Hold the Scotch and the Logical Fallacy of Atheism

“One more logical fallacy and we’re done.”

 

This past week I encountered atheists on Twitter.  I noticed one atheist’s snarky scorn of Christians and I responded.

As you’ll see, I engaged him and one other for just a few rounds (please forgive my typos and some bad grammar, I was busy making a living at the same time).  The atheists immediately stop tweeting after dismissing me out of hand:  “One more logical fallacy and we’re done.” Their arguments must have fallen off the edge of the earth, the black hole of unbelief having sucked them away.

The exchange reminded me of a post I put together when Christopher Hitchens’s passed. (This is a long but hopefully informative post.  So, grab some coffee and hold the scotch.)

 

 

 

In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

As you will see and hear in the video below, Christopher Hitchens’ (Hitch’s) arguments for atheism (exclusively an argument against theism), after many dead-end asides, were centered on his aversion to having anyone telling anyone what to do.  His followers readily know that over the years Hitch has repeatedly taken umbrage on paper or in one-upmanship debates against totalitarianism and against any authoritarian person or religion having a say in his life or in the lives of others. For the record, William Lane Craig (marker 13:59) noted that Hitch despised and hated religion.

 

Hitch was certainly OK, though, with authoritarian imposition upon others if he felt the cause justified removing other authoritarian figures from the lives of those he thought were oppressed.  He, to the horror of the liberal elitists, aligned himself philosophically with G.W. Bush regarding the Iraq war and the war on terror against radical Islamists.

 

The February 2012 issue of Vanity Fair includes Salman Rushdie’s “In Memoriam”, Christopher Hitchens: 1949-2011.” Rushdie wrote about Hitch’s return to the left:

 

“Paradoxically, it was God who saved Christopher Hitchens from the right. Nobody who detested God as viscerally, intelligently, originally, and comically as C. Hitchens could stay in the pocket of god-bothered American conservatism for long.  When he bared his fangs and went for God’s jugular, just as he had previously fanged Henry Kissinger, Mother Teresa, and Bill Clinton, the resulting book, God is not great, carried Hitch away from the American right and back toward his natural, liberal, ungodly constituency.”

 

As a way of life Hitch sought to stand juxtaposed to the universal rule of law (his own conscience) in an antinomian position while at the same time declaring moral diatribes against religious and political authorities he considered too overarching in their imposition. A true Epicurean in his ways, Hitch also liked to keep his conscience well inebriated and his roving moralist eye ever looking elsewhere – looking outside and not within – denial and pretense being typical liberal traits.

 

With atheistic cowardice and hubris, Hitch attacked Mother Teresa, a little old lady. He apparently wanted to feed his prurient desire to neutralize any authority figure (overt or implied) by trying to bring her down several notches in people’s eyes.  Why? He claimed she was pushing her authoritarian teachings onto the helpless. He accused her of hypocrisy in her dealings (an easy, self-serving claim for an atheist to make against any Christian). He may have felt threatened by her devotion to an unseen God and her ability to make things happen for others and doing so as a little old lady.

 

Why would a grown man verbally attack a helpless woman who indeed went about helping others who themselves were under the totalitarianism of poverty and squalor?  Maybe Hitch thought she wasn’t helpless. Maybe it was a direct attack against God. It certainly was an act of unmatched intelligential cowardice. To be sure Mother Teresa fought the unseen authorities of this world (the “powers of darkness”) by physically helping the outcast, the hungry and the hurting with an agape-powered love and not verbal hubris.

 

Hitch, on the other hand, fought the very public “seen” authorities of this world by aligning rhetorically with causes which he felt were important for him. He should have noted that he and Mother Teresa were fighting the same issue – human suffering at the hands of others (whether a dictator or a false religion) -from two different sides. Yet, he chose to denigrate Mother Teresa. I believe he did this because he felt threatened by her belief in the unseen God.

 

Hitch postures that Christians, especially Christian missionaries like Mother Teresa, are hypocrites who say things they know to be true and good but live disconnected lives apart from such truth – their deeds not matching match their words. This argument (?) against God was replayed in his use the La Rochefoucauld quote “hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.” Yet, this hypocrisy argument folds in on itself if one were to hold any moral standard at all. Perhaps Hitch, a polymath, saw moral laws as “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.” (The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe)

 

Clearly Hitch’s excessive lifestyle (his immoderate drinking, smoking, etc. have been noted elsewhere) made his salacious attacks against God all the more the more forthcoming and lubricious.  His lifestyle had also proved his belief in nihilism – life is nothing if not suffering. So he apparently used a “get it while you can” justification to medicate the blows between verbal jousting contests.

 

His liquid lifestyle also spoke to the fact of Hitch’s drive for “freedom” from any limitation imposed on his person including by his own person – his physiology. He chose against himself again and again.  He did this while throwing the world a bone now and then, choosing willy-nilly causes to deflect away any personal soul-searching which might lead to accountability to any higher authority. (see marker 25: 5, If god does not exist then objective moral standards don’t exist – a self-satisfying argument.)

 

Hitch detested dictatorships of all kinds and he did so while as a potentate of his own world. He would not bend the knee to anyone or to anything.  He would fight, as Salmon Rushdie recalled in the same Vanity Fair article remembering his friend, for anyone who was made to do so.  Hitch’s rebellion was against dictatorial authority of any kind and not just in the political and religious realm.  And he certainly rebelled against authority stated as codified truth – the Bible and the recorded history of the resurrection of Jesus.  His moral relativism, stated above, is characteristic of most atheists (and the “ungodly constituency”) since they affirm that no moral standard exists outside one’s self.

 

In the video Hitch asks the universal question posed to theism:  why would a God who was all powerful and good allow suffering?  My answer:  suffering comes out of created man’s free-will choices in a fallen world. God has allowed it for a time but not forever. Justice will be meted out and suffering will end.

 

He continues his disbelief: “Why would God spend eons of time in creating a world that he could set up in a blink of an eye?” He went on to say that Christians are now co-opting evolution theory in accordance with the Creation argument, evolution being a position long held by atheists.  He “christens” this “tactic” or “style” of argument as “retrospective evidentialism” or as a “second thought.” (marker 37:40)

 

As a Christian theist I see no conflict whatsoever with science and creation.  I believe in theistic evolution-a finely tuned theistic universe, a personal cause of the universe and a theistic objective morality. As scientific evidence becomes available it should be used and not discarded.  Beyond scientific proofs, my own belief in God is vindicated every day because I, a rational human being, know that God exists. I continue to pursue Him actively and I submit to His authority. Hitch, on the other hand, fled from any such authority outside of himself and employed his own existentialist belief system where he felt safe from intrusion.

 

Also in the video, Hitch uses the Creationist argument of a literal seven days to say that we as Christians are basically lunatics to believe such things. Again, I see no conflict with a Creationist’s position of a literal seven days and the theory of relativity which could make thousands of millennia appear as seven literal days. But as I mentioned above, I accept theistic evolution, so the point is mute in my case.

 

Hitch takes another jab at Christian theism by invoking his own god-like view point when questioning why God would do what Christian theists believe He did. He balks at the idea (and I’ll paraphrase): “…the eons of time that God has created-evolved – that all of this fine tuning, mass extinction and randomness is the will of a Creator God (marker 40:21) and that all of this happened so that one very imperfect race of evolved primates might become Christian – all of this was “with us in view” is a curious kind of solipsism, a curious kind of self-centeredness.”

