OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
I was using ‘solipsism’ in a general way, rather than as a philosophically defined category. But it’s interesting that we come to the point where you say that you don’t buy God as a separate and distinct force (that) intervenes (in some instances and not in others).
It’s a watershed that distinguishes you and John on one side from myself. But it’s also a watershed that distinguishes entire systems of how reality is perceived, and the nature of reality itself.
Theologically, someone like Don Cupitt has popularised, in a very limited way, because of his limited audience, a postmodern worldview in which biblical texts are explored as wordgames, God being spread across the words themselves, rather than being perceived as having any separate and independent existence.
It’s a worldview which is very contradictory to the repeated biblical emphasis from the creation accounts onwards that ‘God said’, as someone who is outside the system in which we live, but who can also creatively enact as well as come into and operate within that system, and indeed did so climactically in Jesus.
From this point of view, the possibility of accurately perceiving the world around us, ‘reality’ if you like, depends not on science, nor on ourselves, but on God as the source of that reality. The possibility of knowing how things really are depends on His existence as the ultimate fact in the universe. That’s not to say that empirical observation and reason do not offer ‘true’ perceptions of reality, but they are only partial. In the end, we cannot see things as they really are apart from God (according to this worldview). All things cohere insofar as they are related to Him.
In a similar way, we have no true independent existence apart from God. The ‘self’ which perceives reality only finds its true identity in relation to God. Conversely, the ‘self’ loses its true identity if it separates itself (or tries to) from God. The biblical narrative describes how we, as a race, lost our significance, security and acceptance, the basis of identity, in God. It describes all the things and ways in which we sought that identity apart from God, and the disastrous consequences. It describes how Jesus came to restore us to that true identity, and to enable us to become truly human, as God had intended it to be.
This is, of course, a worldview. From my perspective, it is the only worldview which makes sense, and does not lead into atomised fragmentation, or open up massive philosophical fissures, which even people like Richard Dawkins are unable to contemplate, let alone provide credible explanations for.