News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on February 22, 2010 in News,William Lane Craig

BBC documentary: Generation Jihad. Excellent investigative work.

Bush starts illegal war then goes to clear some brush on his ranch. Cheney tortures people then goes on news shows to spew lies. Woods has sex with women, goes into rehab, is shunned, has all his credibility destroyed, has to apologize on national TV…our society is so stupid it’s painful.”

Evolution at work on non-living chemicals; one step closer to abiogenesis. Fuck you again, God of the gaps.

Famous scholars explain why they lost their faith as adults.

Ten myths about Jesus mythicist arguments.

Brian Auten of Apologetics315 (one of the inspirations for Common Sense Atheism) interviews William Lane Craig. Craig says:

Primarily, [preparation for debate] would involve reading the work of the opponent that I will be debating. So I’ll get his books and articles that are relevant to the topic, I’ll read them, and then I’ll see what case he presents and what objections to this case I would have, and then I try to anticipate on the basis of his work what objections to my case he would raise, and then prepare responses to those potential objections. That would be the most important thing to do in preparation for a debate.

Who wants to bet that very few of Craig’s opponents have done this? See How to Debate William Lane Craig and How to Win Against William Lane Craig.

Another money Craig quote: “I think our goal should be nothing less than to turn back the Enlightenment… it needs to be reversed.” Holy shit.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Mitchell LeBlanc February 22, 2010 at 9:13 am

I didn’t realize that Craig had a DVD box set out on the Philosophy of Religion. Saw it on apologetics315.

See: http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2010/02/dvd-series-philosophy-of-religion-with.html

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lukeprog February 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

Mitchell LeBlanc,

Now we need William Rowe to do a philosophy of religion box set. :)

Actually, no, the atheistic equivalent to William Lane Craig would be somebody like Michael Martin, methinks.

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Mitchell LeBlanc February 22, 2010 at 9:26 am

Yes I think that’s an accurate comparison. Hey, there’s an idea for a post, compare theistic and atheistic philosophers in terms of influence, comprehensiveness of study and ‘badassery’.

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curious February 22, 2010 at 10:29 am

What is the source of the “I think our goal should be nothing less than to turn back the Enlightenment… it needs to be reversed.” quote? I try google, and it just points me here.

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Rob February 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

Another money Craig quote: “I think our goal should be nothing less than to turn back the Enlightenment… it needs to be reversed.”

This is also a theme that runs through the work of Edward Feser. Have you read “The Last Superstition”? I would be interested in your take on it

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Gato Precambriano February 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

The quote seem to be a transcription of the audio interview.
Scary.
However it’s good to have things said as clearly as this, no matter how frightening they are. If to have enemies is unavoidable I would preffer the open ones. So you don’t miss bullets.
Kidding…
Or not…

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Supernova February 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Yes, Craig said he, “thinks the Enlightenment secular mentality that has swept Europe and the West needs to be ultimately reversed…and wants to overcome the secularization that is the result of the Enlightenment…and that denies that there is such a thing as theological knowledge…” What do you guys expect a Christian apologist to say? That he wants to increase secularization throughout the world making it more difficult for the Christian message to spread.

It’s like faulting an environmentalist who says, “I think our overall goal should be to ultimately turn back the carbon emissions that have be pumped into the world by advanced human civilizations.”

Both say exactly what one would expect them to say giving their positions.

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Justfinethanks February 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Supernova: What do you guys expect a Christian apologist to say?

At best? How about though he doesn’t agree with the empiricism that came from the enlightenment, he is nonetheless thankful that Enlightenment era thinking brought about an end to things like witch hunts and laid the foundation for modern science (which he frequently employs to argue for the existence of God.)

Of course, if he really yearns for the pre enlightenment, he should be pleased to learn there are plenty of places in the world where the Enlightenment never touched. Iran is an example. Some isolated communities across Africa is another.

The fact that he lives and enjoys massive freedom and success in the United States, which itself is A PRODUCT OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT, and was founded upon Enlightenment era ideas like a social contract and that men are entitled to life, liberty and property, while at the same time decrying the Enlightenment, is so Goddamn hypocritical.

In fact, Jefferson credited Enlightenment thinkers as his greatest influences.

“Bacon, Locke and Newton … I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences”
-Thomas Jefferson

(Notice the absence of Moses, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul)

When he says “it should be reversed” it is really difficult to explain how utterly terrifying that desire is. This is the rotten core or religion laid bare: it wants nothing more than to take away the very ideas that make us free, prosperous, healthy, and educated.

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lukeprog February 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm

curious,

The source is the audio interview I just linked to.

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Mark February 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I’m not entirely sure he meant he wanted to turn back the secularization of public institutions and policies as opposed to merely the culture of religious skepticism. Then again, coming from Craig, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

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Conversational Atheist February 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Hey Luke, I had lunch with Victor Stenger over the weekend, and I thought you might like to hear that he is going to debate William Lane Craig again sometime next week.

