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Unless one were to believe the bulk of Christianity mistaken, the fathers inept, even the apostles and disciples, perhaps in cases Jesus himself, completely oblivious to the ideas one now holds as resolute, required, jot and tittle for salvation, then one must humble and tame hubris.

The fundamental idea of Christianity is that God is related to humam well-being, exemplified through the life and sacrifice of Jesus. The myriad variety of Jesus-ideas among denominations speak to attempts at explaining that fundamental idea. Aside from variety, some utterly fail to that end.

Though it ought to be clear that particular God-talk or particular Jesus-talk cannot be part of some “plan of salvation”, it’s still not so clear to some.

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On Society And Ideology

When it dawns on people that morality isn’t libertarian, that it is completely set in the context of community rather than the individual, the more fortunate in society will stop scapegoating the poor for the problems the poor face, and at the very least, know that the most definitive role of government is exactly the redistribution of wealth and not to the more fortunate but to the least.

You cannot be a responsible moral agent while thinking you deserve something others don’t because you, individually, have earned your circumstances anymore than the poor have earned theirs. Society has allowed your success, your abilities are inherited, and work and effort alone almost never accounts for ones circumstances. Bust your ass, get fired or layed off, and ask yourself after a month without an income whether or not it was something about you and your ability to work and desire to work that has you now homeless.

Healthcare and why we would dare think it is optional or that only those who can afford it deserve it is immoral. We cannot imagine seeing a person drop, having a heart attack, and a person offering to give them CPR if only they would give them $5.00. No, any otherwise decent human being wouldn’t blame the death of the heart attack victim on the victim for being caught​ alive without $5.00 but on the would be savior whose primacy is money not morality, society. That savior is no savior but a literal parasite on society.

Capitalism in the United States is no longer a balance of symbiotic relationships but has, as many theorists predicted millennia ago, begun to consume itself. And since its context is society, capitalism consuming itself simply entails to consuming persons because there are no more other resources left for it to consume. We have tied morality not to society but to narratives on why capitalism isn’t failing by largely scapegoating that it obviously is.

Society is made of people. Ideas on how to manage people are simply ideas and cannot be stagnate. The current discourse of the conservative is objectively immoral and are attempts to harmonize dissonance that something truly is wrong with society. The current liberal disconnect with society in addressing real persons with something other than rhetoric is just as immoral.

But once again, when it clicks that morality is only found in society, in community, then we will all see that moral discourse begins with language that includes everyone and not simply one group or other, much less what’s simply “good for me”.

Just a thought.

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About Last Night …

The idea that there are a set of beliefs which we must privilege is mistaken. The idea that one set of premises supply warrant to a proposition only if they cannot lead to other conclusions is mistaken as well. The idea that warrant is absent from beliefs about brute facts is mistaken. Here’s why:

If we take “I exist” as a belief that I must take axiomatically, on faith, and that there is no warrant for such a belief, then there are no other warrantable beliefs which arise from it. In other words, as an axiom, all ideas related to it are tautology. Tautology only proves other tautology and certainly we don’t mean by “warrant”, “proof”, because real states of affairs are our concerns rather than simple rational thinking. It may be true that all of the same “reasons to assert” “I exist” can be the same reasons for the idea that I am all that exists, there are no other minds, reality isn’t real, and so on, but the “reasons to assert” are “warrant” and it simply turns out that there are many conclusions that are warranted using the same “reasons to assert”.

So, is the belief that “I exist” taken on faith since I can believe something else? No! Again, you have warrant for the belief and for additional reasons aside from the shared “reasons to assert” something else, you cannot believe alternatives otherwise. They honestly do not seem to be the case. Being convinced, being certain, or some other psychological state has no bearing on the fact that you believe “I exist” is the case. That is to say that I may have doubts, psychologically, when confronted with some other argument against my belief that I exist, but I do not doubt in any genuine epistemological sense that the actual state of affairs is that I exist.

