Faith vs Reason

Allow me to introduce our new apologist, J R Dickens, who I will be looking at some of his posts and offer a response.

In this post, our friend tries to show through torturous reasoning that faith and reason are synonyms and that reason starts with faith. Allow me first to define our terms; the Merriam Webster dictionary defines faith as

1a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty

 (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
(1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
 (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction;especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

while reason is defined as

1a: a statement offered in explanation or justification
b: a rational ground or motive

c: a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense;especially: something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact
d: the thing that makes some fact intelligible
(1): the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways :intelligence(2): proper exercise of the mind (3):sanity
b : the sum of the intellectual powers
archaic : treatment that affords satisfaction
With the matter of definitions behind us, now I want us to consider what our friend is talking about in the usage of these two words and see whether we can agree with him or not.
According to the popular view of philosophy, faith and reason are mutually exclusive and consequently incompatible. But this is only true when “faith” is defined to mean a belief that contradicts the known evidence—i.e., that you choose to believe something in spite of the evidence.
From his blog, in his about he says he is keen on apologetics. In this case therefore I think when he talks about faith he must be referring to the faith [trust in things not seen even against contrary evidence]. In this case the only way a believer can test the truth of this claim is after they are no more- especially since I don’t think there is an afterlife. The believer thus cannot revise this belief. Whereas, where one believes something for which he has evidence then we are talking about justified true belief. To mix these two meanings is misleading and that is what he does in his post. I need not add that no one chooses to believe, you believe as you can and not differently.
Since there is no evidence for Abe neither for a god, to consider the story of Abe sacrificing his son to be a measure of faith to me seems to be to see the biggest problem with particular verse. How could anyone consider it a thing of grandeur to want to kill your child because you had a voice in your dreams? This aside though, to argue that Abe had unflinching faith in god is also to cherry pick the good book. Why for instance does Abe sleep with Hagar if he believes god is going to give him a child in his old age? Therefore this belief can’t qualify as 1, talking about fidelity!
Another way of describing faith is simply trusting in the future fulfillment of what has already been promised. If someone borrows $20 and promises to return the money in a week, we are trusting that they have both the means and the desire to pay us back.
Whereas from the surface this statement looks correct, it would be insane to lend a jobless person without the ability to pay and have a belief that your money shall be paid at the end of the week. The reason we are lending money here is because we have evaluated the ability of the borrower to repay us and have confidence that she will pay but we can adjust this belief if our money is not paid back. The same can’t be said of any religious belief.
Notice that we have to use our powers of reason in order to exercise faith.
What reasons do you have for believing that god loves you, that he died for your sins, that there is heaven and hell[that is if you believe they exist], for believing your god exists and that yours is the one true religion?
In order to exercise the powers of reason, we have to start with an assumption that reason is possible and that it depends upon the laws of logic and inference. In other words, I cannot “reason” unless I adhere to a set of rules that guide the reasoning process. But those rules must exist beforehand and apart from reason itself. These are the assumptions I must place my faith in before reason can be exercised. In the absence of logic, my thoughts are incoherent and useless for drawing inferences or conclusions.
You don’t need faith to reason. It would only be absurd for you to try to be skeptical on every subject. The process of argument will not even leave the ground. In the Problems of Philosophy, we notice, we must start from some belief to acquire knowledge of the world around us. We can take it that I exist as the starting point and evaluate every proposition after that to see whether it can be considered as true belief or not. Faith therefore is not a prerequisite for reason.
In the end, we see that faith and reason are inseparable allies. Everyone has faith. The only question is, “faith in what?”
No! That is not the only question.  The question most important question is why? Faith and reason are separable. One only need to see the definition of reason and faith to see where the two can be separated and while at it, it is important also to distinguish what one means when they say I have faith in something or else we commit fallacy of equivocation.

The value of philosophy

The only thing I can be certain of its existence and even this not fully is that exist. This is what the great philosopher Rene Descartes meant when he said I think therefore I am.

In his book the Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell says this about the man who does not like philosophy

the man who has no tincture for philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from habitual beliefs of his age or his nation and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason.

He continues to say

to such a man, the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects raise no questions and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected.

While admitting that philosophy is unable to provide us with some of the answers to the questions we seek, he has this to say

philosophy is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from tyranny of custom.

In this way

it greatly increases our knowledge as to what maybe; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.

In conclusion therefore,

philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can as a rule be known to be true but rather for the sake of the questions themselves, because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

 

Kenya at 50

Friends since my last post we have had elections which as you remember I had talked about so passionately a while ago for two reasons; one regarding the choice of president and the second reason was to do with the conduct of the general populace after the voting and consequently after the tallying. On the first we tentatively have a president and I don’t like him [on that on a another post] and two you know things are really bad when friends call to congratulate for having a peaceful election not a credible one, as the one we had had been far from credible and I will at least attempt to show why.

