Holy Nihilism on the Godcast

Holy Nihilism on the Godcast

My interview on the Godcast is now up.

Overall, I think it went very well. In retrospect, I probably could have presented my argument a little bit more directly, but I think the points themselves came through well enough.

While Myles and SuperLutheran were smart and exceptionally fun to chat with, I did get a sense that their presuppositionalism made an actual argument somewhat difficult, and even my relation with moral intuition oddly hard to grasp. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t expect being neither entirely trusting in nor entirely skeptical of intuition to be a particularly controversial position. The whole “facing God”/”facing the World” dichotomy seemed like an ad hoc construct which permits the Christian to justify a kind of unbiblical compatibilism between Christian spirituality and Worldly spirituality, which is itself only possible if one assumes that “love” can exist apart from time and attention — permitting one to love both God and the World. This, I think, was the great, unresolved point of contention in the discussion: what is the actual nature of “love,” and does agape even count as real love? Perhaps — as SuperLutheran suggested — “charity” is the better interpretation of that term.

But, as we discussed, it would change a lot in how we read the Bible:

For God was so charitable [ἠγάπησεν] to the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

It’s a bit of a different tone, I think, than most Christians are used to, or would agree with.

But that’s what happens when you begin by presupposing that two exclusive positions must be compatible, and then reverse engineer what the definitions must be in order to force compatibility where it does not exist.

For my full argument against Christianity, Holy Nihilism: The Moral and Spiritual Case Against Christianity is available on Amazon.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great last point. I plan to make a transcript of this podcast when I get the time (don’t like listening, prefer reading). Brings to mind 1 Corinthians 13 where in the KJV love is translated as charity – the same agape. Would be lovely if you had additional thoughts based on that.

    1. Thanks for putting in that effort! Having transcribed a fair bit in the past, I know it can be a lot of work.

      I guess the one thing I’d want to add is that recent research has changed my mind slightly on the credit Christianity is owed for this kind of word-play. The Greek ideal of the Hero, which preceded Christianity by at least 800 years (undoubtedly much more than that) advanced a similar ideal of immortality through the word, specifically through song. And this ideal, as with Christianity, seemed also to eventually require the acceptance that words and ideas — “forms” — are somehow more real than reality itself. That, for example, the beauty and goodness of “agape” is more important than what that word actually means when applied in real life, because an application of the pure form of agape could never exist in an impure and complex reality like ours. So same conclusion, but the genealogy of the idea is, I think, a bit longer and more complex than I believed at the time of the podcast.

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