Fisher Explains the Moralistic Fallacy to Agnostic

Fisher:

Mr Hendricks,

Thank you for agreeing to speak with me. You recently posted on an Open Theist Facebook group challenging Open Theism. I was very interested to speak with you about your views, so suggested this conversation which can then be posted to GodisOpen.com . You where amicable to such an arrangement, so I appreciate your willingness for dialogue.

I guess a good place to start is you. Can you tell us your background and your theological convictions? I am particularly interested in your views about the Bible and the authority of the Bible in your theology.

I await your reply.

Hendricks:

I was raised in the Nazarene church and started doubting their version of creation in my early teens. I have been agnostic since college and did not see much value in devotion to a nonhuman entity
So, from what I gather, you are not necessarily a Christian. That is a useful starting point.

Fisher:

About myself: I agree with much of what Yale Professor Christine Hayes says, and she too (like you) is not a Christian. Her scholarship extends to Old Testament theology. Her concerns, much like my own, is not whether the text is true or false, but an accurate reconstruction of Jewish ideas.

I believe that only after we examine the Bible can we then determine the truth of the Bible. I would assume you believe the same. Right?

Hendricks:

Examination is the first step to truth

Fisher:

Absolutely. You post on the Open Theism page suggested that mere revulsion had some sway on the truth of a mater. I would like to suggest that it does not. So if God is in your words “open-minded, fallible, somewhat mortal one” this would not be enough to determine the truth of who God is not.

This fallacy is formally known as the Moralistic fallacy. The moralistic fallacy is the informal fallacy of assuming that whichever aspect of nature which has socially unpleasant consequences cannot exist. Its typical form is “if X were true, then it would happen that Z!”, where Z is a morally, socially or politically undesirable thing. What should be moral is assumed a priori to also be naturally occurring.

So, I assume you would agree that “who the God of the Bible is” has no bearing on if He does or does not exist.

Hendricks:

I love this view of Biblical truth …

Fisher:

Again, that is the moralistic fallacy, rephrased. You are assuming that revulsion is a guide to truth. Whereas, in reality, our preference for a thing has zero bearing on the truth of that thing. Right?

Hendricks:

I have a bigger issue than this … I don’t believe in creation.

I find the concept of a human centered universe with a single non-human divine creator to be very egoistic arrogant. To assume our species deserves the singular focus of a being that creates all is ridiculous.

Fisher:

Creation is a bigger issue. But I am wondering if you understand the moralistic fallacy. This is important because it really is at the heart of so much false theology and false religion.

Your second point is again a moralistic fallacy. We cannot “will” reality into being.

Hendricks:

Talk about truth … this guy gets to the point of religion in general.

Fisher:

Not all Open Theists believe in hell. Some are annihilationists, some believe hell is just a place away from God. But this, to me, does not seem like a legitimate argument concerning the God of the Bible.

Secular Old Testament scholar, Christine Hayes talks about hell and explains how it is really not a facet of Old Testament religion. So acceptance of rejection of hell has little to do with acceptance or rejection of the God of the Old Testament.

After this, Hendricks does not respond.

Post discussion notes: it seems Hendricks did not have material objections to either Christianity or God in general. He did not seem to acknowledge the moralistic fallacy or recognize its use. Use of that basic fallacy shut down his most pressing arguments.

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