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Why won’t Randal Rouser answer some simple questions?

Calling Randal Rauser: why won’t you answer some simple questions?

Professor Randal Rauser, systematic theologian and self-confessed “progressive evangelical Christian”, has been tossing his toys for the past few days after discovering that some people believe that only the biblical worldview offers a foundation for rationality, that atheism is caused by willful rebellion against God, and that rebellion against God is wicked.

You can read all about it in ‘Is “biblical Christianity” the only rational worldview? (And is atheism wicked?)’ and pick up the pieces from there.

But what I particularly want to do here is call out Randal to answer three questions I’ve already put to him, and which he has summarily ignored.

The story so far

Hoping to illustrate how unbelief cannot be necessarily sinful, Randal formulated a story about “Dr Z” (presumably a different fellow to the rather callous fellow in Borderlands) who loses his faith after seeing a great deal of atrocity. He asked what we should say to this fellow given his situation and his new agnosticism. I thought to myself, “Hrmm, sounds like Job was in a worse situation than Dr Z. After all, his whole family was brutally slaughtered. So what did he say?” Thus I replied:

Randal, in your contrived scenario with Dr Z, I believe a sinless and correct response would be:

“You speak as one of the foolish men would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” [cf Job 2:10 —DBT]

But perhaps you don’t believe that the fool says in his heart, “There is no God”? [cf Psalm 14:1 —DBT]

I think this is a reasonable response. After all, Job’s wife wasn’t even suggesting that Job deny God’s existence; only that he deny his goodness. That seems like a lesser denial to me, though of course both are pretty bad. But Job rebukes her as foolish, rightly noting that God is free to give and take as he pleases.

But here’s what Randal has to say:

My jaw dropped to the floor when I read that one. This guy makes Job’s comforters look like rank amateurs. Dr. Z, his shirt still soaked with the blood of the eight year old he labored to save, is a foolish man?

Well, yeah. I’m not impressed by the attempt to divert attention from the actual issue by appealing to the emotion of the situation, because I dare say Job was in a more wretched emotional state—yet managed to “not sin with his lips”. If God is the grounds for all goodness and rationality, then of course denying him—in any situation—is foolish. (Maybe Randal denies that God must be the grounds for all goodness and rationality, but that seems a patently anti-Christian position for a so-called Christian to take.)

However, Randal proved very evasive about his position, so it’s hard to know for sure. To try to clarify where he stands, I asked him:

My questions

1. Do you deny that we have an obligation to believe in God? For example, do you deny that the gospel is a command as well as an invitation; that disobeying God’s commands is sinful; or that God will judge unbelief as sin?

2. Do you deny that it is “the fool” who says in his heart, “There is no God”?

3. Do you deny that a considered disbelief in God is immoral and irrational?

You seem to be saying that provided one has what he thinks is a good excuse for rejecting the source of goodness and rationality, one is not rejecting goodness and rationality (ie, one is not being evil and irrational). That seems like an obvious contradiction. If God is indeed the source of these things, how could there even be a good reason for rejecting him?

So far, no reply. Randal has made some comments on my tone; but not on my content. Curiously, while condemning the tone of his interlocutors, he likened one of them to Edward Norton in American History X—ie, a Nazi skinhead who brutally kills blacks. Nice one Randal. Irenic of you.

Still, you have the chance to set the record straight. You’re welcome to reply here, or of course to create a new post on your own blog.

15 comments

  1. The Atheist Missionary

    Great questions. I can’t wait to see Rauser’s answers.

  2. Blake Reas

    Rouser’s tactic is the same as James McGrath. When someone forcefully disagrees with argument and good theological reasoning they retreat into their little world of discussing the “tone of the discourse” or some nonsense like that. It is almost not worth talking to most “theologians” of a moderate to liberal position.

  3. John Weaver

    It reminds of Richard Rorty, who when asked about the failure of philosophy in and of itself to answer basic questions of ontology or epistemology begins to babble about “dialogue” being what’s important; not the actual answers.

