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Re: [existlist] Re: Where the lions flee the Christians

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  • George Walton
    Note: All emphasis in your remarks below are mine. kenhumphries wrote: Wow! I don t know if you can appreciate how much I value
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 15, 2005

      All emphasis in your remarks below are mine.

      kenhumphries <existlist@...> wrote:

      Wow! I don't know if you can appreciate how much I value your
      invitation. Just when I began to fear that I might lose interest,
      you grant me a golden opportunity. This must be how Joe Blow feels when Simon, Paula, and Randy invite him to Hollywood to compete on
      American Idol. And please don't think there is any sarcasm hiding
      in these little black letters. I'm being entirely honest, if a bit

      Your invitation is perfect for what I would truly like to discuss.
      So perfect in fact it gives me pause. But if you're not standing
      before me, unhidden, direct, and forthright, then you certainly
      conjure a realistic mirage. Then again there are those twitching
      feline whiskers.

      I have other good reasons for trepidation. I have no institutional
      education in much of anything outside engineering. I have no
      measure for the education I may or may not have given myself. I
      should probably avoid the proper existentialist lexicon because the
      words will carry nuance I do not fully understand. An acquiescent
      attempt on my part to use those words would probably only confuse
      issues. You did ask for intelligence rather than education. If I
      can offer intelligence, I'll be asking you to behold it alongside

      Well, life is too short for cowardice. (God, am I an arrogant fool
      or what?)


      This is a philosophy venue...not Dr Phil or Oprah. I do hope eventually you intend to get around it.

      If you want me to name it, at this point I can only call it Ken's
      theism. There are two points in it that glitter most attractively
      to me. The first point is that it does respect a belief in an
      actual denominational God, not a god that is only a pantheistic
      symbol or mere human psychological construct.


      Okay, there are hundreds and hundreds of denominational Gods. Now, if you were in a room with an advocate of each of them how would you demonstrate their God is the wrong God because it is not your God?


      The second point is that it seems to me to reflect and largely derive from existential thought; thought that I think I can see in Sartre's writings. These points have their downside. Existentialists, particularly most of those I've met here would hate the first point and sneer at the second Most Christians with whom I associate reject the second point as wholly unnecessary and heretical. There is another important point I would like to make. I'm fully aware that I can say nothing - intelligent, ignorant, compelling, or repulsive - that can lay hold on truth, reality, God, or anything that actually exists. Neither God nor truth submits to me or to anything I think or say. This "Ken's theism" does nothing more than describe a structure that my feeble, insufficient mind requires in order to contemplate those things that draw its interest, particularly its own existence.


      You said it, not me. Though, of course, I completely agree with you.


      Ok, enough procrastinating preamble, it's time to sing. So where
      shall I begin? Well, you have graciously prepared my outline. The
      first point is evidence that God exists. Damn! I begin by rushing headlong into the insurmountable obstacle of being unable to prove that God exists. I can no more prove that God exists than you can prove that He does not. The crucial difference being that I accept that the burden of proof is on the positive, and therefore on me. Let's see, is there no evidence at all? I see no evidence that would force an honest and unbiased scientist to the altar. And I'm sure my audience is made of sterner stuff than that. Mm mm mm, I'm done before I've begun. So, all dressed up and nowhere to go. Very well, thrash me against this obstacle if you must.


      You're not even humming here let alone singing. This is so intellectually embarassing it makes Nolan's points appear downright ingenious by comparison.


      But surely that would be less entertaining than letting me continue to squirm with my meager resources against my own ambition. Just for the sake of fun, couldn't I interest you in something just a little less than a rigorous proof? Don't intelligent people, out of practical necessity, regularly set aside philosophical purity and make intelligent judgments about issues that are impractical or impossible to prove? Don't they then conduct their lives making important decisions based on those judgments as though they were fact? I admit my failure to produce evidence that God exists. Would you, for entertainment's sake at least, allow me to try to defend a claim that belief in God's existence can proceed from intelligent practical judgment? This is a broad retreat from your requirements. But given your views it still presents a daunting challenge to me.


      This stuff doesn't make you feel abjectly ashamed to proffer it in a philosophy venue?!!

      Looking back over this reply I've taken a lot of space to make very
      little headway. I can only admit what I can't do, and under your
      terms that admission already constitutes failure. I may also have
      already displayed too much stupidity and have forfeited your
      invitation on those grounds. Further, you may rightly feel that an
      obscure theism that comes so largely from an uneducated fellow as
      myself is hardly worth your time. I would probably feel some relief if that is your choice. But, between your invitation and this
      reply, we perhaps have a common ground to which we could agree and
      then move forward. If you are willing then I will try my best.


      My friends have convinced me to spare you any further embarrassment. And I really don't have time to waste on folks that are not even sophisticated enough to be object lessons. Let's just forget this exchange ever began.

      Are you even out of high school yet?


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