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Monday, November 1, 2010

Did Adam and Eve have a Free Will?

The Free Will Defense for the problem of evil really relates only to Adam and Eve; because the Bible teaches that after the fall of the original couple, men's hearts incline towards evil. Man's nature post-fall is corrupt and is bent in the direction of doing evil. Man is totally depraved, meaning that left to himself, he will choose against God. So, according to historic Christianity, the only persons who were truly free were Adam and Eve. That means that the so-called Free Will Defense employed by Christian apologists really only applies to the original couple.

But were they even truly free? What precisely does it mean to have a truly free will? Does it mean that nothing is causing you to choose one option over another or does it mean that nothing is influencing you to choose one option over another? It seems that it must be the former, since it seems impossible for one to make any choice without being influenced by something.  But is a will that is influenced, truly free?

I guess the question becomes how much influence is required before one is no longer culpable for his choice? In the criminal justice system, the defense of entrapment can be used by someone who believes that he was "improperly induced" into committing a crime. While this area of the law is complex and somewhat subjective (see Criminal Law , Thomas J. Gardner and Terry M. Anderson, [10th ed., 2009], 146-49 and Criminal Law,  David C. Brody, James R. Acker, and Wayne A. Logan [2001],  313-14), it is agreed that the defendant must have had a predisposition to commit the crime before he encountered the undercover officer in order to avoid the charge of entrapment. In other words, to prove the entrapment defense, you have to show that the crime is one that you would not have committed and that you had no predisposition to commit without the inducement of an undercover agent. Police cannot select random citizens to participate in organized sting operations in hopes of generating an arrest. There must be some compelling evidence that a specific individual has a propensity for committing such a crime.

So, in a sting operation, a person is put in circumstances which allows him to reveal his true nature or character, and predispositions. Thus, unless Adam was entrapped, he already had a predisposition to disobey God and eat the fruit. That would mean his nature was already corrupt before he fell (Jesus says that the desire to do something wrong is just as evil as the act itself, see Matt. 5:27-28). It seems therefore that God must have created Adam this way. God created him with a predisposition to commit evil. If Adam had no predispostion to commit the crime of eating the fruit and the snake convinced him to do so, that would be entrapment according to western jurisprudence.

Since one's will (i.e., what one chooses) is based on one's nature (i.e., what one is), it doesn't seem plausible to me that Adam had a truly free will. He was predisposed to disobey God from the moment he was created because he was created with such a nature (see next post).

So much for the Free Will Defense, as the fact is no one, not even the first couple (assuming they really existed) had a genuinely free will.


  1. Goodbye Dr Pulliam. Your pitiful arguments against Christianity will be missed. I pity you greatly.


  2. You are a very small man, Rhology. Very small.

  3. Rhology reminds me of the last few years of my own Christian life when I was clawing to hang onto my beliefs in the face of overwhelmingly contrary evidence. People desperate in that way often see the need to go "over the top," more to convince themselves than anyone else.

  4. Rhology, how Christ-like of you to take pleasure in the death of another human being. I can tell that you truly are filled with the holy spirit. :-(

    In all seriousness, you are just yet another confirmation that Christians are no different thatn the "world" they detest, and ofter are actually worse.

  5. Hey Rhology I read this at the top of your blog. What you wrote today in the comment section does not glorify your god and was unacceptable. "Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:11)

  6. cerbaz,

    What makes you say that?

  7. Mike,

    You've nailed it. If you're born an asshole, you'll be an asshole, regardless of any religious beliefs. All relgion tends to do is amplify, excuse and sometimes empower ass-holyness. Rho's actions repeatedly show that he doesn't really believe that the Bible is the absolute truth. It has no real impact on who he fundamentally is.

  8. Rhology appears to be a Calvinist. They're the primary group of Christians who will refer to Catholics as "Romanists". Thus, I would expect him to behave like an asshole. Their disgusting theology enables their superciliousness.

  9. @chrisnu - I doubt that Rhoblogy is Calvinist, since he/she says of Ken, "The Lord will judge him by his works".

    My quick scan of his blog post suggests that he is a mentally unstable person who has invented his own theology and is ghoulishly using a gracious person's death to try to draw attention to himself.

