Is God Temporal or Timeless?

The rationalists would answer that God is timeless; the empiricists, that God is temporal. So, what is the truth?

I think we must first begin by admitting our limitations. If we are yet having difficulty understanding metaphysics, theology is even a more impossible arena, unless, of course, God intervenes to reveal Himself. However, we also know that He only reveals to us in the limits and the terms that are understandable to us. More importantly, the Bible emphasizes on knowing God personally through a loving and obedient faith. But, it doesn't mean that if a question regarding the nature of God arises, we are not required to give an answer. I wish to present some thoughts here.

For a pure rationalist, ultimately, time itself is illusory, as all experience is (as in monism and non-dualism). For a rationalist who accepts divine revelation and the validity of empirical knowledge, God is atemporal or timeless; He is beyond time; He is transcendent to time: however, at the same time, God is also temporal; He is immanent in time as the God who acts in time. Now, by the temporality of God we do not mean the temporality that the theory of relativity talks of; God is Spirit, not matter. By the temporality of God we only mean that our phenomenal talk of God’s acts in the universe are always temporal (Is there any other way to account for events? Yes, there is the tenseless theory of time which implies that God created the whole set of events which are just there—Wait! No, God and the events are all just there (for “God created” assumes the tensed-theory: evidently, the tenseless theory is theologically untenable). At the same time, we will not say that both these concepts of timelessness and temporality define the reality of God. We only say that as far as our rational and empirical understanding (and their limits) is concerned, and as far as the revelation of God is concerned, we cannot but think that God is timeless in His being and also temporal in relation to acts that He does. In that sense, to even say that God created time (conceptual, not the physical time which is relative to created things individually) assumes that He created time in time. But, is it not contradictory to think of divine timelessness and divine temporality at the same time? I think it is not impossible to find an analogy in our experience. For instance, we know that the statement “The sun rises in the east” is true and very practical: people can know where is east by looking where the sun is rising in the morning. Of course, a compass will help us to have more accurate understanding of North or South. But, nevertheless, the idea that the sun rises in the east is not also false, phenomenally speaking. However, in “reality”, the case is that the sun doesn’t rise; it is the earth that rotates on its axis; the sun is static (timeless?), though relatively. And, this knowledge is also useful. Yet, still, there are further theories to explain the earth-sun relationship and our solar system’s relation to the universe. But until this juncture, the statements “The sun rises in the east” and “The sun doesn’t move, but the earth moves” are both true in phenomenal terms. I think that talk of divine temporality is something akin to this (that is with reference to how far our rational-empirical sense is concerned).

Again, we know that God is Spirit, which also means that the laws of relativity don’t have any significance for Him and are external to His being. The empirical view cannot find the timeless view of God intelligible in any empirical terms. There is nothing in experience analogous to atemporality of being. Of course, there are the laws of logic that are considered to be atemporal; however, God is not “laws of logic” or a set of necessary-universal-immutable-atemporal a priori propositions. But, Scriptures tell us that He is Logos who existed in the beginning, the Personal-Creator Logos; thus, conjoining both the idea of personhood and the idea of necessity in Him. I think this could be a good way of talking about Him, though, I must confess, in our present experience, we are still limited in our understanding of God as Spirit. We think that we got some objectivity when we discovered that the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun. But, we know that is only like a second-level objectivity. So, it is safe to conclude that as far as our rational understanding can accept, God is timeless, and as far as our empirical categories permit, God is temporal; yet, we know that God is beyond all this and the perfect vision is still to come; that cannot be without the resurrection.

Still, however, one must be careful to not fall prey to the lure of pragmatic theology.[See Article]. The Bible clearly speaks of God as the Eternal One. The Bible also tells us that God is unchanging and all-knowing (His knowledge of the future being perfect). However, our phenomenal talk of God’s acts in the universe are always temporal.


Pertinent Discussions
Steve Bishop, God, Time, and Eternity
William Lane Craig, God, Time, and Eternity

Last updated on March 8, 2016
Share:

Aristotelian Realism and the Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation

Transubstantiation is a Catholic doctrine that states that the whole substances of the bread and the wine, during the Eucharist, convert into the body and the blood of Jesus. The metaphysical explanation of the doctrine borrows from Aristotle's doctrine of substances and accidents. Substance, according to Aristotle, is the defining essence of a thing, what it is in essence. Accidents are properties like color, weight, length, etc that are not essential to the definition of the substance. For instance, skin color, height, weight, size, etc are not essential properties of the definition of "man"; they are only accidental properties. Aristotelian doctrine of substance and accidents was employed by Thomas Aquinas to explain the doctrine of transubstantiation.

According to Aquinas, in the conversion of the bread into the flesh of Jesus, the substance of bread is changed into the flesh of Jesus but the accidents (like the smell, taste, color, quantity) of the bread remain the same. This is considered a mystery; however, for certainty the substance of the bread does not remain the same, he thinks. Accordingly,
Some have held that the substance of the bread and wine remains in this sacrament after the consecration. But this opinion cannot stand: first of all, because by such an opinion the truth of this sacrament is destroyed, to which it belongs that Christ's true body exists in this sacrament; which indeed was not there before the consecration.....

Secondly, because this position is contrary to the form of this sacrament, in which it is said: "This is My body," which would not be true if the substance of the bread were to remain there; for the substance of bread never is the body of Christ. Rather should one say in that case: "Here is My body."

Thirdly, because it would be opposed to the veneration of this sacrament, if any substance were there, which could not be adored with adoration of latria.

Fourthly, because it is contrary to the rite of the Church, according to which it is not lawful to take the body of Christ after bodily food, while it is nevertheless lawful to take one consecrated host after another. Hence this opinion is to be avoided as heretical.

....
It is evident to sense that all the accidents of the bread and wine remain after the consecration. And this is reasonably done by Divine providence. (Summa III.75)
One view contrary to Aristotelian realism is nominalism (with its various sub-views). Nominalism basically rejects the doctrine of substance and accidents and the idea that properties exist independently as universal or abstract objects. It considers these properties as just names that humans give to things or ideas or appearances in order to be able to speak of the world. For instance, when Adam gave names to animals, he didn't give particular names but universal names: Thus, Elephant is a generic name for a class of animals that are elephants. Similarly, when he called his wife, Woman, it was a name by which all women in history were going to be known. Later, he gave her the specific name Eve. The idea of "man" or "woman" does not exist apart from men and women. To abstract the idea from the particulars and treat it as a separate entity in itself (though perfect as it could seem) is the error of Platonic realism. Aristotle rejected Platonic realism; however, his own idea of substance and accident in which accidents are realities that are instantiated in substances found entry in Catholic theology. Of course, religious language can often get riddled with confusion of treating metaphors and symbols as literal realities. The doctrine of transubstantiation is one such example among many.

In the Council of Trent in 1545, the division between Catholic Thomistic realism and Protestant nominalism became evidently clear. Affirmation of Thomistic realism made it possible for the Catholic church to explain how it was possible that the bread and wine appeared to have all the properties they had earlier and yet had converted to the body and blood of Jesus. Catholicism rejected nominalism. Some think that nominalism (in the legacy of William of Ockham) was the cause of increasing skepticism, individualism, and secularism in Western civilization.[See Olson, What's in a Name]. Of course, that has to be justly established.

