Shells and switches

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Four“, Soli Deo Gloria, August 3, 2012)

One of the most important reasons why creationism does not belong in the classroom is because creationism promotes superstitious thinking, which is the antithesis of scientific thinking. Trying to think superstitiously about science really screws things up, and in today’s excerpt from Pastor Stephen Feinstein’s reply to Russell Glasser, we find an almost prototypical example.

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Polytheistic Trinitarianism

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

My first order of business today has to be a correction. At the end of last week’s post, I said “…Pastor Feinstein is going to declare to us how this “necessary Person” also has to be a Trinity. Not a Quadrinity or a Quintinity, a Trinity.” I misspoke. Pastor Feinstein’s argument does not establish that his superstitiously-defined Necessary Being is necessarily a three-person deity. In fact, the terms of his argument lead much more directly to the conclusion that the Necessary Being is a race of deities composed of any number of divine persons, or in short, polytheism. Maybe that’s why Genesis 1:1, literally translated, says, “In the beginning, gods created the heavens and the earth.”

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“I have written a book”

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

In his debate with Russell Glasser, Pastor Stephen Feinstein has so many answers, he could write a book. No wait, he already has! It’s a book that explains everything that’s wrong with atheism, and a whole lot more. It might even explain too much, because it also explains everything that’s wrong with the Bible.

Oops.

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Enter the zingers

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Three“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

By his third post, Pastor Stephen Feinstein has grown tired of waiting for Russell Glasser to say the lines he’s supposed to say, according to the mental script Paster Feinstein wants the discussion to follow, and has begun introducing the atheist’s scripted arguments himself. How else can he deliver his zingers and make it look like Christianity is more rational than atheism? His first zinger is “Yes, I’m using circular reasoning, but so are you, and my circular reasoning is more valid than yours.”

I find it entirely ironic that you accuse me of circular reasoning, when you reason as follows: 1) The world is real. How do I know? Well, I assume it is real. 2) We learn through sense experience. How do I know? Well, through sense experience of course! 3) Logic is valid. How do I know? Well, through logic of course…

You are tacitly injecting the notion that a random-chance universe can account for intelligibility. Rather than acknowledging this, you are putting up smoke and mirrors claiming that you have no burden of proof, but instead you get to happily assume your assumptions with narrow circularity, and if I am going to debate you, I then have to play by your rules and assume that these agreed assumptions exist without any preconditions. I am sorry, but that is poor logic and it creates a dishonest debate.

Yes, after rewriting Russell’s side of the conversation to follow a canned script instead of the things Russell was actually saying, and after injecting his own assumption that an atheistic universe would be “random chance,” he actually accuses Russell of creating a dishonest debate.

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Preconditions of intelligibility

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Two“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

According to Pastor Stephen Feinstein, his debate with Russell Glasser was really a debate about assumptions and epistemology.

The assumptions that you accept will cause you to interpret evidence in a particular way…

We both are claiming that certain things happened, and we both need to be able to justify what we claim. Yet, if our presuppositions are epistemologically weak, or even worse they are impossible, then we cannot justify what we claim. So it is not useless to talk about these assumptions, for it is here that I am going to effectively refute your positions.

This, then, is the goal that Pastor Feinstein sets for himself, or at least one of the goals he claims to be able to accomplish. Let’s see how he goes about trying to achieve that.

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Pagan roots

(Book: First Apology, by Justin Martyr, courtesy of The Christian Classics Ethereal Library.)

One of the more interesting aspects of Justin Martyr’s writings is the way he promiscuously borrows from whatever sources he feels will bolster his case, be they Christian sources, Jewish sources, or pagan sources. If you’re a thinking person, you might read Justin’s frequent parallels between Christian dogma and pagan myths, and might wonder just how much of new Christian revelation is really just old pagan superstition, re-packaged and re-branded.

That notion apparently bothered Justin too, and today he’s going to take a few moments to try and poison the well so that we don’t pursue that thought too far. The parallels, he says, don’t mean that Christianity imitated paganism. Oh no.

But those who hand down the myths which the poets have made, adduce no proof to the youths who learn them; and we proceed to demonstrate that they have been uttered by the influence of the wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race.

Notice how Justin chastizes the pagans for failing to provide proofs for what they claim. If you were a cynic, you might hazard a guess that Justin would immediately follow that accusation with an argument for which he himself “adduces no proof.” And you’d be exactly right.

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Justin’s proof

(Book: First Apology, by Justin Martyr, courtesy of The Christian Classics Ethereal Library.)

As I mentioned last week, Justin Martyr apparently never got the memo about how the story of Jesus was supposed to be unique and unlike any of the pagan myths that preceded it. In fact, he’s been using parallels between pagan myths and the Gospel as an argument in favor of the historical authenticity of the latter (!). He continues in the same vein in this week’s installment, and proceeds from there to make a threefold argument for why, despite his own reasoning, Caesar ought to conclude that only the Gospel is true, and that all of the pagan stories it so closely resembles are false.

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