Thursday, August 31, 2017

Constructive Criticism of Vincent Cheung's "Fulcrum" (Part I)

This is a constructive criticism piece on your work F. Not every sentence of your work will be quoted. Only those with blatant errors that are easy for me to conclusively and logically refute.

However, it is aggravating that the debate has been set up between cessationism and continuationism, because this arrangement diverts attention away from the actual biblical doctrine about this topic of spiritual gifts and powers.
The only way the arrangement can divert attention from the biblical doctrine is if the arrangement is a false dichotomy. I read the rest of F looking for a demonstration of a third doctrine that is neither cessationism nor continuationism (or a proper subset thereof), but instead you presented a doctrine that is a logical subset of continuationalism (“expansionism” is a subset of continuations because every expansionist is a continuationist but not every continuationist is an expansionist).

Your first essay is supposed to be your most powerful piece and we are NOT off to a good start.

Indeed, the Bible teaches that the spiritual gifts would continue until the coming of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7).
Then why does the author of 1 Corinthians say that as of his writing, only faith, hope and love remained? I am talking about this verse: “and now these three are kept: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) To say that  X, Y, and Z are now kept is to imply that A, B, C, and possibly D weren’t kept. So what are your alternative candidates for A, B, C, and D that Paul implicitly referenced? You must provide them.

It also specifies the exact conditions for the cessation of these gifts. It indicates that by then, we will have received the maximum effects that the gifts could bring, including knowledge, healing, and so on -- not potentially, but actually in our experience -- such that there will be no more room for them to function (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).
This comes from a misunderstanding of Greek grammar. The only way you could interpret that paragraph as saying that the gifts will cease when “we will have received the maximum effects” is if you mistakenly think the word τὸ τέλειον means “perfection.” However, in this context τὸ τέλειον means “the entire…” with the ellipses left supplied to the reader (as Greek and Latin love to do), so what Paul wrote was “the entire thing.” Therefore the correct translation of 1 Cor. 13:10 is “but when the entire thing comes, what is in part disappears.” If Paul were Vincent Cheung, then he would have almost certainly used the word τελειότης instead… were he really intent on communicating “perfection” as a realized eschaton.

[because there is no more room to function] is the only reason for any gift to cease.
How do you explain the spiritual gift God gave to Bezalel to construct the Tabernacle? (Exodus 31:3-5) It is obvious from reading the passage that this gift was a “one-time” dispensation for a very unique occasion, namely, when there was an ark of the covenant. It would be very difficult (read: impossible) for you to interpret this passage without using cessational-style arguments.

Expansionism is the Bible's explicit doctrine on the subject of spiritual gifts, powers, and miracles. This is the only biblical perspective. I am unaware of any official recognition of the doctrine, so I have selected the term for it.
That’s because, from what I gather from perusing your section, expansionism is being defined to mean continuationalism and postmillennialism bundled together, so there’s nothing original enough to justify the creation of more jargon (as if theology didn’t have enough!)

The word is sometimes used in a political sense, but I mean it in a spiritual sense. It is applied to every aspect of the advance of the gospel, but in this context we will focus on the supernatural powers and miracles that God works in association with his people. This is the biblical doctrine that supernatural powers and miracles are to increase in God's people beyond what Jesus Christ himself exercised. They are to multiply exponentially in quantity and frequency, in intensity and magnitude, in the diversity of representation, and in the scope of jurisdiction. There should be an accumulated momentum, so that compared to Jesus and the apostles, and compared to each previous generation, the church should demonstrate more miracles, greater miracles, miracles performed by more kinds of people, and miracles performed in more areas of the world.
This is just the textual evidence that “expansionism” = continuationalism + postmillennialism.

I could start with Abraham, but then I would have to explain how God promised to bless all nations through him (Genesis 12:3), how this promise culminates in the Spirit (Galatians 3:14), and how the Spirit entails miraculous powers and experiences (Acts 2:17-18, Galatians 3:5), so that the doctrine of expansionism had been established since the beginning.
Nothing here contradicts what cessationalists teach, because every cessationalist believes that invisible gifts (e.g. pastor-teaching, apologetics, etc…) are 100% supernatural and 100%  of divine origin.

