Let’s carry on with Jonathan Pearce (aka a Tippling Philosopher) and his review of God or Godless.
“The basis of Randal’s argument is the ontological argument. In other words, he has rational, epistemic right to believe that a maximal God exists.”
First off, I don’t have a single basis of argument. Second, the ontological argument isn’t a defense of the “rational, epistemic right to believe that a maximal God exists.” The ontological argument is, instead, the argument that if it is possible that God exists then God must exist. I am surprised and dismayed by such a sloppy and inaccurate presentation of argument.
“Due to humanity’s apparent stupidity (despite getting to grips with quantum mechanics and computers), we are unable to understand God’s reasoning, or our ignorance is necessary for some greater good, such that God fails to let us know why there are these apparent evils and sufferings in the world and within the biblical narrative.”
This is a complete strawman which complements nicely Jonathan’s bizarre description of the ontological argument.
“Randal, in this book, however, fails to ontologically establish God’s existence. It is an implicit given. And this does undermine his position. It is a problematic argument at best, otherwise every philosopher would be a theist. We are not. Therefore, it probably isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Let me note a few things here. First, regarding Jonathan’s claim that I “fail to ontologically establish God’s existence”, I presume Jonathan means here I failed to persuade him of God’s existence. But the failure to convince every reader isn’t a mark of failure since no arguments in philosophy convince every reader. You assess arguments based on plausible premises, valid logical form, and winsome presentation, and I’ve got all these virtues in spades :). And based on Jonathan’s distorted reconstruction of the debate it is little wonder he wasn’t convinced, since he apparently didn’t even understand the arguments he was reading.
When it comes to morally problematic depictions of Yahweh in the Old Testament Jonathan writes:
“Is Randal a Marcionite? A heretic who would drop the immoral Old Testament for its vengeful demiurge deity ruling parochial Israel with a vicious iron fist? He jumps from implying a maximal God to believing in Yahweh. But he only cherry-picks the good bits. Any bad bits are rejected as errant. So what epistemic right does he have to believe the good bits? Why are they more historically sound than the bad bits that John points out with aplomb? Double standards, methinks.”
Jonathan wears his ignorance of the history of hermeneutics on his sleeve in this passage. When that is combined with his fundamentalist “literal where possible” approach to reading the Bible, the predictable result is disaster. Keep in mind four things:
First, from the beginning the norming norm in Christian hermeneutics has been Jesus Christ. In other words, Christians read the Old Testament through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. One sees this, for example, in Christian interpretations of Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 53. I follow the same Christocentric hermeneutic here. For Jonathan to label such hermeneutical proposals as “Marcionite” simply shows his ignorance of hermeneutics.
Second, Christian hermeneutics has always accommodated a diversity of perspectives in interpreting morally problematic passages of Scripture. Typological, allegorical and anagogical proposals have often guided Christians in their readings of passages like Deuteronomy 20 and Joshua 6-11 and provided a way for them to reconcile these texts with faith in Messiah Jesus. Once again, my proposal fits well within this 1800+ year old tradition.
Third, general revelation and reason always inform one’s reading of scripture, and it is only the naïve Biblicist who thinks otherwise. That’s why, for example, most Christian theologians have believed God is atemporal and impassible. Moral knowledge and knowledge of God as that being than which none greater can be conceived thus informs my reading as well.
Fourth, John Loftus has no objective moral law on which to base his moral indignation at the text. Does Jonathan Pearce?