This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
Boy, Parsons has a huge chip on his shoulder, doesn't he? Ironic that he accuses Christians of spreading intolerance and hatred while he's barking out his own anger-filled diatribe. I would have hated to be sitting in the front rows of this event - I'd need a handkerchief to wipe off the spit flying out during his opening statement.
Possibly, one of a very select few debates where Craig lost technocally and rhetorically.
Lost? He wiped the floor with Parsons (who seemed to be borderline unhinged at several points). Craig was direct, clear, and on-topic throughout. Parsons was hyper-emotional and positively sputtering from the get-go. Near the end of his opening statement, he literally (not figuratively) got red in the face, he was so overwrought.
I feel inspired to add my own thoughts on this debate question, "Why am I a Christian?" Note that what follow are not arguments, but simply an answer to the question.But before we start, we need to drill down to the question at hand. So I must first answer the (unasked in this forum) question, "Why do I believe in God?" Well, there are actually hundreds of reasons, but for me (and perhaps not for someone else - remember, I'm not arguing here, just stating my position) the Killer App, as they say, is the fact that there is something rather than nothing. I believe that to think that everything around us "just is" is to depart from reason. Next, I must explain why I believe in "the supernatural", i.e., why is the observable universe not all there is? My answer to that is sin, and the existence of evil. We have no business calling a line crooked unless we first have an idea of the straight. We cannot say that a machine is broken unless there is somewhere another machine in working order. Since there is clearly something wrong with the world we live in, there must be a perfect Greater Reality against which our own falls short.Thirdly, why do I believe in a loving, personal God who cares for me as an individual? This is evident (again, to me) from my own terrible sinfulness, and because of the very concept of mercy and forgiveness. And lastly, "Why am I a Christian?" (and not, say, a Hindu or a Daoist or something else) Short answer: The Resurrection of Christ. It's interesting that Parsons cited Sherlock Holmes in his argument for not believing in the Resurrection. I'd like to turn his own argument around on him. (The fictional character) Holmes said, "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."OK. I don't have a problem with that line of reasoning. But unfortunately for Parsons, every alternative explanation ever suggested to a literal, physical, historical Resurrection has been demonstrated to be impossible! Mass hallucination? Turns out there is no such thing. Women went to the wrong tomb? The Temple Authorities would have gladly directed the first converts to the correct one. Wishful thinking? Psychologists have skewered that idea. The Apostles' actions do not match those of genuine, documented cases of wishful thinking. Mythic accretion? Sorry, but that's not how myths arise. Observe how the Early Church ruthlessly rejected any and all additions to the eyewitness testimony as recorded in the Gospels. (That's why we have all those so-called "lost Gospels" that Time and CNN love to trot out every Easter.) The Apostles lied? Oh, please. Next you'll be telling me the moon landings were faked, or there was a second shooter behind the Grassy Knoll. Twin brother or space alien? Now you're getting desperate.I could go on, but once you go through every possible alternative and find that not only do they fail to explain what we do know, but that they themselves are impossible, one is left with the conclusion: Jesus rose bodily from the tomb on the third day after being publicly put to death on the Cross, and appeared to the Apostles. That this event was not some sort of "resuscitation" but was a New Creation - something Brand New bursting into the world, forever dividing time into a before and after this occurrence.
"I believe that to think that everything around us "just is" is to depart from reason."- But you believe that God "just is". Why is that not a departure from reason?"We cannot say that a machine is broken unless there is somewhere another machine in working order."- That is absolutely false. All we need is an idea of what a working machine would be, just as there are no perfect instantiations of Platonic objects, yet we still understand what they are."every alternative explanation ever suggested to a literal, physical, historical Resurrection has been demonstrated to be impossible!"- Only to the mind of the gullible Christian whose world would be shattered if it weren't true. The fact is there are many natural explanations that are both possible and plausible.
"The fact is there are many natural explanations that are both possible and plausible."Then it should be easy to name just one. Which is your favorite?
Jesus was never placed in the "tomb". It was not the policy of the Romans to do that.
"But you believe that God "just is". Why is that not a departure from reason?"But I don't Skep. After all this time, you have still not managed to grasp the bedrock vital concept that "God is not a being, He is being. That is the meaning of "I am who am" (Douay-Rheims Translation). God does not exist, He is existence. Take a significant amount of time to seriously ponder what John meant when he wrote, "God is Love." This was not some sort of hippie-dippie New Age blather, it is the most concise statement that can possibly be made in human language of the nature of Ultimate Reality. There can be no more meaningful statement about existence than the Holy Trinity - perfect love eternally expressive, eternally creative, eternally active, eternally seeking out the lost.* Not some sort of Deistic fantasy of a detached, inattentive creator to whom his creation means nothing. Not the Islamic monstrosity of a unitary sovereign, infinity distant from his subjects who are compelled to submit (the meaning of the word Islam) to his will.* My all-time favorite artistic rendering of God is, believe it or not, in the Disney movie Pinocchio, where Geppetto is out in the rainstorm, soaked to the skin, searching for the kidnapped Pinocchio, who happens to be passing right in front of him, a prisoner in a passing carriage. HERE is maybe not the best view of that scene, but all I could find after a quick search. A near-perfect depiction of God the Father seeking us out in this fallen world.