With that introduction, I want first to educate you my friends about the history of our country as briefly as can be allowed in one post to where we are now. I ask you bear with me.

I will not cover much of the very early forages into the coastal areas by the Portuguese then the Arabs then Germans in the period of the slave trade since this I think did not affect the mainland in a big way but I felt I should mention it. We have a fort, Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese in Mombasa in the late 1400s and is one of the attractions at the coast. When you come to visit, please find time and visit.

The history am more concerned with and that is relevant to our topic of today begins with the British protectorate. The British initially had not so much interest in Kenya since the railway line they were building from Mombasa was to take them to Uganda. Things must have changed along the way since when by the time they got to the highlands they must have decided to make it a home. What happened next was the annexation of land owned by natives who were moved to reserves and these fertile highland areas became known as white highlands. The few communities that put up resistance were ruthlessly dealt with. As you all are aware, a time comes when even the slave says to his master and this is what happened in the events leading to the declaration of emergency by the then governor. The different communities [especially the major ones] had different grievances against the colonial government and were united in fighting the good fight. Many lost their lives, others were maimed and others were jailed.

In the history books used in lower and upper primary school [at least at the time when I was in school] presented a picture that I have come to know is different from the facts as they were. It was taught that Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of the republic and prime minister was a member of the Mau Mau and that he fought alongside the greats like Dedan Kimathi and other long forgotten heroes. Well this is as far from the truth as things can get. There was a fallout immediately by those who felt that he had betrayed the reasons why independence was sought. The divisions, who seeds were planted then, seem not to have left us and they have pitched two families, the Odinga’s and the Kenyatta’s,  in a long battle that is where we are now. The difference between the families as it seems to me has always been ideological. When Jaramogi resigned from his post as first vice president, it was on matters of principle. He could not stand the replacement of the white colonialist with a black one. We are at an ideological divide again, we have a fight for constitutionalism and democracy one hand and on another the maintenance of the status quo. Which know which side either family stands.

Sometime ago, I wrote a post where I said human beings as a race are stupid. Today I want to modify it to say that Kenyans are doubly stupid.  I will show you a few tweets from a group of Kenyans who occupy a class called the educated middle class.

image002

These ladies and gentlemen sending these tweets feel themselves as highly educated and progressive and are for all intents and purposes are as tribal as their grandmothers in the village who does not any better! What kind of generation is this. What do they do in the various universities or colleges you attend. Are you able to think beyond your tribe? Or is every issue to you to be reduced to tribe?

The election rules allow for petition for any aggrieved party, what is your problem if he goes to court? Why do you want him to concede if he can show the electoral process was flawed and was not free and fair. What is wrong with him exploring avenues allowed him by the constitution? Why does it seem to heart you so much that you lose all civility and engage in ad hominem attacks?

It is time you grew up from stupidity! If your can’t think for yourselves, let those among you who can think talk for the group but please spare us this level of stupidity and insults!

Unless you didn’t know, the courts exist for one reason, to help in resolving disputes. So while you take high ground insulting one guy who is asking that the electoral body answer as to why there were irregularities you are insulting him. Who is worse?

Look at yourselves, think about what you have written. Does it make you feel intelligent? Do you think you are ahead of him because you can write such invective? You are idiots of the first degree. You want to see more of your stupidity, I will show you and am not going to black out your names, no I want you to always remember when you come here that I called you idiots of the first degree.

Faces of idiots

Faces of idiots

Am still not done with you, those who so call themselves #KOT. You are idiots, you don’t read, you behave like sheep. You saw a friend tweet #someonetellObama and you joined the bandwagon making foolish idiots of yourselves, insulting a gentlemen whose only mistake was to make a wrong comparison while addressing a group of American journalists. Am not saying what he said was in order, am saying your responses were idiotic and does only to show how uninformed you are. I will show you a sample and judge for yourselves whether there was any sense in the vitriol you keep tweeting!

More stupid faces

More stupid faces

The media house kept telling us to keep peace. The question am asking and that must be answered, keep peace at what price? Is peace so important that you media personalities find it so hard to point out election malpractice? You have as a bunch failed in your duty as a public watchdog. You signed contracts to keep your mouth shut no matter what! Well, you forgot that there is electronic media and you don’t control that! While you kept your mouth shut, others were vigilant in ensuring that we do not botch this election. Well, it appears the powers that be may have had other plans. When this is finally over, please look yourselves in the mirror and ask yourself some hard questions, could you have done better? Was the best you could do? And while you are it, ask yourselves why did the BVR kits fail after the massive investment the country put in it. What is the size in bytes of a sms text that would jam a dedicated network? You who have asked us to keep peace must answer us to the price we are going to pay for the peace. You must tell us if integrity, credibility, fairness are also important. How is this peace you want us to keep to be fostered? Are these not the elements that make peace a default?