Moses offers us something more direct. When some men received the Spirit and prophesied for a while, seemingly in a context that Joshua disapproved, he told Moses to stop them. But Moses said, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!" (Numbers 11:29).
Indeed, Moses wished for a good thing. Namely, that all of God’s people would speak God’s words at every occasion. That’s the definition of being a prophet. And there’s nothing stopping that from happening today: just open up a Bible and start reading it out loud. Congratulations, you are now literally a prophet, because you are speaking God’s words. It’s like when people brag about “being an author.” Guess what? Everyone who has ever sent an SMS is an “author.”

When the disciples urged Jesus to stop someone who performed miracles without his authorization, the Lord replied, "Do not stop him. No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us" (Mark 9:39-40, also Luke 9:49-50).
If you were to perform a miracle greater than Jesus', such as transmuting my office desk into solid gold by volume, I’m not going to stop you. But cessationalists believe that there aren’t any miracles to stop, because no miracles are happening. And it does no good for your side to say “Cessationalists are unbelievers so they’ll never see miracles,” because Paul explicitly states that signs are for unbelievers! (1 Corinthians 14:22)

We maintain that the miraculous is integral to the gospel, so that it is not an optional or temporary part of it, but that it is the gospel -- along with every other thing that is the gospel.
(1) For any X, if X is integral to the gospel then all believers believe or do X. (Justification: a priori definition).

(2) Let X be substituted with "miracle-working” in Step 1, yielding the new statement “if miracle-working is integral to the gospel then all believers do miracles.” (Justification: universal quantifier elimination rule).

(3) But all believers do not do miracles (Justification: 1 Corinthians 12:29)

(4) Therefore miracle-working is not integral to the gospel.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

How many times did he say something like this to his disciples?
He also tells his disciples to “give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6:30) and “if someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” (Luke 6:29)

Everyone means everyone. Most importantly, everyone includes me. So now I need $10k from you. Would you prefer to use PayPal or a wire-transfer? Or are you suddenly a cessationalist now when it comes to the commandment of giving out your hard-earned cash? 😃

For example, James 5:15 is a promise for miracles of healing.
James 5:15 is a promise for healing for those suffering from divine discipline. Interestingly, you chose to leave out the last sentence of that verse “If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” Whoops.

Although our focus is on miracles, this doctrine embraces everything Jesus did, and not only his miracles.
I couldn’t agree more. PayPal or Wire-Transfer?

This makes it even more inexcusable to overlook it, to reject it, or to be selective about it.
Yup. Anybody who disobeys Luke 6:29-30 has no excuse. PayPal or Wire-Transfer?

It is flaccid.

Don’t use sexually-charged vocabulary to insult your opponents. It makes you sound like President Trump (“Hillary Clinton doesn’t have the stamina…”) And you are a pastor. You’re supposed to be beyond reproach in your speech (James 3:1) You will not be shown mercy. To quote yourself just a few more pages down:

The fact that you have been trained in seminary makes you even more culpable. Jesus said, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48).

Although not every cessationist uses the same stupid arguments, all their arguments are stupid like this one, and they sometimes contradict one another. 
In logical proof, it’s not a problem if a set of premises P imply S, a set of premises Q imply S, and P & Q are mutually inconsistent. 

To use Paul's statement this way in order to make the "Scripture" in this verse identical to the complete Christian Bible, this must not only be the final document, but it must be the final sentence in Scripture.
No it doesn’t have to, because Paul said that “all scripture is sufficient…” not “all scripture up to this point is sufficient…”

Moreover, for the "Scripture" in this verse to be identical to what we have, Timothy must have had access to the Christian Bible in its complete form.
No he didn't have to, because Paul was referencing all scripture past, present and future, not scripture that he had then.

In fact, it is likely that Paul had in mind only what Timothy could access in his infancy, since the verse before says, "From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).
This is a completely bizarre train of thought.

