Starting Points

LEADER TIES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

July 16, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

STARTING POINTS

Aristotle was the first to suggest that the universe had a starting point.  An infinite universe was a logical impossibility for Aristotle since everything we observe is caused.  As a result his treatise on Physics included the concept of an “unmoved mover.”  The idea is that since every motion is caused by a previous motion there must logically be an original cause which is uncaused.  There must be a starting point.

This was not an empirically observed fact for Aristotle.  It was rather a logical necessity, a self-evident truth, a necessary presupposition.  It is rather like looking at a river and knowing without any doubt that there is a source of the flow without which there would be no river.

All thinking and living is largely controlled, or at least largely influenced, by a starting point.  Consciously or unconsciously we operate with an ultimate value, an absolute commitment, a controlling presupposition.

For thinking man this presupposition is chosen, not necessitated by birth or environment.  The old canard “There is a God and it is not me” illustrates the idea, but is far too shallow for an ultimate value.  In the next few weeks I want to unwrap a few of these presuppositions beginning with the starting point presented in the Bible and held by people of the Book.

At the present time there are 1.6 billion Christians in the world which constitute 32 percent of the world’s population.  Added to this there are 14.3 million Jews which adds another 0.2 percent to the above figure.  How many of these are committed believers only God knows.  However, the starting point of biblical faith is clear.

Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  That’s where biblical thinking starts.  Judaism affirms this in the “Schema” which is the first prayer learned by any Jewish child and the last prayer uttered at the time of death.  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deut. 6:4).”  The earliest creed of Christendom begins, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”  The Apostle Paul says to his protégé Timothy (I Tim. 2:5), “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the man, Jesus the Messiah.”

Like Aristotle, this is not an empirically observed fact.  It is a truth revealed by God himself and confirmed in the nature of the universe around us.  The Apostle Paul states this idea in Romans 1:19 and 20.  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

Americans should recognize the appearance of this starting point in their own Declaration of Independence.  “We hold these truths to be SELF EVIDENT, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, namely life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This was the starting point for the construction of “the new order of society.”

Obviously, this is not the only option for directing one’s life and thinking.  There are others.  We will look at a few of these in the weeks to come.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at ravsarle@verizon.net). END – whs