click on image to enlarge
For your consideration:
Should Batman kill the Joker?
Why Batman Should Kill The Joker
NOTE: The articles above don’t represent my thoughts on the principles of my favorite comic book hero.
There are no highs and lows in an elevation relativist universe.
You see the problem with your assertion?
Probably not, which is why you continue to trumpet your own misunderstanding (willful blindness? misunderstanding a false dichotomy?) about a shared morality versus an ‘objective’ one; the lack of the latter does not negate the former.
By definition, a hero or villain is determined – like elevation’s differences between highs and lows – against the same standard of right and wrong or good and bad. It doesn’t matter what that shared standard is to yield the differences that defines each. But you can’t seem to grasp that we can still use different standards of elevation (from sea level, from space, from this marker here, from that spot there – and still produce demonstrable differences to inform a shared understanding of what is higher or lower than the other. The same model is true for morality: as long as we use a shared point of reference, we can establish whether or not this person is a hero or that person a villain.
Good grief but you have a real bugaboo about this notion.
And who establishes the “shared point of reference”? Who is the authority on what is good and bad or right and wrong? You? Me? Us? A group of people?
Who establishes/is-the-authority? It depends, doesn’t it. It depends on authority, biology, circumstance, intention, motivation, and is always contrasted with constrained effect. That’s why slavery, for example, was once widely condoned and no longer is. That’s why killing another person is sometimes exactly the right thing to do while at other times exactly the wrong thing to do. How do we know these differences? Again, it depends.
The point I am making is that moral consensus is still subject to many factors and these factors themselves are subject to flux. What we do know is that there is no objective authority independent of these factors; religious folk themselves pretend this isn’t so but utterly fail to convince other religious folk that their so-called divinely revealed ‘objective morality’ isn’t because it differs from their divinely revealed ‘objective morality’. But you already know this. You just want to place blame for the failure of your religiously inspired morality to be respected as an authority.
Well, I appreciate the honest response, tildeb. Your answers are, believe it or not, things that I think about often and bounce back and forth. And here’s the problem I see in a moral system without God: enforcement. No matter what rule or regulation one lays down, the other party can always say, “Says who?” You may rightly appeal to “reason” or “logic” or “basic human right”, but the way I see it is that there is no inherent characteristic that a human possesses that makes them a capable authority on right and wrong. Does that make sense? (I’m kind of thinking out loud.)
But one thing I’m interested in is this: From an atheist, moral relativist perspective, what is justice? Let me give you a test case: The Nazis. What is justice in that situation? What should’ve been done to the people who were directly or indirectly involved in the murder of millions of people (Jews, Christians, etc.)?
Unfortunately, you do not seem to have realised that your equivocation of morality with elevation is deeply flawed, and in fact, runs you in deeper problems with regards to morality. I am happy to elaborate.
Elevation is subjective in itself, as you might find out, for instance, by asking any aviator. Height, for instance, is the vertical position of an aircraft above the the surface (be it the ground or water, a lake for instance). Such a position is expressed in feet AGL (Above Ground Level) and based on QFE settings. Altitude, however, is the vertical position of an aircraft above the mean sea level (MSL). Such a position is expressed in feet AMSL (Above Mean Sea Level), based on QNH settings. And Flight Level (FL) is the vertical position of an aircraft above the ISOBARIC SURFACE 1013,25 hPa (or 29.92 inHg). Such a position is expressed in FL (Flight Level), and this pressure being called the STANDARD altimeter setting.
So, as you can probably infer, no informed aviator compares his aircraft’s elevation AGL at an aerodrome, for instance, with another’s aircraft’s elevation AMSL at the same aerodrome, to determine if they might be on a collision path. The only meaningful way to make a comparison is to go beyond the obvious preferential, SUBJECTIVE indications of elevation based on various settings, and bring them to a common, OBJECTIVE setting or standard on which elevation can be compared (for example, based on just AGL or just AMSL, not both). That is how air traffic control functions as well, in order to ensure air traffic separation in a busy aerodrome: they use the same OBJECTIVE standard of elevation across all aircraft.
So I’m afraid your comparision of elevation with morality does not serve you very well here, really.
Also, it seems we’ve established from earlier dialogue that you subscribe to a relativistic view of morality (ie. that morality is subjective), which you confirm with the following:
“The same model is true for morality: as long as we use a shared point of reference, we can establish whether or not this person is a hero or that person a villain.”
and is further confirmed by this excerpt of your comments from an earlier thread (http://noapologiesallowed.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/video-militant-atheist-vs-jeff-durbin-at-the-reason-rally/#comments), where you suggested how we could derive some kind of moral standard from subjective morality:
“I like to use the analogy of elevation to morality where highest and lowest – like right and wrong – make no sense as meaningful terms unless they are relative to each other in some commonly accessible and understandable spectrum (perhaps in feet or miles or in meters, it doesn’t really matter) but all relative to a comparative metric (sea level for elevation, well being of conscious creatures for morality).”
“Some metrics are far better informed and useful and even measurable than others to provide compelling evidence why an ought is a more valuable consideration than an is and worthwhile to pursue. Human well-being is an excellent common and easily comparative metric to value.”
Now, I had actually asked you a few questions on that thread, which you might have missed inadvertently. No worries, I’m wondering if you’d mind addressing them here, since they remain relevant to this thread:
1) Please enlighten me on where you are getting this idea of a ‘comparative metric’ from, some references would be well appreciated.
2) Kindly define “human well-being” as you see it within your materialist worldview.
2) I’m having real trouble seeing how you derive an objective “ought” from a “comparative metric” that is morally relativistic. If the metric is relativistic, why exactly OUGHT we do anything in a materialist worldview, and not just whatever we PREFER doing?
3) Also, you had said:
“Sometimes it is right to kill; sometimes it is wrong. We do our best to try to incorporate a set of social rules that allow the greatest net benefit of certain commonly desired goals…”
I suppose you are appealing to the possibility that there is no objective right or wrong at all. My question to you is, in your opinion, could it ever SOMETIMES be right to torture babies for personal pleasure, or is it ALWAYS wrong? What if the society you lived in determined that torturing babies for personal pleasure allowed for “the greatest net benefit of certain commonly desired goals”. Would you believe then that torturing babies for personal pleasure is right, or would you still deem it wrong?
Thanks for your time. ;)
It would really help, Getic, if you first understood my comment before correcting it. As you yourself point out in your ‘correction’, The only meaningful way to make a comparison is to… bring them to a common, OBJECTIVE setting or standard on which elevation can be compared. All you’re doing here is repeating my point as if it were your ‘corrected’ version – slipping the term ‘objective’ next to ‘common’ as if they were equivalent and synonymous. You simply wave your hands and ignore the central point I make with the analogy: you don’t need an ‘objective’ starting point whatsoever as long as you use a common one… regardless of how ‘subjective’ that common reference point might be. And even though I bothered to explain that in detail, you missed it entirely, so eager were you to explain to me how various starting points (and that’s rather telling, don’t you think?) determine altitude.
To make your point valid, you would have to explain why one and only one objective standard was necessary for ALL references to altitude to be meaningful (which is what is being argued about morality). After all, I’m being told by you people that because we use various starting points for moral standards, these relative positions negate any means to determine right from wrong. And that’s equivalent to telling pilots that their various starting points for altitudes negates their ability to determine higher from lower. And yet, as long as two pilots are using a common starting point – REGARDLESS OF WHICH POINT THEY SELECT – they are quite capable of determining altitude relative to each other, in the same way we can determine right and wrong relative to each other as long as we share a common starting point. It does not require an ‘objective’ standard, belief an omnipotent being, or any divinely sanctioned revelations. All that extra religious baggage does is make finding those common starting points much more difficult. But that’s not surprising; religion really does poison everything including mutually agreeable and common moral standards of right and wrong.