Prophecy was spoken to Timothy, and Paul told Timothy to use it, to fight the good fight with it.

That is not at all what the verse said. 1 Timothy 4:14 said that Timothy should use the gift, and that the gift was given through a prophetic message. Timothy was using the result of the prophecy, not prophecy itself. But besides all that, the prophecy was given out in a different era.

I know someone who started preaching when he was sixteen, right away to people who were thirty-five to seventy-five. He would teach about many topics from the Bible, and counsel these adults about anything from parenting, drug abuse, to sexual dysfunction, having never experienced these things.

"A teacher must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Contradictions in LGBT talking points

LGBT: How can you possibly believe that being gay is a choice?! Why would someone who was really straight want to be gay and undergo such a harsh and painful existence?!

Ex-Gay: Hello LGBT activist, I am a forty-year-old man who used to enjoy sexual encounters with other men from the age of eighteen to my thirties. When I was thirty, I repented of my sexual sins and no longer want to have sex with other men, nor do I feel attraction anymore. I am now happily married.

LGBT: Obviously you were straight or bisexual all along and just pretended to be gay because you wanted to.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Talk.Origins on Richard Dawkins' "Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist" Quote

The pro-evolution website has an interesting section on Richard Dawkins's famous quote that evolution "has made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." And I quote:
Claim: By providing a naturalistic explanation of biological origins, evolution promotes atheism. Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Charles Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. [Dawkins, 1986, p. 6] 
Source: Berlinski, David. 1996. The Deniable Darwin. Commentary 101(6) (Jun).
I decided to double-check the source given on whether or not David Berlinski claims that "evolution promotes atheism." He never did: I used "ctrl-f" to search for the verb phrases "promotes atheism," "promote atheism," "promoting atheism," and "promoted atheism," even replacing the verb with "support" or any number of synonyms, and failed to find any textual evidence of him claiming that "evolution promotes atheism." Now what the source provided actually says is that atheists are as emotionally invested in evolution as fundamentalists are in Genesis (using the Dawkins quote as evidence), and I quote from Berlinski:
"Darwin," Richard Dawkins has remarked with evident gratitude, "made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." This is an exaggeration, of course, but one containing a portion of the truth. That Darwin's theory of evolution and biblical accounts of creation play similar roles in the human economy of belief is an irony appreciated by altogether too few biologists.
There is no way to possibly confuse this with an assertion that evolution promotes atheism unless the person reading it is inherently confused. As long as Talk.Origins keeps this misleading citation up, Talk.Origins is spreading false data. Berlinski does not even claim that all atheists need evolution to support their atheism, as he then goes on to clearly state that Dawkins's quote is "an exaggeration, of course."

Friday, March 10, 2017

David Hume was not wise.

I am a Christian, but I honestly think it's time for atheist philosophers to stop treating Hume like the Paul of atheism. He had absolutely abhorrent social views, even for his time (keep in mind that Locke and Kant were his contemporaries). I know that some of the more progressive Christians are going to be reading this and wanting to rejoin with "...then it sounds like Hume is exactly like the Paul of atheism!" Hardy har-har. But I laugh at your ridiculous moonbat social views ("male and female are a social construct!") just as much as I laugh at Hume.

Anyway, atheists have created a reverse version of Christianity with a reverse Bible, where:

(1) Darwin is Genesis
(2) Marx is Isaiah
(3) John Stuart Mill is the law portion of the Pentateuch.
(4) Hume is the Pauline corpus
(5) Richard Dawkins is the Gospel of John

(6) Eliezer Yudkowsky is Revelation. And I quote from the link:

In their discussion of Omohundro and Yudkowsky's work, Russell and Norvig cite I. J. Good's 1965 prediction that when computer systems begin to outperform humans in software engineering tasks, this may result in a feedback loop of increasingly capable AI systems. This raises the possibility that AI's impact could increase very quickly after it reaches a certain level of capability.

