Friday, January 31, 2014

What is your picture of the world?

David Bentley Hart (The Experience of God) outlines the historical philosophical steps by which moderns came to view the cosmos bereft of God. The rise of the mechanistic philosophy (nature regarded as a kind of machine operating according to its own self regulating mechanisms) set aside any consideration of purpose or ultimate causation. This was useful for scientific progress, but in time the method became a metaphysic. Deism, a nod in the direction of some divine machine designer or operator, was simply a step along the way to atheism. Darwinian theory complete the move, suggesting an intrinsic mechanism for development with no purpose. 

But it is a sleight of hand, as Hart notes, since natural selection cannot by itself account for the existence of the universe or for the lawfulness of nature. The question of being had been forgotten- and still is. 
So we have a new metaphysical master narrative based on mindless, purposeless materialism. It is now a cultural bias in the modern West, "a story we have been telling ourselves for centuries, without any real warrant from either reason or science."(65). 
Yet this picture of the world is fraught with difficulties, and it is these that Hart targets as his critique unfolds.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Being, Consciousness and Bliss

David Bentley Hart chooses to use three terms from the great theistic traditions, to describe the experience of God: Being, Consciousness and Bliss. These are not only metaphysical explanations of God, but also describe key ways in which we all encounter God. He says:
"For to say that God is being,consciousness and bliss is also to say that he is the one reality in which all our existence, knowledge and love subsist, from which they come and to which they go,and that therefore he is somehow present in even our simplest experience of the world. . . (p 44 The Experience of God). 
Hart thus claims that encounter with the reality of God is inescapable, even if many are oblivious to it or deny it. There is a kind of "ubiquitous natural evidence of the supernatural. 
These terms also describe three regions of experience that cannot be accounted for adequately by atheism. The three realities are "the three 'supernatural' forms of the natural - prior conditions of the natural. The medievalist called them the "transcendentals". To stop and acknowledge these mysterious underpinnings of the natural is to be confronted with the question of God.
Hart is making the same kind of argument used by C.S.Lewis and others. A reflective honest consideration of life will point our the inadequacy of naturalism. "Atheism" he contends, "is a kind of obliviousness to the obvious".

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Concept of God

I have been reading David Bentley Hart' s book The Experience of God. No atheist could surely deny that this is a sophisticated essay on theism. Hart puts the absurd simplifications of some current atheist big names into their place.
His first argunent is that God is not a being in nature but is Being itself. Popular discussions tend to conceive of God as a kind of semigod, a big super person somewhere else who is able to do supernatural things.
Rather God in the great religions is "the one infinite source of all that is  : eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things abd for that reason absolutely immanent to all things."
Dawkins and others simply miss the whole point, having a misconstrued concept of God.