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Comments by ADH

Go to: Three Little Pigs 'too offensive'

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by ADH

Hey, even I am going to agree with you all here!!

Just think of all the children's stories that will have to go by the board. "Snow White and the seven Dwarves" (though maybe there'd be something in the ban in that case, what with the stereotyoing of "white" as "cool").

Wed, 23 Jan 2008 13:32:00 UTC | #109615

Go to: This Week's Flea

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 222 by ADH

Diacanu I'm sorry that you see God like that. I don't know what bad vibes you've got from Christians or from any particular individual's representation of God. But you've got the wrong end of the stick.

Tue, 22 Jan 2008 12:36:00 UTC | #109154

Go to: This Week's Flea

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 219 by ADH

Steve, we mess it up in the sense that we fall short of what God requires of us. But what he requires of us is all too clear!

Tue, 22 Jan 2008 12:31:00 UTC | #109148

Go to: This Week's Flea

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 217 by ADH

Goldy, God is not jealous of pagan deities. He is jealous for his people (those who open their hearts to him) in the sense that he wants us for himself. Is that so contemptible an attitude. He is jealous in the sense that, for our sake, it brings pain to him (yes Scripture describes his feelings in those terms) to see how we squander our affection and energy on enslavement to gods which are actually nothing of the sort.

Tue, 22 Jan 2008 12:30:00 UTC | #109146

Go to: This Week's Flea

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 215 by ADH

The Bible is not a guidebook. It's essentially God's revelation of His character and the unfolding of his purposes for his creation. It is the accound of human rebellion and of the initiatives God took to bring about restoration, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is also a series of letters set to the earliest Christian communities to help them deal with the challenges posed by the culture that they lived in and were instructed faithfully to represent God in and emulate Christ's example in. It is not an instruction manual. There is a total misconception and many misrepresentations on this site of what the purpose of the Bible is, and what it's all about. The underlying paradigmatic ethic is: "love God with all your heart soul and mind and your neighbour as yourself". Given that basis, there is a great deal of scope for freedom of action and initiative. The boundary markers are justice, truth, transparency, integrity, forgiveness. In the letter to the Galatians, for example, Paul made a great deal of the fact that, far from being a binding rule-book, the gospel is absolutely liberating. Judaizing preachers were trying to throw the book at these emerging churches, at people who had embraced this radically liberating message, telling them that they had to subject themselves to the Law and all the OT rituals. Paul was pointing out to them that having believed the gospel they were no longer enslaved to Law. He then added that the Holy Spirit's role among and within them was to bring out in them traits such as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and sel-control, and he added that, compared to that dynamic there was no Law - no Law or ritual that can match that. That is what our lives must be oriented towards and governed by. Christians often get it wrong of course, we mess things up, legalism seeps into our minds and our communities, we can become petty and waste time bickering among ourselves. But this is the challenge we face. I think that is sufficient as an orientative ethic.

Tue, 22 Jan 2008 12:25:00 UTC | #109141

Go to: This Week's Flea

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 202 by ADH

Steveroot, you've outdone me on Tolkein. I've only read the trilogy about 4 times. But I can see that we are kindred spirits, at least as far as fantasy is concerned. C.S. Lewis space trilogy was a triple masterpiece, albeit a flawed one. Have you read "Till we have faces" where he explores the clear-headed wisdom and also the limitations of Greek rationalism? It's a good read

Tue, 22 Jan 2008 11:14:00 UTC | #109094

Go to: This Week's Flea

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 182 by ADH

Epeeist, remember that all the post-Biblical authors you mentioned could not and would not have written what they did unless their thinking had been steeped in Scripture. I agree with you about the beauty and power of all these works (at least those that I've read - Shakespeare and Spenser, as well as Milton, the Metaphysical poets, and a good deal besides). But they derive their power from being brilliant re-articulations of and variations upon the great Biblical thesmes of creation, fall, redemption through sacrifice.

Tue, 22 Jan 2008 00:05:00 UTC | #108896

Go to: This Week's Flea

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 181 by ADH

"Maybe you can explain to me why God made men and women on the sixth day and yet Adam, made AFTER the 7th day, is the first man? I know you'll have a reason, shrouded in gnosticism. Me, I can only read what I see and understand it as such. I have none of your gnosticism, just a healthy knowledge of bullshit and bad editing."