So rather than ask me so many irrelevant questions I purposefully avoid, spend a bit of time actually understanding what I write first so that our exchanges can be more fruitful in comprehension. It would go a very long way in making the length of comments much smaller and on target.
Excellent analogy, tildeb, and one I’ve not heard before. It well-illustrates a point I’ve tried to make before – that a common understanding is all that is required.
In the cartoon above, you could easily replace the superheroes with two religious men – perhaps a Southern Baptist and a Catholic. Both would claim they had the ‘objective moral’ authority over the other. Back to square one in other words – you’ve still just got two guys slugging it out.
Welcome back, Andy! I appreciate it.
The point of the cartoon is that there is a distinction between heroes and villains, which is based on the ideas that they each personify. The hero generally personifies good and the villain evil. (I know that comics these days, probably beginning with Watchmen, kind of started to blur those lines, for better or worse.) Their actions and motivations distinguish them. There are things that “heroes” do that “villains” don’t do, like protecting the innocent and executing justice. There are things that “villains” do that “heroes” don’t do, like murder and torture.
Have you seen “The Dark Knight”? If yes, what line did the Joker try so hard to get Batman to cross?
I apologise if I had not been clear in my previous post. To keep it simple, I meant to show that your equivocation of elevation with morality is poor and remains a false analogy, simply because the lack of objectivity in the former does not determine any lack of objectivity in the latter, not by a long shot. I sincerely hope you notice that.
Now, let’s look back at your most recent post:
“After all, I’m being told by you people that because we use various starting points for moral standards, these relative positions negate any means to determine right from wrong.”
That’s exactly what Josh and I are suggesting, tildeb: relative positions, while allowing us to make preference statements, do not allow us to determine objective right from wrong. It’s up to YOU, the moral relativist, to show how you believe it can be done. That explains the various questions I posed, which would allow us to flesh out and appreciate your worldview a bit more.
“So rather than ask me so many irrelevant questions I purposefully avoid, spend a bit of time actually understanding what I write first so that our exchanges can be more fruitful in comprehension. It would go a very long way in making the length of comments much smaller and on target.”
But my friend, these questions that you candidly admit that you “purposefully avoid” are VERY relevant to the issue at hand, and that’s exactly why I ask them. On my part, I’m happy to keep the conversation “fruitful” and “the length of comments much smaller and on target.” And you can certainly help me with that. You’ve already avoided answering the questions twice. I’d appreciate if you could answer them this time round, all the more given their relevance to the discussion.
So, to refresh your memory, it seems we’ve established from earlier dialogue that you subscribe to a relativistic view of morality (ie. that morality is subjective), which you confirm with the following:
Now, I ask:
Thanks tildeb, and I do hope you get round to answering the questions this time round. Cheers.
“There are things that “heroes” do that “villains” don’t do, like protecting the innocent and executing justice.”
As soon as a secularist starts using these terms, apologists jump on them, but this could work both ways. eg, I can ask you back: 1) How are you defining justice here? 2) According to the apologist, no-one is innocent. 3) If the phrase ‘human well-being’ is incomprehensible, up for grabs, purely relativist, what sense does it make for you to claim that the hero is distinguished by protecting humans?
You can’t have it both ways – either ‘protecting human well-being’ is a coherent concept or it isn’t. Either justice is a coherent concept or it isn’t, etc. Introducing a God adds nothing to these questions.
“What if the society you lived in determined that torturing babies for personal pleasure allowed for “the greatest net benefit of certain commonly desired goals”. Would you believe then that torturing babies for personal pleasure is right, or would you still deem it wrong?”
Let’s just replace ‘society’ there with ‘God’, and replace ‘the greatest net benefit of certain commonly desired goals” with ‘is objectively moral’, and we’ve got the same question back to you: “Would you believe then that torturing babies for personal pleasure is right, or would you still deem it wrong, if your God declared that it was objectively moral to torture babies?”.
Well, you’ve picked up rightly on the right word: justice. I included it there for this very reason (to further the conversation). There are basic concepts that infuse the idea of heroes throughout history. The origin of the word stems from the idea of “protection”. (ref: Wikipedia — Hero) Protecting who from what? And how do they do that?
I guess I’ll just answer my own question about what line the Joker kept trying to get Batman to cross in the film The Dark Knight. It was intentional killing. Here are two very thoughtful articles about this very issue:
Give us an example of when killing is OK from your perspective.
Regarding “human well-being”: The problem comes when you try to define human well-being. We would disagree on what human well-being is because we even disagree on what designates a human being! (That’s part of the problem.)
My point was that if a person won’t even allow for the idea that torturing a baby negatively affects its well-being, then it’s a bit pointless engaging that person in a discussion of the rights and wrongs of baby torture. How can they even ask whether it’s wrong to torture babies, when they question the idea that baby torture is harmful?
Can you explain how you think the existence or non-existence of a God affects the question your cartoon poses?
Who was arguing that torturing a baby does or doesn’t negatively affect its well-being?
I wasn’t. But I think that’s a problem for you personally and anyone who would side with you. After all, we would even disagree on what a baby is; I would call an unborn child in a womb a baby. Many, yourself included, would say that it isn’t a human (implying that it isn’t a baby, either). So we have now invested the right to grant personhood to a person or a group of people. Now, if it is up to a person or a group of people to designate “personhood” (a huge debate, I know), then we’ve just opened a can of worms that affects morality, since morals relate to how people interact with other people. If a “person” isn’t a “person” (i.e. unborn humans in the womb; slaves in the recent past; blacks in the US in the recent past), the morals do not apply to them and whoever can do whatever to whomever.
The cartoon makes a statement, it doesn’t really pose a question. But I’ll say this: As a Christian, I hold that God is intimately concerned with the human condition and actively involved in the history of the world from its very beginning and until this very day. This includes His bestowing moral laws, principles, and certain institutions (family, marriage, government, the Church) for us (humanity) for our well-being, Him granting personhood and human rights to people (not us), and His establishment of natural laws. These claims are intertwined with factual claims about history that must be taken seriously, examined, and considered. Some may say, “Well, I don’t like the standards recorded in the Bible. I’ll make my own.” OK. Such people are free to do it and to experience the consequences. (They just shouldn’t claim that morality is not objective while simultaneously telling us that one of the sources we reference for morality is wrong. [If it's not objective, then we have just as much claim to "rightness" as anyone.]) And you’d be ignoring a few thousand years of recorded history at your own peril. What happens when everyone, even so called “religious people”, do what is right according to themselves? I can read the dark book of Judges to see a test case. What happens when even religious leaders abuse their privileges and powers?I can learn from Kings. See, the amazing claim that Paul makes is that these were written for our (that is, people who are Christians and take the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures seriously) learning, as examples and warnings to us (1 Corinthians 10:11). Examples of what and warnings of what?
As G.K. Chesterton once said:
“If a man will not obey the Ten Commandments, he will be forced to obey the ten thousand commandments.”
The idea is that doing away with God in moral discussions and decisions is merely replacing Him with another [g]od.
I think I’d probably support Batman killing the Joker, but I don’t think that real life offers us analogous situations. I’m pretty much against torture to obtain information, for many reasons, one of which is that in the real world you can’t be certain you have the right person (films are able to get round this uncertainty).
For people who argue FOR torture (for some reason it mostly seems to be Christians), who give me a hypothetical situation that involves innocent lives on the line, I’d throw the question back at them, but include the proviso that they only get their hands on the suspected terrorist if they hand over a member of their own family to a group of enemy torturers. Then suddenly they get more squeamish about torture…
Well, I think you’ve got a great point about torture there and insane Christian support of it. How much reliable information is going to come from a torture victim? Terrible. Torture is just terrible.
