Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Power of Grace

This is pretty similar to my divinity of love argument, so I won't spend too much time talking about the Power of Grace.  But I do think it's worthwhile to extend this idea that some emotions and experiences just don't make a whole lot of sense without a supernatural.  They do not have objective value outside of a supernatural framework, but more than that, they don't even have a satisfactory explanation outside of the supernatural.

I think the Power of Grace is one of these things.  Anyone who has ever been extended true grace, or has seen someone else extended true grace, has seen the powerful effect if can have.  It can turn bitter enemies into fast friends literally overnight.  It can absolutely free someone from prejudice, from hate, from emotional damage that has haunted them for years.  It creates an instantaneous bond that supersedes all kinds of other biases and predispositions (including legitimate ones).

I don't think I'm claiming anything extraordinary here.  I'm not sure how much time I should spend trying to convince you of the power of grace, because I'm not sure how many people actually doubt how powerful grace is (one of the curses of growing up Christian, I fear, is that I don't know what vocabulary non-Christians use for these things, and to what extent they're accepted as givens).  At the very least, we have all seen those movies where the hero extends grace to the villain, and the villain is profoundly changed by it.

The question, then, becomes whether or not this makes sense outside of a supernatural explanation.  I tend to say no.  I don't see a conceivable evolutionary reason for grace to be so powerful.  And I don't think it stops here- we can say the same for honor, duty, humor, hope, meaning, purpose, and probably some more experiences I can't think of right now.  Can these be explained by evolutionary psychology?  I don't know.  Maybe.  I have a really hard time claiming that anything is unexplainable by evolutionary psychology, including emotional experiences that we don't observe in reality.  And if I'm going to hold it to the same standard that I'm holding religion, that means evolutionary psychology isn't actually making any claims at all.  This is one of my principal complaints against Christianity- it can be warped to explain any fact, therefore it makes no predictions and is totally unfalsifiable.  So as much as I'm nervous about claiming that something "can't be explained" by evolution, I think I'm even more nervous with claiming that anything can be explained by evolution.

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