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    "Begotten before all ages"? Bah ...

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 6:40 AM [General]

    That the clause "[begotten] before all ages" was craftily added to the original Nicene Creed of 325 AD is evident from the comparison between Creed of 325 and Creed of 381.

    Let's now get to the bottom of this "before all ages" thingy.

    First, that the "before all ages" infamous clause did NOT exist in the original Nicene Creed of 325, is a fact. It was ONLY added at  Constantinople in 381 (if not even later ...) because the Conciliar Fathers  needed to add it,  so as to sanction, with a collective sleigh of hand, an "official" understanding of the godhead that had completely changed over the 4th  century.

    Second, it may come as a surprise to many that the "before all ages" infamous clause first appeared where one would never expect to see it, in Arius' own letter to Constantine in 327 (Arius' Letter to the Emperor Constantine, 327 CE, from Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 2, 27. NPNF, ser. 2, vol. 2, 277, @ ecole.evansville.edu], a "creed" hastily compiled by Arius and his crony, deacon and supporter  Euzoïus, apparently along the lines of the Nicene Creed of 325, which easily procured for them the return from exile and the return in the  favor of Emperor Constantine,  which should prove how irrelevant was the Nicene Creed for the purpose for  which it was officially defined: the definitive quashing of the Arian heresy.

    Third, several "creeds" were written in the period between 325 and 381 (as A Chronology of the Arian Controversy, @ faculty.cua.edu, attests). By the time of the Synod of Alexandria  (362), when the wind changed for the Arian party, there were as many as eleven (11!!!) Arian "confessions" (see The Eleven Arian Confessions, @ arian-catholic.org: the Eleventh Arian Confession is of 361 AD), most of which included the "before all ages" clause.

    Of course by the time of the Council of Constantinople (381 AD), the "before all ages" had sunk in: either by persuasion, or by exhaustion, or by political compromise.

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    Paul and the Mosaic Law (Paul and the circumcision)

    Friday, December 2, 2011, 9:13 AM [General]

    Valentin de Boulogne, Saint Paul writing his Epistles, c. 1600

    It is obvious, that Paul did NOT consider the obedience to the Mosaic Law, in all its details (first and foremost the circumcision, key symbol and distinction of the Jews vs the Gentiles), essential for salvation. This is crystal clear from plenty of passages from his letters. I believe these two will do:

    Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts. (1 Cor 7:19)

    For circumcision has its value if you practice the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. (Rom 2:25)

    Now, what "God’s commandments" is Paul referring to, and of what "law"? Obviously NOT the detailed 613 commandments (613 mitzvot) contained in the Torah, because the circumcision is, once again, one of them, nay the key symbol of the Mosaic Law (see Gen 17:10-14; Lev 12:3; see also Wikipedia > Brit milah).

    So, what God's Commandments, of what Law? Essentially, just one: The Greatest Commandment (see Mark 12:28-31; cp. Deut 6:4-5, Lev 19:18), of the Law of Love. See here:

    Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. (Rom 13:8)

    For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love. (Gal 5:6)

    Does this mean that Paul was against the respect of the Mosaic Law for the Jews, who had been brought up in its detailed obedience? Not at all! See the first verse that I quoted in its context:

    18 Was anyone called after he had been circumcised? He should not try to undo his circumcision. Was anyone called who is uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts. 20 Let each one remain in that situation in life in which he was called. (1Cor 7:18-20)

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    The Transfiguration is a vision ...

    Sunday, November 20, 2011, 3:53 PM [General]

    Giovanni Bellini, Transfiguration of Christ, c. 1487-1495, Naples

    The Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-13; cp. Mar 9:2-13) is a vision, an eschatological vision, that Jesus gave the privilege of enjoying to the "inner circle" of his Apostles, Peter, James and John, so that their faith would not abandon them with the apparent total failure on the cross of Jesus Messianic mission, especially as Peter, just "six days earlier", had solemnly proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah (Matt 16:16).

    That it was a vision is confirmed by some considerations and details:

    Jesus had already pre-announced this vision, when, after Peter's solemn messianic proclamation and his own immediate reply (so disturbing to the Apostles - and to Peter in particular - with the prediction of the Cross  - Matt 16:21) he had promised,

    “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not  experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt 16:28).

    In spite of the rather shrouded words, this verse is an allusion to the Transfiguration.

    The figures of Moses and Elijah, together represent perfectly the "Law and Prophets" that Jesus announced he was to fulfill (see Matt 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16; 24:44; John 1:45);

    The vision disappears all of a sudden, as soon as Jesus "touches them" (Matt 17:7-8; cp. Mar 9:8);

    "As they were coming down from the mountain", Jesus explicitly calls it a a vision (Greek: orama - Matt 17:9), to be kept as a secret for this "inner circle" of his Apostles.

    In conclusion, everything is in favour of a vision, and ONLY "metaphysical prejudice", that simple Jewish fishermen from Galilee of the time of Jesus, like Peter, James and John certainly did not share, is in favour of Moses and Elijah as "living disembodied souls".

