Thursday, October 16, 2014

Necessary & Contingent (Brief From PhD)

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An infinite eternal God can be understood as the first cause not needing a cause.

Karl Barth explains within The Doctrine of Creation that the essence of God himself is eternal, he is before time, above time and after time. Barth (1932-1968: 67).

Note: This eliminates the need for the ‘Who created God?’, question. God is.

God’s essence is eternal and necessary (logically must exist), and the finite universe is temporal and contingent (not necessary). Shedd (1874-1890)(1980: 191 Volume 1). God as a necessary being is therefore the cause of contingent creation.

Frame reasons God is the creator and the Lord of the beginning of history. This occurs within his eternal plans. Frame (2002: 389).

Within this view God is the implied first cause that exists necessarily prior to everything else. Pojman (1996: 596).

BARTH, KARL (1932-1968) Church Dogmatics, The Doctrine of the Word of God: Volume 1, Part One, Translated by J.W. Edwards, Rev. O. Bussey, and Rev. Harold Knight, Edinburgh, T. and T. Clark. 

BARTH, KARL (1932-1968) Church Dogmatics, The Doctrine of Creation: Volumes 1 and 3. Translated by J.W. Edwards, Rev. O. Bussey, and Rev. Harold Knight, Edinburgh, T. and T. Clark.

BARTH, KARL (1932-1968) Church Dogmatics, The Doctrine of God: Volume 2, First Half -Volume, Translated by J.W. Edwards, Rev. O. Bussey, and Rev. Harold Knight, Edinburgh, T. and T. Clark. 

FRAME, JOHN M. (1999) ‘The Bible on the Problem of Evil: Insights from Romans 3:1-8,21-26; 5:1-5; 8:28-39’, IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 1, Number 33, October 11 to October 17, Fern Park, Florida, Third Millennium.

FRAME, JOHN M. (2002) The Doctrine of God, P and R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

SHEDD, WILLIAM G.T. (1874-1890)(1980) Dogmatic Theology, Volume 1, Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

SHEDD, WILLIAM G.T. (1874-1890)(1980) Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2, Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Secular Community

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My friend Jason suggested I review this video that he showed me on Sunday evening.

 

Free Will

Mr. Campolo was a Christian Evangelist.

It is noted that as a teenager Mr. Campolo was an atheist, but experienced persons being nice and loving from the Christian community via high school.

Mr. Campolo was eventually pressured to believe in Christ, and later found out he was apparently targeted because he was deemed to be a good potential evangelist.

Biblically there is to be preaching and proclamation of the gospel message in order to make disciples (Matthew 28), but here with this story I see a common evangelical, evangelistic error.

Placing too much emphasis on human free will in the salvation process and I do not agree with targeting.

John S. Feinberg, who has written extensively on the concepts of free will and determinism, explains incompatibilism is defined as the idea that a person is free in regard to an action if he or she is free to either commit, or refrain from committing the action. There can be no antecedent conditions or laws that will determine that an action is committed or not committed.

Therefore, there be no antecedent condition, including God, that would predetermine believe in Christ, therefore a person must accept the atoning and resurrection work on their own, although they can be guided with this view but not simultaneously influenced or determined.

In contrast, P.S. Greenspan writes that compatibilism holds to free will and determinism being compatible. Greenspan (1998: 1).

Louis P. Pojman, defines compatibilism as the concept that an act can be entirely determined and yet be free in the sense that it was done voluntarily and without compulsion. Pojman (1996: 596).

Feinberg explains that compatibilism does not allow for coercion or force, but holds that God, or some outside force, can simultaneously determine with the use of persuasion, that an action will or will not take place. Feinberg (1986: 24). Feinberg writes that certain nonconstraining conditions could strongly influence actions, in conjunction with human free will performing these actions. Feinberg (1994: 60). With this viewpoint, there will be no contradiction in stating that God would create human beings who were significantly free, unconstrained, and yet committed actions that God willed. Feinberg (2001: 637).

W.T. Stace (1952)(1976) explains that moral responsibility is consistent with determinism in the context of soft determinism and requires it. Stace (1952)(1976: 29). If human actions are uncaused then reward or punishment would be unjustified. Stace (1952)(1976: 29). Stace reasons that there must be at least some human cause within human actions to make them morally responsible acts. Stace (1952)(1976: 30).

Salvation is given by grace through faith by God through the atoning and resurrection work of Christ unto good works. (Ephesians 2).

Ephesians 1 making it clear God chose those in him (4) in Christ (5).

Ephesians 1: 3-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before [a]Him. In love 5 [b]He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the [c]kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

God chooses and predestines those who believe. Yes, he uses human agencies which would include preaching and teaching, but Christians should not be pressure persons as if a human decision, as secondary agents, secondary causes (decisions) is what saves them. They are saved by God.

Within the salvation process, God as antecedent, as first cause, acts and then human belief occurs, persons not forced or coerced.

It is not a matter of libertarian free will.

One would not believe without being chosen and regenerated, but it is a significant intellectual, moral understanding as in not being forced or coerced.

I labelled it limited free will in my doctoral work.

