This post concerns a debate in the field of philosophy of religion. It is not a post about universities. This article offers a useful outline and discussion of the debate. This entry in the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is also useful, as is this one.
The nature of religious language and the processes of verification and falsification are important not only for Christians, but for society at large. In the culture wars, we find ourselves confronted with assertions needing to be clarified, classified, and tested. When the socialist cries, “The state should do X”, we can question not only the particular policy being advance but also the question of whether the state should do anything at all.
The analogies between Marxism and Christianity (which preceded it) invite the impartial inquirer to consider Marxism a distorted version of Christianity (see discussion in the Cold War spy novel series, “Game, Set, and Match“). The proletariat occupies the same position as those “blessed of My Father” in Matthew 25, the “poor” so ubiquitously described as oppressed by the world in the Bible (but see discussion of this as a spiritual term by Gavin Ashenden here). The Party occupies the position of the Saints/Church with the utopian result as the Millennium or new heavens and new earth.
The religious nature of Marxism should prompt the thoughtful theologian or philosopher to consider whether its claims should face the same rigorous analysis as the propositions of Christianity. Where Christians have been accused of holding doggedly onto beliefs in spite of contrary evidence, so Marxists have been. It is in fact an internet meme.
So, when we find ourselves engaged in serious apologetic work on behalf of the Gospel, confronted by advocates of the various -isms the god of this age has employed to keep man from Christ, we must consider a few questions.
- What sort of proposition has the opponent advanced: analytic or synthetic?
- What assumptions has the opponent made?
- What reasoning or experiential evidence is the opponent providing, if any, to support the proposition?
- Is the opponent actually responsive to falsification of his proposition?
If the opponent is not responsive, you should discontinue the conversation. Similarly, you should not continue if the root proposition is actually contradictory or otherwise irrational. Until that question is answered, no valid progress can be made from that point on (though prior conceptual matters could be dealt with).