CHRISTIAN TRACTATUS - SUMMARY


This document constitutes my philosophical thoughts on the validity of Christianity. Its name and format are modeled on a well-known (and, of course, infinitely superior) work by Ludwig Wittgenstein. So as not to deceive the unwary, this evaluation is reluctantly negative. I am not a scoffer, so the evaluation is a serious one. However, I cannot see how Christianity or any other religious system can be made to work without either intellectual compromise or denuding the religious system of content.

The text of this document has not had a major overhaul in almost the last ten years, so my ideas have probably moved on somewhat in the interim. Readers may find the style rather inclined towards ex cathedra statements. This is because the document was written as an attempt to structure my views on these subjects rather than to seek to justify them in exhaustive detail. The web-based format does allow expatiation ad infinitem, and I will seek to progress in that direction in due course. However, for the time being my aim is to enhance my philosophical knowledge to give myself a firmer foundation for future forrays.

The section below lists the 20 basic assumptions into which my argument is broken down. I'm not yet happy that these are the best 20 and that there are no redundancies. However, given the whole document is geared around these fundamental tenets, I feel reluctant to change them until I have a clearer idea of how the structural change would affect the entire argument. So, we're stuck with them until inspiration strikes.

To find out more about each statement, click on the hyperlink to the underlying document, where the statement is broken down into more detail and, where possible, justified.

Each page linked to below has its own commentary page for further elaboration. My intention is for these to hold objections and responses. If you would like any of your thoughts included, please email me with them as below. I reserve the right to reject such material, though I hope not in the case where I simply can't answer it !

Please address any criticism of or suggested improvements to this paper to theotodman@lineone.net.


  1. The world is open to investigation.
  2. Knowledge of the world is acquired from experience under the interpretation of reason.
  3. No knowledge is certain.
  4. The world obeys a number of fairly simple physical laws, which form the modern scientific worldview, which is fundamentally correct.
  5. Truth is related to simplicity.
  6. It is important for our beliefs to be true, especially if we intend to pass them on to others.

 

  1. Christianity is a public statement about the world, not merely a private religion.
  2. The claims of Christianity are based on historical experience.
  3. The Bible is the most reliable record of the historical events on which Christianity is founded.
  4. Christianity requires a reliable, but not necessarily inerrant, Bible to validate it.
  5. Biblical claims are to be validated in the same way as any other claims related to matters of fact.

 

  1. From the viewpoint of internal consistency & style, the Bible gives the impression of being a generally reliable, but not inerrant, document.
  2. There are problems with the Biblical model of the world & its history.
  3. Christianity does not conform to the requirement of presuppositional simplicity.
  4. There is no worthwhile subset of Christianity as traditionally understood that conforms to the modern worldview.
  5. A worthwhile reconstruction of Christianity, in conformity with the modern worldview, has not been demonstrated to be possible.
  6. Christianity cannot & should not be defended solely on the basis of faith.

 

  1. It is not self-evident that the world, or the individuals in it, have a purpose.
  2. Pascal's wager is not to be accepted.
  3. It is better to remain silent than to make a pretence at knowledge.


Appendices

  1. Acts 28 Dispensationalism.
  2. Biblical Numerics & Chiasmus.
  3. Spiritual Beings in the Judeo-Christian Tradition.
  4. Non-theistic Ethics.


Theo Todman 1991 - 2001.

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