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Discussion With An Atheist (Whom Is A Former Christian)

May 17, 2013

coffee short

This is an ongoing discussion I’m now having with James Stillwell. You can easily find his youtube channel by searching. He formerly did open-air preaching with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. I guess the “crock-o-duck” wasn’t convincing him enough.

What I want you to notice is how the atheist assumes their stance is a purely neutral stance, and that theists must answer all the tough questions, while they somehow get a free pass. They often assume they possess no “positive” assumptions about he world and reality, but only a “negation” of beliefs (God). What we must do is point out to them that they do possess many positive beliefs about the world, hence morality, logic, and purpose rising from non-morality, non-logic, and non-purpose, etc. Enjoy, and please feel free to comment below.

ME:

I’ve watched some of your videos and think it’s interesting that a former Christian whom did open air preaching with Kirk and Ray is now an atheist. I’ve watched a few of your videos and figured I try to start a friendly dialogue with you on this one. So here goes… First, you say you are a former Baptist, and I must strongly assert that a Baptistic hermeneutic is more like a brute fact approach to Scripture, rather than a typological approach, whereas the latter is much more consistent.

For example, you are wrong that all Rabbis reject Psalm 45 as being Messianic. This is like a Catholic claiming that all the early fathers agreed on everything. There is much disagreement. Radak is a 13th century Rabbi whom interpreted this as Messianic. Further, you want to say the doctrine of the Trinity is contradictory. Not so. There is no contradiction when it is said that there is a difference between the 1 and the 3, yet we do not know this difference.

Now, enough of me defending my faith. I’d now like to see how skeptical you are of your skepticism. Sounds so far like you are a Naturalist. If so, can you please explain to me how non-morality gives rise to morality, non-teleos gives rise to teleos, and how non-intelligence gives rise to intelligence? 99.99% of atheists are unaware that they believe these positive claims, as they often assume they only hold to a negation of beliefs. This is a self-deceiving myth.

James:

1 I’m a former reformed baptist, apologist, street evangelist/open air preacher. I am also a long time student of biblical theology and koine Greek. You are welcome to see my 3part video series “for god so loved the world?” And my 2 part series “self educated” to see some of my translational work and exegetical. If you are looking for a more accurate translation of a given etc, people have been known to contact me on Skype. I am now a philosopher and am quite busy, but will attempt to respond.

3 you are simply incorrect if you think I’m a naturalist/materialist. (My position is double aspect theory) “How non-morality gives rise to morality” “non-teleos gives rise to teleos”-you. Minds are value judgement machines and project qualia/value/oughts/ etc onto the is. I think what you mean to ask is, how do I account for objective meaning, morality, and purpose. But this is like asking how do you account for square circles, since value judgments are intrinsically subjective (mind dependent)

4How do you get from it is a fact (is) that a being I call god exists, therefore you ought or ought not do X? You don’t, because its not logically possible. It would be like arguing an all powerful creator being named Hitler exists, therefore we ought share his hatred of the Jews. Therefore we ought share his likes, dislikes, purpose, and goals. You could say if you don’t want him to hurt you then you ought do x. But no objective if clause=no objective ought clause.It would be contingent on want

ME:

I’m not necessarily talking about exegesis, but about hermeneutics, or how one interprets Scripture as a whole, not necessarily individual passages. A typological approach is the most consistent, namely, God is telling a story through layering and more layering so that the meta-story can be better understood.

If minds are merely projecting “oughts” onto “what is” then there really is only the illusion of “teleos”, yet if you’re honest you realize you don’t live your life like that that is the case. This is the problem for the atheist whom presupposes ultimate impersonality, not the one whom assumes ultimate personality. If you really believe morality is subjective then in the end all is permissible with only the illusion of wrong, yet again, you do not live your life like this is the case.

It just amazes me how one whom is a former Christian misrepresents the God of Christianity as being a monad. Actually, it does not amaze me, because I have seen it so many times before. You are claiming I am going from “what is” to “what ought to be”, yet that is absolutely NOT the Biblical position, but rather would be most atheists position. How is this not your own position? Morality is not what God arbitrarily decides, but is a reflection of the eternal relationship between the God-head.

James:

2 the first issue here that you’ve brought up is concerning ontology. 1what are you claiming god is? 2 Are you claiming god is a function without a performer. 3 you must tell me what god is, not just what god is not (non-material for example) or your claim is incoherent (non-conceptual). 4 you need to explain what you mean by exist. 5 if your claiming god is the creator, (a performance not a performer) then I refute your claim A cannot cause -B to become B, since -B is nothing to become anything

“If minds are merely projecting “oughts” onto “what is” then there really is only the illusion of “teleos”,-you. I’m afraid that it doesn’t follow that no-objective teleos = no teleos. My teleos is what I decide it is, just like if a mind named god existed he would decide his teleos. I am an I-Theist. Also, you seam to be assuming honesty and consistency as an objective value. Who says I ought be consistent? Consistency is valuable according to who? Show me how god = objective teleos/value.

