RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 149 QQ Sir Bertrand Russell is critical of the view that Jesus was Moral Paragon

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On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

Image result for harry kroto

I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:

Arif Ahmed, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BatePatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky,Alan DershowitzHubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan FeuchtwangDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Hermann HauserRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodHerbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart Kauffman,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George LakoffElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlanePeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff,  Jonathan Parry,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceLisa RandallLord Martin Rees,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisNeil deGrasse Tyson,  .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John WalkerFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,

In  the first video below in the 14th clip in this series are his words and I will be responding to them in the next few weeks since Sir Bertrand Russell is probably the most quoted skeptic of our time, unless it was someone like Carl Sagan or Antony Flew.  

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

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Quote from Bertrand Russell:

Q: Why are you not a Christian?

Russell: Because I see no evidence whatever for any of the Christian dogmas. I’ve examined all the stock arguments in favor of the existence of God, and none of them seem to me to be logically valid.

Q: Do you think there’s a practical reason for having a religious belief, for many people?

Russell: Well, there can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true. That’s quite… at least, I rule it out as impossible. Either the thing is true, or it isn’t. If it is true, you should believe it, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn’t, you should suspend judgment. But you can’t… it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful, and not because you think it’s true.

Nathan Ketsdever

Defining Terms:

Russell’s definition of Christian is helpful because its an improvement from one which only looks at people who label themselves Christian. Unfortunately, the second component of the definition deals with the issue of religiousity or adherence to creeds.

Even if Russell is Nearly 100% Correct–Christianity is True:

Russell really doesn’t answer the core two arguments for faith, and as such doesn’t do what He sets out to do:

  1. Historical Jesus http://www.garyhabermas.com/
  2. Sin and Redemption and Heaven

His answer to Thomas Aquinas doesn’t recognize the definition of God, so basically strawpersons his argument (ergo not refuting it).

Moreover, most people find evidence in their own lives, the lives of their friends. And faith is experiential and relational in nature–not a math problem or a spreadsheet.

Neglecting these four arguments is a T.K.O. to his argument.

Jesus as Moral Paragon:

He contradicts himself on the ethics of Jesus, at the beginning saying he was a good person and then later saying he wasn’t. In fact at one place Russell claims to be a Christ follower in terms of his behavior, so this would seem to be the acid test on this question.

Skepticism as Methodology vs True Critical Thinking:

This is not critical thinking….this is skeptical thinking. Skeptical thinking doesn’t help us to act or lead. It helps us justify our inaction.

True critical thinking takes place by:
1) precision and specificity
2) representivieness
3) comparison and context
Comparison and context are almost always lacking in his arguments. And there is no evidence to suggest his examples are representative. Merely asserting examples is not enough. So on both of these accounts as well as that skepticism will never lead to action, but paralysis, the Russellian case falls and falls hard.

Abuse of Ideology/Abuse of Christian Values

People abusing “religion” in pursuit of their own personal idols is an argument for faith and humility. This captures the vast majority of Russell’s true criticisms of Christianity. However, again…this would (often) get back to a question of what is Christian behavior. All ideologies in the history of men and women have had to deal with this issue (security, human rights, democracy…the list goes on). Why should ideologies have to justify themselves in the face of people abusing their texts and ideas to do the exact opposite of intended.

Christianity, Fear, and Grace

Russell’s other problem with religion deals with fear, but fails to take into account actual credible arguments for the Christian faith which mean those fears are rational. For instance, denying all fears, denial of sin, denial of death–all seem to be bad denials. Second, I think the notion of grace and forgiveness–something I’m not sure Russell is entirely acquainted with is a way in which his argument about fear falls apart. Third, atheists play both sides of this coin (ie Christianity is comforting), so I’m not sure of these arguments it true. The real scientific evidence, however, says that Christians are more mentally fulfilled and balanced than atheists. [sorry there are multiple citations here from meta-studies of peer reviewed science]

The Rest of Russell’s Mixed Bag of Arguments:

Russell’s attempted refutation of natural law seems stressed given he runs up against the laws of science. But attempts to deny causality undermine science as much as they do Christianity. Plus, even Quantum Mechanics didn’t end the laws in various disciplines of science or change causality in social science. We live in a world of cause and effect, although not a perfect one. If you want more nuggets to chew on in this regard, you might check out Penrose on the failure of physics: Discover Interview: Roger Penrose Says Physics Is Wrong, From String Theory to Quantum Mechanics [note: I’m suggesting here a criticism of physicalism or perhaps rather the limits of physicalism]

Russell plays to the issue of bad design with rabbits tails being an easy target, but this is a question of mutualism, food chains, and much bigger systems than Russell analyzing.

Russell also makes an argument for steady state, but given his time of speaking, I’m going to assume he didn’t know the Big Bang would win out–which further suggested the Universe needed a cause or prime mover.

