How To Talk With Your Pre-teens About LGBT Issues

How To Talk With Your Pre-teens About LGBT Issues

A reader at The Stream sent a question about how to teach her very young children about transgender-related issues. I wrote her this answer, which I think might be helpful to other parents of young children too. (I’ve adapted my answer slightly for use here.)

Hi, S____,

Thank you for the question! Kudos to you for thinking through this issue for the sake of your children. I’ve actually got an article related to your question, ready to be published soon at The Stream. It’s a brief introduction to my recently released Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens

In the meantime here’s an interview you could listen to, and you could also look through my recent blog series on the same topic.

Prepare By Equipping Yourself

But your question isn’t about teens. Let me offer some suggestions for younger children if I may. (I’ve been asked about this often.) My strong advice is to prepare by equipping yourself with answers that you need, and that your kids are going to need as they grow up. For example:

  • “What does the Bible say about marriage and morality? Where does it say it in the Bible, and how do we know we’re interpreting it correctly?”
  • “Why would God say what He says about this? What if the Bible is just outdated and prejudiced and wrong? How can we be confident it’s really true and actually still good?
  • “We keep hearing things like Christians are haters, bigots, homophobic, on the wrong side of history… what’s the real truth about that?”

You may not need those answers today, and your kids won’t need you to pass along all that you learn — not yet, that is. They will in time, though, and sooner than you think. If you don’t know where you stand — and why you stand there — your kids ultimately won’t know where they stand, either. That kind of equipping is what I wrote Critical Conversations for, and it doesn’t just apply to parents of teens.

How (Not) To Bring Up the Topic

As for training and teaching very young children, I certainly wouldn’t suggest you introduce them to any questions or problems they don’t need to know about yet. But I would definitely monitor what they’re hearing, by asking questions like (for example):

  • “What do you think this TV show we’re watching is saying about what it means to be married?”
  • “Do any of your friends ever talk about what Christians think? What do they say about people who go to church?”
  • “Do any of your friends ever give you the feeling they think it’s wrong to be a Christian?”

(Make sure you include social media among “friends,” if they’re into social media — though my advice would be to keep them off of screen-based living for as long as you possibly can. Kids need to know the difference between an actual friend and a “Facebook friend.”)

Generic and Neutral For As Long As Possible With Pre-teens

Those are very generic questions, for very young children. If they’re starting to pick up some wrong teaching, those kinds of questions will tell you how far you ought to go in responding with answers. If you’re equipped with the kind of knowledge I was talking about earlier, you’ll know where to take it from there.

I’d be as cautious as possible with young children. When our kids were very young they didn’t face these particular issues, but they did ask what adultery was, in the Ten Commandments. I just told them, “It would be adultery if I treated some other woman besides your mom as if she were my wife.” Hopefully you’ll be able to keep your conversations with your kids on a neutral level like that for a long time yet to come.

If They Go To Public School

Now if your kids go to public school, every few months or so starting in kindergarten I would also ask,

  • “Do your teachers ever talk about what marriage means?”
  • “Do they ever talk about what it really means to be a boy or to be a girl?”

Rarely, but sometimes, this question also matters. If it does, you certainly want to know about it!

  • “Do your teachers ever teach your class anything that they say you shouldn’t mention to your mom or dad?”

It’s Coming At You Faster Than You Expect

As they grow older, or if they surprise you by being more “informed” than you want them to be, you can ask more pointed questions, and give more pointed answers. If they go to public school they’ll probably be exposed to a lot more than you expect a lot earlier than you expect. You’ll probably have to help them think through things you’ll wish you didn’t have to help them with.

Again, kudos to you: you’re already facing that as the reality that it is. I pray for more parents to think the way you’re thinking!

Grace and peace to you,

Tom Gilson

Senior Editor and Ministry Coordinator
The Stream
 

Image Credit(s): pixabay.

236 thoughts on “How To Talk With Your Pre-teens About LGBT Issues

  1. This advice is all well and good, but it sounds really defensive. How about telling kids something positive they can do? They can set an example of Christian behavior at school.

    I’m talking about not bullying, or just toning down the peer pressure. So you could talk to your kids like this: “You know some boys are really rough and athletic while other boys are quiet and studious, right? Well, both are OK! Kids can do different things – whatever they’re comfortable with – and it’s alright. You shouldn’t pressure other people to be cool or to do what everybody else is doing.”

    Similar advice for girls, of course. Some girls are pretty – or they try to be pretty – while others don’t seem to care about such things. Both are OK! You should try to be friends with all different types of kids. Don’t snub people just because they’re a little odd.

  2. Sure. Have you read my book? I go further than that with the kind of encouragement you’re talking about here. The Bible is replete with instructions not to oppress people, and bullying is just a modern term for oppression. I think Christian kids should be the first and fastest to stand up against bullying of gays, lesbians, trans-people, or (as you indicated) anyone who’s even considered to be different.

    Bullying is wrong, and people who know right from wrong should oppose it.

  3. Twitter comments continued, I’ll be the child and I’ll ask the questions. You just use your method…

    Dad, “what does the Bible say about marriage?”

  4. In short (and this is still compressing the answer, though not as bad as Twitter would require) and just for starters, it says:

    1. The same thing common human experience has said for virtually all of history: marriage is the union of man and woman for the purpose of raising up the next generation.

    Unlike much that the rest of the world says about marriage, though, it also says:

    2. The man and the woman have equal worth and importance, though not the same roles (1 Corinthians 7, Eph. 5:21-33, esp. Eph 5:25).
    3. Marriage is for the purpose of enjoying unity and intimacy, for both partners. (See esp. the first chapters of Genesis and the entire Song of Solomon).
    4. Marriage is intended to be for keeps and for faithfulness (Ex. 20:14, Matthew 19:1-9).

    Those three biblical purposes for marriage did more to elevate the status of women in culture than anything else in history, by the way.

    5. Marriage is a reflection of the relationship between Jesus Christ and his people, the Church (Eph. 5:25-32).

    6. The Bible teaches that marriage is good and honorable (Heb. 13:4), or can be when the man and woman love and respect one another.

    That’s a start on what the Bible affirms about marriage. Of course it also reports the occurrence of other types marriage relationships, but without affirming them. Polygamy is a good example — though even that, contrary to some distorted views, was always man-woman marriage; the women weren’t married to each other.

  5. But dad, doesn’t 2 Samuel 12:8 and many many many other places in the Bible say that marriage is also between many women and a man? Or how about the commands that if a brother is to die and leave his wife then the living brother should marry her? Or what about a young woman who is raped should be bought from her father and married to the one who rapes her? Dad, I’m not sure the Bible is clear on what you’re saying? I think you’re making some assumptions the text doesn’t allow is to make.

  6. I already answered your question about polygamy (which isn’t in 2 Sam. 12:8 anyway).

    The Levirate law about brothers marrying widows was for the sake of keeping widows from poverty, which would have happened otherwise in Ancient Near East culture. It was a good thing compared to other practices of the day.

    The rape situation you’re referring to is probably Deuteronomy 22:28-29. This is not entirely what it seems. You have to understand how the culture differed then: unmarried women were destined to poverty, and women who weren’t virgins were unmarriageable. That means rape was a different crime then that it is today. It wasn’t just a physical/sexual violation, it was also an extreme lifelong economic violation against the woman.

    So one effect of this command was to alleviate the economic effect. There was a fine levied against the man, and he was never allowed to divorce the woman under any circumstances. This in itself would serve to deter rape, which is one thing we want with a rape law, isn’t it? That’s a second effect of this law

    Note also that the immediate context, Deut. 22:23-25 provides for a man to be executed for raping a defenseless woman. If the rape happens in the city (cities were very small, compact, and densely populated), and she doesn’t cry out for help, it’s assumed that she was complicit and it wasn’t really rape.

    I don’t know how Judaic law connected those two near-context passages, so I cannot say with certainty that the principle of Deut. 22:23-25 would apply to an unmarried unbetrothed virgin. At the same time I doubt you can say it doesn’t apply. The best you could say is, “Based on one interpretation of this passage it seems unjust, but I’m not sure my interpretation is accurate so I can’t be sure the law is unjust.”

    Meanwhile everything I said in comment 6 remains true. For some reason you’ve chosen not to interact with any of that. Intellectual honesty would require you to do that.

    I’m not your dad, so you can drop the kid character.

    (Now do you see why I said this couldn’t be done well on Twitter?)

  7. Dad, I’m confused, it seems like God could have just said, “only marry one woman and don’t abuse women and children, why doesn’t god just say what he means?” How is anyone to understand what god means unless one can read the entire bible and see the entire story? How would a woman 3000 years ago know that god didn’t think of her as property… all of this seems so confusing and contrived.

    Actually my part is rather short. Your part is long because you’re trying to make logic loopholes where they never were. We just live in a time with different morals and you can’t accept that the ancient view of god and morals doesn’t match today’s view. This topic is impossible to explain to a child and I think you’ve done a fairly terrible job. I’m not sure how one could explain this from a biblical point of view without lying or omitting everything I just brought up. Then again, that is precisely what would be done to a child, one would lie and omit the things one doesn’t think is important or relevant. The problem is that is precisely the method christians say the serpent used to trick Eve. I wonder how that sinks in or how that makes you feel as you struggle to square a round hole for your kids. As for me, an atheist, I just tell my son that people have lots of different ways of loving. I don’t understand everything, but I certainly don’t think less of others for having different ways than I do.

  8. Oh, come on, it’s a fun thought experiment. I’m just giving an honest rendition of a pre-teen. FYI, I’m not angry or furiously typing, we’re just having fun discussing it from the perspective of explaining, what I believe to be the unexplainable.

  9. You’re actually the one who’s being anachronistic, complaining because an earlier era’s view doesn’t match today’s.

    Why didn’t God (capitalized, it’s a proper noun in this context) do it differently, you ask? Why didn’t he just say 3,000 years ago what he means today? Because the people 3,000 years ago wouldn’t have understood it. There’s context to every communication, including cultural context, and you’re unhappy because you need to come up to speed on it. If you’d spent as much time on that as you have researching supposed biblical errors, you’d know what the Bible says.

    Your part is short. My part is long. I guess your expectation is that God would be uncomplicated, that understanding his ways would only take a moment or two, and that it ought to be simple to explain everything to children. That’s not exactly a solid assumption.

    Besides which, every question is shorter than every answer. (How do you explain meaning and purpose as an atheist? Answer in half the words I used asking the question if you can. But don’t, really, that would be changing the subject. I’m just illustrating the point.)

    Then again, that is precisely what would be done to a child, one would lie and omit the things one doesn’t think is important or relevant.

    Which “one” are you referring to? I haven’t done that. If you try to make this square peg of Scripture fit into the round hole of 21st century Western culture, without taking context into account, then maybe you’re omitting things that are important and relevant.

    Meanwhile, you’re persistently ignoring what I wrote in comment #6.

  10. I don’t want to talk past you, but I’m afraid both of our comments are doing that. I’ll try to sum op my point of view with an perspective william lane craig always attends to: christians have an objective moral code. Of course he makes an ontological argument, but I never see the teleological argument. In fact, it seems as if you’re making the case for morals that change and bend. I would agree with you on that point, but certainly an all powerful god would be able to explain himself in a way his creation could understand. To make a human incapable of understanding it is to make an all powerful entity less than all powerful the two go together quiet well.

    As to #6, I’m not sure you’ve really demonstrated that. I’ve gotta get some lunch and then I’ll check your response and try to be more specific in my responses so we can come to a meeting of the minds on terms and objections… as of right now I’m sure we both feel that neither side understands the other. As a former christian of 15 years I understand what you’re saying, but I think you’re profoundly wrong. As a current atheist I think my side has a bit of work to do on morality, but much less to do when it comes to looking at the old testament. If I’m to give an honest assessment of the OT and NT I would say that Jesus is exactly right new and old wine skins don’t mesh well.

    regards,

    jon

  11. “1. The same thing common human experience has said for virtually all of history: marriage is the union of man and woman for the purpose of raising up the next generation.”

    That’s not a tenable position. You can’t possibly know that much history, and I’d merely have to point out major exceptions to prove this statement wrong. The grain of truth that is in here is that marriage was not only about raising heirs but also about ownership of women as property. If we can compromise on this, then I think we can move forward. The purpose of women in a relationship tends more towards property the farther back one goes… That being said, if what you are saying is true and what I am saying is not true, then yours is still a self refuting argument to the extent that more fit males have a dominant strategy of sharing their genes with as many females as possible which certain doesn’t rule out polygamy, but rather endorses it. This is precisely why we see in ancient civilization that dominant males have multiple wives.

    “2. The man and the woman have equal worth and importance, though not the same roles (1 Corinthians 7, Eph. 5:21-33Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), esp. Eph 5:25Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).”

    Yes, that is the modern interpretation of these NT verses, but if you look at the history of christian attitudes towards women you will see that is simply not the case. In our own country which you would assert is a majority christian nation, women were denied the right to vote and just recently attained that right. Now is this equality before the law or is this just different role in society? It is nearly insane to assert that men are best able to advocate for the rights of women and that women’s role is not to express their own needs. Please don’t do it. However, time and time again we see in christian societies that the rights of women have be subordinated to those of men for centuries… by contrast this is an improvement on OT property rights over women, but it certainly is not founded by christianity. How could this be true? The mere suggestion that women be submit to their husband’s will rules out all opportunity for true equality.

    “3. Marriage is for the purpose of enjoying unity and intimacy, for both partners. (See esp. the first chapters of Genesis and the entire Song of Solomon).”

    Marriage and sex are not the same thing, but since we are on the topic if we just look at your example in Genesis we quickly find that God is AOK with sex between brother and sister. I don’t know of a more vile sexual act, but god seems to forget that if Adam and Eve are the only created folks then the only way they can proliferate is between siblings. That taken in context of lot’s kids trying to have sex with their dad should tell you something. The people who wrote the bible looked at incest differently than we do today? You might say, but why do you object because you assert that there is no objective morality. I would say that the children born of such a relationship are unnecessarily exposed to genetic defects, but on the whole I don’t know if I care if ADULT siblings do weird things.

    “4. Marriage is intended to be for keeps and for faithfulness (Ex. 20:14Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), Matthew 19:1-9Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).
    5. Marriage is a reflection of the relationship between Jesus Christ and his people, the Church (Eph. 5:25-32Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).”

    Yes, I agree. I do agree that this is the scriptural interpretation, however, I would say that this changes from the OT to the NT. In the OT the responsiblity of faithfulness and appropriate relationship and purity was at the foot of the woman. It was her honor that was constantly questioned. The new testament shares this burden, but still makes the woman submissive to her husband. Consider the following: a woman who is raped by her husband or who endures cruelty from her husband is allowed to break the marriage, but Paul through christ still tells the woman to submit and perhaps bring her husband back to christ. I think this is pretty disgusting, but I would bet you think it’s noble–we disagree. Otherwise we largely agree about what the bible says, but the nuance of the OT must be included.

    “The Levirate law about brothers marrying widows was for the sake of keeping widows from poverty, which would have happened otherwise in Ancient Near East culture. It was a good thing compared to other practices of the day.”

    It is so confusing as to why someone with an objective all powerful god would settle for it being subjectively better. This again raises the teleological argument christians dare not touch with a ten foot pole. The morality of the god giving the commands changes with time just as we would expect it to…

    “So one effect of this command was to alleviate the economic effect. There was a fine levied against the man, and he was never allowed to divorce the woman under any circumstances. This in itself would serve to deter rape, which is one thing we want with a rape law, isn’t it? That’s a second effect of this law”

    I can’t believe I’m addressing the hole in your logic here. Ok, I rape a woman, I pay off her dad with 40 silver. I make her do 40 silver worth of work for me because I’m her master, maybe even 80 silver worth of work. Then I get her killed in an accident and I go rape another woman. The simple fact of the matter is that there are sooo many loopholes for men to abuse women with this “deterrent” that I don’t think you’ve thought about it at all.

    Atheist find value in life by merely seeking after the things that give them pleasure. Feel free not to address, but it’s that simple.

    When I say “one” I’m referring to christians in general. Christians would never have the conversation with their pre-teen in a way that says, “ok honey, now I want to show you what god said about if a man were to rape a woman in the OT. Now, let’s contrast that to the NT perspective one women. What do you think the teleological difference is? Is god being consistent? Do we have the right interpretation? What else does the OT say about women?” The unfortunate thing is that an honest conversation has all of the evidence and points of view on marriage if one is truly talking about a biblical perspective.

    I listened to the interview and what did I find? Did I find nuance or acknowledgment of the OT differences? Nope. I certainly cannot understand the preoccupation christians have with what they consider one “sin”. It absolutely makes no difference to the gospel and it just smacks of people wanting to have a fight.

  12. This thread itself is a good example of what to model and not model when socializing our children for emotionally intelligent and intellectually informed interfaces with all things human.

    Jonathan’s mixtures of expunged content yielding a Non-Christian metanarrative being presented as the Christian metanarrative is an unfortunate methodology to model to our children. Seeking understanding is a better path. J. does not seek to embrace the singular metanarrative of God wherein, on sets of definitions, God is found hating divorce while simultaneously regulating actual acts of divorce within Moses, just as J. does not seek to embrace the fact that that statement alone on the OT/Moses there of God hating X while leaving X unchecked is game changing once embraced into one’s set of definitions. Curiously such an obvious and simple narrative is entirely expunged by J.’s set of definitions.

    Continuing in that same theme, the fact that J. appeals to what both the OT and the NT affirm as the inadequate, as the ministry of death, and as the mechanistically ineffective where Moral Excellence is concerned while simultaneously expunging the fact that Scripture in fact concurs with such definition sets is a good way to misinform children — and a good way to model emotionally unhealthy interfacing as adults to our children. Similarly, expunging love’s compelling of the Man to submit to, to praise, to self-sacrifice for, the Woman, and vice-versa, and the relation between Moral Excellence with respect to the Ministry of Death (Moses) are all simply but a few of many X’s wherein J. expunges far too much from the Christian metanarrative and all while modeling to the child that this is how we are to treat people and people’s narratives should we disagree with them.

    It’s unclear why one would want to do such a thing where children are concerned.

    Perhaps *not* reading entire books and tracking a singular metanarrative where love’s timeless and immutable reciprocity is concerned, where Moral Excellence is concerned (or whatever, and etc.) is the methodology some feel is good to model to children. The fruit of misinforming children and setting them up for failure via modeling human interfacing in and by those sorts of straw-man / unhealthy postures within our own interfaces with each other is unavoidable. It’s always better to seek to understand those with whom one disagrees, and the best way to teach our children such nuance is to demonstrate it. Unfortunately J.’s modeled behavior here only ingrains in children the opposite skill set where human interfaces are concerned. Emotionally and intellectually unhealthy patterns of interfacing with those one finds to be too different or too odd, or simply wrong, are merely inbred in and by such unfortunate modeling.

    Our interfaces with one another as human beings must (instead) model the opposite of J.’s demonstration here and seek to employ love’s original and timeless self-outpouring. It’s painful to meet someone right where they are and embrace them — affirming their experience and their humanity, and their narrative. It’s painful because it costs self there inside of such interfaces with other.