  4. Truth Unites... and Divides

    1. Do you deny that we have an obligation to believe in God? For example, do you deny that the gospel is a command as well as an invitation; that disobeying God’s commands is sinful; or that God will judge unbelief as sin?

    2. Do you deny that it is “the fool” who says in his heart, “There is no God”?

    3. Do you deny that a considered disbelief in God is immoral and irrational?

    All three of these questions can be answered with a simple “Yes/No.”

    Have they been answered yet by Rauser?

  5. Gotlobb Frege

    Here is my response from Triablogue post, they are blocking me now:

    Bnonn,

    Just because something is public, it follows not that all uses of it are legitimate or much less morally permissible. Do you agree with this basic distinction?

    If not, do you condone urinating in the floor of public libraries? After all, if they didn’t want you to urinate on the floor, you’d think they’d station guards in every room. Why wouldn’t they provide such basic protection of their facilities?

    Perhaps posting family pictures on the internet isn’t wise…you should contact James White of Alpha and Omega ministries and tell him what a fool he is. Actually, I’ll just forward him your comments, so he’s clear on your opinion of him having pictures of his daughter on the website. And to think, of all James White’s polemic encounters, no one has stooped to Patrick’s level.

    Had those pictures been private and Patrick acquired them, then he’d be guilty on two counts and not one. You have attempted to argue that he is only guilty of one count if he’s guilty of both. Your argument is jejune.

    You continue to miss my point against Patrick, which is that common sense should have told him that a picture featuring Randal *and* his daughter was not appropriate for polemic purposes. If you can’t see why this violates common decency (much less Christian decency among professing believers), then you are the “naive and stupid” one.

    If espousing high moral ideals and failing to meet them is what makes one a hypocrite, it looks like all Christians are. You’ll need to distinguish how Randal is any different, or else admit your own hypocrisy.

    Truth United,
    Here’s a comment they blocked regarding you as well:

    Aztexan,

    There is none righteous, no not one. If reminding each other of this constitutes self-righteousness, there can be no preaching or exhortation.

    TUTD has been spouting off at the mouth for some time now, and someone needs to call him/her out.

    Just the other day someone thought TUTD was calling Carl Trueman a liberal. TUTD was really just spouting off in detest of liberals.

  6. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Gotlobb, you’re just begging the question. Talking about “stooping to Patrick’s level” just presupposes that Patrick did, in fact, stoop.

    1. I’ve never said that it’s morally permissible to single out someone’s young daughter in an argument against that person, or to use a picture of her as some kind of intimidation tactic. Patrick never did that. The presence of Randal’s daughter in the photo was incidental, not central.

    2. Moreover, even though Patrick was using that picture perfectly fairly, he still removed it when Randal complained. Though of course, it’s worth observing that Randal didn’t contact him privately and ask him to remove it like a reasonable person would. Rather, he immediately jumped to some cock-eyed conclusions about Patrick’s intent, and did his usual “charity for me but not for thee” stunt, decrying Patrick’s “tactics” on his own blog.

    3. I’ve never said it’s foolish per se to post pictures of your family online. But it’s certainly something to be cautious about. One of the main duties of a parent is to protect his kids. So sharing photos in an open, public forum which is accessible to anyone carries certain risks a parent has to take into account. If Randal is going to be angry at anyone for Patrick’s use of that photo, he should first be angry at himself. He’s the one who first got his daughter “involved”.

    4. Your analogy regarding public libraries doesn’t seem to contain any actual analogies to the present situation.

    5. Don’t think I’m going to continue posting your comments here. If you want a soapbox to rant at Triablogue & Co from, go start triabloguesucks.blogspot.com or something.

  7. Gotlobb Frege

    You said, “Gotlobb, you’re just begging the question. Talking about “stooping to Patrick’s level” just presupposes that Patrick did, in fact, stoop.”

    Then you said, “Moreover, even though Patrick was using that picture perfectly fairly”…

    Who’s begging the question? I maintain that Patrick’s move was not immoral, but merely lacking in common sense. You’ve said zero to challenge this. And we both agree there is nothing morally wrong with posting a picture. I agree Patrick had only the best intentions.

