The classical arguments for God – Part One

I talked about the atheist’s fallacious demand for evidence last time and what would constitute as logical evidence for God’s workings in the universe. It’s interesting that after three hundred or so comments, no atheist actually understood the classical theist’s argument for God.

To be fair, I didn’t grasp it for most of my Christian life either, so it’s understandable. And some of the brightest atheists like Bertrand Russell, and more recently, Richard Dawkins and his ilk, have abysmally misconstrued the argument and have only debunked a caricature born from their own imaginations.

Because it’s so widely misunderstood, I will attempt to dumb down this series of arguments, putting them in simple bite-size sections in order to help us grasp it. Of course, you could read Thomas Aquinas’s brilliant 3,500 page Summa Theologica yourself but that may take a lot longer and much harder to understand.

We will start with the argument from motion. This was Aquinas’s adaptation of Aristotelian Act-Potency Distinction. It’s important to point out that these arguments involve deductive reasoning from general features of everyday experience and principles of causation to a most fundamental metaphysical source. Which means that an eternal universe, quantum vacuums, multiple dimensions, or multiverses have absolutely no bearing on the argument. Hopefully, you’ll see why as we go.

Let’s begin with a very simplistic analogy using my music example in “God is not a god.” In order to make the analogy clear I will only include the most basic elements and leave out all the physics involved.

Imagine that the cosmos is the music that a musician plays on his guitar The music is real and can be experienced in the here and how, but it only exists as long as the musician plays. We could break this down further; again, in a very simplistic way:

  • The music is made of fluctuating sound waves.
  • The sound waves rely on the vibrations of the strings of the guitar.
  • The vibrations of the strings rely on the musician plucking the strings.
  • If any part of this causal chain is inhibited at any moment—the sound waves, the string vibrations, the plucking of the strings by the musician—the music would immediately cease to exist.

But, like all analogies, this one breaks down if you press it further. For instance, the musician is also part of the distal chain that relies on a more fundamental source in order to continue to exist. Nevertheless, this truncated illustration can help us get a crude grasp of what classical theists mean by something “ordered essentially (per se).” This is a critically important concept if we’re going to understand the argument.

Here’s the argument from motion (below). Keep in mind that these are summary statements from the argument not the fully-0rbed argument itself.

Argument from Motion (First Way) – Thomas Aquinas

  1. It is evident to experience that some things are in motion (“motion” meaning actualization of a potential.) How something exists right now (actual), or could be (potential), given its nature.
    1. Here’s an example of what classical theists mean by “motion”: a deciduous tree’s green leaves turn colors in the autumn. The actuality of the leaf is green in the summer but it has the potential to become red or yellow. When the leaf turns colors, it’s now actualized as a red or yellow leaf.
    2. Anything in motion this way cannot actualize itself. For example, the leaves change colors because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, etc. These are all outside forces.
  2. Nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality except by something in a state of actuality; whatever is in motion must be put into motion by another (causation).
    1. Then we must ask whether that thing that put our object into motion is itself in motion; if it isn’t, then we’ve arrived at the prime cause (“unmoved mover”). If not, we must find a more fundamental cause.
  3. An essentially ordered series of movers (in the here and now) cannot regress infinitely.
    1. Since more distal members derive their power from more fundamental members, infinite regress is impossible in such a series.
    2. To say that such a series regresses infinitely is to say that our autumn leaves (1.A)ultimately don’t derive their motive power from anything, which is a logical absurdity. If it doesn’t derive its power from anything then there’s no way it could do things, like a leaf changing colors, which plainly contradicts experience.
    3. Even if the series could regress infinitely, something outside the series would still have to supply its motive power.
  4. Therefore, there must be an unmoved mover (First/Prime Mover, Pure Act, Subsistent Existence Itself).
    1. This is logically unavoidable. Think of the guitar music analogy. Without a prime mover (musician), the whole chain collapses and ceases to exist in the here and now.

The main point is that the motive power (ability to actualize a potential) in each member in the series is essentially derived from a more fundamental member. If any more fundamental member fails, the rest of the series necessarily fails. Also remember, we’re talking about actualizing potentials in the here and now, not in the distant past or by any chronological sequence (“accidently ordered”).

It’s important to understand that we must continue digging down through the fundamental chain until we reach a member not receiving its motive power derivatively like all the others in the causal chain. Otherwise, we have not explained its being.

We’re not done with this argument but this post is long enough. We also have not brought “God” into the picture yet. We’re simply establishing that there must be a fully-actuated “unmoved mover,”  which means it cannot be in any state of motion (potential-actual).

We will look at this “unmoved mover” in more detail next time.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 37 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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116 Responses to The classical arguments for God – Part One

  1. john zande says:

    In both of your previous posts, The Divine Essense and Energies of God and Christ, the Cosmic Mind, and Consciousness you argue vehemently for weak Panentheism. There was a problem with this as you actually require STRONG Panentheism to accommodate your claim that Yhwh tinkers with evolution.

    That contradiction aside…

    Here you are now trying to make the case for “Classical Theism.”

    Classical Theism and Panentheism are antogonistic belief systems.

    Here is the first sentence in the wiki article on Classical Theism:

    In modern philosophy, classical theism is a theism in which God is characterized as the absolutely metaphysically ultimate being, IN CONTRAST TO OTHER CONCEPTIONS such as Pantheism, PANENTHEISM, Polytheism and Process Theism.

    So, Mel, are you entirely sure about today’s position?

    • Mel Wild says:

      There was a problem with this as you actually require STRONG Panentheism to accommodate your claim that Yhwh tinkers with evolution.

      Congratulations. You’ve already gone beyond the subject of this post. I specifically said we have not come to the subject of “God” yet. But that aside, you are quite wrong, wiki copy and paste aside. I am neither arguing for strong panentheism nor is the form of weak panentheism I am arguing for incompatible with classical theism. It actually fits perfectly. And to say it doesn’t would be quite silly since the early church theologians who embraced the classical theism I’m describing here also taught the essence (God’s being) and energies (God’s workings in the universe) of God. This NOT strong panentheism at all. This was made very clear in my post, “The Divine Essence and Energies of God.”

      • john zande says:

        Not at all. That was a contextual side note as to the enormous problems with weak panentheism and your stated claims on evolution… Problems you never did address.

        The actual point of the comment is spot on, and that point is the sensational incoherence of your past positions and today’s presented flavour.

        You have said:

        Mel Wild says:

        December 9, 2017 at 12:11 pm

        John, sorry but you are wrong about your assumptions. We have a highly developed theology about how God includes us in this “circle” called (weak) Panentheism. It was articulated by the early church but not well understood in the West. Here’s a post I wrote about it: “The Divine Essence and Energies of God.”

        And you’ve also said:

        This view [weak panentheism] is consistent with Christian Trinitarian theology and helps us avoid falling into the theological ditches of either dualist theism or pantheism.

        You included diagrams and you quoted Christopher Layton, “The Promise of Trinitarian Panentheism”:

        “What is the Trinitarian Panentheism good for? In the West, in particular, God’s transcendence has been over-emphasized [and]…has resulted in precisely the spirit-material dualism that Irenaeus struggled against with the Gnostics.”

        ”God’s transcendence has been over-emphasized???

        Over-emphasized?

        That, Mel, is a stunning contradiction to Classical Theism’s God as completely transcendent/ Absolutely metaphysically ultimate being

        So Mel, what is your actual position?

        Panentheism or Classical Theism?

        You can’t have both.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Christopher Layton is a strong panentheist, which is not my position. I only quoted him to point out the other extreme, dualistic deism, has wrought havoc on the rich Christian metaphysical understanding.

        • john zande says:

          You posted a video… It made the same claims.

          As stated in the VERY FIRST SENTENCE of the wiki article:

          In modern philosophy, classical theism is a theism in which God is characterized as the absolutely metaphysically ultimate being, IN CONTRAST TO OTHER CONCEPTIONS such as Pantheism, PANENTHEISM, Polytheism and Process Theism.

          In contrast to…

          This is why Plantinga, Swinburne, and Craig (actual Christian philosophers) all say you’re wrong.

          But I see you can’t even admit you’re presenting hopelessly contradictory positions, so there’s really no point in any further discussion.

