So I’ve finally written the rest of this; I’m going to split it up and publish parts 2-4 in relatively rapid succession. I will put parts 3 and 4 in a queue.
Read Erdvig’s original article here.
Read my original refutation here.
Read Fowler’s critique here.
Read Part 1 of this article here.
On “Clashing Worldviews.”
It is not “inadequate” in any way to point out that using God to justify one’s arguments will not convince someone who does not believe in God. It is simply stating an obvious fact. It doesn’t matter in this context whether God exists or not: If one is trying to convince someone of something, if one uses God to justify one’s argument and that person does not believe in God, one will not convince that person by that argument. In order to convince me using God, you must first convince me that God exists. Truth value does not matter: It is impossible to convince somebody with an argument that they believe to be invalid. I am also not a “postmodernist,” despite Fowler’s allegations. For one thing, I do not think it is wise to give fixed time periods labels deriving from a non-fixed reference point. Strictly speaking, one should not be able to call something “postmodern” if it already exist. And labeling one’s own age as “modern,” without acknowledging that this age will soon be in the past, is hubris in the extreme. Semantic quibbles aside, I have addressed my opinions on the existence of truth in my previous essay; all accusations of my complete moral relativity are false. I do believe in an absolute truth, and can even quote scripture to support it. Fowler asks about my religious beliefs. I am an agnostic. Simply put, I have not found any evidence that empirically proves or denies the existence of a deity or deities. I think it is likely that no such thing exists, but I cannot be sure until I die, and despite all the homophobia and transphobia in the world, I am in no hurry to do so. Therefore, I will spend my life working for the best interests of humanity as best as I can (frankly, whether this article helps that goal is doubtful), and not let anyone use religion to convince me to act like an a-hole.
Fowler makes the very problematic assertion that “[H]uman experience does not define the Bible. The Bible defines human experience.” This is preposterous (I can find no other suitable word) on so many levels. First, the Bible is defined by human experience. Humans wrote it. Even if they were divinely inspired, those humans used their own human experience of language and culture to define what words they wrote down and what metaphors they used. If Moses or Paul had spoken a different language or lived in different cultures, would the Bible be the same? Definitely not. Even the words alleged to have been spoken by Jesus himself were defined by human experience: his human experience determined what language he spoke in; all the parables and agricultural metaphors were shaped by human experience; and even the situations that prompted his words came from human experience. Then, the actual texts that made up the biblical canon were decided on by humans. They claimed divine guidance, but it would again have been informed by their human experience. When you add to all of that the human experience of the people who translated and retranslated your Bible (most people don’t read Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic), it becomes truly impossible to claim that human experience does not define the Bible.
Then the part about how “the Bible determines human experience.” For parts of history, for some human experience, for some people, yes. But what about all the people who lived before the Bible was written, or at least before the canon was finally determined? What about the people who lived in areas that never had contact with anybody who knew about the Bible? Are they not human? It is true that the philosophy outlined in that volume has directly and indirectly affected the human experience of many people, either through their own beliefs or through policies based on other’s beliefs in the Bible, but there are or were many who were never so affected, and of those affected, not all could be said to have their experiences defined by the Bible or its fallout. And then there are the parts of human existence that the Bible has no bearing on. Nothing in the Bible directly defines the process of watching TV or typing on a keyboard. The content of the TV program or the passage being typed may be defined by the Bible, but it could just as easily be defined by anything else. Maybe if one has very strong biblical beliefs one’s entire personal experience is defined by the Bible, but that takes a very high level of personal religiousness and a constant state of applying the Bible to all situations. Few people have that, so a general statement that “human experience is defined by the Bible,” applying to most or all humans, either is just plain incorrect or else implies that non-Christians are not human, which is even more worrisome.
Then, there is the issue of “normal human experience.” Fowler implies that what is normal must be right and that what is abnormal must be wrong. This is a standard ad populum fallacy, and I think I need say no more. However, if he wishes to continue his erroneous reasoning, let him consider this: According to a basic Google search, 1 person in 500 is transgender, and 1 person in 17,000 is albino. Which one should he therefore call “unnatural” and define as not “acceptable”? If Fowler’s “standard of truth” is normalcy, he should go persecute albinos and vote in favor of abortion and gay marriage. So then if something becomes a statistical norm, would he still deny it the appellation of “normalcy”?