remove it?”

    My point here is that it’s possible that some finite humans ARE the child, who is fully convinced his parents are simply cruel because they are incapable of seeing the long-term good in subjection to the pain of splinter removal to avoid infection, or deprivation of things we think are good. People who have gone through intense trials learn the long-term benefit of it, but only later. Could it be possible that an infinite God, whose perspective of time would have to be different from ours, who knows and plans the future, is in the process of working out the greater good for his children who suffer now? If that’s true, a mistaken moral assessment of God’s intentions as evil or lacking would be common, lacking faith in who God says He is.

    “Atheism is not taken on faith. Atheism is the stance of not taking your claim on faith.”

    That’s unlike any definition I’ve heard, but atheists do like to say they are exempt from relying on faith. The reality is, if you can’t prove your most basic assumptions, which you can’t, you’re most basic (read ‘important’) convictions are based on faith. The cognitive reasoning you use to guide you in life rests on rules of logic we all somehow know but can only be defended by using the rules of logic; that’s circular, therefore a faith claim. To make moral assessments about well-being based on moral assessments of well-being has the same dilemma.

    “the claim that the laws are whatever God made them is not properly basic; why did God make them that way? Why is it instrinsic to his nature? Why couldn’t a preference for suffering be His nature? Why couldn’t hatred (and not love) be His nature?”

    I don’t know. I do know that God can’t change who He is, and those things are what they are. Good happens to be rooted in the nature of God; evil is not.

    “Lastly, nothing you have said has actually challenged my stance on wellbeing-derived morality. A criminal that doesn’t cause suffering is a criminal by what definition? If they do cause suffering, that is immoral on my stance. However, by your model, if following a religious command causes suffering, it cannot be said to be immoral because it is religiously motivated.”

    I have challenged it: What law makes loving my neighbor a good thing? As I’ve shown above, we would have needed a sense of morality in place before we decided the first time that it was morally good to promote the well-being of self and others. My model doesn’t permit that anyone who claims to be religiously motivated is morally excused for any activity, because I am not defending religion. Anyone can invoke the name of God for their cause, but unless it’s clear instruction in God’s word, they are not following divine orders but rather they are telling God what to do. I defend Christian theism, in which God does not command His followers to do evil and Christians are not called to frivolous causes.
    Consider the logic employed when making a moral assessment about God’s attitude about slavery, or what have you, garnered from reading the Bible. When you make any kind of moral assessment about God, good or evil, you are imagining a moral umbrella large enough to encompass the theoretical all-powerful, infinite creator of the universe. If morality begins with the sentiment of well-being to our neighbor, why apply this morality to any God concept? If it evolved within humans, objective morality would only be applicable to humans. We don’t apply the same moral expectations to animals (bears who eat each other or eat human beings are not murderers). We project it upward. Whenever we write books or movies about encounters with advanced, intelligent extra-terrestrial beings, the aliens are never part of our evolutionary history, yet they are subconsciously included in our moral jurisdiction. The expectation is that we should share the same moral law, I.e.: Invading other worlds is morally wrong. Granted, E.T. is as far as we know fiction, but the authors are real people who for all their imagination can’t seem to imagine a local human morality. Likewise, isn’t it inconsistent for any atheist who finds himself reasoning about God and the scope of morality to automatically assume that God ought to be subject to the same code of ethics as we are? This only makes sense if moral law came from God, and suggests that you understand the scope of moral law to be much bigger than you admit.

  7. It has to do with the claim that atheists do not employ faith in their most basic beliefs. While there are many axiomatic truths taken on faith, the laws of logic seem to be the most basic since we use the laws of logic to reason about everything else, making it a prime example of blind faith.

    It also shows the inconsistency in the atheistic worldview. Your most basic convictions are held by faith, because you must defend reason by virtue of reason, and can’t define a logical source for the laws of logic on atheism—who wrote the laws? Why do they always work? Why do we take them for granted? How does reason evolve from a universe with no reasonable Being?

    A Christian’s most fundamental beliefs are also taken on faith, but these fundamental beliefs—that the God described in the Bible, who has logic and reason as part of His character, created us in His image (Gen. 1:27) and invites us to use these faculties (Isaiah 1:18)—make sense of what we empirically observe about logic and reason.

    Which belief is then reasonable?

    1. Who wrote them? Don’t be so presumptuous as to assume they were authored.

      Why do they work? I don’t know.

      Do they work? Empirically and verifiably, yes.

      Where’s my faith claim?

      1. “Who wrote them? Don’t be so presumptuous as to assume [the laws of logic] were authored.”

        Empirically and verifiably, what other types of laws do we know of that were NOT authored? The very nature of the concept of law includes authorship and authority behind it, and in fact we are generally more obedient to the laws of logic than we are to many civil laws (speed limits, littering, etc), which says we actually have a higher regard for the laws of logic. There is little presumption there. It’s self-evident that they are laws: We call them “laws” of logic (or laws of thought, rules of inference, etc), we acknowledge their authority and follow them as if they were laws, and they apply to everyone, everywhere, at all times. There is no conceivable place or time in history where they would not have been in force. The question is really Who wrote them, not Whether they were written.

