Tom Gilson

New Age and Its Contradictions

New Age and Its Contradictions

 
 
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I lived in Southern California for 13 years, where it was a regular occurrence to run into New Age spirituality almost anywhere I went. My wife and I were talking a walk in the hills above Anaheim one day, and were intrigued to hear the sound of a drum and voices, out of sight among the trees ahead of us. I thought maybe it was a Boy Scout group. Our path took us right by the source, and I was wrong: it was 13 people in a circle chanting praises to earth, air, fire, and water. We vacationed in places like Carmel, California, and Sedona, Arizona, Sedona, AZ Center for the New Age both of which are hotbeds of this kind of spirituality. We passed more than one ritual fire circle along a trail above our campsite in Sedona, and the town itself is full of interesting places like this Center for the New Age. Of course we had friends who were avid followers of New Age.

Here in southeastern Virginia it’s been different. The dominant employers here are the military (all five services including the Coast Guard, plus whatever they do at Camp Peary) and shipbuilding. We have the Jefferson Lab accelerator facility, and lots of historical tourism and research revolving around Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. California is, well, California; and this has been different, either because of the forms of industry, or because things are generally more conservative here on the East Coast. I have had very little contact with the New Spirituality lately.

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New Age Resurgence?
Until the last year or so, that is. One reason for that change has been the way Oprah Winfrey has been promoting Eckhart Tolle. Tolle has one book ranked at #2 at Amazon today, and another ranked at #20; and he and Oprah claim viewership in the millions for their combined advocacy for the message of “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now.” One of the most common search phrases by which visitors have been finding this blog lately is “the church of Oprah.”

Contradictory Beliefs
Part of the New Age message is that many paths lead to one goal, even if these paths are in many ways contradictory. This morning I heard a talk by Ravi Zacharias that is very germane to this topic. He was born and raised in a high-caste family in India, but now travels and speaks as a leading Christian thinker. The talk I’m referring to here is on pantheism and its contradictions: the contradictions really do matter, in spite of suppositions that there is an “Eastern” sort of logic in which they are of no consequence.

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His website’s design does not permit me to give you the URL for the page where his talk is linked. You would need to begin at the Just Thinking page, and navigate through the archives to “Secularism and the Illusion of Neutrality, Part 3.” I trust, though, that they will not begrudge my providing you some shortcuts. You can:

Download the mp3 directly here, or
Listen online with RealAudio here.

His main point is that even in Eastern religions, with which he is very familiar, contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time in the same relationship. That’s the dry version. You’ll his telling of it to be far more entertaining than that!

(I strongly recommend all of Zacharias’s talks, so once you listen to this one, I suggest you go back for more; even subscribe to his podcast.)

Commenting Restored

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96 thoughts on “New Age and Its Contradictions

  1. I don’t know much about new age spirituality.  But what if there isn’t just one path and one goal?  In other words, neither Buddhists nor Hindus are seeking redemption through Christ.  And I doubt many new agers are seeking to follow Jesus.  These are Christian paths to Christian goals.  What if there are many different paths leading to many different goals?

  2. Please listen to the talk I linked to. If there is more than one path, and more than one goal, then they are different paths and different goals. 

    If the Christian goal is the true goal, and other paths have different goals, then the other paths lead to false goals.

    Now, before you respond to this, I urge you to listen to the talk.

  3. It might even be interesting if you actually offered an opinion, too (after you listen to the talk). Do you think there are different paths? Do you think there are different goals? Those are easy questions; obviously the answer to both of them is yes.

    Now for a question that requires some thought and commitment: You have told us often in previous discussions that you believe in and follow the Word of God. (Those are probably not your exact words; I’m working from memory.) In the context of our discussions, the Word of God has always been a reference to the Christian Scriptures.

    Do you believe there are other paths and goals that lead to the same destination as that of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible?

  4. I’m very familiar with Ravi.  My father in law is a big fan and I’ve listened to a number of his talks.  I don’t have time at the moment to listen–but I will later.
    If the Christian goal is the true goal, and other paths have different goals, then the other paths lead to false goals.

    For me, journeying on the Christian path toward the Christian goal is the living act of faith.

    I don’t pretend to know the path that other seekers walk or to know what their goals are.  I can just see that they more or less differ from mine.

    But, logically: If there are many paths and there are many goals, then aren’t there also many truths.

  5. I’m sorry to have to say it, but this is another non-sequitir (the first was on a different thread):

    But, logically: If there are many paths and there are many goals, then aren’t there also many truths.

    No, it is not logical to conclude there are many truths if there are many paths or goals. What correlation is there between the existence of a path and a truth? What is it about the fact that a person has a goal that entails there is truth connected to it? I could set myself a goal of scoring 2 touchdowns in my next basketball game. Or I could set myself a goal of achieving Nirvana through multiple reincarnations, only to find out that (Heb. 9:27) it is appointed for a person to die once, and then comes judgment.

  6. I love the secularist debate on truth and what they believe.  The ultimate reality of what is transpiring now in American culture is called post-modern non-confrontationalism.  You can believe whatever you want to believe, as long as your beliefs don’t infringe on my ability to believe whatever I want to believe. 

    I actually received this as a rebuttal from my sister in which I quoted John 14:6 with regards to what I believe as a Christian.  As logic will dictate, the non-confrontationalist’s argument will fail when subjected to truth.  And because the only truth is found in Jesus Christ, you’ll find the only true persecution taking place against Evangelical Christianity.  Those that stand firm in their belief in what Jesus taught will always run up against those that tell Christians that they need to be free to believe whatever they want to believe.

    While that sounds all well and good I’m sure you would agree with me that those that believe that plants have rights would have a problem with those that use a weedwacker on their lawn, or cut their grass.  The next thing you know they’ll be arresting Tiger Woods for taking a divot on the golf course.

    Just one example of how illogical the non-confrontationalist approach to life is.  it’s either that, or we all sit around in silence and lock ourselves behind our doors and do nothing, and interract with no one for the rest of our lives.

  7. You originally said that
    Part of the New Age message is that many paths lead to one goal, even if these paths are in many ways contradictory.
    I don’t know what the correlation between goal and truth is, but here you seem to be saying that paths have goals.  I presumed from that that you were saying a path’s goal was truth.
    Also in the original post you wrote:
    His main point is that even in Eastern religions, with which he is very familiar, contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time in the same relationship.
    Contradictory statements depend on “the same relationship” to something.
    However, my point is that Buddhists and Hindus and Christians do not share “the same relationship” with the same God.  They do not walk the same paths or seek the same goals.  In that sense, there is little risk of contradiction and little problem in saying that these different religions are seeking different truths by walking different paths.
    Sure, more zealous people who follow one of the faiths will always declare that their faith is The True Faith and some will attempt to prove it by using science or force or whatever means they can, but ultimately faith is about trust.  And trust ain’t certainty.
    Walking the path of Jesus is a trusting act of faith, a foolish act that is wiser than man’s wisdom, as Paul said.
     
     
     

  8. Have I been so unclear over all these months? You write,

    I presumed from that that you were saying a path’s goal was truth.

    A path’s goal may be believed to be truth; but that is a far cry from its necessarily being truth. 

    However, my point is that Buddhists and Hindus and Christians do not share “the same relationship” with the same God.  They do not walk the same paths or seek the same goals.  In that sense, there is little risk of contradiction and little problem in saying that these different religions are seeking different truths by walking different paths.

    They share the same God. They share much of the same relationship: both are created by the same God, both depend on the same God for their continuing life (though both may not recognize the fact), both are accountable to the same God.

    There is a whole lot of “risk” of contradiction there! One of them is seeking the truth. The other is not seeking “a different truth;” what the other is seeking is false.

    I am one of those zealous persons who will say that Christianity is The One True Faith. I don’t mind capitalizing the first letters as you did. (I even added an extra word for emphasis.) Actually, since “Christianity” includes some admixture of human failing, I would prefer to say the Jesus Christ is The One True Savior, The One True Son of God, The One True Source of Life, The One True Hope of Eternal Life, The One True King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But note that I most emphatically do not say that I hold the truth. It is, as my blog motto above states, the other way around

    It is impossible for Buddhism and Christianity both to be seeking the true goal of life. Either there is Nirvana after multiple reincarnations, or there is judgment after one life. Logically it would be possible (based on those two assertions alone, without reference to other relevant information) that neither is correct. It is not possible, however, for both Buddhism and Christianity to be correct. 

    There are other very major points of fundamental disagreement besides these two. But these two ought to put an end to all thought of truths being a construct of community, society, language, whatever. Language and community will not change whether there is (or is not) a God who is waiting to greet you when you die. You just can’t do that with language, or with societal norms, or any other human construction.

    “Ultimately faith is about trust.” Sure. What does that have to do with the previous discussion about contradictions? Are you saying that my trust, and a Buddhist’s trust, make it possible that both of us are right? I hope not. My trust, and a Buddhist’s trust, logical entail that at least one of us is wrong, because the things we are trusting and hoping for are contradictory and cannot both be true.

  9. Stump says,

    Contradictory statements depend on “the same relationship” to something.
    However, my point is that Buddhists and Hindus and Christians do not share “the same relationship” with the same God.  They do not walk the same paths or seek the same goals.  In that sense, there is little risk of contradiction and little problem in saying that these different religions are seeking different truths by walking different paths.

    Tom already covered this with scoring touchdowns in basketball. A goal is not the truth just because you say it is and if you seek a goal but there is no reality corresponding to the object of your goal then you can not achieve it.
    If they are walking paths toward goals which Christianity says do not exist then they are in contradiction with Christianity. If they are seeking different Gods then they are in contradiction with Christianity, which claims there is one God and that He has revealed Himself.

  10. A path’s goal may be believed to be truth; but that is a far cry from its necessarily being truth.

    Are you too confined to that claim?  Are you willing to say about your own beliefs: “What I believed to be truth could possibly be a far cry from its necessarily being truth.”  
    On one hand, I have you claiming “They share the same God.”  But what if a Buddhist says “No, I’m not seeking to follow in the way of Jesus.” 

    Does it matter what the Buddhist thinks or does it only matter what you think?
    There is a whole lot of “risk” of contradiction there! One of them is seeking the truth. The other is not seeking “a different truth;” what the other is seeking is false.
    I don’t understand what you’re saying here.
    I am one of those zealous persons who will say that Christianity is The One True Faith. I don’t mind capitalizing the first letters as you did. (I even added an extra word for emphasis.) Actually, since “Christianity” includes some admixture of human failing, I would prefer to say the Jesus Christ is The One True Savior, The One True Son of God, The One True Source of Life, The One True Hope of Eternal Life, The One True King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But note that I most emphatically do not say that I hold the truth. It is, as my blog motto above states, the other way around.

    I know. I’m not, however, a zealous believer like that.  We come from two different perspectives.  That is why our conversations spark so.

    It is impossible for Buddhism and Christianity both to be seeking the true goal of life.

    I’m not saying that Buddhism and Christianity are both seeking “the true goal of life.”  Rather, I’ve been saying that there is no one true goal of life.  There are many different true goals in life.

  11. Don’t forget what is at issue here. It’s whether both of us can be right, Christian and Buddhist. So you’re taking us a bit off track if you ask whether I think a Buddhist might be right. If a Buddhist is right, then I am wrong, and if I am right, a Buddhist is wrong.

    As to which of us is right, what we think matters a whole lot less than what God thinks, or (if you prefer) what we think matters a whole lot less than what is actually real.

    Rather, I’ve been saying that there is no one true goal of life.  There are many different true goals in life.

    But if they contradict, then they can’t all be true. If there are multiple contradictory true goals, no more than one of them can be true. The rest must be wrong. And if you disagree with this, then you are wrong; not because I say so, and not because of my zealotry for my beliefs, but just because it is impossible for contradictory goals all to be in pursuit of what is actually true.

  12. Let me ask you this, Jacob. Would you be willing to rephrase some of your statements, to commit to this?

    “It is incorrect to say that two contradictory beliefs cannot both be correct and true, at the same time and in the same relationship.”

    Does this express your opinion accurately?

  13. Don’t forget what is at issue here. It’s whether both of us can be right, Christian and Buddhist. So you’re taking us a bit off track if you ask whether I think a Buddhist might be right. If a Buddhist is right, then I am wrong, and if I am right, a Buddhist is wrong.

    I’m not asking if you think a Buddhist can be right.  I’m asking if you think your beliefs can possibly not be true.

    But if they contradict, then they can’t all be true.

    But what if they don’t contradict each other.  What if they do not share the same relation?  A Buddhist doesn’t follow Christ and Christ didn’t teach about zen. 

    If there are multiple contradictory true goals, no more than one of them can be true.

    But what if the different paths and the different truths do not contradict?  What if the Buddhist is walking a different path than the Christian and seeking a different truth than the Christian truth?

