you did me no favors, The Last Templar. The idea that faith is important in its own right quite apart from the facts and evidence is an understanding of ‘faith’ common to liberal believers and a certain brand of fundamentalists. Both extremes have in common this idea that faith is by definition indifferent to facts. That is why you can have scholars like John Dominic Crossan running around insisting that they, too, are Christians, even though they have done all in their power to strip Christianity from any claim to actual truth. And why not? A mystical belief in God and a view of all humans as God’s children is all that is required, right? This perspective is what fuels the skeptic’s accusation that ‘faith’ is not merely belief in absence of the facts, but even in spite of the facts.
The Euthyphro Dilemma returns with a vengeance. Now, instead of the problem being distilled into a single entity, putatively non-contingent, transcendent, immanent, eternal, etc, it is diffused out over the billions of little gods wandering around in their little neck of the wasteland. Here the secular humanist’s attitude becomes twisted and warped. They are the first to make the argument that humans believe that God cares about them out of sheer arrogance, as if God would care about our petty affairs, yet here is an arrogance that far exceeds that, by far. For if there is no God then there is only we ‘gods’ and the Euthyphro Dilemma proves that we don’t exist. I guess.
The pattern is set in crystal clear clarity in 1 John 3:16 which says “This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
True love dies. Or, it is willing to die, and in the meantime expend every ounce of energy available to it.
What does this mean? If World War 2 had its Schindler in response to the German extermination of millions of Jews, do we have tens of thousands ‘Schindlers’ in response to the virtual global extermination of tens and tens of millions of the unborn? The answer, I think, is No.
But it is the nature of the human beast that after enough time has passed- 20 years will do, but in today’s media saturated 24/7 news cycle apparently 20 minutes will do, as well- the things of the past are just that, the things of the past. “Those things won’t happen again.” “Things are different today.” “We’d never let that happen again.” “We are smarter today.”
This, I’m afraid, is all wishful thinking. Very dangerous wishful thinking. Under the cover of this mentality the principles of old are allowed ever deeper reach into the operations of free societies. But God cannot be mocked. If you plant a corn seed you will get a corn plant. If you plant these principles you will reap their fruit. You may delay it a little while or change its expression, that’s all.
I am pleased to announce that the ChristianPost has asked me to be a blogger for them. It is an honor. The section I post in is called Christianity in Today’s America. Here is the description:
An ongoing discussion on the current state of the Church in America, how it got there, and where it is going. What are a Christian’s responsibilities in an increasingly unChristian America? This blog will tackle tough issues for the Church in uncompromising terms while continuing to meet the challenges posed by a widening body of unbelievers.
Response to Online Presentation and Archive Link: Tradition without Empathy, Contemporary without Foundation
I often see two groups of people.
One is are involved in a tradition rich church with head knowledge of rules and dogma. In reality for them, God is not often real in their lives and their rules without empathy or transparency drives people away.
The second could be explained as people involved in a newly created, often emotion driven church, with little foundation or knowledge of how firm the foundation of the bible and the church is. When real questions come up, they topple.
Both are in danger of propagating a fragile view of Christianity to people they know and more importantly, their children.
How can the churches out there tackle these problems effectively.
The ruddy fact is that beliefs have consequences and for better or for worse, seeds bear fruit, and the fruit is always determined by the seeds planted. This is reality and while it might be mocked and the connection between seeds and fruit sometimes strained and resisted, ultimately reality makes itself known. It makes itself known at our peril if we defy reality rather than conform ourselves to it.
For all of its faults (and they are many), the Christian Church has been a force for good in the world and the overall tendency is to produce truly liberated individuals. It has this astounding ability: it can liberate even those who remain in physical chains and bondage. Christianity allows one to detach the question of their identity from their circumstances. This is the undeniable trend, exceptions factored in. Parris gets it.
I noticed the other day that someone had taken the time to respond at length to my post discussing trancendence, immanence, logic and superlogic. Then I woke up this morning to find out he had posted again on it! Herr Professor, this is just too much! 🙂 Herr Professor, now going by Deacon Duncan, knows that I prefer to have extended discussions on my discussion forum but he has sufficiently stroked my ego that I think a post or two is warranted. It is not every day that I am described as smart and sophisticated and that my arguments are clever. However, since the Professor already is two posts ahead of me he will have to be patient as I catch up. Below is part one. Please read this to the very end, or not at all.
