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In particular, Mary fails to grasp the way in which Tom is using that expression on this particular occasion. Has Mary succeeded in contradicting Tom? Surely she has. There is little if any overlap between what Mary understood and what I actually meant. Certainly, Mary has entirely failed to contradict me. But then perhaps what the religious mean when they say God exists is similarly wholly metaphorical, with the result that the atheist critic entirely misunderstands what the religious person is committed to? Call this the strong juicer view. If I shout Checkmate!
When the religious person says: God exists , and atheists respond by pointing to the depth of evil in the world, the religious person typically tries to account for the evil by offering theodicies — explanations for the evil This evil — war — is a result of acting freely.
Belief in A Higher Power
That evil is there to build our characters — or by appealing to mystery For all we know, God exists and has good reason to allow these evils. If what the religious person meant were entirely metaphorical, such religious responses would make as much sense as my responding to Mary by pointing out that the evidence that Jane is not a glowing body of ignited gas and that Tom lacks wings is less than decisive, or by insisting that for all we know Jane literally is a glowing body of ignited gas.
Suppose that during a game of gin rummy I shout Checkmate! Some suggest that, similarly, utterances such as Jesus rose from the dead have their home in religious language-games, and when they are placed in different language-games, bound by different rules eg, in a science lab or academic history class , they too are stripped of content. But then such utterances offer nothing for the scientist in her lab or the historian in her academic class to dispute.
Faith: A Series of Personal Essays on Faith & Religious Belief
Scientific and historical criticism of religious belief is impossible. Again, this variant strong juicer view is implausible as an account of how religious language is generally used. A third view attributed to Wittgenstein regarding religious language is what I dub the atheist minus view.
On this, the religious person is committed, not to more than the atheist supposes, but to less. Suppose Ted has taken the analogical representation of God as a father looking down on us from the clouds too literally. Ted thinks that when religious people commit to the existence of God, they commit to the existence of a physical person who is literally sitting on a cloud somewhere overhead, gazing downwards. And so, in order to refute that belief, Ted inspects every cloud and finds no such person on any of them.
Most atheist critics of religion are not, of course, guilty of such a ridiculous misunderstanding. Thus in Faith Seeking , the theologian Denys Turner says to the atheist:. None of the Wittgensteinian accounts of religious language offers the religious a response to atheists.
Free faith Essays and Papers
First, the atheist minus view is implausible for many religious sentences. Consider Jesus rose from the dead. Are we to suppose that what the Christian means by it is rather less than what the atheist understands by it? Surely not: most Christians really are committed to a physical resurrection as a matter of historical fact, just as their atheist opponents suppose. None of the above Wittgensteinian accounts of how religious language is used offers mainstream religious people much in the way of a response to atheist critics.
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Either the account fails to provide the kind of immunity for which many self-styled Wittgensteinians had hoped, or else the account is implausible as an account of how most religious people — including most self-styled Wittgensteinians — use religious language. This creates a causal chain, extending backward in time, which cannot be infinite.
If it is not infinite, then there must be a first cause, which must be God.
This seems like a reasonable argument, but one of its premises is shaky. There is no good reason to state that there cannot be an infinite series of causes. Scientists might argue for the Big Bang theory as a beginning to our universe, but it also could have had a cause.
go to site Another shaky premise of the argument is the last one. Why does the end of the chain have to be the Judeo-Christian god? It could also be a transcendental force, without the many traits associated to a god. It is also remarkably self-centered for one religion to believe it has the monopoly on God.
Why could the first cause not be Allah, Buddha or the like? Two other minor arguments try to connect physical reality to the existence of God. The first is the argument from miracles. This argument states that many people have a legitimate belief that they have experienced miracles. With so many unexplained phenomena in this world, they argue, it is probable that God must be causing these remarkable events.
The next argument is the argument from religious experience. Proponents argue that many people claim to have been touched by a higher power. Because of this direct contact, we must believe in the existence of a transcendental being. Many people have very similar stories of walking into a bright light in near-death experiences.
With all of these occurrences, supporters argue, we must be able to see the existence of a god. The response to both of these arguments is that there is not one bit of concrete evidence to support either claim. Every time we have tested so-called articles of religious miracle, such as the Shroud of Turin, they have not lived up to their claim. We also cannot prove through any scientific method that anyone has ever been touched by a transcendental force. These near-death experiences are probably a simple lack of blood to the brain. The only tools that we have to prove or disprove the existence of a transcendental power are our senses, the scientific method and logic.
Eager to continue my spiritual journey, I went to a private Christian college in Oregon complete with a lifestyle contract. Freshman year, I met Frank, a lifelong philosopher. He was a couple rooms down from me. Then I started asking myself that question about every thought I had. It was a sort of game, which most of the time sounded like this:. Because it keeps you from Him.
Because premarital sex does not require any commitment. Why do you need commitment? Because sex is special. Why do you think that? Because it says so in the Bible. Why do you believe the Bible? How do you know that?
Because it says it in there. Well, I am speaking the words of God right now, do you believe me?
It never occurred to me until then that people who believed something other than Christianity had the same reason for believing their faith as I did for believing mine. How about that?
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