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Friday, December 2, 2022

The Intellectual Side of My Deconversion - Part 1

In this episode I move on from the biographical aspects of my recent deconversion to discuss the intellectual reasons for it.

Enjoy the show!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Deconversion Announcement

While I hope you will all stick around and keep having discussions, I know for some thing means they will think all past content is "tainted" and all future content is worthless. I hope that is not most of you. 

Let's keep walking on this journey to explore the truth together as we see it in our own ways. 

Monday, September 5, 2022

Lutherans and "Is means Is"


In this episode I respond to the often stated "is means is" argument put forward by Lutherans to argue for the real (sic. bodily) presence of Jesus in the eucharist. 

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Freewill - Folk Views, Intuition, and Properly Basic Beliefs

In this episode we discuss if Libertarian Incompatibilism really is the folk view, the view of common intuition or even, a properly basic belief. 

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Saturday, June 11, 2022

Judges - Episode 7: 17:1 thru 21:25


In this episode we complete the series on the book of Judges by looking at the double conclusion at the end of the book. 

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Friday, April 22, 2022

The Book of Judges - Teaching Series









Judges - Episode 6: 13:1 thru 16:31

In this episode we continue our discussion of the book of Judges as we explore the Sampson cycle. 

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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Incompatibilism, Compatibilism and Begging the Question

In this episode I discuss a common error among Incompatibilists when trying to argue against Compatibilism and why their attempts at both internal and external critques often fail to even get off the ground. 

Enjoy the show! 

For more on Reformed Theology and Freewill, see the collection HERE.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Incompatibilism, Compatibilism and Begging the Question

It is almost ubiquitous in conversations about freedom of the will for people to be, well, confused. And rightfully so. It is a challenging topic and challenges our assumptions and makes us think about our ideas concepts and how we define and understand terms. Many people will hold to what is called an Incompatibilistic position. That is, they will think that some act being determined and some act being free are, in principle, in conflict with each other; that something simply cannot be determined and free in any significant sense. Thus they will take the word “free” and conceptualize it to mean “not determined” or they will take the word “determined” and conceptualize it to mean “not free.” Now this is all fine and well except for when the debate just is about the nature of freewill and what it means to be determined or free. Especially when they come up against those who hold a Compatibilistic concept of freedom that do not think that something being determined is, in principle, contradictory to something being significantly free. In that discussion, the Incompatibilist must not presume their position (on pain of a question begging fallacy) or try and push their conceptualizations through via definitional fiat (on pain of a special pleading fallacy), but rather they must give independent reasons for why their position is the case and the Compatibilist ought to abandon their position and believe the Incompatibilist position to be the correct one. 

Further, when the Incompatibilist wants to try and make a negative case against Compatibilism, they must do so via one of two methods: a valid external critique, or a valid internal critique. For an external critique to be valid, they must be able to again give independent reasons to believe their premises to be true and more probably than the Compatibilistic position. They still cannot engage in question begging fallacies, nor special pleading fallacies. They cannot, for example, say that Compatibilism is false because we know that something being determined means that there isn’t a real categorical ability to choose other than what we choose, and thus it is not free. Why? Well because that just is something that is only true IF the Incompatibilistic position is true. In effect, it is to argue, “If Incompatibilism is true, then categorical ability is needed for freedom, and since categorical ability is needed for freedom then Compatibilism is false, and thus Incompatibilism is true,” But notice how that is simply to argue in a circle where the conclusion is needed to be assumed in order to fuel the premises to the same conclusion that was assumed. They therefore must give independent reasons that do not rely on the presumption of Incompatiblism to be true in order for the external critique to be valid.

Similarly for an internal critique to be valid, the Incompatibilist must use only concepts available to them within the Compatibilist position, and only things that the Compatibilist would affirm. This is because the form of this kind of argumentation (reductio ad absurdum) is to argue that given some view being true, it logically entails within itself logical incoherencies. This case cannot be made if you argue from the view itself plus some other propositions or principles not affirmed or even flat out denied by the view. I will give an example from another theological discussion where this happens as an analogy, and then return to the freewill discussion. 