    But then love’s interfaces amid Self/Other vis-à-vis the Triune God just are love’s irreducible demonstrations of such mutual and equal self-giving, even as God demonstrates the same by the instantiation of love’s self-outpouring (which is Himself) to the bitter ends of both Time and Physicality here amid the particular other which we call Mankind.

    Such is what we ought to model to our children as we engage other human beings in all of our various modes given that our actions will teach our children (ultimately) far more than our words.

  13. Lol, that was a long winded ad hominem attack. When one has nothing of substance to say, one must merely speak above the crowd and paint a beautifully falacious narrative of poppycock that does not attempt to justify or prove the assertions one makes. What is even more troubling is that the author in his attempt to paint a proper picture of human interaction he fails to condescend from the heights of his ivory tower to engage in conversation. He is as Paul would say a noisey gong. If the author would like to speak directly to me I would be glad to go through the arguments one by one, however, I can readily infer that he is not interested in speaking with such human “things” as myself. How do we atheists know the holy spirit does not exist? In many many many interactions just like this your holiest prove god does not change lives and only makes men worse for age.

  14. J.,

    It was not a statement against you — but — rather — against your demonstrated (and unhealthy) methodology whereby you are teaching children how to interface with people and people’s narratives as one disagrees with them.

    There’s a difference.

  15. I had no idea I was interfacing with children. I thought you and the owner of this page were adults. Thank you for correcting me. I’ll watch my methodology so I don’t confuse future children. By the way, your vocabulary is excellent for a child.

  16. J.,

    The nuance of case law (Moses), and, my content, and, your content, are all quite proper for children….. (not really of course), but if you go into adult level vocabulary and themes, which you did, then it’s a bit curious that you make a subtle remark about talking with adult/children vs. adult level vocabulary on my part. Your demonstrated unhealthy behavior among adults teaches children unhealthy behavior.

  17. You must have failed to notice that I was asked to drop the questioning kid act. So I did. All of the questions I asked before this are questions preteens do ask. In fact, my own 6-year-old son supplied one of the questions. He wanted to know why some people say it is wrong for people (homosexuals) to love each other like our good friends do. He supplied his own answer too, he said that people are just different and it is OK to be different as long as they don’t hurt anyone. My son has always been a nuanced thinker, he takes after my dad. I on the other hand came to atheism after 15 years as a christian because I found that the Bible is very black and white on some issues and these create internal contradictions against your so called meta narrative. The fact that you don’t want to address those contradictions individually is most telling… Feel free prove me wrong.

  18. J.,

    Children are quite intuitive!

    Nevertheless, your modeling here in this thread of the methodology of expunging large swaths of core definition sets from a singular books’ singular metanarrative and thereby treating people and their narratives in such unfortunate ways still models to our children emotionally unhealthy and intellectually uninformed modes of interfacing with one another. What we do as adults with other adults, good or bad, teaches children how to go about being adults.

    As for your content, God hating X while leaving X unchecked leaves any appeal by the Non-Theist to Law or to Man’s inhumanity far, far afield of appealing to the immutable nature of love’s irreducible reciprocity vis-à-vis the Imago Dei, which is itself but the shadow of the God Who is Himself love.

  19. Yes, yes, I know you keep making that assertion. We all heard it three times now. If you’d actually like to discuss the particular aspects of it, maybe we can come to an understanding.

  20. J.,

    Large swaths of core definitions being expunged from Scripture and (thereby) modeling as adults interfacing with other adults (our very intuitive children take note, without question) how to treat others and their narratives, or, the metanarrative of the Imago Dei with respect to what we find within Trinity’s irreducible self-outpouring amid love’s reciprocity (as in Trinity, so in Man) also being expunged from Scripture’s core definitions are particular aspects of it. Expunging the A and the Z of metanarratives just isn’t how we ought to teach by example. In any Non-Theistic analysis, God hating X while leaving X unchecked leaves any appeal by the Non-Theist to Law or to Man’s inhumanity far, far afield of appealing to the immutable nature of love’s irreducible reciprocity amid self/other vis-à-vis the Imago Dei, which is itself but the shadow of the God Who is (Himself in Trinity within love’s unicity/oneness) the explanatory terminus of love.

  21. “immutable nature of love’s irreducible reciprocity vis-à-vis the Imago Dei, which is itself but the shadow of the God Who is Himself love”

    Word salad my friend, word salad. U may not have people call you on this but I will.

    I will however attempt to answer your objection regardless of this nonsense you’re spewing. It seems as if you object to my objection because you interpret that God is merely failing to set out the good and rather just putting injunctions out there to constrain man’s deeds. This is not the case. There are many cases where God commands the Israelites to exercise his judgment on a particular act. Therefore one can infer that the act itself is wrong and understand gods thoughts in that context. A great example of this contradiction is incest.

  22. Jonathan, scbrownlhrm has had many people call him on his use of vocabulary and “word salad,” including me and other Christians commenting here.

    I’ve called you many times on your unwillingness to follow the discussion policies. “God” is not a common noun in this context. You might or might not agree with my policies, but above the combox it says what it says about you reading and abiding by them. It’s not too much to expect when I ask you to write with normal English usage. Last warning.

    Now, let me try for a moment to translate the word salad. scbrownlhrm has been talking about the metanarrative. I would use the term “overall context” instead. You’re picking tiny bits out of an overall context and ignoring the real story. Your comment about Adam and Eve’s children is a grand example of that.

    What you’re communicating thereby (speaking for myself now) is an attitude of, “Look, here’s a bush! That means there’s no forest around me after all!” Look at the forest, dude. Look at the whole picture. Then you might even discover that the presence of a bush doesn’t negate the reality of a forest. Or, to pull out of the figurative language, the presence of one type of punishment for rape, which you do not consider adequate by your standards, does not negate the reality of God’s entire intent for man and woman.

    You won’t see that reality until you’re willing to see it. It’s there. You just have to decide it’s okay to look at it, then you might be able to see it.

  23. J.,

    That you seem to claim that Law/Moses can carry us either beyond the distance or else merely to the same distance (in all of our definitions) which Christ carries us to — and/or — which the Imago Dei carries us to, is again a demonstration of your chosen method of expunging a large swath of definitions. One — say — lies often, perhaps to oneself in some subtle way, or perhaps to others in even more subtle ways (or not subtle) — and yet one is found in Christ. Sin partially informs us of God’s Will. Law and Man’s inhumanity partially inform us of God’s Will. Yet the definitions which instantiate through Christ supersede both Law and Inhumanity.

    Partial definitions just won’t do.

    Not when far, far more is available.

    Your continued methodology of appealing to someone else’s (the Christian’s, who you disagree with) story by appealing to Law and to Man’s inhumanity as “Meaning-Makers” while expunging the lens of the Imago Dei, while expunging the lens of Christ, is an unfortunate handling of someone else’s set of definitions.

    Our very intuitive children watch adults interface with one another with such unfortunate handling of other people and their own personal definitions.

    And our very intuitive children then model it themselves.

    Eventually.

    Moving on in the same theme:

    If you question that the Christian God is Trinity, and if you question that within Trinity we find love’s timeless interfaces, and if you question that “God” is metaphysically irreducible, and if you question that that sort of God is (that the Christian God is) the “A” and the “Z” of the Imago Dei, then once again you demonstrate your chosen method of expunging large swaths of definitions from the singular metanarrative of God in Man, or of Man in God, or of both.

  24. When I don’t capitalize “God” it is by accident. If you notice my spelling and grammar is terrible. I also don’t capitalize William Lane Craig all the time. This is based on my laziness and keyboard on my phone and not my disrespect for you. I’ll try to abide by your rules because I think we can have a respectful conversation.

    Thank you for also pointing out his word salad. I also believe I’m able to understand the main point of it.

    With respect to the overall context of any story or any written document we must consider various large and small events. It would be improper to consider the incest of Adam and Eve’s children if this didn’t pop up at multiple other times or if human sexuality was not a major moral theme in the Bible. We’ll put that asside for a moment though.

    One large theme that seems to be objectionable to many people is that of favoritism and special revelation. God seems to favor groups in the Bible and doesn’t condescend to inform or help others out of their “ignorance”, when atheist like myself point to this theme, we are attacking the righteousness of God. If we make a caveat and say that whatever God says is good is good, then we are not understand objective righteousness, we’re merely defining the word in such a way as to only make our definition valid. Even William Lane Craig admits this. Perhaps if you watch Dr Craig’s most recent debate at Ohio State, you’ll see what I mean. I do really encourage you to watch the first 45 minutes or so… I’ve seen almost all of his debates, and this one is the most unique and humbling experience for him. Notice how he doesn’t object to an atheistic objective morality… Gotta go for now.

    Thanks,

    Jon

  25. scbrownlhrm,

    I’m obviously not smart enough to talk to you. I don’t wish to engage any further on this subject with you. Have a blessed day.

    Jon

  26. J.,

    In closing then:

    If you want to see the whole story — then you’ll have to look at the nature of Trinity — which just is the nature of love — the nature of love’s interfaces.

    All definitions start and end there.

    With love. With love’s interfaces. With God.

    It’s that simple.

    I agree that WLC is interesting in that statement and in fact E. Feser is also not opposed to [1] such an unpacking where non-theistic justification for morality is concerned:

    “…….To do or refrain from doing something merely because one seeks a reward or fears reprisals is not morality. I would also reject the related but distinct claim that what makes an action morally good or bad is merely that God has commanded it, as if goodness and badness were a matter of sheer fiat on the part of a cosmic dictator who has the power to impose his will on everyone else. This too would not really be morality at all, but just Saddam Hussein writ large. So, I reject crude divine command theories of morality. That is one reason I think it is not quite right to claim that there can be no justification of morality if atheism were true; or at least, what (probably) most people understand by that claim is, in my view, false. Crude divine command theories simply get morality wrong. They get God wrong too…….”

    Of course precision in all of that [2] and elsewhere eventually forces concrete differences to emerge on what is being claimed by the phrase objective morality.

    As a segue into the this thread’s main theme:

    Discussing morality’s ontology (love’s ontology) with eight year olds just is teaching children how to lovingly interface with other human beings and that can of course take place with the proper analogies, word choices, and so on, and of course with Scripture’s complete (rather than partial) set of definitions.

    However, their little internal video recorders are always on, and what they see us do as adults when our narratives disagree will (quite often) win the day and shape their future interfaces.

  27. Incest is reported at various times in the Bible. So what? Is it ever affirmed in the Bible? Your turn. You find it, if you think it’s there.

    Human sexuality is a lot less of a theme in the Bible than it is in modern culture; but besides that, what’s your point, anyway?

    God does choose some people in the Bible, and that is his right. Do you think that’s unjust? Explain how you know that it is, if that’s what God has done.

  28. Incest is illegal from God’s point of view: Leviticus 18:8-18 Leviticus 20:11-21. God seems to overlook the implications of only creating one man and one woman: their kids must have incest to procreate. God sets them up for failure. Thankfully none of this actually happened, well except the anti incest laws.

    Do I think it is “just” for God to show favoritism? Look up the definition of justice and ask yourself if I am to interpret that word as the English language dictates or as you would dictate? If I interpret it as the English language dictates, then no it is not fair to provide different evidences but require the same obedience. If I am to interpret justice as you or God might interpret it, then I can excuse any act because God defines justice and his morality is subjective and ever changing, but what he decides he decides and it is good and just.

  29. The favoritism question is interesting. Your incest question isn’t. I don’t have any better answer for it than I’ve given, which should be good enough for a reasonable mind.

    I’ll come back to the favoritism question when I have time to treat it properly. In the meantime, the proper treatment for the incest question is to ask you, if God wanted to create one species of mankind, what other choice did he have, and isn’t it possible that in that one incredibly unique one-time only never-to-be-repeated beginning-0f-humanity special case God could treat it as a special case?

    If not, what information do you have about God that tells you he can’t do that?

  30. Jonathon,

    Just to address your belief that the Bible endorses incest through the Adam and Eve story and how it represents, as Tom describes, your inability to see the forest from the trees. In this case though the “trees” are right in the same book you referenced. In Genesis 4:14-16 it says:

    14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

    15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so[e]; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,[f] east of Eden.

    Now, from this we learn that within the first generation of Adam and Eve’s offspring there are other people in the world who both Cain and God are familiar with and who are obviously not his siblings. Further, Cain goes the the land of Nod and there, 17 Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. If we’re following the story chronologically, then Cain’s wife or him having a wife isn’t mentioned until after he goes to Nod. This is another indication that there are people other than Adam and Eve’s offspring in the world with whom procreation is possible. All of this leads to the pretty reasonable conclusion that it wasn’t in God’s plan that “the only way they can proliferate is between siblings.

    Now, you mentioned you were a Christian. Did you skip over reading Gen.4:14-16, did you never think about its obvious implications or are you getting your Biblical criticism from atheist websites. (I don’t mean to be too accusatory here but we get a lot of this kind poorly reasoned, Biblically inaccurate, quote mining (and this particular one isn’t new) and we’re pretty familiar with the “source” material from which it comes.)

  31. Where do you find me asserting that sexuality isn’t a major theme in the Bible? And besides that, what’s your point with respect to that, anyway?

  32. Bill I’m so very glad you brought this up. I’m now left to wonder then if the children of this other race of people are under the same punishment of original sin as are the children of Adam and Eve? It would seem that original sin would only be specific to those who were tested? Then again you know my feelings on justice. So as a child of those other people, your God’s judgement doesn’t apply to me.

  33. “Human sexuality is a lot less of a theme in the Bible than it is in modern culture; but besides that, what’s your point, anyway?”

    Right here. Human sexuality is a major theme in the Bible, I’m sure it compares equally to our modern major theme of sexuality.

  34. I said sexuality was less prominent a theme in the Bible than it is in current culture. I could also say that Mt. Whitney is less high a mountain than Mt. Everest. In neither case would I be saying that the lesser item being compared is nothing at all.

    But hey, if you choose to quibble over my comparison, then either you don’t know the Bible as much as you’re trying to tell yourself you do, or you don’t have a clue what’s going on in modern culture. I’d put my bet on the former.

  35. I see Tom, then I was mistaken to assume that you were comparing things that are almost exactly the same. How foolish of my to infer that this comparison should have read morality is a major theme in the Bible and it is a major theme right now too. But the theme of sexuality is ever so slightly smaller in the Bible than it is today. That’s reasonable given the precision which we have been talking.

  36. And Jonathon, your repeated insistence that the Bible in general and Christianity in particular have been detrimental to women ignores one very obvious fact. The moral and ethical underpinnings of the entire human rights movement including civil rights and women’s rights are based in Christian teaching. They are found no where else in any other worldview. There are no other intellectual or philosophical viewpoints from which those movements could or did arise. They began in early Christian teachings and practice and have continued to proliferate for the last 2000 years. It may well be a work in progress but that’s a different question.

  37. Bill, I love all or nothing statements like the one you just made. Have you been anywhere else? Have you read any history? Are you familiar with different cultures? I’ll let u do some research with respect to this ridiculous position.

  38. Jonathan @43: You’re undermining what little Bible knowledge credibility you had. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  39. Bill you should also consider that if we assume what you say is undeniable fact, then we also must explain why this message took 1900 years to take hold. On the other hand through science and objective inquiry gay rights took about 30 years… Gods message seems to be poorly understood and incapable of affecting lives when they most need it.

  40. Bill I’m so very glad you brought this up. I’m now left to wonder then if the children of this other race of people are under the same punishment of original sin as are the children of Adam and Eve? It would seem that original sin would only be specific to those who were tested? Then again you know my feelings on justice. So as a child of those other people, your God’s judgement doesn’t apply to me.

    Well, Jonathon, I’m so very glad you tried to change the subject and avoid addressing the issue I raised and the explanation I gave. Your non-response gives us all a pretty good understanding of your willingness to actually engage sincerely on the subjects you yourself raised. As to whether God’s judgement applies to others or you, if you’re satisfied it doesn’t, who am I to complain. (Though I’m not sure I’d wager my eternity on such a slender thread, to each his own.)

  41. Sorry about the confusion. “The other Tom” was me on another browser. I was testing how comment editing worked or didn’t work if I wasn’t logged in.

    No dog pile, and I was already specific in comment 42, the second paragraph.

  42. Actually this conversation has been making my point all along. The Bible is so full of contradictions, weird themes, meandering stories, divergent moral standards,… It is impossible to have a simple conversation with a preteen about what the Bible actually says about anything. The Bible rarely speaks with one voice on any subject. Having a discussion on one of these major themes is bound to bring questions, meandering nonsense, and contradictions. As I initially stated, there’s no way to have a coherent conversation about what the Bible says without lying and omitting information. Together we have proved that the subject is not capable of being discussed by a group of adults much less a preteen and their parent. The only outcomes one can expect are either brain washing “mind renewal” or rebellion. Good luck gents.

  43. Bill, I love all or nothing statements like the one you just made. Have you been anywhere else? Have you read any history? Are you familiar with different cultures? I’ll let u do some research with respect to this ridiculous position.

    Another non answer that attempts to change the subject. All you had to do was explain where moral and ethical underpinnings of the entire human rights movement including civil rights and women’s rights came from if not Christianity. Instead, a bunch of non-sequiturs.

    [And if your link to “female dominated society” was directed at me why would female dominated society be any better (or more just?) than male dominated society and in what way does it address my proposition.]

  44. “Another non answer that attempts to change the subject. All you had to do was explain where moral and ethical underpinnings of the entire human rights movement including civil rights and women’s rights came from if not Christianity. Instead, a bunch of non-sequiturs.”

    Lol, a task worthy of Sisyphus. I have to do that? You’re the one making assertions its up to you to prove, then I’ll negate. Have fun!

  45. As I initially stated, there’s no way to have a coherent conversation about what the Bible says without lying and omitting information. Together we have proved that the subject is not capable of being discussed by a group of adults…

    No, we haven’t. In fact, your questions were answered civilly, reasonably and coherently. And we didn’t try and change the subject or respond with non-sequiturs.

  46. Actually this conversation has been making my point all along. The Bible is so full of contradictions, weird themes, meandering stories, divergent moral standards,… It is impossible to have a simple conversation with a preteen about what the Bible actually says about anything.

    Then it’s also impossible to have a simple conversation with a preteen about politics economics biology geography race culture gender shopping relationships morality and a million other things.

    Every one of these is more complicated than can be explained to a preteen. Every one of them can be — indeed, must be — discussable on an age-appropriate level.

    The point, Jonathan, is that what adults can understand on one level they can communicate to children on another level. Yes, the Bible is complicated, but so is organic chemistry, but some adults can figure out organic. Yes, the Bible is complicated, but so is the U.S. tax code, but virtually all American adults figure that out, or know how to find someone trustworthy to explain what they need to know of it. The Bible is complicated but so are traffic laws, but virtually all adults know that.

    But if someone approached any of those topics with the attitude, “This is hopelessly contradictory,” they’d give up without figuring it out.

    I think that’s what you’re doing.

    For example, where’s your answer to #32 & #33? Have you realized yet your incest argument is baseless? Have you (by the way) noticed that even if there was sibling intimacy in the first generation after Adam and Eve, the Leviticus passage you quoted came along centuries later? Did you take that into account?

    You rushed to judgment on that issue, not taking facts into consideration. That’s not good thinking, Jonathan.

