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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

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I offer this peice as a second part of my answer to John, but it is not directed at his piece specifically. In fact it was put on my blog before I wrote the other piece and without any reference to John at all. But I think it does speak to part of the issue.




There is something greatly incongruous about making historical statements concerning an event that is based upon the “supernatural.” The whole of modernity is based upon denying the supernatural, and upon creating an entire symbolic universe devoid of that concept. To interject the Resurrection into the modern truth rĂ©gime is to violate the basic canons of what it means to be modern. Thus, we should never expect to find historians hawking Josh McDowell books. If we find scientists supporting the doctrine, they will only do so by distinguishing between their private matters of taste in personal belief and scientific fact. Is this really an acceptable state of affairs? Fifty years ago it was a fact of life. It was just something that had to be accepted like the weather. But in this age, after the advent f postmodern thought, we need not be so dogmatic. It is not that I expect historians to ever speak of the Resurrection as “historical fact.” I would speak so myself. But I think it is fair to say that the exclusion of such events from scientific parlance is misleading. To doubt an event “unhistorical” is misleading. The unwary are given the impression that such events cannot happen. All I really means to speak of the Resurrection as “unhistorical” is to say “we don’t dare speak of this in that way because it’s not ideologically acceptable.”

While it is true that postmodernism has taken some harsh blows, is no longer the big shocking new academic fashion, and has been relegated to the archaeological strata of the course catalogue, along with “existentialism in Europe 3202” and “John Dewey and the American School of pragmatism, 2710,” it is by no means true that postmodernism is finished. Like most academic trends when they become established, when they reach the phase where Freshman intro courses are developed, postmodernism has seen its heyday, but we can still state certain of its premises seriously. Two of the major premises of postmodernism are: (1) No met narratives; (2) our understanding of reality is merely a construct and not a direct meditation of truth. What this means is we don’t have a clear undeniable proof of the nature of the world, what we get is our understanding of the world. No “Meta narrative” means no more overarching grand explanations of all reality, no more ideology, no more great story that explains it all. While this premise rules out Christian theology (for the most part) it also rules out the scientifically based empiricist who reduces everything to numbers and what cannot be reduced to numbers just isn’t worth knowing. Both of these are “meta narratives.” What postmodernism clearly establishes is that there is no world of facts that can be arranged like little building blocks in such a way as to stack up to a total and undeniable demonstration of all reality. “Our understanding of reality is merely a construct” means we are not engaging the world of “things” directly, what we see is not what we get. What we get is our understanding of what we see, and that is filtered through a perceptual filter that is made up of prior symbolic understanding. Its’ all filtered through glasses tended with the colors of our hopes and dreams. The scientifically minded skeptic is more than ready to admit that this is the case for the religious believer. The scientifically based skeptic is ready to tag the believer as irrational and living out a fantasy with an imaginary friend. But what his septic doesn’t see is that his scientifically based skepticism is no less a fantasy and a simulacra of what is real. To construe reality of devoid of anything beyond the numbers is to merely reduce reality to the sets of building blocks of we stack them.

The Postmodern critique of scientific understanding was shattered in the mid 90’s. This is not the great disaster for postmodernism that a lot of people thought it was at the time. The postmodern critique of science in the 90’s had run wild; it needed to be brought down a peg. The so-called “hard project” was basically on the verge of denying that factual understanding of reality was possible. The knockout blow was delivered in the form of an article by a leading physicists, Sokal, published in a literary journal Lingua Frnaca. In the article, Sokal made statements that were so extreme as to be almost idiotic. Statements such as “we scientists no longer consider the concept of an ‘outside world.’” The postmodernists were just beginning to revel in their victory of common sense when Sokal came back with a follow up article mocking the hell of them and saying, “you really believe this crap?” After that point the postmodern project declined and number crunchers everywhere rejoiced. This blow came only a couple of years after the first major blow to Derridianism. Derridianism was the heavy artillery of the postmodern crowd. When one of Derrida’s major allies, Paul DeMann, turned out to be a collaborator with the Nazis during the German occupation of Belgium, the Derrian ship took a direct torpedo blow that all but put it on the bottom of the ocean of ideas. But in the academy postmodernism retrenched into the world of “women’s studies” and “identity politics” and to this day haunts the classroom in any place where feminism is discussed. Postmodernism wields great power in the academy, at least in the liberal arts end of things, and for the rest of society they are great basket weavers. Nevertheless, this was only the “perspective adjustment” the postmodern critique of science needed to snap out of its malaise. There have been many unfortunate outcomes but basically the major concepts mentioned above are still very viable: (1) No met narratives; (2) our understanding of reality is merely a construct and not a direct meditation of truth. What this means is we don’t have a clear undeniable proof of the nature of the world, what we get is our understanding of the world.

