Archive for category Arguments For God

Christianity and Politics, Should They Mix?

David P. Gushee wrote an USA Today column titled in big bold letters “Christian politics create unholy alliances”:

“They are at it again. Republican presidential candidates are trolling for conservative Christian votes. Christian political organizers are trolling for Republican candidates’ attention. (The next occasion will be the Republican candidate debate sponsored by The Family Leader in two weeks at a church in Des Moines.) The Democrats, too, will make some effort to join this game, as they did in the 2008 cycle.”

This is what he had to say about politicians “abuse of Christian symbols”:

“Politicians continue to use and abuse the language and symbols of Christian faith in order to win political support. They speak of God, Jesus, Christian faith and Christian values. They bow their heads in prayer at a million chicken dinners. Then Christian voters — perhaps flattered, perhaps reassured — think that these evocations of holy Christian symbols and terms actually mean something.”

Mr. David Gushee submits that the “trolling” conservatives are using “Christian values” (gasp!) as a means of winning “political support” (double-gasp!) from Christian America (blasphemy!).  For  Mr. Gushee’s sake  (and I expect about 40% of the rest of America) we ought to have a set of earplugs and blinders at the ready when watching the presidential debates. It’s for our own good;  us “rank-in-file Christians”. We just don’t what’s good for us. Wait? When was politics decreed sterile of worldviews? Christianity tugs a worldview behind it; when a candidate associates himself with this worldview, we acquire some deep insight into the mind of that candidate.  So, I guess my main question is this: how is it wrong for a politician to articulate his worldview truthfully? This question seems to be inaccurate, actually. Gushee isn’t angry at politicians expressing any old worldview; it’s the Christian one that irks him. Why ought politicians hide their religious beliefs? Is politics some sort of sacred ground in which the candidate is purged of all his Christian worldviews and then – enlightened in the ways of the secular humanist – is prepared to run the presidential race? It seems quite contrary to our intuition.  A candidate’s religion usually dictates the ethics that he conforms to. Therefore, when a candidate submits that the Bible is the source of his moral standard, that’s a good thing to know ; understanding the worldview of the person you’re voting for is appropriate and ought to be encouraged.

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Is Jesus A Copy Of Pagan Religions? Part 1: Horus

“Why should we consider the stories of Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, Mithras, and the other pagan mystery saviors as fables, and yet come across essentially the same story told in a Jewish context believe it to be the biography of a carpenter from Bethlehem?”

— Timothy Freke / Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries

This idea has been popularized by authors like Dan Brown and an internet movie called Zeitgeist; all of which claim essentially the same thing: the Christian concept of Christ was a mere copy of  other pagan gods.  In light of this, let’s examine some of their so-called “facts”.

Horus According to Zeitgeist:
– born on December 25th

– born of a virgin called Mary
star in the east rose when born
three kings adorned him
– teacher at twelve
– ministry
at thirty
had twelve disciples
  referred to as the “lamb of God” and “the light”

dead for three days
– was then resurrected

The Actual Facts of Horus:
1a. Horus was born to Isis; there’s no mention of Isis ever being called “Mary”.
1b. Mary is an anglicized version of ‘Miryam’; so it wouldn’t make sense for an ancient Egyptian goddess to be called  an anglicized name. 

2. There is no reason to think that Isis was a virgin. There is no textual indication that while she was married to Osiris  she  remained abstinent. Therefore, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim that she was a virgin; not the other way around.  

3.  Of the three different birth dates Horus was arbitrarily assigned one does land on December 25th, but who cares? The tradition that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth did not occur until the 4th century A.D. and was linked to the celebration of the Winter Solstice. The Bible never even assigns a date of birth for Christ!

4a. There are no texts that talk about three kings visiting Horus at his birth.
4b. There is no mention of the number of magi visiting Jesus in the New Testament.
4c. They weren’t called kings; they were actually magi (lit. “king-makers”) in the New Testament.
4d. The magi didn’t even visit at Jesus’ birth. Jesus was most likely around one or two at the time of magi’s visit.

5. There is no document that states that a star rose in the east that lead the undocumented three “kings” to Horus’ non-virgin birth.

6. No account of Horus being a teacher at the age of twelve.

7a. Horus was definitely not “baptized”.
7b. First of all, the term is misused; baptism refers to the ritual washing that the Jewish people started performing during the second Temple period; long after the legends of Horus.
7c. The only Horus and water incident was when Horus was torn to pieces and Isis asked for the crocodile god to retrieve his remains.