    As for your happy googling, it doesn’t obviate the fact that there is no major culture that has advanced the treatment of women the way Christian-influenced cultures have. Sure, there are exceptions and anomalies. Humanity is not monolithic, and no social or psychological fact is without exceptions; few are universal. We still speak of sociological and psychological facts. That’s how it works in realms of human understanding. The facts of which BillT was speaking are still facts, searchable exceptions notwithstanding.

    Find another major (or even seme-major) culture that initiated improvements in treatment of women, without Christian influence. Try it. Happy googling!

  47. Bill, with all due respect, the reason I brought up the incest thing is that it entangles you in a never-ending problem of did God create only one man and one women? If not, then how does original sin relate to the sons and daughters of these other people? Did God create things after he said he rested? If the seventh day is a literal ay then the previous six can be assumed to be also? But if we assume that then the universe can’t be billions of years of age. The whole point with this was to get you bogged down in a never ending loop of contradictions and plot fails. Maybe I should have pointed that out.

    When I was a christian I never say these gaping holes in the details and min plot elements or metanarrative either. Again, the problem is that almost every subject gets sucked into these weird inconsistencies. Why? The person/people who wrote all this didn’t know anything about anything…

  48. You didn’t ask me this, but:

    Bill, I love all or nothing statements like the one you just made. Have you been anywhere else? Have you read any history? Are you familiar with different cultures? I’ll let u do some research with respect to this ridiculous position.

    I’ve been to China and I’ve seen foot-bound women. All of them were very old; it hasn’t been done in a long time. Christianity was the driving force that ended that sexist practice.

    I’ve read the history of India, and I know it was a Christian missionary who brought an end to suttee.

    I’ve seen what happens to women in Muslim cultures.

    I’ve read the Bible and I’ve read comparative information from other cultures of the day, and I can see with my own eyes how much better women were treated in New Testament references than among the Greeks, Romans, or Jews.

    Now, have you read any of that First Century history?

    Yes or no answer.

    Have you?

    Can you name another major culture that has advanced the treatment of women the way Christian-influenced cultures have?

    Yes or no answer.

    Can you?

  49. Jonathon,

    So when changing the subject or responding with non-sequiturs doesn’t work it’s “Hey, it’s not my job to explain my position or do anything but make bald assertions.”

    As Tom explained in his #6 (sub) 2., 3., and 4. (and you essentially agreed with in your #14) the earliest Christian teaching radically changed the paradigm of male/female relationships. There is no teaching like it an any other religious text nor is that perspective justifiable in any other intellectual or philosophical context. If I’m wrong just head us in a general direction of where this kind of human rights and equality can be found. I’m sure Sisyphus would have been glad to trade his task for yours.

  50. Bill, with all due respect, the reason I brought up the incest thing is that it entangles you in a never-ending problem of did God create only one man and one women?

    Originally yes, so that we could all be one species, one family.

    That wasn’t hard.

    Incest wasn’t prohibited by God in the first generation after Adam and Eve.

    That wasn’t hard, either.

    Sheesh. Get a grip!

  51. Something I notice when I argue with Christians. You guys always get to make your own definitions of what is “major” or what applies or is relevant or what isn’t. We’ll take one point for example.

    Christians always assert that objective morality exists. They also assert that God’s word is the Bible. But when I point out something like incest, they immediately run for cover and say oh, but see there were other people. They never ask, is that consistent with God only creating two people and then testing on the seventh day? Then they’ll be charitable and say that even if they committed incest then certainly nothing was wrong with it because God hadn’t made that law yet. The problem is that for objective moral code to exist as Christians claim it does it must be objective now, yesterday, and five thousand years ago. This is part of not my definition of objectivity, but of yours. It’s the same way you condemn homosexuality. Remember, you have to have the cosmic yardstick. I’m merely saying if God no longer punishes homosexuality by stoning because of Christ why don’t you abrogate that law too? The reason? Your laws, exceptions, grace, and theology is more confused today than it was yesterday. This is evidenced by the fact that most of you agree on almost nothing.

  52. Wrong.

    The definition of “objective” does not include “unchangeable.”

    It is an objective truth that I am sitting in my living room chair right now.

    The definition of objective is, “not dependent on personal (subjective) opinion.”

    You still have some unanswered questions waiting for you.

  53. Tom,

    The objective of critical thinking is to prove yourself wrong, not to throw out examples of how you are correct.

    Maybe I’ll do that on Bills next comment… I have to read it again though.

  54. If God no longer punishes homosexuality by stoning because of Christ why don’t you abrogate that law too? The reason?

    The reason God no longer punishes homosexuality by stoning is not because of Christ. Christ’s work is the reason God no longer punishes sin with eternal death — if we’ll simply say yes to who Christ is and what he did for us.

    So why does God no longer punish homosexuality by stoning? What works for the administration of civil law in response to moral violations need not always be the same. That’s not a matter of morality but of administration.

  55. The whole point with this was to get you bogged down in a never ending loop of contradictions and plot fails.

    Something you quite failed to do when it came to the whole incest thing not to mention a number of your other inquiries. Your question about those “other peoples” is the similar to the question about any people who have’t heard of God (e.g., aboriginals). We are told that God will judge “with justice” and therefore we have good reason to believe that there are accommodations for all peoples no matter their specific knowledge of God. True, we don’t know the specifics of all of that but since neither we nor you fall into that category, we can deal with the reality of this existence. That God doesn’t explain everything about everything (which seems to constitute a great many of your objections) doesn’t mean God hasn’t presented a coherent picture of the world and his place in it.

  56. Tom, yes, that is the definition we all love and agree with, the definition Christians use is not that. It’s the cosmic ruler of Christ. You know it and I know it.

  57. The objective of critical thinking is not to prove one is wrong but to discover (and sometimes demonstrate or prove) what is wrong or right

    Is it true that 2+2=4? Sure. Is it wrong to think so? No. That’s a trivial example, but not so trivial in response to the suggestion that the object of critical thinking is to prove oneself wrong.

  58. Jonathan, #66, no. I don’t know that because it’s not true. You can’t make it true by pounding on it like a nail with a hammer, either.

  59. Tom you can’t prove what is correct, you can only fail to falsify. This is why the one making the assertion must go first, followed by an attempt to falsify. My attempts have all been to falisfy.

  60. http://www.islamswomen.com/articles/women_in_quran_and_sunnah.php

    Another 15 second task… I’m sure none of this will be major or significant enough for you…

    So Christianity was condemned by you (#14)” but if you look at the history of christian attitudes towards women you will see that is simply not the case.” based on it’s actions but Islam is all ok because you found a website that says so. Just ignore that fact that Islamic women are treated as outright property in every Islamic dominated country on earth, that they are beaten as an afterthought in those same places, made to wear burkas, subjected to genital mutilation and are victims of honor killings. Christianity hasn’t acted well enough to gain your respect but Islam just peachy. Just look at the website but don’t dare look anywhere else.

  61. Jonathan, your comment #70 is the way scientists approach empirical studies. It’s not always the way truth is approached in other disciplines. Therefore the universal “cannot” is false.

    Sure, it’s possible to choose skepticism regarding, for example, your own existence, but for every practical purpose you act, think, and believe according to what you intuitively take to be true: You are. You exist.

    Further, it’s completely and utterly provable that given the standard axioms of arithmetic, 2+2=4.

    And since you brought up falsification, it can easily be falsified that the purpose of critical thinking is to prove oneself wrong. That could only be the purpose of critical thinking if all one’s thoughts were wrong. But if that were the case, then your thought about that being the purpose of critical thinking would necessarily also be wrong.

    It’s a dictum that can only be true if it’s false; it’s self-referentially incoherent; it’s self-refuting.

    Falsifiability as a universal epistemological criterion is in serious question among philosophers of science, by the way. And that’s where it has the most hope of being a true criterion.

    So your dictum here is misapplied by being used in the wrong field, by being doubtful even if it were in the right field, and (worst of all) it’s provably wrong by being self-referentially incoherent, or self-refuting. (And that’s a fact that’s provably right.)

  62. @69: Don’t just look at the sayings. Look at the outcomes. Imagine you’re a woman. Would you rather live in one of the countries whose history has been dominated by Christianity or Islam?

  63. @Jonathan:

    Tom you can’t prove what is correct, you can only fail to falsify. This is why the one making the assertion must go first, followed by an attempt to falsify. My attempts have all been to falisfy.

    To falsify is to prove a proposition P is false. To prove P false is equivalent to prove not-P is true. So you refuted yourself. Either that or you are using falsification in a wholy novel and private sense. Besides there are countless examples of proofs, so I am left wondering what the heck are you talking about?

    Neither is there any reason for “the one making the assertion” to go first. This is not a game in which you get to rig the rules in your favor. And if that was what it was, well you just made an assertion (“the one making the assertion must go first”), so by your *own* criteria you are bound to offer proof of it before we, or anyone else, accepts it. Oh wait, you said right at the start that “can’t prove what is correct”. Which by your *own* criteria can only mean that we are bound to not accept it.

    (is this guy for real)?

  64. A brief look at the Male/Female question:

    http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2016/02/challenge-the-bible-says-men-are-superior-to-women.html

    Also, an interesting quote on the same question:

    υποτασσεται

    κεφαλη

    These are the words which R. objects to.

    The verb υποτασσεται speaks of submission, as the request to submit to government in Romans 13. A submission that guarantees peace and order, and not to be influenced by the governmental “sword.”

    But υποτασσεται also means a position above or before. In the front …

    Where the danger is.

    Where the responsibility stands.

    Where Adam should have taken a stand in Genesis 3, rather than listlessly watch Eve stumble and he spinelessly follow.

    The noun κεφαλη is the head, which guides the body in its daily adventure, whose ponderings and thoughts could lead the body through chaos or lull it into destruction.

    κεφαλη, that’s where the Sword of Damocles was hung to make the point that the head is easily endangered.

    We make so much of the head … the boss … the big kahuna … the mover and shaker. I once worked at an assembly line where the line boss was a woman. Her responsibility was constantly to keep “us” productive, cranking out the product, making big bucks (and big impressions) for the management.

    I never saw her smile.

    All R. focused on in his posts on Eph. 5: 22-24 (and nothing more as far as the whole verse was concerned … poor exegesis method) was the κεφαλη as if it were El Supremo. El Supremo does not show up in Eph. 5, and the posited hardline boss/husband was never up for consideration.

    This is guaranteed in verse 21. This verse begins with υποτασσομενοι … be subjected to each other.” (by DGFischer)

    Mutual praise, mutual submission, mutual adoration, mutual self-outpouring and so on just is the milieu within Trinity – and hence within the Imago Dei (ultimately, or finally, or cosmically, or whatever term one wishes to refer to in order to end up at “all-subsuming”). However, expunging love’s compelling of the Man to submit to, to praise, to adore, to self-sacrifice for, the Woman, and vice-versa, and expunging….. and expunging…. and…… expunging…… just won’t do (in the end).

    The hard part here is this:

    While we expect God to bring us to those locations, we do not expect Him to bring us to those locations within our personal interfaces with one’s enemy, or with one whom is radically (or even slightly) different than oneself. Christ takes us there. Of course, in Christ God does just that. The motions of love’s reciprocity, though costly, saturate the narrative of Man.

  65. Tom @73:

    Don’t just look at the sayings. Look at the outcomes. Imagine you’re a woman. Would you rather live in one of the countries whose history has been dominated by Christianity or Islam?

    The former obviously. But I’d follow with two more questions along the same line:
    1. Imagine you are a woman in the year 800CE. Now, everything else being equal, would you rather live in the Christian Carolingian Empire or in the Muslim Abbasid Caliphate?
    I’d choose the latter in a heartbeat.
    2. Imagine you are a woman. Now, everything else being equal, would you prefer to have the legal status common in 17th century Europe or rather the one common in 20th century Europe?
    If you’d choose the latter – do you think that the Christian establishment overall facilitated or rather impeded the changes wrt women’s rights that happened in that time?

  66. Tom @58

    I’ve read the history of India, and I know it was a Christian missionary who brought an end to suttee.

    That is a popular myth but it isn’t true. Many people fought hard to bring an end to this practice, and those people include Christians *and* Hindus. If you would have to select but one person who “brought an end” to this practice, there would be only one rational choice – and that would be Hindu reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy. His efforts were far more effective than those of Carey and Wilberforce (the two Christians who fought hardest to abolish this practice).

  67. Irenicus @77, I’d be interested to see the source on that. Thanks.

    As for #76, the difference over time is the difference that matters between Islam and Christianity: what is their influence over time?

    As a woman I’d rather have the legal status of 20th Century Europe. But you’re comparing one Christian-influenced region with another. Women’s legal status in Europe has little to do with its relatively recent secularization.

    Women’s suffrage was largely a Christian women’s initiative. The Christian establishment, like many other establishments, probably resisted change, I don’t know the historical facts, but I do know that’s the nature of establishments. That’s one reason change takes so long, even where the principles to guide change are clearly evident.

    No one is saying Christianity produced instant change. We’re saying its principles have led to sustained improvement over time.

  68. Tom,

    In 61, Jonathan said:

    The problem is that for objective moral code to exist as Christians claim it does it must be objective now, yesterday, and five thousand years ago.

    In 62, you replied:

    The definition of “objective” does not include “unchangeable.”

    It is an objective truth that I am sitting in my living room chair right now.

    Can I just confirm that I understand you: You are saying that “objective morality” does not mean “unchangeable morality”?

    Does this mean that something that we consider to be immoral now – say, child rape – could, in theory, change into an objectively moral act?

  69. @Tom Gilson:

    No one is saying Christianity produced instant change. We’re saying its principles have led to sustained improvement over time.

    I would put this by saying that the principles give the *rational* justification for implementing the changes and explain why the changes are not mere changes but changes *for the better*.

  70. Jeanette, no. Morality is objective but that’s not the only thing that’s true about it. There are unchangeable moral principles as well, including your example, grounded in the unchangeable moral character of God. What’s moral or immoral is that way for reasons, not arbitrarily.

  71. Tom @78

    Irenicus @77, I’d be interested to see the source on that. Thanks.

    Here you go:

    https://books.google.de/books?id=MS_jrForJOoC&pg=PA118&dq=RAM+MOHAN+ROY+SATI+PRACTICE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=EXvoUt2SN4mIrgeP_4HoAQ&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=RAM%20MOHAN%20ROY%20SATI%20PRACTICE&f=false

    http://www.culturalindia.net/reformers/raja-ram-mohan-roy.html

    But you’re comparing one Christian-influenced region with another.

    And how do you know that those changes happened because of Christianity as opposed to the alternatives? The alternatives being a) that Christianity was only one factor among several, or b) negligible or even irrelevant to the change, or c) actually an impediment rather than a facilitating factor?
    It seems to me that enlightenment ideas facilitated those changes, not Christianity.

    Women’s suffrage was largely a Christian women’s initiative.

    Again, how do you know that this was because of Christianity as opposed to any of the many alternative possibilities? (see above)
    Why didn’t Christian women come up with those ideas and fought for them before the enlightenment?

    As for #76, the difference over time is the difference that matters between Islam and Christianity: what is their influence over time?

    I find it quite curious that significant positive changes wrt women’s rights followed very soon after the spread of Islam in the societies that adopted it, to the degree that the situation for women in Islamic societies during the Golden Age of Islam was actually significantly better than the situation of women in Christian Europe (after centuries of Christian influence…), while nowadays, the situation is reversed.

  72. Tom @ 81,

    Is this a correct understanding of what you’re saying / implying:

    There are unchangeable moral principles which are applied in changeable contexts. This can lead to different actions being moral in different contexts. However, some actions (such as child rape) could never make sense – no matter what the context – based on the moral principles.

  73. Irenicus, the fact that (a) Christianity provides rational justification for the changes, (b) other worldviews do not, and (c) the changes happened strictly in Christian-influenced cultures ought to be good evidence for Christianity being the cause of these changes.

    Jeanette, yes, that’s a pretty good compact summary.

  74. Tom @84

    Irenicus, the fact that (a) Christianity provides rational justification for the changes, (b) other worldviews do not, and (c) the changes happened strictly in Christian-influenced cultures ought to be good evidence for Christianity being the cause of these changes.

    Well, a is debatable. b is just false (I’m baffled that you would say this, this seems so obviously false that I have no idea how you could even come up with it in the first place). c is on one level false (e.g. Japan China (Edit, Japan is actually a poor example but would on some level also work)) and on another level arbitrary because it is based on the status quo while ignoring other times in history were Christian-influenced cultures were actually far behind other cultures despite having had *much* more time available to produce those changes.

  75. Tom,

    The Bible seems to describe lots of actions-in-contexts, but is there a list somewhere in the Bible (or elsewhere) of the unchangeable moral principles that they are derived from? It would be pretty handy (to say the least) to have such a list.

  76. Jeanette, God didn’t provide us with a single list of principles in that way. He revealed himself more relationally than that. There’s story there, not mere philosophical exposition.

    Irenicus, (a) is true and (b) is true. (See, I can make flat-out unsupported rebuttals, too!)

    (a) is true for reasons stated in the discussion above these most recent comments, and more besides.

    (b) is true in a broad sense. I’m sure there are exceptions. If you cite contemporary secularism as one of those exceptions, though, I’m ready for that with a strong rebuttal.

    And (c) is based on long history. Read for example Rodney Stark’s view of early Christianity in The Rise of Christianity. He wrote that as a non-believer, by the way. I have no idea how you came up with China as an example to support your position.

  77. It’s a shame that He didn’t do both: explain the underlying principles and use stories to show how they should be applied.

    Without a clear exposition of the underlying principles, how can we be sure they exist and are truly objective and unchangeable?

  78. Oh, they’re expressed clearly enough. Try reading Matt. 5, Matt. 6, Matt. 7, or Eph. 4 or Gal. 5, for starters. They’re just not all in a list.

    Probably the most basic underlying principles of them all are theseL that we’re all created in God’s image to have equal worth in his eyes, that he is a God of both love and justice, that the highest good is to be eternally in fellowship with him beginning now (not just in the future), and that this fellowship includes loving other people as he loves them. He identifies sin generally as that which hinders that fellowship and love. Though we have all fallen into sin, and have thus broken our fellowship with God, in love he made a way through Jesus Christ for us to come back into relationship with him.

    That’s not listed all in one place (Eph. 1 does cover a good bit of it, I guess) but it’s clear enough in the whole scope of the Bible.

  79. Tom @87

    (a) is true for reasons stated in the discussion above these most recent comments, and more besides.

    Alright, then lets home in on a specific issue. The one you brought up (women’s suffrage) is a good one. How exactly does the rational Christian justifican for women’s suffrage look like?
    And just out of curiosity:
    Imagine a Christian who believes that men and women are equally valuable, but also interprets biblical teachings like Ephesians 5:22-24 and 1 Timothy 2: 11-15 to entail that civic engagement is one of the proper roles of men, not of women, who should rather focus on domestic tasks. Would you call that stance irrational? If so, on what grounds?

    (b) is true in a broad sense. I’m sure there are exceptions. If you cite contemporary secularism as one of those exceptions, though, I’m ready for that with a strong rebuttal.