I haven't got time to go into this now. But I do not take the creation stories as literal accounts of a six-day creation. The stories of Genesis 1 and of Genesis 2 complement each other at the level of metaphor. The story of Adam and Eve in the garden, is the story of the complementariness of the male and female, it is the story of the mandate that was entrusted to this male-female equal partnership to care for the created order, to explore it, to enjoy it as free, rational agents under the absolute, morally binding sovereignty of the Creator. The story in Genesis 1 portrays the universe coming into being, as a kind of seven-stage symphony, each stage being marked with the words: "and God said". The point being that God speaks (ie He is the source of Logic, Reason, of meaning), and His Word is shown to be the source and foundation of all that is.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 23:58:00 UTC | #108895

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 179 by ADH

"There are plenty of other books that express much the same message of morality and justice, and the need for personal effort in overcoming temptation. Why shouldn't such spiritual feelings of truth come to us when we read Lord of the Rings, which promotes just such virtues? Indeed, one could consider the Ring to be symbol of original sin; at least for the Baggins family."

Indeed there are many such books Steve. Remember by the way that Tolkein was a Christian. The Lord of the Rings, though it never mentions God, is permeated with Christian theology and with Aquinas' philosophy: evil as a perverson of "the Good", the overarching moral order (the natural law) to which every rational creature is bound, etc.

By the way any time you want to get into discussing LOTR I'm more than willing. One of the greatest works of fiction every written.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 23:44:00 UTC | #108892

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 161 by ADH

"One that ignores peoples' faith and instead scores them points purely on what they have done."

Then we'd all be sunk.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 14:05:00 UTC | #108772

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 160 by ADH

Goldy, I know I won't be able to answer your questions to your satisfaction. The OT God is not a vengeful God. He is a God of justice, and also a God of mercy. And in the NT he is also a God of justice and a God of mercy. There is no mismatch. The OT can only be interpreted in the light of the incarnation because that was the event that it was intended to point forward to. Hence the prominence of the law, constantly broken and exposing our need of "a Redeemer". That was the purpose of the OT Law Not to burden us sown with rules and regulations, but to show how far short we fall. The problem is that our default reaction to God is to hate him, to dig in our heels and to believe all the misrepresentations that are swirling about in contemporary culture. That's precisely why we need it so much!

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 14:03:00 UTC | #108770

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 151 by ADH

"'d also be interested to know if you aren't an inerrantist and/or an evangelical. You presumably are happy to be open about your position."

As it hapens I am evangelical. I believe the Bible is infallible, but nobody's interpretation of it is infallible. No one has it all taped. We get insights as we read, Scripture interprets Scripture. But we make hermeneutical mistakes, which does not prevent us from finding and hearing God's voice speaking in it. But of course there are many different interpretations of many texts. Some of our wrong interpretations are the result of error on our part - we simply haven't gone into it enough, or we get the wrong end of the stick. Other mistakes are the result of wilfully wanting it to say what it suits us to have it say.

"We see in a glass darkly", as Paul said.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 13:40:00 UTC | #108753

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 150 by ADH

"The guy in Matchpoint murdered and got away with it in 'this life'. Am I right in assuming you accept this happens, but that you think (if it were real) he would 'get justice' after death? What would this justice be? Assuming he didn't have faith, he would be going to hell anyway wouldn't he, regardless of the murder. Conversely, if he converts, he gets to go to heaven, and so again justice is not done."

Mark, looking on we can judge his choice as wrong. But I am not God. It wwouldn't be up to me to decide on what might happen to him after this life. That is always God's prerogative, as regards everyone's destiny. Fortunately it's out of my and every other human beings hands. But I do believe that justice will prevail. Don't ask me how that's going to pan out.

Epeeist, I keep saying that I know you don't have to be a believer to make right moral choices. What I firmly believe is that the "justice" this film illustrates as remaining undone cannot be grounded in natural selection. Chris Wilton is a classic Darwinian survival-oriented specimen. There was no reason, from the point of view of his philosphy of life or from the point of view of the consequences for his own survival that would incline him toward justice.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 13:33:00 UTC | #108747

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 145 by ADH

"Here is the centre of your irrationality. 'The Bible', let alone 'the Bible as a truthful reflection', is a mythical construct. There is the Bible in its original languages, the translated Hebrew Bible (Old Testament only), the Protestant Bible and the Catholic Bible, King James Bible, the NIV, RSV, etc etc. Once you have chosen one of these you need to impose an arbitrary interpretive method (I'm guessing inerrancy plus evangelicalism in your case) and then focus in on the bits you like and interpret the other bits in the light of them (and probably effectively ignore yet others)."

That is your assumption.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 13:07:00 UTC | #108735

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 143 by ADH

Epeeist, glad you asked about Matchpoint. The key phrase is "I hope I am caught, because if I am it will be some hint of justice and meaning in the world". (or words to that effect). The point is that as he is not caught the conclusion seems to be that there is no such thing as justice, that the words that the film opened with are right: "... it is better to be lucky than good". At another point in the film the same character says: "people are afraid to face what an important part luck plays in their lives ... scientists have shown that we are here by blind chance, no purpose and no meaning" (again I'm quoting from memory so I might not have the quote exactly right.)

