Okay, here's something that I would not have said a
mere three years ago.
--- JW Burgeson <email@example.com> wrote:
> Glenn wrote: " I would merely ask here, how you used
> the scientific method
> to determine that a non-historical poem is
> theologically true? I don't
> really think that is possible--i.e. to use science
> or a scientific mindset
> to determine theological truth. Could you explain
> how this is done?"
You assume that Christianity is meant to be a
completely rational religion. Sadly, for our modern
ethos, it is not. Not that it is irrational, but it
is either suprarational or arational depending on
whether you follow the mystics or William James.
The only way to know God theologically, is through
prayer and meditation. As the Orthodox tradition
holds he who prays is a theologian. God is only truly
known personally. As I get older, I believe this to
be more true. Skeptics can say that this is
psychological self-delusion, but Burgy puts it well as
follows, and I concur.
> I do not think it is possible either, my friend. As
> george puts it -- start
> with the cross. My conviction that Jesus is the
> Christ comes from the HS
> working on me (after I asked). All else flows from
Jesus is experienced in the transformations of our
personal lives. This is where I think that the
scientific method departs from religion. Rationality
can only take you so far, up to the precipice, if you
will. It cannot give you certainty about God or His
nature or Jesus. It can only give reasonably good
probability. I am able to doubt all my beliefs to a
huge extent, including the existence of the desk that
this computer is perched upon and (despite Descartes
assertion to the contrary) my own doubt. At rock
bottom, there is no real certainty. Epistemology is a
matter of faith. Pure and simple. The only way one
can evaluate a system of belief is not merely by
evaluating the edifice from the outside, but from the
> Christ is Lord of all -- or He is not Lord at all.
Or more aptly, Christ is the Lord of all who accept
Him. Not meaning a Calvinist limited atonement, but
merely that God is not a tyrant. No one is saved
except by Christ, who is the Lord of all Creation, but
God will not compel anyone to enter the Kingdom of
Heaven against their wishes.
> But in one sense you are quite right. I do not use
> science (scientific
> techniques and mindset) to apprehend God. That does
> not work. I see you as
> trying to use the scientific technique to apprehend
> God -- this is probably
> what I meant when I said you had the "YEC mindset."
> ANd I think that
> technique is doomed to failure. Apprehending God is
> much more mystical.
> William James seems to have a good handle on this in
> his 1902 lectures later
> published as THE VARIETY OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES.
I second this whole heartedly, as my above comments
indicate. More to the point is James' "The Will to
Believe" (which he later should have titled The Right
to Believe). Christianity, despite modern
Protestantisms' and Scholasticisms best efforts to the
contrary, is a mystical religion. That does not mean
it is irrational. It is arational. I think in their
very different ways both Hans Kung and John
Polkinghorne (although Polkinghorne perhaps goes too
far on ratioanlity) show that reason can give you
motivated belief. What it cannot do is prove faith.
> Apprehending God is not the only human activity that
> cannot (or should not)
> be approached with a scientific mindset. Marriage is
> one that comes to mind.
> An artist painting a sunset. The courtship of a man
> and a woman. The
> nurturing of a baby by its mother. Listening to
> Handel's Messiah. Etc etc.
Excellent and well taken points.
> "I think you miss my point. The theology of
> salvation to which I refer does
> not consist of the set of Christian theologies.
> Don't limit the
> possibilities to merely those within Christianity. I
> refer to the set of all
> religious theologies. If Molech is truly God, then
> I may be in trouble
> because I didn't sacrifice my son, Daniel, to him
> when Dan was a baby. It is
> 29 years too late for me."
But what is it about Molech that would make one think
he may be true? When you pray to God and seek to know
God, do you think, I should kill my son? Hopefully
not. I do not know of a mystical tradition that
emphasizes sacrifice of humans to appease God.
Your point, it seems to me, is largely one where an
authority tells you to believe one God has a certain
set of characteristics or another. I think all such
systems are flawed for reasons I have discussed
before. I do not believe that God is subject to our
propositional logic in such a way that we can
circumscribe God's attributes. Why should I not
believe the priests of Molech? Because, my experience
of God is loving and merciful.
Why is my experience a valid check? Rationally, it is
not. My experience is not transferable to someone
else. Just as the experience of my wife or friends or
parents is not transferable to someone else. It is
not subject to scientific verification, but those
experiences and relationships are the most meaningful
and important things to my life.
I also do not seek to appease or garner favor with
whatever God there may be. I think an attitude toward
God as a slot machine or giver of favors or something
to be appeased to avoid wrath to be fundamentally
flawed. Sacrifice to Molech falls into these
categories. It is this kind of wish fulfillment and
thirst for power or avoidance of pain that seems to me
the epitome of wish fulfillment, not the
self-sacrificing, other centered love of Jesus.
I try to earnestly seek God, not to achieve my ends,
but to divine His and my role in His will. As I have
grown older, I understand that the God who is
witnessed in the incarnation of Jesus, the Christ,
calls me out of the way I used to think and the way
that society thinks about many things. It is this
transforming power of the Crucified God that is real
in my life. I also understand in that humility that I
can only imperfectly apprehend the nature of God. The
scripture illumines the example of Jesus of Nazareth
as the revelation of God and the New Testament
attesting of the life of Jesus is central to
Christianity. While the patriarchs may be fine and
dandy, and the history of the Israelites testify to
God's work in the world, Christ so eclipses these
elements that all things, both old and new must be
judged against the standard of Jesus of Nazareth.
Here's where the scripture would invalidate itself.
If it presented itself as a way to gain power, curry
favor with God, appease angry spirits, get ahead in
business, make money or otherwise put myself at the
head of the line (apologies to healt, wealth, and
prosperity tele-evangelists -- NOT) I would not
believe a word of it. What I am amazed at is the
self-sacrifice, other centered love which goes against
both my own instincts and the culture that tells me to
get ahead, accumulate stuff, tear experiences from the
world to paste in my scrapbook. It is only by
following Jesus, letting Him into my life that I
realize that the things that the culture tells you to
do are not the ways to live a fulfilled life, suffused
with God's nature.
I can rationally believe in the Christian God all week
long and twice on Sunday and not be transformed,
unless I seek to take up my cross and follow that
example of Jesus in my life.
Likewise, if my salvation makes me smug and complacent
and happy to go about my myopic life knowing I am
saved, I have serious doubts about the efficacy of my
faith and salvation.
> "The first message does have a lot to do with
> history and science. The
> universe came into being either as a result of
> eternally existing natural
> forces alone or as the result of eternally existing
> divine will."
> Or maybe both.
Yes, the point is, it does not matter compared to the
life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
> " By universe I mean all that there is. If God came
> into being with the
> universe, then he is part of the Universe and not
> the creator of it."
> But who here (or anywhere) is arguing that? Nobody
> that I know. Not even the
> Process Theologians.
Actually, the only person I knows who argues that is
Richard Dawkins. Indicating how epistemological
blinders dictate our metaphysics.
Your definition actually has to be tighter, if by the
universe is, God, whom naturally exists, means that
God is part of the Universe, even if he created ex
nihilio, because God exists, and therefore is part of
your definition of the universe.
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