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September 19, 2012

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just letting you know you've got some typos in the last sentence of the second to last paragraph :) great article! those stickers have always annoyed me and i could never logically "put my finger on it" or really articulate why they're so offensive. thanks for making it very clear! now if only i could remember all those points when I run into one of those coexist people ;)

I love it! Could there be T-shirts or something? :)

First of all, the coexist bumper sticker is not an endorsement of theological plurality; it's meant merely to express the fairly tame idea that, despite religious differences, we should all be able to get along.

Also, the really cool thing about logic is its positivistic nature, i.e. its unwillingness to accept unproven or unreasonable propositions. Thus, logical positivism is highly skeptical, if not dismissive, of a priori claims, e.g. there is a God whose existence is proven through faith rather than through deduction or empiricism. Therefore, that one would try to use logic to prove the exclusive existence of ANY god is quite curious.

So yeah, this post is basically terrible at best and intellectually dishonest at worst.

I agree with Russell'sBulldog's first paragraph.

I am not sure how logical positivism can account for um, logic (laws of), without apriori assumption. All those issues with verification and what not...

see:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's info:


or excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Key tenets of logical positivism, including its atomistic philosophy of science, the verifiability principle, and the fact-value distinction, came under attack after the Second World War by philosophers such as Nelson Goodman, Quine, J. L. Austin, and Peter Strawson. Nicholas G. Fotion comments that, "By the late 1960s it became obvious that the movement had pretty much run its course."[26] Most philosophers consider logical positivism to be, as John Passmore expressed it, "dead, or as dead as a philosophical movement ever becomes."[27] By the late 1970s, its ideas were so generally recognized to be seriously defective that one of its own main proponents, A. J. Ayer, could say in an interview: "I suppose the most important [defect]...was that nearly all of it was false."[27] It retains an important place in the history of Analytic philosophy as the antecedent of contemporary philosophies, such as Constructive empiricism, Positivism, and Postpositivism."

********
So, excepting the first paragraph, RB's response is basically terrible at best and intellectually outdated at worst.

While Russell may take the "coexist" bumper sticker to merely mean that "despite religious differences, we should all be able to get along.", Based on my experience living in a very liberal city, I can tell you that many people take it to mean much more. Either, that all religions are basically the same - therefore let's all get along, or that all religions are equally valid - both your religion which claims there is a God, and my religion which claims there is no god, are both true - so let's all just get along.

As for the logical positivism the Russell refers to, I am perplexed how he got there from this blog. Can you connect the dots for me please? What exactly is the problem with the logical law of non-contradiction? Is it being applied inappropriately in this blog? Or does this law of logic not really exist because others have fit it into their form of logical positivism which has fallen out of favor among academics?

Maybe the designer of the original image, Piotr Mlodozeniec, meant to imply that "all religions are equally true".

I haven't found any evidence of that.

Where did it come from?

Wow, Russell...

Did you not know that "logic" and "logical positivism" are two different things?

Also, who said that the existence of God is "proven through faith?" Not the people on this site obviously, since the site is devoted to showing that one can believe in God and Christianity on the basis of reason and not just blind faith.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with the creator of the coexist image.

With his image traveling the world over the past four years, Mlodozeniec moved on to other projects. So it came as a surprise in May, when he discovered that Coexist had trademarked the symbol, and that they were suing others for using it. At this same time, he discovered that Bono was using his image in U2's live performances. How does he feel about the two uses of his image? Of Coexist, he says the company promotes "a feeling that they are idealistic and for the peace, but they are only interested in the money. They are dishonest people.
"They phoned me. They tried to ask me to give them permission. I told them I don't like it and I want them to stop doing this," said Mlodozeniec. At the time of our interview, the Coexist web site credited Mlodozeniec for first creating the image, but he says of the credit they gave him: "They make the suggestion that I have approved what they are doing. The truth is, I am strongly, strongly against them." He added, "As it is not enough, they are suing other people who use this design. So I do very strongly oppose that." Coexist has since removed any credit to Mlodozeniec from their web site.
I guess even those "promoting" this concept can't just get along with others!

You can find the whole article here

"Based on my experience living in a very liberal city, I can tell you that many people take it to mean much more. "

@brianehunt: so do you go around asking people what they think bumper stickers mean? Or are you just assuming things about liberals? The word "coexist" says nothing about absolute truth, it just means to exist together.

