News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on January 21, 2010 in News

I continue to add sites to my Internet Atheism Search Engine. Now searching 436 godless websites.

Tim Challies wrote his third and final letter to me.

Sarah Haskins’ Target Women bits are hilarious, and I don’t even have a vagina. (Sarah makes fun of how women are depicted in advertising).

Finally, here is the shortest genuinely funny philosophy joke I’ve ever heard, courtesy of MC:

Reformed Epistemology is neither.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

MC January 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm

*bows*

I’ll be here all night, folks.

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Haukur January 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Well, Tim sure prepared a nice little smörgåsbord of Bible quotes.

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Jeff H January 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Predictable. Challies seems like a nice guy, but somehow ending off a discussion with an atheist (one that’s a former Christian, no less) with a plea for repentance seems like a slap in the face. Not only does he not have the decency to engage anything in Luke’s previous letter, but he treats him like a person who’s never heard the gospel message. Like, “Oh my goodness, I’ve heard that in church over and over again, and told others the same thing, but now that you put it that way, I realize that it makes so much sense!” It’s insulting to be treated like, well, a person who’s “suppressing the truth.” It’s disappointing to have the thought that perhaps Challies was simply playing along with the real discussion in order to put this at the end – like no matter what Luke said in the real discussion, it didn’t matter, because the purpose was to preach to him. And to all of us.

Well, like I said, it’s predictable. I suppose since I’ve come to expect it, I should just stop finding it insulting and start finding it a cause for pity.

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Ryan January 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I don’t get the joke. Could you explain it?

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svenjamin January 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm

How about this one:

A physics professor is requesting funding for more specialized research equipment. The harried administrator responds: “Why can’t you be more like the math department? All they need is pencils, paper, and wastebaskets. Or better yet, the philosophy department. They only ever ask for paper and pencils.”

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lukeprog January 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Ryan,

Reformed Epistemology is neither Reformed, nor epistemology. :)

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lukeprog January 21, 2010 at 4:50 pm

svenjamin,

Yeah, that’s classic!

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Jake de Backer January 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm

RE: Challies Letter

Dear. God.

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Justfinethanks January 21, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Jake de Backer: RE: Challies LetterDear. God.  

I concur. On the one hand I feel sympathy for him because he is under the false impression that the author of the universe has commanded him to spew this patronizing horseshit.

On the other, does he really think that paraphrasing the final panel of a chick tract will convince someone who has seriously mulled over these issues? Does he seriously not think that atheists haven’t heard this song and dance a thousand times? Does he expect us to have a road to Damascus experience upon hearing it for the thousand and first time?

And finally, it really amazes me that people like Challies are totally unable to conceive that nonbelievers are sincere in their beliefs. I certainly have no doubt he is sincere. We can’t simply be “sincere but mistaken,” we have to be “suppressing the truth.” I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, if I believed that the Christian god existed in my heart of hearts and wanted to get away with my sins, I wouldn’t be an atheist, I would be a Christian. That way I could pass the buck for my sins to God.

If their explanation for the existence of people who profess atheism is “suppressing the truth,” then the existence of people who claim to be atheists disproves the existence of the Christian God, unless of course they want to argue that atheists are people who WANT to be held accountable for their sins.

Because, after all, an atheist-who-is-secretly-Christian would have to be just that, someone who recognizes that they could get away with their sins, but CHOOSES to take responsibility for them by denying the Christian God.

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lukeprog January 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Re: Challies. I know. So sad he addressed nothing that I said, and instead spoke to me as if I didn’t know the gospel. This is the kind of behavior evangelicals encourage.

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Erika January 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I too am disappointed with how the Challies exchange went. I suppose the silver lining is that you both were respectful and civil. Maybe your behavior and points will come to mind next time he feels some doubt.

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Edson January 22, 2010 at 6:16 am

You guys need to understand that the way that Tim has chosen to reply was the only best possible way he could have written this – given that this was his final reply to Luke.

