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← Important Research into Sophisticated Theology

Kasterfin's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by Kasterfin

Although I scored mostly 2's, I felt like I should give my own answers more fully (and seriously);

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leading theologian of the Church of England, describes his faith as a “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”.

This is really typical theological evasion. Though I don't really know what this means, I guess it's referring to the way believers are expected to live with 'mystery'. Julian Baggini wrote an excellent piece on this particular quote.

Sophisticated theologian John Haught can transcend the religious/science debate over a cup of tea. He says (in a debate with Jerry Coyne) “a simple example would be a teapot. Suppose a teapot is boiling on your stove and someone comes into the room and says, explain to me why that's boiling. Well, one explanation would be its boiling because the water molecules are moving around excitedly and the liquid state is being transformed into gas. But at the same time you could just as easily have answered that question by saying, it's boiling because my wife turned the gas on. Or you could also answer that same question by saying it's boiling because I want tea.”

This isn't as stupid as it looks, surprisingly. What Haught is trying to say is that intentional explanations and physical ones can be separated. But, while this is superficially the case, it isn't true if you really wanted to analyze it. In the end, it all comes down to physics, after all. With enough psychology and neuroscience you could explain the behavior of the wife wanting a cup of tea.

Top theologian and darling of philosophical theology William Lane Craig thinks that the Israeli soldiers sent to butcher all that was alive in Canaan should receive psychological counseling (my emphasis) “So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing"

Many people are mystified as to how an intelligent and apparently humane (since he’s on the other end of 3000 years worth of social progress, democracy and secular enlightenment) person like Craig can sincerely believe these vile rationalizations, and what's more hold them up as an example of a morally good act. The flaw in Craig’s thought is very simple - Divine command ethics is absurd. If you really do believe that morality stems from God, literally, then the vilest acts of genocide become good the instant God orders you to do them. Divine command ethics is nothing more than submission to the most powerful of all the bullies - not the Dear Leader, or the Führer, but the omnipotent Authority. And it's no more justifiable. When I read Craig's absurd excuse for morality, I see what Thomas Nagel meant when he said

It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that


That splendid fellow, the Archbishop of Canterbury, describes god as a very complex being.

Dr Williams clearly hasn't thought it through. I don't know the context so I can't really comment.

Ubertheologian Alvin Plantinga quotes Aquinas in describing god as a very simply being: “… is God complex? According to much classical theology (Thomas Aquinas, for example) God is simple, and simple in a very strong sense, so that in him there is no distinction of thing and property, actuality and potentiality, essence and existence, and the like”

This is just the classic mistake of assuming a disembodied mind is simple. I would refer Plantinga to Darwin's Dangerous Idea.

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 12:46:54 UTC | #904032