          You’ve chosen to be intellectually/theologically dishonest, and that’s your choice.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Well, Mr. Wiki Quote, nice attempt at a totally ignorant dismissal. Sorry, no cigar. You can carry on with your game if you wish, making arguments that are NOT classical theism nor my claim. Let me know when you have something relevant to say. So here’s a dismissal for you. There is no point in continuing to talk to such an obstinate, confused, and fatuous person as yourself. You are wasting my time.

        • john zande says:

          And Mel, out of simple curiosity, I went back and checked up on this claim of yours: Christopher Layton is a strong panentheist, which is not my position.

          You do not identify that in your post. In fact, you presented his view (and his paper) as supporting you. And for the record, he is a Trinitarian Panentheist, which (now having read his paper) seems to dance between strong and weak, and insists “ that each of the members of the trinity are involved in the world.” Indeed, he introduces the term “eco-theology,” which is why he unequivocally states: God’s transcendence has been over-emphasized.

          God’s transcendence has been over-emphasized.

          It appears you quoted that line quite deliberately because, at the time, you were desperately trying to fit your god into evolution, insisting that human beings WERE NOT entirely unintended products of an entirely unguided process.

          You needed panentheism on that day, and as he states in his paper:

          A trinitarian panentheism will insist on some continuity between the being of God and the order of creation.

          So, when it comes to evolution, that *is* your position.

          Curiously, that is not however your position *today.* Today you’re trying to claim your God is ABSOLUTELY transcendent, and as I pointed out, that position cannot be reconciled with panentheism: strong, weak, or Trinitarian.

          That fact is even noted in the VERY FIRST SENTENCE of the classical theism wiki page. The first sentence!

          No classical theist would ever say God’s transcendence has been over-emphasized.

          I’m curious, Do you present these wildly varying, contradicting descriptions of your god hoping and praying no one notices the Dress-Yhwh-In-Whatever-Garment-Suits-The-Apologetics-Of-The-Day-Game you’re playing?

        • Mel Wild says:

          John Z, I even quote atheists here. It doesn’t mean I agree with them. I quoted Layton to make a point, as I said. I will quote a lot of theologians or writers to make a point. I will show various views and apologetic arguments given by various people. Some are better than others. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything they say. I hope I don’t have to spell out everything so you can understand the context.

          And just because you can quote Wikipedia doesn’t mean you understand classical theism.

          I explained to you what the classical Christian theists believed about how God interacts with us, and gave you quotes. (I’ve actually read their writings, I don’t just google terms). It’s very clear and consistent with the essence and energies of God, as I explained. It’s also consistent with the New Testament. You can take it however you want.

          You’re the one who is playing the game, trying to trap me in my words. But you never bother to understand what it is I’m saying.

        • john zande says:

          I quoted Layton to make a point, as I said.

          No, you didn’t say that. You didn’t even allude to it. You presented his position as your position.

          I’m sorry, but I really couldn’t be bothered playing Whack-a-Mole with you and your shifting arguments. If it satisfies your needs, dress your Yhwh doll in what clothes suits the day, Mel. But do everyone a favour and erase the word “consistency” from your lexicon, OK.

        • Mel Wild says:

          “As I said” to you when you brought it up here. Do I have to explain everything to you?

        • john zande says:

          Here, not there… and *there* is what I’m talking about, where you laid out a theological position completely inconsistent with the position you’re attempting to present here.

          And for the record Mel, if you have a problem with the Classical Theism Wiki page proving the staggering contradiction in your shifting theological positions in the page’s VERY FIRST SENTENCE, then I suggest you take that up with the editors of Wikipedia.

          Or you could just try and get your theology straight in the first instance… and stick to it.

          Your choice.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Haha. Right. I seriously doubt you have ever tried to understand what I’ve said. You only try to find what’s wrong with what you think I’m saying. Getting off the merry-go-round now.

        • john zande says:

          Oh, I understand it. Every 6 year old girl with a Barbie understands it, too. It’s called dress-ups. Going to the beach, horse-riding, or a night out… Barbie has the complete wardrobe to suit every adventure.

          Problems arise, though, when Barbie goes to the beach dressed in a black cocktail dress… which is pretty much what has happened here.

        • Mel Wild says:

          To help you with your confusion, here is a graphic of various theistic metaphysical Views (courtesy of Inspirational Philosophy):

          “Creation is contingent and distinct from God, but wholly dependent on Him still.” (Kallistos Ware)

          The essence of God is completely other, wholly transcendent outside of the realm of the created. Yet God works in creation (through His energies) and enters into a relationship with us. It is through the energies of God we can partake in the divine nature of God (2 Pet.1:4).

          This teaching of “divine essence and energies of God” goes back to Irenaeus (2nd century – 202 CE) and Clement of Alexandria (150-215 CE).

          He is “far off in his essense (ousia) but very near in His power (dynamei) which embraces all things…He is in essence remote; “for how is it that what is begotten can have approached the Unbegotten?” He is very near in virtue of that power which holds all things in its embrace.” Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, 2.2)

          This is how we can experience His workings (energies) in our everyday experience, yet we have not seen God Himself (essence).

          It is not a contradiction. You are just confused.

        • john zande says:

          Carry on with your game.

          I’m not interested in your forever shifting positions.

        • john zande says:

          Yet God works in creation (through His energies) and enters into a relationship with us.

          That, Mel, is NOT classical theism’s “complete” and “total” and “absolute” transcendence.

          Stop just making things up.

  2. violetwisp says:

    There is something absurd about trying to deduce an invisible creator using word games in the guise of ‘logic’. Fair enough confused humans in times of relative ignorance trying to piece emerging natural facts together with lingering religious nonsense. But in 2018, seriously? We can study it as a matter of curiosity but not for one minute to suggest it proves creator gods.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Lol! So, you are against logic. I see. Let’s not let reason and coherent thought get in the way. Of course, that means we must dismiss mathematics, theoretical physics, and most of quantum mechanics, too. Congratulations. Welcome to the Stone Age!

      • violetwisp says:

        ‘Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.’

        Wee Hawkins quote for you.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s very funny. True scientistic dogma spoken by people who don’t understand philosophy. What you seem to be arguing for is some form of empiricism. Ironically, you cannot be an empiricist and be a materialist or naturalist. They are totally incompatible as worldviews in the light of scientific advancement.

        • violetwisp says:

          I’m really not a fan of fake philosophical terms that attempt to box thinking into words. Philosophy often fails to grasp to the limits of both our vocabulary and our conceptual abilities – there’s no truth to reach and there is an infinity of expression and understanding beyond our grasp. It’s great to try but it’s futile thinking anything is ‘correct’. As as for using words to force a god into existence …. concepts invented in fear before words themselves were form. That’s irony for you.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Fake philosophical terms? Wow, what a totally ignorant thing to say. Well, you can keep your head stuck in the sand of your narrow-minded dogmatism. I can try to explain things but I can’t make you think.

        • violetwisp says:

          Interesting. Without meaning to sound rude, that’s exactly how I feel about you. Your starting point is ‘gods exist’ and yet you can’t recognise it because someone told you it’s logical and you think that’s ‘science’.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Feeling rude? Apparently, you don’t like being contradicted. But, no, my starting point on this post is that we exist, the cosmos exists, which requires an ontological explanation. I have not even brought up God yet. And science cannot answer this question for methodological reasons, which only reveals how deeply entrenched you are in scientism.

        • violetwisp says:

          Maybe that’s where we differ. Surely the starting point is that you (singular) exist. You’d have to explain how you get beyond that to anything else existing, and then explain why that needs an explanation. You may wish to explain it or wish to find an explanation but ‘need’ is not an appropriate word.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Maybe that’s where we differ. Surely the starting point is that you (singular) exist.

          I was only responding to what you said. You said I (we) always start with “god exists.” But we can start with the most empirical thing of all, our everyday experience, and then logically work back to “God.” But apparently, it is you who always starts with “god does not exist,” yet you have no ontological explanation for your assertion, nor do you care to think about one. Quite ironic.

          Philosophy helps one to avoid embracing an incoherent worldview. That’s why it’s not smart to dismiss it.

