Saturday, September 11, 2010

Crimes of Hate


I have recently talked with a few people who consider religion dangerous, and they point to 9/11 as an example. But was religion really the problem there, and would the absence of religion solve it?

No, religion has nothing to do with it. In the first five years of Soviet power, the Bolsheviks executed 28 Russian Orthodox bishops and over 1,200 priests. The Soviet Union considered religion harmful to the people and acted much like Islamic terrorists in an effort to eradicate it. This kind of evil can express itself through religion, but it thrives without it as well.

The problem is self-righteous hate, and it can be found among Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and true believers of any ideology. It is the sense that other people are morally inferior to us and it is therefore our right and duty to punish them. The 9/11 terrorists really believed that God would reward them in heaven for destroying "corrupt" Americans.

Self-righteousness blinds us to our own moral failings, so Jesus aptly called it a plank in our eye. It is like an insidious poison because it masquerades as moral superiority. Jesus treated the notorious sinners with love and gentleness, because they knew they needed forgiveness. But he gave it to the hypocrites right between the eyes.

And just like self-righteous atheists killed Christians in the Soviet Union, self-righteous Christians have killed Jews, and self-righteous Muslims have killed Americans. Religion or its absence is not the issue; hypocritical self-righteousness combined with a foothold of power caused the most notorious events of human destruction in history.

Hate and self-righteousness is the problem, and love and humility is the solution. It is the only true moral superiority.

45 comments:

Garbonzo Beans!!! said...

Hi Anette!

Your closing paragraph was pretty much on the money.

Hope all's well with you!

~Beans!

Anette Acker said...

Hi Garbonzo Beans!

Thanks for commenting.

I'm doing fine. I've been taking a break from commenting on Atheist Central. The pace moves so fast there that it is very time-consuming to keep up with the discussions.

How are things with you?

Dineen A. Miller said...

So very well said. I wonder what you think about the mosque being built near ground zero...my hubby (he's an atheist) and I have had some interesting conversations about it. Honestly, I'm truly struggling with some of the things being said about it all by "the right wingers" as he calls them. When I investigate myself I often find what they're claiming isn't quite true.

For example, an email I received along this vein claimed a Greek Orthodox Church level by 9-11 is fighting to get rebuilt while this Mosque is unopposed. Yet when I researched it, turns out the Greek church is getting plenty of funding but the people in charge of it keep asking for more and won't reach an agreement.

So for the sake of this person's email to "make a point" and cause more conflict, the truth is twisted just slightly.

This grieves me so much because I see so many Christian friends buying into some of the most extreme aspects of this kind of debate.

I truly feel like the pickle between two slices of bread fighting over the same slice of meat, if that makes any sense. :-)

Okay, enough said. I'm praying for God to show me what to say or not to say in these situations, especially when the whole truth isn't apparent.

Thank you, Anette! Enjoying your blog!

Anette Acker said...

Hi Dineen!

Thank you for stopping by. The postcards you designed for Rick look absolutely incredible! Thank you for your patience with all the typos we discovered at the last minute. :)

I don't have very strong feelings about whether or not the mosque should be built. On the one hand, they should probably be more sensitive to the feelings of those who don't want a mosque so close to Ground Zero, but on the other hand, Americans should recognize that 9/11 was probably worse for peace loving Muslims than for anyone. Traveling in the aftermath of 9/11 was probably a nightmare if you were a young Arab man.

So, like with all politics, it's a weighing of interests. But ultimately I think it would be a lose/lose proposition if they manage to build the mosque there. It would be nice if the mosque organizers graciously decided to respect the wishes of those who were affected by the events of 9/11.

Charles Krauthammer wrote an interesting article here, where he says:

"When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there -- and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated."

What you said about dishonesty (embellishment for the cause) among Christians really resonates with me. Unfortunately, many people feel that the end justifies the means when it comes to apologetics. So when I research something, it take me a while to know whom to trust.

When I started commenting on Atheist Central, I had virtually no experience discussing Christianity with atheists, but God impressed on my mind more than anything that I needed to be scrupulously honest. Now, ten months later, that makes perfect sense to me, because I've learned how important honesty is to many atheists. And I know how bad Christianity looks when Christians stretch the truth.

It sounds like you are able to see your husband's position, and I think that's really important. I've actually learned a lot from talking with atheists--they say a number of true things, and all truth is consistent with the word of God. So, ironically, listening to what they have to say has fine-tuned my understanding of the Bible, because I've had to face the issues directly without the evangelical groupthink. Christianity is not all conservative politics. :)

Thanks again for commenting!

Garbonzo Beans!!! said...

I'm doing just Fine Anette thanks for asking.

I've certainly noticed your absence over at AC, but also believe me when I say that's not a bad thing.

I have been reducing the number of comments myself over the last few weeks. I think I go through phases though. I also think that any attraction I have to AC is also a sickness, but I love myself anyway ;-)

~Cheers!

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Anette, I've tried to post here several times over the past 24 hours...to no avail.

Am I in your bad books? Or is there a problem with comments getting thru?

Just wondering...

Anette Acker said...

Hi Bullhorn,

Of course you are not in my bad books. I don't know why your comments are not getting through. Have you been saying things that my blog disapproves of? Try agreeing with me next time and see if that works! :)

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Well there's either a supernatural gremlin in the works or God has intervened to frustrate my designs..

Anette, as strange as this may sound, my screed has actually gone through onto your thread twice (Doubting Thomas that I am, I've seen it with my eyes...), only to disappear when I check back to see if it's still there.

As my short missive above miraculously got through the Censor, whichever or whoever it may be, I'll try here again.

Here's hoping...

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Well there's either a supernatural gremlin in the works or God has intervened to frustrate my designs..

Anette, as strange as this may sound, my screed has actually gone through onto your thread twice (Doubting Thomas that I am, I've seen it with my eyes...), only to disappear when I check back to see if it's still there.

As my short missive above miraculously got through the Censor, whichever or whoever it may be, I'll try here again.

Here's hoping...

Anette Acker said...

Well there's either a supernatural gremlin in the works or God has intervened to frustrate my designs..

So what you're saying is that I did my most convincing job of apologetics while shopping at IKEA with my daughter? And to think that some people accuse God of not having a sense of humor!

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Just a few thoughts..

...9/11 had nothing to do with religion, you say? And then in the next breath, you say it did. As far as I'm concerned, it had everything to do with the extremes people will go to in the name of their beliefs. Denying that is simply disingenuous; sophistry, by any other name.