"As for the logical positivism the Russell refers to, I am perplexed how he got there from this blog. Can you connect the dots for me please?"

The dots are in the title of this post. His point was that you cannot use logical positivism in your attempts to make absolute statements about religion (i.e. mine is absolutely the only true one) because it requires something that supernatural beliefs lack, provable evidence.

@Malcolm The point of this posting (and the Contradict poster) is not which religious system is making the correct truth claims...the point is that simple logic (law of contradiction) states that they are not all correct. True, the caption at the bottom does make a truth claim for one particular worldview, but even without that claim, the first point must be true...unless you intend to make your first a priori assumption that there is no objective truth - and how that statement can be supported, I have never understood.

Malcolm,


We now know, or, all data points tell us, and there are millions of points, that Energy is not eternal. Physicists are now venturing into pure philosophy (M Theory, etc...) out of necessity. We know there is “something” which our current understanding and laws simply cannot get their arms around. This does not prove God, but it does prove “supra” natural in that whatever that “something” is it is not something within this nature. Picture Zero Energy, Zero Wave, Zero Particle, Zero Matter. That is what we now know all trails lead to and “therefore” we know either M-Theory or some other Some-Thing (Non-Energy, Non-Wave, Non-Particle) must be out there. Whatever “it” is is by definition supra to, or, outside of, [This Nature] as [This Nature] is Energy, Wave, Particle, and Matter. There is nothing else in this nature. Nothing at all.

It is not the Theists who are driving us into the Supra-Natural. It is the atheistic physicists. It is their new found philosophy. There is something outside of this nature of Energy, Wave, Particle, and Matter. We just don’t know what it is. This does not prove God by any means. It does get us up to speed with Genesis, John, and Hebrews , and, it does prove the Supra of Supra-natural.


We must be careful to think our Naturalism / Materialism is sound. It is rather un-sound, as it turns out. It is falling out from beneath our feet. And it is not the theists who are leading us into the Supra-Natural. Not this time.

Based only on my own personal experience, and that in an academic town, the nuance of notion surrounding the coexist symbol has somewhat more to do with a philosophy of relativism. There is also a tone of “let’s all just get along regardless of which one is true”. But the scale is heavier on the former. This is an entirely personal observation. Regarding the contradict symbol, the reason that it triggers so much uproar is not because it threatens peace, but because it threatens relativism. That is a bit more evidence as to the nuance of notion surrounding the coexist symbol (this uproar over a non lets-make-war-now symbol). This is not about war and peace. It is about relativism and Logic/Truth. We all know the law of non-contradiction is valid. We hate being reminded. It angers us.

An interesting experiment would be to have only the contradict symbol without the Bible quote beneath it. I suspect it would produce just as much anger.


At first I thought perhaps the anger was really over the varied occasions of senseless violence in the name of all of those religions in the past. But then this brief sentiment was balanced against the awareness of Christ’s command to love one’s enemy and to return violence with kindness. I was also reminded that no one today can be ignorant (can they?) of what the alternative of atheism handed to us on a silver platter when "the toughest survive" was put into practice and we painfully witnessed the bloodiest century in history with the hundreds of millions lost in the last century to the wars of the Nietzschean, Atheistic/Secular hopes of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hilter, Idi Amin, Lennon, and others. With the birth of Nietzsche's Super-Man and the death of God saw the birth of the vulgar and the violent. As one secularist commented, "If God is dead, and he is, then something must take his place. It will inevitably be Heffner and Hitler, the Phallus and the Fist." Human relations on all levels have borne this out. God is Love; and He has died. And with Him, Love has died. The Vulgar and the Violent come to the fore.

"The Self who Survives will be King". That statement stands in stark contrast to the Paradox of the God Who is Love, Who tells us that the Self who Dies will be King.


God is love. He opens His arms wide and He pours Himself out, and this for His beloved, who He claims is you and I.

"As for the logical positivism the Russell refers to, I am perplexed how he got there from this blog. Can you connect the dots for me please?"

The dots are in the title of this post.

The title of the post is "Logic and Religion." What does that have to do with logical positivism?

His point was that you cannot use logical positivism in your attempts to make absolute statements about religion (i.e. mine is absolutely the only true one) because it requires something that supernatural beliefs lack, provable evidence.

Who said you could?

Apply your argument to denominationalism, Melinda.

Do you tolerate other denominations, or do you believe they co-exist?

If you tolerate them, then they're wrong (and you'll be accused of being a bigot). If you think they co-exist, then you're a theological relativist.

