Archive for the ‘ Vox Apologia ’ Category

This post was written for the God Or Not Carnival.


The largest objections I’ve seen to the concept of faith revolve around these three issues.

First, that faith is somehow inherently unwarranted – that it flies in the face of logic.

Second, that faith, warranted or no, is inherently unbelievable – that it is not trustworthy.

Third, that faith, warranted, believable, or not, is even comprehensible – that we can’t know anything about it.

I’ll start with some statements that say this, and go on from there.

Warranted:

Faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits.
– Dan Barker, “Losing Faith in Faith”, 1992

“Faith is surprisingly difficult to define, but in a religious context, I think we can agree that it refers to one’s confidence in a belief for which their is no evidence. Thus, when someone refers to his or her faith, we generally interpret this as reflecting a body of religious dogma in which the speaker believes without empirical basis.”
– vjack, Atheist Revolution

“I reject this sort of faith as a destructive departure from reason that has dire consequences for humanity (see Sam Harris’ The End of Faith). To suspend reason by embracing superstition is to delude oneself into a blissful but counterfeit state of idiocy, one which history has taught us repeatedly leads to bloodshed.”
– vjack, Atheist Revolution

“All religions have flaws. They all can be argued to the point where logic forces the proponent to claim “well, you just have to have faith”.”
– Dave Silverman, NoGodBlog


Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not out to bash these folks. I just selected a few quotes, to give an example of the general opinion towards faith from the skeptical community. I am, however, going to answer them. See, the general consensus is that faith, because of it’s second dictionary definition: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence is some sort of belief made out of whole cloth – a faith which simply rests on nothing.

While that definition does, indeed, exist, there is more than one definition of it. #4, if you’ll notice, says this: “The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.” This, when you interact with a Christian, is what is meant by faith – in one sense. In another sense, it is dictionary definitions 5 and 6. “The body of dogma of a religion“, and “A set of principles or beliefs.”

You’ll see some confused Christians say that they really have no reason to believe what they do – but, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, they really don’t. They don’t even know what they believe, in many instances. Part of faith is knowledge of the object of your faith. If you know the object of your faith, there is sufficient justification for that belief.

Spurgeon says, as I’ve mentioned previously, “What is faith? It is made up of three things—knowledge, belief, and trust.” The first component is what addresses this. This portion is addressed by theology – the study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions. This portion is addressed by philosophy – the critical analysis of fundamental assumptions or beliefs. This portion is addressed by a host of other systematic studies – which all delve into the nature, the object, and the veracity of knowledge.

Christianity has a 2,000-year history of studying these subjects, and the wealth of that study is incalculable. It is not embarked upon lightly, should not be considered lightly, and is undertaken with trepidation. The subject matter of faith is God – who tells us we should rightly fear Him. The same sort of fear which strikes awe into our very soul, which blinds us with it’s brightness, and forces us to our knees in reverent wonder. The study of God is no academic matter. It is a matter of grave importance. This study is what we are called to do, as Christians, and Theists – or, even skeptics. If your God is unknowable, your faith is worthless, because you have no basis for it. The very bedrock of Christianity is that God is knowable, and that He wants us to know Him.

The study of knowledge, the study of Creation, the study of mathematics, the study of… anything; they are all the basis for a Faith which is grounded not in “blind” acceptance – but in reasoned, knowledgeable, and studied acceptance of something (someone) proven trustworthy. I believe, because I “know Whom I have believèd, And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed Unto Him against that day.” – as the old hymn goes.

Trustworthy:

Uhhhhhhhhhh . . . isn’t Passover about the slaughter of innocent children? Didn’t God use all sorts of horrible plagues just to tease the virtuous Job? It wasn’t just blasphemous deposing rebels who felt God’s wrath. For Chrisstake, He killed Himself and his perfectly innocent own Son. So He’s used that “technique” over and over; but even if it were only “once” I don’t see why any spiritually sensitive person would trust Him.
The Raving Atheist

This is the sticky one. Trust is something experientially determined. It can be given, without prior experience, but it’s veracity is determined by experience. So, the question remains, how can we trust God? Well, the answer lies in knowledge. Theology, as we’ve already discussed, is the knowledge of God. If you’ve studied theology, you learn what God is, and what He isn’t. God is good, but he is not evil, and etc. This, perhaps, is something I may have to get into later. I may use this for a topic when it’s my turn to host. I’d like to explore it more. For me? I trust God because I know Him, and I’ve learned about Him. I’ve studied Him, I’ve experienced Him, and I’ve read what He has to say about life. I trust His judgement. This is not a trust based on “hey, why don’t I just trust God” – although, in it’s defense, I’ll say that this is acceptable. God is, by definition, trustworthy. At least a inherently good God would be. My God is.


