Re: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Tom Caylor <>
Date: Mon, 04 Dec 2006 10:49:18 -0800

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Tom Cayolor writes:
> > > > Schaeffer maintained that the basis for antithesis is not that it was
> > > > an invention of Aristotle or anyone, but that the basis for antithesis
> > > > is reality itself, based on the God who is there (as opposed to not
> > > > being there). The existence of the personal God answers the questions:
> > > >
> > > > 1) Why is there something rather than nothing? i.e. the question of
> > > > the origin of the form of the universe, why does it "make sense"? What
> > > > is the basis for the nature of reality and beauty?
> > > > 2) Why is man the way he/she is? Why is man able to have language and
> > > > do science, and make sense of the world? Why is man able to love and
> > > > figure out what is right? What is the basis for meaning? What is the
> > > > basis for mind? How can persons know one another?
> > > > 3) Why is man able to know anything, and know that he knows what he
> > > > knows? What is the basis for truth? What is truth?
> > >
> > > The first two questions are difficult, but they apply to God as much as the universe,
> > > despite ontological argument trickery whereby God is just defined as existing necessarily
> > > (Gaunilo's answer to Anselm was that you can also just define a "perfect island" as an
> > > island which exists necessarily, and therefore cannot not exist).
> > >
> > > The other questions are easy: blind evolution made us this way.
> > >
> >
> > The word "blind" here is a statement of faith in impersonality. I
> > would paraphrase Brent Meeker and ask, "Why does 'blind' have to be the
> > default?" My response to Bruno addresses the assumption of
> > impersonality.
> It's Occam's Razor: why add the complication of guided evolution (or other theistic
> intervention) when you can explain a phenomenon without it? There doesn't seem to
> be anything in biology that could not have come about through random processes in a
> universe with physical laws such as our own. If God played any role in it he is at best
> completely indifferent to the plight of his creatures. It suits blind evolution very well that
> being devoured by a predator is as unpleasant as possible for the prey, but how does this
> fit in with the plans of the gentle God of modern Christian apologists?

I'm not talking about the practice of science. I'm talking about the
underlying beliefs. The practice of science concentrates on what we
can see, the road past and present. Our underlying beliefs are what
really count when it comes to what our destination is going to be.
This is the level at which Carl Woese is talking in his paper A New
Biology For A New Century.

> > > > However, from the birth of modern science, we have taken a journey to
> > > > dispense with any kind of faith and try to be exhaustive in our
> > > > automony and control. Ironically we have abandoned rationality
> > > > (including antithesis), and we have abandoned ourselves to ourselves.
> > > > We are lost in a silent sea of meaningless 0's and 1's, and man is a
> > > > machine.
> > > >
> > > > This is why I said that when we put ourselves at the center of our
> > > > worldview, it is a prison.
> > >
> > > Er, science is usually taken as more concerned with rationality than religion and
> > > less anthropocentric than religion. Turning it around seems more a rhetorical ploy
> > > than a defensible position.
> > >
> > > Stathis Papaioannou
> > >
> >
> > Science has to take rationality by faith. Without a personal God both
> > science and religion are anthropocentric because in such a
> > configuration there is no one else besides us.
> Science doesn't have to take anything by faith, even though scientists, being after all the same
> species that created religions, often do. Science is at bottom just systematised common sense. I
> see storm clouds so I take my umbrella: that's meteorology. If you want to call it "faith" because there
> is no way of being certain that past storm cloud behaviour will be repeated in future, then what term
> would you reserve for the person who leaves his umbrella behind because he believes that today God
> will miraculously make the raindrops miss him?

As I've mentioned in my other more recent posts, I'm talking about our
different beliefs underlying the fact that we live as though there is a
nature to reality, as though we have personal meaning and significance,
that there is a why to our existence, not just a how (evolution etc.

1) I say that a true belief in the existence of a personal God would
make it possible for me to take my eyes off of myself.

2) You say that the false belief in the existence of a personal God
implies that looking at God is just a weird way of looking at myself.

Both of the above statements are true. We are talking about two
different underlying beliefs.

But, I am saying that if you accept that the existence of a personal
God is false (in line with what #2 is talking about), modern
philosophy, literature, art, etc. has concluded that there is no basis
for personal meaning and significance. Yes lab scientists and
engineers (I'm one) are perfectly content living in the lab, but
hopefully they too eventually wonder what's the point of it all.


> As for anthropocentricity without a personal God, I think that is a subterfuge. Of two groups of fish,
> one believing that God is a big fish watching over them and the other lacking any such belief, which
> group would you say is the more fish-centric?
> Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Mon Dec 04 2006 - 13:51:19 PST

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