The Rhology Confusion
Rhology: #1 - The JN would inflict his moral views on the rest of us, just as he says we should not do. In making the very statement that one should not inflict one's moral views on another, he does the same. As James White says, "Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument".
Nihilist: Sorry, Rhology, but a careful reading of my essay clearly shows that I make no statements regarding objective morality. I do not assert that Christofascist and Islamofascist authoritarianism are immoral in any objective or absolute sense (although they offend my confected moral code). I also do not proclaim that leaving each other alone, and embracing a diversity of ethical opinions, constitutes moral rectitude in any objective or absolute sense (although, personally, I find the Zero Aggression Principle persuasive). In the piece, I simply made an inarguable observation about behavioral coherence. Given our manifest moral ignorance—illustrated by the fact that no moral code has been proved objectively correct—the idea of a Christofascist attempting to impose his arbitrary moral opinions on me is precisely analogous to me, an aficionado of red, demanding that Rhology abandon his own favorite color and recognize the superiority of mine. I classify such behavior as neither moral nor immoral; it is incoherent and silly. Given the dearth of moral facts, attempts at coercion are manifestly incoherent. And, let it be known: My embrace of moral relativism does not flow from my unique possession of moral truth; rather, I am a moral relativist because I recognize our collective moral ignorance, and a relativistic view flows naturally therefrom. It makes no sense for one to be coercive with respect to things about which one is ignorant.
Rhology: #2 - He challenges my comparison between "Christian" violence and jihadist suicide bombers with an illustration of a law in Alabama that prohibits the sale of sex toys.
Nihilist: Come on now—maintain a modicum of rationality here. Nobody reading my essay could possibly think I was directly comparing suicide bombing with Alabama’s infantile law. I was presenting an example of the morally authoritarian Christofascist mindset. Moreover, I was explaining that, when such laws are passed, my freedom from religion is being infringed, insofar as such statutes are clearly inspired by the Christian moral construction. I take my constitutional rights seriously. If the right to vote includes an implicit right not to cast a ballot, then freedom of religion includes an implicit right not to indulge in religious observance.
Rhology: I love it - the West, for all its faults, faces an enemy that wants to impose sharia law on all people. It wants women to walk 10 steps behind men, never to show their faces in public, to be prohibited from shaking hands with men, to be worth 1/2 of a man with respect to lawful testimony in court. It wants to charge a heavy tax on/kill those who will not convert to Islam. It wants to behead those who insult Islam or Mohammed. Virtually all of its earliest expansion, both under Mohammed and after him, came through military activity and forced conversions, to the point that all of the Iberian Peninsula, much of France, all of the Balkans, up to Vienna, was taken and held by Muslim forces. The number of men AND WOMEN who strap bombs to themselves every year to blow up civilians and children is almost too numerous to consider. And the JN is concerned about the imposition of a few laws banning the sale of sex toys?
Nihilist: You are preaching to the choir in this instance, Rhology. I conceded this point in the essay to which you are ostensibly responding, writing, “I readily admit that, at this moment and for the last few centuries, Muslims behave far worse than Christians do.” I am appalled by the violence committed in that religion’s name, whether it takes the form of suicide bombings or full-out wars. Islam’s stated policy toward apostates is particularly hideous, in my judgment, given my own Christian apostasy. The mistreatment of women hits me particularly hard, given the fact that I consider myself a feminist and champion for equality of rights. However, I must say, your indictment of Islam’s misogyny rings rather hollow. After all, as a Bible-believing Christian, you presumably affirm the following verse: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” [1 Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)].
Christianity and Islam differ in their treatment of women, but the difference is of degree rather than kind: Islam is wildly misogynistic, while Christianity merely declares that a wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband. When you disavow the aforequoted passage, I will be more inclined to cheerlead your well-informed condemnation of Islam.
Rhology: The JN, in his post, goes on and on about "the church" committing the Inquisition and Witch Trials and such. It's hard to imagine how he could be so uninformed as to think there could be any connection beyond a simple name (ie, they were part of the "Christian church" and I am part of the the Christian church) between my position and that of medieval Roman Catholics. Apparently he missed the multiple posts I've written against the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox positions and the fact that I'm a contributor at Beggars All Reformation Apologetics, which would be hard to confuse with medieval Roman Catholicism.
Nihilist: It seems that you consider your preferred variety of Christianity much more to the heart of the matter than I do. The bottom line, for me, is, apart from Mormons and maybe a few other fringe denominations, Christians—no matter the flavor—are “men of one book,” to co-opt a sentiment attributed to Aquinas. To start, I must correct your attempt to foist all the blame on Catholics. Please forgive me for quoting from Wikipedia, but the source material it cites (H.C. Erik Midelfort, Witch Hunting in Southwestern Germany 1562-1684, 1972) simply would be too laborious to track down. It writes, “One theory for the number of Early Modern witchcraft trials connects the counter-reformation to witchcraft. In Southwestern Germany between 1561 and 1670, there were 480 witch trials. Of the 480 trials that took place in Southwestern Germany, 317 occurred in Catholic areas, while Protestant territories accounted for 163 of them. During the period from 1561 to 1670, at least 3,229 persons were executed for witchcraft in the German Southwest. Of this number, 702 were tried and executed in Protestant territories, while 2,527 were tried and executed in Catholic territories…. Historians today dispute the comparative severity of witch hunting in Protestant and Catholic territories. ‘Protestants blamed the witch trials on the methods of the Catholic Inquisition and the theology of Catholic scholasticism, while Catholic scholars indignantly retorted that Lutheran preachers drew more witchcraft theory from Luther and the Bible than from medieval Catholic thinkers’.”
Rhology: Anyone can claim to "clutch the Bible" as JN puts it. "Who follows its teachings?" is a far better question for two reasons:
1) You're making a claim that the Bible teaches such.
2) You're talking to a guy who claims to follow the Bible in everythg it teaches.
Given all this, perhaps the JN could enlighten us as to how he comes to these conclusions:
-If torture and murder cannot be laid at the Bible’s figurative feet, that tome certainly can be said to have inspired some of this.
-“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” is just begging for trouble, especially when there are nonconformists, heretics and ugly crones about.
Ie. What is the context of this command? To whom was it given? When? What connection does that have to the New Testament church, of which I am a part?
Nihilist: The Bible does condemn witchcraft and sorcery, despite the fact that neither one exists and neither ever has. [Admittedly, some sad cases like to play dress up and pretend to cast spells, but the efficacy of such hocus-pocus is underwhelming.] And, in spite of your implications to the contrary, the verse I quoted, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” [Exodus 22:18 (KJV)], did contribute to the alacrity with which some Christians indulged in the torture and murder of nonconformists, heretics and ugly crones. Had that verse been expunged at some point—much like the exclusion of apocryphal writings—perhaps the torturers’ theological “cover” would not have existed.
Look, Rhology, I admit my ignorance of Christian denominational variations. I also trust that different denominations emphasize and de-emphasize certain passages of the Bible, and wed themselves to alternate dogmas. However, I would rather not delve into all that: Even though I am substantially familiar with the Bible, given your scholarship vis-à-vis the text, I would lose a debate on that territory. But, then again, I am sure a “fairyologist” would handily defeat me in an interlocution about speckle patterns on fairy wings. So, I shall not feel bad….
I would like to grant you this opportunity to affirm that which I wrote earlier: “Neither [witchcraft nor sorcery] exists and neither ever has.” I also would like to grant you the opportunity to declare, for all to read, that the pious people who tortured and murdered “witches” centuries ago, in your judgment, are presently in that place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”