It certainly is evident that treating concepts as abstract realities independent of concrete being only create more confusion. For instance, while we can talk of love, grace, anger, justice, and peace objectively and abstractly (as in "love is patient", "love is kind"), it is erroneous to suppose that the love of God is an object in itself independent of God (as in Platonism) or even that love is instantiated in God (Aristotelianism). In contrast, the Bible declares that God is love (1John 4:8).
Share:

Not I but Grace

I worked...yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1Cor. 15:10)

I get tired and weary most times; grace, never.
I feel weak sometimes; grace, never.
I get confused at times; grace, never.
I see darkness at times; grace, never.
I wish to give up sometimes; grace, never.
I fail many times; grace, never.
I have misunderstandings at times; grace, never.
I am afraid at times; grace, never.
I feel broken sometimes; grace comes to heal.
I feel estranged sometimes; grace comes to comfort.
I feel purposeless sometimes; grace comes to guide.
I feel powerless sometimes; grave comes to strengthen.
I feel I am that I am because of what I am; grace departs....
For God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Share:

The Moral Law Vs The Laws of Nature and the Atonement of Christ for the Sins of the World

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis insisted that the Moral Law is different from the Law of Nature and possesses a different kind of reality independent of us because of its cognitive and conative nature.
...what we usually call the laws of nature–the way weather works on a tree for example–may not really be laws in the strict sense, but only in a manner of speaking. When you say that falling stones always obey the law of gravitation, is not this much the same as saying that the law only means ‘what stones always do’? You do not really think that when a stone is let go, it suddenly remembers that it is under orders to fall to the ground. You only mean that, in fact, it does fall. In other words, you cannot be sure that there is anything over and above the facts themselves, any law about what ought to happen, as distinct from what does happen. The laws of nature, as applied to stones or trees, may only mean ‘what Nature, in fact, does’. But if you turn to the Law of Human Nature, the Law of Decent Behaviour, it is a different matter. That law certainly does not mean ‘what human beings, in fact, do’; for as I said before, many of them do not obey this law at all, and none of them obey it completely.

....The Moral Law, or Law of Human Nature, is not simply a fact about human behaviour in the same way as the Law of Gravitation is, or may be, simply a fact about how heavy objects behave. On the other hand, it is not a mere fancy, for we cannot get rid of the idea, and most of the things we say and think about men would be reduced to nonsense if we did. And it is not simply a statement about how we should like men to behave for our own convenience; for the behaviour we call bad or unfair is not exactly the same as the behaviour we find inconvenient, and may even be the opposite. Consequently, this Rule of Right and Wrong, or Law of Human Nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow or other be a real thing–a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves. And yet it is not a fact in the ordinary sense, in the same way as our actual behaviour is a fact. It begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something it is not a fact in the ordinary sense, in the same way as our actual behaviour is a fact. It begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behaviour, and yet quite definitely real–a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us.
.....
Let us sum up what we have reached so far. In the case of stones and trees and things of that sort, what we call the Laws of Nature may not be anything except a way of speaking. When you say that nature is governed by certain laws, this may only mean that nature does, in fact, behave in a certain way. The so-called laws may not be anything real–anything above and beyond the actual facts that we observe. But in the case of Man we saw that this will not do. The Law of Human Nature, or of Right and Wrong, must be something above and beyond the actual facts of human behaviour. In this case, besides the actual facts, you have something else–a real law which we did not invent and which we know we ought to obey.
Lewis' anti-realism is evident in his opposition of the idea that mathematical objects exist [see quote by Craig]. However, his argument for the existence of the moral law was crucial for his establishment of the moral law argument for the existence of God. The moral law, certainly, cannot depend on humans; it has to be "beyond the actual facts of human behaviour". Lewis cannot see the moral law as being similar to the laws of nature because of the element of choice that humans have and the fact that they usually do not obey the moral law. It is not a deterministic part of their being; of course, it cannot be, for man is a free being. It is not the same as the involuntary laws of human physiology. They are voluntary laws, by definition. But, why can't they be intrinsic to volition (persons) in the same way that natural laws are intrinsic to mechanism (things)? Thus, they are not deterministic (as in mechanical laws), but conscientious (involving freedom of choice).
..for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature [Gr.phusis] do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts [intrinsically], their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them). (Rom 2:14-15, parenthetics mine)
The moral law is the way persons are related to each other, but persons are volitional beings; therefore, there is the a priori understanding of the moral law in the sense of an ought. In its fundamental nature, it is love. However, in the complexities of human relations (family, marriage, society, nationality, etc), the implications of the ought are multiplied. Animals are free of these. But, man created in the image and likeness of God is morally accountable. Volitionality cannot be denied, for it explains why people think morally and make moral choices. Sin is sin because it violates the unity of persons and creates disunity and alienation among them; it is a violation of the eternal order of love that is the order of unity among persons whose Head is God; it is violation of persons, and is, ultimately, irreverence towards God; therefore, sin is not a temporal issue but a cosmic one. It is personal. The punishment/wages/fruit of sin is divine abandonment into Godless alienation--eternal death:
...it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2Th 1:6-9, emphatics mine)
If the law was just extrinsic to all relations then "Can a man be profitable to God, though he who is wise may be profitable to himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that you are righteous? Or is it gain to Him that you make your ways blameless?" (Job 22:2-3); and again, "If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?" (Job 7:20 NIV) But, Justice is the relational act of unity among persons. Where there is alienation, the solution is reconciliation. Where there is no reconciliation (voluntary, not mechanical), there is separation. Therefore, voluntary faith in Christ is essential to reconciliation in which God Himself has taken the first voluntary steps towards reconciliation. The Sacrifice of Christ is the price of this reconciliation which God paid in order to be the suffering member of this covenant. The cost of discipleship is what we pay in order to be part of this reconciliation. Therefore, that He died for all cannot mechanically save all. The bridge is not mechanical; it is volitional. Therefore, it is not just mental faith that saves, faith has to be active, the step towards and in reconciliation. Christ carried His cross, but we can only be His disciples if we carry our cross and follow Him.

See Also
Hamartiology (Notes)

Additional References.
2/25/2016
Aristotle, Rhetoric, Book I.13
It will now be well to make a complete classification of just and unjust actions. We may begin by observing that they have been defined relatively to two kinds of law, and also relatively to two classes of persons. By the two kinds of law I mean particular law and universal law. Particular law is that which each community lays down and applies to its own members: this is partly written and partly unwritten. Universal law is the law of Nature. For there really is, as every one to some extent divines, a natural justice and injustice that is binding on all men, even on those who have no association or covenant with each other. It is this that Sophocles' Antigone clearly means when she says that the burial of Polyneices was a just act in spite of the prohibition: she means that it was just by nature.
Not of to-day or yesterday it is,
But lives eternal: none can date its birth.
And so Empedocles, when he bids us kill no living creature, says that doing this is not just for some people while unjust for others,
Nay, but, an all-embracing law, through the realms of the sky
Unbroken it stretcheth, and over the earth's immensity.
Share:

Are Abstract Objects Real? or Did God Create Abstract Objects, If There Are Anything Like That?

Christian philosophers have debated this issue for some time. Some believe that abstract objects exist; others, that they don’t exist; still others, that the question is meaningless. Views such as Platonic realism hold that abstract ideas and objects (such as the laws of logic and mathematical objects) have objective existence independent of minds. Some Christian theologians believe that abstract objects cannot exist independently; for if they did, they would nullify the doctrine of divine aseity, which states that there is nothing that is co-eternal with God. But, what about the view that abstract objects were created and are part of the invisible creation of God? For example, can it be possible that numbers don’t exist (not number of things, but the numbers themselves)? If numbers don’t exist, how can numbers be the object of our knowledge and how can mathematical propositions be called true if they do not correspond to reality? If knowledge a subject-object relationship, how can one know a thing if the object doesn't exist objectively?

Let’s take the example of the laws of logic. We know that these laws are self-evident, self-explanatory, self-sustaining, universal, necessary, transcendent, and immutable. One will need to affirm them in order to even attempt to deny them. Suppose the laws of logic exist in reality, they would immediately possess ontic infinitude, in which case one faces the question: Are these laws co-eternal with God or does God Himself submit to the laws of logic?

One problem with realism is the gap between the abstract and the concrete. For instance, Platonic realism cannot satisfactorily explain how concrete things participate in the eternal forms and ideas. We can talk about one mango and two mangoes, but what does it mean that one and two exist independently of things? We may use symbols to represent these numbers and when we try to imagine numbers we imagine those symbols, but do these numbers exist by themselves independently of things? Similarly, we think of shapes, of triangles, squares, and circles. We can conceive of these and use symbols to state propositions; however, does it mean that these propositions are only true because there are real abstract shapes to which these correspond (especially since one claims that there is no perfect triangle, square, or circle in the physical world)? Why not say that they correspond to the design of this world or the way in which God created this world to function in the way that He designed it to function? And so, the ideas or principles don’t exist by themselves but only in relation to the design of things? In other words, they are our discernment of design, order, similarity, and harmony in the world of things.

