Tag Archives: Apologetics

That Right Is Earned!

Often in Philosophy, something quite simple is missed and that is, few stop to think about when they are in fact presupposing.

For instance, most people think that in order for beliefs to be justified, we must have reasons for a belief. However, beliefs simply come to be and aren’t invented and can’t be chosen. In that case, not all beliefs can be justified via “reason to assert” and not all warranted beliefs require justification; entitlements, for example.

But the main problem is that people fixate on the idea that justification puts onus on the believer rather than on the interlocutor. So when a person insists some x, y, and z isn’t justified until there’s an explanation, the response should simply be that such an x, y, z belief exists, and what positive reasons are there to doubt it?

In other words, genuine beliefs can already be seen as justified, and doubting them or questioning their validity puts onus on the examiner, not the one being examined.

That means that the fitness of a belief isn’t in any essential way, tied to justification, but tied to, well, fitness! Is a belief sustaining its application? In that sense of justification, then the foundation of belief is ordinary experience, not supposition nor justification. It’s the application of an idea and its fitness for that application which warrants belief.

In “The cat is on the mat”, justification doesn’t hinge on infinite regresses of propositions that must be proven before a conclusion can be reached. Simply, when there appears to be a cat on the mat, the only sensible question that must be justified is “Why should I doubt the cat, the mat, or that the cat is on it?”

“Because you may be wrong” or “Because you can’t be certain” isn’t here or there because absolutely no conditions exist in which we can be absolutely certain of anything and for the fact that nothing ensures we will conclude rightly or wrongly, and that the former is only a matter of Psychology, and the latter, a fact of human inquiry and knowledge.

Why should I believe? No, why should I doubt?

Just a thought.

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Campolo Is Right, Almost …

Several things are problematic with these sorts of ideas. First is the idea that we can choose what to believe. Here, Campolo nearly gets it right until he seems to say he went ahead and decided there was no God. It’s true that one can resist the changing of one’s mind, and the Fundamentalist mentality of cordoning off things they’d otherwise be open to thinking about is testament to the fact. There is a leap though from the idea that close-mindedness has choice as its counterpart rather than open-mindedness. Campolo cannot simply choose to change his mind about the existence of God but must be persuaded that this is actually the case. This is called Doxastic Involuntarism.

For believer and non, no one chooses what to believe. One is in essence, the owner of a perception of reality in which there is or isn’t also perceived some volitional agency. This perception isn’t the product of deduction. This is called Epistemic Entitlement. Such entitlements (like my existence, other minds, reality being “real”, and so on), have warrant only through perceptual experience; these are truisms and for some of them, their alternatives are absurd. This entails that warrant consists not only of justification in the form of other “reasons to assert” some case, but that indeed sometimes, we “must accept what we are powerless to reject”, as Dretske put it.

We consider C.S. Peirce in “Some Consequences Of Four Incapacities” when he cautions us about “pretend doubt”. He implies exactly that the genuineness of belief is aside from intellectual assent. One must have reason to believe, to doubt, to withhold judgment. One must be sincerely disposed and such dispositions are ultimately grounded in perceptions of experience of the world. Again, in this, Campolo is absolutely correct. But his mistake is secondarily that Progressives follow a path with an inevitable conclusion that there is no God. This is likely from too closely associating Theology with why one ought to, or does, believe in deity. His first mistake, if it’s not yet clear, is the idea that one can merely bypass any “in betweens” there may be between Fundamentalism and Atheism.

No, the salient fact is one simply gives up properly on the idea that what one thinks about God is actually about God. The path here is ultimately only the Apophatic tradition; a far more aged and global one than the equivocal and univocal fiats of Geisler or Sproul’s perverse vision of incoherence; “effing” that which one began by defining as ineffable. As long as one has the preception of some “Big Other” in the world, one will never be an Atheist and having that perception is nothing a person can choose, including Campolo.

Should Bart have an impression of some Big Other yet mistakes his Atheism linked to Theology, then the mistake is a pretense. If on the other hand, Campolo never had such an impression while confessing Christianity, then he indeed has left a pretense and should be applauded; his reward at least living a life where his ideas and experiences are much more closely married.

