5 more arguments for the existence of God

 

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St. Thomas Aquinas famously formulated 5 arguments for the existence of God.  Robert H. Nelson has formulated 5 more, reflecting modern modes of thinking.

They have to do with (1) the mystery of why mathematics, a mental construction,  applies so completely in the physical world; (2) the mystery of human consciousness; (3) new issues in evolutionary biology; (4) that revolutionary ideas have tended to occur separately but at the same time;  (5) the phenomenon of different forms of worship (including the way even non-religious ideologies such as Marxism assume religious forms).  These all suggest the existence of a mind behind the universe.

More details on these arguments after the jump.  See also Nelson’s book,  God?  Very Probably:  Five Rational Ways to Think about the Question of a God.

Now I’m not sure such arguments, while interesting, get us very far.  They don’t get us to the incarnation of this God, or to His act of atonement on the Cross, or to His resurrection from the dead.

Faith is a curious kind of thing,” the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  Faith is a gift.  As the great thinker  J. G. Hamann said when his friend Immanuel Kant tried to argue him out of his conversion, you can’t argue me out of my faith because I was never argued into my faith.  Faith is a kind of revelation, the personal impact of the Word of Law and Gospel, so it’s very real, hard to shake, and yet a different kind of thing than the conclusion of a rational argument.

And yet, I do think apologetics can be helpful in clearing away obstacles and in reminding us all that Christian faith is connected to objective truth.

 

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Special prosecutor appointed

 

Robert S. Mueller

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed a Special Counsel–a.k.a., Special Prosecutor–to investigate Russian attempts to influence the U.S. election and any connections to the Donald Trump campaign.

The Special Counsel is former FBI director Robert Mueller, who was appointed by President Bush and continued to serve under President Obama.  He is widely respected by both Republicans and Democrats.

The drama unfolds. . . .We had Special Prosecutors investigating Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.  Do you think this will end differently for President Trump? [Read more…]

Blog update & our FaceBook page

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BeliefNet, having purchased Patheos, is planning a new look and new features for its family of blogs.  So watch for changes here at Cranach.  For example, you might notice a difference in how the illustrations are presented.

Actually, that is a minor change I was asked to make as part of the Patheos social media initiative.  In addition to my personal FaceBook page, I have an author page that I set up for this blog.  I have shamefully neglected it.  But no more!

At the urging of my Patheos editor and former student, Bart Gingerich, I am going to develop it into an active companion to this blog.  Not only will I put up links to current Cranach posts, I will include extra features:  background information about the Cranach blog, popular posts from the past, a forum for discussing the blog.

Visit the page, like it, post the links on your FaceBook page, and hopefully this will help bring back that sense of community we had back in the blog’s Golden Age.

 

The 221 religions

V&A_-_Raphael,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515)The United States military has nearly doubled its list of recognized religions to 221.

The list includes the various forms of neo-paganism, which is as sectarian as any other religion:  Druids, Heathens, Pagans, Shamans, Magick & Spiritualists, Wicca, Seax Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, etc.   But Satanists did not make the list.

The new list includes the various kinds of unbelief:  Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, Deists, No Religion.

The earlier list had the one category “Jewish,” but this one usefully breaks down that religion into its  “Reform,” “Conservative,” and “Orthodox” strains.  Hasidic Jews are not listed, but Messianic Jews are.

It lists “Islam” as one group, but ignores the distinction between “Shi’ite” and “Sunni,” despite the current conflict between those two sects, which would seem to be important for our military to be aware of.

The Lutheran list is all confused.  “Lutheran Church in America,” “American Lutheran Church,” and the “American Evangelical Lutheran Church” are listed, though they no longer exist, having merged into the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” (listed).  “The Lutheran Council in the USA”–never a church, just an organization of churches– is also defunct, having shut down in 1988.  More recent organizations are not listed.  Nor is the North American Lutheran Church, which broke away from the ELCA.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is on the list, but not the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church or the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  And yet smaller Lutheran groups, such as the Free Lutherans and the American and the Independent Lutherans, are on the list.  There is a category for “Lutheran Churches, Other.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if other traditions are similarly garbled.  So the list falls short of being a comprehensive catalog of American religions.  But it’s interesting nonetheless.

How this list will be used is unclear.  Expect an initiative to provide religious support for all of these groups, and expect Christian chaplains to be pressured accordingly.  Read this article about the list and see our post on religion in the military.

Read the whole list after the jump.

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“I hope you can let this go”

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Fired FBI director James Comey has reportedly kept a paper trail of President Trump’s inappropriate efforts to influence investigations of his administration’s Russia connections.

The New York Times reported on a memo that Comey wrote the day after the president’s national security director Michael T. Flynn resigned.  It recorded a conversation in which the president told Comey what a “good guy” Flynn is, concluding “I hope you can let this go.”

The White House denies the account.  According to another report, Comey’s notes show that he felt pressured to drop the investigation.  CNN’s legal analyst says this could be an obstruction of justice, what Nixon was impeached for.

There are those building a case for impeachment.  Comey is in a position to strike back.  The implication of these stories is that Comey made other memos and notes, so those may be coming out too, eventually.

Does the president’s “hope” really rise to the level of obstruction of justice, or are his critics over-reacting?

All of these controversies, even if overblown, are hurting President Trump’s ability to enact his agenda.  Republicans in Congress don’t seem afraid of him anymore and some are trying to distance themselves from the Republican president’s plummeting approval ratings.  That could jeopardize the repeal of Obamacare, immigration actions, tax reform, etc.

Realizing that Democrats won’t, should Republicans, the media, and Americans in general “let this go”?

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Flushing a friend

White_toiletI have long complained about contemporary funerals.  But I have learned about yet another way of honoring the death of a loved one.

A man is going to baseball stadiums around the country.  While the game is going on, he goes to the men’s room and flushes some of the ashes of his late friend down a toilet.

Thus he honors his friend, a baseball fan and a plumber, making him one with the cathedrals of the game.  Or something.

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