Greg Koukl has offered a response to Edward Feser’s critique of his 2 minute video on the Rebellion Thesis. You can read “Koukl Responds” here.
In turn, I posted a comment in response to Koukl’s essay which I have reposted below.
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It is difficult to know where to begin with Koukl’s comments. So let me begin with this: If you’re going to make sweeping moral indictments of an entire class of people, whether they be immigrants, women, Republicans, or atheists, you better be prepared to defend it. If you can’t defend it in a two minute video, perhaps you shouldn’t present it in a two minute video to begin with.
Second, Koukl’s reading of Romans 1:20 indicts countless Christians as well. In this verse Paul writes: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” If God’s invisible qualities are really always clear to all as Koukl apparently thinks, then why is it that so many Christians have deep struggles with doubting the goodness, and even the existence, of God. (In “Is the Atheist My Neighbor?” I provide the well known example of Mother Teresa, but of course there are countless others.)
The dilemma for Koukl is clear: if atheists are morally culpable for suppressing God’s revelation, the doubting Christian is as well. So if Koukl wants to retain this reading, then he can do so. But if he wants to be consistent, shouldn’t he start condemning Christians who doubt for willfully suppressing God’s revelation to them?
Third, if Koukl thinks empirical evidence can be disregarded in inferring truth claims from particular biblical verses, then why doesn’t he conclude that geocentrism is true based on Joshua 10:13? If, on the other hand, he thinks scientific evidence for heliocentrism is relevant to reading Joshua 10:13, why doesn’t he think the diversity of empirical evidence for belief and doubt is relevant when reading Romans 1?
Fourth, Koukl writes that doubting Christians like Emil (a hypothetical example I provide of a suffering, doubting Christian) and atheists “must account for the objective morality that was violated by the massacre, and no subjectivist account (biological or social) is going to be adequate.”
If I may be blunt, this comment seems pastorally tone deaf. Koukl thinks that people in the depth of agonizing pain and loss are obliged to think clearly about questions of moral ontology? Really?
Further, as regards moral ontology surely Koukl is aware that there are many atheists (e.g. Erik Wielenberg) who offer defenses of moral objectivism? If he wants to offer a rebuttal to Wielenberg’s work, he’s welcome to do so. But suggesting, as Koukl seems to be doing, that atheists only have moral subjectivism is uninformed at best.
Finally, Koukl closes by citing Psalm 14:1/53:1 in the apparent belief that these verses are directed at atheists. This is a lamentable instance of the old maxim: A text taken out of context is a pretext for a proof-text. For a rebuttal of this common abuse of this verse, please see my book “Is the Atheist My Neighbor?”