Wednesday 18th July 2018

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God Proves Himself

March 10, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

Mr. C — shares a Newsmax article talking about the rise in atheism while scientific evidence seems to be centering on the actual existence of an actual God.
Interestingly enough, the article (“Scientific, Philosophical Case for God’s Existence Reaches New Heights,” Newsmax, February 20, 2018) mentions the arguments from Dr. Alvin Plantinga’s Where The Conflict Really Lies, which is a relatively new book that attacks the Darwinist reliance on reproducibility.
The book — published in 2011 — is an interesting argument that effectively states that science and faith may have its discord, but science and Darwinian naturalism have even deeper problems to resolve, which Plantinga effectively means physicalism — or the concept that mankind can know the totality of the present, natural world.
Effectively, Plantinga makes an epistemological claim that theists can reliably lean upon reproducible results because God wants it that way, whereas the variety and surprises that are introduced by Darwinian evolution mean that the atheist cannot rely upon the natural state of affairs — a curious empirical twist designed to force the Darwinian to make an outside claim.
Plantinga gives the theist hope by placing most of his chips on the idea of warranted knowledge, which is a brushed-up version of the old Thomistic peripatetic axiom (“nothing is conceived by the intellect that is not first perceived by the senses”). Therefore, concepts of not just knowledge, but faith and wisdom, are all warranted beliefs precisely because faith is warranted — you wouldn’t have it if you didn’t need it.
Core to this discussion is the concept of the mind. Of course, we have brains. We might even have souls. But if the atheist rejects the idea of a soul, can one really account for the idea of a mind? Certainly animals have brains, but a mind is a very different thing indeed that includes rationality, consciousness, intellect, judgment, and all the other faculties that separate us from the lower orders. Is the mind any more or less a social construct than a soul? Plantinga leaves the gauntlet on the ground for any atheist to pick up.
Of course, there are problems with Plantinga’s argument. If indeed an empirical argument is to be used to refute the atheistic argument, then surely this blade has a double edge — after all, as Descartes reminds the Thomist, your senses could be deceiving the theist as well. The converse extreme that the naturalist wants — a closed system where we know all of the variables according to physical principles — is an equal impossibility as we now know, as there is no physicalist principle behind the concept of money (for instance…or beauty, art, or good) that would ever satisfy all claims.
The usefulness in Plantinga’s argument is perhaps to show how facile the arguments of the “new atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett truly are. Only one of the “Four Horsemen” receives an exemption, and that is Christopher Hitchens, whose question still stands firm: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
For those familiar with the question, “Quo vadis?” comes to mind. For those familiar with the answer, one need look no further than St. Thomas the Apostle in John 20. For the vast majority of us? The Book of Job, chapter 40 verse 4, where Job puts his hand over his own mouth. God isn’t making an extraordinary claim; we are.

You And Me Talking About I,
By Myself

Mrs. M — writes to me via e-mail about explaining the differences between “you and I” and “you and me” respectively.
Of course, my shortcut in grade school was whatever sounded appropriate. You and I ate the ice cream — simply strike out the “you and” and the sentence makes sense. “Me ate the ice cream” sounds like Cookie Monster — who apparently no longer eats cookies at will and only gorges himself on carrots (thanks, Obama).
On the flip side of the equation, there are times when you should say myself. For instance, if the matter is between myself and my wife, one certainly wouldn’t interject with “I and my wife” — that just sounds awkward.
Another round? This conversation is between you and I. Who is the conversation with, again? Me…not I. So can you say that a conversation is between you and me?
That belongs to you and me. It does not belong to you and I…because again, if you remove “you” from the equation, the sentence sounds like Cookie Monster, that villainous slanderer of the King’s English. It’s my conversation.
Here’s where things get a bit screwy.
As a professional copywriter, there are indeed times where I will write “you and me” not only because it is conversational or colloquial speech, but because the horizontal line of the letter “I” is a line break that interrupts the flow of reading. Consider the following:
You and I are one of the few good guys.
There are only a few good guys like you and me.
Use the second one for copywriting. Why? Because the conversation isn’t about I…the conversation is about you — and when you read the words “you and I” it’s still transactional, but reading the word “me” is about…well, the idea of “me.”
Notice something else about the two sentences? First stacks all the nouns at the beginning; the second one stacks all the nouns at the end (guys, you, me). Verbs matter, actions matter, descriptions matter. Sell the sizzle, not the steak?
Another bit of copywriting magic? If you want people to skim your work, use a sans-serif font like Arial. Fonts without a serif (those squirrelly knobs and hooks at the end of letters such as “a”) are scannable, whereas serif fonts (such as what you see here and in most newsprint) force the eye to stop. If you ever require evidence of this, go find any small print on a contract, coupon, or terms and conditions and see if you find a single one in a serif font. That’s because they want you to scan it, not read it. Again, the small details matter.
Now naturally, my wife (who is not German) does — shall we say — not see eye to eye with me when it comes to the particulars of grammar. Some folks come to an abrupt stop when the King’s English is abjured in any way, shape, or form.
Of course, I’m an Irishman. Up the long ladder, down the short rope, etc.

+ + +

Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Rd., Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

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