10/17/2009

Flew’s Gardner and The Gardner

Two of my favorite modern parables are printed below. The first is one of my favorites not because I agree with its conclusions, but because I admire the way its point is made. From Anthony Flew:



Let us begin with a parable. It is a parable developed from a tale told by John Wisdom in his haunting and revolutionary article "Gods." Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, "Some gardener must tend this plot." The other disagrees, "There is no gardener." So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. "But perhaps he is an invisible gardener." So they set up a barbed-wire fence. They electrify it. They patrol with bloodhounds. (For they remember how H. G. Well's The Invisible Man could be both smelt and touched though he could not be seen.) But no shrieks ever suggest that some intruder has received a shock. No movements of the wire ever betray an invisible climber. The bloodhounds never give cry. Yet still the Believer is not convinced. "But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible, to electric shocks, a gardener who has no scent and makes no sound, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the garden which he loves." At last the Skeptic despairs, "But what remains of your original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?" (Antony Flew, "Theology and Falsification," University, 1950-51; from Joel Feinberg, ed., Reason and Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy, Belmont, CA: Dickenson Publishing Company, Inc., 1968, pp. 48-49. )




I wonder what Flew thinks of his own parable now that he has converted to theism.


My second favorite is an answer to Flew’s parable. John Frame:


Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. A man was there, pulling weeds, applying fertilizer, trimming branches. The man turned to the explorers and introduced himself as the royal gardener. One explorer shook his hand and exchanged pleasantries. The other ignored the gardener and turned away: "There can be no gardener in this part of the jungle," he said; "this must be some trick." They pitch camp. Every day the gardener arrives, tends the plot. Soon the plot is bursting with perfectly arranged blooms. "He's only doing it because we're here - to fool us into thinking this is a royal garden." The gardener takes them to a royal palace, introduces the explorers to a score of officials who verify the gardener's status. Then the skeptic tries a last resort: "Our senses are deceiving us. There is no gardener, no blooms, no palace, no officials. It's still a hoax!" Finally the believer despairs: "But what remains of your original assertion? Just how does this mirage, as you call it, differ from a real gardener?"  (John M. Frame, "God and Biblical Language," God's Inerrant Word, ed. J. W. Montgomery (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1974), p. 171.)



I side with Frame. God’s existence is ‘as plain as the nose on your face.’ It’s obvious. You must suppress or purposefully ignore overwhelming evidence in order to deny God’s existence.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Frame's parable makes no sense and fails.

The 2nd explorer is not characterized with any consistency.

It goes from not seeing any person there.

"There can be no gardener in this part of the jungle,"

To suddenly an admission that there is another person present and that person is trying to trick him.

"He's only doing it because we're here - to fool us into thinking this is a royal garden."

Ending with the explorer babbling that all of existence is made up.

"Our senses are deceiving us. There is no gardener, no blooms, no palace, no officials. It's still a hoax!"

Lets not forget the good part.

Since the explorer stopped believing in the world around him, he died of dehydration while the gardener, more interested in his plants, lifted not one finger to help him. When the last bit of life left the dessicated explorers body the gardener finally swooped in to seize the explorers spirit and torture it for rest of existence. While the theistic explorer watched with satisfaction.

I understand why you like the 2nd parable so much.

J. K. Jones said...

As is typical of anonymous comments on this blog, you make no intellectual sense and assumes base motives where there are none.

Anonymous said...

"As is typical of my comments on this blog, I make no intellectual sense and assume base motives where there are none."

Fixed that for you.

Andrew said...

Anonymous, do you hate forgiveness because it is an obvious breaking of the deterministic universes' progression back to the singularity it came from?

J. K. Jones said...

Andrew,

No, I think he just hates me because the arguments I give overcome his objections, not that I am all that smart or all that original.

He also likes to chime in to argue with other's positive arguments. He gets to hide behind his anonymity and take cheap shots. I don't respect
that.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, do you hate forgiveness...."

That would be silly. Kind of like hating Santa Claus.

"No, I think he just hates me..."

This is just projection on your part. Just because you hate yourself doesn't mean that other people hate you. Seek help.

"I give overcome his objections, not that I am all that smart or all that original."

To overcome an objection you must do more than to reassert your original point.

"He gets to hide behind his anonymity and take cheap shots. I don't respect"

If you cant attack the argument, attempt to attack the character of the person you are arguing with. This will ALWAYS persuade the other party and win converts among other readers. This is a very mature and time honored christian tactic.

Are you incapable of turning off anonymous comments?

Anonymous said...

Additionally, you agreed with me about anonymous comments before. Changing your position to further bemoan the imagined unfairness and to attack my character only illustrates the utter lack of sensible arguments on your part.

El Sid said...

"assumes base motives where there are none."

Well actually Anon is pretty spot on. If you can't consistently write a character you might as well have them turn into a rocket that flies off to the moon. It makes as much sense for the explorer to not see a gardener and then suddenly admit there is one and now its trying to trick him.

The gardeners lack of concern for the dying dehydrated explorer is very similar to what we see going on in the world every day. The after effects is exactly what you believe, eternal torture for not believing as you do.

That part about the theistic explorer watching the torture with satisfaction is taken right out of a passage in the bible.

J. K. Jones said...

El Sid,

You comment simply makes no sense whatsoever.

JK

El Sid said...

I'm sorry you don't understand. Have you considered seeking medical help from a physician?

J. K. Jones said...

No. Have you?

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