This morning, while on Reddit, I posted a response to someone who touted the Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape as a way to think about ethics. What follows is a revision of the response I gave him with regards to how Harris addresses Hume's Is/Ought (fact/value) distinction and G.E. Moore's Open Question Argument. What follows is some good ol' fun. I would like to add that while I think there are brilliant moral realists who are Atheists with well thought out moral systems, Harris is not one of them. While I am a day late and a dollar short, I may as well add to the discussion.
My biggest problem with Sam Harris is that he fails to get around 2 arguments that every ethical Naturalist (that is, those who define moral properties as something existing in the properties of something synthetic and not abstract) needs to address. That is David Hume's Is/ought Problem and G.E. Moore's Open question argument. It can be stated as, " Every action can be weighed against whether it is promoting well being for others, and/or causing little to no harm to others". So in effect, Harris defines goodness as wellbeing. Which I take to be a fact of human standards of health. Now, while he does admit that other virtues come into place when thinking about wellbeing, the fact remains that these virtues are weighted insofar as they bring wellbeing. So, the fact remains that goodness is identical to wellbeing. Let us first begin with ...more
The following is an essay utilizing the Book of Job and Fydor Dostoyevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor” from The Brothers Karamazov to answer the Problem of Evil (both logical and evidential). It was done for my Theology class last semester. I decided to re-post it online as a blog post for those with a literary and/or philosophical interest.
In avoiding one evil, care must be taken not to fall into another
When thinking about the problem of evil – the problem being that there is a seemingly inconsistent state of affairs in which we as humans suffer because of natural and human evils, and the fact that there is a God who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent – one can forget that there are two aspects to the problem. One aspect is the rational aspect, and the other is the existential aspect. In searching for the answer to the problem in both its element, the works of Fydor Dostoyevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor” from The Brothers Karamazovpaired and The Book of Job, have been instrumental in coming to an analytically based answer.
These books concern the problem of evil in two narratives that involve the discussion of suffering in two different contexts. In the Book of Job we have our main protagonist Job, who is introduced as “a man in the land of Uz, whose name Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil”. Later, God is challenged by Satan,
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to ...more
How should atheists understand Christian LGBTQIA allies?
Good afternoon! I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to speak here today and I’d like thank the event organizers for putting all of this together. My name is Dan Linford and I’ll speaking to you today concerning the way in which atheists might understand Christians who are LGBTQIA allies. I’ll be focusing on what I see as mistakes in how some aggressive or anti-theistic atheists have approached LGBTQIA affirming Christians.
I started thinking about the topic of today’s talk in January of 2014. The organization American Atheists had posted a picture of a marriage equality protest with the hashtag #religionispoison. The hashtag invoked instant controversy because many LGBTQIA individuals and their allies are devout Christians. In defense of the hashtag, public relations director Danielle Muscato tweeted “if you’re a Christian and an LGBTQ supporter, you’re doing one of them wrong”. In response, Dean Roth wrote a guest post for Chris Stedman’s blog arguing that Muscato’s statements were “appropriative”, “disrespectful and offensive to the queer people claim to be supporting”, and unethical or inappropriate behavior for LGBTQIA allies, wrongfully seeing gay people as “pawns in game against religion”.
There are two questions central to this debate:
First, is it ethical for someone to describe religion as poison in the context of discussing LGBTQIA issues?
Second, is it factually correct to say that LGBTQIA allyship is inconsistent with Christianity?
I will leave the former question for others to resolve; I’m not part of the LGBTQIA community and ...more
I recently read a gif-heavy article on the wisdom of Nicki Minaj. I have no real feelings towards Minaj either way, but the title of the article interested me and I wanted to hear what in the world she had to say that was so wise. The article consisted of her making rather cliched uninspired statements about being yourself and doing your own thing. And then, stuffed in the middle of the article was Minaj telling girls to love their bodies. And I paused.
The media pushes body positivity as something that appeals to people and will not hesitate to show contradictory, demeaning advertisements on the next page of a "Love Your Body" article. But when it comes to loving your body and embracing your outer beauty, it seems that far too many of the spokespeople for this movement are conventionally attractive and their beauty is validated by the same media that is trying to deliver this message.
In some ways the ultimate message that is delivered is that you can love your body as long as your body fits certain parameters. With this qualification the entire message falls flat. If loving your body is conditional than it is not a message of loving your body. It's loving the right body.
When I first spoke out about this issue on Facebook I received comments that even the most beautiful women have insecurities and that no matter how attractive someone is, that doesn't always mean that they feel attractive. Which I will absolutely agree ...more
When people talk about a young woman's inner beauty, it's often that she's being praised for subservient feminine behaviors. As far as people want to claim that women have come, over and over and over again, the young women being rewarded for their so-called "beauty" are just acting out the same set of oppressive stereotypes that women have been dealing with all along. Meanwhile, young women are often chastised for behaviors deemed "unladylike" that would never have been questioned if the person expressing them had been male. Overall, when people are praised for their actions, it shouldn't only be for when they fall in line with a gender role.
There are some very clear behaviors that are "beautiful" and deserving of praise. These include, kindness, patience, caring, sacrifice, and silence. While these traits can be wonderful and something worth commenting on, when women are only complimented on these traits and admonished for displaying other traits that are well within the human experience, but not deemed feminine enough, society limits women by their definition of beautiful instead of empowering them with it.
