The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy and Faith by Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp

The somewhat young, not entirely mild mannered, and yet wildly attractive lads over at Homebrewed Christianity were gracious enough to invite me to participate in their blog-tour for Philip Clayton’s new book The Predicament of Belief. This is my post for the blog tour and if you’d like to hear the conversation that insued at Clayton’s house afterwards look no further than right here.

If your unfamiliar with Clayton’s work his introduction to emergent evolution and spirituality found here is worth a watch, or you can just read the review of his and Knapp’s book below. It is my hope that it inspires you to read the book in its entirety.

Paul Ricoeur famously said that his Christianity was a, “contingency transformed into destiny through continued choice.” The fact that he was born into a social location that bequeathed to him his Christianity was a contingent event of history. He could have just as easily been born in India and thus have been a Hindu. However, he made a choice, a decision to live into and live out of his tradition and in doing so it became a part of him and he a part of it. For Ricoeur we lack a criterion by which we can definitively ascertain whether our contingent religious choices are correct or not. This doesn’t mean that there is no investigation into the plausibility of them, but rather that any investigation will necessarily start from and in important ways remain within the throwness of our particular, contingent existence. Ultimately, for Ricoeur, the religious decision comes down to a wager, even if an informed one. I agree with Ricoeur, but I am always curious as to how informed this wager can be.

If you’ve ever found yourself curious in a similar fashion then Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp’s wonderful, accessible, and insightful book The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy and Faith is a great place to start. Continue reading

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Occupy Wall Street, Prophecy, and Dussel’s Analogical Hegemon

One of the loudest complaints against the Ocuppy Wallstreet movement is that it does not have a unified and coherent list of demands. While clarity of vision is something that every political movement should strive for, it seems to me that the Occupy Wallstreet movement is right where it should be for now: it is constructing what the philosopher Enrique Dussel calls an analogical hegemon. Below I explicate what this term means, why it fits this particular moment in the Occupy Wall Street movement, why Occupy Wall Street should continue down the road it is on and what we can hope for from/in it. Continue reading

Hegel and Original Sin:Consciousness qua human self-consciousness is the Fall itself.

Below is a very short essay considering Hegel’s re-working of the doctrine of original sin. If you are unfamiliar with Hegel the first paragraph may be a bit confusing, but the rest of it should be intelligible. While I don’t entirely agree with Hegel’s reworking, I think it offers some important insights into human subjectivity. Enjoy!

Self-consciousness is the moment of the tautology “I am I.” It distinguishes itself from itself and moves beyond this distinction back to itself.[1]  It is a relation with itself consisting of an existential anxiety regarding its self-certainty. Continue reading

Nietzsche and Qohelet on Immanence

What follows is a section from a paper I wrote comparing Nietzsche’s philosophy of immanence to that of the author of Ecclesiastes–Qohelet. The section presented here is specifically focused on Nietzsche’s philosophical vision. Enjoy!

1. Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Immanence

A. Introducing Nietzsche

While at age six Nietzsche was referred to by his classmates as “the little pastor” due to his ability to recite Scripture and hymns, by age 20 he had decided to quit taking the Eucharist. This brought shame and dismay to his mother who had at one point thought he might follow in the footsteps of his father, a deceased Lutheran pastor.[1] From this point on there is no sign that Nietzsche ever looked back as he followed what he called the “will to truth”, the desire to find and embrace the truth at any existential cost, for the rest of his life. By the time Nietzsche came into his own philosophically he had thoroughly embraced atheism and was set on working out its implications.

This must be kept in mind when reading about Nietzsche’s famous statement “God is dead”.When Nietzsche’s fictional madmen jumps into the midst of the crowd in the modern market place, “piercing” them with his eyes and declaring that they have murdered God it is not a metaphysical entity that he is speaking of, but rather the myth that gave meaning to existence.[2] The madmen gives voice to the anxiety felt by Nietzsche in light of this “great” dead that has “unchained the earth from its sun” leaving us “straying as through an infinite nothing”. (GS 181) Continue reading