He also gave a talk that I recorded and will post on YouTube once he gives me the “OK”.

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thacks February 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm

There is a grain of reason in that last quote.

The enlightenment freed us from a dark age of ignorance, but it ushered in a mentality of arrogance, and brought an unnecessary duality attitdue towards the academic world, accomodating a polarizing way viewing of the world.

What results is two sides with a desperate need for humility. Finding earnest truth-seekers has become quite a chore in the overwhelming wave of academics on either side of the fence who’s arrogance belittles their method and results.

Thank you very much Luke for being one of earnest, and always striving to be. It is enjoyable seeing you walk the line.

However I highly doubt that this is Craig’s agenda anyway :p

I recommend Richard Rohr’s Beginner’s Mind

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Justfinethanks February 22, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I think the quote looks even worse in context

Auten: What do you think the apologists’ long term goals should be in their ministry?

Craig: Well, collectively I think our goal is nothing less than to turn back the Enlightenment. I think the Enlightenment, secular mentality that has swept Europe and the West need to be ultimately reversed so that we can bring back theology as a source of knowledge. Knowledge, and a wisdom tradition. So that means overcoming that sort of secularization that is the result of the Enlightenment that makes man autonomous and denies there is such a thing a theological knowledge.

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lukeprog February 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Yeah, Craig mentioned the same thing in this interview with Brian Auten; I’m looking forward to it. Is the debate in Socal somewhere?

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lukeprog February 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

thacks,

Arrogance? Really? We started out believing strange metaphysical propositions with great certainty and no evidence, and now we believe physical assertions only with good evidence, and even still with significant doubt. To call that ‘arrogance’ is absurd.

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Scott February 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm

luke,

The world view for much of the Enlightenment was that the entire world was rational and could be rationally understood. Look at Spinoza’s Ethics for a prime example – the universe constructed as geometric proofs. I personally think it’s arrogant (I’m all not saying it’s unjustified). It wasn’t until Nietzsche, Freud, and Einstein that so much uncertainty and irrationality crept back in.

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Rhys Wilkins February 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

It seems the more I learn about Craig, the more I begin to despise his character. His most fundamental principles go completely against everything I stand for.

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Supernova February 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Justfinethanks:
At best? How about though he doesn’t agree with the empiricism that came from the enlightenment, he is nonetheless thankful that Enlightenment era thinking brought about an end to things like witch hunts and laid the foundation for modern science (which he frequently employs to argue for the existence of God.)

Of course, if he really yearns for the pre enlightenment, he should be pleased to learn there are plenty of places in the world where the Enlightenment never touched.Iran is an example.Some isolated communities across Africa is another.

I think Craig’s point was he did not like the secularization that came about as a by-product of the Enlightenment, and he wanted to reverse that, and that should be the goal, collectively, for every Christian apologist. What is important, on Craig’s view, is he wants to reverse the view that says there is no such thing as theological knowledge. I get this impression b/c this is what he said.

Craig is for the Separation of Church and State. America’s founding fathers did nott want a theocracy and did no want government corrupting the Church. Separation of Church and State is good for both the Church and the Government. Hopefully, this will be something we will agree on.

Justfinethanks:
The fact that he lives and enjoys massive freedom and success in the United States, which itself is A PRODUCT OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT, and was founded upon Enlightenment era ideas like a social contract and that men are entitled to life, liberty and property, while at the same time decrying the Enlightenment, is so Goddamn hypocritical.

In fact, Jefferson credited Enlightenment thinkers as his greatest influences. “Bacon, Locke and Newton … I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences”
-Thomas Jefferson

(Notice the absence of Moses, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul)

The fact that we (Americans) enjoy our freedom and success is b/c of people like, for example, the Puritans (The Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth) who fled from the theocracy in England and came to America to escape religious persecution and to purify the Church. Also, the founding fathers did not like the State controlling the Church and implemented a government where the State would no longer infringe on the Church and will allow individuals to practice their faith however they choose.

As far as your mentioning of Thomas Jefferson. Even though Jefferson criticized Christianity for their belief in the divinity of Christ, he also said he was a Christian in a sense he held onto the doctrines of Jesus, and said the Bible is proof that he’s a real Christian, that is to say he is a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. However, he, unfortunately, succumbs to the Trilemma that C.S. brought forth. Jefferson thought Jesus was a great moral teacher even though he [Jesus] claimed to be one with the Father. So, clearly he wasn’t moral on Jefferson’s view b/c Jesus was a liar. Or if not that Jesus was just a lunatic, given Jefferson‘s view on the divinity of Jesus, or lack thereof.