The point about the regimes you decry is not their atheism, or not, so much as a crude authoritarianism, an absolute, but misplaced, certainty of the unerringness of centralised power, often in the figure of one man. The totalitarian nature & extent of such governance, whether you like it or not, has echoes in the proclaimed infallibilty of religious belief. Degrees of virulence notwithstanding, the impulse of both is the same.

Be that as it may, the unwavering self-righteousness you excoriate is exactly what atheists, such as myself, abhor in the religious mind. The firm & immovable assurance you have in your set-in-stone beliefs, which brook no opposition, is repellent to me. Why? Because it is, to my way of thinking, in its fullest sense, anti-human, & can only lead to rigidity, intolerance & a spiritless emptiness which begets, if allowed to flourish unimpeded to its logical ends, only evil & waste. Any pretense to perfection kills off the only option we have, which is to manage the imperfectability of our lives as best we can.

The very notion of Heaven & Hell as real places, where somewhere in between (?) our destiny is finally determined on the perfect scales of divine justice, which weigh up the merits & demits of our puny, insignificant (but O so precious...) lives, is such a fatuous, facile, infantile & decrepit idea that it could not possibly have any validity or credibility for minds that, in any sense, remain sane & true to themselves.

Tell me, Anette, these "notorious events of human destruction in history" that you so bemoan, presumably do not take in the Biblical narratives of god-sent destruction, whose historicity has all but been debunked, as you know....

All is well then.... Or is it?

What about the future promise of a Second Coming, where countless, irredeemable souls will perish forever in the pit-of-beyond, is that assurance something you relish? Are you, without flinching, even in the deepest core of your being, able to countenance such flaming flummery, with equanimity & smug self-assurance?

Are you really that far gone? I doubt it. I sincerely doubt it.

Is the basis of all your unfathomable beliefs really that shallow? Is it all whimsy? Does it all amount to sound & fury, signifying nothing?

It certainly seems so.

Once again, as I pointed out to you before, the real world in which we live seems far more real to you than the putative world you dream of. Why else would the horrors of this world be so much more pressing & urgent (to you, it seems) than the horrors envisioned for the next, which'll never come to pass, except in the confines of your unholy mind?

Continued...

Bullhorn Twotails said...

I'll end with this thought: The notion of deathbed conversions, so beloved of feeble-minded believers who want easy answers where there are none, is a perfect expression of their vitiated, sham & effete beliefs. It would seem to me that, on balance, faith would require at least some measure of effort & resolve that went beyond a sudden epiphany of a few minutes duration...

Not that I'm accusing you of such shabby, porous thinking, which seems to denote, in glaring relief, the paucity & paltriness of your average religious thinker's thinking....

Peace to you. The real kind, that is...The peace that comes from the courage to live, in spite of...

Ps. As I know you don't like affectionate or jocular salutations, I won't bother...

WV.: 'moveasto'...,, move as to...?

This is getting stranger by the minute. My last note went thru twice.

Here's hoping...

Wv.no.2: 'phagie', I kid you not! As in the Greek, to devour, to destroy, to eat up; found in such compound words such as macrophage, which you may remember from biology classes or just plain 'ol reading...

See, this kind of nonsense is much more fun than speculating about propositions of other worlds that have no resemblance at all to this one. If you see what I mean, Anette?

I mean, these 2 WV's could, in all conscience, be the beyond talking to me. Fancy starting a religion? We could get rich...

Bullhorn Twotails said...

As you know, I tend to let rip, but as you know sweetie (oops! Heel boy, down...), when it comes to bright, charming women (just a second, my owner's tugging at my leash & choking me, woof, woof!), I really melt...

No, on a serious note, you're the only Christian on Ray's blog who's sparklingly bright, & who, more importantly, nestles down with atheists & listens & responds to what they say. Whereas your fellow-Christians, a broad church no doubt, seem to not hear what they don't wanna hear, period, which hardly bodes well if some kind of dialogue is the point...Many of them, I'm afeard, don't even seem to have developed the tools needed to tackle their opponents, which makes me wonder at the sincerity of their often inchoate & disparate beliefs, which so often seem made up on the hoof, lacking real substance or any conviction.....

And then there's you. I have no doubt (you might be surprised) that you are sincere about your beliefs & intent on not only affirming them to yourself, but on justifying them to others...

What troubles me about the truly devout (few as they are...) is not their passion & essential goodness, which in your case I couldn't really doubt, but the endless battle they must, by temperament, wage with what I perceive to be an existential malaise which plagues all thoughtful people.

There's no doubt in my mind that, in the grand scheme of things, in the pervasive, insoluble mystery of life & all that it entails, our lives, so fleeting & so unaccountably precious, are ultimately meaningless, pointless & futile.

We pass away, & that's it. There's no way of getting round this, it seems, but by putting one's trust in a faith that stipulates that is in fact possible to overcome the quandaries that beset us, as mere humans.

I understand this compelling need; I feel it myself, it's always with me now, like the backdrop on a stage. But the faith I have, or have found, is within the bounds of the meaninglessness I just alluded to. It is not beyond, it is about overturning reality, it is not about denying my tremulous humanity, it is not about a search to put things right with the world, or even indeed, with myself, it is right there, slap-bang in front of my nose. It is about surrender, surrendering to the course of my life, in every instant that unfolds. It is about finding transcendent meaning, worth, joy in-the-here-and-now, inspite of...

..., not because I am worthless or the world is purposeless, but inspite of this!

That, to me, is the ultimate truth. The fact that I will die some day, gives me my elan, my courage to be, fires my neurons, makes me love passionately, makes me wonder at the numinous in poetry, or in a sunset, or in a Dylan song, or in a late Beethoven quartet, or in the beatific smile in my daughter's face, or in a Rembrandt self-portrait, or at a hubble image of a galaxy cluster that can be seen now as it was 3 billion years ago, or in the kind gesture of giving I feel compelled, despite myself, to make....

The litany of surprises never ends, if one takes care to notice, to see, to ponder, to slow time down, to feel...

I don't need my failings washed away; I don't need to be saved from myself; I don't need a lifeline to nowhere; I don't need perfection; I don't need to long for things that are not there. I don't need to possess anything, I have the world on its terms, not mine.

I have faith that all is well in a world of 'terrible beauty'. Even if I die a terrible death tomorrow, or linger in pain, all will be well. I know it.

When I am dead & gone, all will be well.

That's my faith, for what it's worth.

Now to Robert harris' Enigma & a draught of vintage on a sunblest afternoon. Vintage? No, actually cheap plonk from my local down the street. Good enough for me, tho'. Good enough!

Yo!

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Alert!

ERRATUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I left out the crucial NOT in the following (see above):

"...it is NOT about overturning reality,...", blah, blah...

Errare humanum est, or whatever they used to say back in the mists of time, when English wasn't spoken...

