Shit Apologetics

Since the Enlightenment at least, faith has come to be associated with epistemological belief.

Since epistemological belief is about warrant, and since many explain “you just have to have faith”, one admits that faith isn’t about belief if belief is indeed about warrant.

Since the apologist apeals to faith as a reason to say some proposition is true, said apologist openly admits to his naysayers accusing him of not having evidence and good reason to think so, that in fact, they’re right!

Faith is the appeal in every single instance where evidence and reason are lacking.

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No Choice

If God cannot act against His nature, then volition and will are accidental attributes.

If God chooses the best in all circumstances, then God has no genuine ability to choose.

The only sense in which there is then meaning in saying God wills is not in meaning God is volitional or that God has choices.

It is meaningful to say that God wills because all of creation, as it is, is a product of His nature which is literally uncontrollable; in such a case, volition and personality are senseless ideas to any coherent conception of God. God’s will is synonymous with His nature and He cannot do otherwise.

To suggest God can do otherwise is to think God isn’t consistent in the face is similar circumstances; God loves on Tuesday but then not on Saturday, for example, or God loves unconditionally, except … which granted, many people are still comfortable calling such a thing “God”.

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It’s on you, buddy!

“Onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat.”

Better known as the Burden Of Proof.

Onus only applies to speech acts. Actually, it only applies to one speech act: assertion. Onus is then about language and disputes. The above actually translates: The burden is on the one declaring, not the one denying.

Onus is not about obligations one has to themselves about what they believe. It only applies to conversations, when a person asserts something is true. However, even if a person asserts, onus doesn’t necessarily apply. If I assert, “The Cowboys are number one!” in a room full of Cowboy fans, no one is going to ask me to justify why I think that’s true. There is no dispute, no disagreement, no denial. The Principle Of Cooperation is the predicate of onus.

Importantly, note that disclosure is a type of speech act that many confuse for asserting, and then think onus exists — “I believe that is true” isn’t an assertion but disclosure about how one is disposed, not asserting what is true of some state of affairs.

Yes, of course we ought to justify all our beliefs, but this ethical obligation is not a conversational obligation, and onus applies to the latter, not the former. In fact, all dispositions including denial require warrant. Another reason this distinction matters. Onus and warrant are very different things.

The difference that makes a difference is that I may have warrant to believe P, but I may not have any ability to assert P; I also may simply disclose my feelings about P; I may not have justification for P but may not have onus when asserting P; in fact, I may have warrant and assert P, yet onus is on the one who doubts P.

“I exist” is an entitlement (and if you don’t like that one, pick any entitlement); I can therefore assert P but there is, by definition, no way to justify asserting P.

“I believe that P” obliges me to have warrant for the belief, but this is not an assertion about P but what I believe about P, and so, bears no onus.

Third, the Dallas Cowboys are number one; everyone’s a fan.

Finally, to spark further thought on the subject, one should ask who has onus when “I exist”, or similar brute facts, are asserted. Is it actually the one adding what is quite obviously the most obvious thing to assert, or the one who may in a fit of solipsism deny the assertion, perhaps for no reason at all? If onus is about a principle of cooperation in conversation, one may have a guide in answering, and an exception to otherwise hard and fast, but unthoughtful rules. What impact has this on Creationists, Flat Earthers, Anti-vaxers, and so on?

“There aren’t any Gods!” and “God exists!” then both bear onus, but not anyone denying either is true; however, anyone with a disposition about either should have warrant for it.

Onus is a principle that applies when we reach a rough spot in the road if an otherwise good conversation; it helps everyone see from another’s vantage point as best they can, knowing at the same facts, as long as they are unambiguously shared.

(See Grice, Onus, Speech Acts, and Implicature)

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Jesus Gallus

It’s not Jesus Christ, in Christianity. It’s Jesus Gallus! Somewhere along the way, and likely with Anselm, Jesus stopped being a symbol of the way to life, that in seeing Jesus, one saw it. Instead, Jesus became Gallus Gallus Domesticus. Somewhere along the way, Jesus stopped being the Messiah leading us to the kingdom.

“How much easier it would be to merely perform Kapparot, a series of prayers that allow us to symbolically rid ourselves of sins by swinging a rooster or hen above our heads three times and saying, ‘This is my substitute, this is my exchange, this is my atonement. This fowl will go to death, and I will enter upon a good and long life.’ […] And how much easier it would be to avoid discussions of wrongs, to not ask forgiveness of people we have injured, to not make our children return to the store where they have stolen something. How much easier it would be to abdicate personal responsibility and to espouse universal forgiveness.”

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Where It Counts

I began a now lifelong habit from a question long ago that I haven’t yet lost the passion to try and answer. The habit is study, thought, and practice. Nearly thirty years of Philosophy and, as much time but far more superficially by comparison, Theology. The question? How can I know God?

It comes to this, with a backdrop of millions of ideas, some good, some bad, I may never know. However what I do know is that in tragedy and in euphoria, there is no backdrop. God isn’t on my mind then. So, my commitments to any ideas of God also disappear. In those moments, I am only experiencing.