8. Horus certainly did not have a ministry of teaching on earth. Even if he did, he certainly would not have preached the same thing as Jesus did. The Egyptians didn’t have any doctrines of salvation, nor did they have a comprehensive understanding of the nature of their own gods.

9.  He did not have twelve disciples, but instead had four minor gods that were followers. There is also some textual indication that he had sixteen human followers and a group of blacksmith’s that followed him into battle.

10a. Horus could not have been crucified because crucifixion originated in around 600 B.C; long after the Horus legends were written.
10b. Horus’ death is described as him being dismembered and his body parts were scattered throughout the earth. Another story states that Horus’ torn pieces of flesh were put into a river.

11. Horus obviously did not die a death for spiritual atonement of the sins of the world.

12.  Horus was not buried for three days. Instead, he was dismembered and did not rise for a long period of time.

13.  There are no accounts of a bodily resurrection. There are texts that state that he was miraculously healed from a poisonous scorpion sting, but nothing that comes even remotely close to what Christ went through.

14.  “Great God”, “Chief of the Powers”, “Master of Heaven”, and “Avenger of His Father” are the only titles ever given to Horus. Titles like “Lamb of God” and “the light” are completely unique to Jesus.

Horus is obviously a legend from a different culture and a different time. There is absolutely no relation to the historical figure of Christ at all. There’s simply no comparison; they contradict on every main characteristic.

Want to learn more about Horus and the other Egyptian gods and goddesses? Here’s the Egyptian Book of the Dead from which much of my data stems from.

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Definitions And Arguments For The Soul

The soul is a pretty weird thing if you think about it. Then again, if you are like me, you haven’t really thought about it at all. A couple of days ago, however, I came across some articles written by J.P. Moreland on the existence and nature of the soul. So, I decided to write about them; I’ll even throw in some of my own thoughts.

The Method of Definition
The best way to define human consciousness is through an ostensive definition (i.e. defining something by pointing to an example of it). We define consciousness this way because it is very difficult to verbally describe mental states.

The Nature of Consciousness
There are five characteristics of human consciousness that can be easily identified:
1. Sensation: a felt/experienced awareness of something. There are two types of sensations: external and internal. External sensations are like seeing the color blue and internal sensations are like feeling pain.

2. Thought: a meaning that is either true or false and can be expressed in a sentence. This doesn’t mean that a thought must always be verbally spoken; it can also be a sentence formed within your consciousness.

3. Belief: a meaning that I take to be true from 51-100%. Beliefs are not necessarily always thoughts. For example, I have plenty of beliefs on the natural sciences, but this doesn’t always mean that they are in thought form within my mind.

4. Desire: a felt inclination toward or away from something. This isn’t the same thing as a sensation. For example, I have a desire to go to Mars, however, I have never had a sensation of Mars.  

5. Volition/ Freely willed action/ choice: I have the choice to move my arm; even if my arm is paralyzed. I still can will to move is even though I won’t get a response.

Some Arguments for the Existence of the Soul

Through the law of Identity ( x are identical y, if  quality A of x is the same as quality A of y). For example, George Washington is the same as the first president of the United States. Therefore if I ask who was born on February 22, 1732, it will be applicable to both George Washington and the first president of the United States.

First Argument: Mental States Differ from Physical States
Mental/ conscious states do not have the same features as physical states. Therefore, mental events are not physical. For example, sensations, desires, beliefs,  and thoughts do not have any physical features (like weight, mass, and spatial features); they are truly immaterial and non-physical.  However, the physical episode that occurs within our brains when we have thoughts, sensations, desires, and beliefs do have physical features. 

Second Argument: Mental states are self-presenting; Physical states don’t
When you feel an experience of pain or happiness, this sensation is completely personal to your mental state and you know them incorrigible (i.e. you can never be wrong about you feeling pain). Physical things, like the  Statue of Liberty or an apple, are in the physical or public domain.

Third Argument: Intentionality
Intentionality is merely the “ofness” or “aboutness” of objects. A physical object can have many physical relationships to another physical object. It can be larger or smaller, taller or shorter, right of left, etc., but it’s nonsense to say that a physical thing like the relationship between weight and gravity has a purpose or intention to something. Intentionality could only exist if there is something outside the physical realm.

