Thursday, March 8, 2012

FacePlant of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Even Christians Agree That Faith is Opposed to Reason

In Mr Loftus, latest faceplant  he attempts to argue that the Bible and Christians deny the important of reason and think that faith is in conflict with reason. Of course when he does this he misrepresents and presents myths. I'm not foolish to argue that no one denegrates reason and philosophy in order to uphold faith  and yet claim to be a Christian. I disagree with them because they disagree with the Bible.

Yep, that's right. What's all the hullabaloo about? Christians themselves agree with skeptics:

Not all Christians. 

Christians have taken an unenthusiastic view of philosophy because there are dangers in it for their faith.

I'm sure Doctors of Philosophy like Gary Habermas. William :Lane Craig, Timothy McGrew, Paul Copan, JP Moreland, and many others would find it hard to believe that they are unenthusiastic about philosophy.

According to Paul in Colossians 2:8, “See no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.”

Is Paul really throwing Philosophy under the bus? No, unless you wanna argue that all Philosophy is hollow and deceptive? No?  I wouldn't. But maybe John Loftus would given that his philosophy is hollow and deceptive.

 Jesus purportedly said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (Luke 10:21).

Again, Jesus does not say that philosophy or reason is bad. He is saying that God chose to give truth to people who have not been educated instead of people who think they have the truth because they think they  have been looking for it. 

Paul wrote, “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. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:18–25).

Paul is correct. Again wisdom and reason are not said to be evil or to be shunned. The Bible never says that. Paul is writing about how you can't get to God based on your own intellect. 

Tertullian (160–220 CE) asked: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” In words reminiscent of Søren Kierkegaard, Tertullian wrote of the incarnation of Jesus by saying, “Just because it is absurd, it is to be believed . . . it is certain because it is impossible.” Martin Luther called reason “the Devil’s Whore.” As such, reason “can do nothing but slander and harm all that God says and does.” William Lane Craig agrees with Luther’s viewpoint. He argues that “reason is a tool to help us better understand our faith. Should faith and reason conflict, it is reason that must submit to faith, not vice versa.” Immanuel Kant said that he “found it necessary to deny knowledge of God…in order to find a place for faith.”

I don't have the time to discuss this scattershot approach in suggesting that Tertullian, Martin Luther, William Lane Craig, and Immanuel Kant all think/thought that reason should be thrown out in favor of faith But let's look at that whole quote from Martin Luther.

Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.:”

And try this one

But since the devil’s bride, Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she’s wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [reason] is the Devil’s greatest whore.:”(Note that at present I have not verified this citation, which I found in a secondary source. That source gave the following attribution: Martin Luther’s Last Sermon in Wittenberg … Second Sunday in Epiphany, 17 January 1546. Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe. [Weimar: Herman Boehlaus Nachfolger, 1914], Band 51:126, Line 7ff)”: 

I found a great site that discusses what Martin Luther meant. Read it here by Tim Enloe. Enloe observes

We can neither prove nor disprove that reason is reliable, because all attempts to prove or disprove it would have to use it to make their arguments. Reason, defined as our basic human rational ability, is literally the standard by which we determine whether a thing is true or false. We have to just accept its reliability because without it we cannot think at all – let alone think that reason is unreliable!

 I agree with him. Loftus' charge is truly a faceplant. Enloe nails his point by explaining what Luther meant in the quotes above.

This is the type of theology that Luther was referring to when he spoke of “reason” proudly presuming to tell us what God requires of us for salvation. This is why in one place he railed against what he called “the accursed fictions of Aristotle,” and in another place of how “this damned, conceited, rascally heathen [Aristotle] has with his false words deluded and made fools of so many of the best Christians. God has sent him as a plague upon us for our sins.”
Let me close this short treatment with one of the clearest citations of Luther’s view of reason, from the 1522 Postil for Epiphany on Isaiah 60:1-6:
In temporal affairs and those which have to do with men, the rational man is self-sufficient…here he needs no other light than reason’s. Therefore, God does not teach us in the Scriptures how to build houses, make clothing, marry, wage war, navigate, and the like. For here the light of nature is sufficient. But in godly affairs, that is, in those which have to do with God, where man must do what is acceptable with God and be saved thereby – here, however, nature is absolutely stone-blind, so that it cannot even catch a glimpse…of what those things are. It is presumptuous enough to bluster and plunge into them, like a blind horse; but all its conclusions are utterly false, as surely as God lives.
Note the two sides of reason for Luther in this quote. In temporal affairs, that is, affairs having to do only with man’s earthly life, human reason is sufficient and no other light is needed. However, on “those things which have to do with God” and man’s salvation, nature, and therefore, man’s natural reason is “stone-blind” and “cannot even catch a glimpse” of the truth.
It should be clear, then, that when Luther called reason “the Devil’s Whore,” he was not being an irrational fool or exempting himself from criticism by the basic standards of logic. The “reason” that Luther identifies as “the Devil’s Whore” is not basic human standards of logic, but the intrusion into the things of God by a certain mode of doing theology.

There is something wrong with any belief system that needs to disparage reason like this. To read what skeptics say see here.

Agreed there is something wrong with such a belief system. Disaraging reason is stupid because you in doind so you are using bad reasoning. Fortunately,  Biblical Christianity is not like that.  

Debunking Christianity: Even Christians Agree That Faith is Opposed to Reason

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