  10. JS Allen,

    I'm a Calvinist. Calvinist theology teaches that the unregenerate are judged by their works whereas the regenerate are judged by Christ's works.
    Boy, ignorance all around today!
    And I love how you feel free to ascribe mental instability to me whereas nobody has yet explained why my comment was so bad. Y'alls' behavior is fulfilling my every expectation, to be honest.


  11. Someone dies. You want to talk about the potential suffering of the deceased. We know that you take pleasure in talking about the potential suffering of the deceased. Get it?

    Yeah, you can deny that you take pleasure, but no one is going to believe you.

  12. And I love how you feel free to ascribe mental instability to me whereas nobody has yet explained why my comment was so bad.

    Because only a horribly petty person would choose to take the opportunity to get in a final shot at a man who just died unexpectedly, leaving behind family, friends, and loved ones who are grieving?

    Because your horrid version of religion has so blinded you to simple, human decency that the rest of us can't help but be baffled at the sort of mindset that this has created and can't believe that you would actually believe we're looking at your pettiness and thinking, "Yes, I want that in my life, too?

    Because Calvinism isn't actually concerned with works, but does depend on a belief that humans are all irredeemably depraved, but only those in the Elect can be saved. So works aren't really an issue and anyone who claims to be a Calvinist but worries about works can't possibly know what they're talking about.

    Primarily, though, everyone thinks you're unhinged and mentally unstable because you have never in the course of your time commenting on this blog done or said anything to convince us otherwise. You have your own bizarre interpretation of Christianity which is unfamiliar to Christians and non-Christians alike. You're wrong about pretty much everything on a regular basis, but rather than educate yourself you choose to belittle everyone else and argue by mere assertion.

    And while I'm sure we've all written you off as witless and a waste of space, there has always been the merest glimmer of a possibility that you possess redeeming human characteristics. Now, finally, you have proven anyone who believed such a thing wrong.

    You, sir, are a horrible human being. Sadly, you also think you're better than all of us because you believe you possess some sort of eternal truth. But if you actually do speak for some sort of god, that god proves its own unworthiness through its poor choice of a spokesperson.

  13. Geds, we've talked before. You're an atheist, but you've never bothered to defend your moral outlook. I'll assume you hold to evolutionary ethics, but correct me if I'm wrong. Or perhaps you hold to intuition as morality. In that case, let's say I intuit that everythg you've said here is actually idiocy and morally horrific.
    Look past your whining and emotion for a moment, if you can. Where is the actual violation here? All you're giving me is that it makes YOU sad. So what? You're going to die too, and so am I, and if your view of the world is true, none of this will matter. So why make such a ruckus?
    How do you know I'm a horrible person? I guess if I pity someone, you just somehow INTUIT it, right? Did you read my mind? My life?
    Your double standard is amazing. You're lucky you probably only use such kinds of bad reasoning on the blogosphere. If you did so in real life, you'd've been run over by a truck by now.

    I can tell you that God is not particularly concerned with your emoting about how "unworthy" He is. Why not get over yourself a bit?

  14. "I can tell you that God is not particularly concerned with your emoting about how "unworthy" He is."

    Rho, you don't have a freakin' clue about what any god is or is not concerned with. And that's the basic problem. So, I think that the one who needs to get over himself is you.

  15. Ken,

    Since total depravity is a Calvinist doctrine which is rejected by the majority of Christian traditions, your description doesn’t seem applicable, let alone apt.

    Second, Plantinga’s FWD turns on the notion of transworld depravity in large measure. That notion is that no matter which of the logically possible worlds that God could bring about, it would be the case that someone would misuse their freedom. So no, it doesn’t apply to Adam and Eve alone. I’d suggest actually reading Plantinga’s FWD, via the short version in his God, Freedom and Evil because what you've described hear pretty much leaves his argument intact.

    If you want a philosophical explication of libertarian free will, I’d recommend reading say Kane’s, The Significance of Free Will. It is a standard work in contemporary Libertarianism.