 

Hitch jests that he thought Christians were modest and humble, not self-centered with certain arrogance to the assumption that this “was all about us.” And, “The tremendous wastefulness of it, the tremendous cruelty of it, the tremendous caprice of it, the tremendous tinkering and incompetence of it, never mind, at least we’re here and we can be people of faith.” This projection from one who, with his own free will, spoke from a self-centered and solipsistic core throughout his entire life!

 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Creator, was always meant to bypass the wise of this earth: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.”” (Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church).   A priori rebellion coded as cleverness is found in the Mitochondrial DNA of man.

 

Apart from Hitch’s free-wheeling self-directed solipsism, there is a bounty of sound arguments for theism and William Lane Craig (WLC) highlights them artfully: “No good argument that atheism is true, there are good arguments that theism is true – not via social questions or ethics (marker 16:00).

 

WLC philosophical arguments in quick notation:

 

Cosmological argument:  things exist, not nothing; the universe began to exist not infinite, not eternal – Big Bang Beginning, ex-nihilo, a cause by an UnCause beyond space and time; David Hillburg – The infinite; there must be a cause of creation. This Being must be uncaused, timeless, space unfathomable & personal and not abstract thought or object; The universe has begun to exist and is not infinite, not eternal (astrophysics concur); Past event are real, there must be Personal creator of the universe, transcendent intelligent mind

 

Teological argument: (marker 20:00) finely tuned universe – mathematically constants (e.g., gravity) not determined by the laws of nature & the arbitrary conditions (entropy, balance between matter and antimatter); any change in these would be the end of life itself (the atomic weak force being altered)

 

Chance?  Odds are incomprehensibly great, life prohibiting universes are more probable

 

It follows logically by Design – intelligent argument, intelligent designer

 

Moral argument (marker 25: 15):  if god does not exist then objective moral standards don’t exist; if God exists then valid and binding; the morality that has emerged proves that god exists – via moral experience; we understand that there are things that are really wrong.

 

 Historical fact (marker 27:40):  The resurrection of Jesus a historical fact not just a belief; tomb discovered empty eyewitnesses; individuals and groups saw Jesus, appearances to believers and unbelievers; the original disciples believed in the resurrection and Jewish religion believed otherwise about when resurrection occurs; Christian die for the truth of the resurrection (marker 30:26)

 

Experiential knowledge:  The experience of God or claim to know that God exists – properly basic beliefs part of a system of beliefs including the belief of an external world; context of physical objects; grounded in our experience of God; God immediate reality

 

Hitch responds (marker 33:16): “arguments the same across religions – belief in God but differences; presuppositionalists (by faith) and the evidentialists a distinction without a difference.”

 

As you will note Hitch’s arguments are all basically dismissive of Christian supporting arguments for belief and are not evidentiary in favor of atheism; note his “rather sweet” dismissal of those who believe – that those of faith should have evidence.  (Hitch once again conveniently dismisses the facts of the resurrection and the improbability of causation by chance.)

 

Hitch: “We argue that is no plausible or convincing reason, certainly no evidential one to believe that there is such an entity…all observable phenomena is explicable (marker 42:00); I don’t believe that following the appropriate rituals…

 

“Even if this deity did exist it doesn’t prove that he cared about us…cared who we had sex with …care whether we lived or died… (marker 42:32)

 

“Miracles suspend the natural order – Christians want it both ways (“promiscuous”) (marker 44:00); The natural order – “It is miraculous without a doubt”

 

“I have to say that I appear as a skeptic, I doubt these things.” (marker 46:16)

 

“The theist says it must be true…” Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”;

 

“Too early in the study of biology…to make these claims.”

 

Hitch, the verbal grappler, was as a sound and fury professional wrestler who was agile at avoiding a real match-up with Truth. But now, the fight has ended, the match is over. All that’s left in the empty corner is Hitch’s book “God is Not Great” and an empty bottle of Scotch.

“Imagine” Juxtaposed

Previous posts attempted to expose the Epicurean influence on modernity: the exclusion of God from the garden of good and evil and replaced with Darwinian materialism under the influence of man-made reasoning: “cogito ergo sum”.

The posts also revealed the inclusion of ‘reasoned’ or ‘rational’ people into the high-horse club of scientism. This exclusive club is governed by those who have the power, perhaps the raison d’état, to control the inputs and outputs of desired ‘truth’. “What is truth?” Pilate asked (when he thought he had the force of the whole Roman empire to define it.)

As I wryly mentioned in my previous posts the above either/or, God/science dichotomy came, at first, philosophically, from what I call Epicurus’ “High-Horse” Mal-ware. This mal-ware has since been downloaded over the centuries into each century’s modern man’s psyche. The devastating effect of the Mal-ware was to disable the AND gate of your truth tables. It was not to be used in queries.

Now, like the historically recorded scene of two thieves each hanging on cross with Jesus hanging between them, I offer a similar juxtaposition of two end results, two disparate “Imagines”.

One “Imagine” is Epicurean, God dismissed, materialistic, nihilistic and personified in the likes of former atheist Christopher Hitchens, materialist Barack Obama and fatalist Beatle John Lennon:

 The other “Imagine” is God-inclusive. Here, God is the nucleus, the epicenter of being and meaning. Here, God and science coexist as Lion and lamb, creation being the sublime work of His hands, His signature found in the molded clay.

God’s Kingdom, now begun on earth, has become a dwelling place for all who see His light and follow it. True reality is made known to His followers by the Holy Spirit. The earthly spectrum of sodium street lights, of tungsten lights, of neon lights, of mercury lights, of halogen lights, of xenon lights, lights all of which enable us to see our way on earth are sourced from the Prism of Eternal Light.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C.S. Lewis

At His appearance we will then know Him as He knows us. That Eternal Light you see is Love, not short-lived Epicurean fireworks and party favors. 

 

Footnote: The above song by MercyMe was played during my son’s funeral service, about fourteen years ago. Justin was eighteen when the Lord took him home in a freak car accident. The police reported that it was a clear, sunny and dry day in Texas as Justin drove down a frontage road and lost control of the car. No other cars were involved. No drugs or alcohol were involved according to the Police report.

 Justin had recently graduated from high school. The afternoon of his death he was driving back from his girlfriend’s house. We don’t know why this happened. We just know that we will see him again and this is not final. The Joy that only God’s True Love can give replaced the deepest loss I have ever experienced.  Physics caused the physical death. But, Justin lives on.

 Sure there is pain, loss and evil in the world. But God is greater than any of these, if you let Him be God in your life.

One Nation Under Epicurus?

Previous posts have exposed the false either/or thinking of Epicurean philosophy and its now universally subverting High-Horse Mal-ware, a mal-ware that bifurcates mankind’s worldview.

At ‘ground level’ there is science, scientism, facts and secularism. In the attic are God, religion, values and meaning. Richard Dawkins and other angry atheists such as the former Christopher Hitchens, both keenly Epicurean, would opine “There’s probably is no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy life. Here is your ground game:  avoid pain, seek pleasure and BTW there is evil in the world therefore God must be AWOL.”

The "Great Divorce" bus? vide C.S. Lewis

The “Great Divorce” bus? vide C.S. Lewis

The Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware landed on the shores of the New World ready to create a new saeculum- a new age. Thomas Jefferson declared himself to be Epicurean. Look at your dollar bill: ANNUIT CŒPTIS NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM=“Initiate the new world order”. The new world order of America was to become the Enlightenment’s gift to the world-Governor John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” (1630).