I think the idea of Batman arresting Joker and handing him in is an obvious appeal to law and order. If Joker were proven guilty of a crime that the law says is deserving of the death penalty, then he should be put to death. That’s an example of justice.
“So we have now invested the right to grant personhood to a person or a group of people.”
How is this different from a group of religious people arguing what how their particular Gods grant personhood? Different religions have different ideas of where personhood begins. I don’t even think the ‘person from conception’ idea is particularly old – perhaps 130 years or so.
Anyway, instead of a person saying ‘This is where I believe personhood begins’, you’ve got a person saying ‘This is where I believe my God says personhood begins’. It’s no different.
And the 10 Commandments are no great shakes. Several of them boil down to ‘don’t worship other Gods’. They have certainly left an awful lot of wiggle room for many of your fellow Christians do some awful things over the millennia.
“If a “person” isn’t a “person” (i.e. unborn humans in the womb; slaves in the recent past; blacks in the US in the recent past), the morals do not apply to them and whoever can do whatever to whomever.”
Right, and we’ve been down this road already – the slave-owning you refer to wasn’t down to people not being Christians. In fact, abolitionism was dismissed as an atheist doctrine. Introducing a bible doesn’t solve questions of personhood, it just means that the people who use it to deny personhood to others are now even more impossible to argue with, because they believe their views are God-sanctioned!
“The idea is that doing away with God in moral discussions and decisions is merely replacing Him with another [g]od.”
No, it means using reason.
Well, you can bring up the slavery issue again. One last word on it: There were “Christians” who supported it and they did misuse the Bible to support their position. Yeah, I know. (Remember that just because someone says, “Hey, I’m a Christian” doesn’t mean they actually are. And just because someone says, “Hey, I love the Bible” doesn’t mean they actually read it.) They were mistaken, since slavery in recent history was racially motivated and the Bible is very clear that you are not to treat someone according to outward appearance (James 2:1, 9). Even Moses was married to an Ethiopian (Numbers 12:1), a fact that also deals a death blow to Christians who were against interracial marriage, too. I also pointed out in the past that slaves were heavily abused in recent history, which goes against the biblical laws regarding slavery.
But let’s not forget all the racism that the theory of evolution has inspired. For example: What about all the aboriginal peoples around the world that were killed for their bones at the turn of the last century? My own aunt moved to Australia to complete her Master’s on a group of aboriginals there many years about (about 40 or so). She never finished because she was worried that attention drawn to them might endanger them and their way of life.
Have you ever read Darwin’s assessment of the Fuegians? If not, I unashamedly leave a link to a short article at creationist’s site (Creation Ministries International, an organization that I support) for your consideration: Darwin and the Fuegians As you can see, misguided people can (ab)use any particular religion or philosophy to define who is and is not a person and thereby deny them both personhood and human rights. In Taiwan even today, there are loads of people who equate dark skin with a group of people being less evolved — even a subway ad campaign in Taipei several years ago highlighted this! (Talk to any black man or woman who has spent time in the Far East to see how they’ve been treated and why.)
But what of the largest tragedies of the past century under atheistic, moral relativistic communism? Pol Pot? Mao Zedong?
Given your premise that a person or a group of people determine their morality and personhood, there was nothing they did wrong. Mao wants to use Chinese citizens as bullet catchers, well, that’s OK, according to the men-define-morality view. (And he did do that in the Korean War.) Pol Pot wants to kill all the intellectuals and religious leaders in Cambodia? All he needs is a larger and stronger group of people to enforce his morality on the rest and he’s OK. And they used the same, old method, didn’t they? Define who is and who is not a person, so questions regarding the morality of an action can be side stepped, since morality only deals with behavior between people. Someone / something is not a person, I’m free from any sort of moral obligations. (The abortion point we’ve discussed in the past is right in line with this.)
“the way I see it is that there is no inherent characteristic that a human possesses that makes them a capable authority on right and wrong”
Then equally we’re not able to interpret what your God believes to be right or wrong. Hence all the arguments. Thus the theist is no better off or a higher authority than the atheist when it comes to right or wrong.
As for the ‘enforcement’ problem you see, in real life we see no lower crime rates among theists, compared to atheist. In fact, if you look at religion on entry to prison of criminals, the correlation works the other way – atheists commit fewer crimes.
“Given your premise that a person or a group of people determine their morality and personhood, there was nothing they did wrong”
By their own reckoning, perhaps – if so, that’s just a statement of fact. But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t doing wrong by YOUR or MY reckoning.
“Define who is and who is not a person, so questions regarding the morality of an action can be side stepped”
Josh, you act like religion is the cure for this – in truth religion is the greatest CAUSE of it. Religion gives people the greatest excuse to see each other as less than human. Catholics and Protestants were burning each other at the stake for hundreds on years in England, and more recently bombing and knee-capping each other for decades in Ireland. In fact the Old Testament specifically tells Christians to stone non-believers!
“But let’s not forget all the racism that the theory of evolution has inspired”
Nonsense on several levels. Evolution showed that we all share a common ancestor – it led to science showing the minuscule DNA difference between different races. Before that we had people quoting the story of Ham in the bible to argue that blacks were inferior. And Darwin was a strong abolitionist.
“Remember that just because someone says, “Hey, I’m a Christian” doesn’t mean they actually are”
A ‘no true Scotsman’ defence Josh.
“which goes against the biblical laws regarding slavery.”
Well the bible says you can beat your slave to death with no punishment as long as they take longer than two days to die, so make of that what you will.
Andy, false and/or nonsense statements regarding the Bible or biblical material in your post include the following:
“Religion gives people the greatest excuse to see each other as less than human.”
Before you provide evidence for this to us in any follow up comments, read the questions below. Remember that you’ll have to first show the direct link between the teachings in the New Testament and the immoral behavior that they cause. I’ll wait.
“Catholics and Protestants were burning each other at the stake for hundreds on years in England, and more recently bombing and knee-capping each other for decades in Ireland.”
So, again, show us one place in the New Testament where anyone claiming to be Christian is given the right to take the life of another human being. I’ll wait.
“In fact the Old Testament specifically tells Christians to stone non-believers!”
The Old Testament law and dictates regarding punishment were given to Israel. So you’ll have to show us where the New Testament teaches stoning of non-believers.
“Before that we had people quoting the story of Ham in the bible to argue that blacks were inferior.”
And show us where the Bible says the curse of Ham was black skin.
“A ‘no true Scotsman’ defence Josh.”
Well, I won’t touch that remark. A misinformed, ill-informed, or uninformed knowledge of the New Testament might be the only potential defense of that. Jesus gave us a very clear way to distinguish between Christians and frauds.
“And show us where the Bible says the curse of Ham was black skin”
And show us where evolutionary science says any humans are inferior to others…
“…Show us one place in the New Testament where anyone claiming to be Christian is given the right to take the life of another human being”
If you argue with any Christian who is quoting the OT, and tell them “Show me where in the NEW Testament where it says…” and they’ll firmly quote you Jesus saying that he didn’t come to replace the Old Testament. This gives them all the confirmation they need that the OT still goes.
That pretty much deals with all your complaints above. But for this: “Remember that you’ll have to first show the direct link between the teachings in the New Testament and the immoral behavior that they cause”
No I don’t. You offered religion and the bible as a cure for the Pol Pot problem. We just have to look at reality to see this is false. Religion and Christianity in particular do not stop this happening, and if anything historically they have fueled it.