Consider the basic driving metaphor of the “hard project.” The “hard project” was the extreme end of the postmodern critique. This is the perspective that Sokal was aiming to hit. The hard project came close to denying that there is any meaningful concept of “reality” and that all perceptions are hopelessly subjective. Their major metaphor is the night sky; the night sky is an illusion. This is scientifically the case. There is a gravitational sense that warps our visual image, so that stars are not actually where they appear to be. While there is some truth to this, to try and put it into a dictum such that “there is no night sky” is to make another sweeping construct based upon half-truths. We only know about the gravitational lens because we have the instruments, developed by scientific thinking, to demonstrate that this is the case. We only know that the appearance of the stars is an illusion because we can demonstrate where they really are in relation to our visual perceptions. The night sky is a good metaphor for the way appearances fool us about the nature of reality. It is not absolute proof of any sweeping ideology or theory because to construct such a concept is to commit the same fallacious maneuver the metaphor is designed to negate. The upshot of all of this is that we need to critically aware of ideologies that try to claim too much in the way they organize the world for us. But this works as much for scientifically based ideologies, and those that try to hitchhike on the coattails of science, such as modern skepticism. We need to be aware that when we try to limit our understanding of what is possible in life, we will lose the phenomena. When we make grand rules such that “there is nothing beyond material realm” we are making a metaphysical statement, one that we cannot back up. The attempt to back up such a statement often leads to a philosophical reductionism that is merely narrow-minded and all attempts to verify the construct are merely begging the question. Of course rule no one, (no Meta narrative) might be construed as a problem for Christianity. If ever there was a Meta Narrative, Christianity is it. Science is not so much a Meta Narrative as it is a method, but the skeptical monopolization of science is a Mata Narrative. Science is neutral. The function of science is the gathering of data toward the purpose of explaining the workings of the natural world. What we conclude about the purpose and ultimate origin of the natural world is a Meta Narrative and is beyond the scope of science. Science is not the only form of knowledge. To use science in that way is to forge a Mata Narrative of it. Christianity is a Mata Narrative, but that’s fine because we cannot live without them. The slogan “no Meta Narratives” is just that, a slogan. What it should be taken to mean is “be aware of the baggage you take on if you buy into this story.” It should not be taken to mean, “don’t ever construct a story” because to say that is to construct a story. We can’t live without constructs and symbolic universes; this is the method through which we think. We construct our view of reality by stacking up the little bits of data and imposing a meaning upon the patters we see in the whole. We can no more avoid doing this than we can avoid sleep. We need to be aware and we need to be critical. So Christianity as a private metaphor shared by a community of believers, is one thing, Christianity as a “fact” interpreting the world is another. Science as a method for determining facts about the workings of the physical world is one thing, science as the engine of a driving skeptical movement aimed as crushing religious belief is something else.
What I’m advocating is keeping the secular market place secular. But “secular” means neutral not “anti-religion.” This is quite a chore because all forces tend to seek the crowding out of all other forces. Nevertheless this is the only real solution. Secularization was invented in the first place as a means of overcoming the strife of the religious wars of Europe. We need not “demonstrate” that the resurrection is a “historical fact.” This is impossible because it is a tenet of faith. What we can do is to demonstrate that the claim is a viable possibility. Ten we can try to understand the claim as a viable tenet of faith not as a fact to impose upon the world. In short we need to understand the resurrection as a truth claim, not an historical fact. Registering a doctrine as a “truth claim” is not a demotion from the status of “fact.” It is a recognition that the truth claim a guiding principle for the faith community, but not something we impose upon the world, neither is it a fantasy. To do this we have to come to terms with the notion “fact” and the meaning of scientific data in the overall project of construct building. Essentially the materialists have relinquished the possibility of limiting possibilities to “the natural realm.” Now this has been something they did not know they were doing, but they have taken positions that make a strict materialism logically impossible. Modern materialism evolved out of the enlightenment. It bore the baggage of the skeptical crisis of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, it was formed as a reaction to Newton and Boyle who basically made argument form design (the argument for the existence of God) into a necessary part scientific method. Many forces arrayed themselves in such a way as to produce a reaction against Newton’s Christianity, which had once been lauded as the direction of modern science. These forces included the left over issues of the skeptical crisis (which pitted faith against reason) the battle of the books, which pitted scholasticism and classical learning against modern scientific empiricism, and the political struggle against the heavy hand of Richelieu’s church. The hatred of modern scientifically minded philosophes for scholasticism was unbounded. The feeling developed that only that which is empirically proven can be trusted. This was viewed by post Revolution thinkers as the only tonic for the dogmatic authority of the church. When LaPlace presented his scientific theory of the universe to Napoleon, the emperor is said to have asked how it was that the system lacked any reference to God. LaPlace is reputed to have remarked, “I have no need of that hypothesis.” That remark has long been seen as the sounding death knell of the inclusion of God or religious idea in the factual understanding of “reality.” Science became the modern umpire of what can be taken as real, and matters of faith had no place in science.