        It’s obvious that we depend on these laws that are so basic that we are forced to use them to even talk about them, and that they, like every other law, must come from an even more fundamental authority. If I were an atheist, I could choose to place my faith in any number of things here. I could say that evolution produced these laws, but that means the rules would be in place before we wrote them, because in their writing or their discovery, we’d have to use them, which means we didn’t write them. I could say that I don’t have to explain them because the laws exist by necessity and require no explanation, but then again I’d be making a metaphysical claim as a naturalist, so I’d have to abandon naturalism and would then have no reason not to believe in God, thereby giving up my atheism.

        Again, we are all people of faith. My faith is in the Who, simply trusting what the Bible says about human reasoning and its Creator. When I do, it all makes sense. I don’t have to keep multiplying assumptions. Your faith claim is that the laws of logic (your highest personal authority) somehow materialized, work consistently and universally and carry authority, even though this is all logically impossible on atheism.

        1. The laws of gravity; the laws of motion; Hoyles gas laws. There are “litigious” laws, and there are natural laws. If you want to violate the laws of logic then it is highly likely that you will just be wrong about the nature of the universe. A is, in fact, A and not ‘not A’. That is a description, a law that emerges out of observation. These laws are even pushed (or broken) by quantum mechanics; if something is both here and there then is it A (here) and ‘not A’ (there) in the same way at the same time.
          They always existed, so far that we can tell, and they are things we discovered. We relied on them so heavily that they become part of our intuitions as we evolved (as did an approximate to the laws of physics. There is a video on Youtube called “The Kalam Cosmological fallacy” you should watch).
          You’ve made a series of big mistakes in your understanding of atheism: atheism is not naturalism (you could be a Kantian realist who believes that all things have a ‘form’ or an ideal version that metaphysically exist and still be an atheist), the opposite of naturalism is not theism (you haven’t even made it clear whether you’re talking about ontological or methodological naturalism), and having no reason to not believe in God is not the same as having a reason to believe in God (there are lots of idea you don’t have reason to not believe in, but you still don’t believe them until you have good reason to).

          But how’s this: the laws of logic are a description of the universe. Either it is conceivable to think they could be otherwise, in which case we would have discovered that instead; or it is not conceivable that they could be otherwise, so there is no necessity that they are authored.
          Either way, I don’t know why they are the way they are, but we discovered (an approximation of) what they are.

  8. Correct, I wasn’t describing every atheist with my incomplete scenario, and I understand atheists can include spiritual/metaphysical (i.e. Buddhist) beliefs, and that not all atheists are naturalists. That happens to be the arrangement most familiar to me in my relationships. Metaphysical beliefs are not an automatic open door to Christian theism, but some atheists rule out God because they rule out the metaphysical.

    I watched the video you recommended (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUYjnL2PqUg), and a couple things right off the bat: QM doesn’t wreak havoc with the laws of logic (identity, non-contradiction); the slit experiment reveals that the point where A is said to be not A is in the form of a wave, but when it is actually observed/detected its in the context of a particle.

    But the main point of the video seems to be that since many intuitions have shown to be false we shouldn’t have an absolute reliance on our intuitions. I wonder, should we adopt that principal in this discussion? You go first. 😉 Hypocritically, the video’s entire premise is based on an absolute reliance on intuition, faith in a “better argument” that relies on the laws of logic. If we can’t trust our intuitions on anything, especially axiomatic principals, then all human endeavor is pointless. Who could say if the intuition that previous intuitions are wrong isn’t another false intuition? We wouldn’t be able to function, and we know this, so while we are able to be wrong about things and correct our thinking as we learn, we were designed to presuppose certain basic laws which really aren’t among the intuitions that change over time. Geocentricity, for example, is an observation about earth in relation to everything else, but not an underpinning truth that effects the way we think about everything else. In fact we used the laws of logic to correct a lot of our thinking about science, mathematics, and the world, and still do. (There are some who say relativity and QM “suggest” the possibility of an effect before the cause, in which case “before” doesn’t mean what we thought, which means we have no idea when it happened. Does the Law of Parsimony mean anything anymore? 🙂

    “But how’s this: the laws of logic are a description of the universe. Either it is conceivable to think they could be otherwise, in which case we would have discovered that instead; or it is not conceivable that they could be otherwise, so there is no necessity that they are authored.”

    I’m not sure what you mean here. True, the laws of logic were discovered, along with the laws of morality, uniformity, etc., and if we don’t know when they were discovered, they might as well have been eternal (it doesn’t prove that they are, but such a view allows for it). They are indeed a description of something, which means they existed before we did.

    1. If the laws of logic were eternal, that doesn’t demonstrate or even suggest they were authored. The poignant question was meant to be this one:
      Is it conceivable that the laws of logic could be something else?
      If not, there is precisely no need for an author.
      If yes, then why would we not equally just learn them if we lived among them? Where does the need for authorship come in here?