    You’ve abandoned your original claim at Triablogue that the picture’s being publicly available affects the fairness of use. You said, “But since he did, I don’t see how using that picture (when his daughter is not even the focus) is a problem.”…but then I responded with an analogy showing how something could be available for misuse, but certainly not permissible of misuse. Why don’t you think the analogy works? (you only asserted that it didn’t).

    Then you said, ” This just suggests how naive and stupid Randal is. He puts photos of his loved ones online, but then has a fit when someone posts them somewhere else. That’s just idiotic. Randal doesn’t have enough sense to protect his daughter in this basic way? I’m glad my parents were not as thick as he is.”

    But now your claim is, “I’ve never said it’s foolish per se to post pictures of your family online.”

    Randal doesn’t have enough sense to protect his daughter, but yet you didn’t say it was foolish per se…so what does it mean when a person doesn’t have enough sense to do something?

    I don’t have a problem with Triablogue…in fact, all I have maintained is that Patrick made a judgement error. Truth Unites is not a Triablogue member, so that’s peripheral. I think Triabloggers are all intelligent chaps, and so are you.

    I read your e-book awhile back, and it helped me understand Gordon Clark quite a bit.

  8. steve hays

    Gotlobb Frege

    “Here is my response from Triablogue post, they are blocking me now,”

    You don’t know that. There’s such a thing as the spam filter. For all your moral preening, you don’t hesitate to place the worst possible interpretation on the opposing side. Something you and Rauser share in common.

    “Just because something is public, it follows not that all uses of it are legitimate or much less morally permissible.”

    Are you accusing Rauser of immorality for posting family pics on his site?

    “Perhaps posting family pictures on the internet isn’t wise…you should contact James White of Alpha and Omega ministries and tell him what a fool he is.”

    Is your criticism directed at Rauser? If so, why not leave that comment at his blog?

    “Actually, I’ll just forward him your comments, so he’s clear on your opinion of him having pictures of his daughter on the website.”

    Actually, Rauser is the one who outed his own daughter. A perfect stranger wouldn’t know her identity unless he told us.

    “And to think, of all James White’s polemic encounters, no one has stooped to Patrick’s level.”

    That’s an allegation bereft of a supporting argument.

    “Had those pictures been private and Patrick acquired them, then he’d be guilty on two counts and not one.”

    So you’re admitting that Rauser was “guilty” of something by posting them in the first place?

    You have an odd way of defending Rauser and attacking Chan. Chan didn’t accuse Rauser of wrongdoing for having some family pics on his site. You’re the one who leveled that indictment.

    “You continue to miss my point against Patrick, which is that common sense should have told him that a picture featuring Randal *and* his daughter was not appropriate for polemic purposes.”

    There is not point to miss since you offer no argument for your contention. You merely feign disapproval, as if that’s any reason to take you seriously.

    All we’re getting from you and Rauser is inkblot outrage, as you two subconsciously project your own pathological suspicions onto others. Try not to be so revealing. It isn’t pretty.

    “If you can’t see why this violates common decency (much less Christian decency among professing believers)…”

    Rauser used a picture of a mother and child on his own post. If you weren’t such a transparently partisan suck-up for Rauser, you’d avoid the double-dealing rhetoric. But that would require genuine moral discernment, rather than your affectation of moral discernment–which is belied by your actual conduct.

  9. Gotlobb Frege

    “Are you accusing Rauser of immorality for posting family pics on his site?”

    No. I’m merely pointing out that Bnonn’s original argument fails. Just because something is made public, it doesn’t follow that all uses of it are fair, legitimate, moral, etc. I’m only responding on the terms of his argument.

    Again, I maintain that it was a bad judgement call. You ask for an argument, but what kind of argument can be made for common sense? Either someone can reasonably be expected to notice or not. Of course, given your position that Randal pictured with some young girl needs explicit identification, I’m not sure we would agree on a variety of common sense issues. No one would “know” for sure, but everyone will assume it’s his daughter or else someone close to him. If one doesn’t think common sense can deliver up simple facts like “that girl is probably his daughter or a loved one” then I suppose there is no reason to think common sense can deliver up facts like “this picture probably shouldn’t be attached to a polemic article…it’s too personal.” But people can disagree on common sense. Happens all the time.

