Just how much belief is required for redemption?

The following is part of an exchange between myself and an up-and-coming apologist who writes on the failures of non-christian idelogies. For several years now, apologists have been simply attacking various idologies with the implicit notion that, if they can only demonstrate an incohernency in another ideology, this will somehow validate their own ideology. I’m attempting to return the proper forcus to the question of whether Christianity itself is incoherent. I believe it is, but getting a straight answer from a Christian apologist is not unlike getting my donkey to speak its mind. At the point of this exchange, I had posted the same question 4 times. 
 
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Phil: Thanks for your response [NAME]. Now, based on that, how would you respond to the following question?
 
When John says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already” (ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται· ὁ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται,…), does he simply means that you can disbelieve to any degree as long as your degree of belief is not at zero? In other words, could someone split their belief between Jesus and 2 other possible messiahs, and the Christian god would still honor that 33% degree of confidence in Jesus?
 
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Apologist: When you find yourself not engaging with another person but only repeating your question verbatim like an automaton, it might be that the form of the question is limiting you and preventing you from thinking in fresh ways. (Like “have you stopped beating your wife?”)
As I said, the form of your latest question is invalid–monotheism says there is one God, hence one Messiah, and it makes no sense to talk about “splitting belief between Jesus and other possible Messiahs.” Whatever you are getting at, this way of framing the question won’t advance the discussion.
As I said, even a probabilistic approach does not take the simplistic Baconian approach of totting up bits of “certainty” and correlating bits of “belief” in a quantifiable manner. Read philosophers of science like Kuhn, for that matter read Karl Popper, who said this is not the way even science works.
 
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Phil: You have suggested that I have introduced a compound questions such as “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”
 
Husbands who have never beat their wife respond to such a question with “I’ve never beaten my wife”. 
 
Husbands who are indeed beating their wife evade the question.
 
Instead of vaguely suggesting the question contains a false assumption, point out that assumption. Simply demonstrate I don’t understand or that I am attempting to straw-man you. 
 
In addition, I would certainly hope you have the philosophical acumen to immediately note that, the (ontological) fact that Christianity is monotheistic speaks nothing to the epistemic assessment of truth of that proposition. Once again, you are conflating epistemic assessment with ontology. If you don’t understand this, let me know, and I’ll expound on this further. 
 
So, no, my question is most certainly not invalid, nor it is its repetition the product of an automaton as you suggest. Its repetition is the product of the absence of an answer as you admit to when you wrongly suggest the question was invalid.
 
Here is the question again.
 
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Based on your notion of salvific faith, how would you respond to the following question?
 
When John says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already” (ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται· ὁ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται,…), does he simply means that you can disbelieve to any degree as long as your degree of belief is not at zero? In other words, could someone split their belief between Jesus and 2 other possible messiahs, and the Christian god would still honor that 33% degree of confidence in Jesus?
 
(You suggested that Kuhn, Popper and Bacon did not think certainty was quantifiable in this way. That is simply not true. All of them held that certainty was on a continuum, and Kuhn and Popper were of an age in which the science of probabilities was coming into its own. Simply explore the 5 sigma standard CERN scientists applied to the Higgs, or the everyday probabilities Vegas card counters employ. The fact that your mind can not apply precise percentages does not mean you can hold that, based on the evidence available to you, 3 different monotheistic gods are equally probable. This does not mean they can co-exist. This is what I mean when I say you are conflating epistemology with ontology.)
 
 
This question is not whether Baalam’s donkey spoke with an accent. This question goes to the very heart of redemption. The very coherency of Christianity rests in the hope for a coherent response to this question.
 
This question is philosophically rigorous intentionally. The details reveal the coherency of general platitudes. “Believe in Jesus and be saved”. This is most certainly not a description of redemption worthy of respect. Belief in intrinsically on a continuum just as is affection. Imagine telling a man you’ll marry him if he likes you. You’ve so far left redemption as undefined as this. 
 
And this is no time to be creative. You say the rigor of my question is “preventing [me] from thinking in fresh ways”.  You are talking about the doctrines of a Bible from which, allegedly, not one jot or tittle will vanish. It’s far too late to be creative with redemption. My question is very specific, very clear and very pertinent to the entire project of Christianity. Now all that remains is for you to either answer the question coherently so we can move on to other issues, or to admit you don’t understand the mechanism of redemption. 
 