“And show us where evolutionary science says any humans are inferior to others…”
OK! Here you go; a small sample:
“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
“We have now seen that a naturalist might feel himself fully justified in ranking the races of man as distinct species; for he has found that they are distinguished by many differences in structure and constitution, some being of importance. These differences have, also, remained nearly constant for very long periods of time. He will have been in some degree influenced by the enormous range of man, which is a great anomaly in the class of mammals, if mankind be viewed as a single species. He will have been struck with the distribution of the several so-called races, in accordance with that of other undoubtedly distinct species of mammals. Finally he might urge that the mutual fertility of all the races has not as yet been fully proved; and even if proved would not be an absolute proof of their specific identity.
- “The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex” by Charles Darwin, p. 270, 282-83, 295
To Darwin’s credit, he does go on a little further to talk about the difficulties in defining species and sub-species when talking about everything other than man. Eventually he still maintains his own idea that the minds were different, though that of a few aboriginals and at least 1 (!) negro had some similarities to the white European mind, in his opinion:
“The American aborigines, Negroes and Europeans differ as much from each other in mind as any three races that can be named; yet I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Fuegians on board the ‘Beagle,’ with the many little traits of character, shewing how similar their minds were to ours; and so it was with a full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate.”
When I said that you’ll have to first show the direct link between the teachings in the New Testament and the immoral behavior that they cause, you said, “No I don’t.” OK. You won’t because you can’t. You can’t show us anywhere in the New Testament that says, “Kill people who don’t agree with you” or “Kill people who don’t agree with you 100%”. This is because the New Testament teaches the opposite. It teaches loving your enemies, doing good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27-36) and, most importantly regarding animosity between denominations and so on, a genuine Christian will not hate their brother or sister in the Lord:
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
1 John 4:21-22
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
1 John 4:21-22
Loving someone doesn’t involve shoving a bomb through their window or killing them, at least where I’m from. Therefore, I am safe to claim that anyone who says they are a Christian yet they are going to kill another Christian (over a doctrine or whatever else), that person is not a Christian. Pretty simple and straight-forward, I think. Besides, any killing is done in spite of what the Bible says, not because of it. So your point, that “Christians” have been “killing each other for hundreds of years in England and decades in Ireland” fails to deliver any meaningful content and the discussion of that particular point is over.
I’ll restate my previous rebuttals that went unanswered here:
1) Show us one place in the New Testament where anyone claiming to be Christian is given the right to take the life of another human being.
2) Show us where the New Testament teaches stoning of non-believers.
3) Show us where the Bible says the curse of Ham was black skin.
You accused me of making a “no true Scotsman”-type defense. Should I accuse you of committing the association fallacy?
PS – I edited this shortly after replying the first time. I wanted to make it a little shorter for clarity.
I asked you for scientific evidence, not Darwin’s opinions. As for his prediction that certain races would overcome others, he wasn’t far off with regards Native Americans in the US. He didn’t say it would be a good thing, no? At any rate, what on earth is your point regarding Darwin? If it turned out Einstein was a pedophile, would that negate Relativity? The evidence for evolution stands apart from Darwin, an abolitionist who was actually pretty progressive for his day with regards to race.
And yes I did address your OT/NT point with my reference to Matthew 5:17.
Well, Andy, one example: Surely you have heard of eugenics? It was directly tied to the idea of evolution. Even the logo at the Second International Eugenics Conference included the tag line “Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution.” Would eugenics have existed apart from the theory of evolution?
I’ve had the bad habit in the past of trying to follow each rabbit trail critics here bring up. Let me not do that and focus back on the topic of the cartoon: morality from a moral relativist universe. Since morals regard human-to-human interaction, let me restate my challenges to you:
You made correct claims that some people claiming to be Christians did/do these things. So show us that the Bible teaches these things. I’ve already asked 3 times, but I’ll keep waiting.
Should be enough evidence in this short BBC documentary, Scientific Racism: The Eugenics of Social Darwinism, to show that racism is an intrinsic part of the theory of evolution, since some races had been seen as not being as advanced or developed in mind and body as others. This was then used to deny human rights and personhood to those whom the people with power had determined were less than human:
Of course, you may say that the people who were part of the atrocities were not part of your particular denomination, but you would have to condemn them using the same text that they used to justify their actions, which is what I can do as a Christian. So-called Jews or Christians who practiced or supported the practice of racism throughout history were doing so in spite of what the Bible teaches, not because of it. The biblical answer has always been that there is one race, the human one, descended from Adam and Eve, a doctrinal fact that you yourself poked fun at in another thread. In fact, the man speaking at the 32:53 minute mark says nearly exactly what you said there in that thread, that people who still teach or believe that are out of touch with modern science. Regardless, I do think it’s interesting that scientists say they can trace back the ancestry of humans to a single “Eve” in Africa, which is at least a tacit admission that the record of history in the Bible is worth a little more than the premature grave you’ve given it.
“I’ve had the bad habit in the past of trying to follow each rabbit trail you bring up. Let me not do that and focus back on the topic of the cartoon: morality from a moral relativist universe…
So show us that the Bible teaches these things. I’ve already asked 3 times, but I’ll keep waiting.”
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. This is not the first time Andrew Ryan is avoiding questions specific to the issue at hand, even as you’ve addressed his terribly misinformed position on a number of issues. That, of course, takes me back to what I’ve stated here before: there are indeed people out there who are more interested in simply raising selectively hyperskeptical objection after objection, derailing a conversation and distracting from arguments, or worse, engaging in deliberate intellectual dishonesty for the sake of winning an argument, rather than building any positive case for their worldview so that it can actually be taken seriously to begin with. And it’s not for lack of trying. I too have asked the same topic-relevant questions 3 times, without a single attempt at an answer from him.
The thing is, once intentionally devious discussion tactics enter the fray, intellectually illuminating conversations go out the window, and any attempt at reasonable discourse risks being in vain. So just as Jesus was not afraid to call out the religious hypocrites of his day. it becomes all the more important that we – calmly and yet responsibly – expose these ill-willed attempts at obfuscation from time to time. Even if the only reason for doing that is so that agnostic lurkers or other serious seekers who were otherwise intimidated from posting here show up over time, engage in serious, honest, intellectual discourse, and perhaps come to experience God’s unfailing grace, love and salvation, it becomes a really worthwhile reason for our efforts. And your fantastic site is sure to blossom with all sorts of thought-stimulating conversation (and brilliant drawings).
That was why I intended to call Andrew Ryan’s bluff on a number of dishonest acts he has perpetuated online (and why he so quickly disappeared). The only reason I held back was out of respect for your wishes. Still, I think the time has come to share what I know with you. I’ll be sending you an email within the next one week.
In the meantime, kudos for sticking to your guns, and refusing to allow the issue to veer off-course. You’ve raised some excellent points, which I will follow up on over the next few days. Have a blessed week! =)
And now, Andrew Ryan:
I noticed no response on your part to any of my questions. Now I am going to put up some of those questions again (4th time) for your kind response, in a version updated for the proceedings of this thread. But before I proceed with my post, let me clear up some of your misunderstanding. First and foremost, I am specifically and simply interested in finding out whether objective morality exists or does not exist. And so:
This post is not about me doubting that materialists believe torturing babies for personal pleasure is wrong (I am sure they believe it is wrong).
It is not about your strawmannising me or other Christians to be advocates of baby-torture.
It is not about your question-begging redefinition of a maximally great being (God) and His nature as being anything less than maximally great.
It is not about poor methods of biblical hermeneutics.
It is not about committing the genetic fallacy by suggesting that just because reason or evolution has programmed us to believe in certain values, therefore those values are not objective.
It is not about your being in denial about the causal links between Darwinism and eugenics, or atheism and mass murder.
And so, now that we have finally gotten all these convenient distractors out of the way, you are invited to answer the following 2 simple questions, based on your worldview (P.S.: tildeb, feel free to respond as well):
1) Within the materialist worldview, could it ever SOMETIMES be right or fine to torture babies for personal pleasure, or is it ALWAYS wrong?