Finally, to open thoughts here and close possible criticisms that may arise in what’s been said, one should imagine there are two identical universes. Their only difference being that one has a God and one does not. And just before one is tempted to say “No universe can exist without God”, one remembers hearing non believers saying “No universe requires God”, and in thinking of both, there’s only the fact that there is a universe and either claim has no real basis but fiat. In these two universes, there are morality, logic, maths, goodness and evil and cute and fluffy bunnies. The point of this mental exercise now clear: were we placed in one of these two universes, we couldn’t appeal to any feature of reality or any personal experience or perceptions in order to sort out whether or not our particular universe entailed a God.

Lamenting the poor reasonings of Geisler and Sproul, both universes give up nothing about the existence of God and make it clear that the existence of God is not a matter of evidence; nor is Atheism. Further, despite the uneducated reification of maths and logic by the Tureks, the Strobles, the Zacharias of Christian Apologetics, actual logicians note that logic has nothing to do with reality, doesn’t entail truth, and is at best a formal description of how folks think. Be it Frege or Quine or Ayer or Russell, or Chatin or Penrose, the professional story of maths and logic entails that thinking clearly about the world doesn’t tell us anything about what’s true.

This brings us full circle: There can be no evidence for transcendent beings and imminent ones are indistinguishable from nature (one of the points of the “Two Universes”), and given logic cannot prove what any actual case is, one can only be pursuaded by it. However, ultimately, whatever reasoning employed, unless it actually represents what we already think the real case is, it will never be accepted. This is the only accounting for why sound arguments for and against deity exist and why one would accept one but not the other. What we and other Campolos of the world believe is entirely aside from our control. Theologically then, we have ideas we put into practice and through experience we come to understand what we mean by those ideas. That being that, as Schillebeeckx or Karen Armstrong suggest, the entire enterprise is about human well-being or nothing at all and that in the middle of that “way of being well”, we understand what we mean by “God”, what we mean by “Human”, mean by “Jesus”; their reality is only certainly there, and elsewhere, entirety dubious.

Campolo can only objectively conclude that Post Enlightenment, Positive Theology is a failure and its evidence is the exodus from Christianity; his and scores of others.

Bart Campolo is wrong in the end.

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Tell The Truth!

“We had an idea because of what we were observing. We tested it. It turns out that our idea is consistent with our observations.”

Epistemologically speaking, how does one tell that this statement is coming from a Scientist talking about reality or a Theist talking about theology?

The subjects are different.

The ideas are different.

The tests are different.

However, there is no difference at all in the fact that warrant exists for any ideas that are consistent with one’s experience of reality.

The quote above can be legitimately stated by either Scientist or Theist. This describes all means of justification. What specific tests we may employ are in the end empirical; which is to say, “by way of experience”. What specific tests we employ are by definition, objective; to falsify or satisfy an existing idea. What specific tests we employ does not entail any sort of truth or any sort of “way of knowing” that escapes the situation that truth is simply an idea that seems to be getting along with how we perceive the world, no matter how temporarily it enjoys that title, “true”.

Just a thought.

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Absence And Faith

Hear me when I remind you of a paradox.

To desire or hope for something necessarily means that the object of hope, of desire, has not been obtained.

If you have a desire for God, if you have hopes tied to God, it entails that God is absent from you since you desire Him and that your hopes about Him are unmet since hope is an expectation rather than about the way things are.

To say you want a personal relationship with God is quite literally to say “I want God to become ordinary to me.” Not only ordinary in the sense that God have comprehensible aspects I can relate to at all, but in the sense those points of relationship are exactly those we dismiss once established.

Part of the internal destruction of Christianity has been the promise of personal relationship with the Creator of all that is. If and where Christianity has delivered, God became ordinary and irrelevant. Where Christianity has left the promise unfulfilled, God’s existence is also discarded. The promise of relationship is the promise of experience. It’s an empirical claim. There are no gimics that can stop the exodus from Christianity.

The only sort of hope, of faith, of desire left are those with a past warranting their an expectation of happening again. Yet if these are not from first-hand experience, they are without warrant. In either case, they still represent a lack of something being the case, such as a “personal relationship with” rhetoric.

The paradox: desire for God entails the absence of God and a personal relationship with God entails to either an incoherent desire, or one in which God doesn’t exist for being completely ordinary.

Just a thought.