    Libertarianism doesn’t reject the notion of antecedent causation moving an agent. It rejects sufficient antecedent causation. So antecedent causes can be contributing causes, but not sufficient of themselves to fully explain the agent’s actions.

    Character may limit accessible options for an agent but it doesn’t determine them. Further, not all Christian traditions take Adam to have been fully formed in a virtuous character. The Orthodox don’t. So your argument won’t work in terms of being applicable to Christianity per se.

  16. See, here's the problem, Rhology. We have talked. I have defended my moral outlook.

    And you haven't bothered to listen. Period. Full stop. As such, you're not worth any further conversation on the subject.

    Especially since you have, once and for all, proven you're a despicable human being. Please, though, feel free to go feel superior to everyone who isn't you. I mean, you will and I have neither the urge nor the power to deny that to you.

    Just know that you're doing no favors to yourself or anyone else who professes a belief in Christianity through your batshit views on Christianity, humanity, or the appropriateness of gloating over the death of a man who never once harmed you in any way, shape, or form.

  17. My heart hurts today as it would for a family member or dear friend. I'm a little surprised at this, but it shows how valuable Ken's blog has been.

    Dr. Pulliam's blog was illuminating. He began a book and I hope that someone will find a way to put it together and publish it.

  18. o everyone bitching...
    I found this blog about a month ago and was extremely relieved to have found it at all. Though I haven't followed it very long It was nice to see that other people have the same feeling towards religion as me and that some were brave enough to post them in a crazy ass world where someone HAS TO BE RIGHT every single time he/she opens his/her mouth. So instead of taking cheap shots at each other lets just think about and mourn the guy who gave us things to argue about in the first place.
    Good Luck Ken where ever you maybe...

  19. Rhology's extreme devotion has made him totally oblivious to the idea that openly mocking a deceased person on that person's website, where family and close friends visit, is an unbelievably disgusting act. Are you aware that Ken's wife and kids have probably read this thread? Have some damn sensitivity for goodness sakes! Rhology, is your disgusting conduct the work of God and calvinism in your life? If so, no wonder many people don't want to follow your God and adhere to your calvinistic belief system. Once again, you confirm that most calvinists are complete douchebags!

    For all your claims to believe in the right doctrine, it sure hasn't done you a whole lot of good.

  20. I totally agree with Mike,and my thoughts are with the family of Ken.

    Its a extremely sad thing that such nastiness exists in this world, that even in death it doesnt help to soften certain peoples hearts enough,for them to be able to at least stop and show a little humility and respect for those passed away from this world, and to specially turn their thoughts to think of their loved ones living who suffer the heartbreak in this moment, while needing to deal with the sad situation they face.I just truly hope that this nasty thoughtless type of comment doesnt upset Kens family to much, and make dealing with this situation harder than it already is.I hope they understand that this is but a sign of part of the septic nasty arrogance and uncaring nature of the type of attitude that exist within some circles of faith,and i`d say is part of the reason for Kens blog existing in the first place.

    And i just hope they can look past it to see that thankfully not all faithful folk stoop to these type of lowest of low levels in times like these.And i plead with other faithful to at least show some humility and decency even if they disagree with Kens thoughts, and i personally thank those who do.

  21. All these atheists on their high horses! Who named you the Popes of Morality? Just a bunch of emoting and frothing at the mouth. Nobody has even tried to answer my questions.

    Anyway, I'd be interested in knowing who has the courage of their convictions in using the same vitriolic language of Christopher Hitchens that you have of me. Let's see where your hearts really are.

  22. @Hacksaw Duck - Now I can understand where you and Walter were coming from when you talked about "Calvinism"; considering the self-anointed representatives you were dealing with.

    No point in feeding the trolls.

  23. Yeah, when was the last time an atheist took Hitch to task for speaking ill of the dead. Seems the "moral outrage" among the internet infidel crowd is contingent on who is doing the ill speaking.

  24. Rhyology,

    Hitchens used vitriol to criticize Falwell's deleterious beliefs, words, and actions: beliefs, words, and actions that continue to have real-life ill effects on countless people in the form of bigotry and oppression. Do you care to make similar criticisms of Ken Pulliam here? Let's hear them, big shot. We're waiting.