As I finish this post, I will quote from the speech Raila made on Saturday after the results were announced and I hope those of you who think you win by incivility and insults are deluded!

Those who say he should keep quiet, do you have an explanation for this?

What Kenyans witnessed instead was the failure of virtually every instrument the IEBC had deployed for the election, The poll books, the servers, the telephonic transmission, the BVR – they all failed despite the billions spent on acquiring them. Two days after the vote, the electronic tallying was discarded and fresh counting begun afresh via a manual count.

And for this

In Laikipia North constituency, on Friday the IEBC announced the results of the Presidential vote there – I had 11,908, and the Jubilee candidate had 11,361. But the Laikipia North results had already been announced by the IEBC the day before! The result then was different – I had 11,596 votes while my opponent had 9,707. Where did these extra votes come from? This is not the time to point to other examples of rampant illegality.

And please show some respect for the gentleman. Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if winning by any means is what is important or should fairness and credibility be part of it?

But this time we have a new independent judiciary in which I and most Kenyans have faith. It will uphold the rule of law, and I will abide by its decisions. I will therefore shortly move to court to challenge the outcome that the IEBC announced a few hours ago.

And while you think about that, maybe this video will help you understand how flawed the process was and if you still have a conscience after this you will shut the fuck up! This is just one polling station in Nairobi. What do you think happened in the out stations? Please for the umpteenth time, I ask you use your brains this once!

Who is blind?

 

You met our friend Caroline a few days ago and she has continued to impress.

We have a new bible translation thanks to Caroline. As you have seen on her blog, our friend claims to love science and in this post her main job is to denigrate science and philosophy.

Atheists have a lot of objections to what is claimed about God in the Bible. But as I dialogue with them, it’s often unclear to me whether they believe their objections amount to evidence that he doesn’t exist, or that he is unworthy of worship. And I wonder sometimes if they’ve ever considered that maligning his character and condemning his deeds while disregarding evidence of the miraculous, both in the Bible and in creation, does not go very far in persuading against his existence, only in painting God as one to whom we ought owe no allegiance. But if he exists he is totally sovereign, meaning we owe him allegiance whether we like it, or him, or not.

Our objections answer to the two positions. The bible god is too contradictory to exist and two is beyond cruel and is as such unworthy of worship even if it were to exist. We don’t believe in the miraculous, as long as miraculous means anything that involves the suspension of the invariable laws of nature. Either you show evidence for the miracles. Creation doesn’t imply the existence of a god more so the christian god. Can any theist show that life needed a deity to create it? If not then this statement is classified in the same group as wishful thinking. And even if you were to show he or they exist we owe them no allegiance  I didn’t ask to be created neither did they consult me for that matter. All I can be expected to do is to acknowledge they exist then they must give a reason to be worshiped. A child can’t be expected to owe any allegiance to an irresponsible and abusive parent unless you believe in slavery by any means!

As I studied John Chapter 9 in preparation for my last post, I saw a lot of similarities there to the spiritual climate of today, in the way God is being judged for what we as finite human beings see as immoral, and his power and goodness ignored in the effort to cast doubt on his existence. So I rewrote it to have it speak of those who deny him today.

Are you implying that we see as immoral could be moral to god because he has infinite knowledge? If it is moral at another level where we have no conception, we don’t need it. It is useless to us and anyone claiming that a thing maybe immoral to us while moral to god is being pretentious!

Here is John 9 (CSV – Caroline Smith Version)

This makes to 800+ known translations.

As Jesus passed throughout the world he saw a man spiritually blind from birth. The angels asked him, “Lord, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. He was born a child of Adam, as all are, unable in their own power to see me, but I have provided a way for all to be healed of their blindness. I am the light of the world.”

If this is the reason for a man’s blindness, god must be so foolish. Why make a man blind just to show you are powerful! Who made Adam with sin? If Adam didn’t make himself, god will always be responsible. Good thing, however, is there was no Adam and there can have been no first sin. In fact, if a god were to exist, being born blind would be an evil. Why should a loving god allow a child to be born blind? This child has done nothing wrong, if anyone is to be made blind, is anyone purporting to speak for god spreading falsehood about him that he will punish people in hell for saying he has left no evidence for his existence.