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There Was A Season …

Our modern theology must change. If the Christian takes on the idea of a fall of mankind, then he must see that it wasn’t once and for all. We continually rise and fall, all under our own weight. If God isn’t envisioned simply as one who reaches out a hand to help, if Christ isn’t the illumination of a path out of the ruts that continue the cycle, then believer as well as non believer are right in not giving a damn at all.

This is especially true of a theology where God only helps a few, or where God is satisfied in the eternal torment of those who said, “No thank you, I need to learn to grow up, and that takes getting back up again too.”

Just a thought.

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God Is … Not What We Think

I think Aquinas got it wrong. God may not have created because He loves and that’s what love does. I just don’t find any reason to think God is love or loves. God may be the sort of thing whose nature simply causes realities to manifest, all creatio ex se, no will to do so at all. There are endless rational musing we can entertain and making them logically valid is simply a matter of good habit.

Yes, we can imagine what the ineffable question is and even whether or not there’s something it signifies in some real sense.

I think it’s vitally important for the “God is love” conversation to take place and I think some are more successful than others in tying up loose ends.

Too, it’s important to note that “metaphysics is a game with no rules” and where these ideas matter is only in what they cause us to do; for metaphysical proclamations bear no truth, no falsehood.

It is possible to be a Christian without even suppositions about God, His existence or nature. For me to say “God is love” then is for me to say “I will be what I seek”. I’m skeptical god-talk is anything more than this.

Just a thought.

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God cannot be an explanation for anything. That’s because phenomenon are what we use to give meaning to the word “God”. “God” comes to mean “creator of the universe”, “creator of really cool sunsets”, and so on. But this is not an explanation of reality; it is a description of God.

If “God” is a word that takes meaning this way, then dialectically, here’s what is being said: 

“The creator of the universe created the universe.” What is the creator of the universe? The creator of the universe.

So the explaintion is “something created the universe”, which explains nothing. It’s the same question we started with: What created the universe? This goes for any causal claim about God and reality (typically, mind-numb folks say maths, logic, morality, and so on). But, you know better.

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Absolute Tripe

There is no difference that makes a difference between “we once thought this was moral” and “this is actually moral”.

Morality is a category of behavior and to say “this is actually moral” can only mean “this behavior fits into the ‘moral’ category.”

There is no point in time where what we think is moral now differs from what we think is actually moral, and hence, no difference that makes a difference.

We only recognize that our moral sensibilities change over time; however, some oddly think we mean something else by invoking words like “really” or “actually”.

Just a thought.

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Biblical Relativity

To all Christians:

If you have to preface “morality” with “Biblical”, then you aren’t talking about morality; you are talking about moral relativism, context.

The difference is between “car” and “racecar” or “bear” and “polar bear”, “school” and “highschool”.

We all know that what you’re trying to do is say “my prefix makes my morality right, because, well, it’s from God.” What we know that you don’t is that moral principles apply in all contexts; so, “Biblical” morality is either irrelevant to most contexts, or, it simply means it only talks about a limited set of universal moral principles using a certain kind of language, or that its chatter isn’t even about morality and only about commands with no other basis but fiat. What we likewise know is that authority has nothing to do with morality; no commands of any dictator nor consequence of obeying or disobeying them actually makes them moral or not. In short, what we know is that you’re wrong!

So, dear Christian, if you cannot get this very straightforward and simple lesson, then stop talking about what’s right and wrong, moral and immoral.

If you do understand, then you can drop all religious language when discussing moral projects among the areligious.

That is all.

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“x explains everything!”, Genius Declared!

I still don’t get how folks cannot put two and two together.

If “God” is a word with no inherent meaning, then the term is actually and quite literally a variable.

So when you, unthoughtful apologist, surmise that “God” can explain morality, logic, life, meaning, you are suggesting no less than “x explains morality”, “x explains logic”, “x explains life”, “x explains meaning”.

In that case, you must realize nothing at all is explained! All of these things are instead being used to give meaning to what the term “God” entails. For whatever “God” is being used to try and explain, one is obviously and impossibly only left to solve for “x”.

What is “x” but “the causer of [any natural phenomenon here]”?

In this configuration, an actual explanation, a “why”, a “how”, isn’t even fathomable.

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