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    Science, fundamentally, is a game ...

    Sunday, August 7, 2011, 4:43 PM [General]

     

    Science most certainly is NOT (should NOT be ...) a religion, BUT a "game", with an overarching rule, "methodological naturalism/materialism" of which Dickerson's "Rule No. 1", by far the best formulation

    Science, fundamentally, is a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule:

    Rule No.1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of     the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and   material causes, without invoking the supernatural.

    Operational science takes no position about the existence or non-existence of the    supernatural; only that this factor is not to be invoked in  scientific   explanations. Calling down special-purpose miracles as  explanations   constitutes a form of intellectual "cheating."

    (Richard E. Dickerson, The Game of Science: Reflections After Arguing With Some Rather Overwrought People, 1992, @ asa3.org)

    Many people, though, confuse methodological naturalism/materialism with metaphysical naturalism/materialism.

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    Necessity, chance and free agency

    Sunday, July 3, 2011, 6:19 AM [General]

     

    Taxonomy of Determinism and Indeterminism (source: History of the Free Will Problem, @ informationphilosopher.com)

     

    According to Wikipedia,

    Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. (...)

    Determinism is also the name of a broader philosophical view, which conjectures that every type of event, including human cognition (behaviour, decision, and action) is causally determined by previous events.

    In philosophical arguments, the concept of determinism in the domain of human action is often contrasted with free will. The argument called indeterminism (otherwise "nondeterminism") negates deterministic causality as a factor and opposes the deterministic argument.

    Determinists believe any determined system is fully governed by causal laws resulting in only one possible state at any point in time.

    -- Wikipedia > Determinism

    OTOH, we find in Aristotle a clear distinction between three types of causation:

    1. Necessity (Greek ἀνάγκη, anankê): deterministic causality or, simply determinism.

    2. Chance (Greek τύχη, tychê ): indeterministic causality or, simply indeterminism.

    3. Agency of a free agent: what Aristotle says depends "on us" (ἐφ' ἡμῖν, eph'êmin  ).

    Agent causation is therefore a "third thing" (tertium quid), beyond necessity and chance, that causes events or chains of events.

    Aristotle clearly affirms the distinction between chance and necessity:

    Nor is there any definite cause for an accident, but only chance (τυχόν), namely an indefinite (ἀόριστον) cause. (Metaphysics, Book V, 1025a25)

    It is obvious that there are principles and causes which are generable and destructible apart from the actual processes of generation and destruction; for if this is not true, everything will be of necessity: that is, if there must necessarily be some cause, other than accidental, of that which is generated and destroyed. Will this be, or not? Yes, if this happens; otherwise not. (Metaphysics, Book VI, 1027a29)

    He also clearly affirms the notion of agency and of free agent

    But if it is manifest that a man is the author of his own actions, and if we are unable to trace our conduct back to any other origins than those within ourselves, then actions of which the origins are within us, themselves depend upon us, and are voluntary. (Nicomachean Ethics, III, v, 6, Loeb translation)

    But it is Epicurus (born 43 years after Aristotle) who summarized this triple classification of causality in the clearest and most essential way:

    ... some things happen of necessity, others by chance, others through our own agency [Greek: παρ’ ἡμᾶς (par'êmas), literally "by us"]. ... necessity destroys responsibility and chance is inconstant [Greek: ἄστατος (astatos): also unstable, uncertain]; whereas our own actions are autonomous, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach. (Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus [§133], @ epicurus.net - bold by MdS)

    This clear affirmation of agent causation and free will is surprising to most people, who are not familiar with Epicurus' own thought directly, but rather with its "vulgate" by the Latin poet Lucretius (see On the Nature of Things, 2.251-262, 289-293, @ perseus.tufts.edu)

    In spite of Aristotle's and Epicurus' early and clear affirmation of agent causation and free will, most of the following philosophical thought seems to consider only the extreme positions of Determinism (an consequent incompatibilism) and Indeterminism (and consequent a-causalism).

    This is a recent comment by Bob Doyle ("scientist, inventor, and philosopher") on the state of the problem:

    Why have most philosophers been unable for millenia to see that the common sense view of human freedom is correct? It is partly because their logic and language preoccupation likes to say that either determinism or indeterminism is true, and the other must be false.

    Determinism and indeterminism are the horns of the dilemma presented as the standard argument against free will, which we can trace back unchanged to the earliest discussions of freedom, determinism, and moral responsibility.

    Our physical world includes both, though the determinism we have is only an adequate description for large objects. So any intelligible explanation for free will must include both a limited indeterminism and an adequate determinism, in a temporal sequence that creates information.

    (History of the Free Will Problem, @ informationphilosopher.com)

    I believe that Doyle's approach may well be the closest we have to an explanation of agent causation and free will (between the two "horns" of Determinism and indeterminism) that is consistent with philosophy, science and also theology.

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