Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Is Oprah the False Prophet, Or...

...Is She an Excellent Archetype of the False Prophet?

(One must keep in mind that Oprah toured with a man that will have an enormous impact on the world if he becomes President... here I am speaking of Obama.) A reader sent this video to me, and it is a great compilation of actual footage with Oprah being the largest watched progenitor of New Age beliefs the world has seen. she brings in many new age thinkers who otherwise wouldn’t have the audience that she offers them. Her rhetoric is very easily refuted, but knowing and having a coherent worldview is just the beginning of one’s journey to refuting such nonsense... watch the video first and then I will post a portion from my writings that will explain with examples from more learned men than I:

A great example of this “foundational error” can be found in the wonderful book Philosophy for Dummies that fully express the crux of Dr. Adler’s point:

Statement: There is no such thing as absolute truth.[47]

By applying the law of non-contradiction to this statement, one will be able to tell if this statement is coherent enough to even consider thinking about. Are you ready? The first question should be, “is this an absolute statement?” Is the statement making an ultimate, absolute claim about truth? If so, it is actually asserting what it is trying to deny, and so is self-deleting – more simply, it is logically incoherent as a comprehensible position[48] as it is in violation of the law of non-contradiction.

Many will try to reject logic in order to accept mutually contradictory beliefs; often times religious pluralism[49] is the topic with which many try to suppress these universal laws in separating religious claims that are mutually exclusive. Professor Roy Clouser puts into perspective persons that try to minimize differences by throwing logical rules to the wayside:

The program of rejecting logic in order to accept mutually contradictory beliefs is not, however, just a harmless, whimsical hope that somehow logically incompatible beliefs can both be true…it results in nothing less than the destruction of any and every concept we could possess. Even the concept of rejecting the law of non-contradiction depends on assuming and using that law, since without it the concept of rejecting it could neither be thought nor stated.[50]

Dr. Clouser then goes on to show how a position of psychologist Erich Fromm is “self-assumptively incoherent.”[51] What professor Clouser is saying is that this is not a game. Alister McGrath responds to the religious pluralism of theologian John Hick by showing just how self-defeating this position is:

The belief that all religions are ultimately expressions of the same transcendent reality is at best illusory and at worst oppressive – illusory because it lacks any substantiating basis and oppressive because it involves the systematic imposition of the agenda of those in positions of intellectual power on the religions and those who adhere to them. The illiberal imposition of this pluralistic metanarrative[52] on religions is ultimately a claim to mastery – both in the sense of having a Nietzschean authority and power to mold material according to one’s will, and in the sense of being able to relativize all the religions by having access to a privileged standpoint.[53]

In other words, John Hicks is applying an absolute religious claim while at the same time saying there is no absolute religious claims to religious reality. It is self-assumptively incoherent. Another example comes from the belief that that all morality can be explained in naturalistic, cultural terms. Anthropologist William Sumner argues that “every attempt to win an outside standpoint from which to reduce the whole to an absolute philosophy of truth and right, based on an unalterable principle, is delusion.”[54] Authors Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl respond to this self-defeating claim by pointing out that:

Sumner is making a strong claim here about knowledge. He says that all claims to know objective moral truth are false because we are all imprisoned in our own cultural and are incapable of seeing beyond the limits of our own biases. He concludes, therefore, that moral truth is relative to culture and that no objective standard exists. Sumner’s analysis falls victim to the same error committed by religious pluralists who see all religions as equally valid.[55]

The authors continue:

Sumner’s view, however, is self-refuting. In order for him to conclude that all moral claims are an illusion, he must first escape the illusion himself. He must have a full and accurate view of the entire picture…. Such a privileged view is precisely what Sumner denies. Objective assessments are illusions, he claims, but then he offers his own “objective” assessment. It is as if he were saying, “We’re all blind,” and then adds, “but I’ll tell you what the world really looks like.” This is clearly contradictory.[56]

Philosopher Roger Scruton drives this point home when he says, “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely negative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.”[57] Professor J. P. Moreland adds to the above by pointing out that self-refuting claims collapse under their own weight:

When a statement fails to satisfy itself (i.e., to conform to its own criteria of validity or acceptability), it is self-refuting…. Consider some examples. “I cannot say a word in English” is self-refuting when uttered in English. “I do not exist” is self-refuting, for one must exist to utter it. The claim “there are no truths” is self-refuting. If it is false, then it is false. But is it is true, then it is false as well, for in that case there would be no truths, including the statement itself.[58]

You see, the believer doesn’t need in this case to quote a Scripture or insert something into another’s belief. All the believer has to do is show how a person’s idea or belief or statement destructs under it own weight. This idea will come up again, but this is a good introduction to what a worldview is and some of the principles that every worldview must first assume, that is, first principles.

One last example of a self-refuting/incoherent worldview comes from A Handbook for Christian Philosophy, by L. Russ Bush. After giving a basic definition of what a worldview is,[59] Dr. Bush goes on to explain how differing worldviews can view reality and then he applies some first principles to the matter:

… most people assume that something exists. There may be someone, perhaps, who believes that nothing exists, but who would that person be? How could he or she make such an affirmation? Sometimes in studying the history of philosophy, one may come to the conclusion that some of the viewpoints expressed actually lead to that conclusion, but no one ever consciously tries to defend the position that nothing exists. It would be a useless endeavor since there would be no one to convince. Even more significantly, it would be impossible to defend that position since, if it were true, there would be no one to make the defense. So to defend the position that nothing exists seems immediately to be absurd and self-contradictory.[60]

Take note that Dr. Bush didn’t pit Christian theism against pantheistic Hinduism, it wasn’t East vs. West, he merely enlightened the reader to the self-refuting nature within pantheism itself… it was East vs. the laws of logic. While this chapter was not expressly a chapter to refute any particular philosophical or religious position, the adept reader will find – for sure – some great offensive explanatory power herein.


[47] Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (Foster City, CA: IDG Books; 1999), p. 46

[48] Ibid.

[49] Religious Pluralism – “the belief that every religion is true. Each religion provides a genuine encounter with the Ultimate.” Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 598.

[50] Roy A. Clouser, The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame Press, 2005), 178.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Metanarratives or Grand Narratives – “big stories, stories of mythic proportions – that claim to be able to account for, explain and subordinate all lesser, little, local, narratives.” Jim Powell, Postmodernism for Beginners (New York, NY: Writers and Readers, 1998), 29.

[53] Alister E. McGrath, Passion for Truth: the Intellectual Coherence of Evangelicalism (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996), 239.

[54] William Graham Sumner, Folkways (Chicago, IL: Ginn and Company, 1906), in Relativism: Feet Planted firmly in Mid-Air, Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998), 46-47.

[55] Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted Firmly in Mid-Air (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998), 47.

[56] Ibid., 48

[57] Modern Philosophy (New York, NY: Penguin, 1996), 6. Found in, Does God Believe in Atheists? by John Blanchard (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2000), 172.

[58] J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1987), p. 92.

[59] “A worldview is that basic set of assumptions that gives meaning to one’s thoughts. A worldview is the set of assumptions that someone has about the way things are, about what things are, about why things are.” L. Russ Bush, A Handbook for Christian Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 70.

[60] Ibid.