Woe to you, O Earth and sea, for the singuarity has come forth with great wrath because the time is short! Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the AI, for it is in machine code. Its number, is 1010011010.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Argumentum Ad Cabbalam

This is a method of last resort for the irate atheist who has failed to conclusively prove anything regarding why his belief that there is no God is justified true belief (I intend to write a separate blog post on those debaters who redefine atheism as "lack of belief in gods"), and it looks something like this:
THEIST: The universe has a beginning.

ATHEIST: I don't know, even evangelical scientists like Don Page say that science is open on that question.

THEIST: So what about Lawrence Krauss who said that all the evidence points to the universe having a beginning?

But X has a model here where there is no beginning! Here, have a look at this twenty page publication with esoteric quantum loop string theory showing that...
He then demands that you address all of the subtle mathematical points of this new theory before you can go on to make your case that the universe has a beginning. If you've ever experienced this, then there is a good chance that you've had an argumentum ad cabbala thrown at you. What makes the argumentum ad cabbala fundamentally fallacious is that it tries to overwhelm the opponent with esoteric knowledge all the while the person employing it has no obligation to show how this esoteric knowledge is even relevant to the topic at hand or even if it corresponds to reality!

The choice of Kabbalah employed by the atheist is usually frontier mathematical physics, but it could in principle be anything, such as obscure heterodox Marxist writings by Gramsci if your opponent's forte lies in the humanities rather than the quantitative sciences.

A good example of an atheist trying to use argumentum ad cabbala is Sean Carroll in his debate with William Lane Craig. Carroll is a third-degree Rabbinical master in cosmology from the yeshiva known as the California Institute of Technology, so it was naturally trivial for him to pull no fewer than seventeen different models of supposed eternal universes. Right away, the number of models employed is a red flag: why did he need seventeen counterexamples when one is enough? However, the big reveal that shows that this was all a tremendous waste of time was near the end when Carroll confessed that his preferred model violated the second law of thermodynamics. In other words, his model was unphysical.

What allows the atheist to get away with the argumentum ad cabbala is that he's counting on your kindness to carry most of the footwork while he has to do nothing. Even if you did manage to compute twenty or so pages of Feynman path integrals showing that this theory has problems on points X, Y, and Z, all the atheist will learn is that he needed to look for a forty page paper. And then he'll do just that and give it to you and demand you to work on that one while he has a night in the town.

This analysis points toward a solution for how to resolve an argumentum ad cabbala: force the atheist to do the equal amount of work in explaining how the model fits the evidence and even if it corresponds with reality. Remind him that he needs to show that your model conclusively disproves one of your premises and that it's not good enough to put forward a speculative theory that may have nothing to do at all with reality. If he shuts up at that point, then you can be sure that he had no actual points.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dialogue with a Far-Right Extremist

PERSON: Alt-right and Catholic here.

ME: I must warn you: the alt-right comes straight from Satan himself. As obnoxious as social justice advocates may be, their belief that homosexuality is commendable and that transgenderism is virtuous does not make them Satanic to the core... because it's largely due to scientific research showing that people are "born this way" and that it's "natural" (of course science is always tentative, and what's good science today may be bad science tomorrow). It's a valid inference from bad data. That is not so for the alt-right. The alt-right deliberately and consciously rejects human equality in any metaphysical sense. This is not the same kind of error SJWs have. 
Later on, another interjector joined the discussion and started to ask questions advocating an extreme right wing position. The rest of this post consists of his response interspersed with my replies.

INTERJECTOR:  One of those researchers was Bogaert--Bogaert the guy who collaborated with Rushton on the paper showing Africans have earlier sexual development and other r-selcted traits. In other words, not a shitlib or Cultural Marxist like Gould, Lewontin, Kamin, etc. Lots of people would have much easier lives if they were attracted to the opposite sex, and have tried very hard to make it that way. Why hasn't it worked?

ME: All this shows is that being gay or straight is a lifelong stable individual characteristic. So is narcissistic personality disorder, political ideology, religious belief (usually), and income bracket (usually). Yet none of those things are "biologically hard-wired" in any sense.