Funny, isn't it Anette, how respect for the precision of language engenders respect for everything else...

'Yes'. The word, taped to the ceiling above the lsdder, as I recall in one of Yoko Ono's avant-garde art exhibits, that hooked the great John Lennon for life...

That's enough Bullhorn; quit while you're ahead. You can indulge yourself in your own time, thanks.

Yeah, OK.

Anette Acker said...

You did it! You finally got through!

*standing ovation*

The point about the regimes you decry is not their atheism, or not, so much as a crude authoritarianism, an absolute, but misplaced, certainty of the unerringness of centralised power, often in the figure of one man. The totalitarian nature & extent of such governance, whether you like it or not, has echoes in the proclaimed infallibilty of religious belief. Degrees of virulence notwithstanding, the impulse of both is the same.

The communists killed those priests and bishops in the name of atheism ("religion is the opiate of the people"), just like Hitler killed the Jews in the name of Christianity, and the terrorists killed in the name of Allah. Neither time was the act of violence inherent to the religion or lack thereof, and all three times there were other factors at play.

The Bible teaches that we are "called to freedom," so it doesn't advocate slavish adherence to a dogma. However, it also says that it is the Truth, which means that all truth will be consistent with it. It is not oppressive to seek the truth. That is what scientists and philosophers strive to do. And as a Christian I do the same.

In fact, legalism, which is what you are describing, is condemned by Christianity. We are to be led into all truth by the Holy Spirit.

And then there's you. I have no doubt (you might be surprised) that you are sincere about your beliefs & intent on not only affirming them to yourself, but on justifying them to others...

What troubles me about the truly devout (few as they are...) is not their passion & essential goodness, which in your case I couldn't really doubt, but the endless battle they must, by temperament, wage with what I perceive to be an existential malaise which plagues all thoughtful people.


That's very nice. Thank you for your kind words.

I'm not sure what exactly you're saying here. If an existential malaise plagues all thoughtful people, then devout Christians would not in a special category, right? Or do you mean that I must talk myself into what I believe?

If it's the latter, I can honestly say that I have the easiest position to defend. Although many atheists are very thoughtful, IMO atheism eventually leads to a dead end in terms of important philosophical questions. Theism, on the other hand, gives a simple explanation for the objective moral law, the objectivity of rational thought, the fine tuning of the universe, and the question of a first cause.

I've been reading another atheist blog recently, and the atheistic blog owner said in a post that unless the subject is evolution, atheists always seem to lose against theists in public debates--particularly to William Lane Craig. He gave a list of Dr. Craig's debates and separated them into categories of "the good," "the bad," and "the ugly," according to how the atheists did. "The good" list contained eight, "the bad" contained fourteen, and "the ugly" contained twenty-seven. The reason he gave was that atheists never seemed to be prepared and they let Dr. Craig walk all over them.

But why would this vast group of people (atheists) all share one quality (unpreparedness)? Wouldn't it make more sense that they have a more difficult position to defend? It certainly does to me!

Anette Acker said...

I forgot to mention, this atheist said that Dr. Craig won all the debates, including those where the atheists did a decent job. I've heard other atheists say the same thing.

Anette Acker said...

I should probably provide a link to the blog I referenced: Here it is.

Anette Acker said...

Once again, as I pointed out to you before, the real world in which we live seems far more real to you than the putative world you dream of. Why else would the horrors of this world be so much more pressing & urgent (to you, it seems) than the horrors envisioned for the next, which'll never come to pass, except in the confines of your unholy mind?

Christianity teaches that this life is very important, and therefore it should not be wasted with futile endeavors. That is, we should glorify God and do the good works that He has planned for us rather than spend our lives indulging ourselves. And a byproduct of living the way the Bible commands is greater personal fulfillment.

What about the future promise of a Second Coming, where countless, irredeemable souls will perish forever in the pit-of-beyond, is that assurance something you relish? Are you, without flinching, even in the deepest core of your being, able to countenance such flaming flummery, with equanimity & smug self-assurance?

Because so many atheists ask about hell, I did a thorough search on everything the Bible says about it, and I wrote about it in my post of July 30.

But no, I do not think about hell with "equanimity and smug self-assurance."

Bullhorn Twotails said...

This again, cobbled together: parts that didn't go thru; some added now...

Sorry Anette, I didn't mean to lowercase 'Christ!'. Just me thinking ahead of myself & getting 'my knickers in a twist', as in the quaint British phrase.

Just seen you new reflections...

This was last nite, with bits added now, :

Been posting for some 2 hours now, with maybe 10 on Ray's blog. Thought occurred to me that his blog, despite his dragging effect on it, is becoming quite fraught & interesting...He seems to have loosened his manic grip on it, which bodes well for a free, if difficult, exchange of ideas...

Now...

I pretty much ignore his posts now, which seem to be boring reworkings of the 1 or 2 themes his fixated upon. It seems he's just going thru his paces without any conviction or passion; he seems flat...

Just remember Anette, I like you a lot.... Any scathing words from me to you are never meant to hurt you or demean you (not that I could, or for that matter, would ever want to...), or to be gratuitous....

Just keep that in mind. I'm as adamantine about the truth, whatever it may be, as you appear to be yourself....

That's why I respect you. Dig? I've never been accused of being a smooth-talking diplomat, though I did sweet-tongue my wife when instantly smitten the first time we met....

If memory serves, a Persian proverb goes something like this: 'With the sweet tongue of kindness, you can grag an elephant by a hair...'

I'm actually a big softie; the forbidding front is just that, a front....

My brain's folding in on itself & liquefying at the edges. I'm off...

Bullhorn Twotails said...

erratum:

'grag' as in 'drag'

Bullhorn Twotails said...

This should've been 1st of last 3 , so, God willing, here it is again...., Was posted some 10 days ago...

If only we could slow time down (which according to the Laws of Physics we can...), we'd be able to pack all we wanted into elasitc time frames...

I simply note that time restrictions & other constraints of our mortal condition, mean we cannot give our everything to all matters that might merit our fullest attention. You obviously chose to skim over some of my 'points'; so be it, no criticism implied, just a passing observation.

Without going into it in any detail, yes, that's what I mean, that you must constantly "talk yourself into what you believe" as the need for encouragement, for reaffirmation, for reinforcement, for confirmation is a never-ending process, never concluded...

The iota of doubt that must persist, especially in the minds of thinking Christians (I'm willing to concede this paradox, where you're concerned!), means it could all be for nought.