Since doubt and reserving judgment and belief all require warrant, then my belief that “I exist” is immediately a justified, warranted belief because it occurs naturally, uncontrived, and obviously to me more than any other thing I may wish to believe about reality. It cannot be said that this belief lacks justification because I have not deliberated the matter. The fact that I may be wrong about “I exist” isn’t justified grounds for me to doubt “I exist”. There is no place then for faith with respect to my existence. It is from experience that the idea has occurred to me and experience is the reason the belief is justified, as it sustains the belief “I exist” rather than defeats it or casts genuine doubt on it.

This is true of all such primitive “brute facts”; whether or not I have blind faith in my senses, or that my trust in my senses does in fact have warrant; whether it is a matter of faith that the next moment will be consistent with previous moments; whether there are other minds, and so on.

The object of faith is belief. The object of belief is a state of affairs. One need no faith at all in these beliefs about these states of affairs because each has warrant. And, even if we simply assume these propositions without committing to believing them true or false, we still are not acting on faith. We have simply adopted a set of propositions, provisionally, in order to ferret out a full sense of what the implications of them could be.

I personally do not take these things provisionally but as matters of fact that I know as fact and that I have complete justification for in spite of competing ideas. I do not take any of these on faith as my confidence about my belief relies on objective reality, not hope, and empirical experience affirms rather than conflicts with my belief. I need not privilege this belief because it is just as open to revision as any other belief that I have, and all of those are revisable because of the fact that there is an objective reality. How do I know there’s an objective reality? Well, non circularly, I just explained it. The key is, knowledge is not privileged either. It is a collection of justified beliefs. I know there is an objective reality because to doubt there is is to literally pretend for the sake of doubt.

Quite simply, there are no beliefs about any other states of affairs that have more grounding than these which have in this conversation been named “properly basic”. They require no faith to believe. We can accept them provisionally or adopt them and induct them into the realm of human knowledge. Either would be done through, and only through, warrant. However, they are still beliefs and should be given no special privilege, open to the same revision as any and all other beliefs should.

“Let us now return to our biconditional (T): the assertion that p is true if and only if (really) p. The intuition that this sentence expresses could also be reformulated as such: an assertion is true if and only if it is the case as was asserted. We can now think what ‘place’ such an explanation of the concept of truth can have in our practice of making assertions. This practice is of a ‘normative’ kind: assertions are moves in a language game that are “justified” or “unjustified”. We are entitled to assertions if we have good reasons to assert that p, or if we have convinced ourselves through our perception that p — or also if someone whom we have good reason to trust has said to us that p (i.e., reason for the assumption that this Someone could provide good reasons). What we learn when we learn a language is — among other things — to judge in a reasoned way and to distinguish between justified and unjustified assertions (convictions). This suggests a new interpretation of the biconditional (T), which no longer frames it as an attempt to interpret truth as an agreement between statements and states of affairs, but rather as an attempt to determine the place the word “true” has in our assertive and justificatory praxis. Accordingly, we could now read the biconditional as such: someone is justified in asserting that p is true precisely when he or she is justified in asserting that p. And this could now be further interpreted as saying: to say that an assertion is true is nothing other than to say that the assertion is legitimate (grounded, justified). Truth would then become no more than “warranted assertability” or “rational acceptability.” The concept of truth would consequently be drawn back into justification.”

(Albrecht Wellmer, “The Pragmatic Turn In Philosophy: Contemporary Engagements Between Analytic And Continental Thought”, State University Of New York, 2004, Page 96)

“There is no property of truth intrinsic to the explanation, but only a vast array of explanatory stories of the identical form, none of which need use the predicate (Truth) and none of which, therefore, requires the identification of any mysterious property or relation to which the predicate might supposed to refer.”

(Pederson & Wright, Truth And Pluralism: Current Debates, pg. 264)

“According to model-dependent realism, it is pointless to ask whether a model is real, only whether it agrees with observation. If there are two models that both agree with observation … then one cannot say that one is more real than another. One can use whichever model is more convenient in the situation under consideration.”

