Nature of Reality, Nature of Man, 3) Worldview, Introduction
Vox Veritas, The Author's Apologetics Class
Introduction to Worldviews
One job that mankind has, both corporately and individually people believe they individually are something more than just this thing that is self-aware and passes through life in some 80 years more or less, and then dies.
Most humans seek a better understanding of who they are and why man is the way he is at some level they seek a sense of purpose, or, in philosophic terms, teleology.
Don’t let philosophy scare you. I am going to argue here, as was brought out in the Scottish Enlightenment, that the Common Sense that most of us express every day is sufficient for people and “deeper” philosophy rarely produced as good of an answer as the common person, male and female do every day they are alive, that the philosophers have made huge errors in understanding reality that have now kept us off course since the renaissance (yes, blame it on the French, my people also through William and Pepin).
However, just because a philosopher describes his concept in large words or complex phrases does not mean he or she is more correct that the common man or woman in their everyday understanding of reality. It could be argued that few philosophers have resolved any real difficult problems, and far more difficult problems have been solved by the everyday person in everyday life.
Why do humans have little god complexes that make each of us think we deserve more and better than we have? Why do we each seek to control our little world? Why do most seek to control other people’s little world?
Why does science think it rules the world? And philosophy? And religion? And so forth? Why do we each set up our little kingdoms to control whether it be at home, at church, at work, in our company, or set up companies and businesses themselves? And why do we feel so bad when our little kingdom is crushed?
Why is it we have these feeling? Why do we feel so good about helping other humans? It even gives us the same feeling we have in religious circles when we help the church and we believe we are helping God.
It is all explained with sufficient but not in depth detail in Genesis 1-3, we are created in the Image of God.
The Image of God is often bandied about theological circles with little understanding or development of that though in view of scripture, and what we know about God and his special creation, mankind.
The general view of protestant evangelicals (the circles I am most familiar with) is that the term only means that we humans are unlike other animals in that we are rational animals, while some include the fact that we are also moral animals, that is, we have morally significant free will. (If a bear kills a bear, this is not a moral fault, but when a human kills an innocent human it is a serious moral fault.)
But is it actually deeper than this? Are there more ways that we are similar to God? That is, are we created more in his image that we normally think? Is it the case, according to scriptures that man is significantly different on other ways as well as those stated above?
Do not think I am going in the direction of humans being gods, or into some type of mysticisms. I am about the most anti-mystic person you will meet.
Two Sources of Information
It seems we have two sources of information, one is human reason by which we make sense of the world around us, but this is hugely insufficient to explain the universe without the second, the revelation of God by his word, the Bible.
Why do we need both?
The senses and reason, even common reason or common sense tell us real things, though not exhaustive things about our world.
Realize for a second that no theory of the origin of the universe can be tested. None, zero, nadda, zip.
However, God is not detected by our senses, and therefore to know real things about him he must do the work and tell us what we need to know. Together these form a significant source of information revealed by God about himself to which simple comparative logic can be applied. We can look at what God tells us then look at what we are like and see the similarities much like I can look at my parents and grandparents to see similarities I share or my siblings and cousins share.
We do not share all attributes, to be sure, we seen to lack, for instance, the ability to create from nothing (ex nihilo), but do have the ability to create from other things. So our creativity is similar, though by no means identical to God’s creativity.
I have a Scottish background, actually Scot and Scotch-Irish, on the other side of the pond what would be called the Ulster Scots, no Irish blood I know of and little English blood.
This plays into the discussion in several ways, the first being my identification with evangelicals. You might not know that this is an old Scoti term (the common language of the Scottish people in the 1700’s) related the what we adequately call the hellfire and brimstone Reformed (Calvinistic) Presbyterians, which, through the old Princeton University under Witherspoon was infused to Baptists (my two primary upbringings) and now applied to any congregation which thinks, as I do, that individual people need to be saved, so a much diluted term in the modern world.
You might not know the other term that applies to this same origin and is not quite as disbursed is fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is still a term closely associated with Calvinism, not to the idea that the Bible is the Word of God, but that concept is also usually part of the various forms of Calvinism.
