Posts Tagged Logic
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.
“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.
The Dawkins Delusion:
It’s an age-old question of origins. Who created the creator? Does God have parents? It’s merely a brain-teaser of sorts, but for some naive authors, *cough* like Richard Dawkins *cough*, it’s their central argument. An excerpt from this not-to-be-named author’s book, The God Delusion:
“1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has
been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe
2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of
design to actual design itself.
3. The temptation is a false one because
the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed
4. The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian
evolution by natural selection.
5. We don’t have an equivalent
explanation for physics.
6. We should not give up the hope of a better
explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for
Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.”
Now, you don’t need to be a Oxford philosopher to understand that his premises for the argument do not lead to the odd conclusion that “God almost certainly does not exist”. Why? Because he’s saying that we can’t infer a designer to things that appear to be designed. To Dawkins’ dismay, however, there are plenty of arguments for God that have nothing to do with the appearance of design in the universe. His reasoning is thus logically invalid because the argument is just another non sequitur. But, for the sake of the discussion, we’ll let it slide. Mr. Dawkins’ main point is that we have no right to infer an intelligent designer for the universe because a new problem arises: who designed the designer?
1. As many philosophers have already pointed out, you don’t need an explanation of an explanation to conclude if it’s valid or not. It’s really that simple. As an analogy, pretend I head off to England. Assume I find Stonehenge. I examine it and determine that it was developed by an intelligence. Now, is my inferring intelligence less correct because (1) I don’t have any clue who made it and (2) I don’t know who the ancestors of the people that made Stonehenge? Obviously not. If I was wrong in doing this, it would put us in a vacuum of knowledge in which we would always have to explain the explanation ad infinitum to decide whether to believe something or not (i.e. an infinite regress).
Who made Stonehenge?
Who made them?
Well, you forgot to explain them too!
And so on….
2. Asking the very question “who created God” is nonsensical. God being the very first cause, this would be like asking “who created the uncreatable?”. It’s just a bunch of pseudoquestions because it forces us to conceive created gods, instead of who we’re really talking about – God.
You’re not required to explain God in order to recognize that He is the best explanation. It’s quite odd that Dawkins uses this argument as his “central” one. It was his knockout argument — or so he thought.
A Reason To Believe Christianity Is False?
I was browsing the internet when I found a post on an atheist website that said the following:
“What is it that makes people believe in God at all? It seems to me that gods were invented by men to explain things they didn’t understand. But we understand a lot more today (though of course the frontiers of science are always speculative). Given that it’s impossible to have an explanation for everything (because then that explanation would demand another explanation — “But Mommy, why is it that way?”), why not just take the universe as we find it, rather than positing some incredibly complex cause for which we have no evidence?”
He is using the above argument as one of the many “reasons [he] think[s] Christianity is false”. In the first part of the paragraph, he says that people who consider themselves “religious” are, in fact, weak-minded individuals that are psychologically handicapped. These intellectually restricted people use religion as a tool to explain things “they don’t understand”. Therefore, Christianity is false.
Even if religious people were really weak-minded, how is this a reason to think Christianity false? To determine the truth value of someone’s beliefs you don’t explain his or her psychology — you address his or her beliefs directly. If I prove that scientific methodologies were developed by intellectually crippled people, how does it follow that science is false? In logic this type of argument is dubbed a non sequitur fallacy. The conclusion of the argument (Therefore, Christianity is false) does not follow from the premises (Religious people are weak-minded).
“Why Not Just Take The Universe As We Find It”?
In the second part of the paragraph, the atheist is claiming that Christianity’s view on origins is complex in nature and is thus breaking Occam’s razor. However, Occam’s razor is merely a rule of thumb in science — not a law. It’s just another guideline that is commonly broken in the scientific method. On top of this, it seems the designated level of “unwarranted complexity” is completely arbitrary. When is something too complex? When does it cross the line? It seems “complexity” is purely relative to the person asking the question. If I was an amoeba, I might think the idea of humans existing an exceedingly complex solution to why things like computers and the like exist (I’m pretty sure amoebas aren’t that smart, but you get the point).
The atheist’s argument seems very weak. However, in spite of this many an atheist affirm and hold to the same logic and arguments he is making. When faced with a person like this, all you have to do is show that to prove a belief wrong, you must do more than describe the psychological condition of the individual. Address the person’s belief first, then you can start having discussions about the actual person.
Free will and the nature of God can be pretty confusing stuff. A lot of people have a bunch of different opinions about it. I’m just gonna’ give you some of my thoughts on the subject:
How Free Is God?
About the only time this question arises is when we start asking, “Can God do everything?”. Some people start to say, “Yeah, He’s God. Duh!”. But after a little thinking, they then realize He cannot (1) be illogical and (2) be immoral. A logical God, I think, is a given, but what about the God and immorality? Does God have the ability to be immoral? If not, is God really free?
God by definition doesn’t have the ability to be immoral. When the Bible says “God is good”, it’s basically saying “God’s nature is that of perfection”. God is the supremely perfect moral being of the universe. But the question arises, “Doesn’t this infringe on God’s free will?”. I’ll use an analogy by Harry Frankfurt:
‘Imagine a man with electrodes secretly implanted in his brain who is presented with a choice of doing either A or B [for our purposes, we’ll let A stand for good and B stand for evil]. The electrodes are inactive so long as the man chooses A; but if he were going to choose B, then the electrodes would switch on and force him to choose A. If the electrodes fire, causing him to choose A, his choice of A is clearly not a free choice. But supposed that the man really wants to do A and chooses it of his own volition. In that case his choosing A is entirely free, even though the man is literally unable to choose B, since the electrodes do not function at all and have no effect on his choice of A. What makes his choice free is the absence of any causally determining factors of his choosing A. This conception of libertarian freedom has the advantage of explaining how it is that God’s choosing to do good is free, even though it is impossible for God to choose sin, namely, His choosing is undetermined by causal constraints. Thus, libertarian freedom of the will does not require the ability to choose other than as one chooses.’
Since God’s nature is that of moral perfection, God will necessarily choose (A) freely and thus will never be forced to choose (A). Although it’s an impossibility for God to choose (B), God still has free will. Think about it. A limitation in the range of possible choices is not the same as having no choice at all. If God is faced with a choice of either doing a particular set of good actions, (a), (b), and (c), or a particular set of bad actions, (x), (z), and (y), His inability of choosing (x), (z), and (y) does not negate the fact that He freely chose (a), (b), and (c). In light of this, we can say with ease that God is actually free.
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.
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.”