Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Luther: Grace is justified by Faith alone

By Hanno

I'm reading my friend Dr. Gimbel's book on Einstein's Jewish Science, and in discussing Martin Luther's view of Christianity  he quotes the following from Luther:
Therefore it is clear that, as the soul needs only the word of God for its life and Righteousness, so it is justified by faith alone and not any works; for if it could be justified by anything else, it would not need the Word, and consequently, it would not need faith.
Gimbel takes that to mean, as is usual, that for Luther, Faith is sufficient for God's Grace.  It is clear Luther means to entail that no works justify Grace.  God's Grace, ("Life and Righteousness") do not come from anything you do, but from faith.  But there is an argument presented here, and I'm not sure it does what Luther wants it to do.

First, lets take a look at the conclusion of the argument:  The soul needs only the word of God for its life and righteousness.  Let me use '->' to symbolize the material conditional. 'Only' reverses the order of the conditional, so as written, the claim is:  R -> W, meaning that the word is a necessary condition for salvation, righteousness, Grace.  If the soul only needs  the word for salvation, the Word is a necessary condition.  If you have life and righteousness, then you must have the Word, since it is only through the Word that you can have life and Righteousness.

It follows, according to Luther, that the soul is justified by faith alone, and not any works.  He gives an argument.  If it could be justified by anything else, it would not need the Word.  This is straightforward:  A -> ~W.  And if it does not need the Word, it does not need Faith:  ~W -> ~F.  But it needs faith.  F.  Therefore, it does not need anything else.  ~A.

So then we have the following premises:

A -> ~W
~W -> ~F

It certainly follows from that second argument


by Modus Tollens, and


By Modus Tollens as well.  If you need Faith, nothing else is sufficient on its own.  So you need the Word, and nothing else.
What does not follow is that Faith or the Word is sufficient for Grace.  It only follows that nothing else is sufficient.  For the Word to be sufficient, he would need

W -> R

to be entailed by the premises, but it is not.  He has defended that Faith is necessary for Grace, but not that it is sufficient.  Why couldn't it be that you have Faith, but still are not give Grace?  Yet that is the conclusion he wants to draw:  it is justified by faith alone.  This simply does not follow from any premise given.  "As the soul needs only the word of God for its life and Righteousness"  does not entail "it is justified by faith alone and not any works."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mr. Swartz on Xeroxing

by Hanno

I am not sure what I think about the total access to information.  Money somewhere must be made to pay for the resources and the people creating works.  But at the same time, free access to information is good for society, and the people who make many of the products are not the ones who make the money off of it, nor does making a living justify rules that make zillions, or use their power to control the material.

Be that as it may, I have argued for years that calling electronic copying of copyrighted material 'piracy' is absurd and dangerous.  No one is killed.  No one is ransomed.  No property is destroyed.  Law and order is not in jeopardy.  Hackers pick up the name with pride, thinking they are like some modern day Errol Flynn (Look it up, loser) because they copy a file.  But it is a political as well as absurd mistake:  It makes it sound much worse than it is.

A few days ago, a person who pushes the edge of free information to the extreme, killed himself.  I do not believe his legal troubles were the principle cause (many people have far worse legal problems and do not kill themselves) but clearly a contributing factor.  Arron Swartz made copies of academic articles, something the authors of which do not get paid anyway.  Authors such as myself write them because we think we have an idea that is worth reading, not to make money, and because our job security is tied to the publication, not the funds that result.  We were not hurt in anyway by the release of the articles.  But Jstor, a library resource, arguably was.

In any case, here is what he said a while back:

Mr. Swartz outlined his views in the manifesto: “It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.”

Amen. As I have long argued, it should be called 'Xeroxing' not pirating.