Wednesday, October 02, 2019

What's good for the Gosse is good for the gander

On Twitter, progressive theologian Randal Rauser labored to mount a rejoinder to a post of mine responding to a post of his.

Just to put things in context, part of Rauser's schtick is to say we shouldn't create unnecessary stumbling blocks that drive people away from Christianity or deter them from considering it in the first place. And it just so happens that the list of unnecessary stumbling blocks always lines up with what progressive theologian Randal Rauser doesn't believe in. What a coincidence! And by yet another amazing coincidence, he never classifies his progressive theology or ideology as an unnecessary stumbling block, even though progressive theology and ideology constitute a turnoff for many people.  

Science doesn't deal with eschatology. It simply projects the future of the universe based on current conditions. And based on current conditions, the universe will suffer a heat death. When Christians offer a different future, they do so based on divine intervention, and science has nothing to say about that.

I was wondering if Rauser would take the bait, and what do you know–he stepped right into the trap. It doesn't occur to him that a young-earth creationist can take the very same principle and apply to the past what Rauser applies to the future. 

Science also doesn't disprove "immortal souls". 

I agree, but for the sake of argument I was alluding to neuroscientists who routinely appeal to evidence they think shows that mind events are brain events. The brain generates the mind. 

But neither do you need to believe in such things to be a Christian.

Of course, Rauser has a long list of biblical teachings that you don't need to believe in to be a Christian. Indeed, considering the many examples he's given of biblical teachings he disdains, if he was to draw up two lists, the list of biblical teachings he rejects would be appreciably longer than the list which he accepts. 

Triablogue should place their eschatological hope in the bodily resurrection, not an immortal soul. 

i) Enter a false dichotomy. The biblical eschatological hope includes both the intermediate state and the final state. 

ii) That's a fixture of pastoral grief counseling and funeral services. The hope that your loved one didn't pass into oblivion when they died. 

iii) In addition, physicalism raises problems for personal identity. If you cease to exist, and after a chronological gap God resurrects you, is it you that God resurrects if that's just a copy of you? For instance, is a copy of your memories transferred to a new brain the same you? 

This is why "Christian physicalist" Peter van Inwagen once proposed that the body that's buried isn't the actual corpse of the deceased Christian but a simulacrum. God preserves the actual corpse in stasis. That is what is resurrected. He was driven to that outlandish proposal because, as a physicalist, there's no immortal soul to maintain personal continuity between death and resurrection. Rauser skates over the metaphysical difficulties of his position. 

And science doesn't address divinely wrought resurrections. Which brings me to the last nonsense point. Science says dead people stay dead in the natural course of events. But Christ's resurrection is not part of the natural course of events so science has nothing to say about it.

Rauser still hasn't caught on to the fact that he's trapped in the same dilemma (see above). Once again, a young-earth creationist or–even Philip Henry Gosse–can invoke the same principle to defend mature creation or Omphalism. What's good for the Gosse is good for the gander. 

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