2) If your answer to question 1 is that it is always wrong, please explain why on the materialist view it is always wrong to torture babies for personal pleasure.
Remember, I did not form an argument, nonsensical or otherwise. I am asking 2 relatively simple questions.
I look forward to both your responses. Thank you.
“I noticed no response on your part to any of my questions”
After your behaviour on the last thread I engaged you in discussion, I don’t feel I owe you any further answers.
” “I noticed no response on your part to any of my questions”
After your behaviour on the last thread I engaged you in discussion, I don’t feel I owe you any further answers.”
Hmm, it’s interesting that you say this, given you had the time and conviction to respond to another one of my questions on this thread, namely this:
” “What if the society you lived in determined that torturing babies for personal pleasure allowed for “the greatest net benefit of certain commonly desired goals”. Would you believe then that torturing babies for personal pleasure is right, or would you still deem it wrong?”
Let’s just replace ‘society’ there with ‘God’, and replace ‘the greatest net benefit of certain commonly desired goals” with ‘is objectively moral’, and we’ve got the same question back to you: “Would you believe then that torturing babies for personal pleasure is right, or would you still deem it wrong, if your God declared that it was objectively moral to torture babies?”.”
And what exactly are you referring to when you refer to my “behaviour”? If by “behaviour” you are referring to my plan to reveal some of the dishonest methods you had employed during your online discussions, and if doing so allows this site to continue to uphold honest intellectual discourse and attract quality comments from agnostics, atheists and religious people alike instead of becoming another public park for troll hunts, I believe that would qualify as responsible behaviour. As I’ve stated before, I have a duty of care to objectivity and truth. In fact, we all do.
Besides, if you noticed, I chose not to write about it after you quickly disappeared and after Josh got in touch with me. So I do not see where you’re coming from.
As it stands, you have not answered either question:
Try again, or not.
Josh, eugenics is artificial selection, which man practiced for thousands of years before Darwin was born. By definition, artificial selection is the opposite of natural selection.
Attempts to link evolution to the Nazis fail too – Hitler rejected Darwin’s ideas and banned his books. Hitler rejected the idea the speciation was even possible.
Yes, I saw that BBC doc at the time. What point do you want to discuss from it?
I already addressed your bible point twice, and already pointed out why your smearing of Darwin is meaningless anyway. Biological science stands apart from anything Darwin did or said, and certainly the facts of science stand apart from the character or opinions of those who theorised about those facts.
Well, that’s one way to sugar coat a program that involved the forced sterilization of “undesirables”, often times against their knowledge and will (practiced up until the 1980s in America) and was directly the result of the teaching of evolution. Even the subsection of the Wikipedia entry on eugenics mentions that Darwin’s half-cousin, Francis Galton:
[Galton] reasoned that, since many human societies sought to protect the underprivileged and weak, those societies were at odds with the natural selection responsible for extinction of the weakest; and only by changing these social policies could society be saved from a “reversion towards mediocrity”, a phrase he first coined in statistics and which later changed to the now common ‘regression towards the mean.’”
Such twisted conclusions — that the weak and underprivileged were to be exterminated, not protected — is the direct result of the theory of evolution. In fact, the entry goes on to say that eugenics gave birth to segregation, sterilization, and even genocide.
Well, I’ll answer my own questions (again):
1) Show us one place in the New Testament where anyone claiming to be Christian is given the right to take the life of another human being.
It doesn’t, so you can’t.
2) Show us where the New Testament teaches stoning of non-believers.
It doesn’t, so you can’t.
3) Show us where the Bible says the curse of Ham was black skin.
It doesn’t, so you can’t. And I’ll add emphatically that the Bible says nothing and in no way suggests that the curse of Cain was black skin. Neither can the curse be said to have been something passed down. It was, after all, the curse of Cain.
Let’s get off Darwin, natural / artificial selection, and evolution. Let me ask you questions regarding morality, your own to be specific:
1) Define your standard of “good” for us.
2) Would you consider yourself a “good” person, according to your own standards?
3) Have you ever done anything against your own conscience?
Josh, sorry but my Adam and Eve comment stands:
“Unfortunately, the scientific evidence shows that Adam and Eve could not have existed, at least in the way they’re portrayed in the Bible. Genetic data show no evidence of any human bottleneck as small as two people: there are simply too many different kinds of genes around for that to be true. There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. That’s as small a population as our ancestors had, and—note—it’s not two individuals.
Further, looking at different genes, we find that they trace back to different times in our past. Mitochondrial DNA points to the genes in that organelle tracing back to a single female ancestor who lived about 140,000 years ago, but that genes on the Y chromosome trace back to one male who lived about 60,000-90,000 years ago. Further, the bulk of genes in the nucleus all trace back to different times—as far back as two million years. This shows not only that any “Adam” and “Eve” (in the sense of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA alone) must have lived thousands of years apart, but also that there simply could not have been two individuals who provided the entire genetic ancestry of modern humans. Each of our genes “coalesces” back to a different ancestor, showing that, as expected, our genetic legacy comes from many different individuals. It does not go back to just two individuals, regardless of when they lived.”
Going back to your veneration of Chesterton – the man died decades before the development of the science quoted above. Again, whether or not he ever had a leg to stand on with his claim that the only sane stance was to believe in literal a literal ‘first couple’ frolicking with talking snakes, the limbs have certainly dropped off that argument now.
Thanks for the link, Andy!
Did you notice that the writer of the linked article didn’t leave a bibliography? He made claims, but he didn’t leave a way for us to verify “the scientific evidence” or see what the evidence actually was. (He did mention two articles, but that’s about it.) Are we supposed to just take his word for it? I know you wouldn’t suggest that. But I point that out for one important reason: If the author is only reading one side of the scientific data, then how can we trust that his conclusion is right? And how much do we really know about the information in the DNA? Isn’t it a little premature to be making big sweeping statements about what happened in the past based on relatively new / young data, especially since even experiments can’t be done in a laboratory to show they are true? (Correct me on the last point, if you can. I’m trying to think what experiment could be done to prove the author’s conclusion. I’ve heard other scientist warn of the dangers of extrapolation.)
So, I submit a piece from the other side for your consideration. It includes a list of references and additional articles on the subject at the bottom. Here it is:
Adam, Eve and Noah vs Modern Genetics
I’d like to add that in my own field is more geared towards Chinese history and language, so I’ll add that historical / literary evidence shows that most old ancient, continuous civilizations (like China) retain some knowledge of the content from Genesis 1 to 11. In fact, Chinese history starts off with just one man (Fu Xi) and one woman (Nuwa) and includes events like the flood and the creation of man.
By the way, I enjoy Chesterton’s work a lot, but I don’t “venerate” him. And the jab about a talking snake somehow proves something. Don’t you think it’s funny that someone like you who would claim that everything — the universe, people, snakes, and his present conclusions about the nature of reality — came from nothing for no reason would poke fun at the Genesis story? I would have thought that someone who venerates “reason” as highly as you yourself would have less of a problem believing in a talking snake than thinking that the snake, with all its advanced features, came from nothing at all.
Josh, I will be formulating a response to Andrew’s comments (about Adam and Eve and Chesterton) back on the thread it was meant to be on, so that this thread runs its course and nothing distracts from the points raised. See you there. =)
I always appreciate your input, Getic.Apolo!
Thank you, my friend. =)
“Such twisted conclusions — that the weak and underprivileged were to be exterminated, not protected — is the direct result of the theory of evolution. ”
How so? Where are you getting this ‘ought’ from a scientific ‘is’?