LaPlace’s statement was based upon the assumption of naturalistic cause and effect. He had no need of the God hypothesis because naturalistic cause and effect explained everything; all we really needed to know was the workings of the physical world. There was no reason to accept any truth beyond the physical world. Thus modern science developed with the understanding that it’s true domain was the physical world; scientists just ignored the fact that making dictums about what the world included and excluded was a metaphysical ordering beyond the domain of science. Modern skepticism grew up feeding itself upon the delusion that science is its ace card against religion, that it alone is scientific and that science is there to reinforce skepticism.







1) The notion of something from nothing voilates basic assumptions of materialism

a. Materailism based upon cause and effect
Dictonary of Philosphy Anthony Flew, article on "Materialism"

"...the belief that everything that exists is either matter or entirely dependent upon matter for its existence."

Center For Theology and the Natural Sciences Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999) http://www.ctns.org/Information/information.html Is the Big Bang a Moment of Creation?(this source is already linked above)

"...Beyond the Christian community there was even greater unease. One of the fundamental assumptions of modern science is that every physical event can be sufficiently explained solely in terms of preceding physical causes. Quite apart from its possible status as the moment of creation, the Big Bang singularity is an offence to this basic assumption. Thus some philosophers of science have opposed the very idea of the Big Bang as irrational and untestable."

b) Something from nothing contraidicts materialism
Science and The Modern World, Alfred North Whitehead.
NY: free Press, 1925, (1953) p.76

"We are content with superficial orderings form diverse arbitrary starting points. ... sciene which is employed in their deveopment [modern thought] is based upon a philosophy which asserts that physical casation is supreme, and which disjoins the physical cause from the final end. It is not popular to dwell upon the absolute contradiction here involved."[Whitehead was an atheist]

c) Causality was the basis upon which God was expelled from Modern Science

It was La Plase's famous line "I have no need of that Hypothosis" [meaning God] Which turned the scientific world form beliving (along with Newton and assuming that order in nature proved design) to unbelief on the principle that we dont' need God to explain the univrese because we have independent naturalistic cause and effet. [Numbers, God and Nature]
2) Materilism Undermines Itself
a) Big Bang contradicts causality (see quotation above)
b) QM theory seems to contradict cause/effect relationship.
c) Rejection of final cause
3) Probabalistic Justification for assumption of Cause

We still have a huge justification for assuming causes inductively, since nothing in our experince is ever uncaused. The mere fact that we can't see or find a cause isn't a proof that there isn't one.