    “So you’re admitting that Rauser was “guilty” of something by posting them in the first place?”
    No. Why would you think that?

    “Rauser used a picture of a mother and child on his own post. If you weren’t such a transparently partisan suck-up for Rauser, you’d avoid the double-dealing rhetoric. But that would require genuine moral discernment, rather than your affectation of moral discernment–which is belied by your actual conduct.”

    Using a picture is not the issue Steve; attaching a picture (where the author is pictured with a loved one…most probably his daughter to anyone with common sense) to a polemic article about that author is the issue. You and Chan can’t get over the status of the picture long enough to reflect on the use of the picture in the context of the post it appeared in.

    Randal wasn’t writing a satirical article in response to the person pictured with their daughter. I should point out that you don’t “know” that the girl pictured is her daughter. Try not to be so revealing. It isn’t pretty.

  10. steve hays

    Gotlobb Frege

    “No. I’m merely pointing out that Bnonn’s original argument fails. Just because something is made public, it doesn’t follow that all uses of it are fair, legitimate, moral, etc.”

    That’s not the argument The argument is an argument from analogy. Try to master that concept.

    If it’s permissible for Rauser to post that picture, then it’s permissible for Patrick to post that picture. To deny one, you must deny both.

    You keep attacking Patrick, but the logic cuts both ways.

    “Again, I maintain that it was a bad judgement call.”

    Yes, that’s what you “maintain.” And we should be impressed…why?

    “You ask for an argument, but what kind of argument can be made for common sense?”

    i) Whether or not it’s “common sense” is one of the very issues in dispute.

    ii) Even if it were, there’s nothing sacrosanct about common sense. It’s common sense that a heavier object falls faster than a lighter object. That’s also mistaken.

    iii) You’re now taking the position that it’s impossible to argue for common sense? Did you even bother to consider any counterexamples before issuing that very ambitious denial?

    “Either someone can reasonably be expected to notice or not.”

    Once again, “reasonably” is tendentious. You keep assuming what you need to prove. But if your going to be so judgmental, then you’re not allow to take intellectual shortcuts.

    “Of course, given your position that Randal pictured with some young girl needs explicit identification, I’m not sure we would agree on a variety of common sense issues.”

    Really? Randal knows who it is because…it’s his daughter. He subconscious equates his knowledge with the knowledge of a bystander. But a bystander doesn’t have the same inside information.

    “No one would ‘know’ for sure, but everyone will assume it’s his daughter or else someone close to him. If one doesn’t think common sense can deliver up simple facts like ‘that girl is probably his daughter or a loved one’ then I suppose there is no reason to think common sense can deliver up facts like ‘this picture probably shouldn’t be attached to a polemic article…it’s too personal.”

    No, it’s actually not common sense to assume that reposting a picture of someone “close to him” is “illegitimate” or “morally impermissible,” especially when that’s incidental to the picture of him.

    Suppose he posted a picture of himself and his best friend from college. Would it be “illegitimate” or “morally impermissible” for Patrick to repost that? Is so, why?

    “But people can disagree on common sense. Happens all the time.”

    And what we’re getting from you is nonsense dressed up as common sense.

    “Using a picture is not the issue Steve; attaching a picture (where the author is pictured with a loved one…most probably his daughter to anyone with common sense) to a polemic article about that author is the issue.”

    You *say* it’s “the issue,” but you have yet to *show* why that’s an issue.

    Suppose he has a picture of himself and his beloved boxing coach. Would it be morally impermissible for Patrick to repost that picture?

    Did you actually think through your position before you began to denounce Patrick? Or are you having to improvise as you go along?

    “Randal wasn’t writing a satirical article in response to the person pictured with their daughter.”

    And the moral significance of that distinction is what, precisely?

    “I should point out that you don’t ‘know’ that the girl pictured is her daughter. Try not to be so revealing. It isn’t pretty.”

    Since you’re not very fleet-footed, I’ll have to explain it to you. You backed yourself into a dilemma of your own making.