"Jesus was never placed in the "tomb". It was not the policy of the Romans to do that."You are 100% correct that it was not Roman policy to do so. The fact that it was not so done in this case is due to the intervention of Joseph of Arimathea. The Gospels describe him as a "rich man". He (probably at huge risk, putting himself in grave danger) approached the corrupt official Pilate and offered him a substantial bribe to "look the other way" while he and Nicodemus (another fairly high ranking member of the Jewish authorities whom Pilate had good reasons to placate in the interests of "keeping the peace" during the festivities) gave the body due honors. Happy to enrich himself in such a manner, all the while thinking he was advancing his own agenda, Pilate readily pocketed the bribe and handed the body over to them. The Gospels' account of this action by Joseph shows that the Evangelists were fully aware of the normal treatment given by the Roman authorities to the remains of criminals against the state, and went out of their way to show why an exception had been made for Jesus. You bring this up as though it were some sort of "gotcha" but you've been scooped in the very Gospels themselves. (Nothing to see here... move along!)
"I am who am"So you don't deny that God (just) is. Or do you? Make up your mind.
As you interpret the statement "God is", I'd have to say no. But if you said "God is is", then I'd definitely say yes. The first statement implies that God's being is of the same ens as our own, or that of, say, a stone. The second statement indicates that God is the source of being. His ens is categorically different than our own. Due to the limitations of human language, all illustrations ultimately fail, but God's being might be likened to a painter's, whereas ours is analogous to a figure within a painting. That is just a faint hint of how inconceivably huge the difference is.
"As you interpret the statement "God is" ... "You are the one who's making all the interpretations. I'm not trying to put some theological spin on a very simple statement. So you deny that God is? You deny that God exists? I'm sure it will be news to many.
No. What I am saying is that the very verb "is" has a totally different meaning when applied to the noun "God" than when it is applied to any other noun. It would be better to have two completely different words, but we unfortunately do not - at least, in English. That's why I attempted to get around such shortcoming by employing the Latin ens. Not to be esoteric, but rather to differentiate the two ideas.The passage from Exodus perfectly illustrates my point. When the Lord answered Moses's request for a name by saying "Ego sum qui sum" (Vulgate), He was showing Moses that He could not be pigeonholed with any name whatsoever. A name would imply parentage, circumscription, limitation, dependence.And nothing I've said here in this conversation would be news to anyone with the faintest acquaintance with genuine philosophy or theology. It's all standard Thomism, and none of it is original to me.
Bob has thrown "god is" under a bus. After his latest "God is is" is demonstrated as nothing more than wordology, I guess he can step down to the next level of obfuscation and attempt an apologetic around, "God is is is".Bob simply does not understand that referencing the Bible has about as much impact, significance and relevance in referring to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Book of Mormon or Scientology's Dianetics, as testament for reality.Bob's current "God is is" is best characterised by Emma Goldman, Russian-Jewish-American writer, "The God idea is growing more and more impersonal and nebulous in proportion as the human mind is learning to understand natural phenomena and [as] science progressively correlates human and social events .... God today, no longer directs human destiny with the same iron hand of yore. Rather does the God idea express a sort of spiritualistic stimulus to satisfy the fads and fancies of every shade of human weakness."
"The God idea is growing more and more impersonal"You obviously did not read my posting. God is infinitely more personal than anything we can experience in creation. His very nature, the fundamental bedrock FACT that constitutes Reality, is that of three Persons in a perfect union of Love - the Holy Trinity. By comparison, our own "personhood" is but the palest shadow, a mere imitation of His.In fact, dearest Linton, that is precisely what Christianity is all about - it is our "taking on Christ" so that we ourselves will more closely resemble our Creator. No "nebulosity" here, but rather a sharpening of lines, a focusing of the lens, a de-blurring of the picture (we are, after all, made in the Image of God), a polishing of the mirror, a cleaning of the glass.No, what both you and Skep have utterly failed to grasp is that I was drawing an uncompromising line of separation between created reality (in the words of the Creed, "all things visible and invisible") and the Source of Reality, God Himself. You are sadly looking through the wrong end of the telescope when you mistake the infinite personality of the Trinity for something "impersonal and nebulous". He is the exact opposite of those words.
