Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This Day Was Different (Part Three)

Ray argues, in the concluding part of chapter 10, that we have, or can have, three separate sources of knowledge of God: creation, from which God's existence can be deduced, conscience, from which God's nature and demands can be deduced, and conversion, through which we become new creatures and gain experiential knowledge of God.  The Bible apparently falls into the first category, although it contains appeals to the second category.  But the Bible is not necessary to conversion: Ray notes that the early converts to Christianity didn't have it in complete form, if they had it at all, and even today people can come to a knowledge of Christ without a knowledge of the Bible (indeed, one must suppose that even people raised in Christian homes must often accept Christ repent and have faith before they undertake a detailed study of the Bible (if they ever get around to that part).

The title of the chapter refers to the effects of creation: one feels differently, believes different, has, Ray insists, been changed at a fundamental level into something or someone new.  The Bible can strengthen faith (because it contains supernatural knowledge of the future and of creation, and indeed of the convert's own experience) even when it played no direct part in creating it.  So the ultimate grounds on which one can know that God exists is that one knows God, personally.  And if one does not know God, no mere appeal to logic and evidence can prevail against Ray's subjective certainty that God exists.  Ray may not know what evolution is, or what "scientists" believed in the middle ages, and may be a bit shaky on the fine points of logical reasoning and testing of inferences, but he knows that God exists.  And this, of course, creates a problem: how do you argue with subjective experience?  One can point out that you don't share it, but this Ray dismisses by saying that you have never repented and converted (even if we recall doing so at one point, we are, at best, kidding ourselves if not outright lying).  One can point out that people can change their own behavior, and that not all Christian apologists seem to reflect this new nature that Ray says that Christians have, but Ray can diagnose false conversion and deny the relevance of our subjective human wisdom against what God has revealed to him.  It's an airtight, unfalsifiable position: basically, if you can convince yourself that God exists, you can be certain that God exists.  But subjective certainty is rather removed from the "scientific proof" that the subtitle of How to Know God Exists promises

No comments:

Post a Comment