Before you throw down this book and ruin your electronic device that it is on, I am not sure at all that the hellfire method is effective nor do I agree with the belief in Calvinism because no deterministic system, be it the naturalistic chemical determinism of Darwin or the theological determinism of Plato and Augustine, of Calvin and Beza can yield beings capable of producing words or actions that are not determined by their originator.
Only undetermined words or actions can be of moral significance and no deterministic system can produce morally significant beings independent of their origination or originator. Ergo, either there is no such thing as morals, naturalism should claim this, and that would be hard to argue, we all have morals at some level, or if we are created by a personal creator, then he would be unjust in any kind of judicial system if he were to originate your choices and then punish or reward those behaviors he caused to happen.
So, in the classical terms, you cannot, I do not call myself a fundamentalist nor an evangelical, however, in common terms I am both. I believe in the fundamental terms best summarized in the Nicene Creed. All of them. These are literally several words that have to do with time that I disagree with.
Determinism, look at it like this…
Look at it thusly: I set up a toy train, and on the tracks I tie a bug onto the track then run it over with the train, if you were watching this then I took the train off the track and broke it because it ran over the bug you would think me crazy.
If rather I tied up a person and stood in the shadows of an oncoming train and then tossed the person onto the track before the engineer could react, but then held him responsible, that too would make me insane. No court of competent jurisdiction would consider that just, and they are correct.
Once more: I tie up the person and throw them on the track a quarter mile before a train arrives, and the engineer sees this but it takes half a mile to stop the train, and then I try to hold the engineer responsible for running over the person, once more you would say I am insane.
Specifically it is because the train is on a predetermined course and the engineer does not have the capability to avoid the person, that isn’t the kind of responsibility he has or is capable of.
This makes the trial unjust in the same manner that holding any person to account for things they had no choice in doing would be unjust.
Issues with Calvin, Augustine, Plato, and Hume
Calvinism claims this kind of determinism. A person has no choice but to do those things God foreknows he will do. In fact, according to the brand of Calvinism, or Arminianism, God knew either before creation (Supralapsarianism) or after the fall of man (Infralapsarianism) every event that would happen, every decision you would make.
Reductio ad absurdum, that is absurd.
This is a Platonic teaching. It comes from Greece, not Jerusalem. But the Greeks had no revealed knowledge, nor claimed revealed knowledge. People in churches are starting to question if it is rational at all to believe in any type of determinism. It isn't rational in light of free will which we can unequivocally demonstrate and which I am doing by stringing these words together and you are doing by reading the words.
There is neither free will nor justice if Calvinism is true, or, for that matter, of chemical determinism (i.e. evolution) is true, and there is no rational compatibilist answer either.
Calvinism thinks everything is predetermined by God before it happens, but then God holds the person to account for what happened.
How can I possibly be responsible for doing what God knew I would do before I was born? In fact tens of thousands of years ago.
According to Calvin, God’s predeterminate forecouncil determined before he created the world every single event that would happen.
This is absolute predetermination, which, again is not capable of producing morally significant beings capable of making decisions they ought to be held accountable for.
Calvinism in Scotland during the Scottish Enlightenment started to run into objections. Two Scottish philosophers from the Scottish enlightenment period, are worth taking a brief look at: David Hume who was mostly wrong, and Thomas Reid who was mostly correct, and he was entirely correct about Hume.
Real Beauty Exists
Hume and Reid
Hume, an atheist, thought that man is only a product of nature. that morals are simply a developed learned behavior from a long series of rewards and punishments, that it is not as it really appears, truly right or wrong.
This is false. Morals are inherent knowledge of right and wrong built into man by his moral creator, not developed because developed characteristics are never universal, which morals are.
Is it OK to torture babies for fun? Anyone who would answer that with an affirmative statement would be considered a moral deviant.
Deviancy is a statistical term meaning that less than 5% of the population is like this. They deviate from norm. A moral deviant is a person involved in a moral behavior that less than 5% of the population participates in.
Hume thought that everyone is controlled by their passions and morals are a self-protective response (what we would now call a psychological response) that prevents us from running away with those passions because society will not like us or will respond poorly if you do, i.e. there are no objective moral values.
