A Puritan’s Cosmological Argument

A different kind of Cosmological Argument.

At age 19 Jonathan Edwards wrote an article entitled “Of being”. This was a short, but incisive article dealing with matters of being.

He postulates that perfect nothingness is conceptually impossible. For example if one is to attempt to think about perfect nothing, they normally imagine black “space” devoid of light. This however is not perfect nothing, as it is something that the mind is conceptualizing. Further Edwards asserts that perfect nothing is the negation of all propositions.

Either nothing existed which would negate all geometry,any universal law, and any proportion whatsoever or everything existed in God’s mind. The former part of this proposition assumes that the atheist must accept either the eternality of the universe or accept the negation of all propositions before all matter and propositions came into being. If that were true, then the laws of physics *appeared ex post facto which seems absurd or they were already in existence which negates the proposition.

p: absolute nothing existed
q: no propositions existed
r: all propositions present in God’s mind
p –> q (r v p)
~p :. r

In a naturalistic model, the ontology of immaterial laws must be thought of as an abstraction from the ontology of the material universe. In other words creation ex-nihilo via a naturalistic framework must include laws that are abstract from the processes that they govern.

In a theistic model, propositions and laws are existent a priori as they exist in God’s mind. The material world is fashioned in response to the immaterial laws that already exist. This seems the to be the only plausible way to conceptualize creation ex-nihilo.

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Gleanings from G.H. Clark: Existentialism is a moral failure

Christian Metaphysician

It should come aimagess no surprise that one of my favorite philosophers is Gordon H. Clark. Even twenty plus years posthumously his critique of secular philosophy remains as a source of insight and rejoinder to the prevailing philosophical underpinnings of our present day culture.

In a very short section from his book Introduction to Christian Philosophy he catalogs a few of the errors in the ethical program of Existentialism.  Right off the bat, Clark reveals that Existentialism can find no place for either Hegel or Aristotle. The abstract idealism of Hegel is less spurious for existentialists than the so-called “spectator” philosophy of Aristotle.[1]  The Aristotelian categories of substance, quantity, unity, and cause must give way to categories of action that read more like the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. These categories include such bright and happy notions such as dread, crisis, anxiety…

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Recognition and the Christian Apologetic

Christian Metaphysician

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Struggles for Recognition

Many Christians have likely never heard the name Jürgen Habermas; certainly his writings are mostly relegated to those with a philosophical predilection. However, recent events both socially and politically may necessitate a closer inspection or at least a passing acquaintance with his philosophy. While a biography might prove helpful, suffice is to say that Habermas is associated with Frankfurt school of Philosophy. [1]

Again, the meaningfulness of this is likely lost but this school has been both exalted and vilified dependent upon the political and philosophical leanings of the person queried. Some on the “far right” whatever that means have vilified the Frankfurt school as the instigator of both Political Correctness and Cultural Marxism. On the “far left” the Frankfurt school is viewed as a corrected form of Marxism whereby Soviet socialism and Western capitalism have been critiqued for any number of reasons. My project is…

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Chess and Apologetics

As a new chess player, I made many mistakes. I was worried to the point of obsession about the opening. I attempted to memorize the various openings in order to ensure that I started the game with a distinct advantage. Through many hours of toil and strain, and a great many losses it finally sunk in. The opening is much less important than the end game. The fundamental difference between good players and great players [Those who have mastered the game] really comes down to this very simple truth: Great players are always thinking about the end game! They give up material in order to arrive at that final point of tension, the end game. Great players  are not thinking about what is happening at this particular moment but are moving with purpose toward the end. Great players know well the various openings. They are not surprised by the King’s Pawn opening; they can defend their position because they are focused on the end game.

As apologists we can fall into the same trap. We can become overcome with worry about the opening or conceding a point if we do not focus on the end game. In our endeavor the stakes are much higher, our end game is not a game at all. We should strive to keep our focus on the proper end of our apologetics, the good news of Jesus Christ.

They will know we are Christians

By our love.

This is no ordinary love, this is love that is our strongest apologetic. As Francis Schaeffer once wrote, the watching world waits to see if Christians truly love one another. If they do, we have before us the absolute apologetic. The world will know that God sent Christ into the world. Our apologetics do not fail because we have lackluster intellects engaged in the task of defending the faith. The world adjudicates as false that Christ was sent by the Father when Christians fail to demonstrate unity and love.

This is not meant to gloss over deep and abiding theological differences, but love and unity must remain.

Christians do wrong to one another but love and unity must transcend the hurt

To be like Christ is to be unified and love those who love Christ and those loved by Christ. Our apologetics when focused on love and unity move insurmountable mountains of difference and are a signpost to a watching world that Christ has come and he has been sent by the Father!  How quickly we turn our backs on our brothers and seek to hurt those with whom we should have the most unity and love with an unfailing agape.

Love moves the world toward Christ more than fear, more than arguments, more than method. Love is a testimony that the world longs for and dear Christians it begins with us.