Mankind in this New-Age-New-World, already exposed to “High-Horse” mal-ware, was thought by many to be made of random atoms which materially evolved without any help from above. Ergo, mankind would just as ‘freely’ determine its fate via scientism using a co-opted and modified European/Westphalian system of order (17th century) while keeping God at attic’s length. The pilgrims did inject a belief in an Epicurus defined fear-mongering God but their distant “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Deist God would later only be mentioned at funerals and never mentioned on resumes. (I realize that I am summing up at lot in a short post.)

Now that you have heard about the Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware you will begin to see its effects in every day life. For instance…

Recently Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential 2016 POTUS candidate, was asked if he believed in evolution.

 “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential U.S. presidential candidate, on Wednesday declined to say whether he believed that humans evolved from other life forms, a theory widely supported by scientists but rejected by many American voters.

 “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other,” Walker said during a question-and-answer session at Chatham House, a London think tank…

 …When asked by the moderator whether he accepted the theory of evolution, Walker also declined to answer.

 “I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate,” he said. “I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin.”

 Scientists widely agree that humans have evolved from other life forms over the course of millions of years, as English naturalist Charles Darwin first proposed in 1859.

 But the theory of evolution is rejected by many evangelical Christians, who view it as conflicting with the Bible’s story that the universe was created in seven days.

 More than four in 10 Americans reject evolutionary theory and believe that God created humans in their present form, according to a Gallup opinion poll conducted last June. Creationism runs strongest among older, more religious and less educated voters, the survey found”

Wow! “less educated voters”!! Talk about pompous “High-Horse” Mal-ware social manipulating scripting!

The intent of this line of questioning reported here and by other high-horse trolls was to expose Walker as intellectually weak: “Are you a “down-to-earth rational being who believes in science and evolution or are you another one of those silly Christians who believes in Creationism created by an AWOL god?”

The interviewer was hoping Walker would click on the “High-Horse” mal-ware message, make a fool of himself with a reply and then get spammed by the media. The question (Obviously I can’t read the interviewer’s mind but the question itself in this context was meant, I believe, to divide ‘rational’ believers in Darwinian evolution and materialism from the silly ‘superficial’ believers in a Creationist God.) The intent also, as I see it, was meant to contrast those who consider themselves really really smart, proud of their belief in scientism, Epicurean in their default cynicism against those who (in the interviewer’s mind) hold ‘silly’ religious “God is not dead” views. And, this question was posed to divide Walker’s base constituency of Christians. There are those who still hold to a young earth literalist Creation and there are those who have moved on with science and accept theistic evolution. These latter Christians accept that the first two chapters of Genesis are poetic in nature and are not to be interpreted as literal. These latter Christians also accept that these two chapters most definitely give us God’s perspective on mankind’s origin and purpose–Humanities 101.

Here’s another similar post ‘taken over’ by “High-Horse” mal-ware:

 

“Scott Walker Humiliates Himself On The World Stage By Dodging A Question About Evolution”

Walker was asked if he was comfortable with, and believed in evolution. It was a simple question that made the Wisconsin governor look like a fool, “For me, I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s question a politician shouldn’t be involved in.”

Moderator Justin Webb of BBC Radio4 took Walker to task, “That is a question any British politician right or left wing would laugh and say, “Of course, evolution’s true.”

Gov. Walker replied by digging himself in deeper, “To me, I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate about other issues. I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin. It’s going really well, and I’d like to see it even bigger.”

The implication being here, if I may, that “you are way too stupid to govern you silly little man, Scott Walker, if you don’t agree that science is the court of last resort and far superior to any irrational belief in a god.” “High-Horse” mal-ware defaces truth once again.

The interviewer’s question not only echoes Epicurus but also a Garden of Eden questioner. Remember the Genesis account of a ‘serpent’ speaking to Eve in the Garden? “Did God really say that you could not eat the fruit of that tree?” This could be taken as, “Does God really get involved or care or even know about your daily life? He shows up now and then. And what about that rule “don’t eat the fruit of that tree”? Would a ‘good’ God deprive you of the pleasure of ‘that’ fruit?

Epicurus would later answer (supposedly), “No, don’t deprive yourself. In my opinion even if there was a god he wouldn’t mind if you took your pleasure in the fruit of that tree. And is there a god? Men do evil and no good god would allow it. Let go of your fears. Go on Eve “Let It Go”, eat it. Any more questions?”

Now, if I were Scott Walker in that situation, my response would be, “Yes, I accept theistic evolution-a finely tuned theistic universe, a personal cause of the universe and a theistic objective morality. Science is only one of several tools for understanding the material world we live in and it won’t supply meaning. Science does not prove or disprove whether there is a god but it most assuredly hints at there being an Omnipotent Outsider. And.…(deep breath) I also accept the historical facts of the birth of God Incarnate–Jesus Christ, His “Sermon on the Mount” life among us for thirty years, Christ’s death on a cross, and his bodily resurrection. I accept the historicity of each of these facts. And, (another deep breath) I accept that all of this was done so that God could set up his Kingdom here on earth among men in order that He could make the earth righteous as he is righteous by redeeming and reconciling His eagerly awaiting creation to Himself. There will be no more bifurcation of heaven and earth. Any more questions?”

 

As I write this the U.S. is one nation under Epicurus, but not for long. The kingdoms and rulers of this world will soon be under submission to the One True God-The Lord Jesus Christ.  This King of Kings and Lord of Lords shall reign for ever and ever.

“Worthy is the Lamb…”

 

Adoration of the lamb Jan van Eyck (circa 1390-1441) Ghent altarpiece

Adoration of the lamb
Jan van Eyck (circa 1390-1441)
Ghent altarpiece

For further theistic evolution information see the Biologos website.

Three Atheists I Listen To

Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ and an heir of the King and a fellow servant in the Kingdom of God began when I first believed that God existed. What followed was the understanding that God not only existed but that He is an Infinite-Personal God who, though having created the vast universe ex nihilo using the Big Bang and evolution, loves me.

 Beyond my own personal encounters with God through my reason and through the testimony of others, there are the historical facts supporting the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is also astounding supporting evidence in nature. God exists.

But there are some who say otherwise: “Atheism exists, this I know, for my reason tells me so.” These would be the angry atheists Richard Dawkins, the former Christopher Hitchens (Hitch) and others.

 I have at one time or another heard these atheists give their arguments of disbelief and I have found their words wanting for any real substance. They often come across as superior and snobbish.  And, their arguments are certainly unfettered by the factual account of the resurrection or of the fine tuning of the universe that makes life and thought and argument possible at all. Their anger exists.

 There are three atheists I pay attention to.  I tune in to them because what they often say through words or music reveals the truth about God in a way they may not even realize. The three atheists are Thomas Sowell, Dr. Theodore Dalrymple and Frederick Delius

Thomas SowellFirst, Thomas Sowell.  Start at his web page Thomas Sowell. And, here is a short bio from the Townhall.com web page: http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/

“…writing for the general public enables him to address the heart of issues without the smoke and mirrors that so often accompany academic writing.”

  Sowell is an economist, a common sense economist.  You will get that sense as you read his books and articles.  Of late, I have read The Thomas Sowell Reader (start with this book for short articles addressing current issues both economic and social) and A Conflict of Visions.

  The Thomas Sowell Reader, a compilation of articles and essays written by Thomas Sowell, economist:

 “From an early age, I have been convinced with trying to understand the social problems that abound in any society.  First and foremost, this was an attempt to try to grasp some explanation of the puzzling and disturbing things going on around me.  This was all for my own personal clarification, since I neither had political ambitions nor the political talents required for either elective or appointed office.  But, one having achieved some sense of understanding of particular issues ~ a process that sometimes took years – I wanted to share that understanding with others.  That is the reason for the things that appear in this book.”

