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Hi All,

I recently responded to the "I'm Not a Christian Anymore" thread. As a philosophical Christian Theist, I hate to see people reject Christ due to misconceptions. I offered some thoughts.

I was challenged on God's existence and nature so I'll offer some thoughts for anyone who would like to discuss. I find it's always necessary to dispel straw men and define terms first.

Motivation. I am interested in civil dialogue on what I think is the most important issue of all time. I think there are more distractions keeping people from the knowledge of God than at any time in history. Yet, I think there are more reasons to believe Theism is true than at any time! It's too important to just view these discussions as a contest - to win the debate at all costs.

No matter how one feels about the "Religious Right", an obnoxiously religious family member, or atrocities done in the name of God, etc. Theism just may be true.

Humility is required in the quest for truth. Respect is required for those on the quest. I hope to offer both.

Worldview. It all comes down to which worldview best explains the data of the universe. If Naturalism is true, then atheism follows. If Theism is true, I think Christianity is the best theistic option.

Classical (or Christian) Theism.  Something is ontologically ultimate and therefore eternal and necessary. It is either something of the order of matter, or something of the order of mind. Theism holds to the latter and a conceptual analysis leads to God who is the personal Creator, is powerful, transcendent, and distinct from "his" creation yet active in it.

Christianity. The view that God revealed himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christ's claims concerning himself are true and he is authoritative in everything he taught or affirmed.

Faith. Broadly, faith is the assent, or trust, or affirmation that a proposition is true. It has been defined on a scale from "blind faith" (fideism) to reasonable (or informed, supported) faith. I hold to the latter.

Faith is not a way of "knowing something",  it is the application of what you know (or think you know). Some form of faith is a component of virtually everything in life - from the scientific method to personal relationships. But faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. All the faith in the world will not make something true.

One ought to place one's faith where the evidence points, even if one cannot prove the proposition 100% or does not have exhaustive data.

Proof. While it is difficult to prove something 100%, one can nevertheless offer and consider proofs (reasons or evidence). 100% certainty is not necessary for a view to be justified or considered knowledge. I offer proofs for Christian Theism not "100% proof".

A cumulative case is also often necessary. I think various arguments combine to show Theism is true.

Burden of Proof. When debating a question, (e.g. does God exist?) anyone offering answers to the question bears the burden of proof. All views make truth claims. All truth claims bear the burden of proof. Whether one defends Naturalism or Theism one ought to offer reasons why.

God of the Gaps. Theists need not argue from what we don't know. Arguments for God can be based on what we do know from science or philosophy.

Further, God can employ Secondary Causation, wherein initial conditions or systems produce perpetual effects (e.g. weather systems produce lightning).

God and Science. An eternal, transcendent Creator does not preclude us from rigorously exploring the universe and discovering how it works.

(You may be interested that I reject "Young Earth Creationism". I don't think it's the best biblical explanation and it certainly is at odds with known science. "Yom" in Genesis can denote long periods of time).

Thank you for reading this far. If anyone is interested I can sketch out some arguments for God for discussion.

 

Kevin H

 

 

Tags: Christianity, God, Science, and, atheism, blind, burden, creationism, earth, faith, More…gaps, god, naturalism, of, proof, the, theism, worldview, young

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Replies to This Discussion

Hello again Kevin. I would like to give you some kudos for you effort. It is better than most attempts made here. An attempt to reach a mutual understanding of the meaning of the terms to be used is always respected. I do however disagree with most of it after a first read through. You state that you are philosophical Christian Theist. Most of what you write is based on a Revealed Theology with that assumption that the Christian god is the one to consider. Therefore it would be difficult to use Natural Theological arguments?

“Faith is the assent, or trust, or affirmation that a proposition is true”. The words “without evidence” at the end of the sentence would improve the definition.

“It has been defined on a scale from "blind faith" (fideism) to reasonable (or informed, supported) faith.” Who has defined this scale? Reference required please. By “informed” do you mean reading the bible or being in groups who discuss it?

As the promise of Infinite life after death is a major part of Christianity I would really like some evidence of it, even a tiny scrap. If you have no evidence would you say this point can only be taken on blind faith alone? There are those who contend (Augustine) that we must have Faith before we can have knowledge of revealed truths. For a theist this is fine but for me it is a violation of intellectual integrity. Is it possible most people refuse to, or are afraid to consider Atheism is that we do not care for such a promise? If as Schopenhauser speculates Atheism offered immortality, do you think belief in a god would be discarded without a second thought? An interesting idea over a few beers maybe.