Also in the quote where you mention Jefferson you also mention these three: Bacon, Locke, and Newton. These men were all Christians and were actually before the Enlightenment. These men did, however, influence the Enlightenment thinkers, but they were not a by-product of the Enlightenment. Some scholars who give the beginning of the Enlightenment the earliest start date is at the beginning of the 1700s. So, Sir Francis Bacon is not part of the Enlightenment, though his ideas might have influenced it. Sir Isaac Newton wrote much of his greatest work (e.g., Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica) before the the Enlightenment, and same goes for John Locke. So, these men merely influenced the Enlightenment, but were not part of it. I think you are wrong when you say Jefferson credited, Bacon, Locke, and Newton, as Enlightenment thinkers, since these men were before the Enlightenment. These men simply influenced Enlightenment thinkers, but were not Enlightenment thinkers or by-products of the Enlightenment themselves.

Another pet peeve of mine is when people will quote or mention guys like Jefferson and Franklin (not specifically in this case ), but will neglect to mention the other 54 men who signed the Deceleration of Independence who were annoyingly outspoken Christians. People like Roger Sherman (The only one to sign all four founding documents) and Benjamin Rush who were extremely influential in America’s government.

Justfinethanks:
When he says “it should be reversed” it is really difficult to explain how utterly terrifying that desire is.This is the rotten core or religion laid bare: it wants nothing more than to take away the very ideas that make us free, prosperous, healthy, and educated.  

I completely disagree with this. People like John Locke (the one who brought forth the social contract and is the one who wrote, “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions” that should sound quite familiar) was a Christian philosopher and was before the Enlightenment and he helped create freedom, prosperity, and etc. for us in the Western sphere. We see early on Christians were creating art, music, and being involved in culture, and were bringing forth great philosophic ideas, involved in science and math (Copernicus, Nicole Oresme) and bringing forth charitable works/deeds and trying, IMO, to make life better here on earth.

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Sharkey February 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Scott:

It wasn’t until Nietzsche, Freud, and Einstein that so much uncertainty and irrationality crept back in.

Could you clarify that comment, Scott? I’m not able to discuss the works of Nietzsche nor Freud, but I’m having a hard time reconciling your statement of “uncertainty and irrationality” with Einstein’s discoveries. Are you implying that Einstein’s equations led to an irrational view of what relativity meant, or are you implying that general and special relativity themselves are irrational?

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Lee A.P. February 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm

The Puritans came here because they wanted freedom of religion for themselves, while lacking in toleration for all religious groups.

Jefferson did not believe in the portions of the Gospels that invoked the supernatural. He even used a razor blade to cut those portions out of his “Jeffersonian Bible”.

So C.S. Lewis “trilemma” would have no effect on Jefferson nor does it have any affect on anyone except the odd Bird who accepts that Jesus uttered every single word and did every single thing the Gospel writers said he did. Obviously non-believers deny much of it.

Also, one could be crazy enough to think themselves a God and still teach good morals. This is possible. Lewis’ trilemma is almost completely bankrupt. It is a clever and nice sounding apologetic comforting for the believer and that is about it.

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Justfinethanks February 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Response to Supernova – Part 1

Supernova: I think Craig’s point was he did not like the secularization that came about as a by-product of the Enlightenment, and he wanted to reverse that, and that should be the goal, collectively, for every Christian apologist. What is important, on Craig’s view, is he wants to reverse the view that says there is no such thing as theological knowledge. I get this impression b/c this is what he said.

That’s a charitable interpretation, especially since he said he wanted to “turn back the Enlightenment” not simply “turn back secularization” (which would be slightly better but not much).

Still, his desire to return to “theological knowledge” is still terrifying because it promotes the idea that we should value revelation over observation. Theological knowledge gave us the demon theory of disease. Secular knowledge gave us the germ theory of disease. I really don’t see how “theological knowledge” can be of any real pragmatic value over secular knowledge.

Hopefully, this will be something we will agree on.

Agreed. Keeping the government secular is good for the church, the state, and the people.

The fact that we (Americans) enjoy our freedom and success is b/c of people like, for example, the Puritans (The Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth) who fled from the theocracy in England and came to America to escape religious persecution and to purify the Church.

The United States of America was not founded by seventeenth century pilgrims, it was founded by eighteenth century colonists, so I don’t see how the religious attitudes of the first European settlers is relevant to whether or not the US sprang from the Enlightenment.

As far as your mentioning of Thomas Jefferson. Even though Jefferson criticized Christianity for their belief in the divinity of Christ, he also said he was a Christian in a sense he held onto the doctrines of Jesus, and said the Bible is proof that he’s a real Christian, that is to say he is a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.

Uh, yeah, he was the kind of “Christian” who thought supernatural claims were silly:

To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But heresy it certainly is.
- Thomas Jefferson

That organized religion was in opposition to freedom:

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
-Thomas Jefferson

And that God was not needed for the existence of objective moral values:

If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? …Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.
- Thomas Jefferson

BUT, he nonetheless held the basic “love your neighbor” philosophy of Jesus in high esteem, so he considered himself a Christian in that sense.

