The Unapologetic Encyclopedia, and “XFiles Friday”

I’m introducing a couple of new features at ER: the Unapologetic Encyclopedia, and “XFiles Friday.”

The Unapologetic Encyclopedia is going to be an ongoing project for a while. From time to time, I’m going to look at the various apologetic arguments used to support Christianity, and show where their error lies. My goal is ultimately to accumulate a comprehensive reference list of Christian apologetic arguments and their refutations, similar to the Index of Creationist Claims. The “Encyclopedia” link at the top of the blog points to an index page that lists each apologetic in alphabetical order, with links to the post(s) in which that particular argument is refuted.

The new “XFiles Friday” feature doesn’t have anything to do with any popular TV shows (think “X as in Xmas”), but instead serves as a handy place to put my blog postings about the various books of apologetics (XFiles) that I’ll be reviewing. I was going to make such reviews the main feature of this blog, but unfortunately I’m not finding the time to do a proper rebuttal every day, so I’ll have to be content with a weekly feature.

Readers are encouraged to send in apologetics-related material (individual arguments or entire books) for either or both of the above. You can leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

 
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Atheist Tracts

Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard, responds to the “atheist tracts” of Dawkins and Hitchens, in an article published on the Weekly Standard web site.

It is not religion that makes men fanatics; it is the power of the human desire for justice, so often partisan and perverted. That fanatical desire can be found in both religion and atheism. In the contest between religion and atheism, the strength of religion is to recognize two apparently contrary forces in the human soul: the power of injustice and the power, nonetheless, of our desire for justice. The stubborn existence of injustice reminds us that man is not God, while the demand for justice reminds us that we wish for the divine. Religion tries to join these two forces together.

The weakness of atheism, however, is to take account of only one of them, the fact of injustice in the case of Epicurean atheism or the desire for justice in our Enlightenment atheism. I conclude that philosophy today–and science too–need not only to tolerate and respect religion, but also to learn from it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it were really true that religion was nothing more than a philosophical recognition of the conflict between the desire for justice and the desire for the power that comes from injustice? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Not seeing the forest OR the trees

In an interview on Pat Robertson’s CBN network, Chuck Colson presents an interesting perspective on why America became disenchanted enough with Republicans to put Democrats in power: it’s because the Republicans failed to make deep enough cuts in the government:

“There’s so much to government today. It’s so incredibly complex.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Our Patron Deity

Welcome to the Online Seminary of Evangelical Realism. Since this is my inaugural post, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce you to my patron deity: Reality.

Some of my readers will be unfamiliar with the idea of Reality as a god, but if you think about it, Reality has many of the traditional attributes of deity, and indeed most of our traditional ideas about God are merely garbled perceptions of the incomprehensible complexity and enormity of Reality.

For example, Reality is omnipresent (exists in all places) and omnipotent (all-powerful). Wherever you go in the entire universe, Reality is already there, and no matter what you do, you cannot violate any of Reality’s rules for how things work. Reality is, in fact, the only god powerful enough to truly claim that no disobedience is possible. Do what you will, you cannot help but obey the laws of Reality (and if you think otherwise, the consequences will be uncomfortable at best, if not downright disastrous!).

Reality is also eternal, since if there was ever any time when Reality did not exist, then nothing else would exist either. Reality is also the Creator, having produced everything which exists today. Reality is the “thing than which no greater can be imagined,” as Anselm once put it. Any lesser God we might imagine would be either a non-existent God, or a God which was part of Reality. God therefore either is Reality, or is merely a part of Reality. Reality, therefore, must be greater than or equal to any existing God.

Now, one of our failures as limited, finite beings is that there are limits to what we are capable of holding in our minds. Deity is too vast and too complex for us to comprehend fully and precisely; we necessarily reduce God to a representation that is small enough to fit inside our minds. But how can we represent something as complex, something as knowable yet unpredictable, as Reality itself, in all its fullness and detail?

Answer: by analogy. The most complicated, subtle, familiar, and yet unpredictable things we know of are other human beings, and therefore we imagine God as a being Who is, in many ways, similar to a human-type being. Though this approach is not precisely accurate, it’s not entirely wrong. It’s merely a concession to our own limitations. God (that is, Reality) is and always has been beyond our powers of comprehension. Thus, the fact that Reality is not a “person,” in the traditional sense, is not an argument against the deity of Reality. Traditionally, men have viewed their gods as human-like persons, but even they will admit, if pressed, that the truth about God is more complicated than that.

It is with great pride and pleasure, therefore, that I present to you our patron deity, Reality, to whom we ascribe all honor and glory, and whose knowledge we commend to every honest soul.

 
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