 A Conflict of Visions, also written by Thomas Sowell:

 “What are the underlying assumptions behind the very different ideological visions of the world being contested in modern times?  The purpose here will not be to determine which of these visions is more valid but rather to reveal the inherent logic behind each of these sets of views and the ramifications of the assumptions which lead not only to different conclusions on particular issues but also to wholly different meanings to such fundamental words as “justice,” “equality,” and “power.”

 A sample article by Thomas Sowell:  The Fallacy of Redistribution

 519px-TheodoredalrympleRegarding Dr. Theodore Dalrymple and some of his recurring themes from books and articles note the following from his Wikipedia entry.  I confirm these themes having read his book Life at the bottom. The Worldview that makes the Underclass:

 -The cause of much contemporary misery in Western countries ~ criminality, domestic violence, drug addiction, aggressive youths, hooliganism, broken families ~ is the nihilistic, decadent, and/or self-destructive behavior of people who do not know how to live. Both the smoothing over of this behavior, and the lexicalization of the problems that emerge as a corollary of this behavior, are forms of indifference. Someone has to tell those people, patiently and with understanding for the particulars of the case, that they have to live differently. (Life at the bottom. The Worldview that makes the Underclass)

-Moral relativism can easily be a trick of an egotistical mind to silence the voice of conscience. (‘The Uses of Metaphysical Skepticism’, in: In Praise of Prejudice. The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas, p. 6 (chapter 2).

-Multiculturalism and cultural relativism are at odds with common sense. (“Multiculturalism Starts Losing Its Luster”. City Journal. Retrieved 12 July 2009)

-The decline of civilized behavior ~ self-restraint, modesty, zeal, humility, irony, detachment – ruins social and personal life. (Not with a Bang but a Whimper)

-The root cause of our contemporary cultural poverty is intellectual dishonesty. First, the intellectuals (more specifically, left-wing ones) have destroyed the foundation of culture, and second, they refuse to acknowledge it by resorting to the caves of political correctness.

deliusLastly, Frederick Delius.  I don’t recall when I first heard his compositions. It may have been in my thirties at a Chicago Symphony concert.  The first piece I remember is the symphonic poem The Song Of Summer.  I was overwhelmed by its simple beauty.

 From The Delius Collection, Vol. 2 CD liner notes:

 “Many have written of Delius’ ‘moods’ or ‘feelings’, views which reflect only the ‘impression’ his music has made on the writers (read music critics).

Such Romantic or rather Impressionistic ~ notions of his art are only concerned with its surface appeal, as if that is all that is valuable in it, and ignore wholly his unique technical and structural mastery.  In such ways, Delius is more of an anti-Romantic, for the sentimentality or self-projection of Romanticism are alien to his music.  Delius hymned Nature, not himself as did Sebelius; such sentimentality as may condemn his art stems from a performing style wherein expressive beauty is stressed at the cost of his music’s intellectual power.” Robert Matthew-Walker

 For starters I would recommend listening to Irmelin Prelude, Song of Summer, A Late Lark, the orchestral interlude A Walk to Paradise Garden from his opera A Village Romeo and Juliet and On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring.

 An avowed atheist, Delius embraced nature for his inspiration.  He also embraced Nietzsche’s philosophy which produced Delius’ loud and unattractive A Mass of Life.

 “A Mass of Life is an attack upon Christian doctrine and the Christian way of life as Nietzsche and Delius saw it. They both wanted to correct what they called the “slave morality” of Christianity.  Their great emphasis was upon the will, not bowing to anyone, and living and dying fearlessly though death be total extinction.

Death, when it came to Delius, was terrible, and within a few months his steadfast wife was dead too.

In speaking about Delius, Eric Fenby (Delius’ composition scribe after Delius became blind) observes, “Given those great natural musical gifts and that nature of his, so full of feeling, and which at its finest inclined to that exalted end of man which is contemplation, there is no knowing to what sublime heights he would have risen had he chosen to look upwards to God instead of downward to man!”  From the Gift of Music by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson, Crossway Books

 What the first two atheists have in common is their ability to speak truth, wisdom and common sense ~ God’s law within each of us – simply. As Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate of physics said, “You can recognize truth by its beauty and simplicity.”

 Both men, from their lifetime of experiences, have seen reality and tell us that there are values that a man must embrace to be civilized, to be ‘right side up’, so to speak.  They tell us that Man must draw the line somewhere. 

Now, I believe that it is the God of Creation who has created the line ~ the natural law written on our hearts ~ and He has exposed our crossing it. But, He did not leave us on our own, to remake ourselves as Nietzsche’s ideal human, the Übermensch, who would be able to channel passions creatively (but to what end?). He gave us the only way possible, through His Son, to regain our humanity.

 Frederick Delius revealed truth through his music’s contemplative moments of rhapsodic beauty as inspired by God’s creation.

 All three have seen things (even the eventually blind Delius) that others often willfully ignore. They are honest with themselves about what they see and they repeat it back.  And, there is knowledge of reality in their words and works that can only find its genesis in God’s created order and His law written on our hearts.

 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

What’s the Unitarian?

It is little wonder that the well-known ‘angry’ atheist Richard Dawkins wrote the anti-thesim book The God Delusion.  It is easily understandable especially after one reads the interview (excerpted and linked below) between a Unitarian Minister Marilyn Sewell and another anti-theist atheist the former Christopher Hitchens (Hitch).

 As evident from the interview, Marilyn Sewell, a minister, is utterly delusional in her understanding of God and Christianity.  And it is blatantly obvious that Hitch has a better understanding of Christianity than this Unitarian minister.

 Apparently from her bio Sewell has studied theology but I contend it is not Biblical theology.  Her questions and remarks as interviewer reveal her embrace of syncretism – a diversity of false beliefs and humanism blended with the truth of Christianity. Unitarian could be another term for syncretism.

 From her eponymous blog we are told that liberal believer and retired minister of the First Unitarian Church of Portland Marilyn Sewell is a former teacher and psychotherapist.  She has authored numerous books. Over a period of 17 years Sewell helped grow Portland’s downtown Unitarian congregation into one of the largest in the United States. At this point I must say that the fact that this woman and the Unitarian Church are misleading many is of serious concern to me. I must contend for the truth of Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 It troubles my spirit greatly when people like this liberal Unitarian minister use the name of Jesus Christ to preach “another gospel” and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her message is a mish-mash of new age religion, liberal theology, social justice and cheap grace.  The ultimate message becomes half lie half truth:  “It’s not what you believe but how you live.” Ergo an embrace of diverse beliefs and social justice activism are at the forefront of Unitarian creeds.  As you’ll read, for Sewell just like the Episcopalian minister ghost in C.S. Lewis’, “The Great Divorce” all is metaphor, and therefore, cannot be taken seriously

 The deity of Christ, His death on the cross, His atonement for sins, judgement, heaven and hell, all are dismissed as being metaphorical, as not relevant to present human need and too exclusive a message to preach and teach.   Clearly this is syncretistic thinking and delusional with regard to the truth.  And because of its soft, socially acceptable version of theology the tentacles of Unitarian tenets are quickly creeping into evangelical churches across the nation.