        • violetwisp says:

          No, I start with ‘I exist’ and base my understanding of my perceptions and beyond my perceptions on probability e.g. it’s unlikely the rest of existence around me is some kind of hallucination; the chances of discovering a creator through logical steps are negligible; it’s unlikely that any of the human imaginations of creator entities are accurate etc. I don’t have any need to search for a ‘why’ is terms of my existence – if a reason is clear that’s another matter. No reason is required or in sight.

          I do understand that many humans feel the need a reason. Have you thought about your motivation for needing a reason? This may be key to accepting the absurdity of the quest, given human history and, quite frankly, the sheer lack of evidence pointing to purpose – beyond inventions to assuage human fear and desperation in the face of the unknown. Accepting we are limited little creatures, yet with potential for more, is quite freeing.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I start with ‘I exist’ and base my understanding of my perceptions and beyond my perceptions on probability e.g. it’s unlikely the rest of existence around me is some kind of hallucination…

          How would you know it’s unlikely? Based on what? It seems to me, you’re putting yourself in a myopic “box” limited to your own perceptions.

          the chances of discovering a creator through logical steps are negligible…

          But this is where you’re quite wrong. And it’s not my opinion, it’s simple deductive reasoning. Taking the logical steps to their conclusion makes a “Creator” (whatever you want to call it/him/her) unavoidable. Logically, the chance is 100% positive.

          Accepting we are limited little creatures, yet with potential for more, is quite freeing.

          Actually, I couldn’t agree more! Being freed from a narrow-minded “box” of naturalism is quite liberating. I’ve never been as free as I am now. I love living in the mystery, which isn’t “never knowing” but ever-knowing. It’s endless wonder, full of purpose, beauty, and discovery…quite satisfying and exhilarating. God’s perfect love drives out all our orphan-hearted fear.

        • violetwisp says:

          Yes, I remember imaginary perfection feeling like that. I still prefer reality.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Good luck with that.

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @violet

          What irony! You don’t realize the magnitude of what you have admitted. You and Stephen Hawking are confusing advancement with:
          1. The way we organize knowledge.
          2. The quantity of knowledge.

          We organize knowledge by categorizing it in a hierarchy. What we call Philosophy is at the top of the hierarchy. What is Philosophy? Philosophy is the system we use for reasoning. Philosophy guides the way we collect, process, and analyze data. Philosophy establishes the rules we use to propose and test hypotheses. To do their jobs, all scientists require the tools of Philosophy. Essentially, all scientists are philosophers, and the better ones realize that.

          With the advent of printing technologies and now computer technologies, we have the means to collect, store and process huge quantities of data. In addition, scientists have the capability to rapidly document and share their hypotheses and theories. The result has been an explosion of scientific and engineering disciplines. What that means is that we understand much about the behavior of time, space, matter, and energy. Therefore, we have improved our standard of living. Yet the most fundamental questions we cannot answer any better than those early Christians did two thousand years ago.

          There are four big questions in life.
          –Why am I here?
          –What is right and wrong?
          –What brings me meaning
          –What happens to a human being when I die?
          — List from Ravi Zacharias (an expert in Christian apologetics) who says there are Four Questions To Answer In Life.(=>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfb5-7mtC-8)

          While I will readily agree that I much prefer living in the modern era with our improved standard of living, it is easy to observe that all that we have could quickly disappear. We could destroy ourselves. We could become dependent our gadgets, and then some natural catastrophe could take them from us. We could unintentionally create an environmental disaster. Without the wisdom to properly make use of scientific knowledge, it is as much of a problem as a benefit.

          Scientific knowledge is not the same as wisdom. Scientific knowledge does not concern itself with metaphysical issues, but Philosophy does.

          The study of Philosophy includes the study of wisdom. Without the wisdom to use scientific knowledge, what good is it? Without a sound Philosophy for learning, applying and controlling it, what good is scientific knowledge?

          Jesus Christ taught us much wisdom. When some smart Christians figured out from studying the Bible that God had created an orderly universe, they started studying what God had created, looking for the rules (or laws) Creation obeys. This is part of what caused the Renaissance. Without this bit wisdom, it is not possible to obtain scientific knowledge. Why look for what we do not believe exists? Why look for order in a world dominated by capricious spirits?

          Unfortunately, since Christian scientists started looking for the rules Creation obeys, we have made relatively little progress in the study of wisdom. There has been just one important gain that I can think of: the understanding that God gives us our rights. This principle is best expressed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Thanks to this bit of wisdom we have a republic instead of a monarchy or some other kind of authoritarian government.

          Perhaps Mel can think of something else.

  3. Nan says:

    It’s important to point out that these arguments involve deductive reasoning from general features of everyday experience and principles of causation to a most fundamental metaphysical source. Which means that an eternal universe, quantum vacuums, multiple dimensions, or multiverses have absolutely no bearing on the argument.

    I have to ask … do you truly think your potential readers have a clue on what you just wrote? Do you talk like this in front of your congregation? Is it possible that the reason Jesus made such an impression on people is because he talked in a more “folksy” way … and they could relate to what he was saying?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Sure. That’s just an articulated statement for people who actually understand metaphysics and philosophy. I have a diverse audience here. I will unpack it further as I go, which is what my analogies and examples are for.

    • Ben says:

      Remember, this is the “dumbed-down” version. He said in his post he’d dumb it down into “simple, bite-size sections” for those of us who don’t seems to grasp it all. Apparently some of us are on the opposite side of the spectrum of his diverse audience. Those who understand it all must be way to the other side.

      Funny how the truth of all he speaks is supposed to be plain to see for all of us, yet he uses big words so out of the ordinary for everyday people. Words that are used by the most learned and highest-educated people. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he’s trying to show how much more intelligent he is than the rest of us. Put us in our place, so to speak. Otherwise, simple words for simple people would suffice if he was truly interested in winning anyone over to Christ.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Funny how the truth of all he speaks is supposed to be plain to see for all of us, yet he uses big words so out of the ordinary for everyday people.

        What’s funny is how you pick one statement out of the whole post to make your point, yet I have also used very plain and simple examples in the post (guitar music, turning leaves) that anyone can understand. So, here’s some big words for you, Ben…hypocritical, sanctimonious, and disingenuous. You can look them up.

        What’s even funnier is how atheists constantly mock Christians for being superstitious morons, following blind faith, etc., whereas logic and reason are on the side of atheism. Haha. Right. So, now you complain that you have to actually think. Well, sorry. You can’t have it both ways.

        Otherwise, simple words for simple people would suffice if he was truly interested in winning anyone over to Christ.

        So, let’s all just stay dumb and superstitious so it’s easier for you to mock us with your caricatures of Christianity. Got it.

        Being “won over” is a heart issue. Most of my blog posts are heart and relationally based subjects for people who are actually interested. Your heart is obviously not open so no amount of plain speech would make a difference. You’re just looking for something to disagree with and dismiss. And, by the way, Jesus only spoke in parables to the crowds, and those had to be explained. If they weren’t open to finding out what He meant, they would likely have no idea what He was talking about. He explained to those who did seek Him out. On the other hand, He constantly confounded the wise in their own eyes, called the Pharisees hypocrites, brood of vipers, empty tombs…so, if the shoe fits.

    • “I have to ask … do you truly think your potential readers have a clue on what you just wrote?”

      I do. Thanks Mel 😎

      • I have to agree with Nan. Part of the same difficulty here dpatrickcollins is that Mel doesn’t read enough or thoroughly understand enough of secular or non-Christian studies, research, ever-progressing sciences, or the growing library of increasingly accurate historical evidence and facts related to Antiquity — in particular Second Temple Judaism and Messianism, as an example — to register as an “expert” in those fields or as a legitmate opponent. Maybe, probably because he spends all of his time stricly within the Christian-only bubble? Yet, he tries to discredit those opposing fields of study, those belief-systems, and the happy thriving lifestyles they provide millions of others.

