Another “both/and” principle: Socrates

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Intelligence directs the change that we see in the world around us every day. Let me illustrate with an analogy. Someone might see Socrates sitting in prison and seek to explain why he is there. One person says that he is sitting there because of the complexity of his muscles, ligaments, and joints and how they expand and contract. They have expanded and contracted in such a manner that has caused him to sit in prison and there he sits. Another, more correct, person would say that the reason Socrates is sitting in prison is that he has decided it better to accept the punishment of his government than to run away. In other words, Socrates’ intelligence has directed his joints and ligaments for the purpose of justice. But, it could have been otherwise. He could have decided to run and we would see his joints and ligaments expand and contract in just that way. It is precisely this kind of explanation that accounts for intelligence in the universe.

Why do things happen in our world in just the way they do? Why do they not happen another way? An egg turns into a chicken. But, why does not the egg turn into a goat? Why do trees produce leaves instead of budding into faeries? When I push my finger against metal it does not give. But, why does it not change color upon touch or vibrate? Why do I type here instead of doing the dishes? Why does a pumpkin go on being a pumpkin? Intelligence is the answer. For we know the universe could have been quite different. Things could have worked a totally different way. And we cannot explain these particularities without recourse to intelligence. A mind must be directing it all. To explain it all by saying, “Well, that’s just the way it all developed from the beginning of the universe”, is not an explanation. Moreover, it’s a lazy man’s explanation and completely redundant. If I ask someone why Socrates sits in prison and they tell me “because things just happened that way”, they just told me my own question. For that is the very thing I’m trying to explain: why it happened that way. Intelligence is the answer for Socrates and it is the answer for the universe.

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Dear Determinist, (Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, or whoever reads this first)

I’m sorry, but you’re not a real person. You don’t have your own thoughts, make your own decisions, or control your own actions. If you stand here and argue with me, I can only regard it as the universe arguing with itself. One part of the universe argues and says “A” is true and “B” is false, while another part of the universe declares “B” true and “A” false. The universe declares “A” and “B” to be both true and false, therefore truth is incoherent in this universe. In the absence of a standard outside of the universe, there is no truth for beings who are just another part of this incoherent universe.  So, determinist, you’ll have to excuse me if I can’t believe anything you say.

The Imitation: A Critique of Atheism

A frequent visitor of this blog, Tildeb, seems to think that reality is the only thing that is true. Well, my intention here is to show that reality is the very thing that contains untruth. He states, “How do you know what is straight? The notion of ‘straight’ (the principle) has various expressions of approximations in reality (the practice) that we utilize, and we utilize these approximations because they work.” … “We use a straight edge to draw a straight line” and this “shows how useful it is to utilize relative tools – both materialistic (a relatively straight edge) as well as theoretical (a relatively useful comparison like differences in quantity) – to help us function in reality when reality arbitrates what works.”

Straightness is a universal. One has only to look at the varying “degrees of straightness” modeled in the material world in order to grasp or extract the concept of straightness. The concept, that exists in the intellect, serves as the standard against which we hold all other straight things we find in the material world. In other words, a straight line in reality is true to the extent that it conforms to the ideal defined by the essence of straightness. A straight line drawn on a cracked sidewalk with a piece of chalk is not as true as one drawn on a table using a ruler and a pen. “True” is meant here in the sense of being genuine, or in the same sense that an arrow which hits its mark is true.

The intellect grasps the true forms of things. These true forms are the universals, the standards by which everything in the material world is judged. We ask ourselves, “does this straight line on my paper correctly instantiate the essence of what it means to be straight?” We trust a ruler to guide us because we see it already conforms to the universal we grasp in our intellects.  When you think about straightness, it is necessarily perfect straightness that you are contemplating, not the approximation of it. We find approximations in reality. You may be able to find tiny imperfections not detectable to the naked eye in almost all straight lines that exist in the material world. Closer inspection might reveal a straight line that is not true. But, when mankind comes to make a straight line, we do the best we can.