If you want to call that a “Christian.” Then you are free to call me a “Christian” in that sense as well.

However, he, unfortunately, succumbs to the Trilemma that C.S. brought forth.

The same trilemma that Craig cites in his book Reasonable Faith as a classic example of an “unsound argument?”

An example of such an unsound argument would be:

Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.
Jesus was neither a liar nor a lunatic.
Therefore, Jesus is Lord.

-WL Craig, Reasonable Faith, Page 38-39

It’s really a terrible, nonsense argument. I kind of thought 21st century apologists have given up on it.

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Scott February 22, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Sharkey:

Einstein removed the last stable thing in the universe: light. Science has done so much to erode the comforting common sense view of the world, with heliocentrism, evolution, etc (not saying that’s a bad thing, just a statement of fact). With relativity, even light wasn’t a constant anymore. It could bend around things, and as you approached it, time did weird things. The mathematical certainty of the preceding centuries went out the window. Now, while physics itself may have adapted well to this discovery (I’m not up on modern physics), I think people in general lost a sense of place in the world. The mechanical elements became lost in this quantum fuzziness that the layman can no longer understand (See: LHC)

I hope I’m not talking out of my ass on this one. I think it makes sense.

With Nietzsche and Freud, they posited that man is an irrational being. Nietzsche deconstructed morality & Christianity, while Freud introduced the unconscious.

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Sharkey February 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Scott:

Einstein removed the last stable thing in the universe: light… The mathematical certainty of the preceding centuries went out the window.

I couldn’t disagree more with that statement. Einstein showed that light was constant, the factor that brought together space and time. Einstein brought mathematical certainty; a new way of looking at the order of the universe. If you’re interested in the details, I’d recommend Chapter One of Taylor and Wheeler’s Spacetime Physics, which is available for free here (under the Special Relativity section).

However, I do agree with your broader point. I consider the preceding century and a bit the century of limits. Between Darwin, Einstein, Heisenberg, Gödel/Turing and Dawkins, humanity has learned its limitations. We’ve learned we’re not a special creation, there are places we can’t go, there are things we can’t measure, there are proofs we can’t know, and that we (as individuals) take a backseat to our genes in the process of evolution. It’s hard on the psyche, and I understand the popular push-back against those notions.

But they are true, and ignoring them won’t make them go away.

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ildi February 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Scott: Sharkey:Einstein removed the last stable thing in the universe: light.Science has done so much to erode the comforting common sense view of the world, with heliocentrism, evolution, etc (not saying that’s a bad thing, just a statement of fact).With relativity, even light wasn’t a constant anymore.It could bend around things, and as you approached it, time did weird things.The mathematical certainty of the preceding centuries went out the window.Now, while physics itself may have adapted well to this discovery (I’m not up on modern physics), I think people in general lost a sense of place in the world.The mechanical elements became lost in this quantum fuzziness that the layman can no longer understand (See: LHC)I hope I’m not talking out of my ass on this one. I think it makes sense.With Nietzsche and Freud, they posited that man is an irrational being.Nietzsche deconstructed morality & Christianity, while Freud introduced the unconscious.  

None of this conflicts with your statement that The world view for much of the Enlightenment was that the entire world was rational and could be rationally understood.

Quantum mechanics is not irrational, it’s just not intuitive. Freud’s concept of the unconscious was a precursor to what neuroscientists are starting to map in the brain. The Enlightenment folk seem to have gotten it right. Doesn’t seem very arrogant to me.

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Scott February 22, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I guess I botched the Einstein bit. Oops. My knowledge of modern science is definitely lacking.

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Supernova February 22, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Justfinethanks: Response to Supernova – Part 1
That’s a charitable interpretation, especially since he said he wanted to “turn back the Enlightenment” not simply “turn back secularization” (which would be slightly better but not much).

Still, his desire to return to “theological knowledge” is still terrifying because it promotes the idea that we should value revelation over observation. Theological knowledge gave us the demon theory of disease.Secular knowledge gave us the germ theory of disease.I really don’t see how “theological knowledge” can be of any real pragmatic value over secular knowledge.

I don’t think it’s a charitable interpretation. He specifically says right after he wants to turn back the Enlightenment, “…I think the Enlightenment secular mentality that has swept Europe and the West needs to be ultimately reversed so we can bring back theology as a source of knowledge… and overcoming this secularization that is the result of the Enlightenment that makes man autonomous and denies that there is such a thing a theological knowledge.”

You don’t think theological knowledge entails observation?

Justfinethanks:
Agreed. Keeping the government secular is good for the church, the state, and the people.