Having said these things, he revealed to the man’s heart the reality of his blindness and the ugliness of his sin. And Jesus said to him, “Go, wash in the blood of the Lamb.” So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Where was this blood. If Jeebus had not been crucified at this time, where does this person get the blood? Is there any sense in this statement apart from poor logic! Besides, if the reason for his blindness was so that god’s power can be shown, it is specious to say he sin was ugly! You can’t have it both ways, either god is so childish and want to show he has the biggest toy or the guy is sinful.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a lost sinner were saying, “ Isn’t this the man who used to ridicule Christians and had nothing good to say about God?” Some said, “That’s him.” Others said, “No, he just looks like him.” But he kept saying, “Yes, I’m the one.”

There totally is no sense here. Sinner and lost, what the hell! If he is a sinner he must believe in god. Sin to the extent that it is anything that violates the relationship between man and god presumes the existence of god. If the man thought himself a sinner, he also must have believed in god. And why does Caroline think, christianity is so special?

So they said to him, “Then how is it that now you’re going to church and reading the Bible?”

He answered, “I finally saw what a mess my life was and I hated it. I was always doing things I knew I shouldn’t be hurting people I loved and hating people who disagreed with me. And when I honestly looked at what I believed, I realized it just left me with more questions than answers. So I took a chance and prayed. I said, ‘God, if you’re real, show yourself to me.’ And now I see.”

I don’t hate you Caroline because we disagree. In fact I have fun showing you are wrong. Believing in god has many questions than it answers that is why I believe the world is natural and there is nothing supernatural in it. I believe the metaverse just is. Well, this man had a myopic mind. If he thinks his life was messed up because he didn’t believe in god, then I can safely say he didn’t know why he didn’t have that belief and could not then justify his non belief.

But his neighbors took him before the philosophers and scientists and they asked him how it is that he turned his back on reason. “God is real,” the man replied, “and he opened my eyes to see the truth. I submitted to him in faith, and now I can see.”

Well I like this part. Caroline admits implicitly that the man turned his back on reason and chose faith. Need I say more?

Some of the philosophers said, “There is no God. If there is, he’s not good, or he’s not all-powerful. If he were, you wouldn’t have been born blind.”

I like the philosophers! Please tell me you do 😀

Some of the scientists said, “There is no God. We can’t see or feel him. If he existed he wouldn’t be so  mysterious. He would make himself obvious and testable so there would be no doubt. Besides, scientific theories can explain how the universe came into being without him. We don’t need God.”

And the scientists have been right since Laplace said he saw no need for the god hypothesis in a response to the Emperor Napoleon. And while we are here, my friend John has a nice post on why god is invisible. One should also read Atheism Explained that I mentioned a few days ago to look at the arguments against god’s invisibility.

But others said, “How can anything exist without a cause? And how does something that exhibits obvious design and intelligence arise from non-intelligence and chance?” So they were divided.

Well, here Caroline who claims to love science shows she understands zilch. This is the first cause argument that philosophers on both sides of the debate, if any religious philosopher can be called so, to be fallacious. For Caroline to taunt is a proof in beyond me. Scientists or philosophers are not divided on this matter unless they are in they are friends of William L. Craig who is deeply religious.

Finally they turned again to the man born blind, “What do you have to say about it? How is it that you are now preaching the faith you once tried to destroy?”

The easiest answer is he adopted credulity as his way of life but let us hear what Caroline is giving us in manner of explanation

The man replied, “My life was meaningless and filled with sin. I humbled myself and asked God to reveal himself to me, and he did.”

Being blind, I can understand this a bit. But I have seen many blind men whose lives are full of meaning, well since you create meaning it is only expected some will be unsuccessful in trying to give their lives meaning and some will be very successful. Meaningful or meaningless life does nothing to prove that a god exists. It only shows that life is complex for most people and absurd for the very intelligent ones.

The learned ones still did not believe that he had rejected man’s wisdom for religious faith, until they sent for his parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you sent to the finest schools to be taught that God is an illusion and religion is a neurosis? How is it that now he believes in God?”

Here I don’t accept Caroline’s translation for two reasons. The bible people if they existed have been shown to be ignorant to claim there was a fine university she is lying. The Greeks and Romans before them had philosophical schools, the Hebrews who story we are reading in the bible, nay! Two here Caroline is again lying. I don’t know of a place where people are taught god is an illusion unless she means seminaries where they study god and make no conclusions. If you don’t trust me, then you haven’t listened to William Craig debate.

“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he has rejected the notion of God since he’s been at university. But how he came to believe in God, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the scientists and philosophers, for they had decided that anyone who acknowledged God would be put out of the scientific and societal circles.