Females fair better in school than boys as they are trained from an early age to be passive and follow directions, even if they are contrary to the individual's wants or needs. When it comes to quietly sitting in place and not disrupting a lesson, girls always come out ahead. But when a girl does something "unfeminine" such as speak her mind or, even worse, do it loudly, this behavior is ...more
The following are the 7 posts I just did recently on the Atonement
Part 1 – On the Atonement (Penal Substitutionary Atonement)
Part 2 – On the Atonement (The Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement)
Part 3 – On the Atonement (Christus Victor Theory of the Atonement)
Part 4 – On the Atonement (Governmental Theory of Atonement)
Part 5 – On the Atonement (Recapitulation Theory of the Atonement)
Part 6 – On the Atonement (A Response to Matt Slick and the Necessity of Penal Substitution from Scriptures)
Part 7 – On the Atonement (A Response to Philosophical Objections to the neo-Recapitulation Theory of ...more
While this version of the atonement is not well known, or argued against, it still does fall under a category of atonement theories. I would say that the neo-Recapitulation Theory can be given objections because it falls as a token of the Moral Influence theory. However, it has some added benefit in giving the atonement an objective of taking the life of Adam and reversing it for the purpose of instituting the new covenant and establishing to it the goal of providing the example of the perfect human for the example of the church. To quote Saint Irenaeus, "The glory of God is man fully alive". So what Jesus does is live the perfect life in order to demonstrate the glory of God so that we are inspired to act as he did. In doing so involved the mirroring of Adam and the way he lived.
Objection 1 - If Jesus died so that he might live the reverse life of Adam, it would contradict Revelations 3:8: All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. But if Adam lived a different life, would it not follow that Christ could have been slain another way. Further, if we say that God foreordained the event before the fall, then Jesus created his own death and we are back to square one of explaining why Jesus had to die.
The Molinist ...more
I will create two blog posts to deal with criticisms, this one deals with the Biblical Criticism and the following will deal with the philosophical criticisms. This blog will the work Matt Slick (the biggest Calvinist apologist on the web not named James White) from Carm.org. His full article is here. I will italicize his words and keep mine unitalicized.
In opposition to the above views, CARM's position is the one known as "vicarious atonement." The word "vicarious" means substitute. Therefore, Christ was a substitute for others in that he took their place and suffered their punishment. It was also a legal act whereby Christ fulfilled the law and lawfully paid the penalty of sin.
Is it biblical to say that Christ took our place and suffered our punishment? Yes it is. First of all, we see vicarious sacrifice in the Old Testament.
Genesis 22:13, "Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son."
Notice that the ram was offered in place of Isaac. This was a substitutionary sacrifice which is exactly what "vicarious" means.
While it is true such suffering was present in the Bible, it was not necessary for forgiveness. Rather, there were multiple ways where one could obtain forgiveness. In Hosea 14:2, it says,
Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity And receive ...more
After finding faults with other theories of the atonement (found here, here, here, and here), I think it is about time I give my own take and defence of the atonement. Out of all the atonement theories, the one that was most defensible and the best to use considering all the evidence we have to work with is that of the Recapitulation Theory of the Atonement. This version of the atonement focuses on the connection between Adam’s disobedience, the fall of humanity and its reversal in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This version of the atonement is one of, if not the earliest takes on the atonement and goes back to Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. This theory that I put forward incorporates the essentials from Irenaeus' atonement, but I also throw in some element's from Peter Abelard.
The Saint spoke of the atonement as follows,
"summing up in Himself all things which are in heaven, and which are on earth;" but the things in heaven are spiritual, while those on earth constitute the dispensation in human nature...These things, therefore, He recapitulated in Himself: by uniting man to the Spirit, and causing the Spirit to dwell in man, He is Himself made the head of the Spirit, and gives the Spirit to be the head of man: for through Him (the Spirit) we see, and hear, and speak. He has therefore, in His work of recapitulation, summed up all things, both waging war against our enemy, and crushing him who had ...more
The last post, before going to my own prefered theory is the Governmental theory of atonement. It is a staple (although not universal) view of the atonement . The 19th century theologian John Miley describes it as such,
The nature of the atonement is thus determined. The vicarious sufferings of Christ are a provisory substitute for penalty, and not the actual punishment of sin. He is not such a substitute in penalty as to preserve the same retributive administration of justice as in the actual punishment of sinners. The sufferings of Christ, endured for us as sinners, so fulfill the obligation of justice and the office of penalty in the interest of moral government as to render forgiveness, on proper conditions, entirely consistent therewith. Such is the nature of the atonement. .
So, while Christ takes on a penalty, it is not the same penalty as those who will suffer unforgiven. Rather, it is a penalty that Jesus will have to endure to get an equivalent result, as if he punished them. I like to think of this as as if penal substitution. It is as if you were punished, but really someone else was to satisfy the criteria of punishment. While Jesus cannot bare our penalty (because you cannot punished, an innocent man is), he can pay for our necessary restitution on pain of seeking forgiveness. The damned are penalized in the way they were headed for. In this regard, both damnation and the atonement are two different ways of satisfying God's justice. One is an outcome of seeking forgiveness, the ...more