1how does your worldview (net work of assumptions not tested by natural science, in terms of which all experiences are interpreted) =objective morality, teleos, value, qualia etc? 2what are you claiming god is? (I’m not asking about supposed character, deeds or performances nor what he isn’t. I want a positive ontological claim) 3 are you claiming god is a mind without brain? If so explain how that isn’t reification or even conceptual? Can you draw me a pic? 4 does god have shape and form?

ME:

Why are you right out of the gate having a double standard? You also have the problem of ontology, in that you assume dual aspect theory (=spinozas god like Einstein?). So I also ask you, what is the most basic component to your assumed reality comprised of? When I speak of God (should be capitalized in a monotheistic context) I’m talking about ultimate reality, thus Reality. My worldview is that there is a personal ultimate reality. Do you believe ultimate reality is impersonal?

Show me how “nature” (what is) = “ought”. If morality is subjective then there is no basis to say you’re more right than anyone whom disagrees with you, thus, in the end all is permissible with only the illusion of morality. Again, you’re not critiquing the Christian position, which I’m surprised and not surprised about. It is not said that God decides one day, but morality is a reflection of his eternal community. You yourself show you must be consistent because otherwise you couldn’t reply.

One can infer God (a personal ultimate reality, and prime cause) by the effects of the world around us. This is how much of science is done when things are not directly observable, ie. black holes, the singularity, sub-atomic particles, the higgs-bosson, etc. Much of these are based on statistical data. I’d argue one of the effects of God is morality, but I’ll discuss that in my other reply. Like electricity, God is not exhaustively defined or understood. You cannot fully draw electricity.

James:

One can infer God (a personal ultimate reality, and prime cause) by the effects of the world around us. -you. Sure, one can infer but not logically. A cannot cause non-B to become B, since Non-B is nothing to cause. Furthermore you still haven’t answered my inquiry “what is God” in a positive ontological way. Sub-Atomic can be drawn along with black wholes and electricity. But even if they could not these are still coherent explanatory unlike your BlahWeh assertion.

“Morality is a reflection of the eternal god-head?” According to who? How do you get from it is the case that the god-head has a relationship therefore everyone objectively ought do Y? Again you fail to bridge the is ought gap.

ME:

I could draw a picture of Jesus. You should know by now that Christians believe God is eminent and transcendent, just as particles can sort of be drawn, but not exhaustively drawn. You have an unfounded bias here towards the definition of God. I also ask you to define what your ultimate reality is. You still have not answered my question. Another unfounded double standard on your part.

According to the Bible since Christians do believe it is revelation of God. But you don’t have to be a Christian to understand that an eternal community is the precondition for morality, or at least better than any alternative. You have actually failed to uphold any standard that should be taken seriously, and have only offered subjectivity, which I already refuted. If a standard is objective is must not be invented or subject to change. You live like there is an objective standard.

James:

1no I don’t assume double aspect theory (see ontologistics) video on it. 2 Einstein and spinoza have 0 to do with the theory. 3 define what you mean by reality and real? 4 what do you mean “person”, a mind?

ME:

dual aspect theory isn’t necessarily atheistic. It’s actually more of a Western notion to lean towards dualism, and compartmentalize the physical and the mental in the first place. There is nothing un-Biblical about dual-aspect theory. Just fyi.

Onto “reality”. What do YOU mean by “reality”? Is your question a “real” question? If so, you’re assuming reality. Since we both assume it, let’s just allow ourselves to converse about it. Can you not distinguish between the personal and impersonal?

James:

Really? You can draw a picture of jebus? So how do you know what he looked like?

You refuted subjective morality? Ha ha ha! You did know such thing. You haven even substantiated your claim that objective value judgments exist, which btw can’t be because its logically contradictory and oxymoronic. But ok, I can make brute assertions too. -you are wrong because I said so, therefore you stand refuted!

1 you have failed to show how God = objective moral values and duties because you have failed to bridge the is ought gap. 2 you claimed my world view cannot account for objective morality, but my world view doesn’t claim OM exist. It’s a myth and contradictory proposition like square circles. 3 my world view holds might is right, and is based on master morality which stems from the will to power. 4 you have failed to answer my questions, and I’m beginning to think you can’t & I’m wasting time.