You are lying through your teeth Caroline. There are religious scientists in the Royal Society and even in the American Academy of Sciences. I haven’t read anywhere they have been sidelined. Give the proof of this or I can safely say you make baseless claims about scientists. Why would the parents be afraid anyway? Caroline hasn’t shown they were scientists and so there is no way they could have been sidelined from the science circles.

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Don’t be a fool, man,” they said. “We know God is just an imaginary being created by men who don’t want to take care of themselves.”

The scientists have always been right, at least, they haven’t been shown to be wrong to date especially on the god hypothesis. I advice that our friend Caroline should read more science and philosophy [ please not Platinga] books to learn about the natural world. I recommend she starts with Auguste Comte on Positivism.

He replied, “Exactly what you or others think him to be, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.”

Yes, he now has faith. It happens to everyone who uses faith.

Then they asked him, “Why do you say that there is a God? What happened to you?”

He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to believe in him too?”

Of course, I don’t want to live on faith. I want to live with what I know and only with that!

Then they hurled insults at him and said, “We are scholars and scientists who know enough to only believe in what we can see and measure. You are a deluded imbecile believing in fairy tales. As for God, we have no proof that he exists.”

I don’t consider saying Caroline is deluded an insult. I have shown cause why she is deluded so all she must show is that my reasoning is fallacious. And it is true that as for gods we have no evidence that he or they exist. I will be generous to Caroline and ask her for the proof that her god exist.

The man answered, “Now, that is remarkable! You have no proof he exists, yet the universe and everything in it exist, and something can’t come from nothing. Without God, none of you would even be here, much less be able to reason him away.”

Nope, I have already said that our existence does not offer proof for the existence of god. Our existence only shows we are here and nothing more. She also must show us that the universe can’t be eternal and always existing.

To this they replied, “You are an uneducated, mindless sheep; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

They couldn’t have done that. I listen to many theists everyday and there is no time I have thrown them out. That is also why we debate with you. All we do is show you are wrong and stop there. We have no need for the stake. We ask you to be your own king and priest and to apply your reason to where it takes and not to think the stories in the bible infallible and inerrant.

Jesus saw that the man was cast out, and coming to him said, “Do you believe in God the Son as your Savior and Lord?”

Where was Jesus all this time? Why didn’t he sit with the scientists and philosophers? Did he already know the claims he was making were ridiculous?

He answered, “And who is he that I may believe in him?

Caroline please, what do you take us for? You said when you started your story that Jesus gave this man his site. It would be credulous to ask us to take this question seriously!

Jesus said to him, “I am he, the one who became a man like you in order to reveal the Father and give his life as a ransom for all who will believe.”

How many of you believe this story? I don’t.

Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Good for him!

Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

Jesus really was an idiot. If he is god why didn’t he even bother to leave behind his recipe for wine making? This guy if he existed was a failure if he was a god. The best thing he did was curse a tree out of season and call some people brood of vipers so much for god!

Then some of the scientists and philosophers got together to ridicule the man who was blind, saying, “He was blind and now he can see?! It’s the other way around – he used to see and now he is blind. He must think we’re blind if he expects us to believe in such nonsense.”

A high-five for the scientists!

And Jesus said of them, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”

I mean after telling us all this nonsense, Caroline tells us Jesus had no good news for the loser! Seriously if this guy loved philosophy and science as Caroline claims, he should have remained thus!

That is my submission!

The High Priest Comte

Auguste Comte and Positivism by John Stuart Mill

Auguste Comte conceived of a religion without god. I don’t know how many theists would consider his proposals.

He had other ridiculous propositions about the sciences, morality and how life should be lived generally.

I will read his treatise in due course and do a review.

Stuart Mill’s book is an interesting read.

Principles of secularism

The right of private judgment, always in set terms conceded to us, means nothing, unless it leads to a new understanding as to the terms in which we are to be addressed, in the bible and the people, it is described as insolence to ignore Christianity. We do not understand this language. It would be insolence to a deity to ignore a message which we can recognize as coming from him, but it may rather imply reverence for god to reject the reports of many who speak in his name.  Were we to require Christians read our books or think as we think, they would resent the requirement as impertinence and we have yet to learn that it is less impertinence when Christians make these demands of us. If Christians are under no obligation to hold our opinions, neither are we under obligation to hold theirs.

By our own act, or at their solicitation, we may study sacred writings, but at dictation never! So long as secularists obey the laws enacted for the common security, so long as they perform the duties of good citizens, it is nothing to Christians what opinions they hold. We neither seek their counsel nor desire their sentiments – except where they concede them on terms of equality. The light by which we walk is sufficient for us; and as at the last day of which Christians speak, we shall there have, according to their own showing, to answer for ourselves, we prefer to think for ourselves; and since they do not propose to take our responsibility, we decline to take their doctrines.