Comprehensible:

One good reason to not believe that God exists is that the concept of God is incoherent. The concept of God is like a round square or the largest number.
Michael Martin

“Is Christianity absurd in the dictionary sense of being ridiculously incongruous and unreasonable? It seems to me that the answer is “yes.” Given standard criticisms of Christianity and certain plausible interpretations of it, Christianity is filled with ridiculous incongruities and unreasonable beliefs and practices.”
Michael Martin

As Michael Martin, the premier “Christianity is incoherent/absurd/incongruous” debater exemplifies, there is a point where the objection is not that there can be no knowledge of, or trust in, Christianity (or Theism), but that the very concept makes no sense. There is a laundry lista mile long of the supposed “incoherencies” he’s listed, but, it essence, it’s a very old objection. Our brains aren’t functioning right, or we’re being deceived.

Plantinga has a comment on rationality to answer this: “What you properly take to be rational, at least in the sense of warranted depends on what sort of religious and metaphysical stance you adopt. It depends on what kinds of beings you think human beings are, what sorts of belief you think their noetic faculties will produce when they are functioning properly, and which of their faculties or cognitive mechanisms are aimed at truth.”

Basically, there’s a subtle truth that you learn when studying theology. God’s ways are not our ways. By this, I mean that what seem incongruous to us, may not necessarily be so, to God. We just might be wrong about our sense of coherence. God’s plan doesn’t involve our input, frankly. A lot of theological concepts only “work” when you look at them from a certain perspective. Things like Atonement, Sin, and Sacrifice only make sense when you grasp the concept of Holiness. Coherence, as shown above, depends on what you’re aimed at.

Faith requires knowledge of the object of faith – it requires trust in the object of faith, and it requires the object of faith to be understandable, to a certain point. No human knows everything with certainty – few know more than a few things with certainty. What we need to know, we need to know well enough to consider that belief warranted. What we need to trust, we need to trust well enough to make that trust warranted. What we need to understand, we need to understand well enough to make our belief that we understand it warranted.


So, let’s put it all together. Faith is warranted, because faith is based on knowledge. Faith is trustworthy if the object of that faith is trustworthy. Faith is comprehensible because you cannot have faith in something you do not understand enough to justify your faith in it. Faith without justification is simply that blind faith we’re accused of having. That sort of faith, however, is not the faith we have.

Faith, as a noun, means something else – and can be used in this instance as well. allegiance or loyalty to a duty or a person

A Christian must have faith in His God – that faith involves allegiance, it involves loyalty, and it involves duty. Christians are citizens of heaven, first and foremost. Our allegiance is to God, and only then to others. We must be loyal to what God is, and what we are asked by Him to be. We have to be loyal followers. We have a duty to do what He has told us, and to do things His way.

The first important issue, however, is truth. If a thing is true, it is therefore worthy of our faith in it. That’s the meat of the issue. So many times, we simply say “that doesn’t make sense” – and assume that this means something isn’t true. This isn’t the case, in many instances. Truth is the major determining factor in determining whether or not something should be believed.

If you say you have no faith in anything – you’re not being very truthful. You have faith that you if you step out in the crosswalk, a truck won’t come barreling in and run you over. You have faith in the good intentions and skills of the drivers on the road, whenever you drive. You can say you don’t have faith in God – but if you don’t know Him, how could you? Well, you don’t know the drivers around you. By that standard, you’d have no reason to trust them, either.

I can say this: Until you know God, you cannot have faith in Him. After knowledge comes understanding. If you lack the knowledge, you will ever lack understanding of the concept, in my view.

What it boils down to, to rephrase it, is whether the knowledge that faith claims to have is justified. Be it a priori or a posteriori, knowledge comes from somewhere. However, the important questions are, is that belief true, is it justified? Of course, I’m a foundationalist, so that would make perfect sense to me 😀

If something is justified, the core issue is “what justifies it?” As I’ve already said, in so many words, I believe that the nature of God, the knowledge of God, and the coherence of the whole “enchilada” do so. Inductively, along with my own personal (emotive and spiritual) experiential relationship with God, I can say that my belief in God is a justified, true belief.

That’s what you need to have faith. A belief, a justifier. That’s it. If you’d like to discuss exactly what those would be, and advance defeaters for my justification, you’re welcome to do so. I’d love the chance to talk with you.

I’m not going to list all of the components which undergird my faith in this post. If you’d really like to know, comment. Then, we’ll talk. Discussion is much better for unearthing things anyway. It makes the topic more lively. So, feel free.

Urgent Request!

God or Not needs submissions.

