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Dawkins wants my children- but will he pay for their education?
December 11, 2012 Dennis Mackulin Disputatio Justifying Non-Christian Objections
Douglas Wilson & Farrell Till Whenever we object to something, we always assume some standard or rule that the thing violates. Similarly, when non-Christians object to the Christian faith, they assume some standard that Christianity violates. But can non-Christians justify these standards that they so readily use? In the following interchange, the editor of Credenda/Agenda, Douglas Wilson and Farrell Till, editor of The Skeptical Review , discuss the topic of justifying non-Christian standards of ethics and reason. For the past thirty years, Farrell Till has been an English instructor at Spoon River College in Canton, Illinois. Prior to this, he was a preacher and foreign missionary for the Church of Christ. He attended two Bible colleges and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Harding University. His preaching career spanned twelve years, five of which were spent in missionary work in France. After becoming an agnostic, he quit the ministry in 1963 and began a teaching career. For the past five years, he has edited The Skeptical Review , a quarterly journal that focuses on the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. He has regularly debated inerrancy-related issues in various public forums, including radio and television. Having begun this work as an agnostic, he now considers himself an atheist. DW: Many unbelievers commonly object to the God of the Bible on the basis of ethical "problems" with the character of God as revealed in the Scriptures. Whether they use psalms of imprecation, the slaughter of the Canaanites, the eternal wrath of God on the impenitent, etc ., the central theme is usually the same "Who would want to worship a God like that !" But despite the surface plausibility of the objection, a careful examination of it shows their Achilles attacking our Hector with his bare heel. Far from being the unbeliever's strongest case against the true God, this objection actually reveals the radical futility of unbelief; without God there are no ethical objections to anything . FT: Although you didn't expressly state the "objective-morality" position of evangelical apologists, you certainly implied it when you said that "without God there are no ethical objections to anything." The fallacy of this position is its failure to recognize that morality is an intellectual abstraction. As such, it is no different from abstractions of tragedy, sorrow, or any of many other abstractions the human mind has formulated from its broad range of experience. Arguing that human intelligence cannot determine if acts are immoral without a god to tell us they are is as illogical as arguing that we cannot tell if events are tragic without a god of tragedy to tell us they are. DW: Fine, I'll bite. If there is no God, then all the things you mention are in the same meaningless category. Morality, tragedy, and sorrow are equally evanescent. They are all empty sensations created by the chemical reactions of the brain, in turn created by too much pizza the night before. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else. FT: You bit too hard. In equating all human abstractions with "swamp gas over fetid water," you overlook verifiable facts. The human mind can think; swamp gas can't. Human intelligence can evaluate situations and formulate abstractions of beauty, happiness, sorrow, fairness and morality; swamp gas can't. Are these abstractions valid? Well, what IQ level is needed to conceptualize abstractions like beautiful, sad, fair, right or wrong? Can one with an IQ of 100 do it, or must his IQ be infinite? The existence of moral

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