This is part two of my response to the interview with Courtenay Werleman on Rustylime.com. You can find the original interview here: http://www.rustylime.com/show_article.php?id=3813
1. The first questions ignores the fact that Courtenay’s entire book is based on his naturalistic presuppositions which he uncritically applies to the Bible. Nothing of what he believes changed because nothing in his worldview was confronted. As pointed out in my response to the first part of this interview, Courtenay did not research and dissenting opinions for this book and thus nothing in his worldview was ever confronted. He isolated his worldview, making it unfalsifiable, and thus found precisely the conclusion that he wanted to find. It was like the fundamentalist who looks for God everywhere and thus finds affirmation for God in everything. (Much like the aesthetic argument for God that is only one premise: The music of Mozart exists: Thus God exists.) Courtenay always assumes his conclusion and so he will always find what he wants to find, whether it’s a valid interpretation of the data or not.
2. What is strange about his 1st claim is the jump from 9/11 to the Bible. Forgive me for asking, but I believe that it was Islamic Fundamentalists who were attempting to kill Western, Christian Infidels… The leap from 9/11 to investigating the Bible is invalid and shows that Courtenay was LOOKING for an occasion to attack the Bible and contrived one.
3. He then claims that he gained an “end-to-end understanding of the Bible” which, if you actually read his writings and the many dialogues that I have personally had with him, it is crystal clear that Courtenay has absolutely no understanding of the Bible. This can only be expected when someone completely ignores historical/textual/literary/theological context, original languages, and Biblical scholars. Courtenay is a prime example of the outcome of subjective and pervasive eisegesis rather than careful and studies exegesis.
4. The irony of this is that Courtenay clearly does not understand even basic Biblical interpretation but then presumes to build arguments regarding what Jesus “would have said.” That would be like me trying to say what Mohammed would do just because I have given a quick cursory reading to the Koran. I know that my reading of the Koran was simplistic and really just in an attempt to get the basic story line, not an in depth understanding to where I could give critical analysis of the debatable issues.
5. Notice that his response is also a priori presuppositions and not a posteriori conclusions. He assumes that miraculous events cant happen. While he doesn’t specifically use the argument here, he has in several of our conversations, that the Bible is false because miracles occur in it, and that miracles cannot occur. The problem is that “miracles cannot occur” is actually a faith based premise. He assumes it to be true and thus he begs the questions by assuming the conclusion in his premises. He wants humanity to “grow up” but bases it on an invalid argument.
6. He then strangely argues something like a modern day preacher. “Believe and you will be liberated!” It’s like holding out the carrot of experience in order to gain a convert. Strange for a son of the enlightenment to argue this way. In fact, he explicitly betrays the illogical nature of his premise when he posits the “leap of reason” in experiential terms (i.e. “liberation” and moral freedom apart from any culpability, which strangely sounds more like the warning of Dostoevsky, “without God, all things are permissible” and of Judges, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” than like Walden’s Pond.) It seems that he is actually taken evangelistic methods from the Prosperity Preachers! Promise them health, wealth, and happiness and it doesn’t matter how illogical your argumentation is. His personal liberation smacks of post-modern existentialism, which is, if true, ironically the death knell for absolute laws of logic.
7. He also slips in an unsubstantiated version of “human flourishing” that is entirely at odds with his own worldview. In a naturalistic, neo-darwinian worldview, why should I “give love, receive love, taste and touch everything that the earth has to offer”? What is the possible basis for that statement if my sole purpose is gene preservation? If I am going to die soon and ashes to ashes, dust to dust, with no consequences for my actions, what possible basis is there for maintaining that view of human flourishing, besides “you just should because community says so”?