        Nan, Ben, myself, Ron, Scottie, John Z, and a host of others want to provide alternative and accurate information and comments when we think Mel is MISrepresenting them. The real problem in doing this here and discussing these topics is when one side portrays unbending, immutable, black-n-white “truth/fallacy” or right/wrong… no grey, no unknowns. Life, Earth, the Universe and the Cosmos simply does not work that way. Or as other Christians might say, “God understands and does as He will. I just need to embody Colossians 3:12 and show my FAITH in Him and His ways.” 🙂

        • Pleasure to meet you Taboo. I am afraid I must plead ignorance to knowledge of any turf war between Mel and the rest of you. I just like clear, well presented arguments especially done in an engaging way. I look forward to hearing yours 🙂

        • Pleasure to meet you, Taboo. I am afraid I must plead ignorance to knowledge of any turf war between Mel and the rest of you. I just like clear, well-reasoned arguments especially presented in an engaging way. I look forward to hearing yours 🙂

        • No worries on the double post dpatrick. Honestly, if you do indeed seek “clear, well-reasoned arguments especially presented in an engaging way” then you’ll need to visit a VARIETY of blogs and sources other than here (or including here) to get the best possible information. I hope you are already doing this. As can be seen by the history of Pastor’s topics here since at least Feb. 2018, there is only one narrow opinions offered. And the comment-section of any blog isn’t always the best format for productive engagements.

          Take care and have a good weekend dpatrick. 🙂

        • whoops! double post. Don’t ask!

        • Mel Wild says:

          What? What? 🙂

  4. Ben says:

    You know I’m am atheist? How is that? I never claimed to be one. I don’t follow Christianity, yet I did follow closely for 25 years. I was devout and I completely immersed myself in it. You lump me in with a group I never claimed to be a part of. I don’t really have a label for myself and I’ve never once claimed to be an atheist. I am a non-Christian, but that doesn’t necessarily make me an atheist. Agnostic for now will do I suppose.

    “Hypocritical, sanctimonious, and disingenuous” I don’t have to look those words up. Those are very understandable words and even if they weren’t, your tone is very clear. Name calling tells a lot about one’s character. I understand that I may have called your motives into question, but name-calling seems rather petty.

    I never once complained that I had to think. It was the reasons behind your words I was referring to. I have no issue with thinking, even if it means I have to venture into topics I don’t agree with. People getting talked down to is where I have issues. Even if some people understand what you are talking about, most do not speak in that way. Since most of your posts are directed at unbelievers, it would seem that they are a big part of your target audience so why not try to reach all at once? That was the point. Certain words limit your audience. That’s all. If you are merely speaking of spiritual things with people who already believe, then that’s a whole different situation. But with a title like, “The Classical Arguments For God”, I find it difficult to believe you were writing this for those who already believe in God, as they don’t need an argument to believe.

    You can speak any way which pleases you. It is your blog and you are more than entitled to write how you want and to whom you want. I just think that most people who read your posts (at least the ones commenting) feel like you project an image of superiority and that turns some people off from what might otherwise be an interesting topic to discuss.

    When did I mock you with a “caricature of Christianity”? I don’t recall doing that. I also never said I was superstitious. What you’ve done is taken preconceived notions of what unbelievers are and labeled me that way. My “heart is not open”? Again, when did I say that? My heart has always been open. It’s open right now. My ears and eyes too. What wasn’t open was a line of communication between myself and God. It was always one-sided. 25 years of prayer and not one response. Please don’t begin to tell me that I prayed wrong or what I prayed for was not correct. You have no idea what my prayers consisted of.

    I am not looking for things to “disagree with and dismiss”. What I am looking for when someone like yourself (a Pastor) speaks about God and things of a spiritual nature, is compassion. What I am looking for is a representative of Christ who shows some of his attributes and not just someone who is quick to “disagree and dismiss” everything people with opposing views have to say. I am looking for maybe something I missed when I turned away from Christianity. I did years of “soul-searching” and praying. I lost my faith because what was promised in scripture never materialized in my life, nor anyone else’s life who I know that is a Christian. I lost faith because that’s all it was. It was faith and not proof of anything. I believed in it because I wanted to believe in it, not because God ever revealed himself to me in any way.

    So label me how you will and brush me aside if you must. Just know that some of us are actually looking for truth. When we ask for evidence, it does not mean something tangible, something scientific or some other kind of evidence that you say is outside the realm of where God is. What we are asking is for is an answer to “why”. Why do you believe in that which we don’t? What makes you believe in God that maybe we have missed? What is it that convinces you of your faith? What makes you so sure you are right and we are wrong? It’s asking for something we can use or look at to determine whether we are right or wrong in our decision to walk away. It’s not asking for photos, fingerprints or even eyewitness accounts. It’s asking why you believe and what makes you certain. Dismissing this request as just “heathens looking for something to mock” is missing a huge opportunity to maybe change some minds.

    I was not trying to be rude. I was merely making an observation and maybe getting defensive because of what appeared to be an attempt to put a group of people down. Maybe I was wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Okay, fair enough, Ben. You’re right, I don’t know you. You’re fairly new here. Maybe it was guilt by association since your comments sounded an awful lot like the comments I get from the anti-theists here. And I have a lot of atheists who do come here to attack me. Either way, I don’t like being unfairly labeled either, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt and retract my labels. I apologize. I will look at your comments a little more carefully in the future. 🙂

      • And I have a lot of atheists who do come here to attack me.

        Mel, you have that wrong for the most part. It is your content, your message, your blog-posts and your “faith” are what are being challenged, i.e. God, the Bible, and Christology. Not you. You are simply the messenger, the vessel. You shouldn’t take it (arrogantly?) personal because if I remember the entire theme of God’s mission, via God’s Word and His newintent for humanity, the New Covenant… is simply Reconciliation. Not fighting or driving away non-believers.

        Have a good weekend.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I have no problem with people disagreeing with the content. And a couple of people do so respectfully. I appreciate that. But no one has actually engaged the content of this post here. They’ve brought up just about everything else in the comments. And you are dead wrong that this is all it is. I haven’t gotten many mature responses from the atheists that come here. From the very first, they came here and attacked me with condescending remarks and endless accusations that had nothing to do with what I was writing. And I can handle that, too, but it’s a waste of my time (that’s the merry-go-round!). So, again, I can see why other believers are just curt with them. They don’t deserve any respect.

          What’s really funny is that these same people who mock our beliefs as superstitious nonsense are the same people who don’t like it when we actually explain it in an intelligent way. Their eyes just glaze over and they make fun of it. Doesn’t sound like the typical straw man they like to knock down. Now, I’m getting a bunch of sanctimonious baloney about not being simple and kind and peaceful. And I guess I’m using too big of words now. A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

          And I agree. The New Covenant is about reconciliation. Am I “driving away unbelievers?” Well, the belligerent folk who just come to bully believers have no interest in reconciliation. They will say anything except actually engage in what the post is about! Again, THAT is the merry-go-round. So, sorry, I don’t accept that accusation. They can just go away if they want. But I will expose their “incoherent nonsense” for what it is. Fair enough?

          Btw, you can head back to Ark’s site and pile on with the rest now if you want. 🙂

        • Mel, calm down. It’s a free world. Do your “thing,” I’ll do mine, and everyone else will do their’s.

          Reread Colossians 3:12. Take it to heart. Be an example of its meaning. 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          Oh, did I forget to mention sanctimonious?

        • Since Feb. 2018:

          • The Sticky Thing About Right and Wrong
          • Where Do You Get Your Definition of Morality?
          • The Moral Argument
          • Why Subjectivism Fails
          • Moral Realism
          • Greater Things
          • Why Materialism Fails Us
          • Science Cannot Replace God
          • Pulling Back the Curtain On Materialism
          • God is Not A God
          • So Where’s Your Hope?
          • About Miracles
          • Hallelujah For the Cross
          • Why Hume Was Certainly Wrong About Miracles
          • Why Did Jesus Do It?
          • Resurrection Power…Living On the Inside
          • Evidence and Other Atheist Fallacies — and today…
          • The Classical Arguments for God – Part One

          What’s wrong with just reading the Bible, God’s actual Words, front to back, Genesis to Revelations?

          No, sanctimonious you have extremely well covered Mel. 😉

        • Mel Wild says:

          Wow! You sure went to a lot of trouble here. Bullet points and everything. What’s wrong with just leaving us alone? Does it feed your ego or something to come here and show us how misguided we are and act like you have superior knowledge? And, btw, it’s not sanctimonious to defend what you believe against the ridiculous things that are said against our faith everyday by combative atheists and skeptics. But it is sanctimonious to come here and insinuate some moral high ground by quoting the Bible that you don’t believe in.

