Sunday, December 20, 2015

Another Interaction with "Bahnsen Burner" aka, Dawson Bethric at "Incinerating Presuppositionalism"

I want to continue sharing my interactions with and review of Dawson Bethric over at Incinerating Presuppositionalism. I visited the blog to see if there were objections or critiques of presuppositional apologetics that I have either not thought about or read. As you might imagine, I found nothing new, nothing original, nothing even very interesting, and certainly nothing challenging. Nevertheless, I did want to provide you with at least one more interaction I have with Dawson and then a couple of reviews before moving on to some more interesting developments from Pew Research on the issue of homosexuality.

Here we go:

Ed: “Folks, the problem with Dawson's view is that it is hopeless subjective.”

So views that are based on facts and developed in accordance with reason are “hopeless subjective.” You tell us about yourself here, Ed.

Ed: “His(Dawson's) morality in his worldview has no transcendent ability.”

What is this supposed to mean?

RESPONSE: 
It means that Dawson's view of morality places it within the individual mind. Morality that is located within the individual mind is not, by definition, transcendent morality. At the same time, Dawson wants to condemn Christian morality because it places obedience to God above rescuing a human life if the choice is ever presented. The best Dawson can do is say it would be wrong for him to behave in such a way. But Dawson does not stop there. He wants to criticize me and the entire Christian ethical system as if somehow morality can be transcendent in his worldview. Simply speaking, such reasoning is a howler. How can a system of individual morality that exists in his individual rational mind be imposed, not only on others, but on an entire system of belief? If it foolish to even argue in that way. There is no logic to Dawson's view. Only a morality that transcends individual human experience can be imposed on humanity across the board. Dawson fails to see this for some reason. 

It really shouldn’t be that difficult to understand, Ed: “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live” (Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual, p. 123). I want to live and enjoy my life, Ed, not suffer and die. Therefore, I’ll go with the Objectivist ethics. The fact that you resent this, Ed Dingess, tells us all we really need to know about you.

RESPONSE:
Notice that Dawson makes no attempt whatsoever to defend Ayn Rand's incredibly silly definition of morality. He just takes Rand's view of morality at face value as if her saying it makes it so. First, how can morality have a purpose if it is just part of the rational mind? If morality has a purpose and it is not transcendent, this must mean that morality's purpose is determined by the rational mind of the individual constructing it. And if this is true, then Rand's definition can only rightly be said to apply to her individual rational mind and no one else. How could it be otherwise. Dawson is silent. Morality has nothing to do with what we wish to do. I oftentimes wish to do things that I know I cannot do because they are immoral. If morality is driven by human desire, then anything goes and there is no morality. What if Dawson wants to protect his daughter and I have other sinister plans for her. Plans that please me but not Dawson. Dawson's desire to protect his daughter are no more moral than my sinister desires. It gets worse.

Ed: “Hitler was perfectly moral given that his morality was the product of his rational mind operating within his worldview.”

How do you figure? On the contrary, Hitler seems to have many things in common with the Christian god. After all, Hitler appealed to the Christian god in many of his speeches, and he believed that he had “a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists.” Hitler expected to be obeyed on his own authority, and he backed up is authority with threats (cf. “believe or burn”). Hitler presumed for himself the power to choose who lives and who dies, and how. This does not resemble anything in Objectivist philosophy. But it has all the telling marks of religious mysticism.

RESPONSE:
Hitler's manipulation and crazy beliefs are nothing more than a red herring. What is material in Hitler's example is that Dawson's own definition of morality fails to classify Hitler as an evil and immoral man. Hitler's morality was created in his own individual rational mind and therefore, his deeds were quite moral where Dawson's definition of morality is concerned. It is really absurd but that is where the "Bahnsen Burner" takes us folks. Impressive, no? NO! In fact, quite unimpressive and sloppy.
Ed: “atheists simply cannot provide a shred of rational support for objective morality in any meaningful way whatsoever.”

I guess you simply have a different understanding of what “objective” means, Ed. Somehow, you have the feeling that the concept of objectivity as a philosophical principle is compatible with religion’s wishing-makes-it-so fantasy-hysteria. I’ve asked many Christians over the years to explain this, but unsurprisingly they can’t. Apparently they simply don’t know what objectivity is.