(Mlodinow/Hawking, The Grand Design)

“We cannot begin with complete doubt. We must begin with all the prejudices which we actually have when we enter upon the study of philosophy. These prejudices are not to be dispelled by a maxim, for they are things which it does not occur to us can be questioned. Hence this initial skepticism will be a mere self-deception, and not real doubt; and no one who follows the Cartesian method will ever be satisfied until he has formally recovered all those beliefs which in form he has given up. It is, therefore, as useless a preliminary as going to the North Pole would be in order to get to Constantinople by coming down regularly upon a meridian. A person may, it is true, in the course of his studies, find reason to doubt what he began by believing; but in that case he doubts because he has a positive reason for it, and not on account of the Cartesian maxim. Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts.”

(C.S. Peirce, Some Consequences Of Four Incapacities, Journal of Speculative Philosophy [1868] 2, 140-157)

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Interview At “The Place”

Live at 5 PM CST, tonight.

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What’s The Point Of God-talk?

I wish more Theists were intuitive in talking about “Why God at all?” It should be simple. Years of study in Epistemology will all distill to a single, simple fact of the matter answered from another question, “Why do you feel God exists [or doesn’t]?”

The Theist answers “I get the impression God exists”, and then goes about defining God. We can talk about the Atheist response, but it begins and ends with simply adding to that response “don’t”; “I don’t get the impression God exists”.

Being that “God” is a metaphysical proposition, there are no facts for any person to know what “the case with God” is, and so we are left with impressions. Each of us are justified in our respective responses to the question. Anyone arguing other “facts” of the matter of God is not rational to the extent needed in order for someone else who is, to take them seriously. And for the Theist, all of his work is ahead of him, for the Atheist is justified in simplicity; sticking just to the impression alone. While the Theist, also having an impression (in both cases, Theist and Atheist, the impression takes more work to doubt than believe), has to tread carefully about the comprehended “God” he MUST create in order to attempt to describe the incomprehensible God he feels exists. That work, for the Theist, is nearly undone completely and always in arguments that never connect the Theist nor the Atheist. Worse, that some purported connection with his God fails to connect him to humanity and then every narrative he could construct would have no practical end but the effect of even the most devout Theist rejecting each and every one of them. And all of this must naturally exclude from any conversation those holding to “credo quia absurdum”!

Is there any work though for the non believer? Only inasmuch as owning all beliefs must be justified, owning no facts exist to satisfy his perhaps venting appeal to Positivistic thinking that “all beliefs must have evidence to justify them” (which is untrue), and particularly owning that reason itself is not that which justifies his belief “The assertion ‘deity exist’ is false”; given the rational premises of arguments are irrationally accepted on the sole condition that they “make sense” rather than being inherent truth-containers — for rational proofs prove only sentence structures and sentence relations, and some please us and “feel” right where others do not; and of course that it is a trivial matter to produce any logically valid argument for the existence of God, given the premises indeed only need to conform to essentially, syntax rather than actually having any real quality or appearance of “being the case”.

The justification for either believer or non believer is only, and can only be, “it makes sense to me that …”.

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If one believes that there is nothing a person can do to be saved, it is then incoherent to say there is something one must do in order to be saved; and that, believe.

Quite simply, God is goodness itself. We are icons of God, and since God is actively present in the world, we are drawn to that which is good. That presence is called grace. That draw is called “pistis” in Greek, translated as faith (not episteme). Atonement is found in participation with the good; the “hilasterion”, the “place of atonement”. The experience of doing good, which is atonement, is transformative. This is salvation.

There is always this idea of individual and general resurrection in theology and this is what most equate salvation with. This, then, is the former, individual salvation. For humanity, and given the Jewish understanding of temple practices, Jesus is the High Priest and his sacrifice is for all people and the act itself, regardless of what anyone thinks, feels, believes about it, is expiation. To depart from that idea is to not understand Judaism nor the relation between Israel and Jesus. General resurrection is, on this view, humanity’s response to God’s restoration of the world through mankind itself, made possible through Christ.