Which is it? 
 
(Sorry for the stronger tone. I appreciate you letting me comment on your page. But I’m sure you’d do the same if postmodernists were to claim your reductio ad absurdum arguments against their position were preventing you from “thinking in fresh ways”, and continued to evade your clear and rigorous questions.)
 
 

 

 
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A Taxonomy of Polemists

The following are several non-discrete categories of polemists.

  1. The Poser
    The term “poser” is here used non-pejoratively. The Poser is simply the polemist who offers arguments and/or tones not his/her own. This is a normal and effective device employed by those new to the topic, and who would like to assess the counter-arguments against his/her own. He/she may take a more aggressive tone in an attempt to quickly elicit the most compelling responses for honest assessment.
  2. The One-Way Valve
    This dogmatic polemist rarely asks questions. The dialog is one-way. He/she rarely possess the open-mindedness he/she expect of his/her audience. He/she often simply repeats (often simply copying & pasting) arguments he/she has heard, and any refutations of those arguments or counter-arguments are simply ignored. They often see no shame in their unwarranted dogmatism.
  3. The Idealist
    This inexperienced polemist believes that the actual arguments are those with whom he/she is directly engaged. They become easily frustrated with the lack of understanding and open-mindedness of their opponents. As the idealist matures, he/she begins to understand that the actual audience are those silent readers at the periphery, and modifies their arguments accordingly.
  4. The Torn Crotch
    This small-minded polemist has no shame. He/she will repeat arguments that they know to be in error, yet continue to repeat them. When forced into a corner by those patient enough to pursue them in their game, they will simply remove the torn trousers of their current argument, and try on a new pair of rhetorical trousers with an equally large tear in the crotch of logic, and with no apparent shame.
  5. The Logician
    This experienced and erudite polemist attempts to distill arguments to their true rudimentary elements, and to formulate rigorous syllogisms that can be more clearly assessed. Logicians are often scorned for their rigor, especially by those who find slippery free-form argumentation better suited for their erroneous or weak positions.
  6. The Indexer
    This polemist simply invokes philosophers/theologians/scientists without laying out the actual relevant argument. They assume their interlocutor has the responsibly of finding the source and extracting the relevant argument. In many cases, the Indexer does not actually understand the argument of the mind they invoke, much less lay it out coherently.
  7. The Economist
    This mature polemist simply ignores interlocutors who add nothing to the conversation. He/She will keep his/her arguments rigorous with clear examples and customizes his/her arguments for the silent audience on the periphery. The Economist opts out of arguments that do not support his/her core position, and will even confront those on his/her team who put forward flawed arguments.
  8. The Modeler
    This polemist models well-formed arguments so that others of his/her own persuasion can learn to employ similar arguments. They are focused on a balance of rigor, coherence, creative rhetoric and cogency. The Modeler is often undervalued since the positive effects of his/her tutorage are not always immediately visible.
  9. The Archivist
    This meta-polemist prods the opposition in an attempt to generate arguments so that he/she can identify, extract and categorize arguments or fallacies. He/she often represents a position not genuinely or deeply held. The authors of sites that provide a taxonomy of and examples of logical fallacies and cognitive biases (and polemists?) are often Archivists.

  10. (Note I did not introduce “The Troll” since the term is too often employed by those who simply encounter strong opposition to their beliefs.)

Sye Ten Bruggencate and His Mendacious Pals

A case study in the inherent dishonesty of presuppositional tactics

(More about Sye now at http://syetenbruggencate.wordpress.com.)

Sye Ten Bruggencate is a Christian presuppositionalist. He does not think you have any basis for rationality other than his choice of a god. After centuries of emphasizing faith, Christianity was forced by the success of science to focus on its “evidences”, and having manifestly failed there, is now justifiably cowering in the face of scientific scrutiny, and is desperately employing increasingly absurd tactics in an attempt to destroy the utility of rationality in order to salvage a god who, most Christians admit, would eternally torture all those who follow a nature they neither requested nor can avoid. Sye is a prominent promoter of a new tactic that attempts to wrest the right to rationality away from those rational enough to reject the bible myth by irrationally suggesting that, in the very use of rationality, those promoting rationality must acknowledge the god of the bible as the author of rationality.

