Very good! Very well and thoroughly put. I also have had difficulty agreeing with Lewis in this case (and with Francis Collins in his book), but wonder if this is a more appealing argument to secularists. The drive to moral absolutes is probably adaptive, but misuse can certainly result in abuse, as you say so clearly. I’m going to reference this posting for future discussions, if that’s ok. Thanks
It has been many years since I waded through that text, and perhaps this is an example of something I said before about the difficulty of understanding what philosophers have said rivaling the difficulty of scientific theories. Though I frankly think this is one of the easier example by far. Nevertheless, perhaps such tasks are best left to when we are young and the neurology of our brains considerably more adaptable. So I shall summarize his argument for you…
It is in three parts, 1) the experience of person who comes to believe, 2) the observation of how many people have this experience, 3) a comparison of similarities between this experience and the scientific method.
- A person who entertains idea of God and follows their fascination with the idea to try it out in the living of their life often experiences a transforming effect of this belief upon their life.
- We can certainly observe this is hardly a rare experience but actually rather widespread. The numbers of people having such a transforming experience makes it rather difficult to dismiss.
- Pierce thought that it was in many ways like a use of the scientific method where we have an hypothesis and then we test it to see whether it works.
Does this argument have objective validity? Certainly not. But then it doesn’t particularly pretend to much objectivity. As I review it today, I would particularly criticize the last part where it attempts to compare this with the scientific methodology. What it particularly lacks is the foundation of objectivity in science where there is a written procedure which gives the same results no matter what one believes. The procedure here actually requires you to believe and thus throws objectivity right out the window.
Thanks! That helps a lot. Another good rebuttal would be why there is a life changing experience across so many faith paradigms–from Islam to Christianity, Christianity to Islam, even deconverting to atheism; I’ve read of conversion experiences to Scientology that made people feel wonderful and changed their lives. It seems to be the nature of people to look for faith to change their lives. (that is neither a confirmatory nor a critical response). I appreciate your observations.
Having this experience in different theistic religion would be irrelevant to Pierce’s argument but showing that there is such an experience in non-theistic religions or even in a conversion to atheism would indeed be a very effective rebuttal.
I’m thinking this through better now. It sounds like Pierce is, if I gather right, looking for a relationship with a divine Being making a difference–sort of like Augustine’s statement that He has made us and our hearts are restless till they come to Him–only as an observational study that belief is helpful. The fact that the various faiths differ doesn’t matter to him, right? I see it better.
The only instance I’ve seen of deconversion being a relief was in the case of someone being very uncomfortable with old, severe images of God (eg total depravity and sending all to hell). In that case, his cognitive dissonance with regard to justice was relieved. That’s not as all encompassing as a relationship with a God, I think; so I’m not sure my example was very strong at all.
Thanks for your clear tutoring.
What it brought to my mind was Scott Peck’s observation in his psychiatric practice (reported in his famous books), that quite often he was most successful helping his clients when they made a transition in either direction. In other words, it was just as helpful to the well being of his clients to go from theist to atheist as it was to go from atheist to theist.
Oh, The thread has been resurrected!
i’m working on a reply!
Should the argument for God’s existence really rest on such a slender foundation as the ultimate decision of physicists about Big Bang Cosmology? Well, one thing is clear. In ages past it didn’t depend on it. Obviously, Sts. Abraham and Sarah, David and Solomon, the prophets and apostles, and all the men and women who followed in their footsteps up through the 19th century, including eminent scientists such as St. Faraday and St. Maxwell: these cannot have believed in God because of the Big Bang Theory, because—guess what?—nobody knew about it yet!
This statement begs the question. 1) The discussion of origins does not prove or disprove the existence of God, but what it does do is shed light on how God works or operates. For Christians to ignore this information would be gross negligence.
Some unbelievers try to use science to claim that God did create the universe. Christians I believe have an obligation to counter these claims based on the best information available.
It is possible that that there may be new science information that raises some real questions about how God created the universe, such as the multiverse hypothesis. Christians need to take these views seriously, even though they do not directly question the existence of God.
Christians believe in the utility of science and therefore we take science seriously. We believe that God created the universe so that the universe shows forth the Power, Wisdom, and the Love of God. We rejoice that current science, as Bro. Wall says, confirms the fact that God created the universe through the Universe out of nothing through the Big Bang.