    And please stop imposing your existential insecurity on atheists, who imbue their own lives with meaning and purpose (and acknowledge the human origin of morality) rather than relying upon an unwarranted belief in a dictatorial, sadistic (and masochistic), whimsical deity for these things. Please stop projecting.

  25. bossmanham said... "Yeah, when was the last time an atheist took Hitch to task for speaking ill of the dead. Seems the "moral outrage" among the internet infidel crowd is contingent on who is doing the ill speaking."

    Right on key rhology & bossmanham drag out the old tried and trusted lowly inmmature kindergarten playground tit-for-tat argument. A childrens plee that maybe two wrongs somehow make something right and justice.Which some would say maybe even seems to fit in extremely well with bossmanhams-rhology idea of God who it seems thought it fit he should feel need to eternally blame his children for having inperfections.

    These sad men bossmanham and ralogy seem torn between following the God of old testament and Jesus.Like many who try following these faith beliefs while trying to connect all the dots together which were written by men, they become so very lost, it seems they get to a stage whereby they dont really know quite who or what they should actually be anymore ,Arthur ? or Martha ? ,man ? or rat??

  26. Sigh. The Tu Quoque, also known as one of the lowest forms of rhetoric.

    Allow me to explain something, here. Several somethings, actually:

    1. Christopher Hitchens is not here. None of us are Hitchens, nor do we have his ear. Ergo, none of us is responsible for the words Hitchens chose to use.

    2. Christopher Hitchens is a high profile member of the atheist community, yet that does not mean he speaks for everyone in the atheist community. It also does not mean that we have to have a lock-step agreement with him.

    3. I, personally, found Jerry Falwell's opinions and the way he used his self-created bully pulpit to create a false narrative in the public odious. However, I also find the way Hitchens spoke so cavalierly about his death in the introduction to that particular article to be more than a bit beyond the pale. Unfortunately there are people who have built a public persona around their own terrible beliefs and it is extremely difficult to discern the difference between an odious collection of beliefs and an odious person. I despised Jerry Falwell when I was an Evangelical Christian. I despised Jerry Falwell when I stopped being a Christian. I still despise the way he so gleefully ruined public discourse in the United States of America and undoubtedly died with a smug sense of accomplishment.

    4. Ken Pulliam was no Jerry Falwell. To draw a parallel between the two according to word, deed, or public impact is the height of folly and false equivalence. While you may have found his opinions odious, he was nothing if not generous, patient, and unwilling to allow his sphere of influence to devolve in to pettiness and name calling.

    5. Even at that, what Hitchens said doesn't matter. I refer you, again, to point number 1.

    No one here is Christopher Hitchens. No one here is responsible for Christopher Hitchens. We are not and cannot be our brother's keeper, so to speak.

    We are, quite literally, saying that you, Rhology, have shown yourself to be a fool and a jerk through your own words and actions.

    Those of us who are asking for civility are not demanding Rhology apologize for someone else, however. We are not asking that Rhology atone for the poor decisions and poorly chosen words of a third-party individual who who he has no control over.

    Most of us here only knew Ken through this blog. Yet I am sure I am not alone in mourning his passing. Because all signs point to the simple fact that he was a good and decent man who was only interested in fostering dialogue and attempting to make the world a better place in what small ways he could manage.

    Similarly, most of us here only know you, Rhology, through this blog. That means that you will soon have to find some other blog to pollute with your blatherings. Chances are good that it means I won't run in to you quite as often. I will not feel bad about that.

  27. Geds, it's not tu Quoque to point out inconsistency. I'm not saying Rho is right because Hitch did it too, I'm seriously wondering why there's such a double standard.

  28. @ J.S. Allen. Thanks. I've appreciated your respectful comments here about Ken.

    @ Bossmanham. If Hitchens or anyone (regardless of creed) expressed an uncharitable smugness about someone's death as I've seen expressed by unkind souls today -- the worst being at Triablogue -- I would hope we'd all revile that person. I certainly would, without hesitation.

  29. I'm seriously wondering why there's such a double standard.

    Because you're expecting everyone here at this board to speak against Hitchens, perhaps? I disagree with Hitchens about any number of things and I would not have written what he did about Falwell in the first couple paragraphs of that Slate article. But that article was written three years ago and I have no control over it.