8. He then again attempts to base morality on the organization of societies. This is a path he and I have trod before. Maybe he thinks he will fair better this time. Let me simply paste the section from my response in the previous interview’s comment section: “If morality is a social contract, who in the society picks the contract? In America the Christians think abortion is murder and the secular liberals dont. Who's contract? Is it subjective down to subculture? If its subjective down to subculture, then who's subculture? Maybe Dahmer had his social contract and his victims simply had another? Who are you to judge another person's social contract? Or imagine society changed. Lets say suddenly all the women in the world decided to never have sex with men (sorry Vanessa). Well according to your worldview the major premise of neo-darwinian theory is the survival of the fittest, and so the only way for men to reproduce to pass on their genes is to rape the women. Now, is rape suddenly a moral action because it is best for the survival of the community? You see, as a theist I can say morality is rooted in the nature of God and thus rape is ALWAYS immoral. You want to base it on entirely subjective and relative social contracts.” To claim that morality is based on the nature of God does not betray ignorance but is the only possible basis for our use of universal, absolute, immutable moral codes. Anyone who wants to debate not only with the basis but also the conclusion that we use universal, absolute, immoral moral codes are easily proven wrong by simply doing something in which they feel wronged (punch them in the those, give their paper on relativism an F no matter how well written, steal their car, etc.). What will their response be? It will always be an appeal of some kind to a universal concept of justice.
9. The only valid thing that people will be able to know after they read his book is that he has no clue what he is talking about. Any person who thinks that they have learned anything about the Bible is simply the blind following the blind (something Courtenay admits to off the record). He has admitted that the book is not for scholars (those who know better) but for the uneducated masses who wont know any better.
10. He laughs at funerals and wants to involve his wife in three-way? And this man wants to critique the moral actions of God? (let alone he may be a Yankees fan, which should automatically rule him as irrational.)
11. As for God hating “fags.” Christians are just as repulsed by those crazies who picket with signs like that as Courtenay is. The only thing that that I think I have agreed with him on is that those people are the “radical fringe.” Strangely He can differentiate between radical fringe on this issue but not on the difference between orthodox Christian faith and the Islamic extremists? But if he did make that decision, there would be no book, no ego stroking, and no money to be made. So what else should I expect.
12. Strangely enough he also admits the old adage, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” There is a very strong distinction, and no it is not just semantics, between hating an action but not hating a person. As a Christian I have always been perplexed why homosexuality became such a central point of contention? God hates adultery but does he hate adulterers? God hates lying, but does he hate liars? Don’t we do the same thing? Do we hate when our children disobey? Yes. Do we then hate our children? No. Do we hate when the neighbor’s kid beats up our kid? Yes. Do we hate our neighbors kid? No. (even if we don’t like them and tell our kid not to play with them because they are a bad influence.) It is not semantics. It is a common distinction that we all make every day of our lives.
13. But Courtenay, when he gets to Paul, out fundamentalists the fundamentalists again. Paul does not single out homosexuals believe it or not. They are rebuked yes. But so are idolators, liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, deceivers, schemers, gossips, etc. In fact, Paul’s “sadomasochistic, vicious, and barking made epistles” are intended to show, not that homosexuals are wicked, but that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” even Paul himself! He calls himself the “chief of sinners” and that even his most righteous deeds are like “dung.” His point is that all people have sinned and thus all people deserve death and thus all people can only be saved by grace. In fact, the idea that Christianity requires self-righteousness simply misunderstands the gospel that we are NOT saved by how good we are or how morally superior we may be, but it is only when we recognize that we are NOT good that we can be saved. In C.S. Lewis’ words, “we are one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.”
14. The funny thing is that when Christians are harangued for calling homosexuality sin because it goes against the designed order of the sexes (something clear from the function of the organs) the accuser will often hold similar convictions for similar reasons. Why is it that pedophilia is wrong? Beastiality? Necrophilia? Christians just draw the line closer than further. But all the same objections launched against Christian “bigotry” can be launched against all those other prohibitions.
15. As for Jesus not saying anything on homosexuality, that is actually an argument from silence. Why should Jesus have to address what was already so clear? Jesus usually only addressed issues that the people of God had strayed from. If the people of God at that time hadn’t strayed on that conviction, why should he bring it up? He also didn’t say anything about pedophilia. Does that mean he was for it? The line of “reasoning” Courtenay uses here is just so absurd.