The paradox of any theistic view of reality, from my point of view, is that it removes us further from any glimpse of ultimate truth, rather than closer. With every theistic tier added, the circle constricts, until one is left with nothing but an illusory reality, a kind of self-referential narcissism. Harsh as this may seem, especially in reference to people like you who may genuinely, but misguidedly, think they're doing just the opposite, & who believe their motives to be pure & disinterested, it is, to my mind, an indictment of the lack of integrated thinking that must, needs be, underpin such a stance.

The paradox of being a seeker of 'truth', while all the while acceding to a 'truth' that presupposes itself & can't be questioned, can't make any sense. It just a circular argument, that goes round & round, like a syllogism eating its tail.

Other fallacies, dear to believers, like the Pathetic Fallacy of attributing motives & purpose to 'mindless' processes, or the Appeal to Authority Fallacy of ascribing absolute certainty to the source of one's beliefs, come to mind.

As for your atheist confessor, each to his own, say I. All I can say is that he must've watched debates I haven't seen: Craig, from what I recall, appears wooden, laboured & rehearsed, & his arguments unpersuasive & redundant. Has he ever been up against a real scientist, on top of his game, in one of his debates? I doubt it. Christ! There was the Victor Stenger debate in which he had his scientific platitudes handed back to him on a plate... I think it was Dawkins who derisively dismissed him as a 'professional' debater (hack?), when asked why he wouldn't debate him. The damnation of faint praise seems apt in his case.

As a concession to you, though, there's one 'on your side', who has impressed me, for what my opinion's worth: Jay Richards, whose fluency & intelligence belie his beliefs. If you can put up with Ben Stein, his Stamford Debate with Hitchens in 2008 (on YouTube) might well be worth your time...

Peace.

Anette Acker said...

Without going into it in any detail, yes, that's what I mean, that you must constantly "talk yourself into what you believe" as the need for encouragement, for reaffirmation, for reinforcement, for confirmation is a never-ending process, never concluded...

The iota of doubt that must persist, especially in the minds of thinking Christians (I'm willing to concede this paradox, where you're concerned!), means it could all be for nought.


That couldn't be further from the truth! In fact, the more I research and discuss apologetics, the more convinced I become that Christianity is true. When I have a conversation with atheists, my goal is simply to be open to the truth. If the truth was that God did not exist, I would have accepted that truth, but in my opinion all the evidence indicates that the God of the Bible does exist.

The paradox of being a seeker of 'truth', while all the while acceding to a 'truth' that presupposes itself & can't be questioned, can't make any sense. It just a circular argument, that goes round & round, like a syllogism eating its tail.

I don't see it that way. I think the Bible can be compared to a hypothesis that is repeatedly tested. If you test it honestly, you will either abandon it or become a stronger Christian. I have tested it honestly, and I have become a stronger Christian.

As for your atheist confessor, each to his own, say I. All I can say is that he must've watched debates I haven't seen: Craig, from what I recall, appears wooden, laboured & rehearsed, & his arguments unpersuasive & redundant. Has he ever been up against a real scientist, on top of his game, in one of his debates? I doubt it. Christ! There was the Victor Stenger debate in which he had his scientific platitudes handed back to him on a plate... I think it was Dawkins who derisively dismissed him as a 'professional' debater (hack?), when asked why he wouldn't debate him. The damnation of faint praise seems apt in his case.

Whether you like Craig's manner or not, he does win debates. In fact, according to Common Sense Atheism, Stenger did a much better job than most of the other atheists (he fell into the "good" category), but he still lost. Did you watch the Hitchens debate? Hitchens is a great writer and a likable person, but he's not a logical thinker. I have only seen parts of it, and he seemed woefully unprepared, even failing to understand Craig's points. As for Dawkins, he is smart not to go into the arena with Craig.

As a concession to you, though, there's one 'on your side', who has impressed me, for what my opinion's worth: Jay Richards, whose fluency & intelligence belie his beliefs. If you can put up with Ben Stein, his Stamford Debate with Hitchens in 2008 (on YouTube) might well be worth your time...

I'll have to check that one out. Thanks.

Bullhorn Twotails said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bullhorn Twotails said...

Anette--

Look, I suppose for people like you especially----,

....who've devoted countless days to conscientiously affirming, harnessing & buttressing their faith, & who've, most importantly, tried to live by its moral precepts, as these are interpreted, refined, integrated & honed (by them!!) to seamlessy mesh.....

(insofar as anything, in this life, is seamless, capable of perfectability, or can be determined to be certain or finalized...)

...., as far as is possible, with the unpredictable flux, & ultimately tragic, impersonal & purposeless exigencies & contingencies of a life beyond our control or grasp...,


-----admitting that one's careful, scrupulous & passionate quest for truth may, after all, fall short of its absolutely exacting standards (truth, whatever it is, must, I'm sure you'd agree, be true for all times & circumstances, regardless of personal preference, fad or private hankering...), may be very hard, indeed, to countenance.

Especially, when one's identity is so closely woven into the fabric of one's beliefs, as to make them indistinguishable. You see, Anette, for me, such a long shot is not even worth the opening gambit because the odds of its success are perishably small; infinitesimally so, in my view. Like the proverbial vanishing point that disappears in the very instant of its creation, in the very instant that it is conceived.

Not to speak of course, of the fact, that when ultimate push comes to shove, these glimmerings of undefilable truth are, in the end, your perceptions, & yours only.

The limitations of words & cognitive sense (to wit, our intuitions, yearnings, wishes, etc...) must give way to a point, pointing beyond itself, where wanting, at all costs, to fathom the intrinsic mystery, the numinous quality & the ultimate unknowability of existence, is seen as vitiating, subverting & draining the Life Force that simply is, where such wanting is no longer even an issue, consigned as it were, to the very fringes of awareness.

The 'I am what I am' of the Godhead, is BEING (the Universe, The multiverse, What Is, call it what you will...), speaking of itself, to us.... It is. We are. You are.

Martin buber's 'I & thou' dissolve into each other; all egotisms on the Plain of Existence are seen clearly for what they are: vain, vapid, & vacuous musings that demean, debase, & denature the Human Spirit, which is why I see all Belief Systems as Blasphemies of the First Rank.

William Butler Yeats' searingly beautiful words, about a 'Terrible Beauty [being] born', when taken out of their insular Irish context of the Easter 1916 uprising against British Rule, & placed on the Timeless Plateau of Existence (Being), as befits this elan of poetic genius, say more about our lives here on earth & about how we came to be, than all the assurances that faith purports to bring. A "Terrible Beauty is Born". The Universe & all it entails, 'IS': nothing else needs to be said.

The consolations of poetry, love, philosophy, music, nature & art, not to speak of the burnishing sunlight that comes unbidden after a dreary cold snap (the litany goes on & on...) are enough to infuse life with purpose, value & meaning.

