Monday, May 06, 2013

Rom 1 reply, 37: Could Hitler be in heaven? What about some 1 million child victims of the Holocaust?

A few days ago, I put up a blog post at UD on the basic case for intelligent design; inviting discussion on the actual inductive logic based scientific merits. 

Sadly, but predictably, objections were largely based on tangents that were in too many cases plainly intended to side track, polarise and poison discussion. That sets up a cruel rhetorical dilemma: (i) if you answer, you allow side-tracking and the gleeful taunt, see, design theory is about theology and right-wing ideological (read, "Christo-Fascist") politics, or (ii) if you don't the poisoning and polarising stand as evidently irrefutable.

In response, I have usually first called attention to the poisonous trifecta fallacy tactic -- red herring distractors, led away to strawman caricatures set up to be soaked in attacks to the man and set alight to cloud/confuse issues, poison and polarise the atmosphere. Then, I have often paused to offer some corrective as required and called attention back to the main focus.

Sometimes, it is worth noting separately on the issue. I think the one in the headline of this post is of that order.
OBJ, LYO: Cites CR (who was responding to an earlier tangent): . . . "Christianity is an exclusive club, and everyone is invited to join."

LYO's retort: "Were the 1 million Jewish children who died in the holocaust invited to join? If not, are they burning in hell for eternity? 

Was Hitler invited to join? If he accepted, is he in heaven?"
Now, of course, this is obviously a variant on the "Hitler was a Christian" rhetorical barb that is so sadly common nowadays. It is therefore necessary to remind readers that Hitler was manifestly of the spirit of antichrist, as has been pointed out here at KF, long since. This Nazi era poster that blasphemously twists the Gospel scene of the descent of the Spirit when Jesus was baptised, into the descent of a demonic bomber bird, is visually utterly revealing:

. . . by contrast with, say, this Tiffany stained glass of the descent of the Spirit on Christ:

(If you need a detailed discussion on the "Hitler was a Christian talking point, kindly go here.)

It also embeds a poisonous accusation against God: what kind of God would send 1 million innocent Jewish child victims of the Holocaust to hell, but let Hitler (their murderer) into heaven? (This is of course a variant form of the -- now long since answered -- argument from evil against the coherence of the Judaeo-Christian view of God.)

Frequent UD commenter BA77, put in a preliminary point that is worth clipping in part, as LYO and others of such ilk are often atheists or atheism-influenced:
But how does an atheist, such as yourself, justify using a theologically based ‘argument from evil’ to argue against the truthfulness of Theism in general and Christianity in particular. Are you not sawing off the branch you are sitting on by assuming the existence of evil to ultimately deny the reality of evil?
A good point: for us to be able to judge that something is evil, we must be able to know that something is good, and how evil perverts that. There must be a valid standard of good. But since we can only ground such a standard in an ultimate good at the foundation of reality, that points to the reality of God. Such is in fact the pivot of William Dembski's remark in his notes for a debate with the late Christopher Hitchens:
In his Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius states the following paradox: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?” Boethius contrasts the problem that evil poses for  theism with the problem that good poses for atheism. The problem of good does not receive nearly as much attention as the problem evil, but it is the more basic problem. That’s because evil always presupposes a good that has been subverted. All our words for evil make this plain: the New Testament word for sin (Greek hamartia) presupposes a target that’s been missed; deviation presupposes a way (Latin via) from which we’ve departed; injustice presupposes justice; etc. So let’s ask, who’s got the worse problem, the theist or the atheist? Start with the theist. God is the source of all being and purpose. Given God’s existence, what sense does it make to deny God’s goodness? None . . . . The problem of evil still confronts theists, though not as a logical or philosophical problem, but instead as a psychological and existential one [as was addressed above] . . . . 
The problem of good as it faces the atheist is this: nature, which is nuts-and-bolts reality for the atheist, has no values and thus can offer no grounding for good and evil. As nineteenth century freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll used to say, “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments. There are consequences.” More recently, Richard Dawkins made the same point: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” ["Prepared Remarks for the Dembski-Hitchens Debate," Uncommon Descent Blog, Nov 22, 2010]
So, BA77 is right to raise the issue. To which LYO had no reply.