But, what about the laws of logic? Aren’t they invisible realities that necessarily exist out there? “Out there” is not sufficient; one needs to specify where this “out there” is? Nobody knows where the Platonic world of ideas exists, anyway.

The laws of logic only tell us how terms relate to each other and how we may infer those relations. In other words, the laws of logic are the way our mind is designed to reason in order to draw inferences regarding the relation of terms to each other. In drawing inferences, the mind recognizes similarities, differences, and several other modes of relation. Without terms, the laws are empty and meaningless. For instance, if I want to state the law of identity as “A=A”, then at least the term A has to be pre-supposed in order to state the law of identity. If no such term exists, then the law of identity will itself be the term it is identical with. For any terms A and B (A and B as we understand in our spatio-temporal experience), the laws of logic will show the relation between both of them. These terms may be names (or pronouns) of concrete objects (Socrates) or abstract objects (Man). Thus, the laws of logic are similar to the laws of nature. The relation between an object and air is a matter of the laws of aerodynamics. Similarly, we have hydrodynamics and thermodynamics. The theory of relativity tries to tell us the relation between objects and space-time. Similarly, the laws of logic tell us how terms relate with each other.

In this sense, the laws of logic are intrinsic to reasoning minds, the way minds are designed to think in order to know facts about the world they live in. However, they are just formal causes and not efficient causes. Therefore, minds err in reasoning. Laws of logic cannot cause right thinking because they are not objects out there. The efficient cause is the thinker himself and his act of processing thought-data. Therefore, in dreams, thoughts can sometimes go berserk and things that look consistent within dreams are shockingly realized to be inconsistent in the waking state (Of course, there are dreams which have deep consistencies too). There are no laws of logic outside of thinking minds. Invalid reasoning can lead to false conclusions in the same way that wrong flying can lead to wrong results.

What does this imply? First of all, it implies that the laws of logic are relative to the way we are designed to perceive and know this world. Let’s say that they help us to see the world as it is with the help of the limited faculties of perception we have; the faculties designed by God for purposes we are created to fulfill.

Secondly, it implies that the laws of logic are universal with reference to only our world. At least, we can say that they only relate to the concept of terms which have conceptual significance only in our world of experience. In that sense, they help us to gain a true understanding of reality as far as our conceptual faculties allow. However, if one tried to apply logic to anything more, the results would lead to paradoxes. For example, we may divide space into feet, and feet into inches; however, if we separate reason from experience and try to apply divisibility to the idea of space itself, the result would be infinite divisions (and conflicts with experience). We know of some philosophers who dumped the validity empirical data because they thought experience stood in conflict with reason. Just because reason can conceive of perfect shapes and infinity of numbers (not that it can conceive infinity, for infinity is disallowance of limit in our mental imagination) and infinitude of objectless space does not mean that these concepts exist as objects out there, somewhere.

Thirdly, it means that God designed the world in His wisdom; it does not mean that He created the design itself as an abstract reality that was independent of Him. We need to be careful to not idolize our speech about God. If it were not for the revelation of God, there was no possibility to know of God in the way that Christian theology talks of Him. We know that design and order are eternal concepts, but they don’t exist as objects out there. We know that God is love, but that doesn’t mean love exists as an eternal immaterial object, independent of God. One can only talk of the creation of something if it exists as an object of reality.

Fourthly, it means that the abstract ideas that we have are nothing but the names that our mind gives to generalizations (laws, state of affairs, events, properties, etc) in order for knowledge to be possible; for knowledge is nothing but an understanding of the relation of one term to another (the relation between the subject and the object). Propositions are statements about a particular's relation to a universal (e.g. Socrates is a Man) or a particular's relation to another particular through a universal (Alexander was the son of Philip) or a universal's relation to another universal (Love is Patient), and the various modes and complexities of relations (variety, modes, complexities, relations are all abstracts).

What are the implications of this for theology? There should be many. For instance, this would make questions like "Did God create Sin?" "Who created Evil?" meaningless. God did not create abstract objects like Sin or Evil. Sin is a relational term, so is Evil, both of which refer to reality but not in the sense of possessing objective reality independent of phenomena. Also, this will help us to more clearly understand statements such as "He condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom.8:3). This sin was not some cosmic object out there, but human sin against God condemned in the flesh of Christ, when he bore the punishment of our iniquities. Sin is not just an abstract idea, it is a concrete act positively deserving condemnation. The moral law is the way moral (volitional) beings are meant to relate to each other. Volitional violation of this relation is sin, sin against all affected by this relational violation, primarily God. The moral order is not just a set of commandments, but the way persons relate to each other ("the way they ought to" being the knowledge of the moral law present in the hearts of volitional beings, given as the a priori basis for moral choices). It is the same order in which the Three Persons in the Divine Godhead relate to each other (in love). When God created the world, it was a natural world; but, when He created man, the world became a moral world with man possessing moral freedom to be towards or against God in his moral relation. When Adam disobeyed, sin entered the world (not as an abstract object but as a concrete act), since Adam sinned. When Christ obeyed, sin was destroyed in His flesh (not as an abstract object but as a concrete act); also sin was judged (for He took the concrete punishment for all our concrete sins) in His flesh.


Related Web Content:
Abstract Objects (Stanford Encyclopedia or Philosophy)
Three Views on Creation, Causality, and Abstracta: A discussion between William Lane Craig, J.T. Bridges, and Peter Van Inwagen
The Theory of Abstract Objects: Supports scientific realism and the existence of abstract objects.
Share:

Living for Self Vs Living for Christ

"Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Act 15:25-26)

Jesus was very straightforward in demanding from His disciples to not follow Him if they loved their lives more than loving Him.
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (Luk 14:26-27)
Risking life for the sake of Christ added credibility to a minister's authenticity. Barnabas and Paul were not hirelings of men or those who had gone out into ministry because they thought this was a very profitable vocation. They knew the call of God over their lives and set out in obedience.
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead) (Gal 1:1)
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, (Gal 1:15-16)
I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, (Act 26:19)
Both Barnabas and Paul had no love for money or the things of the world.
And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Act 4:36-37)
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Phi 3:7-8)
For Paul, living meant Christ and Christ alone: For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Phi 1:21)

He didn't consider his life to be more dear to him than to obey Christ.
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Act 20:24)
Another precious servant of God who didn't consider his life dear to him was Epaphroditus, about whom Paul said: for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me." (Phi 2:30)

Jesus told to the Church at Smyrna: Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Rev 2:10)

Those who fear for their lives will not be able to serve Christ and fulfill the ministry they are given to fulfill. Jesus said that those who wish to save their lives will lose it (Matt.16:25). The fearful and cowardly will be cast into the Lake of fire (Rev.21:8).

Only those who have embraced the Cross of Christ are able to risk their lives for the sake of Christ.