It’s good we can agree on something. Though, I’d say keeping the government out of the Church is best for the Church, State, and the people. LOL

Justfinethanks:
The United States of America was not founded by seventeenth century pilgrims, it was founded by eighteenth century colonists, so I don’t see how the religious attitudes of the first European settlers is relevant to whether or not the US sprang from the Enlightenment.

That was never my intention to imply that the Pilgrims founded America, but my point was early America was a place where people could go to practice their religion w/o being persecuted. The founding fathers knew this quite well and many were fervent Christian believers themselves and wanted a government that would not persecute people in how they worshiped. They clearly understood that a theocracy doesn’t work and only makes things worse. The point is with or without the Enlightenment, is that people were sick and tired of being persecuted for practicing their faith and they wanted to go somewhere where they could, and eventually it would come down to where the State could no longer control the Church.

Justfinethanks:
Uh, yeah, he was the kind of “Christian” who thought supernatural claims were silly:

Jefferson believed in a God where our morality is founded on and he believed in rewards and punishment after death. He also believed in prayer. Also, John Locke was not a materialist like we think of it today. He was a dualist and a Christian.

Justfinethanks:
That organized religion was in opposition to freedom:

The quote you provided has more to do with religious hypocrites than what you want Jefferson to be saying.

“Religion, as well as reason, confirms the soundness of those principles on which our government has been founded and its rights asserted. – Thomas Jefferson

Justfinethanks:
And that God was not needed for the existence of objective moral values:

This is not true. Jefferson wrote to Peter Car, his nephew, saying, “He who made us would have been a pitiful bungler, if He had made the rules of our moral conduct a matter of science.” Rather, God made man “with a sense of right and wrong.” So, on Jefferson’s view God made man where right and wrong is built into us. Paul the Apostle thought the same thing. Romans 2:1-16

Justfinethanks:
BUT, he nonetheless held the basic “love your neighbor” philosophy of Jesus in high esteem, so he considered himself a Christian in that sense.
If you want to call that a “Christian.” Then you are free to call me a “Christian” in that sense as well.

I haven’t read the Jefferson Bible, but you and Lee A.P. are probably correct. I don’t know just how much Jefferson took out of the Bible. I don’t know if I could call Jefferson a Christian (based on the little I know about his views on Jesus).

Justfinethanks:
The same trilemma that Craig cites in his book Reasonable Faith as a classic example of an “unsound argument?”
It’s really a terrible, nonsense argument.I kind of thought 21st century apologists have given up on it.  

To both you and Lee A.P.

Yes, I’m fully aware of that. Jesus could been a complete myth, or a space alien, making the argument unsound. However, if one accepts basic tenets of the Bible and holds some of his certain views, say like Muslims, than as William Lane Craig has even said then the Trilemma becomes useful. Also, to Lee A.P., you are right when you say a crazy man can teach good morals, but the point is he, himself, is not moral b/c he’s a lunatic. Craig, for example, used the Trilemma when he debated the Muslim Shabir Ally. However, I have not read the Jefferson Bible and don’t know exactly what all he changed. I know Jefferson before creating the Jefferson Bible that after reading through the Bible he thought Jesus never referred to himself as God. IMO, even if I wasn’t a Christian, I think it’s pretty obvious Jesus refers to himself as God, the Chosen One, the Messiah, one who forgives sins, and etc. throughout the Gospels.

I think it’s safe to say we got a little off track here. LOL

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Justfinethanks February 22, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Supernova: Also in the quote where you mention Jefferson you also mention these three: Bacon, Locke, and Newton. These men were all Christians and were actually before the Enlightenment.

I don’t see how it is relevant that they are Christians. One can consistently, I think, believe that the Enlightenment was an almost universally good thing and be a Christian with consistency.

I will concede that Bacon is more of a “proto Enlightenment” thinker, without whom the Enlightenment wouldn’t be possible but didn’t really live when it occoured, but I must disagree whole heartedly with both Newton and Locke. It’s possible to date the beginning of the Enlightenment with the publication of his Principa Mathmatica in 1687, and I don’t think anyone really disputes that Locke was one of the most critical Enlightenment era philosophers.

Another pet peeve of mine is when people will quote or mention guys like Jefferson and Franklin (not specifically in this case ), but will neglect to mention the other 54 men who signed the Deceleration of Independence who were annoyingly outspoken Christians. People like Roger Sherman (The only one to sign all four founding documents) and Benjamin Rush who were extremely influential in America’s government.

Understandable. I don’t dispute that the majority of signers of the declaration of Independence were in fact Christian in every sense of the word. However, some of the most essential players in the revolution were not, and even the Christian ones understood the importance of a secular government and the role of a social contract.

SuperNova: People like John Locke was a Christian philosopher and was before the Enlightenment and he helped create freedom, prosperity, and etc. for us in the Western sphere.