  14. Let me ask you this, Jacob. Would you be willing to rephrase some of your statements, to commit to this?
    “It is incorrect to say that two contradictory beliefs cannot both be correct and true, at the same time and in the same relationship.”
    Does this express your opinion accurately?

    Can you rephrase your statement to make it a bit more intelligible?

  15. No, I can’t. At least, I don’t know a good way to do it anyway. The phrasing, including the double negatives, is quite intentional. You could remove “at the same time and in the same relationship” because that’s a refinement of the main point. 

    Let me explain why I included those qualifiers. I’m trying to find out if you agree with something that denies classic logic. Under the Law of Noncontradiction, two contradictory statements can actually be true. It is possible if they apply to different times, or to different relationships. For example, I could affirm both of these statements: My son is a college student. My son is not a college student.

    I could affirm them both if I said them at different times: If I say it now while he is in high school, and if I say it later when (presumably) he is a college student. There is no contradiction there.

    I could affirm them both if I say them in different relationships. He is not a college student as it is typically understood, but he is dual-enrolled at the local community college for one of his classes, so in that relationship he is a college student. No contradiction there again.

    So I could rephrase my earlier version by asking whether you can affirm this:

    “It is incorrect to say that two contradictory statements cannot both be true, except as just noted here.”

    Or on further thought I suppose I could try it this way.

    Suppose I were to say, “Two contradictory statements can never be true at the same time and in the same relationship.” Would you disagree with that categorical statement?

  16. To your earlier comment:

    I’m not asking if you think a Buddhist can be right.  I’m asking if you think your beliefs can possibly not be true.

    Then you have changed the subject, which I was making an effort not to do.

    But what if they don’t contradict each other.  What if they do not share the same relation?  A Buddhist doesn’t follow Christ and Christ didn’t teach about zen. 

    Then they are in contradiction, for a Christian says that if the Buddhist is not following Christ, then he is walking toward death; and that Christ did not teach about Zen because Zen is not truth. They do share the same relation to God (as I said above) in the sense of being his creatures, being dependent on him, and being accountable to him. Did you miss that?

    (How many times must this be repeated before you hear it, Jacob?!!!)

    If there are multiple contradictory true goals, no more than one of them can be true.

    But what if the different paths and the different truths do not contradict? What if the Buddhist is walking a different path than the Christian and seeking a different truth than the Christian truth?

    The problem is the word truth. The word truth cannot apply in both cases. The Buddhist and the Christian may both be seeking truth, I’ll grant that. But if the Christian finds his answer in Christ, and the Buddhist finds his answer in something else, then the word “truth” is the wrong word to apply to at least one of their answers.

    Would you please stop using the word “truth” for any old opinion someone takes it into his head to hold? Even if it has a long heritage, an opinion can still be wrong, and if it’s wrong, it’s not truth!

  17. If contradiction depends on a shared relationship, then I can agree that two claims to truth that share a relationship cannot both be true; one must be false.
    How does that work?

  18. That works. Please note that religions’ claims to truth inevitably involve shared relationships. If Christian belief is true, then all persons have a relationship with God at least as described above. If Buddhist belief is true, then all persons have a relationship with a reality that permits reincarnation. If Hindu belief is true, then all persons have a relationship with Karma. If Muslim belief is true, then all persons have a shared relationship with Allah. If secularism is true, then all persons have a shared relationship with material reality and its ultimate heat death.

    I could go on but you get the point.

    Now, if you want to say that “relationship” doesn’t apply to, say, material reality, then I would say that in the sense employed in the Law of Noncontradiction, it actually does. That is the sense in which the word is used there.

  19. Then you have changed the subject, which I was making an effort not to do.


    It sounds a lot like you’re evading the question.  Can you admit the possibility that your own beliefs are not true?  Or is that a possibility only nonChristian new agers face?
     
    Then they are in contradiction, for a Christian says that if the Buddhist is not following Christ, then he is walking toward death; and that Christ did not teach about Zen because Zen is not truth.


    Then that’s what a “Christian says” which could possibly be a far cry from the truth.  And since the Buddhist is following a different path toward a different truth, the devout Buddhist probably doesn’t care what the Christian says.
     
    They do share the same relation to God (as I said above) in the sense of being his creatures, being dependent on him, and being accountable to him.  Did you miss that?


    As far as the “Christian says,” from inside the Christian pathway to the Christian God.  But to the Buddhist this doesn’t make sense.
     
    The problem is the word truth. The word truth cannot apply in both cases. The Buddhist and the Christian may both be seeking truth, I’ll grant that. But if the Christian finds his answer in Christ, and the Buddhist finds his answer in something else, then the word “truth” is the wrong word to apply to at least one of their answers.


    I agree that the problem is with the word truth, but I disagree with your remedy.  I think truth is the word we should use.  It should be made plural, however.  An “s” should be added.  It is not that there is Truth, but that there are many paths to many Truths.
     

    There can still be contradiction, but contradiction depends on a shared relationship. Competing Christian claims to truth can be contradictory, for instance, since they share a relation to the Christian God.

  20. I’m not evading the question. I’m trying to stay on track. (The answer: yes, I could be wrong. And if I’m wrong, I’m wrong, I’m not practicing one of many “Truths.” Now let’s get back to the subject.)

    Can you reconcile these?

    Then that’s what a “Christian says” which could possibly be a far cry from the truth. 

    and 

     I think truth is the word we should use.  It should be made plural, however.  An “s” should be added.  It is not that there is Truth, but that there are many paths to many Truths.

    I think you’re telling me that the Christian truth, which says there is only one truth, is not one of the Truths. Why does it get left out?

  21. There can still be contradiction, but contradiction depends on a shared relationship. Competing Christian claims to truth can be contradictory, for instance, since they share a relation to the Christian God.

    The “Christian God” is ultimate reality for everybody, so we all share a relationship to the Christian God. You have ignored my statements on this repeatedly. Now, what if I’m wrong about the Christian God? Well, the same kind of thing (the universal shared relationship) can be said about every set of truth claims, in the sense that they all make statements about ultimate reality. All ultimate truth claims (which include religions and secular substitutes for religion) make claims about ultimate reality. So they all share a relation. If ultimate reality is the Christian God (as I’m convinced it is) then all the other truth claims are wrong, false, untrue, and so on, and your reply preceding this one, whether or not you think you have a relationship with Christian truth claims, is…

    …wrong.

  22. The website went down when I was about to add more to this. I’m going to take off my apologist’s hat and put on a pastoral hat now, with a word of warning to one who claims to follow Christ.

    Jacob, you wrote,

    For me, journeying on the Christian path toward the Christian goal is the living act of faith.

    Apparently you care about honoring Christ. I hope so. But here is why all this matters so much. By making other “Truths” possible, you are making the Christian God, and Jesus Christ, one of many options. This, by his own statement, is deeply dishonoring to Jesus Christ and to God.

    If there are other options that have an equal claim to Truth, then God (the God of the Bible) exists, and he does not exist. This attitude is deeply dishonoring to God, in addition to being incoherent.

    If you say that people who follow other truth claims have no relationship to the Christian God, you are saying he did not create the world and its people. This is deeply dishonoring to God.

    If there are other paths that have an equal claim to Truth, then Jesus Christ did not really have to die on the cross. That was optional. He died – – it was planned from before the ages for him to die – –  for no really necessary reason. God killed his son for no particularly sufficient reason. Or maybe, Christ’s death was one way to God, which makes it, really, one of the universe’s many nice ideas for people who want to find meaning in life. No! The Cross was not a “nice idea,” and if it was optional, if it was not necessary, it was an act of absolute unmitigated horror. 

    And yet you say you are journeying on the Christian path toward the Christian goal?

    Those who deeply dishonor God are not in good standing with him. I grieve for them. I grieve for you, if you insist on dishonoring him so.

  23. Can you reconcile these?

    Then that’s what a “Christian says” which could possibly be a far cry from the truth.

    and

    I think truth is the word we should use.  It should be made plural, however.  An “s” should be added.  It is not that there is Truth, but that there are many paths to many Truths.

    I think you’re telling me that the Christian truth, which says there is only one truth, is not one of the Truths. Why does it get left out?

    Sorry.  Christianity doesn’t get left out.  Christians no doubt are seeking their own truth and their own God.  And so are the Buddhists.  I just don’t think these two religous groupings are on the same path or seeking the same truth.

  24. By making other “Truths” possible, you are making the Christian God, and Jesus Christ, one of many options. This, by his own statement, is deeply dishonoring to Jesus Christ and to God.

    I’m no so sure Jesus says anything about admitting that other people seek truths outside the way of Christ.  I can proclaim my ever trusting faith in Christ and, at the same time, see with my own eyes that many people do not make the same choices that I have.  People choose to follow different paths and seek different truths, which is an empirical claim that I find hard to ignore.  


    If there are other options that have an equal claim to Truth, then God (the God of the Bible) exists, and he does not exist. This attitude is deeply dishonoring to God, in addition to being incoherent.

    I disagree.  For me, there are no equal claims to truth.  I pledge my faith and trust to one.  But I can see also that others pledge their faith and trust elsewhere.

    If you say that people who follow other truth claims have no relationship to the Christian God, you are saying he did not create the world and its people. This is deeply dishonoring to God.

    In my view, the God of the Bible is the creator of the heavens and the earth, the darkness and the light.  There is none higher.  For other people, however, the God of the Bible is not the creator. 

    If there are other paths that have an equal claim to Truth, then Jesus Christ did not really have to die on the cross. That was optional. He died – – it was planned from before the ages for him to die – –  for no really necessary reason. God killed his son for no particularly sufficient reason. Or maybe, Christ’s death was one way to God, which makes it, really, one of the universe’s many nice ideas for people who want to find meaning in life. No! The Cross was not a “nice idea,” and if it was optional, if it was not necessary, it was an act of absolute unmitigated horror.

    For me, there are no other equal paths. And I’m not claiming the cross was a nice idea.  But others believe very differently.

    There is a fundamental difference, I believe, between my trusting fidelity in the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus and between the devout Buddhist’s fidelity to his God.  I don’t claim to speak for the Buddhist.  All that I know is that for myself, Jesus is the way and the light.  And I tell others when the opportunity permits.

    If that troubles you, then I’m sorry.    There are certain aspects of your faith that trouble me too.
     

  25. The “Christian God” is ultimate reality for everybody, so we all share a relationship to the Christian God. You have ignored my statements on this repeatedly. Now, what if I’m wrong about the Christian God? Well, the same kind of thing (the universal shared relationship) can be said about every set of truth claims, in the sense that they all make statements about ultimate reality. All ultimate truth claims (which include religions and secular substitutes for religion) make claims about ultimate reality. So they all share a relation. If ultimate reality is the Christian God (as I’m convinced it is) then all the other truth claims are wrong, false, untrue, and so on, and your reply preceding this one, whether or not you think you have a relationship with Christian truth claims, is…
    …wrong.
    What is the point of continuing the conversation?
     

  26. You don’t see the problem, do you, Jacob?

    Sorry. Christianity doesn’t get left out. Christians no doubt are seeking their own truth and their own God. And so are the Buddhists. I just don’t think these two religous groupings are on the same path or seeking the same truth.

    But you had earlier said,

    Then that’s what a “Christian says” which could possibly be a far cry from the truth!

    How could this be a far cry from the truth if we’re all seeking our own truths? What truth is it far from? But you say that it is, or might be, far from (definite article) the truth. How can it be? You are not agreeing with yourself! How do you expect me or anyone else to agree with you?

    I can proclaim my ever trusting faith in Christ and, at the same time, see with my own eyes that many people do not make the same choices that I have. People choose to follow different paths and seek different truths, which is an empirical claim that I find hard to ignore.

    Jesus, and his followers, and the Old Testament prophets noted the same empirical truth. They said that people following different paths were wrong. If you deny what they said you are not following Jesus Christ.

    For other people, however, the God of the Bible is not the creator.

    God created you, and the heavens and the earth, but somebody or something else created the other people? Jacob, you are not talking about reality at all, are you?

    What is the point of continuing the conversation?

    Let it be noted for the record that you have been disagreeing with me repeatedly. I finally decided to bring it to a head by using the dreaded word “wrong.” You have been implying all along that Christian exclusivism is wrong, but you have studiously avoided using that actual word. Instead when it is brought into the conversation, actually directed toward someone, you pull out.

    Okay, then. Let it be so.

  27. How could this be a far cry from the truth if we’re all seeking our own truths? What truth is it far from? But you say that it is, or might be, far from (definite article) the truth. How can it be? You are not agreeing with yourself! How do you expect me or anyone else to agree with you?
     
    There are always Christians calling out other Christians and claiming that they are not seeking the true way of Jesus.  And the truth that a Christian may be far from is the salvatory graces of Jesus Christ–isn’t that the basic truth of Christianity?