Where we are responsible, we will be free; and no man shall dictate to us the opinions we shall hold. We shall probably know as well as any Christian how to live with freedom and to die without fear.

It is in vain for Christians to tell us that Newton and Locke differed from us. What is that to us unless Newton and Locke will answer for us?

The world may differ from a man, but what is the world to him, unless it will take his place at the judgment day? Who is Paul or Apollos, or Mathew or Mark that we should venture our eternal salvation on his word, any more than on that of a Mahomedan prophet, or a Buddhist priest? Where the danger is our own the faith shall be our own.

Secularism is not an act conceived in the spirit of pride or vanity, or self will, or eccentricity, or singularity, or stiff-neckedness. It is simply well understood self defense.

If men have the right of private judgment, that right has set them free; and we own no law but reason, no limits but the truth, and have no fear but that of guilt. We may say we believe in honour, which is respecting the truth, in morality which is acting the truth, in love which is serving the truth and in independence which is defending the truth.

Adapted from a speech by George Jacob Holyoake [1871] on The Principles of Secularism

Can god be a person?

I have lifted this who passage from Atheism Explained by D.R. Steele, I would like to hear the response of those who conceive of god as a person to tell me how they deal with the objections raised here.

God cannot be destroyed. He can’t be injured against his will or made to suffer against his will, and he knows this. If this is true, then God can’t be afraid of anything. He has never known fear at first hand, though he may have known fear in his imagination, the way we know fear by watching a horror movie . But if God has never been fearful, then God has never been courageous . The virtue of courage consists in overcoming or disregarding or perhaps suppressing one’s fear or one’s inclination to fear. Bravery, then, is a virtue that God can never achieve .

The same applies to most o f the human virtues. Most virtues, like courage, involve self-control and therefore have no application to God, who experiences not the slightest flicker of appetites or impulses which might cause him to deviate from doing whatever he infallibly decides is best. God cannot be tempted, so he earns no points for resisting temptation. Nothing, to God, is an effort, so he can never become lazy or irresolute, and deserves no praise for being steadfast!
If God is all powerful and almighty, then God has never faced any onerous tasks, has never shouldered any burdens, has never had to give up one thing in order to get another ( except where the alternatives are logically incompatible ) , has never felt involuntary pain or even a twinge of discomfort or anxiety, has never had to make a difficult decision, has never solved an intellectual puzzle ( since he knows all the answers in advance ) . God has no curiosity, since he knows everything instantly, without making an effort to find out.

God has never had to work hard at anything, has never been surprised or disappointed. God has never had to make a choice, since that would presuppose at least a moment where he had not made up his mind. God can never be careful or considerate. God can never pay particular attention. God has never experienced, at first hand, the joy of understanding an elegant theorem or experiencing a great work of art. He has heard it all before.
Creation of anything by humans, for example creation of a song or a book, has its joys and its sorrows . But for God, the Creator of the universe, there could be no joy, or sorrow, or sense of accomplishment. He created the universe just by willing it and before he willed it, he knew how it was going to turn out. Aside from that, joy and sorrow are characteristics of evolved conscious beings with bodies, forever enmeshed in the struggle to survive and reproduce.
Such emotional flurries could have no place in the life of. an eternal, indestructible Supreme Being. Theists say that God is wholly good. This implies that he has never known at first hand malice, lust, greed, or envy. Furthermore, God, defined as God who is wholly good, is held to be necessary. If it’s necessary that God is wholly good, then God could never go even slightly bad, he could never start toying with a bit of shadiness here and there . So God can’t do anything even slightly evil . No credit is due to God for being good; he can’t help
himself.

Only a very few theists are prepared to say that God could choose to do evil, and it’s easy to see why. If God is free to do something evil, then he might, at any moment, do just that. Being all-good would then be revealed as not necessarily true of God : it must have been a mistake all along to think of it as necessarily true & a practical matter we could no longer depend on God to be good. How could we ever know that God had turned bad? What evidence might we find to give us an indication of any such turn of events? It does seem to be essential to the God concept that God is impotent to commit evil. Even mild naughtiness must be beyond his powers. We begin to wonder whether this entity can really be a person .

Atheism explained: From folly to philosophy

by David Ramsay Steele

I enjoyed reading this book. The arguments the author makes for Atheism are sound and shows the weaknesses with the arguments theists make to defend their belief in god[s].

He looks at the arguments for god’s existence, those he considers strong, and then in simple and precise arguments show how they are flawed.

I will lift just one quote from the book to show the clarity of his arguments and hope that this book will be read by Atheists and theists alike.

