Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Things to Ponder

I am taking tonight off, but I think the following links might be of interest to regulars here. I suppose I could just as easily have used this, but I'll persist in pounding the keyboard because I'm nothing if not old fashioned. (Tip: Anal Philosopher) Bill Vallicella is on a theological tear over at The Maverick Philosopher. First, he offers an comparative examination of Naturalism and Theism. He suggests, as I tried to do in my debates with Bound By Gravity's Andrew, that both of these are belief systems. Naturalist often seem to be in a state of denial about this. I liked this syllogism:
Every belief is either true or false No brain state is either true or false So, No belief is a brain state.
Vallicella also discusses the problem of evil in response to a question from the Anal Philosopher, asking why the Asian Tsunami does not shake belief in God. Bill responds in various ways, showing the strengths of the Theistic response. For example:
If someone argues from the fact of evil to the nonexistence of God, that person assumes that there is indeed an objective fact of evil, and thus, an objective distinction between good and evil. A sophisticated theist can counterargue that there cannot be an objective distinction between good and evil unless God exists.
There's a reason Theism has been around for thousands of years; it has seen and survived disasters before. This is not because, as some yokels like to claim, "everyone before Woodstock was stupid." The Maverick even has a dynamite quote from C.S. Lewis: How to avoid God. I stumbled onto an interesting new blog tonight, Diachronic Agency. While I was there I found good advice for certain unnamed bloggers (certainly not me!) who never really attempt to engage those they oppose. They make no attempt to understand the premises from which their opponents work and when they are unable to reach them, they slam them as stupid right / left whingers. Diachronic says, of this phenomenon:
I am, in sum, calling us cowards: you, me, and all of us who take solace in the thought that those big meanies with whom we would like to argue simply won't let us. Arguing is difficult enough for people who live in reality and confront each other as respected equals. It is impossible for cowards who live in self-exculpating fantasies and address not people but their own preconceptions. This (if you think about it) is as it should be.
The Anal Philosopher has an interesting question about homosexuality. I'm interested in hearing responses. John Ray responds to the recent flurry of debate on the Trinity by claiming that Arians had it right. Ray is alternatingly wonderful and excruciating to read. Arians, for those not in the know, deny that Christ was anything but a man. They therefore deny the incarnation and the resurrection. If you do that, however, you are no longer as Christian, as Paul tells us:
if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
There is nothing wrong with Paul's logic, and that means Arianism is monotheistic, but it is not Christian. My response to the Trinity? I'm not going anywhere near the debate about substance and person. I think it is plain that if you accept Christ, you must accept that he is risen. And if you accept this, you also necessarily also accept God the Father, and the Spirit, which he said he left us. So how can God be one? I think the best response is that it is a mystery. I don't think this is a cop out. We do well to dwell on the mystery of the incarnation. It's a marvelous thing to ponder. It reminds us that we don't know it all, that we don't have all the tools needed, that God is very, very big and very, very mysterious. It reminds us that no man is an island; that interrelatedness is important. We don't fully grasp the concepts of time or space so why is it so hard to accept that we fail to grok God's nature? Humility isn't that painful, is it? Ok, now I go.

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