No need to look for sense or gratitude beyond. We must begin & end with ourselves: there's no hiding place, there's no time for the weary. The time is now, until we die.

There is no God. period. Done. Finis. Over.

(continued...)

Bullhorn Twotails said...

I give up. My latest post to you went thru, mid-stream & unrevised, before I even attempted to send it. I then proceeded, in a fit of pique, to remove it, where it has lain dormant in the vault the past few days...

So there you have it; my unexpurgated thoughts, unsanitised & unedited...

Anyway the unbegun 'Ps.' bit was to have addressed a few of your points, so here goes...

I must gently berate you on your..."whether you like Craig's manner or not, he does win debates." I know old, ingrained habits of thinking die hard, but your "...he does win debates...", threw me completely.

Can you guess why? Well, I'll tell you. It's the peremptory certainty of your words, as if your affirmation were definitive & uncontestable. Do you see where I'm leading? I don't think I should have to dot my I's & cross my T's, so I won't....

Who says? Common Sense Atheism? Well. I'll be damned! I think you probably get my point: to be honest, I looked at the site & was hardly impressed, as I think I told you. As I recall, none of Hitchens' debates were cited, a glaring omission, for one.

Craig is a professional debater who might seem polished & on top of his game to some, but not to me. His seeming profundity is only a matter, in my opinion, of surface gleam, like a spit-polished director's desktop, meant to impress on first meeting. It's surface deep; his pretense to a deeper scientific understanding is a kind of rote-recital which lacks conviction & spark. As I said, I've found his presentations dull, not particularly enlightening, & certainly not that difficult to follow. There's no poetic edge to his words; no sense that he's truly inspired.

The same could never be said about Hitchens. The fact that he may not be as glib when it comes to expostulating on the arcana of science, as some (he's not a scientist; but neither is Craig), does not diminish the force of his words. His intuitions are always dead-on; he is anything but an undisciplined speaker or an illogical thinker. He has the elan of a poet, whose intuitions about life are never mundane or boring, & more often ring true, than not. Craig reminds me, on the other hand, of a competent, but pedestrian journeyman, who'll never reach any soaring heights---far less impressive than Jay Richards who ironically has a solid background in science, if memory serves me.

Again, I'd dispute the notion that you can be a "great writer", but not a "logical thinker". As an inveterate admirer of all things Hitchenesque, from his shifting political allegiances & taste in music (he adores Bob Dylan, as I do), to his voracious appetite for literature, all of which uncannily mirror my own, as I bask in his reflected glory (Down, Rene, heel!), I'm sold on him...(anette

That he'd be unable to assimilate Craig's points I'll simply dismiss as an 'anethian (contraction of anette-thian...) dig', & leave it at that. We're not talking Einstein here, or Hawking, or Krauss or Weinberg, for that matter, are we? Enough of that.

As for your dismissive assessment of Dawkins, who in my opinion, is on a much higher plateau than the plebeian Craig could ever hope to reach (I've read all Dawkins' books, save one I think?), I won't dignify your 'cheap shot' by taking the bait. Even I, as you must know by now, am not above 'taking the piss' for the sheer joy of getting a rise out of someone, so I won't hold your hand to the fire on this one, as you no doubt hoped I would. I was going to say I can read you like an open book, but that'd be going too far for comfort, so I won't...

(continued)

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Oh, just one last thing. I read Rick's 40-page installment....Might even have bought the book, were it not for Abingdon Press's apologia that stuck in my craw.

It's a harsh world out there, Anette (You might suggest to Rick's publishers, if you have any pull, that they might get a wider readership if they weren't so in-yure-face about their beliefs....)

The idea that "everyday situations" (or any others) only have "clear-cut solutions", if one believes in the imponderable hand of Providence, is so off-putting to me, that my eyes glaze over to avert any sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. You'd expect me to say that, wouldn't you?

What can I say?

Peace to you & yours, all the same.

Anette Acker said...

Bullhorn,

Again, I'd dispute the notion that you can be a "great writer", but not a "logical thinker".

Of course you can be a great writer without being a logical thinker! In fact, I think the greatest writers appeal more to the emotions than to the intellect. That's probably why you don't like Craig, because he is admittedly dry and cerebral. I would never call Craig a great writer with a "poetic edge" but he is a very logical thinker.

Hitchens, on the other hand, has the gift of evoking strong emotions in people (and he certainly has a poetic edge). His article in Vanity Fair about his cancer was very moving and made him come across genuine and likable. However, I can't say that I found his logic about the immorality of vicarious redemption compelling.

As for your dismissive assessment of Dawkins, who in my opinion, is on a much higher plateau than the plebeian Craig could ever hope to reach (I've read all Dawkins' books, save one I think?), I won't dignify your 'cheap shot' by taking the bait. Even I, as you must know by now, am not above 'taking the piss' for the sheer joy of getting a rise out of someone, so I won't hold your hand to the fire on this one, as you no doubt hoped I would. I was going to say I can read you like an open book, but that'd be going too far for comfort, so I won't...

Wow, good job not taking the bait! I'm impressed. ;) Actually, Dawkins has said that he won't debate a "professional debater" so I wasn't so much dismissing Dawkins as stating a fact.

Oh, just one last thing. I read Rick's 40-page installment....Might even have bought the book, were it not for Abingdon Press's apologia that stuck in my craw.

It's a harsh world out there, Anette (You might suggest to Rick's publishers, if you have any pull, that they might get a wider readership if they weren't so in-yure-face about their beliefs....)

The idea that "everyday situations" (or any others) only have "clear-cut solutions", if one believes in the imponderable hand of Providence, is so off-putting to me, that my eyes glaze over to avert any sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. You'd expect me to say that, wouldn't you?


Thanks, we appreciate that you were considering that! But I think you might have misunderstood Abingdon. They are not saying that everyday situations have clear-cut solutions; they're saying the opposite: they explore the gray areas of life that seem to have no clear-cut solutions, as well as the "human condition." That means that their books are not Pollyannaish.

Rick's books are certainly not Pollyannaish or preachy. He just said: "Tell him that if he averts his eyes from the questions at the end, he'll never know it's Christian."

Bullhorn Twotails said...

What do I know? Sweet F-A, as they say over here....

Did you get a chance to watch the Jay Richards debate?

As for being pollyannish, I don't know. For me, it's just a matter of being realistic and accepting reality on its unforgiving terms.

As for the idea that everything will be put right at some indeterminate time in some future Elysium beyond this realm, just doesn't grab me at all.

I just don't see the need to bring in the Supernatural at all. I just don't get this yearning for an eternity of perfect happiness; I just don't get it.