        • …it’s not sanctimonious to defend what you believe against the ridiculous things that are said against our faith…

          True. To be fair that goes both ways. Some/Many of us think you do not accurately represent secular beliefs and proofs. Hence, for truth-seekers out there they should have ALL viewpoints available — hopefully they are searching in a multitude of places, not just here or a few blogs including mine 😉 — so they can make wise choices, even at the least a choice of “undetermined.”

          What’s wrong with just leaving us alone?

          If you only want a Members Only blog Mel, you can easily set that up and keep out undesirables, but would that be what your God wants? If you only want Agreeables here, just Yes-people? If so, then make your blog Private or ban all undesirables. Otherwise, civil contentions, comparisons, contrasts, and debates all benefit a good learning process. 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          If you only want a Members Only blog Mel, you can easily set that up and keep out undesirables…

          No, obviously, my blog is open to anybody. But really, I don’t get why you and the regular anti-Christians who come here spend so much time on Christian sites like mine. Just to get people to not believe something? Pretty strange way to devote your energies. Some of these evangelists of unbelief spend almost as much time as I do on my blog. The whole thing doesn’t make sense to me. What do you have to gain?

          “but would that what your God wants?”

          (sigh) Here we go again…More sanctimonious preaching…good night.

        • John Branyan says:

          “The moment, however, you start misrepresenting science, misrepresenting history, misrepresenting humanism/secularism/atheism, or present counterproductive social positions…then you are inviting people to correct you.”

          LOL!
          Every word from Zande’s mouth is an invitation to tell him he’s wrong.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Every word from Zande’s mouth is an invitation to tell him he’s wrong.

          LOL! And he still doesn’t understand classical theism, but he thinks he does because he quoted Wikipedia.

        • John Branyan says:

          It would be interesting to read an article on “classical atheism”. I wish there was an atheist who could write it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I wish there was an atheist who could write it.

          Probably because that would be so depressing and convoluted. Any truly open-minded and rational atheist would jump ship having realized they embraced futility and hopelessness. That’s why their entire focus has to be on what they’re against. In that way, we provide meaning and purpose to their lives.

          But I could offer to write it for them… It would be concise and easy to understand.

          “We don’t know why we exist…but the theist is wrong!”

        • Though engaging “different people” in person face-to-face with different beliefs than you I’d hope would be much more productive and respectful than you maintain here Mel. But it is a well-known fact that the internet makes it all too easy for (severe?) bullying; a waste of time for most — you have 3-4 regulars here that have a known history of childish behavior, even hateful, and it represents nothing of Christ-like behavior. Surely you of all people can see it, yet you allow it to continue. You join in sometimes. 😞

          This degrades your blog Mel and by your New Testament (e.g. Colossians 3:12) you make public a very un-Christ-like message. You probably don’t see it right now because you are so angry and upset that you, or more accurately your content (especially your presentations of secular viewpoints) are fairly challenged by non-Christians. Honestly, you cannot possibly have ALL the right anwers… nor can everyone else. At THAT moment that’s when you should turn it over in “faith” to your God. Let your God do all of His powerful stuff on us. 😉

          Anyway, as I’ve told you before I don’t visit here that much mainly due to the content and dialogue which follows — it’s usually inaccurate, badly one-sided and isn’t stimulating enough for adults. If it doesn’t change or improve you’ll be very happy to know that I’ll eventually stop visiting all together. I know, crushing huh? 😄 Have a good day Mel.

        • John Branyan says:

          “Anyway, as I’ve told you before I don’t visit here that much mainly due to the content and dialogue which follows — it’s usually inaccurate, badly one-sided and isn’t stimulating enough for adults. ”

          Hooray! Good riddance!
          And Bravo! Bravo I say!

          Ahhh. The joy of un-Christlike behavior.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Though engaging “different people” in person face-to-face with different beliefs than you I’d hope would be much more productive and respectful than you maintain here Mel.

          I would’ve hoped so, too. As I told you in the beginning, I am all for hearing people’s honest perspective. I would love engaging in a mature and respectful conversation on the points I actually bring up. But, with the exception of a couple of atheists who’ve come here, I have not had such an experience. Quite the opposite. It usually begins with being told that I believe in fairy tales and it goes down hill from there. It’s not based on reality, it’s based on a naturalistic prejudice that does not allow for a different worldview. And with some, everything begins with an accusation of my character. Hardly what I would’ve wanted either. Of course, I can block them, and I had to block one, but it is a public site and I let it play out.

          You probably don’t see it right now because you are so angry and upset that you, or more accurately your content (especially your presentations of secular viewpoints) are fairly challenged by non-Christians.

          I’m so angry and upset? What gives you that idea? Maybe annoyed with the obstinance of some. I get tired of being unfairly represented and all the irrelevant and fallacious argumentation, but I’m not angry in the least bit. And I fully understand that non-Christians think they have challenged Christianity. And maybe they have in some areas that are difficult to prove. They have a good argument in some places, but most of it is knocking down straw man versions of particular sects of Christianity and based in lazy philosophical argumentation. Especially, with Dawkins and his ilk, which is the worst form of all. I know that’s not your group. I’m just saying it gets annoying.

          Honestly, you cannot possibly have ALL the right anwers… nor can everyone else.

          Of course, and nobody here is saying that. We can make logical deductions and inferences and point to some things but many things cannot be proven one way or the other. We all have faith in some of the things we believe. Theists don’t have the corner on that.

          If it doesn’t change or improve you’ll be very happy to know that I’ll eventually stop visiting all together.

          Well, certainly with the exception of a couple of your blogging associates that come here, they have brought it on themselves with their condescending and combative attitude. It certainly didn’t start with me. I have tried to extend them grace but just get dragged into it from time to time and have to back out of it myself. It is very ugly. I understand that some Christians also do the same thing here. But, again, I can understand why after having to engage some of these belligerent people over the last year or so. They really don’t deserve any respect because they don’t give any.

          Anyway, in meantime, it would be good if people actually engaged the subject of the post. For instance, about 90% of the comments on this post have nothing whatsoever to do with my subject, which is typical. That wastes a lot of my time. That’s the real merry-go-round here.

        • I would’ve hoped so, too. As I told you in the beginning, I am all for hearing people’s honest perspective. I would love engaging in a mature and respectful conversation on the points I actually bring up.

          I like that Mel. I’m thinking I might only contribute when you post about Biblical history, exegesis, Second Temple Judaism, and true Jewish Messianism. Those are my specific areas of knowledge and interest.

          Anyway, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

        • john zande says:

          What’s wrong with just leaving us alone?

          I believe I answered that quite some time ago. If you just stick to “Jesus loves you, here’s a bible verse,” you would not get a single blogging atheist paying you a visit. Speaking for myself, I don’t care what you believe. As long as it doesn’t harm children, animals, the planet, or yourself, then believe unicorns live in your shoes for all I care. The moment, however, you start misrepresenting science, misrepresenting history, misrepresenting humanism/secularism/atheism, or present counterproductive social positions (something you don’t do, which is to be applauded), then you are inviting people to correct you.

          These are public forums, Mel. If you don’t want people to correct you as you spill a bucket of misinformation, misrepresentation, and straight-out falsehoods (there only to fool the gullible) then I’d suggest you take your blog “Private.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          “As long as it doesn’t harm children, animals, the planet, or yourself, then believe unicorns live in your shoes for all I care. The moment, however, you start misrepresenting science, misrepresenting history, misrepresenting humanism/secularism/atheism…”

          Sorry, I don’t buy that for a second. That’s just a phony pretext, nothing more than shop-worn anti-theist talking points. You lot are the one’s who bring up all this stuff before it even gets mentioned. For example, before I even wrote one single apologetic post, I had written several that had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with everything you mentioned. They were, as you say, “Jesus loves you” type subjects. Ark came here and proceeded to attack the Bible, ask for “evidence,” and make all kinds of fallacious arguments that had absolutely nothing to do with the subject (which is another typical M.O.)

