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Thursday, October 29, 2020


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Your reader seems to assume that the Abrahamic faiths maintain we can have direct knowledge of God, even if only impartial direct knowledge. Whereas you, Dr. BV, seem to maintain that on DDS we can have, at most, indirect knowledge of God. So, if we amended the argument to say 'direct understanding' or 'directly understand', then maybe the argument goes through. Presumably, adherents of the Abrahamic faiths will want to go further than mere indirect knowledge of God inferred from his effects.

But even this I'm not sure about because didn't Aquinas think we could have no direct knowledge of God as he is in himself? But he did make provision for the revealed truths of scripture (incarnation, trinity) being known through faith, which, for Thomas, is some kind of intellectual assent to doctrines not provable by reason. But I'm still not sure if this would count as 'direct understanding' of God as he is in himself.

These are tough issues.

Maybe analogy with abstracta can be useful here? If there is number 2, for example, we can't understand part of it - because there isn't such a thing. But we can grasp some properties and relations with other abstracta.

Thinking of faith as the assent of one's intellect to various unprovable propositions is, I think, an insufficient grasp of the term.
The biblical meaning, as far as I can tell, is always relational; not much to do with propositions divorced from trust, reliance, commitment and other aspects of personhood.
Which brings us back to the question of the simple God. If faith is in fact a term of relationship, it must be more than the relationship to an idea, or to an Unmoved Mover. It must be a real relationship.

Clearly, a Jewish 'peasant' (Crossan's book about Jesus) in 4 A.D would not be conversant with the terminology of DDS, nor in fact would he be very convinced of it if he did understand it, having been raised deep in Jewish culture and history, which was replete with the warnings, comfortings, covenants of promise, prophecies fulfilled and other characteristics of Yahweh over a period of a couple thousand years. Apparently he would have thought that mankind needed deliverance and in fact a Savior. Yahweh was called 'Father' in N.T. times, and that 'peasant' called for familial love, closeness, justice and truth, as befitting who the Father was and is.
St. Paul, raised in Tarsus where philosophy was literally talked about on the street corners, had a lot of experience with Athens. He wrote, famously, that "..but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.."
Now he was not talking about every Jew, or every Greek.

Can I find a logical fault in either stance - Athens or Jerusalem? Nope. But I do think Jerusalem - as you have pointed out - is not a suburb of Athens. I kinda lean the other way, actually. But I have benefitted from both.

Note: Crossan used the term 'peasant' in his book "The Life of A Mediterranean Jewish Peasant."

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