4) Therefore, we have probabilistic justification for assuming Final cause

Thus, the basis upon which God was dismissed from scientific thought has been abandoned;the door to consideration of God is open again. The reliance upon naturalistic cause and effect in consideration of ultimate origins is shattered, but this does not make it rational to just assume that the universe popped into existence with no cause. Since we have vast precedent for assuming cause and effect, we should continue to do so. But since naturalistic cause and effect seems unnecessary at the cosmic level, we should consider the probability of an ultimate necessary final cause.

I will not publish the third part of this (on blog it will be part 2) for a few days or even more than a week, as this blog is shared by others. But the second or third part deals with Motlmann's concept of resurrection as history making. I think given the fact that John opened up such an interesting area, God and history, it it behooves us to think about it a lot.

13 comments:

Wow, there is a lot of stuff here. I liked your summary of the origins of modern naturalism and postmodernism. I took a class on Christian Origins last year and it was terrible. We never read anything about what actually happened in those early years but got a lesson in post-modern historiography which basically amounted to the statement all worldviews are just power constructs meant to put a group of people in power and suppress another group of people. (My prof was a feminist)

I did learn some things though. 1) the church fathers were sexist. I think that my prof probably twisted things a little here but getting past the feminist ideology I did see that she had a point about the church fathers not being politically correct on the issue of gender.

To her credit she did cite St. Paul about everyone being equal in Christ as an example of feminist empowerment in early Christianity. Her perspective is that after Christianity gained widespread acceptance and tolerance in the Empire, the males took over and suppressed women.

You are spot on about naturalism. It bothers me greatly that I can't seen to communicate the obvious inadequency of naturalism in online discussions but I suspect that the atheists one encounters online are ver entrenched in their position and will not give the Christian apologist the time of day. Some people are just irrationally skeptical and think that everything needs to answer to their own skepticism besides what they already believe. That is they are much more skeptical of Christianity then of their own skepticism and whatever attached worldview they have.

In regards to Loftus, just from reading what he's written on other blogs, he is quite the dogmatic atheist. It's all about ideology to him as it probably was even before he embraced atheism. He just found atheism to be a better ideology then Christianity. The cross is the enemy of all religions, worldviews and ideologies because it strikes at the heart of man. Through the cross we know how sinful we've become both corporately but also individually, with this later part mattering the most. The reality of the Fall is expressed most poignantly at the cross. One cannot begin to understand the meaning of the Resurrection without first seriously contemplating the cross.

Kierkegaard had it right when he said, that, "The anguished conscience alone understands Christ."

Ron, I like discussing these ideas respectfully. That's all I have ever wanted. I read Christian books (I just ordered a few of them recently, including The Apologetics Bible, with a secton edited by my friend Paul Copan). I consider several major Christian apologists as my friends, like Copan, Sennett, Geisler, Craig, and others, and I correspond with them (why is it that the more influential/knowledgeable the apologist is, the more respectful they are towards me?). I visit Christian sites. I link to Christian sites on my blog.

I do give Christians the time of day, although you didn't deny that of me specifically, I think.

As far as me being a "dogmatic atheist" goes, you need to make some distinctions with me here. We are all dogmatic atheists when it comes to the religious views we reject, and in that sense I am a dogmatic atheist when it comes to Christianity. But, when it comes to actually affirming what I believe, I tentatively affirm atheism, although my default position is soft agnosticism, which says, "I don't know." However, since there isn't much difference between a distant god and none at all, when asked to affirm something I affirm atheism.

Please, no ad hominems.

Wow, there is a lot of stuff here. I liked your summary of the origins of modern naturalism and postmodernism.

Thanks. I spent the first four years of doctoral work doing Derrida and post modernism.


I took a class on Christian Origins last year and it was terrible. We never read anything about what actually happened in those early years but got a lesson in post-modern historiography which basically amounted to the statement all worldviews are just power constructs meant to put a group of people in power and suppress another group of people. (My prof was a feminist)


I basically agree. Of course that means that the world view that says that is also doing that.

