Taliban-Lite:
The Afghan Threat to Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty — By on March 21, 2006 at 12:07 am



  • http://thinkingonthemargin.blogspot.com/ Brian

    Joe, thanks for taking an interest in this story and for trying to draw attention to this issue. I started posting about it Sunday night and had a follow-up today on my blog at: http://thinkingonthemargin.blogspot.com/2006/03/save-abul-rahman.html.
    Hoping to see this get more attention — particularly in the Christian world. Any ideas about what can we do to try to get this more publicity?
    Really love your blog and extremely glad to see you pick up this story!
    Your bodacious brother in Christ,
    ~ Brian
    http://thinkingonthemargin.blogspot.com/

  • Kaffinator

    Constantine the Great joins Christian church with secular state

  • Jemison Thorsby

    The difference is that Christianity, even at the beginning, inherently recognized the difference between church and state (“render unto Caesar…render unto God”). That doesn’t mean that a lot of Christians, past and present, don’t get confused about using secular means to attempt spiritual progress. But at least the different spheres are defined.
    There is no such distinction in Islam. Faithful Muslims MUST seek to impose Sharia because under Islam, it is the only legitimate form of government. Constantine may have made Christianity the official religion of Rome, but he had no New Testament mandate to do so. Thus, the enlightenment separation of church and state was a rediscovery of first principles. There can be no such “discovery” in the Koran, which allows for no distinction between mosque and state. The argument that Islam just needs a little more time to “mellow” the way Christianity did ignores important theological differences between the two worldviews.
    Recommended reading: The Sword of Islam, by Serge Trifkovic.

  • ucfengr

    We were able to bring democracy to Japan and Germany only after completely destroying their respective countries and to a large extent their cultures. We literally (as opposed to figuratively) brought democracy out of the rubble of those two countries. That is not the case in Afghanistan or Iraq; both suffered relatively lightly. Maybe it is impossible to impose something new on a country unless you totally destroy what you are trying to replace. During the US Civil War, Sherman’s March to the Sea was as much to destroy Southerm morale and confidence in their system as it was to damage their capacity to wage war. It may be that to change the deeply ingrained culture of Afghanistan and to a lesser extent Iraq, we needed to do something similar. It is a very sad situation.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Joe,
    The persecution of Rahman is evidence that we have failed in our efforts in Afghanistan. We weren

  • http://www.energionpubs.com/wordpress/?p=128 Threads from Henry’s Web

    We’re Supporting What?

    Over on the evangelical outpost Joe Carter is blogging about the situation in Afghanistan, where Abdul Rahman is awaiting sentencing for converting to Christianity. Read the full story from Cybercast News Service here. You can review the Afghan c…

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I think moderation and compromise here is unworkable. The remaining Taliban elements in the country will not be sympathetic if the current President and gov’t has a little bit of Islamic law. What should be made clear is that the Taliban lost 100% of the right to govern the country when they refused to hand over Bin Laden after 9/11. Going forward the country can have Islamic law only to the degree it does not contradict fundamental rights.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The difference is that Christianity, even at the beginning, inherently recognized the difference between church and state (“render unto Caesar…render unto God”). That doesn’t mean that a lot of Christians, past and present, don’t get confused about using secular means to attempt spiritual progress. But at least the different spheres are defined.
    All that means literally is that it is proper to pay taxes if you live in a non-Christian land (or in Jesus’s time a non-Jewish land). It’s a real stretch to read into this that should a King convert to Christianity he should have established a Jeffersonian secular state where the Church had nothing to do with the gov’t and vice versa.

  • Chris Lutz

    All that means literally is that it is proper to pay taxes if you live in a non-Christian land (or in Jesus’s time a non-Jewish land).
    Actually, they were in a Jewish land, ruled by the Romans. Anyways, there are more discussions in the Bible than just the verse you mention about the roles and responsibilities of the two spheres.
    It’s a real stretch to read into this that should a King convert to Christianity he should have established a Jeffersonian secular state where the Church had nothing to do with the gov’t and vice versa.
    A nice strawman here. You tied the statement made by Thorsby to one verse and then declare it’s a stretch for his general statment. His point is that Islam does not have any religious justification for separating government and religious spheres of influence. Christianity on the other hand does have a Biblical and historical basis for that model. That doesn’t mean you end up with a modern democracy, but it does allow the possibility. Islam does not allow that in any religious or historical context.
    Matthew Goggins:
    In a country that is fighting a hot war against the remnant of the Taliban, and which is struggling to curb the outsized influence of several ruthless warlords, the only explanation you think is possible for President Karzai’s decision to not intervene so far is that he has no “love of freedom”.
    I agree with Boonton here. It is unlikely that having a little Islamic theocracy will placate the opposing forces. Also, this hasn’t been the first time a problem like this has come up. A newspaper editor was jailed for publishing an article about expanding the freedom of women.
    Boonton:
    Going forward the country can have Islamic law only to the degree it does not contradict fundamental rights.
    Many muslims will tell you that Islamic law is fundamental to human rights. Anything that contradicts it is oppressive.
    We were able to bring democracy to Japan and Germany only after completely destroying their respective countries and to a large extent their cultures.
    Which is why I have a problem with the whole “democracy project.” I prefer we defend ourselves and let them live how they want. Both invasions were justified, beyond that, we should have just left.

  • Inquiring Minds

    Islam is completely unsuitable to exist in a democratic society. There is no room to allow individuals to exercise free will in the Islamic world view. Only in Christianity do you find a diety that honors free will and allows men to choose for themselves.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Kind of makes you wonder what the country would be like if we had just left well enough alone after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan rather than supply support to the Taliban.

    Going forward the country can have Islamic law only to the degree it does not contradict fundamental rights.

    Nice sentiment but (a) how would you enforce that, and (b) who would get to decide just where Islamic law conflicts with fundmental human rights?

    Probably be a bit more tractable if we didn’t have 130,000 troops in Iraq. Don’t we teach our children to complete one project before starting another?

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Only in Christianity do you find a diety that honors free will and allows men to choose for themselves.

    But it was here on this blog that I learned that the Christian God will torment me in Hell forever if I don’t accept His way. That’s an odd notion of free will.

    Perhaps after looking at the strife around the world caused by religious conflict (Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus standout) we could conclude that de-emphasizing religion in public life would be the best way toward building a world without war and terrorism.

  • BR

    Won’t there be a huge reaction from the rest of the world if this man is sentenced to death for changing religions? Unless he is sentenced and put to death quickly, surely there will be more news stories. Where are the death penalty objectors when you need them?

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Inquiring Minds,
    There is no room to allow individuals to exercise free will in the Islamic world view. Only in Christianity do you find a diety that honors free will and allows men to choose for themselves.
    Does this mean you disagree with Joe Carter, who says that people who refuse to accept Jesus as their savior will spend an eternity in hell?
    Doesn’t spending an eternity in hell more have more of a damping effect on free will than being executed?

  • ucfengr

    Both invasions were justified, beyond that, we should have just left.
    If that’s your position, we better finish the job and make sure that it will be generations before they could even begin to threaten us. In the case of Iraq, we should have confiscated their oil as war reparations, and completely destroyed any industrial or transportation infrastructure. One of the main reasons we had a Second World War is because we didn’t finish the job in the First One, as Pershing wanted to. We needed to defeat their armies, not just allow them to retreat to their pre-war borders. We needed to occupy Berlin and the Ruhr and put the Kaiser on trial for war crimes, not just allow him to abdicate and impose war reparations. Just lopping the top off the power structure is not enough.

  • Terence Moeller

    Actually the blogs have been covering this story since it first surfaced and for the past few weeks has hit it everyday. This today from FRC . . .
    Afghanistan: Liberated for This?
    The Bush administration assured us late last year that the new Iraqi constitution would not threaten religious liberty. This, despite the provisions saying no law could be passed that was “inconsistent with Islam.” Our concern that such promises of religious freedom will be meaningless in light of Islamic law is once again justified by religious persecution in Afghanistan. The Afghan constitution, adopted after America liberated that country from the Taliban, has a provision similar to that of the new Iraqi constitution. Now, we receive a horrifying report of Abdul Rahman, 41, who is on trial for his life in Kabul, Afghanistan. Rahman’s crime? He has admitted converting to Christianity. That there should even be such a trial is an outrage. How can we congratulate ourselves for liberating Afghanistan from the rule of jihadists only to be ruled by Islamists who kill Christians? Such a “trial” is a flagrant violation of Article 18 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights–which the current Afghan government even incorporated into its constitution. Article 18 reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” President Bush should immediately send Vice President Cheney or Secretary Rice to Kabul to read Hamid Kharzai’s government the riot act. Americans will not give their blood and treasure to prop up new Islamic fundamentalist regimes. Democracy is more than purple thumbs.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Matthew,
    Doesn’t spending an eternity in hell more have more of a damping effect on free will than being executed?
    Why would that have a dampening effect if that was your free choice? You’ve said before that you want no part of the Christian God so why would he force you to spend eternity with Him?
    Here is another way to think about hell: Imagine a young man in his twenties is offered the love and affection of a young woman for the rest of their lives. She wants to marry him and clearly says so. She pledges to make him happy and love him forever but he isn

  • Kaffinator

    Jemison, all good points, my post of course was a tad facetious.
    However, regardless of what the text of scripture says we must note that the Roman Catholic view of church and state dominates the history of Western Civilization. Pope Boniface VIII believed the powers of the state being completely superseded by the powers of church. In the Unam Sanctam (1302 AD) Boniface even claims scriptural backing for this worldview:

    We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal.

    In his view, the powers of the state are subordinate and subjected to the spiritual powers wielded by the Church. If Christendom can abuse scripture in such a way then perhaps it is not too much to hold out that Muslims might see a different interpretation of their text. But I admit I would not recognize the Qur

  • Scott

    I pray for the safety of my brother-in-Christ in Afghanistan. However, belief in Christ is not a survival plan, at least, in any temporal meaning.
    Our first and foremost reason for taking military action in Afghanistan and Iraq was to defend the U.S. The Taliban had to be destroyed to stop the continual aid to, and protection of, Al Quaeda. Period. They are an enemy who assisted in attacking us. There is no distinction between the Taliban and Al Quaeda. The only difference is that the Taliban was able to take control of Afghanistan, while they planned to take control of other nations. Their goal, both the Talibana and Al Quaeda, is to re-establish the Caliphate and return Islam to it’s former glory. We struck back to prevent a repeat of their attacks on the US.
    We will likely see similar things happen in Iraq. It doesn’t matter. We still have to defend ourselves.
    I know that the following statement will produce much foaming at the mouth, but it really doesn’t matter. The existing intelligence at the time pointed to Saddam as terrorist threat. Liberal Saint Bill the Clinton said the same thing. Even Hans Blix believed that Saddam had WMDs, which is why he was still trying to conduct weapons inspection in Iraq.
    OBTW, the recently released Iraqi documents appear to confirm what we suspected at the time: Saddam was aiding the enemy of his enemy, Al Quaeda.
    Again, first goal: protection. Second goal: nation building to create a nation that doesn’t want to destroy us. Anything else is a bonus.
    (I also am aware that Bush said in the 2000 campaign that he did not agree with using the military for nation building. He learned that he didn’t have any choice. The alternative is annihilation of our enemies. We just don’t do that anymore.)
    Initially, democracy will not prevent Islamic customs from continuing. Religious freedom will not exist in these areas for a long time. Sure, it would be good if we could prevent the execution of a Christian. But his execution does not mean that the US was unsuccessful in achieving goals 1 and 2. Other things make make us unsuccessful, like the democrats demand to withdraw from the battle, but the execution is not an American failure.
    Our third goal may be to influence these societies toward real freedom. But achieving #1 and 2 is still the most important in the short term.

  • ex-preacher

    Joe,
    Imagine a girl that you love putting a gun to your head and asking you if you love her. She says she wants you to be honest, but that if you don’t love her, she will kill you.
    This is what the Christian God offers to humans. Love me back or go to hell. It’s your choice. What kind of choice is that?
    Those of us who reject God don’t do so because we want to go to hell, but because we don’t believe he exists.
    A God with any brains or compassion wouldn’t send anyone to hell because they don’t believe in him.
    The difference between humanism and Christianity boils down to this:
    Humanists, deep down, believe that everyone deserves to be happy.
    Christians, deep down, believe that everyone deserves to go to hell.

  • Chris Lutz

    ucfengr:
    If that’s your position, we better finish the job and make sure that it will be generations before they could even begin to threaten us.
    I would say they already can’t threaten us in any significant way today.
    In the case of Iraq, we should have confiscated their oil as war reparations, and completely destroyed any industrial or transportation infrastructure. One of the main reasons we had a Second World War is because we didn’t finish the job in the First One, as Pershing wanted to. We needed to defeat their armies, not just allow them to retreat to their pre-war borders. We needed to occupy Berlin and the Ruhr and put the Kaiser on trial for war crimes, not just allow him to abdicate and impose war reparations. Just lopping the top off the power structure is not enough.
    So we have to change their view of the world, correct? How can we do that? Well, based on your analogy, we have to basically bomb them back to the stone age. That is really what we did with Japan and Germany. We bombed them, inflicting tens of thousands of casualties at a time. Are you willing to do that in Iraq and Afghanistan? Not only that, are you willing to dictate to them what their religion can and cannot do? Are you willing to tell them that Islam can play no part in the way they govern? Won’t that make the moderates turn against us?
    Germany’s return to power could have been easily squashed at any point in the early and mid-30′s. A lack of backbone led to the return of German power. Japan is a completely different set of circumstances but again, most nations preferred not to face the situation.
    It is interesting that many people are surprised that majority Islamic countries want to base their laws on Islamic law. We gave the people of Afghanistan and Iraq a choice and this is what they picked. Ucfengr is on the verge of claiming that we need to inflict massive death and destruction, beyond our own self protection, to psychologically shock them into changing their culture to meet our values (freedom of religion, women’s rights, etc.). In a sense, he wants them to become secularists or something else through force. I don’t wish that fate on anyone unless they represent a dire threat to our country.
    I will offer the opinion that if we act firmly to protect our interests while allowing them to operate freely in their own sphere, we will have a lot less destruction and bloodshed. An isolated Islam will either continue to remain backwards (not a serious threat if isolated, mass immigration to the West makes this a problem), reform (not a threat), or collapse and the population convert to another belief system (not a threat).

  • ucfengr

    Humanists, deep down, believe that everyone deserves to be happy.
    Oh come on, you know you don’t believe that. Do you really think Bush deserves to be happy? Cheney? Ken Lay? Karl Rove?
    Christians, deep down, believe that everyone deserves to go to hell.
    What do you mean deep down? Dude, that’s basic Christian thelogy, it’s right there on the surface. Read Romans 3:10. The whole basis of Christ’s sacrifice is that none could be saved with out it. Silly statements like this would probably explain why you are an ex-preacher.

  • Kaffinator

    Ex-preacher,
    Yes, Humanists, deep down, believe that all humans deserve to be happy. But the problem is that humanist must then define the best idea of what is

  • ex-preacher

    Hitler was a lot of things, but he wasn’t a humanist.
    Yes, I know about Jesus. I know that he was the one to introduce the notion of hell into Christianity. Especially the Jesus in Matthew (although he seemed to think the people going to hell were those who didn’t help those in need). The Jesus in John seemed to have forgotten about hell. Also, Paul didn’t know about it.
    Does it trouble you at all to think that the Jews who perished in Hitler’s ovens got a straight ticket to God’s eternal ovens?

  • ucfengr

    I would say they already can’t threaten us in any significant way today.
    I would agree, but neither was Germany a threat in 1921.
    Ucfengr is on the verge of claiming that we need to inflict massive death and destruction, beyond our own self protection, to psychologically shock them into changing their culture to meet our values (freedom of religion, women’s rights, etc.).
    I’m not on the verge at all. I am of the Sherman mindset, “War is cruelty, you can’t refine it.” I am coming to the opinion that if you want to change a country’s culture, you have to utterly destroy it’s predessesor, like we did in Germany and Japan. If your goal is merely to remove them as a threat, then you better do the job right and make sure that generations will pass before they could ever threaten anyone again.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    ucfengr

    I am of the Sherman mindset, “War is cruelty, you can’t refine it.” I am coming to the opinion that if you want to change a country’s culture, you have to utterly destroy it’s predessesor, like we did in Germany and Japan.

    So we should now incinerate Iraqi cities in order to bring demoncracy to that country? Nothing like a good firestorm to bring out the best in people.

  • Kaffinator

    Ex-preacher > Hitler was a lot of things, but he wasn’t a humanist.
    Nor a Scotsman, I suppose.
    Ex-preacher > Yes, I know about Jesus.
    Why do I find myself doubting this? Perhaps because you decided to miscast Christianity by bringing up hell without mentioning the redemption offered in Christ.
    Ex-preacher > I know that he was the one to introduce the notion of hell into Christianity. Especially the Jesus in Matthew (although he seemed to think the people going to hell were those who didn’t help those in need).The Jesus in John seemed to have forgotten about hell. Also, Paul didn’t know about it.
    John

  • ucfengr

    So we should now incinerate Iraqi cities in order to bring demoncracy to that country?
    I never said we should, only that total destruction may be what it takes, ultimately to radically change a nation’s culture. We did that in Germany and Japan and within a generation, they were prosperous, democratic nations. Perhaps in a generation, Afghanistan and Iraq might be at similar points, but it is not looking promising. Maybe the Germany/Japan/American South model is the only one that works in bringing about democracy to undemocratic regimes. When fighting a war, we know the Sherman model works, we have yet to see if the Bush model will.

