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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

A Naturalist might ask a theist, or Christian to be specific, for proof of the existence of God. One might point to the bible, and then the naturalist will say that is rubbish, it is full of magic tricks called ‘miracles’. These are impossible, he/she might say, because of Hume’s argument against them: it is far more likely that a witness to such an event is either lying or mistaken, than the laws of the universe have been altered.

But imagine this: You ask for proof of divinity and Jesus rises from the dead and says that death no longer has a hold on humanity if you believe in Him. So you say that is rubbish, because clearly people don’t rise from the dead. Let’s say we go a step further and a miracle of one kind or another happens and you see the reports of it on the news. You then say that that too is rubbish and the whole lot of people must have been drunk, high, or stupid to believe anything they are reporting to have seen (or even better, it was some magician trying to make a name for himself by making a building disappear in NYC…damn those magicians…good special effects these days…). Then, let us say that a miracle happens right before your eyes. What do you say then? “O well, I must have had something bad to eat last night, I’m hallucinating, tired, delirious, insane, dreaming, mistaken, etc etc. You will never, ever, come to the proper conclusion, the truth of the matter, because you exclude miracles from the start. Even if one actually occurred right before your eyes, God proving His divinity and power over natural laws (not that a miracle must be that way), you would still not recognize it for what it is.

In conclusion, when a naturalist claims that they just can’t believe what was written thousands of years ago about miracles, and they sure would like to see some in the present day, preferably right before their very eyes, this very instant so that they may believe, they are mistaken or lying, because they still would not believe.

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“Only that which participates in Christ can endure and overcome. Christ is the center and power of the Bible, of the Church, of theology, but also of humanity, reason, justice, and culture. To Christ everything must return; only under Christ’s protection can it live.” p. 341 Ethics, Bonhoeffer

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“The way of Jesus Christ, and thus the way of all Christian thought, is not the way from the world to God but from God to the world.” p.356 Ethics

An important distinction raised by Bonhoeffer in his Ethics. A distinction, that I personally draw, not that he explicitly wrote about, is that this point is where many religions part ways from Christianity.

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“Men seem to proceed on their way in a twilight of indifferent neutrality; and this in spite of all their activity and suffering, their influencing and being influenced, their sowing and their reaping. But what fruits do they secure? What is the upshot of their journey? What signifies their behavior and their prowess? What do they achieve by their words and by their deeds in which they do but discover their own selves? What mean the ‘movements’, the alliances, and the rules within the framework of which they live their lives? Whither do progress and evolution lead them? What is the goal, the TELOS, the purpose of those innumerable ends for which men strive and to which they may, or may not, attain? Do men know the answer to these questions? Or indeed, can they know? In this harvest of human endeavor wheat and tares grow up in such entangled identity that it is impossible to detect which brings forth iniquity and which sanctification (vi. 19). Who is able to judge, and by what objective norm can it be decided, whether the limbs of our mortal body do right or wrong? Who can say whether a thing made by the finite and created spirit of man is evil or good, or whether this or that motion of the soul or historical achievement is iniquitous or holy? May it not be that everything that men do and say and bring into being lies wholly on one side or the other? Is there any visible iniquity which it is quite impossible to interpret as sanctification? Or is there any visible sanctification which may not be called iniquity? We possess, however, no Rosetta stone by the help of which we can decipher the unknown language of human life. We are manifestly ignorant of the harvest which the Lord will carry into His barns; ignorant, too, of the relation between His harvest and ours. And if the meaning of the things we bring forth is beyond our comprehension, how can we comprehend the meaning of our existence? If we do not know our end, how can we know our beginning? Are our affirmations and our negations anything more than chance or whim? When we judge one man a criminal and another a saint; when we destine one to hell and another to heaven; when we believe ‘good will grow better and better, and evil worse and worse’ (Harnack), are we not purely capricious? Moreover, what is good? What is evil? Is it not right that twilight such as this should mark the realm of tension and polarity, of dualism and allogeneity? Here ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ confront each other; here both are alike necessary, valuable, and divine–and, yet we can have no very great illusion about the necessity, value, and divinity of this ‘Yes’ and this ‘No’. Here wisdom can, no doubt, do its utmost to adjust a balance and arrange a compromise–so that the play can run on without a hitch!” p. 225-226 The Epistle to the Romans

Here Barth breaks down the basic questions that all men ought to ask and ponder. I’ve come across many non-religious folks who think that Christians just don’t think about these things at all. That these questions are passed over because they don’t “fit” in to our “religion”. I think Barth shows us how they do fit in, and how they are at the back of everyone’s mind whether they realize it or not.

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“It (the Gospel) can therefore be neither directly communicated nor directly apprehended…the Gospel does not expound or recommend itself. It does not negotiate or plead, threaten, or make promises. It withdraws itself always when it is not listened to for its own sake.” Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans

Sorry I don’t have a page number. It’s exactly 100 degrees in the room I’m in right now. Nothing I’m used to, so I’m not thinking clearly. This is just something I’m gonna try to think about in the room with the AC later tonight.

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“No! No one who was great in the world will be forgotten, but everyone was great in his own way, and everyone in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. He who loved himself became great by virtue of himself, and he who loved other men became great by his devotedness, but he who loved God became the greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone became great in proportion to his expectancy. One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal; but he who expected the impossible became the greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone was great wholly in proportion to the magnitude of that with which he struggled. For he who struggled with the world became great by conquering the world, and he who struggled with himself became great by conquering himself, but he who struggled with God became the greatest of all. Thus did they struggle in the world, man against man, one against thousands, but he who struggled with God was the greatest of all. Thus did they struggle on earth: there was one who conquered everything by his power, and there was one who conquered God by his powerlessness. There was one who relied upon himself and gained everything; there was one who in the security of his own strength sacrificed everything; but the one who believed God was the greatest of all.There was one who was great by virtue of his power, and one who was great by virtue of his wisdom, and one who was great by virtue of his hope, and one who was great by virtue of his love, but Abraham was the greatest of all, great by the power whose strength is powerlessness, great by that wisdom whose secret is foolishness, great by that hope who form is madness, great by the love that is hatred to oneself.” –Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard, an ordained Lutheran minister, and father of existentialism, here talks about reality as he sees it. Who will be remembered, how and why? Whether you feel his thoughts on this are appealing or repulsive, they are non-the-less interesting. Continue your struggle with God…

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“Religion spells disruption, discord, and the absence of peace. A man at one with himself is a man still unacquainted with the great problem of his union with God. Our whole behavior proves us to be in no way at one with ourselves; and for this reason, our relation to God is a disturbed relation. Happy the man who is able to deny this evident truth! May he long remain innocent of his own questionableness!” p. 266 The Epistle to the Romans

Another post regarding Barth on religion…disruption, discord and the absence of peace…

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