The questionis then, is there such a thing as justice? If everything exists by blind chance then there cannot be. Justice, for me, is the key principle in the moral choices that we make. The choice that this character made - to dispense with the problem and secure his comfort by eliminating his former mistress and his unborn child - was anything but just. And the fact that he was not caught was unjust. The problem with consequentialist ethics is that the criterion for choosing a course of action is what the consequence will be. In other words, the end justifies the means. For consequentialists the "consequence" in question was not "is the outcome just" but does it result in the greatest possible happiness for the largest number. In the case of Chris Wilton's action, that was the perceived result of what he did - more people were secured in their happiness and comfort than would have been the case had he not "got rid of" Nola and his child. From the point of view of thoroughgoing utilitarian, consequentialist ethics, his action was justified. But it was not just.

For me the moral paradigm that should have been invoked was truth, transparency and justice. He was false and self-interested from the start. To secure his happiness murdering another person did not cost him a thought.

I'm not saying that I always get it right. But that is the moral ideal that I want to commit myself to. That does not mean that there are no difficult decisions. It is not always easy to decide what is the "just" thing to do. But we are duty-bound to try to act justly.

Having said that, if there is anything that transcends justice, it is mercy and forgiveness. If it is difficult to act justly, it is much more diicult to act mercifully - to forgive that for which there is no excuse. But that is what Christian believers are called to do.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 12:57:00 UTC | #108730

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 140 by ADH

"God's not interested in getting people to believe in his existence, but to love him with all their "hearts minds and souls".

How do you know?"

Because I accept and have confidence in the Bible as a truthful reflection of the character of God.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 12:34:00 UTC | #108723

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 134 by ADH

Sorry to butt in here, but I need to challenge you on your response to Artful Steve. According to Scripture God does not reveal himself to those HE chooses: "he who has ears to here let him hear". The evidence will be made available to those whose ear is inclined towards God, who are seeking God and not just waiting to have their curiosity slaked.

I think that was the gist of Artful's quote from Pascal. Pascal had quite a lot more to say in that regard. (Not talking about the wager by the way). He very rightly pointed out that clear blinding evidence is coercive. It leaves one with no choice but to believe any more than one has any choice but to believe that 2+2=4 or that water boils at 100º. God's not interested in getting people to believe in his existence, but to love him with all their "hearts minds and souls".

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 12:02:00 UTC | #108713

Go to: The New Theology

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 52 by ADH

As regards square circles and 2+2 = 5, I don't think God was doing that kind of thing on the occasion of the relatively few miracles recorded in Scripture (few if we bear in mind the sweep of human history that Scripture covers). The miracles did not involve inherent contradictions. After the conception of God's Son in the virgin's womb, the laws of nature took their regular course with regard to gestation and birth.

Sat, 19 Jan 2008 08:33:00 UTC | #107953

Go to: The New Theology

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by ADH

"So, what would you do? All you given us is a politicians answer? What is the timeless, unambiguous, right thing to do in this situation?"

Epeeist. You didn't cause me to leave. I haven't got such thin skin. I just wanted to take some time off - pressures of work etc.

I can't really remember the specific situation in question. But I should say that there is never a detailed instruction sheet for us to follow in any situation. We are left to work out the specific implications of "love God with all your yeart mind and soul and your neighbour as yourself" in every situation where choices have to be made and priorities established. Sometimes we get it wrong, even with the best will in the world.

Sat, 19 Jan 2008 08:24:00 UTC | #107947

Go to: The New Theology

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by ADH

"This is very sloppy thinking. The natural laws that would have to be changed to permit miracles aren't arbitrary. They are based on simple mat hematical ideas, such as symmetry"

Steve this is not sloppy thinking. When God suspends the natural laws he does not make those laws null and void. The laws still obtain, the are not "changed" in order to accommodate a miracle. What is sloppy thinking for you, I suspect, is the fact of believing in a Creator in the first place - not believing that he can suspend the laws of nature. If you believed in a Creator you would surely have no trouble believing that the laws he instituted could be suspended!

Sat, 19 Jan 2008 06:43:00 UTC | #107926

Go to: Six Reasons to be an Atheist

ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 506 by ADH

I'm going to take a break guys. I will be back, but not for a while. I know I have questions pending from Mark, MPhil, Walk, Goldy and some others. I'm sure you'll find lots of Christian meat to devour in my absence.

Keep well

By the way, it would have been nice to see some of you hang in there a bit longer in the Atheism Sucks site. But there you go.

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 12:23:00 UTC | #105327

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 494 by ADH

Don't lump all Christians together. I'm as sickened by rich tele-evangelists a you all are. It's possible to be moral and not be a believer. It's also possible to be very immoral and call yourself a believer. The Pharisees did it, and there are many Pharisees in Christendom.