PaulR,

I think the solution here is to offer whether or not any Christian who is a Catholic really belongs to Christ, and, whether or not any Christian who is not Catholic, but is some form of some "other" Christian brand, really belongs to Christ. If the answer to each is, "Yes, there are Catholics and Non-Catholics who belong to Christ and who will, after dying, join Him" then it would seem that belonging to Christ trumps belonging to any particular denomination.


If you mean to argue that any and every professing Christian who delights, truly, in some other brand of Christianity other than Catholicism will, upon dying, be eternally turned away by Christ, then perhaps you should be honest enough to state that? Or, if you do not believe that will be the case, then why all the fuss over denomination A or B or C as it really is something “else” which trumps all of those?


What I mean to ask you is, do you believe in your heart that all Non-Catholic Christians are eternally lost? Or, perhaps, do you believe they will be sent to a purgatory of some sort until they come around to Catholicism?


I suppose, as I have asked you, you deserve my answer. I hold that there are those who belong to Christ whom we would almost, not fully perhaps, or perhaps fully, dam as cursed in our own evaluation of their souls, and, there are all sorts of saved souls whom He is bringing from all sorts of backgrounds who are currently in the midst of various denominations, non-denominations, and even in the midst of un-churched settings in which those we consider to be freaks and bastards are found sitting in prison cells, bars, whore houses, drug rehab centers, and orphanages with nothing more than a few pages ripped out of a Bible and a cry for help, and who yet belong to Him. These are not Catholics, nor Protestants, nor anything at all: they are merely Christ’s. All of these, these Catholics, Protestants, Churched, Un-churched, Bastards, and newly converted whores and detoxing freaks will, should they die this moment, join Christ in Love’s Kingdom.


So, again, what I mean to ask you is, do you believe in your heart that all Non-Catholic Christians are eternally lost should they die this moment? Or, perhaps, do you believe they will, should they die this moment, be sent to a purgatory of some sort until they come around to Catholicism and only then enter into Heaven?


PaulR,


Lest you try to cheat or dance around the issue, we must consider the fate of all those millions who have died over the past 2000 years under the name of some Protestant or Non-Denominational flavor and who, when they had considered Catholicism, had found it wanting in some way and had thus turned to some Protestant flavor or Non-Denominational flavor instead. What is the fate of all those? Are there ANY of these who are in Heaven? None?

Malcolm,

You may want to explore the terms membrane, dark matter, inflation, eternal inflation, string, vacuum, gravity, force, vacuum energy (one of my favorites), false vacuum, and false vacuum collapse.

All of these lead us into [something] in which Energy is in some form which we cannot now describe. It leaves us in the Supra-Natural for two reasons. First, our current grasp of things can’t get around “it” and, secondly, it leaves us with an un-caused cause. These do not prove God by any means. They merely get us up to speed with Genesis, John, and Hebrews. They merely get us outside of this Nature and into some other “something” which our physics (which account for quite a lot) cannot account for in the sense that our universe, our nature, our reality, our current blip on the screen, seems unable to account for itself in terms of itself.


Jeremy,


On the somewhat academic side there is “String Theory and M-Theory: A Modern Introduction” (2007) by Melanie Becker, Katrin Becker, and John H. Schwarz ISBN-10: 0521860695. This combined with “The Grand Design” by Stephen Hawking brings the overall flavor into context. It is important to find the line between empirical and verifiable data and philosophy. And, it is important to unearth some of the subtle flaws in Hawking’s approach. The philosophy of physicists is wonderful and helpful, but, it is philosophy and this is where the bridge to John Lennox and his Christian response comes in with his reply to Hawking.

To set the stage, consider this summary of “The Grand Design”,


“When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? What is the nature of reality? Is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation? In this startling and lavishly illustrated book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about these and other abiding mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by brilliance and simplicity.

According to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence or history. The authors explain that we ourselves are the product of quantum fluctuations in the early universe, and show how quantum theory predicts the “multiverse”—the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. They conclude with a riveting assessment of M-theory, an explanation of the laws governing our universe that is currently the only viable candidate for a “theory of everything”: the unified theory that Einstein was looking for, which, if confirmed, would represent the ultimate triumph of human reason.”


