What The Heathen Understood About Divinity
The Incomprehensible God
In Jeremiah 10:2 God warned His people with regard to the heathen. God’s covenant people were not to allow themselves to be corrupted by outsiders who either did not recognize the One true God or who lived as though they did not. And the history of Israel in Old Testament times reveals how the thinking of the heathen at times indeed did corrupt the thinking and practice of the Jews.
But have you ever given thought to the fact that in spite of the ignorance of and the distortion of and the misapplication of ideas exhibited by the heathen, that they did at times reveal “some” correct understanding, which understanding is significant?
Let us list a few of these points
Something Or Nothing
The concept of God! It is such a lofty one. It is as though divine language itself must almost strain in order to present the idea so that mere mortal man can get at least a small speck of what God is. The ontological content (the very nature of God) is described, but it is still exceedingly hard for us to comprehend what God is though we know for sure that He is.
The Innateness Of Moral Law
The issue of “origin” as a concept has to begin somewhere. From whence did everything that is arrive? What is the source of all that we experience on earth? Ultimately, we are going to have to face two theoretical possibilities. Either there was a point at which there was “nothing,” or there has never been a point at which there was “nothing.” But before we go further, let us make sure that we are all on the same page regarding what nothing “is.” Look at those last quotation marks. They indicate that the very concept of “is” is opposed to the very concept of “nothing.” If we say that nothing is so and so, we are trying to give nothing some sort of ontological or “being” status, which by definition it simply cannot have. Nothing is not something. Nothing has no characteristics or qualities. Nothing is void of everything. It is the absence of anything and everything. It is the negation of all being. And by “being,” we mean existence at its most fundamental ontological level. If “nothing” were to be the absolute ultimate ontological condition at a given point, then we as men could not “think” it. As humans we cannot live with nothing and our minds are not equipped to even clearly grasp the meaning of the term we choose to describe as the absolute ontological contradiction to “being.” We have to think of “nothing” as a “something” even to bring it forward as a concept for discussion. Isn’t that amazing? And isn’t that insightful?
Reflections on Mind and God
Some people, including some members of the Lord’s church, have denied that moral law is in any sense innate. And by “innate” I mean something within a person’s mind from his conception rather than something within a person’s mind exclusively by experience/learning/development. Some have argued that moral law is something that has to be learned and that no one knows the difference between right and wrong without having to be taught. But there are enormous implications that follow such a position. The position that one is born without some innate ability to discern the difference between right and wrong is itself without reasonable and, certainly, without Scriptural support.
A Manual for Making More of a Mess
Humans are in a position, but not a predicament. We are somehow poised in an ontological setting which makes sense if we use sense in evaluating it. By “sense” I do not mean physical impressions, but metaphysical or mind impressions. In other words, if we use judgment, then that to which my mind applies seems rational. There has to be some rational explanation forthe fact of the coherence of the physical universe and for the fact of the relationship that exists between the physical universe and my consciousness of it. There has to be some explanation for the fact that I can reason about the universe and that I can reason about reason.
The Impoverishment of Atheism
Peter Boghossian has written A Manual For Creating Atheists, a book published in 2013. On the back cover a note from Richard Dawkins says, “PETER BOGHOSSIAN’S TECHNIQUES OF FRIENDLY PERSUASION ARE NOT MINE, AND MAYBE I’D BE MORE EFFECTIVE IF THEY WERE. THEY ARE UNDOUBTEDLY VERY PERSUASIVE—AND VERY MUCH NEEDED.” And on the same back cover as well as on the final page of the book we are informed that “Dr. Peter Boghossian is a full-time faculty member in Portland State University’s philosophy department. He was thrown out of the doctoral program in the University of New Mexico’s philosophy department.” The publisher and Boghossian evidently do not mind the readers knowing about his dismissal and, in fact, it looks like that they actually want the news circulated to the credit of Boghossian and to the discredit of the University of New Mexico. Given the title of the book, I would think that Boghossian and those who endorse his book actually fail to see where credit and discredit may belong.
The Bible plainly teaches that the evidence for the existence of God is so plain and available that a man is a fool who reaches the conclusion that God does not exist (Psalm 19:1-4; Acts 14:17; Psalm 14:1; 53:1). Whether or not this man ever expresses his conviction to anyone else is irrelevant to his own miserable condition. If he says to himself that God does not exist, then the God who wrote the Bible declares this man a fool.