    Jesus, and his followers, and the Old Testament prophets noted the same empirical truth. They said that people following different paths were wrong. If you deny what they said you are not following Jesus Christ.
     
    I agree that in the Bible followers of Jesus noted the empirical fact that there were other paths and other Gods and I agree that they usually denounced them.  As I said, there are always more or less zealous believers.  And I already know that you don’t approve of my stance, but God will ultimately determine whether or not I am following Jesus Christ.


    God created you, and the heavens and the earth, but somebody or something else created the other people? Jacob, you are not talking about reality at all, are you?
     
    My point is that most every religion has a creation story.  In telling their story, Christians refer to the God of the Israilites.  In telling their story, Buddhists refer to their God.
    And I am most certainly talking about reality.  I mean, don’t you believe the reality of the book of Genesis?  I believe that the God of Genesis created the heavens and the earth.


    Let it be noted for the record that you have been disagreeing with me repeatedly. I finally decided to bring it to a head by using the dreaded word “wrong.” You have been implying all along that Christian exclusivism is wrong, but you have studiously avoided using that actual word. Instead when it is brought into the conversation, actually directed toward someone, you pull out.
    Okay, then. Let it be so.
    If I’m “wrong,” what else can I do?  I mean, is there any chance that I might be making a credible argument?…..
    …I didn’t think so.
     

  28. There are always Christians calling out other Christians and claiming that they are not seeking the true way of Jesus.  And the truth that a Christian may be far from is the salvatory graces of Jesus Christ–isn’t that the basic truth of Christianity? In the Bible it wasn’t “always Christians calling out other Christians.” It was followers of Christ calling out people who were following other ways, what in your parlance you might call “other truths.” What they said was that those “other truths” were lies and false. I’ve said this often enough and you have ignored it: it’s not just within Christianity, it’s all people.

    By the way, we’re resuming a pattern that happened back before I was using this WordPress blog software: you ignore what I say, and yet pretend to answer. Very unproductive.

    I agree that in the Bible followers of Jesus noted the empirical fact that there were other paths and other Gods and I agree that they usually denounced them.  As I said, there are always more or less zealous believers.  And I already know that you don’t approve of my stance, but God will ultimately determine whether or not I am following Jesus Christ.

    Your conclusion there is completely uncontested and certainly accurate. But it has little to do with the context in which this topic was first presented. Why did you bother to say it?

    The actual topic goes back to your answer at 6:31 pm to my statement,

    By making other “Truths” possible, you are making the Christian God, and Jesus Christ, one of many options.

    You had answered by pointing out that empirically, other people follow other paths; I pointed out that this is agreed, and that those other paths are wrong. The point of this exchange, I thought, was to continue to discuss the original point of this post, to wit: that contradictory beliefs cannot simultaneously be true.

    You have changed the subject again. I don’t know if this was an intentional attempt to avoid addressing the subject at hand, but that was certainly the result.

    What does this mean, now?

    For me, there are no equal claims to truth.  I pledge my faith and trust to one. 

    No faith and trust to Christ? Or did you mean something else? And all along when you’ve been saying everybody had their own truth, I thought you were affirming their truths equally. Are there degrees of truth? What does that mean?

    If I’m “wrong,” what else can I do?  I mean, is there any chance that I might be making a credible argument?….. …I didn’t think so.

    I really haven’t had the sense you were making an argument at all, Jacob. You’ve shifted the subject, you’ve ignored what I’ve said and pretended to answer, you haven’t really explained your own position very clearly, as just demonstrated.

    And if you say that there are multiple truths, based on what a person chooses to believe, I will quite firmly and unswervingly say that there cannot be multiple truths. There are multiple beliefs, but no more than one (if they contradict) can be honored with the appelation “truth.”

  29. The original post was about the contradictory nature of new age spirituality.
    The point that I have poorly tried to make is that your post depends on the assumption that new age spirituality and Christianity are walking up the same path toward the same goal.
    I cannot disprove that assumption.  And I’m pretty sure that you can’t prove it, either.
    If we make another assumption, then we get different results.
    Again, we can’t prove either assumption, but by making them we can speculate further.
    So, I assume that new age spirituality and Christianity are not walking on the same path and they are not seeking the same goal.
    This new assumption poses a fundamental problem for your story of a universe, where there is one path and one goal.
    The new story assumes a pluriverse, where there are many paths and many goals.
    In this way, new age spirituality is not necessarily contradictory.  It is only contradictory if you assume we live in a universe where there is one path and one goal.
    I’m basically saying, perhaps you should qualify your claim.
     

  30. Once upon a time I had a discussion with Stump:
     

    http://thinkingchristian.net/C228303755/E20070122151155/index.html
     
    There he claimed that knowledge does not entail truth:
    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/tgilblog/E20070122151155/#199487
     
    He claimed that the reason that we argue is to convince others of the value of our beliefs but could never define value or allow belief to conform to any reality. 
     
    He admitted that truth means something special to him:
    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/tgilblog/E20070122151155/#199611
     
    We ended thus:

     
    Jacob,
    I don’t believe that “truth” is out there. That is about as concise as I can say it. I think that “truth” is immanent to human visions of the world and languages describing the world. 

    This is not nearly so controversial now that we know that you are using some idiosyncratic definition of truth.
    Since we both realize that Reality (tsunamis, the sun, radioactive nuclei, football, food, etc.) is out there, and not merely in our heads and a product of our thinking, whatever you mean by “truth” now is of much less concern to me.
    When you said earlier that neither ID nor ToE were “true” I thought it meant that you believed neither conformed to reality.
    Saying that “truth is not out there to be approached” carries much less import now that I realize that whatever “truth” is to you – a metaphor for something and an analytical tool – it remains undefined as anything but that thing you don’t believe exists, while all the truth I think exists you agree with.

    I am not asking you to agree with me on this. I am saying that analytically this is how I study social life and that isn’t going to change anytime in the near future. I examine how we construct the world through metaphor and langauge and how our constructions concretely effect people. That is all that I am saying.

    As an analytical tool an auto mechanic sees truth as a matter of “gas and spark”, but he doesn’t bring this tool out of his shop and attempt to apply it to reality as a whole.
    Charlie | 01.28.07 – 7:05 pm | #

    In short, Stump demonstrated that he is engaging in an activity other than what the rest of us are when we discuss truth and reality. He knows this and continues to do so, even though     he acts as though he is communicating something about truth and reality. This equivocation is now demonstrably intentional.   Nobody can communicate with him or understand him because he is relating only to himself – on purpose. But still he continues.                                                                                                                          

     

  31. The original post was about the contradictory nature of new age spirituality. The point that I have poorly tried to make is that your post depends on the assumption that new age spirituality and Christianity are walking up the same path toward the same goal.

    Thank you for that clarification. I see that you have been trying to show that New Age and Christianity are following “different truths,” and that they are not walking the same path thoward the same goal. New Age spirituality is nevertheless contradictory, in that it says that there are different paths toward spiritual enlightenment, or fulfillment, or whatever term they may use. And very specifically, it is typical in New Age spirituality to “embrace contradiction,” to say that these different paths are of equal truth and equal value even if they contradict one another.

    I was not trying to prove that New Age spirituality involves contradiction. That was one of the givens. They speak openly of their approval of contradiction. Further, they typically say that being able to live with contradiction is a good, and that a dogged insistence on noncontradiction is a Western intrusion on good thinking.*

    Ravi Zacharias (have you listened to his talk yet?) explained why this was not true; that the law of noncontradiction cannot be gainsaid. Those who deny the law of noncontradiction have to rely upon it in order to deny it.

    From there, you and I went into a discussion of whether there can indeed be multiple truths, of which one might be Christianity. I made the point eventually, and emphatically, that Christianity cannot be one of many truths. It makes a mockery of the heart of Christianity, which is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ–especially his death. If there are other decent options for spiritual life and enlightenment than Christ and the cross, then the cross was massively and horribly wrong. God killed his Son for no particularly good reason. Therefore you cannot hold to any semblance of orthodox, historic Christianity, and also hold that there are “other truths,” other valid paths toward spiritual life or fulfillment.

    New Age is contradictory. This is not my opinion, it is theirs. It celebrates contradiction. At the same time it relies on the essential truth of the law of noncontradiction. This is what Zacharias brought to light, and what I was building upon.

    This new assumption poses a fundamental problem for your story of a universe, where there is one path and one goal.

    The cross of Christ disproves your assumption. I’m speaking to you as to one who says he follows the way of Christ. From that position you must recognize that if there is more than one worthwhile goal, the cross was unnecessary and wrong.

    I do not deny there are multiple paths and multiple (intended) goals. There is a path toward the Muslim Paradise, and the Buddhist Nirvana, and the New Age unity with the One. If you accept the truth of the cross of Christ, you must recognize that though there are multiple intended goals, they are all false and will prove to be death in the end.

    To reiterate and direct it back toward your assertion: You say that New Age may not fall into any fallacy of contradiction if we acknowledge there are many paths and goals. I say that if Christianity is acknowledged to be one of those goals, it completely obliterates the spiritual value of all other goals. I am not trying (not here, at any rate) to show that Christianity is one of those goals. I am appealing toward your stated claim that you follow Christ. If you follow Christ, you cannot accept the validity of other spiritual goals. Jesus’ teaching and his death for sin eliminate that possibility.

    I hope I have qualified my claim clearly enough now.

    *Please bear in mind this is about actual contradiction. The ability to live with paradox and ambiguity is a different thing, but these are not the topic.

  32. Neither I, nor you, nor Ravi are new agers.  We don’t know what they believe.  All that we have is our view of new agers.  I’m not even sure that all new agers beleive the same thing.  So, I’ll let them speak for themselves.  Why don’t you quote some news agers to illustrate your point about contradiction?
    While new agers may be internally contradictory, they do not contradict Christianity because they do not walk the same path or seek the same goal as Christians do.  And contradiction depends on a shared relationship to the same object, as we both agreed.
    If you follow Christ, you cannot accept the validity of other spiritual goals. Jesus’ teaching and his death for sin eliminate that possibility.
    Accepting the validity of new age views is different than seeing that there are new age views that walk on a different path than I do and seek a different truth than I do.  I don’t accept their faith as valid.  I put my faith in Christ.  My faith does not blind me to the fact that many people do not have faith in Christ.

  33. I do not deny there are multiple paths and multiple (intended) goals. There is a path toward the Muslim Paradise, and the Buddhist Nirvana, and the New Age unity with the One. If you accept the truth of the cross of Christ, you must recognize that though there are multiple intended goals, they are all false and will prove to be death in the end.
    You slipped the word “(intended) goals” in there.  In a pluriverse, there would be multiple paths and multiple goals.  It isn’t a matter of intention.
    Yeah, I recognize that as a follower of Jesus, Jesus is the way, the truth and the light.  And as far as Buddhists and new agers are not seeking Jesus, then they are not seeking the way, the truth and the light.

  34. The cross of Christ disproves your assumption. I’m speaking to you as to one who says he follows the way of Christ. From that position you must recognize that if there is more than one worthwhile goal, the cross was unnecessary and wrong.
    The cross of Christ doesn’t disprove my assumption.  The cross of Christ is a symbol of my faith.  For myself, there is no other worthwhile goal.  But for other people, there is.

  35. Why don’t you quote some news agers to illustrate your point about contradiction?

    I have in the past. That wasn’t my purpose this time.

    While new agers may be internally contradictory, they do not contradict Christianity because they do not walk the same path or seek the same goal as Christians do.  And contradiction depends on a shared relationship to the same object, as we both agreed.

    We have absolutely not agreed to this, and I’m astounded that you would say so. My gracious, this is remarkable! See here, here (from Charlie), here, here, and here. Was that not enough???

    The cross of Christ doesn’t disprove my assumption.  The cross of Christ is a symbol of my faith.  For myself, there is no other worthwhile goal.  But for other people, there is.

    If the cross is just a symbol to you and not a real fact of real history if you believe Jesus did not actually die on the cross for our sins and rise again, then my assumption that you were following the Jesus of the Bible has been wrong. I apologize for my error. 

    I have a busy day ahead of me, and I spent much time on this discussion yesterday. You have demonstrated, quite astonishingly, that you can misunderstand me (and Charlie) over the course of five clearly stated repetitions of the same point. I don’t see any value in continuing under these conditions. If five repetitions are not enough to communicate a point, to at least the level of your noticing what I said, then I doubt twenty more would be. So I’m ending my part in this discussion.

  36. I have in the past. That wasn’t my purpose this time.

    It would still be nice to substantiate your claim.

    We have absolutely not agreed to this, and I’m astounded that you would say so. My gracious, this is remarkable! See here, here (from Charlie), here, here, and here. Was that not enough???

    You mean that we didn’t agree that contradiction depends on a shared relationship?  I thought that that was a point you asserted in the original post.

    For myself, I see new agers as potentially internally contradictory.  But I do not see new agers as contradicting Christians.