    It is not true in a broad sense. I don’t even see it as true in a very limited sense. I also don’t have to point to secular humanism as a counterexample, I’d pick Islam to illustrate that even worldviews with a not exactly stellar record wrt women’s rights (at least when we look at the status quo today) could rationally ground this:
    If we assume that the basic tenets of Islam are true, then we accept that Muhammad was the most perfect role model that ever lived. And since there are examples of Muhammad listening to women’s advice wrt political matters and appointing women to important political positions (e.g. Al-Shifa’ bint Abdullah who was regularly consulted by Muhammad for advice wrt to business matters and who was appointed to be bazaar-inspector in Medina), we’d have to conclude that civic engagement (like voting) should not be limited to men.
    Sure, you can come up with a different argument that points to the exact opposite conclusion based on the assumption that Islam is true, but that does not mean that the argument I constructed here is irrational (and remember that you quite literally claimed that only Christianity could rationally ground this).

    And (c) is based on long history.

    And it is exactly that long history that roundly refutes the claim that we have Christianity to thank for women’s rights. If an effect trails an alleged cause for this effect by more than one and a half millenia, you need a damn good explanation why it took so long for the effect to materialize – and you don’t have a good explanation for that.

  80. Is it possible for you to give me some working definitions for the words “justice”, “fellowship” and “love”?

    These seem to me to be critical words in the principles that you outlined and I want to make sure I understand what you mean by them.

  81. Irenicus,

    So you want us to believe that you can construct an argument the Islam supports women’s rights based on your tortured personal interpretation of anecdotal stories of who Muhammad supposedly listened to and what that could possibly mean. Then you say:

    Sure, you can come up with a different argument that points to the exact opposite conclusion based on the assumption that Islam is true, but that does not mean that the argument I constructed here is irrational

    Well, in the light of Islam’s actual track on human rights in general and women’s rights in particular , yes, the argument you constructed here is irrational. Quite irrational. And that’s not to mention that if, as you say, Muhammad was the most perfect role model that ever lived then what does his personal ownership of slaves and multiple wives say, and say quite plainly, about his personal views on human and women’s rights.,

    It’s especially irrational when you compare it to Christianity which holds within it’s basic tenets and the example of its prophet the radical equality of all people regardless of race, gender, class or any other demarcation.

  82. Bill T to Irenicus:

    So you want us to believe that you can construct an argument the Islam supports women’s rights based on your tortured personal interpretation of anecdotal stories of who Muhammad supposedly listened to…

    Not only is Irenicus’ reasoning tortured, it’s a waste of time. Furthermore, it’s pretty pathetic when one has to grasp at straws to create a strawman.

  83. BillT,

    So you want us to believe that you can construct an argument the Islam supports women’s rights based on your tortured personal interpretation of anecdotal stories of who Muhammad supposedly listened to and what that could possibly mean.

    Yup. Because if you start with Islam as a worldview, that is actually a perfectly rational thing to do.
    Just like you tortured personal interpretations of Bible hearsay about what Jesus allegedly did and said are not completely useless as an argument if one grants for the sake of the argument that a Christian worldview is actually true.

    Well, in the light of Islam’s actual track on human rights in general and women’s rights in particular , yes, the argument you constructed here is irrational. Quite irrational.

    If we look at the first centuries after those religions became widespread, Islam’s track record was actually much better than that of Christianity. The track record of Christian Europe only started to significantly improve many centuries after Christianity became the dominant religion and only after the enlightenment – those recent developments are not Christianity’s track record, they are the track record of the enlightenment.

    And that’s not to mention that if, as you say, Muhammad was the most perfect role model that ever lived then what does his personal ownership of slaves and multiple wives say, and say quite plainly, about his personal views on human and women’s rights.,

    It says that polygamy and keeping slaves are, at least in some situations, perfectly acceptable – like “righteous” King David’s hundreds of wives and Paul’s command for slaves to “obey your earthly masters” and Yahweh’s precise instructions how slaves can be bought and abused. And spare me your rationalizations for that, they work exactly as well for the Quran.

    It’s especially irrational when you compare it to Christianity which holds within it’s basic tenets and the example of its prophet the radical equality of all people regardless of race, gender, class or any other demarcation.

    Yeah, yeah, not interested in your tortured subjective interpretation.

  84. Irenicus,

    Let’s dispense with all the speculations about what religion does or does not support women’s rights. No one nowadays really cares about religious viewpoints anyway. You certainly don’t. However, I think the relevant here issue is that the current worldview, the one you support, can’t support women’s rights. The current version of women’s rights is morally bankrupt. There is no good reason for women to have equal rights with men. Do you think I’m wrong? If so why don’t you explain to us just why it is that women should have equal rights. That shouldn’t be hard for someone like you that has such strong feelings on the subject, Surely, you must have thought long and hard about why this is true. So Irenicus, why should women have equal rights.

  85. BillT,

    However, I think the relevant here issue is that the current worldview, the one you support, can’t support women’s rights. The current version of women’s rights is morally bankrupt. There is no good reason for women to have equal rights with men. Do you think I’m wrong? If so why don’t you explain to us just why it is that women should have equal rights.

    What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

    A mere assertion is not a challenge, this is a challenge:

    Your biblical worldview is morally corrupt and does not support equal rights for women. At best, it can support the notion that the lives of men and women have equal moral value, but when it comes to the rights they do or do not have – women are clearly inferior to men. While the NT is not quite as abhorrent as the OT in this regard (given that the OT does not even treat women as human beings but rather as the property of its father or husband Exodus 20:17, Exodus 21:7), the biblical view of womanhood in the NT is still despicable:
    “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
    Ephesians 5:22-24
    “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”
    1 Timothy 2:11-15
    “For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”
    1 Corinthians 11:2-10
    “No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as first-fruits to God and the Lamb.”
    Revelation 14:3-4

    The biblical view of women so that it is better for a man to not “defile” himself with a woman. The biblical view of women is that they are servants, created for men. The biblical view of women is that they are NOT equal with men – the Bible provides the analogy of Jesus and his church, and just like Jesus is not the equal of his church but rather the better / head / master of his church, so is the husband in a marriage. The proper biblical role of a woman is to obey and serve her father first and then her husband, and then focus her energies on child rearing. Women’s suffrage or women’s right to self-determination or pretty much any other women’s rights issue is clearly contradicted by biblical teachings about what women are and what they ought to do.

    Now try the same for secular humanism. Good luck.

  86. BillT,

    I’d like to ask you a couple of questions in a similar vein. Do you support child marriage? If not, on what grounds do you not support it? Do you think that children aged 14 (say) should be allowed to vote? If not, why not?

  87. In the OP Tom asks a couple of pertinent questions:

    “What does the Bible say about marriage and morality? Where does it say it in the Bible, and how do we know we’re interpreting it correctly?”

    “Why would God say what He says about this? What if the Bible is just outdated and prejudiced and wrong? How can we be confident it’s really true and actually still good?”

    In regards to morality another question is, what is sin? What is God’s attitude towards sin?

    Sin is basically selfishness and self-righteousness. When we act selfishly we feel guilty about it. Those feelings of guilt are the way God made us (or “hard-wired” us) psychologically. When we act selfishly it not only affects others but it also harms us personally.

    The Bible has stories, like “Noah’s” flood, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, where sin so corrupted a society that God had to destroy it and start over with a few righteous survivors.

    As the Creator of the whole universe, God would be well within his rights to nudge a large stray comet off its path to destroy the earth and start over, if mankind as a whole ever became that corrupt and evil. Fortunately, God is patient or long suffering and because of his love wants to redeem and forgive human-kind.

    Whenever humans reject God, they do so because of sin and self-righteousness. However, unless you are perfect you have no basis to think and act self-righteously. You certainly do not have the basis to impose your moral beliefs on others. To do so is to assume that you are God or you are morally equal to God. However, it never ends well for people who think and act that way. They end up not only hurting themselves but hurting others.

  88. Irenicus,

    I grant everything you say in your #97 to be true. I don’t believe in equal rights for women and your post shows exactly why. And my position stands on firm Biblical ground.

    Now, instead of avoiding my question to you perhaps you can tell us why you think women should have equal rights.

  89. Jeanette,

    I’m not sure I understand what your question has to do with the subject we’re discussing. The ability of minor children to make life decisions or participate in the democratic process is of what relevance here?

  90. I’m not sure I understand what your question has to do with the subject we’re discussing. The ability of minor children to make life decisions or participate in the democratic process is of what relevance here?

    I’m not so interested in the conclusions, but how you reach them, given that you draw your morality from the Bible. That is what I’m interested in. Can you explain your thinking process and the conclusions you reach?

  91. BillT,

    I grant everything you say in your #97 to be true. I don’t believe in equal rights for women and your post shows exactly why. And my position stands on firm Biblical ground.

    That is somewhat surprising because I thought you’d agree with Tom that the situation wrt women’s rights was better in 20th century Europe than it was in 17th century Europe and that things like women’s suffrage were actually a change for the better. But apparently, you do not.
    That position of yours is so radical that I see no need to engage it – no one in a position of power in the western world takes it seriously and I can’t bring myself to take it seriously, not even just for the sake of the argument, either.

  92. Irenicus,

    You’re a persuasive guy. You won. You’ve convinced me.

    Now, will you stop avoiding my question to you and tell us why you think women should have equal rights.

  93. BillT,

    Now, will you stop avoiding my question to you and tell us why you think women should have equal rights.

    Let me rephrase your question:
    “Why has our society adopted equal rights for men and women and condemned my personal belief that women are inferior to and should have less rights than men to the dustbin of history?”
    And the answer to that is that society has recognized that women are fully human, and not less human than men – and therefore, they are entitled to human rights in the exact same degree as men are.

  94. Why do women have the same rights? Because Society recognized so. And this is what passes for an argument — must be all that “Enlightenment”.

  95. G.Rodrigues, can you try to explain exactly why it falls short? I could just as easily make a snide retort about basing your worldview on a book that contains talking snakes and donkeys, but it doesn’t exactly move things in a productive direction. So I won’t.

    What I don’t get is, if the principles of morality are objective, as claimed, why is that Tom appears to believe that women should have equal rights, while BillT does not?

  96. @Jeanette:

    G.Rodrigues, can you try to explain exactly why it falls short? I could just as easily make a snide retort about basing your worldview on a book that contains talking snakes and donkeys, but it doesn’t exactly move things in a productive direction.

    I did. Irenicus did not offer an argument, but threw out a claim that somehow we are all expected to swallow. You do know what an argument is, don’t you?

    He did not explain what “fully human” is. He did not explain how exactly the Enlightenment (that curious British gentleman wearing a powdered wig) discovered this “fact”, something that hitherto escaped unnoticed to the rest of mankind — at least if we are to believe Irenicus. Did it peer the entrails of chickens? Gazed the starry heavens? Received a revelation from God on high? He did not explain why being “fully human” entails being a bearer of rights. He did not explain why all “fully human” are the bearers of the *same* rights. He said Society “recognized so” — this suggests (although he will have to clarify) that there is are no such thing as “rights” beyond what Society “recognizes”. So if tomorrow Society “recognized” that women, while maybe “fully human” (whatever that means), did not have such “rights” it could very well revoke them. I could go on.

    make a snide retort about basing your worldview on a book that contains talking snakes and donkeys

    Yes you could, and then I would, in a snide retort, tell you that the Bible is not a book for silly children and that something besides a screaming vacuum inside the hard skull is mandated.

  97. @Jeanette:

    I forgot to add that “women are fully human” is also false on *Irenicus principles*, which will complicate whatever argument he cares to make because he will have to introduce more distinctions (and, so I would argue, make it ad hoc). Counterexample as an exercise to the reader.

  98. Forgive me, but G. Rodrigues reply to what appear to be insincere, “gotcha” questions by Jeanette are precisely the reason I am still an addicted lurker here at Thinking Christian. Even if English is not your first language, you express yourself very well G. Thanks for contributing.

  99. And the answer to that is that society has recognized that women are fully human, and not less human than men – and therefore, they are entitled to human rights in the exact same degree as men are.

    So Irenicus, women are “fully human”. Sez who? And because of that they are entitled to human rights in the exact same degree as men are. Again, sez who? Oh! “society” sez that they are. So, if society sez they aren’t fully human then they don’t deserve human rights in the exact same degree as men. So then, you must agree that women in, for example, Islamic countries aren’t fully human, because they certainly don’t have the same human rights as men. After all, that’s what their societies sez. Correct?

  100. Jeanette,

    I’m still not sure where this fits in but to your question about minors being allowed to marry and vote, the reasoning goes something like this. We believe that we have free will to choose our own paths in life and make personal decisions. We believe it takes a certain minimum amount of emotional, intellectual and moral maturity to made life decisions that will have permanent affects, life marriage, or affect others, like voting. 14 year olds don’t have the requisite maturity to make either of these decisions.

  101. @chapman55K, My so-called “gotcha” questions are sincere. I am genuinely interested in the answers. I am not claiming that I have a better or more consistent worldview.

    Q1: “Do you support child marriage? If not, on what grounds do you not support it?”

    The reason for this question: As I understand it, Mary was aged between 11 and 14 when she married Joseph and gave birth to Jesus. In some (e.g. Islamic) countries child marriage is still common. In the Western world, it’s outlawed and someone who has sex, or even looks at, a child in that way is branded a “pedophile”. It’s commonly held as one of the worst crimes.

    I want to know your view on this. Do you think that it’s acceptable to have sex with someone aged 11-14. Why do you think our modern society does not agree? If you think it’s immoral, how have you come to that conclusion?

    Q2: If the principles of morality are objective, as claimed, why is that Tom appears to believe that women should have equal rights, while BillT does not?There seems to be an inconsistency here that needs explaining.

  102. Sorry, Bill, I must have written that last comment while you were already replying.

    It seems from your reply that you aren’t really using the Bible to guide you towards your conclusion. At least you didn’t seem to mention it or quote anything from it. Is that fair?

  103. Well Jeanette, free will is something that I think is questionable without God so I am working from a theistic viewpoint. Not every situation has a direct Biblical quote to reference.

    Given the above explanation for your question on child marriage, you are comparing practices across vast cultural and time differences between the ANE and a modern Western perspective. And your quite perceptive observation about practices in modern Islamic countries shows the stark differences between places influenced by Christianity verses the alternative.

    I think if you read between the lines regarding the discussion I am having with Irenicus you wouldn’t need to ask your Q2.

  104. G. Rodrigues,

    Irenicus did not offer an argument…

    Indeed. I just explained why this change happened, and I also explained why I’m not going to provide an argument for why this change was a good thing (#103).

    …but threw out a claim that somehow we are all expected to swallow.

    Wrong. I actually appreciate you not “swallowing” it – because this kind of extremism is the best way to marginalize the Bible. Also, everyone who’s opinion matters has already accepted that this change was a change for the better.

    Yes you could, and then I would, in a snide retort, tell you that the Bible is not a book for silly children and that something besides a screaming vacuum inside the hard skull is mandated.

    I’d agree, not a book for silly children – if anything, a book written by them. Only an exceptionally silly man-child could write stuff like:
    “No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins.”
    or:
    “A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. ‘ On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.”

  105. BillT,

    So Irenicus, women are “fully human”. Sez who?

    People who looked at women for what they actually are instead of looking at the grotesque caricatures that misogynistic barbarians like “St.” Paul (and the people who forged his letters (Paul actually didn’t even write 1 Timothy, and 1 Timothy 2:11-15 wasn’t in the autograph – it’s literally a forgery within a forgery)) paint of them.

    So, if society sez they aren’t fully human then they don’t deserve human rights in the exact same degree as men.

    That’s a non sequitur. If a society would say that, then it follows that women would not *have* those rights in that society, it doesn’t follow that they do not *deserve* those rights.

    So then, you must agree that women in, for example, Islamic countries aren’t fully human, because they certainly don’t have the same human rights as men.

    Non sequitur, see above.
    Btw, it seems that you do not realize that your views are so ridiculously extreme that those islamic countries are actually way too progressive wrt women’s rights for you – women can vote and even assume leadership positions, Bangladesh has a female prime minister, the horror! Currently, you are trying to have your cake and eat it, too. First you brag about the alleged better track record of Christianity wrt women’s rights compared to Islam, and then you embrace(!) literally all of the misogynistic nonsense in the Bible which, if actually implemented within a society, would make said society a *much* more regressive place wrt women’s rights than most islamic nations on this planet.

  106. @BillT

    When I read between the lines, what I read is that your personal morality is subjective – you and Tom have come to different conclusions, on the topic of women’s rights, based on different interpretations of the same source material.

    Free will is just as questionable with God. If God is omniscient we can’t do anything that would surprise Him. He knew exactly what was going to occur when He created the world. Our lives are unfolding in exactly the way He foresaw. The free will we like to believe we have is nothing of the sort in a Godful universe. Our actions have been mapped out and we can’t change them. We can’t take a turn that God didn’t know we would take. God can’t choose what He knows. He has to know everything or He’s not omniscient, by definition.

    Regarding, child marriage, the Bible does not seem to say that it is sinful, evil or even bad. In fact, God appears to condone it by choosing a young bride to give birth to His son. Does that mean you also agree with pedophilia? If not, why not, when God Himself does not seem to find it a problem?

  107. @Irenicus:

    Only an exceptionally silly man-child could write stuff like:

    Only a moron would write the exception ally ignorant and idiotic stuff you have written.

  108. Jeanette @ #118,

    Free will is just as questionable with God. If God is omniscient we can’t do anything that would surprise Him. He knew exactly what was going to occur when He created the world. Our lives are unfolding in exactly the way He foresaw. The free will we like to believe we have is nothing of the sort in a Godful universe. Our actions have been mapped out and we can’t change them. We can’t take a turn that God didn’t know we would take. God can’t choose what He knows. He has to know everything or He’s not omniscient, by definition.

    Several years ago I would go to a local restaurant once or twice before work to have breakfast. I ordered the same thing every time—scrambled eggs, sausage links and a biscuit with honey. After a while the waitress who normally served me would put in my order the moment she saw me walk through the door. She wasn’t omniscient but she did foreknow my breakfast preference. Did I still have free will even though she foreknew what I would order? Could I still change my mind if I so chose? IOW is free will categorically the same thing as foreknowledge?

  109. Bill T.,

    On Mary’s age:

    Twenty years old is chosen in the book of Numbers as the age when becoming accountable / “adult” begins to take the stage. “Child” is less than 20. There’s no mention of Mary’s age in Scripture. The Ideal for Mankind obviously isn’t defined by Law/Moses (God hates X yet God leaves X unchecked in Law/Moses). Numbers / 20 years old will beat out custom on mere definition wrt Mary’s age if the uninformed Non-Theist wants to assert that “Law/Moses” and “Man’s Inhumanity” are some sort of “meaning makers” wrt the Imago Dei.

    Just a thought.

  110. @JAD

    The difference is your waitress didn’t know for certain what you were going to order.

  111. JAD,

    FWIW: J. *seems* to take the line that Causation amid a Y in the road is to be equated to Foreknowledge, which is obviously false. Also, Foreknowledge of volition at said Y is being equated to some sort of inability on God’s part to create the irreducibly volitional, as in the Imago Dei, which is also false. The principle of proportionate causality (Aquinas I think?) helps elucidate why. It’s easy to make category errors here of course. Pride (Mine and not Thine) and Love (Thine and not Mine) are a seamless singularity for any contingent being assuming volitional love amid God and Man. God’s original self-outpouring sets the stage.

