Friday, July 9, 2010

Humans come with psychological baggage

Defendingfaith23, 05-10-10; Defending faith24, 06-10-10

Humans come with psychological baggage

Last time we explored how the 19th century atheists tried to explain why mankind is incurably religious. They came up with multiple theories with which, through the inventive and imaginative frameworks, human beings propelled religious thinking. They conclude because mankind doesn’t have the courage to face the cold hard facts and reality of the meaningless of human life. There is a psychological impulse and need out of which one escapes the grim reality of existence. The religious predisposition comforts these types and draws them to a fake God who will rescue them from this futile existence.

It is not just a question of superior intellect

Sproul used to teach a course on atheism where he would require his students to read many of the most notable atheists and pick up the prominent epistemological principles they were focusing on. Where in an overall analysis, to a man, they came back to this view of human psychology and the needs humans desire. Sproul wrote a brief book about this topic called “If there is a God why are there atheists?” Speaking on how great thinkers have come to both ends of these poles as it relates to Gods existence and reality. Sartre, Hume and Mill, for instance, were incisive and terrific thinkers and prodigious in their task for atheism. Or on the other pole are Aquinas, Augustine, Anselm and others who were titian’s for theistic thinking. So, it is not just a question of superior intellect. Was there a lack of evidence for some, were there logical inconsistencies or epistemological errors? Of course there are at some point and that is our task.

So right up front, when it comes to our attempt to get at the existence of God, there is psychological baggage. When you are a referee at a basketball game you and the other ref are the only two people in the vast crowd that have no stake in who wins the game. The two ref’s are unbiased where the crowd sees each play thru the lens of who they want to win. The crowds anticipate or think they see fowls and get irritated that the ref doesn’t blow the whistle. So we all know this going into this subject that we have favorites and will favor one side or the other. I say before the whole world that every bone in my body wants there to be a God. I can’t stand the thought that my life could be a ‘useless passion‘. I admit that I have that desire and know it is possible to construct views and psychological systems on the basis of their own desires, biases and prejudices. To have that cloud one’s thinking. In the final analysis the reality for the existence of God cannot be determined on what I want to be true. I agree with the critics of Kant, that just because life would be meaningless without God - that is not sufficient grounds to argue for the existence of God or to play as an actor who make believes there is one. All that would be is the state of our subjectivity wishing and desiring for one. It doesn’t prove God one way or the other.

An enormous vested interest

So, when dealing with the arguments for the existence of God, all persuasions are dealing with psychological baggage. For those who deny the existence of God there is an enormous vested interest on their part to carry the day for denial and nothingness. Because God stands as the greatest obstacle in the universe to my own autonomy. If I want to do my own thing without impunity, then, I know that the obstacle to this is a Self Existent Eternal Being who is righteous and just. I would do anything possible to deny guilt, my culpability, and any accountability to anyone such as this.

Let’s clear the air on the issue of objectivity or subjectivity

If there is a psychology for God - that doesn’t prove God. And if there is a psychology against God that doesn’t prove God - that doesn’t disprove God either. Arguments for the existence of God have to be determined by objective means and not on the basis of subjective preference. This has been the indication throughout this series. Sproul is bringing it up again to answer the charge that the only reason the people believe in God is out of mental wishful thinking, or wish fulfillment or projection. To make well clear that there is as much psychological pressure or desire for the atheist to deny the existence of God as there is for the theist to affirm the existence of God. So let us say, now, that we have cleared the air on this set of issues.

Defending faith24, 06-10-10

It is not a mind problem but a moral problem

On frequent occasions the New Testament makes clear that it is fallen man, man in his sin laden place will not have God in his thinking. Our natural moral condition is to have a reprobate mind, a darkened mind, so prejudicial to the facts that we dare not open the window a crack and allow any rays of light in. We mustn’t let any revelation in because we know what is at stake. It is at this junction that Paul would speak candidly with the church at Rome. Where he says that God can be known through the universe. Where we have spoken about the collision course between Kant and Paul when it comes to this notion of, not can we know what God is like but do we want to know what he has made. So we find the fact here, even though it may well be inflammatory to speak this way, that our problem is not intellectual, or that there is insufficient information, or that God himself manifests things obscurely. No it is not a mind problem but a moral problem. It is not that God can’t be known it because you don’t want to know. This is the charge at least, from the Apostle Paul. So Paul describes in the 1st chapter a God of wrath. A word in Greek, ‘orgae’, which refers to an orgy or a violent eruption of passion, or what one would call manifestly furious. God is furious. Take note that is angry presence is not with the righteous or the innocent but with unrighteousness and ungodliness. This a literary form of two words meaning the same thing or a particular essence of God’s anger to boil over. Paul names the charge of this double anger, this activity of man which ‘suppress’ the truth in a repressive way. The word translated suppressed is ‘Katekei’ and can also be rendered, ‘held down’ or ‘hindered’ or ‘stifled’ along with ‘suppressed‘. This radical presentation Paul gives, that everyone knows that God exists is because God has shown him or her this by the things that are around us and made by Him. This demonstration is clear and manifest. But what we humans do, by our nature, is hold it down and stifle it. We so resist this by holding this information and knowledge and bury it.

