We’ve talked about how philosophy contributes to truth machines. We haven’t talked about how philosophy contributes to religion, or how religion contributes to a truth machine. Today, we will. Ready?
If a religion is true, we may already have a truth machine. But if the world’s religions are mutually contradictory, which truth machine should we use?
Maybe the best way to jump into the subject is by responding to a comment from one of our Christian listeners, whose personal set of beliefs didn’t jibe with the idea of a multiverse. Our Pamalogy 101 course will explain why Pamalogists conclude that a multiverse is true. She had completed the course but found the idea of a multiverse to be incompatible with her faith. Go ahead and take Pamalogy 101. It’s free. And you may just earn a top hat, like she did. Let me know what you think.
I’ll go ahead and read her post in full. She says:
A PAMALOGIST believes in multiple universes. What would a PAMALOGIST say about Genesis Ch. 2 in the Holy Bible? 1 “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.”
By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day he “rested from all his work.” The Holy Bible doesn’t seem to indicate that God went on to keep perpetually creating more “heavens,” one after another, with other life forms and each with its own laws of physics (because He is a creative being and He CAN). Granted, God still creates. He makes new stars in our galaxy be born and others die out. He joins male and female cells to create new embryos; be they animal or human. He makes new plants sprout in the springtime. I could go on. But the “bulk” of His works seem to have been completed in six days (whether you believe that to be calendar days, millennia or something else), and then on the seventh day, He rested. You are going to have to at some point address that, also accounts/theories of creation in other world religions, to make sure that PAMALOGY is not trying to dismantle all organized religion.
This is a great question. Thank you for asking it. You are touching on a subject that involves thoughts I’ve had for many years as a person who has had a lot of post-graduate study in theology.
Philosophy, theology and faith have always had a close relationship, whether it is a Christian tradition or another. Pope John Paul II had a PhD. in Phenomenology, yet he was a man of very great faith. I haven’t yet touched much on Phenomenology in my podcasts but it relates to this question and I’ll be covering it in later episodes. Phenomenology asks how we perceive things. It asks what consciousness and direct experience is.
As you know, Biblical literalism has always been a mystery to me – something I could never be sure about. The science of Biblical interpretation is called “hermeneutics.” Hermeneutics was perhaps my favorite course in seminary. And it left me with a certain openness to critical approaches to interpreting Scripture.
You are going to find as you listen to my podcasts that I am placing various ideas into categories. Certainty is usually restricted to the a priori knowledge of logical necessity. “A priori” means that the knowledge is not based on observation and experience.
There is a certain antagonism religion sometimes has with philosophy, but not all philosophy. Pamalogy is a philosophical, not a religious system. But there is also something called Christian philosophy. The two fields are not necessarily incompatible. Justin of Caesarea is probably the first prominent Christian philosopher history preserved. The school of Alexandria produced Pantaenus, but his work is gone. We only know him as Clement of Alexandria’s predecessor as head of the school. Origin succeeded Clement there and is known best for his allegorical interpretations of Scripture, but he also used philosophical concepts in blending reason with faith, as the Christians of Berea seem to have done.
Clement not only was a Christian philosopher but credited Greek philosophy with preparing the gentiles. He compared it with the way the Scriptures prepared the Jews for the coming of Jesus. Even prior to Clement was Athenagoras, a Christian apologist who used philosophical arguments with the philosophers of his day to defend the resurrection. Then there was Dionysius of the Ariapagus, who left us a great work on the incomprehensibility of God that became the basis for Christian mystical contemplation. It’s used to this day by Jews and other non-Christians, as well. These are all just the earliest examples. Among the Greek Orthodox, perhaps the work of Apostolos Makrakis is the best modern example of Christian philosophy. In the middle ages in the West, the work of Thomas Aquinas is largely philosophical, and in the East, we have the philosophical approach of Gregory Palamas.
The anti-intellectualist idea that the wisdom of this world is foolish and faith like a child is needed to enter the kingdom of heaven is a common criticism I should also address. As I see it, Christian philosophy is not the wisdom of this world. The wisdom of this world says things like, “live it up because tomorrow we die. There’s no such thing as an afterlife to worry about and nobody is watching.” The wisdom of this world isn’t making theological statements. It doesn’t say thing like, “Perfection is necessarily Triune since it includes both what it is in its doing and what it does in its being, lest either its doing or being be other than Perfection and its doing includes what it is as Doer, what it is as what is Done, and what it is in Doing.” Logic is saying this, but it isn’t disharmonious with Christian tradition. It is, if anything, a Christian apologetic to those monotheists who fail to grasp the possibility of the Christian Trinity.
This is not to say that the rejection of the Trinity on the basis of monotheistic ideas about Perfection, acknowledging there can only be one Perfection, is worldly wisdom either. Worldly wisdom is about worldliness, which is to say, the denial of God altogether. It is the wisdom of this world. Acknowledging that God must be one, is a major step in the right direction, and that direction is a primarily philosophical one. Irenaeus and the early Christian apologists all argued for the oneness of God, not primarily based on Scripture, but using philosophical logic, against various heresies and Greek philosophies. The result was a Christian philosophical tradition that became the basis for the theology behind the Christian creeds. If people hadn’t been asking questions about who Jesus was, there would be no apostles’ creed. To Christians, they used Scriptures. To others, they didn’t. It would have made little sense to try to persuade gentiles with texts they wouldn’t have seen as possessing any authority. The best gentile thought at the time, was Greek philosophy. Discussion of it in explaining who Jesus was was inevitable. And the gentiles didn’t know anything about the Bible.
For the same reason, in Pamalogy, you won’t see me using the Scriptures much either. It’s because I’m addressing a very wide variety of people, not just Christians.