  112. @Jeanette:

    Free will is just as questionable with God. If God is omniscient we can’t do anything that would surprise Him. He knew exactly what was going to occur when He created the world. Our lives are unfolding in exactly the way He foresaw. The free will we like to believe we have is nothing of the sort in a Godful universe. Our actions have been mapped out and we can’t change them. We can’t take a turn that God didn’t know we would take. God can’t choose what He knows. He has to know everything or He’s not omniscient, by definition.

    I do not want to sound condescending, but it would be helpful if you at least had a modest acquaintance with what Christian theologians have written — I am thinking of St. Augustine and Boethius. If you google them up, you will see that this is *old* stuff.

    First, let me say that JAD’s answer does not work if meant as a complete response to your challenge (although it is not a useless answer). Second, your characterization of God’s knowledge is incorrect. You are thinking of God’s knowledge as knowledge just like ours; He foreknows as in He knows ahead of time, what we will do. But this is incorrect, because God is not in time, God is not a temporal creature — God is not even *a* *creature*. God knows what I will do tomorrow, but this knowledge is not “obtained” as if by peering into the future the way a witch would peer into a crystal ball, much less is obtained *before* I do what I will do. There is no temporal relation between me doing X tomorrow and God knowing that tomorrow I will do X. Since there is no temporal relation, neither there is the modal relation you attribute to God’s knowledge, that of necessitating my doing X tomorrow. In short, the argument you sketch fails.

  113. G. Rodrigues,

    Only a moron would write the exception ally ignorant and idiotic stuff you have written.

    I’m not really surprised that you resort to the trusty old “I know what you are but what am I?!” defense, given that you seem to think that Bible verses that can be fairly summarized as “girls are icky and have cooties!”, like this one:
    “A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. ‘ On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.”
    – are actually not silly at all but rather profound.

  114. @Irenicus:

    I’m not really surprised that you resort to the trusty old “I know what you are but what am I?!” defense

    What defense? I am simply stating what is painfully obvious. Someone that characterizes the Bible as silly on grounds of, to give but one example, a prophetic passage couched in allegorical language is a moron that should not be trusted with any books, let alone the Bible, the most important book for the western culture — whether we believe it is God’s word or not (There would be no Shakespeare or Dante or Cervantes or their few peers, and they invented us all).

    given that you seem to think that Bible verses that can be fairly summarized as “girls are icky and have cooties!”, like this one:

    A summary that you pulled out of your arse, because there is absolutely no comment of mine in this thread of how I think the Bible should be interpreted on the issue of women and their rights.

    If on the other hand you think, not only that the Bible is a supremely silly book, and therefore by implication Christianity is supremely silly and by exemplification all us Christians here silly people, but you think that it ought to be marginalized, and therefore by implication Christianity ought to be marginalized and by exemplification we Christians ought to be marginalized, then why exactly are you here wasting your time on us, Christian bible readers? You are certainly not arguing; you obviously have reading comprehension difficulties and you have not given any arguments. You think you do not even have to waste your time laying out arguments, after all it is all so obvious and everyone whose opinions you deem worthy already agrees with you. Congratulations, but maybe your time would be better spent marginalizing us in whatever forums are more appropriate?

  115. Irenicus,

    G.R. makes a valid point *given* the forum here: “You think you do not even have to waste your time laying out arguments…”

    You stated (regarding presenting an actual argument) this:

    “I also explained why I’m not going to provide an argument for why this change was a good thing…”

    [1] So far you have only made claims.

    [2] So far you have presented (here) no good reason why love’s egalitarian self-giving evades any final or cosmic or ultimate nihilism, and so far you present (here) no good reason why love’s egalitarian self-giving *is* factually, or ontologically, or cosmically a metaphysically irreducible ethic.

    [3] Merely agreeing with us on our terms, with the Christian metanarrative by agreeing that “Law/Moses” and “Man’s Inhumanity” fail to define the Ideal and in fact cannot define the Ideal where Mankind and “Meaning Makers” are concerned is fine — it’s nice to see you agree with our terms and definition sets — but you yourself not giving any moral ontology to justify your assertion is a bit odd *given* this forum.

  116. @G. Rodrigues

    God knows what I will do tomorrow, but this knowledge is not “obtained” as if by peering into the future the way a witch would peer into a crystal ball, much less is obtained *before* I do what I will do. There is no temporal relation between me doing X tomorrow and God knowing that tomorrow I will do X.

    If God is able to observe our lives as they unfold then it doesn’t matter whether God is inside or outside of time. We have time and that all that is relevant in relation to free will.

    The question is whether God knows what will happen in our timeline. If He has this knowledge with respect to our time, with certainty, then my argument holds.

    If at the genesis of the universe He knew for certain how our lives would unfurl in our timeline, then it means we cannot choose a different path that contradicts this knowledge. In other words, if He is omniscient, free will is an illusion. He created us knowing full well how our lives would go. We are just playing out His script.

  117. Foreknowledge:

    If we would have chosen differently, God would have known differently.

    Cart. Horse.

    Horse. Cart.

    Of course, all that syntax is still (unfortunately for the Non-Theist) tensed in time.

    What the Non-Theist may not realize is that coins are funny things. They have two sides. Yet they are a singular creation. Necessity and all that stuff. In fact, to demand a one sided coin is to demand nonsense.

    If volitional love……

  118. @Jeanette:

    If God is able to observe our lives as they unfold then it doesn’t matter whether God is inside or outside of time. We have time and that all that is relevant in relation to free will.

    Your statement is absurd. Of course it matters, because the argument you sketched does not hang independently of our conceptions of Free Will, and because its *structure* logically requires the existence of certain temporal relations. Specifically, the argument as you sketch needs two things: (1) there exists a temporal relation between God’s knowledge and my doing X tomorrow and (2) this entails a relation of necessity, to wit: God’s knowledge is infallible, therefore if God knows that I will do X tomorrow, necessarily I will do X tomorrow. (2) is alright, and you will not hear me quibbling about it, but (1) is wrong, dead wrong. And you need (1) to derive the necessity, for from (2) alone it does *not* follow that necessarily, tomorrow I will do X.

    And thus, it does *not* follow that we have no alternative possible course of actions (this is the most common, libertarian conception of Free Will; while I do not think it is quite right, it is good enough for the purposes of this discussion). In possible worlds lingo (which I do not like very much, for reasons that I will not go over) where tomorrow I do X_1, God infallibly knows that tomorrow I do X_1, in some *other* possible word where tomorrow I do X_2, God infallibly knows that I do X_2. In the actual world, tomorrow I will do X, and God infallibly knows that tomorrow I will do X, but quite obviously from what I said before, it does not follow that necessarily I will do X, which is what your argument logically requires. In logical terms, you are illegitimately shifting the modal operators.

    Neither does God “observe our lives as they unfold” as some sort of external spectator, because not one thing would exist even for a nanosecond were it not for the sustaining power of God conserving it in being, so that God’s knowing that tomorrow I will do X and God’s conservation in being of all beings so that tomorrow I will do X are one single, undivided act.

    If at the genesis of the universe He knew for certain how our lives would unfurl in our timeline, then it means we cannot choose a different path that contradicts this knowledge.

    And the same mistake again of attributing a temporal relation to God’s knowledge. God does not know that I will do X tomorrow “*at* the genesis of the universe” (emphasis mine; “at” attributes a temporal location to God’s knowledge) nor yesterday nor tomorrow nor at any point in the timeline of the universe, because God’s knowledge is atemporal. And thus it does *not* follow, that at the genesis of the universe it was already in the stars so to speak, that tomorrow I will do X.

    If on the other hand, you are aiming at an argument for modal collapse (which, I repeat, would be a different argument from the one you sketched, and thus requires a different response), it too will fail because the only thing you can prove is that on the supposition that God wills X, then necessarily X, which is unobjectionable.

  119. God is outside of time?

    (1) Why did He rest on the seventh day? How do you interpret Genesis with such a view?

    (2) Jesus clearly had a temporal relationship with the world. Are you saying that Jesus had no power to predict the future? But he predicted his death and resurrection? How did he do that?

    (3) The Bible makes prophecies and fulfils prophecies. If God has no predictive capability, how could these prophecies occur?

  120. @Jeanette:

    Why did He rest on the seventh day? How do you interpret Genesis with such a view?

    The Bible also says that God will enfold His servants in his wings; as far as I know, no Christian has read this as the Bible saying that God is a giant chicken clucking across the sky.

    Jesus clearly had a temporal relationship with the world. Are you saying that Jesus had no power to predict the future? But he predicted his death and resurrection? How did he do that?

    Yes Jesus clearly had a temporal relation with the world, since quite trivially, in his human nature he was a human being and thus in the world. And?

    The Bible makes prophecies and fulfils prophecies. If God has no predictive capability, how could these prophecies occur?

    Where did I say that “God has no predictive capability”?

    Look, you have the wrong interlocutor here. You probably should be talking with someone else, some die-hard fundamentalist literal-Bible reading Christian, someone for whom your questions, and the assumptions they carry, make a lick of sense.

    How shallow, ignorant and vulgar most of modern atheism is. It is essentially the same fundamentalist mindset they excoriate, except in a different clothing. But I suppose we Christians deserve this state of affairs. Dr. Johnson railed against Hume, that “brilliant sophist”; we have the obsteperous and obnoxious Dawkins (*). Oh well.

    (*) to be fair, there is also Mackie and Sobel and a few others.

    Benfica has just won the national football league for the third consecutive year (I believe Americans call football “soccer”, an ugly word if there ever was one). God is good, all is well with the world, I am happy, and you atheists can all go collectively suck a cow.

  121. Where did I say that “God has no predictive capability”?

    I got the impression you implicitly denied it.

    So, we agree that God can predict a future state of our world with utter certainty and communicate that prediction to us. We can take the Bible as evidence of this ability.

    I suggest that means he not only has temporal knowledge but also the ability to communicate it into a temporal world.

    If God is infallible and knows a future state of the world with utter certainty, then it is impossible for any action we take to change that state.

  122. Foreknowledge:

    True, it is impossible for us to make any volitional choices other than the volitional choices which we volitionally choose to make.

    *If* we would have chosen differently (we can/could) *then* God would have known differently.

    Cart. Horse.

    Horse. Cart.

    Therein volition stands untouched, fully intact, wholly irreducible to some non-volitional part, content, or element. Sort of like “being” stands wholly irreducible to some “non-being” or some non-existent part, content, or element. Aquinas (http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html) talks of proportionate causality, which has overlap in the context of the created essence of the Decreed, the Willed, and thus unavoidable, Imago Dei.

  123. Sorry @scbrownlhrm but I find you writing completely impenetrable and skip your comments, as a rule.

    You appear to have fallen deep into the trap of thinking that writing an inscrutable, high-brow-sounding word salad comes across as impressive or intelligent.

    I wish you would take a leaf out of Tom’s book. His ability to communicate complex ideas clearly—in language that the reader will understand—is the true mark of intelligence, in my view.

  124. J.,

    It’s not complex at all:

    It is impossible for us to make any (truly volitional) choices other than the (truly volitional) choices which we (truly volitionally) choose to make.

    Why? Because if I freely choose (truly volitional) between A and B, and therein choose B, then I’ve chosen B, so it is impossible for me to have chosen A.

    Simple.

  125. That’s a non sequitur.

    Well Irenicus, perhaps it is.

    However, in order for you to show it to be a non sequitur you have to explain what you mean by “fully human” which is a term you use without definition. You use that undefined term and further imply there are rights associated with it. You need to show where the rights you associate with being “fully human” come from. For you say:

    If a society would say that, then it follows that women would not *have* those rights in that society, it doesn’t follow that they do not *deserve* those rights.,

    Women would “deserve” those rights only and only if those rights derive from and exist outside of their creation by the society. Those are the kind of rights so famously described in the “immortal declaration” by the words, “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. Just where in your worldview, since you have no creator, do those inalienable rights that women “deserve” come from and how are they endowed. They must be both because you claim that the societal revocation or failure to grant those rights has no effect on their existence or the rights women “deserve” to derive from them.

    On the other hand, if the rights you believe that women have are given by the society (usually called laws) then my position is anything but a non sequitur. If these rights derive from the authority of the society then the revocation of or failure to grant those rights effectively and quite fairly denies those rights to women.

    So, if you would, could you explain how women have rights that don’t come from the society and that can’t be revoked by the society. If you can, then you will have shown by position to be a non sequitur.

  126. J.,

    To clarify the moment of distinction:

    There was this: “If I freely choose (truly volitional) between A and B, and therein choose B, then I’ve chosen B, so it is impossible for me to have chosen A.”

    It may help if we add the phrase “now that I’ve chosen B”, so that it reads:

    If I freely choose (truly volitional) between A and B, and therein choose B, then I’ve chosen B, so it is, now that I’ve chosen B, impossible for me to have chosen A.

    Of course, prior to me having freely chosen between A and B, I was free (truly volitional) to choose either A or B.

  127. Bill T.,

    From somewhere in some thread at some time:

    “The West’s liberal ideals in a secular/atheist framework are practically mysticism. This idea of a “fundamental human right” in an evolutionary context is, as Bentham stated, “nonsense on stilts.” This is going beyond the otherwise-humble claims of the skeptic that morality is just a thing we have built into us, and is good for our evolutionary benefit. That’s fine, I can handle that and say “Ok well, good luck!” But then they go on to appeal to some concept of equality among individuals, which is utterly and perfectly contradictory to the fitness paradigm of the evolutionary future which we are bound to. The question to the skeptic is, how can you assert equality into a future that you anticipate will involve conditions requiring unfitness of certain types of individuals in the species? How can you begin to guess that our current, or ANY, pursuit of happiness is the scientifically verified insurance of survival and fitness for the species in the context of fundamental human rights and equality? I certainly don’t advocate judging the truth of a claim based on its consequences. However, for all the times that I am accused of cognitive dissonance, which I may be guilty of, I cannot imagine living under the volume of cognitive dissonance in saying incidental meat robots called humans have “fundamental human rights” while KNOWING those human rights could cause conditions that would be evolutionarily disastrous.” (by GM)

  128. @scbrownlhrm

    No offense, but I’m talking to G. Rodrigues and BillT.

    @G. Rodrigues, @BillT

    Here’s a summary of my logic about free will, in brief:

    The Bible makes and fulfils God’s prophecies. God is infallible, so these prophecies are not simply best guesses. In other words, God knows our future for certain and has communicated it to us. (It is therefore irrelevant what form God takes and whether He is inside or outside of time because he has demonstrated his ability to tell us about events that will happen in our timelines before they have happened. Or do you deny that?)

    Therefore, we can’t do anything God doesn’t expect. As he created us, we are effectively playing out a script that he wrote. Free will is an illusion. Our lives are already plotted and fully known by God.

    To be clear: if we could, at any time, even in theory, have taken an action that God did not expect (e.g. an experimental accident that wipes out humanity), then his prophecies would be guesses and not immutable truths. In other words, God would be fallible and not omniscient.

  129. Jeanette,

    No offense, but you’re falsely equating Foreknowledge of a choice with two things:

    [1] causation of the choice, which you’ll need to justify

    [2] the non-entity of volition, which you’ll need to justify

    Your category errors there are unfortunate.

    You’ll also have to justify how it is that (on your premise)

    [3] God cannot create a being that is truly volitional when it comes to A, B, C, D, E, and so on (obviously not infinite amid “all possibilities in all worlds” as in God, but a few million options will do just fine).

    Proportionate causality (linked earlier) looks into the content within the effect relative to the content within its cause (in this case, volition in the man, and God as the creator).

    Also, you’ll have to explain how it is that a coin with two sides cannot be a singular created thing, a singular creative act.

    If love is volitional (God / Imago Dei) then we come to the interfaces of I/You. Or of Self/Other if those semantics help. Creating a world wherein Man and God, God and Man, volitionally interface in that context is one, singular creative act of one, singular reality.

  130. @scbrownlhrm
    You fail to properly distinguish between per se and per accidens volitional causal chains, and hence temporalize essentially atemporal arguments. Design is a concept in the mind of the designer or is instantiated in a real being or both. You are explicitly buying in to the univocity of being error. God does not “make” anything… otherwise, He would be reduced to something akin to Plato’s Demiurge artificer. As Actus Purus He creates, which is an atemporal divine act that brings into existence from non-existence.

  131. J.,

    Yes, God creates, which brings into existence from non-existence.

    We agree.

    Such is true of all that is within Man’s immaterial nature (and material nature for that matter). Such as volition amid a wide array of options.

    But agreement isn’t new here.

    G.R. agreed with you on God’s infallible prophetic capacity (foreknowledge).

    It’s not apparent that any of us are Open Theists.

  132. Irenicus,

    Unclean periods in the woman is radically bizarre?

    It’s nice of you to agree with the Christian!

    It’s nice that you agree (with the Christian) that the ceremonial law was radically strange in its affairs of not mixing blood and not eating blood relative to the Sacrificial System given that it all had nothing to do with Scripture’s definitions of Mankind’s irreducible value/worth and given that (per Scripture’s definitions) the means of Moral Excellence could never be instantiated in or through any of it. The ceremonial law there in the foreshadowing of another category of Eternal Sacrifice is, while mundane, of interest of course only in the context of the proverbial schoolmaster with respect to what lay up ahead in Christ.

    But simply agreeing with us isn’t enough.

    It’s also nice to see that you agree (with the Christian) that God intends, say, “L” for Mankind at large (the Imago Dei) yet God commands (commanded), say, “I” for those within Israel in the Law/Moses, that God hates X while leaving X unchecked in Law/Moses, that Law/Moses actually maneuvers around the hardness of hearts leaving things unchecked, actually maneuvers within the mindsets of those it interfaces with (in Case Law) and that the Ceremonial Law is myopic on what was up ahead in Christ with respect to God’s own self-giving love. While all of that is obvious given the definitions of Scripture’s metanarrative and given the facts and given the lens of Christ – even the lens of the Imago Dei forces the same semantics – you’ll still have to do better than merely agree with the Christian if you mean to gain any traction *against* the Christian’s definitions.

    Simply agreeing with the Christian isn’t the same as showing us your own moral ontology by which you can rationally define those very same things as [The Good] or as [The Good minus something].

    Merely agreeing with Christianity’s metaphysical lines within such matters and merely agreeing with Christianity’s ethic of love’s egalitarian self-giving isn’t something you’ve justified as rational on your own terms. You’ll need to use your own moral ontology (love’s ontology) to justify why in your own metaphysic (as in the Christian’s) it is the case that “The Good” and “The Good minus something” are even rational to believe in.

    “The-Good” (God, Imago Dei) remains fixed, unchanging, while, per the definitions of Scripture’s metanarrative, “The Good minus something” defines our painful, mutable, and fluid reality.

    BTW: You’ll also need to use your own moral ontology (your own ontology of love given that love is the highest ethic) to justify why in your own metaphysics (as in the Christian’s) it is the case that the diseased, and those with dementia, and the biologically unfit, and women, and men, and children, and the insane, and the criminal, and the slave, and the rejects of the world all house within themselves irreducible worth and irreducible value which we are (all of us) to treat as sacred, as Christ, as brother, enemy and all, and how it is that such (factually) transcends all that body and environment can hurl at them, at us, which (factually) transcends the physics behind neuronal sodium pumps, and which shows us an explanatory trail which (factually) terminates in love’s egalitarian self-giving, which shows us a metaphysic of love’s self-outpouring (as is found in the immutable nature of *God*, in the processions within *Trinity*).

