Re: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Mon, 04 Dec 2006 12:45:07 -0800

Tom Caylor wrote:
> 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.

A peculiarly Christian view - faith trumps all. Why don't our actions count more than our beliefs? If I'm driving to San Francisco, I'll get there I'll if I make the right turns - even if I believe I'm driving to San Diego.

> 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. etc.)

Asking "why?" already assumes a teleological answer. So what's your answer and what's the evidence for it?

> 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.

So would a false belief in God, or any belief that anything exists besides you. Only a solipist fails to believe there are things outside him.

> 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),

I just don't comprehend all this talk about "belief" and "accepting" as though belief is act of will. Only insane people believe or disbelieve as an act of will, independent of evidence. Everybody else portions their belief to evidence.

> modern philosophy, literature, art, etc. has concluded that there is
> no basis for personal meaning and significance.

Just because *some* philosophers, writers, and artists (and *all* theologians) have concluded that you cannot provide your own meaning to life doesn't make it so. Plenty of other philosophers, writers, and artists have concluded you can. I can.

Brent Meeker
"Atheist n A person to be pitied in that he is unable to believe things for which there is no evidence, and who has thus deprived himself of a convenient means of feeling superior to others."
         --- Chaz Bufe

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Received on Mon Dec 04 2006 - 15:45:28 PST

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