It just seems so naive, so fruitless & pointless. We're here to make the most of the 'bad' hand we've been dealt; that's the sum of it, as I see it. Can't see we've got any other options, other than to imagine the odds of this life will be overturned in the next. Life is what it is, and we've got to make the best of it. Other than that, can't see any way out, not that I feel the need to look for one. To me, calling the hand, bad or good, is not getting 'it', to begin with. It's not a matter, in my eyes, of life's being one thing or another, it's simply a matter of what is. Life is, we are. That's our starting point; and our finishing point.

I do, nonetheless, find it very hard to believe that you could really, truly, hand-on-heart, believe that Biblical prophecies, so-called, have actually been fulfilled.

If that's not a self-fulfilling, pollyannish vision of reality, where one's wishes trump all sense, then I'm a naive fool....

I don't think I'm a crackpot or a crank: I don't think you are either, which leaves me stretched on the horns of that proverbial dilemma.

Hence my moniker, Bullhorn Twotails.

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Anette, don't mean to be 'cheeky'. but in reference to Rick's suggestion that I should 'avert my eyes', could he be persuaded to post me the 'questions' themselves, as they appear in his narrative?

Either here or to my blog...In order not to give too much away to prying eyes, should he agree, I'll copy his words to a folder, & then delete them....

Should he agree, I'll probably end up ordering the book itself...

Anette Acker said...

Of course it doesn't sound cheeky to ask about the questions. Basically they are just study questions to facilitate discussion for book clubs. And only the last two are explicitly Christian.

Here's a link to the questions.

Thanks for your interest in buying the book!

Anette Acker said...

Did you get a chance to watch the Jay Richards debate?

I have not yet, but thanks for reminding me.

I do, nonetheless, find it very hard to believe that you could really, truly, hand-on-heart, believe that Biblical prophecies, so-called, have actually been fulfilled.

I just had a discussion with Steven J. on AC about the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation. I don't know if you read that, but the modernist approach fails to explain a number of things. For example, the fourth kingdom mentioned in Daniel fits the Roman Empire perfectly, but if modernist scholars were to accept that they would also have to acknowledge that it was prophetic. So Steven argued that the fourth kingdom grew out of one of the four successors of the third kingdom (Alexander's). But when I asked him to please show me where either Daniel or Revelation support this idea, he did not reply. (I didn't summarize that very well, but the point is that it is impossible to fully explain the book of Daniel while denying that it is prophetic. The modernist interpretation is very forced.)

So yes, I most certainly believe that many, many prophecies have been fulfilled! Absolutely, truly, hand-on-heart.

Bullhorn Twotails said...

To be truthful, sweet peach (Oh no, here I go again...), I always read your stuff & Steven J's, but caviling over this, that & the other, just doesn't grab me at all.

It's obvious to me that we're all set in our ways, & won't budge: strangely enough, I feel a greater kinship of spirit with you than I do with some of my so-called allies in this ongoing debate...

Whereas I feel nothing but disdain & contempt for some of your comrades, whose avowals of faith seem as empty as their monochrome dreams, I couldn't say the same for you....

Anyway, best regards to you & Rick.

Ps. If you & he represented the 'faith community', I don't think there'd be the divide that exists between the 2 camps, in the first place.

I know my demeanor scares off a lot of people, but I'm not looking to win any popularity contests.

Were it not for the fact that you're opposed (?) to the consumption of booze, as per Rick's questions, I'd happily invite the 2 of you over for a drink...

In the meantime, Robert Harris' Enigma awaits...me.

And so it goes....

Peace.

Anette Acker said...

Were it not for the fact that you're opposed (?) to the consumption of booze, as per Rick's questions, I'd happily invite the 2 of you over for a drink...

Are you flying us over to England? We'll be there!

Rick didn't say that we are opposed to alcohol--Jesus did after all turn water into wine--but a lot of Christians in the Bible Belt are. So publishers have to be careful about offending them.

Ps. If you & he represented the 'faith community', I don't think there'd be the divide that exists between the 2 camps, in the first place.

Thank you, that's very nice, but I spent a week commenting on another atheist site and I was called more names during that week than my entire life before that. I was called Hitler, a moral monster, a hypocrite, and they had proven my immorality. This was my favorite, though:

"She wanted and still wants war. Not to troll, but for a more ideological reason. She is enlightened, you are ignorant, and the facts do not matter. You will submit if she wears you down. She got her wish for quite awhile. She got war. She deserves so much less."

I told him that I wasn't sure if I fully understood that, but it had a nice ring to it and kind of made me want to put on my Terminator sunglasses.

Of course since I laughed at their name calling--which made them furious--maybe I deserved the treatment. But since then very respectful, reasonable Christian philosophers have been featured on that site and been called Hitler, f**ktard, moron, and douche, and they definitely didn't deserve it.

I'm still trying to find out what the deal is with those atheists, but they are very different from the atheists at AC. One of them twice freaked out when I quoted the Bible to answer a question about the Bible. Basically, they wanted to be able to ask mocking questions about the Bible (that they believed had no answers), but they didn't want me referring to the Bible in answering these mocking questions. I mean, why would you do something as ridiculous as refer to the Bible while answering questions about the Bible? That would be like referring to the tax code while answering questions about taxes! ;)

Anyway, that's the first time I've encountered atheists like that, but apparently they do exist, so the divide exists regardless. In spite of your demeanor, you don't seem to be actually opposed to Christianity, but some of those atheists definitely were.

Anette Acker said...

I feel like my previous comment came across really judgmental about the atheists on that site and just want to say that most of them were not like that. And as for the ones who did call me and other Christians names, I'm in no position to judge them since I know very little about them.

Garbonzo Beans!!! said...

Hi Anette!

"I feel like my previous comment came across really judgmental about the atheists on that site and just want to say that most of them were not like that. And as for the ones who did call me and other Christians names, I'm in no position to judge them since I know very little about them."

~Don't be modest Anette, that's actually one of the reasons why I'd prefer post more on AC than on YouTube.

Some of those folks profess to being "atheists" which I've never quite understood. Not to mention the slurring, and plain out poor taste.

It also boggles my mind how anyone who doesn't buy into a specific theology thinks it makes sense to argue theologically...

Like I always remind myself, -wheather I find myself in the grocery store getting cut off by another ignorant shopper, or on AC being told by another person what I think- "they're apes too Micah! You'd be foolish not to expect such behaviour."

We're a partially rational species Anette, I'm sure you'd agree with me on that much.

I hope all is well anyway!
~Cheers!

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Anette--

No need to apologize at all!