    Until then, your agreement with the definitions of Scripture’s metanarrative amounts to nothing more than borrowing on your part which you’ve yet to remit the proper funds for. Not everything is for free you know.

  133. @Jeanette:

    God is infallible, so these prophecies are not simply best guesses. In other words, God knows our future for certain and has communicated it to us.

    This is a *different* problem: God infallibly knows X *and* God communicates X to us; and since we are in time, there is a perfectly legitimate sense in which it can be said that God’s communication is also in time. God infallibly knows X, but it is simply *not* true that God has communicated it to us. Prophecies in the Bible are *always* of a *very general character*, they hardly ever have as subjects individual characters and never their actions (respectively, the bearers of Free Will and its proper object), but nations and other such entities, or events, and those very few special cases where a reasonable doubt could arise can be answered, but have to be answered on a case by case basis, possibly by making further distinctions of a metaphysical nature (and some of the problems here are genuinely vexing and difficult, but then so are many other metaphysical conundrums).

    Therefore, we can’t do anything God doesn’t expect.

    God does not “expect” anything whatsoever, because to expect is to be in time and God is not in time. To “expect” implies that God predicts, *then* the world unfolds. But this logically requires a sequential, temporal relation between what God knows and what is known, which there is not because God is not in time. And this is true *even* if God communicated to us, for God’s act is single, undivided; strictly speaking there is no separation between creation of the universe and the communication of some prophecy, it is simply God, in a single undivided act, interacting at two different time locations analogously to how I, by reaching my arms, interact with two different spacial locations simultaneously.

    note: about #142. Your attempt at parody just reveals you have no clue what you are talking about. Now if you want to embarrass and make an idiot of yourself, I have no problem, as I have a special taste for farce and comedy, but mind that that *is* what you are doing.

  134. Sorry about that. By the way, G. Rodrigues, I appreciate your intellect, your patience with me and the clarity of your writing. It is especially impressive, if, as Chapman55 intimated, English isn’t your mother tongue.

  135. @G. Rodrigues

    Jesus accurately prophesied the timing and manner of his own death.

    How could he know for certain what his future captors would do, if they truly had free will?

  136. From: https://newtheist.org/

    Imagine you are at a stop light and you are going to turn right. You look to your left and you see no cars [100% certainty implied]. At this moment you know with 100% certainty, “If I pull out into the street, I will *not* be struck by a car.” Did your knowing you would not be struck by a car cause the street to be empty? No, the street could have still had cars on it independent of what you know to be true. If there had been cars coming, however, then you would have instead known, “If I pull into the street then I *will* be struck by a car.” In the same way, God knows what we will do but his knowledge doesn’t cause our actions. If we were to [volitionally] choose differently, then he would have known differently. (by MattB)

  137. @scbrownlhrm

    I’m not denying that people can make accurate predictions. There is a difference, however, between making accurate predictions and knowing for certain what will happen. Perhaps you start to pull out onto the street and the street collapses underneath you. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/31/22125262-hawaii-sinkhole-swallows-truck-with-driver-in-it

    In any case, what I’m talking about is predicting something that involves other people exercising their free will. You might be listening to the evidence in a court and become convinced that the jury will find someone guilty, but you can’t be certain. You might be prepared to put money on it, but there is always a possibility that they won’t act the way you think they will.

    Likewise, Jesus may have been convinced that he would be killed by crucifxion, but did he know for certain and know exactly on what day?

  138. Jeanette, I’d be interested to know what conclusion you would draw if we were unable to provide you a completely satisfying answer to your question.

  139. @scbrownlhrm

    Knowing in itself does not lead to causation, so long as no actions are taken based on that knowledge.

    As soon as you tell someone then your words become causes that will lead to effects that could potentially change the outcome. Even knowing your own fate may change the way you behave. That creates a causal link.

    @Tom

    We do not seem to have free will under the God hypothesis.

  140. Alternatively, Jesus did not know for certain, but was simply making an educated-guess based on his reading of people and the situation. He could have be wrong.

  141. Likewise, Jesus may have been convinced that he would be killed by crucifxion, but did he know for certain and know exactly on what day?

    Yes, because he had access to the knowledge of the Father who, being outside of time, knew the results of choices those men were going to make.

  142. J.,

    Now you are equating Prophecy with Causation.

    The fact that prophecy is merely the content of foreknowledge, which is not causative, falsifies your premise/conclusion.

    If God tells us that in AD 70 Rome will destroy the temple, that is information based entirely on God knowing the results of Man’s irrecusably volitional choices — hence causation is — again — cut off.

    You’ll have to show us *HOW* God telling us about Rome in AD 70 causes the irreducibly volitional to just evaporate.

    Does God go inside the soul of the Man and remove the man’s nature, the man’s irreducible volition (irreducible in the same sense in which his being/existence is irreducible….non-being into being via creating etc.) ??

    Please explain.

  143. J.,

    BTW,

    A causal link with “new information” and “my next step” still leaves me uncertain about tomorrow’s X and it (new information) still fails annihilate irreducible volition.

    You’re sort of bouncing all over the place here trying to equate your concepts within uncertainty and causation to our concepts within certainty and causation. The two do not actually equate to each other.

  144. @scbrownlhrm

    If God told you today you were going to die tomorrow in a plane crash in the middle of the Pacific, would you get on a plane? Of course not! Not if you had any free will, you wouldn’t anyway.

    It is fine for God to know your fate, as long as He keeps it to himself. If He lets slip to you, then we enter a paradox. Either He controls your actions or the situation to ensure you get on the plane, or He is wrong about the future.

  145. J.,

    New Information once more:

    Of course I might get on the plane.

    My choices, goals, and purposes are mine — not yours.

    Please explain how that new information expunges my irreducible volition.

    Can you do that?

    What, people who value differently than you value are not doing so freely?

    Really?

    You seem to be saying that the Pharisees and Pilot heard Christ speak of his death, or heard about Christ speaking of his death, and that “new information” removed, once they heard it, their irreducible volition, their nature, such that they were forced to kill Christ.

    Is that what you are saying?

    Is that the sense (*certainty*) in which new information changes our very nature, expunges our irreducible volition, forces us to act?

    It seems that that is not the case at all.

    Rather, new information seems to grant us even more options / opportunity / challenges which we navigate via our volition and reason.

    New information widens our options (and often our problems), rather than narrows them.

    And since we are talking about Scripture — can you please show us a place where new information only logically possibly narrowed options such that it was logically impossible to widen an array of possibilities?

  146. Jeanette, I’d be interested to know what conclusion you would draw if we were unable to provide you a completely satisfying answer to your question.

    We do not seem to have free will under the God hypothesis.

    Jeanette,

    Actually, you should probably be more skeptical if we did provide you a completely satisfying answer to your question.

    After all, we are taking about things that are at the farthest reaches of our understanding and involve a God who we know to be beyond our ken. There is some mystery to our faith. There is no completely satisfying answer to the question of free will in a universe with a sovereign God. That’s how it should be. If someone were to tell you differently than that, that’s something of which you surely should be skeptical .

    So, if you are going to set the bar at “completely satisfying answer” then you should probably stop “wasting” your time here and get on with the rest of your life. Just remember that in the rest of your (secular) life there are just as many questions that you accept that far short of a “completely satisfying answer”. No worldview has all the answers. Christianity answers some and not others, just like every other worldview.

  147. J.,

    If God told Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. that the only way to help spread Christ’s Truth was to do what he did in pointing the world to Scripture and to Essentialism and that doing it would one day cost him his life, was Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. free to do otherwise?

    Of course he was.

    Part of Pastor MLK’s greatness is found therein.

    That you miss that, that you insult and belittle those irreducible contours of our very humanity, and his, is a completely misguided contour within your metaphysic.

    Can you point to a place where God tells us we are going to die in a plane crash?

    Or are you interested in Scripture?

    I’m interested in Scripture, not your fantasies.

  148. @scbrownlhrm

    You seem to be saying that the Pharisees and Pilot heard Christ speak of
    his death, or heard about Christ speaking of his death, and that “new
    information” removed, once they heard it, their irreducible volition, their
    nature, such that they were forced to kill Christ.

    No, this is not what I’m saying at all. I don’t know how to explain it more clearly. I’ll try one more time, but after that you’ll have to expunge your irreducible volition in some other direction than me.

    What I’m saying is that after Christ told his disciples… If his disciples had free will, they could have taken actions that might have changed the course of history. For example, rather than allowing Christ to suffer an excruciating death by crucifixion, the disciples could have helped Christ die slightly less painfully, say, by drowning him.

    Obviously in reality they didn’t do that. The question though is could they in theory have taken such an action? Did they have their full free will at their disposal or were they curtailed?

  149. @scbrownlhrm

    Can you point to a place where God tells us we are going to die in a plane crash?

    Can you point to a place in Scripture where Martin Luther King Jr. is mentioned? If you can’t understand what I’m asking or can’t answer my questions that is fine, but there is no need to be silly about it.

  150. @Tom

    One I’ve heard is that there is just enough randomness in the Universe to invalidate determinism and open the door to free will.

    For me, I’m satisfied enough that I have what feels like free will (due to Chaos Theory) even if it’s just an illusion.

  151. J.,

    Yes, they could have tried to stop the crucifixion.

    You’re still equating new information (foreknowledge) as causative.

    Had they chosen to try, they would have failed, and that is simply given that had they chosen A or B or C or D or E, of which God knows all possible outcomes regardless of what free choice they make, God knows the path/outcome.

    And in fact God knows that they will freely choose D and not A.

    Hence any prophecy about “X will happen” *includes* all such information.

    Your view of God is very small. He has far more Gigs for such information (Worlds) than you seem to think possible.

    In fact, your *god* cannot even be the Christian God.

    This *is* a Christian blog you know.

    BTW: You still have not answered the question about Pastor Martin Luther King Jr.

    Your plane crash fails because it’s not scriptural.

    Your plane crash is of some small god set up or context.

    That case, the MLK case, the case of Pilot, and your case with the disciples all involve a wide array of possible free choices and an even wider array of outcomes each free choice can yield. God’s foreknowing all of it just fails to cause any of it.

    What, God only has so many Gigs in which to store new / possible information?

    Since we are dealing with Christianity, and not your *god*, there is this:

    Please show us in Scripture the prophecy which forces us to do X tomorrow or next year, or next decade.

    Then:

    Please show us *HOW* reading those few verses (which you won’t find) expunges our volition.

  152. Jeanette @163: Randomness in the universe is not personal decision making, and “opening the door” is not an explanation.

    If all of reality is material/physical — if all that exists is matter and energy in time and space, interacting according to the regularities we call natural law — then human free will is strictly impossible.

    If there is a God who chooses freely and who grants that same ability to humans, then free will is not impossible. It’s unexplainable in terms of natural law because it’s not something that’s even possible under strict natural law. But it’s not impossible.

  153. J.,

    You asked if the disciples could have kidnapped Jesus (or whatever).

    Of course they could have freely chosen to do so.

    So what?

    What, God can’t freely choose too? Remember the chains on Peter/Paul (was it them?) breaking?

    Who did that?

    Which free Agent did that? God sent an Angel. God can do it Himself too. Do you really think free will in man can thwart God’s free will?

    That’s choice A for the disciples: Kidnap Jesus and use chains and…. and… and…

    They have about 100 other choices they could freely make.

    So what?

    God is a free agent too.

    Just like Man.

    Because, well, Imago Dei and all that.

  154. J.,

    To clarify:

    The reasons for why the disciples can freely do otherwise and God still “know and not cause” in #164 are entirely different than the reasons explained in #166.

    The first (164) is purely a matter of Foreknowledge of all permutations and combinations, while the later is God as a Free Agent acting and doing. Notice God need not expunge free will from the disciples in order to get from point A to point B while He acts and does.

    The jailors who jailed Paul and Peter did so volitionally. And God volitionally untied their knots, frustrated their plans, for His Own X.

    If God intends, decrees, “X”, then X exists. That is why we find the irreducibly volitional in Man. Well that’s one of the reasons why.

    You’ve still not shown us how free will is expunged by prophecy.

  155. Tom,

    I don’t agree with your characterization of the material view of reality in the way it pertains to free will, but that’s a new can of worms that I don’t really want to open up.

    As I said in #113, I am not claiming that I have a better or more consistent worldview. I got sidetracked into that discussion on free will because of something BillT said that irked me way back in #115.

    I notice, I still have an unanswered question from #113 that relates more towards the topic of the original post:

    If the principles of morality are objective, as claimed, why is that Tom appears to believe that women should have equal rights, while BillT does not?

  156. If the principles of morality are objective, as claimed, why is that Tom appears to believe that women should have equal rights, while BillT does not?

    First Jeanette, whether the principles of morality are objective would not preclude Tom and I from having differing opinions about what they are.

    Second, since Irenicus seems to have given up the fight at least on this thread, Tom and I don’t have different opinions about women’s rights. When I asked you to read between the lines you instead just read the lines.

    Irenicus was on a fruitless quest to impose his ideas of Biblical interpretation on this thread. That was pointless for many reasons. I thought it a better examination of the subject of women’s rights to invite Irenicus to explain why he thought women deserved equal rights and on what principals he thought those rights were based.

    In order to do this I took the (fictional) position of opposing women’s rights. After all, his position was that the Bible didn’t support them so it seemed a good way to turn around the conversation. And Irenicus did his best to explain why, outside of the unalienable Rights a Creator can endow us with, or malleable legal definitions women should have equal rights. First, he said they were “fully human” (whatever that means) and then because they “deserved” them though he didn’t explain why. Neither of these answer the question satisfactorily but he did try.

  157. I’m glad I don’t have to argue to make my point. The incessant disagreement among christians does it for me every time. The false dichotomy between objective and subjective morals is so weak, WLC and christians have managed to convince themselves and atheist that this is so. Here’s the argument against: Objective morals exist and are contingent upon the agreement that subjectively human well being is important. People who do not agree that human well being matters kill themselves and take themselves out of the argument. Therefore, everyone who is alive admits wellbeing is important and simultaneously affirms objective morals. Done. For folks like myself who say objective morals don’t exist, I just mean that in the way christians mean it… those kinds of morals don’t exist because there isn’t a god. Good luck with that one.

  158. Your post #100 seemed pretty clear cut:

    I grant everything you say in your #97 to be true. I don’t believe in equal rights for women and your post shows exactly why. And my position stands on firm Biblical ground.

    But now you’re saying that isn’t your position. You were taking a fictional position for the sake of an argument.

    Richard Dawkins says he has to watch the way he words sentences to try to avoid being the victim of selective quoting. Here you’re handing out full quotes that look like your views, but are not your real views.

    You’re not Richard Dawkins. And probably glad of that. Still, can I suggest in future, if you do this kind of thing, you say that’s what you’re doing, otherwise it’s unnecessarily confusing. You can still have the debate.

  159. @Jeanette:

    Jesus accurately prophesied the timing and manner of his own death.

    How could he know for certain what his future captors would do, if they truly had free will?

    First, it is *particular* human beings that have Free Will — you, me, Tom Gilson, etc. And let us stipulate for the purposes of this discussion that Free Will consists in having alternative possibilities (once again, I do not think this is *quite* right, but we can lay aside such worries for now). So it means that you, me, Tom, etc. have at each time different possible courses of action that we could take. This is another important detail: Free Will is a power whose proper object are *actions*.

    With this background, here is the kind of “accurate” prediction that would pose a potential problem needing a more detailed solution: soldier X_1 (a *particular* soldier) will travel to wherever Jesus is (a *particular* action) at time t_1 (a *particular* time) and arrest him (another particular action). Did Jesus made any such kind of predictions? No. There are no such kind of predictions in the Bible. And one of the obvious reasons there are none is precisely because it would jeopardize Free Will which is what God will not do.

    Now let us turn to the case of Jesus. Jesus prophesied his own death. He also responded to Pontius Pilate that his authority, Pontius that is, was actually not his but from God above. If necessary, Jesus could call a couple of legions of angels to burn the whole place down and set him free. From this it follows that Jesus prophecy is simply the prophecy that he would freely submit to the Free Will of his captors — which is not a prophecy strictly speaking. Nothing paradoxical or inconsistent here.

    Another possible objection would be the following: Jesus death was prophesied. So it follows that at least *some* possible courses of action were impossible. For example, since Jesus was prophesied to die Peter could not have whisked away Jesus from the cross or some such. But is not that a curtailing of Peter’s Free Will? No. That would make of Free Will a *boundless*, *unlimited* potentiality which is not Free Will but a contradiction in terms and not a concept of Free Will I am interested in defending, that is, couldn’t care less if this sort of “Free Will” is violated (which as I said is not Free Will but a contradiction in terms, although I am not going to justify this here).

    And I repeat, in the cases where a reasonable doubt could or does arise, they must be answered on a case by case basis and always bearing in mind that we, meaning human beings, are not God, and there are things, lots of things, beyond our ken, at least in this life. If we do not know them, God did not see fit to inform us, and if He did not informed us, it is because it is not necessary for our salvation.

    It is admirable your tenacity in firing gotcha questions on the Bible at us. Just remember that we have 2000 years of thinking in advance of you, and thinking by some of the most brilliant minds humanity ever had. You will loose.

    @BillT:

    Neither of these answer the question satisfactorily but he did try.

    Quite emphatically, he did not even try.

  160. First Jeanette, whether the principles of morality are objective would not preclude Tom and I from having differing opinions about what they are.

    The real issue, that I was trying to get at, is how much subjectivity there appears to be in Christian morality in practice. As you say, people can have differing opinions about even the objective principles, let alone how those principles are translated into different contexts. It seems to involve an enormous amount of subjective interpretation.

    The principles aren’t verbalized explicitly, but have to be drawn out from the text as a whole, out of many passages of allegory and history – which are often not easily distinguished.

    The verbalization that Tom gave of the principles he has drawn, seemed super-vague to me, with key words “justice”, “fellowship” and “love” being incredibly open to interpretation.

    If there is so much vagueness and difference of opinion on what the objective moral principles are, how does that differ in practice from subjective moral principles?

    It seems to me to that a more honest statement of the situation is that you hypothesize that there are objective moral principles and this hypothesis drives you to deepen your knowledge of the Bible. But you haven’t validated this hypothesis yet.

  161. Jeanette @168,

    The question matters because it helps demonstrate an issue that goes back at least to Immanuel Kant in his Grundledung: free will is an extremely difficult issue for every worldview — but on atheistic materialism it’s not just hard, it’s impossible.

    I’m not saying I think you’re an atheistic materialist. I’m just saying that about atheistic materialism.

  162. Jeanette @172: Have you read the passages I pointed you toward in #89?

    My short list of principles was intended as a summary list. Of course it’s vague. That’s the nature of summary lists. If you gave a summary list of the chief economic activities of the state of Virginia it would be vague, but that doesn’t mean people in Virginia don’t produce actual goods and services that could actually be described in detail.

    Some Christians disagree about some moral duties and prohibitions. That’s hardly surprising: God didn’t give us a list as detailed as, say, a complete spreadsheet listing every product and price for every economic transaction in the city of Richmond. He gave us room to think about some things. There’s even some clear discussion near the end of the book of Romans and in 1 Corinthians on moral disagreements taking place at the time. The author, Paul, told the readers in essence not to make a big deal about it; some differences just don’t matter enough to worry about.