 As a follower of Christ I am posting this information expressly to note the deception hidden in Sewell’s misguided words.  I have no problem talking about this interview in no uncertain terms. From the public record it can be noted that Sewell is a social activist and polemicist as was Hitch. They are/were each able to dish out pious platitudes at will and certainly, as their backgrounds would support, are/were able to hold their own in conversations regarding issues of faith and God.  So here goes.

 The interview took place prior to Christopher Hitchen’s January 5th, 2010 appearance as part of the Literary Arts’ Portland art and lecture series at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.  Hitch was political columnist for Vanity Fair, Slate, and other magazines, and known for his frequent contributions on the political TV circuit.  Hitchens’ pointed attacks against all religion has earned him regular debates across the country, often with the very fundamentalist believers his book, “God is Not Great”, attacks. Sewell, the interviewer, though, knows nothing about the fundamentals of Christianity. It would seem that Hitch is in a joust with Jello.

 Here are excerpts from that interview,  linked here

 Marilyn Sewell: In the book you write that, at age nine, you experienced the ignorance of your scripture teacher Mrs. Watts and, then later at 12, your headmaster tried to justify religion as a comfort when facing death. It seems you were an intuitive atheist. But did you ever try religion again?

Christopher Hitchens: I belong to what is a significant minority of human beings: Those who are-as Pascal puts it in his Pensées, his great apology for Christianity-“so made that they cannot believe.” As many as 10 percent of is just never can bring themselves to take religion seriously. And since people often defend religion as natural to humans (which I wouldn’t say it wasn’t, by the way), the corollary holds too: there must be respect for those who simply can’t bring themselves to find meaning in phrases like “the Holy Spirit.”

Well, could it be that some people are “so made” for faith. and you are so made for the intellectual life?

I don’t have whatever it takes to say things like “the grace of God.” All that’s white noise to me, not because I’m an intellectual. For many people, it’s gibberish. Likewise, the idea that the Koran was dictated by an archaic illiterate is a fantasy. As so far the most highly evolved of the primates, we do seem in the majority to have a tendency to worship, and to look for patterns that lead to supernatural conclusions. Whereas, I think that there is no supernatural dimension whatever. The natural world is quite wonderful enough. The more we know about it, the much more wonderful it is than any supernatural proposition.

The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

Let me go someplace else. When I was in seminary I was particularly drawn to the work of theologian Paul Tillich. He shocked people by describing the traditional God-as you might as a matter of fact-as, “an invincible tyrant.” For Tillich, God is “the ground of being.” It’s his response to, say, Freud’s belief that religion is mere wish-fulfillment and comes from the humans’ fear of death. What do you think of Tillich’s concept of God?”

I would classify that under the heading of “statements that have no meaning-at all.” Christianity, remember, is really founded by St. Paul, not by Jesus. Paul says, very clearly, that if it is not true that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then we the Christians are of all people the most unhappy. If none of that’s true, and you seem to say it isn’t, I have no quarrel with you. You’re not going to come to my door trying convince me either. Nor are you trying to get a tax break from the government. Nor are you trying to have it taught to my children in school. If all Christians were like you I wouldn’t have to write the book.

Well, probably not, because I agree with almost everything that you say. But I still consider myself a Christian and a person of faith.

Do you mind if I ask you a question? Faith in what? Faith in the resurrection?

The way I believe in the resurrection is I believe that one can go from a death in this life, in the sense of being dead to the world and dead to other people, and can be resurrected to new life. When I preach about Easter and the resurrection, it’s in a metaphorical sense.

I hate to say it-we’ve hardly been introduced-but maybe you are simply living on the inheritance of a monstrous fraud that was preached to millions of people as the literal truth-as you put it, “the ground of being.”

Times change and, you know, people’s beliefs change. I don’t believe that you have to be fundamentalist and literalist to be a Christian. You do: You’re something of a fundamentalist, actually.

Well, I’m sorry, fundamentalist simply means those who think that the Bible is a serious book and should be taken seriously.

If you would like for me to talk a little bit about what I believe . . .

Well I would actually.

I don’t know whether or not God exists in the first place, let me just say that. I certainly don’t think that God is an old man in the sky, I don’t believe that God intervenes to give me goodies if I ask for them.

You don’t believe he’s an interventionist of any kind?

I’m kind of an agnostic on that one. God is a mystery to me. I choose to believe because-and this is a very practical thing for me-I seem to live with more integrity when I find myself accountable to something larger than myself. That thing larger than myself, I call God, but it’s a metaphor. That God is an emptiness out of which everything comes. Perhaps I would say ” reality” or “what is” because we’re trying to describe the infinite with language of the finite. My faith is that I put all that I am and all that I have on the line for that which I do not know.

Fine. But I think that’s a slight waste of what could honestly be in your case a very valuable time. I don’t want you to go away with the impression that I’m just a vulgar materialist. I do know that humans are also so made even though we are an evolved species whose closest cousins are chimpanzees. I know it’s not enough for us to eat and so forth. We know how to think. We know how to laugh. We know we’re going to die, which gives us a lot to think about, and we have a need for, what I would call, “the transcendent” or “the numinous” or even “the ecstatic” that comes out in love and music, poetry, and landscape. I wouldn’t trust anyone who didn’t respond to things of that sort. But I think the cultural task is to separate those impulses and those needs and desires from the supernatural and, above all, from the superstitious.

Could you talk about these two words that you just used, “transcendent” and “numinous”? Those are two words are favorites of mine.

Well, this would probably be very embarrassing, if you knew me. I can’t compose or play music; I’m not that fortunate. But I can write and I can talk and sometimes when I’m doing either of these things I realize that I’ve written a sentence or uttered a thought that I didn’t absolutely know I had in me… until I saw it on the page or heard myself say it. It was a sense that it wasn’t all done by hand.

A gift?

But, to me, that’s the nearest I’m going to get to being an artist, which is the occupation I’d most like to have and the one, at last, I’m the most denied. But I, think everybody has had the experience at some point when they feel that there’s more to life than just matter. But I think it’s very important to keep that under control and not to hand it over to be exploited by priests and shamans and rabbis and other riffraff.

You know, I think that that might be a religious impulse that you’re talking about there.

Well, it’s absolutely not. It’s a human one. It’s part of the melancholy that we have in which we know that happiness is fleeting, and we know that life is brief, but we know that, nonetheless, life can be savored and that happiness, even of the ecstatic kind, is available to us. But we know that our life is essentially tragic as well. I’m absolutely not for handing over that very important department of our psyche to those who say, “Well, ah. Why didn’t you say so before? God has a plan for you in mind.” I have no time to waste on this planet being told what to do by those who think that God has given them instructions.

You write, “Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and the soul.” You use the word “soul” there as metaphor. What is a soul for you?

It’s what you might call “the x-factor”-I don’t have a satisfactory term for it-it’s what I mean by the element of us that isn’t entirely materialistic: the numinous, the transcendent, the innocence of children (even though we know from Freud that childhood isn’t as innocent as all that), the existence of love (which is, likewise, unquantifiable but that anyone would be a fool who said it wasn’t a powerful force), and so forth. I don’t think the soul is immortal, or at least not immortal in individuals, but it may be immortal as an aspect of the human personality because when I talk about what literature nourishes, it would be silly of me or reductionist to say that it nourishes the brain.

I wouldn’t argue with you about the immortality of the soul. Were I back in a church again, I would love to have you in my church because you’re so eloquent and I believe that some of your impulses-and, excuse me for saying so-are religious in the way I am religious. You may call it something else, but we agree in a lot of our thinking.

