Re: Dualism, was Re: William James

Glenn Morton (
Sun, 07 Sep 1997 19:31:19 -0500

Hi John,

At 02:55 PM 9/7/97 -0500, John P. McKiness wrote:
>I pray that somewhere along the line we can come to a mutual understanding
>of the place of faith and human reason and it is with this goal in mind that
>I will continue this discussion. I am enjoying our interchange, I hope you
>are also. I believe we will both grow as a result or working this out.

I also am enjoying it. I have enjoyed our exchanges in the past as well.
Furthermore, I respect your position and deep thought you have put into it.

>Glenn, I believe that I do understand but I probably worded my last response
>poorly by jumping ahead of the discussion. I know you want your
>Christianity to be rational by the world's standard of applied reason in
>order first of all to convince yourself that what you believe is true and
>secondly to help convince others that Christianity is the only rational
>Maybe you have missed my point which I have been saying all along. Religion
>is not rational by the standard of human reason. We have to come in faith.
>God gives us a choice. If we could reason our way to God, if we could find
>proof of Him, His Love, and His activity, where would faith enter in? (And
>why didn't the Greek philosophers find Him in the 4th century B.C.)

Ok. Here may be the root of the disagreement. I absolutely agree that
Christianity is not provable. No religion is provable. But that does not
mean that logic must be thrown out of the window. Shoot, no scientific
theory is provable, yet we use logic.

While no core belief of any religion is provable, certain statements made by
each religion are subject to empirical verification. The Buddhist (or
Hindu?) whose religious document states that the earth sits on the back of
an elephant standing on the back of a giant turtle swimming in the cosmic
sea has a problem similar to what Christians have. Astronomers look and
don't see the turtle. The devotee can interpret this statement in an
allegorical fashion (i.e. the elephant is the sun and the turtle is the
galaxy). In this fashion he makes his document "true". But what bothers me
about this approach is that it is ad hoc. How do I know that it shouldn't be
that the elephant is the electrical force which supports the ground and the
turtle be the strong force which controls the nucleus. The sea can be the
sea of virtual particles the elephant and turtle swim in.

Which is the correct situation? Is the literal interpretation the correct
one? The sun/galaxy interpretation? The fundamental force interpretation?
All? Or more likely none?

>All through Scripture faith was demanded and Jesus himself demanded
>child-like faith.

Initially. But that may not be where we are supposed to stop. Paul used
lots of logic in his letters and in attempting to convert people. Look at
the episode on Mars hill. He used logic to explain why god can't be an idol.
(Acts 17:22-34)

>As C.S. Lewis pointed out only in the Christ do we have a
>completion of the mysteries the other religions hint at or point toward.
>This is what I have been trying to point out -- we cannot prove God or His
>work, only He can reveal it.

For the message of salvation, I agree. For events in the Scripture, I disagree.
>There are a lot of ways we can go wrong, and I hold that applying reason to
>things of God is a very serious error for the people of today. It makes
>human reason the final judge.
>I see no significant difference between the attempts at reconciling faith
>and science of many on the list (yourself included) and what the ardent
>young earth creationist is attempting with "flood geology."

I agree that the goal is the same--to give historical context to the early
part of scripture. If putting a historical context to the scripture is
unimportant I would presume that you would feel it is useless to search for
archaeological evidence of the existence of Abraham, David, Solomon, Daniel,
Jesus or Paul? That is as certainly an attempt to reconcile faith and
science as are my efforts or those of the YEC. Is there anything which is
subject to investigation in religion?

>You at least
>have the basic science right but then you go beyond it by massaging the data
>--stretching the known data to fit your idea of what Scripture requires.

Any scientific theory does this also. Galileo and Newton began treating
levers and pulleys as objects with no extent and as point masses. This is
obviously stretching the data because there is no such thing as a lever with
no width, breadth or height.

>My approach is to admit that I see no possibility of reconciliation between
>the works of man and God (I do not believe that even God can do that).
>There is no evidence of a flood (regional or total) that conforms to the
>Genesis account. There is no evidence (except hear-say) of the
>resurrection. There is no evidence of God except that which can be see by
>the eyes of faith.

Does this mean that if there was no evidence of the ancient Hebrews, no
evidence of Egypt, no evidence of Jerusalem, no evidence of Romans, no
evidence that any of the events in scripture, that you would still believe?
If you answer yes then I want to know why don't you believe the book of
Mormon which equally has no evidence but attests to a ministry of Jesus on
this continent? It seems to me that the eyes of millions of Mormons see
much more than we do via the eyes of faith.

> This is the only message we have to offer. It is the
>message that Christian students need to hear from an early age, it is their
>faith that needs to grow to prepare them for the world, and they need to be
>grounded in the texts of faith found in Scripture and history of the faith.

Sadly, I must disagree here. It looks to me as if you are saying we should
have faith in faith alone. Faith in what? If the events described didn't
happen what is there to be grounded in?

As Paul said, "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless
and so is your faith." The resurrection must be a historical event, subject
to verification (if we had been there). Indeed Thomas claimed not to
believe in the resurrection unless he could feel the wounds. As it turned
out, he settled for merely seeing Jesus. But in that seeing, that was
evidence for him.

>>I believe this because I believe that the resurrection was a HISTORICAL
>>event. Belief is not what makes the resurrection true. And belief, by
>>itself, is not what makes Christ count in the end.
>Sorry Glenn, but I believe you have left Christ at this point; it is only
>the belief in Christ which counts in the end for each of us, that was His
>message not mine.

Then maybe Paul has left Christ also. "If there is no resurrection of the
dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been
raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we
are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about
God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in
fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ
has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith
is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen
asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we
are to be pittied more than all men." 1 Cor 15:13-19

Would you suggest that the simple message of Christianity (it is only
the belief in Christ which counts in the end for each of us) was highjacked
and perverted by Paul? Paul seems to indicate that the resurrection is very
crucial. In fact he seems to indicate that it must have actually happened!
i.e. it was historical.
>Reason would say there has to be another way. It says that the devote Hindu,
>Jew, Moslem, Mormon, Animalist, etc., must have a chance if they are true to
>their faiths and do good works. Jesus however said I am the Truth and the
>Way . . . ; that is not rational by our human standards.

One could also look at it that the resurrection IS the rational evidence for
the Divinity of Christ.


Foundation, Fall and Flood