On the Plus Side

A Facebook friend drew this cartoon by Tom Gauld to my attention. This could be a discussion between a professor and their undergraduate student, or between two academic colleagues. There are different kinds of impenetrable language, but I suspect that the aim is often the same: to shield the actual claims (if there are any) from criticism.

"It's only hyperbole if he doesn't take his extravagant claims literally, lol."

What Happens When You Review Richard ..."
"Oh, epistemic hyperbole is basically the English language as far as Carrier's concerned."

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"Carrier also imports traditional deductive reasoning language into his arguments, suggesting "certainty" of his arguments, ..."

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"The thing I've appreciated about Carrier's attempts to use a (modified) form of Bayes' theorem ..."

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  • John MacDonald

    Like explaining the Trinity by saying it’s “consubstantial.”

    • Neko

      That is a point in the argument, not the argument. The concept of the triune God is derived from the scriptures, in which the Hebrew god is the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Paraclete the Holy Spirit. It’s a metaphor of the universal recognition of Mind, Body, Spirit.

      • John MacDonald

        In what way are they one substance? Jesus and God have separate wills that want different things (Mark 14:36). Jesus is clearly subordinate to God in Gethsemane, terrified and begging God to change His plan.

      • John MacDonald

        I would say that while Jesus can be 100% man, or 100% God, Jesus can’t be both 100% man and 100% God due to the radical incompossibility of these two characterizations. (if you can use words like “Paraclete,” I can use words like “incompossible”- lol)

        • Neko

          “Paraclete.” Is that just a Catholic thing? :)

      • Etranger

        A lot of people actually believe in it literally rather than as a metaphor! Like they literally believe there is a holy spirit out there that comes down on you and changes your life. (Crazy I know, but true!!)

        • Neko

          This made me laugh. I’ve actually had an experience like the Holy Spirit coming down and changing my life. There was no bird involved, however.

          • Etranger

            That would be quite amazing to see.

          • Neko

            It would be! But…there were no visuals.

            I suspect it’s a stock ecstatic experience that for many people results in conversion.

    • Marja Erwin

      Early Trinitarian arguments assumed that anything created was inferior to anything uncreated, and therefore nothing created could be fully G’d.

      … I don’t know how they squared that with the Incarnation. Or with *anything* which requires G’d’s presence in the world and in time.

      “Consubstantial” and “homoousios” aren’t supposed to mean “made of the same material,” but something closer to “existing in the same way.”

      • John MacDonald

        Can you explain what “existing in the same way” means?

        • Marja Erwin

          It means existing in the same way.

          So in this context, it’s the claim that if one is uncreated, the other is too, if one is unchangable, the other is too, if one is outside the world and outside time, the other is too, etc.

          [That’s pretty much what the councils of Nicaea and Constantinopolis adopted. Between, several other councils, arguably some more ecumenical, either rejected this Dualitarian/Trinitarian interpretation or adopted compromises such as “like according to the scriptures.”]

          • John MacDonald

            So it’s your argument that the Trinitarian is claiming Jesus is uncreated, unchangeable, outside the world and time, etc.? These are pretty lofty claims about Jesus! It makes you wonder why Jesus couldn’t do miracles in his home town (Mark 6:5)? And why would such a Jesus be so terrified in Gethsemane, begging God to change His plan (Mark 14:36)?

          • Marja Erwin

            “These are pretty lofty claims about Jesus!”

            That’s why the Council of Chalcedon decided he had two natures.

          • John MacDonald

            Do God and Jesus share a mind, or do each have their own mind?

          • John MacDonald

            Pardon my language, but I’m calling bullsh** on “Consubstantial.” lol

          • Marja Erwin

            On what exactly? Trinitarian word choice? Trinitarian doctrine?

          • John MacDonald

            You still haven’t answered my last question, so I’ll ask it again: Do God and Jesus share a mind, or do each have their own mind? Or does Jesus have two minds: The mind of God and the mind of a human?

            I’m just trying to draw out the implications of what you think it means for Jesus to have two separate natures.

          • John MacDonald

            Marja: I’m just trying to reconcile your position with The Principle of Non Contradiction: something cannot both “be” and “not be,” at the same time, and in the same way …

          • Marja Erwin

            huh?

          • John MacDonald

            How can an individual have two seemingly contrary natures: 100% man and 100% God? Can an individual have 200% being? Isn’t that just mathematical gibberish like claiming Jesus is 37% man and 190% God. Can’t an entity just have 100% being, by definition?

          • Marja Erwin

            Are you asking what *I* believe or what *Trinitarians* believe?

            I don’t know if G’d has one mind or many or both at once.

            I think Trinitarians believe G’d has three minds – one of the Creator, one of the Word, and one of the Spirit.

            I don’t know whether Chalcedonian Trinitarians believe Iesus had one mind or two. I think Monothelite Trinitarians believe he had one.

          • John MacDonald

            (1) Marja: “I don’t know if G’d has one mind or many or both at once.”

            Is it possible to have more than one mind at once? For instance, can God picture the colors white and black simultaneously?

            (2) Marja: “I think Trinitarians believe G’d has three minds – one of the Creator, one of the Word, and one of the Spirit.”

            Wouldn’t this require some sort of ultimate “fourth mind” underlying (ὑποκείμενον) the other three, in which the three subsist, and where the three have the ability to interact with one another and function according to some common purpose or cause?

            (3) What do you make of the relationship between Jesus and God in Mark’s portrayal of Jesus disagreeing with God’s plan? :

            35 He went a little farther and fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:35-36).

            Are Trinitarians saying Jesus is disagreeing with himself here and petitioning himself to change the plan?

            – It seems difficult to reconcile the portrayal of Jesus being fully man, with that of Jesus also being fully God, given that God and man are seemingly such antithetical concepts.

          • John MacDonald

            Marja:

            And I would say, quoting you, that if “I don’t know if G’d has one mind or many or both at once,” then you really don’t know what you mean when you say “Jesus has two natures.”

            How can anyone know what it means to claim “Jesus has two natures” if they can’t clarify how to characterize God’s
            Mind(s)?

          • John MacDonald

            Regarding the Trinity, if the three don’t participate in some underlying ὑποκείμενον, it is difficult to say how they all would be considered God? The question then becomes one of how to characterize the ὑποκείμενον?

  • arcseconds

    I’m surprised that someone who’s research interest is in ancient texts that could hardly be said to be models of clarity, who has at least some interest in theology, and who has more than a modicum of sympathy for mysticism, should have so little sympathy for difficult texts…