This summary is a bit off, as there is not actually a “No-Thing” in Physics, although spontaneously appearing things is touched on. Hawking will not defend “No-Thing” in actuality and thereby leaves us with the issue of energy and forms of which we cannot now describe based on our current understanding of physics and leaves us with an uncaused cause, something which is difficult, if not impossible, for current physics to justify empirically. At least in this universe/reality. Thus philosophy.



Unfortunately John Lennox’s response is not available online. It is “CDD86, "Does Physics explain the existence of the universe?" A response to Hawking by John Lennox”. I checked and this is no longer available online. I called Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (800) 448-6766 and (770) 449-6766 and it is still available by phone order so you can order it from there.

All of these taken together help pull it all together. Lennox is helpful especially in bringing balance to Hawking’s philosophy with what I think is a very reasonable response from the Christian perspective. The CD is a few hours long (it is a talk he gave, I don’t remember where).

Things outside of "this nature" seem to be in play..... there seems to an uncaused cause which exists outside of this universe, and, it seems to have given birth to our reality. Sound familiar?

Lennox quotes Tim Radford, "In this very brief history of modern cosmological physics, the laws of quantum and relativistic physics represent thing to the wondered at but widely accepted: just like Biblical miracles. M-theory invokes something different: a prime mover, a begetter, a creative force that is everywhere and nowhere. This force cannot be identified by instruments or examined by comprehensible mathematical prediction, and yet it contains all possibilities. It incorporates omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence, and it's a big mystery. Remind you of anybody?""



Jeremy,

Sorry for a few typos there.... a bit rushed...

Jeremy,

"CDD86..." is not a typo. There are two D's......

Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm.

In answer to your first question, the answer is yes. I actually do talk to people. And yes, in discussions of religion the coexist image is used by many to help express their feeling about the plurality of religions. In answer to your second question, no, I'm not assuming anything.

Just to clarify, this thread is not discussing the word coexist. We are discussing the meaning and use of the coexist image. This is an important distinction in that the actual meaning of the word is much less important than the meaning of the symbols used and the final image created to express something beyond the simple dictionary meaning of the word.

As to your comment that the dots have been connected in the title of the blog post, I don't think so. As someone else pointed out logic and logical positivism are not the same thing.

Hi, scbrownlhrm

Thanks for your courteous reply.

I’m afraid I don’t know how my questions have anything to do with Catholicism at all. For me it was simply an issue of intellectual rigour and consistency.

What I can’t square is the attitude in the piece towards religious pluralism when the author – Melinda – seems to be in the same boat.

I cannot see how denominations are any different from religions: they can’t all be true either, can they? Are some ‘more true’ than others? If so, how is one to judge? Where’s the benchmark? It can’t be Scripture (unless one’s in denial), owing to what Christian Smith calls Pervasive Interpretive Pluralism in his book, ‘The Bible Made Impossible’.

If Melinda argues there is a true religion, then surely there’s one, visible, true Church which exemplifies that religion in its fullness?

It seems a strong case to argue that denominations would not arise unless there was an issue of error. That is, apart from the odd power struggle, denominations arise owing to people subjectively deciding that their current denomination isn’t (is no longer) teaching the truth, don’t they?

I believe a Living Tradition is the only way round the problem, but it also means one doesn’t have to judge who’s in and who’s out, as all my Protestant friends are constantly doing every time they swap denomination, or start their own.

They think their current church has gone off the rails or they’ve discovered a ‘more truly true’ church, until they discover an ‘even more truly true’ church…

In essence, it reduces the truth of Christianity to induction, and the power of logic and/or evidence, rather than it being a deposit of revelation given to the Church, and protected by, the Holy Spirit.

In other words, denominationalism seems to be the triumph of, and belief in, the reliability of subjective judgement, so if one tries hard enough, one is capable of freeing oneself from self-deception and reach objectivity. I experienced this in the frequent proof-text shoot-outs I observed amongst the denominations at points of schism. There was no authority, just the power of reason as the final arbiter, which reduced it – to my mind – to something no better than the worst excesses of Theological Liberalism, or simply the power of rhetoric and persuasion.

Is it the case that religions can’t all be true, but that denominations can? If so, which ones? They’re my questions, but it’s got nothing to do with who’s saved and who isn’t.