          After I saw how obsessed and in people’s faces about it you people are, that’s when I decided to expose your house of cards “religion” of scientism, materialism, and pseudo-history. Most of my apologetic posts on subjects of history, science, etc., were in response to atheist’s accusations and fallacious argumentation made here. So, no, not true at all.

          I will quote a humanist Chaplain, Greg Epstein, who has described you to a tee:

          “Anti-theism means actively seeking out the worst aspects of faith in god and portraying them as representative of all religion. Anti-theism seeks to shame and embarrass people away from religion, browbeating them about the stupidity of belief in a bellicose god.”

        • john zande says:

          If you don’t like the attention, then stop ringing the bell and turn your blog Private.

        • john zande says:

          And have I ever commented on a “jesus loves you” post?

          I correct you when you make false (PUBLIC) statements and claims. Consider it a “public service”

        • Mel Wild says:

          And have I ever commented on a “jesus loves you” post?

          Zande, would you just drop the act. Did I mention your name when I said that? I was talking about atheists/humanists in general who come here and you know it. But I agree, you do provide a public service. You are a great example of uncorrectable, obstinate, obnoxious, combative anti-theists who apparently spend all their time on Christian sites. Thanks for demonstrating that for all to see and learn.

        • john zande says:

          Name calling… lovely… Now let me imagine you waving your hands about and kicking your cat 😉

        • Mel Wild says:

          No name calling, just accurately describing behavior for which I have much evidence in the form of hundreds of comments. Again, all you do is attempt to vacuously dismiss it with your irrelevant absurdities.

        • john zande says:

          And by “irrelevant absurdities” do you mean like showing you the stunning contradictions in your theological positions… including, as in this post, the fact that the classical theology Wiki page exposes this incoherent mess in the VERY FIRST SENTENCE?

          You can call that “irrelevant absurdities” if you like. Everyone else would call it factual observations.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And by “irrelevant absurdities” do you mean like showing you the stunning contradictions in your theological positions… including, as in this post…

          Which point specifically made in this post is logically absurd or irrelevant?

        • john zande says:

          The whole post, as it contradicts your previous position on panentheism… which you need for a god meddling (*guiding*) evolution.

          But don’t worry, Mel… Your hand drawn graphic taken from an amateur You Tube video produced by an anonymous youtuber absolutely proves that the editors at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and actual Christian philosophers like Plantinga, Swinburne and Craig are nothing but walking BUFFOONS.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Nope. None of that was brought up in my post. Try again.

        • john zande says:

          Of course it wasn’t. This post proclaims classical theism to be your (new) theological position.

          I was simply pointing out that this hat you’re wearing today completely contradicts your previous theological position, that of panentheism.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I was simply pointing out that this hat you’re wearing today completely contradicts your previous theological position, that of panentheism.

          No it doesn’t. Admittedly, the term itself is a bit confusing because there are different varieties of panentheism used by different groups. What we are more directly talking about is the “essence” (being, transcendence) and “energies” (workings, miracles, relational) of God. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as a “weak” form of panentheism. Both essence and energies are equally true of God, it’s on a solid biblical foundation, and in total agreement with classical theism. So, if you don’t like weak panentheism, then just think of it as the essence and energies of God. This has been a robustly developed theology going back to the second century CE.

        • john zande says:

          As pointed out in the past, you need STRONG panentheism (which states the laws of nature are not autonomous of God, and he manipulates them, including matter, to effect his will) to accommodates your need for a god meddling in evolution. Whine all you like, but weak panentheism doesn’t allow that.

          This is why Layton (whom you quote to support your position) came up with Trinitarian Panentheism, which enables his so-called “Eco-theism” which dances between strong and weak panentheism.

          You hyped on about this for months, Mel.

          Listen, the word games are mesmerising, but one point rings true: classical theism is ANTAGONISTIC to panentheism.

          I’m sorry, but as much as you might want to, Mel, you can’t dress your Yhwh doll in both outfits… and no hand drawn graphic taken from an amateur You Tube video produced by an anonymous youtuber is going to change that fact.

        • Mel Wild says:

          One last time, you are wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about. And you are the one whining on and on here, but since you cannot engage the subject I will ignore you.

        • john zande says:

          Your problem is, quite clearly, that I do indeed know what I’m talking about… and that’s what is bothering you.

          But I’m curious; Why would I “engage the subject” in any detail when you’re just going to change your theological position next week to suit whatever next week’s godly needs are?

        • John Branyan says:

          Sorry, Mel.
          You can’t believe what you claim to believe. Zande and Wikipedia forbid it.

        • john zande says:

          And Mel, you can keep hyping on back to the wiki article all you like, but I suggest you take your complaint to the professional editors there…

          and while you’re at it, you might want to also inform the editors at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and actual Christian philosophers like Plantinga, Swinburne and Craig that a hand drawn graphic on an amateur You Tube video produced by an anonymous youtuber apparently, according to you, proves them all incoherent idiots… and *absolute transcendence* doesn’t have to means *absolute* if being *absolute* becomes more than a little awkward after being reminded of previous theological claims made.

          Keep dancing Mel. Keep dancing.

        • Well stated John Z. Hearing from a variety of bloggers from very diverse backgrounds makes a blog (or should!) more interesting and offers better learning. Of course, the trick is the etiquette — if the Owner doesn’t keep it in appropriate check it degrades and dilutes the blog discussions. I have always found your questions and dialogue John Z extremely enlightening. You also do quite well with your internet etiquette. 🙂

    • Ben,

      When you get into this merry-go-round circus here, don’t forget this one MAJOR component of Christian witnessing — since it is rarely applied here…

      “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

      Too many times by too many Christians they forget to back-off on the fluffy commentaries and do not go straight to the SOURCE of their faith: God’s Word. So I thought it a good reminder here. Don’t get lost in all the pointless incoherence here, ok? 😉

      Have a super weekend Ben.
      (Yes, I know we are both non-believers) 🤭

      • Mel Wild says:

        Merry-go-round circus? So, who is making it that? I have never met more obnoxious, obstinate, and belligerent people than some of the atheists who have come here, who have belittled me, and called me every name in the book. Then they repost my blog so they can belittle me there on their echo chamber.

        I used to wonder why other believers were so curt with you guys, but now I understand having gotten to know you all here (with a couple of exceptions).

        So, your remark cuts both ways, Professor Taboo. And I do try to be gracious and have even apologized to Ben for lumping him in with the combative people here. And, yes, Jesus was very gracious with those who were honestly seeking. But He wasn’t so gracious with those who only asked questions as a pretext to trap him, or who really wanted to cause confusion and doubt. He called them a brood of vipers and hypocrites.

        And pointless incoherence? That’s rich. So, again, respect goes both ways. You seem to want it only one way.

    • Anthony Paul says:

      Ben… your journey has taken you to a different place from many of us here who do believe in a loving God but who can also attest to the fact that He so often seems so distant and unavailable. No lectures here… we each must walk and own the path we have chosen. I just wanted to say that I read your vey long post several times and I was touched by its intelligence and sincerity — unlike much of the banal drivel that passes for intelligent thought from the few who herein contend against Mel ad nauseam.

      I think you are an exceptional individual! I do believe that you will indeed find what you are looking for one day.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Well said, Anthony.

      • Ben says:

        Thanks. I’ve always said that I am more than open to being proven wrong. I never wanted to lose faith but that’s where I am right now. That’s why I said maybe there’s something I’m missing because I just don’t see it or feel it. I have a lot of issues with the Bible and with a lifetime of unanswered prayers. I fought for a long time and just had a hard time justifying staying a part of religion.

        Like I said, maybe I’m just missing what it is that the faithful have because I just don’t see it. That’s why I think many atheists ask for “evidence”. They and I want to know what keeps the faithful from losing faith like we have. We all have our own way of speaking, but the same curiosity.

        I try to not be rude and say things just to get a reaction. Sometimes I see things a certain way and respond accordingly. Respect goes both ways so if I post something when I disagree, I will try my best to be respectful because that’s how I expect people to respond to me.

        I’m a newly “religion-less” person so figuring out my place is a little overwhelming at times. Just like when I was a Christian, this is a journey. I just don’t know where it will take me just yet.

        • Anthony Paul says:

          “I’ve always said that I am more than open to being proven wrong.”