Russell at one point inserts “its all just probabilities” (not exact quote) for an argument that needs much more development. At best this seems like a weak application of perhaps Quantum Mechanics (although I think his speech predates its discovery and popularity I believe). Fred Hoyle’s (and others) mathematical analysis of probabilities stands as mathematical evidence. And there are a number of these probabilities in terms of fine tuning in the universe, the Penrose number, the evolution information, and not to mention scientific laws themselves as well as math, geometry, and the periodic chart.

Finally, many of Russell’s arguments amount to name-calling and assertions rather than arguments that have both claims and warrants. For instance, Russell mentions dogma, but never defines it or contrasts it versus principle or explains why dogma is a bad thing.

At the end of the day….when you miss the message of Christ…..you miss the message of Christianity. By failing to do so…..Russell ends up criticizing a straw-person of Christianity rather than the Risen Savior from Nazareth.

Source:
Evidence for Its Fine Tuning

Sorry I don’t have a link for the Penrose number or the peer reviewed literature link soon hopefully. Here is one of those mega-studies however:

A 2012 review of more than 326 peer-reviewed studies of mainly adult populations found that out of those 326 studies, 256 (79%) found only significant positive associations between religiosity/spirituality and well-being. The author postulated that the positive influence of religion or spirituality on well-being can be explained through a few key mechanisms, such as religion’s role as a coping strategy and as a support system for prosocial behaviors. In addition, religious beliefs can potentially alter the way individuals cognitively react to stressors, and often, the regulations of most faiths decrease the likelihood of individuals experiencing particularly stressful life events (such as divorce or incarceration) (2).

Source: Spiritual Engagement and Meaning

We need a transcendent ontic point of reference which only God can provide. Naturalism doesn’t provide a transcendent ontic point of reference.

Nietzshce proves atheism to be wrong, not the other way around.

This is Ravi Zachrias, who is an amazing thinker explaining, “Why I’m Not an Atheist” Zacharias has an acute and on-point understanding of the human experience, history, and philosophy. He is simply an intellectual force to be listened to and experienced. He weaves quite a case for Christianity:

Ravi at Princeton University – Why I’m Not an Atheist

Published on Apr 17, 2013

SUBSCRIBE 213K
Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale spoke an overflow crowd at Princeton University titled, “Why I’m Not An Atheist.”

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Francis Schaeffer below:

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Francis Schaeffer noted in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (p. 182 in Vol 5 of Complete Works) in the chapter The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science:

In his lecture at Acapulco, George Wald finished with only one final value. It was the same one with which English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was left. For Wald and Russell and for many other modern thinkers, the final value is the biological continuity of the human race. If this is the only final value, one is left wondering why this then has importance. 

Now having traveled from the pride of man in the High Renaissance and the Enlightenment down to the present despair, we can understand where modern people are. They have no place for a personal God. But equally they have no place for man as man, or for love, or for freedom, or for significance. This brings a crucial problem. Beginning only from man himself, people affirm that man is only a machine. But those who hold this position cannot live like machines! If they could, there would have been no tensions in their intellectual position or in their lives. But even people who believe they are machines cannot live like machines, and thus they must “leap upstairs” against their reason and try to find something which gives meaning to life, even though to do so they have to deny their reason. 

Francis Schaeffer in another place worded it like this:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

We all know deep down that God exists and even atheists have to grapple with that knowledge.

Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” (Living Bible). No wonder Bertrand Russell wrote in his autobiography, “It is odd, isn’t it? I feel passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all? There must be something more important, one feels, though I don’t believe there is. I am haunted. Some ghosts, for some extra mundane regions, seem always trying to tell me something that I am to repeat to the world, but I cannot understand that message.”

Take a look at this 7th episode from Schaeffer’s series “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? The Age of Nonreason”:

How Should We Then Live – Episode Seven – 07 – Portuguese Subtitles

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Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible.

Schaeffer then points to the historical accuracy of the Bible in Chapter 5 of the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

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Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Great debate Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript and audio (Part 2)

Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of UK/BBC copyright. Pardon the hissy audio. It was recorded 51 […]

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Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 4)

THE MORAL ARGUMENT     BERTRAND RUSSELL But aren’t you now saying in effect, I mean by God whatever is good or the sum total of what is good — the system of what is good, and, therefore, when a young man loves anything that is good he is loving God. Is that what you’re […]

Bertrand Russell v. Frederick Copleston debate transcript (Part 3)

Fr. Frederick C. Copleston vs Bertrand Russell – Part 1 Uploaded by riversonthemoon on Jul 15, 2009 BBC Radio Third Programme Recording January 28, 1948. BBC Recording number T7324W. This is an excerpt from the full broadcast from cassette tape A303/5 Open University Course, Problems of Philosophy Units 7-8. Older than 50 years, out of […]

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