Keep all this in mind when you see religious anti-intellectualism. Now I’ll readily admit, and also complain that sometimes academic subjects can get so detailed and tedious and hard to understand that they become useless. But the “wisdom of this world” is not philosophy as a whole. You shouldn’t reject philosophy as if it was a competitor to the Holy Bible. “Philo” means love. “Sophia” means wisdom. Philosophia is nothing more than the love of wisdom. Christian wisdom is part of the body of wisdom that some philosophers love. Even non-Christian philosophers learn from it. Other religions have their own traditions full of sages, as well. The experience of elders is a vital part of the whole. Like the first deacon, Steven, they are chosen to lead because of their God-given wisdom.
The expression “faith like a child,” is misused by anti-intellectualists too. “Faith like a child” isn’t a rejection of systematic theology or Christian philosophy in favor of simplicity. It is an encouragement to trust and depend on God the way that a child trusts and depends on their parents. To be sure, there is some unknowing in that trust. But if a child is trained in the way they should go, having trusted their parents, they won’t think like the world does. They will think godly thoughts, maybe even developing Christian philosophical systems.
In short, when people of faith attack philosophy, they shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Now let me move on to another dimension of all this. In founding Pamalogy, I deliberately separated my own faith from its foundational logic so that I could identify it as a philosophical system rather than a religion. In doing this, I realized that as a result, we could speak of Christian Pamalogy, Catholic Pamalogy, Evangelical Pamalogy, Jewish Pamalogy, Muslim Pamalogy, Atheist Pamalogy, Buddhist Pamalogy and so on, as people with faith perspectives different than my own embraced its philosophical tenets.
I wanted it to be this way because I wanted to communicate common concepts in logic with people of every background. Each tradition can apply the system to what they already believe as part of a coherent view of life and its purposes. Maybe it was the entrepreneur in me. I knew that if I created a one-size-fits-all philosophical system, it would get a lot more mileage in the long run. Separating tradition from logic was an important move, I think. From a Christian evangelical perspective, you might want to compare this with Paul in Athens. If your calling is to preach the Gospel to the whole world, then why do evangelists only communicate with those with a Christian background?
When I see Jesus as Alpha and Omega, I hear him saying HE IS the done deal. All the heavenly timelines add nothing to what He already is as God. So when God creates man, as his final work, after all the heavens and the Earth have been made, He sees Adam as a type of Himself, the New Adam. He creates the First Adam, but in the completed work, He also creates the New Adam.When God and man are united in the incarnation, eternity meets temporality and that is how Genesis is fulfilled in the past tense. Anything that can happen in time, anything good in it, is always included in Him, including time itself. If it were otherwise, then some good thing would have to be excluded from the goodness of God. If God is Perfect, since Perfection lacks no good thing, that would be contradictory.As a foundationist philosopher, I’d have to say that contradiction, the contradiction of eternity meeting temporality in the incarnation, is illogical. Perfection cannot lack any good thing. There can be no lack in it of a good thing. Nevertheless, there is an exception that also stems from logical necessity. Namely: That which contains all that could possibly be good, can only NOT contain all that could possibly good in what it contains ALREADY as that which knows all unknowing.
The paradox is maybe easier to understand if we use an analogy. So, let’s suppose you have a body part like a hand. The hand does not need to experience what the foot experiences in order to be a hand. The hand and the foot can share their different experiences through the brain. The brain knows the unknowing of the foot with respect to the hand, and the unknowing of the hand with respect to the foot. It then adds up the info to know both the unknowing of the hand and of the foot. Both the hand and foot are part of a single organism, and by unknowing things, the organism is able to know more, as it distinguishes between what it learns from the sensations of the foot and from the sensations of the hand.
The result is something philosophers refer to as “combined consciousness.” I’ll touch on concepts of consciousness like panpsychism and cosmopsynchism and various theories commonly discussed among philosophers regarding the mind in later blogcasts. Here, I just want to offer that the divine mind, necessarily combines consciousness. If we understand God to be Perfection, we can say with certainty that it happens because of the definition of Perfection, which lacks no good thing, including all the good things involved in unknowing. The solution is combined combined consciousness.
This is the mystery both of the incarnation, in which that which is the fullness of deity, becomes less than what it is, abandoning its former estate, forsaking not the world.
The incarnation presents many ironies. The contradiction is defeated by an included “lessness” in its abundance. Yet the contradiction remains: that which contains all that could be good, (Perfection), cannot have anything good added to what it is or what it does.
In this way, as God, Christ can say he is Alpha and Omega. But in saying so, he refers to the end of time, not just the beginning. He is not saying just that he will be there at the end of time. He is saying he is already at the end of time because time is included in Himself. The sense of completeness you see in Genesis, seen in this light, presents no obstacle to a later unfolding of the heavens through time.
Your question acknowledges that God continues to create things like stars after the six day creation, but what I am saying to you is that Genesis includes the later creation of these stars, as well. When God creates, he sees the entire future – and specifically that future which is very good, especially the completed work of Jesus as the New Adam. With that work, which is perfect, he is ready to rest on the seventh day.
Belief in Jesus is a coherentist assumption based on faith. It amounts to a comprehensive doctrine, or dogma. It might be backed up by evidence from prophecy found in the TNKH. It might be supported by some historical data, if it is reliable, but to settle such matters requires the use of a truth machine. If your truth machine excludes the Bible and replaces it with the Q’uran, Jesus won’t claim to be the Alpha and the Omega anymore. Jesus will become a respected historical prophet who actually pointed to Muhammed. I’d love to hear from my Muslim readers and listeners as to their view of the Multiverse. I don’t think the Q’uran necessarily excludes it. In saying there are seven heavens, it isn’t saying there aren’t more. Am I right?