I did learn some things though. 1) the church fathers were sexist. I think that my prof probably twisted things a little here but getting past the feminist ideology I did see that she had a point about the church fathers not being politically correct on the issue of gender.

Of course they were. they were men and lived way back when. But not all of them were. Women had a lot more power in the church at different times. One must be very specific about time and place.

To her credit she did cite St. Paul about everyone being equal in Christ as an example of feminist empowerment in early Christianity. Her perspective is that after Christianity gained widespread acceptance and tolerance in the Empire, the males took over and suppressed women.

I agree. I am one of those bothersome "egals" who thinks that Paul is totally misunderstood and mistranslated.

You are spot on about naturalism. It bothers me greatly that I can't seen to communicate the obvious inadequency of naturalism in online discussions but I suspect that the atheists one encounters online are ver entrenched in their position and will not give the Christian apologist the time of day.

depends upon who you talk to. message board atheists are worse than blog atheists. the bright people in both camps when to blogs, message boards left largely to know nothings. A lot of people (on both sides) just don't have the background in learning to really understand what's going on with al these "isms."




Some people are just irrationally skeptical and think that everything needs to answer to their own skepticism besides what they already believe. That is they are much more skeptical of Christianity then of their own skepticism and whatever attached worldview they have.

Yes that's a problem I have with Lofuts' position on this history issue. Not that I say He irrational, but he seems to lionize his own time and place.

In regards to Loftus, just from reading what he's written on other blogs, he is quite the dogmatic atheist. It's all about ideology to him as it probably was even before he embraced atheism. He just found atheism to be a better ideology then Christianity. The cross is the enemy of all religions, worldviews and ideologies because it strikes at the heart of man. Through the cross we know how sinful we've become both corporately but also individually, with this later part mattering the most. The reality of the Fall is expressed most poignantly at the cross. One cannot begin to understand the meaning of the Resurrection without first seriously contemplating the cross.

Excellent point. Rather than saying "the enemy" I prefer to say The scandle for. The Cross is the scandle for everyone. I think a lot f atheists just can't accept embracing a theology that would put them int he center of a vast scandal that they can't get a handle on. It doesn't allow them control.

Kierkegaard had it right when he said, that, "The anguished conscience alone understands Christ."


SK rules!

10/28/2007 01:31:00 AM

Yes that's a problem I have with [Loftus'] position on this history issue. Not that I say He irrational, but he seems to lionize his own time and place.

We cannot do otherwise, unless you think had you lived during the three centuries of witch trials you would still think about them as you do today.

There have been so many changes with regard to Christian beliefs, Joe, that you would've been burned at the stake for your endorsement of SK's arguments during the Inquisiton. And YOU are scientifically minded such that you no longer see an omen in an eclipse, nor do you think epleptic people are demon possessed, and so forth, and so forth. And you surely wouldn't react like the supposed sailors did in Jonah's day, or the people of Ephesus in Paul's day.

And so Albert Nolan is absolutely correct that “To imagine that one can have historical objectivity without a perspective is an illusion. One perspective, however, can be better than another, [but] the only perspective open to us is the one given to us by the historical situation in which we find ourselves. If we cannot achieve an unobstructed view of Jesus from the vantage point of our present circumstances, then we cannot achieve an unobstructed view of him at all.”

What YOU need to do is to tell us all why you draw the line where you do on these issues. Why, for instance, do you approach many of these things with hindsight and skepticism, but you don't with regard to the other things you claim were historical.

I consider this the Achilles' Heel of Christianity. Care to write about that?

Loftus,

The most influential/knowledgeable apologists don't even know your name. Your book has not been discussed in any recent work by Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, Gregory Boyd or Peter Van Inwagen. I don't bring this up to suggest that people shouldn't treat you with respect, just to give a little perspective. You had to self-publish your book before it got noticed, and even then it only got noticed by a press whose mission it is to publish pretty much anything criticizing religion and promoting atheism (Prometheus). What about the scholarly presses (i.e. Fortress, OUP, CUP, T&T Clark, Edwin Mellen, etc.) As a result I can't read your book (though I've read it before elsewhere) here at Princeton because even though we have one of the biggest theological research libraries in the country (Princeton Seminary) they haven't picked up your book.

