Kick off your shoes…relax,here’s another Bite sized chunk of ‘He is there and He is not silent’

Posted: June 26, 2006 in Book notes:'He is there and He is not silent'., Theo/Philo

Dr[1]. Francis Schaeffer.jpg


Regarding Existence:

There are three fundamental options regarding Existence, they are:

1. Everything that exists came out of nothing-the starting point for all that is, is nothing.

This position is difficult to sustain.

Schaeffer gives this definition to nothing similar to (Thomas Baldwin’s previously):

Suppose we had a very black blackboard that had never been used. On this blackboard we drew a circle, and inside the circle there was everything that was-and there was nothing within the circle. Then we erase the circle. There is no energy, Man, motion, time or space or any personality.

2. All that now is had an impersonal beginning i.e. energy/mass.

Schaeffer says ‘If you accept an impersonal beginning you are faced with some form of reductionism. Reductionism argues that everything there is now from the stars to man himself, is finally to be understood by reducing it to the original impersonal factors or factor’

Victor Frankl, in an essay on “Reductionism and Nihilism,” wrote: Reductionism is more than just saying time and again that something is nothing but something else. It is an approach and procedure that deprives the human phenomena of their very humanness by reducing a human phenomenon in dynamic terms to some sub-human phenomenon, or deducing human phenomena, in genetic terms, from sub-human phenomena.

Reductionism maintains an attitude ranging from indifference to hostility towards the object studied. All that is of value in studying this object is to be found only in its parts and the relationship between those parts as opposed to the object’s inherent qualities.

The problem with reductionism (beginning with the impersonal) is to find any meaning for the particulars.(A particular is any individual factor, or any individual thing).Modern Science uses reductionism to great effect but since Man has become part of the machine reductionism views personality as only the impersonal plus complexity.
The impersonal beginning is equivalent to the Pantheism.

The Stanford encyclopaedia of Philosophy defines pantheism as: ‘…. a metaphysical and religious position. Broadly defined it is the view that “God is everything and everything is God … the world is either identical with God or in some way a self-expression of his nature” (Owen 1971). Similarly, it is the view that everything that exists constitutes a “unity” and this all-inclusive unity is in some sense divine (MacIntyre 1967:).

Schaeffer saw 2 problems with pantheism:

1.The need for unity

2.The need for diversity

Pantheism gives an answer to the problem of unity, as the quote by Owen indicates, but has no answer to the problem of diversity. With Pantheism there is no basis or reason for significance in variance. This means if everything is equal then there is no basis for morality what is deemed good is equal to that which is considered evil.

3.Begin with a personal beginning.

A personal beginning gives meaning to personality –man and his aspirations are not meaningless. Personality has meaning because it is not alienated from what has always been, and is and what will always be.

A personal beginning distinguishes personality from non-personality.

To have an adequate answer from a personal beginning we need:

1.A personal infinite God

2.Personal unity and diversity in God

More next time regarding a personal beginning

  1. James D Mackay says:

    Wow! That’s a truly inspiring post. I feel the need for more Schaeffer/Schaefferesque philosophy/theology! A man who truly had his finger on the pulse, as someone once remarked. I’m encouraged that your website advocates not just ‘pure’ biblical doctrine; but also ‘liberal’ philosophical christianity. It is indeed needed; unfortunately, many don’t see the need for it – or are too scared to admit that it’s needed. I would say this stems from an overly religious fear: namely, that if one elaborates, one will be frowned upon by God! The times demand us to think.

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