Showing posts from January, 2011

Ethics and the Third Person -- An Introduction to the Question of Ethics

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, concluding chapter 30, can be found here. ] [This entry starts the 3rd Edition of Section Four, "Ethics And The Third Person", and constitutes Chapter 31, "An Introduction to the Question of Ethics"] In the previous Section of chapters, I inferred characteristics of God's relationship to Nature, and of Nature to myself in terms of its necessary properties, to account for some of the situations I find myself in. And I took as the chief example of this, the Golden Presumption itself: I can act, and thus can think; and you my reader can do these things also, and thus we can reason together. But now that I have examined the concept of causal relations, I have progressed by necessity toward the concept of personal relations. There is a personal relation involved in this very book: I am presenting to you an 'argument' for you to judge--not merely for you to react to (either arbitr

Creation and the Second Person -- a genesis story

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, continuing chapter 30, can be found here. ] [This entry concludes chapter 30, "The Doctrine of Derivative Spirit"; and also concludes Section Two.] Here is the third story: which might in principle have happened 'instead' of the second, and which I think happened after all, even if the 'process details' related here could stand expansion and clarification. (Maybe lots of it!) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the world. And the world was a blasted heap of formless rubble, and darkness was over the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering (or moving) over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Be light!"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, day one. [See first comment belo

Creation and the Second Person -- an evolutionary story

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, starting chapter 30, can be found here. ] [This entry continues chapter 30, "The Doctrine of Derivative Spirit".] (Repeating from the end of the previous part.) I will begin dealing with ethics soon in Section Four, after this chapter. But for now, let me go back and retell my story again; from a different historical perspective but with (I think) the same principles. God creates Nature, and allows it to go through a quasi-independent historical process; "quasi-independent", for Nature does not exist on its own resources, but upon God, and is meanwhile guided subtly by God. One purpose of God in making this Nature, has been to create derivative sentiences like (but merely 'like') Himself. Billions of what we call years pass, as God slowly edges things into place, letting Nature be Nature. God is patient, because all time and space are in His hand. He is concerned with the final

New Atheists Say the Silliest Things

A friend of mine who posts on under the Internet nom de plume of JoanDArc77, directed my attention to an interview of the New Atheist mouthpiece, Richard Dawkins, for a friendly interview with Newsnight's Book Club. The roughly ten minute interview goes on with Richard Dawkins largely freely making his already well-publicized musings about the nature of reality and his spurious claims that Christianity is a fiction. For those interested, I have linked the video, below. If you want, you can view the entire video. But I promise you that it isn't worth the time. It is simply more of the standard talking points that Dawkins regularly shares as part of his atheism evangelism tool. However, I post it because after eight and one half minutes of arid conversation, Dawkins makes a rather revealing statement given his deeply held (alleged) conviction that there is no God. The interviewer asks Dawkins what gets him through the night. Dawkins replies that what gets him through

Creation and the Second Person -- a personal story

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, concluding chapter 29, can be found here. ] [This entry starts chapter 30, "The Doctrine of Derivative Spirit".] In this chapter I will mostly take a break from progressing in a developing argument, to spend some time picking at the proposition I have just developed, concerning the relationship of derivative spirits to Nature and to God. In the process I will be considering some questions I have asked myself, and which perhaps I can anticipate from you, my reader. I will also try some illustrative analogies (although with an eye to the limitations of the analogies). (Keep in mind, however, that I am neither claiming nor requiring this particular theory of mine concerning the process of instigation of the soul, to be certainly correct. It does, I think, fit the bill, and is not self-contradictive; but that doesn't exclude other methods of getting to the same result. On the other hand, I have

Can Reliable Knowledge Be Produced Outside Science?

In a blog entry of January 16, 2010, Austin Cline, author of the Atheism and Agnosticism Blog on, poses the rather interesting question, “Can Reliable Knowledge Be Produced Outside Science?” As a person who operates in the real world, I am obviously inclined to believe that a great deal of reliable knowledge can be had outside of science because there is a lot of things that I know to be true which are not known to me as the result of scientific testing. However, having read Mr. Cline’s column on occasion – admittedly, rare occasion – I strongly suspected that he would follow Betteridge’s Law of Headlines and answer the question with an adamant “no.” Interestingly, Cline does not even answer the question he asks at the outset which is the subtitle of his post. Instead, the question he answers at the end of his three page post is whether any discipline other than science gives useful answers. I am fairly certain that the vast majority of readers would acknowledge that the t

