Re: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science

From: <>
Date: Wed Oct 31 2007 - 01:49:28 EDT

It was I who brought up Romans 1:20 in the thread and I have to go with John

on this one, George.  I see Romans 1:20 as saying that God is reflected in his creation
(What has been made).

-Mike (Friend of ASA)



-----Original Message-----
From: John Walley <>
To: 'George Murphy' <>;
Sent: Tue, 30 Oct 2007 11:01 pm
Subject: RE: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science



Sorry for the delay in the response but I
wanted to get back to you on this. I remember your email on 23 October but then
as now I am not sure I am in agreement with you on the interpretation of Rom 1:20. 
That is an interesting perspective but I don’t see that as being
consistent with the rest of scripture.


There are many other scriptures that seem
to imply this same “idolatry” of natural theology. For instance, “The
fool has said in his heart there is no God”, “The heavens declare the
Glory of God” and God reveals His wrath against those “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” etc., etc.. To me, these all make clear that God’s
perspective on the default conclusion of natural revelation is that it leads to
Him. I don’t know where you get this idolatry twist.


This I would consider valid knowledge and
truth and therefore impertinent to surrender that in any debate with atheists. I
will concede that this is knowledge from a spiritual source ultimately but as
the above scriptures indicate, all the evidence leads to it and the only way to
avoid this conclusion is to willfully reject it and live in denial of it. But
however, keep in mind that the source of truth or knowledge in no way
disqualifies it from being so. For instance, a good example from the ID
literature is the discovery of the benzene ring which was the result of a






-----Original Message-----

[] On Behalf
Of George Murphy

Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007
4:15 PM

To: John Walley;

Subject: Re: [asa] D'Souza vs.
Hitchens - Surrending the debate epistemologically by subjecting revealed
knowledge to science


John -


In a post of 23 October I pointed
out some of the problems with the type of appeal to Rom.1:20 that you keep
trying to make.  In the real world in which all people are sinful, one can
speak of "knowledge" of God from creation only in an extremely
limited sense since the result of trying to develop such a knowledge from
observation of the world alone is inevitable idolatry.  That is Paul's
whole point in that passage & it's a serious mistake to try to make it
into an argument for natural revelation.


& in fact "the project of
natural theology" to which Groothuis refers is simply the project of
idolatry.  An attempt to base the claim that "there is a God" on
observations of nature may be just barely defensible, but any attempt to say
who or what God (which is what a "theology" will do) will always
produce some false god. 


Again, it's a quite different matter
to look at the natural world in the light of God's historical revelation which
is centered on Christ & to try to develop a "natural theology" as
part of explicitly Christian theology.  But that doesn't seem to be what
either Groothuis or you are talking about.  





----- Original Message -----

From: John Walley


Sent: Sunday,
October 28, 2007 3:50 AM

Subject: [asa]
D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate epistemologically by subjecting
revealed knowledge to science


Below is an excerpt of a blog
posting of a review of a recent debate between Dinesh D’Souza and
Christopher Hitchens at King’s College by philosopher and professor DOUGLAS GROOTHUIS.  


I am curious to get any comments
from the list on his observations because he charges Dinesh with selling the
farm ”epistemologically and apologetically” because he concedes
faith beliefs are not valid knowledge and knowledge can only be what is
empirically proven. This is very similar to the recent discussion on the
philosophical foundation from Rom. 20 of God having revealed real knowledge
(and not just faith) in his creation. And in fact from this scripture that says
that those that reject this knowledge are “without excuse”, it is
clear God considers this revealed knowledge to be valid and binding and
manifest to all and not some subjective idea that is subject to interpretation
or the approval of science.


I think Groothius may have
articulated it here better than I but I think we are in agreement that as soon
as we surrender this revealed “knowledge” as not being valid and
instead replacing it with only “science” then we have already lost
the debate. And this does appear to be the strategy of atheists and therefore
the danger in siding with them too strongly in their marginalizing the arguments
from ID.








Christianity and Atheism

Dinesh D'Souza (author of What's So Great About
Christianity) and Christopher Hitchens (author of God is Not Great)
recently debated
at King's College. I will not give a point by point commentary, but limit
myself to three comments, the first of which is the most important.

1. At 1.26 D'Souza completely sells the farm epistemologically and
apologetically--despite the many fine points he made throughout the debate. He
claims that his
religious belief is not knowledge. He does not know it
to be true; he only believes
it. In so doing, he seems to restrict knowledge to what is empirically
verifiable. But there is no reason to do. We know many things apart from
empirical evidence (such as basic moral claims). Moreover, we can infer the
existence the supernatural from the natural (the project of natural theology;
see In Defense of
Natural Theology, which I co-edited
and to which I contributed a chapter.) D'Souza goes on to say that while he leaps
toward God, Hitchens leaps toward atheism. I
groaned loudly to myself when I heard it (although my wife probably heard me).
Many in the crowd applauded.

This is tragic. We must enter the public square making knowledge claims,
not mere faith claims that are allowable, just as allowable as theism or some
other worldview. We need to try to out argue the opposition by marshalling the strongest possible
arguments for Christianity and against atheism. In fact, D'Souza gave some strong arguments
not adequately
rebutted by Hitchens by the time he sold the
farm. There was no need to do so; and in so doing, he sets a terrible example
for Christian persuasion in the public realm (despite the virtues he exhibited
in the debate).

2. The form of the debate was poor. Neither speaker has enough time for opening
comments or for rebuttal. The supposed "cross examination" devolved
into haranguing
at time, with the moderator (Marvin O'laski)
failing to intervene
to keep order. Serious debates should have strict rules.

3. Both speakers issued cheap shots by insulting the other speaker in ways not
required by their arguments. This may get applause, but makes no logical point.

Apparently, D'Souza has come to a more mature
Christian conviction recently. He is not known as a philosopher, but as a
social critic and political writer. I never detected an overt Christian
worldview in the several books I've read by him over the years. At that crucial
time of 1:26 this weakness showed. I have not yet finished his book, however.
Perhaps I'll say more then.



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Received on Wed Oct 31 01:50:54 2007

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