Re: [asa] Creationists for genocide

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Sat Aug 25 2007 - 20:44:59 EDT

BTW, I forgot to ask: how does Avalos fit the Barmen Declaration -- one of
the greatest and bravest statements of Christian ethics in history -- and
the writings and martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
-- into his notion that Biblical ethics are equivalent to Naziism?
Curiously, he mentions neither.

On 8/25/07, Michael Roberts <michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk> wrote:
>
> Pim
>
> You are demonstrating a high level of vacuous thought here, which I
> haven't got time to respond to.
>
> Michael----- Original Message -----
>
> *From:* PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com>
> *To:* David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
> *Cc:* Michael Roberts <michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk> ;
> AmericanScientificAffiliation <asa@calvin.edu>
> *Sent:* Saturday, August 25, 2007 9:59 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Creationists for genocide
>
>
>
>
> 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-Judaism YES YES Homosexuality condemned YES YES Genealogical
> > purity demanded YES YES Life unequal in value YES YES Whole groups
> > devalued YES YES Genocide permissible YES YES
> >
> >
> > 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 20:45:41 2007

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