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Time and Truth

The man. The myth.

Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 15 May 2010, 20:35

No - sorry Nerd I'm feeling a need to finish this.
In that I can use the dollar that exists to buy things, but the store won't accept imaginary currency.

So one dollar is spendable and the other is not so they do have a least one qualitative difference namely one has the quality of spendability the other does not. The thought experiment won't work unless the two objects are really identical. As for not being able to spend imaginary money I do that every time I use my debit card. I used to do it even when my account was in the red. The stores had no problem. Are you not actually conflating two entities and two distinct meanings of the word existence. The dollar as a physical object exists. The monetary amount one dollar also exists but in a different sense. Hence if I have the physical object but it is believed to be a forgery I can't spend it even though physically it exists. If the monetary amount exists in my account then I can find a way to spend it even if I have no physical dollar. I would suggest that existence is not a quality but a limiting idea which has different meanings in different applications.
Nerd said:
Lewis said, "We can attribute miracles to God, but not nonsense." I find that statement to be a necessary truth and don't consider it to be an open question. I did say that it isn't really possible to have an enlightened debate on this subject, because all enlightened debates depend on it a priori.

In this context Lewis is talking about God's actions in relation to the world. Lewis does have a scholastic concept of God (what's been called the triple A model - for Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm) but that is not relevant here. Basically Lewis believes religious language is primarily analogical rather than relational. It describes what God is in his own being but using words in a special non-literal sense. In fact some of the language according to Lewis may be literal but we can never know if it is or not.
Nerd said:
I honestly don't understand how you can say God as he is in himself isn't a context. Seems like that's saying apples can moo. If you've got a fuller explanation of that, that might be good

I take the relevant definition of context to be the circumstances or situation in which an event happens. We can know nothing of such events within the being of God; events are spatio-temporal happenings. As scripture says the things that are revealed are ours but the hidden things are God's. The problem is that I am saying that we can know God in so far as he relates to the world. You think this implies that God must have some hidden identity that contradicts his revealed identity but this does not follow.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 17 May 2010, 14:58

My point has not been that we can know everything about God but that those things that we do not know cannot contradict whatever true things that we do know. Certainly religious language uses analogy and so it often isn't strictly true in the literal sense, but if the law of noncontradiction doesn't apply to God then there is no such thing as a statement about God's nature that is really true, analogous or not. If there is no such thing as a positive statement about God's nature that is really true, there is nothing to analogize about.

The point you made about the debit card is a trick of language. I'm a computer science major so I don't really think of the money on the debit card as "imaginary," merely as "virtual" or "digital" or whatever the buzzword is this week. An economist might think of it as "imaginary" I suppose, but I'm sure it has to come back to some kind of real trad-able value at some point, otherwise there's an economic collapse. But from my perspective, a string of ones and zeroes is not any more imaginary than the physical dollar bill. You can use the debit card that has the "quality of existence" if there is such a thing, (a point on which I base no argument but was asking about in order to try to understand yours) and can't use a debit card that doesn't exist
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby cyranorox » 17 May 2010, 16:11

@ Nerd. This-
[if] God has an "essence" that is in some sense outside of rationality, we cannot discuss him rationally, and thus cannot have a rational debate on theology.
is more or less the Orthodox view. We don't, and we don't. The rational-debate style is Frankish , ie, Catholic-Protestant, and sometimes quite interesting, but overlapping only a short way with our thinking. The most primitive, the first and most prior statements, are the Gospel narrative and traditions, and all the abstractions are secondary; thus anything that runs into trouble on grounds of God's omniscience or other absolute attributes is either accepted as paradox, or evaluated by the Incarnation.

If you are very wedded to the law of thought, how do you deal with paradox? that is not sarcastic, but a real question. For me, almost every theological issue comes down to a paradox, or an event/encounter/miracle/revelation, for which I rely on testimony.

we have, in a sense, "divorced old barren Reason from [our] bed/And taken to wife the Daughter of the Vine."
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 18 May 2010, 03:13

cyranorox wrote:@ Nerd. This-
[if] God has an "essence" that is in some sense outside of rationality, we cannot discuss him rationally, and thus cannot have a rational debate on theology.
is more or less the Orthodox view. We don't, and we don't. The rational-debate style is Frankish , ie, Catholic-Protestant, and sometimes quite interesting, but overlapping only a short way with our thinking. The most primitive, the first and most prior statements, are the Gospel narrative and traditions, and all the abstractions are secondary; thus anything that runs into trouble on grounds of God's omniscience or other absolute attributes is either accepted as paradox, or evaluated by the Incarnation.