7 days, and we’re still waiting for Andrew Ryan and tildeb to respond to 2 relatively simple questions from a materialist point of view. Andrew Ryan, for instance, has been posting regularly over the past one week. Anyone else notice he won’t touch these questions with a ten foot pole?
How about I make my 2 questions 4? I am genuinely interested in finding out more about the materialist worldview:
And 2 brand new questions (for which I claim no credit, I noticed them while passing an online discussion on an Intelligent Design website):
3) Let’s imagine a group of chimpanzees. Say one of the male chimps approaches a female chimp and makes chimp signals that he wants to have sexual relations with her, but for whatever reason she’s not interested and refuses. Is it morally wrong for the male chimp to force the female chimp to have sex with him against her will?
4) If you answer “no it is not morally wrong in the chimp world,” imagine further a group of humans. On the materialist view, a human is just a jumped up hairless ape. Is it morally wrong for a human male to force a human female to have sex with him against her will? If you answer “yes, it is morally wrong,” I certainly agree with you. But please explain why on the materialist view it is not wrong for a hairy ape to force a female to have sex with him, but it is wrong for a hairless ape to force a female to have sex with him.
I invite anyone and everyone to attempt a response, especially Andrew Ryan and tildeb, as these are important questions to think through.
Remember, I did not form an argument, nonsensical or otherwise. I am asking 4 relatively simple questions.
Getic: “Andrew Ryan, for instance, has been posting regularly over the past one week.”
Getic, I already told you – I find you a dishonest poster and have found your past interactions reprehensible. Further, on two past threads I’ve engaged you in discussion and after a few posts you’ve said “I’m leaving the country now, but will take this up again on my return”, only for you never to post again on that thread.
That explains my reluctance to engage with you again.
However, “Is it morally wrong for the male chimp to force the female chimp to have sex with him against her will?”
I don’t know if apes are aware enough of the consequences of what they do. Therefore, subjecting them to the same moral judgements is possibly engaging in the pathetic fallacy.
“Within the materialist worldview, could it ever SOMETIMES be right or fine to torture babies for personal pleasure, or is it ALWAYS wrong?”
Can you define exactly what you mean by ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in these contexts? If you’re going to play Socrates and use Socratic Irony, then you need to precisely define your terms.
And for you: if God tells you to torture babies does that mean you are morally compelled to do so?
Josh: “If the author is only reading one side of the scientific data, then how can we trust that his conclusion is right? And how much do we really know about the information in the DNA?”
Josh, you’re just obfuscating. Jerry Coyne is quoting the science. There is ‘other side’ here. If you want to learn more about what scientists know, there are plenty of good books on the subject. ‘We’ certainly know enough to back up what Coyne is saying here, which is nothing controversial, fringe or unbacked up. If your only response is to question his credentials then I think that says enough.
Getic: “As I’ve stated before, I have a duty of care to objectivity and truth.”
My irony meter just exploded.
“Hmm, it’s interesting that you say this, given you had the time and conviction to respond to another one of my questions ”
I said “I don’t feel I owe you any answers”, not that l lacked time or conviction.
“If by “behaviour” you are referring to my plan to reveal some of the dishonest methods you had employed during your online discussions”
I’ve got no idea WHAT you were planning to post. You were vaguely threatening, and had become a most unpleasant and truculent poster, such that I didn’t trust you or your motives. You didn’t seem interested in honest debate. If you formed the same opinion of me, then so be it. But my explanation remains of why I don’t feel I owe you any answers. The fact that you chose not to post whatever you were planning to post suggests you thought better of it, validating my initial suspicions. And my point remains about your previous disappearing act too. Feel free to stop posting whenever you want – I was pointing out that twice you’ve said “Give me a few days, I’ll respond then”, and then simply didn’t, reappearing on another thread later.
Pardon the directness, but you’re sounding increasingly obtuse and daft. And the signs of desperation are so cringingly obvious that your false accusation doesn’t even warrant a response. So why am I bothering with a reply? Simply because yours is the sort of dishonest, militant atheism that should be weeded out from this site to make way for the thousands of wonderful, honest, civil, truth-seeking atheists and agnostics out there who are not being fairly represented by your terrible example, and who deserve much more of our time and dialogue than you and your display of overweening ignorance and dishonesty.
Ladies and gentlemen, having already accused Josh (the owner of this site) of “the height of dishonesty” in an earlier thread, Andrew Ryan has now decided to try his luck at putting the ‘dishonest’ tag on me as well, in a desperately ill-informed attempt at one-upping me before I expose his many dishonest online debating tactics.
And what’s this ‘great, unforgiveable crime’ of mine, you may ask? Apparently, as Andrew Ryan puts it, on two past threads I told him that “I’m leaving the country now, but will take this up again on my return”, and didn’t post again on those threads.
Yes, that is it, people. I’m sorry if you were looking for more.
And of course, since my conscience is clean and I have nothing to hide, let us indeed go directly to those two threads in question, after which we’ll find that Andrew Ryan’s accusations (or should I say, attempts at distraction) can be dismissed with absolute ease, and further highlight his dishonesty.
(1) The first thread in question was one where a couple of us, including Andrew Ryan, were discussing matters on morality (http://noapologiesallowed.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/an-analysis-of-another-asinine-atheist-ad/#comments), and I was heading overseas for work. After witnessing multiple rounds of discussions back and forth between Josh, tildeb and Andrew Ryan (there were 16 whole posts during which I played NO PART apart from reading the exchanges), all I wrote was this:
“Excellent discussion all round fellas! =)
May I add that I am overseas and will be back home (and at my workspace) in a matter of 2 days, and when I’m back, I’ll make sure to formulate my response to a few matters. In the meantime, have a great week! =D ”
Note that all I did was commend the conversation and state that I will write something in general pertaining to the topic (morality). I certainly DID NOT say I would write anything directly to Andrew Ryan, and to highlight that, let me put up his accusation word-for-word for comparison:
” I’ve engaged you in discussion and after a few posts you’ve said “I’m leaving the country now, but will take this up again on my return”, only for you never to post again on that thread.”
Spotted the lie yet? Yes, Andrew Ryan had you believe I owed him some kind of reply, which we now know is untrue. And I have indeed since gone on to write a lot more pertaining to morality, many times directly engaging Andrew Ryan himself! So there you go, that’s one thread down. Now let’s look at the second thread that’s the subject of Andrew Ryan’s reference, one that makes him look even worse than the first!
(2) The second thread pertains to a discussion on abortion (http://noapologiesallowed.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/really-recommended-reading-apple-inc-and-abortion/#comments), a period during which I uncovered some troubling things about Andrew Ryan’s dishonest online debating tactics, and was ready to expose him, specifically stating that I was going to highlight “some of the non-arguments and dishonesty that… Andrew Ryan… resorted to in engaging Josh and I in dialogue…”
Of course, not wanting his cover to be blown, Andrew Ryan constantly – almost embarrassingly – pleaded with and appealed to the wonderful side of Josh, in making himself look like some victim and attempting to censor me before I could shed light on his dishonesty. And even then, I was steadfast in wanting to expose him, writing:
“I will be back home in 4 days, my post should be up in 6. Watch this space. ;) ”
And guess what? This, was the gist of Andrew Ryan’s reply to me:
“No thanks, I’m unsubscribing from this site, so won’t receive any more post notifications… Adios.”
So the question is, who’s running away from whom? Andrew Ryan scoots off out of fear that his cover will be blown, and also prompts the wonderful Josh to send me an email asking me not to do it, which is why I stopped posting in the first place. AND YET, he would again have you believe that it was ME who left the discussion. In fact, I even pointed all this out to Andrew Ryan in a subsequent discussion:
“…if you noticed, I chose not to write about it after you quickly disappeared and after Josh got in touch with me.”