Oh, and by the way. Your knee jerk aversion to scriptural quotation is quite telling. Other than the Blessed Sacrament itself, there is no greater power in this world than the Word of God. The fact that you flinch from it as from a hot stove is evidence of this. I'm reminded of those cheesy old horror movies, where Dracula recoils from the Cross.Perhaps there is something we ought to know about you?
Let me dumb it down a bit for those who choose not to understand. The statement "God is" places His being on the same level as "a stone is", which is not the case at all. A stone has being. God is being. These are two completely different concepts. The English language (and perhaps any language) is inadequate to express this, not because the concept is "impersonal and nebulous" but rather because it is too personal and too precise for our wonderfully messy language. Thus my distinction between the ultimately misleading statement "God is" (which could lead one to erroneously think of God's being as no different than that of a stone) and the more meaningful "God is is" (the second "is" being not a verb, but a predicate noun (or nominative), as in the sentence "Lucy is a girl.") To diagram the sentence, the subject is "God". The verb is "is". The second "is" is what God is (as in the example sentence above).If you don't understand how the predicate nominative functions, see HERE.It could be re-worded, for those who are too lazy to think for themselves, as "God is being", but that sentence lacks a certain panache, and I prefer my own wording.
"what both you and Skep have utterly failed to grasp is that I was drawing an uncompromising line of separation between created reality (in the words of the Creed, "all things visible and invisible") and the Source of Reality"Bob, I asked you a few VERY simple questions. Besides not answering the other questions at all, your answer to this one in particular is sheer obfuscation: It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.
Re-read your own posting. You asked only one question, followed by two comments. I answered your question.
Bob, I know what questions I raised. This is about the ontological status of God - is there such an entity that exists - not about the meaning or definition of God. Your response evades the question by diverting to a totally different issue.
"Bob, I know what questions I raised."I'm glad you do, because I see only one question up there (I just looked again to double check). Where are the others?"not about the meaning or definition of God"And where am I supposed to have commented on that?You asked, "But you believe that God "just is". Why is that not a departure from reason?" That is the only question you asked.I answered directly and to the point, bringing up no side issues whatsoever. I began by pointing out that your statement "But you believe that God "just is"" is just plain wrong - I do not believe any such thing. And then I showed you the reasoning behind what I actually did believe in (thus answering your question as to why it was not a "departure" from reason).So where's your beef with my response?
"But you believe that God "just is"" is just plain wrongThe question can be restated as follows: Why is there a source of all being which is Being Itself rather than nothing at all? The usual answer is that this source of all being exists necessarily, but I have always found that answer to be somewhat unsatisfactory since the non-existence of this entity which serves as the source of all being does not entail a logical contradiction. In other words, the existence of a prime mover may well be factually or causally necessary but does not seem to be logically necessary. This absence of logical necessity has prompted some theologians to posit the existence of God as the ultimate brute fact. Or to use Skep's words: God just is.
Bob,I raised three issues that point out the incoherence of what you stated about your beliefs earlier.1. Your logic leads you to reject the brute fact of the existence of the universe, but not the brute fact (as I explained, and as Walter pointed out) of the existence of God.2. That there must be something that exists in order for us to understand what is less than perfect (ie. a broken machine versus a working machine, evil versus good), when in fact the perfect never exists at all, but we still understand the concept of the thing.3. The impossibility of a natural explanation for the resurrection story, despite the fact that there are perfectly good natural explanations, AND the actual resurrection of a genuinely dead guy is impossible, given what we know about how things work.Despite the fact that only one of these contained a question mark, they do imply serious questions for you. And without serious answers, I have to view your beliefs as incoherent.
I answered your objection to number 3 (at March 19, 2015 10:15 AM). If you have another alternate explanation (other than the one I've already shot down), let's hear it."AND the actual resurrection of a genuinely dead guy is impossible, given what we know about how things work."I agree. That's why we call the Resurrection a miracle. It's kinda part of the definition. (And we've discussed this in the past. You have yet to demonstrate that singular, non-repeatable events cannot occur. All I've ever seen you do is simply deny that they can, without ever explaining why.)As for your number 2, we simply disagree. Without there being somewhere (or sometime) a working machine, no one can say that one that doesn't work is broken. We see that there is something seriously wrong with the world we live in, so either at some time in the past, or in some other reality, there is/was a world that worked properly (i.e., Eden, Heaven).As to why God cannot be called a "brute fact", it is because of the doctrine of the Trinity. If you do not understand that, you need to to seriously clear your mind and quietly (and unhurriedly) contemplate just what that doctrine implies. Oh... and you need to rid yourself of your ironclad resistance to new ideas - what you erroneously term "skepticism".