My book isn't out yet!

I am not David Hume by any stretch of anyone's imagination...not even in my wildest dreams...but remember, he self-published too, and his book was "still-born off the press." As to Prometheus Books publishing it, what does that have to do with how it will be received? PB was the first to grab it, that's all, and Daniel C. Dennett said they gained "a coup" to get it.

I think I've said this before, but my book cannot be a scholarly book as a whole, since I'm dealing with the whole range of issues of the evangelical worldview. There is no way to get into scholarly detail on each issue I deal with. But what I write is based on scholarship, mostly Christian scholarship!. Its intended audience is the average college student. A book like mine aimed at this audience will have a much greater impact upon Christianity than a scholarly one dealing with just one issue, for one issued scholarly books don't reach the masses and can always be rejected because of Bayesian background factors due the the web of beliefs that were never addressed in it.

My prediction is that you will be asked to comment on it, and at that point you'll have to get it and deal with it. I am very well read and I can tell you that even if I didn't write it that it's still the best counter-apologetics book on the market today. I present a unique case, a comprehensive case, one that is being recommended by top Christians and skeptics, and which has changed the minds of some very well-read Christians.

Maybe I am a blowhard, but it's hard to resist being one knowing what I know and having this many important people patting me on the back. Why do you feel you must knock something you haven't read? That's very interesting to me. Why?

Richard Swinburne, Michael Murray, Paul Copan, Bill Craig, Scot McKnight, C. Stephen Evans, Mark Linville, Craig Hazen, William Hasker, and others do know of my book, and are awaiting it to comment on. Murray and Linville are considering having an apologetics seminar using my book when it comes out.

Loftus,

I'm surprised that you repeat that statement I hear often from atheists that we Christians are just like them when it comes to other religions. Actually, Christians are more in agreement with the other religious traditions then you are. We think that they are wrong in the final analysis but they do contain some truths. It's the atheist who must believe that the world religions are all fundamentally wrong and only they have the right answer. Science and materialism is the answer of the atheist rather then any process or mean in which we gain salvation.

The Christian can believe that the Buddhist, Mormon and Hindu have some things right. I don't mean here that we agree with their doctrines but that we acknowledge the real basis for their forming them. For example, we can see that karma is subtle recognition of sin and the sinners need to face justice for her behaviors here on Earth.

What also surprises me about that statement is that you must know that we are in agreement with the majority of humankind who are, nominally at least, theists. William Lane Craig usually first argues that theism before he mentions Christianity in his debates. Perhaps you should stick to investigating (or defeating if you find that its untenable) theism rather then attack Christianity.

Ron, the fact that you have some agreements with other religions says nothing against the fact that you reject them in the same way as I reject yours. You merely believe what you do. Where others agree with you then you agree with them, and that's it. I have many many agreements with people around the world on a host of topics too, but my agreements with these people do not entail that I agree with them for the same reasons they do. And majorities have no bearing on the issues that divide us. I have a natural explanation for why people are religious in the first place, and so I'm not surprised in the least that most people are religious.

When it comes to theism as a foundation for Christianity it's not that simple. Theism without a particular branch of theism reduces to deism for the branches of theism all depend upon a particular revelation and interpretation of that revelation. How can someone hold to theism without embracing a particular branch of it? Could you please tell me?

So when it comes to debating the existence of God we are already debating a particular branch of theism, Craig included. And I could happily admit to deism or the philosopher's god, since moving from that god to the Christian God is like flying a plane to the moon, because it depends upon historical confirmation of that particular revelation. However, since a distant God is no different than none at all. That's why I've adopted atheism.

Cheers.

john w. loftus,

I don't think you fully understood me. I'm talking about the contents of people's beliefs, not the minor opinion stuff. And on the whole Christians can be more sympathetic to people in other traditions then atheists are. This is because we know that there are real spiritual problems that need to be dealt with and real reasons why people would seek to abandon the world because of suffering and follow Buddha, or strictly follow the Torah or the Koran. The atheist is the one who thinks that they are all deluded and should accept a maddening narrow naturalistic view of things.