    I’m just answering you on your own terms. If I don’t know, then you don’t know, or Rouser or Patrick. So either way, you lose the argument. Either we all know or we all don’t know. It cuts both ways. If your objection applies to the one picture, then applies to the other.

  11. Gotlobb Frege

    “That’s not the argument The argument is an argument from analogy. Try to master that concept.”

    False. I made an argument from analogy that pointed out the problem with Bnonn’s argument.

    “If it’s permissible for Rauser to post that picture, then it’s permissible for Patrick to post that picture. To deny one, you must deny both.”

    You’re simply ignoring my point that Patrick was attaching the picture (of Randal and his daughter) to a satirical article for polemical purposes. One needn’t deny both if this distinction holds. Now, whether or not Rauser’s picture violates some standard is a different argument. It would be a different problem for Randal. It would be akin to the history textbook that depicts concentration victims. There are occasionally requests to have certain pictures taken out (by family members). But since the pictures weren’t used in the context of satire and polemics (against the one pictured), we are in a different category of ethical standards. I’m actually surprised you are failing to see this distinction Steve.

    “You’re now taking the position that it’s impossible to argue for common sense? Did you even bother to consider any counterexamples before issuing that very ambitious denial?”

    Yes. I asked what kind of argument could be given, because (aside from empirical data) there isn’t much in the way of plausible premises with which to build such an argument. I invite you to try though. I could be wrong.

    “He subconscious equates his knowledge with the knowledge of a bystander. But a bystander doesn’t have the same inside information.”

    A bystander can still have justified true belief that she is Randal’s daughter, and thus knowledge. One need only have looked at a few blogs to notice that people tend to post pictures with their family (James White was my example). Of course, we could all be terribly mistaken about all of them. It could turn out that bloggers tend to post pictures of their nephews and nieces. But all the bystander needs to have is probability. Do you dispute that the girl pictured was not probably his daughter? If you dispute that we can make probability assessments like this (“common sense”), then you’re being pretty skeptical. That’s fine, but I didn’t take you for this kind of skeptic. I would have argued against that kind of thesis. For instance, if we don’t know who is in the picture, this also constitutes evidence that we shouldn’t post it. What if the little girl was his dead daughter? We don’t “know” this, do we?

    “Suppose he posted a picture of himself and his best friend from college. Would it be “illegitimate” or “morally impermissible” for Patrick to repost that? Is so, why?”

    Another common sense dictum that you might disagree with: never bring innocent bystanders into the scrum. If Patrick posted a picture of Randal and a friend from college in a satirical rejoinder which clearly aimed at poking-fun at Randal…I would make the same argument. It wasn’t a good judgement call.

    “Suppose he has a picture of himself and his beloved boxing coach. Would it be morally impermissible for Patrick to repost that picture?”

    You’re using language (morally impermissible) that has already been dealt with. I don’t think Patrick did anything morally impermissible, assuming his motives were stated truthfully. I have no reason to doubt Patrick on this count. Refer to my previous point about bringing innocent bystanders into a satirical encounter.

    You seem to think that an argument is needed to establish these premises. This is simply false. The premises need only be more plausible than their denial. Perhaps you disagree with those premises. That is fine. You needn’t be compelled. Few arguments are compelling for everyone.

    “I’m just answering you on your own terms. If I don’t know, then you don’t know, or Rouser or Patrick. So either way, you lose the argument. Either we all know or we all don’t know. It cuts both ways. If your objection applies to the one picture, then applies to the other.”

    On *my* terms, your response is incomplete. A person can reasonably deduce that the girl is the mother’s daughter (and Randal’s as well). But I don’t lose the argument either way. My argument includes the usage distinction (the one you’ve been ignoring). So, you’ve only framed this partially on my terms. Straw man, Mr. Hays.

  12. David Parker

    “Another common sense dictum that you might disagree with: never bring innocent bystanders into the scrum. If Patrick posted a picture of Randal and a friend from college in a satirical rejoinder which clearly aimed at poking-fun at Randal…I would make the same argument. It wasn’t a good judgement call.”