    If the cross is just a symbol to you and not a real fact of real history if you believe Jesus did not actually die on the cross for our sins and rise again, then my assumption that you were following the Jesus of the Bible has been wrong. I apologize for my error.

    I didn’t say it was “just a symbol.”  That is what you said.  And what makes you suggest that a symbol is “not a real fact”?  Is the cross at your church “not a real fact”?

    I have a busy day ahead of me, and I spent much time on this discussion yesterday. You have demonstrated, quite astonishingly, that you can misunderstand me (and Charlie) over the course of five clearly stated repetitions of the same point. I don’t see any value in continuing under these conditions. If five repetitions are not enough to communicate a point, to at least the level of your noticing what I said, then I doubt twenty more would be. So I’m ending my part in this discussion.

    The feeling of misunderstanding is mutual.  And as usual, you end your part of our conversation.  Fair enough.  I’ll talk to you next post.

    Have a great day!

  37. I was in the middle of an edit on that last post when I got called into a meeting, Jacob. I want to add this much, and also respond to your 10:22 post. You wrote earlier this morning:

    While new agers may be internally contradictory, they do not contradict Christianity because they do not walk the same path or seek the same goal as Christians do.  And contradiction depends on a shared relationship to the same object, as we both agreed.

    I responded by pointing out that there is a shared relationship, and that I had said so five times; so we are not in agreement that there is no contradiction. They do contradict Christianity, and it is wrong for you to imply that I gave you any basis whatever to suggest I agreed with you on this.

    You seem to think there is no shared relationship as long as the two groups do not “walk the same path or seek the same goal,” and that I agreed with you on the implications of that premise. But Jacob, my friend, as was pointed out to you five times previously, there is shared relationship on other bases than that.

    Yesterday you said, 

    If I’m “wrong,” what else can I do?  I mean, is there any chance that I might be making a credible argument?…..
    …I didn’t think so.

    Let me suggest some things that would have made that possible:

    1. Present your case. You have done this very weakly, if at all. Let me give you an example:

    The cross of Christ is a symbol of my faith.  For myself, there is no other worthwhile goal.  But for other people, there is.

    You haven’t explained here what you mean by “symbol,” you haven’t really explicated the content of your faith, and you haven’t explained what “worthwhile” means. Does “worthwhile” means “something that I perceive as worthwhile,” or does it mean “something that is worthwhile in terms of ultimate reality”? 

    2. Respond to my case. I made an extended argument, for example, to explain that if there is truth to the message of the cross, then other “truths” are false, and other goals are false, empty, and will lead toward death. Your response to that was not much more than to say what I just quoted. This does not address what I said. It just says, in effect, “well, for me that’s fine, for others it’s different.” 

    3. Stay on the subject. I wrote about this earlier.

    Months ago I asked you to engage arguments, and then I pleaded with you to engage arguments, and then when you didn’t engage arguments, and when you repeatedly shifted subjects, it became a manifest waste of time to offer you arguments and to try to remain on subjects. Here you have misunderstood something that was repeated five times, and you have shifted topics midstream again. I think you tried to offer substance in your arguments, in the form of showing there is no shared relationship between the various religious views so there is no fallacy of contradiction in them. But when I answered that you did not respond to my answer; you continued simply to repeat what you said at first.

    This is threatening again to go the same direction it did before. 

    Let me compare this to one of my very first blog posts ever: Disappointed by Dawkins. On my first exposure to Richard Dawkins I was very impressed by his knowledge and enthralled by his writing skill. As I wrote in that blog post, all the way through Blind Watchmaker I was eagerly awaiting the unfolding of his argument against a designer. When he finally made his argument, I was really disappointed in it – – it was so incredibly weak!

    Jacob, I see you as a thoughtful person with interesting ideas. But when it comes to establishing a point, and responding to points offered toward you, you don’t present substance. I have tried to give you examples here; I could give more. I would really like to have dialogue with you that connects, where when I ask a question you give an answer that’s actually relevant to the question (and vice-versa). I would love to see that happen. I encourage you to think through your form of discussion and argument. Consider whether what I have said here (points 1, 2, and 3) might be true. Be open to the possibility. Consider how you can address it. 

    You wrote:

    It would still be nice to substantiate your claim.

    I have done so in the past, as I said. And I have substantiated every other claim that I have put forth here – – or at least I have put forth arguments. I call on you to substantiate your claims.

    And as usual, you end your part of our conversation. 

    Because it was going in circles as I’ve just explained. If it had been moving forward I would have continued in it for much, much longer. But I don’t have the desire to spin in circles this way for very long at a time. 

  38. By the way, Jacob, did you ever listen to the Ravi Zacharias talk? I still strongly recommend it, both as substantiation for the claims I made in the original post, and as an example of good thought carried through logically.

  39. I responded by pointing out that there is a shared relationship, and that I had said so five times; so we are not in agreement that there is no contradiction. They do contradict Christianity, and it is wrong for you to imply that I gave you any basis whatever to suggest I agreed with you on this.
    We do agree that a contradiction depends on a shared relationship?  Is that correct? 

    If we agree that contradiction depends on a shared relationship, then we disagree on whether Christianity and new age spirituality share a relationship. 

    You say “yes” and I say “no.”  Ultimately, I don’t think that we can prove these assumptions because we are talking about a shared relationship to an object of faith.  God can’t be proven, I don’t think.  So we are stuck with contending assumptions.  Our disagreement is between universe and pluriverse.

    You haven’t explained here what you mean by “symbol,” you haven’t really explicated the content of your faith, and you haven’t explained what “worthwhile” means. Does “worthwhile” means “something that I perceive as worthwhile,” or does it mean “something that is worthwhile in terms of ultimate reality”?

    A symbol stands for something else.  A rainbow is a symbol of our covenant with God, for instance.  A symbol gives some situation meaning, such as when we see a rainbow we are called to remember the covenant.
    You are mistaken if you think your original post has anything to do with me accounting for my faith to you.
    I trust in the God of the Holy Bible.  Accept that or not.
    You seem to think there is no shared relationship as long as the two groups do not “walk the same path or seek the same goal,” and that I agreed with you on the implications of that premise. But Jacob, my friend, as was pointed out to you five times previously, there is shared relationship on other bases than that.
    There may well be a shared relationship on other bases.  But the base that we are talking about is on whether new agers and Christians are walking the same path and seeking the same goal.  We are talking about whether or not they share a relation to the same God.  I say they do not.
    Respond to my case. I made an extended argument, for example, to explain that if there is truth to the message of the cross, then other “truths” are false, and other goals are false, empty, and will lead toward death. Your response to that was not much more than to say what I just quoted. This does not address what I said. It just says, in effect, “well, for me that’s fine, for others it’s different.”
    Your argument depends on the presumption of a universe where two different groups are walking on the same path and seeking the same truth.  I presume that we live in a pluriverse, where there are many paths to many different religious truths.  There is no contradiction so long as we presume a pluriverse.  So, I don’t see a problem where you apparently do.  In other words, the problem that you see is a result of your starting presumption that we live in a universe. 

    Believe it or not, I am trying to stay on topic.  But it is really difficult since we are coming from two very different perspectives.

  40. Jacob,

    There may well be a shared relationship on other bases. 

    Then the law of noncontradiction applies.

    But the base that we are talking about is on whether new agers and Christians are walking the same path and seeking the same goal.  We are talking about whether or not they share a relation to the same God.  I say they do not.

    Then you do not trust in the God of the Holy Bible, as you said you do. You trust in some other God, who is just one God out of some larger set of gods, and you deceive yourself if you think you are trusting the God of the Bible. How emphatically does he have to say there is but one God?

    I presume that we live in a pluriverse, where there are many paths to many different religious truths.

    Yet another non-argument, yet another unsupported assertion. Disappointing. It really answers nothing; it just raises jillions of questions. For example:

    Do you propose to tell me that I am wrong to assume we live in a universe rather than a “pluriverse”? On what basis? How would we know? Are you telling me that in the plurality of truths that you claim can be held regarding God, my understanding that there is one God gets excluded from among that plurality? Are there beliefs about God that don’t qualify for inclusion among the “truths”? On what basis?

    Continuing: do you propose to tell me that others who live in this same universe can worship a God who lives in another universe? Or does “pluriverse” mean that the realm in which we live can connect to multiple gods and multiple truths about gods? (What does “pluriverse” even mean?) How does that square with Biblical monotheism? How does it square with Biblical understandings that God created ex nihilo, so that there is nothing that exists that was not created by the Biblical God? Is there some greater realm inside which the Biblical God is just a sub-God? Doesn’t that dishonor God mightily?

    Do you see how an offhand comment like, “I presume we live in a pluriverse” answers almost nothing, indeed says almost nothing? I think you can do better than that, or at least I would like to think that you can. Answer all of these questions without changing the topic and you might be making a good run at it.

  41. Speaking of non-contradiction abuse, let’s not forget the moral pluralists/relativists who say Joe (themselves) in situation X is morally wrong, whereas Sue in the same apples-to-apples situation X – with the same moral components to it – is not necessarily morally wrong because, “Who am I to say what is wrong for Sue?”.

    We can argue about what it means to be in the same moral situation, but at the end of the day it either is the same – or it is not.

    Moral pluralists/relativists ask the wrong question. Instead of asking “Who am I to say what is wrong for Sue?”, they should ask “Is this the same moral situation?”

  42. Do you propose to tell me that I am wrong to assume we live in a universe rather than a “pluriverse”? On what basis? How would we know? Are you telling me that in the plurality of truths that you claim can be held regarding God, my understanding that there is one God gets excluded from among that plurality? Are there beliefs about God that don’t qualify for inclusion among the “truths”? On what basis?
    Talk about missing a point made multiple times.  I’ve argued that you assume that we live in a universe, where there is one path and one goal.  I assume that we live in a pluriverse.  These are two different assumptions about the nature of the world.
    Neither assumption can be empirically proven.  We can’t know the answer to such questions in any sort of testable or empirical way.
    They are two different presuppositions that inform two different perspectives.
    Refer to the last post I made last night as to how I see our argument shaping up.
     
     

  43. I’m about to demand a refund from my new web hosting company (webhostingpad.com). I had a comment fully written out, and then there was a temporary database service interruption, and it’s gone.

  44. Anyway.

    Jacob, I’ll be interested to see how your argument shapes up. So far you have said you have a different assumption. You have provided no reason for me to suppose that your assumption has merit. So far you have only suggested that there really isn’t any way to do that. (The universe idea has at least this going for it: it’s what we observe. It is also consistent with Biblical revelation. It also involves no philosophical contradictions, which at least some forms of multiverse theory involve.) 

    You have not defined your multi-path, multi-goal assumption in terms of the pluriverse, at least not adequately. An adequate definition would answer most of the questions I asked in my last (real) comment. You have said some of the questions cannot be answered. I’ll be eager to hear the answers to the rest.

    Until then, it remains the case that you have not presented an argument.

  45. Can I join in a class-action and get the cost of previous lost comments returned? 🙂
     
    Speaking of comments, thank you very much for experimenting with the “recent comments” and taking a poll. Was mine the deciding vote?

  46. Ladies and gentlemen, the West is on the verge of collapse because it has lost its power to reason.
    Ravi Zacharias

  47. Tom,

    I had a comment fully written out, and then there was a temporary database service interruption, and it’s gone.

    I’ve learned the hard way. Now I always copy my comment before clicking “submit”

  48. So far you have said you have a different assumption. You have provided no reason for me to suppose that your assumption has merit. So far you have only suggested that there really isn’t any way to do that.
    Do you agree that our interpretations are always informed by presuppositions?  Would you agree that there is no such thing as a presuppositionless interpretation?
    Presuppositions are by definition not empirically testable.  They are prior to the evidence.  We all start from presuppositions.
    Your presupposition is that we live in a universe.
    (The universe idea has at least this going for it: it’s what we observe. It is also consistent with Biblical revelation. It also involves no philosophical contradictions, which at least some forms of multiverse theory involve.)

    Have you observed a universe?  How?  I’m not so sure that we observe the “universe idea.”  Rather, I think it is that you presuppose we live in a universe and so your interpretations of the empirical world are colored by that presupposition.
    How is the universe idea consistent with Biblical revelation?  Again, I think that you presuppose that we live in a universe and so your interpretation of the Bible is colored by that presupposition.
    You have not defined your multi-path, multi-goal assumption in terms of the pluriverse, at least not adequately. An adequate definition would answer most of the questions I asked in my last (real) comment. You have said some of the questions cannot be answered. I’ll be eager to hear the answers to the rest.
    I’m not exactly sure what definitions you want.
    Beginning from the presupposition that we live in a pluriverse and not a universe, it follows that there are many paths to many goals.  There are Christian paths and Christian goals; Buddhist paths and Buddhist goals; etc.  Fundamentally, the paths and goals are distinct.  Buddhists do not seek salvation and Christians do not seek zen.
    In a pluriverse, contradiction isn’t so much a problem.  The problem for a pluriverse is less abstract and more practical–how can all these different people following different paths toward different goals live together and still walk on their own paths and seek their own goals?  How can a zealous Christian live next door to a devout Buddhist or Muslim?  How can we love our neighbors as we love ourselves and still let our neightbors be our neighbors and not compel them to be us?