Locke was an empiricist philosopher who happened to be Christian. From the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

For the individual, Locke wants each of us to use reason to search after truth rather than simply accept the opinion of authorities or be subject to superstition. He wants us to proportion assent to propositions to the evidence for them.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/

This is the polar opposite of modern Christian philosophers who tell us that we can know God seperately from the evidence.

Also, I really don’t understand why you don’t consider Locke an Enlightenment thinker in the truest sense. It’s possible to date the Enlightenment as starting in 1660, and Locke published all of his major works decades after that.

We see early on Christians were creating art, music, and being involved in culture, and were bringing forth great philosophic ideas, involved in science and math (Copernicus, Nicole Oresme) and bringing forth charitable works/deeds and trying, IMO, to make life better here on earth.

I don’t deny Christians have done great things in the arts and sciences. But they do their best work when they basically depart from Christian ideas and instead focus on things like empirical evidence, skepticism, and morality that exists seperatly from divine revelation. To go back in the opposite direction, away from Enlightenment values, that’s when you degrade quality of life and liberty.

BTW, just came back from seeing Shutter Island. Two thumbs up. Lots of dense philosophical themes.

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Supernova February 22, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Justfinethanks:
I don’t see how it is relevant that they are Christians.One can consistently, I think, believe that the Enlightenment was an almost universally good thing and be a Christian with consistency.I will concede that Bacon is more of a “proto Enlightenment” thinker, without whom the Enlightenment wouldn’t be possible but didn’t really live when it occoured, but I must disagree whole heartedly with both Newton and Locke.It’s possible to date the beginning of the Enlightenment with the publication of his Principa Mathmatica in 1687, and I don’t think anyone really disputes that Locke was one of the most critical Enlightenment era philosophers.

I think we can be both right on this one. LOL Depending on your view those guys could’ve been in the Age of Reason or Age of Rationalism school of philosophy, which was right before the Enlightenment era. Some will take that to be part of the Enlightenment. I don’t know the specific criteria for one or the other. It all depends on what dates one wishes to give both schools of thought. I’ve always seen where those guys mentioned can fall into the Age of Reason 17th century philosophy and seen those guys as influencers for the Enlightenment thinkers. However, like you mentioned, many will give Newton’s Principle Mathematica the beginning of the Enlightenment. By no means am I an expert on this.

Justfinethanks:
Understandable.I don’t dispute that the majority of signers of the declaration of Independence were in fact Christian in every sense of the word. However, some of themost essential players in the revolution were not, and even the Christian ones understood the importance of a secular government and the role of a social contract.

Hey, we agree again. I don’t want the government screwing around with the Church, and I’m sure you don’t want the Church screwing around with the government.

Justfinethanks:
Locke was an empiricist philosopher who happened to be Christian. From the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/

I like that excerpt you brought forth. I feel the same way. I think God is truth and when we search for truth we will come to God. I also hate authority. LOL I’m kinda existentialist in that way. Though, I value Scripture pretty highly, but don’t believe in inerrancy.

Justfinethanks:
This is the polar opposite of modern Christian philosophers who tell us that we can know God seperately from the evidence. Also, I really don’t understand why you don’t consider Locke an Enlightenment thinker in the truest sense. It’s possible to date the Enlightenment as starting in 1660, and Locke published all of his major works decades after that.

I know Locke believed in miracles and revelation. Also he believed what Paul the Apostle said and that is God has revealed himself through nature. He was actually very orthodox and wrote against Deism. He wrote the ‘On the Reasonableness of Christianity.’

I haven’t studied up on it, but I know some will fight to the death and say the Age of Reason shouldn’t be part of the Enlightenment while others will place the Age of Reason into the Enlightenment. Also, I’ve always read that Locke was a influencer of the Enlightenment. I would have to look more up into it to find out all the dates and the criteria people give in the difference of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment.

Justfinethanks:
I don’t deny Christians have done great things in the arts and sciences.But they do their best work when they basically depart from Christian ideas and instead focus on things like empirical evidence, skepticism, and morality that exists seperatly from divine revelation. To go back in the opposite direction, away from Enlightenment values, that’s when you degrade quality of life and liberty.BTW, just came back from seeing Shutter Island.Two thumbs up.Lots of dense philosophical themes.  

I understand what you’re saying. Though, I think there were great Christian minds expanding the field of mathematics and science before the Enlightenment. Johannes Kepler helped shape the way for the Enlightenment. “Kepler also incorporated religious arguments and reasoning into his work, motivated by the religious conviction that God had created the world according to an intelligible plan that is accessible through the natural light of reason.” I believe in the Judeo-Christian view that seeking truth and learning about nature is learning about God. Since on this view all truth belongs to God. I was reading this one thing a while back and this Jewish man was saying learning the world around us is a Mitzvah, and not doing so would basically be sinning.