Of course, Christ calls us to be wise. He said, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Mat 10:16)

But, to be wise and to be fearful are opposite things. The fearful have no faith in Christ. They do not trust the promise:
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Mat 10:28-31)
"But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Dan 11:32)
Share:

Kant's Critique of the Cosmological Argument

Excerpted from Epistemics of Divine Reality (2009, 2011), pp.105-107

b. The Cosmological Argument: As stated by Kant himself the cosmological argument runs as follows: If anything exists, an absolutely necessary being must also exist. Now I, at least, exist. Therefore, an absolutely necessary being exists.[1] Since an infinite series of contingent causal relations is impossible an uncaused, unconditioned, necessary cause must be posited as the cause of the universe. However, Kant reasons that this argument too, as the former one, attempts to prove the existence of the transcendent from the empirical, which is impossible. If God were a link or beginning of the series then He could not be separated from it and thus also conditioned by causality. However, on the other hand if it were argued that He is separate from the series, there remains no way reason can find to span the gap between pure and contingent existence.[2] Nothing beyond the world of senses can be definitely known to us. This argument is epistemically flawed since it misapplies the transcendental principle of causality beyond the bounds of the phenomenal world. In Kant’s own words:
This principle is applicable only in the sensible world; outside that world it has no meaning whatsoever. For the mere intellectual concept of the contingent cannot give rise to any synthetic proposition, such as that of causality. The principle of causality has no meaning and no criterion for its application save only in the sensible world. But in the cosmological proof it is precisely in order to enable us to advance beyond the sensible world that it is employed.[3]
The chief error of both the ontological and the cosmological arguments is that of projecting the subjective transcendental principles on to reality. Thus, infinity and causality are misconstrued as physical or external conditions of reality while in reality they are concepts of the mind by means of which objective reality is subjectively apprehended. Moreover, one cannot attribute necessity to anything in the phenomenal world, as the cosmological argument does in its inference of the necessity of an uncaused cause, since necessity is a formal condition of thought found in our reason and not applicable to external reality. In the words of Kant, ‘The concept of necessity is only to be found in our reason, as a formal condition of thought; it does not allow of being hypostatised as a material condition of existence.’[4]

[1] The Critique of Pure Reason (trans. N.K. Smith), p. 508
[2] Ibid, p. 519
[3] Ibid, p. 511
[4] Ibid, p. 518
Share:

Kant's Critique of the Ontological Argument

Excerpted from Epistemics of Divine Reality (2009, 2011), pp.105-107

Kant resolutely argues that the traditional arguments for the existence of God, viz. the ontological, the cosmological, and the physico-theological (teleological) arguments are based on false premises. They proceed from the false assumption that quantity, quality, relation, and modality are inherent in the universe and not merely subjective to the knower alone. The arguments against the arguments for the existence of God are as follows:

a. The Ontological Argument: The ontological argument of St. Anselm (1033-1109) proceeded from the assumption that God was ‘that than which a greater cannot be conceived.’ However, if this God did not exist then everything conceived of would be greater than the conception of God for reality is greater than an idea. Therefore, God as ‘that than which a greater cannot be conceived’ must of necessity exist. Rene Descartes had his own form of the ontological argument in which he argued that since God is by definition the supremely perfect being, He cannot lack existence, for that would mean that He was not a supremely perfect being; and since existence is a necessary attribute of perfection, God exists necessarily.[1]

Kant argues that though the inference from contingent existence to necessary existence is correct and unavoidable, the conditions of the understanding refuse to aid us in forming any conception of such a being.[2] Thus, the ontological argument is correct as far as words are concerned; but when it comes to actually forming a concept of the absolute and necessary being the argument fails. Further, the argument rests on judgments alone and cannot thereby alone establish the reality of anything. In Kant’s own words: ‘the unconditioned necessity of judgments is not the same as an absolute necessity of things.’[3] Alluding to Descartes’ analogy of the triangle[4] Kant writes that though to posit a triangle and yet reject its three angles would be self-contradictory, there is no contradiction in rejecting the triangle with its three angles together. To put it the other way, if suppose in the analytical statement, ‘all bachelors are unmarried men’ the subject ‘bachelors’ implied the predicate ‘unmarried men,’ it still does not conclusively prove that there really are unmarried men or bachelors in the world. The statement is just a verbal one and is not corroborated by empirical evidence. In the same manner, though the subject ‘the supremely perfect being’ implies the predicate ‘has existence as an attribute,’ yet it does not conclusively prove that there really is a supremely perfect being in accordance to the words.[5] One can reject both the subject and predicate and still commit no contradiction. In addition, all existential propositions (that declare the existence or non-existence of the subject) are synthetic and not analytic and, therefore, the rejection of the predicated would never be a contradiction:[6] ‘all bachelors are unmarried men’ is not the same as ‘all bachelors exist.’ On the other hand if existence was to be considered as an attribute of anything, it is clear that this could not be true since an attribute adds to something and thus modifies it, but to say that something is does not really add anything to it. ‘The small word “is” adds no new predicate, but only serves to posit the predicate in its relation to the subject.’ [7] Therefore, existence cannot be an attribute. Even grammatically, it is understood that the words ‘is’ and ‘exists’ are not adjectives but verbs.
However, even more difficult is the attribution of existence to an idea having a priori and not a posteriori status. Kant says:
Whatever, therefore, and however much, our concept of an object may contain, we must go outside it, if we are to ascribe existence to the object. In the case of objects of the senses, this takes place through their connection with some one of our perceptions, in accordance with empirical laws. But in dealing with objects of pure thought, we have no means whatsoever of knowing their existence, since it would have to be known in a completely a priori manner. Our consciousness of all existence (whether immediately through perception, or mediately through inferences which connect something with perception) belongs exclusively to the unity of experience; any [alleged] existence outside this field, while not indeed such as we can declare to be absolutely impossible, is of the nature of an assumption which we can never be in a position to justify.[8]
Thus, since the idea of God as a perfect being cannot be empirically justified, it is impossible to certify whether such a perfect being exists or not in reality. Here it may seem that Kant is leaning towards empiricism, but it must be noted that he is only saying that necessity and strict universality can only be applied to that which is a priori and, thus, to the forms of intuition and the categories of thought alone. To extend these to anything beyond these is to go beyond justification. One can be sure that the statement ‘every cause has an effect’ is true since causality itself is a category of the mind and cannot be thought off. However, the same cannot be said of the existence God or any other being in the world. The distinction between the a priori constituents of the mind and the a posteriori world of senses once understood, the ontological argument cannot stand any longer. Thus, the ontological argument is dismissed.

[1] “Ontological Arguments,” Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments)
[2] The Critique of Pure Reason (trans. J. M. D. Meiklejohn; internet edition)
[3] The Critique of Pure Reason (trans. N. K. Smith), p. 501
[4] That as the three angles are integral to the conception of a triangle, existence is integral to the conception of perfection.
[5] “supremely perfect being” are just words and have no accompanying conception.
[6] The Critique of Pure Reason (trans. N. K. Smith), p. 504
[7] Ibid, p. 505
[8] Ibid, p. 506
Share:

Does Reason Mirror Divine Attributes?

In his recent and quite informative book Logic (2013), Vern Sheridan Poythress observed that God's attributes were also attributes of reason. For instance, universality, immutability, truth, transcendence, and infinity are characteristics of reason, so are they of God. In Epistemic of Divine Reality (Doctoral dissertation, 2007), it was argued that rational approaches ultimately can only land one, at the most, on such an understanding of God. Stretched a bit further, this will lead to monism or non-dualism as the rational categories are in conflict with the empirical ones of plurality, change, immanence, and so on. The latter, as we know, are the characteristics of empirical theologies such as polytheism, pantheism, and panentheism.

Poythress admits the uniqueness of Christian theology that sees God as both transcendent and immanent and thinks that this is true of reason as well. He looks at our participation in logic as an imitation of God's nature. For instance, speaking of transcendence, he observes:
We can always consider the option of stepping back from what we were doing a moment earlier. We can reflect on what we were doing, and then reflect on our act of reflection, and then reflect on that. We can go on until we become confused!

This standing back already exists when we mention a word rather than merely using it. We are, as it were, standing back to look at the word rather than unself-consciously using the word to look at something else. This standing back is a kind of human form of transcendence. We can transcend our immediate situation by reflecting on it. And we can transcend our reflections by reflecting on them. We can take a kind of God’s-eye view, viewing ourselves from above, as another human being might see us or as God might see us.

This transcendence is then one way in which we think God’s thoughts after him. God is transcendent in an absolute sense. He is infinite. We are creatures. But we do have a kind of imitative, creaturely ability to transcend our immediate environment or our immediate thoughts or our immediate speeches. And we use this transcendence when we investigate logic. Every time we think, we imitate God’s thinking. Every time we think about logic, we also imitate God’s transcendence over the immediate.1
There is substance in this argument. The rational necessity of conceptual infinity (which we can't conceive of and yet cannot not conceive of) is an amazing ability in man. Solomon wrote that God "has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."(Eccl.3:11) Augustine talked of our hearts being restless until they find rest in God. God gave humans the capacity for awe, wonder, and amazement, the ability to glorify and worship God; and this is spiritual. However, if it were not for divine revelation given to us in the verbal testimony of Scriptures, this quest would either have nothing but the rational ideas or the empirical concepts. Revelation gives us a glimpse of God as the Eternal One and yet the One who Works in Time, as the One who is beyond the universe and yet in the universe. Yet, one must be careful to not conclude that the characteristics of reason are the very and only characteristics of God, though in concrete.

