Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Craig responds to Boghossian

Here. 

38 comments:

B. Prokop said...

This is gonna be quite a long posting, so I'll be breaking it up into sections. Here is Part One:

It is not the place for persons who have no ear for music, who neither produce nor enjoy any melody, to imperiously declare to those who do just what it is they are listening to. In like manner, unless you are yourself a lawyer (or at the least, professionally trained in the law), you have no business whatsoever insisting that your personal idiosyncratic understanding of a legal term is the one and only correct definition. Also, I cannot go to my doctor and tell him that what he calls diabetes is really hypothermia, just because I say so.

Yet we all too often see people (such as Loftus or Boghossian), who shamelessly admit their own lack of faith, nevertheless claiming that it is they, and not (in fact, especially not) the faithful, who have the sole right to define what the term means. So we get nonsensical definitions along the lines of “Faith is belief without evidence, or even in the face of evidence.” Others (such as a certain self-styled “skeptic”) will insist that we must all abide by the third-listed definition as taken from one or another dictionary.

So if we are serious about understanding what faith truly means, we ought to turn to those who claim to possess it in order to discover how the term is actually used in the Real World. Let’s start with Saint Paul. In his magnum opus on the subject, the Letter to the Romans, Paul defines faith as “believing with one’s heart” (Romans 10:10). Note that he does not say that faith is the means by which one arrives at his beliefs, but rather how one believes once he has arrived. In the same way, the author of Hebrews lists numerous examples from sacred history of people of faith. But how does he do this? Significantly, like Paul he is not concerned with the manner of their learning something, but rather with their actions after they learn. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called.” “By faith Moses chose to share ill treatment with the people of God.” “By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land.” Etc., etc., etc.

B. Prokop said...

Part Two:

Christ Himself on the night before His crucifixion said to Peter, “I have prayed that your faith not fail.” (Luke 22:32) Do you think that He meant Peter was about to stop believing something? Of course not! He was referring to Peter’s actions on the next day - how he would sadly deny knowing Jesus no less than three times. And so Christ continues, “When you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” In other words, He was telling Peter how to act (by faith) upon what he already believed.

When the New Testament authors do speak of arriving at knowledge, they do not even mention faith, but rather speak loudly and clearly in favor of “going by the evidence”:

“We did not follow cleverly devised myths … but we were eyewitnesses.” (2 Peter 1:16)

“That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands … we saw it and testify to it.” (1 John 1:1-2)

(And many other places.)

I might close with three final quotations - the first from George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons. Here the author describes what faith is: “Faith is that which, knowing the Lord’s will, goes and does it.” Note that faith is subsequent to knowing, and not the means by which one knows.

The other two are from John Henry Newman’s wonderful Fifteen Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford between A.D. 1826-1843. In one passage, Newman is describing not what faith is, but what it isn’t: “It is our wisdom to take things as we find them … [and] not to attempt a theory where we must reason without data … much less, to mistake it for a fact.” Hmm… Does not sound at all like ignoring the evidence, does it?

In our last quotation, Newman defines what faith is: “The distinguishing virtue of Abraham, Moses, and David was their faith; by which I mean an implicit reliance in God’s command and promise, and a zeal for His honour; a surrender and devotion of themselves, and all they had, to Him.” Once again, what does this have to do with how one learns or knows anything?

So now, whom should we trust when it comes to defining faith? Those who possess it, and therefore have firsthand knowledge as to what it is and what it isn’t? Or those (like Loftus and company) who admit up front that they haven’t a clue as to what they are talking about?

BOTTOM LINE: Despite attempts by atheists to re-define the term to suit their purposes, faith is most emphatically NOT a means of obtaining knowledge, but rather a manner in acting upon what you do know by other means (which is precisely why it is listed amongst the Virtues). This how the Apostles understood the term, how the New Testament describes it, how the Early Church Fathers preached it, how the great theologians down through the generations defined it, and how believers to this day use it.

B. Prokop said...

Part Three:

Faith. It’s our word and our definition. It belongs to us, and we need to debunk (oh, what a useful word!) any and all attempts to hijack it for whatever purposes.

Now it’s probably inevitable that someone will counter to this with the oft-quoted verse from Hebrews: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Is that not, they insist, a contradiction of all that I presented above? The clearest answer I can give to this protest is a firm “No, it is all of a piece.”

