The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

God Squad Review CLXXIII (The Holy Spirit)

June 27, 2006 | 25 Comments

A Squad reader requests biblical proof, or the identification of an event, that establishes the existence of the Holy Spirit. The Squad chooses the scriptural option, citing 1 Corinthians 2:9-13. The function of the Spirit is delineated in Galatians 5:22-23, which describes “the fruit of the Spirit” as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

One atheistic objection, among others, is that this theory implies that these virtues are not truly our own our but are imposed upon us by an outside force. That difficulty, however, is not necessarily solved by declaring that the qualities are evolutionary adaptive mechanisms facilitating the mutually beneficial interpersonal interactions essential to the survival and self-perpetuation of the species within the relevant social environment. For that theory still implies that there is something existing outside any individual member of the species — something which is imposing a preference for a self-perpetuation sustained by love, joy, peace etc. And a preference does not exist in the abstract, but is the attribute of a consciousness with a will.

Comments

25 Responses to “God Squad Review CLXXIII (The Holy Spirit)”

  1. Jason
    June 27th, 2006 @ 8:25 am

    Wtf?

  2. tarkovsky
    June 27th, 2006 @ 8:32 am

    Love, peace, kindness, etc is a cultural meme of course. As opposed to “an eye for an eye” which was probably a deeply entrenched meme in the Middle Eastern/Roman universe.

    The New Testament preaches love/peace/kind cheeseburgers as its values. That they use the expression “Holy Spirit” for marketing purposes is a wacky way to get everyone on the bandwagon. But what’s important is the Idea, not the Holy Spirit, which is absolute pure theocrazy nonsense.

    But the Idea is a Good Thing.
    “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

  3. tarkovsky
    June 27th, 2006 @ 8:33 am

    Historically enclined readers of this blog would like to know if anyone out there knows when the concept of Holy Spirit was introduced into the Christian dogma. It is not in the Bible methinks.

    Anyone?

  4. Lily
    June 27th, 2006 @ 8:46 am

    It is in the Bible. See, among many others, John 20:22. I believe you may be thinking of the formal doctrine of the Trinity. “Trinity” (the word) is not mentioned.

  5. TheSnake
    June 27th, 2006 @ 8:52 am

    Let’s not forget, that the virtues in Galataions are not universal to all human cultures, with the exception of ‘goodness’, which is essentially synonymous to ‘virtue’.
    The question therefore is, if something external to society promotes virtues, why are virtues occasionally contradictory in varying cultures?
    Although partially outside of any individual, the collective of individuals should be quite sufficient to hold and sustain any, potentially evolving, virtues.

  6. Dada Saves
    June 27th, 2006 @ 9:24 am

    Boy, Christians sure are stupid.

  7. Erik
    June 27th, 2006 @ 9:36 am

    No, the atheistic argument is that evolution is a better explanation for the attributes of patience, kindness, etc. Evolution may result in the expression of a preference for one thing over another, i.e., survival to reproduce over dying before reproduction, but to call that “will” is either (1) to utterly viscerate the ordinary meaning of the word “will” or (2) to engage in the time-honored fallacy of anthrocentrism.

  8. Lily
    June 27th, 2006 @ 9:43 am

    Virtues are not “occasionally contradictory in varying cultures.” While the emphases vary, I think you would be hard-pressed to find real differences. For example: where is refusing to help a handicapped person over a curb held up as a virtue (kindness)? Where is flying off the handle with your children or employees a preferred management style (patience)? Where is a tormented spirit a desirable goal (peace)?

    Now, what is not being said here is that these virtues cannot be found in people who do not believe in God. We all know that that is not so. Rather, these virtues take root in and find their expression in people who love God, who might never have been able to reach the degree of perfection in virtue that is made possible to us by God.

  9. sdanielmorgan
    June 27th, 2006 @ 10:28 am

    something which is imposing a preference for a self-perpetuation sustained by love, joy, peace etc. And a preference does not exist in the abstract, but is the attribute of a consciousness with a will.

    Is that a joke? “the attribute of a consciousness with a will”? Why don’t you quit being a pussy and say “God”?

    Have you suddenly lost the last remnants of your reason?

    Three points:
    1) You seem to imply that “love, joy, etc.” need not have been attached to the evolution of social behavior. How can you have socialization without those exact types of attributes, which facilitate cooperative behaviors and altruism [or the illusion thereof]? Basically, what you mean to argue against here is why social behavior exists at all, which you already answered: it is not “chance”, but selected for naturally, and perpetuated, reinforced, and accelerated by the social environment itself from generation to generation.

    2) So your view is now that God preferred joy and love? All that selection “prefers” is survival. If there are other ways to ensure survival, rather than social cooperation, it is likely that we will find those as well…and we do. From insects to us, social behaviors and cooperativity are seen. Alongside socialization, we see fierce competition from animals (and everything else) which are strictly anti-social in the sense that only the individual and its immediate offspring ever cooperate.

    Apparently, God only “preferred” it for some mammals and insects, eh?

    3) Where do you place the different forms of symbiosis in this picture, and cooperative evolution? Parasitism is “selfishness”, and God “poofed” that into parasites in the form of Jeebus’ Anti-Ghost? Cooperative evolution occurs not because of selection coupled to random mutation, but in the same way that the thorns grow longer and giraffe tongues grow longer, primate [including human] clans and tribes as a “love response” to one another?

    this theory

    What theory? The bald assertion, you mean? The bald assertion falsified by the existence of these same virtues [as a function of degree] in other animals? The “theory” that our virtues are not our own? So you undercut the primacy of moral realism, consciousness and existence in one fell swoop?

