Mailvox: argument by exegesis

JB somehow manages to avoid quoting Psalms:

In your “How to argue like a conservative” column you ridicule people who use the Bible as a basis for the authority of their argument. You obviously haven’t haven’t thought out the logical conseuqences of this position.

The issue of God’s authority to determine right and wrong in our society is the very heart of the issue. If we cannot get our society back to the place where we have the objective standard of Scripture as the moral basis for our nation, we are nothing but pragmatists just like the liberals.

If there is no God to set and enforce some kind of objective standard about “right” and “wrong” and “good” and “evil”, then EVERYTHING boils down to mere personal opinion and preference – even your conservative/libertarian opinions. Cruelty is just as valid as kindness. Hitler and Mother Theresa are moral equivalents. A chaotic, brutish society is not inherently worse than a stable, tolerant one. Pleasure is not necessarily better than suffering. Selfishness is no more wrong than generosity. Without God to establish “justice, a person has no reason to howl if someone screws him over, except that he doesn’t like it because it makes his life difficult or painful. The oppression and exploitation of the weak by the strong is not inherently wrong – it’s just the way things happen. With no God, there isn’t even any reason why “advanced”, sentient beings like man ought to survive as a species. The eco-freaks are right that it’s no big deal if man destroys himself and leaves the planet to the trees and cockroaches. But, it’s also irrelevant if he totally trashes the environment. If there is no God who has communicated in scripture, it doesn’t make any difference (except to that person) if life here on earth is pleasurable or painful. It’s all meaningless. No one is ever going to punish evil, reward good, or make things right. What is, is. Deal with it.

These are the logical consequences of a godless, scriptureless universe – a Darwinian dogfight to determine whose personal opinions will dominate the lives of other people. Conservatives and libertarians operating on human reason without the authority of scripture to back them up are just as screwed up and dangerous as the liberals.

Pragmatism, basing right and wrong on what appears to “work” can be a very ugly thing. And basically a pragmatist is all you are without scripture to validate your assertions.

JB is failing to distinguish between understanding the font of your political philosophy and knowing when is – and when is not – the appropriate time to draw from it. Forse devo fare un’analogia. Se parlo italiano e sto litigando contra un’altro si non parle italiano, e’ possibile per me a effettivamente convincerlui di qualcosa quando si non puo capire niente che stavo dicendo?

Did you find that compelling? Are you convinced? Or are you just rolling your eyes and wondering what the meaningless babble was all about?

Or perhaps a different analogy might be more appropriate. Suppose that I am basing my case for the 1939 Japanese invasion of Hawaii on the memoirs of High Admiral Todoshi Fukuyama. Then suppose that you are a historian specializing in 20th century Japanese military history, you have never heard of High Admiral Fukuyama or his memoirs and you are pretty sure that the man never existed. How much credence are you going to give my case, and how seriously are you going to regard me in the future?

Because, you see, this is exactly how non-Christians regard Christians arguing from the Bible. And this is why it is stupid and futile for Christians to regard Biblical quotes as being meaningful when they are arguing with non-Christians.

CHRISTIAN: “The Bible says X!”
AGNOSTIC: “I don’t believe the Bible.”
CHRISTIAN: “But it says X right here! What don’t you understand about that?”
AGNOSTIC: “What part of ‘I don’t believe’ don’t you understand?”

What’s particularly insane about this concept of Bible-based argumentation is that the Bible itself expressly states that it cannot and will not be understood by the wisdom of the world, that it requires the foolishness of one guided by the Holy Spirit to even begin to make proper sense of God’s Word, even though our understanding will remain incomplete.

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