  • http://www.christianthinker.net/serendipity/index.php?/archives/96-Around-the-web-Week-of-March-20,-2006.html ChristianThinker.net

    Around the web – Week of March 20, 2006

    Here’s a few things of interest from the blogosphere and around the web:Church changes: Are some churchgoers going post-charismatic?Taliban Lite: Joe Carter has some good insight concerning the Afghani man on trial for becoming a ChristianPolitical opinio

  • Rob Ryan

    “Yes, Christians, deep down, know that everyone deserves to go to hell.”
    Yes, Kaffinator, and that is one of the scary things about Christians.
    “But the

  • Chris Lutz

    I would agree, but neither was Germany a threat in 1921.
    So, you have to have some basis for claiming they are a future threat. Just because you and I may not like their culture does not make them a future threat.
    If your goal is merely to remove them as a threat, then you better do the job right and make sure that generations will pass before they could ever threaten anyone again.
    In this case, the only way to do that is to remove the jihad ideology from Islam. If we try to do that, we are going to face a lot of angry muslims.
    I never said we should, only that total destruction may be what it takes, ultimately to radically change a nation’s culture.
    What part of the culture are we trying to change? Does a culture which kills apostates and homosexuals necessarily pose a threat to our country and interests? Or is our goal simply to insure that the countries in question do not pose a threat to us and we’ll let them work out how they want to live?
    When fighting a war, we know the Sherman model works, we have yet to see if the Bush model will.
    Bush’s model is doomed. But, I think a model of containment (ala the Cold War) is also viable and proven to be effective. And I believe that Islam will collapse if forced to manage on its own without the support of the rest of the world. Sherman’s model might cause a population to renounce conflict for some generations, but it doesn’t change attitudes.

  • Terence Moeller

    Ex:
    “Yes, I know about Jesus. I know that he was the one to introduce the notion of hell into Christianity. Especially the Jesus in Matthew (although he seemed to think the people going to hell were those who didn’t help those in need). The Jesus in John seemed to have forgotten about hell. Also, Paul didn’t know about it.”
    In the OT “hell” is mentioned over thirty times. It was NOT a concept that Jesus introduced. John did NOT forget about hell. He wrote of it four times in Revelation.

  • ex-preacher

    Terence,
    The word translated “hell” in the Old Testament in the King James is usually Sheol. A better translation for Sheol is grave, the word used by newer and more accurate English translations (also see Strong’s Lexicon). The idea of hell as a place of eternal torment is almost entirely absent from the OT. In addition, the concept of heaven can hardly be found. The ideas of hell, heaven, and Satan were picked by Jews in Persia from Zoroastrianism. (This is why Satan is only mentioned in three places in the OT, all post-exilic in compilation.) They then became popular among some Jewish sects (such as the Pharisees) and were thence picked up by first century Christians.
    Yes, I know that hell appears in Revelation. What I said was that it doesn’t appear on the lips of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Actually, they were in a Jewish land, ruled by the Romans. Anyways, there are more discussions in the Bible than just the verse you mention about the roles and responsibilities of the two spheres.
    Yea but the ‘render unto Ceasar’ was the first line choosen to defend the view that Church State Sep. is Bibically based. If the other discussions are weaker or equal to than that I don’t think you have an impressive case. Someone reading the Bible without the benefit of knowing about modern, Enlightenment and beyond political theory could probably not catch Church State Sep. as obvious at all.
    A nice strawman here. You tied the statement made by Thorsby to one verse and then declare it’s a stretch for his general statment. His point is that Islam does not have any religious justification for separating government and religious spheres of influence. Christianity on the other hand does have a Biblical and historical basis for that model. That doesn’t mean you end up with a modern democracy, but it does allow the possibility. Islam does not allow that in any religious or historical context.
    Actually Islam has a lot about how to live in a non-Islamic state. Mostly what you’d expect a religion to say. Don’t cause trouble but don’t be pushed to do things against your religion. Religions have historically been quite creative in reading practical necessity into their core texts.
    Many muslims will tell you that Islamic law is fundamental to human rights. Anything that contradicts it is oppressive.
    Turkey is an example of a country that is democratic but remains respectful of its Islamic heritage. Regardless, most Muslims have lived under dictatorships that oppress their fundamental human rights. Whether or not they get their reading of Islamic law written into the Constitution they cannot argue it wouldn’t be an improvement.
    Which is why I have a problem with the whole “democracy project.” I prefer we defend ourselves and let them live how they want. Both invasions were justified, beyond that, we should have just left.
    No one expected Afghanistan to be transformed into a second US, fit for MTV to host a season of ‘The Real World’ in and for the next ‘Girls Gone Wild’ video to be shot. It’s a primitive country whose people still live more in small tribes. They are much less modern than Iraq or other major Arab countries. No one should have expected a modern nation to emerge from this unless they were willing to embrace the idea of nation building or the name it went by before which was colonialism.

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (gryph)

    We were able to bring democracy to Japan and Germany only after completely destroying their respective countries and to a large extent their cultures. We literally (as opposed to figuratively) brought democracy out of the rubble of those two countries. That is not the case in Afghanistan or Iraq; both suffered relatively lightly. Maybe it is impossible to impose something new on a country unless you totally destroy what you are trying to replace.

    We did not destroy German and Japanese culture during WWII. They did however each face a large shock, the Atom Bomb, and the concentration camps. It is also a somewhat apples and oranges comparison. Germany and Japan each had prior experience with a democratic form of government, even if it was controlled by fascists.
    The US goal in Afghanistan really seems to be to get in and get out as fast as possible. But it also seems to me that we are just creating the environment for another Taliban-like situation to occur there. It didn’t take Afghan military might to strike at us on our own soil, it was a low-tech, low-manpower approach. Terrorist training camps are easy to reconstitute. By ignoring Afghanistan, we are guaranteeing that we will have to be back again someday.

  • http://nathanbradfield.blogspot.com/2006/03/christian-convert-faces-death-penalty.html Church and State

    Christian Convert Faces Death Penalty

    Just imagine if the U.S. actually had a “federal denomination of religion” and we executed people…

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    We did that in Germany and Japan and within a generation, they were prosperous, democratic nations. Perhaps in a generation, Afghanistan and Iraq might be at similar points, but it is not looking promising. Maybe the Germany/Japan/American South model is the only one that works in bringing about democracy to undemocratic regimes. When fighting a war, we know the Sherman model works, we have yet to see if the Bush model will.
    The South was fully integrated into the US economy so its post-Civil War prosperity should not be so shocking and should not be credited to Sherman’s march. Even so, the South trailed the North both economically and socially until this day.
    You also neglect to note that the Cold War gave post-war Germany and Japan strategic significance. As a result they enjoyed both indirect and direct aid for decades. For examples, both countries could spend the entire Cold War with the US covering 90% of their defense needs leaving them free to build their economies.

  • Kaffinator

    I said, “Yes, Christians, deep down, know that everyone deserves to go to hell.”
    Rob > Yes, Kaffinator, and that is one of the scary things about Christians.

    Why is this something that is scary about Christians? We probably wouldn

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher wrote:
    Imagine a girl that you love putting a gun to your head and asking you if you love her. She says she wants you to be honest, but that if you don’t love her, she will kill you.
    Hardly an apt analogy, since you’re going to die, one way or another.
    This is what the Christian God offers to humans. Love me back or go to hell. It’s your choice. What kind of choice is that?
    It’s a perfectly reasonable choice. Do you honestly think that you would be happy in heaven? In fact, you’re going to be miserable regardless of where you end up. God will not allow you to pollute heaven with your misery. (That’s one reason why hell is likened to Gehenna — it’s a cosmic garbage heap).
    Those of us who reject God don’t do so because we want to go to hell, but because we don’t believe he exists.
    If you really believed this, you would ignore us Christians instead of trying to find fault with our doctrine. In any case, unbelief has no place in heaven, so you’re simply making the bed you’ll have to lie in. You can stop blaming God now for the result of your decisions. But if that were to happen, you’d be halfway to being a Christian. Hell will be full of people who continue to blame God for all eternity. By definition, that’s irrational and idiotic.
    A God with any brains or compassion wouldn’t send anyone to hell because they don’t believe in him.
    You aren’t suitable for heaven in your current condition. So what do you want Him to do?
    The difference between humanism and Christianity boils down to this:
    Humanists, deep down, believe that everyone deserves to be happy.
    Christians, deep down, believe that everyone deserves to go to hell.
    What an utter crock. Christians want everyone to be happy, but realize that happiness is to be found only on God’s terms, not man’s.
    C. S. Lewis once observed that there are only two kinds of people. Those who, in the end, say “Thy will be done” and those who say “my will be done.” Since you’re in the latter camp, you’ll never find true happiness, since you are ill-suited for heaven and will never be happy there.

  • wrf3

    On the one hand, Justice Ginsberg is faulted for saying that the US should look to other countries for our laws. On the other hand, Afghanistan is encouraged to meet “international standards”.
    Do I detect a double standard here?

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher wrote: I know that he [Jesus] was the one to introduce the notion of hell into Christianity.
    Utter nonsense:

    And they shall go out and look at the dead bodies of the people who have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. [Isa 66:24]

  • Terence Moeller

    EX:
    “The idea of hell as a place of eternal torment is almost entirely absent from the OT. ”
    The very first mention of hell in the OT is pre-exilic. “”. . . and shall burn in the lowest hell . . .” (Deut 32:22) In some cases it refers only to the grave in other cases it clearly is a place of punishment.
    “In addition, the concept of heaven can hardly be found.
    The ideas of hell, heaven, and Satan were picked by Jews in Persia from Zoroastrianism.”
    Heaven a Persian invention? Persia reached its peak at around 500 BC. Heaven is mentioned over 200 times in the OT most of the time before Persia existed. The 70 year Jewish captivity to Babylon was around 597 BC. Isaiah alone, who prophecied of the Jewish capitivity, wrote of heaven a dozen times and that was at least 200 yeaars before the peak of the Persian empire.
    ” (This is why Satan is only mentioned in three places in the OT, all post-exilic in compilation.)”
    Satan is mentioned eighteen times in the OT. In all but two of the cases it was pre-exilic.
    “They then became popular among some Jewish sects (such as the Pharisees) and were thence picked up by first century Christians.”
    Hell 30 times in OT.
    Heaven 200 times in OT.
    Satan 18 times in OT.

  • Chris Lutz

    Boonton:
    Someone reading the Bible without the benefit of knowing about modern, Enlightenment and beyond political theory could probably not catch Church State Sep. as obvious at all.
    You might want to tell that to St. Augustine who wrote “The City of God” in the early 5th century. He discussed the separate roles of spiritual and secular authority.
    Actually Islam has a lot about how to live in a non-Islamic state. Mostly what you’d expect a religion to say. Don’t cause trouble but don’t be pushed to do things against your religion. Religions have historically been quite creative in reading practical necessity into their core texts.
    We’ve been through this before and Islam is told to act one way when weak and another way when powerful. Also, we aren’t discussing muslims in non-muslim countries. We’re discussing whether Islam can, when in power, allow a separation of earthly gov’t and religious authority. The answer is no since Mohammed himself represented absolute authority over both spheres.
    Turkey is an example of a country that is democratic but remains respectful of its Islamic heritage…
    You’re joking right? Turkey monitors mosques and the gov’t controls what imams can and can’t say. Turkey walks a fine line and the military, which was designed by Ataturk as a highly secular institution, is the only safeguard from Turkey becoming an Islamic state.
    No one should have expected a modern nation to emerge from this unless they were willing to embrace the idea of nation building or the name it went by before which was colonialism.
    I think a lot of people did expect it to happen. I prefer to remove those who would do us harm, put in those who will at least “play nice” and let them sort out the rest.

  • ex-preacher

    TM: “The very first mention of hell in the OT is pre-exilic. “”. . . and shall burn in the lowest hell . . .” (Deut 32:22) In some cases it refers only to the grave in other cases it clearly is a place of punishment.”
    I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Deuteronomy is post-exilic. Furthermore, the reference you give is best translated grave or transliterated Sheol.
    TM: “Heaven a Persian invention? Persia reached its peak at around 500 BC. Heaven is mentioned over 200 times in the OT most of the time before Persia existed.”
    Are you under the impression that everything that appears in your Bible prior to the telling of the Babylonian Captivity was written prior to the exile? If you check out those passages I think you’ll find that nearly all of them are speaking of the skies when they use the word “heaven.”
    TM: “Satan is mentioned eighteen times in the OT. In all but two of the cases it was pre-exilic.”
    The three places I’m speaking of are 1 Chronicles 24, Job 1-2, and Zechariah, all of which are post-exilic in composition. How many times are you counting the references in Job 1-2?

  • http://www.pseudopolymath.com Mark Olson

    It’s not clear that a death sentence for conversion implies a failure of separation of church and state. That would only be the case if they did not accord the same willingness to carry out cannonical laws of other religions for infractions by those other religion’s members.

  • Rob Ryan

    “Why is this something that is scary about Christians?”
    Because Christians believe it. People who can seriously argue that eternal torture is just under any circumstances are scary.
    “It not really lack of belief that condemns us. It is our sin, our basic disobedience to God, that causes the problem.”
    It is human nature to do what Christians refer to as “sin”. There are no exceptions. I didn’t create my nature, I am merely a manifestation of it. If I am a defective product, blame the manufacturer. God might as well walk down the street shouting “I am God! Look not upon me!” and shoot everyone who quite naturally looks.
    “Oh, is that so? How exactly did you come to that conclusion?”
    Very few people I know could be happy in paradise when their friends were enduring eternal torment. I wouldn’t wish that upon Hitler. I am more merciful than your god.
    Kaffinator, how can you believe that eternal torment could ever be just? Wouldn’t any god worthy of the title be above that sort of thing? I’ve read many defenses of the hell doctrine, most notably Edwards’s “Justice in the Damnation of Sinners”, but none have been satisfying in the least. They all resort to logical contortionism to present the infinitely unjust as infinitely just. Perhaps you can recommend someone who does a better job.

  • Terence Moeller

    EX:
    “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Deuteronomy is post-exilic. Furthermore, the reference you give is best translated grave or transliterated Sheol.”
    The entry into Egypt has traditionally been called the “Sojourn.
    The departure from Egypt — the “Exodus.” The Babylonian captivity — the “Exile” or the “Captivity.” The dispersion of the Jews in 70 A.D. — the “Diaspora.” A random search of “first Jewish exile” should annul any notion that the “Jewish exile” was post Deuteronomy, which is one of the earliest books of the Bible. Futhermore, if words have meaning, the passage that I quoted “. . . and shall burn in the lowest hell . . .” (Deut 32:22) refers to more than just “the grave.” I can provide other examples, if you wish.
    “Are you under the impression that everything that appears in your Bible prior to the telling of the Babylonian Captivity was written prior to the exile?”
    Yes.
    “If you check out those passages I think you’ll find that nearly all of them are speaking of the skies when they use the word “heaven.”
    In the Bible the skies usually refer to the “heavens,” of which there are 150 more references. The Bible distinguishes between the two in this way. “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s. (Psalm 115:16) A great number of the “heaven” references refer the place where God dwells. Check it out.
    “The three places I’m speaking of are 1 Chronicles 24, Job 1-2, and Zechariah, all of which are post-exilic in composition.”
    Job is considered the oldest book in the Bible and could hardly be considered “post exilic” by any stretch of the imagination. Chronicals is pre-exile and Zechariah, I believe, was between the 1st and second Jewish exile.
    “How many times are you counting the references in Job 1-2?”
    Almost five times as many times as you have said that satan is mentioned in the entire Old Testiment.

  • ex-preacher

    Deuteronomy and Job are generally dated in the 6th century BC.
    Yes, the OT talks about God living in heaven. But the idea is of a god who lives high up in the sky. Heaven there is not a reference to a place where the saints live forever in bliss after their lives on earth are done.
    When I said that Satan is mentioned in three places, I was referring to the three passages: 1 Chronicles 24, Job 1-2, and Zechariah 14. If you want to count “Satan” 13 times in Job 1-2, okay. How many passages besides those three post-exilic ones can you find?

