Saturday, December 19, 2009

Food for thought: Anselms Ontological Argument

In my history of Philosophy class this year we studied St. Anselm who has the craziest argument for the proof of God. Before I explain it to you I must preface it by saying that it doesn't specifically prove the Judeo-Christian God Yahweh, although the more you dig into the argument the more it does look like Yahweh. Also, in Anselm's version he refers to God as "The being that than which non greater can be conceived" for times sake and because I'm lazy we will be referring to him as the "Greatest Conceivable Being" or GCB. The argument consists of nine premises which I will lay out, anything said in brackets is my attempt to explain some of the more difficult premises. Here we go.

1) Things can exist in 2 ways: in the mind, and in reality (this actually turns into 4 possible ways to exist: In the mind and in reality, in the mind and not in reality, not in the mind and in reality, not in the mind and not in reality [this last one sounds weird, but think of it like this, a bowing 747 jet did not exist in the mind or in reality 1000 years ago, but it is still a thing which exists] this bracket is not actually important for the initial argument, I just think it's interesting.)

2)The GCB (Greatest Conceivable Being) can possibly exist in reality (in that it is not a completely absurd concept like a square circle.)

3) The GCB exists in the mind (we can think of it)

4) Anything that exists in the mind and possibly in reality might be greater than it is (in that, Superman, as he exists in my mind is pretty awesome. But how much greater would he be if he were real!)

5) The GCB only exists in the mind (this is the atheists summation)

6) The GCB was possibly greater than it is (this is based on premise 2 and premise 4)

7) The Greatest Conceivable Being is a being that than which a greater being is conceivable (a GCB that exists only in the mind, is by definition not the greatest CONCEIVABLE being, because to exist in reality is a conceivably greater quality than to exist in the mind only.)

8) It is false that the GCB exists only in the mind

9) thus, the GCB exists in both the mind AND in reality.

So there you have it. I've run it over several times, trying to find the fault in the argument, because although I believe in God, this just seems to easy or ridiculous, in that if we can think of the GCB he must exist. As of yet however, all of my attempts have been thwarted by logic. Most people will attack the argument based on premise 2, saying the GCB could not possibly exist in reality, however their argument usually falls through as most people don't like to deny the possibility of God, even if they don't believe in God.

So what do you think? Is this argument sound or is it simply the drabble of some old Catholic Saint? give reasons for your acceptance or objections.

I love Philosophy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The real Jesus

It's coming up to Christmas time, so I felt it appropriate to talk about this. Often times I get so bogged down in systematic theology, or school, or the stress of everyday life that I forget that Jesus was real. I forget that, although he was God, he actually came down, lived among us, felt all the feelings we feel, went through much of the same crap we do. In his book "The Irresistible Revolution" Shane Claiborne says, "It becomes hard to know who Jesus really is, much less to imagine that Jesus ever laughed, cried, or had a poop that smelled" (Claiborne 37). Sometimes I get so caught up in meaninglessness that I forget God really came. I base my faith on emptiness instead of fullness of God. Christians (especially Baptists [I'm a Baptist]) get sidetracked by correct order of service or denominational policy and polity, that they (we) forget that if Jesus didn't come, die, and rise again, if he isn't real, then this all means nothing!

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (NIV)
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

Paul lays it out. If things didn't happen they way we think, then this is all in vain. But I am taking it a step farther. If we don't acknowledge that these things happened, if Christ is not REAL, then this is all in vain.

About a year ago I fell away from God in the exact way I'm talking about. I got too caught up in meaninglessness and emptiness that I missed the fullness of God. My crisis of faith revolved around the fact that I could find no one, not even myself for whom God was real. I could find no one who took the red words and lived them out. I could find no one who in essence, seemed changed by what they learned through God. Now part of it was that I couldn't see the realness of Christ in others because I didn't know how to look. Eventually my wife and I started doing a daily Bible study, and I began to be confronted with the very realness I was lacking. I had to make important decisions, namely, was I going to be changed by this, or was I going to continue on in empty vanity.

Was Jesus born on December 25th, Year 0? No. But through a cataclysm of historical ironies we celebrate his coming on that day... or at least we should. I pray for you this Christmas that you discover the meaning of this holiday, that Christ is real. This really happened, if it didn't then this is all just pointless and we should avoid the headache. In this discovery I pray that you will find the fullness of God, and never be separated from it. That it might change you, for the better, and for the better, and for the better.

Ephesians 3:9 (NIV)
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Go, and be blessed and be changed by the realness and fullness of Christ. Oh, and Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Damnation of the Fence Sitter

Revelation 3:16 (NIV)
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth

Okay, okay. I know. Because I am neither hot nor cold God will spit me out of his mouth, right? But honestly, when it comes to evolutionism and creationism, I just don't see why I should care. I am completely on the fence. I don't think it is completely out of the realm of possibility that God could have caused a big bang or caused evolution. On the other hand, I don't think it's completely ridiculous to think that God, in his infinite ability could create the world in seven days. Part of me thinks it's naive to limit God either way. So how was the Earth created? How was man created? I don't know. I wasn't there. I can't see why it matters either. The defining feature of my faith is not how man was created, it's how man was saved. I don't know whether the Earth is 6,000 years old or 6 billion years old. What I do know is that 2,000 years ago God the father was embodied in the flesh, lived among us, and suffered and died for our sins in accordance with the words of the prophets. He was then raised from the dead, giving us new hope for our own future resurrection, at which point he ascended into heaven, leaving his spirit among us to guide us. That is what drives my faith. Once I have grasped that fact, anything else becomes almost futile. Perhaps then our energies could be better spent talking to people about Christ and spreading that gospel rather than squabbling pettily about evolutionism and creationism. Maybe I'm too idealistic. Maybe I'm not idealistic enough. I just feel like somewhere along the way, in the name of “preserving our values”, we seem to have lost them. Then again, what do I know? I'm just a damned fence sitter.