          I don’t think you’re wrong at all Ben… I think that you’re searching for a truth that you can hang on to that is meaningful and real to you based on your life experience. Nothing wrong with that, brother. I happen to believe that Jesus is like my North Star… unchanging and fixed in the night sky and helping me to find my way in the dark… but I actually gave up on the church and religion a long time ago because I found too many people there who claimed to believe things they hardly really understood or gave much thought to. Issues with the Bible you say? Yep! You better believe it — but too many good christians are too afraid or maybe just not interested enough to ask God for answers to some pretty hard questions. I’ve always thought He could handle it and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

          So you see, we’re just in different places at this point in time and place; but I believe that we are indeed moving toward the same goal. Maybe I’m just a bit over the top here, but I really believe that one day you and I might meet on the flip side and we’ll compare notes — and it would please me a great deal for you to find out that you are closer to God in your honesty and pain than many who are quite satisfied with themselves and, secretly at least, consider themselves truly righteous.

  5. Stefan says:

    This was a time well spent. I just loved this article. A new perspective who God is!! Thank you, Mel

  6. I appreciate the way you present classical arguments, Mel. I actually read Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theolgica. I’m not a big fan. It isn’t that he’s wrong, it’s just that logic, reason, faith intellectualized, is not really my thing. I just mention it because Violet above kept saying how absurd it all was, and absurdity really is my thing. Lewis Carroll’s Alice is my avatar.

    What fascinates me so much is that while there is only one path to the Father, there are many paths to Jesus Himself. We can find Him in logic, in absurdity, in psychology, in music, science, art and nature. We are all without excuse, because He is written into each of these things. Whatever language you speak, if you knock, you will find evidence of Him there.

    • Anthony Paul says:

      I like this a lot because I can really relate to what you’re saying here. I have never read The Summa but having received a rather extensive Catholic education as a young man I am somewhat familiar with Thomas Aquinas’ writings… and he was indeed brilliant. However, his works were never the reason why I came to believe nor was my faith bolstered in any significant way by his writings. In some ways I’m a bit turned off by him now because of the strong attachment between his body of work and The Roman Church. I know that may be a non sequitur but it’s just the way I feel.

      “We can find Him in logic, in absurdity, in psychology, in music, science, art and nature…”

      I like where you are going with this idea as well… I would only add, in light of the fact that the idea of Panentheism has been brought up in this discussion, that perhaps it is not God who is in these things but that in fact these things all reside within God Himself… His divine and all-sustaining Consciousness perhaps.

      • “….it is not God who is in these things but that in fact these things all reside within God Himself… His divine and all-sustaining Consciousness perhaps.”

        I like that idea very much. I’m not a big fan of “pantheism,” but panentheism actually means “all-in-God,” which does seem to fit much better.

        Or to simplify it even more, the most important word in the bible is the very first, “in.” Is God in you? Are you in Him? 🙂

        • Nan says:

          IB, according to CARM.org — “Panentheism is unbiblical since it denies God’s transcendent nature, says that God is changing, confuses creation with God, denies miracles, and denies the incarnation of Christ along with the atoning sacrifice.”

          Of course, it doesn’t make a difference one way or the other to me, but based on Mel’s stated perspective in his various posts, it’s puzzling why you would favor this meaning.

        • Well, I’m rather fond of many aspects of Panentheism, while also believing that God is steadfast and unchanging, that miracles are quite real, as is the truth of the incarnation of Christ and His atoning sacrifice.

          One problem with discussing philosophy, theology, apologetics, is defining words and concepts so we have an agreed upon definition. Are we speaking of a word definition here, or are we speaking of a German philosopher’s body of work, or are we speaking of the cultians someone once encountered who happened to call themselves “Panentheists?” That’s one reason why I appreciate Mel’s work on these issues, he simplifies and clarifies concepts that are actually rather complex and often understood in different ways.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s very true, IB. We have to define these terms because they are so confused by various groups who use them. As I said to Nan, the word panentheism is confusing. What we are actually talking about is the “essence” (being, transcendence) and “energies” (workings, miracles, intimacy, relationship) of God. Both are equally true, on a solid biblical foundation, and in total agreement with classical theism. Once we understand this, a LOT of experiences with God and how He’s described in the Bible make more sense.

          This is very robust theology that has been hammered out since the second century.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Sorry, Nan. That is not at all what is meant by weak panentheism. There are forms of panentheism that would not be biblical but that’s not the one I have proposed. Actually, the term itself is a bit confusing. A more accurate description would be the “essence” (being) and “energies” (workings) of God. This is very biblical and consistent with classical theism.

        • Nan says:

          Isn’t CARM a respected website that defines and defends Christian perspectives? I find it rather odd that you would disagree with their definition. BTW, no one mentioned “weak” panentheism.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Of course, I said what they are describing is not what I’m talking about. There’s a big difference between weak and strong panentheism.

        • Nan says:

          Yes, I’ve been reading that. What puzzles me is why this is even a subject to be discussed on your blog. It’s most likely over the heads of your congregation — and knowing what it is doesn’t bring anyone closer to Jesus. To me, it’s more of a cerebral discussion than one that encourages and uplifts those in the faith.

        • john zande says:

          Mel needed panentheism (strong, not weak) so he could insert Yhwh into evolution, *guiding* it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, I’ve been reading that. What puzzles me is why this is even a subject to be discussed on your blog. It’s most likely over the heads of your congregation — and knowing what it is doesn’t bring anyone closer to Jesus.

          First, I fully understand that this may be a bit difficult to understand. It took me a while to understand it because I’ve heard so many confusing distortions of it, but it’s not actually that deep. It’s simple logic. The terminology takes a little time to properly understand. But, once you do, the concept is very simple. And everywhere we look in nature we see this “argument from motion” in play, so it’s intuitive.

          Second, I don’t teach this kind of stuff to my congregation. That would not be appropriate nor would I want to. Some may be interested and they can read it here if they are. I think most of them are smart enough to get it if they study it out. But that is not my point for posting these. My blog does not necessarily correspond to what I’m teaching elsewhere. Besides, the audience of this blog is a lot more diverse than my congregation. That said, I’m not going to turn it into a philosophy blog! I just want to explore a couple of areas that can help people with the issue of God.

          Third, it’s not just a cerebral discussion with no purpose. This is a logically deductive argument that proves (ontologically) the necessity of “God” (or uncaused, fully-actuated being, if you don’t like the word, “God”). It’s irrefutable from a logical standpoint. You could argue that you still don’t want to believe in God, but you cannot argue against the logic.

          So, knowing this could actually build someone’s faith greatly, realizing that they have a solid argument for God. But, either way, one still must choose to believe or not believe, no matter how logical the argument.

        • John Branyan says:

          Is that called “giving a reason for giving a reason for your hope”?

        • john zande says:

          This is a logically deductive argument that proves (ontologically) the necessity of “God” (or uncaused, fully-actuated being, if you don’t like the word, “God”). It’s irrefutable from a logical standpoint.

          Mel, if this were true then one would EXPECT the majority of philosophers to be theists, in one shape, form, or another.

          This is not the case.

          The overwhelming majority of philosophers are atheists (72.8%).

          Your claim of it being “irrefutable” is simply fallacious.

          Indeed, the fact that nearly 73% of people who actually study this stuff as a matter of professional expertise REJECT IT as nonsense demonstrates just how weak the logic is.

      • Mel Wild says:

        “…perhaps it is not God who is in these things but that in fact these things all reside within God Himself… His divine and all-sustaining Consciousness perhaps.”

        Right Anthony. That’s a great distinction you’re making. We are in God in a certain way (not in His essence but His energies). This gets off-topic from the ontological argument for God, but the classical theists would not be dualists, but idealists. Dualism crept into Christianity much later. They saw the spiritual world more like our participation in the “mind of God.” We are in God’s consciousness that holds the cosmos together. In fact, the classical theists would be on the opposite end of materialism. They would argue that matter is dependent on consciousness, not the other way around. But that’s another deep hole, so I’ll leave it there.

        The point is, classical theologians would’ve never considered the “ghost in the machine” dualism of modern theologians a coherent concept.