  • Terence Moeller

    Ex:
    “Yes, the OT talks about God living in heaven. But the idea is of a god who lives high up in the sky. Heaven there is not a reference to a place where the saints live forever in bliss after their lives on earth are done.”
    Job said, to paraphrase, “I know that my flesh shall see Him.”
    David said, referring to his deceased son, ” He can not come to me, but I can go to him.”
    Yes, there was knowledge of an after life in heaven, but it was not until the advent of Christ that the specifics of heaven were revealed.
    “When I said that Satan is mentioned in three places, I was referring to the three passages: 1 Chronicles 24, Job 1-2, and Zechariah 14. If you want to count “Satan” 13 times in Job 1-2, okay. How many passages besides those three post-exilic ones can you find?”
    There is also Psalms 109, but all this is off point. That you would continue to refer to the above examples as “post-exilic” leads me to wonder if we are spinning our wheels. Please clarify.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Joe Carter,
    I’ve been working all afternoon and into the evening, so I was surprised to check in a little while ago and find out how the conversation got side-tracked onto heaven and hell and such.
    When I read your response to my question about hell putting a damper on free will, a little light bulb went off in my head. I felt as if I finally understood why you insist on insisting that God sends non-Christians to hell.
    You didn’t actually say anything today that you haven’t told me several times already. But your repeating it in the context of today’s discussion allowed me to connect a few dots that weren’t strongly connected before.
    Allow me to explain.
    You make an analogy with someone who loses his true love forever because he was too self-involved to make a timely commitment to her. You explain that you view God as punishing non-Christians in a similar way: believe in My son Jesus before you die or you will regret it forever (and possibly suffer great physical torment as well).
    As I said, this is nothing new, you’ve explained this to me several times over the past year or so.
    What clicked for me tonight, though, is how thoroughly fragile your theology is, how tenuously it holds together.
    You have a need to fervently hold on to the belief that a God who is willing to severely punish a normal person for all eternity is also a God who respects our free will. If this little stone in the arch were to fall out, then the whole arch-itecture of your God-understanding would noisily collapse onto the floor of the archway, a pile of forlorn bricks that once was a skillfully crafted self-supporting semi-circle over your head.
    The reason you get this nasty little snark in some of your posts is because you resent it when people like myself, but even worse, when so-called Christians don’t seem to understand that we deserve to be condemned forever, and that by refusing to acknowledge this simple, obvious fact, we are committing the worst possible act of ingratitude imaginable.
    By asserting/believing that I don’t deserve to be miserable forever (or tormented physically forever, too), I am being ungrateful!
    Joe, take a deep breath. Hold it, release. Repeat.
    Now, Joe, you are not an evil person. Got it?
    Even if you’ve done things which you are ashamed of, even if you hate yourself for one or two or three reasons, you are still not an evil person.
    Saddam Hussein was an evil person. His son Uday was an evil person. And there may be thousands of other people around the globe who fall into that category as well.
    But you are not an evil person.
    I am not an evil person. In fact, I feel much more confident in asserting my non-evilness than I do in asserting yours, just because I am intimately familiar with myself and with all my failings.
    So are you still with me: you are not an evil person, and I am not an evil person. Have faith in me, Joe, it’s true.
    I could continue. In fact I will.
    You mom is not (was not?) an evil person. My mom is not an evil person. My wife and her mom are not evil people. My six-year-old boy is not an evil person.
    Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
    But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I’m wrong.
    Let’s say, for example, that you, Joe Carter, are indeed an evil person. A really bad, evil person.
    Joe, even if you are an evil person, YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR ALL ETERNITY. Even if you don’t acknowledge Jesus as your personal Savior, YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR ALL ETERNITY.
    Now I know you disagree with me on this. And that’s O.K. We all have free will after all, and freedom of conscience.
    But if you really believe that you and I, and your mom and my mom, and my wife and my mom-in-law and my son all deserve to be punished for all eternity — if you really believe that — then you know what, Joe?
    You may in fact be “missing out on the highest in human fulfillment and happiness”.
    I know it sounds kind of crazy, but I do think it’s a possiblity. Something to think about a little, at least.

  • http://blogotional.blogspot.com/2006/03/reason-and-passion-politics-and.html Blogotional

    Reason And Passion – Politics And Goodness

    AMERICAN TROOPS GAVE THEIR LIVES TO PROTECT OTHER AMERICANS AND SECURE THEIR SAFETY – anything after that is a by-product at best.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Good morning everybody,
    I’ve dedicated my latest post on my own blog to Joe Carter:
    “The Bronx Blogger Talks About Religion”
    Enjoy,
    Matthew

  • Crystal Lake

    Matthew: most evil people don’t know that they are evil, and may never recognize the extent of the depravity in their heart. Do you really believe that Hitler, Milosevic, Pol Pot walk around boasting in their evil like the villain off the Care Bears? No. Even if that is so, you have no authority by which to say that you aren’t really so bad, because evil people regularly hide behind their rationalizations and good intentions.
    Frankly, it is not up to you to decide because that assumes you are the lord of your own destiny. You are placing yourself in the position of judge, jury, and sentencer – a position that belongs to God alone or at least to somebody who is in a higher authority than yourself. As such, you are rejecting him, because you stubbornly insist that you are wiser than He is and know better and more than Him. That – to me – is one of the most wicked attitudes a person can have, even if you don’t see that (yet?). You choose your own will – we choose God’s. The very essence of evil is to choose to live for oneself and one’s own wisdom.
    “Every man proclaims each his own kindness, but who can find a trustworthy man?”
    You provided nothing logically compelling to back yourself up except for human authority. If there is no higher authority than human authority, we are left with relativism and potential tyranny of the state. There’s no way you can adequately determine what is or is not ‘evil’ (much less whether somebody deserves ‘hell’) on this basis except through your own feelings, but we all know that human feeling is notoriously unreliable and subjective.
    You are saying nothing new. Most secular non-Christians believe as you do on whether they ‘deserve’ hell. I’ve heard it many times, and I’ve said it to myself before coming to Messiah. Repeating it to yourself or Joe over and over again and putting it in big bold letters may be intellectually intimidating to some, but not to me. I understand that you are probably sincere in your convictions and that you feel you have ‘good intentions’, but I choose not to submit myself to your moral presumptions. You don’t have that kind of authority and my faith is not in any human being, esp. somebody I don’t know on the internet, and JC shouldn’t have that kind of faith in you, either.
    I really don’t get the flak, though. If you choose to disbelieve in Him, then you won’t belive he will place you in hell, anyways – so the coercion aspect of the whole thing is rendered ineffectual (even if you could plausibly argue that).

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    We were able to bring democracy to Japan and Germany only after completely destroying their respective countries and to a large extent their cultures
    Culturally Japan is much stranger than any Muslim country is to us. Islam is a monotheistic religion which shares much of the same fundamental characteristics of the other two monotheisms. They believe in a single God who revealed himself to Abraham. The Ten Commandments, that humans are distinctly different and inferior to God (no ‘joining with God’ or ‘becoming God’ thru enlightened meditation etc.).
    To the extent that Japan had a religion it was that they were literally descended from the Sun & all other humans were little more than animals who had learned to talk. Nationalists played upon this sense of superiority to push for the horrible atrocities they committed in their quest for domination at the beginning of WWII. They also introduced the idea of the suicide bomber in modern warfare (although Nazi Germany also did the same thing but on a much more limited scale).
    It’s stunning evidence of how plastic human ideology and religion can be to note that today Japan is considered an exceptionally peaceful nation that wouldn’t harm a fly. This was not accomplished by ‘destroying their culture’. You’ll recall their Emperor was allowed to remain on the throne (which upset more than a few Americans) and while today there are more Christian Japanese than there were at the end of WWII there was no effort to force them to give up their religious beliefs.
    On Hell:
    It’s a perfectly reasonable choice. Do you honestly think that you would be happy in heaven? In fact, you’re going to be miserable regardless of where you end up. God will not allow you to pollute heaven with your misery. (That’s one reason why hell is likened to Gehenna — it’s a cosmic garbage heap).
    I think ex would be quite happy in heaven. The difficulty with this matter of faith is that it seems like you’re being punished for making an essentially uninformed choice. To use the girl analogy, it’s like the girl is 99% hidden and you must choose now. If you choose wrong you’ll be unhappy because you missed out on what could have been really good. But this seems less like an informed choice than some type of gameshow (You can keep your $5,000 or take what’s behind curtin #3!).
    Some Eastern religions though clarify this idea in making less a game show type of choice but more of a process. You have to work your way into heaven to really enjoy it…sort of like how someone who never learns to read is not going to enjoy going to the best college around so he will be unhappy while someone who works hard to make the most of it will find it incredibly rewarding.

  • Kaffinator

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for the honest response.
    Kaff >> “Why is this something that is scary about Christians?”
    Rob > Because Christians believe it. People who can seriously argue that eternal torture is just under any circumstances are scary.

    Remember, it’s Jesus teaching this, not us. You are saying Jesus is scary. How do you suppose people worldwide have been bamboozled into thinking that Jesus was morally pure when he had what you see as this glaring moral contradiction sticking out?
    Kaff >> “It not really lack of belief that condemns us. It is our sin, our basic disobedience to God, that causes the problem.”
    Rob > It is human nature to do what Christians refer to as “sin”. There are no exceptions. I didn’t create my nature, I am merely a manifestation of it. If I am a defective product, blame the manufacturer. God might as well walk down the street shouting “I am God! Look not upon me!” and shoot everyone who quite naturally looks.

    Yes, we are each manifestations of our inherent sin nature. God is Just and intends to do something about it. Do you really seek to worship a god who overlooks injustice?
    Rob > Very few people I know could be happy in paradise when their friends were enduring eternal torment. I wouldn’t wish that upon Hitler. I am more merciful than your god.
    This “god” you speak of. If he is subject to a higher law which requires him to be merciful according to your parameters, he’s not really “God”, is he? But if He is God, and thus the author of the very notions of mercy and justice themselves; who are you to tell Him what is merciful or what is just?
    Rob > Kaffinator, how can you believe that eternal torment could ever be just? Wouldn’t any god worthy of the title be above that sort of thing? I’ve read many defenses of the hell doctrine, most notably Edwards’s “Justice in the Damnation of Sinners”, but none have been satisfying in the least. They all resort to logical contortionism to present the infinitely unjust as infinitely just. Perhaps you can recommend someone who does a better job.
    I wish I could. I will be bluntly honest with you Rob, the doctrine of Hell is difficult to accept. Anyone who says differently is probably trying to sell you something.
    I think many of our problems with this doctrine stem from a very human sense of entitlement. We like to think that God owes us something, that we deserve something because we aren’t all that bad and if we were it’s God’s fault anyway. But if God is all-holy, all-powerful, and all-sufficient (and if he weren’t he wouldn’t be God) then none of those propositions can be true.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Crystal Lake,
    Repeating it to yourself or Joe over and over again and putting it ["you don't deserve hell"] in big bold letters may be intellectually intimidating to some, but not to me.
    I find it deeply, deeply ironic that you think,
    YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR ALL ETERNITY
    is an attempt to be intellectually intimidating.
    I’m not saying, “Agree with me or you will be punished!”
    I’m not saying, “Agree with me or I’ll assault you and make fun of you.”
    All I’m saying is, “You don’t deserve to be punished for all eternity.”
    That’s it, nothing else. You don’t deserve to be punished for all eternity. Take it or leave it, your choice, my friend.
    The reason I put it in bold caps (twice) is because I believe it needed to be strongly emphasized. If you find that intellectually intimidating, then I’m sorry. I think that the bold caps are very appropriate in the context of my comment.
    Frankly, it is not up to you to decide because that assumes you are the lord of your own destiny. You are placing yourself in the position of judge, jury, and sentencer – a position that belongs to God alone or at least to somebody who is in a higher authority than yourself. As such, you are rejecting him, because you stubbornly insist that you are wiser than He is and know better and more than Him. That – to me – is one of the most wicked attitudes a person can have, even if you don’t see that (yet?). You choose your own will – we choose God’s. The very essence of evil is to choose to live for oneself and one’s own wisdom.
    I disagree.
    If we have free will (and Joe insists that we do), then we are forced into the position of being our own authority. We simply have no choice at all in the matter.
    Of course, we can choose to let the Bible or some preacher serve as our religious and moral authority. But the catch is, if we have free will, the only way the Bible can be our authority is if we choose to make it so! With free will, there is no escaping the lonely responsibility of choosing our moral bearings and our religious identity.
    I really don’t get the flak, though. If you choose to disbelieve in Him, then you won’t belive he will place you in hell, anyways – so the coercion aspect of the whole thing is rendered ineffectual (even if you could plausibly argue that).
    You see, Crystal Lake, that’s precisely the little light bulb that went off over my head last night.
    I was talking about Hamid Karzai and Afghanistan and Abdul Rahman (the man who committed the captial offense of converting to Christianity) on this comment thread yesterday morning. When I saw AndyS respond to Inquiring Minds about how the Christian God doesn’t necessarily respect our free will, I dropped a brief comment in support of AndyS’ point.
    When I came back from work about ten hours later, I was a little shocked to see how the thread had jumped in that direction. I was particularly surprised to see Joe Carter respond to my comment, since it wasn’t even addressed to him. I was just challenging Inquiring Minds because he seemed to be making a false distinction between Islam and Christianity.
    So when I read Joe’s comment — Ding! — a little bulb flashed on and I realized that Joe’s Calvinistic cosmology hinged on the paradox of an all-powerful God threatening us will eternal torment in spite of the fact that one of Joe’s moral/philosophical axioms is that we all have free will!
    To Joe this is a beautiful and glorious paradox, to me it’s a pile of hooey. But I realized that Joe’s paradox is really the keystone in his theological/philosophical/moral arch. He uses it like a shield (just like you seem to be doing): “Hey there you not-sufficiently-Calvinistic-Christians and all you other un-believers: you can’t tell me what God does or doesn’t do, because if you disagree with me you’re going to hell, and if you don’t believe in hell, then what the hell are you doing talking to me about it (and that goes double for you all atheists)!”
    In other words, believe in hell AND free will, or you will be freely choosing hell. And whatever you do, don’t tell me God doesn’t exist, because by telling me that, you’re actually admitting that God and hell really do exist and that you (in your smarty-pants evil kind of way) are currently headed straight there.
    It all makes perfect sense now, so to speak.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Yada, yada, yada. Of course some of you guys don’t believe in hell, some of the vilest criminals don’t believe that they deserve prison, either. The fact is, apart from salvation through Jesus Christ, you are going there. Just like the child molester has to put his name on the internet to announce his crime.
    Now, can we get back to the discussion of Afghani law?

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Boonton and Ucfengr,
    You are both right.
    We didn’t reduce Iraq and Afghanistan to a dire state of unconditional surrender, so we don’t have that powerful cultural lever at our disposal.
    And we didn’t actually destroy the culture of Imperial Japan — we took its bombed out husk and used it as a prop to make MacArthur’s new constitution palatable to the Japanese.
    What’s going on in Iraq (I’m not so sure what’s going on in Afghanistan) is that President Bush is trying to thread the needle between using too much force and too little force. So far he’s been doing a tremendous job, and I’m optimistic that our alliance with the lovers of freedom in Iraq will eventually pay off handsomely.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Brad Williams,
    Let me toss Crystal Lake’s question back at you:
    Why all the flak?
    If you want to talk about Afghani law, then why don’t you?
    Why is your comment about “salvation in Jesus Christ” versus going to hell?
    If you don’t want to talk about your glorious paradox, then why even mention it?

  • ucfengr

    The South was fully integrated into the US economy so its post-Civil War prosperity should not be so shocking and should not be credited to Sherman’s march. Even so, the South trailed the North both economically and socially until this day.
    The South is a good example what total war can do to a country’s economy. It is also a good example of what happens when you don’t follow it up by imposing a democratic structure. Remember, the South did not become fully democratic until more than a century after the Civil War. Furthermore, I think it is pretty clear that “Jim Crow” also served to keep the South economically backward, in addition to maintaining the serf status of blacks.
    You also neglect to note that the Cold War gave post-war Germany and Japan strategic significance. As a result they enjoyed both indirect and direct aid for decades. For examples, both countries could spend the entire Cold War with the US covering 90% of their defense needs leaving them free to build their economies.
    Their strategic significance was a big factor in the rapid re-building of their countries. I think Iraq is similarly significant, which is why I think it is critical to establish democracy there. My point is that it may be significantly more difficult to do so without inflicting the total war type destruction that we inflicted on Germany and Japan. Germany and Japan were pretty well convinced that they were totally defeated, post WW1 Germany was not, and that may be the case in Iraq and the Middle East.

  • ucfengr

    What’s going on in Iraq (I’m not so sure what’s going on in Afghanistan) is that President Bush is trying to thread the needle between using too much force and too little force. So far he’s been doing a tremendous job, and I’m optimistic that our alliance with the lovers of freedom in Iraq will eventually pay off handsomely.
    I tend to agree, but am probably a bit less optimistic. Also, while I like Bush and largely agree with his strategic vision, I think it is a bit early to call his work here tremendous.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Ucfengr,
    Compared to what our grunts on the ground and their Iraqi allies have to go through, Bush’s hard work, sacrifice, and dedication do seem modest in comparison.
    But compared to say, the efforts of the loyal Democratic opposition, President Bush is a towering colossus, standing astride the Potomac holding aloft the beacon of liberty and personal responsibility to hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world :)
    If you don’t believe me, go to Kurdistan and ask some people there what they think.