So let us talk in psychological categories and translate this phenomenon that Paul talks of in modern categories. What kind of knowledge according to the psychologist do we suppress? Happy thoughts? No, but of painful and traumatic images and experiences. When we have angst or are upset or in some state of fear you ask the doctor what this is. He gives tests and what not to find some place of unrest and repression. For doing this does not annihilate the memory or destroy it but buries it. But it wants to come back even though we hold it down. We apply pressure against this counter pressure.

Where does the authority of the Bible come from in our search for truth? Something that is irrefutable and absolute…

Establishing the authority of the Bible is one of our top priorities. It claims that it is self-authenticating. So is open to the charge of circular reasoning and raises all sorts of problems of its trustworthiness. In this day and time and the particularly high influence of philosophical naturalism puts the claims of Bible on a collision course. That is why it is so important to establish at the beginning the reality of the supernatural which we have done in this course. Since we can now allow for supernatural activity we can go on to establish what this eternal God has authenticated about Himself in writings.

What we will do is in this search for truth is to come to an authority that is absolute and irrefutable in scope. The question is whether the content in this book comes from a source which is omniscient, infallible, and incorruptible and right, incapable of lying, or erring or defect. This is what we are trying to find out and establish about this book. As an example if we were in a controversy and I was citing Aristotle and you were citing Plato or I was citing Einstein and you Bohrs and God himself appeared in the room and stated the answer we would be so foolish to challenge him. Because the final word is with Him - He is the only impeccable source. Does this book come from him? Can all of mankind find this source to be true even though their such conflict and contrary thinking? Are we to have our own thinking and the best psychological methods and are these on an equal level as the Bible? The answer will be huge in what kind of counsel and course of action we take in our life’s.

We are looking on who’s authority determines proper behavior. Today we are a nation that divides on many many issues.

Historic Christianity has always advanced the notion that we do have an authority that is grounded in the character of God. But in the last 150 years skepticism has grown to this absolute authority. But also within the church a barrage of criticism on the trustworthiness of the Bible has come from many quarters. The late archeologist Albright, who was to his field what Einstein was to his, said in his last interview that he was frustrated, disappointed and disgusted that Hegelian philosophical thinking and later existential categories on biblical scholarship that take radical mindset within the church of casting doubt on the tenants of the Bible. They take unscientific theories about scripture. Denying the primary canons of historic investigation and empirical research. Such as the ‘Jesus Seminar’ which bases its premises on inventive and imaginative theories of what-ifs one after another to build a case.

Sproul has studied in schools of higher critical studies and has much to say about these methods of scholarship. We are in a timeframe where this authority is challenged both in and out of the church.

Inspiration or Expiration

The laborious process of defending the idea that people speak for God and will convey what Paul said at the end of his life. In 2 Tim 3:10-17 among other things, to remember the ‘source’ of the instruction. Consider the ‘source’ because tough times will come. The source is the Holy Scripture. The scriptural source is a universal affirmation. ‘All’ the ‘graphe’ or the writings was the Old Testament. He was saying at least that these were inspired by God. But Sproul says that there is a slight mis-translation here. Inspiration should really be expressed as God-Breathed. The idea has been that ‘graphe’ is communication breathed out by God - the exhaling and breathing words out to his audience to write down. Not God breathing inspiration into the writer with some super intending power to keep them from distorting his words. Here it refers not to the mode of the human authors but of the ‘Source’ and that the original author is God. The source is the breathing out of God to the disciples which breathe it in. that is the point that Paul is communicating. Asking Timothy to remember that source of this instruction. It would be more correct to say that the Bible is based on the Expiration of God. Not through the private insight of the prophets and apostles but by the Holy Spirit. A divine enabling that Jeremiah is given and the one penning or saying it and is not his reasoned opinion. But says that is the Lord that says it. 2 Peter 3:14 says that Paul was writing a body of epistles and he puts it on a level as the Old Testament.

So far we have described what the authors of the books of the Bible have said about their words, we have not defended the claim yet that they are true and that their words come from a divine origin. So, we now can go forth from these claims to what it is that we trying to do. To see if these claims have any truth to them for anyone can claim authority but what makes it real is to be worked on next time.