Are You SO dumb You Need the Bible to Tell You Right and Wrong?

Have you heard this argument before? I remember hearing Dan Barker ask Doug Wilson this question (the title of this article) years ago during a debate. It all popped into my head the other day while I was at work. The thesis of the debate was, “The Triune God of Scripture Lives.” I thought Doug, a presuppositionalist, really did a good job during that debate. You may disagree. It was funny to me because it seemd like Dan was ready to debate an evidentialist, and seemingly had all of his silver bullets in a row to shoot down each evidentialist argument. But Doug didn’t go there. You can listen to the full debate here.

After getting into a discussion of right and wrong, Doug answered Dan by saying, “I only know that it’s wrong because the Bible tells me.” That’s when Dan responded, “You mean you’re so dumb you need the Bible to tell you it’s wrong?” The crowd immediately began to applaud. Doug’s particular point there was that the Bible contains the law of God, telling us what is a sin and not a sin. It is objective. No guessing games. Apart from this, inclings of right and wrong that burst inside our minds from our consciences are purely subjective.The ironic thing about Dan’s response, and the crowd that subsequently cheered, was that they affirmed Doug’s whole stance in that debate.

Doug’s entire point in that debate boiled down to epistemology – which is a fancy word that means “how we know what we know.” Doug contended that we are each created in the image of God, with consciences that bear witness to the character of God. That is, that we employ logic and reason, morality, judgment, etc because that is what God is like. He is logic, He is the definition of good. These things don’t exist outside of Him. This is how we know what we know. The very fact that a materialist (someone who believes we are nothing but raw material) like Dan would say, “That’s wrong!” or “That’s not fair!” or “That’s good!” or “That makes no sense!” shows that he is created in the image of God. As Doug said in the debate, Dan has to borrow from our worldview to make his points. Transcendent attributes like logic and morality can not be accounted for in a worldview that proposes we are all raw material evolved from space dust. Dan could only define morality as “The avoidance of pain.” That may sound great for a moment, but anyone attempting to dive into that definition will soon find the pool has no water in it.

Next time someone is arguing against Christianity and says something akin to, “We don’t need the Bible to know right and wrong,” simply respond, “You’ve made my point. I know. We are created in the image of God.” This is why when we read God’s law, our consciences bear witness against us. The law gives strength to our sin, and easily shows us that we are sinful and in need of Christ’s forgiveness.

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10 thoughts on “Are You SO dumb You Need the Bible to Tell You Right and Wrong?”

  1. Let’s ignore for the moment that you seem to have no clue about morality (and thus don’t understand how Dan can define it), but simply concentrate on one fact:

    You only can define morality as “What’s written in this book.” and somehow want us to believe that this have more water in it? A random book? Even worse, a specific, random interpretation based on a specific, random translation of that book? Really? And you really think that THIS is somehow convincing as an argument?

    Honestly, I would take “Avoidance of pain” any time, at least that explains how you get to your morality. Simply doing what some iron age guys 2000 years ago thought was right sounds not really better than that.

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    1. Let me ask you, what standard are you drawing from to define which definition is more acceptable? I get that you think my ideas are archaic. Based on what standard? How do you even know? The avoidance of pain is an acceptable definition? What about molesting an infant? Is that wrong? The kid won’t know it, and pain doesn’t have to be involved. Is that moral?

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      1. We could now discuss specific questions of morality, but the basic problem is simple:

        I think, that today, morality is a very complex construct, born out of various different sources (biological, social, cultural, etc.). And thus, it’s Chaos. You could start defining morality by choosing basic premisses (whatever these may be) and build it around them.

        At the moment, you are trying to pull a fast one on me: Based on what standard? Mine. What do you base your morality on? Yours. Nothing more. The claim that your standard is somehow “absolute” doesn’t change a thing, because it’s just a claim. We both have a standard and the important point it not, if it’s absolute, but if other people agree. People agreeing doesn’t make it absolutely right – but enforceable.

        So, I only accept the obvious: If someone says “That’s evil.” then he obviously says “That’s evil – based on my standard.”. Only Christians (one some other believers) have the arrogance to claim “That’s absolutely evil!” without any proof for that.

        Morality is a human concept and thus not absolute. Knowing that, we can either continue living in an illusion that the rules of people 2.000 years ago were somehow “better” or start using our brains and see if we can’t do better. And, concerning slavery, forcing girls to marry their rapist, making rape of the wifes of your slain enemies ok, etc.etc. – WE DID.

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    2. You are saying that I am making absolute statements. And I am. But so are you. Listen to what you are typing. You can’t even get through the first sentence without absolute statements. The “basic problem”??? Why is it a problem? Like I mentioned in my article, it all goes back to epistemology.