Now, inasmuch as the things that we see in this world correctly instantiate the universals, they are true. A squirrel that does not store nuts for the winter is not as true as a squirrel that does. A dog that has three legs is not as true as a dog that has four legs. A human that is blind is not as true a human as one that can see. All the world is judged to be true based upon these universals that we grasp. But, that is just it, we grasp them. We apprehend these things as if they were waiting for us to reach them in some way. But, how do they exist? The only way in which we experience them is in the mind. And it seems as if all of reality were built upon these things like great archetypes or blueprints made by some great architect. It follows then, that as only minds contain them, they exist primarily in the divine mind. Thus, a thing is true inasmuch as it expresses conformity to the divine intellect, and the Divine has shared his thoughts with us.

Now, It’s not hard to realize that if John tries to act like Carl, he is imitating him. He has become a crude copy of Carl. And when considered as a “Carl”, John is a less real Carl than Carl himself. In the same way, inasmuch as things in the material world imitate the universals and miss the mark, they are not true and are less real than the things they imitate. That being the case, we are living in a world that is not entirely true and may be more of a copy, a shadow, or a crude imitator than a perfect original. People like Tildeb, who let reality arbitrate what is true are letting falsehoods dictate what is right and wrong. If they really thought that way, they might think a three legged dog better than a four legged dog; or a blind man better than a seeing one. Indeed, they are blind themselves, for they confine themselves to see only the crude imitations, and never open their eyes to the truth.

Why Atheists sometimes lose effectiveness in Theistic discussions

Observed truth or truth we discover, is ultimately inadequate to affect absolute certainty within man. Having no deeper foundation other than our own fallible faculties, our beliefs must deliver a standing invitation to all competing ideas until all possibilities are exhausted. If, then, our beliefs stand, they can only hold certainty in the sense of having withstood all other ideas our current day and age can muster and for which we are able to understand. Thus, our beliefs can only hold a current temporary certainty while holding a respect for such a time in the future that mankind is able to obtain a greater understanding of those beliefs. Thus, absolute certainty can never be reached by mankind. It has the effect of silencing the free exchange of ideas and creating a tyranny upon other men who hold differing beliefs.

Truth, as a Being with person-hood, is entirely in the position to produce a greater degree of certainty within man than he could reach alone. For Truth, having personality, could relate with man, instruct, and cleanse man of error he could not have eliminated on his own. That is not to say that man would then have an infallible understanding of the truth. The best he could do is present to others a representation of this Truth-Being or a representation of some external truth the Being has communicated. The representation would still be subject to the fallible faculties of man and therefore must deliver the same standing invitation to other representations. Otherwise, tyranny will result. Furthermore, whatever refined beliefs man contains inside himself must be held in a progressive truth-seeking manner with a respect for some newer revelation communicated by this Truth-Being in the future. For it is absurd to believe that man has perfect understanding of truth the first time it is communicated to him.

Therefore, the only difference realized by man, either in truth discovered solely by man or truth received from this Truth-Being, is the deeper ground on which he stands when receiving communication from this Being. Those who criticize representations of this Being without standing in deeper ground themselves will compete with any self-authenticating witness this Being has produced inside the man standing on the deeper ground and will, thus, be only marginally effectual in an argument. Effectiveness can be obtained either by developing a greater understanding of the representations or moving onto deeper ground.

A letter to those who have witnessed great evil in these modern times

Knowing then full well the great evil that lies within each of us, can we trust anymore other men for the answers? Every man is a liar, for what dwells within us is a lie. We are broken from the inside, pretending we are whole, and instructing others in our well developed version of lies while passing them for truth. Thus, our hearts cry out for truth to come and rid us of ourselves; we who speak healing and hurt with the same mouth, hatred and love, words of peace and words of violence. How long should we be suffered to live as a contradiction? Who will come and relieve us of this burden? The great necessity is that the truth must find us. There is no other alternative, for a lie can never reach the truth. It will forever miss the mark.

Religion: The only sane choice

According to these estimated statistics, atheists have to conclude that 84% of the people in the world are delusional. On the other hand, religious people conclude that others who don’t agree with their religion or have no religion are just mistaken, but not necessarily delusional, just as someone can be mistaken about what equals two plus two. The religious man can at least applaud the other religious man for putting in an effort to get it right. The atheist, however, must conclude that the reality (a planet full of religious people) that he observes around him is not, in fact, a true witness of actual reality. Atheists see an entire planet that naturally believes a lie, lumping them together with those who believe in unicorns or the existence of the green goblin. The only way to live amongst sane people is to accept religious behavior as a faithful witness of reality and a legitimate choice.