So, readers, as you can tell by now, Andrew Ryan’s statements are nothing but baseless accusations without substance. I have never been afraid to engage him in conversations (even as he avoids questions posed by Josh and myself), I make sure that even if I drop out of a thread that gets too long, I am ever ready to engage that topic the next time it comes round (it is worth noting that Andrew Ryan has dropped out of online discussions many times before himself), and I certainly intend to pursue honest dialogue, even as Andrew Ryan might prefer otherwise. There, quite easily done. =)
And so, now that Andrew Ryan’s convenient and dishonest distractors have finally been dismissed with ease, I bet some of you must be wondering, what EXACTLY it is about Andrew Ryan that I intended to share with other readers. Well guess what, Andrew Ryan? Your luck finally ran out. Josh too, it seems, is finally on to your dishonest ways, and he has given me the go-ahead to share what I’ve uncovered. And since I’ve defended myself against your accusation, I believe you have a responsibility to all the people visiting this site to explain what seems to be questionable behaviour on your part. So here it goes.
1) Let me bring your attention to a discussion Andrew Ryan, Josh and I had on a previous thread on morality, where Andrew Ryan brought up the Euthyphro Dilemma and made some audacious claims:
” If you want, try to work out your response to Euthryphro’s Dilemma. In other words, work out what difference positing a God makes to your morality question. If you’re making your morality subject to God’s existence then by definition it isn’t objective.”
And here comes the audacious claim:
“I’ve had this conversation with several well-known apologists, and none had a decent response.”
Naturally, I had my doubts, given he didn’t show much understanding of the dilemma to begin with. So I called his bluff:
” You claim that “I’ve had this conversation with several well-known apologists, and none had a decent response.” May I know who these “well-known apologists” are?”
Andrew Ryan’s response?:
“The “well-known apologists” include Frank Turek, author of “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist’. He debated Christopher Hitchens.”
I still tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, did some Googling on my own to determine if he ever had a proper lengthy conversation with Frank Turek on the Euthyphro Dilemma, let alone not get a decent response, and, upon not finding anything, got back to Andrew Ryan:
“By the way, it so happens I Googled all round and in many ways, with both ‘Andrew Ryan’ and ‘Frank Turek’, and couldn’t find anything pertaining to any direct discussion between you and Mr. Turek regarding either the dilemma or the moral argument. Do you have any references, links or details of the discussion that I can look up online? Also, you mentioned SEVERAL well-known apologists, care to mention who else is part of that group of several? =) ”
“I’ll save you the bother, anyway. Here’s one particular discussion specifically on the Euthyphro Dilemma. Frank’s guest poster Neil Mammen is the main protagonist (that’s another apologist for you).
So let’s take stock of things: Andrew Ryan first claimed he had conversed with SEVERAL well-known apologists, I’ve asked him 2 or 3 times who these SEVERAL are, he couldn’t come up with names, then he retreated and claimed a conversation on the Euthryphro Dilemma with Frank Turek, and when his bluff was further called, he referred me, not to a conversation between him and Turek on the subject, but between him and some other Neil Mammen (someone who, by the way, more than adequately handled Andrew’s queries). Sense something fishy here, people?
And it gets worse! For I uncovered more, even as Andrew Ryan kept insisting that he had not got a satisfactory answer to some of his philosophical questions on the dilemma and the associated nature of God. I happened to visit the blog of J. W. Wartick, a regular contributor here who has some fantastic philosophical insights that he shares on his blog. And I quickly realised, to my surprise, that Andrew Ryan has been peddling the same question-begging arguments since as early as 2009! So his claim that no one offered him a decent response is an exaggerated lie. Here, I’m even happy to cite the original link for anyone and everyone to view:
Anyone reading this might quickly gather that Wartick patiently and expertly explained the various philosophical misconceptions Andrew Ryan was (and in fact, still remains) guilty of. From correcting statements that “reflect an utter misunderstanding of what a Maximally Great Being entails” to methodologically explaining why God is THE standard of goodness, Wartick patiently explained, like an adult to an confused child, the many areas pertaining to Euthyphro’s Dilemma that Andrew Ryan was ignorant about. So it seems that even as Andrew Ryan speaks derisively of God’s Nature through the Euthyphro Dilemma, he does not interact with my or any other person or philosopher’s articulation and defense of those issues, and much rather prefers peddling the same faulty arguments. In fact, I urge everyone to go to the above link, you’ll quickly find that not only is Andrew Ryan emitting hot air with the claim that he got “no decent response”, but it seems he should get a basic philosophy textbook!
And yet, why would Andrew Ryan conveniently omit this fact, that someone had already given him a more-than-decent (in fact, brilliant) response as early as 2009? And in spite of that, why would he carry on peddling the same questions and exhibit the same ignorance across numerous sites across the Web? I sense someone who is not willing to humble himself and accept the faults in his thinking no matter how many times he’s educated.
Andrew Ryan, did you SERIOUSLY think you could get away with your dishonesty? Well it’s now time for you to face up to the awkward truth! You LIED when you said you have spoken to several well-known apologists about the Euthyphro Dilemma, and even as your terribly misinformed ideas were corrected in 2009, you carry on perpetuating the same faulty questions in 2012. I challenge you: prove – as per your claim – that you have spoken to “several well-known apologists” about the matter, including Frank Turek, or just admit to the awkward fact that you were being utterly dishonest. Here, I am even happy to provide you a list of 100 of the best apologists around (http://www.apologetics315.com/2009/06/100-christian-apologists.html) show us what you’re worth and let us know which one of them you’ve ever held that so-called conversation with. I’m even happy to write to William Lane Craig with your question-begging queries if you’d like, so that he can make it his Question Of The Week and answer you comprehensively, would you like that?
You’ve got one last chance to prove your honesty, and I’ll gladly retract my statement if you do. Take your time, I’ll wait. I’m not holding my breath though.
2) Andrew Ryan, in trying to appeal to Josh’s emotions so that I wouldn’t expose his online dishonesty, said this:
“I’ve got two kids, but post with my real name as a courtesy to you.”
Which, of course, was a veiled, irresponsibly insensitive dig at people like tildeb and myself, who post under usernames for personal reasons. That, of course, might imply Andrew Ryan does not resort to the ‘discourtesy’ of using fake names. But guess what? Andrew Ryan DOES use fake names, and many of them at that! And yet, even that hypocrisy might be forgiveable. What highlights his dishonesty most is that he is even guilty of having DELIBERATELY and WILFULLY posted under a fake name so as to trick someone into responding to him. And I have the evidence to prove it!
I quote from the following thread, where Andrew Ryan was having a discussion with another user called Rhology, and made some false claims yet again (http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2012/02/22/episode-98-presuppositional-apologetics-part-2/):
Andrew Ryan: “CL Bolt, I have now addressed Rhology’s questions on his own website. He gave up before I did. He’s welcome to do that, but you can no longer claim I was running from his questions.”
Rhology: “You did? Where? When? Neither Google nor I remember you.”
Andrew Ryan: “Under the name Stephen B. Yes, that was me. If you’re going to use a pseudonym, I reserve the right to as well!”
So, as anyone can plainly see, Andrew Ryan (if that’s even his real name) declared a victory for himself, claiming his debating partner “gave up before I did”, on the basis of arguments he had made while knowingly, wilfully, deceiving Rhology into furthering conversation with him by posting under a false name. What kind of defence could you possibly have for tricking your opponent with such dishonest tactics, Andrew Ryan? And now that you’ve been found out, it’s crystal clear that you engaged in dishonest behaviour here, how’re you gonna run from this finding, Stephen B (and Nathan Barley, and whatever else you call yourself)? My take is you can’t!