Maybe what I'm getting at (a flash of intuition: like an electrical discharge, lighting up an unbridgeable gap, between 2 poles..?) is that, just as Christianity is a very broad church, so too is atheism.

While I don't believe you've got it 'sussed', for the purposes of the above, you'd be nearer the sublime end of that broad spectrum, with little or nothing in common with the disingenuous posturings of discredited clowns at the other...

In other words, I'm not sure you'd recognize all claimants to your faith as being genuine or, for that matter, as having any more spiritual 'nous' than I have...

By the same token, while Hitchens may say, with a sardonic glint in his eyes, that atheism, in the narrowest terms (ie. no belief in a god..), may include nihilists & amoral hedonists, I'd (at the risk of sounding smug...) place myself within its humanist camp, which as I see it (atheism), is its only viable place....

Just as 'real' atheism is far more than a simple negation (a non-belief in a deity), so too I'd imagine that your 'faith' is far more than the sum of your beliefs, to you, too....

When you speak of love, compassion, integrity & sensitivity, without the spurious add-ons of tiers of belief, I see no grounds for disagreement at all.

But, as when the Jesus character enjoins His devotees (His disciples, & you too, presumably?) to leave everything behind to follow Him (with no care for the morrow), to prove their devotion, my own sense of fairplay, natural justice, & moral relativism (I don't think there are any moral absolutes, in the strictest sense of the word, but that's another can of...) makes me recoil, in horror....

If we could only sift His 'good' words from 'the bad', & be 'shot' of any notions of His divinity or perfection, we'd all be the better for it, says I...

Show me the 'perfect human' & I'll show his faults.

Show me the 'perfect God' & I'll show He's not anywhere to be found. Just like perfection, certainty, & nothingness, the proposition is impossible, in the round of being, as we know it....

In my humble eyes, the one paradoxical certainty, & the only one that makes sense of our lives....

Peace.

Ps. Quite enjoy these interludes with you... You remind me of a girl I knew, whom I haven't seen since 1979...

Ah, this bitter-sweet life of ours...

Have either of you read Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being? Read it some 15 years ago, at least. A brilliant book..., highly recommended. There's also a movie of it which I haven't seen...

Bullhorn Twotails said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bullhorn Twotails said...

A beautiful ode to us frail humans.... It's wrenching pathos is almost too much to bear...

(bloody posting is acting up again...)

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Uh, oooh..., have I overstepped the bounds of propriety, yet again?

I know I sail close to the wind, sometimes, & anyone being seen to associate with me may be ostracized from the wider community....

Only kidding, Anette, only kidding.

As with all multi-tasking women, some of whom are miraculously capable of juggling 16 balls at once, when we mere males can seldom manage 2 or 3, asking them to take on an extra 1 or 2, may be asking too much...

I mean, exchanges could go on endlessly..., or could they?

No, but do try to read the book I recommended to you; it's not a paean to atheism, or anything as banal or off-putting as that.

As I have no expectatons of others (or of life itself), everything becomes a bonus, of sorts.

A bit like for Christopher H, who refuses to wallow in self-pity or angst...

What a remarkable example of a deeply spiritual man; I only hope I'll be able to do the same when my time comes!

By the way, as I tell my daughters, a monosyllabic 'Yo!' is sufficient acknowledgement of my emails to them, now that they've both flown the coop.

The 'unbearable lightness of being' is a wondrously liberating feeling, when recognized as such.

Dylan's line:

"...but people don't live or die, they just float,
She went with he man in the long black coat..."

...from his 'Oh Mercy' album, a masterpiece by my reckoning, & worth of a listen or 2, or even 3.

I won't pester you anymore, 'til I hear from you. That's a promise. And by no means, meant to sound like a reproach, or that you have any obligation to do so...

Peace.

Anette Acker said...

As with all multi-tasking women, some of whom are miraculously capable of juggling 16 balls at once, when we mere males can seldom manage 2 or 3, asking them to take on an extra 1 or 2, may be asking too much...

There you have it. Too many balls in the air recently, between real life and getting a lot of substantive responses to my recent posts--here and elsewhere. (And at least one person who has been commenting recently has serious questions, so I want to make the effort to answer them carefully.) So I apologize for taking almost a week to reply to you and GB!!!.

But thanks for the conversation and have a great weekend!

Anette Acker said...

Hi GB!!!/Micah,

What a great name! You're named after a prophet.

It also boggles my mind how anyone who doesn't buy into a specific theology thinks it makes sense to argue theologically...

Well, it makes sense for someone like Steven J. or BeamStalk who can argue Bible interpretation because they are knowledgeable about what the Bible says. But I do find it frustrating sometimes when people know nothing about the Bible except what they've learned on atheist sites and they really want to debate it. I'll explain these things to anyone--but debating theology with someone who is convinced that their lack of comprehension means the Bible makes no sense is an exercise in frustration.

That said, a number of those atheists were knowledgeable about philosophy and apologetics so I do still read the site. It contains interesting information.

Anette Acker said...

But, as when the Jesus character enjoins His devotees (His disciples, & you too, presumably?) to leave everything behind to follow Him (with no care for the morrow), to prove their devotion, my own sense of fairplay, natural justice, & moral relativism (I don't think there are any moral absolutes, in the strictest sense of the word, but that's another can of...) makes me recoil, in horror....

Let me answer this question: This only makes sense in the context of God really existing and this being an expression of faith. And what it means is that God wants us to do His will without fear. We are to give to the needy, trusting that God will provide.

I have a friend who just adopted a boy from Ethiopia, and she and her husband both felt that it was God's will and that He would provide the necessary funding. So they started the adoption proceeding, and God did in fact provide all the money. Many of her friends have done the same thing, so these orphans are getting homes because young families (who don't have much extra money) are taking a step in faith like Jesus teaches.

God provides when we are faithful with our money, so it's a win/win proposition. We are to be like the "lilies of the field" and not be weighed down by the anxieties of this life.

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Anette--

As you must've gathered by now, my sense of someone doesn't come from the artifice of their words, or their stated beliefs, but from an unspoken sense conveyed that there's an underlying 'goodness' & 'ease' about their person, or not, as I may perceive it.

Who am I to make such an assessment, you ask? As a self-motivating agent, I don't have an answer. Again, it's just a sense I have that the well-spring of 'me', in the confines of my mind, leads me to...

If something doesn't 'feel' right, I don't go with it; if it does, I do. Maybe that's the closest Ican come to answering the afore-posed question...

Either someone's 'solid' & 'centred', with a imperturbable core of self-belief, or they've no identifiable identity because they're too scared of facing up to themselves.