RESPONSE:
Notice that Dawson fails to actually address my claim. Instead, he parades another red herring. There is nothing subjective about the truth of Christianity because that truth is anchored in the self-contained ontological Triune God of Scripture. Christian experience is just as objective as the experience of breathing. Because God exists, and Scripture is true, all Christians have experienced, objectively, the give of faith, the supernatural phenomenon of being born again, etc. Christian belief and experience are anchored in the objective reality of God and His work of redemption in our lives. But that only begs the question of why it is that atheists cannot provide a shred of rational support for objective morality in any meaningful way whatsoever not doesn't it.

Ed: “Such exchanges have provided nothing interesting so far and it seems that only a fool would hold out hopes that they would.”

A common trait among the religions of the Near East is to vilify and scapegoat outsiders (e.g., “atheists”) simply for being outsiders. I suspect this collectivistic tendency has its roots in primitive ages when one tribe feared the tribe settled on the other side of the hill. It shuts down empathy and it closes the mind to learning.

RESPONSE:
This is simply a mindless ramble.

Ed: “As for human beings having some sort of capabilities by their very nature, nothing could be more controversial.”

Ah, here’s the appeal to lack of universal agreement again I suppose. So, given our nature, we don’t have any capabilities? That’s the Christian view? What does this say about our alleged “designer”? Our “designer,” according to Christianity, must have made us completely incompetent. And Christians complain that atheism leads to nihilism? This is beyond comical.

RESPONSE:
Notice that I did not say what Dawson seems to think I said. I am merely pointing out that what Ayn Rand and Dawson, along with her many minions, take to be dogmatically true and uncontroversial is far from it actually. Christian theism surely does teach that humans possess these capabilities, but not on the view that they are evolved slime somehow moving from non-consciousness things to conscious beings, from non-life to life, from non-rational to rational, from no knowledge to knowledge. Nothing could more absurd than a world view that asserts these things and as far as I can tell, these are precisely the sort of claims Dawson wants us to just take his word and of course Rand's word on. Sorry Dawson, we shall not allow you to get away with such sloppy, lazy thinking. 

Ed: “What I want you interact with more than anything else is my comment about knowledge.”

Ed, I’ve interacted with garbage like that for years. I’ve already spoken to it in numerous blog entries. If you’re really interested in learning more about my views of knowledge, my blog has over 400 entries just waiting for you to read them. But I don’t think you’re really interested in my views. You just want to argue and, apparently, make yourself look like a good fool for Jesus. You’ve achieved this last goal, whether you set out to accomplish it or not.

REPSONSE:
Notice that Dawson defaults to general statements about the "garbage" I am arguing without getting down into the ditch to show us that he has the ability to evaluate my claims, understand them, and refute them. He just runs past understanding and evaluation straight to "your claims are garbage. No intellectual worth their salt would behave this way. Dawson is demonstrating that he just doesn't want to believe and he seems tired from using his same old failed reasons.

If you want me to piece through your recent droppings on knowledge, I will have to charge you a fee. But I doubt you’ll pay it.

Ed: “You are assuming way more than I will allow you to in this conversation.”

You have no jurisdiction over what other minds will or will not assume, Ed. You have no authority here. Your wishing is worthless.

RESPONSE:
I have challenged Dawson to account for human knowledge within a belief system or conceptual scheme where, at one time, there was no knowledge. My argument is in my previous post. Knowledge requires knowledge. This line of thinking requires that knowledge, if it is to exist at all, must be eternal.

Summary
Dawson Bethric is no Bahnsen Burner. The title is laughable and the implication is a joke that no one is laughing at. Instead, anyone who has studied under Bahnsen for any amount of time will do a proverbial head slap when they interact with Dawson Bethric. They will immediate see the sophomoric approach for what it is and recognize that Dawson not only does not understand Christian theism, he does not understand Transcendental Arguments or Van Tillian Presuppositional Apologetics. I will continue to review Bethric's site and share my thoughts if I find anything of interest. I am not holding my breath at this point but you never know. As Dawson tells me, he has been at this for 10 years at least.

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