Salient: At Victoria University College, Wellington, N. Z. Vol. 24, No. 10. 1961.
Dwyer Cut Up
Dwyer Cut Up
Mr Dwyer states "Christianity stands on the existence of an omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God. In a word God is Infinity," but the rest of his article does not explicitly attack this concept. Let us look at his first hypothesis—"The very concept of Infinity is all-inclusive and absolutely exclusive—nothing exists apart from it. as if it did it would cease to be infinite." If this premise were valid, how could Mr Dwyer account for finity? Indisputably "things" exist which are finite, e.g. Mr Dwyer's powers of reasoning. Anything that exists must be either (a) self existing i.e. caused by itself, the uncaused first cause which we call God, or (b) owing its existence to a self-existing cause (God). Finity exists—God is responsible for finity. Thus besides the Infinite there is the finite dependent on the Infinite God for its very existence.
Now Mr Dwyer says "This idea entails an existence separate from God—forces of good and evil—and consequently puts a limit on Infinity. But why? Do not be misled by the word 'consequently"—the conclusion does not consequently follow from the premise, yet no other proof is offered. For one thing good and evil do not entail an existence separate from God—Good is God or comes from God. It has no existence separate from God and thus does not limit Infinity. Evil does not exist positively at all. It is an absence of Good. Christianity advocates positive good and condemns negative evil. Evil cannot exist as if it had any existence, it would have to be either self-existing (i.e. God) or owing its existence to God—a manifest contradiction. Since evil is not positive, it cannot encroach on Infinite Goodness. Thus neither good nor evil entails an existence separate from God. and neither puts a limit to Infinity.
Mr Dwyer's next statement is "theories of heaven and hell, the damned and the elect, must inevitably lead one to the conclusion that there is a division and an internal struggle in the Christian Infinity." There is no internal struggle between Heaven (a static eternal state where souls who have freely chosen God possess Him) and Hell (a static eternal state where souls who have freely rejected God, do not possess Him and are tormented by this realisation). Heaven manifests God's infinite love—Hell manifests God's infinite justice, thus each gives Him eternal glory. Hell is not an independent state of evil existing apart from God, hot is dependent on God who sustains it.
The arguments set out above repudiate the hypotheses that are antagonistic to basic Christian doctrine. Even the most prejudiced reader must at least admit that (a) Mr Dwyer's hypotheses remain unproved and (b) a valid alternative point of view has been presented.
Note Mr Dwyer's use of words such as "furthermore" (assuming something already proved), "consequently1" and "Inevitably." If one inserts either one of the latter terms between two premises, the reader tends to accept one statement as following automatically from the other, whereas when analysed, this is not so. Do not be fooled—realise you are dealing with hypotheses, not facts, when you read Mr Dwyer's next statement: "The contradictions herein contained should enable the impartial thinker to seek the explanation for the universe elsewhere." Certainly contradictions were "herein contained"—they were contradictions of Mr Dwver's own making! And thus the "impartial thinker" (not Mr Dwyer, remember) is not entitled on such a basis to seek an explanation elsewhere.
"Elsewhere" for Mr Dwyer seems to be Pantheism. He says "we are led to the conclusion that the universe is infinite." He does not mention why we are led to this conclusion. In any case he is quite wrong. The universe is not infinite—it is made of parts. Nothing material, changing and imperfect can be infinite, by definition. If one says that something material such as the universe is infinite, one is denying the existence of a spiritual order. But the mere fact that we, even with our finite minds, can conceive of "truth." "goodness." "justice." etc.—all abstract spiritual concepts—indicates the existence of some sort of spiritual order (eventually reaching the logical conclusion of an infinite spiritual God). We sav God is infinite. If the universe were infinite, the universe would be God, but as the universe is material, it is finite, whether we can conceive of anv bounds to it or not. So much for Pantheism.
Mr Dwyer's last two paragraphs are merely a vague tirade against Christianity in general. However, two opinions particularly stand out as being incorrect, (a) "in one ape it ('divine' morality) tells mankind to love his neighbour; in another to rush out and slaughter those who do not adhere to his particular dogma." Morality is the term given to a philosophic concept of God's laws regarding creation and It "does" nothing of the sort It was Christ who told mankind in every age to Iove his neighbour, and certain misguided individuals, uncondoned by true Christianity. who "rushed out and slaughtered." (Such emotional phraseology, by the way. should have no place in what purports to be the opinion of an intellectual.) (b) "Christianity breeds slave mentality and must be secounted An enemy to enlightenment." On the contrary. Christianity is enlightenment and breeds only truth. The slaves are the poor proud individuals who let themselves be guided solely by their own clouded. limited intellects—who pit their finite reason against the revealed truths of the omniscient Infinity—the Christian God.