I’ll have to check out Shutter island. Thanks for the back and forth. :)

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Haukur February 23, 2010 at 3:33 am

Do we get to keep the Renaissance or is that going to get rolled back too?

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Reginald Selkirk February 23, 2010 at 6:35 am

Supernova: The fact that we (Americans) enjoy our freedom and success is b/c of people like, for example, the Puritans (The Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth) who fled from the theocracy in England and came to America to escape religious persecution and to purify the Church.

They came to escape religious persecution, not eliminate it. Much more of the credit goes to those who opposed them, such as Roger Williams.

Supernova: As far as your mentioning of Thomas Jefferson. Even though Jefferson criticized Christianity for their belief in the divinity of Christ, he also said he was a Christian in a sense he held onto the doctrines of Jesus, and said the Bible is proof that he’s a real Christian, that is to say he is a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. However, he, unfortunately, succumbs to the Trilemma that C.S. brought forth. Jefferson thought Jesus was a great moral teacher even though he [Jesus] claimed to be one with the Father. So, clearly he wasn’t moral on Jefferson’s view b/c Jesus was a liar. Or if not that Jesus was just a lunatic, given Jefferson‘s view on the divinity of Jesus, or lack thereof.

YOur accont completely ignores the criticism directed at Lewis’ trilemma: that it is incomplete, that it is a false trichotomy. Why only lunatic, liar, or lord? Why not legend? It even starts with ‘L’! This would seem to fit Jefferson’s opinion of Jesus, since he in fact did not accept the supernatural bits.

Supernova: Another pet peeve of mine is when people will quote or mention guys like Jefferson and Franklin (not specifically in this case ), but will neglect to mention the other 54 men who signed the Deceleration of Independence who were annoyingly outspoken Christians.

Maybe that’s because they are countering the argument that all the Founding Fathers were fervent Christians, as claimed by a fairly large number of theists and misled by the dishonest likes of David Barton.

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Reginald Selkirk February 23, 2010 at 6:38 am

Scott: With relativity, even light wasn’t a constant anymore. It could bend around things, and as you approached it, time did weird things.

It’s not the light that bends, it’s space itself. And time does weird things because the velocity of light stays constant.

But if you really want to stretch your mind, consider this:
Energy is Not Conserved

by Sean Carroll (well-known cosmologist)

The point is pretty simple: back when you thought energy was conserved, there was a reason why you thought that, namely time-translation invariance. A fancy way of saying “the background on which particles and forces evolve, as well as the dynamical rules governing their motions, are fixed, not changing with time.” But in general relativity that’s simply no longer true. Einstein tells us that space and time are dynamical, and in particular that they can evolve with time. When the space through which particles move is changing, the total energy of those particles is not conserved…

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Sharkey February 23, 2010 at 6:43 am

Reginald Selkirk:

YOur accont completely ignores the criticism directed at Lewis’ trilemma: that it is incomplete, that it is a false trichotomy. Why only lunatic, liar, or lord? Why not legend? It even starts with ‘L’! This would seem to fit Jefferson’s opinion of Jesus, since he in fact did not accept the supernatural bits.

Essentially, Lewis’ trilemma is an ad hominem attack against Jesus: “Don’t believe Jesus was divine? Then he was a liar! And liars can’t ever say anything of value; everything attributed to him must now be considered incorrect! Or he was crazy, and crazy people can’t say anything of value!”

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Scott February 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Good Lord.

So then what the fuck is light?

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Supernova February 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Reginald Selkirk:
They came to escape religious persecution, not eliminate it. Much more of the credit goes to those who opposed them, such as Roger Williams.

England’s theocracy was too big to be eliminated, and the people wanted a safe haven where they could practice their faith. Early America was a place of refuge for people to practice their faith w/o being persecuted. As I’ve previously said, the founding fathers knew this fact quite well and wanted to establish a government where the State would not persecute people for their faith. In point the founding fathers did not want a theocracy.

Reginald Selkirk:
YOur accont completely ignores the criticism directed at Lewis’ trilemma: that it is incomplete, that it is a false trichotomy. Why only lunatic, liar, or lord? Why not legend? It even starts with ‘L’! This would seem to fit Jefferson’s opinion of Jesus, since he in fact did not accept the supernatural bits.

I’ve already addressed this as well. The Trilemma is very useful for those who accept some tenets of the Bible and believe certain things Jesus said. But yes, Jesus could’ve been a space alien or a myth making the argument unsound, and I know this fact quite well. However, as I previously said, I just don’t know how much Jefferson took out, so I don’t know how well the argument would work on him. I would have to read the Jefferson Bible. But the Trilemma is useful, for example, with Muslims, and Craig used it when he debated the Muslim Shabir Ally.

Reginald Selkirk:
Maybe that’s because they are countering the argument that all the Founding Fathers were fervent Christians, as claimed by a fairly large number of theists and misled by the dishonest likes of David Barton.  

