Monday, February 13, 2006

Comic-strip 3

"AH YES, EXEMPLARISM.... BUT ANTHROPOMORPHISM BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL ANTHROPOMORPHISM."

Sorry, but it begs the question to assume, without benefit of argument, that if God is held to have some communicable attributes which he shares in common with man, this is simply a case of extrapolating from human experience back onto God.

As I've said before, there's a major philosophical tradition, with many supporting arguments, to the contrary.

"NO --- WHAT I'M SAYING IS THAT THE IDEA OF GOD SERVES CERTAIN HUMAN NEEDS. AND INDEED THAT IDEA EXISTS.
WHETHER IN FACT GOD EXISTS, INDEPENDENTLY OF THE HUMAN IMAGINATION, IS ANOTHER QUESTION."

True, that's another question.

According to Anselm's ontological argument, our idea of God does, indeed, entail an extramental existent.

A number of world class thinkers have agreed with Anselm and formulated their own versions of the ontological argument, viz., Scotus, Bradwardine, Descartes, Leibniz, Hegel, Gödel, Plantinga.

In addition, there's a school of transcendental theism, a la transcendental Thomism (Maréchal, Rahner), and Van Tilian apologetics according to which the existence of God is a necessary truth-condition of human reason. For example:

http://www.ccir.ed.ac.uk/~jad/papers/IfKnowledgeThenGod.pdf

"1) THE LAST TIME I CHECKED THERE WAS NO PROOF OF ANY DIVINE ENGINEER."

And where did you do your checking?

At the risk of repeating myself, there's an extensive body of literature defending that very proposition.

"2) BEING HUMAN BEINGS AND HAVING EXPERIENCED HUMAN LIFE UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, MERE BUT WISE MORTALS LIKE ARI AND MARCUS CAN INDEED HAVE PLENTY OF GOOD ADVICE TO IMPART TO THE REST OF US MERE MORTALS. THE DIVINE ENGINEER AFTER ALL IS TOO FAR REMOVED FROM THE SLINGS AND ARROWS OF DAILY HUMAN EXISTENCE."

i) Experience can be useful, but one moralist will disagree with another moralist of equal experience.

ii) If you're omniscient, you don't need to learn from experience.

Also, learning from experience has its limitations. I can learn from experience that a particular mushroom is poisonous or a particular snake is venomous.

Unfortunately, that learning curve doesn't afford me much opportunity to benefit from my experience! :-)

"3) ISN'T IT PERFECTLY POSSIBLE THAT THE DIVINE ENGINEER EQUIPPED SOME MORTALS (LIKE ARI & MARCUS) WITH GOOD BRAINS AND INSIGHT SO THAT THEY COULD UP WITH AND SHARE THEIR OWN WISDOM ABOUT HOW BEST WE SHOULD LIVE OUR LIVES????"

Yes, that's possible. However, what we really need is a combination of moral norms and concrete experience. By itself, experience doesn't distinguish right from wrong.

"
WELL, WHEN I GAVE THE EXAMPLE OF COMMUNISM, THAT WOULD INCLUDE THE PHILOSOPHY THAT WENT INTO IT. BUT...IN FACT IT WASN'T MARX'S PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY THAT HARMED PEOPLE BUT A GROUP OF PEOPLE ACTING IN HIS NAME WHO SEIZED POWER AND ABUSED IT."

So Marxism is not a flawed theory. The problem is that it's never been given a fair shake?

But if every time it's been put to the test, it's been abused, then doesn't that, of itself, say something about human nature, something which, in turn, Marx failed to anticipate?

I suppose you could always say that a utopian theory would work in a utopian world, so the problem is not with the theory, but with the world.

But Marxism was meant to be a this-worldly theory.

Or should be say that Marxism is the opiate of the people? :-)

"THAT'S NOT THE POINT -- YOU THE BELIEVER SINCERELY BELIEVE THERE WOULD BE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES FOR UNBELIEVERS."

Okay, but since it's the unbeliever who is objecting to the dogma, how is that relevant to him?

"IT SEEMS TO ME THE ETERNAL NON-EXISTENCE THAT PROBABLY FOLLOWS DEATH IS FAR PREFERABLE TO BURNING ALIVE IN HELL FOREVER! (OR WHATEVER EXACTLY ETERNAL DAMNATION INVOLVES THESE DAYS). THE ROTTING OF ONE'S BODY IS NOT SOMETHING ONE WOULD EXPERIENCE OR SUFFER - SINCE ONE'S BODY WOULD JUST BE AN INANIMATE MASS."

That may well be, but most unbelievers still find their impending demise a disagreeable prospect--one which they would avoid, if they could do so--yet they don't say it can't be true just because they don't care for the consequences.

On the other hand, they often do deny the Christian vision of the afterlife because they find the consequences objectionable--for the unbeliever.

"BUT ALSO: DAMNATION IS AN ACT OF WILFUL RETRIBUTION BY GOD FOR SINNING, WHILE ROTTING AFTER DEATH IS A VALUE-NEUTRAL PROCESS - ROTTING JUST HAPPENS!!"

Actually, that would be an argument for the moral superiority of the Christian alternative, because the fate of the dead is a just desert.

"I REFERRED TO CONSEQUENCES FOR INDIVIDUALS MIRRORING THOSE YOU FORESEE FOR "SINNERS", I.E. PEOPLE WHO DON'T ACCEPT THE TRUE GOD AND FOLLOW HIS RULES."

That varies with the individual. Many unbelievers do feel the loss of God as a tremendous personal and social loss.

"AND SO IT FOLLOWS THAT IF EYEWITNESSES CLAIM SOMETHING THAT GOES FUNDAMENTALLY AGAINST THE LAWS OF NATURE, ANY COURT WOULD DISMISS THEIR TESTIMONY!!"

Our belief in natural law is, itself, a result of historical testimony. So the evidence for natural law, and the evidence for the miraculous, share a common database.

In addition, we're not talking about the general question of whether men ordinarily rise from the dead, but the specific question of whether God would raise an extraordinary individual with an extraordinary mission from the grave.

Steve

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