Further Comments on the Hypostatic Union

In the first paragraph of his book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton (who’s other book Heretics I am currently writing a review of, which should be posted this weekend), explained that he wrote the book as “an answer to a challenge,” which challenge “was perhaps an incautious suggestion to make to a person only too ready to write books upon the feeblest provocation.” Well, I am no G. K. Chesterton, and I do not yet have the means to write actual books, but in the same vein I will say that I am only too ready to write papers upon the feeblest provocation, which provocation was indeed delivered in response to my brief previous article on the logical fallacies one Anthony Buzzard happened to make in a conversation which took place on twitter.

It was, in retrospect, perhaps too forceful of me to make the main point of my previous article an accusation of logical fallacy. For while I maintain that Buzzard’s argument did indeed contain the fallacies, that is not the real issue. The real issue is the question behind the argument: did God die when Jesus died? Continue reading

Anthony Buzzard’s Logical Fallacies

This is a short post regarding a comment Anthony Buzzard made on twitter today. Now I must admit, I am not too familiar with Buzzard’s general positions, and so if I make some error regarding this, please excuse it.  But I do know he is not a Trinitarian. I have watched several debates between him and Trinitarians online, and in this debates he seems kind and fair. This is, of course, by no means an attack on him personally, or even on his views more widely. This is simply to point out a logical fallacy he happened to make.I must also acknowledge that twitter is hardly an appropriate platform upon which to be making detailed, careful, scholarly claims, and it is indeed a bit paltry of me to make a judgment upon a tweet. But, I am currently researching the issue upon which he commented, and I thought the mistake might be worth pointing out.

In a tweet found here Buzzard makes the statement that “The immortal God cannot die. The Son of God died,” with the obvious inference that thus Jesus cannot be God. Of course I agree with each of the premises. God certainly cannot die. Jesus, the Son of God, certainly did die. But Buzzard’s conclusion attacks a straw man and commits the informal logical fallacy of a False Dilemma. Buzzard presents us with these (implicit) options: 1) If Jesus died,  and God cannot die, then Jesus cannot be God, or 2)If Jesus is God, and God cannot die, then Jesus must not have really died, or even 3)If Jesus is God, and Jesus died, then it must be possible for God to die. Why is this a False Dilemma? Because it completely ignores a central Christian doctrine: the Hypostatic Union, which states that Jesus had both a human and a divine nature. Now, the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union could be totally false, and Buzzard could be totally right that Jesus is not God; I am not here commenting on that, or attempting in any way to defend Jesus’s deity or the doctrine of the Trinity. I believe in both of these, but they are issues for another article, and are irrelevant to the point being made, which is that Buzzard does not even acknowledge that the Hypostatic Union is a possible option. Instead, he acts as if the only two options are the one’s listed above, without offering any comment or refutation against the Hypostatic Union (in his tweets, at least). Thus his Straw Man, for when another twitter user presses him, arguing that Jesus is in fact God, he responds here with the blunt question “so the immortal God died?” completely ignoring the position of the Orthodox creeds that when Jesus died, his human nature died, and not his divine nature, so that, if this position is correct, it is not necessarily true that saying Jesus died is equivalent to saying God died. Of course, again, it is not relevant whether or not the Hypostatic Union is actually true; it is only relevant that it is an option completely ignored in the conversation. When Buzzard attacks the position of trinitarians in his tweets, he attacks a position that orthodox trinitarians would not hold in the first place.

Again, I have much respect for what I have seen from Buzzard. And again, his tweets today may not accurately represent the totality and fullness of his arguments. But that doesn’t mean he should get away with it, even on twitter.

Prime Mover Part 3: Final Objections

This is the third and (hopefully) final post concerning the famous Prime Mover argument for the existence of God. In the first post I set forth the argument and claimed that it established the existence of a “being of Pure Act.” In the second post I responded to some common objections, and also explained why the being of Pure Act is “God,” in that the being of Pure Act must be one, immaterial, timeless, omnipotent, and immutable. I also claimed that it is somewhat irrelevant whether or not the Prime Mover argument alone is sufficient to establish that this being of Pure Act is personal. If such a being exists, who is purely actual, immaterial, timeless, omnipotent, and immutable, that is at least enough to prove false non theistic world views such as atheism and naturalism.

But besides this, I also made the comment that it is possible to show that the being of Pure Act is personal, although it is admittedly a bit less clear than with other attributes. In this final post, then, I’d like to accomplish the following: 1) show that the being of Pure Act is indeed personal, and 2) respond to more in depth, complicated objections to the argument.

The first argument used to show that the being of Pure Act is “personal” claims that all immaterial beings must be personal. In order to understand this claim, we first need to understand a bit of the underlying metaphysics. For Aristotle and Aquinas, Continue reading

Prime Mover Part 2: Who is the Prime Mover?

In my last post, I left off with a bit of a cliff hanger. In that article, I presented an ancient and sometimes overlooked (in the contemporary climate) argument for the existence of God, called the Prime Mover argument, or the argument from motion, which is Aquinas’ famous First Way. I argued in that post that the proof shows the existence of a being which is “Pure Act,” and I made the claim that this being is God. But why should we think that, if some being of Pure Act does in fact exist, this being is God, or even anything like God? For that matter, who is “God” anyways?

First, before I continue, let me give a very brief summary of the argument presented in the last post:

  1. Our experience via our senses observes that there exist objects/beings in motion
  2. Motion is a potency raised/reduced to act
  3. A potency can only be raised to act by another which is itself already in act
  4. Essentially ordered causal series of such motion cannot in principle have an infinite regress
  5. Therefore, there must exist a being who is Pure Act

What does it mean to be a being of Pure Act? Well, as its name quite obviously tells us, this being is purely actual, that is, it has no potencies able to be actualized. It is fully, totally, in act. It is an “unmoved mover,” the source and cause of all motion that we see here and now in existence. It is the first or “prime” mover.

This argument has been around for a very long time, and it has garnered a very large amount of responses/critiques/objections. In this post, I’ll examine some of the most common, frequently encountered objections. Here’s a preliminary list:

  1. Why think the being of Pure Act is God?
  2. In particular, why think the being of Pure Act is sentient/personal/conscious?
  3. Quantum physics has undermined the act/potency premises. Objects are seen to change randomly, without any sort of external cause.
  4. Newton’s laws of motion undermine the act/potency premises
  5. How does the unmoved mover move anything?

Now, before I begin my analysis of these objections, I’d like to Continue reading