If you are very wedded to the law of thought, how do you deal with paradox? that is not sarcastic, but a real question.
Yes, I did not think you were being sarcastic, that's a very legitimate and fair question. I think there's a difference between an apparent paradox and an absolute contradiction. A real, absolute contradiction doesn't happen. We sometimes encounter apparent paradoxes, but in that case, either the one fact or the other is not really true. For example, some people would define a miracle as an "physically impossible" event. But if a miracle has in fact happened, that fact alone would prove it to not be impossible. I think it's clear in the case of miracles that what we're dealing with is system rather like the federal government of the United States, where there are two levels of law, the physical and the spiritual. When a miracle occurs, this is not really a paradox but a higher authority (spiritual law) overturning the decision of a lower one, (physical law) where this ability to be thus transcended is simply part of the rules of the lower authority. (The world was made by a miracle, and made to admit miracles) Thus miracles are not really "impossible" in the absolute sense, they are always "impossible unless." Of course Lewis's book "Miracles" addresses that question in much greater detail.

There are many unknowns, but there are no absolute contradictions.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby cyranorox » 18 May 2010, 19:31

Alas, there are. God will keep all his promises, and all shall be well; justice will be executed and all tears will be wiped away. Hard not to see a paradox there.

or questions of Christ's inner consciousness, his knowledge as God and Man.

or God's knowledge, which can look like foreknowledge, in the context of human freedom

or the Womb that was wider than the heavens

or Three that are One.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 18 May 2010, 23:12

cyranorox wrote:Alas, there are. God will keep all his promises, and all shall be well; justice will be executed and all tears will be wiped away. Hard not to see a paradox there.

or questions of Christ's inner consciousness, his knowledge as God and Man.
Just have to ask Him. At present, we don't know.

cyranorox wrote:or God's knowledge, which can look like foreknowledge, in the context of human freedom
God is outside of time. His knowledge of a future event doesn't determine that event any more than our knowledge of a past event determined that event.

cyranorox wrote:or the Womb that was wider than the heavens
I'm sorry, what? I'm not quite clear what you're referring to here.

cyranorox wrote:or Three that are One.
Saint Patrick said it was like three leaves on a single clover. Lewis said (somewhere, I'm paraphrasing) it was like sides to a cube when all we've known is Flatland. I think we've made it much more difficult than it has to be.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 19 May 2010, 09:03

Hi Nerd
My point has not been that we can know everything about God but that those things that we do not know cannot contradict whatever true things that we do know.

You have made this point several times and I have agreed every time. The difference seems to be that you take 'cannot contradict' to mean 'must share common qualities with' and I don't.
Certainly religious language uses analogy and so it often isn't strictly true in the literal sense
all language uses analogy but analogical theory of religious language goes way beyond that. According to the analogical theory when we say God is good we make a statement about his essence which is true but in a mode completely unknowable to us.
but if the law of noncontradiction doesn't apply to God then there is no such thing as a statement about God's nature that is really true, analogous or not.If there is no such thing as a positive statement about God's nature that is really true, there is nothing to analogize about.

Bingo! unless you are referring to God's revealed nature which we can know to some extent.
Nerd said:
The point you made about the debit card is a trick of language. I'm a computer science major so I don't really think of the money on the debit card as "imaginary," merely as "virtual" or "digital" or whatever the buzzword is this week. An economist might think of it as "imaginary" I suppose, but I'm sure it has to come back to some kind of real trad-able value at some point, otherwise there's an economic collapse. But from my perspective, a string of ones and zeroes is not any more imaginary than the physical dollar bill. You can use the debit card that has the "quality of existence" if there is such a thing, (a point on which I base no argument but was asking about in order to try to understand yours) and can't use a debit card that doesn't exist