I’m touched that you say, as some people have also said to me, that I’ve missed my vocation. But I actually don’t think that I have. I would not be able to be this way if I was wearing robes or claiming authority that was other than human. that’s a distinction that matters to me very much.

You have your role and it’s a valuable one, so thank you for what you give to us.

Well, thank you for asking. It’s very good of you to be my hostess.

[end of interview]

 Note above that after Sewell’s reference to theologian Paul Tillich’s take on God as “an invincible tyrant” and after mentioning Freud’s dismissive take on faith (also well-known to Hitch), she wants to hear from Hitch about Tillich’s concept of God.  Listen closely to Hitch’s response:

I would classify that under the heading of “statements that have no meaning-at all.” Christianity, remember, is really founded by St. Paul, not by Jesus. Paul says, very clearly, that if it is not true that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then we the Christians are of all people the most unhappy. If none of that’s true, and you seem to say it isn’t, I have no quarrel with you. You’re not going to come to my door trying convince me either. Nor are you trying to get a tax break from the government. Nor are you trying to have it taught to my children in school. If all Christians were like you I wouldn’t have to write the book.

 Wow!  The money line: “If all Christians were like you I wouldn’t have to write the book.”

 Even Hitch knows that this woman is way off the mark in her ‘theology’.  In this case Hitch doesn’t drop famous names from history like Sewell.  Hitch cuts to the quick with the truth of the Gospel as he knows it.  He quotes from Scripture:  “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (I Cor. 15:19). 

 Hitch has known Christianity from standing outside looking in while.  He does not like Christianity’s authority and the abuse of that authority (as I do not).

 Sewell, on the other hand, knows the hodge-podge Unitarian philosophy from inside out.  She knows all of its labyrinthine pathways leading to the utopian fields of humanism, new age philosophy and God is love-ism. The irony:  Unitarian ‘theology’ clearly advocates the contention of atheists that religion is about wish-fulfillment and fear of the unknown.

Here is Marilyn’s take on the conversation from her blog:

“The man is brilliant, but not wise; clever, but not deep; and a fundamentalist, in regard to religion, rejecting any form of liberal Christianity as bogus religion, not to be respected

Hitchens clearly has never studied theology, (This is rich.  See my comments above) and most of the comments he made concerning the Bible, Jesus, salvation, etc., were shockingly naïve (Hitch’s knowledge of Christianity trumped yours, Marilyn).  Where he has something to offer, of course, is his critique of religion and society, and all of the horrors and nonsense done in the name of religion, which I have no argument with.  It’s not exactly news that the Inquisition was a bad thing.  And that Catholic priests shouldn’t abuse altar boys.  And (his particular nemesis) jihadists shouldn’t blow up innocent civilians. 

Hitchens is the ultimate intellectual “bad boy.”  He performs.  He “debates.”  He entertains. All of which he does very well.   But this should not be confused with thoughtful discourse. “(I agree with this last paragraph of Marilyn’s)

 I would certainly argue from the details of the interview that Hitch knows Christianity well enough to be convicted by its message – but he rejects it outright.  Sewell, on the other hand, doesn’t know the truths of Christianity and appears to only embrace the parts of the Gospel that fit with the Unitarian belief in humanism – a theology of a coddling, benevolent and indulgent God who accepts you no matter what.

 Gospel truth convicts people of their sin and their separation from God whereas the tepid mollycoddling theology of Unitarianism destroys lives with its abandonment of truth and its good intentions. And as we all have heard, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Or, hell is full of good wishes and desires.  In the end Truth matters.

Are you seeking the truth?

 To find the truth about the Gospel of Jesus Christ read the four gospel accounts that record the life and death of Jesus Christ:  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  These historical eye-witness accounts are not metaphors as liberal theologians (Sewell, Elaine Pagels and others) would have us accept.

 Follow the Truth wherever it leads you and it will eventually lead you to Jesus Christ.  He is The Way, The Truth and the Life. I have been on the road of truth with Jesus for many years now.  I know Him and he knows me. 

 Truth and Love go hand-in-hand or not at all.

Wrestling with God?

Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011. God rest his free will.

*****

Out of fear of creating a post too long and drawn out (as it turned out to be) and one that no one may read I will try and summarize as best I can my take on the video posted below. Please view the video first. (You will need several cups of coffee.  Hold the scotch.)

*****

As you will see and hear in the video, Christopher Hitchens’ (Hitch) arguments for atheism (or against theism), after many dead-end asides, were centered on his aversion to having anyone telling anyone what to do.  His followers readily know that over the years Hitch has repeatedly taken umbrage on paper or in one-upmanship debates against totalitarianism and against any authoritarian person or religion having a say in his life or in the lives of others. For the record, William Lane Craig (marker 13:59) noted that Hitch despised and hated religion.

Hitch was certainly OK, though, with authoritarian imposition upon others if he felt the cause justified removing other authoritarian figures from the lives of those he thought were oppressed.  He, to the horror of the liberal elitists, aligned himself philosophically with G.W. Bush regarding the Iraq war and the war on terror against radical Islamists.

In the February 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, Salman Rushdie penned In Memoriam, Christopher Hitchens: 1949-2011. Rushdie wrote about Hitch’s return to the left:

“Paradoxically, it was God who saved Christopher Hitchens from the right. Nobody who detested God as viscerally, intelligently, originally, and comically as C. Hitchens could stay in the pocket of god-bothered American conservatism for long.  When he bared his fangs and went for God’s jugular, just as he had previously fanged Henry Kissinger, Mother Teresa, and Bill Clinton, the resulting book, God is not great, carried Hitch away from the American right and back toward his natural, liberal, ungodly constituency.”

As a way of life Hitch sought to stand juxtaposed to the universal rule of law (his own conscience) in an antinomian position while at the same time declaring moral diatribes against religious and political authorities he considered too over arching in their imposition. He also liked to keep his conscience well inebriated and his roving moralist eye ever looking elsewhere ~ looking outside and not within ~ denial and pretense being typical liberal traits.

With atheistic cowardice and hubris, Hitch attacked Mother Teresa, a little old lady. He apparently wanted to feed his prurient desire to neutralize any authority figure (overt or implied) by trying to bring her down several notches in people’s eyes.  Why? He claimed she was pushing her authoritarian teachings onto the helpless. He accused her of hypocrisy in her dealings (an easy, self-serving claim for an atheist to make against any Christian). He may have felt threatened by her devotion to an unseen God and her ability to make things happen for others and doing so as a little old lady.

Why would a grown man verbally attack a helpless woman who indeed went about helping others who themselves were under the totalitarianism of poverty and squalor?  Maybe Hitch thought she wasn’t helpless. Maybe it was a direct attack against God. It certainly was an act of unmatched intelligential cowardice. To be sure Mother Teresa fought the unseen authorities of this world (the “powers of darkness”) by physically helping the outcast, the hungry and the hurting with an agape-powered love and not verbal hubris.

Hitch, on the other hand, fought the very public “seen” authorities of this world by aligning rhetorically with causes which he felt were important for him. He should have noted that he and Mother Teresa were fighting the same issue ~ human suffering at the hands of others (whether a dictator or a false religion) -from two different sides. Yet, he chose to denigrate Mother Teresa. I believe he did this because he felt threatened by her belief in the unseen God.