I ask again, is it OK to torture babies for fun? Of course not, ergo, that is an objective moral question which I answered with an objective moral response.
Hume thought that the reality was kept from our sight by the historical developments engraining the values into our minds giving us an illusion of a mind with inherent morality by design.
We, of course, reject this.
Flip over to Thomas Reid who, fortunately and correctly very strongly objected to this idea. Hume taught we didn’t wee the world as it really was, we needed a philosopher to redefine everything and tell us what truth really is. Reid taught that we can indeed perceive this world as it really is, it isn’t some secret waiting to be revealed especially by a philosopher, common man can understand to a very reasonable degree what he sees and hears using his inherent moral reasoning to determine right and wrong, and to determine common truths by simple rational thought. He really gave us the term “Common Sense” to describe the fact that everyday men can understand quite as adequately if not more so that the philosophers.
Both men made mistakes, of course, but then name a philosopher who has not make significant blunders and you may turn up a small handful, I can think of only two that are in the running for that title, Mortimer J. Adler who passed in 2001, and Dallas Willard. I would include Peter Kreeft, but he is blindly Catholic (apologies to the good professor, but we are seekers of truth).
Reid strongly disliked Hume’s pretentiousness and claimed rightly, it was nonsense, the quintessential opposite of common sense. “Settled truth can be attained by observation,” he said, and he believed this of the common man who did not need to be ruled by kings or priests who attempt to control your thoughts and conclusions, man is quite capable of coming to reasonable conclusions all by himself, thank you very much, it belongs to everyman (say, with reasonable I.Q. and mental capacity).
I do slightly disagree with Reid in one aspect. He stated that common sense apart from reason was available to all men. The objection is simply one of modern linguistics. By “reason” he meant a more formal argument or structured arguments. Common sense is very much reasoning or logic applied by the common man even without formal training in those fields. And that was his point, everyone is born actual reasonable understanding of the world around him, usually when things are true or false, and right or wrong, therefore expresses daily logical reasoning as well as a moral reasoning by not stealing from his neighbor, but not fighting when angered, and so forth and so on. (Of course he was lowland Scot and forgot about the Highland Scots. Sorry, it’s a Lowlander joke, moving on. . .)
I would accuse Hume of trying to claim he has some kind of special knowledge, but which would require that knowledge be revealed from a supernatural source, which he didn’t believe in, or perhaps an intellectual elitism where he could understand things no other human could. How else could he tell we really don’t see things correctly but need his special revelation? But if special, where did it come from?
He was in intellectual snob, and practiced an intellectual elitism.
How does this interplay with our theme?
Of Man and God
The scriptures paint a whole picture of man and of God. We see through scriptures, man as a whole, unabashed, and real, created in the Image of God, and then using his morally significant free will to be disobedient to the one command given: Don’t eat of the one fruit tree.
We did eat (corporately through Adam).
So, God’s special creation, after the fall, now needed to be saved, and this conditioned God, it changed the relationship and the equation forever. Things have gone more or less downhill from there, though, as most things do, this tends to be cyclical.
By “forever” I mean for eternity future, time without end, this was the game changer in a game that God set up and took a chance on: Would an unconditioned, unbiased free will moral agent choose the relationship with the personal God who was quite literally there and not silent, whom he walked and talked with in the garden, or would he succumb to the suggestion that we still here today from false religion, mostly western variants of Hinduism and Buddhism best summed up by the phrase “but there is more…”
That idea, that there is more to the spiritual then Christianity teaches is, as all fundamental Christianity as taught for nearly two thousand years, a lie.
There isn’t more, Christianity is the whole package, the entire knowledge base you need, but, just like today the idea that there is more was a thought, and idea so tempting and the sin so inviting that it just seemed too good not to take a taste.
In the garden Satan told Eve a specific lie and it was that she, they could be like God, but he qualified the statement limiting it to a specific area, because we were already like God in several if not many ways, but he limited the temptation to “knowing good and evil.” So he said, “you will be like God knowing good and evil.” God knew evil but knew unlike Eve that evil was the privation of good, and God is good, so the lie was in degrees, if you will, God understood evil, humans would not experience it directly.
“There is something more,” Satan said.