Monday, April 25, 2011

What the ...?

Everybody has been having a good laugh over this post by Joe Klein:
Sullivan’s Truth

Andrew Sullivan is my friend. I admire many things about him, but given the superficialities of blog life, I sometimes forget just how fabulously profound he can be. This, on Good Friday, is a reminder.
Which refers to Sullivan's A "Rigorous" Theology. But try making sense of it. Take this passage, for instance: (emp add)
... the ultimate test of religion for a non-atheist is not: is this or that religion useful? Or even: is it necessary?

It is, rather: is it true? (...)

My own view is that if Christianity is a useful lie then it should be abandoned by thinking people. If being a Christian requires one to believe literally that the world was created de novo 6,000 years ago, or that our species literally emerged one day from an actual garden of Eden, then I am not a Christian. It's my view that if something is not true, it cannot be countermanded by a God who is Truth itself. And so a sincere modern believer has no choice but to make distinctions between kinds of truths - metaphorical, spiritual ones and empirical, literal ones.

We cannot deny Darwin without also denying God, to put it provocatively, since God cannot be in contravention of Truth.
Even though Sullivan gives passing note to the realities of oral traditions he subsequently wastes time on differences in details between the Gospels - which may explain why his post is confusing. Or maybe it allows him to evade hard questions about his faith. For instance, he writes:
the Bible tells us all sorts of contradictory things: Jesus is tangibly physically resurrected; he is strangely altered; those close to him can see him after his death and yet not recognize him at all on the road to Emmaus. These cannot all be literally true and yet they all point to a mystery at the core of our faith: He is risen.
A simpler explanation for all the conflicting stories is that none of them are accurate. Sullivan won't go near that, and instead, takes refuge in the safety of "mystery" which is basically an evasion.

But let's get back to the Truth business. God is presumably an agent of some sort. Truth is, at best, a collection of true statements (however you want to determine them - via empiricism or revelation or Harry Potter books). But to write, as Sullivan does, about an agent that IS a collection of statements is bizarre. It doesn't parse. But that doesn't stop Sullivan. Towards the end he writes:
Does a force exist that is behind everything we are and see and know? Is that force benign? Does that force love us? Was the only way that truth could be revealed was by God becoming man and sacrificing himself to show us the only way to save ourselves?

... I say yes to these questions ...
So now we have a God who is Truth and "a force". For someone who writes a lot about truth, where is the empirical support for this "force". So far, physics hasn't found it - or needed to.

Anyway, Joe Klein thought it was really great stuff. Profound. Go figure.


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