You've missed the point so completely I scarcely know where to start. Yes the electronic signals in a computer exist, yes the debit card exists, yes real trade-able entities exist, yes the dollar bill exists, yes the numbers on a screen exist. None of these are monetary quantities which can be represented in many forms. If someone trusts me I can spend money which is not symbolized in any physical form unless you count the electrical signals in the brain as symbolization.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 19 May 2010, 17:05

postodave wrote:Hi Nerd
My point has not been that we can know everything about God but that those things that we do not know cannot contradict whatever true things that we do know.
You have made this point several times and I have agreed every time. The difference seems to be that you take 'cannot contradict' to mean 'must share common qualities with' and I don't.
I don't understand that last sentence.

postodave wrote:
Certainly religious language uses analogy and so it often isn't strictly true in the literal sense
all language uses analogy but analogical theory of religious language goes way beyond that. According to the analogical theory when we say God is good we make a statement about his essence which is true but in a mode completely unknowable to us.
But if it's completely unknowable to us then we don't really know it's true. "We know it to be true" contradicts "We know it to be completely unknowable to us." If it's completely unknowable, we can't know it's true. The fact that we know it to be true means it is at least somewhat knowable.

postodave wrote:
but if the law of noncontradiction doesn't apply to God then there is no such thing as a statement about God's nature that is really true, analogous or not.If there is no such thing as a positive statement about God's nature that is really true, there is nothing to analogize about.
Bingo! unless you are referring to God's revealed nature which we can know to some extent.
Is God's revealed nature (part of) God's nature? If so, then God's revealed nature is true. If not, then it's a lie.

postodave wrote:You've missed the point so completely I scarcely know where to start. Yes the electronic signals in a computer exist, yes the debit card exists, yes real trade-able entities exist, yes the dollar bill exists, yes the numbers on a screen exist. None of these are monetary quantities which can be represented in many forms. If someone trusts me I can spend money which is not symbolized in any physical form unless you count the electrical signals in the brain as symbolization.
I'm not sure where you're going with this.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 20 May 2010, 09:01

Hi Nerd

I agree that what we know about God does not stand in a contradictory relation with what we do not know. However you say this because you hold the view that what we know about God must therefore stand in a non-contradictory relationship with what we do not know. While I agree that this applies to those aspects of God's revealed nature that are covenentally hidden, what would traditionally be called Deus Absconditus, I do not think it applies to the relationship between God's essence and his revealed nature which I would not see as being subject to logical laws which I regard as an aspect of creation and of God only in so far as he has assumed such laws in his relationship with creation. Does that make any sense at all to you?

If it does I'll pick up the rest later.

Dave
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 20 May 2010, 16:01

Deus Absconditus? But Isaiah 45:19 tells us that God is not, in fact, hidden. In Acts, Paul told the Athenians they were superstitious for worshiping the unknown god. (Acts 17)
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Theophilus » 20 May 2010, 16:08

God has revealed himself to us through his creation and through his word but he hasn't revealed everything about himself. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever."
Last edited by Theophilus on 26 May 2010, 16:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 20 May 2010, 18:49

Hi Theopilus

Not only do I agree with you but hitherto I would have said nerd did. I am convinced he is not a Eunomian (Eunomius was a neo-Arian opponent of St. Basil who said 'God does not know more of himself than I can know.' Basil was suitably horrified) even if he now starts to sound like one.

Nerd. Paul did not tell the Athenians they were superstitious for worshipping an unknown god. It would appear that the alter in question was set up after an incident involving Epiminedes of Crete for whom Paul had great respect. He quotes him several times. The story goes that there had been a plague in Athens and they had prayed to all the gods with no effect. Then so legend has it they sought the help of Epiminedes who suggested they make offerings to an unknown God. They did and the plague ceased. Hence Paul is commending them for seeking a God unknown to them at that time and this God he will now make known. (What do they teach them in these schools).
Nerd said
: Is God's revealed nature (part of) God's nature? If so, then God's revealed nature is true. If not, then it's a lie.
God's revealed nature is that nature God has assumed in order to reveal himself. I've had already said I agree with Basil with regard to Divine simplicity so God is as the prayer book says 'Without body, parts or passions'. It is what God truly is for us.
It looks like you are not familiar with the Thomistic theory of analogy. I am not a Thomist so I may not explain this very well. The theory takes the idea of God's otherness very seriously. It claims that when we use a term like good or wise of God we are talking about the divine essence. In fact it claims that all God's attributes are identical with his essence. Since the attributes are identical with the essence which is infinite and other it might seem we cannot know what it is for God to be good or wise since God's wisdom would be identical with his essence and with all his other attributes and would be infinite. So it says although we cannot know the mode in which God is wise we can know that he is wise. So it the mode of signification which is completely unknowable to us not the thing signified which is wisdom. Both Orthodox and Reformed Christians have a different understanding of how religious language works and I would say the Orthodox and Reformed views are closer to each other than either are to the Thomist view in that both deny that religious language is describing God's essence and say it is more concerned with what God does than what he is in himself. Cyranorox you can correct me on that if you wish.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 25 May 2010, 17:05

