Posts tagged ‘philosophy’
“Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it.”
The above quote is by Karl Barth, a Swiss theologian who died about 30 years ago. He is revered among intellectual theologians and Popes alike. I love this Barthian quote. In fact, I find it self evident and quite enlightening.
I have a number of conspicuously un-read books on my shelf – most of which are there to make me look intelligent and learn-ed and to hide my Harry Potter books! One of these, which I bought a few of years ago during my “re evaluation,” is Twentieth-Century Western Philosophy of Religion. To be honest I no more than skimmed it, but I recently dug it out to look at this quote.
The writer expands Barth’s quote.
Religion is a matter of conversation, not argument, and there is no logical transition from unbelief to belief. Religious belief is not dependent on any philosophy it stands on its own terns. If the atheist claims that religious belief fails the test of rationality and then no rational person should accept it, religious belief can only confess its content and appeal to its authority…
As mentioned in my previous post, God, Zombies, and the Meaning of Life, when I was in the long process of leaving Christianity, one of the most overriding questions on my mind was this: if there is no God, what meaning is there in life? Christianity, as we all know, teaches that the saved are integral players in a grand cosmic drama, the unfolding of the telos of all Creation. Giving up on that illusion is, to say the least, jarring. It cannot help but leave one wondering how one’s life can have meaning at all, if it is not given from on high.
More psychologically minded individuals may reflect on a deeper way in which Christianity seems to provide the meaning in life. Children learn that they are important, that they matter, just by being seen – i.e., acknowledged and attended to – by their parents. Hopefully, of course, that attention will be loving and positive. But even if the attention is negative, critical, or even abusive, it is, from the child’s point of view, usually better than being ignored. Children will almost invariably prefer any attention to no attention, because that says that they are at least worth criticizing. So it is not hard to imagine how simply being seen by God is enough, in and of itself, to infuse one’s life with meaning and a sense of worth. It’s how many people support their feeling that they are valuable: you matter because God takes note of you. Giving up God, then, is clearly – viewed from this additional perspective – a powerful loss…
Let’s keep this short and sweet. You may want to know why unbelievers care so much about belief. Well, perhaps you do not, but the internet is flooded with Christians and other believers who do. Sometimes, it is simply curiosity, and sometimes, it is presented as some sort of argument against unbelief. As if to say nonbelievers somehow disqualify their nonbelief by caring.
I’d like to direct you to a Wikipedia entry entitled List of problems solved by MacGyver. It argues my point very well. Here is perhaps the single longest Wikipedia page I have seen, and it’s written about the extraordinary feats of a fictional character in a TV show. By the way, who are these people who write mile long wiki entries on fiction? Could they be, say, enthusiasts?
As surely as there are stamp collectors and amateur writers, there are hobby philosophers. There are people who like to think about whether God exists or not; not because they have a spiritual crisis; not because they feel the need for the crutch of faith; not because the devil tricked them into denying the obvious truth of Gospel; not because the Flying Spaghetti Demon whispered to them in a dream “Go forth and make the heathens numerous!”; but simply because they find the question intrinsically interesting…