The Cowboy Who Wasn't There: E-book Companion Site

Thursday, October 1, 2009

John Loftus on "Enlightenment"

John posted a new video today featuring his second interview with Andy Diekroger on The Enlightenment Show. To count, there have been many "problems" John has brought up that somehow need immediate reconciliation with Christian orthodoxy and belief in a benevolent God, ranging from the "problem" of evil, why every living thing on the planet should have been created a vegetarian (because vegetarianism doesn't consume living life forms), how the God of the Bible condones animal abuse (???) and encourages that those made in "His image" should take advantage of the environment. And now, John strikes at another angle using the same premise: "The Problem of Pain":

The Enlightenment Show: John Loftus and the Problem of Pain from FreeThought Fort Wayne on Vimeo.

As always, John makes extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence:

1:28 "Even bad people don't need to suffer as much as they do." Why? And what specifically here are we defining as "suffering"? If good people suffer too much, why should bad people suffer less???

One such example of a "bad person" that comes to mind would be in the case of serial killer and well-known cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. During his killing spree, Dahmer is known to have lured young homosexual men into his apartment complex, drug them, mutiliate them, and then dump their limbs into a tub of acid or refrigerate them for later consumption. In the year of 1994, while Dahmer was in prison, he was murdered by one of his fellow inmates as he took a swing at Dahmer's temple with a large freeweight. The man who killed Dahmer claimed it was God who had been giving him direct and specific orders. But that's beside the point. What really matters here is how you go about comparing the fact that Dahmer cannibalized his unsuspecting victims to his own murder at the hand of a dumbbell. Did Dahmer suffer too much, Mr. Loftus?

5:59 John Loftus on The Passion of The Christ: "The film itself was...uh...brutal...uh...I could not reconcile how any person would deserve that kind of punishment for ANYTHING that they did. Even my worst enemy (and I had one at the time). I would NEVER wish that upon her [presumably Linda the stripper]. I would never wish that upon anybody which was so gruesome. I thought to myself 'That's ignorance.'" Ignorance? Maybe I'm ignorant for failing to understand why this is the case. Or is John ignorant for failing to understand the purpose and function of Roman crucifixion? Indeed by modern standards, crucifixion and flagellation are primitive standards of punishment and carrying out justice, based on primitive standards of criminal criteria. But this is also a somewhat ethnocentric projection of Western society and values. The standards held by other distant and foreign nations of the past are what was simply acknowledged and understood by the general populace at the time. Usually a "normal" individual doesn't go out and commit third-degree murder for the same reasons that a citizen in a predominantly Muslim nation does not go out and steal bread or publicly criticize Islam in a derogatory manner. Ignorance applies only in the sense that Loftus doesn't understand or fathom the what and why for the topic he is discussing, therefore no one else does or can, either...

7:17 John on his book, Why I Became an Atheist: "If Barbara Walters can write a 'tell-all' book where she tells about having sex with so and so, and doing this with so and so, why can't I? This is a book of 'tell-all'. This is a 'tell-all' era. So, I tell all, you know [laughs].?" The first chapter "My Christian Conversion and Deconversion" is something I have commented on in my chapter contribution to The Cowboy Who Wasn't There. See if you think that John wrote the book for tell-all purposes.

9:36 Returning to The Passion of the Christ: "I had already decided that such a view was ignorant. But when I saw how well the movie did, when I saw the numbers, when I saw people flocking too it, when I saw churches literally buying blocks of seats just so everyone could go see it...that was just too much for me. What I did was decide to come out." Oh?...

11:36 On Criminal Punishment: "What is the relationship between punishment and forgiveness? We all know of people who have been punished for their crimes where the victim still doesn't forgive him. And likewise, we know of people who have never been punished for their crimes, where a victim has forgiven him, even though he has never been punished. There is no logical relationship between forgiveness and punishment. There is no reason that you have to be punished that I can forgive you. I should be able to forgive you even if you have never been punished." A valid point to be made for modern society. However, as stated before, this is being argued for modern society and not taking antiquity into account. It is also disingenuous to state that the Bible argues that forgiveness and compassion are achieved only through bloodshed. Biblical narratives and analogies today would be considered simplistic as Western modernism would seek out more practical resolutions and not resort to barbaric depictions or violent alternatives. But again, this was the spirit and passion of the age by which people made their cases clear. This was their means of communication and language, and therefore, this is what society operated on as it was best in tune with cultural traditions and responses to the environment. Language evolves like everything else. Therefore it might be said that the violence and barbarism in the Old Testament exists because it was reflective of the environmental conditions of the age, not because people were deranged in their mentalities. Two examples from the Old Testament include:

1 Kings 3:16-28

Genesis 22:1-12

22:44 John's Reiteration of his Outsider's Test for Faith: "The number one place we get our biases from are our parents and our culture. We grow up adopting them. That's why when you are grown up in a Muslim culture, you will see things from a Muslim perspective. Just like a pair of glasses. And the same thing with a Christian culture or a Hindu culture or any other culture. In fact, if you grew up in some places in America you'd grow up in a snake-handling culture." In fact, religion isn't exclusive in this sense and there is no good reason for John to treat it like it somehow is. This might not be his goal in mind exactly, but consider that cultural academics are more likely to view things holistically (as in wholly) rather than by a culture's individual components. So someone growing up in a Muslim culture not only has a "bias" in showing favoritism to Islam, they probably are also in favor of the economic and political systems of that particular culture as well. Everything from how you eat, dress, speak, walk, and bathe are all a part of one's relative cultural background.The Outsider's Test for Faith tries to break up culture into different segments where they simply cannot be neatly segregated into sections. They are intertwined to some degree or another, but never entirely independent.

44:03 Historical Validity of the Old Testament: "Even evangelicals like Peter Ins, Kenton Sparks, and John Walton, three bona fide evangelical Christians, are now saying that the Old Testament mythology is borrowed from Mesopotamia...They're admitting that these stories were borrowed myths from their day and age. So Adam and Eve never existed." Gasp! John implies this is some sort of problem. It isn't. The evidence of this issue clearly points to the Jews refining the story of Gilgamesh to make their own unique point clear. John apparently also isn't aware that there is evidence of a flood which occured prior to Gilgamesh being transcribed. Of course, he probably isn't arguing against this as a "possibility." But the point being made is that the story was taken from Mesopotamia to build on the original authorship of Gilgamesh with some intentional reformations in mind. The original myths themselves are considered by historians to be based on somewhat factually historical information but exaggerated for the simple purpose of creating a captivating narrative for the masses. It is to depict them in a positively symbolic painting. The Jews took this and used it to convey their own philosophical beliefs. The only problem with this argument of John's is if you do in fact choose to believe it as a literal historical account.

The rest of the video consists of philosophical and theological arguments against God, which I try to distance myself from as it does not pertain to my subject area of study.

1 comment:

  1. "It was ignorance!"

    Oh boy, talk about a hard case of, "The pot calls the kettle black"

    Shame be upon him for still maintaining ignorance on matters of proper understanding of Christendom. Too bad that is one chunk of dirt John fails to expose.


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