In the struggle for righteousness, man has cosmic companionship

I have been mostly absent from CADRE recently, as I have been devoting a lot of time to teaching and adjusting to life in a new community. I have some new posts in the works, including a review of Michael Licona's book on the resurrection. But as it is Martin Luther King day, I want to repost an excerpt from one of his essays that I find powerfully moving (it is from "My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence"). It is especially so in light of an astonishing fact I learned yesterday: according to the book by Arthur Raper, The Tragedy of Lynching , from 1889 to 1929 a black person was either hanged or burned alive every four days. MLK was undoubtedly aware of these facts. How could anyone in his position in their right mind want peaceful reconciliation with the white man? King gives the reason in this passage: In recent months I have also become more and more convinced of the reality of a personal God . True, I have always believed in the personality of God. But in past years the idea

Are Internet Atheists Close-Minded and Angry?

After engaging in debate about the truth claims of Christianity on the Internet for many years I have learned something interesting: Internet atheists tend to be angry and want to gather together to share that anger. To me, that's the only way to explain why so many of them banter around the trite and simple phrases of such luminaries as the New Atheists. Internet Atheists hate Christianity and they enjoy gathering at bulletin boards and blogs sharing that hatred and anger through their (allegedly) stunning insights about the stupid, ignorant Christians and their beliefs. Oh, they deny it. I remember distinctly a conversation I had almost 10 years ago with a guy who went by the name of Cygnus. He had been kicked off the old debate boards at CARM, one of my old stomping grounds, for using foul language. I forget exactly how I came to speak to him outside of CARM, but he told me that he was actually very happy and could certainly go without using foul language if let back on the site

Creation and the Second Person -- the creation of me

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, continuing chapter 29, can be found here. ] [This entry concludes chapter 29, "Resolving The Grand Paradox".] You may have noticed I have often insisted throughout my book that opponents are not entirely wrong, but rather they're not entirely right; that they do have some good points, but they're taking them a bit too far or not taking them far enough or putting them together the wrong way. I have recently granted this in the case of pantheists and vitalists, for instance. In the case of atheistic naturalists, I think they are actually on the right trail when they discuss aggregations of natural events as the source of our rationality. Their pivotal error, as I have deduced, is that they put these observations and conclusions into service of a nonsensical proposition: that non-initiation produces initiation ability, that reactions produce actions, that the non-rational can be rational. Th

Creation and the Second Person -- relational creation

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, starting chapter 29, can be found here. ] [This entry continues chapter 29, "Resolving The Grand Paradox".] God, if He creates, must first create Nature. Let us say Nature is now up-and-running. It does not have to be exactly our Nature; it could for instance be a Nature inhabited by angels or elves or whatever--but, since I am searching for an explanation that deals with you and me and our behavior and qualities, let me stick with what I know best: this Nature, the one you and I obviously inhabit in some fashion. The first not-God thing God creates (per se) must be reactive, as distinct from His active character, so that He has created and not begotten (nor generated a Person of God Who has nothing to do with God’s own self-generation--but that’s a topic for later). If God wishes to introduce further effects into this system, above and beyond the effects that this system of itself produces (alon

A Quick Question re The Lack of Diversity in Atheism

According to an article entitled Atheists' diversity woes have no clear answers , atheism has a rather clear white base. Last year, Jules helped launch a local initiative to address what atheists regard as an international problem for their movement: a lack of racial and gender diversity. From the smallest local meetings to the largest conferences, the vast majority of speakers and attendees are almost always white men. Leading figures of the atheist movement -- Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett -- are all white men. But making atheism more diverse is proving to be no easy task. Surveys suggest most atheists are white men. A recent survey of 4,000 members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation found that 95 percent were white, and men comprised a majority. Among U.S. nonbelievers, 72 percent are white and 60 percent are men, according to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey; the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Rel

Creation and the Second Person -- A Foundational Summary

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, chapter 28, can be found here. ] [This entry starts chapter 29, "Resolving The Grand Paradox".] During the previous few chapters, I think I have established many useful and true notions. One result of this process, however, has been to deepen the paradox I had already detected (as a potentially cataclysmic contradiction to my argument) back toward the end of Section Two. Now it is time to resolve that paradox--if possible. Let me begin, conceptually speaking, at the beginning. One and only one Independent Fact exists; no other IF could exist along with or instead of It. Being self-generative and rationally active, the basic self-sustaining action of the IF is to beget Itself. This most primary of Its actions--and as a rationally active entity, the most fundamentally chief cause of any effects, we should describe the IF with a personal and philosophical 'He'--allows the IF (God) to take an