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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

There is no evidence to support the existence of disembodied minds. All evidence that we have regarding concious beings are of embodied. This does not mean that a mind cannot exist without a body, simply that we have no reason to afford the hypothesis any validity. Being able to conceive of the concept is not a substitute for evidence.

And yes, you are equivocating the various definitions of faith. One definition of faith is belief without or in spite of the evidence. Another is to have confidence in something due to the evidence. These are not the same thing and indeed are fundamentally opposed as to the source of faith.

This is why I have stopped using the word faith to describe a confidence based upon evidence and just use the word confidence, as if I were to use the word faith it is inevitably twisted to claim that I am using the first definition rather than the second.

Nobel Prize winning neuro-scientist John Echols thinks there is certainly evidence that the mind can exist without a body, noting how distinct they are, so he leans toward dualism. His expertise lends weight to the evidence against what you're saying.

I guess faith is one of those problematic words. It is varied in it's definition and can land on a scale anywhere from unwarranted to warranted trust, assent, or confidence.

 

I'll have to read some of Echols' papers to see what evidence he sees to support dualism.

You have to understand the difference between what a scientist believes and what a scientist can prove to his peers.

Scientifically speaking, it is ridiculous to say that a mind can exist outside of a body. If you really are interested in this stuff, you should check out neuroscience and all it has made us understand so far about minds and brains. However, my worry is that your understanding of the world relies too much on philosophy and too little on actual science. The former is good, but only if accompanied by the latter.

Thanks for the correction, Adrianna. Seems I have some more homework to do on this. I think you'll find however that Eccles did hold out the possibility of a "soul" or mind surviving the body.

"However, my worry is that your understanding of the world relies too much on philosophy and too little on actual science. The former is good, but only if accompanied by the latter."

 

Radu, don't fall into that trap! That whole statement is a philosophical statement! Your whole reply was philosophical!

 

It's akin to saying, "my philosophy is that people rely too much on philosophy. Philosophically, people should rely more on science rather than philosophy".

Or, "It's my philosophy that we don't need philosophy".

But you are rightfully trying to avoid those self-refuting propositions by adding science into the mix. We both apparently agree that philosophy undergirds the sciences, including various scientific methods.

The erroneous view is called "Scientism". Scientism fails it's own criteria! Scientism cannot be verified scientifically! Scientism is a philosophical view!

Thanks, Adriana.

(Not all my replies posted for some reason).

 

There is no independent data outside the Bible which confirms that life of Jesus. This means that all references that "prove" Jesus are in the
Bible, and as a result, you are committing the logical fallacy of begging the question.

 

I only offered a definition, not a defense of Christianity. But I can't believe you said there are no extra-biblical sources for Jesus! Even if that were the case, you are unduly penalizing the New Testament documents as sources for Jesus.

 

Also, the second type of causation
you mentioned committs the logical fallacy of ad-hoc and violates Occam's razor.

 

It is not ad hoc to propose, on Theism, that systems are in place and do not necessarily require God's direct intervention.

Occam's Razor only says we should not multiply causes unnecessarily. If there are 10 steps to a process we don't need to posit 11. William of Occam was a Theist btw.

 

GOTG is not necessary for theistic arguments.

We'll get into the sources for Jesus if you wish (some 42 authors writing about him within 150 years of him).

 

Of course God can and does intervene in his creation. But that doesn't mean every phenomenon is a direct intervention in some anthropomorphic way . Lightning is fully explained by nature ( but that takes us back to the existence of nature itself, etc.)

And I was merely pointing out that William was a theist, not appealing to authority. But surely, as a theist, he considered whether his own principle violated his view. No one has ever shown that OR cuts out God.

 

We know a lot more about the universe than William did. Several things for which a deity may have seemed parsimonious at the time we now understand how they developed with need for extraneous entities.
Chronological Snobbery. William recognized a principle which can be applied at all times.

The principal can be applied, yes. But like all principals, its accuracy is dependent on the data available. In programming lingo, GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. 

 

Newton's theory on gravity is inaccurate. We had to learn a lot more about the universe before we figured that out, but it does not mean it was not inaccurate then nor is it 'Chronological Snobbery' to say it was inaccurate. If Newton had the advantage of the extra centuries of accumulated knowledge that Einstein had, he may have come up with relativity himself.

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