In all classical formulations of theology, the rational characteristics have been admitted as attributes of God; the only difference: reason is noetic tool, but God is that He is (The I AM THAT I AM). However, how can one be sure if we are not just imposing the limits of our mind onto theological understanding? Certainly, understanding can't be had beyond the characteristic capacities of reason.

Where reason fails to make sense of things, especially when experience cannot supply it with content, then it stands in need of revelation knowledge. Theology is more an attempt to rationally understand revelation. But, faith makes living by revelation possible. The just shall live by faith; we walk by faith. Faith is able to understand and perceive what reason cannot accept; for instance, by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God and that the universe was created out of nothing (Heb.11:3). Both the ideas of concrete creation by verbal speaking and something being created out of nothing are not ideas that can be rationally understood or explained. But, by faith we understand, says the writer of Hebrews.

The Bible doesn't begin with a systematic presentation of theology. However, it does tell us who God is and what His nature is. For believers, reason can help to practically understand who God is and  is like or is not like. Experience provides concrete categories, but reason also insists that God is not like this world; so does Scripture warn us to not create idols of our vain imaginations.

The recognition of this fact is crucial to any theological reasoning.

The importance of systematic theology lies in its putting together of divinely revealed facts in an orderly manner. The New Testament presents examples of this when, for instance, Paul gives a systematic biblical argument for justification by faith in Romans and the writer of Hebrews brings to light facts of the Law to speak of the superiority of Jesus. 

The value of reason lies in ensuring consistency and unity of faith, correction of errors, and clarity of understanding.

1Logic, p.78
Share:

On Philosophers Misunderstood

Sometimes philosophers have been misunderstood. It could be because the philosopher's communication was vague. It could also be because the philosopher didn't use Ockham's razor and multiplied terms unnecessarily forcing reviewers to impose the razor, with the result that what needs to be cut is not cut and what was essential is taken out of the equation. But, it could also be because the reviewer was too much in a hurry and his choice of sample writings and quotes intepreted in light of his hypothesis of what the philosopher might be meaning committed the fallacy of hasty generalization (even if his critique of the philosopher was voluminous). Whatever, it is an unfortunate sight when one observes that a scholar may have misinterpreted another scholar and the other scholar is alarmed that that is not what he meant. Some philosophers give rise to various conflicting schools of interpretation; to quote an example, the left Hegelian and the right Hegelian schools that emerged as a result of conflicting interpretations of Hegel; the former are anti-Christian, the latter, pro-Christian. Again, one asks whose fault is it that the philosopher was misunderstood. The answer is not so simple as hermeneutics is also not. However, there can be one preventive measure and that is that the philosopher try to be as clear as possible in his communication; there is no genius in abstruseness. Also, the reviewer must be careful to not hurry to critique a philosopher without first having tried to understand his actual belief-system or ground of philosophical activity. Following are two stories of philosophers claiming to have been misunderstood:

M.M. Thomas Vs Sunand Sumithra
Back in the 1980s Sunand Sumithra wrote a doctoral dissertation under the guidance of Professor Peter Beyerhaus at Tubingen, Germany. His dissertation was on the thought of M.M. Thomas (1916-1996), and Indian philosopher and statesman of towering figure. If I remember right, it is said that M.M. Thomas, at one time, sat at a Seminary library, took this book and began marking sentences on it, page after page, and writing in the margin something like "This is not what I meant" or "He has misunderstood me". Leslie Newbigin reviewed Sunand Sumithra and found his doctoral critique of Thomas wanting:
Sumithra's conclusion is that "Thomas's theology, being an attempt to reconcile a philosophy of continuous dynamic evolution, Marxist-Leninist ideology and Hindu spirituality on the one hand, with the biblical revelation on the other, tends ultimately to deprive God of his holiness, Jesus Christ of his lordship and man of his faith, primarily because Thomas neglects the unique character of the Bible".

Readers of Thomas's work who find this conclusion surprising will also be surprised to know that Thomas accepts the impersonal brahman of the Vedanta (pp. 132, 301, 334) and denies the lordship of Christ (p. 337), that "his theology makes Christ marginal, almost as an appendage".... These conclusions are reached by a method sustained throughout the book: short extracts of Thomas's writings are quoted and then "interpreted." A few examples will indicate the method. Thus Thomas writes: "When the Christian Church speaks of 'original sin' it means that this self-centricity is a fact for all men in all conditions of society, so that self-interest and self-righteousness are perennially present in man's life." Sumithra comments: "Thus, for Thomas, Original Sin means universality of sin, not that every single individual is a sinner" (pp. 122f.). Thomas writes: "St. Paul sees in the risen Christ 'the first fruits' of the re-creation of humanity, the inauguration of a movement through which Christ establishes his reign over all rule and authority...." Sumithra comments that this shows "the understanding of resurrection as happening in the subjective, spiritual world" (p. 160)....

Why is Sumithra unable to understand Thomas's thought? It is because he begins from a so called classical view of mission, loosely put together from elements of Ziegenbalg and Carey (pp.1-9) and later amplified as "the redemption of a person from the wrath of God, through his faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for his sins, so that the sinner is forgiven and joins the Church for further nurture in the spiritual life" (p. 203). Missing from this definition is any reference to the corporate and cosmic dimensions of Christ's work or to the ethical implications of salvation. 1
Peter Van Inwagen Vs William Lane Craig
William Lane Craig wrote a response in 20112 to Peter Van Inwagen's essay "God and Other Uncreated Things". Peter Van Inwagen's response to this response was as follows:
I am afraid I must by saying that Craig's exposition of my views, despite copious-and, I concede, generally well-chosen-quotations, are, well, very far from reliable. But I can hardly demonstrate this, since any paragraph in that exposition I might try to convict of that charge would require five paragraphs or more of discussion for me even to make a start on the project of convincing you that he has misunderstood me. (And, anyway, nothing is more boring than a scholar's closely reasoned point-by-point defense of the proposition that some other scholar has misrepresented his views.)3

1Lesslie Newbigin, A Review of “Revolution as Revelation: A Study of M. M. Thomas's Theology,” by Sunand Sumithra.
2 William Craig's Response to Van Inwagen's "God and Other Uncreated Things"
3(2015) "A Reply to Craig", Philosophia Christi 17: 299-305 (full exchange here).
Share:

Time Theories and the Limits of Reason

We have earlier noted that the conflict between reason and experience has sometimes led to either reason jettisoning experience or vice versa. Examples of rational cosmologies are non-dualism and monism, if not some form of idealism that denies the reality of empirical perceptions. Examples of empirical theories are anything ranging from pluralistic realism to logical positivism and the like theories that reject the validity of non-empirical postulates.

We also noted that Zeno's paradoxes are epistemic paradoxes of conflict between reason and sense-experience.

Rational Problems:
1. Aristotle's Time Paradox. Regarding Time, he writes in his Physics,
"the following considerations would make one suspect that it either does not exist at all or barely, and in an obscure way. One part of it has been and is not, while the other is going to be and is not yet. Yet time-both infinite time and any time you like to take-is made up of these. One would naturally suppose that what is made up of things which do not exist could have no share in reality."

In other words, Aristotle is stating that something cannot be made up of nothing. But, when one thinks of time, the past is not there and the future is also not there (is still to come); the present itself is gone before we can talk of it; so, if none of its parts can be said to exist at the time they are said to exist, time is made up of non-existent parts; however, non-existent parts make a non-existent thing, something that doesn't exist.