    There are some things, on the other hand, that are perfectly clear and beyond dispute.

    So I don’t know what conclusion you’re drawing from our disagreements on certain moral questions, but you can’t discount all of Christianity on that account.

  163. Jeanette,

    First, my apologies. My position wasn’t meant to deceive but to be a thought experiment. Taking a contrary position to challenge the position of someone is something that most everyone here has done. I’ve asked people repeatedly why, if morality is subjective, it’s not ok for me to torture children for my personal pleasure. I doubt many believed I really wanted to do that. I get this was a bit less obvious, so again my apologies.

    I can see your point but I also think you are confusing the meaning of objective morality. Objective morality means that it’s principals are grounded in an objective law giver not that their being objective makes them easy to understand or that everyone would agree with each other. The world is a complicated place.

    My example above is case in point. If there is no objective law giver and basic principals grounded in that objectivity what is the answer to my question regarding those children. On what basis can you tell me that I shouldn’t harm them. The question isn’t just whether you should or shouldn’t do this or that but why you should you should or shouldn’t do this or that. Dostoevsky famously put it like this: “If God does not exist, everything is permissible” What do you think?

  164. Tom @173,
    As always it comes down to semantics. If you define free will to require the supernatural then funnily enough a material view won’t provide it.

  165. BillT @175,
    What will be the likely consequences if you torture children? Will you feel good about yourself? Will you feel like you’re contributing to society? Will others respect you? What will be the likely consequences of that? Overall, will it be a positive thing in your life?

  166. J.,

    A final thought on the issue of your Plane Ride Thought Experiment:

    (it’s an interesting question btw)

    You ask if God states that X will die on a Plane, can X choose not to ride it.

    The answer is yes.

    Because the issue is the irreducible volition of the man. (see the end for what sense “irreducible” is being used here)

    The problem is that you seem to think that the man freely choosing to avoid the plane must mean he will avoid the plane.

    There are several reasons that premise is false:

    [1] Foreknowing is not causing

    [2] God may thwart the man’s free will with His Own Free Will (two free agents)

    [3] Circumstances (non-agents) and other free will agents may thwart the man’s free choice to avoid the plane

    We saw the same state of affairs with your question about the disciples freely choosing to stop Christ from getting crucified.

    Neither 1 or 2 or 3 do anything to the free choice of the man — he still freely chooses.

    When I asked you to show us in Scripture the affairs of the Plane Ride, I did not mean show us a Plane in Scripture.

    I meant that you need to show us where prophecy expunges free will given that such was your premise, or that you seem to take the line that prophecy locks in the Self’s volition such that it can only choose A.

    That is equating my choice/will/intention to go right, and the bicycle hitting me and forcing me to go left, as “forcing me to choose to go left” which is absurd.

    Also, remember that prophecy is most often of the sort, “If, Then”. If you follow X, then I will do or not do Y. And so on. Any place where it is, “I will do X and you can’t stop it” from God has always been *after* the man has been given wide arrays of opportunity to freely choose between good and evil (etc.).

    Also, when it comes to Christ,

    The Son chooses outside of time:

    It’s a bit odd that the Son says, “Prepare for Me a Body” outside of time and yet you *seem* to count Christ as forced by his own decision to decide what his decision decided inside of time. “I’m forced by my own decision to decide what my decision decided….” Hmm…. there’s something out of place in all of that. It’s not quite right.

    G. Rodrigues has been quite helpful in that area.

    Perhaps using semantics which presuppose choice in order to argue against choice is leading to such problems.

    Finally,

    Given Aquinas’ principle of proportionate causality….

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html

    ….we find the Wellspring of all volition and personhood Himself as the Cause ushering in from non-being to being the Effect which is the Imago Dei. Volition in the Self is irreducible in the *same* sense in which the Self’s being/existence is irreducible.

  167. Jeanette, if I had defined free will to require the supernatural your comment #173 would have been relevant to something.

    It doesn’t ultimately come down to semantics. It comes down to the question whether we have free moral agency or not. That question doesn’t depend on semantics, it depends on reality.

  168. What will be the likely consequences if you torture children? Will you feel good about yourself? Will you feel like you’re contributing to society? Will others respect you? What will be the likely consequences of that? Overall, will it be a positive thing in your life?

    So first Jeannete says in #172 that,

    people can have differing opinions about even the objective principles, let alone how those principles are translated into different contexts. It seems to involve an enormous amount of subjective interpretation.

    apparently as an argument against Christianity. Then she (I assume it is a she) goes on to advance her own subjective principles.

    In no area other than morality is the utter, shallow vulgarity of modern atheism more deeply felt.

  169. BillT @175,

    “If God does not exist, everything is permissible”

    There’s nothing that physically stops us from torturing children. However, we do have the ability to restrain our impulses. Why might we want to do that in this case?

    Firstly, there are strong evolutionary reasons to cooperate and to look after each other. A human baby cannot survive without others’ care. Even once we’re grown up we’re generally safer and more likely to survive in a group than on our own. If you become ill or injured people can look after you until you recover.

    Secondly, we can use our brains to think through the consequences of our actions. Not just the immediate consequences, but the longer term consequences.

    Thirdly, we can communicate our thoughts not only by speaking but in more persistent forms too. In that way, we can agree and create laws with the aim of improving everyones lives and protecting all of us from negative consequences.

    By the way, none of these requires reading the Bible.

    I find it sad that you have this view of the world / are so stuck in your God-based-morality paradigm that you can’t see there are other reasons to be nice.

  170. Jeanette,

    Those are all good questions but none of them tell me why I shouldn’t harm those children. And all can be answered: I don’t care about the consequences, I’ll feel good and it will be a positive thing if that kind of thing makes me feel good and I see it as a positive thing (and it sadly does for a great many people), I have no use for contributing to the society or others respect. None of these give me any reason to pause for even a second.

  171. None of these requires reading the Bible.

    And none of them tell me why I shouldn’t torture those children.

  172. You see Jeanette, you know that torturing children for my own personal pleasure is an act so heinous, depraved and evil that even the thought of it is unimaginable. Yet, without objective moral principals, you can’t offer me a single compelling reason as to why I shouldn’t do it. I believe Dostoevsky was right.

  173. J.,

    You need to tell the highly educated white males who travel abroad to purchase children *why* they are at fault for doing so.

    That really happens, and your evading the issue of the explanatory trail within one’s own moral ontology. Do you have a metaphysic to show us which has such a trail which has a terminus in love’s egalitarian self-giving?

    Highly educated men do this with children.

    It’s not semantics.

    It’s reality.

    As Tom already pointed out.

  174. Ultimately, Bill, it will likely be unfulfilling. There are things that humans find fulfilling — such as good relationships with others, meaningful work, a feeling of safety, belonging etc. If you want more of those things then torturing kids probably won’t help. If you don’t – and it’s possible some people don’t – then go ahead and torture kids. But don’t be surprised if you life becomes pretty grim pretty quickly.

  175. So J. has no reply for those highly educated white males…….

    How unfortunate…..

    “Whatever makes you feel good…” seems to be the end of it for J.

    Do it until it doesn’t make you feel good….. if that day never comes, well then keep it up!

  176. Tom @179.

    What exactly do you mean by “free moral agency”? Is it possible in theory to have that without anything supernatural?

  177. Firstly, there are strong evolutionary reasons to cooperate and to look after each other.

    There is no such thing as an evolutionary reason, Jeanette. Not if you understand evolution the way its actual proponents understand it. There are evolutionary effects, including (on standard evolutionary theory) differential population survival rates depending on differing intrapopulation cooperation. But evolution doesn’t say one population should outlive and outreproduce another, it only produces the effect.

    Indeed, based on evolutionary theory there’s nothing normative (morally compelling, providing moral reasons) about outcompeting other populations. And I think I can show that you already believe that’s true.

    Do you think abortion is morally permissible? I don’t know, but I’m guessing you do. But if differential reproduction was the grounding for moral reasoning, you would have to consider abortion to be morally wrong.

    It is wrong, but not for evolutionary reasons. There’s no such thing as an evolutionary reason.

  178. @scbrownlhrm As you don’t seem to take a hint, I will let you know straight: I am no longer even bothering to read your comments. I will never reply to you again, I promise. It’s just not worth my time. Sorry. I’m sure you’re a nice guy and everything in real life.

  179. Ultimately, Bill, it will likely be unfulfilling. There are things that humans find fulfilling — such as good relationships with others, meaningful work, a feeling of safety, belonging etc. If you want more of those things then torturing kids probably won’t help. If you don’t – and it’s possible some people don’t – then go ahead and torture kids. But don’t be surprised if you life becomes pretty grim pretty quickly.

    You do remember Jeanette that this was a thought experiment, not a confession. You still can’t offer any reasons why though, can you? And the above sounds more than a little like you’re trying to insult me.

    But just so you know that I’m not making this up some thoughts from someone who has really thought about and lived out this kind of life that contradict your above.

    Then I learned that all moral judgments are “value judgments,” that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either “right” or “wrong”….I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable “value judgment” that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these “others”? Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more to you than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as “moral” or “good” and others as “immoral” or “bad”? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I might take in eating ham and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me—after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self.

    -Ted Bundy

  180. J.,

    @192

    The comments are not for you per se (they are, but there’s more) but are for others who read and don’t comment…… friends and Christians and etc…. the utility of these sorts of threads goes beyond the screen “right here right now”.

  181. Tom @191,

    I think you’re misunderstanding my point. It’s not that evolution provides moral reasons. It’s just that having gone through the process of evolution we feel those things. We can’t help it. And there are good reasons why that has happened.

  182. BillT @193,
    And what happened to Ted Bundy? I’m thinking perhaps he didn’t think it through quite enough…

    Sorry, I wasn’t trying to insult you. I understand it’s a thought experiment and you don’t actually want to harm kids! Don’t worry!

    Although, having said that, I could find it slightly insulting that you think that atheists in general might think that way. I know a lot of atheists and they are all kind. I don’t know a single one who wouldn’t do anything to help me if I asked.

  183. What exactly do you mean by “free moral agency”? Is it possible in theory to have that without anything supernatural?

    I shouldn’t have included the word “moral” there — I entered it by force of habit from other conversations. What I had in mind was simply “free agency.”

    Free agency in this context is the ability for a human to act as a free agent. Let me break that down further. “Free” means having free will. “Agent” refers to something that intentionally causes an effect. So free agency in this context means having the freedom as an entity to intend to do something that will produce an effect.

    So for example if human action is determined entirely by physical laws operating in and around them, then there is no freedom of will. If human action is partly undetermined, but the undetermined action is the effect of quantum indeterminacy, then the freedom being expressed isn’t human freedom, it’s quantum randomness. It’s only human agency if it’s the human, the person, the choosing/intending/acting individual who causes the effect.

    This is the experience we all have. We all know that we make decisions, we intend, and we act. Our decisions are not (entirely) produced by other forces acting within and upon us. Sure, there are physical influences on us, but we can think what we want to think anyway, and within obvious physical/social/etc. limits, our actions are the result of our choices.

    We make those choices as persons. It’s you, Jeanette, who decides what to write here. It isn’t the physics of electrical and chemical interactions in your brain, nerves, and muscles, and it isn’t random quantum firing, either. It’s you.

    As to whether that’s possible without anything supernatural, I’d say I doubt it — in fact that’s one reason to believe in God. We all know that we act as persons, in the way I’ve just described. That’s a fact of human experience. If that fact can only be explained by reference to some supernatural reality, and if you don’t believe in any supernatural aspect to reality, then your belief conflicts with fact.

  184. Jeanette @195:

    Don’t worry. I understood what you meant. And you demonstrated my point quite nicely there. The best you could come up with was, “We can’t help it.”

    Think about it: that’s not a moral statement. In fact it’s a statement people often use to excuse immoral behavior. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ted Bundy had used it.

  185. Although, having said that, I could find it slightly insulting that you think that atheists in general might think that way. I know a lot of atheists and they are all kind. I don’t know a single one who wouldn’t do anything to help me if I asked.

    Who ever said atheists think that way?

    The point is this instead: not that atheists think that way, but rather that atheism, logically considered, should lead one to think that way.

    Since atheists do not in fact think that way, this reveals a huge discrepancy between what they claim to believe and the way they actually think and live. That discrepancy indicates a problem with what they claim to believe.

    That’s the point here.

  186. Jeanettte,

    Ted Bundy died without regret, except for getting caught.

    And I never said or even intimated that atheists might think that way. It’s not about that. It’s about having a worldview that can explain why a heinous, depraved and evil act like torturing children is really heinous, depraved and evil. You know it is but you can’t articulate a reason why. Ted does a very good reason explain why it is not. Why is he wrong.

  187. Tom @197,

    OK, well, I’m not claiming that we have free will in the way you express it. I think we may have the illusion of free will as you define it, but not the actuality. Personally, I don’t care that it may be an illusion. It feels like free will and that’s all that matters to me.

  188. @scbrownlhrm I want to assure you I benefit from your posts. I have to admit that some of them are a little long and can be a bit of a wade and I don’t make it all the way through, but I also want you to know that your posts have gotten more lucid in the time you have been here or I am getting more practiced at reading them.

  189. Tom, BillT

    All – or maybe almost all – humans share similar natural desires and have discovered more or less reliable strategies to achieve them and help others to achieve them. Why do you feel the need to have “reasons” to act that go beyond trying to achieve our human desires?

    I don’t feel that need at all and have lived a perfectly happy life on the whole.

  190. Jeanette,

    You look around the world and you think “humans share similar natural desires and have discovered more or less reliable strategies to achieve them and help others to achieve them. ” Really!?!? Have you noticed the dumpster fire the world has become. You live a comfortable life in the richest most stable country in the world and you think that’s what it’s like for everyone or even a majority of the world’s population. Maybe a visit to the sweatshops of southeast Asia or the slums of South and Central America or Libia or Syria, or Iraq or how about a few weeks in Lagos. How are your “human desires” working out for all of them?

    Or forget about all that and just have a coherent worldview that can explain the difference between good and evil? Is that too much to ask.

  191. Billions of people around the world do live largely satisfying lives that are much healthier, securer and longer then our ancestors. We can still improve a lot of course.

    By the way the USA has its own problems with poverty. In any case, financial riches don’t necessarily correlate with human desires for love, belonging, security, etc.

    Good and bad are relative to a goal. Without knowing the goal, the words are meaningless. I suggest a goal of making human lives fulfilling. Now we can assess whether an action is good or bad.

    Where does this conflict with any actions you consider good or bad?

  192. Where does this conflict with any actions you consider good or bad?

    Do you realize that labeling actions good or bad isn’t the hard part here?

  193. Jeanette, you say you believe we have the illusion of free will, and you’re content with that.

    This is your worldview stomping all over your actual knowledge of actual reality. Your worldview denies the possibility of free will, and because you “know” on that basis there is no free will, even though you know that you live, act, choose, intend, think, and desire freely (with free will) you deny you have free will.

    You’re overlooking your own most immediate experience of reality in order to satisfy the demands of an ideology.

    That makes no sense to me.

  194. All – or maybe almost all – humans share similar natural desires and have discovered more or less reliable strategies to achieve them and help others to achieve them. Why do you feel the need to have “reasons” to act that go beyond trying to achieve our human desires?

    Because I honestly believe that calling things “good” and “bad” is more than a mere labeling behavior that supports strategies. I believe — and I think everyone believes — some actions are actually better than others, and that’s a fact that demands explanation.

  195. @chapman55k,

    That’s always nice to hear and thank you. Lack of brevity is (one of) several things to improve on this end 🙂

  196. You know when it’s baking hot and you look at the horizon and you see water shimmering in the distance. But when you reach the place you saw the water you find it was just a mirage.

    You could explain this feature of reality by inventing supernatural water nymphs who bask in the sunlight on hot days under the guidance of their watery overlord. Or you can believe there’s a natural way it could happen without requiring you to invent a host of supernatural beings. Perhaps your mind thinks it sees water, but it’s being deceived.

    What? No! The nymphs explain it without having to deny your own perceptions. They must be the correct explanation.

  197. That’s a very interesting story. Fairy tales can be fascinating diversions. But, umm, would you mind if we go back to the conversation we were having now?

    (If you thought this actually applied to our conversation, you didn’t get there with this story. Mirages and imaginary water nymphs disappear on a closer look. For free will it’s exactly the opposite. For free will to “disappear” you have to distance yourself from it, look away from it, intentionally try to ignore it. The parallelism you think exists, doesn’t.)

  198. Senses certainly are not infallible.

    But it’s irrelevant.

    Why?

    Because the same ontological substrate needed to have inherent intentionality and inherent good (and thus ought) is the same rock-bottom substrate needed to have inherently intentional reasoning and thereby the rational.

    The sacrifice of reason itself is, of course, a price the Non-Theist is willing to pay. How he pulls it off is a mystery as he cannot reason himself into or out of any locus whatsoever.

    Not actually.

    “God did it” is nowhere claimed. It is not the stuff of “gaps” which ruins all of the Non-Theist’s hopes, but, rather, it is the many corridors painfully constituted of unavoidable reductio ad absurdums, plural. There is no need to appeal to God. Nor to Gaps. Simply avoiding absurdity is enough to guide reason out of the Non-Theist’s autohypnosis.

    “It would be an interesting experiment to observe what would happen if you were to say to someone: “Now, what I am saying is not to be taken as universally true, or even true in your case, but I wish you to accede to my request because it makes me feel better and serves my interests even if it does not serve yours.”

    It would be akin to the Churchlands whom I mentioned earlier, admitting upfront that they had no minds but that they nonetheless wished — insofar as there was a ‘they’ that could ‘wish’ — had registered an impulse which caused them to try and modify your brain state and thus affect your behavior. Not that there was — as they would be the first to stipulate — any real “purpose” to it….” (by DNW)

  199. One observation about the actual topic of the original opening piece is that we can give our children a proper context, or lens, in which to view Law/Moses.

    The lens of the Imago Dei, the lens of Christ and the lens of God hating X while leaving X unchecked in Law/Moses (maneuvering around hardness of hearts, mindsets, and etc. which the OT and NT affirm), will equip our children with that particular game-changing set of definitions applied to *both* the ceremonial laws and the case laws of Law/Moses (too often ignored in Christian circles).

    Also, the lens of the irreducibility of love’s egalitarian self-giving within the Christian’s moral ontology forcing *all* definitions will equip our children with another game-changing set of definitions (too often ignored in Christian circles).

    Also, that I sin in some subtle way (or not subtle) pretty much daily, both against God and those I love, and against those who love me, and am yet, even still, found in Christ, will equip them with yet another game-changing set of definitions (too often ignored in Christian circles).

    None of them are new of course. They’ve been there the whole time. From A to Z.

  200. Jonathan Gullett, it took me a while to get your latest comment out of moderation — sorry.

    You don’t have to argue to make your point, you say. That’s probably good for you, since the “argument against” that you wrote is, first of all, a story, not an argument; second, a preposterous story (all those suicides??); and third, suppose the story were true regardless, it’s irrelevant to whether objective morals exist.

    You say objective morals don’t exist because there isn’t a god. Your conclusion follows if you know there’s no God, but where have you shown us how you know that to be true?

