It Is Necessary To Reject Agnosticism In Order To Defend It.

Agnosticism, as it pertains to theism (and my interest here is Christian theism), runs one of two ways: 1) the individualist way—claiming to have no personal knowledge as to whether or not God, (or god, or gods, deity, etc.) exists. Others may make such a knowledge claim, but the individual agnostic claims, at least for himself, to have no knowledge; 2) the second way agnosticism is expressed is universality, stating that knowledge claims about deity is impossible for anyone. No one can know if such a thing as deity exists, and those who claim to know are either simply wrong, deceived, or deceptive.

The reason this distinction matters is that although an individual agnostic may deny the universality of his agnosticism, agnosticism invariably leads to a universal claim about knowledge, and a demand of its acceptance.

If, as Christian theists assert, all people, believers and unbelievers alike, know enough about God and His Law to be held accountable to it, then the agnostic is not telling the truth when he says, “I don’t know whether or not God exists.” This is hardly surprising—people say this all the time. The problem is, of course, that Scripture tells us otherwise (Psalm 19; Romans 2:12-16). According to the Bible, there are no agnostics. If the Bible is true, there are no agnostics.

The tendency to universalize agnosticism stems from the objection to what I said in the paragraph above: “You cannot say that I know there is a God when I clearly know that I do not know. What you say about me (that I really do know that God exists) can only be true if your system is correct. I don’t believe your system and therefore I am not subject to its claims.”

To defend agnosticism is to deny Scripture. But to deny Scripture is to claim knowledge about its truthfulness. Once such knowledge is claimed, agnosticism has been abandoned. So it is necessary to reject agnosticism in order to defend it, which, of course, means it is defeated. Therefore, I would argue, that agnosticism is irrational.

Furthermore, our disbelief or belief in any proposition (such as, “God exists) is irrelevant to its truthfulness. God does not exist because I believe that He does, nor does He not-exist because I disbelieve. What is true is true whether or not I believe it, or accept it. Denying Scripture, and all it says about God’s Law, judgement, and wrath, does not remove its reality if it is real.

So the agnostic must actually claim to know something: that religious knowledge is not true, or at least that it is unknowable. This is, then knowledge, something known.

This moves us into the second way that agnosticism functions, which is as a universal. Just as Christian truth-claims are universal, the agnostic’s knowledge must be universal as well. It cannot be private, or personal, because the nature of the claim is in essence a universal.

An agnostic cannot, consistently, remain so at the personal level. It must be true for all if it is for anyone.

Christians already accept that their beliefs are universal, and not limited to the individual.

Why the Left and Islam Join Together Against Israel

The Left and Islam make strange bedfellows. The former is allegedly the political philosophy of freedom, liberation, social justice, women’s (womyns) rights, LGBT rights, animal rights, and warm puppies (well, Leftists actually are more likely cat people). Islam, on the other hand, promotes Sharia law, limits the role of women in society and the family, would hang gays, lesbians and the transgendered, is against free speech (must not insult the  prophet), and is responsible for most death-by-terror in the world. Islam allows for rape, pedophilia, and recruits children as suicide bombers. As I write this, ISIS is demanding Iraqi women undergo genital mutilation.

But they can and do join forces against Israel.

One might think this is coincidental: Islam hates Israel because it has historically done so, and the Left is against Israel because Israel is perceived to be unjust towards its neighbours; these two entities (Islam and the Left) have otherwise nothing in common. The Left’s silence on the above Islamic social values is telling.

But I think there’s a much greater reason for the Left’s hatred of Israel: the natural rebellion against the acts of God in history.

The story of Islam is that Abraham’s son Ishmael, not Isaac, is rightfully heir to the land promise. God promised the land to Abraham (Genesis 12:7). The Bible is clear, however, that the land belongs to the heirs of Isaac, as he was the son of the promise (Genesis 21:12; Romans 9:7). Ishmael was born to a slave woman, Hagar (Genesis 16-21). This sets Islam against Judaism and Christianity, as the claim to the land and blessings of Abraham are seen to be usurped by Isaac, not divinely conferred upon him. Islam will forever be at war with the Jews, and the Jews know it. If Israel were to be eliminated as a state, no Jew would be allowed to exist anywhere else in peace. Islam will seek to eliminate all descendants of Isaac.

This too, of course, means that the story of Jesus must be rewritten by Islam. The Islamic Jesus is unrecognisable to Christians. The Islamic story of Jesus has nothing to do with the historical Jesus as described in the most accurate accounts of His life: the canonical Gospels.

