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Apologetics Q & A

1. Since there is unity in diversity in the world – does it not also follow that there is unity in diversity or oneness and plurality within the Godhead?

The simplest answer to this question is a resounding ‘Yes’. But it may be necessary to substantiate the answer. Why is it that unity and diversity in the created cosmos should necessitate a similar reality within the Godhead? Because, the First Cause has to be necessarily greater than the effect – whatever positive aspects that are in the effect in finite form (except for the imperfections which are negatives and therfore do not have original existence) are reflections of what is there in the cause. Otherwise, several anomalies follow. For one, effect will be greater than the cause because it would contain what is not there in the cause.  Also, in the matter of unity / diversity, we will have a peculiar problem. If the cause is absolute unity, all diversity in the effect will have to be explained away as illusion – this is what pantheism of all kinds does. If the cause is only absolute diversity, it cannot be absolute in the first place because there would be no unifying factor – this is the problem of the atheists (which they refuse to acknowledge) because they recognise real diversity in the world but are now looking for an impersonal mechanistic unifying Theory of Everything.

All this only shows that there must be unity in diversity within the First cause (the Creator). But what kind of unity in diversity is it? We cannot answer this question purely on the basis of rational analysis. We need revelation or self-disclosure from God and it is that revelation alone which can disclose the exact nature of the unity in diversity in God.

2. Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

This is what Thomas Arnold, Author of History of Rome and once professor of History at Oxford University has to say about the evidence for resurrection:  “I have been used for many years to study the history of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them; and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair enquirer, than the great sign that God has given us, that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”

The transformed lives of millions of people in history are a powerful proof of resurrection. Down through the centuries the power of resurrection has been transforming lives and such transformed lives stand as living proofs of the power of resurrection and hence of resurrection itself.

3. When empirical contraries can exist, why can’t God, both exist and not exist?

There is a distinction between empirical contraries and conceptual contradictions. The dual nature of light is an example from the empirical world around us. Light behaves as a particle and light also behaves as a wave. But it is important to remember that when we talk of the dual nature of light, we must remember that when light behaves as a particle, it does not behave as a wave and when it behaves as a wave it does not behave as a particle at the same time. It exhibits exclusive properties.

On the other hand, when we talk of the existence or non-existence of God, we are talking at the conceptual level. If there are contradictions at the conceptual level, it would force the conclusion that one is right and the other is wrong. As mentioned elsewhere in the magazine, if we consider the subject of “square circles,” even at the conceptual level they are an impossibility (since a square cannot be a circle and a circle cannot be a square). Hence their actual existence is prima facie ruled out. Therefore, if God exists, He cannot ‘not exist’.

4. How can God be Pure Actuality (no potential for change) and Trinity at the same time?

The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. Historically, the first disciples who were Jewish monotheists – believers in YAHWEH – had personal encounters with two other Persons in the course of their lives – Jesus Christ with whom they lived and worked for three and a half years, and the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They were convinced – for reasons that cannot be given in this short space but are available in plenty in the NT – that these two Persons were God in the same sense that YAHWEH was God. At the same time, they were also clear that these three Persons could not constitute three separate gods as they were perceived to be in a dynamic love-relationship with one another – Jesus was in constant communion with his Father and the Holy Spirit expressly made the glory and witness to Jesus his job. These three Persons were thus seen to be in union with One Another – Perichoresis is the technical term employed by the early Church Fathers – constituting one God.         The word Trinity came out of this historical reality and was not the result of some cold, philosophical speculation.

 

To be sure, Pure Actuality is more of a Greek philosophical appellation and can be misunderstood as applied to the Triune God. Again, it portrays God as a static Being. Karl Barth preferred the use of the term Perfections than Attributes to describe the qualities of this God. The absence of change in this God arises out of a dynamic interaction within his own Being – the infinite Father knowing, loving and delighting in his infinite Son through the infinite Spirit, so to speak. This absence should not therefore be understood as that of an object that has grown to its maximum possible size! In this sense, God need not change for the better, only because in his relational Self, He has always been perfect through this dynamic relationship.

So, in a sense, he is Pure Actuality – the great I AM – only because he is Trinity and not in spite of it, because what God is (the loving community of three persons) He is eternally.

5. Why can we not term the “First Cause”, instead of “God”?

The scientific community cannot get away from the need for a ‘first cause’, but would prefer to name it impersonally – ‘Cosmic Egg’, Universal Consciousness.’ But then, nothing material can be infinite. Thus, ‘a cosmic egg that existed from infinity’ would be a contradiction in terms. All aspects of physical reality would be part of the space-time continuum which has been established to be finite. This ‘cosmic egg’ would also have to be part of that entity. We have to necessarily look for the First Cause outside of the continuum of which we are a part.

Aristotelian logic required a ‘prime mover’ but this could well be a ‘force’. An increasingly popular school of pantheistic philosophy called ‘Reiki’ proposes that there is infinite energy in the universe which can be focussed on to a tumour or any such other ailment resulting in healing. Another interesting way in which humans have sought to avoid this confrontation with the Infinite-Personal Cause is to posit the impersonal (say, evolution) as the origin for the universe, but to look for a personal intelligent element within it (by spelling it with a capital ‘E’!).  Naturalistic biologists often are seen to refer to Nature! In his book ‘Gods that fail’, Vinoth Ramachandra comments, “It looks like we are groping for a personal First Cause”, or looking for a personal frame of reference within this impersonal phenomenon by this personification.

The universe is proved to be finite, therefore the power for its origin will have to be sought from outside it. One of the reasons there has been a general reluctance to admit to a finite universe is that this would raise the issue of the cause behind the Cosmos. It was Ernest Rutherford who said, “The idea of a beginning to  the Universe is repugnant to me.” Einstein also had to battle with this reluctance. The reasons for this reluctance are not far to seek.  Attributing personality to the first cause would necessarily entail having to relate to this Superior Being. There will also have to be a sense of accountability. Then the whole issue of morality cannot be side-stepped.

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