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August 02, 2011



I don't know -- I think Christian education, in the U.S. at least, could not possibly be any better at its implicit purpose of manufacturing lifelong Republican voters. In a different arena, airline security is a joke ("Security theater," as Bruce Schneier says) if you think it has anything to do with the security of passengers, but it's a slick, well-oiled machine if you assume its purpose is to protect airlines and airports from liability in the event that anything actually does go wrong. Assuming that Christian education is intended by its curriculum designers to have anything to do with Christ is too literalist, IMO.


I am currently finishing up a summer session world religions class as a TA. Today one of the Muslim students in class couldn't wrap his head around the idea that a self-proclaimed prophet after Mohammad (Bahá'u'lláh, specifically,) issues a challenge to the notion of "the seal of the prophets" and the idea of the Quran as a complete and perfect text, and that the very notion of "seal of the prophets" functions to discount any prophets coming along in the future. Lazy thinking, it isn't just for Christians.

Greg Horton

April, I've seen it from Muslims and Christians both as well. It seems to be generally theistic, but I've also found a bizarre level of naive certainty among pantheists, even wiccans, who left the church because it was too dogmatic. I am literally begging for critical thinking to be part of the general education curriculum of colleges, but it ought to be part of junior high and high school curriculum as well.


As a matter of logical possibility, the answer is yes: they could both be true. However, as a matter of contingent fact it seems highly unlikely. God could be able to do whatever s/he wants and still always do what's good. However, unless there is some pressure on what s/he does in each case, then that fact would be so implausible as to strain belief beyond any limit. It would be like saying a fair coin could be flipped a trillion times and always come up heads. It's logically possible, but that possibility is so remote as to be completely uninteresting. A weighted coin, however, might sip the scales a bit. If helped along, I imagine your student would end up saying that god's character weights the coin in favor of doing good actions. However, for god's character to do the work of ensuring that s/he always does what's good, it would have to be such that divine character compels (not merely influences) conduct. If character compels conduct, and a good character always compels good conduct, then it is not true that god can do whatever s/he wants except in the weak sense that s/he actually does what she wants. A further problem would be that I don't know of any Christian theology that allows for the possibility that god's goodness is a contingent fact.

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