Hitch postures that Christians, especially Christian missionaries like Mother Teresa, are hypocrites who say things they know to be true and good but live disconnected lives apart from such truth – their deeds not matching match their words. This argument (?) against God was replayed in his use the La Rochefoucauld quote “hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.” Yet, this hypocrisy argument folds in on itself if one were to hold any moral standard at all. Perhaps Hitch, a polymath, saw moral laws as “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.” (The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe)

Clearly Hitch’s excessive lifestyle (his immoderate drinking, smoking, etc. have been noted elsewhere) made his salacious attacks against God all the more the more forthcoming and lubricious.  His lifestyle had also proved his belief in nihilism – life is nothing if not suffering. So he apparently used a “get it while you can” justification to medicate the blows between verbal jousting contests.

His liquid lifestyle also spoke to the fact of Hitch’s drive for “freedom” from any limitation imposed on his person including by his own person – his physiology. He chose against himself again and again.  He did this while throwing the world a bone now and then, choosing willy-nilly causes to deflect away any personal soul-searching which might lead to accountability to any higher authority. (see marker 25: 5, If god does not exist then objective moral standards don’t exist – a self-satisfying argument.)

Hitch detested dictatorships of all kinds and he did so while as a potentate of his own world. He would not bend the knee to anyone or to anything.  He would fight, as Salmon Rushdie recalled in the same Vanity Fair article remembering his friend, for anyone who was made to do so.  Hitch’s rebellion was against dictatorial authority of any kind and not just in the political and religious realm.  And he certainly rebelled against authority stated as codified truth – the Bible and the recorded history of the resurrection of Jesus.  His moral relativism, stated above, is characteristic of most atheists (and the “ungodly constituency”) since they affirm that no moral standard exists outside one’s self.

In the video Hitch asks the universal question posed to theism:  why would a God who was all powerful and good allow suffering?  My answer:  suffering comes out of created man’s free-will choices in a fallen world. God has allowed it for a time but not forever. Justice will be meted out and suffering will end.

He continues his disbelief:  “Why would God spend eons of time in creating a world that he could set up in a blink of an eye?” He went on to say that Christians are now co-opting evolution theory in accordance with the Creation argument, evolution being a position long held by atheists.  He “christens” this “tactic” or “style” of argument as “retrospective evidentialism” or as a “second thought.” (marker 37:40)

As a Christian theist I see no conflict whatsoever with science and creation.  I believe in theistic evolution-a finely tuned theistic universe, a personal cause of the universe and a theistic objective morality. As scientific evidence becomes available it should be used and not discarded.  Beyond scientific proofs, my own belief in God is vindicated every day because I, a rational human being, know that God exists. I continue to pursue Him actively and I submit to His authority. Hitch, on the other hand, fled from any such authority outside of himself and employed his own existentialist belief system where he felt safe from intrusion.

Also in the video, Hitch uses the Creationist argument of a literal seven days to say that we as Christians are basically lunatics to believe such things. Again, I see no conflict with a Creationist’s position of a literal seven days and the theory of relativity which could make thousands of millennia appear as seven literal days.

Hitch takes another jab at Christian theism by invoking his own god-like view point when questioning why God would do what Christian theists believe He did. He balks (and I’ll paraphrase):  “…the eons of time that God has created-evolved ~ that all of this fine tuning, mass extinction and randomness is the will of a Creator God (marker 40:21) and that all of this happened so that one very imperfect race of evolved primates might become Christian ~ all of this was “with us in view” is a curious kind of solipsism, a curious kind of self-centeredness.”  Hitch jests that he thought Christians were modest and humble, not self-centered with certain arrogance to the assumption that this “was all about us.” And, “The tremendous wastefulness of it, the tremendous cruelty of it, the tremendous caprice of it, the tremendous tinkering and incompetence of it, never mind at lease we’re here and we can be people of faith.” This projection from one who, with a free will, spoke from a self-centered and solipsistic core!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Creator, was always meant to bypass the wise of this earth: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.”” (Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church).   A priori rebellion coded as cleverness is found in the Mitochondrial DNA of man.

Apart from free-wheeling self-directed solipsism, there is a bounty of sound arguments for theism and William Lane Craig (WLC) highlights them artfully:  “No good argument that atheism is true, there are good arguments that theism is true ~ not via social questions or ethics (marker 16:00).

WLC philosophical arguments in quick notation:

Cosmological argument:  things exist, not nothing; the universe began to exist not infinite, not eternal ~ Big Bang Beginning, ex-nihilo, a cause by an UnCause beyond space and time;  David Hillburg ~ The infinite;  there must be a cause of creation. This Being must be uncaused, timeless, space unfathomable & personal and not abstract thought or object; The universe has begun to exist and is not infinite, not eternal (astrophysics concur); Past event are real, there must be Personal creator of the universe, transcendent intelligent mind

Teological argument:  (marker 20:00) finely tuned universe ~ mathematically constants (e.g., gravity) not determined by the laws of nature & the arbitrary conditions (entropy, balance between matter and antimatter); any change in these would be the end of life itself (the atomic weak force being altered)

Chance?  Odds are incomprehensibly great, life prohibiting universes are more probable

It follows logically by Design ~ intelligent argument, intelligent designer

Moral argument (marker 25: 15):  if god does not exist then objective moral standards don’t exist; if God exists then valid and binding; the morality that has emerged proves that god exists ~ via moral experience; we understand that there are things that are really wrong.

Historical fact (marker 27:40):  The resurrection of Jesus a historical fact not just a belief;  tomb discovered empty eyewitnesses;  individuals and groups saw Jesus, appearances to believers and unbelievers;  the original disciples believed in the resurrection and Jewish religion believed otherwise about when resurrection occurs; Christian die for the truth of the resurrection (marker 30:26)

Experiential knowledge:  The experience of God or claim to know that God exists – properly basic beliefs part of a system of beliefs including the belief of an external world;   Context of physical objects; grounded in our experience of God; God immediate reality

Hitch responds (marker 33:16):  arguments the same across religions ~ belief in God but differences; presuppositionalists (by faith) and the evidentialists a distinction without a difference.

As you will note Hitch’s arguments are all basically dismissive of Christian belief and are not evidentiary in favor of atheism; note his “rather sweet” dismissal of those who believe ~ that those of faith should have evidence.  (Hitch once again conveniently dismisses the facts of the resurrection and the improbability of causation by chance.)

Hitch: “We argue that is no plausible or convincing reason, certainly no evidential one to believe that there is such an entity…all observable phenomena is explicable (marker 42:00); I don’t believe that following the appropriate rituals…

“Even if this deity did exit it doesn’t prove that he cared about us…cared who we had sex with …care whether we lived or died… (marker 42:32)

“Miracles suspend the natural order ~ Christians want it both ways (“promiscuous”) (marker 44:00); The natural order – “It is miraculous without a doubt”

“I have to say that I appear as a skeptic, I doubt these things.” (marker 46:16)

“The theist says it must be true…”Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”;

Too early in the study of biology…to make these claims.”

Perhaps Hitch, the verbal grappler, was as a sound and fury professional wrestler who was successfully agile at avoiding a real match-up with Truth. But now, the fight has ended, the match is over. All that’s left in the empty corner is a book ~  God is Not Great.   His last words?

tête-à-tête

Though I am a political and social conservative with a strong libertarian streak I often read the opposition’s pabulum in order to discern whether I am holding on to what is good.  This deliberate questioning of my conservatism has helped me to further understand my own ideology and has helped put into contrast the false thinking that is prevalent today, most notably found in liberalism, progressivism and atheism.

