The fluttering of a butterflies wings can start a chain of events leading to a tsunami, this is a parable used in Chaos theory called the butterfly effect. It’s also a parable used in theology, specifically theodicy, to explain how we can never know all the factors of, and effects of, evil. It’s used especially by Calvinists who appeal to the principle found Genesis 50:20, the idea being that God pre-ordains evil because he intends to use it to bring good out of it. The same goes for non-calvinists, arminians and modalists; they will often point to the finitude of human understanding to make the point that God created a world with evil but that it is justified because there is ultimately good that will come out of it, even to the point of saying it would be logically impossible to create a world without evil.
Continuing from the previous post (which itself was continuing from two previous posts here and here) I will be continuing my overview of Stephen Law’s second response to John Milbank and John Milbank’s second response to Stephen Law. About the question of Evil Stephen Laws response to John Milbank’s point that any possible distinction between Good and Evil is already granting a Divine is simply a misapplied empirical point he says:
It’s often claimed that unless we believe in God we’ll suppose ‘everything is permitted’ and so end up sliding to moral catastrophe. Yet, when we look across world’s developed democracies, we find that those that are most religious – including, of course, the United States (where 43% of citizens claim to attend church weekly) – have the highest rates of homicide, sexually transmitted disease (STD), teen pregnancy and abortion. The least religious countries, such as Canada, Japan and Sweden, have the lowest rates.
Here I will be commenting on Stephen Law’s second written responseThankfully, and I mean thankfully (I love these kinds of debates), John Milbank and Stephen Law continued their back and forth. In a previous post I commented on their on stage debate and in another I commented on their written back and forth. Here I will be commenting on Stephen Law’s second written response, and John Milbank’s second written response. The battleground begins with a discussion of the relationship between religion and magic. Stephen law doesn’t think the distinction matters much he says:
Continuing from the previous post, I would like to address the aftermath of the debate between John Milbank, Stephen Law and Madawi Al-Rasheed, namely the articles written by Stephen Law and John Milbank against each other. The first article was by Stephen law. It was nice to see that he has a humility that is rare in many modern Atheists, he says:
Scientists should show some humility, and acknowledge there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in their naturalist philosophies. They should certainly cease claiming, as Richard Dawkins does, that science constitutes a significant threat to reasonable belief in God.
A recent debate between John Milbank, Stephen Law and Madawi Al-Rasheed really caught my eye, firstly because it included John Milbank a great theologian of whom I am a fan. Also, because the debate included 3 viewpoints that were not only extremely different but also very often have a problem talking to each other. To start let me summarize what I believe to be the core of John Milbank’s case (he rarely says or writes anything in a simple clear way):
- A distinction needs to be made between a God, a divine being, and The God, the ground of all being, by definition there can be no direct empirical evidence of The God since it is transcendent.
- Either meaning or culture are completely arbitrary and vacuous or they describes reality in some way and add something to it.
- If the latter is true, it must be justified somehow.
- There can be no possibility of fully justifying any system of meaning on its own, so every system of meaning must have included in the system a telos that is outside the system, i.e. a space for the sacred.
- Once you have that, the extra sacred Telos from outside the system that holds the system together you basically already have religion, you have already admitted God.
- Without that, the entire system of meaning falls apart and you end up with anti-humanism, purely mechanistic and arbitrary systems.
I recently was at a discussion on the subject of free will involving a neuroscientist, a philosopher, a biologist and a researcher in theology. I brought up the issue of how one can study subjectivity (or consciousness) scientifically when science itself depends on subjectively created categories, in other words you assume aspects of subjectivity in order to explain subjectivity. It’s a difficult question, but I don’t think it’s unsurmountable for materialists, but it requires a thought through account of consciousness and subjectivity as well as science. The Biologist, after hearing my question, proceeded to give an account about how animals begin to recognize agency in other animals, and then see themselves through those other agents as themselves agents, and how that leads to subjectivity through the evolutionary advantage of those who recognize agency.