How Long Before Christians are Actively Persecuted in England? by Sean Gabb


Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 205
1st March 2011 

How Long Before Christians are
Actively Persecuted in England?
by Sean Gabb

I think it would be useful to begin this article with a brief statement of the facts. Eunice and Owen Johns are an elderly couple from Derby, who fostered a number of children in the 1990s, and who recently offered their services again to Derby City Council. Their offer was rejected on the grounds that, as fundamentalist Christians, they might teach any children in their keeping that homosexual acts were sinful. They took legal action against the Council, arguing that their beliefs should not be held against them. On the 28th February 2011, judgment was given against them in the High Court. The Judges ruled that, where the laws against discrimination are concerned, sexual minorities take precedence over religious believers. Because Mr and Mrs Johns might not remain silent about sexual ethics, there was a danger to the “welfare” of children taken from their homes by the Council.

The Judges insisted that this did not represent a “blanket ban” on the fostering of children by religious believers. There was no issue involved of religious liberty – no precedent being set for wider discrimination by the authorities. It was simply a matter of child welfare. You can read all this for yourself on the BBC website.

I think we can take it as read that the Judges were talking hot air about the nature of the precedent they were setting. There is already a modest but settled ruling class bias in this country against Christianity. This does not extend, so far as I can tell, to Jews and Moslems. But the bias does certainly apply to fundamentalist Christians, especially when it is a matter of what they believe and might say about homosexuality. Yesterday, they were barred from fostering, and perhaps also from adoption. It is only a matter of time before they are barred from teaching. It is conceivable that they will eventually be classed – on account of their beliefs – as unfit parents and will have their children taken away from them. Before that happens, of course, there will be laws against home education, and an inquisition in the schools of what they have been telling their children.

This is my most important observation arising from the case. The issues in themselves are not at all to my taste. I dislike the idea of fostering. There are times, I accept, when people are so violent or negligent that children must be taken away for their own protection. In these few instances, though, I prefer that children should be kept in orphan asylums or offered for adoption. The present system allows immense numbers of children to be snatched away by social workers – often for trivial, and even perhaps for corrupt, reasons – and then put into the temporary care of strangers. I will not deny that many foster parents do as fine a job as circumstances allow. Probably, Mr and Mrs Johns were good foster parents in the 1990s, and would have been again. Even so, those who volunteer as foster parents are giving support to a system that is mostly used to steal children who are in no reasonable danger.

Also, I oppose all anti-discrimination laws. People have rights to life, liberty and property. Deriving from these are the specific rights to freedom of speech and association, and to due process of law. No one has the right not to be hated or despised, or not to be excluded. People have the right to hate or despise anyone they happen to take against, and – so long as they refrain from any breach of the rights mentioned above – the right to put their beliefs into action. While there is good reason for insisting that the authorities should not discriminate, I fell no general sympathy for people who make use of anti-discrimination laws to get their way.

But, this being said, I return to the matter of our ruling class bias against Christians. Why? Why should Christians be so disliked? Why should Christian hoteliers be persecuted for refusing to take in homosexual guests, or refusing to let them occupy double beds? Why should Christians not be protected – given our apparently comprehensive anti-discrimination laws – when forbidden to wear crosses at work? Why should banknotes be printed with pictures on them of Charles Darwin? The facts that Darwin was a great man, and that I think he was right about evolution, are beside the point. For very large number of British citizens, he was a gross blasphemer. Why are the few British colonies that remain being ordered to remove any reference to Christianity from their constitutions? Why do many local authorities keep trying to rename Christmas as Winterval? Why is there so much evidence, both anecdotal and on the record, of an official bias against Christianity?

One answer, I suppose, is the current power of the homosexual lobby. The prejudice against homosexuality that has existed throughout much of European history is blamed – perhaps unjustly – on the Christian Faith. Certainly, Christian leaders were, until very recently, forthright in their condemnation of homosexual acts, and they opposed the legalisation of such acts. There are many homosexual activists on the lookout for historical revenge, and who are making use of every law that now stands in their favour.

But I am not satisfied by this explanation. It is impossible to know how many homosexuals there are – especially since sexual preference is a spectrum on which most people cluster far from the extremes. But there are not that many embittered homosexual anti-Christians. If they are being listened to at the moment, I do not believe it is because they are powerful in themselves. They are getting a hearing because what they say is what those in power want to hear.

We are moving towards a persecution of Christianity because Christians believe in a source of authority separate from and higher than the State. Until recently, it was the custom of absolute states to make an accommodation with whatever church was largest. In return for being established, the priests would then preach obedience as a religious duty. Modern absolute states, though, are secular. Such were the Jacobin and the Bolshevik tyrannies. Such is our own, as yet, mild tyranny. In all three cases, religion was or is a problem. Though a Catholic, Aquinas speaks for most Christians when he explains the limits of obedience:

Laws are often unjust…. They may be contrary to the good of mankind… either with regard to their end – as when a ruler imposes laws which are burdensome and are not designed for the common good, but proceed from his own rapacity or vanity; or with regard to their maker – if, for example, a ruler should go beyond his proper powers; or with regard to their form – if, though intended for the common good, their burdens should be inequitably distributed. Such laws come closer to violence than to true law…. They do not, therefore, oblige in conscience, except perhaps for the avoidance of scandal or disorder. (Summa Theologiae, I-II, 96, 4, my translation)

Bad laws do not bind in conscience. And there may be times when even the avoidance of scandal or disorder do not justify public obedience. Then, it will be the duty of the Faithful to stand up and say “No!” It will be their duty to disobey regardless of what threats are made against them. Any ruling class that has absolutist ambitions, and is not willing or able to make an accommodation with the religious authorities, will eventually go too far. It will command things that cannot be given, and then find itself staring into a wall of resistance. The French Revolutionaries were taken by surprise. The Bolsheviks knew exactly what they were doing when they hanged all those priests and dynamited those churches. Our own ruling class also knows what it is doing. The politically correct lovefeast it has been preparing for us throughout my life requires the absolute obedience of the governed – absolute obedience to commands that no fundamentalist Christian can regard as lawful. Therefore, the gathering attack on Christianity.

As said, this does not yet apply to the other religions. The Jews are untouchable. Besides, religious Jews are a minority within a minority, and involve themselves in our national life only so far as is needed to separate themselves from it. The Moslems and others are not really considered part of the nation. Otherwise, they are considered objective allies of the new order under construction. Otherwise, no one wants to provoke them to rioting and blowing themselves up in coffee bars. But it goes without saying that other believers must eventually be persecuted should the Christians ever be humbled.

I think this explains what is happening. Whatever the case, it is wrong. Now, the accepted rule for defending any unpopular group is to begin with a disclaimer – for example: “I am not myself a Christian/homosexual/white nationalist, etc. Indeed, I bow to no man in the horror and disgust these people inspire in my heart.” There are further protestations that depend on the circumstances. But the concluding plea is the same: “It is therefore only out of a possibly misguided commitment to Victorian liberalism that I ask for these people not to suffer the extreme penalties of law. All else aside, it sets an unwise precedent that may be used one day against undoubtedly good people.”

Well, I do not propose to make this sort of defence. I am a Christian of sorts, and I think that even fundamentalist Christianity is a very fine religion. It is the historic faith of my country, and part of my national identity. It is also connected, however loosely, with the growth of civility and the rule of law. I do not like to see it persecuted. And the persecution is wrong in itself. I may not have a clear message to give about the refusal to let two elderly Pentecostalists become foster parents. But I do object to the creeping delegitimisation of the Christian Faith in England. Any Christian who is willing to stand up and speak in the terms set by Thomas Aquinas gets my support.

But now – and only now – that I have said this, I will talk about precedents. Sooner or later, the present order of things will come to an end. It is based on too many false assumptions about human nature. It is based, indeed, on too many misapprehensions about the natural world. In the short term – even without pointing guns at them – people can be bullied into nodding and smiling at the most ludicrous propositions. In the longer term, bullying always fails. The Bolsheviks had seventy years, and murdered on a scale still hard to conceive. They never produced their New Soviet Man. Except for the worse, they never touched the basic nature of the Russian people. Our own ruling class will fail. What new order will then be established I cannot say. But I suspect it will be broadly Christian.

What we shall then see may not be very liberal. Possibly, homosexual acts will be made criminal again, or everything just short of criminal. I spent my early years as a libertarian denouncing the legal persecution of homosexuals. I have now spent years arguing against persecution by homosexuals. I may sooner or later need to turn round again. As with all collective revenge, the individuals affected will not be those who are now behaving so badly – just as those now persecuted probably did not make any fuss about the 1967 Act that legalised most homosexual acts. But that is the nature of collective revenge. Because the most prominent homosexual leaders have not been satisfied with a mere equality of rights, ordinary homosexuals in the future may find the current precedents used against them.

For the moment, however, England is a country where Christians are fair game for harassment. I do not suppose that the case of Mr and Mrs Johns will be my last reason for commenting on this fact.

About these ads

129 responses to “How Long Before Christians are Actively Persecuted in England? by Sean Gabb

  1. I have a couple of disagreement Sean. The first is a nitpick, really, and rather minor, but since you’re the kind of person with an interest in history- whether it be your own novel, whcih I believe is called The Churchill Memorandum, and possibly the best alternative history novel ever written, or your friend’s trilogy on the ancient world- I think it’s a nit worth picking.

    I am a Christian of sorts, and I think that even fundamentalist Christianity is a very fine religion. It is the historic faith of my country, and part of my national identity.

    This is not true. The historic faith of your country and your ancestors is paganism, the worship of trees, rocks, small crawling insects, etc. Christianity is a foreign religion whose arrival was probably not dissimilar to the current invasion of the Moslems. Indeed, it may be that 1500 years from now, conservatives will be complaining that nobody goes to the traditional mosques any more, and how Islam is the root of morality in England. Possibly.

    Nitpicking out of the way, I think your general thesis is insufficient.

    We are moving towards a persecution of Christianity because Christians believe in a source of authority separate from and higher than the State.

    I disagree. You are making the mistake of thinking that the English homosexual lobby (etc) are independent creatures. A local effect. They are not. Since at least the 1960s (arguably longer) we have been fighting one of America’s proxy wars.

    The military struggle between America and Russia did not take place on American and Russian soil. It was fought in nations which would have been otherwise inconsequential backwaters, such as Viet Nam, which became famous because the superpowers fought for dominance there. Analagously, the American kulturkampf is currently being fought outside America (as well as inside); particularly across the Anglosphere, but generally across the “West” and to some lesser degree generally internationally.

    The entire political discourse in Britain, Australia, Canada, and Europe, was imported en bloc from the USA in the 1960s and every new struggle in that American culture war similarly. Thus, for example, the american racial struggle and discourse is imposed here in Britain, which had no massive and despised emancipated slave population- so one had to be invented by mass immigration. The language we use, and the arguments on the subject, are American. The Left in Britain is a reflection of the Left in America, with American concerns and language. Memes flow unidirectionally across the Atlantic.

    Once, a few years ago, when my mother was still alive and I was at her home, there was a BBC green propaganda report on “SUVs”. “What is an SUV?” she asked. Quite reasonably, because four wheel drive vehicles were never marketed as an “SUV” in Britain. It is an American term. But the anti-SUV propaganda had simply moved across the Atlantic without the decency of even adapting it to British English. This is generally true. “Binge drinking” as it is now used is American. The Obesity Panic is an American panic. And so on and on.

    The USA is the world superpower. It is also the world’s ideological power. As Nixon might have said, “we are all Americans now”.

    So, to Christianity. The major- in fact only- ideological foe of the Left in the USA which has any political traction (Libertarians are as far from favour there as here) is centred on fundamentalist Christianity. In Britain, a largely irreligious nation since 1960 or so, fundamentalists are a politically insignificant minority, generally laughed at. In the USA they are not. They are a powerful political force. They have been the single organised resistance to Progressivism for the past century. The two sides fought- and still fight- viciously over “Darwinism” because birth control, eugenics and that whole awful first-wave progressivist suite of policies were resisted by a predominantly religious, “fundamentalist” coalition.

    Indeed, it is easy to see with a little historical research that the two sides in American politics are a faith battle, between Northern Yankees and Southern Baptists. (The Yankees were the Christian “left” who secularised and became the Progressives).

    So that is why British gay leftists are targetting Christians. It is because fundamentalist christians are the Enemy in America, and the discourse- on Gay Rights and the whole Progressivist movement- is American. But, because there is not actually any equivalent of the American Fundamentalist movement here in Britain- no mass fundamentalist christian voting bloc with mass organisation and voting power- the relative few, powerless, Christians are simply getting steamrollered. Because British Progressives- seeing the world through American eyes- think they are fighting the same war as the American leftists they idolise and emulate.

    Like I said, a proxy war.

  2. While I’m at it… :)

    I also disagree that whatever will come after this historic phase will be “broadly christian”. I appreciate that that appeals to your conservative instincts, but I think it’s fundamentally erroneous. The old institutions have been destroyed, and only some strange form of cultural archaeology would revive them in some zombified and ersatz form. There is little reason to think that the predominantly irreligious English population would seek a return to some overwhelming religiosity. We have learned, most of us, to live without God.

    Additionally, you have to remember that Christianity in Britain has been, for a very long time, overwhelmingly leftist. The Church Of England is a leftist organisation, as are the non-conformist churches. This is hardly surprising, as anglo-socialism developed out of the non-conformist churches. (The CoE was converted to the social gospel in the later ninteenth century, and it is difficult to imagine it reverting again). The overwhelming form of socialism in the anglosphere- including particularly the USA- is gospel socialism. The difference in the USA is that they had a civil war and a divided nation, and the churches of the losers of that war became a religious “right” which has no parallel in Britain, the rest of the Anglosphere, or Europe.

    Christianity in Britain consumed itself. After the Puritan horror, it started fading fast as the Enlightenment took hold. Late in the C18, the revivalism began. With no hope of a return to direct theocracy, the Dissenters chose a social role for their churches, going not to the ruling class but to the poor. The churches thus found a meaningful niche as providers of social services, when there was little State welfare. Poor people were bound into the Church because being a member of it meant being a part of a social network that could help one in time of distress. Think of the Mission Hall on Coronation Street in the early 1960s. The Church found a role as a social and thus inevitably socialist organisation. The growth of Christian charity in Victorian England was this process. The Church made itself meaningful to ordinary people by being a practical provider.