Let us examine exactly what the author of Hebrews is saying here. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for”, he writes. And what exactly do Christians hope for? The kingdom of Heaven! And what precisely would be the substance of that Kingdom? Nothing less than the lives of the faithful. So by acting (in faith) in accordance with the Gospel (knowledge of which we will have come to by other means), we realize (i.e., make real) the Kingdom - we bring about its substance.

As for the second half of the quotation (“evidence of things not seen”), the meaning is clear. We do not see the Kingdom as a living reality at present. But by acting as citizens of the same, we provide evidence to the world of its existence. This is the exact same principle as in the physical sciences. No one has seen an atom. Yet libraries could be filled with the evidence for the existence of such, i.e., “evidence of things not seen”. In like manner, the lives of the saints, the works of the faithful, the hospitals, charities, universities, works of mercy, the unrecorded witness of innumerable Christians in their daily existence, are all evidence of the Kingdom.

im-skeptical said...

WLC contradicts himself.

"He says that faith is an unreliable epistemology. He wants to make faith an epistemological category instead of a moral virtue. It is right there that we need to dig in our heels and say this is a misunderstanding of faith. Faith is not an epistemological category. It is not a way of knowing something. Faith is a way of trusting something." - WLC, from the cited article, refuting Boghossian's understanding of faith as epistemology.


"God in His grace needed to find a way to inform us of the plan of salvation which He has made available, and He has chosen to do so by means of (i) the Scriptures, inspired by Him and laying out the great truths of the Gospel, (ii) the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in repairing the cognitive and affective damage of sin, thereby enabling us to grasp and believe the great truths of the Gospel, and (iii) faith, which is the principal work of the Holy Spirit produced in believers’ hearts. When a person is informed of the great truths of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit produces in him, if he is willing, assent to these truths. The internal instigation of the Holy Spirit is therefore “a source of belief, a cognitive process that produces in us belief in the main lines of the Christian story." - WLC, speaking of epistemology when tot trying to refute Boghossian.

Papalinton said...

Well, blow me down. Under bloviated word salad for what 'faith' means.

I always thought it was:

Hebrews 11:1  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

'...things hoped for.' That is, a wish list ✔

What is the "evidence of things not seen?" God's words. The rest of the chapter [Hebrews 11] with its examples of faith illustrates that the faithful had only His words as evidence.

Evidence then? God's word ✔

Wow! I feel so totally underwhelmed by the revelation.

B. Prokop said...

"I always thought it was:

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
"

Linton,

Did you even read Part 3 of my posting? I already anticipated your reply, and demolished it before you ever wrote it. Hebrews 1:1 supports my definition of Faith.

Papalinton said...

Demolish it?
Dream on Bob.
You response is as rubbery as it ever has been.

No Bob. You didn't anticipate it, you didn't demolish it. I simply brought you back to harsh reality.

In one short commentary I outlined the totality of the 'real' christian interpretation of 'faith' that took you so many posts to create, a Bob-specific imagined definition, but ultimately failed miserably in the attempt.

cl said...

Hey im-skeptical ... quit shirking your duties as a self-proclaimed skeptic and actually lay out your case with evidence, arguments, etc.

Sheesh.

cl said...

Bob Prokop

Cheers to you. Those three comments were good

Papalinton said...

cl - A rebel without a clue.

im-skeptical said...

"Hey im-skeptical ... quit shirking your duties as a self-proclaimed skeptic and actually lay out your case with evidence, arguments, etc."

Here's my case:

1. I provide two quotes from Craig. One says that faith is not epistemology, and the other one says faith is epistemology.
2. cl reads this and thinks I haven't laid out a "case".
3. Therefore, cl has shown that he is clueless.

msgrx said...

"In one short commentary I outlined the totality of the 'real' christian interpretation of 'faith'"

Hmmm...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5kPUFxXYLs

Anyway, it strikes me that, if atheists stopped desperately trying to pretend that they somehow know what we mean by a term better than we ourselves know, they could use the time they'd save actually coming up with arguments that don't tile at straw men, and obviate the need for this discussion in the first place.