The topic is Faith, is hosted at Cadmusings, will be up on February 13th, and you are encouraged to submit a post.

Submissions must be in by Sunday at midnight.

Whew.

I have been beating my head on a wall for days now, trying to get a server-side aggregator and parser/reader combination together.

I finally got it. I won’t go into all the details – I’ll drib and drab it out as I get it into fully working status, but here’s a look at it.

I also have the feed reader working in the sidebar over at Vox, as well.

If you’re bored, you can check out the aggregator software itself.

It’s some pretty cool stuff. I’ve been trying to get away from server.com and blogdigger for quite a while. I think I have the right combo now.

Technology is cool. Teaching yourself things can be a real pain in the posterior, though.

Anyway, I’m also working on getting the first Vox editions set up, so stand by for news/updates about that.

Latah.

Vox Apologia: Redux Final

Firstly:

Alright – here’s the deal.

Those of you who have submitted Vox posts in the past: You’re about to get an email. Every requested member of the Aggregator (ie: those of you who asked to join, instead of me just adding you) – you’re also about to get an email.

I’m going to explain how it works, and what I need.

Also, I’m going to ask a few bloggers from the skeptic side of the fence to submit some questions for us to answer, to the best of our abilities. They’ll be screened, but I’ll put them all somewhere to pick from, and look at.

Vox Symposium: Monthly essay/post compendium, topical (like before, but monthly) – Will stay on the Vox Apologia site.

Vox Apologia: Weekly apologetic response to questions from the skeptics. Will move from blog to blog, as we originally did it.

Secondly:

I’m revamping the Aggregator into something more manageable, and more representative.

There will be Aggregator 1, which contains all of the hobbyist apologists that are currently on the Aggregator.

There will be Aggregator 2, which will contain the feeds from the major apologetics organizations, including some already on the Aggregator.

There will be Aggregator 3, which will contain feeds from any other apologist I run into.

I’m also in the process of setting up our own aggregator on the Vox Apologia server, to handle the member blogs’ post feeds.

Thirdly:

I’m asking for volunteers who will help me. I know, I slacked off big time. I’m back now, though – and I’m ready to kickstart Vox back to where it was – and onward.

Like I said, expect an email.

Vox Apologia: Redux Deus

In this post, I proposed the idea that Vox should be resurrected as a Q & A session. Atheists/Agnostics ask the question, and the respondents answer.

So, I think I’m going to open the ball soon, and contact a few people on my “Ripostes” list for the first few questions. I’ll likely send out a mailer soonish, and contact a few larger blogs to help spread the word.

Vox is going to return. I like the format of “God or Not“, but I don’t think it has enough apologetics interest.

Vox, pretty much, has a track record of apologist participation – which is what I want to see.

So, here’s to VoxII. Coming Soon.

Vox Additions

Added Withallyourmind.net and Twoorthree.net to the Vox Aggregator. I’ve been looking at both for quite a while, and I think they’re both great blogs.

Welcome!

Vox Apologia: Redux

So. Vox has been on hold, pretty much indefinitely, because, honestly, it just wasn’t working, without a herculean effort on my part every week.

I have an idea.

What if…

Instead of me setting the topic, or someone from the Aggregator setting the topic…

We let an atheist, skeptic, agnostic, or an adherent from another religion set the topic?

Now, guidelines will have to be set, to some extent, but, really. Wouldn’t this be the point of Vox? To make a defense to anyone who asks us?

I say we let them ask – and we pray, consider, study – and do just that – answer.

What say you?

The Aggregator – v4

Well, I’ve revamped the Aggregator.

I’ve removed a few posters who combined their blogs, added quite a few who have been asking for a while, and a few of my own choices, who didn’t.

There are now 34 members, in total. All should be shown on v1 of the Aggregator display feed, to your right. I’m still working on versions 2 and 3, and on transferring them to Vox, as well, as more people visit here than Vox even though I’d rather it be the other way around… but, c’est la vie.

Welcome to CMV warrior, from Christianity is Jewish; Michael Craven’s “Cultural Apologetics“; The bloggers from the Apologetics Resource Center, who have combined their former blogs into one group blog – which is now on the Aggregator. Welcome to Mr. Dawn Treader, who I should have added months ago, and is ALWAYS worth a read. Welcome to the folks from Eternal Revolution, who have been doing some very interesting things with the “God or Not” series of late. Welcome to Scott Pruett of Pensées, who only recently asked to be added – but who impressed me thoroughly. Welcome to Tom Wanchick from The Good Fight. Definitely a different take – which I like. Last, but not least, welcome to The A-Team. They need no introduction. They’re… the A-Team!