I have to say then what is obvious. God only matters in the mundane and most inconsequential moments of life. God is a far afterthought of thanks, perhaps not knowing how else to express the birth of your child. Maybe God is also an after effect of death, for example; when the drowning pain finds a moment to finally ebb; “Where have you been and help me make sense of things!” If that’s the case, then it is true that God is a mechanism. God isn’t a comforter but a comfort, a moment when experience matters lesser and lesser, allowing such lofty ideas, frames for boundless pain and joy.

You’re not asking me, but if you did, I would say God is only in those pure moments of experience. Those that cannot be wasted on thinking. The moments when it either hurts too much or feels too overwhelmingly good. God is revealed in both as both reveal our humanity and His marriage to our frailty.

It is also those moments and only those moments that will compel a person to deliberately approach others. The trouble is, not all find God there, especially in the sorrow. What’s left in these is a person who is lesser, the tide taken part of them with the return to the greater sea. God is that sort of thing which makes such a profound difference. Compelling.

What I have found is that people are God, at least as what I imagine God to be like; a tight hug, a shared tear, a moment not alone, a hand on the shoulder, things not mundane, things that matter.

It turns out too, I have never experienced any deeper joys or sorrows than people coming into my life and leaving it.

It seems I have found God after all.

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The Truth Is ..

It is simply a lack of vindication that makes something true or false; not warrant, not entitlement, not justification, certainly not faith.

For the decades of reading philosophical work on epistemology, it hits me just yesterday that nearly the entire field simply hasn’t given up on looking at the problem of truth completely backward.

No theory of truth is ultimately anything more than a theory of vindication.

Just a thought.

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Is God Love?

Heaven makes God culpable for the existence of evil, if there’s free will in Heaven and no evil. The only difference then between Heaven, here, and Hell is the strength of the influencing presence of God. The good news is that if it is true that God is omnipresent, then if Hell actually does exist, then the presence of God must be there too, however distantly felt.

To explain the existence of evil in this world then isn’t to explain it in relation to free will, but to ask why God has distanced himself just-so that we are drawn to the good, that we can recognize it in the first place, yet not so much that it’s inescapable.

To end evil then would be to invoke the reality of God in the world. That is, to love. That is, to be God in the world ourselves. That is, to experience what God is like through loving and know the supremacy of that reality to any other, especially to those we now call evil. That is, to actually have grounds to know God is love because of the existence of evil, and not because God causes or allows it.

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So, God Is Good?

I remember my first wife, Kris, dying and leaving two little babies behind because an anesthesiologist was in a hurry to clear the board and go home.

I know that spinal taps are excruciating because I remember growing up in M.D. Anderson hearing my older brother scream having them done way at the end of the hall, trying to survive leukemia.

In that same hospital, I made many friends in the waiting room. I remember being taught how to play tic tac toe by a kid with no hair. I remember that each week I couldn’t figure out where some of my friends had gone. I remember when we stopped going there, my brother was the only one of dozens I knew that left alive.

I remember Opal Jo Jennings, a sweet little girl from Saginaw, Texas, not more than a few miles down the road, who was grabbed from her front yard, stuffed into a car, taken away, raped, tortured, and murdered.

I remember many things. I am reminded of all of them, all at once, every single time someone glibly utters “Everything happens for a reason”, especially when followed by “God is good.” These must have not lived in my world, or have and what they mean by “God” and “good” are opposite of how any sane person otherwise uses those terms.

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O To Be Like Thee

There’s no reason to think Jesus was ontologically God. This is inconsistent with Messiah, out of sorts with the Hebrew use of “memra” and “debar”, and out of step with the idea of “logos” as seen in use and development with Cicero and Philo.

I think Protestants got it right in taking the Eucharist as symbolic, representitive rather than transubstantial.

I think all Christians may want to again ask whether or not Jesus was God, or everything God imagined humanity to be, in His image.

In philosophical terms, one of those is actually a belief since one of those can actually be acted on. We respond to the former: “Well, good for Jesus, he’s God”. It’s an inconsequential statement that only suggests “These teaching don’t have merit on their own, but since Jesus is divine …”. Then there’s the additional issue that Jesus is God, but not God, but is God … anyway, the response to the latter is seeking to be like Christ and through him, finding the divine.

It seems we like our sectarian, tribal magic too much still.

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Start With “Uncle!”

Christian apologetics can’t get it right if it begins with presuppositions or faith. In claiming that we must presuppose God, the apologist admits there’s no real reason to believe; we must simply suppose it is true. When the apologist says one must have faith, he likewise admits there’s no reason to believe and instead is suggesting merely that one ought to hope something is true. As it concerns propositions and truth-telling, there are ethical duties and obligations that come with. Justification is the primary obligation. There’s no justification in assumption or in hoping something is true because neither indicate whether something is true. So if this is part of Christian apologetics, it admits up front that there’s no reason to believe, and follows that by divorcing itself from the ethics of truth-telling from there. In a propositional sense and in the moral sense, it just can’t get it right.

Just a thought.

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