    But then the Welfare State arrived- ironically engineered by many who were themselves Christian Socialists. It was a direct, and superior, competitor. People, particularly women, no longer needed to be bound into the local church to have help in time of need. The State would provide instead, and far more generously, and without being forced to suffer a sermon to get a handout. The result was a catastrophe for Christianity.

    Within two decades of the founding of the Welfare State- long enough for people to get used to it and know it wasn’t going away, long enough for a generation to grow up who had always known it- church attendance was plummeting. The English people rapidly returned to their true, pre-Victorian nature as a bunch of dissolute, irreligious ruffians (the very national character that had led us to invent Liberalism in the first place), and the anomolous piety that had existed for only around a single lifetime evaporated. By 1970, Ena Sharples had been turfed out of the Mission Hall and it had been bulldozed.

    It is hard to see how the Church could reinvent itself again. Of course, it could return to being a welfare provider, perhaps if the Tories manage to contract out welfare provision to them, or something. But it seems unlikely that the Great Unwashed, let alone the Progressivist left who, being Americanised, are as we are discussing actively anti-Christian now, would stomach that.

    We have no idea if, when, or how the Progressivist regime will fall. I doubt it will do so in a way which has much historical precdent. There are too many different stresses and strains to know which will burst it asunder. It is likely that what is left of English Christianity- the mithering old bearded women of the CoE, the utterly Progressivised Methodists and Quakers etc- would escape any such destruction. Whatever value system the population might grasp onto after such a crisis, it is unlikely to be churchgoing christianity in the Victorian stylee.

    It seems to me that what Libertarians should be doing is trying to ensure that it is we that the people turn to when such a crisis comes. I sometimes wonder quite what it is that I, and we in general, are fighting for. But I do like to think it’s something better than a thuggish theocracy. We can do better than another Cromwell, can’t we?

  3. Ian, all that it seems we can do right now is (a) publish that the social models which people allowed to be created while they slept are wrong, and (b) spen hours talking to each other about the various details at which these are in error.

    I actually think that this time, the war is lost. The “rot that sets in” which old Enoch Powell told some of us, a few years before he died, to “be of good cheer” about, for it “takes quite some time”, has se in so far and so effectively that there’s no way out.

    The best we can do now, those of us that can, is the equivalent of how the Irish Saved the World. Whether Irish monks actually did or not is debatable but the story’s a nice hypothesis. Collect together little cells or spores, containing all the knowledge and history that interests you and you think is important to preserve, and, well, preserve it. Multiple distributed copies preferably.

  4. I fully concur with Sean’s analysis – he has correctly highlighted the root cause of the state’s antipathy for Christianity – which is its appeal to the Higher Power to which all human institutions and states are ultimately accountable. This is why Roman emperors and provincial governors were so active in sidelining, imprisoning and murdering Christians – often on an industrial scale. And Stalin, of course.
    Ian B – does the fact that the Christian Church’s existence in these islands for nearly 2 millennia count for nothing by comparison with the shamanistic mishmash of religions practised here beforehand? They were hardly a united institutional front – and nothing is really known about the teachings or beliefs of the Druids – despite the romantic pretensions of their acolytes today…
    And is there such a historical connection between the Church and socialism as you seem to assert? The fact that it took hold in the nonconformist heartlands during the Industrial Revolution doesn’t necessarily mean that it was actively encouraged by the Church – nonconformist or otherwise. Christian (i.e. biblical) theology has always declared the equality of men in the sight of God – even at a time when the Established Church was considered to the the Tory Party at prayer and the social status quo was zealously maintained. But there is always a difference between the principle and the practice – which is where secularism has attempted to bridge the gap. The ‘social gospel’ to which you allude was postmillenial idealism propounded by people like Harnack: the idea that the Kingdom of God could be attained on earth. This was also the error of the Pharisees in the time of Christ and the subsequent Early Church. These utopian ideals spilled over from this half-baked theology into the hands of the socialists – and Marx’s dialectic theories are a secular imitation. The body count has been incalculable.

  5. Ian B on very good form today! I won’t argue with what is more a counter-thesis than a reply. But I will attach it to the article on my own website. It is too interesting to be allowed to sink into the sedimentary layers of a blog.

  6. I too am impressed with the almost instant grasp of what are important strategic essentials to conseider (and which may well bear upon this problem as we consider it later, as will be necessary) of Ian B’s comments.

    What Ian says about how the churches reacted in the critical period, about 250-160 years ago, cannot really be refuted. What Sean was merely describing is the results of both increasing State hijacking of charity and moralism combined with the abdication of absolute moral values by a major religion.

    The main thing which (I think) troubles Sean here is that the entire edifice of English civilisation as _/we here today/_ who are, say, aged between 43 and 175, see it, is about to be overturned with something that has a track record of achieving nothing but megadeaths and enveloping endarkenment.

    Peter Watson, when he gets here to comment, will put it rather less politely that I have done.

  7. Peter W Watson

    The battle is between good and evil. True Christianity is never Instututionalised and the history of the nation is founded on the Decalogue. Pagans never conquered the Empire or established the Commonwealth. When Jesus was tempted by the Devil who offered Him all of the kingdoms of the world, if He would but worship him, Jesus notably did not tell Satan that the kingdoms were not his to offer. If you do not believe that the devil runs the show now, take one look at Blair before he borrowed the power, and now. Quite a price to pay. I am a Christian and probably more fundamentalist than Sean, but a non conformist as opposed to a raving right winger (after all I came from a non conformist background and then dabbled with Theosophy, Sufism and the rest, before coming home). I never thought anything about homosexuals they just were, until a tiny number of them began their political and spiritual assault upon society and especially Christianity. When they kept out of the schools they were tolerable; their views no longer are. Dissatisfied with a horrendous mortality and morbidity of soul and body, they now are claiming not equality before the law, but superiority. If society caves into this homofascism then society and the nation will be destroyed. The State Church is to blame for all of this, for having invited the devil to sup with the hierarchy, he has now decided to stay at the table. Judgment begins with the house of God, says the Bible and the State Church is judged as the Church of Laodicea, the candlestick is removed and the prophet cries Ichabod! (The Glory has departed). As a Christian I would not for a moment consider hating a man for disagreeing with me over the Gospel, I would simply shake the dust off my feet. But as a Christian I would die for my faith if that was required. Do I want to? Of course not – I am prone to cowardice, not martyrdom. But I will not remain silent in the face of evil masquerading as good. Thanks for the article Sean.

  8. Thank you Sean and David.

    One thing I might have added in my first comment is to ask why the results of the American proxy kulturkampf seem to be so much more severe here than in its homeland, and indeed why America would be fighting it on foreign soil. I think part of the answer is that we have different political systems. America is a constitutional republic, whereas Britain and the other Anglo nations are parliamentary democracies. It is thus the case that many of the things that the American Left would like to do are impeded by their constitution, whereas they are not impeded in a system where the Parliament has absolute power and the national leader, rather than being separately elected, is chosen for being the Most Popular Person In Parliament. This means that often policies which can only be imposed in private spaces in the USA- such as university campuses- can be imposed as law here and elsewhere, since there is no Constitution saying, “woah, you can’t make a law on that”. Thus the American Left have a tendency to look with envious eyes at us, where we are subject to draconian laws which can only be implemented partially or locally if at all in the USA.

    One interesting effect of this is how American vocabulary becomes used worldwide. For instance, discussions on “hate speech”. Why speech? Why that word?

    It is because the US Constitution defines freedom of speech and thus in order to do an end run around that Constitution, an American activist has to define that which they wish to ban as not-speech. They do this by defining some times of speech as not-speech; it if is “hate speech” it is not-speech and not Constitutionally protected, is the argument. An example of this is Catharine Mackinnon’s attempts to redefine pornography as not-speech; that is that certain types of speech are actually acts and thus not Constitutionally protected. So, they talk about “speech” and thus so do we, even though we have no constitution that mentions it anywhere.

    Likewise, the currently “pan-Western” ideology that people are “born gay” arose from the American Gay Rights Movement’s need to identify gays as being a minority under their Civil Rights legislation, which requires that one be “born that way”. That is why despised “sexualities” such as the new catch-all “paedophilia” are clearly stated to be acquired rather than innate. If they had chosen to exalt instead of condemn sex with children they’d be calling them “paedosexuals” who are born that way and thus subject to civil rights.

    Need I add that “Stonewall” is named after an American incident, the Stonewall Riots?

  9. Caedmon’s Cat-

    Apologies, I wasn’t trying to promote paganism. I have no urge to be required to sacrifice oxen to the gods of the woods or what have you.

    My more general point about the triumph of the non-conformists is that they were a revival of Puritanism. I do not believe personally that Puritanism was either a Good Thing or “true” Christianity. I do not believe that a single line of the Bible (at least, the New Testament) supports theocratic statism let alone Calvin’s nonsense about the existence of an Elect. If there is a coherent message from Jesus and the early evangelists, it was that this was a religion for everybody, not just for some lucky chosen few.

    I would argue that throughout the Christian Era, England had been a basically “secular” state in the sense of a widespread understanding that State and Church operate in different spheres. That is not to say it was secular in the sense of agnostic, merely that it was not a place which approved of religious government. That is why the Puritans were so soundly thrown out and condemned thereafter. And why the the prior Charles I’s pretentions to divine right hadn’t gone down well either.

    On that basis, the Church Of England was a typical English compromise; but the Puritan fanatics could not tolerate that. Their determination to rise again- basically, the second time around they were successful due to a cunning strategy of “community organising”- was what led to Christianity’s downfall over the past fifty years, by turning English Christianity, including by the C19 the CofE, into what amounted to a socialist front organisation. As absolutists, they naturally saw State power as a means to achieve their heaven on Earth but, by handing their entire selling point to the State, they destroyed their own reason for existence in the eyes of most of the population.

  10. Peter W Watson

    Puritanism was a form of legalism / phariseeism. The idea of a theocratic state is anathema to true Christianity. Calvin (whom my pastor describes as a spiritual terrorist) was into a theocratic government and it got Servetus burned alive at the stake. Rousas Rushdooney wants a theocratic state in the USA. These people would have been cheering along with the leaders of the Jews when Christ was killed. Jesus said clearly “My Kingdom is not of this world” which all non conformists / Anabaptists knew and know. The true church has always been persecuted by the Established Church. Wesley was banned from preaching under Anglican Law. The C of E was all for keeping the status quo – socialism grew out of Methodism and Wesley would turn in his grave (were he in it) at the way socialism has erased any trace of Christ from its philosophy.

  11. Also, David-

    Ian, all that it seems we can do right now is (a) publish that the social models which people allowed to be created while they slept are wrong, and (b) spen hours talking to each other about the various details at which these are in error.

    I think there’s also great utility in a (c) analysing What Went Wrong. I may be wrong of course, but to me understanding why Liberalism was eclipsed in the land that invented it is very important.

  12. Ian B, Peter W Watson
    The Puritans and Calvin have had a bad press in the collective consciousness, but despite their failings and weaknesses, their reputation is generally undeserved. The Puritans (not the epithet of their choice) were a loosely-knit movement within the Established Church, whose desire was to reform the Church along the lines of a biblical theology. Most Puritan divines (except Richard Baxter of Kidderminster) were actually forced out of the Church and their livings – subsequently they went into the existing dissenting nonconformist bodies – particularly Congregational and Presbyterian ones. There was no ruling body or council to direct them; it was a movement that was essentially pietistic in nature. The Westminster Confession was their greatest legacy. However, their main area of influence was East Anglia, which then became the seedbed of the Parliamentarian cause. Their theology – as is usually the case in such movements – overspilled into not only the ecclesiastical realm, but also political and social life – hence their reputation as iconoclasts and killjoys. This is what is accentuated in the contemporary perspective.
    Calvin – whose teachings were followed by the Puritans – has similarly been misrepresented. His theology was an attempt to distill biblical teaching – and his Institutes are his magnum opus. His commentaries and his sermons are very readable and profitable. However, his association with the Geneva city-state is an study in tyranny – hence the dreadful Servetus affair, which to most rightly cost him his reputation.
    As I indicated in my previous comment – there is a chasm between the theological idea and the actual practice: history is a sad record of this principle, as it bears testimony to the resulting intolerance and hegemony when men attempt to bridge it – and become guilty of the very things these movements intended to counter from the Establishment. But – as is often said – the best of men are only men at their best. This is why (in my estimation) Christianity should be more focused on Heavenly agendas rather than earthly – and sociopolitical ones. “For here we seek no continuing city, but we seek one to come..” (Hebrews 13:14)

  13. Peter W Watson

    reply to Cademon’s Cat – Calvin was the perfect Pharisee as was the Apostle Paul, but Calvin never moved past the Saul stage and he died blind. My old Congregational Pastor and mentor said he was a Biblical Calvinist not a System Calvinist – he also told me that one may have a complete Theology and an incomplete philosophy or a complete philosophy and an incomplete Theology but not a completion of both Theology and philosophy. Calvin had a complete Theology and when confronted with the logical consequences of double predestination ( applied personally as opposed to the group – which destroyed Reformed Theology) Calvin resorted to Gnosticism. I thank God I did not live in Geneva under such a Theocracy. The Swiss Divines were hard taskmasters. The Puritans were ok to a point but Cromwell’s vandalism evidenced law over grace.

  14. PWW
    Calvinism certainly applied dodgy philosophical methods in arriving at double predestination – but I can’t be certain whether it was Calvin himself who was responsible for that – or his over-zealous acolytes, who certainly didn’t enhance his theological legacy. His shortcomings certainly don’t sufficiently discount him as a clear-thinking expositor of Scripture, but I acknowledge that there’s an overbearing legalistic tendency in his teachings which remains culturally embedded in many conservative Reformed circles to this day (various Presbyterian groupings in Scotland are a case in point). I should know – I was an elder in an independent Reformed evangelical church for years!
    As for Calvin and gnosticism – I would be very interested to know more about that..

  15. The visceral hate of Christians stems primarily from a terrible hatred of Satan against God.
    Ask Ian.
    Try the theory of a such a spiritual war and see how it fits what is happening.

