Philosophy and Metaphysics

The Wrap Up – Part 2

My last post was five months ago.  You know, the one that I called “Part 1” and promised a “Part 2” follow-up post?

So, Seth, what gives?

Well… ever feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?  Or that you have so much to say about something, but don’t want to publish a novel on your blog since no one would probably read it?  Yeah, I know the feeling.

So, check this out:  I make a promise to my readers to compile and discuss (in a single post, mind you) all the evidences that I believe exist for the Christian faith.  Yeah yeah, I hear you skeptics chuckling out there — I can hear you thinking, “Well, that should be a short article!”  Go ahead, have your moment… I’ll give you a minute or two to enjoy your cleverness…. (more…)

The Doubtful Promise of Nothing

I like Captain Cassidy over at Roll to Disbelieve.  She’s a fantastic writer who seems to share somewhat of my distaste for confrontational debate tactics (she left a very nice comment on my mission statement for this blog) — I recall having several pleasant discussions with her on her blog and mine.  Plus, I infer that she shares my appreciation for RPGs 🙂

She recently wrote what I regard as an excellent article, where she gives her point of view on the Christian doctrines of being born again and of the existence of an eternal afterlife.  I say it is excellent not because I agree with her viewpoint (I, in fact, thoroughly do not, much to the surprise of no one) — but because it is, as most of her works are, brilliantly crafted and even, in the beginning, quite beautiful and poetic.  I found myself legitimately moved by her ode to the purpose of life on this planet, which serves as a sort of introduction to her assessments of the aforementioned doctrines themselves.  I thoroughly recommend that everyone give it a read from top to bottom.

I wasn’t a few paragraphs in before I knew that I desired to respond to her strong points and opinions, and as I read I took notes on the statements in particular I wished to comment on.  I quickly found that my response fit better as a post on my own blog rather than as a comment on hers — for though I usually try to comment on others’ blogs for the sake of keeping the discussion on their platform, at the same time I do not wish to be inhospitable to her site by posting a novel in her comment section.  Plus, posting my response here gives me the opportunity to plug her blog, which in my opinion is well worth a subscription.

The rest of this entry will be directed at the good Captain, in direct response to her latest article: (more…)

Objections to Christianity: Who Created God?

I’m going to borrow an illustration I heard John Bevere use once (which he probably borrowed from someone else — there is, after all, nothing new under the sun, is there?).  I’ll be paraphrasing, of course 🙂

Have you ever watched a particularly poignant, well-crafted movie?  One that methodically and artfully sets you up with an hour and fifteen minutes of pathos for that one heart-wrenching moment at the plot’s climactic moment?  When that moment comes, your eyes start welling up, your breathing becomes a little shallower, you move to the edge of your seat — you feel the strong empathetic connection to the characters in the movie.  You almost can’t help it.  Unless you’re a sociopath — c’mon, would it kill you to show a little human emotion now and then… dad…?

Just kidding, my dad’s great.  Anyway, imagine your roommate walking in right when the big climactic moment occurs — he’s never seen the movie before, and so he’s missed out on all the exposition and buildup.  He looks at the characters on the screen, looks over to you bawling your eyes out on the couch (mostly obscured by your tissue-box fort), and scoffs, “What’s with you?  It’s just a stupid movie.”

First of all, your roommate’s kind of a jerk and you should probably consider moving.  (Then again, he does pay the rent on time, and his mom is friends with your boss… I guess he’s not all that bad.)  But, really, the illustrative detail is the difference in how the two of you view the movie in that moment:  You have been taken on this hour-long journey preparing you for this scene; you connect with the characters, their stories touch you, you empathize with their plight and take on some of their pain upon yourself; your roommate, on the other hand, couldn’t give two figs about the characters, doesn’t connect with the moment, isn’t compelled in the least by the scene unfolding on the screen.  Why?  Because he’s missing the context of the scene. (more…)

God’s Immateriality: Necessary Truth, or Rhetorical Device?

I’m in the middle of a discussion with hero4thought on his blog (go check it out, he has some good observations, and he seems like a really nice guy) where we are talking about the veracity of equating religion with relationship. I recommend reading his post (and the subsequent discussions that follow) in full, but the nutshell argument seems to be: Since we can’t really verify that God really exists, then any alleged “interactions” with Him wouldn’t really qualify as a relationship in the traditional sense — for relationships, as we are wont to think of them, don’t usually involve ambiguous or elusive parties. We know precisely who the parties are in most relationships, and there’s no question to a third-party observer that such a relationship, in fact, exists. This lack of corroboration when it comes to God, Hero says, makes the relationship claim dubious at best.

I can appreciate his reasoning, and I actually mostly agree — but I disagree that the difficulties presented by the situation are insurmountable or fatally flawed such that we should feel justified in shutting down the God-relationship hypothesis out of hand.  In any case, we have just gotten to the point on our discussion where we’re unpacking the question of whether or not a relationship is predicated upon both parties in the relationship existing in the material sphere. I would argue not, and my argument is based on the logical necessity that God be immaterial — and so following is my response to Hero: (more…)

Belief vs. Knowledge

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…)

Response to Comment: Are we SURE naturalism could find God’s fingerprints?

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…)

“Yellow-dog” naturalism

Mr. Lake was a great teacher, one of my all time favorites — he taught my A. P. Physics class in high school.  He once described himself as a “yellow-dog Democrat,” explaining that he would vote democrat “even if the only Democratic candidate in the running were a yellow dog.”

In this post (inspired by this debate where blogger Matthew Ferguson defends naturalism to a Christian radio host), I would like to challenge what I call yellow-dog naturalism, which is illustrated in the following statement: “A naturalistic explanation — even a far-fetched one — is always better than a supernatural explanation.” (more…)