The Gilson / Lukeprog Letters (index)

by Luke Muehlhauser on November 7, 2009 in Indexes,Letters


In October 2009, I began an exchange of letters with Tom Gilson of Thinking Christian about the reasons for our beliefs about God. The entire debate has taken place on Discussion Grounds, a website Tom setup specifically for these kinds of disciplined debates. Here is an index of our letters:

  1. My 1st letter
  2. Tom’s 1st letter
  3. My 2nd letter
  4. Tom’s 2nd letter
  5. My 3rd letter
  6. Tom’s 3rd letter
  7. My 4th letter
  8. Tom’s 4th letter
  9. My 5th letter
  10. Tom’s 5th letter
  11. My 6th letter
  12. Tom’s 6th letter
  13. My 7th letter
  14. Tom’s 7th letter
  15. My 8th letter
  16. Tom’s 8th letter
  17. My 9th letter (recap of progress so far)
  18. Tom’s 9th letter
  19. My 10th letter
  20. Tom’s 10th letter
  21. My 11th letter
  22. Tom’s 11th letter
  23. My 12th letter
  24. Tom’s 12th letter
  25. My 13th letter
  26. Tom’s 13th letter
  27. My 14th letter
  28. Tom’s 14th letter
  29. My 15th letter (recap of agreement on what makes a good explanation)
  30. Tom’s 15th letter
  31. My 16th letter
  32. Tom’s 16th letter and P.S.
  33. My 17th letter
  34. Tom’s 17th letter
  35. My 18th letter
  36. Tom’s 18th letter (in which Tom suddenly quits the dialogue)
  37. My concluding thoughts

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

ayer November 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Your pointing to modern Europe as the model civilization is very strange considering its crippling decadence and slow-motion suicide due to a lack of will to reproduce. See:


lukeprog November 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm


Crippling decadence? Could you explain?

Is having lots of babies to be seen as a moral imperative, or do you mean something slightly different?


ayer November 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm

lukeprog: ayer,Crippling decadence? Could you explain?Is having lots of babies to be seen as a moral imperative, or do you mean something slightly different?  


Yes, the failure of an entire nation to reproduce has damaging consequences and is an indicator of extreme self-indulgence:


“Both Wattenberg and Longman describe the tragic consequences of these demographic changes: The declining number of workers and increasing number of retirees will leave the European and Japanese welfare states in fiscal crisis; the culture of early retirement will make it hard to extend the retirement age; the cultural opposition to immigration will make it difficult to import and assimilate new workers; the shrinking population will reduce consumer demand and diminish economic innovation; the imposition of new taxes on workers to support programs for the elderly will make it even more difficult for the rising generation to afford children of their own. And while many developed nations have recently enacted “pro-natalist” policies, fertility is still in sharp decline.”


lukeprog November 7, 2009 at 6:39 pm


While I think you’re ignoring all the markers of societal health and moral progress that I linked to in that post, I do think you make some good points. I think it’s plausible that Europe’s refusal to have children is in part due to self-indulgence. I know that’s why I’m not having children. I want to live my life, develop myself as much as possible so I can do as much good and have as much fun as possible. I don’t want to spend my days changing diapers and teaching kids how to succeed – at least not one at a time.


Chuck November 7, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Don’t knock it till you try it. :)


Derrida November 8, 2009 at 12:35 am

How could it be moral to add to the number of children in the world when orphanages still exist? If I ever do get the urge to have children, I’m certainly going to adopt.


