How does Bradley deal with liberal theologians? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I suppose it’s good for Bradley to take on liberal theologians. At least he’s taking on some since he’s hardly dealt with them at all in this book. Naturally, I have many issues with several of these theologians as well, but I do want to deal with some of the criticisms that Bradley has.
For one, he does say in response to Tillich that the first cause or contingency arguments are not accepted by any good philosopher he knows, but there are indeed many who do. I find Feser’s formulation of Aquinas’s argument most convincing. Of course, Bradley could hedge his bets on saying what is meant by a “good” philosopher.
He also deals with John Robinson, Don Cupitt, and John Shelby Spong. Most of the criticisms are what we would expect, but it is saddening that Bradley spends more time on these guys instead of the theologians defending the ideas he really wants to go after. I do agree though that if you reject Christianity, there’s really no point in going to this kind of liberalism. It’s more often just secularism with a Christian veneer.
Of course, when he talks about Spong, he does bring up the question of if Jesus even existed. Hearing mythicism always leaves me thinking that one’s skepticism is much more emotional than it is rational. Bradley is to history what he thinks the YECs are to science.
Ultimately, that wraps up this book so I will just give some closing thoughts here. I really found Bradley’s book a sad read to go through and many times, a boring one. I went in expecting a professor who I figured should know philosophy and should know how to debate would have some powerful arguments. What I found was someone who had incredibly weak arguments that left me feeling like I was reading a rant. Many times, I enjoy reading atheist material, but this time I found myself having to drag myself through the book and towards the end, I think I just went on one rush through it so I could say I had read it.
There are atheists out there who can make better arguments. It doesn’t help anyone’s position if it seems to your opponents that you are arguing from emotion to make your case and sadly, rhetoric can often win out over data in our day and age. It could be that your case is rationally the stronger one, but your opponent can pull more emotional strings.
For all of us when we examine the arguments, we must do whatever we can to try to look at the data regardless of how we feel about the subject matter. Maybe you don’t like the idea of Hell. Frankly, I don’t know anyone who does. I don’t like the idea of children starving either, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Saying you don’t like Hell so it doesn’t exist, would mean that there should be no starving children either.
I also still think it’s important to read what you disagree with. You cannot be informed on a topic if you do not read both sides. It is part of doing your due diligence. You need to know how to wrestle with ideas, not just what you think, but why you think it and what your opponents think and why they think it.
I really hope the next work like this will be better than Bradley’s though.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)