Fundamentally Flawed Extra: Dustin Segers and Reynold Hall

In the latest podcast, Reynold Hall goes toe to toe with Dustin Segers on scripture. Thanks to Alex, Dustin and Reynold for a great debate.

Listen to Fundamentally Flawed Extra: Dustin Segers and Reynold Hall here.

As well as having direct experience of Dustin’s presuppositional mind games myself, I’ve also read elsewhere on-line that he struggles when it comes to what the bible actually says about lying and, quote, “God’s deluding influence” upon people as a judgement of their actions, when he’s faced with someone who matches his unquestionably thorough knowledge of the bible. What I didn’t expect was for him to fall apart so quickly, when presented with the sorts of mental gymnastics he has to perform in order to dodge certain issues.

We hear more of the same fall-back on “atheists can’t account for absolute morality” when Reynold presses him on this, but to his credit Dustin does give a very well thought out come-back on slavery, for example — and the social context in which those passages of the bible which actively encourage it should be viewed.

Sadly, he immediately cashes-in any points for good effort he might have earned, by doing so in a way which proves beyond doubt that the bible was written by fallible men (while apparently labouring under the illusion he’s actually doing the exact opposite) by asserting that the ultimate message of the New Testament was that it should inform a “new covenant” with God; that it should be viewed as a framework for a “new understanding” of God’s will, and not as an endorsement of bronze-age morality as applied to a modern understanding of ethical issues.

The fact that this perfectly demonstrates exactly what we’ve been saying to Dustin all along, about the fact that we do not need the bible to know right from wrong, because altruism, group solidarity and morality are an emergent property of our evolutionary heritage (which transcends and predates Christianity by several hundred million years) is a point which he seems determined to wilfully ignore — despite our repeated attempts to explain the abundance of evidence that supports it, which we touched upon in a previous podcast, wherein Dustin outlined exactly how little regard he has for evolutionary biology and scientific evidence — presumably because he knows full well what it means for his perennial “God did it” schtick.

It gets better. He digs himself even deeper on the issue of infanticide and genocide. I don’t want to spoil the podcast for you too much, but basically if God says it’s OK, it’s OK. That’s right folks, if the all loving God, Yahweh, decides to arbitrarily break his own rules, then lying, cheating, murder, rape, slavery and genocide are no longer immoral. POOF! Gone, just like that — simply because He deemed them a necessary means to an end. Oh but, by the way, atheists are the ones who espouse moral relativism and are incapable of accounting for their morality, reasoning and logic without being viciously circular.

Keep taking the pills, Dustin. And please, for the sake of humanity, never vote.

3 comments on “Fundamentally Flawed Extra: Dustin Segers and Reynold Hall

  1. 11 minutes.
    That’s all I could handle.
    I mentally switched off when I heard Dustin say that babies could receive forgiveness.

    However, I’d love to take one issue up with Jim.
    He says, “altruism, group solidarity and morality are an emergent property of our evolutionary heritage (which transcends and predates Christianity by several hundred million years).
    I would like to question his science (evolutionary heritage), and then weigh up emergent (?) goodness against Christian morality.
    Maybe another pod cast some time?

    “Random”, “emergent” and “God-did-it” are synonyms, all meaning, “I don’t know.”

  2. You’ve mentioned the “random” thing before and I can’t work out if you’re using in the way that it often gets used by people who think that genetic mutation is a completely random process, or if you’re using it in the correct sense, where it refers to specific nucleotides which are inserted and deleted at regions of the DNA sequence in a way which appears random, but actually falls within a very specific range of transposable elements in up to 2 base pairs.

    I assume the latter, since we’ve already established that you’re perfectly willing to accept that natural selection is a scientific fact, but I’m confused as to your particular focus on this terminology, because the only time I see it being bandied around with reference to evolution is from those who think it is the Darwinian explanation for speciation; that there is a random process which takes place at the level of the species, as opposed to the organism, when in fact “genetic drift” only occurs when a population’s allelomorph frequencies change due to random events at the level of population, such as the result of changes in environment and availability of food, for example.

    “Emergent properties” is one of those phrases alongside “worldview” which, try as I might, I can’t seem to avoid. They enable a degree of succinctness which it’s hard to resist, but at least they’re descriptive up to the point where they’re easily understood by a general audience, without being overly verbose. But, while I acknowledge they encourage a certain grammatical laziness, I don’t agree that the phrase “emergent property” per se is synonymous with “I don’t know” or “we don’t know”. In the context I was using it above, it is clearly a reference to the wealth of publicly available data which explain how complex patterns arise from simple interactions.

    Consider by analogy the influenza virus, which mutates so gradually that if just 90% of the population are immunised, the remaining 10% will be protected from infection. So far so good, but with global travel becoming so commonplace, and the fact that it only takes the virus a relatively short period of time to mutate, even relatively well immunised populations are becoming vulnerable again within 6 to 12 months, because there is a selection advantage to the virus in becoming immune to the neuraminidase inhibitors used to target it. The virus mutates quickly because of very small changes in its genes which nevertheless have an extremely large net effect on its ability to survive as an organism. But these changes do not and cannot result in an influenza virus suddenly becoming a giraffe, no matter how many billions of years you wait for it to happen — which, believe it or not, is what people like Dustin and Eric think evolutionary biology actually proposes.

    I don’t think there is any such thing as “Christian morality”. While I agree that certain shared values, with regard to the social contract and the rule of law, find their sociological origins in the spread of literacy and numeracy spearheaded by eighth century monks (we’re very proud of the venerable Bede in my part of the world, for insistence), I think it’s quite a leap to then assert that previous to the spread of Christianity across the globe, people were naught but savages who thought of murder, rape and incest as anything less than abhorrent and anathema to human flourishing and well being. So too the idea that previous to graphic depictions of a bloody crucifixion, popular folklore didn’t contain themes of redemption and sacrifice simply isn’t borne out by the facts. Indeed, the very commonality of these concepts throughout Pagan, Greek and Egyptian mythology, attests to the fact that humans had been having a conversation with each other about concepts of forgiveness and compassion for tens of thousands of years previous to the establishment of an apostolic church.

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