The Unemployed Philosopher's Blog
Since it’s Easter, I have some open questions for my evangelical Christian friends about a puzzling passage from Matthew 27:45-54. Here it is in context:
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
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William Lane Craig is debating Sean Carroll tomorrow, 7 pm CT. Details and live stream here. I have to say I’m looking forward to this debate. The topic is God and Cosmology and these two are probably the best proponents of their respective positions. Should be good. At the very least, it’s got to be better than Ham on Nye!
Sam Harris is offering up to $20,000 to anyone who can write an essay refuting the core thesis of his book, The Moral Landscape. Any takers?
Letters to Nature
This post is part of a series on the fine-tuning of the universe. Here I will respond to the work of Dr. William Lane Craig. Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology. He is known for his defence of arguments for the existence of God, both in philosophical journals and public debates. Here, I will respond to a point that Craig has made in response to the multiverse (or many-worlds hypothesis; James Sinclair makes a similar point in his essay in “Contending with Christianity’s Critics”):
The error that that is made by the many worlds hypothesis is that it is basically an attempt to multiply your probabilistic resources without having any justification for doing so. It’s a way of saying that the improbable roll of the dice that we have come up with is rendered probable because there have been many throws. If…
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Here are a couple of examples that suggest that it’s possible to love someone without knowing whether or not they exist. The first is from Alexander Pruss, the second is from Andrew Cullison.
1. Fred is lost in the desert and dies. Without knowing this, Sally, his loving wife who is a presentist and thinks there is no afterlife spends weeks searching for Fred in the desert, in uncertainty whether Fred is still alive, despite great hardship and danger to her own life.
Observe that a presentist who disbelieves in an afterlife thinks that the dead are simply nonexistent. So Sally is not only uncertain whether Fred is alive, but she is uncertain whether Fred exists. Yet she acts out of love. Hence:
- It is possible to love someone while being unsure whether he exists.
2. Bob is lonely and begins a chat-room relationship with Julie. Bob and Julie are both grieving the loss of a loved one. Julie offers words of encouragement that no one has been able to offer Bob. Bob does the same for Julie. Then Bob’s friend Steve provides Bob with an overwhelming amount of evidence that Chat Rooms have very sophisticated Turing Machine Like programs that can perfectly replicate close, personal conversation with other humans. Bob is nervous. It is highly likely that Julie is a fake. He stops believing that Julie exists. He even tells Julie that he doesn’t believe she exists. However, he holds out strong hope that Julie exists. He says, you may not be real, but there is some very slim possibility that you are – that’s enough for me to think this is worth continuing. Eventually, they meet. They marry. Someone asks them ‘When did your personal relationship begin?’ Bob says, ‘Back when I didn’t even believe Julie existed.’
These examples are suggestive and have obvious implications for the atheistic argument from divine hiddenness. A key assumption in that argument is that knowledge of God’s existence is a prerequisite for loving God. Insofar as these examples make us question that intuition, they weaken the force of the argument from hiddenness.
Philosophy Now has a new issue all about the God debate. Check it out.