Quoting Myself: I agree. That's why we call the Resurrection a miracle. It's kinda part of the definition.Now before you go off declaring a quite premature "victory", I was writing half in jest. (I'm in a very good mood today.) What I mean is that miracles are in the everyday sense of the word not seen. Why? Because they are non-repeatable. They are irruptions into this created universe from the greater reality from which what we see around us was made and upon which it is dependent. We are powerless to make one happen from within the created order of things. The initiative is solely from without.So in the sense that we (quite rightly) should not expect to see a miracle every day, or even within our lifetimes, they are "impossible" (i.e., outside of the ordinary, not expected by natural law, the rarest of the rare).In that sense, creation itself was a miracle, because it is non-repeatable. And when you examine genuine miracles, you will see that every last one of them is either directly involved with the Incarnation and/or the Resurrection, or sheds light upon those events.Even the creation event itself (read Scott Hahn) is part of the Incarnation story.
"I answered your objection to number 3"- No you didn't. All you did was try to provide some justification for the story. You certainly didn't explain why a natural explanation would be impossible."As for your number 2, we simply disagree."- That's great, but this is not a matter of opinion. Is a fact that there are many things we understand conceptually without the benefit of a perfect example. So you are wrong."As to why God cannot be called a "brute fact", it is because of the doctrine of the Trinity."- I would like to hear the explanation. If you can't explain it in a cogent way, that's not any fault of mine. But seriously, you're the one who needs to step outside your little box and look at things from a logical viewpoint, not just accept whatever the church tells you. Swineburn has presented a logical case that God is the ultimate brute fact. And I must say, while I don't agree, at least he makes more of a cogent case than you do.
"you're the one who needs to step outside your little box"Really? You're the one who has self-imprisoned himself in a suffocating "what we can see is all there is" box, whilst I recognize the infinitely greater Reality within our poor little universe is surrounded and sustained. The Reality I swim in is so much greater than the airless, windowless cell that you have chosen to occupy. Who's in the box? I think the answer is clear.As for Number 3, I have no intention of refuting all conceivable alternatives for your pleasure. If you name one, I will address it, but I'm not gonna do your work for you. You listed one alternative explanation to literal, physical, historical Resurrection and I shot it down. Gimme another, and I'll consider it.If you cannot understand the Trinity, then there's no sense in pursuing you down your rabbit hole of incomprehension. It would be like me speaking to you in Russian when all you know is English. Futile. And my advice to you, get away from Wikipedia in this matter. Read Augustine, Thomas, Saint Faustina, (heck, even C.S. Lewis), but above all, don't just study the doctrine... think about it, contemplate it, meditate on it. At length. Not 15 minutes of googling stuff, but a couple of hours (if not days, if you can manage it) of quiet, thoughtful consideration with no distractions.
Nice try at diverting, Bob, but you don't get off that easy. " You listed one alternative explanation to literal, physical, historical Resurrection and I shot it down. Gimme another, and I'll consider it."- No, you didn't shoot it down. Simply repeating the biblical story does absolutely nothing to show the impossibility of any alternative. And I recall that you have already seen many alternatives, which also you dismiss WITHOUT any serious consideration. So your claim that that are impossible is nothing more than hot air."If you cannot understand the Trinity, then there's no sense in pursuing you down your rabbit hole of incomprehension."- I know perfectly well what the trinity is. But you haven't explained how it implies that God's existence is not a brute fact. I don't think you can coherently explain it. I understand that many Christians want to claim that there are no brute facts, but it is just special pleading."Who's in the box? I think the answer is clear."- That's right. If you reject logic in favor of dogma and trite apologetics, you have severely limited yourself.
"which also you dismiss WITHOUT any serious consideration"Once again, if you've got another alternative explanation, let's have it. I promise you "serious consideration" (which, unlike you, means I am genuinely open to more than one conclusion). I shot down your first attempt. Let's have another.Or is this going to be a repeat of your accusation about the Early Church supposedly altering Scripture, for which charge you were never able to produce even the smallest shred of evidence?
So no answers? I thought so.
"How many times do I have to kill you, boy?" (Jafar, in Aladdin)If you can't find the answers in my postings to date, then you're either not trying or are deliberately not seeing them. I cannot help in either case.
Forget it, Bob. I was under the mistaken impression that you wanted to discuss these things, since you were the one who spoke of them in the first place.
But I do! For the third time (at least), if you've got another alternate explanation as an alternative to a literal, physical, historical Resurrection - let's hear it! I'm ready and waiting to consider and discuss it. I already answered you on your first proposal. But if that's all you've got, then maybe you're right, and there's nothing more to discuss.But it's you that's cutting off the dialog here. Heck, if even a rabid unbeliever like yourself cannot come up with a decent alternative to the Resurrection, then I see no reason to say anything other than it actually happened, just as recorded.I at least know why I believe in it. You, however, don't appear to have a clue as to why you don't.
As to who's living in a "little box", allow me to recommend THIS (starting at 3 minutes in).Jesu, ufam tobie!
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