    The reality of what Jesus had to say was not about establishing codes of behaviour or ethics. It was about a living relationship with God.
    There is no room for judgementalism. He specifically warned against it.
    The homosexual act is against God’s will and it is probably against human desire, actually. But to take on that amount of brainwashing would be too much in a comment.
    Cheating on a husband by a wife is against God’s will but what did Jesus say to the accusers and would-be executioners, and to her?
    Moral codes and ethics are not the point and in promoting them above the reality of a living relationship with God has caused those who would name the Name of Jesus, an awful lot of unnecessary and tragic trouble.
    Yes. I am sure Christians are heading for a very tough time when the secular dictatorship, with all its advanced technology, develops. And it is coming in fast.
    Believers in anything other than secular beliefs will be considered a moral and social hazard of trouble making nutters.
    I think we are almost there, aren’t we? Despite the fact that no-one can explain how order can spontaneously occur in randomness. (The randomness that presumably was there before ANYTHING started happening.)

    PS: I think the Jews are having a far worse time at the moment in the West.

  16. C H Ingoldby

    Good to see this opinion piece on LewRockwell.

    Well done getting the message out. http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/gabb6.1.1.html

  17. It is a very great article, but I think you just outed yourself as bisexual, Sean. I wasn’t aware that most people clustered away from the extremes of heterosexuality or homosexuality. I would say that nearly all men are one thing or another; possibly bisexuality is more common among women, who don’t have true sexuality in the male sense.

  18. “women, who don’t have true sexuality in the male sense.”

    You’ve been hanging out with the wrong women, dj :)

    Thought experiment: suppose you set up a community on a remote island, cut off from the outside world, and everybody in it is male. All the adults, and newborn children are brought into the community, so they have never seen the outside world. They are not told of the existence of women, or that there is such a thing as “gender”. If asked where they come from, they are told a cover story (found under a bush, put there by a God, or something). Nobody mentions sex, or sexuality. As the boys pass puberty, their sex drives (biological and hormonal and thus inevitable) switch on.

    Towards what will their sexual urges be directed?

    At the risk of queering the answers, I wonder if this has some significance in the legendary nature of the English public school system. Or indeed the Catholic priesthood.

  19. I think I get it.
    You guys don’t mind discussing religion as long as it is, in reality, another secular system that has nothing to do with the immediate power and relevance of God.
    As soon as God might come into the equation as a living, breathing, moving being, then that is, to your thinking, nuts.
    Unmentionable, perhaps.
    Well. Seeing as you have taken it as something to discuss, I am asking for an experience that will be relevant to you. In His love.

  20. John B
    Further to your recent comment, I would also add that Christians are not only in the firing line because of the spiritual conflict – they are also considered a threat to the emerging order because of truth. Christ defined Himself as the embodiment of truth (John 14:6), and His followers are required to reflect that in their conduct as well as their attitudes. Since the very ethic and the modus operandi of the nascent geopolitical and social hegemony depends on secrecy, duplicity and sleight-of-hand (“the unfruitful works of darkness”), there’s bound to be a showdown. Christians are the prosecution witnesses!

  21. Well, this is turning into one of our jollier discussions!

  22. I wonder if the libertarian movement in the UK is fissioning slightly? Into objectivist-individual-rights-atheists, and Minimal-Statist-Christian-liberals?

    Old Chris Tame would probably have put himself into the first group. I may be in the second.

    I do not know. Any thoughts, anyone?

  23. C H Ingoldby

    Well, i’m a Minimal-Statist-individual-rights-atheist.

    Not sure where that would leave me if there is a split…..

  24. Dave:

    Chris Tame would have been happy to see himself described as one of the “objectivist-individual-rights-atheists.” You surely know your own position? Nothing new — people come to libertarian ideas from many directions. There are hosts of divisive issues.

    Tony

  25. I’m a Humean-Subjectivist-Minarchist-Atheist, so I’m not sure which camp I’m in either. :)

    I think there’s certainly a kind of er “Tea Party Conservative” camp in Libertarianism at the moment, whose philosophy can be stereotyped as the belief that smaller government requires a profound return to Victorian Christian morality. As a libertine (in the original anti-Calvinist sense, and also the more modern social liberalism sense) that doesn’t appeal to me at all.

    I fear that while we have common cause right now, come the revolution we’ll fight like Bolsheviks and Mensheviks…

  26. Probably though the major split that will lead to blood on the streets, show trials and the GULAG will be between admirers and detractors of The Churchill Memorandum.

  27. “I wonder if the libertarian movement in the UK is fissioning slightly? Into objectivist-individual-rights-atheists, and Minimal-Statist-Christian-liberals?”

    Yes, probably. There are self-proclaimed libertarianism who just want to do whatever they want, and damn the social consequences. Rousseau said “man is born free; yet everywhere he is in chains”. But that is totally false – no one is born free of all social bonds; no one is born in a cultural vacuum. And why should he be?

    Personally, I prefer Cameron’s big state to the “libertine” anti-social interpretation of libertarianism. As has been stated frequently here, it is that very libertinism of behaviour that justifies the large state in the first place.

    It has also frequently been stated without challenge here that the British “were only ever moral for one generation”, about 1880 to 1950. That is false too. There may have been low-life behaviour in Georgian England, but that was largely in London – the sudden growth of London during the industrial revolution and the consequent displacement of the population led to a social dislocation. I read one account where a London vicar dispaired, as his parish had 10,000 residents, and he could not hope to visit them all – whereas in the original village parish system of the Church of England the church found it much easier to remain in contact with its flock. More importantly, even when poor behaviour (the Ian B “I want to sleep around and socialise the costs as the welfare state and the criminal justice system pick up the pieces from my numerous broken families” approach) was noted among the working class in London, there was never a dominant social discourse claiming that behaviour was right (as there is today – Ian B has fallen for ruling-class propaganda, but laughably recycles it as revolutionary anti-state dogma). In the 19th century, they could still go and scold the fallen women – whereas, under heavy state propaganda, such an approach is sniggered at today.

    If you examined each generation in English history going back to the 7th century spread of Christianity, I think you would struggle to show that morality was only the social norm in 1880-1950 – for 70 years out of a total of 1400 years. We led by Ian B to believe that for 95% of the time since the adoption of Christianity, social moral behaviour was as it is today. I don’t want the Cotswolds turned into Harlem or Queens – and so would rather scrub round libertarianism if it means what Ian B wants it to mean.

  28. Dj’s above assemblage of straw men and Victorian Era verbiage illustrates pretty well why, as I said, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks are doomed to eventually come to blows.

    The problem with any puritan movement, is that however much they might talk about freedom, it is always a strange kind of freedom you can only have if you follow their proscriptive dogma. If dj wants to live in what is largely a fantasy island of the good old days, that is up to him. But trying to recreate that imaginary past is really not worth fighting for, if your interest is, as it was described in a famous document, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

    It was people believing what dj believes that started the whole topsy growth of the State, I’m afraid. They are incapable of producing a state of liberty or liberalism, because there will always be lots of people doing things they don’t like (as with a previous complaint in one of his postings that his poor mother was subjected to seeing dirty women in Soho) and they will always be drawn into the end into using coercion and violence to try to prevent it. It just isn’t compatible with a state of liberty and individualism, I’m afraid.

  29. Personally, I prefer Cameron’s big state to the “libertine” anti-social interpretation of libertarianism.

    I mean, that pretty much rests my case, doesn’t it?

  30. Who said words to the effect: Democracy is the ultimate totalitarianism because it requires that we have to be totalitarian with ourselves. Something like that.
    Point being the individual responsibility that goes with the individual freedom.

    To think that Christianity is a series of prohibitions is not correct.
    Jesus gave only two commandments, being:
    “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    This is the first and great commandment.
    And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22)

    There are no “shalt nots” in there.

    Which indicates the crucial root of Christianity; that it is about a relationship with God. Not prohibitions. Further, it is a living experience. Not theory. Although, of course, one can talk about it!

    But trying to base any realistic system to do with God (most mainstream churches?), on anything less than a living, breathing relationship with God, is a waste of time. Worse. It becomes an empty container that betrays the living reality.

  31. Peter W Watson

    Amen.

  32. Pingback: Eye on Britain (2)

  33. The point is, Gentlemen (and Ladies of course, wo will be reading this piece) what are we going to do about an enemy which is planning (and he is always cheerfully-frank, in deed if not in word) to eradicate, Gramscian-style, the Christian roots of a civilisation which invented and harbours liberalism.

  34. David, are you saying that liberalism is a Christian invention?

    I think there’s a pretty good historically continent argument that the roots of liberalism- property rights, the concept of the individual, restraint of government, popular assembly, common law, etc- can all be shown to predate it.

  35. Liberalism depends on a society of people who behave in line with Christian norms.

  36. There is the theory that the freedom available through Christianity is, indeed, the freedom that enabled scientific, rational, thought.
    Being able to be at peace with God through the reconcilliation in the Lord Jesus set the mind free from preoccupations with placating tree gods and river gods and stone, not to mention the sun, moon, etc.
    Prohibitions on thought did come in through what were effectively state (secular) structures taking over, hijacking, structures set up by Christians. Which in itself indicates the danger of relying on structures in this world rather than just relying on the Lord Jesus. Such a relationship being the actual, biblical, Christianity.
    As commented before, Christianity is a relationship with God which is, literally, free and easy. You are set free. As a Christian you are not part of any collective. You are not under any ultimate authority to any other person. You are an individual of worth and dignity, made in the image of God, living in the presence of God.

  37. My above “nonsense” post was to DJ, but John posted before it arrived :)

    As to the claim by John that you are “set free” by Christianity, it defies belief. How can a “relationship” with God be “free and easy” when it is an obligation under the threat of eternal damnation? “Love me or I will torture you for eternity” describes a lot of relationships, but “love” sure as hell isn’t one of them and only a madman would describe that as a “free” choice.

    I am sorry if my words are harsh, but this whole prayer circle thing is just weird. We’re supposed to be talking about liberty on this blog, aren’t we? It’s more like being doorstepped by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    I mean, look at this-

    Lord Jesus set the mind free from preoccupations with placating tree gods and river gods and stone, not to mention the sun, moon, etc.

    “Lord” Jesus set the mind free by filling it to the brim with preoccupations with placating… the Lord Jesus. Under “Lord” Jesus there is no freedom, just a lifetime of capering and scraping before the Lord, hoping he will be well enough disposed towards you to not condemn you. That is as far from freedom as it is possible to imagine.

  38. I found this discussion on the Internet of John Stuart Mill’s beliefs on religion:

    “In the essay on “The Utility of Religion” Mill argues that much of the apparent social utility of religion derives not from its dogma and theology but to its inculcation of a widely accepted moral code, and to the force of public opinion guided by that code. The belief in a supernatural power may have had some utility in maintaining that code, but is no longer needed and may indeed be detrimental.

    There is an unfortunate tendency in supernatural religion to hinder the development not only of our intellectual, but also our moral nature. Its appeal is to self-interest rather than to disinterested and ideal motives. As with intuitionism in ethics, it stands in the way of the critical evaluation of social norms, and thereby effectively prevents action aimed at social change for the improvement of the human lot in the community. Supernatural religion appeals to the sense of mystery about what lies outside the narrow realm of what we know. But the appeal can be made by poetry: the realm of the unknown can filled only by the imagination. “Religion and poetry address themselves, at least in one of their aspects, to the same part of the human constitution; they both supply the same want, that of ideal conceptions grander and more beautiful than we see realized in the prose of human life” (“Utility of Religion,” Three Essays, p. 419).”

    Firstly, we don’t have to agree with John Stuart Mill, but clearly he is right about the role of religion in inculcating a moral code – and he is wrong in saying that religious belief is detrimental to that code. We can see that from a 21st century perspective. He may have imagined that an atheist society would maintain its moral integrity, but he was simply imagining how that would work out – we, by contrast, are living through it, and the result has been an abandonment of all moral standards.

    He claims religion “effectively prevents action aimed at social change for the improvement of the human lot in the community”. Well, having lived through socialism and communism and various forms of state intervention over the last century – I would say that the role of religion in hindering social change is a good one.

    Of course, he is ignoring the role religion plays in constructing the social fabric more generally. Culture and cultural reference points form part of a the cultural identity of the nation. It gives us things in common, a high culture that plays a centripetal role in society. Just as all Chinese know of the sayings of Confucius and the history of China and its associated literature (the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, which gives the story of “Monkey” etc), the hymns, architecture, liturgy, scripture, ceremonies (Coronation, baptism, marriage, funeral), make a society that has its anthropological connection points.

    The demise of Christianity has produced social anomie, a society that isn’t really a society anymore. It is this individuation of society more than aught else that has helped the state to rush in. Once, all individuals would have been known to the parish priest – there was a community, and the church was able to help out its poorer members. The peers had to be upstanding members of the church – it was a civil society institution that kept a united society going. Now there is no genuine civil society left (and without civil society you can forget liberalism), and it seems to me that the state has become the “church”. In times of hardship, people turn to the state. The state has its own moral views on the environment, obesity, political correctness, and so has stepped in playing all the roles the church used to play.

  39. Anyway, that is my contribution on the subject. I regard Ian B as nothing more than a troll, so I am exiting the discussion now.

  40. I regard Ian B as nothing more than a troll,

    Oh, good grief. The old “anyone who challenges my dogma is a troll” argument. The “I want the last word, so I’m leaving now” strategy as well.

    Since you’re bound to be returning to the thread to see whether I respond, read this dj-

    You can’t justify a faith by utilitarian means. It may well be that a particular faith binds a society socially. It may have some usueful moral codes within it. It may make a society happier, or more cohesive. None of those things make it true.

    The role you describe for Christianity is played by Islam in Arabia. It may well have helped them build their civilisation over time (the Persians were doing fine without it, but we’ll ignore that). It may be that Islam was a very good thing for the Arabians. Indeed, many of them argue, identically to you dj, that abandonment of Islam will be the ruin of them, and they are prepared to kill a lot of people to stop that happening.

    None of that makes it any more true that Mohammed took tea with the Archangel Gabriel. None of those arguments will validate Islam. You know that. You do not believe in Islam (I can say this with certainty because you are a devout Christian). So now is your dilemma; should the Arabs abandon Islam and suffer social discohesion, or should they continue to believe something which is not true? And thus, if Christianity is not true, what do you propose? Continue to promulgate what you know is a lie, to prevent the moral holocaust you believe in happening?