      They are what they are. I don’t know why they are. But we have discovered that they are. So I can use them.

      (As for the video, I think you may have misunderstood it. It is about how using pre-theoretic ideas independent of evidence has failed us. It is not about how truth is eluded by all thoughts. Evidence is the very way we have come to know that our intuitions are sometimes wrong)

      1. It seems basic intuition, the kind that we do not discard over time, that laws are authored. As previously expressed, we don’t hesitate to follow the laws of logic so we obviously regard them as having authority in governing our thought. Following them “because they work” still implies complexity and purpose. They “work” to order and help us sort out our reasoning in such a way as to produce choices that necessitate our very survival and flourishing. Things don’t “work” like that without a specific purpose, complexity and rational mind at the source. We treat the laws of logic the same as other laws for which we do know the authors and the authority they enforce, also intentional entities and the product of a mind. The universal laws of logic, morality, uniformity in nature, and others point to an even greater, non-material rationality, authorship and authority. (http://philo-logos.blogspot.com/2013/02/16-reasons-why-i-believe-in-god-8-laws.html)

        “Is it conceivable that the laws of logic could be something else? If not, there is precisely no need for an author.”

        Could the laws of logic be some other law, i.e. Moral law? Or an idea like the number seven? Or something material like photon or a can of soup? These things are all either products of an originating/engineering mind or concepts that can only exist within a mind.

        “If yes, then why would we not equally just learn them if we lived among them? Where does the need for authorship come in here?”

        Authorship and authority follow from law.

        “Evidence is the very way we have come to know that our intuitions are sometimes wrong.”

        I agree, and then there are intuitions we never discard that are so obvious we ask for no evidence to support them. So we resort to faith in the very logic we use to make such statements.

        1. If you want to frame it that way, fine. The conversation is now stagnant. The fact we follow the laws of logic only shows they work and are reliable. It doesn’t give them authority (any more than the laws of gravity have authority).
          The physical laws are descriptions, not commands or precepts or laws in any way relating to the litigious sense of the word.
          You say things don’t work like that without purpose, complexity and a rational mind. Well, all of nature is a sample that disagrees with you. Even if all other laws required a mind or purpose, you’d be committing an extrapolation fallacy to extend it to a different law (that wouldn’t make you wrong, necessarily. It is just unreliable). But, as it happens, not all laws can be shown to be authored. Physical laws, and I cannot stress this enough, because the wording is confusing, is a description.

          Let me reiterate my other question: could the laws of logic be different to what they are? Could one of them be “Something can be A, whatever A is, and a cake simultaneously” or “something can be true and false, in the same sense, all at once”? If these cannot be, then the laws of logic, as they are, are necessary (thus there is no need to consider them authored). If, in fact, they could be what I have written (even though they demonstrably are not) then they could be the laws we understand, intuit and follow. That doesn’t need to be authored, either.

          I don’t have faith in the laws of logic. They demonstrate themselves to be true at all turns.

  9. “The fact we follow the laws of logic only shows they work and are reliable. It doesn’t give them authority (any more than the laws of gravity have authority).”

    We follow the laws BECAUSE these conceptual patterns have demonstrated themselves to work in the past, but what assurance do you have that they will continue to work in the future, or that your senses are reliable enough to tell you what the laws demonstrate? That’s faith. Christian theism accounts for that, and the apparent authority in the laws.

    “Litigious” refers to a tendency to disagree or overemphasis on legal recourse, so I’m not sure that really fits here. “Authoritative” fits, as all laws are that, even though the followers of the law are not always us. Nature (physical realities) seems to follow a constant pattern and order, AS IF it were succumbing to various laws, though in a less imperative sense. Human reasoning makes itself subject to the laws of logic (because they seem to have worked in the past) and atoms are subject to gravity and various other constant conditions in nature that the atheist by faith assumes were set in order and motion by some mindless force we have yet to consider. Something makes atoms organize.

    Christianity explains the physical world and how all this energy “self-organized”. By faith we credit God, who “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17) This is faith too, but rightly placed, it is “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Heb. 11:3). Notice that faith comes before and produces understanding. So there is no reason to put faith in the idea that the complexity and order surrounding us just materialized. That kind of logic doesn’t “work” to make sense of the whole story (stories need an author).

    So you mean to say that the laws of logic are necessary truths (true in every possible world) that are unfalsifiable and therefore not authored, since they could not be un-authored. They were not authored in the sense that they were thought up by God, written down, then handed to us as a new creative work. The laws of logic are necessary, uncaused, and eternal as part of the nature of God and His way of thinking. The laws never didn’t exist because God always existed too. Moral law is the same way; it was “written on their hearts” (Rom. 2:15) but comes from God’s infinite moral nature, since we are made in His image. Natural laws like gravity on the other hand, don’t have to exist in every possible world, but they do in this one, so it’s reasonable that these processes were designed and created for this universe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s