Has Epistemology hijacked Apologetics? or toward a Heideggerian apologetic

Prefatory note:

I cannot for the sake of time define some of the terms that Heidegger employs, the reader can find these definitions by searching the terms.

Philosopher and phenomenologist Martin Heidegger took great umbrage with the Cartesian cogito. He asserted that the epistemological question had essentially hijacked philosophy to the point where the question of Being  [the primary concern for Heidegger] merited little or no response.

Epistemology was the darling of philosophers, and considerable ink had been spilled since Descartes; with Philosophers attempting to grapple with the question of knowledge. There seemed to be no respite from arguments affirming or denying Descartes’ cogito. Until at least the time of Brentano, followed shortly after by Husserl [who by the way thought the epistemological question was the primary question that needed to be answered].

However, along came Martin Heidegger who turned the epistemological question away from questions about knowledge and toward a question of being. He asserted that the epistemological question cannot be answered unless Dasein existed already. This leads to a question that seems to be getting little [to my limited knowledge and even more limited research] discussion amongst Christian apologists. What role does Being have for our apologetics?

Do we spend too much time discussing epistemological questions with unbelievers, skeptics, and adherents of other worldviews? Should we take the Heideggerian turn in our apologetics? I think there are some merits for disallowing the infinite regress of epistemological questions without at least examining the question of Being.

Why do you and I exist? If by chance, why the evolutionary desire for meaning that transcends a few short years upon the earth? Why should we despair over our existence, or mourn the protention of our non-existence? The non-existence of our Being is apodictic. We will die, all of our questions of existence will ultimately be answered either affirming or denying the Christian worldview [certainly I entertain  no skepticism that God will settle all of our apologetical arguments by affirming what we apologists have been saying since Christ was raised from the dead]  but why the endless debate over knowledge? Why is there a diminutive amount of concern regarding “being”? Are we so certain of our own existence that we can rationally justify our arguments for our own existence without committing to either petitio principii or solipsism?

Brothers and sisters, should being have a more prominent role in our apologetics?

Is Apologetics a form of atheism?

Theodicy is atheism-Gabriel Marcel 

There is something to be said for a controversial title, on pragmatic grounds it certainly has a tendency to increase the traffic to one’s blog. On the other hand, a controversial title that lacks any substantive content is nothing but a mere dog-and-pony show. I am hopeful that this post will be more than a cheap thrill, all pomp and circumstance, or worse still an exhibition of canine and equine. 

i. What is apologetics?

Apologetics is the defense of the faith. The Greek word apologia means to give an answer back, a reasoned response in other words. Whenever a self-styled apologist is asked about why they are so passionate about defending the faith they generally recite without hesitation this verse  always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15) here is proof positive from the text that we have a duty as Christians to defend the faith. Allow me to affirm this proposition, indeed we have an obligation to defend the faith.

ii. Why would you ask whether apologetics is a form of atheism?

Consider the above scripture for a moment, the bible clearly makes a command that the Christian is duty bound to observe. We are to be ready [prepared] to give an answer [an apologetic for our faith]. Apologists prepare for the confrontation by intensive study in the arguments for God’s existence and for the myriad of ways that faith is attacked by atheists,secularists, and adherents of other worldviews. In this task many apologists spend countless hours in diligent study (and I know this from personal experience) awaiting sometimes impatiently for a challenge to the Christian worldview.

All of this sounds warranted, even biblical. The nature of the case is we are to be ready with an apologetic q.e.d.  But in taking the mantle of apologetics as preparation for battle (and the battle will come) misses something that forces our apologetics into a horizontal integration rather than a vertical integration. Our apologetic becomes for us and about them and we set about to show ourselves approved and prove apodictically ‘they’ are wrong [clearly they are!]

iii. What are you saying?

Ultimately, apologetics must be conjoined with something else in order to orient our task vertically rather than horizontally. A horizontal orientation contains a hidden premise that most of us accept without self-disclosure. The apologetical task becomes one couched strictly in human terms. The debate is focused on the implicit strengths or weaknesses of an argument from a merely human point of view. Our apologetics become atheistic not in the academic sense but in a more practical sense. God’s sovereignty is replaced with human ability, will, and intellectual autonomy.

iv. The fix is in!

Turning back to the scriptures provides the coup de grace for dealing with apologetics or apologists [present company included] that have humanized apologetics to the point where God is strangely absent. We see from 1 Peter 3:15 that our primary task is to honor Christ the Lord as holy; our main task is vertically orient our apologetics toward Christ, remembering his holiness, and his utter sovereignty over those who would persecute us or prosecute our worldview in the court of public opinion. Once our apologetics are vertically oriented on Christ, our apologetic will be gentle and respectful.

As a  concluding bit of autobiography, I have fallen very short of this in my engagement with those who would disagree with our worldview. A robust apologetic requires a firm commitment to setting apart of Christ as Lord.