Myth

Transcendental experiences are discussed in the video and then it is noted that Christianity is of fairy tales and myths.

Oxford divines myth as traditional narrative usually involving supernatural or imaginary persons and other embodying popular ideas on natural or social phenomena. It can also be a widely held, but false notion. A fictitious person thing or idea. Oxford (1995: 900).

In contrast, the Hebrew Bible and New Testament is religious history.

There are different degrees of literalness, but it is not meant to be taken as mythology.

Therefore if the Scripture was demonstrated as untrue, it would be false religious history, but was certainly never intended as mythology.

According to Elwell in regard to New Testament Greek Manuscripts as Christianity is being referenced in this post:

Papyri Cataloged 127 Uncial Mss. Cataloged 318 Minuscule Mss. Cataloged 2, 880 Lectionaries Cataloged 2, 436

Total 5, 761 (Numbers in all categories inch up periodically with new discoveries) German numbers from 1994 and 2011 are accessed.

Over 5, 000 manuscripts, part or all, presenting the New Testament as religious history, not myth, or fairy tale.

First Cause

Even if the Hebrew Bible and New Testament documents could be proven historically false, this in my mind would in no way by default demonstrate the likelihood of secularism, atheism or agnosticism as correct views.

First cause still being a major problem.

I have written on this previously First Cause in more detail

As matter is finite and cannot be its own cause as this would cause a vicious regress its requires a cause beyond matter and time, which is also finite.

One also cannot have a vicious regress of time or the present time would never be arrived.

Philosophical arguments for first cause do not prove the existence of the Biblical God but can serve as parallel truth to the creation story of Genesis 1.

Deism, in my mind is a far more likely alternative to Christianity than a non-theistic view, although I fully believe in the Biblical texts.

Although Deism does not accept a God that reveals self it still accepts the God of first cause.

Theism and Deism

Community

In regard to purpose and mission, a secular, atheistic, agnostic community could I suppose rival Christian community.

On a personal level, over the years I have found offline and online that at times non-Christians and sometimes non-religious persons have been better friends to me than Christians.

No question.

I reason this often occurs because of Christian fundamentalism, theological differences and at times culturally, socially driven reasons which drive barriers between Christian people when in reality Christians should be loving one another John 15 and all those that are their neighbour, Matthew 22, Mark 12.

These barriers should be dealt with but this requires potential change by all sides involved, and so often the supposed easier route is the route of non-change.

People in the Church wrongly at times support one another in this and nothing changes.

But, a secular mission does not provide a hope of everlasting life as does the hope of the gospel (John 3, Revelation 21-22).

Any meaning gathered in this temporal life will be lost.

As far as meaning is concerned, the following does not on its own demonstrate God's existence or everlasting life. 

Premise 1: Strictly speaking, there is no scientific, empirical evidence for everlasting life.

Premise 2: The deduction is made that Donald Trump being a billionaire receives a life quality rating of 9/10. 

Premise 3: The deduction is made that the male drug addict on Main and/or Hastings Street in Vancouver receives a life quality rating of 1/10.

Premise 4: Both of these men shall die and since they cannot take their physical body or any of their material possessions with them their life quality ratings will drop to 0/10.

Neither person can take any of their earthly success with them because they are unconscious and dead and all that exists physically is their remains.

Premise 5: Trump's life will likely provide a superior legacy to that of the drug addict and some will at least enjoy Trump's legacy, and perhaps some will enjoy the legacy of the drug addict but as the centuries and millennia go by the legacy of both men will fade.

Even with Trump's legacy all persons that enjoy his life work will die and not consciously remember Trump or experience his impact.

Conclusion: Human life is not substantially meaningful, if permanently terminated. 

Outside of this argument may I state that the Christian understanding is that the Bible provides a historically based theology of meaningful everlasting life for believers through the atoning work and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ was empirically viewed by followers in his resurrection form although everlasting life itself has not been empirically, scientifically demonstrated. The culmination of the Kingdom of God would provide repeated verifiable scientific evidence of everlasting human life.

Noted that God and the spiritual realm by nature cannot be empirically observed and proved. Therefore if God and the supernatural was true, academic means of finding truth such as philosophical and theological would have to be used.

Concise Oxford Dictionary (1995), Oxford, Clarendon Press.

ELWELL, WALTER AND YARBROUGH, ROBERT W., Third Edition (2013) Encountering The New Testament, Grand Rapids, Baker Academic.

FEINBERG, JOHN.S. (1994) The Many Faces of Evil, Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House. 

FEINBERG, JOHN.S. (2001) No One Like Him, John S. Feinberg (gen.ed.), Wheaton, Illinois, Crossway Books.

GREENSPAN, P.S. (1998) Free Will and Genetic Determinism: Locating the Problem (s), Maryland, University of Maryland. http://www.philosophy.umd.edu/Faculty/PGreenspan/Res/gen2.html 

POJMAN, LOUIS P. (1996) Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, New York, Wadsworth Publishing Company.

STACE, W.T. (1952)(1976) Religion and the Modern Mind, in John R. Burr and Milton Goldinger (eds), Philosophy and Contemporary Issues, London, Collier Macmillan Publishers.