Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I'll be out for a couple days, but before we get back to our look at Colossians, I wanted to leave you with some additional comments coming from John Hoopman's clan regarding the motive for faith. His blog can be seen here, and most of the action is in the comments section. Here is my last response:

@the exterminator,

The "old Christian trick" is no trick at all, but an important step in conversation. I can tell that John Evo and phillychief have already passed that step. But I don't think you have. You say that my "original answer" - that the single most important benefit I receive from my faith is eternal life - is "an inept lie." Prove it.

You speak of being alive "in the normal sense." Really, what are you talking about? What is normal? The state of being alive can be understood quite differently. Plants are alive. Animals are alive. Dare I say on this blog that humans are alive from conception? When does life begin? What about the quality of life having a say in what it means to be alive? Is a comatose individual on life-support alive? Why or why not?

As far as turning to the dictionary to define words, why should we put our faith in their validity? Why is a giraffe called a giraffe? Who has the authority to name it such? Why can't I call it a longneck? If I did, you might think I was talking about beer.

Finally, you suggest that I'm in a "death cult." What's wrong with that? Are you trying to evangelize me out of it? Why? Why not? Why are you concerned that I am right or wrong? It's certainly not a matter of life and death! You say that my motive for faith being the working of the Holy Spirit is "insincere." That's "an inept lie," if I've ever heard one. You can't judge my sincerity.

So in the end, the definition stage is crucial for you and I to have a meaningful conversation. On to the guys who have graduated...

@John Evo,

I appreciate your comments. We aren't on the same page regarding the marriage analogy. And as you said, everything you wrote means absolute nothing to me. But, in the end, you said that I "offer a wonderful world of fantasy." Whereas, "You offer a wonderful world of reality." As you know, I see it somewhat the other way around. My view is the reality; yours is not exactly a "wonderful world of fantasy," but it is false.

I am curious about your final statement: "I hope some day you'll join us." Why? Are you evangelizing me like the exterminator? When you sprang into my world with your question on my blog, you assumed I was trying to convince you that Christianity is true. I stated in my original answer that I neither have the power to do that nor the presumption that I have the power to do that. In other words, I'm not trying to convince you. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Yet, it appears that you are trying to convince me. Why? What would be the purpose? Would my conversion to faith in atheistic evolution speed ahead the evolutionary process, akinto what Hitler thought he was doing in killing the Jews?

And what do you mean by "best wishes"? Are you wishing upon a star that my "life," whatever that means, would be the best? What would the best life look like? Obviously, I know that you are just being courteous. I'm throwing this in for the exterminator's pleasure (or pain). But "sincerely," what is "Best wishes" supposed to convey, given that you had said, "I hope you join us"?

Finally, @ phillychief,

Thanks for the link to Linden's book; I bookmarked it and might check it out after my upcoming vacation.

It seems that you believe the burden of proof is on me. Since I am a theist, you demand my proof for the existence of God. I'll offer Jesus Christ as my proof, along with His claims as recorded in the Bible. But, as I said to John Evo, I'm not trying to convince you. If I understand you guys correctly, you claim to be atheists, and from these posts, it appears that you are trying to convince me that you are right. Therefore, you must shoulder the burden of proof as well.

Paul Edwards, a prominent atheist and editor of The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, defines an atheist as "a person who maintains that there is no God." Atheism therefore implies a denial of God's existence, not just an absence of belief. Since you cannot prove the non-existence of God you are agnostics at best (or at worst). Therefore, you must say, as John Evo implied when discussing the soul earlier, that it is unproven.

Can you explain the existence of the universe? If you say it is eternal, then you are contradicting your god, "modern science," which claims a beginning (Big Bang) and a gradual running down (Second Law of Thermodynamics). Furthermore, if the universe was eternal, then it would have an infinite past. This, however, leads to a logical contradiction. By definition one can never reach the end of an infinite period of time; nevertheless, we have arrived at today, which completes or traverses the so-called infinite past.... If you affirm that the universe had a beginning, then you need to account for that. Ex nihilo, nihil fit - out of nothing, nothing comes. Perhaps it created itself, but for something to create itself, it would have to exist before it was created, and that is completely absurd.

So, in light of this dilemma, and as Ben Stein's recent documentary asked, "Why won't you admit even the possibility of an intelligent designer?"

I'll leave you with a "helpful" quote, since it addresses many of the topics that the three of you bring up, from Alvin Platinga:

"By way of conclusion: a natural way to understand such notions as rationality and irrationality is in terms of the proper functioning of the relevant cognitive equipment. Seen from this perspective, the question whether it is rational to believe in God without the evidential support of other propositions is really a metaphysical or theological dispute. The theist has an easy time explaining the notion of our cognitive equipment's functioning properly: our cognitive equipment functions properly when it functions in the way God designed it to function. The atheist evidential objector, however, owes us an account of this notion. What does he mean when he complains that the theist without evidence displays a cognitive defect of some sort? How does he understand the notion of cognitive malfunction?"

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