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 10:30:00 UTC | #105297

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 473 by ADH

OK Roger, I'll hold you to that.

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 06:41:00 UTC | #105245

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 459 by ADH

OK Steve, let me reflect on that for a while, ok?

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 06:05:00 UTC | #105228

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 458 by ADH

Tler, I have already said several times that masturbation is no big deal!! The Bible says nothing about it. I have no access to scientific studies so I can only express my considered opinion. Do you have studies and statistics for every assertion that you make?

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 06:04:00 UTC | #105227

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 455 by ADH

"Chimp sees other chimp with banana. Considers pinching it. But then pictures itself in the role of the other chimp, feeling bad because of having banana pinched. Chimp feels empathy. Does not pinch banana (well, not this time anyway)."

This is pure speculation. You have no idea what is going on inside the brain of the said chimp.

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 06:02:00 UTC | #105224

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 453 by ADH

Irate_atheist, my assertions are not wanton. I would say that the burden o proof lies on your shoulders. You have to prove to me that naturalism CAN provide sufficient grounding for right action.

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 05:59:00 UTC | #105221

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 449 by ADH

Tyler, I have answered the question you refer to. It is excess that is unhealthy. I didn't say it was wrong per se.

I think that fantasising about another person while you are with the partner you have committed yourself to is more likely than not to drive a wedge between the two of you. I may be wrong about that, but it is my opinion. Maybe your experience has been different. Let's leave it at that.

But as I say, I want to move on from this topic.

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 05:53:00 UTC | #105216

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 448 by ADH

I'm not privy to anything epeeist. The RIGHT thing is informed by Jesus straightforward injunction: "Love God with your whole being and your neighbour as yourself". I am not saying that an atheist would not do the right thing in this case, by the way. Most atheists on this board probably would do the right thing. What I am saying via this illustration is that "emotion" is not an adequate basis for moral action. I have been insisting that naturalism and materialism provide insufficient grounding for right action, NOT that materialists do not act rightly.

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 05:47:00 UTC | #105214

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ADH's Avatar Jump to comment 442 by ADH

Can we call a truce on masturbation? I have said that it's no big deal. I insist that it's no big deal. I think excess is socially unhealthy, as any kind of exess is socially unhealthy. There are bigger issues at stake here. This masturbation thing has become a distractor.

MPhil, you have made some interesting points and I'll be getting back to you.

Steve, you have commented on apparent moral behaviour in animals such as great apes. I don't know. In line with my post the other day, I'm not sure of the actual status that other creatures have vis à vis their Creator. Maybe there is a kind of possiblity of moral choice on their part, in proportion to their cognitive and rational abilities. I can't pronounce one way or the other as it is something I don't know enough about. My conviction is that, in whatever case, the capacity for moral choice, and the power of verbal reasoning, is not of natualistic origin. Insofar as we can make moral choices, we are responsible for the choices we make. I am also convinced that the reductionism whereby our moral categories are viewed as biochemical, neurological "objects" located in the brain is lethal to the possibility of maintaining any kind of consensus with regard to what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

Someone earlier established our emotion as the criterion. Surely you can all see that this is entirely inadequate. That subjectivises morality to the point where the main criterion for action (or non-action) is "if it feels good, do it". One man's (or woman's) beer is another's poison.

I mentioned the film Matchpoint some time ago. Chris Wilton, having married into money and guaranteed success, is told by his "girlfriend" that she is pregnant. She pleads with him to leave his wife and be a proper father to the child. He pleads with her to have an abortion. But she refuses. As it is not possible to consult the disempowered foetus it is not possible to know whether it would have been a 2 to 1 vote in favour or against! "I expect you to o the right thing, Chris" she says. "I will do the right thing" he promises. But it is quite a dilemma. What is the right thing? In the end he "feels" that the only way out is to take the matter of dispensing with the child into his own hands, and dispensing with the mother into the bargain. He shoots his girlfriend and the unborn child, having set everything up to make it look as if Nola had been an unlucky bystander in another murder and burglary. (He had killed Nola's next door neighbour before killing Nola and the child). Later, the "ghost" of Nola appears to him in the middle of the night. "I hope I am caught" he says to her "It would be one small hint o justice and meaning in the world". But time passes and the case is closed. "Evidence" has been found which supposedly incriminates another person - with a criminal record. Chris settls into his life of luxury with his rich family. He acted in accordance with his subjective feeling that comfort was better than discomfort, whatever the price. Did Chris do the right thing? On a purely subjectivist criterion, is there such a thing as "justice" in the world?

Fri, 11 Jan 2008 05:33:00 UTC | #105205