      Okay, we can define morality with basic premises, but why? Who cares? Why does it even matter to raw material? Why not just do what we want?

      I’m not trying to pull a “fast one” on you. I asked you a legitimate question. You use your standard. But who are you? Why should we care what you have to say? You are just raw material and some chemical reaction in your brain, that is no different than digestion, doesn’t add importance to your words. As Dan Barker has said in the past, in the universe, you are no different than broccoli, man.

      My standard is the Bible. The Bible is self-authenticating. It says it’s the Word of God, and I believe it. That’s stupid and foolish to many people. But the Bible says it pleased God to use a foolish message to confound men who consider themselves wise. How everything we see, and the origin of things can not be answered by the things created. We only observe what is already here. A source outside of us, supernatural, can only tell us these things.

      Then you go on to say that Christians say absolute statements without proof. And there you are taking from my worldview again. “Proof”? How do you know that “proof” is a valid way of knowing something? Like Wilson said in the debate, “How do you know that proving something actually proves something?” Looking at evidence, judging it logically, reasoning over it, and then making a decision makes no sense given a naturalistic materialist worldview.

      How do you know morality is a human concept and not absolute? We can do it “better”? Who says it was worse? Who says what is better, man?

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      1. I do not make absolute statements, I just expected to find a human person here instead of someone who needs an explanation that most statements are, of course, subjective, unless specified otherwise.

        Your answer is simple: We care. Somehow our brains are wired to care (biological reasons, I already mentioned those). Reasons are various, self-preservation would be the most simple one, but of course, we also want to avoid pain, etc.etc. – so finding a moral system that gives us the biggest chances to make that happen is something we want. Why do we want it? Evolution.

        Why should you care? Because you have the same basic urges. To find such a system is our common goal. Of course, we might disagree on what this system actually looks like. If you didn’t want such a system, you wouldn’t look at the bible for it.

        And no, I am no different than broccoli – or rocks – to the universe. But I am different than broccoli to ME and to other people. That’s something Christians never seem to understand. The fact, that the universe itself doesn’t care doesn’t mean nobody cares.

        Your standard is a self-contradicting book that contains many passages that are considered evil by many people, even Christians themselves. Genocide is evil. Point. Only Christians then make an exception and say its ok when god does it. I don’t.

        And I know that proof proves something because logic tells me. Yes, you can TRY to argue, that logic could be totally wrong, but in doing so, you a) present yourself as a madman and b) invalidate your whole religion. If your argument was valid, you couldn’t say anything against this:

        Jesus was a cheesecake and Mary was from green.

        If we don’t agree that reason and logic makes sense, then you are obviously a very strange guy and I will not waste my time with you, sorry. So, by trying to pull of that nonsense, you are going the way to insanity. I will not follow you there.

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    3. I get it. You care. But there is no reason to care. It’s an illusion in your worldview. You are saying we evolved to care. But if there is no meaning out in the universe, how can there be any meaning to the individual? You care. Okay. But you are broccoli or a rock or a piece of wood. To you, there is no meaning in the universe, plain and simple. How you can somehow sever the individual from that makes no sense.

      Of course we look for a system. It’s because we are created in God’s image. We have internal morality. We know that there is a standard. We just can’t put our finger on it having been born in sin. We are just reaching in the dark otherwise. Playing guessing games.

      My standard is self-contradicting to people whose presuppositions are that the idea of the Christian God is stupid. Scripture says that the natural mind is hostile to God. It’s ironic that you are judging the Bible by your own standards of sanity and perfection – a standard which is subjective and arbitrary in your worldview. But this standard is something that comes from the fact that you are created in God’s image. Why the heck should broccoli or a rock even care about genocide? Isn’t it just “life”? Why does it matter to you?

      Let’s say you own a car, and it’s in your driveway. If I come by and begin to destroy it with a bat, I can easily be penalized for it – i.e. jail time, etc. It’s not my car. It’s not mine to destroy. Now, let’s say I’m standing outside and I see you destroying your own car in your driveway. If I call the cops, they’ll laugh at me. Why? Because it’s your property, and you are perfectly allowed to do what you want with your own property. Ironically, the God that made everything we see and don’t see isn’t allowed that same freedom.

      In fact, you want Him to be subject to His own law. He created the law. He is “ex lex.” You may hate that, and I’m sure you do. I don’t think logic is wrong. I think logic used incorrectly is wrong. Plenty of people think they are logical, although they are confined to an insane asylum. It doesn’t mean they are right just because they use “logic.” This is just a straw man here. No one is saying that logic is wrong to employ. Just wondering why a naturalistic materialist would live life constantly assuming regularity, constantly appealing to reason and logic. Logic presupposes many standards. The insane man TODAY that believes he killed Lincoln THEN presupposes things that we obviously wouldn’t.

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      1. You are mixing things wildly. Meaning doesn’t exist. You cannot touch it. Meaning is something that humans give things, like love. The universe doesn’t love you. The the universe, you are as important as broccoli. But that doesn’t mean that nothing loves you. Same with meaning: To the universe, you have no meaning. But that doesn’t mean that you haven’t meaning to anything (or better, anything).

        You call this “illusion”, I simply call it human. Meaning is something that our brain is able to create. To throw that away by claiming that only some kind of absolute meaning, given by a deity from the outside, is valid, makes no sense and is a deeply misanthropic world view.

        Claiming again? As long as you haven’t proved the existence of a god, trying to tell me that he created us in his image (shabby work, btw.) is simple, excuse the pun, meaningless. It’s a claim. Completely worthless. I could as well claim that we are figures in a computer game and search for the meaning because it’s our programming and the game is called “Search the meaning”.

        “Scripture says that the natural mind is hostile to God”? Scripture also says that you have to give me all your money and your wife (if she’s pretty). Not your scripture, obviously, but as you think some random writings should have influence on me, I expect a money order from you soon, thank you. Honestly, arguing with the bible to an atheist is really a waste of time. I do not believe it’s divine. It was written by humans. End of story. As long as it doesn’t contain things humans cannot have written, it will not convince me.

        Why does it matter to me? Because of what I think is right. Not absolutely right, the universe doesn’t care about genocide and will let a huge meteor drop on our heads as easily as let it fly by, but by my standards. I could now start why I think genocide is wrong, but that would be a long and pretty boring text, I assume, based on some premises that are, without a doubt, not absolute. But I accept that, while you point at your scripture, claim that it’s absolute and something think that this makes it true. At least, I don’t need to hate innocent people who didn’t harm anyone (and claim only to hate their sin, but proving myself a liar with my behavior) because of my standards.

        You are talking about God being not allowed that same freedom, which only shows your disregard of human life by comparing it to a car. Your example is flawed. If you went into your driveway and shot your children… To make it so simple that even you understand it: Humans are not cars. Humans are more than things – at least, to other humans. Even animals are not just things to us, so if you burnt your dog alive in the driveway, you would probably go to jail, too. So, even the ability to create life does not automatically imply the permission to kill it randomly, torture it, etc. On the contrary, it comes with responsibility. But that kind of double-think is a known truth about Christians: Their god is not a lover – he’s an abuser. Everything in that religion stinks of an abusive relationship… And as many abused people, Christians don’t even notice it and continue to defend him. The best thing that can be said about your god is… “He probably doesn’t exist.”

        But no, I don’t hate that. Why should I? Hating it would be like hating “Ronald McDonald invented the automobile.”. Doesn’t make sense, simply because it’s not true. I think it’s absurd that religion had 2.000 years and the best thing it managed was creating extremly complex concepts to hide the fact that it doesn’t have real proof.

        We simply have to agree that humans CAN find out things about the world, reality, etc. by the use of logic and reason and that the world is, basically, understandable. That doesn’t imply that we do understand everything now (or ever), but it does imply that the world is not somehow totally unknowable and just seems otherwise. If we cannot agree about that, no discussion makes any sense. And this is, why I trust reason and logic generally, even while knowing that my personal application of these concepts may be deeply flawed.

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  2. I think, that today, morality is a very complex construct, born out of various different sources (biological, social, cultural, etc.). And thus, it’s Chaos. You could start defining morality by choosing basic premisses (whatever these may be) and build it around them.

    So you think biology and society and culture are basic premises? Why isn’t morality also a basic premise? Why should I trust your claim that it’s not?

    You presuppose that morality is a complex standard constructed from basic standards. Aren’t you trying to pull a fast one here?

    Here’s a question for you. Right now you are detecting any number of at least five different physical sensations. How do you know which two or three to listen to and which three or four to ignore for the moment? How do you know the senses that you use to study an object at any given time are the right senses to use at that time?

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  3. The audience cheered. Yep, that doesn’t surprise me. Atheists are generally dumb. Who was it that pointed out that the Bible doesn’t say the wise man says in his heart there is no God?

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    1. Yes, reality is a democracy and the important question is who cheers instead of what arguments are sound. The imaginary people in your head you hear cheering are totally important for the question. And an ad hominem also is a very good way to present yourself as a rational person. Do you really believe all that nonsense?

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