B. Prokop said...

msgrx,

With his "one short commentary", the only thing Linton accomplished was to prove the point of my own posting. Linton is a tone deaf man with no ear for music, insisting that he knows better than Leonard Bernstein as to what makes up a symphony.

What really amuses me is how I anticipated his response, right down to the very verse I knew he would cite. He cannot refute my analysis of said passage, so he punts to the accusation of "Bob-imagined", despite the fact that nearly my entire posting is made up of quotations from others (Christ, Saints Peter, Paul, and John, George MacDonald and John Henry Newman).

No, the only "imagining" going on here is in the mind of Linton (and Boghossian, et.al.)

im-skeptical said...

"Anyway, it strikes me that, if atheists stopped desperately trying to pretend that they somehow know what we mean by a term better than we ourselves know, they could use the time they'd save actually coming up with arguments that don't tile at straw men, and obviate the need for this discussion in the first place."

Hmmm...

Isn't it Bob who insists he knows what it means to be an atheist despite the fact that he doesn't? Despite the fact that he could look it up in the dictionary? As it happens, the word 'faith' is also in the dictionary, and it is part of the English language, available for everyone to use. We have discussed this before. Bob insists that it has a different meaning for believers than for anyone else who speaks the language.

The funny thing about these two situations is that in both cases, Bob's definition is different from the dictionary definition that we all understand. And in both cases, Bob insists that he's right and the rest of the world is wrong.


B. Prokop said...

I forget. What was my definition of atheism?

im-skeptical said...

"What was my definition of atheism?"

"Communism simply happens to be atheism's most spectacular end product"

"atheism can be fairly credited with the slaughter in the Vendee (160,000 corpses), the Stalinist reign of terror in the Soviet Union (60-70 million corpses), the Maoist regime in China (100 million plus corpses), and the empty, sterile, dead-end consumerist society in today's "developed" world (billions of spiritual corpses and uncountable millions of aborted babies)..."

"Communism is a logical extension of atheism's penchant for claiming that Mankind is perfectible by his own efforts"

"Communism is predicated upon a belief that Humanity can achieve perfection under its own steam, a belief that can make sense only to an atheist."



Every one of these statements shows that you have no idea what it means to be an atheist, according to any dictionary definition of the word, or according to how atheists would define it themselves.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

Are you illiterate, or do you just never pay any attention to what you read? That is not a definition of atheism, it is a characterization (not a definition) of Communism.

Sheesh!

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Regardless of what you say, you still have no idea what atheism is about.

Sheesh!

B. Prokop said...

"you still have no idea what atheism is about"

And I pray to God that I never will.

Papalinton said...

"And I pray to God that I never will."

Yep. Profound ignorance can be perpetuated in many forms.

cl said...

"I provide two quotes from Craig. One says that faith is not epistemology, and the other one says faith is epistemology."

Bullshit. Yeah, you provided 2 quotes from Craig. Yeah, one says faith is not an epistemology. No, the other DOES NOT say "faith is an epistemology."

Try again.

im-skeptical said...

cl,

Sorry you are unable to understand what Craig says. Maybe after you get out of high school - but I doubt it. By the way, that article is titled "Religious Epistemology".

cl said...

"Sorry you are unable to understand what Craig says."

I understand him. You don't, and that's evident from the way you make his second quote say something it does not.

You could prove you did understand him by actually putting forth an argument or something to make your point, instead of another naked assertion followed by gnu atheist insult.

im-skeptical said...

"I understand him. You don't"

Whatever, dude.

Legion of Logic said...

Faith is not a "way of knowing" or "pretending to know something you don't know". Boghossian is an idiot when it comes to religious matters, and can be completely dismissed as someone with no actual arguments beyond propaganda.

Regarding Communism and atheism...the Soviet Union and other communist regimes were explicitly atheistic. Thus, we can blame "atheism" on communist atrocities equally as much as you can blame 9/11 and ISIS on "religion".

If atheists had the intellectual honesty to differentiate between Islam and Christianity - which did not fly planes into buildings - rather than say "religion", then I might feel some sympathy. Until you guys stop blaming "religion" - which is usually synonymous with "theists" - then we are going to blame atheists and all of the sub-categories thereof - including oppressive Communist regimes. What's good for the goose...

Papalinton said...