    Another common sense dictum: don’t contradict yourself.  You claim that you aren’t arguing against Patrick on any moral grounds, but then you sneak in little implications in your sentences.  How can someone “bring innocent bystanders into the scrum” if they aren’t performing an intentional act?  Which is it, a lapse of judgement or an intentional act?  You argue one way, but then you let out rhetorical steam that implies the other.  Clearly, your emotions and your intellect are at odds.  Go get yourself together, and come back with a well-thought-out position, instead of emotional pleading.

  13. steve hays

    Gotlobb Frege

    “False. I made an argument from analogy that pointed out the problem with Bnonn’s argument.”

    I wasn’t referring to *your* argument, but to *our* argument. Try to keep up.

    “You’re simply ignoring my point that Patrick was attaching the picture (of Randal and his daughter) to a satirical article for polemical purposes.”

    i) I “ignore” your point because you give me no reason to think your various caveats are morally relevant. So what if it’s satirical, or for polemical purposes?

    ii) Moreover, Patrick wasn’t satirizing his daughter or polemicizing against his daughter. Randal was the target. For someone who touts common sense, you have a knack for avoiding common sense when you find it inconvenient.

    iii) Furthermore, Randal also uses a picture of a mother and child for “polemical purposes” in his post on “The night Dr. Z became an agnostic.” So was Randal’s use of the picture “morally impermissible?”

    “Now, whether or not Rauser’s picture violates some standard is a different argument”

    And if you weren’t such a partisan booklicker for Randal, your duplicity would cause you concern.

    “It would be a different problem for Randal. It would be akin to the history textbook that depicts concentration victims. There are occasionally requests to have certain pictures taken out (by family members). But since the pictures weren’t used in the context of satire and polemics (against the one pictured), we are in a different category of ethical standards. I’m actually surprised you are failing to see this distinction Steve.”

    i) That’s because you draw distinctions without attempting to show their moral significance to the question at hand. What, exactly, is unethical about Patrick using a picture of a father and child for polemical purposes, to satirize Randal, but it’s not unethical for Randal to use a a picture of a mother and child for polemical purposes (to justify his position on the rationality of agnosticism, in opposition to our position)?

    ii) What is unethical about satire? If there’s no general objection to satire, what is unethical about satire in this context?

    Repeating the same words (“Polemical!” “Satirical”!) does nothing to advance your thesis.

    “Yes. I asked what kind of argument could be given, because (aside from empirical data) there isn’t much in the way of plausible premises with which to build such an argument. I invite you to try though.”

    The onus is not on me to make your arguments for you. Pull your own load–if you can. And if you can’t, then your allegation is unwarranted.

    “Do you dispute that the girl pictured was not probably his daughter?”

    I never gave it a second thought since that was irrelevant to Patrick’s satirical intent. Indeed, I didn’t focus on the picture at all. That’s just window-dressing.

    You and Randal are the ones who fixate on the girl. Do you ordinarily have this fixation on the underage daughters of other men? Have you seen a psychiatrist about your unnatural obsession?

    “Another common sense dictum that you might disagree with: never bring innocent bystanders into the scrum. If Patrick posted a picture of Randal and a friend from college in a satirical rejoinder which clearly aimed at poking-fun at Randal…I would make the same argument. It wasn’t a good judgement call.”

    To *say* it’s not a judgment call doesn’t prove your point. Your unargued judgmental opinions carry no moral or intellectual force. They, do, however, say a lot about your conceited self-image. It must wound your inflated self-esteem that we don’t quake before your frowning brow.

    “You’re using language (morally impermissible) that has already been dealt with. I don’t think Patrick did anything morally impermissible, assuming his motives were stated truthfully.”

    Except that you framed the terms of your accusation in precisely those terms.

    “You seem to think that an argument is needed to establish these premises. This is simply false. The premises need only be more plausible than their denial. Perhaps you disagree with those premises.”

    Your premises beg the very question at issue. The fact that they are plausible to you is a nonstarter.

    “On *my* terms, your response is incomplete. A person can reasonably deduce that the girl is the mother’s daughter (and Randal’s as well).”

