Ah, tildeb, you’ve done it again — you’ve raised such an incisive point that I have no choice but to devote an entire post to my reply 🙂 Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!
Now, I for one highly recommend my readers to take the time to go through the entire discussion (it actually starts back here, then jumps to here) — but, since this may be a tall order for people who already live rich and busy lives, I’ll set the stage by saying, simply, that the discussion thus far has been characterized by tildeb offering critique of my methods in arriving at the truth about God. I have provided evidence of both subjective and substantive natures, but all were rejected because, at the end of the day, my metaphysical worldview boils down to faith — I cannot know definitively that what I believe is the truth, because none of my conclusions can be independently verified in ways consistent with the naturalistic method of attaining knowledge. (I think this is an accurate picture of our discussion thus far, tildeb, but I am of course open to correction.)
So, now the rest of this post will be a direct response to tildeb: (more…)
When giving his perspective on the Gospel message, one of the late Christopher Hitchens‘ favorite words seems to have been solipsism — and I admit I had to look it up when I first heard him use it. From the context of his discourses on the matter, it seems he was usually referring to the second definition provided from the link (“egoistic self-absorption”), and this in response to the concept that we, the inhabitants of a planet among planets in a galaxy among galaxies (perhaps even in a universe among other universes), could have the ear of the Creator of it all, that our petty existences would be so precious to Him not only to warrant personal relationship, but such drastic measures as sending His Son to us in order to improve the quality of such a relationship.
First of all, what a cool word! I feel like my IQ increases by at least three or four units every time I say it.
Second of all, though, is the content of the objection itself: Is it true? Is it egotistical to believe that the Creator of the cosmos, the Lord over every galaxy and star and atom in our vast universe, would condescend Himself to have a relationship with me? From a naturalistic perspective, I can see how such a situation would be mind-boggling, absurd, ridiculous… solipsistic. Compared to the vastness of the cosmos, what makes mankind so special? And, among our race who hold myriads upon myriads of conflicting beliefs about God, what makes me special in that I have the right perspective, and the others do not?
Often when I’m discussing a topic with skeptics and critics of Christianity, they will cite one of the common arguments that the more popular apologists use — which is great, because it means that people are doing their homework engaging with the best points from the “other side,” and I always admire that. I try to do that myself, as much as possible — hence this blog, where I invite people of opposing views to come together and discuss these issues in a common forum. Hooray for community! 😀
Anyway… in such a context, usually the argument is brought up so that the individual can refute it — which is also great. However, most of the time, the way they refute the argument shows that they didn’t really understand the argument to begin with. They are refuting (whether intentionally or not) a straw man version of the argument, one that I would dismiss just as readily. This sort of thing happens often, and I end up repeating myself to a lot of individuals, helping them to see the argument in its intended light rather than in the easily-dismantled pseudo-argument they believe is being presented.
Thus, I’ve decided to start an ongoing “Misunderstood Arguments” series, mostly so that I can have a repository from which to draw in such discussions — hopefully it will save me a lot of typing in the future, when such misunderstandings surface again 😉
Today, I would like to elucidate the oft-misunderstood argument of the faith of the early church in the resurrection of Christ. I’ve heard apologists such as Craig and Habermas use this argument, and I’m sure many others have as well. Here’s the basic version of the argument: (more…)
I have been incredibly pleased and delighted at the discussions that spun off from my last post about naturalism — in fact, my involvement therein can serve as a kind of explanation for my recent absence from writing, for the discussions have been engaging and taxing (in a good way!). Deep thanks to both tildeb and Gino for raising the quality of this blog by weighing in with such incisive and insightful discussion!
And I’m not just blowing smoke, either — I am always most thrilled when met with individuals who are both capable and willing to engage in civil, rational discussion about something as divisive and provocative as religion — such individuals, in my experience, are rare, and I’ve has the immense privilege and honor to have engaged with several such individuals during my short course as a blogger. My hat’s off to all of you!
I found these discussions and points about naturalism especially fruitful, so I thought I’d devote another post to summing up the results of these discussions. I shall try to be as fair as possible when representing my opponents’ positions, and I give either of you full permission to castigate me vehemently if I misrepresent you 😉 (more…)