Exit question:

If everyone is telling you one thing and you’re the only one that thinks another, isn’t there a high probability that you are wrong?

Who searches for truth and who has the truth?

Richard Dawkins questions God:

“The cheetah is superbly equipped for killing gazelles. The gazelle is superbly equipped to escape from those very same cheetahs. For heaven’s sake, who’s side is the designer on? Is he a sadist who enjoys the spectator sport? Did he who made the lamb make thee? Is it really part of the divine plan that the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the lion eat straw like the ox? In that case, what price the formidable carnassial teeth, the murderous claws of the lion and the leopard? Whence the breathtaking speed and the agile escapology of the antelope and the zebra?”

It reminds me of a previous questioner of God:

“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

And yet I’m reminded of God’s questions:

“Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof? Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.”

The Christian Bible

Truth is exclusive, therefore, not all religious texts can be true if they disagree with one another. However, that is not a reason to discount all texts. Search for the text that is true. It is possible that all texts can be false. But, it is equally possible that at least one could be true. You should engage in this process of weeding out the lies to find the truth, and not falsely and lazily declare the whole process pointless.

People stick to the Christian Bible because they believe they have found truth for their lives that gives meaning, purpose, and a clear grounding for morality. But moreover, they believe they have found the fulfillment of human existence in the union of God and man. And, in my opinion, the Christian Bible provides the only way for that union to exist without requiring you to attain an unreachable goal of perfection; which also simultaneously nullifies any self-pride that might have emerged because of the work that you might have done to achieve salvation. The Christian Bible declares salvation by the hands of God only. It is God seeking man, and not man seeking God. I believe that is one of the main differences between Christianity and all other religions.

And to me, this truth is obvious because through experience in this world, we see that man is not just the questioner, he is the question. When he asks a question, he looks for answers because the answer is not in him. He must find it. Every question that God asks points back to himself for he doesn’t just give answers, he is the answer. Truth is wholly apart from us. It exists out of the necessity of its own nature. And the Christian Bible, to me, provides the clearest view of truth. If you treat it the same as every other text, you will never see truth in it.

Reverse Psychology

When the veil of human ignorance is taken away, we find out what has been happening all along: that we only seemed to be the questioners, the teachers, the testers, the judges, the knowing ones acting like scientists looking for God in a test tube. In reality we are the questioned, the tested, the students, the judged, the known ones. When God asks a question he either is the answer or the answer lies within him. That is the nature of God, which man does not have. Truth is not simply around God or known by him, truth is him. This is why when we answer his question, it does not leave us lost, but found. And not only found, but joined to the Truth himself. People who observe the world around us with the intent only to know ourselves better (our origins, our present condition, and our future), are still left with uncertainty, for who knows what new discoveries will confuse the present ones and suffer man to redefine himself once again. If men observe the world and ask the question, “Who is God?” instead of, “Who is man?”, we can obtain certainty. For this reason, belief in God is not religion, it is the discovery of the true nature of reality, for God is reality. Reality based on man is fictional, delusional, a fairy tale: as evidenced by the absence of satisfying truth in man based answers. Questions that originate in man leave us lost at sea. Questions that originate in God set us on dry land.

Let Truth grapple with Falsehood in the streets

 

Is there anything more basic than faith in the God of creation? Faith that he provided forgiveness and a way for us to be together? Indeed, many atheistic debaters say it is too simple. It’s when we use reason to describe him or what he wants that we have natural contention. To this, I say, “Bring it on.” Let truth grapple with falsehood in the streets. But, let us not bring our “isms” to the fight, these warped windows that we see the world through. Let us not use modernity as our foundation for argument, for it changes all the time. By all means, however, let the lies test the truth. The truth will be stronger as a result. But, let us not allow these things to corrupt our relationship with God. Once inferior ideas are understood to be inadequate, let us drop them and reject them as idols so that there is only the individual and God. If we are to stand before God and give an account, we will not be able to blame our “isms” or modern ideas. Faith saves In the end not reason, philosophy, theology, or intellect. This is the only equality that matters to mankind throughout history, the equal opportunity of faith in God to all people at all times. For no other equality reaches the eternal.