2. John McTaggart's Unreality of Time Argument. In his 1908 essay, "The Unreality of Time", McTaggart argued that time must be unreal. According to him, positions in time, as they appear to us can be identified as either "Past, Present, and Future" (A-Series) or "Earlier and Later" (B-Series). For something to be earlier, it must always exist as earlier. For something to be later, it must always exist as later. Earlier can never become Later since Earlier is always Earlier. But, if this is true, then one event cannot change into another, because M (Earlier) has to be M always and N (Later) has to be N always in their positions in time. However, if one adds the Past-Present-Future order to this, then an event in the future becomes an event in the present and an event in the present becomes an event in the past; thus, one event changes into another. But, the problem is that in order to be able to talk of an event as an event that is present, that will be in the past, and that was in the future, one must already pre-suppose the reality of Past-Present-Future (i.e. the A-Series); otherwise, "will be" and "past" are incompatible, "was" and "future" are incompatible; one can only speak of was (past-tense) and past, is (present-tense) and present, will be (future-tense) and future. In order to say that an event is "present in the present, future in the past, past in the future" one must already presuppose the A-series to account for such speaking; but, this is question begging. However, if the A-Series cannot be established, we have already seen that the B-Series is contrary to our perception of time. To reject the A-Series is to reject the reality of time.

Responses:
B-theorists reject the A-series of Past-Present-Future and, as in eternalism, consider events to just be there without any flow of time or change. Events are fixed as Earlier and Later. The B-theory tries to bridge the rational-empirical chasm by trying to retain immutability at the expense of unity for the sake of pluralistic realism; but, this is half-way logic. This may allow a tense-less universe to exist. Our experience of past-present-future is an illusion; in reality, they say, events just are; they don't happen. While there are some who think that this view has the support of the theory of relativity's rejection of absolute simultaneity (at least, as far as perception is concerned), the theory of relativity doesn't reject the notion of happening; an event is an happening; at least, happenings (motion, shrinking) are presupposed for the theory of relativity to be. But, if an event is a happening, and "happening" implies "change", then B-theory cannot actually talk about events, it must only talk of the universe just there. But, if B-theory cannot talk of events, what is it talking about? One may respond by saying that an event itself is composed of event-parts; however, aren't those event-parts (events in themselves) infinitely divisible into a Former and a Later. In such case, they must still first resolve the mereological paradox: Each part is divided into a former and a later part. Each former and the later part have a former and a later part of their own respectively, and so on ad infinitum. Thus, the size of the part would be zero and unlimited, which is paradoxical. Ted Sider's Stage Theory to explain temporary intrinsics or change tries to resolve the contradiction of stages other than S existing, but S itself possessing the temporal property of "I myself will be bent" (of futurely being bent by virtue of having a temporal counterpart tomorrow that is bent). I don't see how such a property makes S continuous with its supposed other stages. It does not explain how is it that the counterpart is bent "tomorrow". "Will be" of McTaggart's A-series brings us back to his original problem, I think. The B-theory has taken recourse to tenses, which cannot be avoided when one talks of time.

To say, for instance, that one can conceptualize t (e.g. July 12, 2015) is a set of x events, so that if trans-temporal vision was possible one could see x events happening at t is not enough; because, this doesn't repeal the fact of "happening". The only resolve would be to divide t into more parts, and so ad infinitum, in which case, by means of  infinite rationalization of reality, one is logically compelled to deny the authenticity of phenomenal experience. Ultimately, such rationalization will only support some rational cosmology.

The eternalist view may appeal to those who may find in it some sort of explanation of how God knows the future before it has come to pass. But, again that would mean attempting to interpret God in temporally conceptual terms that are disputable. One can say what this may mean from the rational point of view and what it may mean from the empirical point of view, and perhaps use a via negativa method of speech to recognize what foreknowledge is not. However, attempts to logically explain divine foreknowledge would be like attempting to empty an ocean into a small hole. Mathematics may help us arrive at necessary, universal, mathematical principles; but, these mathematical principles are not divine attributes. And,  when it comes to empirical concepts like knowledge, perception is limited by finitude.

Perhaps, among the many purposes of philosophy is also to help us recognize our epistemic limits. In the ultimate sense, temporal beings still don't have the objective vision of what it means to be trans-temporal. Then, how can they make a judgement about the nature of time? The antinomy of temporality is unavoidable. But, this doesn't mean that from their perspective they are not able to tell what at least time is not.

Check: W. L. Craig on A and B theories
See Also:Space as Non-RealityZeno's Arguments

Modified Feb 20, 2016.
Share:

Lying

  1. A lying tongue is one of the seven things God hates. The others are, a proud look, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren (Prov.6:16-19; 12:22)
  2. It is not becoming to a prince to have lying lips (Prov.17:7)
  3. Those who wish to become rich by speaking lies are on the path of death (Prov.21:6)
  4. The one who conceals hatred has lying lips (Prov.10:18)
  5. Those who speak lies hate those who are victims of their lies (Prov.26:28)
  6. A lying tongue will not last long (Prov.12:19)
  7. Those who love and practice lying will by no means enter into the City of God (Rev.21:27; 22:15).
Also,
  1. The devil is called the father of lie (John 8:44)
  2. The anti-Christ will come with lying wonders (2Thess.2:9)
In contrast,
  1. No lie is of the truth (1John 2:21)
  2. God cannot lie (Tit.1:2)
  3. Jesus came to bear witness of the Truth (John 18:37). He often used the words, "Truly, truly I say unto you..."
  4. The Holy Spirit is called true, and not a lie (1John 2:27). He is called the Spirit of Truth who will guide the disciples into all truth (John 16:13)
  5. Paul stressed several times, "I am not lying" (Rom.9:1; 2Cor.11:31; Gal.1:20; 1Tim.2:7)
  6. The Bible commands Christians to put away lying and speak truth with their neighbors (Col.3:9; Eph.4:25).
Share:

Alexander Pruss' Responses to Objections to a Necessary Being

The first objection is that only propositions can be necessary; for instance, "Bachelors are unmarried men" is a proposition having necessary value: it would be self-contradictory to assert that "Bachelors are married men". The proposition is necessary. However, can this be said about beings?

Pruss answers in the affirmative: Yes, because the statement "God is a necessary being" can be claimed to be a necessary proposition (as in the ontological argument).
But, it is often claimed, the notion of a necessary being is absurd. For it is propositions that are necessary, not beings, and hence talk of a necessary being is a category mistake. However, this is an uncharitable argument, since the claim that A is a necessary being can be translated into the claim that the proposition ∃x(x=A) is necessarily true, or perhaps that there is some individual essence E of A that is a property that only A can have and that is such that ∃x(has E) is necessarily true. Talk of necessary and contingent beings will henceforth usually be understood in this way, though there is also a Thomistic model on which a necessary being is one whose esse and essentia are identical.1
The second objection proceeds from conceivability. If one can conceive anything to exist, one can also conceive the same to not exist. However, Pruss counters this by raising the fact that there are propositions which are necessarily true, and their veracity implies their existence.
A better argument against the existence of a necessary being is that by a principle of Hume, anything that can coherently be thought to exist can also be thought not to exist. This by itself does not yield a satisfactory argument, however. It is not obvious that the totality of all existing things can be thought not to exist, that it could have been that there is nothing in existence. Moreover, this would imply that propositions, mathematical objects, and properties have merely contingent existence, an implication that may well be thought to be absurd since the proposition that 2+2=4 would be true no matter what, and it could not be true unless it existed, as nonexistent things lack properties, even properties such as truth. Moreover the proposition that there is a solution to the equation 3x2+x−7=0 is also necessarily true.2
Pruss, of course, notes that this only established the existence of abstract objects, not the nonabstract God.

Of course, even mathematical propositions cannot be co-eternal with God if the doctrine of divine aseity is to be maintained; they are only true with respect to the world we are in and are contingently related to it, in which sense they don't possess necessity in the absolute sense of existing "necessarily", even abstractly. In fact, they have no existence or being of themselves. We find very conflicting results when we attempt to overstretch mathematical tools to understand reality (cf. Zeno's paradoxes vs. Pythagoreanism,  Kantian antinomies), proving their epistemic limits of applicability.  A rival cosmology would be Platonism that believes in the existence of eternal, immutable, plural ideas, which Christian theologians do not at all find to be compatible with the Biblical doctrine of creation.