Actually Numbers 29:29 says, "And on the sixth day eight bullocks, two rams, and fourteen lambs of the first year without blemish:" I think you'er referring to Deuteronomy 29:29. Your position would seem to be that the secret things are real and the revealed things are an illusion, where I would claim that both are definitely real and are parts of the same whole, and especially that each must be absolutely consistent with the other. The secret things of God are not a nature entirely foreign to the revealed things, but are merely things that we don't know about.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby cyranorox » 26 May 2010, 20:31

P-dave, not a correction but a comment. God for us is seen primarily through Christ, but the Thomists seem to start with an abstraction, or the Father, of whom we know very little: His Paternity, and His Word as shown in the personality, teaching, deeds and person of Christ. Since the Tetragramatron is Christ, not the Father, all the OT knowledge, certainly all the stories of encounter & epiphany, tells of Christ and not directly of the Father. So a lot of the Thomist language looks odd if predicated of Christ, or of the Trinity-and-Incarnation. And of course, we do not agree that God is Pure Act, and a lot follows from that for the T's. We really cannot know the Essence, but we also cannot know the essence of anyone else; it's not an objett of the kind of knowledge of which we are capable.

@Nerd- the womb of the Theotokos was wider than the heavens since it contained That which the heavens cannot span, the Second Person. There is a series of poetic paradoxes in the Akathist [praises] to her, and also on G&H Friday, eg: Today He who hung the earth is hung on the tree; today the creator of life is placed in the tomb.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 30 May 2010, 20:54

Nerd said:
Your position would seem to be that the secret things are real and the revealed things are an illusion, where I would claim that both are definitely real and are parts of the same whole, and especially that each must be absolutely consistent with the other. The secret things of God are not a nature entirely foreign to the revealed things, but are merely things that we don't know about.

Hi Nerd - I think I was wiser when I decided to pull out of this one. I assume it is my position you are talking about here (it wasn't me who quoted Deuteronomy 29). No my position is not that the revealed things are an illusion. I think I understand your position nerd but I don't think you understand mine. I feel we are not engaging here and I know that is because you think my position is so absurd no rational person could engage with it. So lets leave the matter shall we.
Cyranorox said:
P-dave, not a correction but a comment. God for us is seen primarily through Christ, but the Thomists seem to start with an abstraction, or the Father, of whom we know very little: His Paternity, and His Word as shown in the personality, teaching, deeds and person of Christ. Since the Tetragramatron is Christ, not the Father, all the OT knowledge, certainly all the stories of encounter & epiphany, tells of Christ and not directly of the Father. So a lot of the Thomist language looks odd if predicated of Christ, or of the Trinity-and-Incarnation

Well this is one of those points where I feel very at home with Orthodox ideas in so far as I understand them. I gather it was Augustine who first interpreted the OT theophanies as the Godhead revealed through created Angels rather than appearances of the pre-incarnate logos. And I always thought that when St John says no one has seen God he means no one has seen the father and so what all the patriarchs see is Christ.
And of course, we do not agree that God is Pure Act, and a lot follows from that for the T's. We really cannot know the Essence, but we also cannot know the essence of anyone else; it's not an objett of the kind of knowledge of which we are capable.

I don't really get this pure act business. I do see the parallels with knowing a person in relationship - I-thou not I-it as Buber would say.
Today He who hung the earth is hung on the tree; today the creator of life is placed in the tomb.

Or as a modern liturgical poet says 'Hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered'. It's in the same spirit I think.
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But the lamb ran away with the crown
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