So, do you or do you not think most of the founding fathers were fervent Christians? I would say yes with or without being misled by the fellow David Barton. It’s hard to counter an argument when the argument is the truth. I always joke and say most of the founders fathers were annoyingly Christian, and even the Deists were annoying about their love of God. LOL

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Sharkey February 23, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Scott:

So then what the fuck is light?

Asking that question is a good first step on a very interesting journey. You get to learn about Maxwell’s equations, the discovery of the quantization of light, relativity, the wave-particle duality, and much more. In my opinion, Feynman’s lectures on physics are your best guide, for now.

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MC February 23, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Supernova,

I really find much of your white-washed, Texas-approved, public-school-textbook interpretation of post-Renaissance intellectual history a bit unlettered and trite in its idealism. I suggest you leave such “history” for the likes of the Thomists, Dinesh D’Souza, et al.

In all ages people will call themselves ‘Christian’, but we know that the word is relevant only when considered, constrained, and contextualized by the speaker and their intellectual and religious milieu; though called by the same name, the Christianity of many intellectuals in the enlightenment era and the Christianity of contemporary evangelicals are very, very different. All of whom called themselves ‘Christians’, I suggest you compare two distinct groups of Christian intellectual traditions, viz. the Christian Rationalism of the Enlightenment (many of whom you speak of could be classified as such) and late-antique Neo-Platonism.

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Supernova February 24, 2010 at 1:14 am

MC: Supernova,I really find much of your white-washed, Texas-approved, public-school-textbook interpretation of post-Renaissance intellectual history a bit unlettered and trite in its idealism. I suggest you leave such “history” for the likes of the Thomists, Dinesh D’Souza, et al.
In all ages people will call themselves ‘Christian’, but we know that the word is relevant only when considered, constrained, and contextualized by the speaker and their intellectual and religious milieu; though called by the same name, the Christianity of many intellectuals in the enlightenment era and the Christianity of contemporary evangelicals are very, very different. All of whom called themselves ‘Christians’, I suggest you compare two distinct groups of Christian intellectual traditions, viz. the Christian Rationalism of the Enlightenment (many of whom you speak of could be classified as such) and late-antique Neo-Platonism.  

Thanks for the feedback. However, I think John Locke was very much a Christian, and he spoke out for his faith and defended Christianity. I would call that an evangelical. He wrote ‘The Reasonableness of Christianity.’ He said and wrote very extremely Christian Orthodox things. Like Jesus is God and is the only one to forgive sins. That God has revealed himself to all men, he believed in miracles and revelations, and etc.

“The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. It has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter. It is all pure.” -John Locke

That seems pretty Christian to me no matter what time frame or background he was in.

Sir Isaac Newton was extremely religous and a fervent believer in Christ. He literally thought God called him to help others understand Scripture. He did a lot of work on Biblical Scripture. He believed in prophecies and the second coming of Christ. I mean this sounds pretty Christian to me if not fundamentalist…

“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.” – Sir Isaac Newton

Also, I think we can agree that most of the founding fathers were just as Christian, and vice versa, as John Locke and Sir Isaac Newton.

For example, George Read who was called Father of Delaware and who wrote in 1776 the Delaware Constitution Article XXII…

“Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust… shalI… make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: “I _____ do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”

So, it doesn’t matter if these people I’ve been mentioning were pre or post Enlightenment and/or late-antique Neo-Platonist, but I think it’s safe for me to say those men were Christians in the truest since of the word. They held strongly to Scripture, and believed Christ died for our sins, and they defended this view.

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Reginald Selkirk February 24, 2010 at 7:14 am

Supernova: But the Trilemma is useful, for example, with Muslims, and Craig used it when he debated the Muslim Shabir Ally.

Well there you go. You are concerned with whether the trilemma is “useful” in winning a debate, I am concerned with whether it is a coherent rational statement. I.e. you appear to be a sophist.

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Supernova February 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Reginald Selkirk:
Well there you go. You are concerned with whether the trilemma is “useful” in winning a debate, I am concerned with whether it is a coherent rational statement. I.e. you appear to be a sophist.  

No, it had nothing to do with “winning” a debate, but it is simply useful in certain cases. I’ve stated before you even quoted one of my posts that the argument is unsound for people who don’t accept certain tenets of the Bible or some of the things Jesus said. With regards to the aforementioned it then becomes a coherent rational statement. I clearly said Jesus could’ve been a myth or something else making the argument unsound. So, there is no need to say I appear to be a sophist.

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Conversational Atheist February 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm

So to answer Luke’s question: No, the debate will not be in Socal — it will be in Oregon on Monday March 1, 2010.

More info here:

http://eventful.com/events/two-philosophers-debate-existence-god-/E0-001-028262996-5

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