1 I never said dual aspect theory is atheistic. 2 Double aspect theory have nothing to do with dualism, because double aspect theory does not posit a duel ousia or ontos but rather only one substance. 3 the bible posits spirits(pnewma) and ghosts(phantasms) and souls(psuche) as well as demons but double aspect theory doesn’t. Again, DAT is a monist position. Biblical theology is pure infantile dualism. If dualism were true, DAT could not be.

I’m asking you to define your usage of the word reality? 2 define your usage of the word personal? I’m asking you to define your key terms. If you should decline to answer my questions in this and other previous comments, I will terminate our discussion. So, here’s my argument: if you want to continue this discussion, then you “ought” define your terms in a non circular mannor. Please look up the fallacy of definition. Thanks ; )

ME:

Drawing a picture of what Jesus looked like is irrelevant. When one draws a singularity they weren’t there to look at it but draw a representation. And even if one did know what the singularity or Jesus looked like, they still couldn’t exhaustively draw it. Again, you’re just evidencing your bias double-standard.

Morality is only subjective (thus, relative) given context and intention, which is nothing new to Christian philosophers nor the Bible, yet given a context where something is really wrong, it is objectively wrong (absolutely, actually wrong). If you think that Hitler murdering Jews was objectively wrong then you prove that it’s objective. Do you agree? How is what I’ve said logically contradictory? I’ll repeat you and say don’t just assert it.

You say I have failed to bridge the “is-ought” gap, yet you have failed to as well, and I am much more closer to bridging it because I don’t ultimately rest on subjectivity, as it is subject to change, thus is not sufficient to go from “is” to “ought” and take it seriously. Again, if objective (=absolute) morality doesn’t exist, then all is permissible with only the illusion of morality. If might is right then we could justify many heinous acts.

I know you never said DAT was atheistic, and I never claimed you did. But I was on the right track to assume you assume DAT is un-Biblical, which it isn’t. It harmonizes with Scripture more than any alternative. Christians do teach on the Trinity and the problem of the one and the many, and dualism goes against that. This should not be foreign to a former Christian. Just because the Bible teaches about spirits, does not necessarily mean it teaches a different substance (ultimately).

“Reality”. I already indirectly defined it (when asking you a question) as that which is the most basic component to existence, and as that which is a Prime cause, or existence “greater” than finite space, time, matter, and energy. If this doesn’t give you enough to go off of then let me know. You hold to DAT. Great. But what is ultimate reality to you. Maybe we could call it “?”. So is “?” personal or impersonal? Does “?” think and be relational to anything or is “?” mindless?

James:

Actually your position does rest on mere opinion and brute assertions. Anyone,(who isn’t slavish and herd like) can look at our exchange and come to their own conclusion.

“You have actually failed to uphold any standard that should be taken seriously.?” Really? You claim my standards shouldn’t be taken seriously? Ok, provide me with a valid logical argument that illustrates why anyone should objectively should or shouldn’t. Come on, Bridge the is/ought gap ____im waiting! Here I can make assertions too. You should take my standards seriously because I am James and whatever doesn’t conform to my nature/expectations is evil/sin.

This is an out right false hood. The Writers of the NT were indeed substance duelist as I have shown via the original language in my above comment. But you can believe whatever and hold tightly to any faith crutch you want. I personally don’t care and have no interest in persuading you to give up jebus.

Look are you going to answer my questions or not! This is your last chance before I block you. If you cannot define your usages of these key terms in your propositions in a non-circular manner, then just admit that. Go away, and come back when you are better prepared. That I could respect and understand. This isn’t a cock waving contest.

ME:

Yours does as well. You have asserted that morality is subjective, yet haven’t offered anything to my arguments. Even many agnostics understand that morality (=real rights and wrongs) can’t be subjective. By you basing it on subjectivity you are actually going from “is” to “is” arbitrarily because you say so, and this becomes your standard of ought. One could disagree and you’d have no bases to say you’re more right. The same argument you have against God “saying so” can be used against you.

I’m waiting too! I already gave multiple arguments why yours can’t be taken seriously. I’ll let you go back and re-read, then show me why I’m incorrect. I’m waiting for you to bridge the is/ought gap. I’m starting with an eternal standard, thus, I’m saying there is an eternal “Ought” which accounts for our “ought”. Your argument against me applies to you. The difference between us is that you appeal to something finite and mutable (once being impersonal). I do not. How is yours more consistent?

You’re making an interpretive leap. You’ve only asserted that certain words imply it. “Spirit”, etc. only shows matter and spirit are distinguishable, yet so does DAT. Distinguishing the two doesn’t necessarily imply they are separate, or that one is greater. The Imago Dei actually does not make one greater, and you should know this. In addition, dualism would be along the lines of gnosticism which the early Christians would have rejected, and which Paul himself dispels in Colossians. Nice try.

