[This conversation may or may not be off topic. It certainly winds in
and out of questions that Eliot's poetry winds in and out of. And it is
certainly part of the significance of Eliot that he was quite
significant in either attracting numbers of grad students to
christianity or, worse, emboldening several generations of christian
grad students. Helen Gardner in one of her essays on Milton remarked
(and I was never sure whether it was merely an observation, a complaint
or a modest cry of triumph) that university literature classes had come
to reek of christianity.]
[log in to unmask] wrote:
> My apologies for the redundancy. It strikes me that I should add a point to the numbered portion of my last post, so I repeat that below to give context to the addition:
> Let me try to be clearer.
> 1. Isn't the point of reducing the image of God to an obvious absurdity, as in these examples, to illustrate that the mysteries to which God is posited as the answer are beyond our comprehension?
I think you put too heavy an intellectual load on some fairly casual
humor. The point of the Green Frog etc images is merely to communicate,
not an argument, but an attitude, an attitude of uninterest in the
claims of religion. I sometimes also express it by noting that I am
fortunate in that my atheism is by birthright more than merit -- hence
I'm not plagued by feelings of having "lost" something. I have simply
never given any consideration to religion as an option.
> 2. Doesn't the premise that the mysteries to which God is posited as the answer are beyond our comprehension lead to the conclusion that they cannot be addressed by reason?
Have you ever deeply considered accepting the theory of the four
elements as an explanation of physical phenomena? Of course not. I (and
many others -- in Japan, for example, a huge majority) give no more
consideration to religious claims. They are part of human history, past
and present, and one needs to study them for that reason, but with no
more personal involvement than when studying elementary chemistry or the
day's weather report.
> 3. Does not the conclusion that the mysteries to which God is posited as the answer are beyond our comprehension cannot be addressed by reason leave entirely open the possibility that they may be addressed by faith?
What mysteries? There are lots of things we don't know. But that we
can't answer a question (say about the relationship between quantum
mechanics and classical physics) is no reason to find it a "mystery."
> 4. Does not the recognition that we are dealing in the realm of faith rather than reason render any effort to attack a given view from a rationalistic perpective irrelevant?
So I don't attack a given view. I have never tried to argue anyone out
of religion. Probably some of my students at one time or another were
emboldened in their own secular stance by the presence of someone who
disregarded religion. (I did feel some pity for those students who liked
me a good deal but knew I was going to hell.)
> This, of course, is not intended to suggest that there are not rationalistic arguments to be made on behalf of religion generally, or particular religions; rather, it responds to a specific rationalistic argument against religion.
Probably someone who needs a "disproof" of religion is in a sticky
situation. (S)he has allowed the burden of proof to be wrongly placed.
That is another use of the Green Frog image: it suggests that the burden
is on those who want to disprove the Frog and "prove" Jehovah. My point
of departure is that what is is matter in motion. Hence I only accept
arguments for God which assume that there is no God. :-) [There is a
somewhat less flippant way to express the same argument, as in the last
question a reporter put to an elderly German thinker about a 120 years
ago. Reporter: What is? Old Man: Struggle.)