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[COMMENT: The somewhat edited letter-to-the-editor
of Touchstone Magazine below was a response to Edward Tingley. Tingley
asks whether the atheist and agnostic are as skeptical as they claim.
Tingley says not, and rightly so. Tingley asserts that skepticism is a
good thing, implying that God is Himself skeptical. I begin with a
reference to metaphysics, and to my work with the cosmological argument for God.
Letter to the Editor:
Thanks for Edward Tingley's perceptive article, The Skeptical Inquirer. I hope he will soon further develop his notion of the 3rd way of knowing.
The "3rd way" is, I believe, the metaphysical/intuitive way. There are other ways than the five senses of perceiving, such as perceiving personal presence, including the presence of God. It is not usually empirical in the public sense, but being personal and private does not by itself make it less objective. So there is a private empirical (experiential) realm, with different standards for truth-testing than with the usual five public senses.
Pascal was wrong, I believe, about the cosmological proof for God, which I am dusting off in Personality, Empiricism, & God, to be published this coming winter. The proof does not produce God, or make God exist, for anyone. It produces only a logical conclusion that if anything exists, then something must exist to which the language of "being caused" does not apply. The cosmological proof does not produce God, but it makes belief in God an eminently rational thing, not a transgression of either common sense, natural science, or of philosophy.
It is all about the law of sufficient cause which states that any event must have a sufficient cause to explain it. Without that law, there is no rationality to the empirical, experiential world, and thus no possibility of science.
If the cosmological proof is valid, then belief in a creator God is not only not irrational, it would be required for the rationality of science itself.
And, indeed, science as developed in the West came both logically and historically out of the Biblical tradition. No worldview other than the Biblical asserts three beliefs necessary for the development of science: that the world is good, orderly, and can be improved. Neither secularism, paganism, nor Islam makes these claims in the required manner.
Tingley says that "skepticism and theism go well together". Indeed so. Elijah, about 900 BC, centuries before any philosophical skeptics appeared in Greece, shows how God encourages skepticism (I Kings 18:17ff.). Elijah challenges, "How long will you go limping on two contrary opinions? If Baal be God, we will go with Baal. If the Lord, we will go with Him." Thus he appeals to logic: either/or, not both/and. Then with the two-bulls experiment, he appeals to the empirical evidence. Rough and ready, but recognizably science.
God is skeptical about His own people. He puts then out on the backside of the desert to see whether they will obey His laws. As He does with all of us.
Furthermore, God is willing to put His whole case to an open, honest test -- because He expects us to be skeptical. Why? -- because there are so many false gods around. God thereby puts truth ahead of Himself, and wants us to do so as well. That is the only way to test whether there is a God, and if so, who He might be. The real God will show up and, in a manner recognizable by each of us in our own condition, prove His own case.
Resurrection Blessings, Earle Fox
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