    What’s your answer?

  41. Peter W Watson

    I AM the Way the Truth and the Life. I came that you might have life in more abundance. Ian – With which of Jesus’ statements or actions do you disagree?
    His service is perfect freedom.

  42. The subject was Christians getting persecuted. Just because you disagree with the concept of a living God doesn’t mean you are being doorstepped. I deal with reality as I find it.
    The totalist nature of God is just dealing with reality. Do you get harsh with electricity because it will kill you. Or oxygen because you are bound to breathe it, or die? God is the ultimate power. If you stand in front of a tsunami you will get wet. Gravity is an absolute tyrant because if you step off the 22nd floor of a building it will pull you to the ground. There are realities that one has to live with.
    God is ultimate power and ultimate love.
    You don’t carp and scrape before the Lord Jesus. The whole guilt trip relationship is a human invention to facilitate fear and control. Sure. God is fearful. So is electricity. You don’t grovel in front of the power station. You just don’t stick your fingers in the plug!
    My point of view is different probably to others expressed here. I do regard God as supernatural. That is what I have discovered and the way it is. It does not mean I have to do any voodoo stuff. Far from it.
    His love is peace and simplicity. Total freedom in the spiritual – which extends into the secular, too.
    It is not perfect, in the secular world. It cannot be. Nothing is ever perfect in this world.
    But one can meet with perfection. :)

  43. scott huminski

    U.S.A. State Sponsored Terror (rock music video) Released

    Anti U.S. Police State Musician/activist releases his 5th rock video.

    Television interview at:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/RTAmerica#p/u/1/2KxmgZRUOnU

  44. John- let us talk for a moment as if God exists. You believe that, and I don’t, but let us presume He does-

    Electricity, gravity and tsunamis are natural forces. They don’t have volition. If I grab a 132kv cable, it doesn’t choose whether to kill me. It just does. God, on the other hand, we are told, is a volitional, thinking being. God could make any universe He wanted. He was entirely unconstrained in any way. And, having made it, he could interact with the universe and its denizens any way He likes. Hence, the profound problem for Christians of theodicy. If God made the universe, why did he make this one? Why choose a universe with flawed, sinful humans in it, that are guaranteed to be sinful?

    And why then does God choose such strange methods which are impervious to logic? Why torture and hell? Why a scapegoat sacrifice by crucifixion? Why expect me to suspend my logical faculties and *believe* rather than just manifesting to me and saying, “here I am, I am God.”?

    If such a God exists, He is not worthy of respect, let alone love. How can I love such a cruel tyrant? It is a fundamental problem that Christianity has never dealt with philosophically- that if God exists, He is a monster, and the universe is a prison.

    So, this happens over and over again. Faced with this question, you guys just start intoning pieties and quotes from the Bible in a sort of solemn voice as if they are an answer. You talk of “love” when it means fear. You talk of “freedom” when it means total obedience. I don’t know why you say these things. They mean something to you, but by definition do not mean anything to me because I do not share your faith. The bible is just an old collection of words to me, and has no profound effect on me. It means no more than the Quran or the Egyptian book of the dead. I am not awed by it.

    Look at what Peter wrote-

    His service is perfect freedom.

    That statement is oxymoronic. Service cannot be freedom by definition. They are opposingly defined words. It is the same as communist stereotypes- freedom is slavery, truth is lies, black is white. Just stating these things cannot cause them to make sense.

    I am an atheist. You are a christian. I am also a libertarain. I respect your right to believe what you wish. I would like to persuade you differently, but will only engage you in those situations where the subject comes up. If I am at a christian ceremony (e.g. a wedding) I will not stand up and shout “Down with God!” But in a discussion of this nature, full of people asserting an absolute truth- dj and his “you can’t have liberty without Christianity”- and the downright irrational “service is freedom” then to have any meaningful discussion means a requirement to state the obvious, which is that none of these assertions are actually true. They are not even internally consistent. To claim that a God who you ascribe as being a functional moral arbiter is also an unthinking force like a tsunami is simply not a rational belief.

    Ask yourself the theodicy question. Look around you at the world with its suffering and pain and death. Do not sidestep by saying, “these things are the fault of humans”. God chose what kind of humans to create. God made all this. How can you love a God who would make the choices He made, and who will torment you if that love is not absolute? How evil must a God be to do what He has done?

  45. Peter W Watson

    If God made the universe, why did he make this one? Why choose a universe with flawed, sinful humans in it, that are guaranteed to be sinful?

    Are you serious? He made it because He wanted to. He is God. He does not have to justify Himself to humans. He did not make it with flawed sinful humans He made it with humans with free will; it is they who chose to sin. And it is we who choose to sin. Had He made a Lego land universe you would be the first to complain that we have no free will. We have free will and abuse ourselves and each other daily. He thought it so serious that He died for us because of this. One can hardly become more involved with One’s creatures than this.

    He manifested Himself and said “Here I AM” and we nailed Him to a tree because His love and logic offended our “reason” and sense of religious superiority.

    You too have foundered on the rock of suffering and the unjust nature of life. If you REALLY want an answer rather than an argument then please read The Problem Of Pain by C S Lewis because he also was an atheist and having been a very devout atheist as you no doubt are, he too foundered on the rock of suffering; but he was saved. If you can manage Lewis then I commend The Everlasting Man by GK Chesterton which was instrumental in Lewis’ conversion. If you read these two and remain an atheist, then your faith is stronger than the martyrs.

    I am sure if your heart is really set on being an atheist and a happy one, then our foolishness at the foot of the cross will not impinge upon your serenity. But I am equally sure that if you deep down inside despise your atheism and want to believe, but cannot, due to the wrong image you hold of the Holy One, these books may just help to set you free.

  46. Are you serious? He made it because He wanted to. He is God. He does not have to justify Himself to humans.

    This is a very curious argument. God has absolute property rights? So, we are just property who are not entitled to question our owner? Okay. The problem is this.

    Christians invariably declare that God is good. Not just good, but infinitely good. So when we ask, “why did God make the universe this way?”, we are asking, “is making the universe this way compatible with God being good?”. If we look at the universe and conclude that it was not a good- perfectly good- act, then we can conclude that God is not good. We cannot force him to justify his act, as you point out, for we are just property[1], but nonetheless as sentient beings with a moral sense we can judge whether our owner is good or not, however useless that judgement is in practical terms.

    So the problem is this. By God’s choice to make a universe full of sinners, we have to conclude that He is not good. By what standard? By God’s own! In Christian morals, it would be immoral- that is not good- to cause sin. But God chose a universe with sin, over a universe without. So, God is himself a failure by His own moral standard.

    How do we know that God could have made a universe without sin? Well, the Bible tells us. He made Adam and Eve without sin[2]. He even had to make a special “sin tree” with “sin fruit” on it, and a wicked serpent in its branches, to introduce them to sin. Had he not made that tree, and the serpent, mankind would never have been sinful. To corrupt another man is a sin. God corrupted all mankind, the greatest sin of all. So, by making this universe, with sin deliberately placed within it, God sinned. God is not good. QED.

    The question now is why you would love and worship a God who by His own declared standard is evil.

    This is also brings us to the curious question of why a “good” God would condemn all mankind for the actions of one naive couple whom He himself corrupted. If He were really interested in goodness, he could have wiped the experiment and begun it again. Instead, He chose to inflict suffering on every one of their innocent descendents. All mankind is held forever guilty because one woman was entrapped by her owner into disobedience.

    We see this evil ideal of collective punishment- commonplace in your faith- again when you say that “we” nailed Jesus to a tree. “We” did not. A handful of priests had it done, a few Roman soldiers did the deed. I was not alive, nor were you. Where does our collective guilt come from?

    (And let us not forget that it was what the “good” God wanted anyway. He wanted Jesus killed as a perverse sacrifice to Himself. If they’d pardonned Jesus, there would be no scapegoat as a sin offering.) And on that subject, finally-

    He thought it so serious that He died for us because of this. One can hardly become more involved with One’s creatures than this.

    This is another bizarre argument. Jesus did not die. He could not die. He is a God. He has existed since the start of time- or before- as part of the Trinity. He was up and about again three days later. The “death” was no more than a pantomime with no consequences. To claim this as some great sacrifice- to compare it to a real death- is ludicrous. It was a conjuring trick. It is like a superhero with magic regenerating powers cutting his leg off, and it immediately growing back- and comparing that to the suffering of a legless paraplegic with no such magic powers. The two things are not the same, are they?

    [1] The word for a human who is property is “slave” of course, and slavery is not a good act, but we will let that pass.

    [2] I take it you are a good Christian who accepts Genesis, since we are both aware that without the Fall, all Christian theology collapses, right?

  47. Peter W Watson

    You ask some good questions but i wonder if this is the place to enter into apologetics. Slavery is bad you say. Why? Surely the fact is that most men are slaves to time, the job, the duties of family. it is not slavery which is bad but the abuse of the slave by the owner or the truculence of the slave to a good and kind master, a slave who seeks to appropriate his master’s property. So no it will not pass as it has not been defined.

    Of course I accept Genesis. I left the church in my youth because the church did not. Without Genesis the entire Gospel collapses, for if God used death as a mechanism of creation then the Bible is untrue for the Word tells us that death entered the world through sin, not through evolutionary process used by the Creator who declared His prelapsarian world to be “good” and “very good”.

    Collective guilt comes from traducianism. All men are sinners, it is in the spiritual DNA of man ever since the Fall. You have free will yourself but you do things you know are wrong and bitterly regret and you do not show charity to all men, which you could and as your conscience shows. Please understand I am not defending any organised religion, I am merely declaring Christ before you, that He was God incarnate. If you have a problem with the Trinity as many seem to have since the heretic Arius, I refer you to the excellent site Thrice Holy which may assist in you finding answers to this seeming paradox.

    http://www.thriceholy.net/

    Jesus died because He was fully human. He shared our humanity in every way apart from the fact that He did not sin. If you think He sinned please let us know because even Pilate who knew Him slightly better than you, reported that he found no sin in Him.

    Now may I suggest you read the books I cited, as Lewis will answer your questions well. If after this you still wish to ask questions then contact me off the discussion board through Sean and I will be happy to dialog with you.

  48. Ian, it is always more easy to discuss (argue) on the attack rather than the defence.
    Which is why I rather ask: Can order occur spontaneously in randomness?

    However. To your questions and generally to the problem of understanding it all, I am afraid we do not have all the answers. Our perception and insight is flawed.
    One thing I do know. Whereas I was sick, now I am healed. The change in my life, and the continuing maintenance, despite me, is amazing.

    There are questions of logic that fascinate me, such as what is time, space and infinity. If I am a physical part of this whole thing (infinity), what does that make me (or you).

    As to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is God who became man. Both man and God. He died as a man, but being perfect, death could not hold Him. To partially-blinded human logic it seems impossible?
    It is a strange thing how so many religions and cults try to get around the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    Why so much effort? What is the significance that has to be destroyed? And by whom?

    As to why a flawed universe, if God is a good God, how could He have made a flawed universe?

    Substantially:
    The devil broke it.
    Why did God make the devil?
    Lucifer (the devil) was the chief angel who went into rebellion.
    Why did a perfect God allow for the possibility of imperfection?
    Perhaps we are more important than we realise?

    We do hold greater apparent paradoxes than these at bay every day as we live. Such as the mix of finite and infinite. Or the nature of conciousness.
    Life is an emulsion?!

  49. C H Ingoldby

    Theology = proof that people are fundamentally irrational.

  50. Peter W Watson

    I don’t think theology is needed to prove human beings are fundamentally irrational.

  51. C H Ingoldby

    May not be needed as proof, but it certainly does provide useful proof anyway.

  52. Peter W Watson

    And how does it? According to which reference standard? Theology is the Queen of sciences but then I would say that given that my late father was a Professor of Systematic Theology. He was certainly not irrational and was (for Libertarian ephmera) a colleague of Tony Flew’s father. Tony converted before his death as did that formerly vociferous communist, Malcolm Muggeridge. I suspect you may mean the Gospel appears to you to be irrational or perhaps even the Torah, but Theology is the study of the logic of God, the Theo Logos – and Christ was the Logic of God incarnate as a man. Do you think Christ to have been irrational as His theology was the finest example of logic ever seen.

  53. C H Ingoldby

    The ‘Queen of Sciences’ is where people argue about the unknowable using indefinable.

    Pretty much the apex of irrationality.

  54. Peter W Watson

    Jesus said “I AM the way the truth and the life” He also said “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” – did He lie?

  55. C H Ingoldby

    I see that you are making an appeal to authority rather than to reason.

    And so your irrationality is exposed clearly for all to see.

  56. Peter W Watson

    I am glad you acknowledge Jesus has authority.

  57. C H Ingoldby

    He obviously is an authority figure to you.

    That doesn’t equal reason or logic. Demonstrating the irrationality of theology very nicely.

  58. Peter W Watson

    Actually I would be rather disappointed if the professional atheists here were so easily converted. And you so profoundly confirm the veracity of God’s Word.

    1 Corinthians 1:18-25

    18For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    19For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

    20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

    21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

    22For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

    23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

    24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

    25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

  59. C H Ingoldby

    If that is the best ‘logic’ and ‘proof’ that you have then you really are in trouble. A bunch of vague quotations about how a lot of people won’t be believers and how God doesn’t like wisdom.

    And this proves what exactly? You might as well quote from The Silmarillion for all the logic, veracity and ‘proof’.

  60. Peter W Watson

    Mr Ingoldby, you quite clearly do not wish to believe in God. That is your privilege. It is mine to believe that the Word of God is accurate when describing atheists “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God'”. The difference between us is that my belief really irritates you to the point of distraction whereas your belief saddens me. Jesus said “I AM, the way the truth and the life”. – Did He lie Mr Ingoldby, or are you a textual scholar who neatly body swerves the answer by saying the Bible is unreliable?

  61. C H Ingoldby

    Your beliefs are based on no reason, evidence or proof. As such, they are by definition irrational.

    I note that the quotations you cherry picked from the Bible make a heavy emphasis on deriding and criticising wisdom. Which rather proves my point about theology being irrational.