Commonly in arguments between Reformed/Covenant Theology, the accusation that Covenant theology is “replacement theology” will be levied against that view. The charge is based on the idea that some have of Covenant theology that the church replaces the nation of Israel. For those unfamiliar with Covenant theology, the view does not actually make that case but rather, the idea is that the church is the full blossoming of Israel. Here I will not go into the Biblical case for such a position or defend why I believe it is the biblical view, but it should be simply noted that Covenant theology does not see the church and Israel as two ontologically distinct entities but rather, that the promises of God to Abraham and the nation are all yes and amen in Christ and that in Christ the promises are fulfilled as he is the seed of Abraham to which the promises were made and as such, Gentile who were foreigners to the commonwealth of Israel and strangers of the promise, are now brought near in Christ as fellow citizens and heirs as the holy nation/royal priesthood, (for more, see Galatians 3, Ephesians 2, and 1 Peter 2). They would view the olive tree in Romans 11 as one tree, nourished by the root (which is Christ) to which the individual branches cut off or grafted in just are unbelieving Jews and believing gentiles, respectively – but that there is but one and only one olive tree. It is not that there was one tree and that this has been replaced by a different tree. 

Now, on a Dispensational view there is a hard ontological distinction between Israel and the Church. For the Dispensationalist, the belief is that the promises that were given for Israel and that these are not transferred to the other ecclesia, the other people of God, even though some Dispensationlists think that there is some application of them or benefit of them for the church. Thus, they believe that the nation of Israel still has promises made to them that have yet to be fulfilled (typically the land promises) and as such that these must be fulfilled in Israel and that these are not fulfilled in Christ for the church. 

Now, with these two systems very briefly stated, why is this relevant to the prior discussion about internal/external critiques and the question begging or special pleading fallacies. Well often the charge that Covenant theology is “replacement theology” is levied against it by Dispensationalists. This is because within their system, the nation of Israel and the church just are ontologically distinct peoples of God. So when they hear Covenant theologians say that the Church just is the true Israel, they filter that through their theological commitments, and as such they conceptualize that as a replacement, because on their view for the church to be the true Israel, since they are distinct, it would have to supplant the nation of Israel in the program of God. So they then project that on Covenant theology and call it a “replacement.” However, we can see that if we confine ourself to what Covenant theology views about Israel and the church, it is impossible that this be a replacement in any meaningful sense. We may say that it is a “replacement” in the sense that a teenager “replaces” their childhood self, or an adult “replaces” their teenage self and when they turn 18 get to enjoy the inheritance that was promised to them as a child. But that is not a replacement in the sense that the Dispensationalist means it where one entity usurps the place of another entity. Therefore, the charge of “replacement” becomes an invalid internal critique because it does not rely on the concepts internal to Covenant theology and begs the question of a position that is not only outside of Covenant theology, but one that Covenant theology would actually disagree with, namely, the hard ontological distinction between two peoples of God. And yet this would also fail as an external critique, because it relies on the assumption of the hard ontological distinction without giving independent reason for why it is true and as such merely begs the question of the Dispensationalist understanding to argue toward to the conclusion of the truth of Dispensationalism. 

Here we can see a parody between this failed critique of Covenant theology by Dispensationalists with the kind of critiques offered by Incompatibilists. Often the Incompatibilists will claim that Compatibilism makes God the “author of evil” or that it makes the agent a puppet or a robot. However, this is only the case precisely because they think that if some action is determined then it, in principle cannot be free. As such, they have the presumption of a principled incompatibility between some act being determined and free. But that just is the presumption of Incompatibilism. Thus, the objection that if Compatibilism were true, then someone who was determined would be a robot/puppet or not responsible or that it would make God the author of evil, is to make the following argument:

  1. Let us assume for the sake of argument Compatibilism is true. 
  2. Incompatibilism is true. 
  3. P1 and P2 are contradictory. Therefore,
  4. Compatibilism is contradictory. Therefore,
  5. Incompatiblism is true. 

Notice here that this is a failed internal critique because in order for the argument to be pushed through, P2 is to bring in an assumption that does not fall within the position of Compatibilism. Thus, it cannot validly show that Compatibilism qua Compatibilism, properly understood, entails a contradiction. This also fails as an external critique however since not only would we not have independent reasons to believe P2, but it also begs the question of the very conclusion that it is trying to support. 

In conclusion, while there are interesting reasons to accept Incompatibilism or to reject Compatiblism, and this article should in no way be read as me claiming that all Incompatibilists are guilting of begging the question or special pleading and thus present failed internal and external critiques, this is a problem that is absolutely pervasive in many attempts by Incompatibilists to attempt to reject Compatibilism or Compatibilistic views like that of Reformed theology and I hope this was helpful as an analysis of the discourse and common arguments that occur in these discussions. 

For more on Reformed Theology, see HERE