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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Know

My brother prevailed upon me to read this last night and, while heady and intellectual, I found it quite compelling. You can read the whole thing here, but I particularly like this bit:
“… the defining feature of Theism is the Theist’s experience of an infinite but intimate God; and this sets the Theist so far from abstract epistemic neutrality that she too has every justification for weighting most of the standard budget of problems for Theism found in typical philosophy of religion basically as interesting puzzles. The epistemic reasoner is certain that the world is real, on the basis of her experience; so her question about the sceptical argument is not “I wonder whether it is sound?” but “I wonder where exactly it goes wrong?”. The Theist is certain that God is real, on the basis of her experience; so her question about anti-Theistic arguments is not whether they prove that there is no God, but how exactly they fail to prove that.”
— Timothy Chappell, Theism in historical perspective
What I like is the way Chappell distinguishes 'theists’ from 'Theists’ in that the latter don't simply believe in the idea of God, but in an “infinite and intimate” God. Of course, from that certainty naturally follows. When you speak to me of God, I’m no longer talking about an intellectual idea, I'm talking about my closest friend.

Chappell’s point reminds me of a recent experience. I was talking to one dear friend about the passing of another:
“I know I’ll see him again,” I happened to say.
“You think,” she corrected me.
“No,” I said, “I know”.
I wasn’t just trying to be difficult. I really do know. I guess we 'Capital T’ Theists are just that predictable in our certainty. But the certainty follows logically from our experience of the Lord and our walk with him.

For me, every question about the existence or justice of God ends up demonstrating the “defining feature of Theism” that Mr. Chappell describes above. Jesus said:
“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” (John 7:17)
Certainty is a not a bug in Christian design; it’s a feature. The question is not whether your story, your argument, your science, or your experience fails to prove the non-existence of my God. 

The question is in which way it fails to prove it.

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