If belief in God’s existence makes you believe in eternal punishment for wrongdoing and thus gives you an incentive to behave better, and that means you can’t be properly tested for your moral rectitude, then thos e who do now believe in God’s existence can’t be properly tested for their moral rectitude . The good behavior of those who believe in
God must be devalued compared with the good behavior of those who disbelieve in God (with presumably those who
merely suspect there might be a God given an intermediate rating) . This means that the good behavior of atheists is
worth more than the good behavior of theists , which would be gratifying.

Of Mercy and Justice

Those good friends who have been reading this blog must have Caroline a while back. We meet with her here again on a pet subject of mine. As part of the larger series of response to christian apologists, we will have fun doing this, one to show where they are wrong and also to see how we can move forward in eliminating superstition and myth from the minds of the people. It is the only way I think society can move forward as one.

As a small change in my response to the apologists, I would first want them to define god coherently and show that a god so defined can exist and also that the god so defined need our worship. Barring this, I am convinced that apologists and theologians have chosen to willfully delude themselves and the general public. I also contend that they have to show the god they defined is the christian god or whatever religion they ascribe to.

Now that we are done with the basics, let us deal with the question at heart here. Our friend is talking about justice and punishment. I don’t think there is any justice, there is only revenge. We call it justice because we are ashamed of the word revenge while most times that is what people are seeking, in that respect I can’t support any fight for justice. Unless here we refer to cases like where one has grabbed a piece of your land and all you want is that piece to be returned and nothing more, in such an instance I would give a little neck room but not beyond.

I’ve been wrestling with atheists recently, philosophically, not physically. And as we’ve gone back and forth, the charge of God’s apparent capriciousness and/or callousness has been proposed as reason to question his goodness. A case in point is the biblical record of God “hardening “ Pharaoh’s heart. This is the Egyptian king who was ruthlessly oppressing the enslaved Israelites. And when God called Moses to be his instrument of redemption, he did say to him, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.” (Exodus 4:21)

Here before we discuss whether Pharaoh was ruthless, the first question that must be dealt with here is, were the Israelites spoils of war or were they led to Egypt by their supposed god? If it is the first, we need to examine the records to see whether there is any truth in it. And if as I believe, they were led to Egypt by their supposed god, he must be responsible fully for what happens to them while there. Blame can’t be transferred unless the theist also accepts that Pharaoh was god’s agent and is to that extent not guilty. In many posts, I have said what I think about miracles and I will repeat here that truth doesn’t require miracles. As long as a miracle is needed, I insist there is no truth involved.

Many ask, how then can God be just in bringing all the plagues on Pharaoh and the Egyptians if he so decreed that his heart would be set firmly against freeing the Israelites? It is a reasonable question, but I believe some investigating will disclose a satisfactory answer.

Let us look at the answer she proposes

Before I go on, I’d like to emphasize its reasonableness and say to my atheist friends [………..] that these difficult passages disquiet and trouble Christians as well. It is a sign of our sense of justice and concern for our fellow-man that you and we are disturbed by them. And that’s a good thing. The difference, as I see it, is that you stop there and write God off as either nonexistent or not worthy of worship, but we give him the benefit of the doubt, if you will, and pursue a greater understanding. Not because we don’t want to face the facts, but because we must, and the facts of his justice, mercy, love, and grace don’t jive with evil and cruelty.

Why for instance give god a benefit of doubt you are not ready to grant your fellow-man who you can see, who has feelings, he pleads for mercy? Is it a case where one wants to truly believe that the god she believes in is good despite evidence to the contrary? No we don’t stop there, we continue to examine whether the stories so told are credible and whether the god described can be called merciful and we find he falls short. We lack a belief in gods because we find no evidence to suppose one or many could exist. By saying your god is not what it is described to be, we are not saying it exists, no, we are showing that as described he can only be a fiend, capricious and an enemy of men.

In the same way, because I am convinced of God’s goodness, based on how he reveals himself in both the Old and New Testaments, the witness of Jesus Christ who is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), the fact that we his creatures are capable of great love, compassion, sacrifice, kindness, etc…I, at the very least, trust that there is a good explanation for the apparent dichotomy. And my faith can be strong without knowledge of that explanation. But because I believe God provides a greater understanding when we pursue it…I pursue it.

Friends, please help me here. Well maybe I read a wrong bible translation but how can someone defend that the god of the OT is good. He punishes his first mistake, sends them out of their residence, curses the earth they are supposed to plow, curses child-birth, drowns almost everything, shows favoritism, allows or commands the killing of several number of peeps for no reason other than that they worship a bigger god than him. This god tolerates slavery, promises to punish great-grandchildren for the sins of their fathers, punishes everyone except the persons responsible[take case of David, kills the baby instead of David]. Please someone help me here. In the NT we are sent this god sent himself to die for our sins, he tells us he was innocent. Which good god sets such an example? While on the story of this Jeebus, how long was his mission here?

