December 15th, 2012
Pantheism is the idea that God is immanent in all things. Modern pantheism rose from the transcendence vs. immanence debate in the 19th century. The closing of the age of Reason appeared to leave religion in a predicament. It seemed that the choices were to opt for the traditional Christian emphasis on human sin and divine salvation, maintained by appeal to the Bible and the church. Or one was forced to follow the modern skeptical rationalism that arose as the final product of the enlightened individual mind. Theologians of the pre-Enlightenment era agreed that one could not just return to pre-Enlightenment dogmatic orthodoxy, they refused to accept post-Enlightenment skeptical rationalism as the only alternative. Thus, they began to search for new ways to understand the Christian faith. Thus they sought to move beyond the Enlightenment while incorporating the advances it had made, which could definitely have been to the detriment of the Christian Faith. More specifically, they attempted to establish a new relationship between transcendence and immanence in the wake of shattering the medieval balance.
read more »
July 10th, 2012
The Enlightenment restricted knowledge to experience and the phenomenal. Post-Enlightenment thought sought to progress in knowledge while considering the advances the Enlightenment had made. The Christian faith attempted to develop a new relationship between transcendence and immanence. Transcendence has to do with God’s being self-sufficient and beyond or above the universe. Immanence corresponds with God being present and active in creation, intimately involved in human history. Newtonian physics did not permit God to be immanent in the universe. This was brought into light by the unmistakable success of science.
read more »
June 18th, 2012
David Hume was an 18th century skeptic from Scotland who is considered an authority by many philosophers in challenging miracles. Consider his take in An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding:
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience as can be imagined… It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed, in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation.
Hume’s idea of “extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence” is pictured in a scale. On one side is full proof and the other side is the evidence from all people in all the ages for the regularity of the laws of nature, which also amounts to full proof. Thus, proof stands against proof and does not incline in either direction, the wise man cannot hold to a miracle with any degree of certainty. According to Hume, miracles are violations of the “laws of nature” that “firm and unalterable” experience has solidly established. Only a superior testimony of experience may override this proposition, but, unfortunately, there cannot be such a testimony, for if there were, miracles would no longer merit their name.
read more »