31 Oct 2017

Two Pacifists Fight on Twitter

Religious 12 Comments

I screenshotted (screenshot?) it because I think the embed feature would screw up the order, but this was a pretty big gulf in our worldviews:

Here’s Bryan’s post.

12 Responses to “Two Pacifists Fight on Twitter”

  1. David R Henderson says:

    I don’t follow. You’re saying salvation isn’t in your utility function, which surprises me, or you’re saying it isn’t in Bryan’s?

    • Bob Murphy says:


      Not sure if the order is clear from the above image, but the back-and-forth went like this:

      (1) Bryan tweeted a link to his post with the caption, “The Protestant Reformation led to millions of deaths. And for what?”

      (2) I thought that was a silly question, sort of like saying, “The people pining for freedom led to millions of deaths. And for what?” but much worse, since we’re talking about the fate of your soul in eternity. So I sarcastically retweeted him and put words in his mouth by saying with quotation marks, “Salvation isn’t in *my* utility function!” I.e. I had Bryan assume away the obvious answer to his rhetorical question.

      (3) Then Bryan called my bluff, arguing that even if we *do* take into account the fact that people think their eternal souls hang in the balance, that nonetheless they should’ve taken opportunity cost into account before supporting a statement of what they think are the true facts of salvation.

      (4) So then I pointed out that Christians are supposed to value their souls more than anything of this world.

  2. JimS says:

    Millions of deaths? Far, far off. I hear this all the time about the crusades as well. The numbers range from several thousands to tens of thousands.

  3. R.L. Styne says:

    Dr. Luther’s revolution has no positive effect on your salvation anyway!


  4. RPLong says:

    Bob, how many millions of deaths would you have to observe before you start to question your definition of salvation?

    I realize this question is very hypothetical, since you’re never likely to see that number, but I think it strikes at the heart of the debate. Sure, a theist should always do right by his god, but isn’t it also true that a theist never fully understands his god, and thus may at times be led astray? If so, the moment when people start dying seems to be a good moment to start circling back and making sure one is really doing the right thing.

    Isn’t that the issue here?

  5. Kevin Regal says:


    I, of course, agree with Bryan that wars and deaths are bad, but he seriously oversimplifies the history when he blames it all on the Reformation. Post hoc ergo propter hoc? He does seem to assume there would have been no wars in the sixteenth century if Luther had just have kept his qualms about indulgences to himself.

    • Mark says:

      Right. I was under the impression that the different political powers aligned to Lutheranism or Catholicism more based on political expediency than on theological conviction.

    • Tel says:

      Yeah, I can sniff a little bit of victim blaming creeping in.

      Twitter is mostly designed to force people to oversimplify everything and turn themselves into total morons (just my opinion, and why I avoid it).

  6. Fred says:

    Overall, the Protestant Reformation is a religious matter that the State made into a political concern. It was outright illegal in many places in Europe to not practice the religion that the State had picked. In England, it was in many cases a capital offense to practice Catholicism, after the Protestant Reformation. In Spain, it was illegal to practice anything other than Catholicism, before the Protestant Reformation. So, the Protestant Reformation didn’t bring about religious freedom, but it was definitely an excuse for one state to wage war against another.

    Wait a second. Why are a bunch of anarchists accepting the State’s justification for oppression and war as anything other than an excuse by the State to grow its power?

  7. R.L. Styne says:

    And of course, all the philosophical materialists and atheists in the comment section should check out Jordan Peterson’s commentary on religion and the basic fundamentals of society. Enlightening stuff in the era of internet fedoras.

  8. Tel says:

    Is there a first derivative of salvation? Is it possible to be partially saved?

    I guess when you are dealing with millions of people it averages out, but each individual would be thinking in terms of one person’s salvation.

  9. James says:

    According to the doctrines of the reformation, salvation depends on God’s sovereign will and nothing else. If God is going to save your soul then your soul will be saved, reformation or no reformation. The reformation might have had material benefits but the idea that even one additional soul was saved because of the reformation is impossible. God does not need a reformation to extend grace to a sinner.

    A Roman Catholic might say that salvation depends on accepting the authority of the church, in which case the Catholics were guilty of not trying hard enough to squash rival doctrines.

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