Posts tagged ‘theology’
If Roopster doesn’t mind me clogging up his blog, let me share with you something I wrote for a friend on Lewis’ Trilemma (which as I understand Lewis actually got from Chesterton). This is presented thusly on p55 of Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
If you type this into Google, you’ll find thousands of Christian websites that apparently feel this is a high point of Christian apologetics. It’s actually illogical and uninformed, and it does not reflect well on people who accept it as serious thinking…
Here’s a typical Christian claim (from A Christian on the Sidelines):
The Agnostic/Atheist is attempting to explain religion through empirical methods while Theists attempt the same by using theology. The mixing of these concepts into the other field is a clear injustice to both disciplines.
But is this really true? Is it true that theology sits on the primary, or even exclusive rights to say something about religion and gods? I happen to think that this is false; in fact, I think theology is little more than the rational analysis of theologians’ imaginations. Since theologians often have a rather good imagination, I will in this post use my imagination. For completeness, I’ve written about this before, but what I will say now isn’t exactly the same.
Imagine that I believe that the Moon is made of cheese. Now, being naturally curious, I start thinking about the implications of having a satellite made of cheese for Earth, and what current observations can tell us about the type of cheese that the Moon is made of, and countless other issues that a moon made of cheese would raise. After some time, I come to the conclusion that not only the Moon, but all other celestial bodies are made of cheese. Then I start publishing my investigations into the heavenly bodies and the material they’re made of. Only, I don’t publish my papers through the usual scientific means; instead, I found a whole new field, which I call Astronomical Cheesology.
In my last semester of my undergraduate studies, I took a seminar course on the early Christian church in Thessalonika. Much of the source material was, of course, Paul’s “first” letter to the Thessalonians – that is, the first letter that shows up in the Christian canon and that we have available to us. During my research for my term paper I came across some interesting statements regarding Paul, made by some very famous people in the last several centuries (there are several lists like this on the internet). It appears that Benjamin Franklin serendipitously anticipated this onslaught against Paul when he declared at Samuel Hemphill’s synod trial, “A virtuous heretic shall be saved before a wicked Christian.” Has modernity and postmodernity declared war on Paul? Are the attacks warranted? How do contemporary theologians defend such assaults?
St. Paul then, it seems, preach’d another and quite different Gospel from what was preach’d by Peter and the other Apostles. (Thomas Morgan, The Moral Philosopher, 1737)
Yesterday, I wrote an article which offered a radically different interpretation of the Adam and Eve story. I do love the stories of Genesis. They are obviously of timeless quality and influence. I was raised to believe that these amazing, but bizarre stories are true – literally true – the Divine account of the universal and human origins. A recent poll done by USA Today shows that 66 percent of American adults are of the opinion that God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years.I now believe that the book of Genesis like much of the Old Testament, is mythology. Hermann Gϋnkel in his book Genesis long ago laid out the different types of mythology (or as he called them, legends) contained in Genesis, and how to interpret them as ancient myth that make sense to the modern reader. Gϋnkel emphasizes that myth in Genesis is not fiction, rather it is legend that “adopts and works over certain data which come from reflexion, tradition or observation”.
I want to write my thoughts on the legend of how the human language became confused – The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). As a Christian, I was taught that the scattering of the languages was a result of the pride and pretension of humanity…
And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, From the Ghent altarpiece by Jan van Eyckand brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. – Genesis 2:18-20 (NKJV)
I have always loved the creation stories in the Bible. They were probably among the first things that I read in Scripture, since I remember them from early childhood, and also they are in the front of the book! Christians have interpreted Genesis 2 and 3, the famous story of the Garden of Eden, to be the Fall of Man and the origin of Sin.
C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books and himself an atheist before turning to Christianity, was critical of the idea that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not divine, with the following trilemma:
- Jesus was lying and knew it, so he was a liar.
- Jesus was lying but believed what he was saying, so he was a lunatic.
- Jesus was telling the truth, so he was divine.
Thus, according to Lewis, Jesus could only be a great moral teacher if he was telling the truth and was the son of God. Later, this argument was used as a logical proof that Jesus was in fact the son of God.
- Point 1 couldn’t be true, or so the argument goes, because then Jesus wouldn’t be willing to die for it.
- Point 2 couldn’t be true, because Jesus for some reason couldn’t be a lunatic.
- Therefore, the logical conclusion is that Jesus was divine.
The point was raised in the comments to one of my blog entries on my Import Mind.Reason blog that there may be a fourth option – Jesus never claimed to be the son of God but that the early Christians misunderstood this or decided it for themselves…
I’m not sure about my title, I originally entitled this article, “To Suffer or Not To Suffer?” You tell me what is more appropriate.
Most of my best ideas come to me while in the shower. Most of my worst ideas also come to me while in the shower. My point – most of my ideas comes to me while in the shower. Since Scavella recently expressed disappointed with some of the recent articles for what may be considered straw man arguments, I felt that this might allow for some more philosophical argumentation. You will, however, have to excuse me for the lack of philosophical articulation in this post. Like most epiphanies, especially ones that happen in the shower, this one could easily be shot down with one sentence – I am looking for that one sentence. So theists, please help me with this one. This is not an argument against the existence of god/God/G-d. It is an argument against the incompatibility of earthly suffering and heaven.