Archive for Philosophy
So the local mall took down a billboard we put up in the mall. What was on it? The following:
Now, I’m not too sure what all the reasoning behind the take down exactly was. Perhaps there were some legitimate concerns. But for a mall that includes advertising for “Sex in the City,” Bebe and Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie and Guess, I hope the reason wasn’t because of the word “sex.”
But maybe it was, epsecially in conjunction with the word “church.” It reminds me of an observation made by Laura Winner in a recent work of hers, Real Sex (I highly recommend this book!), about the public yet highly private nature of sex:
“In contemporary society, sex is public- moms go on talk shows and confess to slepping with their daughters’ boyfriends, Calvin Klein models expose their body parts in magazine ads. But if sex is public, it is not communal. Americans consider sex a fine topic of public disclosure but we insist that sex is also private, nobody’s business but mine and the person with whom I’m doing it. I can show you my midriff in public, and I can make out with my boyfriend on a park bench, but there is no communal grammar that allows you to talk to me about this body I am exposing in front of you. Underpinning everything else we say about sex is the assumption and insistence that you ought to keep your nose out of my bedroom… one person’s sexual behaviour is not anyone else’s concern…”
Her response to this?
“Put simply, this is a lie.”
Real Sex, pp. 46-48
I finally picked up a copy of Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity. Stark is a sociologist who tries to unravel the question of how Christianity became such a dominant religion in its first four centuries. There are some good points, but a number of ideas can easily lead to doubt about the validity of Christianity. For example, one question based off of some of his proposals is as follows:
If the rise of Christianity can be explained by natural (non-supernatural) means, and if its growth rate during that time is similar to those of other religious movements in their early years, does that invalidate Christianity’s claim of truth or uniqueness?
I’m eager to hear what you have to say. As I’ve tried to think through this, here are some preliminary thoughts:
1. Just because two growth rates are the same does not necessarily say anything about the validty of the truth claims of the religions in consideration. For example, to use an analogy from another sphere of life- I am sure that Enron and some other successful company posted the same growth curve over some period of time. But just because their growth curves were the same doesn’t mean the character of the companies were both the same.
2. Going off of that, from a historical angle, the validity of Christianity is really based on one single event: the resurrection of Jesus. If it happened, it’s true. If it didn’t, Christianity is false. All other sorts of “proof” (including the “success” of Christianity in its early years) can be debated.
3. This is not to say that I believe the rise of Christianity is not unique and evidence of its validity. I have not finished Stark’s book yet, but from what I’ve read there is definitely much to be proved in the above question in order for it to stand.
Well, that’s it for now. I’m gonna finish the book before I write any more. If you have some thoughts, especially if you’ve read Stark, please leave them here. You can also google him- a lot is written about him. Don’t forget to check out this site for some evangelical perspectives on this and other academic issues.