16. Your question about injustices done in the name of God also commits an informal logical fallacy. You see, the actions of adherents does not verify the truth of falsity of a worldview. The premises of its claims and the logic of its syllogisms do.
17. Lenin, Stalin and Mao alone killed nearly 100 MILLION people under atheistic regimes… you really wanna compare body counts of worldviews?! That’s not including the reign of terror of the French Revolution, Enver Hoxha (who called Albania an “atheist state”), Castro, Pol Pot… and the list goes on an on. What about even explicitly Darwinian science such as the eugenics programs that did medical experimentation, forced sterilization, and flat at genocide of the “unfit.” You REALLY wanna try and compare body counts? Especially considering that theists can at least say that those people were acting contrary to their own religion where as naturalism’s only universal is “survival of the fittest.” You can’t even say Stalin acted against his own worldview because his worldview said if he was strong, he should exert his power however he wanted! Dog eat dog baby! I recommend seeing that it’s not a valid argument anyway and just let it go.
18. It should also be noted that the major crimes of the church happened centuries ago in highly specific and unrepeatable contexts. What are the chances of inquisition coming back to Los Angeles? Whereas the crimes of atheism, which vastly outweigh the crimes of the church, occurred in the Modern era and in many instances are still going on today. They are repeatable and actually likely to occur again. In fact, what most people miss is that Nietzsche predicted the outcome of his own worldview, that with the death of God, the 20th century would be the bloodiest century in the history of the human race. Dostoevsky anyone?
19. Christians have not dismissed the command, but we read it in the light of the entire revelation of God within its historical/textual/theological context. In fact, what Courtenay entirely misses is that civil and ceremonial laws (which is what most of the Old Testament is since it was primarily the constitution for geo-political Israel) are much like laws today. They are the EXTENT that is justified by the law. They are not REQUIRED actions. Hence the law of eye for an eye is the EXTENT that one can go for reprobation. They cannot exceed equal punishment for the crime. But Jesus says, yes that was the extent, but what a loving person would do is turn the other cheek. In modern society imagine that for 2nd degree manslaughter the state statute says the maximum penalty is 15 years. Does that mean that the judge is obligated to execute a sentence of 15 years? No, not at all.
20. Christians also recognize that is the law giver who is the rightful law judge. Not us. Hence God telling us that vengeance is his, not ours; that we are not to judge those outside the church; and that we are to love our enemies, not just those who agree with us. This is a prime example where Courtenay betrays his ignorance on Biblical theology and its applications. This is obvious to anyone who has even a preliminary understanding of Christianity or Islam when he compared Shaira law to Old Testament law. This is like comparing apples and oranges.
21. Ha, I have to laugh that Courtenay refers to Depak Chopra. Im not sure if this was a backhanded remark or a compliment to Chopra. It seemed like a compliment which would be ironic since Chopra is actually seen as more blindly religious that most Christians are. Strange for someone who is so diametrically opposed to faith.
22. He then claims omniscience: “we know there isn’t a hell.” Really? How do you know? Have you explored the entire non-physical, supernatural world? For someone who says beliefs are only valid if based on evidence (a belief which itself is not based on evidence) what is the empirical evidence for this claim? Do you really wanna try and support a universal negative?
23. His argument is a kind of appeal for a new “common sense.” The strange thing is that for the vast majority of the human race, it is actually this very common sense that tells them that God exists, that there is more to life, there is something after this life, that all life must have purpose, that we cannot get an entire universe from nothing, that moral absolutes exists, and that people get what is coming to them.
All in all, his worldview, his book, and our many dialogues, have shown that he is hopelessly irrational, unquestionably unqualified for any real analysis of the Bible or any worldview criticism, and so biased that he cannot be called anything but an anti-theistic fundamentalist or ideologue. Does no one see the irony of Courtenay’s critique of the Biblical authors based on their own “agendas” that make them “unreliable” in a book so blinded by his own agenda that he cant even tell the difference between historical narrative and moral imperatives?