Thursday, September 18, 2008

"sntjohnny" is a Rational Christian; Taxing for Green; Web Deceits

"sntjohnny" is a Rational Christian
With Whom I Can Have Dialogue

Anthony Horvath is the Executive Director of Athanatos Christian Ministries. Horvath, who calls himself sntjohnny though his name isn't John, calls his website, perhaps to differentiate himself: "Will the real St. John please stand up?"

"[B]y the very definition of God according to Christian theists, there is a great deal that could only be known if God told us." Horvath was describing "special revelation."

"Special" is contrasted with "natural revelation" whereby "natural revelation" means arguments for the existence of God, Horvath says. "Simply put, ‘natural’ revelation, or ‘natural theology,’ is what one can learn about God running exclusively on your own steam without any assistance from God. Aristotle’s Prime Mover arguments and Aquinas’s ‘Five Ways’ are such efforts."

"One of the confusions here is the treatment of the Bible as revelation. It certainly is revelation. However, when it concerns God, it is, strictly speaking, revelation about revelation. So, the ’special revelation’ would be what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus. He then reveals what was revealed to him. In other words, the accounts of this incident are Paul’s revelation. Also, all that we know about Jesus is revealed to us through his disciples. [italics added]

"Atheists at this point are probably scratching their heads because from their perspective I will not have made the situation any better. What many of them are specifically looking for is their own ‘Road to Damascus’ experience."

I should say not. Atheists don't believe such revelations are possible, because the cause of them does not exist. Any person who could possibly be looking for a "revealed" revelation would be a fence-sitting agnostic. By definition, an atheist knows there is no god, in the sense that all the resolutions of logic one has in one's mind is what he "knows." This is sometimes called "justified true belief," as opposed to "unjustified." The justification comes from the soundness of the argument.

Theists "know" God exists. Atheists "know" he does not. Each of them has found the soundness, the justification, within his own logic that to doubt it would be to doubt his own mind. To go looking for a revelation implies that one knows nothing either way, and perhaps has no beliefs one way or the other.

Horvath begins his blog asserting "that atheists fail to distinguish between ‘natural revelation’ and ’special revelation’ but they are not entirely to blame. Arguments for the existence of God tend to be in the realm of ‘natural’ theology."

Yes, they do "tend to be considered theology," and therein lies the differences between theists and atheists. One thing I'm beginning to admire about sntjohnny is that he seems to have an understanding of naturalism that is better than that of many naturalists. But his understanding of naturalists themselves isn't as discerning. No naturalist who is also atheist has any justified true belief in either kind of revelation. The naturalist who believes in "natural" revelation is not an atheist. The person who believes in "revealed" revelations is not a naturalist.

Horvath is familiar with my very public differences with Austin Cline, the Deity of Atheism over at [See the Academy Blogger ]

I have thus publicly disagreed with Cline about the definition of atheism. I maintain that not only do atheists justifiably believe there are no gods, but also that atheists don't have the faith required to see within the "naturally revealed" world the existence of any god. Cline says an atheist merely has no belief in god, and may consider it to be true that gods exist, and have faith in other forms of supernaturalism!

Far from being skeptical, the atheist who believes there are no gods finds no reason to be skeptical since he/she finds no reason to argue with him/herself about whether he/she is correct in his/her belief.

On the other hand, the believer is the skeptic and the more devout the belief the more skeptical he/she is. That is because in order to believe in the "revealed revelations" of the Bible, the Christian must "suspend his disbelief" , overcoming it with reason. It was the theologian Boethius, after all, who told Christians, "Insofar as is possible, join faith to reason."

It is not in my constitution to suspend my reason only to replace it with faith, which must then be rationalized by overcoming my disbelief with sound justifications that overcome them. The theist who cannot find the sound justification to overcome his/her disbelief is a Christian with a crisis.

sntjohnny does a credible and understandable job of overcoming disbelief--for the agnostic, or the Christian with a crisis of belief. I do not believe, and he states unequivocally that he also does not believe, anything less than a "revealed" revelation would be enough to convince an atheist.

If he is right, and I agree that he is, Cline's definition of "atheist" has been knocked out of the ballpark.

I have provided my readers with a link to Horvath,aka stjohnny, in the sidebar under the heading "Interesting Reading." Horvath is a very rational Christian who comprehends that preaching to an atheist doesn't work, even if he thinks we are all waiting for our own personal revelation from a god. What he does understand is that in reason, there can be dialogue between theists and atheists, which is the only way for the two camps to talk, aside from just leaving each other alone altogether.

Are You That Certain of Yourself
That You Can Tax the Rest of Us for Your Beliefs?

"Cool Look at the Future, by Richard Rahn. How much in additional taxes are you willing to pay now in order to ensure that the Earth would not be 3 degrees warmer 100 years from now (assuming the science is even possible) - $100 or $1,000 or $10,000 or more? Should the government prevent us from selling some of our body parts to allow others to live or have better lives? The above questions and many others were the subject of learned discussion at the 60th anniversary meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) that just concluded here in Tokyo." Cato Today

Internet Lies and Deceits
"I was intrigued to discover recently that I am a secret services mouthpiece designed to undermine the left by publishing neo-conservative views and apologies for racism. You'll not be surprised to learn that these ludicrous allegations were made on the internet. The web has become a clearing house for all sorts of nonsense ideas.

"Many of the most enthusiastic pioneers of the internet have now become seriously worried about its capacity to promulgate lies and distortions. Larry Sanger, one of the co-founders of Wikipedia, became so disillusioned that he started Citizendium as an attempt to bring more quality control to online, collaborative encyclopaedias. Just last week, the creator of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, also said that we need to find ways to control the spread of falsehoods on the web."I share their concerns, but I wonder if blaming the web is just shooting the messenger for radically upping his productivity."
Mr. Baggini also has a link provided by the Academy Blogger under the heading "Interesting Reading."

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