  201. Objective morals exist and are contingent upon the agreement that subjectively human well being is important. (Jonathon, #170)

    This must be some kind of record. The author self contradicts himself not once, not twice but three times in the same sentence. That’s special.

  202. On a first look I only counted once (morals exist that are both objective and contingent on human agreement). I must be slipping. 🙂

    So let me see:

    Human well being either is or isn’t important, right? If it is, then objective morals exist just because human well being is important.

    But Jonathan says that if we agree that human well being is important (whether it actually is or not) then objective morals might still exist. Agreement is what matters. Whether we were right or wrong about that doesn’t seem to make a difference. We could agree to something that was objectively false, and still end up with objective morality.

    That’s an absurdity at least, if not an outright contradiction.

    But Jonathan might have an out: he says we might agree that subjectively human well being is important. That means he takes the objective question, Is human well being actually, objectively important? off the table. He thinks that objective morals can exist if we base them on our agreement that subjectively, human well being is important.

    This leads to all kinds of weirdness. What if human well being were subjectively important but we didn’t agree on that? Maybe we don’t. Some people think human well being is only important if it’s their own well being, and the rest be damned. What does that do to Jonathan’s proposal here?

    That’s not a contradiction, it’s a disagreement between reality and his hypothetical contingent condition.

    And what if “we agree … subjectively important” turns out to be tautologous? Other than the number of words it takes to say it, I’m having trouble seeing much difference between what Jonathan wrote and something like this: “Objective morals exist and are contingent on our collectively, subjectively considering things to be good for us that we collectively, subjectively consider to be good for us.”

    That’s not a contradiction, it’s just a non-statement.

    So I’m short one contradiction, BillT. You’ll have to help me out here!

  203. So I’m short one contradiction, BillT. You’ll have to help me out here!

    “Objective morals exist and are contingent(1) upon the agreement(2) that subjectively(3) human well being is important.”

    Maybe I’m double counting there but there seem to be three qualifications that somehow add up to objectivity. I’m glad to go with your two though, Tom. Seems enough.

  204. “Good and bad are relative to a goal. Without knowing the goal, the words are meaningless. I suggest a goal of making human lives fulfilling.” -Jeanette

    That’s right Jeanette. Ted Bundy’s goal was to make his life as fulfilling as he could get away with. I guess you would say his life was good?

  205. @RobertNotBob

    Exactly. What is good for God is usually bad for the Devil and vice versa. It all depends on the objective. So long as Bundy was a psychopath and therefore didn’t feel any pangs of guilt about his actions. And so long as he found killing people fulfilling then yes, his life was good according to his goal… up until the moment he got arrested. Then maybe it wasn’t so good for him, but it was better for the rest of us.

    In my view, he didn’t look widely enough at the consequences and at how life works before he chose his actions. A goal like “make my own life fulfilling” is, somewhat counter-intuitively, best achieved by helping others to have fulfilling lives. Due to strong instinctive urges for reciprocation, if you help others, they will typically help you and you all feel good about it. If you harm others they will want to harm you and you’ll all feel bad about it.

    Which means even if Ted Bundy was a psychopath, and didn’t feel bad about causing harm to others, if he genuinely wanted to make his own life fulfilling he would not have taken those actions.

  206. Tom @213

    Mirages and imaginary water nymphs disappear on a closer look. For free will it’s exactly the opposite. For free will to “disappear” you have to distance yourself from it, look away from it, intentionally try to ignore it. The parallelism you think exists, doesn’t.

    That story wasn’t supposed to be an exact analogy, it was to try to give you an idea of the thinking processes behind my ideology. It was aimed at addressing your #209:

    You’re overlooking your own most immediate experience of reality in order to satisfy the demands of an ideology.
    That makes no sense to me.

    Sometimes our immediate experiences of reality are not correct.

    It is also extremely difficult to relate micro to macro effects. A block of wood seems solid and still, but when you look closely – very closely – you find it’s full of holes and made of atoms subject to quantum physics. It’s solidity is an illusion. An illusion that so fits with our immediate experience of reality, we’ve only recently discovered it’s not true.

    Similarly while looking at the atomic level, it’s virtually impossible to imagine that a block of wood will be the result of this particular arrangement of atoms, and even harder to predict how it will behave when you hit yourself over the head with it. That doesn’t mean macro effects don’t happen though.

    Just because it’s hard (for you) to imagine that material could give rise to free will (or the illusion of it), does not mean that it cannot happen. Until it’s shown to be false or that another explanation has overwhelming evidence to support it, I believe we should say the issue is unresolved. Anything else would be premature. I’m quite happy saying “I don’t know” when I don’t know. I don’t feel a need to say “I know” when I don’t.

    I guess we have a different definition of “know”. Mine requires strong evidence that can be checked and invalidated by even the most skeptical. Even then the knowledge is tentative.

  207. @RobertNotBob

    By the way, God has killed a lot more people than Ted Bundy. Of course, all God’s killings were objectively good, right? Like the time (2 Kings 2:23-24) he sent bears to maul a crowd of youths for mocking a prophet’s baldness. Personally, I don’t always find it easy to distinguish God from an egomaniacal murderer, but maybe that’s just me.

  208. Question begging equals non-theistic ethics:

    Non-Theists can only run to the appeal of biological flourishing and thereby beg the question as that’s as much as their rock-bottom substrate will allow.

    Fincke (an Atheist) also makes an attempt:

    “Teleology should not be at all out of bounds for atheists. Teleologists do not need to posit that there is an intelligent goal-giver who gives natural beings purposes to fulfill, as many theists think….. I am an atheistic virtue ethicist requiring no divine agency for the teleological dimensions of my ethics to make minimal sense and have minimal coherence. I am just describing purely naturalistically occurring patterns as universals or forms. I am saying that since humans’ very natures are constituted by a specific set of powers, fulfilling them is incumbent on humans as the beings that we are. It is irrational and a practical contradiction to destroy the very precondition of our own being (all things being equal). We have a rational imperative instead to flourish maximally powerfully according to the powers which constitute us ourselves……” (http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/atheistic-teleology.html)

    Some more question begging in the Non-Theist’s dive into goal-seeking ethics are unpacked a little further at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-second-exchange-with-keith-parsons.html

    Love’s categorical imperative being absent within the Non-Theist’s ontological substrate, such question begging is, simply, unavoidable in that paradigm’s attempts at the nature of and substrate of ethics.

  209. Elisha, the Bears, and the “Bad Boys of Bethel”

    It’s nice to see that the Non-Theist agrees with Scripture’s definitions of “Good” and of “Good minus something”.

    As in #144, so too here. 144 opened with:

    Unclean periods [menses] in the woman is radically bizarre?

    It’s nice of you to agree with the Christian.

    It’s nice that you agree (with the Christian) that the ceremonial law was radically strange in its affairs of not mixing blood and not eating blood relative to the Sacrificial System given that it all had nothing to do with Scripture’s definitions of Mankind’s irreducible value/worth and given that (per Scripture’s definitions) the means of Moral Excellence could never be instantiated in or through any of it. The ceremonial law there in the foreshadowing of another category of Eternal Sacrifice is, while mundane, of interest of course only in the context of the proverbial schoolmaster with respect to what lay up ahead in Christ.

    But simply agreeing with us isn’t enough…………

    Bears and Kings repeats the pattern of the Non-Theist simultaneously affirming the definitions of Scripture’s metanarrative and therefore Christianity’s definitions all while (oddly) thinking he is arguing *against* Christianity’s definitions. The reason he mistakes pro/con is because he isn’t informed about Scripture and so he strays over into the business of inventing Non-Christian premises and trying to argue as-if those premises are actually Christianity’s premises.

    It’s sort of fun to watch, though one does feel the need to look away and wince once in a while and ponder, “Ouch! Did he really just assert that bit of intellectual messiness?”

    Before the link to the essay on this story (which affirms again that neither teens nor mere name-calling were in-play here), we have to keep Scripture’s definitions of reality in the front of all analysis. Further, our analysis has to not only keep Scripture’s pesky definitions on the tip of our tongue but also we must note, and employ, the tie-ins to Leviticus, 2 Chronicles, and Jonah in the excerpt copied further down (after 1 – 8 here).

    Such pesky definitions are things which Skeptics, who typically cannot digest whole books nor the high word-counts of *meta*-narratives, seem unable to fit into their straw man arguments:

    [1] Note the location: the Law of Moses – the Ministry of Death (according to God’s definition of reality) – void of any power to beget life (according to God’s definition of reality), only able to restrain death (according to God’s definition of reality).

    [2] Note the Law – in which the God Who hates “divorce” not only allows divorce but also regulates divorce. That is Law in relation to, in juxtaposition to, God’s Will for Mankind according to God’s definition of said landscapes. (Let the Skeptic wrap his head around that.)

    [3] Note the Law – Quid pro quo. Rain, crops, and peace for obedience. Drought, hunger, and violence otherwise.

    [4] No Grace comes by Moses (Law). No life comes by Moses (Law). Only that Taskmaster of Death’s Ministry. According to God’s definition of reality.

    [5] 1 – 4 are neither Wholeness nor Moral Excellence, which only come in and by Christ. Rather, 1 – 4, and now 1 – 5, sum to Covenant Theology all of which falls short of God’s future Covenant with and on and by Himself which is yet to come up ahead in Christ.

    [6] The same OT which defines reality by 1 – 5 speaks of a Far Greater yet to come, up ahead, still to instantiate within time and physicality. Yeah, this is in part similar to [5] but the metaphysical implications penetrate to the bitter ends of all truth claims – particularly as such relates to that ominously auspicious set of “ontological definitions”” forced upon us vis-à-vis Genesis 3’s Protoevangelium as such obtains in and by John 3’s instantiation of “…… the God who is glorified by sacrificing Himself for creation and not by sacrificing creation for Himself…..” (Fischer)

    [7] 1 – 7 here is how God and Scripture define the ontological landscape of the OT and of Moral Excellence and of Wholeness and of the unavoidable darkness outside of Eden within the pains of Man’s Privation.

    [8] Post Script: Skeptics who refuse to define their arguments against Christianity by using Christianity’s *actual* truth predicates are simply mounting an argument against a set of Non-Christian truth claims and therefore (mistakenly) think that they are (successfully) arguing against Christianity. The Christian is not obligated to respond to arguments against Non-Christian premises and claims. A polite “shrug” may be called for in such cases assuming watching the paint dry on the wall fails to be more intellectually stimulating.

    The following is the excerpt from an essay on the Life and Times of Elisha and of course the essay itself is longer. Clearly something very different than screaming teens was going on (Etc.). And, on top of that, the Skeptic who refuses to bring in this particular excerpt’s tie-in to Jonah (and so on with the rest of scripture) in defining the analysis of the OT ontological statements about God and reality is arguing against (at best) a one-verse or one-paragraph straw man void of 1 – 8 above. And as we can easily demonstrate with, you know, facts, any Skeptic who fashions an argument which is void of 1 – 8 has forfeited the intellectual right to be heard as he is arguing against a *Non*-Christian set of claims. The one verse straw man and the one paragraph straw man (and so on) need not apply, the key word being *meta*-narrative:

    Before anyone gets too worked up about this incident, they should seriously consider several other biblical texts in relation to what is reported in our text:

    In the Law, God warned His people that if they refused to obey Him, He would send wild animals against them, and their children:

    21 “‘If you walk in hostility against me and are not willing to obey me, I will increase your affliction seven times according to your sins. 22 I will send against you the animal of the field and it will bereave you of your children, annihilate your cattle, and diminish your population, and your roads will become deserted” (Leviticus 26: 21-22).

    Later on, God’s judgment came upon His people because they rejected and ridiculed His prophets:

    15 The LORD God of their ancestors continually warned them through his messengers, for he felt compassion for his people and his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his warnings, and ridiculed his prophets. Finally the LORD got angry at his people and there was no one who could prevent his judgment (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).

    Do we really think that God indiscriminately pours out his wrath on “innocent little children”? It was Jonah who lacked compassion toward the innocent, and God who refused to punish those who were not yet accountable for their actions (who “did not know their right hand from their left”):

    10 The LORD said, “You have compassion for the plant, something that you have not worked over nor made to grow, a thing that lasted a night and perished after a night. 11 Now should not I have compassion for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than one hundred twenty thousand people who do not know their right from their left, besides many animals?” (Jonah 4:10-11, emphasis mine).

    So then, as noted earlier:

    One observation about the actual topic of the original opening piece is that we can give our children a proper context, or lens, in which to view Law/Moses.

    The lens of the Imago Dei, the lens of Christ and the lens of God hating X while leaving X unchecked in Law/Moses (maneuvering around hardness of hearts, mindsets, and etc. which the OT and NT affirm), will equip our children with that particular game-changing set of definitions applied to *both* the ceremonial laws and the case laws of Law/Moses (too often ignored in Christian circles).

    Also, the lens of the irreducibility of love’s egalitarian self-giving within the Christian’s moral ontology forcing *all* definitions will equip our children with another game-changing set of definitions (too often ignored in Christian circles).

    Also, that I sin in some subtle way (or not subtle) pretty much daily, both against God and those I love, and against those who love me, and am yet, even still, found in Christ, will equip them with yet another game-changing set of definitions (too often ignored in Christian circles).

    None of them are new of course. They’ve been there the whole time. From A to Z.

  210. On Bears and Kings, a bit more: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/bears.cfm

    “But how are we to know that these are servants of the temple? Most translations describe them as children or young men.

    The word Hebrew translated here as “children” (na’ar) often means official or servant and doesn’t necessarily even refer to age at all. Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba is referred to as na’ar (2 Samuel 16:1), yet he has fifteen sons. The man that Boaz has positioned as boss over his fieldworkers is na’ar—not a position one grants to children (Ruth 2:5-6). The word na’ar is translated as “servant” over fifty times (roughly a fifth of the times it appears in Scripture).

    Not only were these men servants of……..”

  211. “In my view, he didn’t look widely enough at the consequences” -Jeanette

    He fulfilled his goal and even got the bonus prize of infamy (a cherished side goal of many a pyscho).
    Who are you to say he didn’t look widely enough. He got exactly what he set out to achieve so his life was VERY good. Right?

    “if he genuinely wanted to make his own life fulfilling he would not have taken those actions.” – Jeanette
    Why do you get to define what makes his (or any ones) life fulfilling?

  212. “if he genuinely wanted to make his own life fulfilling he would not have taken those actions.” – Jeanette

    you’re not?

    You seem to be saying how he chose to define fulfilling was inferior/not genuine and your definition is genuine/better…..

  213. RobertNotBob

    See #194, for Ted Bundy’s own description of what he wanted:

    …to become truly free, truly unfettered…

    But his tactics led to the opposite.

  214. Jeanette, you have stated that fulfillment means ” you all feel good about it” #223 and is
    “best achieved by helping others to have fulfilling lives.”
    Why does Ted have to live by your definition?

  215. (How do you explain meaning and purpose as an atheist? Answer in half the words I used asking the question if you can. But don’t, really, that would be changing the subject. I’m just illustrating the point.)

    Dear Sir – congratulations on a thoughtful blog, worth reading. While I am not an atheist (being what people nowadays call a “nothing”), I have atheist friends and will attempt to answer for them. The short answer is: truth, goodness, and beauty are sublime and worthy ideals which can give us something to aim for. Wisdom, justice, temperance, and courage are worthy virtues which make us better people. In general we do well by doing good. Altruism is better than chocolate (not really, nothing beats chocolate.)

    To steal from Nicomachean Ethics, “…do our utmost to live in accordance with what is highest within us.”

    Based on my brief visit to your blog, you seem to be an excellent Ambassador for conservative Christianity.

    best wishes

  216. @RobertNotBob,

    Jeanette, you have stated that fulfillment means ” you all feel good about it”

    I actually said:

    In my view … Due to strong instinctive urges for reciprocation, if you help others, they will typically help you and you all feel good about it.

    That’s my view of how reality typically works. It is in no way a definition of fulfillment.

    I’m not exactly sure what you are trying to achieve by your comments. You seem to be saying that I’m defining fulfillment and questioning my right to define it. I don’t think I am defining it, but I suppose the way I’m talking about it reveals some assumptions about what I believe it to be.

    As I’ve said earlier in the thread, I do think that humans in general share certain needs and desires (love / connection / contribution / respect / achievement / happiness / stability / excitement / security / meaning etc). We each apply different tactics, some of which work better than others. I personally think that by helping others to achieve these things, we can achieve them for ourselves. I believe that’s the way reality works.

    I think some of the Bible – particularly the New Testament – provides good tactics, but along with a load of unhelpful stuff too. You don’t need the Bible in order to work out ways to help other people achieve their desires.

  217. Non-Theists seem to think that simply agreeing with Christianity is enough.

    Obviously it isn’t.

    It’s nice that the Non-Theist agrees with the Christian’s explanatory trail when it comes to love’s egalitarian self-giving, to love’s interfaces of reciprocity.

    However, that he pulls up short of justification is obvious, and, in this forum, disappointing.

    He just keeps equating good/evil and desirable/undesirable given the terms he has embraced here within his own casually closed paradigm. He just keeps offering terms and definitions and speaking “As-If” good and evil are finally, or ultimately, or “cosmically” the same, “As-If” desirable and undesirable are the same.

    He just keeps presenting his paradigm’s “Metaphysical Armistice” wherein all sentences sum to unity amid “converging equals”.

    As-If that is how reality actually works.

    But reality does not work that way.

    And all his own moral sonnets serve simply to affirm that he in fact knows that reality does not work that way, the way his causally closed paradigm forces him to concede.

    We know there are things that really are good and lovely, that there really are things that are less good and less lovely.

    As we’ve seen so far in this thread, the Non-Theist keeps agreeing with us and then simply pulls up short of reasoning through his own terms as he falls into a rather circular dance with what amounts to, “….we take actions because of our own feelings, and those feelings fuel our own reasons, and the reasons those reasons are good reasons are because we feel they are good….”

    The Non-Theist’s agreement with the definitions of the Christian paradigm’s metaphysical root of love’s egalitarian self-giving are fine, as noted here:

    “………it is *not* quite right to claim that there can be *no* justification of morality if atheism were true; or at least, what (probably) most people understand by that claim is, in my view, false……… Crude divine command theories [also] get morality wrong. They get God wrong too……” (http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-second-exchange-with-keith-parsons.html)

    The Non-Theist’s agreement with the definitions of the Christian paradigm continue as Fincke (an Atheist) makes the same sort of attempts as we’ve seen in this thread:

    “Teleology should not be at all out of bounds for atheists. Teleologists do not need to posit that there is an intelligent goal-giver who gives natural beings purposes to fulfill, as many theists think….. I am an atheistic virtue ethicist requiring no divine agency for the teleological dimensions of my ethics to make minimal sense and have minimal coherence. I am just describing purely naturalistically occurring patterns as universals or forms. I am saying that since humans’ very natures are constituted by a specific set of powers, fulfilling them is incumbent on humans as the beings that we are. It is irrational and a practical contradiction to destroy the very precondition of our own being (all things being equal). We have a rational imperative instead to flourish maximally powerfully according to the powers which constitute us ourselves….” (http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/atheistic-teleology.html )

    But agreeing with the Christian isn’t enough.

    The Non-Theist will have to do more.

    As the linked threads unpack, one must be willing to embrace reality as she actually is if one means to actually, factually, love one another.

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