One might suppose that this is accidental, and for the primitives responsible for authoring and compiling the writings that eventually made their way into the bible, this may be the case. But for modern-day believers, their failure to consider the relationship between consciousness and its objects in an explicit manner is philosophically inexcusable. This is especially the case when apologists for a religious worldview condemn rival positions for being “subjective” or “irrational.” Such objections carry no weight when coming from a religious perspective, since religious perspectives themselves are inherently subjective and irrational.
Objectivity is adherence to the primacy of existence throughout one’s knowledge and judgments. Rationality is adherence to reason as one’s only means of knowledge, one’s only standard of judgment and one’s only guide to action. One will not find these virtues either explained or endorsed in “sacred writings” like the biblical storybook. On the contrary, at every turn throughout the biblical narrative, one finds assault after assault on the integrity of the human mind, as though this one thing – claimed at the same to have been created by the Christian god itself – were the source of all evil and woe in the universe, as though it were a “dung heap” that needed to be flushed down some cosmic toilet once and for all.
Like so many other Christian apologists who have attempted to squat in the comments sections here at IP, Dave McPhillips’ postings (see this comments thread)consist mostly of assertions to the effect that I am wrong and questions aimed at raising skeptical suspicions. Conspicuously, he does not teach, even though enlightenment is what we would expect from proponents of a worldview that has all the answers. Instead, he gravitates towards strategies geared toward fostering doubt, uncertainty and eventually incapacity of mind.
You see, religion needs skepticism; it feasts on people who have given up on their own minds, convinced that their ability to think for themselves is useless and doomed. Skepticism is the handmaiden of faith. Confidence in one’s own faculties is the mortal enemy of religion the world over. This is the underlying theme throughout Christian apologetics, with Sye Ten Bruggencate providing the most bare-boned example of this. The goal of Christian apologetics, especially on the internet, is to corner men into doubt and ignorance so that they are disarmed and unable to defend themselves. What must they be disarmed of? What is their defense? Reason. Martin Luther was right when he preached that reason is the enemy of faith (see here for a examination of Luther’s expressly anti-rational worldview).
Let us turn now to an examination of Dave’s comments in the thread linked above. As this file has gotten quite large, I will break into several posts for easier digestion.
Since Dave had objected to certain statements that I had made about the nature of existence, I asked Dave to explain what the bible means by ‘existence’. Specifically, I asked:
1. According to the bible, what is existence?
Existence is all things within God's created order. (Gen.1.1ff.). It is, all things which live move or have being (Act.17:28).
None of these verses which you have given in response to my questions specifies that these are supposed to be taken as definitions of the concept ‘existence’. So your citation of these verses strike me as ad hoc.
However I believe your question was “according to the “bible”, what is existence?” your question was not “which specific verses in the bible gives a detailed definition of the term existence?”
But now that Dave has drawn a distinction between what he offered and an actual definition of the concept ‘existence’, what exactly is the biblical definition of the concept ‘existence’? This is a fundamental concept – in fact, the most fundamental concept, since it applies to everything that exists. But Dave’s own statements suggest that there is no biblical definition for this fundamental concept to be found, for he continues:
The bible is not a dictionary
Standard desktop dictionaries are secular in nature; they are not inherently religious, either Christian or otherwise, in their content and perspective. Thus to rest on the policy that “the bible is not a dictionary” can only suggest that bible-believers themselves would have to consult a secular source to get a clear and explicit understanding of concepts used in the bible when in fact the content found in a secular dictionary may not cohere with biblical content. This is a clear case of intellectual default.
My citations were to show that God is the source of all existence, that all things are contingent upon Him.
Even His own existence is dependent upon the fact that He is God,
But compare Dave’s statement here with what he says facts are. On this matter, he wrote: “Facts are truth claims based on our experience of nature.” So putting this understanding of what facts are together with his statement above about the Christian god’s existence being “dependent upon the fact that He is God,” we get: the Christian god’s existence is dependent on a truth claim based on our experience of nature. This can only mean that truth claims as such must obtain independently of the Christian god, otherwise we have an infinite regress. Moreover, who has experienced the Christian god? Ah yes, Christians have made this kind of claim. Consider Canon Michael Cole’s story about a time he says he experienced Jesus standing right next to him. Unfortunately no one else present saw Jesus standing next to Cole. How can one reliably rule out the possibility that Cole was simply caught up in the emotion of the moment and imagining Jesus standing right next to him? Certainly nothing Cole himself states about his experience rules out this possibility.
He is not outside existence He is existence.
In the final analysis, Dave’s problem is that he is unaware of just what the proper philosophical starting point for rational thought is.
He says to Moses, I am, who I am (Ex.3:14).
In response to Dave’s ad hoc explanations of what ‘existence’ supposedly means according to Christianity, I noted:
(1.) The Christian God is not *part* of existence
When I said that existence is everything in God’s created order, I did not include God within the created order because He was not created.
I was speaking of existence in terms of that which exists in creation as I believed this to be in the context of the discussion.
Here’s the thing: if the Christian holds that his god exists and that “the created order” exists, then he needs to explain the concept ‘existence’ in such a way that it includes both his god and whatever it is alleged to have created. So far Dave has not done this, and yet that was the context of my question.
Recall also that Dave himself posed the following questions to me:
You don’t answer the important questions, “What is existence? How is existence possible? Why is it that we have existence rather than non-existence? How do you know the way in which things exist today will be the same tomorrow?
I am of the view that internally incoherent gaffs of this nature have their genesis in the facts that Christianity itself does not have any explicitly stated starting point, that any starting point it might purport to have could not be objective in nature, and that Christians generally (and Dave included) have not given these matters the close attention that they deserve.
God is outside of existence inasmuch as He is not a part of that which exists in creation.
Either a thing exists, or it doesn’t. There is no in-between, and there’s no such thing as something existing “outside of existence.” If the Christian god existed, it would be one more thing in existence.
Moreover, there are no “degrees” of existence; no thing exists “more” or “less” than something else. Again, either something exists, or it doesn’t. The notion of “contingent existence,” at least insofar as Christian apologists tend to use it, essentially denotes things whose existence depends on wishing: a form of consciousness wished them into being; a form of consciousness wishes them to continue existing; a form of consciousness can wish them to cease existing; a form of consciousness can wish them into something else at any moment. It all reduces to the primacy of consciousness metaphysics – a metaphysical assumption which the believer cannot maintain consistently throughout his worldview (for he performatively contradicts himself every time he says any of this is true).
To be continued…
by Dawson Bethrick