Saturday, February 2, 2008

Rhetoric Paper

My Rhetoric paper will be somewhat touchy. I am writing to a hostile audience, and a very emotionally involved hostile audience.

My Propositio (thesis) is that God is in direct control of every bad thing that has ever happened to you. I am writing to those Christians who are orthodox but do not believe this.

Most of my arguments will be Scriptural, but the brunt of the paper will probably be in defining the issue. My hope is to define all opposition right into a corner, where they agree that God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, but disagree that He is other than a squishy Santa in the sky (where'd we get North Pole?). Then comes Scripture, which you have to either deny, redefine, or submit to.

We shall see how it goes.

I'm off to read poetry, though I may have a few more posts this week.

Jesse Broussard

Lordship paper

For my Lorship paper, I am interacting with two consecutive comments by Calvin in his Institutes. First, he states that it is impossible to have knowledge of God without knowledge of self, and secondly, he reverses it--knowledge of self is impossible without knowledge of God.

My thesis is that knowledge itself is impossible without an a priori assumption of God. Ironically, I will be using Hume, as an honest atheist is the best Christian apologist.

My main points should be seen coming from ten miles away, but in that respect are kind of like trains: it doesn't matter how long you've seen them coming if you can't move.

The first will likely be a reductio ad absurdam, in which I will assume the contrary of what I am trying to prove. Id est, "If, however, evolution is true, then nothing exists outside of complex chemical reactions, simply time and chance happening upon matter. But we never judge chemical reactions to be right or wrong, they simply are. The paper is not wrong to catch fire, it simply does. That is the way that it behaves in our purely material universe. Our minds are not wrong to assume that there is or isn't a God, that is simply what they do. To consistently hold this materialistic position removes the possibility of any intelligent metaphysical discussion, let alone intelligent disagreement, as our opinions on the matter are irrelevant and have the truth content of a bowl of mushroom soup." Something like that.

The next will be where Hume comes in handy, particularly his arguments on induction. You cannot assume tomorrow based upon today. You do, but you can't. A Christian, even a theist can, but an atheist can't. He has to assume that tomorrow won't be like today, otherwise he would still be inanimate and irrational goo, much like his logical processes. But I won't mention that.

Beyond that I have my refutation of common objections followed by my conclusion.

It should be interesting.

Mere Christianity

I just read Lewis' Mere Christianity again, and now can't figure out why I'd waited so long to do so.

However, a quick caution: Lewis, while brilliant and very pleasant to read, is not entirely "within the ilk" of orthodox theology. It doesn't come out often, but there will be points at which you really should disagree. However, as Wilson said, even when Lewis is wrong, he is more enjoyable than most are when they're right.

A few quotes:

"...we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do. This is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger--according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way."

"There is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on."

There are far too many for me to type them all. It is a glorious, five star book that should be read with one eye on it and the other on the Scriptures.

Wodehousian Fun