Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Specter of Antithesis

Presuppositional apologists often frame the conflict between their “worldview” and all other worldviews in terms of a fundamental antithesis between Christianity on the one hand, and “unbelieving thought” on the other. The intention behind this notion of “antithesis” seems to be the self-serving portrayal of Christianity as the lone champion of truth contending against every other conceivable worldview as if they were mutually exclusive. This is certainly one of the take-aways of the biblical narrative, which is explicitly tribal in character.

However, in philosophical terms, Christianity is in fact just one among many forms of mysticism. Presuppositionalism’s claim to exclusivity actually underscores a profound lack of philosophical awareness on the part of its defenders. The apologist’s job is to give what is in essence a tribalistic feature of his religion the air of philosophical respectability. I’ll leave it to readers to judge how successful they are at this.

Monday, October 25, 2021

"He walked among us"

I recently had a discussion with an acquaintance of mine about beliefs, worldviews, religious assumptions, the whole shebang. It was a fascinating conversation, and frankly I wish I had a recording of the whole thing. A number of topics came up and I both listened and provided some of my own points. This person, whom I’ll call Bill, identifies himself as a Christian and has, from what I could gather, at the very least dabbled in apologetics. So while it was not a full-blown debate, we did enjoy an engaging discussion and I hope to pick it up again sometime.

One of the points I did emphasize, as in my writings, was the believer’s need to rely on imagination as a substitute for knowledge acquired and validated by means of reason in order to be a faithful believer. It was clear from context that when I spoke of the role of imagination in religious belief and when Bill spoke of faith, we were essentially talking about the same thing. It’s as though this natural correspondence between the two had an irresistible centrifugal force of its own.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Christianity and Socialism

Throughout my life it has been clear to me that many Christians assume that capitalism has its roots in Christianity, and that a proper defense of capitalism must begin with an affirmation of the Christian worldview. Some even seem to think that where you find Christianity, you’re likely to find capitalism, as if the latter were a natural corollary of the former. With some two and a half billion Christians in the world (source), how’s that going?

I suppose that much of what gives impetus to this view is the famed Protestant work ethic that Max Weber wrote about in his highly influential book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, which begins by observing that in nations “of mixed religious composition” there is a strong tendency that “business leaders and owners of capital… are overwhelmingly Protestant” (p. 35). In contravention to this, Michael Novak argues that capitalism was actually created by the Cistercians, a Catholic religious order which branched off from the Benedictines (because the Benedictines weren’t Benedictine enough), given their masterful use of profits and venture capital.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

David Wood, Star Trek, and the Inevitable Persistence of Religion

Some weeks ago an acquaintance of mine asked me to comment on a video uploaded to a YouTube channel called Acts17Apologetics. This is David Wood’s channel – the would-be bomber who clobbered his own father over the head with a ball-peen hammer. That’s according to his own testimony. But I was not asked to explore David Wood’s daddy issues, so that can be left for another occasion.

The video of Wood’s which I was asked to review is called What Star Trek Got RIGHT about Jesus, which Wood published back in May this year. In this video, Wood reacts to “an atheist meme” which pokes fun at Christianity using the 1960s television series Star Trek as an exemplar.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Gotquestions.org's Article on TAG

A reader asked that I give my thoughts on Gotquestions.org’s response to the question What is the transcendental argument for the existence of God? So here goes.

The so-called “transcendental argument for the existence of God,” or “TAG” for short, has created quite a sensation among many faithful believers and valiant apologists ever since it took to the debate stage. Both professional debaters and lay apologists have exhibited strong enthusiasm for TAG, many apparently believing that just mentioning it is like showing a crucifix to a vampire. I suspect that, given the hyped-up expectations believers have poured into TAG as a defense of the Christian faith, many believers have been fed a false hope that their faith can once and for all be vindicated and consequently all those nagging doubts about the truth of Christianity’s claims can finally be put to rest. It pays to be careful who you listen to.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Anderson versus Materialism, Part II: The Problem of Personal Identity over Time

Back in February this year I posted an entry in which I interacted with the first of several “daunting philosophical problems for materialists” culled together by James Anderson in a blog entry of his own titled Materialism and Mysteries. Anderson himself cited statements made by New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman in a blog post of his own about his relationship to materialism, where Ehrman states that he has been “more-or-less a complete materialist for about twenty years.”

In my own entry, I examined what Anderson dubs “the problem of the unity of consciousness,” which consists of a single question (mind you, not an argument): “How could a material object like the brain, extended across space and composed of billions of discrete physical parts, serve as the basis for the unity of our conscious experience?” The way Anderson frames this “problem,” I get the impression that he thinks the elements of each brain are scattered all over the universe.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Answering the Epistemologist

A reader who contacted me privately asked a number of questions the proper philosophical starting point and related matters. This reader, in spite of all the material I’ve assembled on my blog, apparently persists in thinking that some cognitive structure or mental operation (e.g., beliefs, faith, reasoning, inference, etc.) must be the proper starting point, apparently unaware of the fact that mental operations must always have some independently existing object to which said mental operations must refer and conform, and without which those mental operations would simply have no basis or purpose. 

After I made several attempts to explain why the human mind must start with the objects of consciousness rather than with some cognitive structure or mental operation, the reader announced that we had basically reached an impasse and that we were “going to agree to disagree.” However, where exactly the disagreement lies remains a bit of a mystery, at least to me.