The Conclusion
Through the law of identity the logical conclusion is that we are not the same thing as our brains  (Our mental states are not the same thing as our physical states, etc. ). We can easily conclude that there is a non-physical, immaterial, and eternal part of us that is closely connected with our physical bodies. Which is basically just another way of saying that the human soul exists.

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Moral Relativism vs. Moral Objectivism: Conventionalism.

Relativism is a very interesting belief that, well, doesn’t make a lick of sense. So why am I talking about it? Because most of the PC (Politically Correct, for those who don’t live in California) world believes in some type of moral relativism. It’s inescapable. That’s why I think it’s a completely relevant topic in today’s world and needs a response. To get started, let’s define the two types of mainstream relativism:

1. Conventionalism: Moral truths are completely or partially dependent on societal conventions. And for the ease of remembering, we’ll call this: “Societal Relativism” (i.e. if society believes (x), then you ought to do it).
2. Subjectivism: Moral truths are dependent on the personal preferences of the individual. We’ll call this: “I Say Relativism” (i.e. personal tastes: “Pizza Hut has the best pizza”).

In this post, I’ll start off by talking about some nonsensical conclusions of Societal Relativism (I’ll talk about I Say Relativism later):

The Euthyphro Dillema:

The Euthyphro dillemma applied to Societal Relativism basically goes like this: “Is ‘good’ supported by society because it is actually ‘good’, or is something ‘good’ because a particular society supports it?”.

The First Horn:

The answer to this one is pretty easy. If the relativist states that society supports something that is ‘good’ because it is ‘good’, then he’s not actually a relativist; he’s accepting that there is an alternative and more superior moral measuring stick, if you will, that society attempts to live up to. He is thus contradicting the core premise of moral relativism and ought to reconsider his beliefs.

The Second Horn:

This one is a little tougher, but not by much. If the relativist asserts that something is ‘good’ because a certain society supports, then a whole slew of problems happen:

Problem 1: A central belief of Societal Relativism asserts that all societal laws/beliefs equate to moral truths. This means that genocide, racism, infanticide, slavery, and oppression were all ‘good’. Really? Yup. If there are no ‘self-evident’ laws in the universe, this is what we end up with. I seriously doubt that you’ll meet any person that actually believes this, but if you do, then this person is, as William Lane Craig puts it, “morally handicapped” and needs to get some help.

Problem 2:
 If Societal Relativism is true, then anybody who opposes the ‘divine commands of society’ are immoral. Relativists agree with this. However, when taken to it’s logical conclusion, they seem to squirm. Why? Because people like, Martin Luther King Jr.,  Oskar Schindler,  and many others that opposed the ‘sacred law of the land’ are thus ‘evil’. It’s a logical conclusion and is inescapable. The men and women who risked their lives to save the Jewish people in the Holocaust were all ‘evil’. The men and women who risked their lives in assisting slaves in the Underground Railroad were all ‘evil’. The list goes on and on. Most Societal Relativists don’t even realize this. They believe that relativism fixes ethical problems, when in fact all it does is complicate things.

In Conclusion:
As we’ve seen above, Societal Relativism goes completely against our moral intuitions. Things like justice, fairness, blame, etc. just don’t make sense in a topsy turvy relativistic world. It just doesn’t fit. The Societal Relativist is either morally insane, delusional, or hasn’t actually thought about what he or she believes. This is why it is our duty to show the frankly evil conclusions of moral relativism and give the alternative: moral objectivism.

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Arguments For God: The Moral Argument

Definitions, Terms, And More:

This is probably one of the most convincing arguments for the existence of God and especially as a negation towards moral relativism. Now before we start the argument, let’s define a couple of important terms:

1. Moral duties: the obligation to retreat from the ‘bad’ and fulfill the ‘good’.
2. Moral values: ‘good’ and  ‘bad’.
3. Moral objectivism: moral values and duties that are independent of what people think (e.g. the Holocaust is bad, even if the Nazis succeeded in brainwashing the world to think that it wasn’t).
4. Moral relativism: moral values and duties that are dependent of what people think.
5. Moral intuition: an intuitional proposition is true because (1) it is self-evident, (2) needs no further justification, (2) and is known in full once all the facts are laid out (2+2=4 must be learned, but is justified by an appeal to intuition).

Here is the syllogism for the argument for those who like to see the logical flow:

1.  If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
1. Therefore God does exist.
With these in mind let’s begin the argument!