Grace and faith are gifts from God, efficacious entirely, for salvation. These are universal because God is omnipresent and he has created us all, bent toward the good. If so, then “pistis Christou” implies salvation is though the faithfulness of Christ, not faith in Christ.

One cannot decide what to believe about Christ or about God; we always believe what we think some case is. To say belief (episteme) is required for salvation is to say Adam is superior to Christ because damnation is most certainly universal but salvation is not. Too, putting belief as a requirement for salvation is to begin enjoining ideas of gnosis. In that case, one ought to read Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” for insights on such ideas; ideas that have ultimately encroached and embedded themselves in Christianity as many understand it today.

We are icons of God. We are sacraments of God through Christ any time we enjoin the good. We in God and God in us, each time we do. Transformed with each encounter. To coin a phrase from Eastern Orthodoxy and the early church fathers, the teleology being “theosis”.

There is little reason to scripturally suggest epistemic beliefs — propositions about God and Christ that must be believed on command, on coercion, on threat — get us anything but fear and certainly not salvation.

Where, after all, is a single doctrine or creed from Jesus the Nazarene?

Just a thought.

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On Evangelicalism

Evangelism, truly it is the calling of every Christian. My thought is the meaning of what “good news” (the gospel) sounds like.

A so named Evangelical may find his tradition told this way, largely because he knows no other traditional gospel message than his historically new one:

“I have good news for you! You are a terrible wretch by nature and the object of God’s wrath. But, the unconditional love of God can be yours on the condition that you believe Jesus is God but not God, he died but didn’t, and paid the price for the nature he gave you, but didn’t, and your salvation is entirely up to you, but isn’t, if you only choose to believe all of this, but can’t.”

Other than outrageous the more one inspects that “good news”, the more one finds the shallow basis for it and little good is found in it.

“I have good news for you! God loves you as you are, unconditionally. Neither you nor He will be happy however, until you have the fullest life possible. Through the life of Christ, we see how humanity is supposed to be and committing ourselves to living as he did is the way to that life. You are your own judge and God wants you to stop it. Live for others and love and you will have found yourself and God in the middle of it all and everything will have changed for you, for God, and for others. The only choice is not much of one: can your life have more meaning and can this way of being in the world provide it?”

Two very different and distinct gospels. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone knows both views are scriptural, one is from Augustine or from Abelard, and so on. What matters is whether or not there’s good news in either, or in any of the dozen or so theories of atonement (which no Christian collectively agrees on). The story of the gospel you accept will be from a tradition basing theology on the problems you have for Christ to solve, be that fear of hell or the need of afterlives or be that existential angst and peace through “fitting in” to the human picture. All address purpose. All gospels, however they’re told, reduce to a purpose for you through a belief about the purpose of Jesus of Nazareth. There is no dogma for this man that has not been man-made long after his death.

What is a matter of fact is any gospel can be good news to someone else, but only if the story you’re telling is literally good news as they see it.

Culturally today with the decline of Evangelicalism proper, it’s easy to note that fewer people find its story good, and more and more, find it actually morally and intellectually bankrupt. The solution isn’t to be sectarian and damn the world for not getting it. It is for the Evangelical Christian to realize his is a tradition of thought and belief among many varied Christian thoughts and beliefs where many collide and clash often in total disagreement; each appealing to the same scriptures, showing only more so that either is indeed following a tradition of interpretation rather than some certain, propositional, unassailable truth.

Honestly, when society doesn’t have the “problem” of heaven and hell — which hell, fire, and damnation preachers of the 20 century actually removed by making it meaningless themselves, much like hearing Adele’s “Hello” continually played on every radio station, but for generations rather than a month or two — then hearing “Jesus died and rose again!” is only good news for Jesus.

At this crossroads in the entire body of Christ, it’s time to revisit very, very old songs that sung now, will seem completely new; finding a home because it is actually relevant again to the problems people really have today.

Just a thought.

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