  49. Jacob,

    How is the universe idea consistent with Biblical revelation?  Again, I think that you presuppose that we live in a universe and so your interpretation of the Bible is colored by that presupposition.

    The bible was directed toward humans – on earth – in this universe. If God created other beings in other universes then I imagine God will take care of them in whatever way he sees fit to take care of them. What goes on in other universes is of no consequence to humans here on earth so your claim of ‘other paths to God’ are meaningless because, even if they exist, they don’t apply to us. Regardless, biblically revealed truths such as: “there is one, eternal God” and “Jesus died for the sins of mankind” are still subject to the law of non-contradiction.

    Did Jesus die for the sins of all beings living in Universe K38 of Sector G? I kinda doubt it, however I don’t doubt that God the Son must be the same one, true, eternal God who create them too, and anyone in K38 that says otherwise is wrong (by non-contradiction, of course). That means the pantheists of K38 are just as wrong in that universe as they are on earth.

  50. I’m not exactly sure what definitions you want.

    This is another example of why I’m ready to give up on this discussion. (This kind of thing happens often.) I wrote what I was looking for here, and I’ve referred you back to that post in subsequent comments. I’ve repeated it often enough.

  51. Then the law of noncontradiction applies.
    Noncontradiction applies only to cases of a shared relation to some object.  Here I am arguing that in terms of God, there is no shared relationship.  Buddhists and Christians are walking different paths toward different goals.  So the law of noncontradiction does not apply.
    Then you do not trust in the God of the Holy Bible, as you said you do. You trust in some other God, who is just one God out of some larger set of gods, and you deceive yourself if you think you are trusting the God of the Bible. How emphatically does he have to say there is but one God?
    I can distinguish between my trust in my God and between the apparent fact that other people trust in other Gods.  I do not feel compelled to deny their claim to worship whom ever they choose to trust and revere.  I don’t share their trust, for I have faith in another God.  I say look in the Bible.  There are many references to gods other than the God of Abraham.  I mean, the point of proclaiming that we shall have no other God before the God of Abraham is to say we don’t want to follow in the path of the Buddhist because we don’t agree with or trust in that goal.  When I hear you saying that Christians and Buddhists are walking the same path and seeking the same goal, it sounds like you deny what is plainly in the Bible.  There are many possible gods out there.    

  52. I hope that was a typo at the end: I have never thought that Christians and Buddhists were walking the same path. As to seeking the same goal, I think that they are both seeking some kind of fulfillment, but defined in very different terms.

    As to this:

    <blockquote>Noncontradiction applies only to cases of a shared relation to some object.  Here I am arguing that in terms of God, there is no shared relationship.  Buddhists and Christians are walking different paths toward different goals.  So the law of noncontradiction does not apply.</blockquote>

    Jacob, you have lost your place in the discussion again. You said the reason there is no fallacy of contradiction among different religions is because of the pluriverse. I asked you to define the term, and *poof*, it went away.

    I almost wrote, “let’s just forget it,” when I read this last comment of yours. You’re not engaging in the discussion. Remember me saying that before? Here’s another example.

    I think I could construct your last post by copying and pasting out of previous ones. You’re repeating yourself, but it’s not because I’m missing what you said, or ignoring it (as you did with a point that I have had to reiterate at least five times). I am trying to make some progress by asking you for explanations so that I can understand you better. I will not understand you better if you just say the same things over and over again.

  53. I actually have said that I was pulling out of this discussion with you, Jacob, at least one or two times already, and then I came back in. I’ll stay in it if you offer substance, but I won’t stay in it in order to keep cajoling you to do so.

    Putting it bluntly: your ideas are seriously lacking in substance. 

    I didn’t say they are without merit (although I do disagree with you). This is not about the merit or worth of your ideas, but about whether there’s anything there in them, any weight or mass to them. Agree or disagree, I like an idea to feel solid when I push at it.

    I said they are seriously lacking in substance. By this I mean that when you are pressed to explain, you resort to repeating yourself instead. Frequently you do not respond to questions or challenges to your ideas. 

    Jacob, from my perspective I would love to see you make a commitment to the exclusive and glorious truth of Jesus Christ. I’m sticking with this conversation (so far), but no longer with anything like that kind of goal in mind. At this stage I see my purpose as finding out whether you can develop your ideas and carry them forward. That’s all. I am just trying to see if you can put substance on an idea, present explanations when needed, respond to challenges, and support the basis for your ideas. I would see this discussion as having done good if we at least accomplish that. 

    But I’m not going to try to persuade you or coach you on this much longer, because I have other purposes in family, job, and blog to carry forward as well, and I haven’t seen this one making progress.

  54. Hi Tom,
    I think Stump is hanging his objection  on the fact that Buddhism does not contradict Christianity  in the sense that NASA doesn’t: they are different systems in different spheres with different purposes.
    I think the only way to satisfy this objection is to show specifically where the two systems are making explicitly contradictory claims.
    I was typing up such a list, but decided that on your blog the description of Christianity’s claims might better come from you.
    Then again, if I have properly discerned Stump’s objection and what he is trying to say it would be a new first for me.
     
     

  55. We’ll have to resume our ongoing conversation after Memorial Day.  Enjoy your holiday.  I’ll try to think about what substance I could add to my wrong and meaningless argument 😉
    I ignore most of Charlie’s comments because I don’t want to get drug into smaller side skirmishes, but when he says
    I think Stump is hanging his objection  on the fact that Buddhism does not contradict Christianity  in the sense that NASA doesn’t: they are different systems in different spheres with different purposes.
    I think Charlie is hitting on something here.  But his remedy of showing explicit points of contradiction, presupposes that they share a relation.  They don’t, or at least that is what I presuppose.  You are using universal criticisms to argue against pluriversal ideas.  There is a difference between an external critique and an immanent critique–they yield two different kinds of fruit.
    One of the big problems that I’ve had in conveying my ideas, as far as I’m can see, is there seems to be a refusal to follow the logic of a pluriverse to its conclusion and so many of the criticisms and remedies offered to me are relevant for a universe and not so much for a pluriverse.  I’m sure you disagree with my assessment.
    Onward and upward.
     

  56. One of the big problems that I’ve had in conveying my ideas, as far as I’m can see, is there seems to be a refusal to follow the logic of a pluriverse to its conclusion and so many of the criticisms and remedies offered to me are relevant for a universe and not so much for a pluriverse.  I’m sure you disagree with my assessment.

    How could I refuse to follow the logic of a pluriverse when you haven’t told us what it is? I have freely admitted, more than once, that I don’t know what you’re talking about. Last time I asked about it you changed the subject and went back to repeating earlier statements instead. 

    So it’s not a matter of our refusal to follow the logic, it’s your not explaining it.

    Have a nice weekend, at any rate!

  57. Hi Tom,

    How could I refuse to follow the logic of a pluriverse when you haven’t told us what it is? I have freely admitted, more than once, that I don’t know what you’re talking about. Last time I asked about it you changed the subject and went back to repeating earlier statements instead. 
    So it’s not a matter of our refusal to follow the logic, it’s your not explaining it.

    And Stump continues to ignore the question while continuing to wave “pluriverse” around. He presupposes whatever a pluriverse is, presupposes that in this something he calls a pluriverse  that Buddhism and Christianity cannot speak of the same things in the same relation, and concludes from this that they are not contradictory. This isn’t even circularity but a restatement of the presumption and then presenting that presumption as an argument. Stump says, in effect, “you can’t say two world views are contradictory because I presuppose that they are not. If they can’t be contradictory because of my presupposition then neither can you say one is wrong. I presuppose neither can be wrong and, therefore, neither is logically wrong”

    Notice his continued evasion: “Charlie may have sussed out my strategy, but somehow he has not found the solution. In fact, I presuppose there can be no solution. But it is up to you guys to prove to me there is one.”
    His very presupposition demands that we cannot speak on these matters – and yet here we are …again.
    ===

    I ignore most of Charlie’s comments because I don’t want to get drug into smaller side skirmishes,

    Stump is not actually ignoring me – just refusing to respond directly to my comments.

    One of the big problems that I’ve had in conveying my ideas, as far as I’m can see, is there seems to be a refusal to follow the logic of a pluriverse to its conclusion and so many of the criticisms and remedies offered to me are relevant for a universe and not so much for a pluriverse.

     
    The big problem Stump has with conveying his ideas is that he has no intention of conveying them.
    I think Stump is conducting a sociological experiment on exercising power through words and this blog is his test subject.

  58. Stump says, in effect, “you can’t say two world views are contradictory because I presuppose that they are not. If they can’t be contradictory because of my presupposition then neither can you say one is wrong. I presuppose neither can be wrong and, therefore, neither is logically wrong”

    Ahh, the old ‘you can’t know it because you can’t prove it’  trick. Can someone presuppose that Jacob doesn’t exist and can Jacob know that they are wrong?

  59. Hi Steve,
    This is why I long ago deduced that Stump is just another proponent of scientism – albeit with the shoe on his other foot. Unlike the usual proponent, however, because he recognizes the tentative nature of science and relying upon observation undergirded by presuppositions, he realizes that science does not give us full and complete knowledge: therefore, we can have no knowledge and cannot speak about truth.
    The one gives us multi-verses, the other pluri-verses. One ends as a brain in a vat, the other as a world in a brain. Neither can escape the practical solipsism we continually encounter.

  60. Interesting point about scientism there. William Lane Craig has noted that very, very few people are relativists about topics other than ethics and religion. We’re not relativists about most science. I’ve had fun sharing this illustration with more than one crowd: The nurse is coming at you with the syringe, and you ask, “Is that flu vaccine in there?” She says, “Well, according to my truth it is.”

    I’m willing to bet that Jacob counts his change at the cash register, too.

    Many people have taken the success of science in its proper sphere as an indicator that science is the sole source of knowledge, period. But science has not been at all successful (for many reasons) in providing reliable knowledge about religion and ethics.

    What then shall we do? Science doesn’t solve these problems for us, we don’t have another source to solve them for us (for those who reject revelation), but we can’t live without some kind of meaning and some kind of morals. Nobody has an answer. Moreover, nobody knows where to look for an answer. Barring revelation, there hasn’t been a field of study in which one could become an expert and then give us the answer.

    There are no experts. That means anybody can pronounce their opinion, and be equally qualified in so doing. Everybody’s opinion comes from an equal weight of authority. Hence, relativism in religion and ethics. Postmodernism has expanded the same to other areas without scientific authority behind them, most notably literary criticism.

    And it all goes back to:

    1. Scientism: “the answers must come from science.”

    2. Science doesn’t have all the answers.

    3. So we can all say what we think, and we all speak with equal authority, on subjects for which science does not provide the answers.

  61. This is one great piece of writing, by the way, Charlie:

    The one gives us multi-verses, the other pluri-verses. One ends as a brain in a vat, the other as a world in a brain. Neither can escape the practical solipsism we continually encounter.

  62. Thanks for the compliment, Tom.
    If I mash words together long enough even I might come up with a nice combination once in a while.
     
    ps.
    I didn’t write my point on scientism very well – I’m glad you understood it and I like your development.

  63. I lived in Southern California for 13 years…

    Speaking of which….here it is, May 22nd, and we got a doozy of a storm today. Mudslides just up the road from our house where the fires were a few months ago, raging waters, lightning, snow, hail – accompanied by earthquakes – and out in Riverside – this.

    That’s enough excitement for one day. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

  64. I haven’t taken the time to go through all of these comments, but two things come to mind. First, Ravi was only speaking of “popular pantheism” as accepting the co-existence of contradictions, not pantheism per se as his final comment shows: “the premiere thinkers of the pantheistic worldview, like Shankara and Gotama Buddha, they believe in the law of noncontradiction.” It’s a shame that other Evangelical commentators of Eastern thought are willing to admit this. In the same vein, it is a shame that this philosophy professor was so ignorant of Eastern thought in his arguments (though it does remind me of the over-simplicity of Evangelical understandings of so-called postmodernism).

    My second thought was in relation to Jacob’s initial statement about ‘different ways to different goals’: the Eastern understanding of ‘salvation’ as nirvana or transcendence is in fact very different in content and goal from ‘salvation’ in Christian thought. The very goals of various kinds of meditation–gaining one-pointedness of mind, calming the constant stream of thought (monkey mind), being able to simply sit with ‘negative’ emotions (very important for ‘overcoming’ various psychological disorders), etc.–are not central aims of Christian practices. Personally I’ve met many Christians who could rightfully benefit from such practices.