    As for whether a second hand account written long after the event of what Jesus puportedly said is a lie or not. It is rather up to you to prove that such improbable statements are the truth.

  62. Peter-

    Slavery is bad you say. Why? Surely the fact is that most men are slaves to time, the job, the duties of family. it is not slavery which is bad but the abuse of the slave by the owner or the truculence of the slave to a good and kind master, a slave who seeks to appropriate his master’s property.

    Is this your genuine position? That there is nothing inherently wrong with slavery, and that slaves should not be “truculent” to a “good and kind master”?

    I mean, bear in mind that this is the blog of the Libertarian Alliance, and that self ownership is the fundamental of liberty and libertarianism.

  63. C H Ingoldby

    Ian B, Peter is basing his beliefs on the laws and customs of a Near Eastern Iron Age tribe, not on any actual reason or concept of liberty.

  64. Peter W Watson

    Your faith in “not God” is awesome. I can cite many passages of scripture but do not want to bore the Libertarians on this thread who may simply see our discussion as tiresome.
    A dedicated atheist, Frank Morrison wanted proof and came to faith He wrote the book “Who Moved The Stone”. You should read it as you are crying for proof. So was he. Again, CS Lewis, then a proud atheist much like yourself, studied the writings of GK Chesterton and read “The Everlasting Man”. You seem to me to be so set in your ways that I perceive no real interest in coming to a knowledge of the truth as your pleasure is found in denigrating theists. However as I said, you asked for proof and Morrison’s writing should convince you more than the Bible will. You come over as cynical but not calm. As for cherry picking well. try this one:

    I will not cite the book of Romans but nor will I accept your rather monotonous accusations of irrationality. If that is the best defence of atheism you have then it is fairly ragged.

    Try this:
    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/salvation_webpages/02-when_they_knew_god.htm

    and if you want some more then Josh Mc Dowell’s “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” may assist you. If you think creation all came about by accident with matter suddenly coming into existence with no a priori order then you probably believe that if you throw a deck of cards in the air, it will eventually land in suite and value order.

  65. C H Ingoldby

    I see that you still refrain from providing any actual reason or evidence for your beliefs.

    Thereby you demonstrate yet again your irrationality.

  66. Peter W Watson

    IAN B
    Yes you are right, there is nothing inherently wrong with slavery if both parties treat each other well, and that is the reason I can’t be a true Libertarian because if I were I would support licentiousness and abandon. For true and honest Libertarianism is akin to the Satanism of Alistair Crowley who said “Do what thou wilt shall be the only law”. Now the Apostle Paul said something similar but that was with the understanding that one’s actions came under Christ. I have known Sean for a long time and we agree to disagree on some things. But I have changed my position on the legalization of drugs which I once resisted. Libertarianism can not be applied to a vacuum. Policing and the war on drugs failed. Therefore the lesser of two evils is legalization. Whereas slavery in the sense of humans owning others as chattles was eradicated because of the action of John Newton and other Christians. I am not advocating that slavery is preferable to “freedom” (sic) but I do not see it as inherently wicked as I suspect you do. As a Christian I believe men are either under God or under the Devil with spiritual war being fought over the undeclared. This may be offensive but as Libertarians you will all no doubt defend to the death my right to say it.

  67. Peter W Watson

    Mr Ingoldby; Christ rose bodily from the dead. That should be sufficient for you.

  68. C H Ingoldby

    ”there is nothing inherently wrong with slavery if both parties treat each other well”

    Being treated as a slave means being depreived of liberty and freedom. By definition, to be treated as a slave is to be treated badly.

    Now far from decency and humanity your peculiar religious impulses guide you.

  69. C H Ingoldby

    As for Christ rising ‘bodily from the dead’, got any proof of that particular legend or is it yet another thing that we are supposed to take on ‘faith’?

  70. Peter W Watson

    Mr Ingoldby I referred you to the Bible which is not accurate enough for you. I then suggested Frank Morrison’s book. I suggest you are either too lazy to read it or unlike Ian B, you are just a troll. In the end the decision you make will come down to whether you are looking for the truth or just get your rocks off by ad hominum arguing. I am not going to post Morrison’s book on this discussion group. It is up to you to do some homework now or blissfully enjoy your godless world.

  71. Peter W Watson

    Slavery to Mr Ingoldby – I work for a company which deprives me of my freedom in return for a salary. I have no choice in the matter. If I wish to eat I have to work, as the Bible clearly teaches. I am not a socialist and I do not want the State in my life any more than it already is. I qualified the slavery by requiring people to treat one another well. Paul wrote to Christians and advised slaves to be obedient to their masters even if their masters were difficult. That is the way of the cross. You have already made clear you do not wish to follow it.

  72. C H Ingoldby

    PWW, you can ‘refer’ me to all the books of theology you want to. That does equal a rational argument and it doesn’t equal presenting any reason, evidence or proof.

    So how about it, how about actually trying to present any reason whatsoever for your ‘Queen of sciences’? Somehow i doubt you’re going to be able to…..

  73. C H Ingoldby

    As for your advocacy of slavery as being the ‘way of the cross’. I’m very happy to reiterate that i have no intention of following that ‘way’.

    You might think that having a job you can leave at any time is the equivalent of being someones property, but that is just more evidence of your irrationality.

  74. Peter W Watson

    CHI – if you were asked to present a chemical process for separating paraxylene from orthoxylene and supply a P&ID for it you would not do it on this forum. The world around me declares it was created, it did not just “happen” – you think it did. The onus is on you to tell us where matter originated, where form and information came from and how come the second law of thermodynamics applies. As an atheist you also should show why your opinion is any more valid than mine. You’re too lazy to read the book and I am not going to beg you to. If you are comfortable in your atheism, in a mad world, full of injustice, misery and death and you are complacent in that you can not identify from where morality comes or where you are going when you die, then you are welcome to it. The trouble is that you are not only not complacent you are terribly anxious to stop people believing in a God Who designed us and gives us answers to the questions all men ask such as where do we come from, how shall we live, and where do we go when we die. No one could convince a man of your faith that Jesus rose from the dead because as I said, you do not seek the truth, you are simply contentious for the sake of it. If you cannot be bothered to read a really excellent reasoned account of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you have the last word, and your blood is not on my hands. By the way, if I am right I can guarantee that when you find out, had I not offered you this information, you would have every right to shout at me “Why didn’t you tell me!?” – well, you have been told. I know God made me and I know Christ rose from the dead and if you think I can distill 26 years of study and writing into a form that CH Ingoldby, professional atheist, will accept, then you must be mad. I am fully aware that God converts people and if you are unwilling to accept the evidence all around you and the Bible which clearly describes the days following the Resurrection and the affect it had on people, then Jesus Christ appearing in a vision will not convince you. You have not won an argument; you have evidenced a mind as tightly closed as a pressure lock on a submarine.

  75. I work for a company which deprives me of my freedom in return for a salary. I have no choice in the matter.

    Of course you do. You can walk off the plantation any time you like. Slaves can’t.

    Really, I think this whole discussion is rather proving my point that devout Christianity just isn’t compatible with liberty.

    CH, you might like this book (free download) which posits, not unconvincingly, that Libertarians are the heirs of a pre-christian tradition, and that both the modern Left and Right are the heirs to the Christian doctrine of original sin, which is why they are both authoritarian collectivists. That’s broadly similar to my own view, if not in the detail.

    http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/rousseau-and-the-real-culture-war/1190833

  76. Peter W Watson

    Ian B – “Christianity is not compatible with liberty.” Define liberty. Philip van der Elst wrote a paper “A Christian Critique of Libertarianism” and I think what you mean is that a Christian can not be a true Libertarian. I agree with that and seem to recall it was the subject of last year’s or the 2009 Chris Tame Memorial prize, was it not, Sean? But any liberty afforded to slaves of either tyrants or slave owners did not stem from the Enlightenment, it came from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The film of the life of John Newton shows this well. Happily I am sure we can agree to disagree without censure or violence to the person which is what Libertarians advocate, isn’t it?

  77. C H Ingoldby

    PWW, you ae the one making the claims. You are the one declaring that ‘theology is the Queen of sciences’ and that you have ‘proof’ of your peculiar version of religion.

    Therefore it is encumberant on you to provide some evidence to support your contentions. Simply stating that there are some books out there that support your views does not equate providing any proof or evidence, what it does equate to is ducking and hiding from the discussion.

    So, ready to present any evidence to back up your assertion that theology is in any way rational?

    Oh, and i find your repeated ad hominen slurs in which you pupport to read my mind to be both pathetic and amusing.

    Ian B, PWW thinks that having a job is the same as being owned by a slavemaster. He is obviously not a rational person. I’ll peruse your link with interest to see to what degree his odd superstititions have turned political culture against liberty. Certainly the pre Christian Anglo Saxons had a strong emphasis on individual liberties, while later Monarchs repeatedly appealed to their God as backing for claims of autocratic and despotic powers.

  78. CH. And Ian. You don’t have to take anything by faith at all.
    But I do suggest you get to grips with the limits on human wisdom before either, the realisations inherent in the theories of Bohr, Planck, Heisenberg and others, catch up with you, or your own future does.
    Do you realise how much is taken for granted in the assumptions we make every day, every moment.
    It makes no difference to me, really, how you regard the Lord Jesus. It is your choice.
    You need to think by exploration and not presumption. It is not a football match (that somebody has to “win”).
    I promise not to persecute you and I hope you will promise not to persecute me. :)
    God bless.

  79. C H Ingoldby

    Still waiting for that reason,evidence or proof you claimed you have to substantiate your beliefs.

    Oh, and if you ever actually tried to apply your beliefs such as the benevolence of slavery, then i would be very keen and happy to persecute you most rigorously. (i presume you’d enjoy that anyway)

  80. Peter W Watson

    Mr Ingoldby, you twist my words and I suspect you do this because you do not want to study any other position than your own. I did not *recommend* slavery, I predicated that good will must be there on the part of both master and slave. I am sure you would be delighted to persecute me, a very revealing comment. I do not seek to persecute you, I seek to set you free. As for proof regarding God and the Resurrection; what I have written, I have written.

  81. Certainly the pre Christian Anglo Saxons had a strong emphasis on individual liberties, while later Monarchs repeatedly appealed to their God as backing for claims of autocratic and despotic powers.

    Indeed. That’s similar to a point I made further up the thread. The Big Two religions have this habit of claiming credit for anything achieved by the societies they’ve ruled over. Islam declares everything “Islamic”, ignoring the huge contribution to their culture of pre-Islamic civilisation, particularly Persia.

    Likewise here in Christendom you hear a lot about how all our values are “judeo-christian”. My general argument is that this is wrong. The defining “European” values are local and pre-existent to the Christian era. Individualism, property rights, common law, trial by jury, popular assembly, non-divine kings, and so on. These things are remnants that survived the orientalist steamroller, not things that were brought with it.

  82. C H Ingoldby

    PWW, you claim that slavery can be a good institution because it says so in your Bible, which is where your beliefs apparently come from.

    You are wrong. Slavery can not be a good institution, regardless of what ‘Paul’ says. If you were to try to instigate your belief in slavery i would be very happy to oppress your belief and to persecute you.

    Agruing in favour of slavery is not arguing in favour of ‘freeing’ me. It is arguing in favour of oppressing me.

    And i note that you still have not provided any reason to substantiate your strange claims.

  83. C H Ingoldby

    Indeed Ian B, all that is good and decent about British political culture certainly seems to predate Christianity.

    Pre Christian traits – individual liberty, trial by jury, limitations on monarchical power. The fundaments of Common Law.

    Christian traits – strict hierachy, blind obedience, intolerance/heretic killing, political absolutism. Basically a transplanted Eastern despotism.

    And the ‘Christian’ here talks of ‘freeing’ us in the same paragraph as he extols slavery. No doubt in his theology, freedom is somehow equated with slavery to God or somesuch nonsense.

  84. Peter W Watson

    Mr Ingoldby, I have never “extolled” slavery – you misrepresent my comments, taking them out of context and cherry picking them which you accuse me of. Your understanding of pre Christian “freedom” is risible. Europe was a serfdom to which we are returning in the glorious post Christian freedom. Truth is, we are all slaves to something. This pretty well deracinates most of your statements about Christianity.

    http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/threat.html

  85. C H Ingoldby

    PWW, serfdom was introduced to England by William the Conqueror. (who incidentially invaded under the banner of the Pope). Pre Christian England never had serfdom, that was invented by Christians who believed in a divinely ordained hierachy.

    The comment that we are ‘all slaves of something’ is totally risible. You defend the institution of slavery because it is defended in your Bible and at the same time you appear to have no idea what it actually means.

    Oh, and you don’t understand what the word deracinated means….

  86. Peter, serfdom was a feature of the Christian era, held in place by the general Christian doctrine that “everyone has their place”, and that place in society is defined by God.

    Nobody is claiming that pre-christian Europe was a Utopia. But it is from those pre-christian (and non-Romanised) tribes that liberal principles developed- not out of the (Christian) oriental despotism that first overwhelmed Rome, and then all of Europe. Needless to say, Rome itself became its most despotic once it Christianised- with Emperors claiming divine right, and so on.

  87. Peter W Watson

    Mr Ingoldby – it is you perhaps who misunderstands the word deracinated –
    1. to pull up by or as if by the roots; uproot; extirpate. Anyway it has been fun but I have family duties to attend to. Enjoyed your argument as it was but I am afraid we will simply have to disagree. Christ changes people and for the better. True Christianity is nothing to do with controlling people – that is politics and I do not see the Catholic Church in the life of Christ. christianity is about relationships.

  88. C H Ingoldby

    ”Christ changes people and for the better. ”

    Still waiting for any evidence, reason or proof for that proposition.

    ”True Christianity is nothing to do with controlling people”

    Just like ‘true Communism’ is nothing to do with gulags and secret police.

  89. Ian, CH, please tell, is it possible for order to occur spontaneously in randomness?

    How did randomness come to manifest order?

  90. C H Ingoldby

    If you are referring to evolution, the process by which order occurs is natural selection.