He just wanted to end this exchange responsibly, in a typical Christian fashion. What else would he have done, and for someone Like Tim who takes Christianity seriously, given his last opportunity, but to speak the gospel? I notice everybody here is furious that Tim could have done a bit better other than providing the same apolegetic scriptures that are considered by most here to be uneffective at changing the atheist mind. Mh, may be, but past events in history of Christianity, including very distant past events, have proven that there is nothing more effective a Christian can do, not even Science or Philosophy, to bring someone closer to God. The only thing that has proven to be extremely effective is the Gospel. Christ crucified for our sins, Christ resurrected for our hope of eternal life.

A refusal to consider the gospel seriously, is gnoring the evidence of one’s senses, and substituting for that evidence with pseudo-philosophical, pseudo-sscientific hogwash that are, in the present world, dangerous because they blind us to our own reality. Anyone who is a serious Christian is deeply worried about what is at stake due to this atheist blatant refusal to take the gospel seriously and this is what prompted Tim to respond that way.

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tdd January 22, 2010 at 6:32 am

How is it possible to take Christianity seriously when this – “Christ crucified for our sins, Christ resurrected for our hope of eternal life.” – is all it has to offer?

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Edson January 22, 2010 at 7:34 am

tdd, you intend to mean that “Christ crucified for our sins, Christ resurrected for our hope of eternal life” is irrelevant in our lives? If you don’t mean this please elaborate a bit more what you meant. But if you meant this you are truly mistaken.

Apparently, you are satisfied with a status quo. The intuition to find meaningful existance is illusory to you and that is what separates a Christian and non-Christians. While a Christian, and even some non-Christians, finds the phenomenon of the person of Jesus Christ intriguing, you resolve the question of His story as yet another easy just so story, only to ask the question you posed, – “is all it has to offer?”

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Bill Snedden January 22, 2010 at 7:39 am

@Edson: “A refusal to consider the gospel seriously, is gnoring the evidence of one’s senses, and substituting for that evidence with pseudo-philosophical, pseudo-sscientific hogwash that are, in the present world, dangerous because they blind us to our own reality. Anyone who is a serious Christian is deeply worried about what is at stake due to this atheist blatant refusal to take the gospel seriously and this is what prompted Tim to respond that way.”

The problem here, of course, is that Tim (and others like him) seem unable to comprehend that Luke (and many, many others like HIM) has actually in fact considered the gospel QUITE seriously. Serious enough to devote considerable time and study to. Serious enough, for some, to devote considerable portions of their life to learning, even to defending. And yet even with all of this serious consideration, many of us have nonetheless found it wanting. In fact, many of us would argue that a truly serious and intellectually honest consideration of the gospel leads almost ineluctably (and sometimes quite reluctantly!) to its rejection. At the very least, it certainly should lead to the realization that a more nuanced & balanced view is required.

But what remains unsatisfactorily addressed is the question of “why bother?” If, as Calvinism holds, election is determined not by any act (even intellectual) of the elect and by a sovereign God, why preach the gospel? Certainly not to “convert” any one, as regeneration is an act of grace. The standard Calvinist response (provided by at least one commenter at Tim’s site) is that “preaching” is not to convert, but to give witness to the glory of God. IOW, the Calvinist “God” demands that his slaves provide him with constant sycophantic adulation. Nice.

I’ve argued in the past that presuppositionalism (reformed “epistemology” in apologetics) isn’t so much a method of argumentation as it is an extended ad hominem or perhaps a somewhat more sophisticated version of “nyaah, nyahh”. Van Til admitted quite openly that the standard apologetic had failed miserably, but also said that this was to be expected: regeneration is an act of grace; no amount of preaching or reasoning is going to convert the unelect. The purpose of apologetics, Van Til argued, is not to defend or strengthen faith per se, but to give witness to the glory of God. So Tim’s doing the equivalent of throwing up his hands and saying, “I don’t need to bother with your arguments, but then again I don’t have to. It’s in God’s hands: He’ll turn you or you’ll burn. Nyahh, nyahh.”

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Jeff H January 22, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Edson: Mh, may be, but past events in history of Christianity, including very distant past events, have proven that there is nothing more effective a Christian can do, not even Science or Philosophy, to bring someone closer to God. The only thing that has proven to be extremely effective is the Gospel.

Hmm, good point. When you don’t have evidence or logic on your side, I suppose all that’s left is emotional appeals. I guess it really was the best way for Challies to answer…

*tongue in cheek…but only kind of*

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