The reason I say 'mad' is because naturalism gives the appearance of covering everything but in reality it is really inadequate, especially in regards to the deeper things in life. So forgive me if I find your natural explanations quite shallow.

In regards to theism, it is obviously true that there are many branches of it but I was speaking of the general belief in a Creator-Sustainer God who started this universe and can act within it if he chooses. It doesn't have to reduce to deism unless you let it if you don't think any particular brand of theism is true. For example, C.S. Lewis became a theist before becomming a Christian. If he didn't become a Christian his general theism might have turned to deism, or it might not have. He could have keep praying and so forth as he was.

If I'm not mistaken Craig's argues for a personal Creator in his cosmological and other arguments for God's existence. It is neither a deistic deity or the Christian God. At least not until he argues for the Resurrection and the truth of the gospel. The God that Craig argues for in the first arguments has the basic characteristics of the Christian God but without the particulars of the Christian revelation. For example, it would be like first proving that I am a male before moving on to prove that I am wearing blue jeans. Both facts are true, but one is more basic then the other.

Thus, perhaps it's theism itself you should go after rather then Christianity. I mean, why can't you share the flack/love with the Muslims and the Jews?

I'm sorry Ron, but what exactly IS your point? Are you arguing that I should not argue against Christianity? I can see no possible way you can justify telling me what I should or shouldn't do.

Are you saying it would be better if I went after theism as a whole? Why would you suggest a better strategy to me as an atheist? Are you really suggesting that by doing so I will be more effective? I can see no reason why you are doing so to help me in my limited goals.

Or are you suggesting I change my strategy in order to make it more difficult for me? Hmmmm. I see no reason to accept such a suggestion.

Listen, I can only do what I can do, and nothing more. There are others who do other things. Let them. I will argue against what I know the best. Is that okay with you?

That being said, Theism without a revelation from God is deism, which is basically equivalent to the philosopher's god, because deism is not a set of beliefs, it is a method whereby a particular theological viewpoint is adopted based upon reason. Anything not supported by reason is to be rejected. Deism went through four stages and traveled from continent to continent in the 18-19th centuries, and has been adopted by a number of people in today's world.

My point is that you should investigate theism more because from what I've seen you don't take God as seriously as you ought to. That will probably include arguing against it at first but I trust that you'll see the reasonableness of theism over atheism and change your mind again.

Theism does not have to lead to deism if one does not follow and faith tradition. I think they are probably very few but there are people who believe in a personal God but don't adhere to any tradition. Perhaps most become deists but they don't have to.

The point of me suggesting this is not so that you are less effective as an atheist apologist though that may be entailed since you'll have to halt your current animosity towards Christianity to do it. My reason for suggesting it is that you really think things through more and hopefully become reconciled to God.

John,

I honestly am trying to figure out what you get out of arguing on these blogs. Are you hoping to gain adherents to your ideology? If so, you need to tone down the anger and lend some charity to those you are talking to. You sure haven't lent any to me or to the members of this blog.

What if you convert everyone you come in contact with to your religious point of view? Let's say you start a revolution in beliefs that causes the disappearance of Christianity and the rise of atheism in its place. What have you and the world gained by that? If Christianity isn't true then perhaps you gain by helping further the knowledge of the truth and such. You gain some satisfaction knowing that you've won the argument but in the end you die just as everyone whom you have converted to your side.

It all comes down to Jesus' saying, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul?"

Don't settle in your life for temporary satisfaction. Take a risk and do something of eternal importance. Just to let you know, I am saying this to myself as much as I am saying it to you.

You only have one life. Do well with the light that has been granted to you. In olden times they would have shouted, "Repent!"

During the Inquisition they would have killed me.

Thanks though, I just don't see why people think that because I make my case I'm angry. By virtue of the way I'm treated by Christians on some blogs I could say the same, but I know better.

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