Over the past couple of years, I have been privileged to have the opportunity to participate in a number of radio and podcast interviews and debates, as well as present a number of lectures on subjects of interest to Christians. Those that have been recorded lie scattered around the internet, and so I thought it would be a good idea to compile the links to these resources into one post. [Read more…]
Isn’t time a perplexing thing? As we celebrate another year that has gone into the archives of our past and look forward to our immediate future in 2015, it made me think about how fast time goes by. It seems like just yesterday that I was an eight-year-old kid sitting in my living room waiting to see if Y2K was really going to shut down our national infrastructure. I had my flashlight ready just in case. [Read more…]
“It’s not that I don’t accept God, you must understand,” said Ivan Karamazov, one of Fyodor Dostoevsky novel’s characters in The Brothers Karamazov, to his younger brother, Alyosha, “it’s the world created by Him I don’t and cannot accept.”(Dostoevsky 2007, 257) The world created by God is overflowing with horrifying and repugnant evils. Ivan vividly captured some of the moral evil committed by the Turks and Circassians in Bulgaria:
They burn villages, murder, outrage women and children, they nail their prisoners by the ears to the fences, leave them so till morning, and in the morning they hang them — all sorts of things you can’t imagine. People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that’s all he can do. He would never think of nailing people by the ears, even if he were able to do it. These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children, too; cutting the unborn child from the mothers womb, and tossing babies up in the air and catching them on the points of their bayonets before their mothers’ eyes. Doing it before the mothers’ eyes was what gave zest to the amusement. (2007, 260)
Evils such as these are morally abhorrent. It is painful to imagine that humans are capable of inflicting such inhumane deeds that are far worse than those of mindless beasts. Arising in any morally sane person is an intuitively repulsive attitude towards such evils. [Read more…]
Peter uses Old Testament prophecy in Acts 3:18, where he declares: “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that this Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.” Where in the prophets are we told that God’s “Christ (or Messiah) should suffer”? Isaiah 53 is probably what Peter is alluding to. Probably the most explicit case for Isaiah 53 being used is in Acts 8: 32-34 in the exchange between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Many scholars have asked what might of led to the acceptance of a Suffering Messiah. Let’s see if we can trace the history here: The Binding of Isaac Story and the Maccabean Martyrs: The Binding of Isaac or the “Akedah” tells the account of when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Because of Abraham’s faith God would be able to resurrect the slain Isaac. The sacrifice of Isaac corresponds to “that of Christ in the following respects: (1) They both involve the sacrifice by a father of his only son. (2) They both symbolize a complete dedication on the part of the offerer. Mark Kinzer notes in the post- Biblical tradition, the Akedah story took on a new significance: it becomes the model for martyrdom: This is first seen in texts dealing with the martyrs of the Maccabean period: [Read more…]
For those of us familiar with the ontological argument, we may also be familiar with Immanuel Kant’s “textbook critique” of the Anselmsian proof. To be clear, Kant’s criticism is two-fold: (1) A concept cannot be formed to guarantee its own instantiation (i.e., have an instance) in extra-mental reality. For instance, whether or not the idea of a supreme being corresponds to any reality outside the human mind cannot be settled a priori (as Anselm allegedly tried to do). (2) Although existence is a grammatical predicate, it differs from other predicates in that its logical function is not to add a further component to a concept.
The “textbook criticism” that I am referring to is (2) – the famous “existence is not a predicate” objection. This is a philosopher’s fancy way of saying that you can’t define something into existence. A common analogy used is the idea of having 100$ dollars in my pocket compared to actually having 100$ in my pocket. Surely the latter is greater, but that doesn’t mean that there actually exists 100$ in my pocket.
(I) The Ontological Flaw of Kant
I wanted share some thoughts given to me by my personal mentor (you can view his pagehere). Kant’s criticism is similar to Aquinas’ but with an important and different emphasis. Aquinas would have one concern with regard to God’s essence is his existence and vice versa. However, only God has this pure “esse.” The reason Kant’s criticism holds some weight is because we don’t know God directly, so we can’t know God through the linkage of essence and existence. However, God in Scripture still reveals Himself as such a being (e.g., “I AM who AM”). So, on some level Kant and criticism (2) is flawed. Specifically, not in an epistemological sense but ontologically in regard to God.
However, in regard to us and all created beings it is a legitimate objection as accidents exist only in the context of matter and differentiation of such matter (or, in the case of angels as differentiated essence with limited accident attributes; or even possibly as unique created essences much like Leibniz’s monads). Created matter is an instantiated essence and that essence will always have accidents. The absence of either on some level implies the absence of the other.