Friday, January 06, 2012

Read Along: Christian Apologetics Ch17

Today we continue with chapter seventeen of Read Along with Apologetics315, a weekly chapter-by-chapter study through Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Christianity by Douglas Groothuis. Please leave a comment on your reading below. This is where you can interact with others reading the book, ask questions, or add your own thoughts. Series index here. Click below for the audio intro, chapter 17 study questions PDF, and summary:

[Audio Intro] - Dr. Groothuis introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 17 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) - PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] - Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Seventeen: The Uniqueness of Humanity: Consciousness and Cognition
(pages 389-417)

Chapter seventeen delves into some of the unique characteristics that make us human. These include such elements of consciousness and cognition as qualia, propositional attitudes, intentionality, and love. Groothuis argues that theism provides a better explanation of dualism than nontheism or pantheism.

This is a weighty chapter, exploring a variety of concepts. The author starts by looking at consciousness, showing it to be a puzzle for the materialist view. After making a case for dualism, he then shows how theism accounts for it over and against nontheistic and pantheistic accounts, answering common objections along the way. Groothuis also explores Darwin's doubt of his own reason, and looks at variations of an argument showing that if materialism were true, one would have no reason to trust their own congnition.

Notable quotes:
Mental states and physical states differ in kind, not in degree. Thus they cannot be identical, given this very simple principle of identity: whatever differs in kind cannot be identical.19 There is no metaphysical halfway house between mental and physical states. (Christian Apologetics, p. 395)
The fact that consciousness is affected by the brain and by other physical objects, such as the probe, in no way reduces consciousness to a physical property any more than a wooden oar that troubles water turns the water into wood. (Christian Apologetics, p. 396)  
A proposition is [...] an intellectual unit of meaning not reducible to any of its physical manifestations. It is a thought consisting of concepts that compose an affirmation about reality. Propositions, which are at the heart of all human language, are out of step in a materialist universe, since they are not material things or states. (Christian Apologetics, p. 399)  
Therefore, if materialism is true, we have no basis to trust our reasoning. Our beliefs might be true (that is, by a cosmic fluke whereby nonrational forces cause us to hold true beliefs), but we would have no reason to hold these beliefs, and so they could not count as knowledge. If the materialist theory is true, we would have no reason to believe it to be true. (Christian Apologetics, p. 413)   
  1. How does theism give the best explanation for those traits that make us uniquely human?
  2. How would you restate Darwin’s own doubt about his rational abilities?
  3. How would you present the argument from the uniqueness of humanity based upon this chapter?
Next week
Chapter Eighteen: Deposed Royalty: Pascal's Anthropological Argument


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