" ... then I might feel some sympathy."

Lying hound.

Dave Duffy said...

I'm not a fan of the format, but I enjoyed listening to Craig respond to the soundbites of an atheist pretending to be a street evangelist. Let the atheists become street evangelist, it's damn hard mixing it up with actual, and not theoretical, people. I think his 10,000 minions on the street will find "faith" the least of their worries. We live in a fallen world.

Papalinton said...

Dave: 'We live in a fallen world."

Why do you persist with this unfounded notion?

B. Prokop said...

"Why do you persist with this unfounded notion?"

The Fall of Man is the one tenet of Christian dogma that is most easily provable by empirical evidence alone. No need for philosophy, revelation, scripture... nothing other than observation required.

Drop a rock, and it falls. It has no choice to do otherwise. Same thing with every other non-human entity in the observable universe. Everything behaves exactly as it is supposed to do. Only Man, in all of creation, acts contrary to his nature, in ways opposed to his own good, and to the observable and verifiable harm of himself and those around him. To deny the Fall of Man is to shut one's eyes, jam one's fists into one's ears, and consciously and deliberately ignore all evidence. In fact, to deny the Fall of Man is all by itself proof of Man's fallen nature.

im-skeptical said...

"Only Man, in all of creation, acts contrary to his nature"

What a load of crap. Man, like everything else acts according to his nature. What makes you think otherwise? We evolved from animals that struggled to survive. We depend on our own tribe, and we fight our rivals. That's the nature of mankind. As we become more mobile, we divide ourselves into tribes with artificial social institutions like Christianity and other religions, that serve to distinguish tribal groups from one another. Only in more enlightened times have we been able to begin to reach beyond our tribal interests to work for a more peaceful existence. If we are successful in this endeavor, it will be the ascent of mankind, not the fall. But our warlike nature is still very deeply ingrained.

B. Prokop said...

Dr. Weston speaks through the mouth of Skep. (See C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, Chapter 20.)

oozzielionel said...

B: "Only Man, in all of creation, acts contrary to his nature"

IM: If we are successful in this endeavor, it will be the ascent of mankind, not the fall. But our warlike nature is still very deeply ingrained.

IM seems to be agreeing a bit that we have a nature that acts contrary to our destiny? But there is nothing in the evolutionary meta-narrative that we can hang any hope on, is there?

im-skeptical said...

"IM seems to be agreeing a bit that we have a nature that acts contrary to our destiny? But there is nothing in the evolutionary meta-narrative that we can hang any hope on, is there?"

No. I explicitly said that we act in accordance with our nature. It is a religious myth that we are "fallen". As for "meta-narratives", that's something you insist on. Evolution is what it is, regardless of any narrative, purpose, or destiny you may wish to attach to it.

oozzielionel said...

So we act according to our warlike nature but then reach beyond our tribal interests due to enlightenment? Sounds like an unlikely plot line.

im-skeptical said...

There are people who strive for a more peaceful existence. Unfortunately, there are not enough of them.

Dave Duffy said...

I thought “we live in a fallen world” would be one of the least controversial things I could say. I have an agnostic friend who uses the phrase all the time. He uses it as shorthand for what you and Mr. Skeptical might understand as human nature being formed by the Darwinian world that allowed for some to procreate and others to leave their genes in the grave.

When I try to point him away from his cynicism about human nature—our love of beauty, our poetry, music, art (and for me the beauty of an Anglican service on Sunday morning), and so forth, he tells me this all can be explained through evolutionary psychology. The love beauty evolved because this love enabled us to create the most offspring. Perhaps you and Mr. Skeptical have a better explanation for our love of beauty.

The concept of being made in the image of God and yet fallen, seems to me to be the most sensible. At least, it helps me to love others as I see the image of God in them while not trying to whitewash serious flaws in their choices and character.

im-skeptical said...

The concept of fallen man assumes some kind of perfect state that never existed. It ignores the reality that we are imperfect and but as a species we can strive to lift ourselves out of the barbarity of our past. If your love for others depends on this image of perfection, it's bound to result in disappointment as that image is shattered when they inevitably fail to live up to it.

Dave Duffy said...

"The concept of fallen man assumes some kind of perfect state that never existed."

It also describes a world that should have been.