1Alexander R. Pruss, The Principle of Sufficient Reason (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p.84
2Ibid, p.84

Modified Feb 20, 2016
Share:

Why Not More Government English Medium Schools in India?

Globalization compels linguistic unity as it competes for the easing of international barriers. It is the reversal of the Babel phenomena that effused nations through confusion of languages. It may portend an age similar to the antediluvian. The positive side of it is that it facilitates faster communication which could mean jet propulsion of information, provided the media of education is more prospective than just cultural. Certainly, one cannot hold new wine in old wineskins. This explains the massive support for private institutions despite the immense costs involved. Sadly, there are those who have exploited this situation to turn their institutions into a mad money-making machinery; a system of monetary discrimination. What if Government schools provided the same education in English medium? Why not? Wouldn't there be more equal opportunity for all? Certainly, it is not acultural to seek the progress of the nation.

There are government English medium schools run by the Central government. In recent times, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat have also taken encouraging steps towards implementing English as a medium of instruction in state-run government schools. The results have also been very encouraging. Some are still doubtful whether this would help or hinder the learning abilities of children; they feel that one must first move from primary education in one's own mother tongue to later, perhaps, education in any other language at the Upper Primary Level. However, not everybody would agree with this thought. At least those who press for English medium education of their children don't seem to agree.

Now, it is certainly sought for that children be educated in the language they speak at home; therefore, there is the importance of the vernacular. However, in practice, the results appear different. The utilitarian element is not limited to what is, but what could be. Isn't it human to look beyond the present?. Therefore, there is mass movement away from the government structures. It is very anachronistic to disregard the effects and demands of globalization anymore. The results could be embarrassing. A few years ago, the media laughed at the English of our present PM Modi. Now, he fluently speaks in the language though, they say, with the help of a teleprompter; in short, a necessity.

A Times of India article in 2008 observed that Hindi itself is undergoing a significant change as the urban context is rapidly gearing towards English. Again, this does not mean that people have become less patriotic. Who will not wish the best for his own family? It only means that reality cannot be compromised in an increasingly competitive world. Our little boats can cross an ocean; can they? A world-wealth of literature, now available in English through the massive efforts of the many will take eons to get translated into any vernacular. And, then how many are competent to invest time in such translations, seeing that most of the academicians are losing touch with the vernaculars? Certainly, wisdom consists in the redemption of time.

Yet, what about those who are still naming missions of translating texts into every language and every dialect, giving it the appearance of a worthy cause? Do they ask why the Protest movements in India, in the 6th century BC, avoided the use of Sanskrit and chose Prakrit instead? The New Testament writers chose Greek. They didn't sacralize Hebrew, for a means cannot be turned into an object of worship. I know of at least one agency that is still funding projects of learning and inventing scripts for certain dialects whose children are getting educated in a more unifying local language. I asked one of the boys if he wished to read in his own dialect or in Hindi, and he replied, "Hindi, of course!". Languages have widening circles of utility. Every linguistic region has a common language; Odisha has odiya, West Bengal has Bengali, Andhra has Telugu, most North Indian states have Hindi, as so on. People pragmatically seek what gives them a wider space to move freely in. Globally, we know what the answer is.

Pass through villages which are poverty-stricken, and the question is how much are we contributing to reduce poverty? How much is culture the reason behind wealth or poverty? How much is the lack of educational opportunities a reason? It does less to just try to keep the leaves green and not strengthen the roots. The government is certainly spending prodigiously towards the giving of educational rights to children. However, the fact that government schools are still last sought for or least sought for is embarrassing. They should have a stronger place in the building of the nation. What if the same money they spend to somehow maintain vernacular medium schools be equally distributed to also establish some good English medium schools? Of course, we do have the Kendriya Vidyalayas and the Navodaya Vidyalayas; but, why not more at the state-levels as well? Why should parents start getting worried when their kid is nearing age 3; for now, it would mean wait-lists, long queues, hefty donations, and high fees for the education of their kid, their world? Is it that the government is really incapable to do anything with its existing structures? Of course, it can. Government English Medium Schools are already faring better in the rural parts of Andhra and Telangana. [DC]. The Gujarat government has also taken steps towards this [IE]. It is hoped that the state governments of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and all other states will also take strenuous steps in this line.


Government schools take a hit as craze for English medium education grows
Does Hindi have a future?
India's craze for English-medium schools is depriving many children of a real education
Why India will always flock to 'English medium schools'
Will English dominate India in another fifty years?
Stop grants to Eng medium schools or face stir: BBSM to Goa
Govt to open 48 English-medium upper primary schools in state [Gujarat] April 2013
[Gujarat] Education dept plans English-medium primary schools to increase enrollment. April 2015.
English Medium in Government Schools: KCR
Telugu Medium may become extinct in AP, TS
Share:

Illustrating Trinity

There are at least three approaches to understanding Trinity.

The Rational Approach.
It seeks to find in the doctrine of Trinity a rational ground for the absolute nature of Truth. Truth implies absoluteness of knowledge in a subject-object relationship, which would be groundless if God were a monad. Therefore, Trinity proves to be a solid ground for the possibility of knowledge. Similarly, personality finds its best explanation in the personal nature of God, whose existence as three persons (I-YOU-HE Sufficiency) in one Godhead is the ground of personhood.

The Moral Approach. It seeks to find in the doctrine of Trinity a rational ground for the absolute nature of moral virtues, such as love, goodness, and joy. If God didn’t eternally exist in a subject-object relationship, then He would be amoral and morality would not be absolute. The doctrine of Trinity provides a rational ground for any discussion of morality with respect to its absolute nature.

The Empirical Approach. Some have suggested the analogy of the Sun (Sun-Sunlight-Sunheat). Nathan Wood used the now popular 1x1x1=1 analogy with instances from space and time (e.g. Length x Breadth x Height = Space; Past x Present x Future = Time). Still others used more naturalistic analogies; however, these could lead to tri-partiatism or Sabellianism (e.g. these are not acceptable: Water-Steam-Ice; Three parts of humans, etc).

Whatever the method be, there is no arguing the fact that the Trinity is a mystery and attempts to try to explain God could only land one in absurdity. We don’t still understand the mystery of the universe so much, nor of the human mind as it is; how much more difficult to understand the being of God? It would be more disastrous than attempting to explain miracles in order to prove the possibility of miracles. This would be impossible. While we use metaphors like Bread of Life and Rock for God, the metaphors have their limits. To accept the Mystery is a step of faith.


Feb 22, 2016
Excerpt from Benjamin B. Warfield, "The Biblical Doctrine of Trinity" (1915)

As the doctrine of the Trinity is indiscoverable by reason, so it is incapable of proof from reason. There are no analogies to it in Nature, not even in the spiritual nature of man, who is made in the image of God. In His trinitarian mode of being, God is unique; and, as there is nothing in the universe like Him in this respect, so there is nothing which can help us to comprehend Him. Many attempts have, nevertheless, been made to construct a rational proof of the Trinity of the Godhead. Among these there are two which are particularly attractive, and have therefore been put forward again and again by speculative thinkers through all the Christian ages. These are derived from the implications, in the one case, of self-consciousness; in the other, of love. Both self-consciousness and love, it is said, demand for their very existence an object over against which the self stands as subject. If we conceive of God as self-conscious and loving, therefore, we cannot help conceiving of Him as embracing in His unity some form of plurality. From this general position both arguments have been elaborated, however, by various thinkers in very varied forms.