3) Lo and behold, would you know? It seems I am not the first one calling Andrew Ryan dishonest! Andrew Ryan might dismiss the fact that Josh and I find him dishonest in various ways, including his poor biblical hermeneutics, but when there are this many people online questioning his debating tactics and his understanding of the Bible, we know we’re on to something. Let me give a brief (and not exhaustive) list of comments pertaining to Andrew Ryan:
(i) J. W. Wartick, during the dialogue already cited above (http://jwwartick.com/2009/08/05/counter-counter-apologetics-2-gross-misunderstandings-of-the-ontological-argument/):
“To even suggest that these things are simply arbitrarily attached is to ignore the terms involved and be dishonest with what the argument is stating.”
“To put this in perspective, you state “…projecting values you think are important to a [sic] all-powerful being.” This is at best false and at worst dishonest. ”
(ii) C. L. Bolt, in an interesting post that is actually dedicated to Andrew Ryan, titled ‘Atheist Andrew’s Misreading of Exodus 21:20-21 On Beating Slaves’, starts his post with this (http://www.choosinghats.com/2012/03/atheist-andrews-misreading-of-exodus-2120-21-on-beating-slaves/):
“A visiting atheist fanboy of Richard Dawkins named Andrew wrote:
‘Oh dear – have you not actually read the bible? It clearly says you can beat your slave to death as long as they take longer than three days to die.’
Rather than addressing some difficult questions posed to him by Rhology, Andrew jumps immediately into a passage that is typically touted by Internet atheists who want to pretend as though they know the Bible better than most believers by virtue of their having read, say, the Skeptics Bible or visited Evil Bible. Now let’s address Andrew’s misreading of the text.”
(iii) Cornell, had this to say about Andrew Ryan (http://sententias.org/2011/11/08/new-atheisms-cancer-and-eventual-cause-of-death-monologue/):
“Right now all you’ve shown me is emotion. I also never said I accepted WLC’s right to refuse Loftus, so right there you show your dishonesty… So try to look at exactly what I’m saying next time. Now I see you like to play games so next time you switch around my words, just remember I’m onto you.”
(iv) And the coup de grace – this user, Ggodat, seems to have the knack of getting right to the point (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hallq/2012/03/15/dont-say-im-one-of-the-good-atheists/):
“If you are the same Andrew Ryan that posts on Tough Questions Answered, you are full of crap. You are incapable of having a normal conversation.”
There you go. There’s really a lot more where that came from. And that’s just based on ONE of his usernames. Goodness knows what else he has going on under ‘Nathan Barley’ and ‘Stephen B’! I’m not in the least bit interested to find out. So, right now, it seems we have a minimum of 6 people who have questioned Andrew Ryan’s online debating tactics, a sure sign of a militant atheist who is blindly committed to a worldview with no real interest in correcting or shaping it. What possible defence could you have for all these, Andrew Ryan? No really, please tell us, I for one would love to hear what you have to say.
So, to sum up Andrew Ryan’s online debating tactics:
1) He made a dishonest claim that he has spoken to “several well-known apologists” about a philosophical topic, and has yet to come up with a single proper reference despite repeated asking. Worse, he has been peddling the same cringingly bad arguments since as early as 2009, no matter how many times various people have answered him succintly on the matter.
2) He tried to appeal to Josh’s emotions in saying he uses his real name, and has been found guilty of deliberately using a fake name to trick someone online into a conversation.
3) There are others out there who question his dishonest online debating tactics.
There are other peripheral issues as well, such as:
(i) Andrew Ryan’s lack of appreciation of certain scientific matters – Josh and I once wasted an entire week trying to get him to wrap his head around the understanding that no well-informed embryologist, biologist, or fetologist disputes the scientific fact that an unborn in a woman’s womb is a human being (you can see the entire discussion here – http://noapologiesallowed.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/really-recommended-reading-apple-inc-and-abortion/#comments). And while quoting nothing from actual scientific papers or books, his key counter-argument was to quote P Z Myers, an atheist blogger and non-expert on the topic who doesn’t even consider a newborn baby as a human being! See, it’s exactly non-arguments like this that make it hard for me (perhaps even Josh) to take Andrew Ryan seriously.
(ii) Andrew Ryan is often guilty of avoiding questions, even when asked 3 or 4 times (he has been guilty of that with Josh as well as myself), when the much easier option would be to answer to allow a conversation to advance.
Hmm, let’s see: Andrew Ryan doesn’t take scientific matters seriously, he doesn’t take philosophical arguments seriously, he doesn’t take biblical reading seriously, he doesn’t take discussions seriously, and yet he wonders why we don’t take him seriously.
As Andrew Ryan would say, the ironing is REALLY delicious! =D
And so, now that Andrew Ryan’s convenient and dishonest distractors have been dismissed with ease, I bet some of you must be wondering, what EXACTLY it is about Andrew Ryan that I intended to share with other readers. Well guess what, Andrew Ryan? Your luck finally ran out. Josh too, it seems, is finally on to your dishonest ways, and he has given me the go-ahead to share what I’ve uncovered. And since I’ve defended myself against your accusation, I believe you have a responsibility to all the people visiting this site to explain what seems to be questionable behaviour on your part. So here it goes.
That is all I have to share for now, folks. I hope it is clear, to atheists, agnostics and theists alike, why this kind of dishonest, militant atheism should not be allowed to spread and undermine the excellent discussions that this site has the potential of attracting. As I’ve stated before, I have a duty of care to objectivity and truth, I believe we all do.
As for Andrew Ryan, a little word of advice: As far as I’m concerned, when visiting Josh’s site, I’m a guest in someone’s house here. I’ve no “right” to be here. It’s not a free speech issue. I’ve no right to act in any dishonest way that suits me, nor protest too much if I’m asked to leave due to ritual impertinence. If you find the honest atmosphere here less than amiable, you are free, even encouraged, to move along. This isn’t a public park. For those who enjoy endlessly, dishonestly, and militantly debating theists, there are probably millions of other places to have flame wars and troll hunts on the internet. For my part, I’m glad this site isn’t degrading into another one of those. Because once intentionally devious discussion tactics enter the fray, intellectually illuminating conversations go out the window, and any attempt at reasonable discourse risks being in vain. At some point, good conversations depend on participants who can agree about foundational things, or who have a willingness to learn. It’s then that differences in opinion or outlook become illuminating.
So just as Jesus was not afraid to call out the religious hypocrites of his day. it becomes all the more important that we – calmly and yet responsibly – expose these ill-willed attempts at obfuscation from time to time. Even if the only reason for doing that is so that agnostic lurkers or other serious seekers who were otherwise intimidated from posting here show up over time, engage in serious, honest, intellectual discourse, and perhaps come to experience God’s unfailing grace, love and salvation, it becomes a really worthwhile reason for our efforts.
Finally, I would like to assure Andrew Ryan that not all is lost, there is still hope, ALWAYS, and I still do keep you in prayer. For the Bible says that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, myself included! I can relate to some of your militant atheism because truth be told (and my life story is proof), I too once mocked Christianity and wilfully rejected my Saviour, engaging in all kinds of sinful activity (I was previously an atheist, and a militant one at that). But I have since learnt that Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man, and died for us so that by his death he might reconcile us to God. God knew from before the foundations of the world that He would do this to rectify man’s falling freely into sin. It is amazing, I agree, but God has given evidence for the efficacy of Christ’s atoning death by raising him from the dead, an event for which we have surprisingly good evidence. And ever since I got to experience God in my life, I am slowly, but surely, being transformed from within. And I very much wish for you to experience that transformation as well.
It’s all up to you, and Him. =)
(Josh, this post completely disappeared when I clicked ‘Post Comment’, so I’m not sure if it went through and is awaiting moderation or really did disappear. I’m putting it up again, should this be a duplicate, please disregard this one and moderate the other one into view, thanks alot brother!)
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