|My close personal friend, |
This is an "accusation" I feel compelled to respond to, if for no other reason, to drive the comparison between myself and Blaise Pascal home, for all those people in Junior High School who doubted I'd ever amount to much. :- )
Seriously, John's accusations come at a propitious time: I've just sent in my rebuttal of John's Outsider Test for Faith, as a chapter to an e-book on the subject of Faith and Reason, being put together by a nice fellow from Campus Crusade, and due to come out in two or three months, I believe. In that chapter, I intend to show not only that the OTF does not harm Christianity, but actually supports it, in four important ways.
Here's my preliminary answer to John's jabs in this post:
JL: "Christian apologists will write peer reviewed articles defending Pascal's Wager. Given Pascal's premises his argument basically works. In order to see how it works you have to grant that reason cannot decide between two options. The two options for Pascal were non-belief and a Catholicism where nonbelievers risk an eternal punishment in hell for their nonbelief. Given these two options it would be better to believe . . . "
"The reason I bring this additional deceptive strategy up is because Christian apologist David Marshall continues to spout off that there is one God who can be seen in every religion. I had asked him who answers prayers? His response: 'Who answers prayer? God, of course. That's "Bog" in Russian, "Dieu" in French, "Shang Di" in Chinese (also other names), and "Allah" in Arabic.' Now if you read the link I provided he did not attempt to answer the difficulties inherent in saying this. He responded with rhetoric, empty rhetoric, that is utterly lacking in substance."
Let's start with Pascal. Why is it that every skeptic on the planet seems to have read "Pascal's Wager," but none of them has read the rest of the book?
|Loftus also mentions|
William James. Not a
BAD fellow, mind you.
And if you've really read my books, as you seem to indicate, you should know better that to imply that they are 'lacking in substance,' either. My arguments may be right or wrong, but they are certainly substantive.
And no I don't claim (still less "spout") that 'there is one God who can be seen in every religion.
You need to begin by getting the argument you're critiquing right. My claim is not about religions at all. It is that God is known by many names in many cultures . . . (this) is accepted by Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Chinese, Africans, Native Americans, common folks, and scholars alike, so I'm not sure why you make it sound as if I'm saying something new, here.
It's not that God can be seen IN all religions, but that God is recognized as transcending particular traditions BY many people in many different religions. A useful analogy might be the difference between, "People from every country have gone to the moon," and "The moon is perceived, though sometimes hazily or in part, from many nations around the world."
JL: "As an evangelical Marshall does not think God through Allah authorized Mohammad to be his prophet, for Marshall would say God's prophetic word through Mohammad contains obvious errors. God through Mohammad wants Muslims to kill Jews while the God of the Old Testament called Jews his chosen ones and granted them Palestine as an eternal possession. God through Mohammad said Jesus did not die on the cross while God in the New Testament said he died and that he arose from the dead."
Of course people disagree about what God has done or said! Some Christians think God created the world instantly, 6000 years ago, others slowly, intervening in the biological process, others entirely through evolution. It hardly follows that they worship 'different Gods,' even if their understanding of him differs. (As does our understanding of other human beings -- I know you differently than William Lane Craig knows you, differently than your wife or accountant or customers for your business know you. But there's still just one you!)
JL: "He is not a pluralist like John Hick, you see. He wants to appear to be a rational level-headed believer and this means making these kinds of rhetorically empty statements. The reality is that Marshall is an evangelical standing in the tradition of evangelicalism. As a world traveler he instinctively knows evangelicalism is dead in the water, so he resorts to using empty rhetoric to appear reasonable, or at least, that's what it looks like to me."
Speaking of empty rhetoric . . .
As a world traveler I know that conservative Christianity has never thrived as widely as it does today. That will come up in my response to the OTF, too.
I just presented a seminar yesterday largely rebutting Hick, in a room full of serious Christian thinkers from Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and Latin America. They represent often thriving churches, in some cases churches that are quite young. None of them agree with Hick (I asked), apart maybe, to some extent, the facilitator of the seminar, a philosopher who (as it happens) studied under Hick.
So much for dead in the water.
As to whether I "want to appear to be a rational, level-headed believer," honestly its not my first priority. Being rational is higher on the list than appearing one, and that list also includes such things as, "David Marshall wants to go sliding on frozen backwaters of the Thames if it gets colder as forecast over the next few days, then maybe take pictures of the spires in the snow from Christ Church meadow on Sunday."
What people on John's blog think of me, is (with all due respect) a somewhat lower priority.
"Marshall claims that God is Allah is Yahweh is ______ (fill in the deity of your choice) and that this represents the best of the deities believed by the world religions. But he lands squarely in the evangelical camp. What then becomes of his claim that God is Allah is Yahweh is ______ (fill in the deity of your choice)? Nothing of substance at all!"
I honestly don't know what to make of this. God is one. He has names in many languages, and had those names before missionaries showed up. The locals often recognized that missionaries were talking about the same God they had known of, from time out of mind. This fact, that "God showed up" around the world, undermines the OTF something fierce, as I intend to show, in my upcoming chapter. But it certainly doesn't follow that all conceptions of God are exactly the same. Why this should trouble me, or anyone else, as a Christian, when I find Paul recognizing the same thing in Athens already, I don't know. But perhaps, John, when you read the full explanation of why the OTF supports the Gospel of Jesus, you'll see the light and finally remember to give Shang Di the glory.