In Defense of Premise 1:
Many an atheist proudly affirm that objective morality exists even in the absence of God. They state that the origin of morality is derived from the evolutionary process and is grounded in our society. It’s merely an adaptation to our hostile environment – just like legs or arms. But an obvious problem arises when one claims this: morality doesn’t become objective in a naturalistic worldview, it becomes merely an illusion of the mind conditioned throughout the ages. Why? Because it was put in our minds for the sole purpose of increasing our survivability rate. Nothing else. Therefore, it becomes impossible to condemn war, oppression, racism, and sexual abuse as evil. Although, through the course of human evolutionary development, such actions have become ‘taboo’, there is no reason to believe that such actions are actually wrong. A person committing rape, for example, is simply going against the social norm and is thus on the same level as a person that belches at the dinner table or leaves the toilette seat up. The rapist is merely acting unfashionable.  Morality when coupled with evolution becomes relativistic and non-binding, not objective and obligatory.

Some radical types have retreated to a spin-off of the famous Platonic Good to explain the existence of objective morality without God. They posit that the abstract concepts of love, charity, compassion, etc. exist in their own eternal realm and act within the non-abstract realm. However, a contradiction arises from this. From their claim it follows that in the absence of people, universals like charity would still exist. Why? Because these traits allegedly exist in an independent abstract dimension. However, this statements is incoherent because charity isn’t actually charitable. Secondly, I don’t see how this abstract dimension could interact with the physical dimension. It just doesn’t make sense. But that’s besides the point. Even if the abstract could interact with the physical dimension how would we know what is ‘good’ or ‘wrong’, since the only thing these abstract ideas could do is simply describe a particular set of actions and not actually oblige us to do anything. Thus, this theory neglects to answer both the meta-physical and normative ethical questions.

In Defense Of Premise 2:

I think it’s important to remember that the burden of proof is on the one that makes claims that are different from our moral intuition. This is to say that any theory that seems to contradict our ethical intuitions needs justification.  But, this begs the question, do intuitions actually exist? The answer is yes. There are many different pathways to gaining knowledge and I think one of them is morality. I also think that with every pathway to knowledge there are certain “base beliefs”. These base beliefs range from things like self-awareness, mathematical equations, logical principles, and most importantly, basic moral laws. One might ask, “How do you know such ‘base beliefs’ exist?”. Well, Aristotle seemed to agree with me: “Some, indeed, demand to have the law proved, but this is because they lack education; for it shows lack of education not to know of what we should require proof, and of we should not. For it is quite impossible that everything should have a proof; the process would go on to infinity, so there would be no proof….” (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1006a). If I always had to give justification for my beliefs, then I would have to ad infinitum. Forever. To stop this infinite regress one must appeal to the apparent: intuitions or base beliefs.

Take this conversation:
“What color is that apple?”
“How do you know the apple is red?”
“Because the apple is right in front of me….”
“How do you know the apple is right in front of you?”
“Because I see it….”
“How do you know you see it?”
“Because the I see the physical world and that apple is in the physical world.”
“How do you know you see the physical world?”

It seems I’m stuck. I don’t conclude that I see the physical world based upon any other evidence. The infinite regress seems apparent. We need intuitions; without them we wouldn’t be able to know anything.

So how does this prove that objective morals exist? Well I think goes like this:
(1) If objective morality does not exist, then our moral intuitions do not exist.
(2) Our moral intuitions do exist.
(C1) Therefore, objective morality exists.

We’ve already proven premise (2) of the argument above, so what about (1)? From our argument we see that if our moral intuitions suggested the objectivity morality, then we would observe that our intuitions would be things that would only make sense if morality were objective. I think that our intuitions of justice, fairness, tolerance, charity, etc. all point to objective morality because these things can’t exist in a relative world. There is no justice if nobody is wrong. There is no tolerance if you have no obligation to respect each other’s beliefs. The list goes on and on. Our base beliefs only make sense in an objective world and until proven wrong (since the burden of proof is on the opposing side) we have every reason to believe so.

In Conclusion:

We can be sure that we cannot truly be good without a law giver. On the other hand, if we do believe that moral values and duties are objective and intuitional, that provides moral grounds for believing in God.

It interests me how the alleged “New Atheists”  have rejected God as the source of moral objectivity. Richard Taylor on the subject writes, “The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, not noticing that, in casting God aside, they have also abolished the conditions of meaningfulness for moral right and wrong as well. Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things are war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights, are ‘morally wrong,’ and they imagine that they have said something true and significant.Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion…. Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning.”

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