For this entry I am responding mainly to his first article, ‘Can God do Nonsense?’
From the start, I’d like to point out that H. Professor admitted one of my contentions as reasonable. I had argued that an evaluation of God’s ‘omni’ nature doesn’t require that he performs nonsensical demands, like making a rock he cannot lift. I said that even atheists can accept this, and H. Professor did.
Orthodox Christianity holds that God is both a transcendent entity and immanent. If you understand what Christians propose to be true about God, you understand why both attributes follow necessarily. All religions boil down to some expression of one of these two attributes, usually to the exclusion of one to the other. Deism, for example, emphasizes transcendence and despises immanence. Various forms of paganism emphasize immanence, that is they identify ‘God’ with the universe and reject that there is a God ‘outside’ it. Even atheism takes a position here: naturalism is just another variation on immanence and ‘God’ is just another label for the ‘universe.’
Christianity insists that God is both transcendent and immanent.
At any rate, there are some implications of this and I think it would be helpful to understand some arguments regarding Christian theism. I can begin with by trotting out the old ‘Can God create a rock that he cannot lift or move?’ line. The contention is that if God is all powerful he should be able to do this but in doing so he would simultaneously undermine his own omnipotence. Most of the time this is answered by pointing out that some statements are just nonsense and God’s omni-characteristics do not require him to be able to achieve the nonsensical. To understand how this is nonsensical we might take on the next line in this attack, “Can God make a round square?” We see in this case that what is involved is simply definitional. If round is properly and consistently defined and asked to apply to a square, also properly and consistently defined, then the request is nonsensical. Something doesn’t become reasonable just because you insert ‘Can God’ in front of it.
Christian apologists are constantly asking skeptics and genuine seekers to hold to the question of God and Jesus the same standards of evidence they hold anything else. The question of Jesus being also a question of history, we are satisfied if non-biased standards of historical research were employed. Usually, it is the skeptics employing ad hoc standards based on priorly held beliefs about reality.
On this basis then, we see that one cannot dismiss the idea that there was really a man named St. Nicholas just because 350 years separates him from the (current) best sources. On that reasoning we’d have to ditch much of what we know about a great many historical figures, including big ones like Alexander the Great. So, let it be agreed: Santa Claus existed; it is a fact of history.
In the last week or so I had two exchanges where the debate turned on why the atheist/agnostic was demanding a higher level of scrutiny for ‘religious’ claims than other kinds of claims. In one of the cases, the really odd thing is that the person(s) had admitted that science, being limited as it is to the natural order, is unable to touch the supernatural and yet continued to say that science nonetheless remains the best way to learn about the world. This is not coherent. When pressed, in this case they again admitted that science couldn’t prove or disprove the supernatural but continued to insist that we use science to investigate the question. Truly, this world leaves me scratching my head.
That the movies end with the toys coming to terms with the fact that they are toys and finding immense satisfaction in their created purpose is one of those wholesome lessons that proves that however much Hollywood and secular humanists try, theological messages resonate. (See also Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty)
So, are we toys?
We don’t like to think so. We would like to think that if we merely declared that we were completely independent and autonomous from any creator it would be so. We would like to think that assigning ourselves whatever value we like means that we really have that value. There is the theory and then there is the reality.
I suppose a lot of you have already heard about this new advertising campaign? The purpose of the campaign is to “to plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking and questioning in people’s minds.” If they succeed, they will initiate a wave of conversions to Christianity. Why? Check out the slogan:
Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake!
Any rational person will immediately ask himself just how one knows what ‘good’ is, anyway.
There is again a clear correlation between beliefs and the one receiving the vote. I don’t perceive this as particularly insightful: it isn’t brain surgery to deduce that one’s beliefs impact where one puts their vote. However, my proposed solution doesn’t seem as obvious to the Christian church as it does to me: if you want to transform the culture, raise up more educated, informed, passionate Christians.