  • wrf3

    Matthew Goggins wrote: To Joe this is a beautiful and glorious paradox, to me it’s a pile of hooey. But I realized that Joe’s paradox is really the keystone in his theological/philosophical/moral arch. He uses it like a shield (just like you seem to be doing): “Hey there you not-sufficiently-Calvinistic-Christians and all you other un-believers: you can’t tell me what God does or doesn’t do, because if you disagree with me you’re going to hell, and if you don’t believe in hell, then what the hell are you doing talking to me about it (and that goes double for you all atheists)!”
    You miss the point. It isn’t that you can’t tell us what God does or doesn’t do, it’s that you can’t tell God what He may or may not do. Your statement, “You don’t deserve to be punished for all eternity.” is a perfect example of this. If God says you do deserve this, then you do deserve it, regardless of what you may want. Man does not get to sit in judgment of God. Any attempt to do so simply shows how broken an individual is.
    Elsewhere, the complaint “why did you make me like this” is an example of the same type of thinking.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Wrf3,
    Thank you for responding to my argument without accusing me of some kind of evil hubris.
    You miss the point. It isn’t that you can’t tell us what God does or doesn’t do, it’s that you can’t tell God what He may or may not do.
    Why can’t I?
    I mean, I believe I can’t, because I don’t believe God exists.
    But what if God does exist? Why can’t I tell him anything I want to tell him? Especially if I am good person speaking in good faith?
    Let me show you what I mean.
    I am going to address a comment to God.
    “God, Matthew Goggins here. I don’t believe in you, but you would know that. I know it’s kind of illogical for me to be addressing you right now, but I sincerely believe that if you do exist, you can handle the bizarre circumstance of an atheist addressing you in this manner.
    “Like I just said, I don’t believe in you. But if you do exist, I don’t think it is just in any way, shape, or form for you to send anyone to hell for all eternity, or to allow anyone to spend an eternity in hell due to their own foolishness.
    “I would find eternal damnation particularly loathsome if you considered it appropriate for anybody I know personally. The people I know are basically very good eggs, and if you punished them in any hell-like fashion, even for a finite time, then I would shame you and disown you and consider you to be a generally despicable person/entity/whatever.
    “I can’t say I’m particularly worried about all that, however, since I know you don’t exist, and since I know that you would agree with me if you did exist.
    “Thanks for hearing me out, and please get back to me if you really do exist.”
    Now, I think your point, Wrf3, is not that I can’t tell God what I think. I think your point is is that I can tell God whatever I want, but then God would be right and I would be wrong.
    If you believe that, I can’t prove that you are wrong. You are automatically right by your own definitions. You define “right” to be whatever God says is right — I can’t argue with that.
    If you have some other basis for saying I’m wrong, then let me know and I’ll have a shot at it.

  • wrf3

    Matthew Goggins wrote: Now, I think your point, Wrf3, is not that I can’t tell God what I think. I think your point is is that I can tell God whatever I want, but then God would be right and I would be wrong.
    Mostly correct; there could also be the case where what you tell God happens to agree with what God says, in which case you would both be right.
    If you believe that, I can’t prove that you are wrong. You are automatically right by your own definitions. You define “right” to be whatever God says is right — I can’t argue with that.
    That’s due to an worldview-invariant truth: right and wrong are purely subjective opinions. In theism, there is only one opinion that counts; in atheism there are as many as there are people.
    If you have some other basis for saying I’m wrong, then let me know and I’ll have a shot at it.
    I would be very interested in hearing the basis on which you think God is wrong regarding eternal torment. Because either you elevate your subjective judgement above God’s (and there is no rational basis for this), or you point to some external basis for morality which binds both God and man (and this doesn’t exist). So I don’t see how you can sustain a rational argument in support for your position.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Wrf3,
    Thank you for your latest response. I appreciate your thoughtful and respectful tone.
    I would be very interested in hearing the basis on which you think God is wrong regarding eternal torment.
    Correction: I don’t think God is wrong.
    I think God would be wrong if God tormented people eternally. However, I am convinced that God is in fact not wrong. I am convinced that God, if God existed, would agree with me and disagree with you.
    Because either you elevate your subjective judgement above God’s (and there is no rational basis for this), or you point to some external basis for morality which binds both God and man (and this doesn’t exist).
    I am not elevating my judgement over God’s, because I believe God would agree with me.
    I am “elevating my judgement” over your opinion of what you believe to be God’s judgement.
    So I don’t see how you can sustain a rational argument in support for your position.
    My argument is that no normal person deserves hellish punishment, not even for one second. This is a very rational position, even if it is rational for you to disagree with me.
    You do not speak with God’s voice, so your opinion’s rationality does not trump the rationality of my position.
    If God were to miraculously appear in support of your position (“Hey Goggins, cut that no-hell baloney out now or I’ll fry your computer”), then your point might have some merit. But just because you believe you know the will of God doesn’t mean you are correct.

  • wrf3

    Matthew, more later…

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Matthew Goggins,
    I don’t mind talking about hell at all. I don’t mind telling you that you will go there if you do not repent and believe the gospel. I further do not mind telling you that hell and God’s love are not paradoxical at all. They are, I believe, quite complementary. But it takes space to develope those points and for you and others to argue to the contrary. Right now, in this forum under this topic, it seems that the best we could do is trade barbs with one another.
    I just thought it was good etiquette, but perhaps I erred.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    That is, I thought it was good etiquette to stay on topic.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Brad Williams,
    That is, I thought it was good etiquette to stay on topic.
    You are right to think so.
    I’ve seen people hijack comment threads to pursue their own hobbyhorses — it’s rude, very poor etiquette.
    But if you mean it’s bad etiquette to disagree with your host, then I would disagree with you. Joe makes his arguments, and I counter them when I think its appropriate.
    If you think I’m being rude, I’m willing to hear you out. But don’t expect me to agree with you and Joe about everything religious for courtesy’s sake.
    If you wish, I welcome you to come to my blog and express your feelings and beliefs over there.
    I put up a post on my blog this morning summarizing how I feel about Joe and his way of dealing with the question of un-belief. I encourage you to drop by there and unload whatever comments, questions, or criticisms you may have for me.
    Here’s a link to my blog-post: “The Bronx Blogger Talks About Religion”.
    If you and Joe are right about Christianity, then you should welcome the opportunity to correct the misguided scribblings of a lost soul such as myself, even here at the E.O. :)

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Matthew Goggins,
    No, I did not mean to imply that you were rude to disagree with the host about issues. It is equally rude for me to correct the host to get back onto topic if indeed he started this secondary subject. So, I will go back to my lurking now and probably head over to your place.

  • wrf3

    Matthew Coggins wrote I think God would be wrong if God tormented people eternally.
    Well, yes, we know that. The problem is that you have no rational basis for saying this. Later, you write, My argument is that no normal person deserves hellish punishment, not even for one second.
    First, this doesn’t define what “normal people” are. Second, it doesn’t say why people don’t deserve hellish punishment. Again, you are making a moral judgment, yet you fail to define what the basis of your morality is. If it’s simply your opinion, then that carries no weight whatsoever. If it’s some standard external to man, then you haven’t shown what that standard is. If it’s God’s revelation (which is the only way to know what God thinks about a particular issue), then on what basis does God make this pronouncement?
    I am not elevating my judgement over God’s, because I believe God would agree with me.
    Is there anything more to this than wishful thinking based on your personal preference?
    I am “elevating my judgement” over your opinion of what you believe to be God’s judgement.
    So, somehow, your judgement is better than mine? That would be because… ?

  • Rob Ryan

    “Again, you are making a moral judgment, yet you fail to define what the basis of your morality is. If it’s simply your opinion, then that carries no weight whatsoever.”
    If you say that tha god of the bible is the basis of your morality, how does that carry any more weight than Matthew’s seemingly untethered personal morality? After all, that your god exists at all is only your opinion. Your morality is just as subjective ultimately as anyone else’s.

  • God

    I think you all should shut the hell up with your speculations about what I might say.
    Fyi, Goggins: January 4, in your sleep.

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    that your god exists at all is only your opinion
    In my opinion, Rob Ryan does not even exist.

  • http://www.donaldscrankshaw.com/posts/1143079017.shtml Back of the Envelope

    Afghan Martyr

    A Martyr in Afghanistan?

    We realized that when we toppled the Taliban and replaced it with a democratically elected government in Afghanistan that they weren’t ready to fully embrace Western values. We might even argue whether or not doin…

  • wrf3

    Rob Ryan wrote: If you say that the god of the bible is the basis of your morality, how does that carry any more weight than Matthew’s seemingly untethered personal morality?
    Because at least I’m being consistent in the application of my worldview. Matthew isn’t. Consistency isn’t proof of correctness, but inconsistency is a sure sign of error.
    After all, that your god exists at all is only your opinion.
    I see. Is the American Civil war only someone’s opinion?
    The weight of historical evidence is that Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead.
    Your morality is just as subjective ultimately as anyone else’s.
    There’s a glaring assumption in there that God has not spoken to man.

  • Samwise

    wrf3
    The weight of historical evidence is that Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead.
    My copy of the Lord of the Rings weighs more than most Bibles.
    So the weight of historical evidence is that Frodo Lives.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Wrf3,
    First, this doesn’t define what “normal people” are. Second, it doesn’t say why people don’t deserve hellish punishment.
    Why do I have to define normal — I’m not using it in any special way — I just mean normal people like you and me, as opposed to murderous criminals or evil dictators or serial rapists or what have you.
    And why are you asking me why people don’t deserve hellish punishment? What could you possibly mean by this? If someone picked you up off a street corner and started torturing you, is the only reason he is wrong to do so because you have allegedly been saved by Jesus?
    You accuse me of wishful thinking and personal preference — if that’s what you believe, that’s fine by me. But you’re not actually engaging my ideas or arguments.
    Likewise, when you say I’m being inconsistent, it seems to me you’re not really paying attention to what I’m saying. I’m not aware of any inconsistencies on my part, so unless you can be a little more specific, you’re not really advancing the discussion much.
    I appreciate the fact that you want to talk things over, but we haven’t really rolled the ball along very far. Maybe you could focus in on one or two things that I say that seem wrong to you.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    God,
    Fyi, Goggins: January 4, in your sleep.
    Hey, Terence Moeller told me that the Book of Revelations has me down for February 14 in a traffic accident. Who am I supposed to believe?

  • nedbrek

    Matthew Goggins:
    “Especially if I am good person speaking in good faith?”
    What criteria do you use to call yourself a good person? How about the ten commandments?
    Have you ever lied?
    Have you ever stolen anything (even something small)?
    Have you ever disrespected your parents?
    Have you ever looked lustfully at a person not your spouse (adultery at heart)?

  • wrf3

    Matthew Goggins wrote: Why do I have to define normal — I’m not using it in any special way — I just mean normal people like you and me, as opposed to murderous criminals or evil dictators or serial rapists or what have you.
    I understood how you meant it, but one demands logical rigor in arguments of this type. By using the term “normal”, and further giving the example of murderers and dictators, you have made the unproven assertion that “normal” people are no less evil than the class you cited. So again you make an argument from your morality, without having given an objective basis for what that morality might be. For if it’s only your personal preference then who cares?
    In particular, why is murder or tyranny any worse than, say, rejection of God?
    And why are you asking me why people don’t deserve hellish punishment?
    Because you’re making a claim that you seem to think must be self-evident. It isn’t to me, so I want to know if you have anything to back it up. It seems to me that murder and tyranny pale in comparison to rejection of God. Why do you disagree?
    What could you possibly mean by this? If someone picked you up off a street corner and started torturing you, is the only reason he is wrong to do so because you have allegedly been saved by Jesus?
    The only reason? That’s a false dilemma.
    Furthermore, this analogy is simply wrong. God does not torture people in Hell. People will lie in the beds that they have made. Having rejected God, you are making yourself fit for hell. It is the necessary consequence of your choices.
    You accuse me of wishful thinking and personal preference — if that’s what you believe, that’s fine by me. But you’re not actually engaging my ideas or arguments.
    Sure I have. You haven’t yet answered the question that underlies your arguments, namely, what is your basis for morality, e.g. that it’s wrong to for people who reject God to be consigned to an eternal hell. So far, all you’ve offered is that it offends your sensibilities. Well, so what? You aren’t God.

    I appreciate the fact that you want to talk things over, but we haven’t really rolled the ball along very far. Maybe you could focus in on one or two things that I say that seem wrong to you.
    I have. Several times. The problem is that your position is flawed at it’s deepest levels and you’re having trouble seeing it.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Wrf3,
    The problem is that your position is flawed at it’s deepest levels and you’re having trouble seeing it.
    Well, that’s certainly one explanation isn’t it? :)
    But at least you’re not pretending to not understand what I mean by “normal” anymore, so we’re making progress.
    You want logical rigor — you’ve got it:
    We are all unworthy sinners.
    Jesus expiated our sin on our behalf.
    We are all saved.
    Logic problem number one: if we are all saved now, then why does it make any difference whether or not a sinner acknowledges it (Hint: It doesn’t make any logical difference.)
    Logic problem number two: how does Jesus suffering and dying save you and me (Hint: It doesn’t logically, but God doesn’t obey the rules of logic, does He?)
    I’m not really interested in getting in a logic pissing contest with you, because frankly, no religion holds up well when analyzed in a ruthlessly logical fashion, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
    My comments have been along the lines of existential truth and falsehood: Does it make sense to have a God who judges people in a certain way? Does Joe’s version of Christianity really help people to realize their full spiritual potential?
    I think that’s the only way to have a discussion about this that won’t end up in each side accusing the other of being illogical and hopelessly clueless. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Nedbrek,
    Am I a good person?
    If I answered all your questions, would that really allow you to figure it out? — Probably not.
    You basically have two options here:
    Take it on faith (that is to say, take my word for it). Or don’t take it on faith.
    If your point is, all of us are sinners, then I cannot disagree. Even if someone is not a “sinner”, I’ve never had the privilege of meeting him or her.
    But run-of-the-mill sin is nothing that demands everlasting punishment. That’s like executing someone for going over the speed limit on the interstate.

  • nedbrek

    “But run-of-the-mill sin is nothing that demands everlasting punishment.”
    God is free from sin. If you have sin on you, you cannot be with God. That’s really all there is to it.
    God wants you to be able to be with Him. That’s why He sent His Son to die for you. It is a free gift. If you reject the gift, there’s nothing God can do about it…

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Nedbrek,
    Thank you. I’m sure Joe Carter would say something very similar.
    While I cannot accept what you say, I respect you and your position.
    I remind you, however, that you and I in no way deserve to be eternally punished. And I know that God would agree with me about that.

  • Cheesehead

    The concept of hell has stirred quite a bit of OT discussion here. I think most of the folks here put off by the notion of hell in Christian theology have an understanding of hell that is at best one part biblical and three parts cultural, and so are not even arguing the same concept.
    C.S. Lewis paints vivid pictures of hell in many different contexts. One of the most direct is his book “The Great Divorce.” It is a quick, easy read if anyone wants to get inside the mind of a Christian who thoughfully pondered the implications of hell.
    Hell is not a torture chamber manned by horned individuals in red tights. The torments of hell are the natural outworking of our choices made in our lives. More than anything else, hell the one place where someone can truly be away from God. If you do not believe in God, for you hell has already begun…you’re living it now as a foretaste of the eternity without God which you reject as a possibility anyway. If you believe there is nothing after you die and it turns out that the claims of Christianity are true, then you are in for a surprise, but one which you are already experiencing now–life without God. If you are right about there being nothing after death, then neither you nor I are in for a surprise–we won’t exist.
    Small point of order for EX-PREACHER: You may put forward Documentary Hypothesis and Form Criticism as fact if you wish, but if you do so, at least get your facts straight about what these theories unsupported by any hard evidence say. Deuteronomy is placed by practitioners of Documentary Hypothesis in the reign of Josiah (cir. 620 B.C.). This was in the generation before the Babylonian exile. DH and FC were dreamed up in the 19th Century before archeology was developed enough to provide the broad support for viewing the Old Testament as history written contemporaneously with the events it records from the time of Moses on. And the historical accounts in Genesis turn out to contain many details that a man living in Egypt in the 15th Century B.C. would not know if he did not have accurate sources of earlier history in other cultures. So rather than writing about when Deuteronomy and Job are “generally dated,” make clear you are putting forward the (now discredited) DH and FC theories.

  • Terence Moeller

    Bush Troubled by Afghan Convert’s Case
    Mar 22 12:54 PM US/Eastern
    Email this story
    By JENNIFER LOVEN
    Associated Press Writer
    WHEELING, W.Va.
    President Bush said Wednesday that he is “deeply troubled” that an Afghan man is being tried for converting to Christianity.
    Abdul Rahman, 41, faces a possible death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago. He has been charged with rejecting Islam, a crime under this country’s Islamic laws. Bush said in a speech that a young democracy is growing in Afghanistan, but he’s concerned about the case.
    “We expect them to honor the universal principle of freedom,” Bush said. “I’m troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account. That’s not the universal application of the values that I talked about. I look forward to working with the government of that country to make sure that people are protected in their capacity to worship.”
    Rahman’s trial started last week, but a state prosecutor said Wednesday that he may be mentally unfit to stand trial. Moayuddin Baluch, a religious adviser to President Hamid Karzai, said Rahman would undergo a psychological examination and the case will be dropped if he’s found mentally unfit.
    ___
    Bush says, “May be held to account.”
    What is this??