Why do you need faith? Why must one continue to suspend reason. If something is true, we don’t need faith. Faith is only required to believe the impossible and credulous and as for me, I don’t want faith. I want to live, as Camus says, with what I know and only with that.

Let us listen to the dichotomy

So I’ve sought understanding of God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, and though God’s ways are so much higher than ours and men have written long treatises on this issue because it is deep and complex, still I think I can confidently speak on one reality that addresses it and that should be helpful. And it is demonstrated in the convicted murderer scenario I opened with: A just punishment is still just even if there is a potential for mercy that is denied.

I have talked about punishment already. To say god’s ways are higher than ours, what does she mean? And then how is this important to us? If it is higher than ours it only follows that there is no point it becomes relevant to us. It can always remain high up there and as such can’t be used as a standard to measure things here, it will always be higher. There is nothing like just punishment, that statement qualifies to be called an oxymoron!

Pharaoh was an evil ruler who denied mercy to the Israelites and abused them as his slaves. He and all of Egypt worshiped false gods and the Pharaoh willingly received adulation from the Egyptians as having godlike status. They were deserving of God’s wrath. What’s more, God foreknew that Pharaoh would stubbornly refuse to release the Israelites “unless compelled by a mighty hand” (Exodus 3:19). His hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was part of God’s method of compulsion. It was retribution for his evil deeds borne of an evil heart, and the means of redemption for God’s people.

Please tell me, dear reader, where is it said Pharaoh was evil? Two where in the bible is the god of Abe described as the god for everyone? I want someone to show me where god revealed himself to Pharaoh saying he is his god and pharaoh dismissed him. The charge that pharaoh worshiped false god can’t be sustained and must be withdrawn. And you have no right to call someone’s god false. It is only false according to you and since no one has shown the one true god, all gods can equally be false, that is even if you could prove that yours exists. How can anyone say pharaoh and the whole of Egypt was deserving of this god’s wrath, a god they had no knowledge of? Is this not the height of cruelty and capriciousness!  It’s like a king asking for the arrest of a fellow he met and who didn’t know him then asking this guy be hanged! Tell me where the difference is between Caroline’s god and this king, and remember am patient 😀

Please tell me, is it remotely possible that, allowing this god to be both omnipotent and omniscient, he would resort to hardening pharaoh’s heart, perform some mundane tricks to get his people to go? But even before we get there, is it possible that he didn’t know by taking them to Egypt they would become slaves and thus send them elsewhere? People let us get serious! I know some of you want this god story to be true, but please just for a few moments everyday, apply reason!

So, God did not compel Pharaoh to resist him in opposition to what Pharaoh was inclined to do. In multiple passages in Exodus Pharaoh is said to have hardened his own heart. He simply executed righteous judgment on him and the Egyptians by ensuring his continued resistance resulting in the ten plagues.

So if pharaoh acted according to his own nature as Caroline implies here, why has god to punish him. It is like saying a blind man should be punished for using a white stick to find his way! My next question was everyone in Egypt a pharaoh? If the problem was between god and pharaoh, why involve everyone else? Could god not seek an address with pharaoh, why even send Moses? This sounds like the queen of England has a problem with Mr. Hollande, then she sends some ignorant farmer to go meet with the president, please friends, is this sensible?

One might object that obviously God knew Pharaoh would have relented a lot sooner or he wouldn’t have needed to harden his heart, and that would have spared Egypt a number of plagues…and that’s not fair. But I refer you again to our convicted Murderer B. Would we think it just, particularly if his victim was a loved one of ours, if upon his expressed remorse and resolve never to murder again as he stood ready to be sentenced, the judge let him go scot-free?

I have said enough about punishment already. The rest of this statement is ridiculous. Here we have a god behaving like Caroline would, why then call him god? He has the same attitudes just like we do?

But whence goeth justice in the case of Murderer A? He received mercy, which is the antithesis of justice, and every judge has the authority to dispense it. But though we are all entitled to justice, no one is entitled to mercy.

Do I need to say here I again that there is no justice and that we are all entitled to mercy. We can’t act against our nature, so all of us must be treated with mercy whether a god exists or not. Anyone who objects to this position please show me why!

But if God is so wonderful and loving, why doesn’t he have mercy on everyone? I think there are a lot of good answers to that, but there’s one that becomes obvious if we ask ourselves this: Why doesn’t any judge sentence every convicted criminal that stands before him to probation?

I think the obvious answer to this question is at the beginning of the post. There are no gods and in as much as we would want things to be different, they are just as they are.