Let me say first, Kevin, that I am not trying to convince you or anyone that theism is true -- which would be too ambitious a project --but only that it is reasonable, at least as reasonable as its naturalistic competitors. The true and reasonable are distinct. Antithetical views could both be reasonable, but not both true. At the end of the day, after all the dialectical smoke has cleared and all the arguments pro et contra have been weighed up, one has to simply decide what one will believe and how one will live. Taking your second question first, you are right that to prove the existence of a First Cause of a certain description (necessary, ontologically simple, absolute, wholly immaterial, etc.) is not the same as to prove the existence of the God of the Bible. In any case, it is not exactly clear what the God of the Bible is. Is he trinitarian in structure? Or unitarian? Is he ontologically simple as Aquinas thought? Alvin Plantinga would disagree. So even establishing the identity of the God of the Bible is no easy task. There is also a problem about establishing which would-be Biblical writings are indeed canonical. When a Protestant says, 'Sola scriptura,' I want to say: Which scripture? Your list or mine? And note, you Protestants out there, that to establish the canonical list will take more than a mere appeal to scripture. Otherwise you threaten to move in a circle of embarrassingly short diameter. You have to use your noodle, your unaided reason. And so you need to invoke that Greek thing called philosophy. So it is not a good idea to be contemptuous of it, in the manner of the good Luther, who pronounced reason a whore. (If he were alive to day he would have said that reason is a lawyer. But I digress.) So one mistake to avoid is the simple identification of the God of the philosophers with the God of Isaac, Abraham and Jacob. But an equal and opposite mistake is the one made by Pascal, that of divorcing the two as if they have nothing to do with one another. Faith and reason are two means of access to the same reality.Bill has more links on the subject, for those interested. For myself, I'm with Aquinas and I see the two images of God as more than likely the same. I recognize, however, that I do not know this by way of reason.
Monday, June 13, 2005
This post reminds me of that debate I had with Andrew way back when we were both still wet behind the ears (blog-wise, anyhow). The difference is that The Maverick Philosopher is able to make his points in far less space than your truly.