Israel has a Biblical, historical, moral, legal, political, and theological claim to the land. [Important note: I do not believe that the theological claim to the land is absolute; I am not a dispensationalist, nor do I believe that Israel’s return to the land has eschatological significance].

The Left does not seem to get this, as the Left has little use for, or useful understanding of, Christian theology. Failing to understand this, however, means that he Left’s confusion about the events that are taking place in Israel must continue, with some sort of relativist understanding of “human rights,” or “social justice.” Justice is served when terrorists are rebuffed and punished. But if launching rockets from hospitals, schools, and homes are ok, and measured retaliation is not, then the Left is too morally and legally confused to comprehend. Starting with a hatred of Israel, no attack against Israel is unjustified to Leftist thinking.

The Left, by definition, tolerates religious faith only in its most private expressions. The existence of Israel, and from that the Christian Church, is an affront to an ideology that denies both God’s existence and His actions in history. Creation points to a Creator (Romans 1:18-28, Psalm 8, 19), and atheism’s feeble attempt to deny that is becoming apparent (“New” Atheism, Dawkins, Hitchons, et al). Creation points to a Creator, a nation’s existence points to a Lord of History. The nation of Israel also points to Christ. In fact, Israel will not be the end recipient of the wrath of Islam and Left, it is Christ and His church. The rebellion started before our first parents kept the garden, and the end of the battle is on the horizon. Sin and death were defeated on the cross.

Both Islam and the Left represent human rebellion against a God Who acts in history. It is the Christ who is hated who is also the Christ who can heal all divisions (Ephesians 2:11-22).

 

 

Prove it.

“No theist can prove the existence of God,” asserts the atheist. But the atheist’s own philosophy doesn’t fare any better: no atheist can prove that God does not exist. When an atheist points out logical inconsistencies, fallacies, faulty arguments, etc., in the theistic approach (and may or may not be correct in so doing), he has still not moved the ball down field one bit toward the goal of proving the non-existence of God. The trouble is, the same criteria demanded of the theist by the atheist must also be demanded by the atheist himself. If it is indeed true that some theistic arguments are unconvincing, one may say only that they are not convinced, not that the point of the arguments have been settled by their lack of success. A person can have a correct position on a subject without being able to correctly argue that position. The truth of the matter stands whether or not it is argued well.

So, for example, the arguments of theodicy against theism are irrelevant (that is, if God exists, why is there evil? Evil exists, therefore there is no God; to put it too briefly). Arguing against an unpleasant deity are not arguments against that deity’s existence. That is to say, one may be angry with God, but in matters of existence it is irrelevant.

The atheist will never allow an argument to prevail, nor evidence to convince. He must, as a precondition to his atheism, deny God’s existence:

Romans 1:18–23 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

 

The theist and the atheist both must start with God: the theist presupposes God as the only possible explanation of anything, and the atheist in a presupposed denial. The Christian theist sees this; the atheist is blind to it. It should be remembered, however, that both the theist and the atheist know there is a God.

John Loftus is a Pompous Ass

Never used that phrase before, although I first heard it used at least forty years ago. I always felt it was just too strong, even though I’ve come across many for whom the moniker fit so well. I may never use it again (PA’s can be a litigious bunch). But something I read weeks ago has stayed with me, and in a moment of insomnia, I understood why, and who:

John Loftus is a Pompous Ass.

Why John Loftus? First, let me explain that I only mean one John Loftus, lest the names of other innocent Loftus-es be besmirched. The John Loftus to whom I refer is the author of The Christian Delusion, Why I Became an Atheist, The End of Christianity, and The Outsider Test for Faith. He runs a blog, Debunking Christianity. He is, allegedly, a Christian turned atheist. I doubt he ever was the former but the latter is fairly evident.

John earned the title, not for his arrogance as an atheist (which, lacking the existence of an “humble atheist,” arrogance and atheism seem to be pretty tight friends). No, not for mere arrogance, but for one, over-the-top spew of hubris in one little sentence, one brief comment. This comment, ironically, was regarding a man he allegedly admired, a Christian theologian and seminary professor who died in the Spring of 2014, James Strauss.

 “Now he is gone, forever. He’ll never know his entire life was spent on a delusion, for in order to know this he would have to wake up from the dead for a moment.”

