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Matt on “Divine Commands and the Canaanite Massacre” at Windsor Park Baptist Church

April 11th, 2016 by Matt
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Matt’s talk “Divine Commands and the Canaanite Massacre” at Windsor Park Baptist, is  now available online. Matt’s talk was part of a series of talks hosted by “Reasons for Faith” an apologetics group based at Windsor Park Baptist Church.

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An Interesting Comparison

February 4th, 2016 by Matt
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This from Occupy Democrats:

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This from the Unites States Founding Fathers:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. (emphasis mine)

Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

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Towards Belief Auckland, 26 and 30 November 2015 – with Dr Matthew Flannagan

November 22nd, 2015 by Madeleine
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Towards BeliefTakanini Community Church in Auckland are hosting a Towards Belief event with this blog’s Matt.

Towards Belief follows Australian pastor and host, Karl Faase as he travels to the UK, USA and Australia to interview more than thirty leading authors, speakers and academics as they seek to defuse the top belief blockers of our time. This 10-session DVD series responds to the questions of the seeker and clarifies the answer for the Christian.

Dr Matthew Flannagan, New Zealand theologian, apologist, author and teacher hosts the Towards Belief series for NZ churches, leadership teams, youth groups, study groups, small groups, and provides a Q&A opportunity as part of each session.

Towards Belief

Why Towards Belief is important – Matt’s take:

In New Zealand today, there is a significant fall away rate of Christian youth upon attending University. A recent study by Fuller Theological Seminary in the US discovered that

one of the most significant factors in determining whether a person who comes to the Christian faith as a teenager endures years later is whether they have been able to adequately discuss their intellectual doubts and questions with Christian leaders.

Those who were able to explore such questions and gain some resolution were less likely to fall away whereas those who didn’t tended to leave the faith when confronted with questions at university.

In addition to this the rise of social media, and popular books by people like Richard Dawkins or even movies like the Da Vinci code has meant that skeptical attacks on the Christian faith have become more popularised and more accessible to audiences previously who would only have been confronted with such issues in higher education. In light of this it’s crucial that the Church be willing to address the standard questions people are raising.

The series introduction for pastors, youth leaders and key church staff involves free sessions involving Q&A and supper. Details are:

7pm, Thu 26th/Mon 30th November
Takanini Community Church
160 Great South Road, Takanini, Auckland
Register: info@takaninichurch.org.nz

There is lots more information about this event on the event organiser’s Towards Belief page, including information as to how to book a Towards Belief course for your New Zealand church, so check it out.

For more information in general about Towards Belief go here.

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Matt in Atlanta

November 18th, 2015 by Madeleine
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Book on saleMatt has safely arrived in Atlanta and I thinks he has forgiven me for his hotel (we did not realise just how really bad, and somewhat entertaining, the Trip Advisor reviews were until just before he left).

The first day of the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical and Theological Societies is underway. His book “Did God Really Command the Genocide of the Caananites?” is on sale and he tells me he has been asked to be the speaker at the Evangelical Philosophical Society reception tonight at 8:30pm at the Hilton – Grand Salon C.

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Matt Elected to the Executive Board of the Evangelical Philosophical Society

November 15th, 2015 by Madeleine
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Evangelical Philosophical SocietyCongratulations to this blog’s Matthew Flannagan who was just elected to the executive board of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Congratulations also to Frank Beckwith, Paul Franks who were also just elected to the board.

Matt, Frank and Paul will join the existing board, who can be seen at the above link. Their first meetings are in Atlanta next week. As far as I can tell, Matt seems to be the first kiwi scholar to hold the position.

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Hear Matt’s Three Talks on “Questions People ask”

October 29th, 2015 by Matt
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Recently Matt spoke at  Orewa Community Church, as part of their series on “Questions People ask”. His three talks: “How can there be just one religion?”, “How does God allow suffering?”, and “Hasn’t Science disproved Christianity?” are all available to listen online to here.

Real Questions People Ask

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Richard Carrier and the “Infantile” objection to God’s command’s

October 27th, 2015 by Matt
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In his article, “Why Traditional Theism Cannot Provide an Adequate Foundation for Morality”, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argued that a “Divine command theory makes morality childish.”[1]

In my response to Armstrong, “Is Ethical Naturalism more Plausible than Supernaturalism?”[2] I made two points. First, I addressed a tangential point: that Armstrong’s argument caricatures divine command theory (“DCT”) by tacitly assuming that divine command theorists believe actions are wrong because God will punish us for doing them. Second, I called into question the analogy Armstrong draws between a child following one’s parents and humans following God.Carrier

Richard Carrier, in his reply to my article, “On the Facts as we Know them, Ethical Naturalism is all there is”,[3] objects to both these responses.

The motivation of punishment
Carrier dismisses my first point as “disingenuous” stating,

(a) that he is “not aware of any DCT advocate who is actually a universalist”; and

(b) “Every time a DCT advocate has ever threatened or warned anyone of hell (or even just the loss of heaven) in reference to their behaviour, they expose what they really think the ground of Morality is: the fear of consequences.”[4]

Neither argument is cogent. Let us look at (a) first. The philosopher most responsible for developing and defending DCT in the last fifty years, Robert Merrithew Adams, is a universalist. Given that Adams’ discussion is definitive, and most of the literature in the last thirty years discusses his arguments, Carrier’s claim that he is “not aware of any DCT advocate who is actually a universalist” speaks only to his lack of reading and knowledge of the subject.

Premise (b) expresses a non-sequitur. Even if, as is true, many divine command theorists are not universalists and even if some have warned people about divine punishment, then it does not follow that those people believe that fear of punishment is the ground of morality. At most it shows that those people believe in divine judgement and they see it as one reason to avoid wrongdoing.

An analogy might illustrate the mistaken logic here. All people I know believe that prisons exist and I have known some of them warn others that if they commit a crime they will go to jail. It does not follow from this that that these people believe that jail is the only reason one should not commit crimes.

Straw manning Armstrong and missing the real target
Carrier’s response to my second point fares little better. He makes two objections:

(i): “[Armstrong’s] point about infantilization is not the point Flannagan is responding to. Flannagan thinks he means something to do with children obeying parents (and therefore we can build a comparable analogy to adults obeying God that does not infantilize).”

(ii) that Armstrong’s real point, that “Adult moral reasoning is based on actually caring about the people affected by our actions and thus wanting to do good, as opposed to actually not wanting to do good but begrudgingly doing it anyway to avoid punishment” remains untouched.[5]

Once again, both objections fail. In respect of (i), contrary to Carrier’s protestation, Armstrong does speak of children obeying parents and does draw an analogy between adults obeying God and children obeying their parents. Here is what Armstrong says:

“A second objection is that the divine command theory makes morality childish Compare a small boy who thinks that what makes it Morally wrong for him to hit his little sister is only that his parents told him not to hit her and will punish him if he does. As a result, this little boy thinks that if his parents leave home or die then there is nothing wrong with hitting his little sister. Perhaps some little boys think this way but surely we adults do not think that Morality is anything like this.”[6]

This section of Armstrong’s work was directly quoted in my article.

This brings us to (ii), even if Armstrong was making the point Carrier attributed to him in this section of his paper, it is mistaken to conclude that I never addressed this [Read more →]

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