    So perhaps the best argument would be that Eastern practices are not sufficient for Christian salvation, not that they contradict Christianity per se. Of course, this is a generalization, and we would have to examine each practice and its content to see if it does ‘contradict’ Christian doctrine (however we construe the latter).

  65. Ah, Tom, but here we come to the issue I raised in the truth entry: why must we assume that a practice “represents” beliefs? In a Heideggerian analysis the practices (generally speaking; there probably are some exceptions) are primary before we construct beliefs about them; or, put another way, our practical relation with things is ontologically and epistemologically prior to the creation of propositions. And, even more pertinent in this case, the attainment of one-pointedness of mind, clarity, and general peace need not be related to pantheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any doctrine contrary to Christian salvation. Many Evangelical writers (like, for example, Douglas Groothuis) seem to think that the connection is intrinsic, necessary, when it is not. Which is why we need to examine each of these things in turn, not lump them all together unthinkingly into a single category that is supposedly “contradictory,” either in itself or to Christianity.

  66. Charlie,

    While that is true, many Evangelicals have been very quick to distance that claim from anything remotely related to Hindi or Buddhist meditation practices, because “that would be smuggling in an inadequate and non-Christian (or anti-Christian, depending on the temperment of the writer at the time) worldview!” Again, Hindi belief is seen as intrinsically and necessarily related to, say, the practice of yoga such that, supposedly, one cannot do one without them accepting the other. But this is just bad thinking…

  67. Tom,

    So this raises a few questions for me that must each be dealt with individually: do meditation practices that aim at calming the incessant running of the mind (i.e. “monkey mind”) essentially contradict the aim of Christian salvation? Do meditation practices that aim at becoming present with the body (walking meditation, yoga, eating meditation, meditation with the body as its focus, etc.) essentially contradict the aim of Christian salvation?

    From my own study and practice, the single unifying thread that can be found in all Eastern religions/philosophies is the concept of being present; pantheism is not essential, atheism is not essential, materialism is not essential, idealism is not essential, etc. The latter all have multiple variations depending on the religion/philosophy and/or the school of thought within a particular tradition (Buddhism itself runs the gamut on every issue in the previous sentence), yet all have a central focus on becoming present: to one’s thoughts, one’s body, one’s relations with the other, one’s relation with things, etc. Since, as far as I can tell, this is the primary thing shared by Eastern religions (I won’t speak for its “New Age” inheritors, but I would imagine a not-too dissimilar analysis applies to them as well), then maybe it should be the focus.

  68. Oh, one more thing: I think my argument demonstrates rather well Jacob’s claim in the beginning of this discussion (though I don’t pretend to speak for him or think that what I presented is what he had in mind [is it?]). The aim of meditation is, in fact, different in form and content to Christian salvation and, as such, can (under one way of thinking about it) be coherently related to the latter, or at least is not intrinsically contrary to it. So the guffaw’s rather meanly thrown his way were, in my mind, unwarranted and rather un-Christian.

  69. Hi Kevin,
    I would say it is quite true that you are not talking about what Jacob had in mind. You would have to read more of his posts to know from what direction he is coming. To say that meditation is not necessarily contradictory to Christianity is like saying that lifting weights isn’t necessarily contradictory to Christianity. 
    However, expressing Hindi beliefs such as:

    In 1995, while considering the question “who are Hindus and what are the broad features of Hindu religion”, the Supreme Court of India highlighted Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s formulation of Hinduism’s defining features:[5]

    Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverse; and the realization of the truth that the number of gods to be worshipped is large, that indeed is the distinguishing feature of Hindu religion.
     

    does, in fact, essentially contradict Christian belief.
    Jacob, however, will protest that claim of contradiction –  if Tom makes it.
     
    Why do you think it rather un-Christian to challenge Jacobs claims?
     

  70. Charlie,

    Perhaps, but I have known people who would attribute such a cavalier attitude towards non-contradiction to so-called ‘postmodern’ thinkers like Derrida (I have a spectacular quote from Limited Inc on this), Heidegger, and Foucault, so forgive me if I don’t take your word for it. Misunderstandings abound in discussions between so-called ‘analytic’ and so-called ‘continental’ philosophers (yes, I am one who thinks the distinction is pretty vacuous and mostly politically motivated).

    As for your argument, I didn’t say otherwise: my discussion of presence as the central common element to Eastern thought was not intended to be exhaustive. Such would be as silly and intellectually irresponsible as to claim that pantheism is a universal element to either Eastern thought or the New Age movement. So, yes, there are certainly things that contradict Christian doctrine. However, I still think that the aims of ‘salvation’ as understood through Eastern thought (understood very broadly and, hence, incredibly vaguely and ultimately inadequately) does have different aims insofar as ‘sin’ is not an explicit element of concern. Which, again, is why I argue that the two, when broadly understood, are not contradictory (or at least not necessarily contradictory), despite similarity in language on a few things, but do, as Jacob tried to say, have different aims. The Christian will just say that the one-pointedness of mind, calming and slowing down incessantly racing thoughts, etc. are not sufficient for ‘salvation’ (and some Buddhists would agree, though for different reasons with different aims). But let me say that most Evangelical authors who write on this issue are not so careful to make this distinction in their eagerness to denounce this ‘false religion.’

    As for my claim to the un-Christian nature of the denouncements of Jacob, it is not the disagreement per se, but the way the disagreement is presented, i.e. in a disagreeable way.
    P.S. Let me add that that distilment of Hinduism is itself inadequate insofar as it demands pantheism while there are, in fact, monotheistic Hindis and Hindi sects (and, I am told, atheistic Hindis, though I  haven’t stumbled on this yet in my own studies). The nature of Brahma is not monolithically agreed upon in Hinduism and I get the impression that those who presented this list of ‘essentials’ are, in fact, biased towards their own understanding of Hinduism.

  71. Hi Kevin,

    Perhaps, but I have known people who would attribute such a cavalier attitude towards non-contradiction to so-called ‘postmodern’ thinkers like Derrida (I have a <em>spectacular</em>quote from <em>Limited Inc</em> on this), Heidegger, and Foucault, so forgive me if I don’t take your word for it.

    You are forgiven. I am attributing such an attitude toward a person based upon his written words and our many interactions, not based upon a category of thought (post modern) or three thinkers I’ve never heard of. You’ll have to judge based upon your own experiences. You might find you’ve been hasty.

    So, yes, there are certainly things that contradict Christian doctrine. 

    Then you agree with Tom (myself, Steve, etc.) and are at odds with Jacob.

    ;But let me say that most Evangelical authors who write on this issue are not so careful to make this distinction in their eagerness to denounce this ‘false religion.’

    That seems uncontroversial. But you’re defending a different point of view from Jacob’s and I’m not sure of any relevance in the point you’re making about most evangelical authors.

    As for my claim to the un-Christian nature of the denouncements of Jacob, it is not the disagreement per se, but the way the disagreement is presented, i.e. in a disagreeable way.

    I disagree with your assessment. Perhaps you would have to know that this is a continuation of one long exchange, on various subjects, but centering upon the same basic disagreement, to understand that Jacob is not listening to Tom, his position, or his requests. I find this common among people who pick a blog and its owner as their own personal target for gain-saying. Tom has answered Jacob’s charges countless times and has explained his position over and over again. He is asking something particular of Jacob, publishing here at the blog-owner’s discretion. Jacob has received the answers this blog has to offer and is making no point other than that he disagrees on a personal level – people have their own blogs at which to espouse their own worldviews. To repeat objections ad nauseum as though you’re going to get a different answer someday is rude – especially when that objection is not a dispute over a matter of fact but of stated opinion.

    P.S. Let me add that that distilment of Hinduism is itself inadequate insofar as it demands pantheism while there are, in fact, monotheistic Hindis and Hindi sects (and, I am told, atheistic Hindis, though I  haven’t stumbled on this yet in my own studies). The nature of Brahma is not monolithically agreed upon in Hinduism and I get the impression that those who presented this list of ‘essentials’ are, in fact, biased towards their own understanding of Hinduism.

    Regardless, Hinduism and Buddhism and New Age, et al have beliefs which contradict Christian beliefs – as you have affirmed. Jacob denies this. Even if presented specific cases of such contradiction he states that he would not accept them as such.

  72. Charlie, thank you for jumping in to answer here. 

    Kevin, if I may distill things down again–though Charlie has already done it–I do not intend to say that New Age involves just contradictions, either within itself or with reference to Christian belief. There are practices typically among New Agers that may be of benefit to everybody. At their source, these practices are closely related to beliefs that are contradictory to Christian beliefs (Atman and meditation, for example). If those connections can be conceptually severed, and no commitment is made to false beliefs, then some of those practices may be completely at home within Christianity.

    For example: Eastern meditation is a form of whole-body relaxation. This is a good thing. It is also a way of emptying the mind to achieve oneness with the impersonal All. That is contrary to Christian understandings of the nature of reality.

    Yoga may be great physical exercise. I confess to not knowing if it has other spiritual implications in Eastern thought; but if I practice Yoga for exercise in that state of ignorance, there’s no reason for me to believe it’s spiritually polluted or polluting for me. Paul speaks of this freedom in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 14.

    Regarding Jacob, and for the benefit of others who may wonder. These discussions are replays of others that occurred months ago, and I use the term “replay” advisedly. The initial topics have been different, but they have all tended to go the direction this one has: Jacob’s refusal (for whatever reason) to engage the argument at hand, his persistent presentation of ideas without enough substance (by way of definition, support, explanation, etc) for us to be able to respond to him, and his complaining thereafter about our not so responding. It is perhaps most epitomized in this thread by his question whether there was any chance he might be making a credible argument. I answered by saying how much I would welcome it if he did, and it’s true. I really would welcome it.

    Here’s a clear example:

    Jacob took Charlie and me to task for being closed-minded toward the logic of the “pluriverse.” This was in spite of our several, very specific (specific for the purpose of coaching him toward the kind of answer that would help) requests for him to explain what he means by this new word.

    I don’t know how well this has been coming across, but I have been expressing two very different kinds of criticism toward Jacob, in my intent (you can judge whether it has succeeded). One is toward his ideas–I think they have been either (in different places and different ways) contradictory or unclear. The other has been the kind of criticism I always welcomed in my first career, which was music. It is the kind that is intended to help move a person forward into doing better. See here and here, for example. 

    I confess to being frustrated that this effort has not been more successful. I’m not convinced myself that I’ve handled it the best way every time. But again, there’s a very long history here which new blog readers would not be aware of.

  73. Tom,

    Fair enough, but I still have doubts that divesting meditation of its “spiritual” aspects is itself necessary. That is the whole point of what I’ve been saying: the “spiritual” aspects of meditation in general do have different aims and even “emptying the mind to achieve oneness with the impersonal All” is a controversial aim within Eastern circles (some accept it, some do not, even in relation to the exact same practice or set of practices). Care simply must be shown in discussing this and I have yet to see such care in any Evangelical discussions of it.

  74. Jacob, I hope that as you come back here from the weekend you are well rested, and that you’ve had a good break.

    I’ve been puzzling over this pluriverse idea, although of course I’m still waiting for more information on what it involves.

    Here’s what I think I understand of it, at least the nutshell that I am most concerned about. I think you are saying that it’s possible for alternate views of God to be true without violating the law of noncontradiction (LNC), because they do not share a relationship. I gather that from here, most recently, and from comments leading up to that point.

    More on that, to make sure we’re on the same page: You have acknowledged your commitment to the LNC with the standard provisos regarding (time implicit in your reply, I think) and relationship. And you have agreed, I think, that Buddhist and Christian conceptions regarding God are (or at least may be) contradictory. But for one person to affirm the Buddhist conception, and another to affirm the Christian conception, need not be a fallacious contradiction for either of them, for one affirms it with relation to the Christian conception regarding God, and the other affirms it with relation to the Buddhist conception.

    (Buddhism is typically understood to be a kind of atheism, but its view of God is nevertheless a conception regarding God; and I think if we had been speaking of Hinduism, which is not atheistic, you would have made the same argument anyway, so I’m going to proceed with some hope that I can speak of these various conceptions of God in the way I am, without misrepresenting your position.)
     
    The upshot of this all is that a Christian’s beliefs can be true and a Buddhist’s can, too, at the same time. They both share equally in truth regarding ultimate reality; or, as they each express their beliefs, they each express truth in spite of their differences. Even at their points of contradiction both sets of belief express truth. (I’m trying to represent your position accurately, and I hope I’m succeeding.)

    But let’s  explore this a bit. I have said that contrary to your position, there actually is a shared relationship. Let me state it in a way that may make the whole problem, as it appears in my mind, more clear to you. This is what you will have to explain to me if I am going to be able to accept a pluriverse logic.