As to the issues you raise, I think Dr Bryan Cross, and Dr Tom Brown – ex Presbyterians – can address your questions far more authoritatively from being inside the problem but as theologians than I can:
http://www.oocities.org/metaphysics8/Consumerism.html

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/08/the-denominational-marketplace/

PaulR,


Thank you, and my only reason to start with an initial question of salvation is to draw our attention to what is, whether we like it or not it seems, the actual and current, and literal, Bride, which is composed of individual Christians from all walks and multiple backgrounds and denominations. I really did not think you were arguing that Non-Catholics are Non-Christians etc. But, I need to be sure. When we examine the Body, the Bride, we see that He has a measuring rod of Truth, and it is Himself, first. It seems we agree here, or, I believe I heard you say that there are in fact actual people who have looked at Catholicism and have turned away, and, years later, upon dying in some other denomination, have remained Christ’s. I reiterate this because this is the starting point. If we disagree here (on Salvation) then really we cannot get further. The Gospel is, to start with, Christ. Now, after that, after the New Man is found standing there, in his de-tox center, void of any denomination whatsoever, wholly un-churched, yet Christ’s, this New Man then, with and by both his New Nature and the Holy Spirit, leaves and re-joins the real world, now Christ’s and, from this point forward, this member of His Body begins to encounter various bodies of doctrine, and then the we come to doctrines and errors and etc.


I want to be sure we agree here before we move further. The “actual” Bride/Body is composed of all sorts of folks from all sorts of denominations and backgrounds, some even un-churched such as the de-tox convert above, who knows only the good news of Ransom, and nothing more, others of all colors and languages, and many even from what we would consider freakish, damaged lives, and even many who have considered Catholicism and, finding it wanting, are now in some other denomination, and of course the many Catholics who lean into Him and are His. These are all Christ’s. These are all “the Body”. These are all “the Bride”. These are all “the Living Church”.


That is the Church, the Living-Body; that collection of those folks.


These all belong to Christ.


I want to be sure we agree here before we move further.

I think we agree here?


"Barkeep, give us another round of useless Christian FB saber-rattling, 'cause we're not quite wasted yet!" But we're sure getting close. Why do we continue to squander our leverage driving wedges between the Gospel and those meant to hear the Gospel, and building walls to keep "the bad guys" out? News Flash: we're ALL bad guys! Let 'em have their friggin' bumper sticker. Seriously?

I have no idea why you'd be stunned. Anytime you dare say something is true - especially in the area of religion - you will be screamed at and shut down.

Those who demand "tolerance" the most are often the ones who refuse to give it.

Gene Oden, with all due respect, it seems that the OP is simply making an observation about the bumper sticker and not suggesting that anyone prevent folks from having/using them. The "coexist" sticker gives the reader pause to consider its claim; the "contradict" sticker does the same. Ferreting out the truth between the two hardly seems useless but, instead, perhaps puts a pebble in one's shoe. Anything which exposes darkness and shines the light of Christ is worthy of consideration.

Doublethink was a term coined by George Orwell in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four which describes accepting or deploying two mutually contradictory beliefs. You can see it employed in propaganda, politics and social enginnering. It bypasses logic, often using emotional appeal.
For example "we will not tolerate intolerance"
"We must not surrender our freedoms to the terrorists but must be willing to sacrifice our freedoms for security"

Gene, why are you driving a wedge between other people and the truth you are trying to get them to understand by telling them to stop doing something?

Thanks for those links!!

I personally would love to have a bumper sticker like CONTRADICT. Problem is, there's a lot of small print (just like other issues in life). Maybe some would be available at the November STR meeting in S California?

"Actually, the "coexist" bumper sticker is much more offensive because it asserts a particular religious view that most of the religions symbolized on it disagree with."

I think that's the whole point. For the sake of civility, suffer a bit of offense.

If you want a bumper sticker go to www.contradictmovement.org.

A video is posted on the homepage of Contradict Movement that explains the message behind the sticker from the person who made this Contradict design (me).

And to those who say that "Co-Exist" doesn't advocate for religious pluralism, go to www.urbandictionary.com and look at the second definition on their site. Also look up the Urban Dictionary definition for "tolerance." Urban Dictionary knows what the words mean on the street and not the traditional dictionary definition.

To Terrill Hulson - the design STR posted was created from the original that I posted on my site. The bumper sticker doesn't have the small text and it is simple black and white (intentionally, because absolute truth deals with black and white issues, is or isn't types of stuff).

What's up with the STR Meeting in S California? I'm not familiar with it. If I could show up with a grip of stickers and a table with a Contradict banner, I'd love to do so.

I came across the Contradict site here https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/ContradictMovement

The owner sent me a sticker & has a website dedicated to the movement with other media & things which can be purchased.

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