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    A very interesting post and thread. I am happy to see the generally mutually respectful tone.
    I will note on a few points:
    1] APOSTASY LAW: a few years ago Barnabas Fund sought to put a petrition before the UN Human Rights people on this barbaric praxis, of deeming those who convert from islam traitors and sentencing them to death for in effect “treason.” It not only happens officially, but also even in families and communities. This is one of the outstanding points where reform has to come to Islam from without, by shaming it into finding the alternatives that can be developed by rethinking its theology.
    2] RENDER TO CAESAR: The point is, from Rom 13:1 – 7, and Dan 4, etc that the governor is God’s servant, accountable to him to do justice and good, restraining evil. So, he is accountable to the prophetic voice of God through say a herdsman and country bumpkin, like Amos. Or, he needs to heed the immortal: “THOU art the man” that Nathan spoke to David when he abused his power. Similarly, the Apostles spoke to the Sanhedrin: should we obey YOU, or God? Paul said that had he done anything worthy of death he did not refuse to die, but several times appealed in court to his rights. In short, there is an abundant biblical context for balanced government under God that respects justice and therefore establishes rights. It is time we got over the secularist distortions of the history of ideas and the rise of modern liberty on this matter. (And I know I have been called a “Christofascist” and a “Nazi” in part for pointing out tot his pattern of evidence, but isn’t it interesting to see that when challenged to address the factual basis of my claims, the accusers have been silent for months now? (Ah, the advantages of ad hominems over toil . . .)
    3] BUT I DON’T DESERVE HELL: Here we see the classic problem of being wise in one’s own eyes while refusing to heed the abundant contrary evidence. FYI, it is Jesus who speaks MOST about hell in the NT, the same one who has authority to speak on such matters as the firstborn from the dead, with over 500 witnesses. (As C S Lewis notes, oddly enough, the only NT author whose writings can even remotely be pulled in to support universalism, is Paul!) In fact, hell is hell because we choose to turn out backs on God and he says in the end, thy will be done. For those who do so, the horrors of this vale of teads are a foretaste of why that is so — the consequences of utter sinful selfishness tot he nth degree would turn a paradise [eden] into a disaster and a respectful alternative for those who wish to reject God into a festering, worm riddled eternal canker sore — that is how hell becomes hell. In short,the eternal torments are IMHO self-inflicted, just as much of what happens here is similarly self-inflicted.
    4] MOD THEOL: Modernist theology is premised on indefensible philosphy and produced a pre-archaeological view od the Bible that largely survices through the power eleites in the relevant institutions, who frankly are invested in modernism and now hypermodernism aka post moderninsm. THe latest folly is ht esoon tobe released Gospel of Judas, so-called. Here we have a C2 Gnostic text being published by National Geographic with their partners declaring how it is as old as the NT. Of course, neatly omitted is the fact that by 125 AD, Jn had travelled from Ehhesus to Egypt, and that by 96 to 110 the first circle of church fathers had cited/alluded to 25 of 27 NT books incidentally, as recognised authoritative scripture in the churches at large. And of course, the inconvenient facts of the Pauline corpus, 50 – 65 AD or so, are glided over in silence. Not to mention the point of the Morison challenge, to be shown shortly. Shameful.
    5] BUSH-BLAIR DOCTRINE: THe very fact that Bush, centre right in US politics, and Blair, Centre-left in European politics, are in agreement on the struggle with militant islamism, should tell us sonething. Britain is anomalous in Europe because it has taken the lesson of Hitler to heart – as Thatcher underscored in 1982. The point is, that militant islamism is a global threat, friven by a religiously motivated global conquest ideology. As such it can only be defeated and/or contained, it is not amenable to serious compromise. As part of that containment I have suggested in other threads that we shold back those muslims who argue for reform, while confronting and defeating decisixvely themilitants who push the more natural interpretations of the QUran. [Ever notice that the NT is far wasier to read as a pacifist document than the Quran and Hadiths . . .? Wvent hough, the turn the other cheelk is inthe face of insults not tyranny in the community, which calls forth a prophetic corrective as we see the Apostles doing . . .)
    ++++++++++
    Okay, finally, the Morison challenge:

    [N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus' resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . . Why did it win? . . . . We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not – how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecuter became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] – we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 - 115.]

    In short, as Craig also notes, we have here a credible comparative difficulties challenge to those who deny the space-time historical objectivity of the resurrection as the foundation stone of the Christian faith.
    ++++++++
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon

  • Rob Ryan

    Brad: “In my opinion, Rob Ryan does not even exist.”
    Yet I would not punish you for that, even if I could, because apparently I haven’t provided you with sufficient evidence for you to accept my existence. And, if I were to meet you in person with my birth certificate and scores of family and friends, clergy and government officials to vouch for my identity and you still wouldn’t acknowledge my existence, I would just assume you were a kook and let it go.
    wrf3: “Is the American Civil war only someone’s opinion? The weight of historical evidence is that Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead.”
    I think the evidence for the Civil War is many times more compelling than the evidence for the Resurrection. Historians seem to agree.
    “There’s a glaring assumption in there that God has not spoken to man.”
    That is where we see it differently; I see a glaring assumption on your part. You trust the testimony of long-dead men who speak of miracles unknown to science and my personal experience, while I harbor some serious doubts about such claims. There are other scriptures written by long-dead men that you choose not to believe; my stack of rejected scripture is just one volume higher than yours.

  • wrf3

    Matthew Goggins wrote: But run-of-the-mill sin is nothing that demands everlasting punishment. That’s like executing someone for going over the speed limit on the interstate. As well as, I remind you, however, that you and I in no way deserve to be eternally punished. And I know that God would agree with me about that.
    We can’t seem to get past this point. In order for you to justify your statement, one of three things has to be the case:
    1) An objective moral standard must exist to which God must be bound. Since this is not the case, you can’t use this argument.
    2) Your moral stance, based solely on your personal preference, is binding on God. Maybe, but how do you demonstrate this?
    3) God has revealed His take on the issue to you and He agrees with you and not with us. But since you claim that this is no God (based on His lack of revealing Himself to you), I don’t see how you can claim this, either.
    So, what warrant do you have for your claim?
    Furthermore, you seem to think that “run-of-the-mill sin” is the basis for everlasting punishment. It isn’t.

  • wrf3

    Matthew Goggins wrote:
    You want logical rigor — you’ve got it:
    Ok, let’s see…
    We are all unworthy sinners.
    Jesus expiated our sin on our behalf.
    We are all saved.

    There’s a mistake in this. Do you need for me to point it out?
    Logic problem number one: if we are all saved now, then why does it make any difference whether or not a sinner acknowledges it (Hint: It doesn’t make any logical difference.)
    Your conclusion follows; but you started with a flawed premise. Garbage in, garbage out.
    Logic problem number two: how does Jesus suffering and dying save you and me (Hint: It doesn’t logically, but God doesn’t obey the rules of logic, does He?)
    Why doesn’t it logically follow?
    Furthermore, God communicates with man. That requires logic, for without logic communication is impossible.
    I’m not really interested in getting in a logic pissing contest with you, because frankly, no religion holds up well when analyzed in a ruthlessly logical fashion, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
    So far you’re batting zero.
    My comments have been along the lines of existential truth and falsehood:
    And what you haven’t done, yet is fundamental to your position, is define the nature of good and evil. You are accusing the Christian God of being unjust, yet you haven’t provided a basis for determining what is just (except your personal opinion, which doesn’t count).
    Does it make sense to have a God who judges people in a certain way?
    Why, certainly. How could it be otherwise?
    Does Joe’s version of Christianity really help people to realize their full spiritual potential?
    First, what does “full spiritual potential” mean?
    Second, since Joe’s “version” of Christianity is the same as mine, the answer is, “of course”. But until you define your terms, such back-and-forth is meaningless.

  • Abe Ata

    alestinian Christians: persecuted, betrayed, forced out of their homes and sacrificed
    The Palestinian Christian is an endangered species. When the modern state of Israel was established there were about 400,000 of us. Two years ago the number was down to 80,000. Now it

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    There are a few points that are well worth taking up:
    1] Rob Ryan: I think the evidence for the Civil War is many times more compelling than the evidence for the Resurrection. Historians seem to agree.
    –> The basic problem here is that in many cases the “historians” [and a great many theologians too, e.g. the ilk of the Jesus Seminar] are asserting a question-begging definition of history; to wit: if supernatural, then necessarily not historical.
    –> In short, we are looking at selective hyperskepticism that improperly decides the question before it looks at the evidence because it does not fit with the presumptions and presuppositions of currently intellectually fashionable naturalistic worldviews. (In turn, such evolutionary materialist views arguably self-destruct through inescapable incoherence. That is, they cannot credibly and consistently account for our minds.)
    –> So, when you cite such “historians” you are only reiterating their circular arguments, ie. an inappropriate appeal to authority. At worldview level you need to address the comparative difficulties across the live options.
    –> When it comes to the origins of the Christian church, we are discussing the most important and pervasive single institution in the history of Western Civilisation over the past 2,000 years — and therefore the most important single institution in world history over the past two millennia. But, its origins, survival and triumph, other than as a response to the impact of Jesus’ resurrection, is frankly inecplicable. That is, the Civil War comparison is most inappropriate and unfounded. [Onlookers, notice how RR has NOT taken up the Morison or Craig challenges above! Guess why?]
    2] I see a glaring assumption . . . You trust the testimony of long-dead men who speak of miracles unknown to science and my personal experience, while I harbor some serious doubts about such claims. There are other scriptures written by long-dead men that you choose not to believe; my stack of rejected scripture is just one volume higher than yours.
    –> The bolded phrase is the dead giveaway: it reveals the underlying antisupernaturalist bias in the reading adn weighing of evidence, similar to Hume’s question-begging assertion that firm and unalterable experience has shown that miracles do not happen. But, how do ou know that, giventhat there are certain material accounts underlying the origin of the Christian church? Well, THOSE reports cannot be trusted. Why? Because they don’t fit with experience . . . at least, the experience that I am prepared to trust.
    –> RR needs to address the origins of the church and its testimony from C1 in light of the relevant principles of comparative difficulties analysis, or he is just reiterating the rhetoric of selective hyperskepticism.
    –> In particular, he should reflect on the famous Ancient Documents Rule of Simon Greenleaf:

    1] THE ANCIENT DOCUMENTS RULE: Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [p.16, Testimony of the Evangelists, Kregel Edn. Also, Montgomery's update]

    –> And since it is currently popular to allude to C2 Gnostic frauds as if they were as credibel as C1 documents of 100 – 150 years greater age and abundantly archaeologically confirmed, I note that the issue is quality and authenticity of sources. The NT passes, the C2 “Gospels” of Thomas, Peter, Judas etc simply do not. Indeed, these frauds are demonstrably derivative, inferior and come from neither good source nor chain of custody, bearing on their face all kinds of marks of imposture and inauthenticity.
    3] Abe: Less well known are the views of the American Religious Right. Strangely, they find the liberation of Iraqis from a vile dictator just, but do not find it unjust for us to be under military occupation for 38 long years.
    –> While it is true that the Palestinian arab Christians have had a raw deal, there is much more to the history of modern Israel than you admit, much less the underlying biblical theology; and much of that rest of the story gives a very different colour tot he situation. And so, while indeed the Israelis are not without guilt in the matter – in very few human disputes is there no blame on one side — I am troubled by the one-sidedness and evident hostility to Bible believing Christians — BTW, not all of whom are “right wing” — in your remarks above.
    –> For instance, you make reference to “38 years” as though that is the root of the troubles faced by Arab Christis in the land of Canaan adn the wider Arab world. But in fact, we are in this thread specifically discussing the plight of a Christian man potentially to be sentenced to death simply for followig his conscience in a Muslim country that was recently liberated at the cost of much blood, by countries whose heritage is Christian. Now, we see that the latest proposal is to declare him mentally unstable — which will of course mean that he loses all hope of being reunited with his daughters [which is what brought him back to his homeland] — to “save his life.”
    –> But more to the point you raised as a cross-complaint, the lands “occupied” by Israel were repeatedly used as platforms for supporting declared adn attempted wars of annihilation against the Jews in Canaan, the demonstrable homeland of the Jewish nation for nearly 4,000 years. Such land used for aggression, in international law, can properly be held pending resolution of the underlying military threat.
    –> Further to this, during that time, the Israelis did in fact promote the welfare of the lands and the people in it, in the spirit of the Weizmann-Feisal agreement of 1919. [NB: Unless one can properly address that agreement and its implications, IMHCO s/he cannot properly assess or address the ME situation fairly.]
    –> When in 1986 an impending agreement with Jordan [NB: the Arab state occupying the territory ceded under the first Land for Peace deal, ~ 1922, which created the first Arab Palestinian state] would have moved to a peaceful settlement, the first Intifada was launched.
    –> Similarly, in 2000, when a settlement that would have givent ot he palesitinian arabs 90+ % of their maximum credible demands was on the table [and rather resembling the 1947 UN-brokered partition arrangement, which would have prevcented the past 50+ years of war and hate had it been adhered to by the Arabs], it was walked away from and a second intifada was launched.
    –> It is plain that the issue, as Dr Ahmadinejad has put it again — without significant protest from the arab world — is again: annihilation of the Jews.
    –> So, while I sympathise with your plight as victims of history [as are Caribbean blacks], I have a basic problem with the factual and logical base as well as the fairness of your argument. I in particular have a problem when I see that you do not address the more direct threat to palestinian arab Christians, namely the issue of subjugation as dhimmis and oppression under sharia, which is directly responsible for, for instance the depopulation of Bethlehem.
    –> If you would address that, then that would bring up the issue of the oriental Jews, another major group of dhimmis, many of whom have sought and found refuge in: Israel.
    –> Indeed, they and their descendants constitute the largest single group of Jews in Israel, and the underlying exchange of refugees and treasure [620,000 Jews, ~ US$ 15 Billons in treasure lost] lends a legitimacy to Israel that nothing else can: it is a land of refugees, back in their homeland. Not just from the Western world, but also from the Arab-muslim world. And the threats and attempts of genocide against them have not just come from Europe, but also from the Arab-muslim world. Nor are these threats independent: the Mufti of Jerusalem collaborated with Hitler in his genocide, and sought to implement an arab version in the MR in collaboration with Hitler. So, when in 1947 – 67 we see the repeated calls for annihilation of Israel, that should give us pause. When we see that Egypt att hat time shielded the Mufti from the War Crimes tribunals untli his death in 1974, and when we see that Arafat and Ahmadinejad are his heirs, then we should take a long pause before we simply swallow the rhetoric of western colonial domination and third world liberation.
    –> I think that should suffice to show the basis for the positions this Caribbean Christian — who knows that the “old pirates” who “robbed I” and “sold I” to the English man’s “merchant ships” were muslim Berber and Arab slavers in Africa — takes:

    a] I approve of the liberation of Afghan peole from sharia-inspired Taliban tyranny, and of Iraqi arabs and Kurds [who BTW may well prove, geneticaly to be some of the 10 lost tribes . . . ] from Arab National Socialist tyranny [i.e. Baathism, translated inti English].
    b] I approve of the liberation and deliverance of Western and Oriental Jews from oppression, dhimmitude and threatened genocide.
    c] I approve of their right to resettle and rebuild their ancient homeland, with the proviso — as was long since stated in the 1917 Balfour declaration and other documents [such as the 1919 Feisal-Weizmann agreement on mutually supportive development of the arab and jewish nations in the ME] — that the long settled arabs there also have a right to be part of that developement [and I note that Israel has over 1 million arab citizens out of 6 millions total].
    d] I approve of — and therefore signed to — the international petition to reverse the wicked, oppressive implications of Islam’s Apostasy law. This is the law that now threatens the life of a man whose crime was to follow his conscience in Afghanistan.
    e] I approve of the need to reform Islam in the interests of its becomeing a peaceful and fair-minded religion in fact not just propaganda and/or where it does not hold dominance inthe state; and especially the need to correct its established status of apartheid-like oppression under dhimmitude for non-muslims under islamic rule. [That for instance is why Christians in Nigeria are so strongly opposed to the imposition of sharia there.]
    f] I approve of the right and duty of all palestinan arabs to live in peace, justice, truth and liberty with their neighbours: arabs, jews, Christians and others. Similarly, I approve of the right and duty of arabs and muslims to live in peace and justice with their Coptic, Dinka, Kurdish, hindu, Bahai, Armenian, Nigerian, Indonesian, Phillipino and other neighbours.

    4] Let’s get biblically theological . . .
    –> I ask you to read the paper linked here, and respond on points to what is taught in say Ezekiel 35 – 9, Rom 9 – 1, and Gal 3:13 ff.
    –> I ask you to do so in light of the basic teaching in 1 Cor15:1 – 11, and ihe implications of hte endorsement of the OT and the teaching of the Apostles [as is recorded in the NT] by the One who rose from the dead, with over 500 witnesses.
    ++++++++
    Grace, open all of our eyes
    Gordon

  • Rob Ryan

    Gordon:
    “…we are looking at selective hyperskepticism that improperly decides the question before it looks at the evidence”
    From your perspective it may appear such; from my perspective I see in you a selective hypercredulity that allows you to accept the veracity of some ancient texts and reject others based on your presuppositions.
    “In turn, such evolutionary materialist views arguably self-destruct through inescapable incoherence. That is, they cannot credibly and consistently account for our minds.”
    Key word: arguably. There is a great deal of subjectivity built into the phrases “inescapable incoherence” and “credibly and consistently account for”.
    “So, when you cite such “historians” you are only reiterating their circular arguments, ie. an inappropriate appeal to authority.”
    I’m not engaged in a formal debate, Gordon; I’m just briefly and superficially explaining the basis of my skepticism.
    “Onlookers, notice how RR has NOT taken up the Morison or Craig challenges above! Guess why?”
    The onlookers may guess if they wish, of course, but I am in the best position to say. I should preface this with a confession: I do not read every comment and follow every link. There! I feel so much better. The truth is that some commentors here, most notably Terence and you, Gordon, have a much more profound interest in apologetics than I do, therefore you are willing to engage with more comprehensiveness than I am willing to devote time for. In one of my less charitable moods, I would characterize you as long-winded, but I must acknowledge that that reflects upon my laziness as much as it does upon your lack of concision. I think it has something to do with the fact that you believe and wish to reinforce your belief. While I may at some point have leisure to respond to the Morison challenge and Craig’s comparative difficulties challenge, at first glance (I checked them out this time!) they hardly seem the stuff spring break is made of as my children clamor for a trip to the playground. Life is a series of trade-offs, and I think we must all decide for ourselves the depth at which we will engage any of our particular interests at any point in time. If that means you cannot take my objections to your worldview seriously, I suppose I must endure your marginalization of me as a commentor.
    “In particular, he should reflect on the famous Ancient Documents Rule of Simon Greenleaf”
    This rule, at least as you have presented it, I have no problem with. I never claimed any of the books of the Bible were forgeries. I assume that the authors are who they and you say they are. I view their work as historical fiction, but I have no way of knowing whether or not they believed everything they wrote. I do have a question, though. If a verifiably ancient text that claimed to be the work of Jesus of Nazareth were discovered in some old crypt or cave, what is the likelihood that you would accept it as the word of God?
    Yes, Gordon, I have a materialistic bias. I freely admit it, and furthermore I think this bias is perfectly reasonable. We are all biased toward that we have found trustworthy. Apparently, your faith has served you well, hence your bias toward belief in biblical truth.

