Posted: Aug 14, 2013 11:17 pm
by Byron
Thanks to Will & the mods for setting this up, and Will's good wishes are heartily returned.

With the preamble done, let's get to it. :)

I'm privileged to be faced with an argument without foundation. This is a fight between reason and assertion. The position Will's defending is categorically incapable of being rational. The supernatural is the enemy of the rational, because supernatural claims make up the rules as they go, and rest on human assertion. Rationality is impossible when anything can go, and truth is reduced to power-play. Authoritarian creeds are forced to impose their will because they're incapable of winning an argument. Christianity's history of persecution and censorship is testimony not only to human cruelty, but to its inability to reason. If you can't persuade you're reduced to beating down.

"Christianity" is here taken to refer to traditional, orthodox Christianity, not the liberal theology of the 19th and 20th centuries. To the Christianity of creeds, biblical authority, and the church's magisterium. Liberal theology sought to reconcile Christianity and rationality by removing the supernatural. It did so because it recognized the conflict between authoritarianism and rationality. Christianity's tragedy that its majority have ignored this wisdom, retreating to a never-never land of evangelical fantasy and magisterial assertion. Their spirit-world of gods and devils, angels and demons, sin and salvation is less rational that Cthulhu. At least Lovecraft knew it was fantasy.

The authors of Christianity believed rationality was obeying God's revelation. The problem with this is that they never overcame the flaw that sinks all such claims: it's impossible to prove revelation, as we are its source. At best, we are its mediators. As it rests on subjective human assertion, there can be no external validation. Christianity is reduced to making an idol of the authority fallacy. Truth is what the source of authority -- be it church, scripture, or prophet -- says it is. "Because I say so" is ipso facto irrational.

All the debated claims embody this unreasoned, fallacious authoritarianism, and assume their conclusions. Without assertion, the house of cards collapses. The very terms used to defend the case for the reasonableness of Christianity serve to destroy it. They are suicidal. It is, literally, a self-defeating argument.

I feel guilty in having such an easy task here. Most of the work has been done for me by the poverty of the opposing case. This is no disrespect to Will, who is burdened by the shoddiness of the tools with which he is forced to work. It takes a skilled person indeed to attempt to defend the indefensible. He is a braver person than I to accept such a disadvantage. I have by far the easier task. I have merely to illuminate the defects Will is compelled to display.

I wish him luck, and admire his skill, but nothing can save his case. A house built on sand is doomed to fall.