No matter what good will he intended for the late Dr Strauss, this one spot of conceit spoilt it all. For, according to the Loftus’ atheism, this is the end of all sentient life, including his own. In his smirking, self-assured overconfidence, he speaks as one who believes this same fate doesn’t await himself. It is as if Loftus’ overconfidence betrays a deep-seated assumption (perhaps a hope?) that for the intellectually elect there is an afterlife at the so-smart club, stocked well of fine brandy and cigars awaiting those who scoffed at deity while on earth, and who will enjoy an eternity of doing likewise over the graves of the poor sots who didn’t listen to them.

“He’ll never know . . .” Isn’t that the point of atheism? Without any scientific evidence (atheists, I’m told, fancy themselves scientific) for non-being after death, Loftus simply asserts non-existence.

“He’ll never know . . .” But the atheist must deny forever the possibility of true knowledge.

“He’ll never know . . .” So if Strauss had lived longer, perhaps listening to you, he’d wise up?

“He’ll never know . . .” But how do you know that, John?

This is the atheist’s unbearable arrogance, that he knows what no one else can know, unless atheism is the working assumption. But atheism can’t account for knowledge of anything, much less the universe. I would add that atheism is not, in any field of human science, philosophy, or ethics, a requisite for knowledge. Science has grown quite well apart from atheism, and will continue to do so. As a contributing factor to human advancement and achievement, it is theistic, not atheistic, assumptions that account for that advancement. Atheism is simply superfluous.

In atheism, knowledge is merely bald assertion, for this is the only argument atheism can muster. It takes a special kind of person to work up such chutzpah, such hubris.

So the Pompous Ass award must go to the one who asserts knowledge he does not have, nor can have. It must go to one who “knows” what others may or may not know. No atheist has knowledge that there is no God. He may hate God, be angry at God, feel that God is somehow unjust; but no one can know that there is no God.

Our  (I was a student of Dr Strauss and a classmate of Loftus) dear “Doc” spent his life for Truth that is opaque to Mr. Loftus. At the risk of inviting more derision, I will close with the obvious: if Loftus is right, he’ll never know, and that means nothing changes. He doesn’t know now, and never will. If Strauss was right, Loftus will know forever in a most horrible manner.

From Douglas Groothuis's Facebook Status

“While looking for WW I books at The Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch, Colorado (it is the centenary of the outbreak of hostilities), I overheard part of a question-answer time by one Kevin Hearne, a science fiction writer. I had to restrain myself from walking over five feet–the books were very near the front–and giving a lecture on his absurd and glib caricatures of Christianity.

Mr Hearne, God help him, answered a question about whether his third book in a series (about some absurd reigio-science fiction world) would be made into a film. He say probably not, since it featured a black Jesus drinking beer. That, predictably, got a flippant wave of laughter (or smirks) from the adoringly ignoramus audience. After all, he followed up, the people who would be bothered wouldn’t know about it until a film appears, since they only read Bibles. So, the cowardly film-makers pull back. He said more but this is enough.

First, has Mr. Hearne watched any films in, oh, the last thirty years? Does he think that Hollywood is shy about religious controversy or attacks on Christianity. Has he seen “Noah” for instance? Or does he know the controversy stired twenty five years ago by “The Last Temptation of Christ?”

Well, Mr. informal, witty, paid-beyond-your-competence, listen up. The greatest literary stylists of the Twentieth Century–dim wits such as T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others–were Christians, Christians who have forgotten more about literature than you will ever know. Furthermore, some of us ignorant Fundies have spent our entire adult lives reading literature, philosophy, mythology, psychology, and more. I stand in their midst. So, Mr. Important, we do not all fit your small minded, cliche-ridden stereotype.

Lastly, if you want to talk about a black, beer-drinking Jesus, please ring me up. I’ll drink and talk as long as you want. Perhaps you might convince me –after, say, ten beers–to read one of your works.

By the way, after surmising the WWI books, I bought one on Stubby, the amazing war dog.“

The New Atheism?

I wonder why atheism is now called “the new atheism.” Is there new evidence, or might it be that the old atheism is simply a failure? When you attempt to prove the existence of non-existnece, the burden of proof gets pretty demanding.

I think it’s a whistle-in-the-dark kind of marketing scheme. Sells books, anyway.

This might just be the most patient (and brave) man I've heard speak

This is Douglas Wilson. I’m pretty sure if he had spoken on sexuality in an Ontario university, the “diversity” crowd would have shut him down as often happens with other speakers with whom they disagree. I am amazed he was allowed to continue. His patience in the face of hostility, ignorance, pride, and stupidity is inspirational.

These are long, and well worth the listen. Especially the Q&A time.

The entire series can be seen here.