    Rhology is saying hateful things right now and acting like his straw atheists not jumping up to shout Hitchens down matters. It is immaterial.

    I can't tell Hitchens to un-say anything. But Rhology can sure as hell apologize for being a petty asshole. If you can't see that, then you're wasting everyone's time just as much as he is.

    And, for the love of crap, it is a Tu Quoque. It's the very definition of Tu Quoque. At least, I read it as you saying the Rhology was a-ok in doing what he's doing simply because the "internet infidel crowd" does it, too.

  30. I will deeply miss Ken. We've been friends for 20 years despite our differences. My prayers go out for Cheryl, Thomas and Tiffany.

  31. All my best to the family of Ken at this difficult time.

  32. I am sad to hear of Ken's passing. His rock solid disproofs of Penal Substitutionary Atonement are not just for atheists but for all who hate the evil that is Calvinism. He will be missed. And if there is any comfort to be had in death, it is that God does judge us by our works, not Adam's, not any ancestor's, but by our own only and only in proportion.

    Now, someone else has to take up the eternal conflict against the evils of Calvinism, and know someone will, which is why Rhology is quaking in his high heels and his wife's dress.

    "Rejoice not over thy greatest enemy being dead, but remember that we die all." (Sirach 8:7)

    Rhology will die too and be judged by his works too. The foolishness that says God judges only some by their works and others by Jesus' works is certainly not a doctrine of Jesus himself. For example in John 5:29 when says the dead will "come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." I know Rhology has done evil, for he is a Calvinist and therefore guilty of all the most abominable evils imaginable. He will not escape God's judgment.

    Romans 2:3 "And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?"

    Rhology judges Dr. Pulliam for not believing the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. Well, Rhology doesn't believe it either, or he would believe that "God so loved the world" (John 3:16) rather take out his sharpie and cross out world to replace it with "elect." And again, Jesus says "with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Matthew 7:2 -- by his own standard, Rhology is condemned to hell.

  33. I love this comment on the blog
    The Church of Jesus Christ:

    As a Christian, I believe that one of the greatest things to happen to my faith is the interaction with those who so strongly challenge it, and the more so, with those so hurt by it, destroyed by it, or those who simply see no value in it. People in some way like Dr. Ken Pulliam.

    People like Rhology are those who needed Pulliam the most. But, they also need more importantly, the love of the Christ Whom they claim to serve. I do not pity Dr. Pulliam; I pity Rhology.


  34. @beowulf - I'm a Calvinist, and was never completely convinced by Ken's "rock-solid disproofs" of PST. However, he was always patient, courteous, and gracious towards people like me. I know that Calvinism + PST means automatic demonization from some quarters, but Ken never reacted that way to me.

    More importantly, Ken seemed sincere, and remained open-minded, despite his understandably negative reaction against fundamentalism. He continued to actively educate himself on the relevant topics and developed his beliefs over time. Anyone who claims to be able to judge with certainty Ken's ultimate allegiance is only judging him/herself, IMO.

    Admittedly, I was convinced that Ken had some important blind spots in his understanding of God. But I'm even more certain that I do, too. We are all in for some big surprises when we stand before God. I pray that God shows me far more grace than Ken showed me (and orders of magnitude more grace than others showed Ken).

  35. "... by his own standard, Rhology is condemned to hell."

    Let's disagree, disagree vigorously. But let's not condemn one another to hell. Please.

  36. Also, everyone, please stop imposing your existential insecurity on Christians, whose lives are imbued by God with meaning and purpose (and acknowledge the divine origin of morality) rather than relying upon an unwarranted belief in dictatorial, sadistic (and masochistic), whimsical genes and biological drives for these things. Please stop projecting.

  37. Rhology, your arrogance, lack of humility and your mocking of a dead man on his blog that is easily available to his family and close friends exposes you and your claims to meaning and superior morality as totally fraudulent. The fact that you don't understand why people would be disgusted at your mocking a dead man is all anyone needs to know or see. You have been exposed as a phony and fraud. Accept it. The truth hurts. Please go away and let us grieve in peace.

