Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

William Alston's Return to Faith

HT: Steve Hays. 

The main bar to faith was rather the Freudian idea that religious faith is a wish fulfillment–more specifically, an attempt to cling to childish modes of relating to the world, with the omnipotent daddy there presiding over everything. A powerful case can be made for the view, which is not necessarily tied to the complete Freudian package, that the most important psychological root of religious belief is the need that everyone has for such a childish relationship with a father figure. Be that as it may, I had been psyched into feeling that I was chickening out, was betraying my adult status, if I sought God in Christ, or sought to relate myself to an ultimate source and disposer of things in any way whatever. The crucial moment in my return to the faith came quite early in that year’s leave, before I had reexposed myself to the church or the Bible, or even thought seriously about the possibility of becoming a Christian. I was walking one afternoon in the country outside Oxford, wrestling with the problem, when I suddenly said to myself, "Why should I allow myself to be cribbed, cabined, and confined by these Freudian ghosts? Why should I be so afraid of not being adult? What am I trying to prove? Whom am I trying to impress?

Whose approval am I trying to secure? What is more important: to struggle to conform my life to the tenets of some highly speculative system of psychology or to recognize and come to terms with my own real needs? Why should I hold back from opening myself to a transcendent dimension of reality, if such there be, just from fear of being branded as childish in some quarters?" (Or words to that effect.) These questions answered themselves as soon as they were squarely posed. I had, by the grace of God, finally found the courage to look the specter in the face and tell him to go away. I had been given the courage to face the human situation, with its radical need for a proper relation to the source of all being. William P. Alston, "A Philosophers Way Back to the Faith." God and the Philosophers: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason, ed. T.V. Morris (New York: Oxford, 1994).

Monday, November 27, 2017

Chesterton on arguments against miracles

The historic case against miracles is also rather simple. It consists of calling miracles impossible, then saying that no one but a fool believes impossibilities: then declaring that there is no wise evidence on behalf of the miraculous. The whole trick is done by means of leaning alternately on the philosophical and historical objection. If we say miracles are theoretically possible, they say, “Yes, but there is no evidence for them.” When we take all the records of the human race and say, “Here is your evidence,” they say, “But these people were superstitious, they believed in impossible things."
--G.K. Chesterton
This is essentially the same argument that C.S. Lewis later urged against Hume in MIRACLES to the effect that Hume's famous argument is circular.-Linville

And I thought there were new ways of arguing against miracles.-VR

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Three quotes from Peter Geach's The Virtues

For medieval thought the gulf that could be bridged only by Divine intervention came not between life and the inanimate, nor between consciousness and lack of consciousness, but between rational and irrational creatures. I think there is no reason now to think otherwise -- only fashion.

"Life must originate, we are told, wherever the physical conditions for life are favourable: and there must be so many planets on which life has originated that on millions of them rational beings will have evolved by natural selection. But rational beings cannot so come to be: the coming to be of a rational creature is strictly miraculous -- it exceeds all the powers of sub-rational nature. 

When we hear of some new attempt to explain reasoning or language or choice naturalistically, we ought to react as if we were told that someone had squared the circle or proved the square root of 2 to be rational: only the mildest curiosity is in order-how well has the fallacy been concealed?

You gotta wonder what the Mrs thought of these arguments. I understand she was rather critical when some guy in the Medieval and Renaissance Lit department tried to argue for the same conclusion.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Linville on Dennett

Another one from Mark Linville, on Dennett: 
Daniel Dennett thinks there is no such thing as "what-it-is-like" to be in pain, i.e., the "ouchiness" of pain. There are only the observable and measurable causes and effects of pain, such as the firing of c-fibers and the person's body hollering "OUCH!"
I think there is such a thing as "what-it-is-like" to be astonished at the claim that there is no such thing as "what-it-is-like" to be in pain.