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Obtaining Cheap Proofreaders

Most of you know I’m not much for detail. I tell my students they get extra credit if they correct my spelling and grammar mistakes since my mind is often attempting to process what I’ll be saying 5 minutes from the present while I write on the whiteboard.

Phil inattentive in a 1969 grammar class

Well, recently I’ve discovered a cheap way to get someone else willing to do my proofreading for free. I’ve been engaging a lot of individuals from a lot of diverse positions to collect less-than-rational arguments for a website I’ve been developing on logical fallacies. Two of these individuals were a couple of common theists.

Well, with these two theists I was much more successful than I anticipated. I collected more logical fallacies than I’d imagined could come from just 2 individuals, plus I got them so riled up that they found this site and began to scour it for errors. They found at least one.

They said something to the effect that you’d expect an English teacher not to have a glaring grammar error greeting everyone on his blog. I had written “a incurable” rather than “an incurable” in my opening post. I have to hang my head and agree.

Give credit where credit is due. Thanks guys. Please continue to read my posts and let me know my short-comings. It’s much appreciated.

Here’s to volunteer proofreaders.


An Apologist Named Vekl

With apologists like this working so hard to embarrass christianity, I think the future looks rather bright for reason. These are comments spawned by a Youtube video a christian named Vekl posted.


-phil

“…deserve hell for eternity” [a quote in Vekl’s video]
Absurd.

-vekl

“why do you say that it’s absurd? Do you think you deserve heaven for eternity?”

-phil

Vekl, consider carefully the illogic in your statement. Do you actually think not deserving hell implies deserving heaven? Now consider what makes christians, who presumably have the “spirit of truth”, blunder so badly on simple logical concepts.
There is no evidence of a spirit guiding you into truth. Don’t you think it is time for you to abandon the absurdity of your faith that condemns you to make such simple error in logic, and come to reason?

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Oxymoronic Christian Thinking?

In my most-read post entitled Reasons For My Deconversion, I claim that human minds are not well-equipped to assess what is true.

I recently had a christian who goes by the Youtube name anonazero point out the incoherency of this claim by sarcastically stating,

Yeah, that’s logically coherent. You say that we can’t know truth when you say that we are not equipped to asses what is true. If you can’t assess truth, you can’t know it.

This is a opportune case study in which we can explore the mind of a theist. We can, from this quote, extract 2 salient principles that may inform our understanding of christian illogic.

  • The Abuse of Terms

    Note that I said “not well-equipped” while our christian said I said “not equipped”. When I called him on this, he responded with the following.

    If I’m WELL-EQUIPPED to assess truth it is the exact same thing as being EQUIPPED to assess truth.

    This christian incredibly cannot distinguish between entailment and equivalency. His logic would require him to say…

    If I’m WELL-ENDOWED it is the exact same thing as being ENDOWED.

    While it would obviously be to the psychological advantage of someone poorly-yet-nonetheless endowed to adhere to this equivalency, an equivalency it is not. It is an entailment. And, as I need not tell those who have even modestly sought to remedy their poorly-equipped logical minds, non-tautological entailment is not bi-directional.

    Having 6 legs entails having legs, but having legs does not entail having 6 legs. Being well-trained entails being trained, but being trained does not entail being well-trained. Thinking well entails thinking, but thinking does not entail thinking well. Being well-equipped entails being equipped, but being equipped does not entail nor equal being well-equipped.
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Which Side Of Reality?

I recently received a note from a very nice Christian that contained the following.

No matter who has wronged you as a Christian or how God has disappointed you that you work so hard to explain Him away, He still loves you and wants to live with you forever. So do I!

Please forgive me for offending you.

I responded as follows.

No problem, ——.

I once said the very same things to others.

As you know, many gods have been explained into existence, and the christian god takes many forms in the imaginations of its emotionally needy constituents.

Pause to think about your motivations. Would you want to live in a world where there was no god? Do you want to live in an immoral world that has no moral accountability?

Your reactions to these questions are also based on the lies that you have been taught, coupled with your imagination and a lack of interest in empirical data.

Your entire concept of self and of others is informed by the bible and your emotionally based imagination.

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