Friday, 20 February 2009

Adventures With Jesus #5: Axioms And Extrapolations

Having reached the conclusions I've been searching for all week last night, I hadn't intended to post anything about today's talk. Partially because doing so seemed surplus to requirements, but also because the title today was "Is Being "Good" Good Enough For God?" and it seemed pretty likely that much of what would be covered had already been addressed in the talk on Hell.

That pretty much turned out to be the case. We can do good without it being good enough for God, and "not a bad person" is hardly a particularly impressive status when being judged by the Lord of Creation. The one thing I did want to mention in regards to today was axioms.

I spent the walk down to the talk trying to explain my own personal position on the meaning of life to Anonymous McNoname. Specifically, my rejection of the idea that good and evil, or at least right and wrong, cannot exist independently of God. It's true that there can no longer be one true definition of such ideas, but contra to popular opinion, this does not reduce them to concepts definable by popular vote. What it does mean is that the best we can do is formulate the most reasonable axioms possible, and logically follow through on them. Is it perfect? Not at all. One man's axiom is another man's fallacy, after all. Since axioms can be challenged and altered, however, that isn't indicative of a process that is broken, but one which is evolving. What's important is to constantly question your preconceptions, to ensure you are evolving too. It's also critical to have others question your axioms, too, which is one of the reasons I've spent so much time this week listening to people tell me I'm going to Hell.

I mention all this because the Q&A today made it quite clear that there are similar issues in Christianity. Whereas the principal axiom that God is real and always right is pretty much unassailable, it is still the case, unsurprisingly, that different Christians will interpret the Bible in very different ways. What is axiomatic to some is simply allegory to others. Absent outside stimulus, inaccuracies and mistakes are very likely. Thus, believing in the Bible and following the word of Jesus requires self-questioning, and also communal questioning in the form of the Church. Obviously this then leads to the question: who is writing their axioms? Are they doing it themselves? Are their ministers, or reverends, or bishops, or archbishops doing it for them? How is that different from what an atheist would do, or at least an atheist interested in trying to be more than an animal reacting to external stimuli?

Today's answer was that Jesus' spirit infuses those who read the Bible, and from that the truth will be revealed. I'd say that if this is true it arguably isn't going tremendously well given the massive number of different churches with their own approach to doctrine, but I'll grant that it does at least provide an answer to the problem that I cannot easily refute. Suggestions, of course, are welcome.

Anyway, that's Main Event Week over for another year. I can now look forward to 51 weeks of meaningless debauchery. And possibly a doctorate.

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