XFiles Weekend: Thinking on purpose

(Book: On Guard, by William Lane Craig. Chapter 2: “What difference does it make if God exists?”)

Imagine I give you a dire warning: five hundred years from now, a man is going to come up to your current residence and threaten to kill you unless you pay him one million dollars, cash, on the spot. How would you respond? If your first reaction would be an astonished, “Eh? So what? I’ll have been dead for centuries by then!” then you’re probably a sane, reasonable, and not unduly paranoid person. On the other hand, if your immediate reaction is “Oh my God, I have to start saving a million dollars!”—well, William Lane Craig would like to talk with you about purpose.

And what of the universe? If its destiny is a cold grave in the recesses of outer space, the answer must be, yes—it is pointless. There is no goal, no purpose for the universe. The litter of a dead universe will just go on expanding and expanding—forever.

And what of man? Is there no purpose at all for the human race? Or will it simply peter out someday, lost in the oblivion of an indifferent universe? … [In The Time Machine, H. G.] Wells’ time traveler journeys far into the future to discover the destiny of man. All he finds is a dead earth, except for a few lichens and moss, orbiting a gigantic red sun…And Wells’ time traveler returned.

But to what?—to merely an earlier point on the same purposeless rush toward oblivion.

Vanitas vanitatum indeed, eh?

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Here’s a petition I can sign whole-heartedly

Via the Al Franken campaign website, a petition to repeal the dishonestly-named “Defense of Marriage Act.”

It’s time.

There’s no good argument against marriage equality. There’s no good argument in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. And there’s no reason we should wait one more day to repeal it.

He might also hit you up for a campaign contribution, but there’s lots worse things you could do with your money. Here’s the URL again:

Petition to repeal the DOMA


William Lane Craig and substitutionary atonement

One of the biggest problems with Christian theology is that the core of the Gospel is based on “substitutionary atonement,” the idea that criminal guilt is like some kind of negotiable debt that can be legally transferred to others. If you think about it, that’s a truly horrible and corrupt idea that lends itself to all kinds of injustice and abuse. Well, someone at the Wintery Knight blog is trying to defend the doctrine, and he’s pulling out the big guns to help him.

I’ve noticed that on some atheist blogs, they don’t like the idea that someone else can take our punishment for us to exonerate us for crimes that we’ve committed. So I’ll quote from this post by the great William Lane Craig, to respond to that objection.

Since we’re currently reading through Dr. Craig’s book On Guard, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at this topic as well.

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XFiles Weekend: Reality check

(Book: On Guard, by William Lane Craig. Chapter 2: “What difference does it make if God exists?”)

Let’s do a quick reality check. Suppose I told you that I once heard William Lane Craig speaking in person, and that I overheard him say, “I thank God, even though He is just a myth invented by superstitious men, that I am smart enough to deceive these foolish believers, and to enslave them with my deceits, so that I can profit from their ignorance and gullibility.” How many of you would be willing to just take my word for it that this actually happened?

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Can Christians Escape the ‘Hate’ Label in Gay Marriage Debate?

Over at The Christian Post, contributor Jeff Shapiro wonders,

Can Christians ever escape being labeled as “hateful” people while standing firmly on the pro-family side of the gay marriage issue?

The answer seems to elude him, but I can spell it out in just a few short words: “Hateful is as hateful does.” If a bunch of secularists got together and passed amendments defining marriage as the union of two non-Christians, would any mealy-mouthed language about “defending secular marriage” succeed in hiding the blatantly anti-Christian sentiment behind such actions? Of course not. Christians can blather all they want about how they’re motivated by “love” for gays, or by “pro-family” sentiments, but even if such motives were sincere, it would not change the fact that their actions are oppressive, and a deliberate violation of human rights.
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XFiles Weekend: The absurdity of “ultimate meaning”

(Book: On Guard, by William Lane Craig. Chapter 2: “What difference does it make if God exists?”)

Last week, Dr. Craig tried to argue that, without God, life has no meaning, no value, and no purpose. In doing so, however, he seems to have overlooked the fact that meaning, value, and purpose are all subjective qualities that only exist relative to the person perceiving them. That’s important, because it raises the possibility that we can be wrong about the meanings, values, and purposes we perceive in life. As even the Bible says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Just because we find some “meaning” that we find pleasant, or satisfying, or reassuring, doesn’t guarantee that our meaning accurately reflects what’s really true in real life.

It’s rather sad to watch Dr. Craig in this week’s installment, as he tries to cloud our reasoning with scare tactics, emotional appeals, and some rather blatant appeals to the fallacy of wishful thinking. He’s trying to zoom in on the idea of “ultimate meaning,” which in his view means a meaning that exists for all eternity. It’s a rather illogical concept, because unless people themselves are eternal, it’s nonsense to talk about eternal meaning, since the meaning will not last longer than the people who perceive it. And if we assume that people are eternal, then it’s pointless to try and use this argument to show that people are eternal, because that’s just circular reasoning. But Dr. Craig’s argument is even worse, because he’s not just arguing immortality, he’s using it to try and prove the existence of God, which is a complete non sequitur.

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Alan Roebuck and the “obvious” delusion

It seems as though we may have exhausted Prof. Roebuck’s arguments against atheism, and he himself seems to have reached the same conclusion.

Mr. Duncan,

It is now my opinion that you are more of a provocateur than a representative of typical atheistic thought. It may be that your beliefs are just unusual, or that you wish to irritate theistic apologists. Whatever the reason, I don’t find our dialog to be fruitful. I have accordingly decided not to continue making any more posts here (other than this one.)

I’m a bit sad to see him go. Despite the rather limited range of his rhetorical resources, he has been a fruitful source of blogging material, not so much for his own contributions, but for the topics he has provided us with an opportunity to discuss. One of the more interesting of these is the way he uses the word “obvious,” because he clearly does not use it the same way I do.

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