The “Necessity” of Revelation?

Those who believe the Author of Nature to be also the Author of Scripture must expect to find in Scripture the same sorts of difficulties that they find in Nature. – Origen of Alexandria

The title of this post is almost a contradiction in terms. The term “revelation” seems to imply a sense of freedom in the act, especially if initiated by God. To use it in the same phrase with “necessity” might cause one to balk, so it requires some explanation before kicking off this phase of the journey. The kind of necessity we are concerned with here is one that is “built in” by choice… as a bike manufacturer who didn’t need to build a motorized bicycle, but chose to do so instead of a non-motorized one. Given the latter, we can claim that an energy source for the bike is a-posteriori “necessary.” The “need” was chosen and built in. It might be better referred to as “structural necessity” as opposed to “intrinsic necessity.”

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Idol Tales

“Now it was Mary Magdalen and Jo-anna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering what had happened.” – Luke 24:10-12

While moving from our assessment of the theism/atheism divide in itself is signal enough for having decided for theism, we quickly realize the journey is just beginning in many ways. While a major chasm has been crossed, we see an apparent “list of applicants” when it comes to the relation that obtains (or should obtain) with regard to the divine. If the skeptic cannot see God because of a kind of metaphysical blindness, the sincere person of faith may risk not seeing for the proliferation of “applicants”… a kind of “hiding” in plain sight. In fact one of the risks is taking the proliferation as is and thinking that it is foundational. This brings us to the focus of this post: the divide between monotheism and polytheism. To treat this, a few areas will need to be covered. We’ll first survey the narratives associated with many polytheistic worldviews, and see what kind of insights there might be from comparing them to the monotheistic accounts. Next, we will revisit the philosophical argument from our last post to see if there is anything about this question that can be deduced from it… and finish with an examination of specific consequences that flow from these admittedly still broad classifications of “monotheism” and “polytheism.”

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Law Overruled?

What Christianity says is merely this. That this repetition in nature has its origin not in a thing resembling a law but a thing resembling a will… G.K.Chesterton – The Blatchford Controversies.

Having glanced once more at our roadmap, we confirm that we have now set our sights on a discussion of atheism vs theism. Let’s be under no illusion about our goal. We are not trying to determine which worldview is more “useful” or “beneficial.” This might strike us as odd, but we have left the world of so-called “pragmatism” when we abandoned agnosticism, relativism and indifferentism. We are looking for the “bedrock”… the truth of the matter. We might fully expect that acting in accord with the correct view of reality should cause the important things to fall into place for us, but beginning with “utility” would only restrict the search to our own limited view and purposes.

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The Roadmap

 “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” G.K Chesterton – Tremendous Trifles

Any journey requires at least some planning… and a map. We are looking for a particular destination (the Truth’s “Home”) from among possible candidates and will need to explore the network of roads to find it and distinguish it from the pretenders.

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The uses and limits of doubt

“In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, it is not the right method to tell him to stop doubting. It is rather the right method to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself.” – G.K. Chesterton: Introduction to the Book of Job

My previous post addressed some typical objections to the truth seeking project, which really amounted to the completion of the first step of our journey… to have the motivation and commitment to “travel”… essentially to follow the arguments wherever they lead. It’s now time to put some “gas” in the tank; those gnawing questions and doubts… Continue reading