    My morality is an illusion
    My consciousness is inhabited by another being, thus disrupting the concept of “I” and “other minds”
    My existence is intertwined with my consciousness–if I am not “I only”, then what in the hell am I? “I and the Holy Ghost”?

    This is some fucked up stuff, RA. I think, despite your protestations that you won’t divulge what you think, you already have.

  10. sdanielmorgan
    June 27th, 2006 @ 10:31 am

    *clans and tribes FORM as…

  11. June
    June 27th, 2006 @ 10:56 am

    TRA, what has happened to your logic skills?

    Just because A + B generates C does not mean C pre-existed. When you clap your hands, you get a sound; how does that prove a sound existed before you clapped your hands?

    That peace and kindness make for a better social structure than war and hatred is obvious without throwing a God into the mix.

  12. benjamin
    June 27th, 2006 @ 11:50 am

    Evolution “prefers” that we act cooperatively, selecting for loving parents that find joy in caring for their children the same way that gravity “prefers” to have a bowling ball at the bottom of a hill rather than the top. Let’s not forget that evolution selects for (prefers) those who are able to better manipulate their environment. Let us also remember that this skill has enabled us create and use great big bombs to kill hundreds of thousands of people… at one time! That’s quite the environment evolution empowered us to create. Not exactly kind, peaceful or loving.

  13. severalspeciesof
    June 27th, 2006 @ 11:53 am

    RA,

    You’re just plain wrong when you say: “For that theory still implies that there is something existing outside any individual member of the species ” Evolutionary theory has NEVER implied “an outside force”.

    Just where have you come up with this?

    (I still hear the knife being sharpened. I’m willing to be your first “victim”)

  14. Thorngod
    June 27th, 2006 @ 12:03 pm

    “…something which is imposing a preference for a self-perpetuation sustained by love, joy…” etc.
    “Preference” is the legacy of the biocenotic. May the force that through the green fuse drives the flower be with you!

  15. Choobus
    June 27th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    Where is flying off the handle with your children or employees a preferred management style (patience)?

    It seems you have never worked in a kitchen with a famous Chef!

  16. a different tim
    June 27th, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

    “And a preference does not exist in the abstract, but is the attribute of a consciousness with a will.”

    Nope. Not unless you attribute water’s “preference” for running downhill to “a consciousness with a will”. Which some theists do, of course.

  17. Dada Saves
    June 27th, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

    This is twice now that TRA has injected Magical Thinking into a biological concept. Time to move on to the other sciences, sir!

  18. Lily
    June 27th, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

    True, Choobus, but I have seen that series (produced by your countrymen) Chef! Even though it was often hilarious, I rather think hell might be something like his kitchen. It definitely undercuts any sort of evolutionary basis for virtue. A whole society like that would not last very long!

  19. Eva, Mod.
    June 27th, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

    how dissapointing….

  20. Fallen Sparrow
    June 27th, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

    Dada,
    On what do you support your assertion that Christians are stupid? There are some stupid Christians, undoubtedly, but there are others of great intelligence, and everything in between.

  21. Thorngod
    June 27th, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

    Frustrating: Trying to explain a dumb blonde joke to a dumb blond.
    Still more frustrating: Trying to explain genetics and Darwinian selection to a dumb Christian.
    Do you know who appreciates dumb blond jokes more than anyone else? -Dumb brunettes.

  22. ocmpoma
    June 27th, 2006 @ 7:59 pm

    “For that theory still implies that there is something existing outside any individual member of the species — something which is imposing a preference for a self-perpetuation sustained by love, joy, peace etc.”
    The fatal flaw in RA’s argument is in this sentence, specifically, in the assertion that evolutionary theory implies a force with a preference. As pointed out above, gravitation does not prefer to attract objects. Natural selection does not prefer – in fact, it does not really ‘select’ anything. What happens is, some living things out-reproduce other living things. Their offspring come to dominate subsequent populations. Offspring vary, and so over time, populations do, too. They are not selected, they simply survive and reproduce. There is no preference, and thus nothing to do the preferring.

  23. TheSnake
    June 28th, 2006 @ 1:41 am

    Lily: “where is refusing to help a handicapped person over a curb held up as a virtue (kindness)? Where is flying off the handle with your children or employees a preferred management style (patience)? Where is a tormented spirit a desirable goal (peace)?”

    If you’d think that a handicap is a punishment from God, even touching one would be far from virtuous. I’m sure it’s not hard to find concrete example of cultures with such beliefs. Kindness overall may be seen as a sign of weakness by some.
    And as Choobus pointed out, some people do actually believe that being patient serves no good. Not to mention, that being hotheaded and impatient is sometimes seen as a positive quality in some cultures.
    Third, being posessed or being able to be posessed by gods and demons is considered respectable and virtuous in certain religions. And being excited may often be more desirable than being at peace.
    As for the other kind of peace: “To crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet � to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best.”” — Genhis Khan
    Virtues are attached to a culture and by no means does worship of a god entail adherence to some universal set of virtues. Perhaps the love of God does bring about positive qualities in some people, but it is not true of all.

  24. Another Steve
    June 29th, 2006 @ 6:58 pm

    “One atheistic objection, among others, is that this theory implies that these virtues are not truly our own our but are imposed upon us by an outside force.”

    Whoever said that is getting uncomfortably close to the Truth. They’ll have to start watching their step.

  25. Thorngod
    July 2nd, 2006 @ 2:44 am

    ANOTHER S, I’m not really sure what you meant by that, but you’re sure as hell right–whether you’re thinking it right or not– about “the Truth” of the matter.

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

    Continue Reading...

  • Search

  • Quote of the Day

    • Fifty Random Links

      See them all on the links page.

      • No Blogroll Links