 It should be noted here that I came to my understanding of my conservatism/libertarianism through my own reading (early on, Milton and Rose Friedman’s book Free to Choose) and by listening to programs such as Firing Line with the likes of William F. Buckley Jr..  My conservative ideology, as I told my attorney recently, is not the result of my viewership of FOX news. FOX News only highlights what I already know to be true and false.

An aside:  My attorney who is a Democrat once told me how he picks jurors for his accident injury trials:  The attorney asks perspective jurors if they watch FOX News or listen to Rush Limbaugh to determine if they are Republicans or Democrats. He pejoratively calls such Republicans “Rush Limbaugh Republicans”. The reason for his disdain of these Republicans:   he said that most Republicans believe in torte reform and ridding the courts of frivolous lawsuits.  My attorney won’t pick them to be a juror. They would likely vote against a substantial injury award. Ergo, my attorney wouldn’t win enough money for his client or himself (usually 40% take of the award compensation)

My attorney didn’t describe the Democrat jurors. He left me to believe that they were the opposite of Republicans with regard to willingness to make someone pay out.  Many attorneys are liberal Democrats (including their well-known lobbyists Obama, Eric Holder, Rahm Emmanuel, etc.). Many of these attorneys use frivolous lawsuits to make a living.  They are called the “ambulance chasers” (or, in Obama’s and Emmanuel’s case, the “crisis chasers”).

I let my attorney know that I did watch Fox News but that I didn’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, Jon Stewart or to Bill Maher. I told him I was my own conservative:   I related to him that I was a William F. Buckley Jr.-Milton Friedman-Neal Cavuto-Christian conservative. I wasn’t bought by what money I could weasel out of someone’s pocket. (BTW, as a Conservative I am not against accident lawsuits, only injustice.)

That aside, beyond my own research into political ideology, economics and morality, in school I also studied economics, finances, accounting and business among other related courses. These studies helped me see that free market enterprise and capitalism creates the most opportunities and the most wealth for everyone. And, that charity is both what you have to give (maybe a widow’s mite) and the desire to give.

 My belief in God came through my reading of the Bible and, specifically, the eyewitness accounts recorded therein. The historically factual account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as recorded in the Gospels was sufficient proof for me.

 I am currently reading two books:  essays by Christopher Hitchens in a book titled Arguably, copyright 2011, and The Thomas Sowell Reader, copyright 2011.

 Christopher Hitchens is a well-known left-winger and atheist, born in England and living in America.  He became an American citizen in 2007.  He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate and The Atlantic. His books include, among many, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America and God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

 I am reading Hitchens’ book even though I do not agree with his positions on most issues and most decidedly his atheism. His pronouncements against the fascism of Islam I do agree with.  I do like his breadth of knowledge in literature and his love of the English language. I enjoy his way of writing and his way of stating things. And, as I read I do make marginal notes wherever I disagree with his thinking. As a writer I continue to learn a lot about the art of essay writing from Hitchens.

 Here is a blurb about Hitchens’ book, ARGUABLY, from the Richard Dawkins Foundation website:

 The first new book of essays by Christopher Hitchens since 2004, ARGUABLY offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for the enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, ARGUABLY burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.” (emphasis mine)

 Regarding this blurb, while I would certainly disagree with the relevance of Karl Marx as an answer to anything I would agree with what is said about Hitchens’ art. It is a product of one of the greatest living essayists in the English language.

 About Christopher Hitchen’s athesim, I believe that those who are most adamantly opposed to knowledge of God are often those who are the closest to the Truth, as was the case of another profound English writer and apologist, C.S. Lewis.  Lewis was an atheist turned agnostic turned believer.   Lewis’s writings are characterized by a lightly carried erudition, critical thinking, psychological insight, humor and sympathy. 

It is my prayer that Christopher Hitchens will someday soon come “kicking and screaming into the Kingdom of God” just as Lewis, a reluctant convert. (Update:  Hitchens died recently.)

 Christopher Hitchens currently has throat cancer. He has difficulty speaking and certainly cannot lecture.  From a lover of the  English language perspective, this throat business must give him great pain and a deep sense of loss. Pray for him.

 Turning to Thomas Sowell’s The Thomas Sowell Reader I find a treasure trove of wonderful essays and articles written by a well read economist, social theorist, political philosopher and conservative Black American. Sowell uses easy to understand commonsense language in his writings. Most would find this book accessible and informative. It is this simplicity which more than anything defines truth and true conservatism. Liberalism, much like in Hitchens’ writing, seeks to overwhelm the reader with its own great knowledge and pompous profundity. Not so with Thomas Sowell. His plain spoken and humble writing speaks louder than any hubris.

 Here are some excerpts from a chapter titled The Survival of the Left, from The Thomas Sowell Reader:

 Biologists explain how organisms adapt to their physical environment, but ideologues also adapt to their social environment.  The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

The academic world is the natural habitat of half-baked ideas, except for those fields I which there are decisive tests, such as science, mathematics, engineering, medicine—and athletics. In all these fields, in their differing ways, there comes a time when you must either put up or shut up.  It should not be surprising that all other fields are notable exceptions to the complete domination of the left on campuses across the country

 You might think that the collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe would be considered a decisive failure for Marxism, but academic Marxists in America are utterly undaunted.  Their paychecks and their tenure are unaffected.  Their theories continue to flourish in the classrooms and their journals continue to litter the library shelves.

 Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it..

 Nor is economic failure the worst of it.  The millions slaughtered by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot for political reasons are an even grimmer reality…

 Academia is only one of the places where totally subjective criteria rule—and where leftists dominate.

 Sowell goes on to list these “places”:  foundations, museums, cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities and taxpayer supported “public” TV and radio.

 These endowed and insulated institutions, often full of contempt for the values of American society and Western civilization, are not the only bastions of the left counter-culture. So are Hollywood and Broadway.  Although show biz faces the financial need to get an audience, the truth of what they portray is hardly crucial.  If they can make it punchy and sexy, then those who complain about historical inaccuracies and ideological bias can be dismissed as irrelevant pedants.

 Why are leftists able to crowd out other kinds of people from these places?  Because those who are willing to subject themselves to the test of reality, whether as a businessman in the marketplace or as surgeon in an operating room, have many other places to work and live.They do not need special sheltered niches in which to hide and to cherish their precious notions.

 Darwinian adaptation to environment applies not only to nature but also to society. Just as you don’t find eagles living in the ocean or fish living on mountain tops, so you don’t find leftists concentrated where ideas have to stand the test of performance. (emphasis mine)

I have to get back to my reading… Here’s Christopher Hitchens and William F. Buckley Jr. in conversation.

Atheism in Retreat

  
William Lane Craig wants to debate atheists ( Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, etc) in the UK but there are NO takers:
 
*****
God Is Not Dead Yet
How current philosophers argue for his existence.
by William Lane Craig
 

You might think from the recent spate of atheist best-sellers that belief in God has become intellectually indefensible for thinking people today. But a look at these books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, among others, quickly reveals that the so-called New Atheism lacks intellectual muscle. It is blissfully ignorant of the revolution that has taken place in Anglo-American philosophy. It reflects the scientism of a bygone generation rather than the contemporary intellectual scene.

That generation’s cultural high point came on April 8, 1966, when Time magazine carried a lead story for which the cover was completely black except for three words emblazoned in bright red letters: “Is God Dead?” The story described the “death of God” movement, then current in American theology.

But to paraphrase Mark Twain, the news of God’s demise was premature. For at the same time theologians were writing God’s obituary, a new generation of young philosophers was rediscovering his vitality.

The complete article here:http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/july/13.22.html?paging=off

For more information: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer