Re: [asa] Creationists for genocide

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Sat Aug 25 2007 - 17:30:56 EDT

Pim said: *adhominems such as 'no responsible Christian interpreter'.*

Um... how is that an ad hominem? It isn't directed at Avalos. It's a
statement of fact about how careful, reasonable, well-trained Christian
interpreters understand the text.

Pim said: *> Your doubt at most shows the weakness of your argument not
that of Avalos's.
*
Well, I cited a lengthy contemporary book on the relationship between law
and gospel. What does Avalos cite to justify his understanding of his one
Pauline proof text? Nothing.

BTW, Pim, what's your understanding of the relationship between law and
gospel? Which of the various Christian approaches to intepreting this do
you prefer? Surely, as a Christian, you don't actually agree with Avalos
that the Christian scriptures concerning the relationship between law and
gospel really do intend to teach relativism -- do you?

Pim said: * > Why should the creationist be contemporary when Avalos's
argument is that this kind of thought predates Darwinism?
*
This is one of the reasons the article is a confusing muddle. Is he
critiquing contemporary "scientific" creationism, or the notion of a creator
in general? I actually think you're right, and that Avalos is after the
latter. Which leads me to ask: as a Christian, Pim, you do believe in a
creator, don't you? How does your version of "creationism" -- because
according to Avalos you're a "creationist," no less than Ken Ham, if you
believe in a creator at all -- answer Avalos' objections?

As to my so-called strawmen, they aren't made of straw at all. Avalos
indeed is attacking any belief in a creator and any belief in an
afterlife. Moreover, he is indeed attacking Judaism as well as
Christianity, and he is indeed equating Jewish belief with Nazism. There
simply is no getting around this if you actually follow Avalos'
argument. And that argument is completely consistent with contemporary
atheistic fundamentalism, which views all religion as a disease of the mind.

Pim said: *There is quite an extensive scientific literature on the concept
of ethics, ignoring this is just irresponsible.
*
There is a literature on the basis for ethical impulses in biochemistry and
evolution, as I noted. But, there is no such thing as "scientific
ethics." All ethical systems devised to date incorporate some normative
judgments that can't be answered by natural science.

Pim said: *Nothing to say about Luther's statement? I wonder why?*

Like just about all Christians today, I deplore Luther's statements about
the Jewish people. Which makes Avalos' reference to them all the more
frustrating. No one, outside a lunatic fringe, argues that Luther was right
about the Jewish people. Talk about a straw man...

Pim said: *Avalos's argument is about the flaws in Weikart's arguments but
somehow David seems to know better. Fascinating...*

You don't seriously contend that the article you cited is merely critiquing
Weikart's connection between Darwinism and Nazism, do you? What on earth
would that have to do with the Old Testament and Martin Luther? I mean,
come on -- talk about "fascinating...." Right or wrong, Avalos is obviously
doing much more than just critiqing Weikart.

On 8/25/07, PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> On 8/25/07, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Thanks for giving the link. It demonstrates that Avalos doesn't
understand Christian ethics or Christian history -- or for that matter,
ethics and history in general.
> >
> > For example, Avalos says this:
> >
> >
> > Christianity is actually founded on moral relativism that is even more
chaotic than secular systems of ethics. Ephesians 2:15 tells us this about
what Christ did to the Law of Moses: "by abolishing in his flesh the law of
commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in
place of the two, so making peace." In fact, from a traditional Jewish
viewpoint, Christianity is founded on systematically destroying God's laws
as revealed to Moses, and so speaking of a Judeo-Christian tradition is also
akin to speaking of a Capitalist-Marxist tradition.
> >
> > If Avalos weren't so serious about this, it would almost be amusing that
he engages in the same sort of willy-nilly proof-texting as religious
fundamentalists. There are many ways to understand the relationship between
the Gospel and the Law, but no responsible Christian interpreter is as
antinomian as Avalos is here. At the very least, Avalos seems to be
ignorant of the many rich streams of Christian thought that wrestle with the
Gospel-Law relationship in ways that are not in any sense relativistic or
antinomian. I wonder, for example, if Avalos has read Frank Thielman's
recent study "Paul and the Law" ( http://tinyurl.com/2jgm7k). Indeed, I
wonder if Avalos is aware of the depth of the entire Christian tradition on
the Gospel-Law relationship. Somehow, I doubt it.
>
>
> Your doubt at most shows the weakness of your argument not that of
Avalos's. I find it fascinating how people tend to respond to criticism by
resorting to the adhominems such as 'no responsible Christian interpreter'.
>
>
>
> >
> > This is only one of the many clunkers and recycled chestnuts in Avalos'
article. As another example, he picks on R.A. Torrey -- who is not even a
contemporary creationist of the sort Avalos supposedly is doing battle --
for the following statement:
>
>
>
> Why should the creationist be contemporary when Avalos's argument is that
this kind of thought predates Darwinism?
>
>
> >
> >
> >
> > Even today I could almost wish that all the babies born into families of
wicked influence might be slain in infancy, were it not for the hope that
some concerned Christian will carry to them the saving gospel of the Son of
God.
> > In context, Torrey is trying to understand the OT's "holy war" passages,
and is suggesting that perhaps in some sense it was better for some of the
Canaanite infants to die young rather than to be raised in a context in
which they would surely have worshipped Baal. We can reasonably debate
whether Torrey's approach to these passages is a good one, but notice that,
contrary to Avalos' argument, Torrey is not in any way advocating abortion,
infanticide, or genocide. Even the out-of-context- quote Avalos provides
makes clear that Torrey is not advocating infanticide, but rather is
expressing the hope that concerned Christians will share the gospel with
everyone.
>
>
> Aha, surely your accusation of out of context quote fails since it is, as
you state, not out of context. Furthermore, a more careful reading of what
Avalos wrote shows that he refers to Torrey as a 'defender' of the kind of
genocide found in these examples.
>
>
> >
> > Moreover, none of this has anything at all to do with Torrey's views
about creation. What Avalos is really arguing here is that any view that
incorporates the perspective of an afterlife is morally abominable. This,
again, is an
>
>
> You seem to be missing Avalos's argument then. Love those strawmen...
>
> >
> > old atheist chestnut -- the promise and/or threat of an afterlife makes
people less attentive to things in this life, less sensitive to suffering,
etc. And again, it's a fundamentalist-style argument that relies on
extremes. True, some people who believe in an afterlife use that belief to
justify or support evil actions. But, as an empirical matter, it simply
isn't true that all, most, or even an appreciable percentage of the
afterlife-believing population do anything of the sort. Indeed, the
evidence might suggest that belief in an afterlife can encourage people to
act more compassionately in this life. And of course, many, many atrocities
have been perpetrated by people who believed their actions in this life
carry no repurcussions for them beyond the grave.
>
>
>
> And yet we see how Avalos is documenting a Christian thought process which
if not condones, surely understands the concept of genocide and how these
thoughts precede Darwinian theory.
>
>
> >
> > As one last example of Avalos' embarassingly shallow treatment, take a
look at the summary tables at the end of his article. Avalos compares Nazi
ideology and the Bible as follows:
> >
> >
> >
> > Nazi Ideology
> > Anti-JudaismYESYES
> > Homosexuality condemnedYESYES
> > Genealogical purity demandedYESYES
> > Life unequal in valueYESYES
> > Whole groups devaluedYESYES
> > Genocide permissibleYESYES
> >
> >
> > He claims this table applies not only to the holy war passages in the
OT, but to the whole Bible, including the NT. Of course, he makes no effort
at all to understand how Jews and Christians actually read and understand
scripture. His is a kind of cherry-picking literalism that not even the
most fundamentalist of Christian exegetes would employ. With regard to the
Christian understanding of the Bilbe, he completely ignores the primacy of
the Cross, and he seems blind to the socially leveling influence that
Christianity has actually had in history.
>
>
>
> So he ignores thing although he is right to point out these similarities?
Surely analogies do end at a certain level, but this is in response to the
somewhat irresponsible arguments by Weikart. All Avalos is doing is showing
how genocide and Christian and Judean thought on these matters precedes
Darwinism.
>
>
> >
> > With regard to the Jewish understanding of the Bible, one can only
describe Avalos' tables as alternating between incoherent and anti-semitic.
Let's be clear about what Avalos is saying concerning the Jewish scriptures
and, by implication, the Jewish tradition that is based on those
scriptures: he is arguing that Judaism is equivalent to Nazism! Let that
really sink in if you are at all tempted to think Avalos' approach here is
reasonable.
>
>
> Love them strawmen. Accuse Avalos of anti-semitism, surely that's going to
make his arguments go away. Never mind whether or not there is some level
of veracity to Avalos's arguments... It's much simpler to make it go away by
distracting from his arguments.
>
>
> >
> > Avalos' concluding paragraph is a fitting summary for this mess of an
essay. He says:
> >
> >
> > Creationist ethics are based on the whims and claims of people who tell
us they know what God wants. Scientific ethics, as imperfect as they may be,
at least can demand verifiable evidence that violence in self-defense is
necessary. Theistic violence, on the other hand, often relies on the
unverifiable belief that a supernatural being said we had to sacrifice human
life.
> >
> > It's hard to know where to begin with a passage like this. Avalos seems
to equate "creationist ethics" with some radical form of divine command
theory tied to an even more radical interpretive framework that would allow
for random prophetic utterances without any normative framework. Once
again, Avalos displays his ignorance of the variations of religious ethics,
which often incorporate at least some limited type of natural theology in
addition to the divine command. Avalos further ignores the idea that the
divine command itself, in the Christian tradition, is not given at the whims
of some people at any point in history, but is normed by the commands and
actions of Christ -- in particular by the Cross -- and by the canonical
scriptures.
> >
> > Avalos' notion of "scientific ethics" in this concluding paragraph is
equally baffling. There is no serious, sustained school of thought
concerning "scientific ethics." There are some interesting, recent
proposals concerning how evolution might have conditioned ethical thinking,
but no ethicists, religious or secular, outside of perhaps a very small
minority of die-hard reductionistic materialists, conceive of ethics as a
science of the same sort as, say, physics or microbiology.
>
>
> Another nice non sequitur. Whether or not the science of ethics is of the
same level as say physics, is irrelevant. There is quite an extensive
scientific literature on the concept of ethics, ignoring this is just
irresponsible.
>
>
> >
> > In fact, if Avalos' notion of "scientific ethics" is correct, then not
only religious ethics, but every system of ethics employed by all people
throughout all of human history must be scrapped. Not just divine command
theory and natural law ethics, but also eudaimonistic virtue ethics,
consequentialism, and social contract theory must go by the boards, because
all of them involve normative judgments that are not reducible to
falsificationist "science."
>
>
>
> I love these strawmen...
>
>
> >
> > And that, at the end of the day, is Avalos' real argument -- an argument
in favor of a reductionistic materialism and against anything that stands in
its way.
>
>
>
> Yes, let's redefine his argument in the same manner Avalos shows how
creationists get to redefine the interpretation of 'ethics' and avoid having
to deal with Avalos's arguments.
>
> Nothing to say about Luther's statement? I wonder why?
>
> Avalos's argument is about the flaws in Weikart's arguments but somehow
David seems to know better. Fascinating...
>
>
>
> >
> >
> > On 8/25/07, PvM < pvm.pandas@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Aha, I notice that I forgot to add the link to the complete article.
> > > What I posted was just the introduction
> > >
> > > http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Genocide.cfm
> > >
> > > I apologize for the omission
> > >
> > > On 8/25/07, PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com > wrote:
> > > > I was somewhat surprised to read about the seven steps by Luther.
> > > > Furthermore, David's response seems to do a disservice to Avalos's
> > > > arguments. Is ad hominem the only response possible here?
> > > >
> > > > On 8/25/07, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > > It seems to me that Avalos and his other atheist fundamentalists
are
> > > > > out-fundamentalist-ing the religious fundamentalists. Apparently,
anyone
> > > > > who rejects the Dawkins line that God as portrayed in the OT is
merely
> > > > > petty, mean, etc., must be a supporter of genocide. Rubbish.
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > On 8/25/07, Michael Roberts < michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk>
wrote:
> > > > > > A quickie response.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > I have never been impressed with the alleged bloodline running
from Darwin
> > > > > > to Hitler, and from what I have picked up about Wiekart I am not
> > > > > impressed.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Historical attitudes by Christians to others over history have
often been
> > > > > > wicked eg Luther on Jews and many others.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > However a quick look at Avalos indicates an equally unimpressive
argument.
> > > > > > To say Torrey (a TE not a creationist) Safarti and Craig support
genocide
> > > > > > is not accurate as they were seeking to understand the OT.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > I haven't time to do more.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Michael
> > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > > > > From: "PvM" <pvm.pandas@gmail.com >
> > > > > > To: "AmericanScientificAffiliation" < asa@calvin.edu >
> > > > > > Sent: Saturday, August 25, 2007 6:01 AM
> > > > > > Subject: [asa] Creationists for genocide
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > > > Professor Hector Avalos, Professor of Religious Studies at
Iowa State
> > > > > > > University has recently finished "Creationists for genocide"
which
> > > > > > > explores the link between ethics, the holocaust, Darwinism and
Luther.
> > > > > > > An interesting reading with some challenging positions.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > <quote>
> > > > > > > One understands nothing about creationism unless one
understands that
> > > > > > > it is meant to be a system of ethics. That is why the assault
on
> > > > > > > evolution has always included a lengthy history of moral
judgments
> > > > > > > against evolution. Perhaps none of these judgments has been
more
> > > > > > > accusatory than the idea that Darwinism led to the Holocaust.
Such an
> > > > > > > idea is trumpeted in many creationist venues, including books
and
> > > > > > > blogs. A prime example of this accusation today is found in
Richard
> > > > > > > Weikart's From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics,
Eugenics, and
> > > > > > > Racism in Germany (2004).[1] Weikart is a member of the
Discovery
> > > > > > > Institute who has devoted his career to elucidating the
supposed
> > > > > > > immoral consequences of evolution.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > For Weikart, the materialistic basis of evolutionary theory is
> > > > > > > responsible for the devaluation of human life in general. In
> > > > > > > particular, the idea of the survival of the fittest leads to
the
> > > > > > > devaluation or extermination of those considered "unfit" in
society.
> > > > > > > Death becomes a good thing insofar as it helps the species rid
itself
> > > > > > > of unfit organisms. The principal goal of all such
anti-evolutionary
> > > > > > > moral arguments is to show that creationism, especially in its
> > > > > > > Judeo-Christian form, is a superior moral system.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > Aside from exposing the historical flaws found in the work of
Weikart,
> > > > > > > this essay demonstrates that the defense of genocide,
infanticide and
> > > > > > > "eugenics" by creationists actually has a very venerable and
lengthy
> > > > > > > tradition that precedes Darwin. In fact, the most blatant
defenses of
> > > > > > > genocide ever penned are still to be found among creationists.
Some of
> > > > > > > these defenders of genocide include Reuben A. Torrey, the
famed
> > > > > > > fundamentalist apologist, William Lane Craig, Jonathan
Sarfati, an
> > > > > > > Australian Young-Earth creationist with a Ph.D. in chemistry,
and
> > > > > > > Glenn Miller, an American business executive who fancies
himself to be
> > > > > > > a biblical scholar.[2]
> > > > > > > </quote>
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
> > > > > > > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
> > > > > > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> > > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > >
> > >
> >
> >
>
>

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Received on Sat Aug 25 17:31:38 2007

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