But there is still the issue of the burning contrast between an imagined Hitler sitting comfortably in heaven and his innocent victims imagined to be suffering forever. In short, we are invited to think: isn't the theology that would allow such monstrous, and should it not therefore be rejected as utterly absurd?

Not so fast.

This is why I took up the point:


>>Observe how the problem of tangents continues (I guess I will come back later to make some remarks on some, but only to neaten things up a bit, not to entertain more tangents) . . . . 

I would say (as a first bit of neatening up) Hitler had an invitation to penitence but when he was of age refused to pay that price and instead struck a fatal bargain with the devil. The innocents who died under his demonic hell-breathed madness — I think the White Rose movement had that dead right — would fall under the grace of innocence. 

Welcomed by God. But those of us who are of age to be accountable should not presume upon such. Perhaps I should clip Paul on this subject, as a foundational and starting point remark on that:
Rom 2:1 Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things.
2 Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!
6 He will reward each one according to his works: 7 eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, 8 but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness. 9 There will be affliction and distress on everyone who does evil, on the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, for the Jew first and also the Greek.

11 For there is no partiality with God.

12 For all who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous.

14 For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. 15 They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, 16 on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus. [NET]
So, we start with the light we do have and the question, do we walk by the light we know or should know? The undulled, undistorted conscience being the first point of contact with the voice of God. So, do we pass the test of conscience, and the test of our own sense of morality when we judge others, consistently? What do we do when we stumble?

Beyond that, I focus on the light we know or SHOULD know. For instance, what is the import of our strong sense that what Hitler did was evil and worthy of condemnation? I suggest that it is a major showing of the point that murder is wrong. 

So, what grounds wrong?

That is, in the foundation of our worldviews, if they are right, is an IS that can properly bear the weight of OUGHT.

There is no such is in matter, energy and space-time or laws of chance and necessity.
the only serious candidate is the inherently good and wise Creator God. So, already, we are without excuse, as Paul also said in Rom. Our consciences do point to the truth, as the candle of the Lord within.

I think we need to look hard at worldview foundations, and here on will help. Including, this on the problem of good vs evil.

Then also I suggest that there is good evidence that God has intervened decisively in human history, and suggest here on.

But the main subject for the thread needs to be highlighted, not distracted from. Consistent ducking and dodging tells us that the balance on the merits is not where the objectors resorting to distractions want to go. >>

So, the very reality of conscience points, like a compass needle, straight to the North Pole of morality. And, Christian theology, in foundational materials does answer to the plight of the genuinely innocent: they are welcomed by God with open arms. So are those who are penitent by the light they have or should have.

Instead, it is "those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness . . . " who -- justly -- have something to fear from God on That Day.

Which swings the issue right back around: what are we and our interlocutors doing with the truth and the right we know or should know? When we stumble into sin, do we recoil in penitence and seek to get up and return persistently to the path of the true and the good and the right? If not, why not?

In short, the real situation is not that we have put God in the dock, but that we are all in the dock, with our own hearts and minds as the first witnesses for the prosecution. In a context, where ever so many of us have easy access to more than adequate warrant for the truth of the gospel. (Try here on in context for a 101.)

So, instead of playing poisonous and misleading rhetorical games, let us hear afresh the gospel as a message of hope for penitent sinners:
John 3: [Jesus speaking:] " . . .13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. 18 The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 

 19 Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed.
21 But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. [NET. Notice, the issue is that adequate evidence is present, but those who reject such and turn away from unwelcome light to comfortable darkness are the ones under judgement of condemnation. But those who instead turn in penitent trust are welcomed with open arms by God.]

So, what will we do with the light of the gospel? Why? END