As for the steadfast members of the aggregator, who have been posting, while I haven’t… thanks. Sorry I haven’t been around much. Life, a new marriage, work, and hurricane recovery stuff have been burying me solid. I figured it was way past time to at least straighten this out, if I did nothing else.

Check out John Zuhone’s thoughts of late. Check out Tim Challies’ latest – which is brilliant, as always. The CADRE is always good for thought-provoking material. Or Vincent Cheung? Wow.

Really, if you haven’t surfed the Aggregator lately… just do it. The amount of excellent, mind-blowingly brilliant material on these member blogs really will stagger you, if you just go through the last ten posts by each person. Well, except for me. I’m being lazy. But, hey… read some of these folks. You’ll be glad you did.

Anyway – welcome, new members – and thanks, those of you who’ve been with us for a while.

The Daily Cut – 7/7

5:05p
Our Prayers and Heartfelt Expressions of Concern go out to the People of Great Britain during a Day of Tragedy.

You were there for us during 9/11, and it’s aftermath – we’ll be there for you, in whatever way you need us.


Newly added to Vox Apologia:


Deism
, by Chad MacIntosh (Doxazo Theos)

It’s an excellent explanation (and rebuttal) of Deism.

An addition to Vox XXThe Unfairness of Heaven?, from Anne/WeekendFisher at CADRE Comments.

From Anne’s synopsis: Response to atheist Michael Martin’s latest critique of Christianity. Although a few of Martin’s arguments were probably destined to be unique to Martin, I decided to respond because a few of them were common enough. I mostly wanted to retake the ground on whether Judgment Day is fair, being a bit tired of the atheists thinking they have the high ground there. I go some places that Christian apologists usually don’t go, but it was about time we opened up some new ground there and stopped being so defensive.

Anticipating:

The first set of questions for The Theomeme Project. Hint: The first question author is a member of Ten Christian Blogs

Other Cuts:

Parableman writes about The Problem of Evil, in reference to a reference of a paper on it. Follow the link trail – good reading all around.

Aggregated:

From the Apologetics Aggregator, we have a VERY nice collection of posts, of late. I really encourage you to read through one of the aggregator versions every day or two. There are 30 blogs on the aggregator, and I NEVER find less than 3-4 interesting posts.

Another post from Chad, entitled Ontological Musings explores the varying ontologies which necessitate the existence of God.

United Church of Christ and Gay Marriage

A Pastor and His Apologetics informs those of us who may live under a local rock that the UCC has voted to support gay marriage.

Alex Forrest posts about the Creation Science Museum. I’d also recommend this post from blestwithsons. And remind you what I think about evolution, etc.

Which reminds me: someone email me if I forget to do a post on Old-Earth Creationism within the next two weeks. I had an email exchange with my dad, and an interesting im conversation with a friend on the subject recently.

From Daily Apologetics comes America: Yoga’s Greenhouse

From Hux, we can find two posts on T.D. Jakes’ Modalistic Heresy. What is that? Read #1, and #2, to find out.

Check out James White’s fisking of BYU professors Millet and McConkie’s Sustaining and Defending the Faith.

Resource Blog is looking for articles and/or reviews


Should we Defend Doctrines?
The Huntington Apologetics Team asks the question – and gives the answer.

Just read Vincent Cheung’s Blog. You’ll enjoy it, I promise. Read it all, if you have to.


Most importantly:

My girlfriend’s blog, which I just finished the basic design for.

Visit now, visit often – I’ll make sure there’s plenty of updates 😀



Now, did you enjoy that? Was it informative?

Well, I can’t do it that often. Look at the post time, in case you’re thinking “but, you did all of that – it’s easy, right?”

It is mind-bogglingly time-consuming to collect links JUST from the Aggregator. If I did half of the posts I WANTED to, this week – this would be three times as long – every day.

I’m still looking for people willing to collect 4-5 links per day – and post them in a similar format to Vox Apologia.

Think, people: 5 people, 5 links a day. That’s 25 links/day.

I just posted 17 by myself. Think about it. It’s not hard, and it won’t take long.

Email me – Contact button – top left.

Hrmm, whats this now?

Ok, enough compulsive coding.

But I borrowed this from Nick Queen’s Out of the Wilderness new blog showcase script. I adapted it, themed it to Vox, and something very much like this will be available, should I get some help for Vox, like I mentioned below.

You can put it on your site, and we’ll update it weekly, for Vox – it’ll update everywhere it is displayed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me.. it’s time to go to bed. I’m supposed to be at my girlfriend’s house tomorrow at some sort of decent time – like when it’s still daylight outside.

(Just kidding honey! I’ll be there on time.. albeit tired. Doesn’t it look cool though?)

… awaits his well-deserved thumping when he gets there …

hehe.

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