        • Anthony Paul says:

          Thanks for clarifying my own position, Mel… I do agree and I should perhaps have made that clearer in my post; I don’t believe, however, that I implied that we are ever a part of God’s essence, only His consciousness — much in line with the thinking of the contemporary philosopher/scientist Bernardo Kastrup and his idea of “mind-at-large”. I suppose this is what’s meant by “weak panentheism”? Frankly, I was never aware of this term (either weak or strong) until I started following this discussion but I do believe that there is more than ample Biblical evidence to support it.

          “In fact, the classical theists would be on the opposite end of materialism. They would argue that matter is dependent on consciousness, not the other way around.”

          Yes! This is a deep hole… but I believe that it has become so only because post modern science has chosen to take its own unwarranted “leap of faith” on to the side of pure materialism. I don’t believe that it was always so with early men of science like Newton et al.

  7. John Branyan says:

    Has anyone else noticed the atheist “lone wolf” mentality in the comment section? The atheists don’t seem to notice each other in the discussion. They do not build on each other’s comments. They do not even acknowledge each other’s comments!

    Likewise, has anyone noticed the theists tend to reference things IN THE ARTICLE first, and each other’s comments secondarily. The theists are singing from the same page despite the differences in dogmas and denominations.

    The heathen do not have a cohesive, shared worldview. Each has a personal hodge-podge religion which isn’t shared by the others. Their comments are a series of separate, one-on-one engagements. They can’t support each other because 1) none of them articulate a coherent point and 2) they don’t read anybody else’s comments anyway.

    • Mel Wild says:

      The heathen do not have a cohesive, shared worldview.

      Well, when you believe the universe is “nothing but blind, pitiless, indifference” that probably explains a lot about your worldview.

  8. shiarrael says:

    Therefore, there must be an unmoved mover (First/Prime Mover, Pure Act, Subsistent Existence Itself).

    I’m not sure about the must be, but it’s as good a hypothesis as any I’ve heard so far on the subject. It does seem a bit Newtonian (object at rest stays at rest until compelled by external force) so maybe that’s what it boils down to? Did I understand that correctly?

    I know you said no quantums and creative physics … but I can’t help wondering whether we’re not running outside wearing a towel and shouting “Eureka!” a bit too soon?
    The idea that something (someone?) must have nudged atoms to spin is logical to our minds because that’s how things work in our perception. Inertia is something we understand. It’s something we can observe, and prove with cool mathematical formulae (with squiggly bits!)

    But it’s one law of the universe we live in (unless the universe cheats which it does seem to do just for giggles). Does that have to mean it is the only possible explanation? Or even the best/ perfect explanation? Or maybe it’s just one possible explanation?

    Maybe it’s the best we got, right now. I could go for that. I’d hesitate to call it the “Ultimate Explanation”.

    If the god, or prime mover, can be unchangeable and eternal, always was and always will be … why must the universe have a beginning? Can’t it be eternal? Can’t the whole thing be so far over our heads we practically have to explain it with Newton and stop there because otherwise our poor brains leak out of our ears?

    And here’s the thing I keep getting stuck on: a being so vast, so ancient, so powerful… cares about mixed fabrics and people eating shrimp?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Hi Shiarrael. This is a logical argument for things in motion. Much like how mathematical theorems help us with theoretical physics. Except this is a metaphysical subject. “Motion” here is a bit of a confusing word to us. It took me a while to understand it, too. We tend to think of motion as the movement of an object from one location to another. This is not what is meant here. Motion here is more about an objects change in states. How something exists right now (actual), or could be (potential), given its nature. I used the example of the turning leaf. The green leaf has the potential to be a red-yellow leaf. But it can only do this by outside forces (light, temperature, etc.) Another example, my comment here is dependent on WordPress software, that’s dependent on the Internet, my Internet connection, my laptop, my fingers, my motor functions, my intentions, etc. This what is meant by motion. It’s fundamental, not chronological.

      So, we can see that everything is in some form of motion in nature. Logically, we must look for more fundamental cause to reach this “prime mover.” It has nothing to do with quantum physics or whether the universe had a beginning or not, this causal chain cannot go into infinite regress, otherwise all of it would cease to exist. There logically must be a prime cause at the most foundational level that is uncaused and fully actuated in every way. I will talk more about that requirement next time. But you will see that it cannot be the universe, even if the universe itself was eternal.

      • shiarrael says:

        Motion here is more about an objects change in states. How something exists right now (actual), or could be (potential), given its nature […] But it can only do this by outside forces

        That’s essentially what I said: […] until compelled by external force
        Although you were referring to the medieval concept of motion (if I understand correctly) and I’m coming at it from the angle of Inertia, Energy as per Einstein, and a few other basic ideas from physics.

        […] this causal chain cannot go into infinite regress, otherwise all of it would cease to exist

        How do we know that for certain?
        There are hypotheses that quite plausibly submit that infinite regress is possible.
        There are other theories that “non-motion” (to keep with the lingo) is actually not the natural state of the universe.

        I do get that we’re talking metaphysics and not string theory, and do I find the basic idea Aquinas came up with quite fascinating. I’m just not ready to accept his axioms as such without poking at them. It’s all a bit wobbly, especially considering the things we’ve learned and are beginning to understand since the 13th century.

        There logically must be a prime cause at the most foundational level that is uncaused and fully actuated in every way

        Logically must be… no.
        A prime cause would be a good explanation, I’d even say it might pass the Occam Razor test of Metaphysics.
        But it’s not quite solid enough to say ‘must’ with such certainty.
        Nor is Occam always right.

        The fully actuated part would be interesting to examine, too (why must it be? Would the entire hypothesis fall apart if we put a question mark behind this? Or would it stand, but spin off in a slightly different direction? Open other avenues? Sorry, tangent…)

        I will talk more about that requirement next time

        I’ll take a peek if I happen to be around.

  9. Pingback: The classical arguments for God – Part Two | In My Father's House

  10. Pingback: The classical arguments for God – Part Three | In My Father's House

  11. Pingback: TWO DIFFERENT APPROACHES – Citizen Tom

  12. Ben Kilen says:

    A friend of mine Rob Grayson, posted the following

    “God’s existence cannot be proved. Each of us decides whether or not to believe in God.

    Similarly, for those of us who choose to believe in God, we cannot prove what God is like. Is he a distant, implacable dispenser of cold justice, or is he unendingly patient, recklessly forgiving and all-inclusive? There’s no proof, and there are arguments to be made in either direction.

    In the end, each of us decides what we think God is like.

    You may use the Bible to back up your chosen view of God. That’s fine, as long as you realise that’s exactly what you’re doing: choosing a view of God and then selectively using scripture to back it up. If you claim that scripture unequivocally supports your particular view of God, I can only conclude that you haven’t really read the Bible.

    So, what kind of God are you going to believe in? Choose wisely.” June 2017

    • Nan says:

      IMO, a very sane approach related to belief (or not) in the Christian God.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Good quote, Ben. I think the problem is that we (especially in the West) all want certainty and we hate mystery, which leads to dogmatism, whether it be from fundamentalist theists or fundamentalist anti-theists. We ask for evidence, which usually means physical evidence, like we’re looking for Santa Claus or some bearded dude hiding in the clouds somewhere. We even search for certainty in the Bible text. The Bible text was first elevated to the level of verbatim inerrancy (Biblicism) as a reaction to the liberal theologians and higher criticism that was fully developed by the 19th century, which birthed modern fundamentalism. This led to thinking the Bible had to compete with science, etc. Our “evidence” is the Bible, which only rises to the level of circular reasoning. All, not because of what the Bible actually claims to be, but because we want certainty. We want proof that we are right and “they” are wrong. Of course, if we say the kinds of things your friend says about the Bible text then we’re accused of not believing it, which is equally absurd.

      The problem is, the very nature of God forbids certainty and forces us into mystery; faith is the “evidence” of things NOT seen. By faith we know this physical world was framed by a mysterious invisible world (Heb.11). Although, I believe we can know Him by faith and greatly benefit from that relationship.

      On the other side of this faith issue, though, is the empirical fact that we most certainly continue to exist, which no anti-theist has an ontologically coherent answer for. This is what Aquinas points out here. It’s not a problem that will ever go away by simply denying the Bible.

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