I'm not saying that someone who's struggling cannot also have that capacity to be 'grounded' in themselves, provided they have the stomach to face their anxieties, their doubts, & their own incapacities, head-on.

It's the fools, who revel in their foolishness, & who are blind to their ignorance & shortcomings, whom I disrespect; whose pretense to being serious, & whose claim to being worthy of being shown respect & deference is, just that, a pretentious, misbegotten, self-serving sham....

Self-aggrandizing illusions in others, bring out the unforgiving cynic in me.

You're obviously well-intentioned, & I doubt there's a malicious bone in your body. In the end, I suppose, your God-immersion-bent (?), which bemuses me, would never prevent me from seeing those other qualities in you that I admire in others, & which, to my way of thinking, are far more important than any avowals of faith or belief, however heartfelt.

The only difference between our respective 'faiths', as I see it, is that while I see yours as a kind 'get-out-clause', my 'faith' relies on the hope that, in spite of the unforgiving & implacable nature of reality that could upend everything in the flash of an instant, I may, through the sheerest dint of undeserving luck, live out my life with zest, compassion & awe, where fulfillment, insofar as it is possible, is mine to be had, but for...., or in spite of...

God only knows, but He's not there, so on I must plod, until the spark of consciousness is stilled in me, forever & a day.

In the end, we're all like the proverbial "lilies of the field", except that they, in their blissful ignorance, never dwell on their fate....

Peace to you, kiddo! And may unseeing fate bless you & yours!

wv.: 'disco'. I don't believe it, but there you have it. Is life a disco? What do I know?

Bullhorn Twotails said...

Just watched Hitchens v. Craig debate again, thinking I may've not done Craig justice in my assessment of him, given your high praise...

If anything, though, my overall impression of his skills as a debater is even worse now, than it was, after time'd elapsed since my first viewing.

Once his intial 'speech' (his own rather weak & infelicitous word, which he uses to describe his defense of his beliefs...) is over, he seems to get bogged down in the minutiae of dogma & apologetics, with little to offer in rebuttal to the fluent ease with which Hitchens runs circles around him.

He seems incapable of bringing his 'vaunted philosophical nous' & 'scientific logic' to bear on their exchanges; he seems awkward & strangely unsure of himself.

The best he can do, it seems, is to harp on what he claims is Hitchens' refusal to tackle the 'truth claims' he makes about the existence of God, which case, he declares, is made through the rigorous & exacting application of philosophy, logic & science.

Be that as it may, I just don't see why his theism, grounded in faith as it is, can be justified on any other grounds. Or indeed why he should feel compelled to account for it, on grounds of reason or sound logic, in defiance of the very faith he proclaims.

I can't, for the life of me, be made to feel that he's at ease with himself, & viscerally convinced of the certainty of his beliefs. There's just something about his demeanour that doesn't feel right. The impression I get is of someone who's not on top of his game; of someone who doesn't quite believe he has the requisite tools & the breadth of knowledge to vindicate himself, despite his Phd credentials...

I'm not saying there's something feigned, twee, & ineffectual about him, so much as a lack of self-belief that comes from trying too hard.

His peremptory manner belies a tentativeness & hesistancy that he can't hide.

There's a kind of rigid formality about his bearing, & lack of fluency in his words, that indicate to me that he's not all he'd like us to think he is.

I'd be willing to bet that, outside his narrow field of expertise, such as it is, he's not bothered to read much of anything that he regards as incidental to it.

Certain people, in my eyes, just seem to 'get it'; they have an 'inner core' of soundness, strength & believability that hits you in the gut. They have a quiet self-belief that needs no prompting or validation from others: it just is, & needs no confirmation or corroboration from others.

Craig, I'm afraid, just doesn't have it, for me. Nothing about him would make me want to look into him further, much less read anything he might've written.

He just doesn't grab me, in any way, shape or form.

In fact, if he's among the best the Christians can offer in defense of their creed, then they are indeed in terminal decline.

He may seem to be more plausible, on first acquaintance, than many of the dullards trumpeting for attention in the Christian camp, but I'm afraid such lukewarm acclamation is akin to damning with faint praise....

I'm surprised that you, of all people, should hold him up as an example of a peerless apologist.

Anyway..

Anette Acker said...

Once his intial 'speech' (his own rather weak & infelicitous word, which he uses to describe his defense of his beliefs...) is over, he seems to get bogged down in the minutiae of dogma & apologetics, with little to offer in rebuttal to the fluent ease with which Hitchens runs circles around him.

If this was a competition to see which man has most charisma, I'd say Hitchens won, at least during the Q&A period when he wasn't sweating bullets. :) (How many times did he push the hair out of his forehead during the debate?) Hitch is a funny guy and he has a cool demeanor, but during the debate he couldn't even remember Pierre Laplace's famous words to Napoleon: "Sire, I have no need of [the God] hypothesis." Instead, he awkwardly paraphrased it. And he forfeited his closing statement. (I guess he'd had enough punishment.)

I would tell you what Luke at Common Sense Atheism said about that debate, but first I'd have to have assurance that you're sitting down with a glass of wine first (in plastic, in case you're prone to throwing things) . . . All right fine, I'll tell you what he said--I don't want to keep you in suspense: "Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child."

The problem is that Hitchens never replied to Craig's arguments. Why did he bring up evolution? It is a red herring because why couldn't God have created that way? The arguments for a Creator have to do with the beginning, and they are therefore cosmological, not biological. And what does Mother Theresa have to do with anything? During the debate you have to respond to the arguments.

Be that as it may, I just don't see why his theism, grounded in faith as it is, can be justified on any other grounds. Or indeed why he should feel compelled to account for it, on grounds of reason or sound logic, in defiance of the very faith he proclaims.

Is Hitchens the one who has given so many atheists the idea that faith and reason are mutually exclusive? They are actually intended to work together. Francis Collins said: "Faith is not the opposite of reason. Faith rests squarely upon reason, but with the added component of revelation." Blaise Pascal, the famous mathematician and philosopher likewise said that faith is informed by reason.

What really surprised me was that Hitchens thought that rational apologetics was a relatively new phenomenon. It's been around for as long as Christianity has been around. Justin Martyr was a second century apologist, and even the apostle Paul "reasoned" with the people he was trying to convert.

You may not like Craig's manner, but he makes five arguments almost every time he debates an atheist, and they have not been refuted: the cosmological argument (and the Big Bang), the teleological arguments (and the fine-tuning of the universe), the moral argument, the resurrection of Christ, and the argument from experience. Hitchens didn't even seem to try to refute them.

As I said before, Hitchens is an excellent writer, but logic and debate is not his strong suit. The big problems were that he wasn't prepared and he didn't reply to Craig's arguments.