    As a Christian, I hold to these as essential beliefs (among other things): there is exactly one God, who subsists in three Persons. Everything else that exists, exists by his creation and providentially sustenance. All persons are made in God’s image, and every person’s chief purpose is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever,” as the Westminster confession says. All persons will stand before God’s judgment seat at some point, for all of us are accountable before God. His offer of rescue from our failings, through Jesus Christ, is available to any person, and is the only form of rescue that can be efficacious for any person.

    That is historic Christian belief; and at any rate, it is my belief, and you have said (I think) that my belief and a Buddhist’s belief, which contradict each other, may both be true because they are not held in relation to the same thing.

    But my belief quite doggedly insists that the Buddhist and I are both relating to the same God in virtue of the set I just enumerated, and more. The Buddhist says the monotheistic Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is not an accurate depiction of God, or that belief in Jesus is not the one and only path toward rescue from God’s judgment. The Buddhist’s statement cannot be true unless mine is false.

    There is no escaping this contradiction by resorting to some kind of unshared relationship, because Christian doctrine absolutely insists that the relationship is shared. Everybody has a relationship to the same God; and if they deny that view of God, it is the same God that they are denying.

    Now, do you disagree with that shared relationship? Then you are saying that my doctrine is wrong, because my doctrine of God cannot be true without that shared relationship. If you are right concerning the lack of shared relationship, then my doctrine is false. What I have been calling “my” doctrine here is, of course, shared by many millions of believers in Christ. The minimal set of beliefs listed above could be affirmed by a large proportion if not a majority of Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox believers.

    And I think that poses a large problem for what I think you have been affirming: That Christianity and Buddhism can both express equal truths regarding God. That can only be true if this set of Christian beliefs is utterly false; or in other words, the assertion can only be true if it is false, which is absurd.

    So now I hope you see how it looks to me at this stage of the discussion, before you have explained what you call the logic of the pluriverse. I think I could close here by stating it in terms more relevant to that topic: You say that Christianity and Buddhism may both express equal truth because they exist in a pluriverse. Christian doctrine, as I understand it, and as I understand the pluriverse, explicitly denies that that is the case regarding reality. There is no pluriverse that would admit a contrary view of God being true. None. Period.

    Is that a strong statement to put before you, before you have even had a chance to explain the pluriverse? Well, strong it certainly is. It’s meant to be. But it’s not before you have had a chance to explain the pluriverse; we asked you about it last week and you did not come forth with any explanation. And recognize, please, that none of what I wrote here used the term “pluriverse” except at the very beginning and end, and that the rest of what I wrote was drawn from things you have explained. I know I have extrapolated from your other comments to some conclusions about what your pluriverse might be, and if my extrapolations are in error, please accept my apologies. The rest of what I wrote here about Christianity, Buddhism, and contradiction should not be adversely affected by any such error.

  75. I hope everyone’s holiday was refreshing.

    Here’s what I think I understand of it, at least the nutshell that I am most concerned about. I think you are saying that it’s possible for alternate views of God to be true without violating the law of noncontradiction (LNC), because they do not share a relationship. I gather that from here, most recently, and from comments leading up to that point.

    To be clear, I am not saying “it’s possible for alternate views of God to be true without violating the law of noncontradiction…”

    Rather, the Buddhist and the Christian are not worshiping or talking about the same God.  Buddha is not Christ and Christ is not Buddha.  I’m talking about multiple gods.  The Bible is clear that there are multiple gods and the Bible is also clear that only one is the Savior.

    Do you agree that there are multiple gods?  To be clear here, I’m not asking you if you trust in these gods, I’m just asking if you agree that there are multiple gods?

    That there are multiple gods is a founding claim of a plurivere.

    When I read your comments, you seem to still be stuck in the logic of universe where there is only one God.  But today as in the Bible, there are multiple possible gods; not just one.

    The upshot of this all is that a Christian’s beliefs can be true and a Buddhist’s can, too, at the same time. They both share equally in truth regarding ultimate reality; or, as they each express their beliefs, they each express truth in spite of their differences. Even at their points of contradiction both sets of belief express truth. (I’m trying to represent your position accurately, and I hope I’m succeeding.)

    Why not just say that the Buddhist worships a different god than Christ Jesus our Lord?
    I think that there are fundamental differences between Christ and Buddha.  And I think that the differences cannot be reduced to “wrong” versus “right.”

    As a Christian, I hold to these as essential beliefs (among other things): there is exactly one God, who subsists in three Persons. Everything else that exists, exists by his creation and providentially sustenance. All persons are made in God’s image, and every person’s chief purpose is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever,” as the Westminster confession says. All persons will stand before God’s judgment seat at some point, for all of us are accountable before God. His offer of rescue from our failings, through Jesus Christ, is available to any person, and is the only form of rescue that can be efficacious for any person.

    That is historic Christian belief; and at any rate, it is my belief, and you have said (I think) that my belief and a Buddhist’s belief, which contradict each other, may both be true because they are not held in relation to the same thing.

    If a Buddhist and a Christian worship two different gods, then I see no contradiction between your affirmation of the Westminster statements and the Buddhist.  Why?  Because Buddhists don’t affirm the Westminster statements or historic Christian beliefs.  Buddhists have their own statements and their own historic beliefs, I would say.

    But my belief quite doggedly insists that the Buddhist and I are both relating to the same God in virtue of the set I just enumerated, and more. The Buddhist says the monotheistic Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is not an accurate depiction of God, or that belief in Jesus is not the one and only path toward rescue from God’s judgment. The Buddhist’s statement cannot be true unless mine is false.

    Do you have any quotes that support your claims about what Buddhists believe or say about Christ?    I don’t really know much about Buddhists apart from knowing that they are not Christians or Hindus or Muslims.

    I don’t think that Buddhists are concerned about God’s judgment or sin or redemption.  From what little I’ve read, I think that Buddhists are concerned about reaching some state of zen.  It seems that Christians and Buddhists are striving for different goals.

    Granted, your “belief” may “doggedly” insist that the Christian and the Buddhist are relating to the same God, but do you speak for the Buddhist too?  Does it only matter what your beliefs doggedly insist? `

    There is no escaping this contradiction by resorting to some kind of unshared relationship, because Christian doctrine absolutely insists that the relationship is shared. Everybody has a relationship to the same God; and if they deny that view of God, it is the same God that they are denying.

    While it is a founding presupposition for universalism that the “relationship is shared” and I can therefore see how (from your perspectivee) there “is no escaping this contradiction,” for a pluriveralist the founding presupposition is different.  A pluriveralist presupposes that there is no necssary shared relationship between a Buddhist and a Christian.  So, from a pluriveralist perspective, there is no contradiction to escape.

    Let me ask a question: Do you ultimately think that Buddhism and Christianity are different?
    Now, do you disagree with that shared relationship?

    Then you are saying that my doctrine is wrong, because my doctrine of God cannot be true without that shared relationship. If you are right concerning the lack of shared relationship, then my doctrine is false. What I have been calling “my” doctrine here is, of course, shared by many millions of believers in Christ. The minimal set of beliefs listed above could be affirmed by a large proportion if not a majority of Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox believers.

    Actually, I’m saying that I work from a different presupposition than you.  And since presuppositions are not empirically testable, I don’t think one is wrong and one is right.  I’m just fine with saying that we disagree about whether there is or is not a shared relationship.
    And I think that poses a large problem for what I think you have been affirming: That Christianity and Buddhism can both express equal truths regarding God. That can only be true if this set of Christian beliefs is utterly false; or in other words, the assertion can only be true if it is false, which is absurd.

    Actually, I haven’t been saying that “Christianity and Buddhism can both express equal truths regarding God.”  I’ve been saying that Christianity and Buddhism are talking about two different Gods.  Christians aren’t talking about Buddha and Buddhists aren’t talking about Jesus.  So, I don’t think the conundrum that you see is a problem for me.

    So now I hope you see how it looks to me at this stage of the discussion, before you have explained what you call the logic of the pluriverse. I think I could close here by stating it in terms more relevant to that topic: You say that Christianity and Buddhism may both express equal truth because they exist in a pluriverse. Christian doctrine, as I understand it, and as I understand the pluriverse, explicitly denies that that is the case regarding reality. There is no pluriverse that would admit a contrary view of God being true. None. Period.

    I do feel like I have a better picture of what you are saying.  But my complaint today is the same as it was last week, you seem to be applying a universal logic to my pluriversal claims.
     
     
     

  76. Jacob, thank you for your response here. Very interesting. Yes, I do seem to be “stuck in the logic of universe where there is only one God.” I don’t think there’s a way out of it, nor ought there be.

    Your pluriverse idea depends on some equivocations, especially on the word “God:”

    The Bible is clear that there are multiple gods and the Bible is also clear that only one is the Savior.

    Do you agree that there are multiple gods?  To be clear here, I’m not asking you if you trust in these gods, I’m just asking if you agree that there are multiple gods?

    That there are multiple gods is a founding claim of a pluriverse.

    If there is any one teaching in the Bible that is clear through and through, it is that there is one God. The Bible is not clear that there are multiple gods, except in the sense that there are multiple real or imaginary spiritual entities that persons suppose to be gods. There is only one Savior just because there is only one God who is actually a God. 

    Do I agree there are multiple gods? Of course not! I do agree there are multiple objects of worship, most of which are thought to be gods. But the Bible is very clear that those who worship them as gods are wrong. The language of right and wrong is unmistakable, central, and essential. Read the prophets on this.

    Why not just say that the Buddhist worships a different god than Christ Jesus our Lord? … the differences cannot be reduced to “wrong” versus “right.”

    If you believe that, Jacob, please, at least, do not take the Bible as a source for your opinion on it. The Bible says there are right and wrong views of God. Hindu pantheism is wrong. Buddhist atheism or skepticism or agnosticism is wrong. Biblical theism is right. That is what the Bible quite clearly teaches, starting with Genesis 1:1. Disagree if you like, but you won’t find find your grounds for it in the Bible.

    If a Buddhist and a Christian worship two different gods, then I see no contradiction between your affirmation of the Westminster statements and the Buddhist.  Why?  Because Buddhists don’t affirm the Westminster statements or historic Christian beliefs.  Buddhists have their own statements and their own historic beliefs, I would say.

    Followers of other gods worship falsely. Consider:

    Genesis 1:1

    Exodus 20:2-6

    Deuteronomy 32:21

    Deuteronomy 32:39

    2 Kings 17:12

    1 Chronicles 16:26

    2 Chronicles 24:18-19

    Psalm 10

    Psalm 14

    Psalm 96:5

    Psalm 115:4-8

    Isaiah 40:18-31

    Isaiah 43:10

    Jeremiah 10:14

    Jeremiah 14:22

    Jeremiah 18:15

    Ezekiel 6:1-14

    Ezekiel 14:1-11

    This is but a partial list. It fails to do justice to the real message, the struggle against idolatry that begins in Exodus and continues for centuries, into the Exile. The Bible recognizes over and over again that there are multiple objects of worship among people, but insists every time that there is only one God.

    Granted, your “belief” may “doggedly” insist that the Christian and the Buddhist are relating to the same God, but do you speak for the Buddhist too?  Does it only matter what your beliefs doggedly insist? `

    Now we approach another facet of my argument in my last comment. Here’s a direct question for you. I say the Buddhist and the Christian relate to the same God, for reasons I have stated several times previously in this thread (do a word search for “relate,” and many of the hits will land on these explanations). Am I wrong?

    Let me repeat that and ask for your clear answer: My religious belief is that every person relates to the same Creator God. Is my religious belief wrong?

    Christians aren’t talking about Buddha and Buddhists aren’t talking about Jesus.  So, I don’t think the conundrum that you see is a problem for me.

    But Christians are talking about Buddha! We’re saying he’s a false teacher! And Buddhists do speak about Christ, and when they do, they most decidedly do not say that he is the unique Son of the Only Father, the Second Person of the Trinity. So you are simply speaking falsehood when you say they are not talking about the other. There is contradiction there!

    While it is a founding presupposition for universalism that the “relationship is shared” and I can therefore see how (from your perspectivee) there “is no escaping this contradiction,” for a pluriveralist the founding presupposition is different.  A pluriveralist presupposes that there is no necssary shared relationship between a Buddhist and a Christian.  So, from a pluriveralist perspective, there is no contradiction to escape.

    I cannot respond to that until you explain the pluriverse, specifically by answering the questions I have repeatedly asked you about it, beginning a week ago. At this stage I must ask you to answer those questions, and the direct one that I just posed you, or else there is no basis for us to continue the conversation. By “no basis,” I do not mean we have no basis in manners, or in mutual respect, or in some shared purpose. I mean this: you are using an undefined word and telling me I ought to seriously consider its value as a logical foundation for discussion. I can’t do that with an undefined word. 

  77. Hey, y’all. I was just reading this, and I thought, “Tom, instead of telling Jacob all this about what the Bible says, why don’t you just ask him what he thinks the Bible says about these multiple gods? Does it say they’re all just about the same?” Get Jacob to tell you. Does he really, honestly, and for real think the Bible means there are multiple gods that are really gods? I think we’d like to know.

