Tuesday, December 14, 2004

More on Flew's 'Conversion'

Jason Pratt kindly sends this link.

Pratt comments on Flew:

His dislike of 'Oriental Saddam Hussein-ish' claims about God, is going to make even a tiny step Godward fairly uncomfortable. To propose a God which can act with enough intention and power to create a Nature and/or design within it, is an awfully crucial step (though it may look small to us) which opens a lot of problematic doors--and he's showing an extreme aversion to admitting even the possibility of any intentive action of God beyond whatever would be necessary to set up a DNA strand. The extreme aversion, though, is most often presented in connection to that arbitrary (and essentially unjust) picture of God which he strenuously rejects. For him to go any further along this route (and based on various remarks of his), I would expect him to need to accept:

a.) a reconciliation and revision of his understanding of the relation between philosophy and science in regard to logical thinking;

b.) a solid theodicy (with the broad range of topics this entails)...

c.) ...including a coherent proposal of God and ethics which doesn't leave God in the place of an arbitrary dictator (of the might-makes-right Ockham sort)...

d.) ...which would also involve damnation possibilities (or none at all)t hat he could accept as fair judgments and punishments. Obviously b-d won't be happening through inferences drawn upon scientific data; which is why a. would have to be settled first in his understanding.

Trinitarian theism would (in my own opinion) be an excellent answer (indeed the only coherent answer) to c (i.e. the answer to Socrates' famous question about the morality of the gods); but I suspect he wouldn't accept it unless it could be shown to be necessary on grounds more fundamental than ethics. I personally think this is entirely tenable, but I can't say I've been impressed with Christian apologetics generally along this line, so I am somewhat doubtful he'd be able to find it. I also doubt any broad theodicy can be solidly devised which doesn't hinge on a trinitarian theism necessarily established on preliminary grounds (and again, I'm not much impressed so far with apologists' track-record on linking trinitarianism to even broad theodicy topics). And the vast majority of Christian apologists (not to say Muslim, etc.) won't be in any position to give him d. at all.

In short, I don't look for much further help for him from Christian apologists generally speaking.

But, hey--miracles happen. {g!}

Jason