Credo – Starting Points

I’m going to do a series of posts outlining some basic points of my worldview. My purpose is not so much to offer a defense, as a statement with some exposition/explanation.  That  does not mean that no reasons will be offered for why I hold these positions, but that my purpose here is informative and descriptive, rather than apologetic and prescriptive.  My goal is to provide the context necessary for making sense of other affirmations and positions that are articulated and defended in this blog.  Whether one agrees with me or not, my hope is that it will be clear how it all fits together.  I do not intend to engage in lengthy polemics or apologetics in comments, when they are enabled.  That is not to say that I could not do so.  Rather it is a question of focusing on a particular purpose for this series.

In this first post, I want to simply raise the main question confronting us as we seek to build a reasonable worldview by which we may live.  In my next post I will begin to outline a response.  Understanding the nature of the question is crucial, so I want to focus here first.  Here is the question as I see it:

What is ultimately real?  What is the nature of that which is finally, the one concrete, necessary, final, and unavoidable reality that is back behind everything else.

In answer to this question there would seem to be only two final possibilities.  Either whatever is the most basic and necessary existent is personal or impersonal in nature.  Now, there may be many ways to characterize ultimate reality in addition, but it would appear that at least whatever it is, it must fit into one of these two categories.  If we call ultimate reality “Absolute”, then it cannot be both, for if we say that there is an ultimate personality, call it God or whatever, but conceive of it as composed of parts in which person-ness is grounded, then those impersonal parts are in reality, the Absolute.  In this case, then, personhood is a function of a more basic, impersonal existent.  If, however, personhood, or rather, an ultimate personality, is really the Absolute existent behind everything else, then personhood is both the essential and basic character of that from which all else has its origin and in which the existence of all other things is grounded.  This would include all non-personal entities, whether immaterial (numbers) or material (atoms, electrons).  That is, there would be nothing more basic to which the personal could be reduced, or in terms of which it could be explained.  In fact, the definition of the Absolute necessary being is that, at the end of the day, there is nothing else in terms of which it can be explained.  It simply is, that’s all, and it is the explanation of everything else.

Now, no one who is reasonably rational disagrees that there is some ultimate, necessary being.  That is, no one seriously entertains the notion that that which is, simply popped into existence from absolute non-being for no reason whatever.  Even those currently defending the notion that something does come from nothing (Laurence Krauss, for example) have hedged their bets by smuggling in the notion of nothing as really being something.  That is, their nothing is really some type of apparently empty space or field that has qualities and characteristics that then give rise, even if spontaneously, to the universe.  Non-being, of course, has no qualities or characteristics whatever. Contrary uses of ‘nothing’ are either dishonest or ignorant, as they simply ignore the question as philosophers and scientists have defined it for millennia.  When we say no thing can come from nothing, we mean that the things that exist cannot have come to be if there was a time when only absolute non-being obtained.

So the problem of Being, of the ultimate existent, demands that there be some type of necessary being, back behind which there is nothing else and no other explanation.  There cannot be, in the nature of the case, an infinite regress, and since we are here, then something must be the starting point.  This is why atheists objecting to theism by asking the question, “who created God” are missing the point.  Perhaps they don’t understand the question.  They want the universe, or the so-called multi-verse, which is impersonal, to be the ultimate existent.  Our argument with them is not whether or not an ultimate existent is there.  Our argument is over the nature of such an existent.  If we show that the impersonal is in need of a explanation, that does not mean that the personal is as well. In fact, since they are contradictories, if one of them is false, then the other is necessarily true. The point is, something is there that is basic, eternal, necessary, and the ground and explanation for all else.  The most basic question is, “what is it”?  Is it personal or impersonal?  How we answer this question will determine how we view everything else.

Next post in series

2 thoughts on “Credo – Starting Points

  1. Your initial post is a great starting point. I need to take this as my philosophical starting point in my chapter on how a support/recovery group for religious abuse is constructed. I will need to find a way to take this basic presupposition, shorten it and then frame it so counseling clinicians can understand it. This will take some thought. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Yes, of course I appreciated what you wrote. (I’ve read only the latest entry.) Reminds me of Francis Schaeffer, of course, and you’re both certainly right on the critical question of personal vs. non-personal origin. I’m thinking about a book I read many years ago by Michael J. Buckley, ‘At the Origins of Modern Atheism.’ Yale U. Press 1987. I wrote a review of the book for Contra Mundum Winter 1992. He points out that so many of the arguments for the existence of God, valid and true though they are, still live you with “a God who is inferred” rather than the God of the Bible since the inferred God’s attributes are not clear. Part of his conclusion is that “Jesus belongs to the definition of God” and of course He does. So the historical realities must be brought into the picture and quite probably you have. (I’m writing from ignorance since I’ve only read one of your articles.)
    One of the clear inferences, though, of this inferred God from the proofs is that He created the universe including man. From there we can assume that the God who created us as communicators has indeed communicated with us–verbally as well as in narrative form.
    I’m not trying to develop a thought completely; I’m just thinking aloud and I remember that years ago you were friends with my son-in-law.
    Bill Burnside

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