I agree with you that all claims require proof. Would you agree that there is a difference between proof and persuasion? In a philosophical debate we need to remain focused on the logic of demonstration and not on the psychology of persuasion.

The Ontological arguments for Christian theism as propounded by Anselm and later Descartes are too time consuming for here but (I assume that), as you have used the term you know what I mean. I will just say the Hobbes and later Kant destroyed them beautifully. However any other arguments are welcome.

God of the Gaps: If Science was used properly by theists most of them would cross to this side of the floor. Religion and Science are not compatible. Faith is the friend of theology. I have no need for either. Science is however the ally of philosophy of reason and logic.

I am glad you reject YEC beliefs as they are idiotic and I refuse to entertain debating such in case they assume they have any validity to their case. The delusion has made them dangerous rather than just pitiful. As a theist you must be even embarrassed for them that they say they believe in the same god as you. I feel myself cringing when I hear them speak. It’s almost a physical pain I get in my brain. Am I part of the same species? Maybe there is another split on the cards. I can’t prove they make me feel this way but you can take my word for it. Their beliefs are holding up the intellectual progress of the rest of us Homo sapiens :-)

"I would like to give you some kudos for you effort. It is better than most attempts made here. An attempt to reach a mutual understanding of the meaning of the terms to be used is always respected. I do however disagree with most of it after a first read through. You state that you are philosophical Christian Theist. Most of what you write is based on a Revealed Theology with that assumption that the Christian god is the one to consider. Therefore it would be difficult to use Natural Theological arguments?"

Thank you! I would only begin with arguments for Natural Theology (NT) on this forum. They would be first in building a cumulative case. For example, as to Christian Theism, I think NT arguments (like the Kalam Cosmological Argument) get us in the stadium, proofs for the claims of Christ can get us to home plate.

"As the promise of Infinite life after death is a major part of Christianity I would really like some evidence of it, even a tiny scrap".

I'm not sure what Augustine meant but I think his statement was in the realm of Revealed Theology (the Scriptures) stating if we "draw near to God, he will draw near to you". If we're faithful with the broader revelation of God in nature, we'll get more revelation from him. FWIW, I have personally found this to be true.

While we might consider a (very) few good cases of Near Death Experiences, work in Mind/Body Dualism, etc., I would cut to the chase and look at Christ's resurrection. If the historical arguments go through, then it seems we have a divine miracle on our hands!

The Ontological Argument is getting a major second look due to the work of Alvin Planinga. It has come roaring back lately. But I am way behind on it.

 

"Faith is the friend of theology. I have no need for either. Science is however the ally of philosophy of reason and logic".

 

Apparently you do have a need for it! You're engaging in and apparently interested in Theology! Your whole post is theological! Yet, thankfully you have also included nods to science, reason, and logic. That's all I'm trying to do. In the same way, theology is the ally of science, philosophy, reason, and logic. Theology is the study of God and all those things come to bear in that study.

That’s why I suggested getting the meaning of terms used here understood first. My whole post is not Theological. It discusses Philosophical arguments that have been put forward in the past. I cannot see how theology is the ally of science. I do not see theology as a study of God. It is a study of religion insofar as it helps people understand their specific religion or any other one if they wish to study it. Theology assumes god exists, i.e. it is a given that HE (not she or even It in the spirit sense) exists. It then goes on to defend itself. Philosophy ponders whether god exists or not. It is because of this assumption that god exists and my assertion that god is only “known” by having Faith that I said I have no need for either for faith or theology.

Alvin Plantinga makes assumptions in his rehashing of the ontological argument. It is again assumed that god exists and is the perfect being or is the maximum greatness something can be. But “Existence is not a predicate” as Kant said. That is we have to ASSUME that something exists before we can give it characteristics. I however don’t give him too much credence because he started lecturing on Intelligent Design. I cannot give intellectual assent to anyone in the Ken Ham school of thought.

BTW looking to the wonders of nature or near death experiences are not evidence of a god. If they were why the Christian god ?

