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Showing posts from October, 2007

On One of the Main Reasons Why I Think Christianity is False (Reposted)

An Inference to the Best Explanation: Jesus as a Failed Eschatological Prophet (Re-posted)
I agree with mainstream scholarship on the historical Jesus (e.g., E.P. Sanders, Geza Vermes, Bart Ehrman, Dale Allison, Paula Fredriksen, et al.) that Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet. Such a hypothesis, if true, would be a simple one that would make sense of a wide range of data, including the following twenty-one (or so):
D1. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance to escape the imminent judgment of the eschaton. Jesus was his baptized disciple, and thus accepted his message -- and in fact preached basically the same message. D2. Many (most?) of Jesus’ “Son of Man” passages are most naturally interpreted as allusions to the Son of Man figure in Daniel. This figure was an end of the world arbiter of God’s justice, and Jesus kept preaching that he was on his way (e.g., “From now on, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”…

Arguments From Consciousness for God's Existence

A number of contemporary Christian philosophers think there's a good argument for God in the phenomenon of consciousness, including Richard Swinburne, Robert M. Adams, J.P. Moreland, and Victor Reppert. There are at least two forms of the argument.

The first argument postulates God's activity as the best explanation for why our concious states are correlated in a lawlike way with certain brain states. Thus, it's utterly mysterious why one set of brain states actualizes experiences of, say, the color red, rather than some other set of brain states, if God doesn't exist. For if the natural world is all there is, then the conscious states of the color red are indentical to or otherwise reducible to physical states in the brain. But if so, then there should be no mystery: just like any other scientific phenomenon in the physical world, once you know the physical basis of phenomenon, there is no residual mystery why *that* physical state gives rise to *this* phenomen…

Some Varieties of Naturalism

There are several versions of naturalism. Naturalists share in common the view that the natural world is all there is -- there is no supernatural realm of spiritual beings. However, naturalists differ in how they define 'the natural world'. Now there are at least three broad ways of characterizing "the natural world", and so there are at least three kinds of naturalists -- let's call them 'Conservatives', 'Moderates', and 'Liberals'.

Conservative naturalists are straight physicalists -- nothing exists but the physical, and the physical is characterized by all and only the properties listed in physics and chemistry textbooks.

Moderate naturalists differ from Conservative naturalists, in that they expand their conception of natural world so as to include abstracta (e.g., propositions, properties, possible worlds, etc.). Recent proponents include Tyler Burge, Jeff King, W.V.O. Quine, Roderick Chisholm, and Kit Fine.

Finally, Liberal naturalist…

A Quick Thought About Universals

Sometimes there is, I think, a resistance to Platonism about abstract objects. Here's my hunch about the cause of resistance: only substances can exist independently of other entities, such as physical objects, and perhaps immaterial substances, such as souls, if such there be. But abstract entities aren't substances; therefore, they can't exist independently of other things. But Platonism entails that they *can* exist indepedently of susbtances; therefore, Platonism is false.

I think this line of reasoning is flawed. To see this, consider the following distinction. It's a truism that everything exists. However, not everything that exists is instantiated. So, for example, the property of being a Wal*Mart one cubic foot larger than any currently existing Wal*Mart is a property that *exists*, and yet it isn't *instantiated* anywhere. Lots and lots of properties exist that aren't instantiated; in fact, many properties *can't* be instantiated (e.g., bei…