It is clear that you are trying to avoid defending your own assumptions. Thus, you threaten to block me. I tried to give a definition of what I mean by “reality” and even asked you to let me know if you need clarity. You have also not shown how I’m being circular. When dealing with absolutes one MUST be circular, otherwise it’s absurd, b/c something absolute DOESN’T become absolute! If I were as pedantic as you then the conversation would have only progressed a millimeter, rather than an inch.

James:

I’m sorry I don’t see how an eternal ought bridges the is ought, fact value gap. You can assert all day long that you’ve made a logical argument but that is nothing more than brutish non-sense! Furthermore, why are you asking me to bridge the gap? I’m not claim it can be bridged in a way as to produce an object ought/value. My claim is might is right. Please see my video series “whose will to power is morality?” And my video “might is right” to understand what I mean by that.

No DAT has nothing to due with “spirit” it has to do with qualia,will, desire, and physiology. Have you even taken the time to watch ontologistics video on this subject? If so, you might want to watch them a few more times and leave him some questions in the chat box. He is a nice guy and great teacher, philosopher.

When did you give me a non circular definition of reality? Please give me coherent definitions of the other terms I asked you to define. I’m still waiting but am tired of it. We cannot move on until you do. (Example) its like when I ask people to define what they mean by “freewill”. They just throw around terms they don’t understand. They are very vague and often incoherent ideas which they use these such terms to refer to without giving much thought. Like objective morality? Or objective value

ME:

As a Christian, I don’t claim to begin with the “is”, atheists do. Thus, they must bridge the gap. Again, you live your life like there are oughts, even though you claim you don’t theoretically hold to any. If you’re not seeing this then I’ll rather spend time on debunking your standard for morality, “wanting to live”. One can still want to live, and yet molest kids for fun. You have no basis so far to say they shouldn’t do this. Someone could also want to die, and thus do whatever they want.

Modern so-called DAT uses different words to classify the parts of “us” that we cannot physically see, while you even admit there are parts of us we will never see (which the majority of atheists I’ve spoken to would never admit). My argument isn’t to conjoin modern classifications with NT words, but to simply point out that the Bible does not preclude DAT because it does not ultimately separate the body and spirit, and to do otherwise would be anti-NT, b/c it would lean towards gnosticism.

You may not realize this but there’s a difference between a good circular statement and a bad circular one. You’ve failed 2x now to show why it’s the latter.You’ve asked me to define “reality” and “personal”. Reality is that which is the most basic component to existence, and/or the eternal (Prime Cause) to everything else that is finite. Or tell me what might have existed prior to the big bang, and we can start from there. Personal is that which has intelligence and is relational. I can’t wait!

James:

It isn’t possible to coherently speak of a “before” the Big Bang, if indeed Big Bang cosmology is correct. 2. I told you to look up “fallacies of definition”. 3Furthermore, you keep talking about a “prime cause” which is a performance not a performer. It is not intelligible to speak of a cause, since there was no platform for causation before the Big Bang THERE IS NO BEFORE! + A can’t cause -b to become b, since -b is nothing to cause or effect or created from.

ME:

There’s no “before” as we know it, but in another sense there is a before. Is it logical to you that the universe caused itself, or something else? Again, when dealing with absolutes like “reality” you MUST be circular. The dictionary is even circular. I’m waiting for an answer. A cause can be short-hand for a Causer. Aimlessly pedantic again on your part. Do you think what caused the universe is intelligent or not? Your view has -b becoming b (non-intelligence becoming intelligent), not mine.

James:

“Is it logical to you that the universe caused itself or something else?” If the universe can come from nothing as you claim, then we don’t need god. “Short hand for causer” No! When normal logical rational people speak of a cause we mean existent X shapes or reshape already existent Y into the form of a mental concept. The way you use the terms cause, creator, causer, god, spirit etc is incoherent and utterly meaningless drivel! You are aimlessly ambiguous.

ME:

You’re avoiding my questions. I never claimed the universe came from “nothing”, usually “nothing” is shorthand for “something”, just something so small we can’t observe it. Some atheistic cosmologists argue that the universe can come from “nothing”, thus, it’s logical to apply this same language to God. And it’s more rational to say the universe began with a Causer, hence it being intended as opposed to non-intended, hence staggering fine tuning. Is there intention behind the universe to you?

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2 comments

  1. Here would be my response to James:

    http://www.biblicalaxiom.blogspot.com/


    • Sounds good. I would go to his Youtube channel and dialogue with him and form a conversation from scratch, and perhaps create a thread from that. He will respond differently to your answers.



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