Today on the Radio Show…
– What acceptance of euthanasia says about the meaningless of people’s lives.
– From our listener email file, a response to Pantheism
– Do we live in the midst of a cosmic battle between angels and demons?
UPDATE: We didn’t get to the cosmic battle segment, but we did talk euthanasia and I did respond to Audrey’s email from last weeks show. The following is the essence of what I said. For her comments and our continued discussion, please click on the comments section of this post.
On Saturday’s show I basically argued that Audrey was a Pantheist and that Pantheism is false for the following reasons:
A. It is self-contradictory: Pantheism states that reason and logic and even thought are not reliable sources of knowledge. Instead of trusting propositional truth claims, we should rely on the experience of the great masters who have overcome reason and experienced oneness with the divine. However, notice that in explaining their position, pantheists are relying on reason and logic and propositional truth claims. They are telling people to abandon words and thoughts by using words and thoughts. This position is philosophically impossible. It’s like typing you a message explaining that I do not know how to type. It simply cannot be true.
B. The evidence of my experience cannot be explained within pantheism. Pantheists are big into trusting experience, and my experience tells me that pantheism is wrong. If pantheism is true, there is no such thing as good and evil, right and wrong. Also, there is no such thing as individuality or personality. To accept these propositions, I would have to deny everything I experience in the world and I see no reason to do that, especially when there are other worldviews (or at least one) which adequately explain my experiences. Can we really accept that what Hitler did was not evil and that he was, in fact, equally as "divine" as the rest of us. Can we really accept that our experience of individuality is an illusion?
I went on to explain that true religion does not paint a blurrier picture of reality or a more obscure picture, but one that is more solid and concrete. Who is more enlightened? The person who looks at earth from a million miles away and says "I see a sphere" or one who looks at it from the planet’s surface and says "I see lakes and trees and cities and mountains and people."
I closed the segment by quoting C.S. Lewis, who said that Pantheism was desirable not so much because it had supporting evidence, but because it required so little of its adherents. This is from Chapter 11 of "Miracles":
Men are reluctant to pass over from the notion of an abstract deity to the living God. I do not wonder. Here lies the deepest tap-root of Pantheism and of the objection to traditional imagery. It was hated not, at bottom, because it pictured Him as man but because it pictured Him as king, or even as warrior.
The Pantheist’s God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you. There is no danger that at any time heaven and earth should flee away at His glance.
If He were the truth, then we could really say that all the Christian images of kingship were a historical accident of which our religion ought to be cleansed. It is with a shock that we discover them to be indispensable.
You have had a shock like that before, in connection with smaller matters – when the line pulls at your hand, when something breathes beside you in the darkness.
So here; the shock comes at the precise moment when the thrill of life is communicated to us along the clue we have been following. It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. ‘Look out!’ we cry, ‘it’s alive’. And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back – I would have myself if I could – and proceed no further with Christianity.
An ‘impersonal God’ – well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads – better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap-best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband – that is quite another matter.
There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He has found us?