  38. Rhology,

    We already knew you couldn't think for yourself; no need to try to convince us with superfluous blather.

    You're going to die too, and so am I, and if your view of the world is true, none of this will matter. So why make such a ruckus?

    This comment highlights your existential insecurity. To you, life is meaningless without belief in an afterlife. But there's no logic to back up that assertion--just your own wet pants when you contemplate the alternative, and your impotence to make life meaningful for your own self without appeal to an external source. Many of us live with knowledge of the alternative every day and our trousers stay dry. Would we prefer an eternity with our loved ones--most likely. But we don't submit to wish-fulfillment as you do.

    And I'm still waiting for your condemnation of Ken. You're the one who brought up Hitchens' derision of Falwell as a parallel to your own attack of Ken. The parallel is non-existent unless you're willing to grow a pair and attack Ken's character. We're all waiting to see what you're made of, tough guy.

    "Bueller, Bueller..."

  39. To you, life is meaningless without belief in an afterlife.

    Maybe you could make an argument otherwise instead of mocking? Last time I checked, mockery is not an argument.

    your own wet pants when you contemplate the alternative

    I'm not the one whining about one biological machine "mocking" another biological machine's ceasing to function. I'm embracing the void. You're acting like stuff matters when in fact you can't show me that it does.

    And I'm still waiting for your condemnation of Ken

    You're going to be waiting a while, since I don't intend to proffer one.
    Interestingly, I myself have been condemned in this very thread for "condemning" him. Dissension in the whiny atheist ranks, I see.

    You're the one who brought up Hitchens' derision of Falwell as a parallel to your own attack of Ken.

    Which attack you've not quoted, just asserted. It's sort of like the meaning you claim your life has - it exists in the same place my "attack" on Ken does - nowhere. Just your imagination.

    We're all waiting to see what you're made of, tough guy.

    Rather melodramatic! I have no idea what this is even supposed to mean.


  40. I find it very interesting how so many who comment on this blog just seem to enjoy hearing themselves talk.
    Dr. Pulliam was my Professor in Bible College and I loved him very much.
    It saddens me that all who read his blogs are impressed with his knowledge but care nothing of his soul.
    My deepest sympathy to his family.

  41. Precious, your operating off of the premise that there is a soul. That's something you believe by faith and it cannot be proven or disproven. I don't fault you for believing in a soul or even wondering where Ken's soul (if he has one) is right now. We are criticizing the bad tase of those who come on here and mock Ken, right in front of his family and close friends in this terrible time of grief and loss. That you cannot see this and accuse us of just "wanting to hear ourselves talk" shows just how oblivious you are to basic human decency. Thakfully, there are many Christians who are not conducting themselves as tastless as Rhology, and you.

  42. Rhology,

    Don't play the victim here. Nice try. You're the perpetrator, not I.

    I'm demanding that you provide a rational basis for why you believe that an existence without a divine creator or an afterlife somehow logically implies meaningless. What rational support do you have for that assertion? There is nothing logically contradictory between something being both finite and meaningful in human experience. The experience of meaning in our lives does not somehow logically hinge upon the existence of a deity or eternal life. That's my position, it's rational, and it's supported by the lives I and other skeptics like me live every day. If you believe there's a logical contradiction baked into those assertions, the onus is on you to demonstrate it through an argument. This is pretty basic stuff.

  43. @Jana "It saddens me that all who read his blogs are impressed with his knowledge but care nothing of his soul."

    We care. We just don't buy into the superstition that God is looking for an excuse to damn people. I'm sure his soul will be just fine therefore.


    You're the perpetrator, not I.

    Just asserting such does not make it so. How about you give us a reasonable argument to that effect?

    What rational support do you have for that assertion?

