The reading continues – Chapter 7 preview

It is with shock and guilt that I realize that it’s been a month since I’ve posted last. My intention was to back off from posting while studying for the actuarial exam, but not to the point where I totally fail to keep updating. I’m not even that good at studying, although the stairs did get built after many trials and torments. I think that I was probably forewarned about home ownership. I pick up my CSA vegetables on Monday and go to track practice on Tuesday, at least until indoor soccer resumes. This weekend, I’m going to Leadville to run in the Heavy Half Marathon. When I signed up impulsively, I didn’t know that “Heavy” meant 15 miles. My regrets are also heavy. Every time I think about the huge climb and the inevitable oxygen debt, part of me thinks I’m going to die I’m going to die I’m going to die!

One thing that I wanted to mention was that I’m curious about the people who are reading this. I can see from my stats that most know me in some capacity, but if anyone wanted to leave a comment hinting at who they are, I’d appreciate it. Double that sentiment for the people who got here from my Facebook page. Many of my Facebook friends are Christians, since many are childhood friends. When I got divorced, a very small mix of concerned friends and intrusive busybodies had input for me, but I’d fallen out of regular touch with most people by the time that I was ready to discuss my deconversion with my family. Even if one happens to see an old friend while visiting the hometown, it’s a hard subject to bring up – oh hi Jim, how lovely to see you! You have a new job and a new kid, that’s great. Oh me? I’ve joined a soccer team and left Christianity… So in the end, the only people I ended up discussing it with were my father and a few groups of online friends who weren’t part of my childhood.

It still feels strange to me that I’m so publicly open online, where anyone can read my thoughts about an important subject, while almost never talking about these things in real life. I don’t care to become the sort of person who tweets about my bowel movements, and I do intend to send this entire missive (minus the interludes about stair building and studying) to my father when I finish. I guess that I started blogging about it because it was becoming internally weighty, and I didn’t want it to feel like a secret or something that I was hiding.

To be quite honest, not only other priorities but reluctance to deal with the next chapter has slowed me down. It might be best to just dive into it headfirst and write about my thoughts instead of trying to form organized rebuttals. I certainly am aware that I’m not the gold standard of anti-apologetics – I’ve just been writing down personal thoughts and research on the conclusions of more thoughtful people this entire time. Yet I feel that this next chapter starts dealing with the issues on which my non-belief hinges. Having to lay it out in a coherent manner scares me a little bit. I’ve read the chapter in advance, and I don’t feel that the arguments laid out are the best arguments or well-reasoned. But that doesn’t remove the problem of answering in a thoughtful way. Maybe it’s best to recognize that I will never be able to address all the issues surrounding the moral law argument, talk about a few things, and move on.

The thing that particularly blows me away about the moral law argument is that while it may seem valid as a stand-alone philosophical argument, the specific document of the Old Testament is one of the worst possible examples of its universality. The argument that the author seems to be building is that the moral law is intuitive and that we react instinctively against immorality (p 173). And I can think of specific examples in which I react instinctively against what I believe to be injustice. I recoil at the practices of condemning a woman to death for not yelling loudly enough to be heard when being raped in the city, of women being forced to drink a potion that could cause miscarriage if their husbands suspected them of adultery without evidence, or of a slave’s refusal to leave a wife and children in slavery resulting in him having to be a slave for life. The author says that moral values are practically undeniable (p 173). If I take him at face value, I can not help but conclude that the writer of the laws of the Old Testament is morally bankrupt.

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