The former of them, for example, is developed by a great seventeenth century theologian -- Bartholomew Keckermann (1614) -- as follows: God is self-conscious thought: and God's thought must have a perfect object, existing eternally before it; this object to be perfect must be itself God; and as God is one, this object which is God must be the God that is one. It is essentially the same argument which is popularized in a famous paragraph (73) of Lessing's "The Education of the Human Race." Must not God have an absolutely perfect representation of Himself - that is, a representation in which everything that is in Him is found? And would everything that is in God be found in this representation if His necessary reality were not found in it? If everything, everything without exception, that is in God is to be found in this representation, it cannot, therefore, remain a mere empty image, but must be an actual duplication of God. It is obvious that arguments like this prove too much. If God's representation of Himself, to be perfect, must possess the same kind of reality that He Himself possesses, it does not seem easy to deny that His representations of everything else must possess objective reality. And this would be as much as to say that the eternal objective co-existence of all that God can conceive is given in the very idea of God; and that is open pantheism. The logical flaw lies in including in the perfection of a representation qualities which are not proper to representations, however perfect. A perfect representation must, of course, have all the reality proper to a representation; but objective reality is so little proper to a representation that a representation acquiring it would cease to be a representation. This fatal flaw is not transcended, but only covered up, when the argument is compressed, as it is in most of its modern presentations, in effect to the mere assertion that the condition of self-consciousness is a real distinction between the thinking subject and the thought object, which, in God's case, would be between the subject ego and the object ego. Why, however, we should deny to God the power of self-contemplation enjoyed by every finite spirit, save at the cost of the distinct hypostatizing of the contemplant and the contemplated self, it is hard to understand. Nor is it always clear that what we get is a distinct hypostatization rather than a distinct substantializing of the contemplant and contemplated ego: not two persons in the Godhead so much as two Gods. The discovery of the third hypostasis - the Holy Spirit -remains meanwhile, to all these attempts rationally to construct a Trinity in the Divine Being, a standing puzzle which finds only a very artificial solution.

The case is much the same with the argument derived from the nature of love. Our sympathies go out to that old Valentinian writer - possibly it was Valentinus himself - who reasoned - perhaps he was the first so to reason - that "God is all love," "but love is not love unless there be an object of love." And they go out more richly still to Augustine, when, seeking a basis, not for a theory of emanations, but for the doctrine of the Trinity, he analyzes this love which God is into the triple implication of "the lover," "the loved" and "the love itself," and sees in this trinary of love an analogue of the Triune God. It requires, however, only that the argument thus broadly suggested should be developed into its details for its artificiality to become apparent. Richard of St. Victor works it out as follows: It belongs to the nature of amor that it should turn to another as caritas. This other, in God's case, cannot be the world; since such love of the world would be inordinate. It can only be a person; and a person who is God's equal in eternity, power and wisdom. Since, however, there cannot be two Divine substances, these two Divine persons must form one and the same substance. The best love cannot, however, con-fine itself to these two persons; it must become condilectio by the desire that a third should be equally loved as they love one another. Thus love, when perfectly conceived, leads necessarily to the Trinity, and since God is all He can be, this Trinity must be real. Modern writers (Sartorius, Schoberlein, J. Muller, Liebner, most lately R. H. Griutzmacher) do not seem to have essentially improved upon such a statement as this. And after all is said, it does not appear clear that God's own all-perfect Being could not supply a satisfying object of His all-perfect love. To say that in its very nature love is self-communicative, and therefore implies an object other than self, seems an abuse of figurative language.

Perhaps the ontological proof of the Trinity is nowhere more attractively put than by Jonathan Edwards. The peculiarity of his presentation of it lies in an attempt to add plausibility to it by a doctrine of the nature of spiritual ideas or ideas of spiritual things, such as thought, love, fear, in general. Ideas of such things, he urges, are just repetitions of them, so that he who has an idea of any act of love, fear, anger or any other act or motion of the mind, simply so far repeats the motion in question; and if the idea be perfect and complete, the original motion of the mind is absolutely reduplicated. Edwards presses this so far that he is ready to contend that if a man could have an absolutely perfect idea of all that was in his mind at any past moment, he would really, to all intents and purposes, be over again what he was at that moment. And if he could perfectly contemplate all that is in his mind at any given moment, as it is and at the same time that it is there in its first and direct existence, he would really be two at that time, he would be twice at once: "The idea he has of himself would be himself again." This now is the case with the Divine Being. "God's idea of Himself is absolutely perfect, and therefore is an express and perfect image of Him, exactly like Him in every respect. . . . But that which is the express, perfect image of God and in every respect like Him is God, to all intents and purposes, because there is nothing wanting: there is nothing in the Deity that renders it the Deity but what has something exactly answering to it in this image, which will therefore also render that the Deity." The Second Person of the Trinity being thus attained, the argument advances. "The Godhead being thus begotten of God's loving [having?] an idea of Himself and showing forth in a distinct Subsistence or Person in that idea, there proceeds a most pure act, and an infinitely holy and sacred energy arises between the Father and the Son in mutually loving and delighting in each other. . . The Deity becomes all act, the Divine essence itself flows out and is as it were breathed forth in love and joy. So that the Godhead therein stands forth in yet another manner of Subsistence, and there proceeds the Third Person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, viz., the Deity in act, for there is no other act but the act of the will." The inconclusiveness of the reasoning lies on the surface. The mind does not consist in its states, and the repetition of its states would not, therefore, duplicate or triplicate it. If it did, we should have a plurality of Beings, not of Persons in one Being. Neither God's perfect idea of Himself nor His perfect love of Himself reproduces Himself. He differs from His idea and His love of Himself precisely by that which distinguishes His Being from His acts. When it is said, then, that there is nothing in the Deity which renders it the Deity but what has something answering to it in its image of itself, it is enough to respond - except the Deity itself. What is wanting to the image to make it a second Deity is just objective reality.

Inconclusive as all such reasoning is, however, considered as rational demonstration of the reality of the Trinity, it is very far from possessing no value. It carries home to us in a very suggestive way the superiority of the Trinitarian conception of God to the conception of Him as an abstract monad, and thus brings important rational support to the doctrine of the Trinity, when once that doctrine has been given us by revelation. If it is not quite possible to say that we cannot conceive of God as eternal self-consciousness and eternal love, without conceiving Him as a Trinity, it does seem quite necessary to say that when we conceive Him as a Trinity, new fullness, richness, force are given to our conception of Him as a self-conscious, loving Being, and therefore we conceive Him more adequately than as a monad, and no one who has ever once conceived Him as a Trinity can ever again satisfy himself with a monadistic conception of God. Reason thus not only performs the important negative service to faith in the Trinity, of showing the self-consistency of the doctrine and its consistency with other known truth, but brings this positive rational support to it of discovering in it the only adequate conception of God as self-conscious spirit and living love. Difficult, therefore, as the idea of the Trinity in itself is, it does not come to us as an added burden upon our intelligence; it brings us rather the solution of the deepest and most persistent difficulties in our conception of God as infinite moral Being, and illuminates, enriches and elevates all our thought of God.
Share:

Eternal Destiny

This life, a withering leaf,
Will one day rise to eternity;
So, why weep for fading things
When heaven is our destiny?

The withering grass, now fresh now dry;
The fleeting clouds that cover the sky;
These colors do change at the tick of time;
So, why be proud of a blot that'll die?

Yet, faders can't dim the hope within
That someday the sky will part for Him
Who'll come with strong celestial hosts
To take us home to be with Him.

Share:

Say "I Can"

Don't give up when the road looks tough,
Don't give up when the winds blow rough;
Take your stand,  say "I can".
With God on your side, you've less to fight.
Speak such words that will move the mountain,
Think such thoughts that will calm the sea.
For Christ is your unfailing fountain
Of faith, of joy, of wisdom, and peace.

"For with God nothing will be impossible." (Lk. 1:37)

Share:

Acrostic of CREATION Week (Gen 1)



GOD C R E A T E S . . .
Sun CCommencement DayFIRST DAYShining Light
Mon RRift Day (Divide)FIRMAMENT DAYSky
Tue EEarth Day FRUITS AND FLOWERS DAYSeed
Wed AAstronomical DayFIREBALLS DAY (Sun is a Fireball)Stars
Thur TTake Off DayFISH AND FLIGHT DAY (Birds Take Off)Sea
Fri EEve's  & Adam's DayFAMILY DAY (Animals and Humans)Society (Adam and Eve)
Sat SSabbath Day FREE TIME DAY Sabbath
Share:

Popular Posts

Blog Archive

Translate