    ?? You want me to prove a negative?
    Tell you what, let me put it this way. Think of it as the same as when you argue about God's existence. Doesn't exist out there, so if it exists only for you, that's called a personal fantasy. Which you're welcome to, but don't tell anyone else about it, don't talk about it in the public square, etc.
    Let's say a mainline Christian who doesn't know or care about apologetics says to you:
    MC: God exists.
    enchantednaturalist: Where's the evidence?
    MC: Um, I don't know. Actually, I know He exists b/c He exists in my heart.
    enchantednaturalist: So you mean He exists in you. Just not outside you, right? B/c if He did, you'd have some evidence, right?
    MC: [flabbergasted] Yeah.
    enchantednaturalist: You'll surely pardon me for not participating in your fantasy.

    OK, so here we're just reversing roles.

    enchantednaturalist: Meaning exists.
    Me: Where's the evidence?
    enchantednaturalist: Um, I don't know. Actually, I know it exists b/c it exists in my heart.
    Me: So you mean it exists in you. Just not outside you, right? B/c if it did, you'd have some evidence, right?
    enchantednaturalist: [flabbergasted] Yeah.
    Me: You'll surely pardon me for not participating in your fantasy.

    IOW, you're asserting the meaning. You substantiate it, provide evidence for it.

    That's my position, it's rational


    That's my position, it's rational, and it's supported by the lives I and other skeptics like me live every day.

    Jesus is Lord. That's my position, it's rational, and it's supported by the lives I and other Christians like me live every day.
    You wouldn't accept that statement as an argument from me. Why should I accept such from you?


  45. Nobody cares about your philosophical expositions, Rhology. The only thing anyone here wants to hear from you is something like, "Yeah, I really shouldn't have made the comment I did about Ken, taking a shot at him after he's gone. It was pretty tasteless. My apologies to everyone who was bothered by that."

    The more you talk on and defend yourself, the worse you look.

  46. The only thing anyone here wants to hear from you is something like, "Yeah, I really shouldn't have made the comment I did about Ken, taking a shot at him after he's gone. It was pretty tasteless.

    Sure, right after someone actually explains what was morally objectionable about my statement. I've only asked, you know, 10 times by now.

  47. I didn't say anything about your violating morality. You violated taste and respect in a way that was offensive to those who cared about Ken. When that happens, it's customary to apologize. People of character do that from time to time. Some say they even find it liberating.

    Of course, you know all this and you're playing a game. You're hoping to draw people into an "aha!" argument based on your premise of "you can't have any ideas of right and wrong unless a book from God tells you what right and wrong are." But I doubt many here are in the mood to argue such points with the likes of you right now.

    So go argue with the wind and the rain.

  48. You violated taste and respect in a way that was offensive to those who cared about Ken.

    And is "violating taste and respect" a moral wrong? What about offending others?
    Is caring about another biological machine a moral right? On what basis?

    I doubt you'll answer these questions. You haven't bothered to substantiate your accusations toward me in this thread despite numerous requests to do so; I doubt you're able to take on more fundamental questions like these.

  49. You know, Rho, there’s one thing that I can tell. You don’t like it when people call you an asshole. You think it’s cruel. That means that it hurts. It’s painful. So, you don’t want to let it go, and you don’t want to move on to other things until you think that you’ve proven that it’s not true. But it is true.

    Now, one could use this experience and develop an enhanced sense of empathy and maybe consider the possibility that it’s not always necessary to inflict pain on those who are already suffering, and maybe consider the possibility that there are times to push your agenda and there are times to just express sympathy and leave the agenda for another day.

    Or one can just ignore the lesson, lash out at those who point out your bad manners and insensitivity, play games to deny any wrongdoing and become a bigger asshole than ever before.

    I guess we now know which way you’ll go.

  50. hi,

    Rhology, just very politely (and humbly) apologize. Ken was nothing but kind to you, and took you up on every one of your arguments.

    If you have thoughts to share about him that are a bit offensive, I would say it's OK to state these on your blog. People who don't agree simply would not read it and you can say what pleases you there.

    I agree with David, very well said.

    Btw, what a sad loss Ken's passing has been, truly. My deepest condolences.