  • Terence Moeller

    THE RELIGION OF PIECES
    March 24, 2006 12:39 AM
    WAKE-UP CALL (via AP/WaPo):
    Senior Muslim clerics demanded Thursday that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to “pull him into pieces.”
    …”Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die,” said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001.
    …On Wednesday, authorities said Rahman is suspected of being mentally ill and would undergo psychological examinations to see whether he is fit to stand trial.
    But three Sunni preachers and a Shiite one interviewed by The Associated Press in four of Kabul’s most popular mosques said they do not believe Rahman is insane.
    “He is not crazy. He went in front of the media and confessed to being a Christian,” said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque.
    “The government is scared of the international community. But the people will kill him if he is freed,” Hamidullah said.
    Raoulf, who is a member of the country’s main Islamic organization, the Afghan Ulama Council, agreed. “The government is playing games. The people will not be fooled.”
    “Cut off his head!” he exclaimed, sitting in a courtyard outside Herati Mosque. “We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there’s nothing left.”
    …Said Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque, one of the largest Shiite places of worship in Kabul, said Rahman must not be allowed to leave the country.
    “If he is allowed to live in the West, then others will claim to be Christian so they can too,” he said. “We must set an example. … He must be hanged.”
    …”We are a small country and we welcome the help the outside world is giving us. But please don’t interfere in this issue,” Nasri said. “We are Muslims and these are our beliefs. This is much more important to us than all the aid the world has given us.”

  • TK

    If you need another example that separation of church and state is the best way to keep your religious freedoms, this is it. It all starts as a benign takeover, and eventually ideological minorities will be persecuted.
    Remember dear Christians… Empathy does you good.

  • wrf3

    TK wrote: If you need another example that separation of church and state is the best way to keep your religious freedoms, this is it.
    No, it isn’t. There are secular states that are inimical to religious freedom. The best way to keep religious freedom is to start with a worldview that acknowledges that religious choice must not be coerced by man — e.g. Christianity.
    It all starts as a benign takeover, and eventually ideological minorities will be persecuted.
    Like the hate speech laws in Canada that make it a crime to say that homosexuality is a sin?
    Remember dear Christians… Empathy does you good.
    We are the ones who are commanded to love our enemies. How about you?

  • Cheesehead

    Abe Ata: Your post looks to be a canned presentation which probably will appear on websites with comment sections many times over. But in case you actually do come back here to interact, you have quite a bit of explaining to do regarding why Israel is a bigger threat to palestinian Christians than Hamas. Israel allows freedom of religion. Hamas, aside from maniacal homocide bombings and a desire to push Israel into the sea, is totally islamist. Israel imposes nothing resembling sharia law on non-Jews, yet restoration of the Caliphate is openly advocated by imams in Jerusalem.
    http://arutzsheva.com/news.php3?id=99210
    For Christians living in Israel or anywhere else in the world, Israel is not, never has been, and never will be an enemy. Christian citizens of Israel are freer and live better than Christians living anywhere else in the Middle East, as the current case in Afghanistan demonstrates.

  • TK

    wrf3-
    I never said Canada should be the pinnicle of any country’s aspirations. I like it here in America, even though I’m scared to death that everything we stood for has been distorted and diluted.
    If you truly believe in freedom and liberty, a confluence of church and state doesn’t add up, no matter what faith your hang your hat on. That’s what our founding fathers believed, largely because they weren’t that far removed from Anglican England.
    Empathy, in this case, is understanding and protecting the rights of the minority to exist. That doesn’t mean a sacrifice in the majority’s rights though, as is often portrayed by some ‘conservative’ talking heads. Legislating morality and religion is a slippery slope… no two ideas are the same.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Cheeshead.
    Thank you for getting back to me.
    I didn’t realize until now that you had a couple of responses. I didn’t see them sandwiched between Gordon’s long posts.
    The question you put to me about my source of good and evil is a very good question. I’ve had several lengthy discussions about this very point on various comment threads here on the E.O.
    Here’s the upshot:
    I believe there is an objective basis for my morality, but if you insist that God is the only objective basis, the probability that you will find my arguments persuasive is very close to zero.
    So, for the purposes of this discussion, I will use a conditional morality instead of an objective morality.
    For example, instead of saying “It is objectively true that we should help other people and avoid hurting other people” (which is what I believe to be true), I will instead say, “If it is true that helping people is good, and hurting people is bad, then it follows that…”
    By shifting to a conditional morality as opposed to an objective morality, we can continue the discussion without getting hung up over your objection and ending up in a dead-end stalemate.
    So please allow me to rephrase my previous assertion: “YOU (and I and all other normal people) DON’T DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR ALL ETERNITY.”
    I now submit the amended version, “If helping people is good, and hurting people is bad, then you (and Joe Carter and I and so on) don’t deserve to be punished for all eternity.”
    [Of course, if you don't believe there is an objective basis for any morality, then no one deserves to be punished for anything. But I am implicitly making the further assertion that it would actually be wrong to punish anyone for all eternity, and not simply unjustified in the sense of being morally neutral.]
    I disagree with almost everything in your two responses to me, so I will just highlight the one thing which I feel is probably your weakest point:
    “Logic problem number two: how does Jesus suffering and dying save you and me (Hint: It doesn’t logically, but God doesn’t obey the rules of logic, does He?)”
    Why doesn’t it logically follow?
    Furthermore, God communicates with man. That requires logic, for without logic communication is impossible.

    Without logic, communication is impossible?
    In response to Crystal Lake, I referred to Joe Carter’s problematic amalgam of human free will with the looming threat to everyone of eternal divine punishment. I used the sarcastic phrase “beautiful and glorious paradox”.
    I thought this was a good way of expressing the very old concept commonly known as a “mystery” in Christian teachings: the idea that some Christian doctrines just don’t appear to be rational and have to be considered “matters of faith”.
    There are quite a few “mysteries” associated with Christian faith, and since I am confident you are familiar with them, I won’t make a list.
    Surely you acknowledge that I or someone else is perfectly capable of communicating without using perfect logic. Since you believe God exists and is perfect, you will be quite reluctant to admit that he communicates with any gaps in his logic. But this is an a priori assumption on your part, and one which doesn’t appear to be justified.
    “God” (that is to say, the Bible) has communicated several giant leaps of illogic. I only pointed out two because they seemed the most relevant.
    One last general point: saying “I’m right, and you’re wrong” over and over again without further elaboration is useful as a means of communicating where you stand, but it doesn’t actually address any of my arguments.
    Thanks again for your comments. Please let me know if there is anything else you’d like me to address.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Oops,
    That last comment was not for
    Cheesehead
    but for
    Wrf3.
    I do owe Cheesehead a comment on my own blog, but I won’t be able to do that tonight.
    Sorry for the mislabeled comment.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    From CNN:
    Top Muslim clerics: Convert must die
    Religious leaders urge courts to ignore West, hang Christian

    [ . . . . . . . ]
    His [Abdul Rahman's] trial has fired passions in this conservative Muslim nation and highlighted a conflict of values between Afghanistan and its Western backers.
    “Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die,” said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001.
    “Rejecting Islam is insulting God.” This seems very similar to Joe’s opinion that declining to believe in the divinity of Jesus is grounds for God’s rejecting someone for all eternity.
    The biggest difference only appears to be that people like Abdul Raoulf allow themselves to act harshly and decisively on God’s behalf, whereas Joe Carter and his co-religionists are unwilling to make God’s harsh authority in the afterlife a man-made reality here and now in the United States. Joe is willing to let people die before they have to face the music.
    This is not a trivial difference, of course. But in a way, Mr. Raoulf’s position comes off as more consistent and intellectually honest. Inasmuch as he strives to create a temporal state of affairs that reflects his theology, he has more confidence in his convictions than our Calvinist friends at the E.O.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Here’s a very sad story.
    I would say it’s off-topic, because a wack-job wife and mother is in no way representative of a religious community.
    But often religious folks will point anecdotally to bad unbelievers and claim that the fruits of a belief (or un-belief) are adequate grounds for judging a belief. I think this story would serve as a healthy corrective to such an attitude.
    Take it for what it’s worth.
    Tenn. Minister’s Wife Charged With Murder
    [ . . . . . . . . ]
    Mary and Matthew Winkler were married in 1996. They had met at Freed- Hardeman University, a Church of Christ-affiliated school in Henderson where Matthew’s father was an adjunct professor. Mary took education classes, and Matthew took Bible classes. Neither graduated.
    Churches of Christ do not consider themselves a denomination since every congregation is independently governed by a group of church elders. They generally believe the Bible should be interpreted literally and that baptism is essential for salvation. The church is also noted for its prohibition on using musical instruments during services. [Emphasis added.]

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Several follow-up points:
    1] Rob Ryan: I see in you a selective hypercredulity that allows you to accept the veracity of some ancient texts and reject others based on your presuppositions.
    –> This is of course a turnabout attempt, which could only gain credibility from substantiating evidence. Onlookers should therefore note that RR does not engage the actual evidence and challenge cited on the key warranting argument of the Christian faith, nor the specific framework of argument required to not fall nto selective hyperskepticism. Instead, he tries a version of the “your’e another” fallacy.
    –> I cite Greenleaf:

    [26] . . . It should be observed that the subject of inquiry [i.e. evidence relating to the credibility of the New Testament accounts] is a matter of fact, and not of abstract mathematical proof. The latter alone is susceptible of that high degree of proof, usually termed demonstration, which excludes the possibility of error . . . In the ordinary affairs of life we do not require nor expect demonstrative evidence, because it is inconsistent with the nature of matters of fact, and to insist on its production would be unreasonable and absurd . . . The error of the skeptic consists in pretending or supposing that there is a difference in the nature of things to be proved; and in demanding demonstrative evidence concerning things which are not susceptible of any other than moral evidence alone, and of which the utmost that can be said is, that there is no reasonable doubt about their truth . . . .
    [27] . . . . In proceeding to weigh the evidence of any proposition of fact, the previous question to be determined is, when may it be said to be proved? The answer to this question is furnished by another rule of municipal law, which may be thus stated:

    A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence.

    By competent evidence, is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence, is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt. . . . . If, therefore, the subject is a problem in mathematics, its truth is to be shown by the certainty of demonstrative evidence. But if it is a question of fact in human affairs, nothing more than moral evidence can be required, for this is the best evidence which, from the nature of the case, is attainable. Now as the facts, stated in Scripture History, are not of the former kind, but are cognizable by the senses, they may be said to be proved when they are established by that kind and degree of evidence which, as we have just observed, would, in the affairs of human life, satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man. [Testimony, Sections 26, 27, emphases added.]

    2] [Re evolutionary materialism] There is a great deal of subjectivity built into the phrases “inescapable incoherence” and “credibly and consistently account for”.
    –> Onlookers should note that to date EE has failed to actually engage the issue, that the EM account of the origin of man first leads to self-reference on the mind: it is after all in significant part an account of how we got our minds.
    –> Second, the way it implies that we got our minds ends up in undermining the credibility of said minds. That is not just my conclusion, I can cite leading darwinists on that, as indeed this earlier thread discussed. I excerpt from it the remarks of Metzinger [from the Edge essays excerpts thread] as an apt illustration:

    My dangerous question is if one can be intellectually honest about the issue of free will and preserve one’s mental health at the same time….Can one really believe in determinism without going insane?
    As a scientifically well-informed person you believe in this theory, you endorse it. As an open-minded person you find that you are also interested in modern philosophy of mind,…You like this basic idea: physical determinism is compatible with being a free agent. You endorse a materialist philosophy of freedom as well. An intellectually honest person open to empirical data, you simply believe that something along these lines must be true.
    Now you try to feel that it is true. You try to consciously experience the fact that at any given moment of your life, you could not have acted otherwise. You try to experience the fact that even your thoughts, however rational and moral, are predetermined

  • Terence Moeller

    In an effort to understand the Musim mind, I have read everything I could get my hands on by Bernard Lewis’ including most recently, “Islam and the West.” While the picture Muslim mind is a bit clearer, the picture of the western mind has become less lucid. I am baffled by the western response (or lack thereof) to the Afghan threat to execute an Arab Christian.
    This the latest from Steyn . . .
    Saturday, March 25, 2006
    Steyn: Will we stick our necks out for his faith?
    By MARK STEYN
    Fate conspires to remind us what this war is really about: civilizational confidence. And so history repeats itself: first the farce of the Danish cartoons, and now the tragedy – a man on trial for his life in post-Taliban Afghanistan because he has committed the crime of converting to Christianity.
    The cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were deeply offensive to Muslims, and so thousands protested around the world in the usual restrained manner – rioting, torching, killing, etc.
    The impending execution of Abdul Rahman for embracing Christianity is, of course, offensive to Westerners, and so around the world we reacted equally violently by issuing blood-curdling threats like that made by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack: “Freedom of worship is an important element of any democracy,” he said. “And these are issues as Afghan democracy matures that they are going to have to deal with increasingly.”
    The immediate problem for Abdul Rahman is whether he’ll get the chance to “mature” along with Afghan democracy. The president, the Canadian prime minister and the Australian prime minister have all made statements of concern about his fate, and it seems clear that Afghanistan’s dapper leader, Hamid Karzai, would like to resolve this issue before his fledgling democracy gets a reputation as just another barbarous Islamist sewer state. There’s talk of various artful compromises, such as Rahman being declared unfit to stand trial by reason of insanity on the grounds that (I’m no Islamic jurist so I’m paraphrasing here) anyone who converts from Islam to Christianity must, ipso facto, be nuts.
    On the other hand, this “moderate” compromise solution is being rejected by leading theologians. “We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die,” says Abdul Raoulf of the nation’s principal Muslim body, the Afghan Ulama Council. “Cut off his head! We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there’s nothing left.” Needless to say, Imam Raoulf is one of Afghanistan’s leading “moderate” clerics.
    For what it’s worth, I’m with the Afghan Ulama Council in objecting to the insanity defense. It’s not enough for Abdul Rahman to get off on a technicality. Afghanistan is supposed to be “the good war,” the one even the French supported, albeit notionally and mostly retrospectively. Karzai is kept alive by a bodyguard of foreigners. The fragile Afghan state is protected by American, British, Canadian, Australian, Italian and other troops, hundreds of whom have died. You cannot ask Americans or Britons to expend blood and treasure to build a society in which a man can be executed for his choice of religion. You cannot tell a Canadian soldier serving in Kandahar that he, as a Christian, must sacrifice his life to create a Muslim state in which his faith is a capital offense.
    As always, we come back to the words of Osama bin Laden: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.” That’s really the only issue: The Islamists know our side have tanks and planes, but they have will and faith, and they reckon in a long struggle that’s the better bet. Most prominent Western leaders sound way too eager to climb into the weak-horse suit and audition to play the rear end. Consider, for example, the words of the Prince of Wales, speaking a few days ago at al-Azhar University in Cairo, which makes the average Ivy League nuthouse look like a beacon of sanity. Anyway, this is what His Royal Highness had to say to 800 Islamic “scholars”:
    “The recent ghastly strife and anger over the Danish cartoons shows the danger that comes of our failure to listen and to respect what is precious and sacred to others. In my view, the true mark of a civilized society is the respect it pays to minorities and to strangers.”
    That’s correct. But the reality is that our society pays enormous respect to minorities – President Bush holds a monthlong Ramadan-a-ding-dong at the White House every year. The immediate reaction to the slaughter of 9/11 by Western leaders everywhere was to visit a mosque to demonstrate their great respect for Islam. One party to this dispute is respectful to a fault: after all, to describe the violence perpetrated by Muslims over the Danish cartoons as the “recent ghastly strife” barely passes muster as effete Brit toff understatement.
    Unfortunately, what’s “precious and sacred” to Islam is its institutional contempt for others. In his book “Islam And The West,” Bernard Lewis writes, “The primary duty of the Muslim as set forth not once but many times in the Quran is ‘to command good and forbid evil.’ It is not enough to do good and refrain from evil as a personal choice. It is incumbent upon Muslims also to command and forbid.” Or as the Canadian columnist David Warren put it: “We take it for granted that it is wrong to kill someone for his religious beliefs. Whereas Islam holds it is wrong not to kill him.” In that sense, those imams are right, and Karzai’s attempts to finesse the issue are, sharia-wise, wrong.
    I can understand why the president and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would rather deal with this through back channels, private assurances from their Afghan counterparts, etc. But the public rhetoric is critical, too. At some point we have to face down a culture in which not only the mob in the street but the highest judges and academics talk like crazies. Abdul Rahman embodies the question at the heart of this struggle: If Islam is a religion one can only convert to, not from, then in the long run it is a threat to every free person on the planet.
    What can we do? Should governments with troops in Afghanistan pass joint emergency legislation conferring their citizenship on this poor man and declaring him, as much as Karzai, under their protection?
    In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” – the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:
    “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”
    India today is better off without suttee. If we shrink from the logic of that, then in Afghanistan and many places far closer to home the implications are, as the Prince of Wales would say, “ghastly.”

