Monday, February 17, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Values"

I continue now with my examination of James Anderson’s apologetic book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), exploring the second case for theism that he presents in the fourth chapter of his book.

As I noted in an earlier installment in this series, Anderson presents six cases for the existence of a supernatural being we’re supposed to call “God”. I have already refuted the first of his cases (in two installments: here and here).

In the present entry I will examine his second case, “God and Values.” Unfortunately, this case suffers from some fatal defects, and nothing he presents in his second case overcomes the damning liabilities I uncovered in his first case. 

Sunday, February 02, 2020

WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 2: Contingency Desperation

In my previous entry I began exploring the first of six cases which Christian apologist James Anderson presents in defense of theism in the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC). We see in that entry that Anderson opens his first case by repeating “the Question” which Martin Heidegger raised in the 1950s, namely “Why does anything exist at all?” (p. 102). In that entry I cited reasons for dismissing this question as irrational (most importantly, because it invites the fallacy of the stolen concept).

I ended my initial exploration of Anderson’s case by leaving open the possibility that, even if one acknowledges the fallaciousness of “the Question,” Anderson’s case may still have merits. So in this entry I will continue my examination of Anderson’s first case to see if in fact it provides any good reasons for believing that a god exists.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 1: “The Question”

In chapter 4 of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), author James Anderson presents his reasons for believing that a god exists. Over the next few installments in my examination of Anderson’s book, I will focus on each of the sections of this chapter. Anderson heads the six sections of chapter 4, subtitled “God is There,” which runs from pages 93 to 138, with the following headings:
“God and Existence”(pp. 102-106)  
“God and Values” (pp. 106-110)  
“God and Morality” (pp. 110-115)  
“God and Reason” (pp. 115-119)  
“God and Mind” (pp. 119-125)  
“God and Science” (pp. 126-135)
Anderson closes out the chapter with a discussion regarding whether or not arguments are needed in the first place for believing that a god exists – and given that the vast majority of believers accept their theism on psycho-emotional grounds as opposed to rational grounds, there should be no surprise when Anderson concludes that arguments in fact are not needed (now he tells us!). A number of issues come to the surface in that section, so that will have to wait for a later entry on this blog. For now, I want to explore the first case which Anderson outlines in his book’s fourth chapter. After reviewing the six preceding sections of the chapter, one might suppose that he should have just skipped them entirely. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

WSIBC: Divine Voices and Failed Arguments

I am continuing to work through James Anderson’s book Why Should I Believe Christianity (WSIBC) and now have well over a hundred pages of handwritten notes that I’ll need to edit and transcribe at some point, so that I can share the results of my examination with you, my readers. I expect that before my next installment in this series, after this present one, I’ll have over two hundred pages of notes! There’s so much to interact with and so many opportunities for interaction that I suspect this project might occupy me for some time. This undertaking is deliciously rewarding for me, and I hope that readers get at least some value from what I produce here on this.

In the present entry, I want to revisit an issue which came up in my previous entry, namely Anderson’s stipulations about how we do not gain awareness of the Christian god. This is a critical matter since the question of how one has awareness of the object of his worship strikes me as having central importance, both philosophically as well as devotionally, especially if one is attempting to attract newcomers to Christianity as a worldview which is supposed to be true and also solve philosophical problems better than other worldviews. And yet this area seems to get little direct attention. All too often, for instance, we’re told – as Anderson himself tells us – how one does not have awareness of the Christian god, leaving insufficiently unattended the question of how one does have awareness of the Christian god. When the latter is discussed, as we shall find, it is often layered in metaphor, which is hardly conducive to investigation and confidence and suggestive of speculation and concealment.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

WSIBC: “Competing Worldviews”

In setting the stage for making his case for Christianity, Christian apologist James Anderson makes it clear that he’s talking about Christianity as a “worldview.” On pages 32-33 of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), Anderson explains:
a worldview is a comprehensive view of the world. I don’t mean a physical view of the world, like the sight of planet earth you might get from an orbiting space station. A worldview is a philosophical view of the world – and not just of our planet, but of the entire universe, indeed all of reality. A worldview is an all-encompassing perspective on ourselves and everything else that exists, especially those things that matter most to us and have the greatest influence on our lives.
Since a worldview is “a philosophical view of the world… indeed all of reality” that is “all-encompassing,” a worldview should be expected to help us understand “things we take for granted in our everyday lives, such as the orderliness of the universe, the meaningfulness of human existence, and our ability to use reason to extend our knowledge of the world” (p. 45). Thus, if “Christianity is an all-compassing worldview" (p. 25), then I would expect Christianity to have something informative to say about some fundamental matters, such as the proper starting point of human cognition, the relationship between consciousness and its objects, the nature of concepts and how we form them, etc. For whether one realizes it or not, these are fundamental matters which “have the greatest influence on our lives.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Preliminary Worldview Considerations before Anderson’s WSIBC

In my previous entry, I announced my recent purchase of James Anderson’s book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC) – which as of this writing has a rank of 133 in the category Presbyterian Christianity, so get your copy while supplies last – and my intention to explore the case he presents in that book for, well, believing Christianity.

Also in my previous entry I provided a list of 25 worldview-oriented questions that I would keep by my side as I read through Anderson’s book, to see if finally I can get some answers on some pressing issues that apologists before him seem reluctant to address.

In the present entry I want to provide a few high-level observations before diving into the first chapter of Anderson’s book, and really all the chapters which follow. I expect that the following points, which are by no means exhaustive, will come in handy when examining any case for theism in particular and any endorsement of mysticism (of which Christianity is a category) in general.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Initial Questions for James Anderson's "Why Should I Believe Christianity"

I recently ordered Dr. James N. Anderson’s book Why Should I Believe Christianity?. With much anticipation, it has finally arrived and I am ready to start devouring it. Before I go and read it though, I wanted to set before myself a number of questions to keep by my side as I go through Anderson’s book, questions I’ve always wanted to see answered from a religious perspective. I figure, if I define before reading a book what I want to get out of it, I’ll be that much more positioned to have a personally rewarding experience when I do read it, and that’s important to me. Also, my exploration of Anderson’s book might make for some exciting content for my blog. I’ve seen a few reviews of the book posted online, but none by anyone who’s not a professed believer that I could find. So perhaps I’ll be the first!

Published in 2016, Why Should I Believe Christianity? comes with some very enthusiastic acclaim, albeit from other Christians. Just inside the book’s jacket on the front end sheet, we find a number of plugs for the book. For example, apologetic heavyweight John M. Frame writes that “James Anderson is one of the best writers in contemporary Reformed theology and apologetics,” adding that “he has a wonderful gift for anticipating the questions in readers’ minds” and states that his book “is one of the best sources available for presenting the rationale of the Christian faith to an unbelieving reader.” K. Scott Oliphant calls Anderson’s work in the book “a masterful job” and says that his book “will be a necessary tool for anyone interested in addressing arguments against Christian truth.” Michael J. Kruger calls it a “fantastic book” and that in it “James Anderson offers one of the clearest and most compelling explanations for the truth of Christianity that I have ever read.” “Read it multiple times,” urges Kruger, “then give it to a friend.” “In this book,” writes R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “believers will find a compelling defense of the Christian worldview and the resources necessary to stand firm in a faithless age,” even though a five-star review on the page for the book states that Anderson’s book is “written to and for unbelievers.”