Steve Finley (Finley@TTDCE1.COED.TTU.EDU)
Thu, 8 Aug 1996 09:17:49 +0000

>From C.J. Ostrowski:

"I don't see a problem with discussing the omniscient viewpoint in literature
in the face of questions or denial of the existence of some "real"
god's-eye view because the omniscient literary viewpoint is a human
construction (which also applies to the "real" god's-eye view, to many of

OK, I'll identify myself as a firm believer in God (sort of in the
nebulous area between mainline Protestant and Catholic), but lots of
people in the same category think I'm a heathen because I agree with
statements like yours. It seems nearly incontrovertible to me that the
omniscient literary viewpoint is a human construction. I think
believers in God have to be careful to distinguish between IDEAS
about God and God him/herself. Much of the discussion about the
existence of God, etc., seems to revolve loosely around the idea that
if a thing exists or can be stated or believed, it must be true and/or
"must have come from somewhere"--like the idea of the omniscient
POV. It's true that this POV may have come from some image of how
people might have thought God thinks and sees things, but that's the
point--it's our idea, a representation of our thoughts about God. People
get all bent out of shape over discussions of God's existence, as if
the outcome of the discussion were really about the existence itself
rather than about their belief in it.

Of course, the converse of this belief-makes-it-true thing is no more
sensible--the idea that if I DON'T believe in a thing, it DOESN'T
exist. You see people struggle with believing or not believing in God
change the question from "Will I believe?" into "If I don't believe,
that means I'm saying God doesn't exist" and finally into "If I don't
believe, then God doesn't exist." But the fact is, if God isn't the
human construction that many people say he/she is, then what people
think about his/her existence doesn't matter at all, any more than my
not believing Africa exists because I've never been there means I've
caused a continent to disappear.

Anyhow, none of this thread of discussion really means that revealed
truth cannot be true, only that the academy requires a different mode
of operation that doesn't depend on it. For the reasons mentioned
above, I don't take the least offense when someone says he believes
there's no God (if there is, what does this belief do?) or that, in
an academic context, it's not convincing to say "because the Bible
says so" (of course you do!), whether directly or by implication.

BTW, I'm not attacking Darlene S. here, because I've liked almost all
of what she's had to say--strikes me as anything but an
anti-intellectual Bible-thumper.

Now, the offering, and then the invitation to join.

s. finley