Define something as you wish but you are using non-standard definitions. They are typically called non-standard because they aren't good. Theology is broadly the study of God and can include the study of religion. It is a theological study to even determine whether a particular theological view can be defended! One does not have to assume God exists in order to study the concept. That is Theology. You and I are doing theology right now.

You are rigorously defending "Scientism", the view that physical science is the only way to determine truth, or that our current scientific theories best describe reality. Scientism, however, fails it's own tests! You cannot determine whether Scientism is true via the material scientific method!

I said earlier I agree with you that something is not "known" by faith.

 

BTW looking to the wonders of nature or near death experiences are not evidence of a god. If they were why the Christian god ?

 

That's not what you asked. You asked for "one tiny bit of evidence" for an afterlife. I suggested a few headings.

The Kalem Argument is ancient. Craig has possibly improved on it and he makes good effort to use it as a proof of god existence. Again it has to make assumptions before it gets off the ground. It is relatively easily to debunk. It is not enough to get me to satnd up never mind get me into the stadium. As for the Home Plate what are the proofs for christ that you mention ? I would love to see some.
I'm working on everyone's request that I post an argument for God.

My request is that you post evidence, not an argument only. That's because arguments can start from faulty premises.

So please, I'm asking you for the millionth time, tell me what are the good historical grounds for the veracity of the supernatural claims made in the Bible. When I asked you exactly why you believe, you said you believe because there are good historical grounds for whatever miracles Jesus supposedly did. What are these historical grounds?

Kevin;

   I read your post several times through, but I'm sorry - I can't find a single example of what you promise: EVIDENCE.  

So what would constitute good evidence?  How about some earthly phenomenon that can ONLY be explained by a God?  I don't see any such example in your comments.

To me, it appears that what you provide is more akin to a REASON - for you, at least - to believe in God.

If you were truly honest with yourself, though, you would realize that the core reason for you to choose to believe is FEAR.  All religion is based on one thing: fear of death.  Homo sapiens is the only species that knows it is going to die - therefore the only one that has found it necessary to invent religion in order to assuage that fear; and very few members of our species have the courage to accept that truth.  So frightened humans conjure up some deity that will promise everlasting life (kind of a Santa Claus for adults). Sadly, in order to maintain that belief, more thoughtful theists like yourself struggle to connect them to some kind of scientific legitimacy.  But I'm sorry, Kevin, it just doesn't exist.  The real salvation is in the acceptance that whatever existence you encounter after death, it is the same as you experienced before birth.  What's to be afraid of? 

I think he opted to keep the "evidence" he has lofty, invisible, unspecified, mysterious, and unexplained.  You know, like his God.

We all know religious people don't like their faith questioned as they have alot of time invested in it, not to mention an afterlife to protect :)

Unfortunately for them reality doesn't go away when you close your eyes and plug your ears.

 

I have read some of the comments to this post, but not all of them as they're too freaking many. That also means you have a lot on your hands to deal with, so I will make this thread possibly the simplest one. I understand that you believe in the Christian god, his son Jesus and all that. I don't care exactly what you believe for now, because I just want to clear some things out first. Just note that I'm talking about your belief in the Christian god, not just a creator of the Universe.

Now, the fun part. Please choose the options that describe the reasons for your belief!

 

a) Considering all evidence that I know of, for and contrary to my claim, I can demonstrate mathematically that my claim is probably true.

b) My claim is a scientific hypothesis which has passed the scientific method, i.e. it makes predictions and these predictions haven't been falsified to this point.

c) I feel that my claim is true.

d) I have certain personal experiences that make me believe this claim.

e) I don't have evidence or math on my side, but I have faith.

f) I really, really want to believe.

 

I think I pretty much covered everything, but if you want to surprise me and have another reason to believe, please describe this reason. The short version is preferred because further questions will arrive if I need edifying.

Thank you in advance for your collaboration!

Thanks, Radu. I think it could be summed up:

 

  • I think the claims of the historical Jesus of Nazareth are true and we have good historical grounds supporting that. The context of his claims and the phenomena that go with him make sense if only one other hypothesis is true: that God exists. I think the case for Theism is superior to competing worldviews so I think the hypothesis is true. 
Any personal experiences I have concerning my relationship with God I judge within the context of the above and the theology that flows from it.

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