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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"There's this guy named William Alston . . ."

At the link, Pastor Tim Keller of Church of the Redeemer, gives a summary of some of his recent book of arguments for God and their relation to faith at Author's@Google. Keller is a highly competent pastor and church organizer and leader. He is also a fairly good reader of philosophy as a representative of an educated profession. His presentation gives examples of some of the best stuff out there in current philosophy, science, and social thought. This is pretty much as well as we can expect from him and he has done a good job. But he immediately gets sandbagged by the first objection, which clearly is given by someone who knows either professional philosophy or some other highly academic field. However, this hardly amounts to being a reason for giving up, since his own experience in reading let's hims know that there could be something that someone could say in professional philosophy against it and his own argument was that it is reasonable to take a chance on God in spite of the evidential uncertainty surrounding the claim of His existence.

If we accept that God is bigger than us and may have reasons for allowing suffering that we are not in an adequate position to detect, does it follow that anything follows from the nature of God and his "goodness", such as rewarding an atheist for his lack of faith or condemning a theist for believing? Does it follow that since some things that God tolerates are not what we expect that we cannot form reasonable expectations at all in what counts as good or evil for us within our ability to judge? I reasonable expect that if I trust Him, He will respond to me even though its possible, for all I know, that he could be justified in not doing so. I reasonable expect that if I do not trust Him, He will not respond to me even though its possible, for all I know, that he could be justified in doing so. This is because it is reasonable to think that God's character constrains His actions such that not just anything at all is possible, even if I cannot always tell what should or shouldn't happen. It still seems that Keller's conclusion is sustained that it takes less of a risk to believe in God than to not do so.

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