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 Amazon.com page for the book states that Anderson’s book is “written to and for unbelievers.” 

Friday, November 08, 2019

"He is found in our hearts"

Christian apologists often carry on as if they’re know-it-alls when it comes to arguments. It’s possible that some might even know what an argument is. Many will spend hours if not years in the effort to master formal argumentation, fallacy detection, rhetorical devices, and of course, expressions in Latin. Their hope is apparently to ensure that they be “always ready” for any skirmish with a non-believer, for defending the faith from the offense of non-belief is of paramount importance to preserving loyalty to the confession.

And over the millennia theologians and apologists have been very inventive, devising numerous arguments for theism from a variety of angles, such as that the universe needed a cause, that the design we find in the world indicates the existence of a designer, that moral norms necessarily imply a moral law-giver, etc. Once belief in theism has been accepted, there’s an argument to defeat every possible criticism of god-belief that naysayers and spoilsports might raise. And the motivation for devising such arguments should not be too difficult to understand: once belief in the supernatural has been accepted as a true account of reality, one will need to protect his pride from the baddies of the world who scoff at such beliefs.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Hallomeanie!

I have a young neighbor who on a typical day is rather kind and bright. He is also very religious, duly full of zeal for The Lord©. The son of immigrant parents, he often remarks to me how glad he is that I am his neighbor. And frankly he should be – I’m a good man and I don’t cause my neighbors any problems. They can come to me any time and I will kindly receive them and listen to their concerns for the neighborhood. He could have much worse neighbors than my family, to say the least! 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Shrugging off Mysticism

Mysticism is like an odorless toxic gas, and just as dangerous. It often goes undetected precisely because people generally have not learned to recognize consistently the distinction and proper relationship between consciousness and its objects and understand the profound implications of this distinction for their view of reality, of life, and of themselves. Sadly, the distinction between reality and imagination is therefore blurred, often beyond recognition. A thinker who fails to grasp the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects and the fundamentality of this relationship to the entire sphere of thought and action, is thus vulnerable to a wide assortment of cognitive hazards, whether in the form of gratuitous suggestibility or gullibility, of overwriting the things one perceives with fantasy, categorical subjugation to other minds, and so on.

Given its departure from reality and its opposition to objectivity and rationality, it may very well be fruitful to ask whether or not the love for mysticism is in fact the root of all evil. Mysticism lies at the heart of injustice in its two most insidious forms: the pursuit of the unearned and intellectual default. In its essence mysticism involves, however implicitly, a claim to knowledge that one does not have and has not earned. Knowledge is the product of more or less systematic effort conducted within the constraints of reason and guided by objective principles. Intellectual default is essentially the failure to govern one’s mind rationally and act accordingly. Injustice results from efforts to seek the unearned, including resources, power, influence, approval, etc., and is made possible to proceed when people who know better or should know better fail to act to oppose such efforts. Mysticism encourages a willful blindness which dares not call out its root error or its complicity in injustice. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Pardon My Skepticism...

We’re all familiar with the story:
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[a] of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.  
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. (Mt. 27:62 – 28:4)
A bit later we’re told that that the guards bribed the authorities to believe the report that they had fallen asleep while guarding Jesus’ tomb, making it possible for his disciples to steal his dead body while they slept (Mt. 28:11-14). That was what allegedly happened, nearly two thousand years ago.

Then today we read this:
Corrections officers at a New York prison where Jeffrey Epstein was being held are accused of falling asleep on the job and falsifying logs to make it appear as if they checked on the billionaire pedophile on the night of his apparent suicide. (Source)
Whether the family resemblance between these accounts is intentional or not, I don’t think either one is all that believable. It almost seems like a case of art imitating art, or rather, spin imitating spin.

Looks like tangled webs are nothing new after all.

by Dawson Bethrick