This poster was distributed by the speaker prior to the event:

Gay Pride | Gay Shame

So this is hate speech.

What then, is this? (Content Warning: explicit, disturbing, and offensive photos).

For those who might miss the point: hypocrites. Western society has moved from non-criminalisation of homosexuality to a forced sanction.

It might be good to note that not everyone is seeking a political answer to a spiritual problem. See this article by John Piper, as well as this one.

More Secularists' Fantasies of Fairness

Suspended Nova Scotia student defiantly wears T-shirt with pro-Jesus message

  May 3, 2012 – 8:32 PM ET | Last Updated: May 3, 2012 8:45 PM ET

Ryan Taplin for National Post

Ryan Taplin for National Post

Student William Swinimer wearing his banned shirt. “I believe this is worth standing up for — it’s not just standing up for religious rights, it’s standing up for my rights as a Canadian citizen; for freedom of speech, freedom of religion,” he says.

For the past six months, a yellow T-shirt with the slogan “Life is Wasted Without Jesus” has been just another shirt in William Swinimer’s wardrobe.

Lately, the 19-year-old Nova Scotian has worn it every single day since the vice-principal at his high school told him he couldn’t, that it was considered offensive, that it spewed, in his own words, “hate talk.”

Instead of peeling the shirt off like they wanted him to, Mr. Swinimer continued to wear it — straight through a series of in-school suspensions and straight through the five-day at-home suspension he’s currently serving.

When he comes back to class at Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin, N.S., on Monday, he plans to wear it again — even if it means he could be suspended for the rest of the school year.

“I believe this is worth standing up for — it’s not just standing up for religious rights, it’s standing up for my rights as a Canadian citizen; for freedom of speech, freedom of religion. I don’t think this is right.”

‘There was no profane language, there was no drug references, there was nothing inappropriate on [my] shirt’

The Grade 12 student’s act of defiance has shone a light on the balance schools attempt to strike between accommodating all faiths and differing viewpoints while trying to keep the peace.

It has also reignited the debate about whether students should have the right to express their beliefs at school even at risk offending others.

Mr. Swinimer wonders why his shirt has only now become so controversial, especially when he’s seen other students around school wearing T-shirts with slogans like ‘Hail Satan.’

“There was no profane language, there was no drug references, there was nothing inappropriate on [my] shirt,” he said.

South Shore Regional School Board superintendant Nancy Pynch-Worthylake said students are indeed allow to express their religious beliefs at school.

“I know it’s out there that somehow we don’t allow religious beliefs in school, which is absolutely false,” she said. “The only time is when we have students come forward and say ‘I really feel this is a criticism of my beliefs’ and that’s what happened in this situation.”

The students who complained to the principal took the shirt’s slogan to mean “Your life is wasted without Jesus,” she said, which could reasonably be construed as a judgment.

Mr. Swiniman said it’s a quote from the Bible book Philippians.

This case was handled the same way schools in the board tend to handle any complaint about T-shirt slogans; complaints about offensive clothing do come up every now and then, Ms. Pynch-Worthylake added.

‘Is it obvious that someone would be silly to think it’s offensive? Well no — we can kind of see both [sides]‘

“In meeting with students, we would ask ‘Is it blatantly offensive? And in this case it was ‘No.’ Is it obvious that someone would be silly to think it’s offensive? Well no — we can kind of see both [sides],” she said. “And then in meeting and talking with students we would say ‘The easy way to deal with this respectfully would be to just wear a different shirt.’”

But Mr. Swinimer wasn’t going to wear a different shirt, and defiance —especially repeated defiance — is grounds for suspension, Ms. Pynch-Worthylake said.

The school board issued a statement clarifying that “students may choose to wear clothing that embraces their beliefs. However, it is expected that students will not wear clothing with messages that may offend others’ beliefs, race, religion, culture or lifestyle.”

The school board is also consulting a human rights expert to assess whether the shirt can indeed be considered offensive, Ms. Pynch-Worthylake said, adding that she hoped Mr. Swinimer will be back at school as soon as possible.

The Grade 12 student said he continues to wear the shirt because he has been “bullied” about his faith in the past. Though he’s not usually one to rock the boat, he felt he had to take a stand this time and defend his views.

Varrick Day, who is pastor at Jesus the Good Shepherd Church in Bridgewater, N.S. where Mr. Swinimer and his family worship, said he encouraged the shy student to speak out.

“This is not about the T-shirt — it’s about our children and our grandchildren having the right of freedom of speech and religion,” he said. “That’s being taken away in our schools.”

National Post

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