The following is part of an exchange between myself and an up-and-coming apologist who writes on the failures of non-christian idelogies. For several years now, apologists have been simply attacking various idologies with the implicit notion that, if they can only demonstrate an incohernency in another ideology, this will somehow validate their own ideology. I’m attempting to return the proper forcus to the question of whether Christianity itself is incoherent. I believe it is, but getting a straight answer from a Christian apologist is not unlike getting my donkey to speak its mind. At the point of this exchange, I had posted the same question 4 times.
Phil: Thanks for your response [NAME]. Now, based on that, how would you respond to the following question?When John says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already” (ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται· ὁ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται,…), does he simply means that you can disbelieve to any degree as long as your degree of belief is not at zero? In other words, could someone split their belief between Jesus and 2 other possible messiahs, and the Christian god would still honor that 33% degree of confidence in Jesus?
Apologist: When you find yourself not engaging with another person but only repeating your question verbatim like an automaton, it might be that the form of the question is limiting you and preventing you from thinking in fresh ways. (Like “have you stopped beating your wife?”)As I said, the form of your latest question is invalid–monotheism says there is one God, hence one Messiah, and it makes no sense to talk about “splitting belief between Jesus and other possible Messiahs.” Whatever you are getting at, this way of framing the question won’t advance the discussion.As I said, even a probabilistic approach does not take the simplistic Baconian approach of totting up bits of “certainty” and correlating bits of “belief” in a quantifiable manner. Read philosophers of science like Kuhn, for that matter read Karl Popper, who said this is not the way even science works.
Phil: You have suggested that I have introduced a compound questions such as “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”Husbands who have never beat their wife respond to such a question with “I’ve never beaten my wife”.Husbands who are indeed beating their wife evade the question.Instead of vaguely suggesting the question contains a false assumption, point out that assumption. Simply demonstrate I don’t understand or that I am attempting to straw-man you.In addition, I would certainly hope you have the philosophical acumen to immediately note that, the (ontological) fact that Christianity is monotheistic speaks nothing to the epistemic assessment of truth of that proposition. Once again, you are conflating epistemic assessment with ontology. If you don’t understand this, let me know, and I’ll expound on this further.So, no, my question is most certainly not invalid, nor it is its repetition the product of an automaton as you suggest. Its repetition is the product of the absence of an answer as you admit to when you wrongly suggest the question was invalid.Here is the question again.—-Based on your notion of salvific faith, how would you respond to the following question?When John says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already” (ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται· ὁ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται,…), does he simply means that you can disbelieve to any degree as long as your degree of belief is not at zero? In other words, could someone split their belief between Jesus and 2 other possible messiahs, and the Christian god would still honor that 33% degree of confidence in Jesus?(You suggested that Kuhn, Popper and Bacon did not think certainty was quantifiable in this way. That is simply not true. All of them held that certainty was on a continuum, and Kuhn and Popper were of an age in which the science of probabilities was coming into its own. Simply explore the 5 sigma standard CERN scientists applied to the Higgs, or the everyday probabilities Vegas card counters employ. The fact that your mind can not apply precise percentages does not mean you can hold that, based on the evidence available to you, 3 different monotheistic gods are equally probable. This does not mean they can co-exist. This is what I mean when I say you are conflating epistemology with ontology.)—This question is not whether Baalam’s donkey spoke with an accent. This question goes to the very heart of redemption. The very coherency of Christianity rests in the hope for a coherent response to this question.This question is philosophically rigorous intentionally. The details reveal the coherency of general platitudes. “Believe in Jesus and be saved”. This is most certainly not a description of redemption worthy of respect. Belief in intrinsically on a continuum just as is affection. Imagine telling a man you’ll marry him if he likes you. You’ve so far left redemption as undefined as this.And this is no time to be creative. You say the rigor of my question is “preventing [me] from thinking in fresh ways”. You are talking about the doctrines of a Bible from which, allegedly, not one jot or tittle will vanish. It’s far too late to be creative with redemption. My question is very specific, very clear and very pertinent to the entire project of Christianity. Now all that remains is for you to either answer the question coherently so we can move on to other issues, or to admit you don’t understand the mechanism of redemption.Which is it?(Sorry for the stronger tone. I appreciate you letting me comment on your page. But I’m sure you’d do the same if postmodernists were to claim your reductio ad absurdum arguments against their position were preventing you from “thinking in fresh ways”, and continued to evade your clear and rigorous questions.)