Jake de Backer November 8, 2009 at 1:36 am


You definitely appear to be one of the more competent theists who frequent this blog, so it came as quite a surprise that you’re pegging your distaste for considering Europe as a model civilization on account of their absent maternal/paternal instincts to reproduce. I’m tempted to suggest that perhaps this country should turn down its obsession with popping out babies. What happens when some culture-less evangelical family with names literally along the lines of “Jim-Bob” and “Jedediah” and 18 others whose collective i.q. is on par with a tennis racket aren’t readily recognized for the crack pot lunatics they are? They have their contemptible, however successful efforts to assemble a warehouse of children glorified with a reality t.v. show. (See also, Octo-Crazy Lady and Jon & Kate). This country’s obsession with having not a family, but a tribe is not exactly a boon to our over-populated schools, inflated health costs, or basic proletariat expenses. In addition to this nonsense, it’s never the penthouse residents in new york city that have a dozen kids, whom they could afford the proper care for. It’s the low-income individuals –in trailers or while they are on what proves to be only temporary leave from their state issued penitentiary cell, they dwell in run down buildings which ought to be condemned in the fringes of town who are often single and without consistent income–, in deed, this class of world beaters that decide the world needs more of them in it by the dozens. I would applaud our efforts to, as Derrida mentioned, vacate the orphanages in this country by capping our birth-rates over the next few years and placing the kids unfortunate enough to have been born to less than ideal parents into good homes.

I certainly am not aiming to trivialize the Japanese “retirement age” generation of 2050, as that is certainly of tremendous importance. However, perhaps we should be considering ideal candidates for “model civilizations” based upon the criteria mentioned in the article Luke posted a few weeks back e.g. silly things like crime, education, health, economy, etc. Is there no chance that you’d prefer not to confer your approbation on a continent which has largely abandoned a belief-system you believe integral to an individual’s, as well as a societies well-being?

Perhaps I misread or misinterpreted the context of what you were saying, if such is the case, I apologize and would appreciate my due comeuppance.

J. de Backer


Sloobis November 8, 2009 at 4:16 am

None of the links are working for me Luke. Anything I can try?

Keep it up :)

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ‘,’ in /home2/thinkip8/public_html/debateblog/wp-content/themes/coffee-bean/single.php on line 76 comes up)


lukeprog November 8, 2009 at 7:14 am


I dunno. Maybe turn off Javascript debugging in your browser, or try another browser, like Google Chrome.


ayer November 8, 2009 at 8:43 am

de Backer,

One need not endorse having 18 kids, etc., to recognize that if a society cannot even muster the will to have children at the population replacement rate there is something very wrong. In a matter of time, that society will simply disappear, but not before imposing massive hardships on the children they do have, as those children deal with the horrendous economic consequences of deflation and the inability to support the social programs that benefit the elderly.

I agree with you about adoption, but have seen no evidence that the Europeans or Japanese are offsetting their low birth rates by upping their adoption rates.


Chuck November 8, 2009 at 10:31 am

Derrida: How could it be moral to add to the number of children in the world when orphanages still exist? If I ever do get the urge to have children, I’m certainly going to adopt.  

I don’t know, Derrida. Present me with an argument that says making babies is immoral and I’ll consider it.


Thomas Reid November 9, 2009 at 5:08 am

Derrida: How could it be moral to add to the number of children in the world when orphanages still exist? If I ever do get the urge to have children, I’m certainly going to adopt.  (Quote)

Just so I am clear: are you saying that it is immoral for anyone to procreate until there are no more orphanages, that is, until all orphaned children have been adopted?


drj November 9, 2009 at 5:28 am

I don’t know if I would go so far as to call it immoral.. but its certainly something to think about when the ol canard comes out about “selfless living” and how popping out a couple of kids in the name of religion is the epitome of it.


MountainKing November 10, 2009 at 12:42 am

So the people who have kids actually don’t want to but decide to reproduce to secure the social system of future generations? People who don’t want kids because they think it will make them happy are self-indulgent while people who want kids because they think it makes them happy are not?


MountainKing November 10, 2009 at 1:02 am

Additionally you have to consider the fact that the smaller numbers are not only due to the fact that more people decide not to get kids at all. Other reasons include the fact that people marry and get kids much later that than before and that alot of families are not against having kids per se but only have 1-2 instead of 5 or more.

Since the article points to cultural reasons and not having kids is seen as “decadence” it might be interesting that according to the latest numbers for Germany the former and largely (due to communism) atheistic GDR is/was less decadent than it’s western counterpart since there are much less women without kids.

:-) (only in German)


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