  91. How does it start?

  92. To put it a bit more fully:

    If one thinks in terms that randomness left alone to be random, eventually clumps in places and in those clumps life/structure comes about, then one is saying that what we consider to be order is, in fact, a random act.
    But actually, from randomness such a development would not seem to be possible, either.
    The argument is somewhat similar to the idea that if you put the pieces of a jigsaw into a cement mixer and left it turning for a billienia it might come up with the picture.
    However this presupposes the pieces of the jigsaw, and that is what I am looking for. The origin of the pieces (!).
    Because pieces there must be to randomly mix around.
    The very structure of those pieces, and their activity presupposes force and structure which are both manifestations of order, structure, difference.
    Randomness, without an ordering input, would be eternally still and nothing.

    But, of course, there is no sound reason to persecute people with a different, albeit mistaken in one’s opinion, point of view.

  93. C H Ingoldby

    Your analogy is false. It is nothing like a jigsaw coming together if left in a cement mixer. The jigsaw is not subject to the process of natural selection.

    The process of natural selection automatically brings an order to randomness, no ‘ordering input’ is required so your contention that without ‘an ordering input, would be eternally still and nothing.’ is wrong.

    But don’t worry, i’m not going to persecute you for not understanding the basics of evolution. I’d only persecute you if you tried to do something like introduce slavery.

  94. Peter W Watson

    Mr Ingoldby what makes the selection natural as opposed to unnatural? And by the way I did not and do not advocate the type of slavery where a man is chained, tortured and loses his identity as a person. I merely said all men are slaves to something. Even if it is simply being clever and having the last word. The 747 out of the junk yard won’t fly with you so how about telling us where order comes from and why and then whether you think such things as the eye, the bee, the feather or good old H2O were designed or if they just happened. And while your at it where did matter come from? And information? I’m just off to watch my dinner make itself.

  95. CH. My cement mixer is a variation of the Infinite Monkey theorem.

    What do you imagine natural selection to be if it is not processes and structures being shaped by a random environment in which that which is better suited to life tends to survive?

    But natural selection is not the problem. The problem is how does something come about to be shaped by natural selection? And how does a random order come about wherein certain things are better suited to continuation?

    If everything is random, and it seems to be generally accepted that we developed out of randomness, how did order come about?

    Most modern science is confident to get God out of the equation, but it would seem to happily assume the existence of order without questioning from where it came.

    If there was no order, there would be no circumstances that would tend to survival.

    If there was no order everything would be totally random, without the initial opportunity to develop any force or structure.

    Force and structure indicate order. How did that arise in the total stillness?

  96. “Purpose In A World of Chance” by W.H. Thorpe is a biologist’s view of these issues.

    At some point, it becomes obvious that the Universe is alive…

    Tony

  97. @John
    “Order”, which is to say: the reversal of the entropic process of the Universe running down like a clockspring, arises only locally, such as on this planet, or maybet that one over there (as seen by God as the Observer.)

    When energy can be transferred usefully to the combination of certain chemical elements including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur, iron, copper, cobalt(very tiny amounts only, please!) sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and one or two others such as even silver and gold, in a certain way, under certain (quite specific!) conditions of temperature and pressure and gravity, then you _//may//_ get “life” arising, here and there. The result is very fragile and vulnerable to the ___//awful//___ neutrality of the Physical Universe. Bolides may collide catastrophically with your energing “soup”, at any time, with awful regularity – say every few million years – and with awfully terminal consequences. We may in fact be alone, for all time and for ever.

    That is not to say that God does not exist and that He did not set the whole thing in motion, then go for a coffee. There is an astonishingly large degree of Order in the Universe. But then, He may just have decided that the laws of physics that we have discovered, were what pleased Him to suggest.

  98. I’ve just realised that what I’ve just said is fairly off-topic, as the original Sean-Gabb-notion was about the coming persecution of Christians in the UK.

    But since the persecutor-GramscoStaliNazis, who shall all have to go (we shall decide where later – perhaps they will be “resettled East”) when I shall be Sean’s Principal-Secretary-of-State-for-War, deny the existence of God – and they are always cheerfully-frank-and-up-front about this matter as they must admit – say that good is evil and evil good, then we have a perfect letout to deal with them, before we consign their thoughts and works to the Fire.

  99. C H Ingoldby

    John B, you really don’t understand the concept of natural selection. It is NOT the same as the ‘infinite monkey theorem’. The ‘infinite monkey theorem’ and the ‘cement mixer theorem’ are both false analogies for natural selection.

    Natural selection is NOT the process whereby order randomly appears by chance. Natural selection is the MECHANISM by which order is created out of randomness.

    Natural selection is the answer to your question of how order rises from randomness. No God or prime mover or any other such thing is needed, natural selection creates order from randomness automatically.

  100. Peter W Watson

    So it is all down to natural selection which is a mechanism is that right? Have I got it now Mr Ingoldby?
    mechanism
    On Line Definition

    Logical assembly of components, elements, or parts, and the associated energy and information flows, that enables a machine, process, or system to achieve its intended result.

    It sounds to me, as a mechanical engineer, exactly as though a designer with a purpose engineered it. But you think it just “happened” without God – mustn’t have sentience behind creation, must we? Your faith in not God is remarkable.
    Proverbs 8 – Hear the Word of God
    22The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.

    23I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

    24When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.

    25Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

    26While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.

    27When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

    28When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

    29When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

    30Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

    31Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

    32Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.

    33Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

    34Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

    35For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

    36But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
    Amen.

  101. C H Ingoldby

    And yet, PWW, natural selection works without the intervention of any external force, whether called God or anything else. the act that you find that hard to understand doesn’t alter the reality of it.

    So, cut and paste random quotations from your version of a random ‘holy’ book all you like. It does add up to a hill of beans.

  102. Peter, why do you do this quoting great chunks of scripture thing? It is common in discussions like this? What makes you think that non-believers will accept them as authoritative? I am mystified.

    The above quote is just some words, written by somebody, but we do not know, describing the God they worshipped long, long ago. There are such scriptures and stories in every religion describing the world’s creation. What makes you think yours are more true than any of the numerous other myths? There is no evidence for them. They are just something that somebody wrote down, centuries ago. Like the Egyptian boook of the dead, or Greek myths. You don’t believe them to be authoritative, do you?

    The point here is, you and John are arguing a general “somebody must have created the Universe” argument. Even if that argument is correct, it in no way gets you any closer to proving that it was your particular god who did it. It may have been Zeus, or Osiris, or Woden. Nothing in the argument will bias us towards Yahweh. It could have been any old God, maybe one that has never been heard of.

    How can you know that the other gods are all silly old myths, yet remain so certain that yours isn’t? What argument would persuade us that the creator god was Yahweh, rather than Zeus?

  103. Peter W Watson

    C H Ingoldby | 8 March, 2011 at 12:11 am |

    “And yet, PWW, natural selection works without the intervention of any external force, whether called God or anything else. the act that you find that hard to understand doesn’t alter the reality of it.”

    It may appear to work without the intervention of any external force but firstly you can’t prove it. Secondly you can’t explain why order and not disorder despite your certainty that the cement mixer analogy is wrong. And you can’t say why it is there and neither can you disprove the existence of God.

    Your faith in Natural Selection the mechanism without a designer is awesome. Matter comes from? Order comes from natural selection which is a mechanism without mind, or the intervention of any external force. And you think my faith in God is primitive / ridiculous / naive etc. etc.

    I don’t happen to think you exist Mr Ingoldby and you certainly can not prove you exist. You probably think you exist but I don’t think you do, therefore you don’t exist and the response mechanics of these words in this conversation are simply randomly generated pixels working within natural selection the blind, soul-less, force which determines how the world works.

    As you disdain from answering any questions or even responding to suggestions that you read the words of men who have examined these matters and have written lucidly on them, I conclude that you haven’t the slightest interest in learning anything. You simply wish to appear to win a debate by throwing out blanket statements of opinion served up as irrefutable facts . It must really irritate you that millions of us do believe in a Creator God and that His Word will remain true! long after we turn to dust. Just put it down to natural selection. You get the selfish gene and some of us get the God gene which miraculously would please both Dawkins and Calvin! You exhibit the same fatalism as the Muslims and the Hyper Calvinists – except your god is natural selection. How do you know the words you read mean the same to the writer as to the reader?? How DO you define “order”? Tell us, please. As you consistently refuse to answer any questions I think I should shake the dust off my feet and let you confidently bask in the supposition that you have “seen off another God botherer”. This God botherer is sufficiently versed in Scripture to know that God is not revealed in a formula, in an empirical theorum so the Ingoldbys of the world can apprehend the truth. God is not a formula or a mechanism and faith comes from both hearing the Word and observing that the Bible describes the spiritual condition of men and the world in which we live, exactly as it is now. It is chronological snobbery to think that because writings in a book are old, that they are therefore no longer valid. Creation and its wonders are not sufficient to reveal a designer to you, so you go on worshiping the god of natural selection and as someone else here has said, God bless you Mr Ingoldby and I do hope you find Him because natural selection is such a boring godlet. I asked why beauty, why diverse and complex design, why each individual snowflake – why the unnecessary complexity and beauty in all of “this”. And you simply reply “natural selection works without the intervention of any external force, whether called God or anything else. the act that you find that hard to understand doesn’t alter the reality of it.” and by implication; I Ingoldby understand”. It must be very lonely at the top of the tree. I have seen men and women’s lives turned around and changed wonderfully by the power of God, and people healed by the power of God and lives enriched and if you think this is a “God delusion” as some do, then fine. You do that. But if you are correct there is no purpose or meaning or right or wrong, after all it is just down to natural selection. You are a Deist but your god is natural selection, and you can’t tell us where it came from; only that it is an impersonal mechanism without a designer. As we are all mechanism then my belief in an eternal Trinitarian Creator through which He touches the lives of people, must surely be as valid as your belief in “not God” and natural selection. If not, then you’ll have to explain why.

  104. Peter.

    There are a zillion books out there- from the deeply technical to the populist- explaining how natural selection works. It is a phenomenon that arises- without any intervention- from the basic laws of nature. Biology is a subset of chemistry, and chemistry is a subset of physics. If you accept that basic physics is correct in describing the behaviours of subatomic particles, then you can understand that natural selection- and a zillion other scientific phenomena, like boiling and freezing, and accelration and inertia- arise from those basic properties. There is no requirement for additional “programming” by a hypothetical God to make natural selection exist. It just arises from the basic laws of nature.

    With all due respect, the criticisms from you and John about “order” and “randomness” are rather scientifically illiterate. You do not seem to have tried to develop any understanding of science before criticising it. If you want to be engaged seriously in a debate, you are obligated to do that. Otherwise it is like me criticising Genesis on theological grounds, but then revealing that I’ve never read the bible, or any books about it, or studied it in any way. Would you seriously engage me in debate on those terms? If I kept using vague generalisations but without any actual knowledge of theology?

    The question, “why does the universe have basic laws?” That is an interesting one. But how “order” arises out of “randomness” is fully understood by science. For instance, gravity causes “random” gas clouds to collapse into more “ordered” stars. It’s all thermodynamics in the end. If God created this universe with its natural laws, he does not need to add in any more specific mechanisms like natural selection because they arise as phenomena from those basic laws. If any hypothetical universe has protons and neutrons and photons and gravity, it will also have natural selection in it when life arises. That is just the way the universe is. No further explanation required.

  105. Peter W Watson

    In reply to Ian B

    Peter, why do you do this quoting great chunks of scripture thing?

    REPLY In the hope that being read, it might be understood. Because I apportion more to it than being only text.

    It is common in discussions like this?
    REPLY – Is that a question? I often quote the Scriptures to show that the subject which we are discussing is something which was experienced by men similar to us, hoping to show the relevance of relationships taking God as both imminent and transcendent into account. God really is here in the heart of it all whether people believe it or not. Believing does not make it true and disbelieving does not make it false – God is as He declared the I AM. Eternally present. I do not believe the Word of God to be just words, they are spirit and carry life to those who understand. To those who do not they are simply words and possibly mad nonsense. The Bible tells us this. So if I quote Scripture I do it to convey a truth which is contained in it. It is purposed and not random. It is natural selection of appropriate verses.

    What makes you think that non-believers will accept them as authoritative? I am mystified.

    REPLY – Oh Ian I don’t. I would be foolish to think non-believers would suddenly shout “Eureka!” simply because I copied and pasted a verse of scripture. But some men and women have been converted and saved from reading the Bible. It is in their testimonies. I know a man who is the head of molecular chemistry in one of the UK Universities who was converted by simply looking at the creation and its magnificence in the Dales one day. He looked and knew it had to be true. I know a man who was converted by reading scripture and it leaped out of the page and became alive. The Word is alive to me. It is not a dusty old book it is life – but of course man can’t convert anyone by will or clever argument (or as the Catholics thought by force of arms) it is by the will of God. And a man can not find God unless he is seeking Him with his whole heart. I will save you my testimony as it might bore you, but my life was turned around. I am far from perfect, please don’t misunderstand me. But sometimes even a fragment of Scripture, remembered or buried in the mind, will act as the grain of sand in the oyster and a pearl will appear. It is good news Ian not a threat or a demand to join anything. It really liberates! True liberty! :)

    The above quote is just some words, written by somebody, but we do not know,

    REPLY – We know. I often have this discussion about the reliability of Scripture as it is so much easier to dismiss the accuracy of Scripture with a single condemnation than to read and study the relatively uninterrupted delivery of the Word of God right up to 1611. Every time I get the “Bible is inaccurate / unreliable / doesn’t mean what it did in the first place/ ” arguments I will point the inquirer to the necessary texts and if the interest is serious they will read them. I spent years asking these kind of questions because I saw little in organized religion to inspire me. I’m glad I did.

    “describing the God they worshipped long, long ago.
    REPLY –
    Millions of us still worship the same God. This is undeniable. And again, engineers built the Pyramids and the 7 wonders of the world, lomng long ago, so age does not mean inaccuracy. This is what Lewis called chronological snobbery. The ancients could not fly to the moon but we cannot recreate the Pyramids nor can we recreate medieval stained glass colors.