    So you accuse Rauser of wittingly using the mother and child for polemical purposes.

  14. Gotlobb Frege

    “I wasn’t referring to *your* argument, but to *our* argument. Try to keep up.”

    Let’s examine what was said:

    Frege to Bnonn: “Just because something is public, it follows not that all uses of it are legitimate or much less morally permissible”

    Hays to Frege: Are you accusing Rauser of immorality for posting family pics on his site?

    Frege to Hays: “No. I’m merely pointing out that Bnonn’s original argument fails. Just because something is made public, it doesn’t follow that all uses of it are fair, legitimate, moral, etc. I’m only responding on the terms of his argument.”

    Hays to Frege: “That’s not the argument The argument is an argument from analogy. Try to master that concept.”

    My original comment was for Bnonn…so I was assuming you were referring to the public library analogy…which was prior to our exchange. To what do you refer then when you speak of an argument from analogy?

    “So what if it’s satirical, or for polemical purposes?”

    You raise a good point. Aside from my own intuitions of common sense, I’m not sure how one could be compelled to avoid posting certain kinds of pictures with certain kinds of content (where clear legal and moral constraints don’t already hold). It just seems obvious to me that one shouldn’t include certain kinds of pictures (a loved one) with certain kinds of blog posts (polemic and satirical). I’ll grant you, there is no argument (that I can make) for this common sense intuition. I originally thought you might find it at least mildly plausible. I was dead wrong! Shoot me!

    “Furthermore, Randal also uses a picture of a mother and child for “polemical purposes” in his post on “The night Dr. Z became an agnostic.” So was Randal’s use of the picture ‘morally impermissible?’”

    His post wasn’t aimed at the mother.

    “And if you weren’t such a partisan booklicker for Randal, your duplicity would cause you concern.”

    You’re either confused about the meaning of duplicity or the application of the term here.

    “What is unethical about satire? If there’s no general objection to satire, what is unethical about satire in this context?”

    There is nothing unethical about satire as an instrument (the Bible is full of it). The intended use can be unethical. In this case, I have no reason to believe that it was unethical. Patrick had good intentions.

    “The onus is not on me to make your arguments for you. Pull your own load–if you can. And if you can’t, then your allegation is unwarranted.”

    I said that an argument couldn’t be made. You asked if I had considered counterarguments, and I invited you to make one. And your response was to shift burden. Well-played Steve.

    “Except that you framed the terms of your accusation in precisely those terms.”

    I think you’ve confused my response to Bnonn with our argument again. I’ve never said that Patrick did anything morally impermissible. I’ve actually asserted the contrary several times. This looks to be the fifth time I’ve stated this explicitly.

    “Your premises beg the very question at issue. The fact that they are plausible to you is a nonstarter.”

    Well, until we discussed this, it wasn’t apparent that Patrick, Bnonn, or you held that common sense doesn’t dictate that pictures of a certain kind shouldn’t accompany blog posts of a certain kind. I thought you might find it plausible. These things happen all the time. Philosophers make arguments, and other philosophers say “yeah right, like I’d accept THAT premise. you are just assuming it, you can’t prove it.”

    “So you accuse Rauser of wittingly using the mother and child for polemical purposes.”

    You left out satire. *Yawn* While I appreciate a good internal critique, I think most of your attempts at this fail to fully consider my position. If you’re responding on my terms here, you must include satire. If not, then you are just putting words in my mouth.

  15. Justin

    In Rauser’s article “Why won’t Paul Copan respond to Thom Stark?” Rauser says this “So for him to remain silent looks suspiciously like (1) he has no answer and (2) he hopes the whole thing will just go away. But we can never let concerns about careers and reputations and constituencies trump concerns for the truth. So if Paul is unable to respond to Thom he should let us know. If he wishes to retract or revise some of his arguments, he should let us know that too. And if he has decided he needs to adopt a new understanding of scripture he should definitely let us know that.”

    It might be a good idea to remind Rauser of this!

  I don’t post ill-considered articles and I don’t sponsor ill-considered comments. Take a moment to review what you’ve written…