  • wrf3

    Matthew Goggins wrote:
    The question you put to me about my source of good and evil is a very good question. I’ve had several lengthy discussions about this very point on various comment threads here on the E.O.
    So have I.
    Here’s the upshot:
    I believe there is an objective basis for my morality,
    So you have said, several times. What you haven’t done is proved it. It can be objectively shown that 2 + 2 = 4, or that the square root of two is an irrational number. You need to go from assertion to proof (especially since I can prove that you’re wrong).
    but if you insist that God is the only objective basis,
    I haven’t insisted that. What I have said is that the only basis for morality is personal preference. This is true for you, me, and God.
    the probability that you will find my arguments persuasive is very close to zero.
    Don’t argue, then. Provide proof.
    So, for the purposes of this discussion, I will use a conditional morality instead of an objective morality.
    Doesn’t help you. All one has to do is deny your preconditions.

    So please allow me to rephrase my previous assertion: “YOU (and I and all other normal people) DON’T DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR ALL ETERNITY.”
    As an aside, you do know that Jesus said, “there is no one who is good, but God alone”? Consider what that does to your argument.
    I now submit the amended version, “If helping people is good, and hurting people is bad, then you (and Joe Carter and I and so on) don’t deserve to be punished for all eternity.”
    There are numerous holes in this. Let me point out four:
    1) “hurting people is bad” is demonstrably not true. Ever taken a child to a doctor’s office for shots? Or the dentist?
    2) Is it wrong for God to hurt people?
    3) Is the universe constructed so that in order to help some people, others have to be examples of bad behavior?
    4) What if some people don’t want to be helped? Should they be forced?
    [Of course, if you don't believe there is an objective basis for any morality, then no one deserves to be punished for anything.
    This conclusion doesn't follow. Even though morality is purely subjective, punishment is meted out by the one(s) with the controlling morality. That's why purely atheist nations are such hellholes.
    But I am implicitly making the further assertion that it would actually be wrong to punish anyone for all eternity, and not simply unjustified in the sense of being morally neutral.
    You're assuming your conclusion. Sorry, you can't do that.
    I disagree with almost everything in your two responses to me, so I will just highlight the one thing which I feel is probably your weakest point:
    [MG] “Logic problem number two: how does Jesus suffering and dying save you and me (Hint: It doesn’t logically, but God doesn’t obey the rules of logic, does He?)”
    [WRF3] Why doesn’t it logically follow?
    Furthermore, God communicates with man. That requires logic, for without logic communication is impossible.
    Without logic, communication is impossible?
    Of course. See, for example, “Don’t You Believe It” by A. J. Hoover, chapter 1.
    [...]
    Surely you acknowledge that I or someone else is perfectly capable of communicating without using perfect logic.
    Sure. But the issue becomes “what is communicated?” Muddy logic -> muddy communication -> misunderstanding.
    Since you believe God exists and is perfect, you will be quite reluctant to admit that he communicates with any gaps in his logic. But this is an a priori assumption on your part, and one which doesn’t appear to be justified.
    What, the assumption that God is perfect isn’t justified? And I don’t need to assume it. Jesus said that the Father is perfect.
    “God” (that is to say, the Bible) has communicated several giant leaps of illogic. I only pointed out two because they seemed the most relevant.
    I disagree with Joe on this one. Man does not have free will, so this particular “leap of illogic” isn’t a problem.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Gordon,
    By sad contrast, as noted, those who would impose Islamby force have abundant basis int he teachings and life of their prophet, once he acquired state power in Medina. You have to move forward centuries after the founding era of the Christian faith to see the parallel, and it is plain that that is in direct contradiction to the NT teachings.
    I would probably agree with you here if I knew enough about the New Testament and the Koran to formulate an intelligent opinion.
    But of course, you don’t believe in the glorious Calvinist paradox of Joe Carter: God deems us deserving of eternal punishment even though we are supposed to enjoy free will. Joe doesn’t have that out, so my criticism of him is still valid.
    Thanks for all the responses. I appreciate the feedback.
    Wrf3,
    Thanks for your latest contribution to our running debate.
    Since I initiated this discussion by insisting (to Joe Carter) that people don’t deserve to be eternally punished by God in the afterlife, I will focus on that particular point.
    I amended my original declaration of “You [Joe Carter, Wrf3, myself, and just about everybody else in the world] do not deserve to be eternally punished.” In deference to your objections (which are reasonable, even though I don’t agree with them), I reformulated my declaration to state, “If helping people is good, and hurting people is bad, but you do not deserve to be eternally punished. In fact it would be a horrible travesty for you to be eternally punished.”
    And what is your response?
    Doesn’t help you. All one has to do is deny your preconditions.
    And you elaborate as follows:
    There are numerous holes in this. Let me point out four:
    1) “hurting people is bad” is demonstrably not true. Ever taken a child to a doctor’s office for shots? Or the dentist?
    2) Is it wrong for God to hurt people?
    3) Is the universe constructed so that in order to help some people, others have to be examples of bad behavior?
    4) What if some people don’t want to be helped? Should they be forced?

    Unfortunately for your objections, my two principles of “help and don’t hurt” are not absolute moral commandments which hold in every circumstance. They are merely overriding principles which are the source of all other moral principles. Sometimes they stand in conflict to each other, when helping demands a certain measure of hurting. When that happens, we have to figure out some way to reconcile the two conflicting or apparently conflicting notions. But when all other things are equal, we all agree that we should help people and that we should avoid hurting people.
    But even if someone disagrees, the beauty of using a conditional morality for the purposes of our discussion is that we can evaluate the alleged morality and the alleged judgements of “God” by applying the preconditions. If the preconditions hold, there is no problem. If the preconditions don’t holds, there is still no big problem — we just cannot use the conclusions in those special circumstances where the preconditions cannot be held to be true.
    “hurting people is bad” is demonstrably not true.
    Hurting people is bad as long as there is no good reason to hurt people. My other principle is that we should help people. So if we need to hurt someone to help that person, then the helping may in fact be important the hurting in that particular case.
    In short, there are two principles here. If the two principles conflict in a particular case, sometimes one principle will win out over the other principle.
    Is it wrong for God to hurt people?
    If God does not have a reason or a good reason to hurt people, then the answer is undoubtedly and unequivocally “Yes, it is quite wrong!”
    But if God always has a good reason, then the answer is “No”.
    Is the universe constructed so that in order to help some people, others have to be examples of bad behavior?
    Perhaps, it certainly seems that way sometimes. But not to the point of eternal punishment. That would be a gross over-reaction, except perhaps in extraordinary cases of extremely bad behavior and crimes. But even then I would find it very hard if not impossible to justify.
    What if some people don’t want to be helped? Should they be forced?
    If some people need to be forced to do something in order for those people to not hurt someone else, then they should be forced. But nothing in the ordinary course of events would ever justify any kind of infinite or never-ending punishment.
    I would object just as strongly in more general terms, that it is wrong to depend on “God” to be some kind of moral enforcer. In any moral situation where it is not clear what the right thing to do is, it is also just as unclear what the alleged opinion of “God” should be.
    Appealing to God for moral guidance has almost no practical benefit. If we can figure what we think God should be saying about any particular matter, then we can figure out what is right and what is wrong without making any reference to God whatsoever.

  • Terence Moeller

    It looks as if the Afghan government is attempting to avoid the appearance of barbarism by claiming that this Christian convert that they want to execute, is actually insane. In that way they can avoid an international scandle and still have justification for incarcerating him indefinetly. Everyone saves face. The Muslims don’t have to back down on their presumed right to kill converts, and the U.SA. can continue to subsidise what has aptly been described by as Taliban-lite.
    This is may be the first time in the history of jurisprudence that the prosecution uses the insanity defense — and gets way with it! Maybe it will establish a standard wherein no Christian converts are ever subjected to death again in a Muslim country. They are just pronounced ‘legally insane.’ The current UN civil rights commission would certainly endorse such balanced compromise.
    If this country had at least introduced a U.S. or English Parlimentary type system in Afghanastan, it is as safe bet that none of this would not be happening. Perhaps in the future the Arab version of the ACLU would have surfaced, but at least they would have had a chance at democracy.
    Again it is “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
    No one expects Muslims to reform and as a result, they seldom ever try.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Several remarks:
    1] Terence: While the picture Muslim mind is a bit clearer, the picture of the western mind has become less lucid. I am baffled by the western response (or lack thereof) to the Afghan threat to execute an Arab Christian.
    –> I first note that the man in question is evidently and Afghan rather than Arab, but that is minor.
    –> I think the root problem is that there is a — partly richly deserved — guilt over the as yet unfinished history of western aggression and oppression across the world over the past 500 years.
    –> But, the proper answer to guilt is repentance and reformation and restitution, not distortion of objective truth.
    2] Clipping Steyn:

    The cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were deeply offensive to Muslims, and so thousands protested around the world in the usual restrained manner – rioting, torching, killing, etc. The impending execution of Abdul Rahman for embracing Christianity is, of course, offensive to Westerners, and so around the world we reacted equally violently by issuing blood-curdling threats like that made by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack: “Freedom of worship is an important element of any democracy,” he said. “And these are issues as Afghan democracy matures that they are going to have to deal with increasingly.” . . . . You cannot ask Americans or Britons to expend blood and treasure to build a society in which a man can be executed for his choice of religion. You cannot tell a Canadian soldier serving in Kandahar that he, as a Christian, must sacrifice his life to create a Muslim state in which his faith is a capital offense . . . . Unfortunately, what’s “precious and sacred” to Islam is its institutional contempt for others. . . . Or as the Canadian columnist David Warren put it: “We take it for granted that it is wrong to kill someone for his religious beliefs. Whereas Islam holds it is wrong not to kill him.”

    –> The contrasts and contradictions are rich, and telling. We must aggressively defeat islamist militancy, and strongly pressure more moderate muslims to do a major rethink in light of the shameful moral dilemmas they face as they address their traditional understandings of their faith.
    3] WRF3: What I have said is that the only basis for morality is personal preference. This is true for you, me, and God.
    –> I would like to see you elaborate your point, bearing in mind the issue that God is the creator of the cosmos, and so morality might just come out in the lives of creatures that can make real decisions as a credibly objective factor.
    –> For instance, is the sort of implication in the Kantian Categorical imperative merely a subjective matter: i.e. that immoral conduct is logically incoherent and/or socialy destructive [thence the concept that sustainable development is in the end an ethical issue . . .)?
    4] MG/WRF3 on help/hurt.
    –> Perhaps, the Pauline statement of the GR in Rom 13:8 – 10 might help, as it raises the real distinction: love does no HARM:

    RO 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    –> There is a biblical proverb on how the kisses of an enemy are deceitful, but faithful are the wounds of a friend. Or there is the Caribbean folk saying to the effect that what sweet naany goat mout run ‘im belly.
    5] TM again: This is may be the first time in the history of jurisprudence that the prosecution uses the insanity defense — and gets way with it!
    –> Actually, the old USSR commonly used this, then packed away Christians and other dissidents to hospitals where they force fed them on psychoactive drugs to fry their brains.
    –> In this case, but of course and insane man could never be given custody of his daughters, now, could he . . . [And that is the underlying issue: this man has been robbed of his daughters and when he pleaded with their grandfather for them, he was reported as an apostate deserving of death as a traitor to islam. Of course, in Islamic courts, such is autonatically demmed morally incompetent so his witness only has force against another dhimmi. Testimony of muslim women of course has only half the weight of that of a muslim man. And the world was up in arms over Apartheid only a few years ago. Why the double-standard???????????????????]
    –> Your last point is the killer: Again it is “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” No one expects Muslims to reform and as a result, they seldom ever try.
    –> This is just what we must now do: demand that islamists face up tot he issues and implications of what they are doing, and fix what is demonstrably and obviously wrong. To help that along, we need to give international stature to the Dhimmitude movement — the people with 1,400 years of history of living under islamic oppression under sharia and its antecedents.
    –> BTW on this, notice how Abe has gone dead silent after I asked him to address some fact-issues? What does this tell us about the Stockholm Syndrome and dhimmitude?
    ++++++++
    Grace to all
    Gordon

  • wrf3

    Matthew Goggins wrote:
    I amended my original declaration of “You [Joe Carter, Wrf3, myself, and just about everybody else in the world] do not deserve to be eternally punished.” In deference to your objections (which are reasonable, even though I don’t agree with them),
    Well, isn’t that a problem for you? Let’s not mince words. If my objections are reasonable, does your disagreement show that you are being unreasonable? Or are you just trying to be polite?
    I reformulated my declaration to state, “If helping people is good, and hurting people is bad, but you do not deserve to be eternally punished. In fact it would be a horrible travesty for you to be eternally punished.”
    And what is your response?
    [wrf3] Doesn’t help you. All one has to do is deny your preconditions.
    It’s appropriate to rearrange the conversation a bit at this point and insert something you wrote down below:
    If the preconditions don’t holds, there is still no big problem — we just cannot use the conclusions in those special circumstances where the preconditions cannot be held to be true.
    So you end up agreeing with me as to the problem with your argument. You haven’t proved your preconditions, so I don’t have to agree with them.
    Returning back to your reply:
    And you elaborate as follows:
    [wrf3] There are numerous holes in this. Let me point out four:
    1) “hurting people is bad” is demonstrably not true. Ever taken a child to a doctor’s office for shots? Or the dentist?
    2) Is it wrong for God to hurt people?
    3) Is the universe constructed so that in order to help some people, others have to be examples of bad behavior?
    4) What if some people don’t want to be helped? Should they be forced?
    [MG] Unfortunately for your objections, my two principles of “help and don’t hurt” are not absolute moral commandments which hold in every circumstance.
    This hurts your case worse than you know. On the one hand, you claim that a objective morality exists. But when you say that your principles are not absolute moral commandments, you give a hint as to what you are really doing. You are picking and choosing between moral principles without an objective principle which chooses between competing principles. In other words, there is no meta-morality that tells you how to choose between competing choices. You are, in fact, using your personal preference and applying post hoc rationalization to your choices.
    They are merely overriding principles which are the source of all other moral principles.
    If that’s so, then why doesn’t everyone follow them?
    [...]
    Hurting people is bad as long as there is no good reason to hurt people.
    You just defeated your argument. All I have to do is say that God has a good reason for the eternal nature of hell — even if you don’t happen to know what it is.
    My other principle is that we should help people. So if we need to hurt someone to help that person, then the helping may in fact be important the hurting in that particular case.
    And if that person either does not, or can not, be helped?
    [wrf3] What if some people don’t want to be helped? Should they be forced?
    If some people need to be forced to do something in order for those people to not hurt someone else, then they should be forced.
    Congratulations. You’ve just tied in this particular side discussion with the main point of the thread. You have now justified the Taliban, because you’ve shown that there are cases where people need to be forced “for their own good” and, by extension, the good of society.
    But nothing in the ordinary course of events would ever justify any kind of infinite or never-ending punishment.
    God disagrees with your preconditions.
    I would object just as strongly in more general terms, that it is wrong to depend on “God” to be some kind of moral enforcer.
    Then who do you want it to be? You’ve already shown that you’re not suited for the role, since you’ve clearly stated that it’s ok to force people “for their own good” — where you get to decide what is good.
    In any moral situation where it is not clear what the right thing to do is, it is also just as unclear what the alleged opinion of “God” should be.
    Why do you think it’s unclear? I don’t ask blind men about the color of rainbows, or the deaf about the sound of music; why should I depend on you, who claims there is no God, to be able to tell me about what a relationship with God is like?
    Appealing to God for moral guidance has almost no practical benefit. If we can figure what we think God should be saying about any particular matter, then we can figure out what is right and what is wrong without making any reference to God whatsoever.
    You’re assuming your conclusion again, that there is an objective moral standard. Since morality is subjective and personal, there is no ultimate morality without reference to God.