    And for both of you–since Jacob doesn’t mind talking about a pluriverse without telling Tom what it means, I’m going to suggest a third logic. It’s the logic of the hemidemiverse, and it says that whenever Tom says something, he means what Jacob said, and whenever Jacob says something, he means what Tom said.
    I challenge both of you: Tom, are you too committed to the logic of the universe to accept the logic of the hemidemiverse? Jacob, are you too committed to the logic of the pluriverse to accept the logic of the hemidemiverse?
    I absolutely guarantee you the logic of the hemidemiverse is more humane, more sensible, more logical than either of your logics. But I think I’ll wait a week, like Jacob, to tell you what in the heck I’m talking about.

  78. How about we all inhabit a universe where we do not mock others, no matter what theysay or do, what we think of what they say or do, or whether it ‘invites’ mocking or not.

  79. Really. Let’s not be unseemly.

    Though I notice something about Amused Observer’s take on the pluriverse and the hemidemiverse. Obviously the hemidemiverse is ridiculous. Maybe it’s satire rather than mockery (where’s the line there?).

    Regardless of that, what I note about it is that it proposes a logic without explanation. So far, that’s the same status we have for the pluriverse. I wouldn’t propose that Jacob has no explanation, but I would certainly say that in terms of what has been presented for us, it’s about equal to the hemidemiverse. He has proposed what the conclusions of his logic might be, as has AO. Neither one has explained how their logic got them to their conclusions. Jacob is no further along than AO on doing that for us.

    And I do think AO’s question to me is a good one. Rather than laying out what I see in the Bible, I should have just asked Jacob whether he really thinks the Bible teaches there are multiple gods in any sense other than one true God and multiple false “gods” that aren’t really gods at all. What do you mean by that, Jacob?

    And I guess that means I’m hoping to see three answers from you. I would put them in this order, the most important being first:

    1. What is the logic of the pluriverse–in terms of the questions I’ve referred to previously, and any additional insight or information that would help me understand what you mean?
    2. Is my religious belief actually wrong?
    3. What do you mean by saying the Bible teaches multiple gods; i.e., are there multiple gods that are in any sense true Gods?

  80. Yes, I do seem to be “stuck in the logic of universe where there is only one God.” I don’t think there’s a way out of it, nor ought there be.


    Which is why this is an article of faith and not some sort of scientific proof or empirical puzzle.  It is a foundational presupposition.
     
    If there is any one teaching in the Bible that is clear through and through, it is that there is one God. The Bible is not clear that there are multiple gods, except in the sense that there are multiple real or imaginary spiritual entities that persons suppose to be gods. There is only one Savior just because there is only one God who is actually a God.


    Do I agree there are multiple gods? Of course not! I do agree there are multiple objects of worship, most of which are thought to be gods. But the Bible is very clear that those who worship them as gods are wrong. The language of right and wrong is unmistakable, central, and essential. Read the prophets on this.


    Let us look at what the Bible says.

    So when Exodus 18:10-11 reads:

    He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”

    It seems that the Bible is referring to multiple gods and saying that one God in particular is greater than all the other lesser gods.  Doesn’t it?

    Or take this excerpt from Deuteronomy 6:13-15:

    13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.


    I interpret this to mean that we should fear the God of the scriptures and not follow the various other gods that are around us. 


    So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?

    And here it seems clear to me that Jesus is one of many different gods (foreign and domestic) that people of the times worshiped.


    I agree that the Bible says following our Lord is the only way to salvation.  But it also seems pretty clear to me that the writers of the scriptures were well aware that there were many gods out there.  I don’t see how you can deny that there are many gods.  Whether you believe them to be idols or not, my point is simply that people worship other gods.   

    My religious belief is that every person relates to the same Creator God. Is my religious belief wrong?


    On what grounds would I say that you are wrong?  I would be more inclined to say that I disagree with your starting presupposition.  People relate to different gods.  Christians relate to Jesus, Buddhists don’t. 


    But Christians are talking about Buddha! We’re saying he’s a false teacher! And Buddhists do speak about Christ, and when they do, they most decidedly do not say that he is the unique Son of the Only Father, the Second Person of the Trinity. So you are simply speaking falsehood when you say they are not talking about the other. There is contradiction there!

    Let me be more precise with my words.  While some Christians and some Buddhists may be talking about each other, Christians don’t worship the Buddha and Buddhists don’t worship Jesus Christ.  And as I said last week, there are always going to be some zealous followers that denounce other faith systems.  Denunciation doesn’t entail contradiction.


    I cannot respond to that until you explain the pluriverse, specifically by answering the questions I have repeatedly asked you about it, beginning a week ago. At this stage I must ask you to answer those questions, and the direct one that I just posed you, or else there is no basis for us to continue the conversation. By “no basis,” I do not mean we have no basis in manners, or in mutual respect, or in some shared purpose. I mean this: you are using an undefined word and telling me I ought to seriously consider its value as a logical foundation for discussion. I can’t do that with an undefined word.

    I responded to those questions last week, I thought.

    Pluriverse is often associated with William James and what became known among sociologists as radical empiricism.  James argued that empirically it is hard to deny that different men live in different worlds.  To be clear, he did not argue that different men see different aspects of the same world.   The world is not a unity, but a plurality of different experiences, meanings, truths, gods, etc. 

    Some time after James, the notion of pluriverse started catching on among missionaries.  Perhaps the best known is David Bosch.  Conducting missions in very different parts of the world other than WASPy USA, he too began to see that we live in a pluriverse where there are many different experiences, meanigns, truths, gods. etc.  Bosch’s aim wasn’t to deny what was plain to empirically see (people live in very different worlds).  Rather, he saught to understand the plurality of worlds and figure out how to insinuate the Word of God into them.  And this doesn’t mean beat someone to death with Right Doctrine that we imagine we can apply equally in all times and all places, but to learn how to relate the good news in many contexts. 

    To acknowledge that we live in a pluriverse where other gods could be worshipped (whether we believe them to be idols or not), is to emphasize personal responsibility in faithfully and fearfully trusting in the Lord our God over all other gods.  To deny that there are many other gods is to basically reduce agency to nothing–there is no way to escape Tom’s univeralism.       

  81. 1. But what is the logic of the pluriverse???

    2. You haven’t begun to explain what it is about the pluriverse that is better than the universe.

    3. You’ve said that it acknowledges people worship different gods. So do I; that’s not a point of dispute that divides us at all. These different gods, however, in a Biblical viewpoint, are all false gods, and in fact the word “god” means something entirely different in that application than when applied to God the creator. It means “false object of worship.” That’s a far cry from what we mean when we speak of the Creator God. Watch out for equivocations!

    4. You say,

    People relate to different gods.  Christians relate to Jesus, Buddhists don’t. 

    What does “relate” mean here? It has been used in a couple of different senses in this thread, and I think there’s some more serious equivocation going on. There is “in the same relationship” as the term is used in the law of noncontradiction, and then there is the relating by which I have a personal relationship with God. They are not the same. That I have a personal relationship with God, and not with some Buddhist ideal, does not mean that I have no logical relationship to the Buddhist ideal, viz., that I deny it is true.

    That a Buddhist does not have a personal relationship with the Biblical God does not mean that she does not have a logical relationship with him., viz., that she denies his reality. 

    Watch the equivocation. It will catch up with you.

    5. Is my religious belief actually wrong? You haven’t quite answered it. Let’s put it this way: suppose, when I finally understand what the pluriverse means, I say that it is categorically false–that the pluriverse is a false conception of reality, and that it denies the Bible. Would my religious belief then be wrong?

    Look closely at this and you’ll see it’s more a question about the nature of the pluriverse than it is about my beliefs (since I don’t know enough yet about the pluriverse to state a belief on it). If there is a religious belief within the putative pluriverse that says the pluriverse is false (a sham, a lie), can the pluriverse accept that belief as equally valid as other beliefs that allow for the reality of the pluriverse?

  82. But what is the logic of the pluriverse???
    Most simply: many paths, many goals.  Compared to the universe: one path, one goal
    You haven’t begun to explain what it is about the pluriverse that is better than the universe.

    I’m not necessarily claiming that something is better about a pluriverse over a universe.  I’ve just been saying that it offers an alternative, which might be interpreted as a good thing or a bad thing depending on where one stands.

    You’ve said that it acknowledges people worship different gods. So do I; that’s not a point of dispute that divides us at all. These different gods, in a Biblical viewpoint, are all false gods, and in fact the word “god” means something entirely different in this application than when applied to God the creator. It means “false object of worship.” That’s a far cry from what we mean when we speak of the Creator God. Watch out for equivocations!
    What have I equivocated on here?  Could you explain?
    I’ve said on multiple occasions that my point is simply: there are many paths and many goals.  That is the logic of a pluriverse.  And yes, I agree, from within the perspective of the Scriptures other gods are seen in negative terms.  From within the Christian perspective, there is the Lord our God and then there are many other lesser, or false, gods.

    What does “relate” mean here? It has been used in a couple of different senses in this thread, and I think there’s some more serious equivocation going on. There is “in the same relationship” as the term is used in the law of noncontradiction, and then there is the relating by which I have a personal relationship with God. They are not the same. That I have a personal relationship with God, and not with some Buddhist ideal, does not mean that I have no logical relationship to the Buddhist ideal, viz., that I deny it is true.
    By relate, I mean the practical work of relating to others.  In a very empirical sense of the word relate, Buddhists do not relate to Jesus Christ in their worship and neither do Christians relate to the Buddha.  Christians relate to Jesus Christ by reading the Bible, praying in Jesus’ name, attending church, etc.

    Is my religious belief actually wrong? You haven’t quite answered it. Let’s put it this way: suppose, when I finally understand what the pluriverse means, I say that it is categorically false–that the pluriverse is a false conception of reality, and that it denies the Bible. Would my religious belief then be wrong?

    I wouldn’t be inclined to call it “wrong.”  I would most likely describe your view as zealous boundary defender.

    Look closely at this and you’ll see it’s more a question about the nature of the pluriverse than it is about my beliefs (since I don’t know enough yet about the pluriverse to state a belief on it). If there is a religious belief within the putative pluriverse that says the pluriverse is false, a sham, a lie, can the pluriverse accept that belief as equally valid as other beliefs that allow for the reality of the pluriverse?
    How about an empirical example of a problem?  Are there people in the US who think that all the talk about “freedom” is false, sham, a lie?  Of course there are.  Every system of belief has detractors.  The question is: how are those detractors dealt with?

  83. Tom,
    You are trying to reason toward one truth, one reality with a man who thinks “the world is not a unity, but a plurality of different experiences, meanings, truths, gods, etc. “.

    You are trying to square the circle, Tom. I beg you to stop.

  84. I do think it’s time to stop. 

    Jacob, you have revealed that you do not understand the word “relate” the way it is used in the law of noncontradiction, and you do not seem to care to recognize the word has more than one meaning in different contexts. That is most surprising, coming from you.

    This equivocation is really quite central to the whole discussion, and now that it has been identified, it should be dealt with. Actually, I have employed that concept more than once already, when I spoke about how the Buddhist relates to the Christian God even if he does not believe in the Christian God. This is the first time I used the term “equivocation” to identify the type of problem we are having, and it’s absolutely crucial to understanding the issues. You are not dealing with it, however.

    Your answers to my final questions are diversions, changing the subject again. The analogy you provided does not hold, because it was about personal values, while the pluriverse concept is a statement about ultimate reality. 

    And you’ll probably say that the pluriverse concept is not a statement about ultimate reality. It is, but I can foresee you saying that it’s nothing so grand as that. Yet any statement that says we don’t live in a universe is a statement about ultimate reality.

    You continually disagree, yet you are unwilling to call any other opinion wrong. Maybe some see that as a mark of courtesy; for me, it is tantamount to saying that someone could say 2+2=5 and not be wrong. A world in which nothing can be wrong is a world where nothing can be right in any meaningful sense of the word. More to the current point, however, it seems disingenuous to disagree while pretending not to.

    And you have repeatedly berated me for being unwilling to accept the logic of the pluriverse, while also saying,

    I’m not necessarily claiming that something is better about a pluriverse over a universe. I’ve just been saying that it offers an alternative, which might be interpreted as a good thing or a bad thing depending on where one stands.

    So there is (like before, a year or more ago) no hope that this discussion will make progress. This is not the first time this has happened. The problem is not that you and I disagree. The problem is that it’s so hard to stay on subject, that so much needs to be repeated again and again, and that you are trying to argue in favor of something that you admit has no arguments in favor of it. As SteveK has just shown by making his passionate plea, that gets very tiresome.

    SteveK, I’m going to honor your request, and I’m also going to avoid allowing discussions to go this way again in the future.

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