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July 05, 2005

Metaphysical Cage Match!

In this corner, Mark A.R. Kleiman, assisted by an anonymous professional philosopher!

Mark A. R. Kleiman: Wittgenstein on religous belief: A reader who is a professional philosopher writes:

...Wittgenstein held a view of religious belief quite similar to your own. From Culture and Value.... "Christianity is not based on a historical truth; rather, it offers us a (historical) narrative and says: 'now believe!' But not, 'believe this narrative with the belief that is appropriate to a historical narrative', rather: 'believe, through thick and thin, which you can do only as the result of a life'. Here you have a message!--don't treat it as you would another historical message! Make a quite different place for it in your life.--There is nothing paradoxical about that!

"[...]

"Queer as it sounds: the historical accounts of the Gospels might, in the historical sense, be demonstrably false, and yet belief would lose nothing through this: not, however, because it has to do with 'universal truths of reason'! Rather, because historical proof (the historical proof-game) is irrelevant to belief..."

In that corner, St. Paul, who thinks that the truth of the historical narrative has everything to do with belief!

Douay-Rheims Bible Online, First Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Corinthians: He rose again the third day... was seen by Cephas... after that by the eleven... by more than five hundred brethren at once: of whom many remain until this present.... After that... James, then by all the apostles. And last of all... by me....

[I]f Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ; whom he hath not raised up.... [I]f Christ be not risen again... you are yet in your sins... they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable...

To those who say that his teachings are historically false but metaphysically true, St. Paul gives this answer: "[I]f Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God..."

Posted by DeLong at July 5, 2005 04:47 PM