    , There are such scriptures and stories in every religion describing the world’s creation. What makes you think yours are more true than any of the numerous other myths?
    REPLY – Good question. There ARE indeed such myths for example in the native North American Indian cultures. But if you look further, there is for instance the Great Spirit who is the closest thing to God and not the turtle that gave birth to the world. I spend a lot of time in India and the superstition there probably vexes me as much as my so called superstition vexes the likes of the Ongoldbys of this world. But when discussing Ganesh or Ram or Shiva etc. when confronted with a huge fiberglass monkey or similar and I ask “do you believe this god made the universe?” I am usually met with “oh no”. Much the same as the reaction the pagans had when confronted by for example Jonah or Bezaliel when they saw the spirit of the Living God in them. Books such as Memories and Visions of Paradise reflect the universal knowledge of Eden. The flood story is universal and one Chinese pictograph for shelter is a boat with eight people in it. I do not believe the Trinity predated Christianity nor that polytheism predated monotheism. I do not see the logical consistency in other religious myths which I see in the Bible. I do not see the world in which I live reflected in the other myths. I do not see a prophet claiming to be God in other myths, when the life and death of that prophet is recorded and beyond dispute. I also do not see the transforming power of the Word of God in lucidity and power, from the other texts. I have been to the other wells such as Sufism, Theosophy, New Age faiths, and they left me wanting. God gave me what I was seeking through the Bible. It was a long struggle. So I cannot deny what I have seen with my own eyes and that is why I choose the Bible as opposed to the other books as being the true revelation of God’s creation and redemption plan for us.

    There is no evidence for them. They are just something that somebody wrote down, centuries ago.

    REPLY – the evidence is all around. The Bible describes the world in which we live as I said.

    Like the Egyptian boook of the dead, or Greek myths. You don’t believe them to be authoritative, do you?

    REPLY – Of course not, for the reasons given.

    The point here is, you and John are arguing a general “somebody must have created the Universe” argument. Even if that argument is correct, it in no way gets you any closer to proving that it was your particular god who did it.

    REPLY – My God – well there is only one – revealed His character to me in Jesus. He reveals it in the stunning beauty of the world and the glorious colors, the gentle breeze, the living waters etc. Perhaps you understand this. I do not know. I know people who have dropped acid who understand this and I know people who are tee total non smokers who understand this. I know celibates who understand it. But I know no atheist who understands it.

    It may have been Zeus, or Osiris, or Woden. Nothing in the argument will bias us towards Yahweh. It could have been any old God, maybe one that has never been heard of.

    REPLY – My God left a handbook for the creatures He made. And when people shout “Well why doesn’t he DO something and SHOW us then if he cares so much?!” I point them to Jesus. I have had people and professional atheists decry everything I believe in and deny Christ lived or said or did anything remotely as it is reported he did. But when challenged to show me anything Jesus said or did which was sinful, or unkind or anything like that which we do, they fall silent; just as did the Pharisees. You see religion can be a very dangerous thing because it gives the believer a sense of superiority to his other fellow human beings. The Pharisees had it and Jesus told them they were the sons of the Devil and dead inside and they hated Him for it. I am not offering an apologetic for an institutionalized religion. I am declaring Christ Jesus as God incarnate, and the Bible as the Word of God. What anyone who takes these to heart does with the knowledge is up to them as God treats each one of us as individuals. There is no coercion from love. If you do not want Him then He will not force you to convert as some religions do on pain of death. The gift of God is free – you do not have to join anything, the peace following is real, the problems remain but the purpose and reason and the eventual outcome are all there. I don’t know any system of religion which offers the true liberty of the soul more than the knowledge of God in Christ. Nothing of organized religion can begin to measure up.”

    How can you know that the other gods are all silly old myths, yet remain so certain that yours isn’t?

    REPLY – they do not interact with their creation, God does. But you can’t fool Him and play games with God. No one reading this who is a sceptic or an agnostic (there are no atheists – all men worship something be it their own wisdom or themselves should they disdain from an external power) can challenge God to perform tricks like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. But if you want to find Him and you want that more than life itself, then He will manifest Himself in your life and He will introduce Himself and come and make His home with you. And only you know whether this is really important to you for your peace, or if it is simply an argument.

    What argument would persuade us that the creator god was Yahweh, rather than Zeus?

    REPLY – see above. and God bless you.

  106. Peter W Watson

    God created this universe with its natural laws

    AMEN He did.

  107. Like, I said, these things just devolve into a prayer meeting. Moving indefatigably on…

    Peter, what created God and His nature? You have declared that that which is ordered requires a creator, and that that which has a particular nature requires a creator. God is ordered, and has a particular nature. What created God?

  108. Peter W Watson

    REPLY TO IAN B
    There are a zillion books out there- from the deeply technical to the populist- explaining how natural selection works. It is a phenomenon that arises- without any intervention- from the basic laws of nature.

    REPLY – If there are Laws there is by implication a Law Giver. I have no argument with this.

    Biology is a subset of chemistry, and chemistry is a subset of physics. If you accept that basic physics is correct in describing the behaviours of subatomic particles, then you can understand that natural selection- and a zillion other scientific phenomena, like boiling and freezing, and accelration and inertia- arise from those basic properties.

    REPLY – I work in the petrochemical industry. No argument there. But refineries and chemical plants are designed and built as material objects and are complex, just as DNA and the human cell have blueprints an a designer.

    There is no requirement for additional “programming” by a hypothetical God to make natural selection exist. It just arises from the basic laws of nature.

    REPLY – From where come these Laws?

    With all due respect, the criticisms from you and John about “order” and “randomness” are rather scientifically illiterate. You do not seem to have tried to develop any understanding of science before criticising it.

    REPLY – I am not criticizing science. I am criticizing the presupposition that things (matter form order ) came about by chance and in the absence of any reasonable answer other than “it just did” I think God is a superior alternative as the First Cause than “it just did”.

    If you want to be engaged seriously in a debate, you are obligated to do that. Otherwise it is like me criticising Genesis on theological grounds, but then revealing that I’ve never read the bible, or any books about it, or studied it in any way.

    REPLY – The lack of a knowledge of theology has been evidenced clearly in this debate. I am not ignorant of science but it will not do to simply say “that is the way things are and no one knows why” when we are moral beings in a world of order which appears to be morally unhinged and most certainly unfair – even in the minds of atheists. God is not a formula but the evidence of God is everywhere and especially in science. There are thousands of scientists who are very well versed in molecular biology and physics and a dozen other disciplines who also hold that God gave us science. And as all those who criticize the Bible on the grounds that it is (pick one – old / ancient / inaccurate / no longer meaningful) have obviously not read it or studied it, it is reasonable to conclude that if they are equally happy to live in a complex universe with the explanation that “it just happened” when asked what is behind it, that they are prepared to live without knowing the answer. I am not.

    Would you seriously engage me in debate on those terms? If I kept using vague generalisations but without any actual knowledge of theology?

    REPLY – that is exactly what I have been hearing. And now that you have had the decency to explain your definition of natural selection with which I take no issue, I can return to the question of why it exists and expect a more comprehensive answer than “it just does”.

    The question, “why does the universe have basic laws?” That is an interesting one.

    REPLY
    Science tells us how – theology tells us why. I don’t see any conflict whatever between true science and the Bible. They are by necessity partners. Science and mathematics and chemistry and physics and biology all shout out DESIGNED BY SOMEONE or SOMETHING.

    But how “order” arises out of “randomness” is fully understood by science.
    For instance, gravity causes “random” gas clouds to collapse into more “ordered” stars. It’s all thermodynamics in the end.

    REPLY
    Yes and God made the Laws of thermodynamics as He made all Laws of science including gravity.

    If God created this universe with its natural laws, he does not need to add in any more specific mechanisms like natural selection because they arise as phenomena from those basic laws.

    REPLY – That is the view of the Deists. God wound up the Universe as a clock and it is winding down. He is personally not involved. However I am not a Deist and believe He got involved sufficiently intimately with His creation to die for it in order to evidence His love for it. I cited Morrison’s “Who Moved The Stone” and this was dismissed by Mr Ingoldby – he seems to be one of the people who are unwilling to study Theology lest it disturb his scientific materialism. However I have studied mechanical engineering and physics and heat and mass transfer to a degree within the framework of my job and see God at work in it all. Take H2O. That in itself is a miracle – three forms in one unitary chemistry and quite remarkable! Designed by a perfect designer.

    If any hypothetical universe has protons and neutrons and photons and gravity, it will also have natural selection in it when life arises. That is just the way the universe is. No further explanation required.

    REPLY – to a questioning mind, the statement “that is just the way the universe is” is not enough of an answer. And if anyone really believed it, then why bother trying to change the way things are; in any way whatsoever? The fact remains that man is a moral being and must seek purpose and reason for him to live. A further explanation is required if this question is to be answered.

  109. Peter W Watson

    Ian B – What created God? Nothing. He always was. This is eternity. Of course we can’t understand it because we are finite beings. We have a beginning and an end and the concept of eternity ahead of us is much easier to grasp than eternity past. But the question “who made God” is a primary essential to ask because it is a natural question. We live in time – God does not and only did when Christ was Incarnated. Since this is obviously irritating some because I will soon be accused of preaching I refer you to this. –
    If you can not be bothered to read it then why ask me for answers? I am not going to copy and paste a whole page here! :)

    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/who_created_god.html

    There is an answer.

  110. Okay.

    If it is possible for a thing to always have existed, that is God, and for the nature of God to have always existed, then one can equally say that the universe and its nature have always existed. God, by having Himself a nature, is himself a set of pre-existing and eternal “laws” in the same sense as the universe’s natural “laws”, so if the laws which describe God’s nature can have always existed, so could the laws which govern the natural universe.

    You cannot have it both ways. Either complex, ordered things demand a creator, in which case you must admit a creator of God, or they do not, in which case your argument for the existence of God is nullified.

    We live in time – God does not and only did when Christ was Incarnated.

    Hmm. Now you seem to be in real logical trouble. God is described as having a mind, volition and action in the scripture. That is, God thinks of things and then does them, as with any mind. Thought requires sequentiality. Without time, God cannot think. He cannot act. Time is an essential of existence.

    Ergo, time had to exist so long as God has existed. Without it, He could not change state- thinking and acting and doing. Time is separate and external to God. It is not His creation. Again; what created time, for God to exist in?

    You see, what you are doing here over and over again is putting demands on nature, but then just excluding God from them so you don’t have to answer the unanswerable. Your every argument that nature cannot be all there is, because it requires a creator, bounces back on God, whose meta-nature requires a meta-creator.

  111. Peter W Watson

    IAN B
    Time is separate and external to God. It is not His creation

    REPLY
    Yes, time IS His creation. We can’t comprehend eternity because we live in time. But before the creation time as we know it, the measure of the distance between events, simply did not exist.

  112. Peter, if time did not exist before creation, there is no “before” creation. By definition.

    Reason isn’t a human invention. It applies everywhere, even to Gods.

  113. Peter W Watson

    IAN B – Before time I AM. That is God’s statement to us. Existence unmeasured and uncontained by human perceptions. That IS eternity and of course we cannot comprehend eternity which is why God sent Jesus into time so we could understand the mind of the Maker. The truth is that the search for God is a spiritual one and no amount of point counterpoint will leasd anyone to suddenly saying “oh, ok I believe in God” – want proof? You are a soul in your body. You exist but you can’t show me where your soul is. You can choose scientific materialism to explain what you are from a chemical and molecular point of view but you can not show me your soul. But you exist according to cogito ergo sum. If I could explain eternity to you in a scientific way I would. I can’t, and in one sense it is a trivial matter. If one believes that upon one’s death one ceases to be and is merely extinguished; then why are so many people afraid of dying? That can not be answered by science.

  114. Peter, I don’t know if you really are going to grasp what I’m getting at here, but the above paragraph is gibberish. It is words arranged as if with meaning, but whose meaning is entirely opaque. They literally do not mean anything. Which is what theology generally comes down to. I know you think they mean something, but if I asked you waht it was, you would either paraphrase the gibberish, or take the “this is beyond mere human comprehension” emergency exit.

    To show what I mean, consider something else- the Trinity. It is a meaningless, irrational concept. It is homologous to the statement-

    1=3

    One cannot equal three. The concepts of 1 and 3 are clearly defined, and by definition cannot equal each other. But theological verbiage will rattle on for pages about the “divine mystery” of it, because God is placed beyond reason.

    By the very definition of the words used-

    Before time I AM

    cannot mean anything as a sentence. There is no “before time”. Before is a concept OF time. The sentence literally has no meaning. Language is full of meaningless constructable sentences, such as “dog is the bus” or “my toe is my brain”. They describe nothing. They are statable, but meaningless. No amount of “this is a divine mystery” gets around them. They are just incoherent. Think about it. How can you declare statements which you yourself do not understand? They describe supposed concepts that cannot even exist in your own mind; even you admit that they are incomprehensible.

    And on your last assertion-

    If one believes that upon one’s death one ceases to be and is merely extinguished; then why are so many people afraid of dying? That can not be answered by science.

    People are scared of dying because

    (a) it’s not the being dead part so much as the getting there that is scary

    (b) we all have a built in survival instinct- as do all animals at least most of the time- so we do not want to die, most of the time. Some people in distress do want to die.

    Do you really believe that a God is necessary to explain the fear of dying?

  115. Peter W Watson

    IAN B
    Do you really believe that a God is necessary to explain the fear of dying?

    REPLY – No. I believe that a man who believes in not God should not be afraid of dying if it merely means extinction and nothing else. After all, most people go to bed at night and sleep in what is relative oblivion and I don’t think many worry about waking up. And if they don’t worry about not waking up then why do they worry about dying?

    Trinity – H2O is a good example – Ice Liquid and Gas – same chemistry different morphology.

    As for my statement being gibberish. You do not understand it Ian and I am not terribly surprised by it. I could show it to any of the people at Church and they would. That is the difference. And that is why belief in God IS by faith and not scientifically apprehended. To dismiss faith as unscientific is as wrong as to dismiss the delight of the aroma and taste of a cake giving pleasure because it is described differently from the chemical formula than makes the cake. Perhaps the truth is that I was seeking the truth and I see no conflict of faith with reasonable science at all. You are seeking answers I can’t give and no one can. But I know God exists as He shows all of us daily in the creation and the microbiologist should see this clearly. he also revealed Himself in the Son as Jesus when He walked with us in time on earth. If these, coupled with changed lives, are not proof then you will never believe. In truth you can’t believe. Not because it is nonsense but because you simply do not understand. I understand and accept science. I do not accept science “just is”. Morality and faith and love and emotion are not scientific (Hitler was very scientific as was Malthus) they are spiritual concepts. When my questions have been answered I will continue. At present nearly all (by my count) of my questions have just been ignored. Polite debate requires a response not merely counterpoint.
    I believe I have responded.

