Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Why I am doing pluralist theology; why don't I just accept the traditional monism?

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If your theology works for you - and does not distort your Christian faith - fine.

My position is that theology, philosophy, metaphysics - should serve Christianity, and be subordinate to it. 

I'm trying to do something else - I'm trying to do theology in the 'pragmatist/ pluralist' school/ style of William James; and am therefore using different metaphysical presuppositions.

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Why? Because they solve some of the metaphysical problems which lie nearest the core of Christianity, while pragmatism provides a clear and coherent explanation of the core things.

I mean things like how God can be wholly Good and wholly loving of us, yet there is vast suffering; and how Men have real free will - real autonomy of choice.

Pragmatism/pluralism also solves the problem (and this is a subject about which I have not yet blogged) of the suffering caused by natural disasters (meteor collisions, volcanoes and earthquakes, harsh weather, predation and disease). Simply: These need not be God's will (although some specific instances will be).

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In other words pragmatism solves - or rather does not have in the first place -  some of the toughest and most faith destroying (and most historically-divisive) problems with Classical Metaphysics.

This is impressive!

Pragmatism has its own problems, and these are as ineradicable as the problem of free will is ineradicable for monism; but these problems are not at the core of Christian belief - so I think pluralism is - on the whole - better!

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But the problems of monism, of classical theology really are ineradicable.

If God caused everything, he did all evil. The numerous attempts to argue otherwise are disingenuous or confused - people sometimes almost deliberately attempting to confuse themselves by piling on further hypotheses, or simply losing track of their arguments.

But the real situation is crystal clear.

The get-out clause about everything being for the good but incomprehensible is unacceptable to Christians since it leaves Man utterly unable to judge for himself over anything at all; and in a position where there is nothing to do but submit to the will of God, which must appear arbitrary.

Yet this would not be Christian but the other major monotheism. And this just is where that kind of metaphysics takes you.

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Wise Christians have always refused to go along all the way with the metaphysics (e.g. Aquinas refused) but sometimes they do follow it, and this has led to some monstrous deformities in the history of Christianity.

One way or another, all good Christians will, and necessarily, chuck-out this monist metaphysics before they follow it all the way through to the implications.

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This chucking-out can be done openly or covertly - but either way the metaphysics is in fact being chucked.

The problem of the unacceptable, anti-Christian, implications of classical metaphysics is being avoided, but it is not being solved.

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For example, to take the monist position that everything is ultimately caused by God, and then to say that God created Man with free will, genuine choice and moral autonomy is just nonsense. It does not make sense. 

Metaphysically, it is just incoherent - a fake, a fudge. 

The problem has not been solved; instead the problem has been concealed behind a confused and confusing formulation.

But if people are happy with this pseudo-explanation... then fine. To be happy with a fake explanation in service of subordinating philosophy to Christianity, is both good and necessary.

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But some people perceive the fact that this is a philosophical fake, and it bugs them so much that they regard the situation as a reductio ad absurdum of monism and classical theology; and then the usual monist position doesn't work.

Welcome to pluralist Christianity!