  • Terence Moeller

    Gordon,
    Good points. In reference to what you mentioned to Abe, this article may interest you.
    http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_mandate_grand_mufti.php

  • terence Moeller

    Afghan Court Drops Case Against Christian
    By DANIEL COONEY, Associated Press Writer Sun Mar 26, 1:29 PM ET
    KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan court on Sunday dismissed a case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence and he will be released soon, officials said.
    ADVERTISEMENT
    The announcement came as U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faced mounting foreign pressure to free Abdul Rahman, a move that risked angering Muslim clerics here who have called for him to be killed.
    An official closely involved with the case told The Associated Press that it had been returned to the prosecutors for more investigation, but that in the meantime, Rahman would be released.
    “The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case,” the official said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
    “The decision about his release will be taken possibly tomorrow,” the official added. “They don’t have to keep him in jail while the attorney general is looking into the case.”
    Abdul Wakil Omeri, a spokesman for the Supreme Court, confirmed that the case had been dismissed because of “problems with the prosecutors’ evidence.”
    He said several of Rahman’s family members have testified that the 41-year-old has mental problems. “It is the job of the attorney general’s office to decide if he is mentally fit to stand trial,” he told AP.
    A Western diplomat, also declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the case, said questions were being raised as to whether Rahman would stay in Afghanistan or go into exile in a foreign country.
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she could not confirm that an Afghan court had dismissed the case and stressed the U.S. needs to respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan, which she called a “young democracy.”
    “We have our history of conflicts that had to be worked out after a new constitution. And so the Afghans are working on it. But America has stood solidly for religious freedom as a bedrock, the bedrock, of democracy, and we’ll see.” Rice said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
    Asked if American Christian missionaries should be encouraged to go to Afghanistan, Rice said: “I think that Afghans are pleased to get the help that they can get” but added “we need to be respectful of Afghan sovereignty.”
    Rahman has been prosecuted under Afghanistan’s Islamic laws for converting 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He was arrested last month and charged with apostasy.
    Muslim clerics had threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if the government freed him. They said he clearly violated Islamic Shariah law by rejecting Islam.
    The case against Rahman put Karzai in an awkward position.
    While the U.S., Britain and other countries that prop-up his government have demanded the trial be dropped, Karzai has had to be careful not to offend Islamic sensibilities at home and alienate religious conservatives who wield considerable power.
    Rahman had been held at a detention facility in central Kabul since his arrest, but he was moved to the notorious Policharki Prison just outside Kabul on Friday after threats were made against him by other inmates, prison warden Gen. Shahmir Amirpur told AP.
    Policharki, a high-security prison housing some 2,000 inmates, including about 350 Taliban and al-Qaida militants who were blamed for inciting a riot there late last month that killed six people.
    “We are watching him constantly. This is a very sensitive case so he needs high security,” he said in an interview in his office in a crumbling building inside the jail.
    Rahman is being held in a cell by himself next to the office of a senior prison guard, the warden said. He showed the AP the outside of Rahman’s cell door, but refused to allow reporters to speak to him or see him.
    He said Rahman had been asking guards for a Bible but that they did not have any to give him.
    Rahman, meanwhile, said he was fully aware of his choice and was ready to die for it, according to an interview published Sunday in an Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
    “I am serene. I have full awareness of what I have chosen. If I must die, I will die,” Abdul Rahman told the Rome daily, responding to questions sent to him via a human rights worker who visited him in prison.
    “Somebody, a long time ago, did it for all of us,” he added in a clear reference to Jesus.
    Rahman also told the Italian newspaper that his family

  • wrf3

    I stated: … the only basis for morality is personal preference. This is true for you, me, and God.
    Gordon Mullings wrote:
    I would like to see you elaborate your point, bearing in mind the issue that God is the creator of the cosmos, and so morality might just come out in the lives of creatures that can make real decisions as a credibly objective factor.
    The Fall bollixed up this possibility. When the Bible says that, “the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil”, this doesn’t mean, as it is usually taken to mean, that we saw an objective external reality for the first time. It means that we decide for ourselves what good and evil are.
    For instance, is the sort of implication in the Kantian Categorical imperative merely a subjective matter: i.e. that immoral conduct is logically incoherent and/or socialy destructive [thence the concept that sustainable development is in the end an ethical issue . . .)?
    Yes, it’s subjective. After all, why is social stability or even species survival used as a basis for morality? Nature doesn’t care if societies or species survive. It’s simply personal preference. But, one might reply, my biology demands this. So? Are we slaves to our genes?
    The point is that there are any number of bases for morality: pragmatism, survival, love, hate, biology, and so on. What you will find is that people switch from reason to reason, depending on the circumstance — yet where is the rule for deciding which one to use? Why is this rule better than the others?
    And that’s where the problem lies. How can one decide which rule is better than all others? That, itself, is a question of ethics and you can’t escape the system in order to decide which system is paramount.

  • Cheesehead

    Matthew Goggins: I ran across an interesting quote from Eric Vogelin, quoted by Casey Stegal on an NRO thread about “crunchy conservatism” which really illuminated the “we don’t deserve hell” discussion. The link is: http://crunchycon.nationalreview.com/
    You have to scroll down to a 3/21 post titled “RE: Cult of Progess.”
    The quote he reproduces from Vogelin talks about Nietzsche considering anyone needing God’s grace to be pathetic. Instead he advocated replacing the biblical teaching of God loving us and redeeming us by grace with loving ourselves and redeeming ourselves…extending grace to ourselves. Vogelin ends up pointing out that this departure from the spiritual to the phenomonological, when done by a whole civilization, will lead to totalitarianism. In other words, whatever good goal we may think we are striving for, the end result will be bad. Here is the Vogelin quote, lifted from NRO:
    “On the one hand … there begins in the eighteenth century a continuous stream of literature on the decline of Western civilization; and, whatever misgivings one may entertain on this or that special argument, one cannot deny that the theorists of decline on the whole have a case. On the other hand, the same period is characterized, if by anything, by an exuberantly expansive vitality in the sciences, in technology, in the material control of environment, in the increase of population, of the standard of living, of health and comfort, of mass education, of social consciousness and responsiblity; and again, whatever misgivings one may entertain with regard to this or that item on the list, one cannot deny that the progressivists have a case, too. This conflict of interpretations leaves in its wake the adumbrated thorny question, that is, the question how a civilization can advance and decline at the same time.”
    “The spiritual strength of the soul that in Christianity was devoted to the sactification of life could now be diverted into the more appealing, more tangible, and, above all, so much easier creation of the terrestrial paradise. Civilizational action became … a divertissement that demonically absorbed into itself the eternal destiny of man and substituted for the life of the spirit. Nietzsche most tersely expressed the nature of this demonic diversion when he raised the question why anyone sould live in the embarrassing condition of a being in need of the love and grace of God. “Love yourself through grace” was his solution — “then you are no longer in need of your God, and you can act the whole drama of Fall and Redemption to its end in yourself.” And how can this miracle be achieved, this miracle of self-salvation, and how this redemption by extending grace to yourself? The great historical answer was given by the successive types of gnostic action that have made modern civilization what it is. The miracle was worked successively through the literary and artistic achievement that secured the immortality of fame for the humanistic intellectual, through the discipline and economic success that certified salvation to the Puritan saint, through the civilizational contributions of the liberals and Progressives, and, finally, through the revolutionary action that will establish the Communist or some other gnostic millennium. …
    “The historical result [of the gnostic idea of self-salvation through progress] was stupendous. … On this apocalyptic spectacle, however, falls a shadow …. [W]hat should in this order of things become of men who would rather follow God [than the priests of self-salvation]? …
    “The death of the spirit is the price of progress. … The more fervently all human energies are thrown into the great enterprise of salvation through world-immanent action, the farther the human beings who engage in this enterprise move away from the life of the spirit. And since the life of the spirit is the source of order in man and society, the very success of a gnostic civilization is the cause of its decline.
    “A civilization can, indeed, advance and decline at the same time — but not forever. There is a limit toward which this ambiguous process moves; the limit is reached when an activist sect that represents the gnostic truth organizes the civilization into an empire under its rule. Totalitarianism, defined as the existential rule of gnostic activists, is the end form of progressive civilization.”
    Sorry to throw such a long quote at you, but I think your position may be very close to Nietzsche’s.
    Gordon: Methinks Mr. Ata is a spam post. I don’t expect we will hear back from him in any meaningful way.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Wrf3,
    Thanks for once again taking such an effort to address my points.
    Here’s a few points in response to your latest comment.
    Firstly, I think I am not doing a good job explaining why I am making use of a conditional morality (as opposed to an objective or subjective morality) to frame my assertion that we do not deserve to be eternally punished.
    My point is not that my morality cannot be justified as objective (I believe it can).
    My point is that it is not necessary for the purposes of our discussion to insist that my morality is objective.
    You state that God doesn’t agree with my pre-conditions of “helping people is good, and hurting people is bad”. You even suggest that God might have some secret reason for establishing and maintaining hell which trumps the two principles of my preconditions.
    However, I am not arguing with God. One reason I am not arguing with God is because I know he would agree with me wholeheartedly if he existed.
    But the main reason I am not arguing with God is because he has not chosen to participate in this comment thread (despite my direct plea the other day for him/her to get back to me on all this!). The person I am debating is you, Wrf3. And as I said very early on, you don’t speak for God.
    So instead of telling me all about God’s intentions and morals, why don’t you tell me about yours? In particular, do you personally disagree with my two moral principles: we should help other people, and we should avoid hurting other people?
    You’ve stated several times that you don’t believe my two conditional moral principles are objectively justifiable. Yet while insisting on the subjectivity of the two principles, you have carefully avoided the question (or you have just overlooked it?) of whether or not you actually agree with them.
    So do you agree or disagree? Is helping people an important overriding moral principle, or is it not? Is avoiding hurting people an important overriding moral principle, or is it not?
    “Appealing to God for moral guidance has almost no practical benefit. If we can figure what we think God should be saying about any particular matter, then we can figure out what is right and what is wrong without making any reference to God whatsoever.”
    You’re assuming your conclusion again, that there is an objective moral standard. Since morality is subjective and personal, there is no ultimate morality without reference to God.
    I’m not saying we need to have an objective moral standard.
    I’m saying we can use a conditional morality that is based on my two moral principles, and that will give us as much guidance (if not more) than trying to figure out some “objective” God-based morality (the word “objective” is in quotes not because I think morality is subjective, but because I think “God” is not a great place to be looking for allegedly objective morality).
    Now someone can disagree with my two principles — and he might even be perfectly justified in doing so. But of course, if someone doesn’t want to incorporate helping people and not hurting people into his morality, then I have no obligation to help him or avoid hurting him either. He is volunteering to be the exception that proves the rule, as it were.
    One last point for now. If I find something someone says reasonable, I can still disagree with it and be just as reasonable myself.
    Reasonable people disagree on all manner of things, large and small. That’s because everyone has his own unique perspective on things which will quite reasonably lead him to conclusions that are at odds with someone else’s unique perspective and reasonable conclusions.
    If you are only capable of judging something to be true or false based merely on whether or not it seems reasonable to you, you are going to live life in a perpetually deluded condition.
    Reasonableness is only a very rough indicator for evaluating the first impression one gets of some new idea or information — it is very useful, as far as it goes, but it can also frequently be very, very misleading.
    Cheesehead,
    You have provided an excellent response to my assertion that we don’t deserve to be eternally punished.
    While I don’t think it is directly relevant to my claim that we don’t deserve to be eternallly punished, the quote you cite is definitely a very cogent and powerful point in opposition to my broader views on the non-existence of God, and how we shouldn’t rely on some traditional notion of God in order to figure out our morality.
    I’ll take some time to mull it over and get back to you (as well as respond to the last comment you left on my blog).
    Thank you, bye for now.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Several interesting points.
    1] TM & CH on Abe etc
    It seems that indeed Abe was some sort of spam effort. I would like to hear from a credible defender of the claims he makes.
    TM’s link is interesting. SO is his story on the dropping — for the moment — of the charges. Notice the implications of “several” members of the man’s family claiming he is mentally unstable, i.e. he is automatically disqualified from custody of his daughters. No to mention, who takes what a mad man says seriously? [And meanwhile it seems there are hundreds of similar cases across the Muslim world. Time to hold them to account!]
    2] WRF3: The Fall bollixed up this possibility. When the Bible says that, “the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil”, this doesn’t mean, as it is usually taken to mean, that we saw an objective external reality for the first time. It means that we decide for ourselves what good and evil are.
    –> First, I am going to ask for further clarification, in light of some points that come out to me, so the below is not a rebuttal but a request for more clarity.
    –> For instance, “we decide for ourselves” seems to only mean that we are not predetermined as to our behaviour and associated perceptions. That is, we are evidently under a pattern of moral governance [the law written on our hearts of say Rom 2], and we seem to have a responsibility to align our perceptions with objective reality. (That is, there are some “decisions” or “beliefs” or “perceptions” that we have no just right to. This is the grain of truth in Clifford’s evidentialist thesis.)
    –> As long as the issue that “there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end of that way are the ways of death” obtains, then we see an objective condition for such decision making and a criterion of empirical test emerging: immoral behaviour is both deceptive and destructive. And, that is the underlying point in Kant, Paul and Jesus, as well as Moses — whom Jesus was quoting.
    3] why is social stability or even species survival used as a basis for morality? Nature doesn’t care if societies or species survive. It’s simply personal preference . . . . The point is that there are any number of bases for morality: pragmatism, survival, love, hate, biology, and so on.
    –> Here, the underlying issue is that we do have individual subjectivity: we are existing beings who sense, think and feel for ourselves, i.e. we have a first person experience. But there is no reason that that forces subjectivism: in reasoning, we reason as individuals but are open to correction and principles of justification relative to principles of commitment to going with facts, coherence, correct reasoning and truthfulness. [BTW it means that logic has in it an inevitable moral component, as for instance expositions on fallacies often implicitly bring out.)
    --> For instance, consider the implications of massive consensus on core principles tied to the value of the person: notice how before "justifying" oppression, there is a near universal resort to demonisation or dehumanisation or the putting forth of a justifying complaint. [E.g. UBL has gone out of his way to find a list of complaints that justifies a fatwa that he can take the lives of up to 4 million Americans in "punishment" for America's crimes.] This is mute testimony to our our consciousness that humans have inherent value. More generally, there is a broad consensus on moral questions of serious import — as, e.g. C S Lewis summarises in his Mere Christianity — that would not exist if morality was merely a matter of tastes and preferences.
    –> My classic instance is the radical relativist’s case of demanding tolerance of their views — because they implicitly appeal to the universally binding principle of fairness. In short, they too imply that there is a general consciousness of being morally obligated in light of the value of other humans.
    –> So, while there are indeed many theories — attempted explanations — of morality, there is actually a general consensus on core moral points.
    –> Further to this, the point is not what biophysical nature does but what HUMAN nature testifies to — which again leads to the moral consensus on injustice, mass murder, torture of innocents and the like. When we care about certain people (especially our own selves) we expect certain standards, and those are a general consensus: why is that so, if there is just a matter of at-random individual and social tastes and preferences? [In short, there is a consistent, observable, coherent pattern that does not look very explicable in terms of the accidental model.]
    4] MG: helping people is good, and hurting people is bad
    –> First, the terms involved are morally loaded, i.e. you have in these statements all sorts of connotations and denotations that bring back in objective moral reference by the back door.
    –> You need to reload, perhaps: “Strongly X-ing people” is a 5, and “Strongly NOT-X-ing people” is 1″ on a personal Likert scale where I prefer to get 5′s than 1′s. Then, we get to why bother to X people?
    –> In short, there is a major problem getting to an ought from an is or a mere preference. But, the general testimony of mankind onthematter is well settled:

    Rom 2:14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

    –> In short, the general phenomenon of conscience and moral principle that we have to talk our way out of to feel comfortable oppressing, is a testimony against us that there is a general, objective, God-given morality that we implicitly acknowledge.
    5] I’m saying we can use a conditional morality that is based on my two moral principles, and that will give us as much guidance (if not more) than trying to figure out some “objective” God-based morality
    –> My problem here is that you are not addresing the problem of the IF. Why should anyone accept the antecedent you propose, apart from the general testimony of the law written on our hearts, as just cited?
    6] God’s judgement
    –> Rom 2, since the judaeochristian position is the implicit context for this discussion, also lays out the terms on which God judges eternally, relative to the moral law written on our hearts:

    RO 2:6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

    –> The subtlety in this is of course that Paul speaks to PERSISTENCE in doing good, i.e. this implies that there is an attitude that must recognise and pentitently turn from evil based on such moral light as one has or should have, starting with the light of conscience. In particular, there is a moral duty to live by the truth one has or should have. [We are not being judged relative to our ignorance but our arrogance and presumption in short.]
    –> In short, as the parable of the sheep and the goats implies, the issue is mercy not justice. For there, the goats are blind to their failings,and the sheep are amazed to have done even one good deed:

    MT 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left . . . .
    MT 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
    MT 25:40 “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ . . . .
    MT 25:44 “[The goats] also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?
    MT 25:45 “He will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    –> I note the apparent contrast in standards of judgement, which resolves itself once one see that the paradox is that it is those that think themselves okay who are not going to make it, only the penitent — observe the implied consciousness of the sheep that they are unworthy.
    –> So, there is an objective test of our stance before the eternal bar: do you think you are pretty okay, absent forgiveness? If so, you are in deep trouble. For, our moral conduct — mine and yours, dear reader — cannot pass the test of consistently good conduct in thoughts, words and deeds. So, what we need is forgiveness and reformation. Maybe restitution and reconciliation too.
    –> From what I see, biblically and logically, the punishment issu that is so abhorrent and repulsive may also be resolvable. For, it seems that it is that those who say to God “No,” get what they ask for, in the company of others of like mind; havinf first been exposed and reprimanded by their creator [and in many cases rejected redeemer] for their selfishness. Hell/Gehenna is the result: chaos, out-of control fires and corruption. [And, since this is a spiritual/eternal issue, perhaps the issue is to correctly understand what is the spirital analogue of Gehenna, a poorly managed dump heap.]
    –> I’d love to hear your thoughts back on these points, thanks.
    ++++++++
    Grace to all
    Gordon

  • Terence Moeller

    ABDUL RAHMAN “VANISHES”
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  • http://stacey-keebler.blogspot.com/ stacey-keebler

    Nice site

  • Terence Moeller

    ABDUL RAHMAN HAS LANDED
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