    The Word of God stands today as it has from the time of its writing.

    Mark 4

    1And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

    2And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,

    3Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

    4And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

    5And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

    6But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

    7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

    8And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

    9And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

    10And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

    11And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

    12That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

    13And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

    14The sower soweth the word.

    15And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

    16And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

    17And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

    18And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

    19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

    20And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

    21And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?

    22For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.

    23If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

    24And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

    25For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

    26And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;

    27And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

    28For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

    29But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

    30And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?

    31It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

    32But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

    33And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.

    34But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

    35And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

    36And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

    37And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

    38And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

    39And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

    40And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

    41And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

    So what manner of man is He? What do YOU think about Jesus? Because nothing else matters. He created the universe after all. The following answers who made the creation and states there was a “before”.

    The Gospel according to
    St. John
    1

    The Word Made Flesh
    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    2 The same was in the beginning with God.
    3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
    4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
    5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

  116. After all, most people go to bed at night and sleep in what is relative oblivion and I don’t think many worry about waking up. And if they don’t worry about not waking up then why do they worry about dying?

    Because, er, when you die you don’t wake up again. Fear is an emotion, not a logical process. Any creature with a surival instinct and teh ability to understand the concept of death will fear dying.

    Trinity – H2O is a good example – Ice Liquid and Gas – same chemistry different morphology.

    Yes, but not the same, is it? The Trinity is equivalent to the statement that some specific volume of water is both liquid and gaseous at the same time; and not partially liquid and partially gaseous, but rather entirely liquid and entirely gaseous. Which using the definitions of those words is impossible and renders the statement oxymoronic.

    As for my statement being gibberish. You do not understand it Ian and I am not terribly surprised by it. I could show it to any of the people at Church and they would.

    No they wouldn’t. You don’t understand God, and neither does anybody else, because the descriptions used are not comprehensible- because they incorporate impossibilities like “before time” and “1=3″. They may nod in agreement with you and ponder the divine mystery of it all- without resolution- but they would not understand. Because understanding is impossible. God as described is literally incomprehensible, and thus so are any descriptions of Him.

    Take the problem of predestination. Calvin understood the logical problem that if God is omniscient and infallible and, as you put it, “outside time”, the universe must be predestined. God must already know everything that will happen in it, from start to end. So, he must know who is going to Heaven and who isn’t; and He must have decided who would and who wouldn’t, so logically there must be Predestination.

    But, that then renders the whole religion pointless. Nobody has any free will, nobody can choose to follow Jesus, nobody can avoid their fate, and whatever you do with your life is just God’s will and you’re a kind of CGI actor piddling about under orders. So, there’s no point in the faith. Your faith isn’t even your own will. God predestined us to have faith or not. It’s His will, not ours. So it makes no sense for Him to torment some and reward others.

    But if there is no Predestination, God cannot know the fate of creation, and cannot be omniscient. So then God becomes fallible and less than perfect. Which means he is no longer trustable as an absolute authority. He can’t know whether anything He does will have the expected result, and cannot be “outside time” since He has to be at some certain time along with us mortals waiting to see what happens. Which means he does not have the characteristics described by and necessary for the Christian faith to have a purpose.

    So either way, it makes no sense. You can argue about Predestination from one side or the other until you’re blue in the face, but you’ll never resolve it. Because if you stick to logic, it is insoluble. Like the Trinity or the time thing.

  117. Peter W Watson

    IAN B
    After all, most people go to bed at night and sleep in what is relative oblivion and I don’t think many worry about waking up. And if they don’t worry about not waking up then why do they worry about dying?

    Because, er, when you die you don’t wake up again. Fear is an emotion, not a logical process. Any creature with a surival instinct and teh ability to understand the concept of death will fear dying.

    REPLY — Your response implies there is no consciousness after death? How do you know?

    Trinity – H2O is a good example – Ice Liquid and Gas – same chemistry different morphology.

    Yes, but not the same, is it? The Trinity is equivalent to the statement that some specific volume of water is both liquid and gaseous at the same time; and not partially liquid and partially gaseous, but rather entirely liquid and entirely gaseous. Which using the definitions of those words is impossible and renders the statement oxymoronic.

    REPLY
    You miss the fact that the forms are H2O. Were I to tell you the Trinity is Knowledge Understanding and Wisdom, and is similar to a computer = hardware plus software program + application would that make it any easier? After all man is made in the image of God and these are the three aspects of Trinity in Man. God made everything through His Knowledge which was applied through Christ the Logos or the Wisdom of God and the Spirit gives Understanding.

    As for my statement being gibberish. You do not understand it Ian and I am not terribly surprised by it. I could show it to any of the people at Church and they would.

    No they wouldn’t.
    REPLY – well ok, come on down to the west country for the weekend and meet my pastor who was formerly a biker and then a prison warden (so he is experienced in real life) and come to church with us and then we can discuss it and they will affirm they do. And as I know them you really are speculating about matters you do not understand. Want to? The door’s open and there’s a bed and a full wine rack.

    You don’t understand God, and neither does anybody else,
    REPLY
    I do not understand God fully and no one does as the Bible clearly states. But I understand Him SUFFICIENTLY and that is all that matters as long as I am on earth.

    because the descriptions used are not comprehensible- because they incorporate impossibilities like “before time” and “1=3″.
    REPLY
    These are not comprehended by you. I know many Christians who would find these statements elementary.

    They may nod in agreement with you and ponder the divine mystery of it all- without resolution- but they would not understand. Because understanding is impossible. God as described is literally incomprehensible, and thus so are any descriptions of Him.

    REPLY
    Then according to you Jesus lied when He said “He who has seen me has seen the Father, I and the Father are one.” Jn 9.

    Take the problem of predestination. Calvin understood the logical problem that if God is omniscient and infallible and, as you put it, “outside time”, the universe must be predestined. God must already know everything that will happen in it, from start to end. So, he must know who is going to Heaven and who isn’t; and He must have decided who would and who wouldn’t, so logically there must be Predestination.

    REPLY
    My pastor describes Calvin as a spiritual terrorist. There is predestination of course. Because God made all and foresaw all, those who would reject the Gospel and His Word and those who would accept it, the doctrine of Predestination is wholly true, but not as Calvin saw it. Calvin saw individuals as being made (purposed) for salvation or destruction AS INDIVIDUALS. The reality is that at the end of time a man will either be saved by Christ and elect to salvation or he will be damned. Not a popular idea these days but jettisoning it has done little to fill the pews of the Church of England. Calvin simply viewed the damned as being both damned by their own actions but equally unable to respond to the Gospel so they were not only guilty before God as sinners but they COULD not repent. No wonder Servetus ended up cooking in Geneva. The reality is that all men have free will to seek God or not, to reject God or not. That many atheists have rejected a god that never existed and that Christians do not and have not believed in, seems to bypass a lot of people. No one believes in an old man with a beard in heaven and atheists are quick to reject this nonsense. But Jesus Christ was God incarnate for a short time, came and taught, healed, raised the dead and preached the acceptable day of the Lord. Now both the elect and the reprobate exist but the elect are saved by grace alone through faith alone by Christ alone and the reprobate are lost because having had sufficient knowledge of God they denied it and determined for themselves not to believe. This may not be popular – it has seen many Christians murdered for saying it, but it remains fact. God knew that many would be lost, hence Jesus spent much of his ministry warning (mainly religious people) against hell. I am sure that even if you all toddle off tapping your heads thinking me mad, that would also acknowledge that if I am correct, then I have a duty to tell you.

    But, that then renders the whole religion pointless. Nobody has any free will, nobody can choose to follow Jesus, nobody can avoid their fate, and whatever you do with your life is just God’s will and you’re a kind of CGI actor piddling about under orders.

    REPLY
    IF Calvin’s double predestination were true the above would be true and we would all be robots. Unhappy automatons in a world which is so appalling almost anyone could improve upon it. But we have free will. Otherwise God would not constantly offer the Gospel to every man and say “Choose this day whom you will serve” – I wrestled for years with Calvin and in the end I concluded his theology was system theology but not Biblical as it runs against the example of the Master.

    So, there’s no point in the faith. Your faith isn’t even your own will. God predestined us to have faith or not. It’s His will, not ours. So it makes no sense for Him to torment some and reward others.

    REPLY – See above. I believe Calvin would have had me shot as being an Arminian and the Pope would have disemboweled me because I reject infant baptism. The C of E is no home as I reject priests of any kind. So it is fairly clear I hope that I am not institutionalized (although I suppose a number of you think I should be) in any religion. Religion after all is taken from the Latin legere which means to bind. Re binding of the affection of a man’s heart (Hebrew leb = mind) to that of the things of God.

    But if there is no Predestination, God cannot know the fate of creation, and cannot be omniscient. So then God becomes fallible and less than perfect.
    REPLY
    There is consequential predestination of which God had FULL knowledge otherwise Christ would not be described as the “Lamb slain BEFORE the foundations of the earth”. Without love and Christ there would be no salvation. You may disagree with the way God has chosen to do things but it is the way it is, just as you say natural selection is.

    Which means he is no longer trustable as an absolute authority. He can’t know whether anything He does will have the expected result,
    REPLY
    He knows precisely the result.

    and cannot be “outside time” since He has to be at some certain time along with us mortals waiting to see what happens.

    REPLY
    I described God as transcendent and imminent. He is therefore out of time in the sense that he is not bound by time in the way we are. He even tells us this “a thousand years is as a day to the Lord and a day is as a thousand years”. Christ became temporal but is and was before time (creation) and will be forever.

    Which means he does not have the characteristics described by and necessary for the Christian faith to have a purpose.

    REPLY
    Were your suppositions correct I would agree but they are not. You need to study reformed theology to realize it is far closer to Mohammedanism in the sense of predestination without participation than it is to the teachings of Christ.

    So either way, it makes no sense. You can argue about Predestination from one side or the other until you’re blue in the face, but you’ll never resolve it. Because if you stick to logic, it is insoluble. Like the Trinity or the time thing.

    REPLY
    If God were able to be reduced to a formula easily comprehended by man, He simply would not be God. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. I did not say this; Jesus did.

    For once, just read the teachings of Christ – forget the fundamentalists the Church of England and the Darwin controversy – and then ask yourself who is this remarkable man? Prophet, Priest, charlatan, Deity, mad man? Ultimately the only question to which the answer matters is “What think ye of Christ?”

  118. C H Ingoldby

    Ian B, I respect your use of reason against the totally irrational but really, it does seem pretty pointless.

    You might as well attempt to explain algebra to a monkey.

  119. Peter W Watson

    CHI – thank you for confirming the reality of God’s Word once again.
    “1 Corinthians 1:18
    Christ the Power and Wisdom of God
    8 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

  120. Ian, I am not saying you must think what I think.
    I just point out that the assumptions that most people use to run their lives are assumptions that are not provable. Sure, they seem to work, and it is evident as a whole that, for now, it holds together.
    I don’t really have a problem with natural selection. I think. It is like farmers breeding domestic cows over the centuries. Or things fitting in with their environment.
    I have a problem with the inference that change can be the origin.
    David, that randomness which is evidenced by everything falling apart, rather than together, is something that raises questions. But further. My question as to how order can occur spontaneously in randomness, is going back to asking how the thing that is falling apart happened, not even just came together in the first place but simply happened, if everything is chance and randomness.
    How can occur spontaneously in total randomness. For anything to happen, be it electrons spinning or gravity pulling, order has had to have occurred. There is structure and movement which indicates potential, difference. Something has started happening.
    It was always happening?
    Then it is not random. Order exists.
    CH, for anything to happen there has to be structure and movement, whether it happens automatically or not. And that is a manifestation of order.

  121. Howard R Gray

    “……is about to be overturned with something that has a track record of achieving nothing but megadeaths and enveloping endarkenment.” This is a close to perfect distillation of the discussion!

    Elites serve themselves first and foremost, no ideology matters that much compared with the enrichment and privileges that they enjoy. At some point their ideology becomes unsynchronized or out of balance with forces that can overthrow it, unless they can outwit those forces against them they lose. What goes around comes around, a trite but true phrase.

    Political correctness with its anti Christian sentiment is embedded in the established elite’s opinions. Will that always be the case? Probably not, as an optimist I really don’t think they will succeed, they will fall at some point. Why do I believe that? I had the privilege many years ago to stand on the back or a flat back truck in the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin on the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall and give a short speech about freedom and that the wall would come down in my life time. It did! I had no reason to believe that it would but it did. Back then the forces of communism were very real and terrifying. George Miller-Kurakin invited me to say my bit on behalf of one of his front organizations East European Solidarity Youth, none of us knew for certain it would happen but it did, taking a punt for liberty is the essential thing, never be put off by the nay sayers, best to believe it and it just might be so. Besides which, it really pisses off the enemy.

    The Libertarian Alliance’s existence has a significant micturition effect on the endarkenment brigade. Sean Gabb’s writing is fearless in that tradition of the dissenter with the truth in hand.

  122. The statement “God exists” has meaning, and may even be true.

    But since no conceivable observation can falsify it, it cannot be a scientific , testable statement.

    Tony

  123. Thanks for the praise. But do be aware that my lack of fear is based on the assumption that no agents of the State will come knocking on my door. Real courage is when someone carries on writing in the absence of any such assumption.

    Only call me brave if I am every unlucky enough to be put to this test, and only then if I pass it.

  124. my, but believers talk a lot.

  125. Point scoring rather than trying to establish the truth is a symptom of the problem we all face, jm.
    And we all believe something. Otherwise we would not bother to live.

  126. Pingback: Saturday Evening Posts Worth Reading.

  127. The sized the file has to be considered for
    the reason that larger the file, the longer its seeding time
    is going to be. Pay no focus on uddiyana bandha and mula bandha until they have mastered the rhythem of breathing.
    This latest effort by Bit Torrent offer a strong competition to
    Apple’s Itunes and also other movie download sites, including
    ,Walmart and don‘t forget Direct – TV and cable at will services.