INTERJECTOR: [Regarding science being "always tentative,"] this is a common misconception. It's not that "it's always false," it's that our model gets more and more accurate. For example, the change from Aristotelian physics to Newtonian physics to Einsteinian physics to quantum physics. And we know there are flaws with our current model--for example, the universe is actually expanding at an accelerating rate. Does that mean you should throw out your physics book because there might be a change to the model in the future? Only the social science findings that have the replicability problem (which is widespread in social science).

ME: No, because some models are useful. But if one become so married to a model that he starts to turn it into a metaphysical truth, there is a grave risk of turning a scientific theory into a religion. This is, ironically, what happened with Marxism: Popper pointed out that Marx was making a scientific prediction, but when the prediction didn't come true, he became so married to the model that he started to add in so many ad-hoc predictions that it ended up turning into a far-left religion.

INTERJECTOR: Research showing things like "whites have a higher IQ than blacks,"

ME: True, but what does it mean? Asian and Jews have a higher I.Q. than whites. An ancient Roman would probably have a lower I.Q. than a modern member of society today, but I would argue that due to less genetic degeneration that ancient Romans were probably more intelligent than modern humans.

INTERJECTOR: "men and women are neurologically different,"

ME: Mostly due to the effect of sex hormones on brain lateralization, but even then it's not insurmountable: Emmy Noether and Sophie-Germain did great mathematical research.

INTERJECTOR: "gays and straights are neurologically different" has been replicable.

ME: Piano players and non-piano players are neurologically different too. So what? Noticing a difference between people who identify as gay versus those who don't means nothing unless there's a well-founded etiology behind it.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Biblical Criticism

Atheist: I used to love Gleason Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Now they also have The Big Book of Bible Difficulties by Norman Geisler. This is what I call the hermeneutical song and exegetical dance. I picture Richard Gere in the movie Chicago doing the tap dance. That's a good analogy to what these books are. The alternative model, that the Bible is errant and is not divinely inspired, written by several authors, each with their agenda, inspired by their culture, beliefs and superstitions, is a far more plausible explanation.

Me: (1) Do words have meaning? (2) Did the authors of the Bible simply assemble a collection of words with no apparent purpose or do the passages in question have an objectively discoverable purpose?

Your English teachers from high school taught you wrong. Not all interpretations are equally good, and truth isn't relative to each person. Some interpretations are right and some interpretations are wrong. All you're saying is that it's possible for someone to interpret the Bible as an incoherent mess. So what? Seriously, why should I care that someone found out how to interpret the Bible in a stupid manner? I'm sorry, but the fact that this is possible isn't shocking or new to anybody in the Evangelical community. We all know about Julius Wellhausen and the documentary hypothesis (which is only one of three alternative hypotheses to the traditional authorship to the Pentateuch, the other two being the supplementary hypothesis and fragmentary hypothesis), and just because it's possible to interpret the Pentateuch in this way doesn't mean it's the correct interpretation (as the existence of competing hypotheses in higher criticism shows).

If you decided to study a real humanities discipline in university, like the classics (i.e. Greek and Latin literature), you would know that the "reader response" theory of interpretation very quickly will make you a laughingstock among your colleagues and professors.

Another thing you would learn if you studied a real humanities disciple is that you always interpret any work in the most charitable manner possible. Your dismissal of any attempt to discover original purpose to the biblical canon as nonsense is extremely uncharitable and would not be accepted in academia.

On a tangential note: at the turn of the 19th century, inspired by positivism and Wittgenstein's sentiment that all truth is merely a culturally-defined language game, a group of artists decided to take this to its logical conclusion and produce anti-art. You see, in the artists' mind, their ability to produce garbage and say its art somehow proved that art was just culturally defined and that there is no such thing as objective beauty and excellence, so it went in their twisted thinking. But their reasoning is unsound. Their ability to betray the standard of art doesn't prove that art is meaningless, it just proved that they betrayed the standard. And your ability to disbelieve the truth doesn't disprove truth, it only proves that you disbelieve it. 

"If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is." (II Timothy 2:13)