  51. I have had many positive interactions with Rhology, as well as with many agnostics, atheists, Roman Catholics and others. Whatever I may think about what Dr. Pulliam taught and what he did or did not believe, I think we have to be careful what we post. In spite of how I feel about someone's beliefs, even apostasy, I never post everything I'm thinking or feeling. I am far from perfect in this regard, but a little self-control is in order, especially in these venues. And though it would not have been my choice to post a statement of "pity" for someone passing into eternity, I was disappointed to see how the whole thing got blown up way out of proportion to the perceived original slight. Most of the insults and language in response were far worse than Rhology's original comment, in my view, and could only serve to prolong the suffering of any family member who might be reading the combox, thereby defeating the purpose of posting condolences for the family.

    (also posted at Rhology's blog)

  52. Pilgrim, Rhology's post was pretty heinous. I'm baffled that you can't see that.

  53. Mike,

    I agree that the comment was inappropriate and potentially hurtful to the family and friends of Dr. Pulliam especially because of the connotations that the phrase "I pity you" bring with it. In today's society the phrase suggests a condescending and arrogant attitude. Even if that is not the implied intention, we tend to automatically infer it when we hear it. I cannot see any benefit to anyone in saying such a thing to someone who has just passed into eternity.

    I did not mean to leave the impression that I thought Rhology's comment was appropriate, but wanted to convey that the reaction to it shone a spotlight on something that could have faded away much more quickly otherwise. The goal for everyone here in regards to family and friends, in my view, should have been to make sure the thing faded quickly.

    Blessings in Christ,


  54. Thanks for clarifying Pilgrim.

  55. I've been following this blog for several entire minutes and am saddened by the death of Dr. Pulliam. What exactly is the motivation in all of these blogs? Is everyone trying to get to what the very nature of truth is?

    What is truth?

    From what I read, all I see is bitterness and anger because of what other Christians have done in the past, and now we must attempt to stack up as much ammunition as humanly possible to smash the "fundamentalists".

    Or is it something more? Isn't all of this anger and bitterness a deep frustration and anger over what you already know to be true? Don't you even as you read this feel accountable to a Creator? If you didn't, or if people don't, why all the fuss? Why all the constant blogging? If you really don't believe in God, than why don't you go play golf? The reality is that everybody here at this blog is a preacher. You are all preaching to yourself. Sure, you might win someone to your side of the argument, but that's not really why you are blogging. You are blogging to rant, to proclaim truth, so that when you are done, you can have others agree with you or challenge you. At least then you would be on some type of journey to fix the aching problem that constantly looms on the horizon: a justifying God that is Supreme in Holiness.

  56. When was the last time Dr. Pulliam was Adam?? Can he possibly fathom he perspective of Adam? I cannot perceive of not sinning but one day, after death, I will not. Glory to God. I pray for his wife and children that he has damaged greatly.

  57. Hey Joe (hey that's a Jimi Hendrix song!!!!!)

    We could say the same thing to you. If you Christians know truth, why all the blogging time wasted casting pearls before swine?

    Personally, even though I'm a dogmatic agnostic, I still find the subject of religion fascinating and like to study it from a sociological and academic perspective.

    I can't speak for others but the reason for my angry posts is my disgust over the fact that many of your fellow Christians are taking the low disgusting blow of mocking a dead man. Is that really that hard to figure out?

  58. Linkowski, I'm not so sure Ken's wife and kids would agree with you.

  59. My husband and I just found this site a few days ago and looked forward to communicating with Ken, but last night we were sad to read that he had died last year.

    Today, I read this article on free will with great interest and was hoping to find a lively discussion on the topic in the comments. I found one, out of 60, and am thankful, Acolyte, for it. Jean

  60. Were Adam and Eve able to think evil thoughts or have evil thoughts enter their mind prior to being tempted by the Serpent to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If not they had no free will to begin with. If they were able to think evil thoughts or have evil thoughts enter their mind then that would be considered sinful making the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil irrelevant.

  61. Were Adam and Eve able to think evil thoughts or have evil thoughts enter their mind prior to being tempted by the Serpent to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If not they had no free will to begin with. If they were able to think evil thoughts or have evil thoughts enter their mind then that would be considered sinful making the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil irrelevant.

  62. I know this is an old thread; stumbled on it today. Janna, your compassion is so beautifully Christ-like. However, we do not know wha he thought in his last moments in the privacy of his own mind. There is always hope, as we are not his judge. Thank you for your comment.