11 August 2015

Argumento de fondo sobre la existencia de Dios

Introducción

Este argumento se originó a partir de dos eventos de entendimiento de mi parte.

El primer evento ocurrió en septiembre de 2014, cuando entendí que la principal de las cinco vías por las que S. Tomás de Aquino demuestra la existencia de Dios, el argumento de contingencia, presupone que la realidad es racionalmente explicable hasta su última instancia, presuposición que en metafísica tiene un nombre: "Principle of Sufficient Reason" (PSR). Ese entendimiento fue explícitamente confirmado al poco tiempo por el filósofo tomista Edward Feser, en un artículo que publicó en su blog el 2 de noviembre de 2014:

"Now if PSR is false, then the principle of causality is threatened as well, since if things are ultimately unintelligible, there is no reason to think that a potency might not be actualized even though there is nothing actual to actualize it and thus that something contingent, like the universe, might just be without any cause at all.  But then it would not be possible to argue from the world to God as cause of the world."

El segundo evento ocurrió en agosto de 2015, cuando entendí que el PSR equivale al teísmo o lo presupone. Esto lo presenté como "thesis 1" en el artículo “Thesis 1: holding the PSR is equivalent to, or presupposes, holding theism”.

Por lo tanto las cinco vías no demuestran realmente la existencia de Dios, porque presuponen lo que quieren demostrar. (En realidad, dado que parten de la presuposición de un teísmo difuso, demuestran estrictamente que, si la realidad es racionalmente explicable hasta su última instancia, esa última instancia es el Dios inmutable del teísmo clásico que creó el universo de la nada, y no la divinidad del panenteísmo, de cuya sustancia habría emanado el universo, o por lo menos las almas.)

Hechos comprobados y disyuntiva

En definitiva, ante los siguientes hechos (facts) comprobados:

F1: el universo existe y, como un todo, es una entidad contingente: podría ser distinto, podría no existir. Más aún:

F2: el universo comenzó a existir hace 13.800 millones de años, y no hay una teoría científica sólida que ofrezca una causa física de ese comienzo. Hay solamente conjeturas no verificables como el multiverso. (Por otro lado, un universo cíclico que se expande hasta un máximo, luego se contrae hasta un mínimo, y así sucesivamente, es una alternativa positivamente invalidada por las observaciones acumuladas desde 1998 que demuestran concluyentemente que la expansión del universo se está acelerando y por lo tanto va a continuar indefinidamente.)

F3: el universo funciona causalmente y de acuerdo a leyes expresables matemáticamente.

F4: las constantes físicas del universo exhiben una sintonía fina que lo hace adecuado para el desarrollo de organismos vivientes complejos.

F5: la mente humana razona en base a causalidad y es capaz de crear sistemas formales matemáticos, incluyendo obviamente los que expresan las leyes que describen el funcionamiento del universo.

cada ser humano puede adoptar una de dos posiciones posibles, la primera de las cuales explica racionalmente los hechos y la otra simplemente los acepta como "brute facts":

Posición SR (Spiritual-Rational)

Existe en última instancia una Realidad Subsistente que es Espíritu y Razón (Logos), que creó el universo (explica F1 y F2) conforme a esa Razón (explica F3) con el fin de albergar el desarrollo de criaturas racionales (explica F4), cuya razón es creada a imagen de la Razón increada (explica F5).

Posición ME (Materialist-Evolutionist)

F1 ... F3: “brute fact”, “that’s just the way it is”. “Es así”, y esperar o demandar que tenga explicación es una presuposición a priori totalmente injustificada. (Ver las posiciones de David Hume, Bertrand Russell y Sean Carroll en el artículo anterior.)

F4: la sintonía fina puede deberse a que hay muchísimos universos, en cuyo caso es obvio que solamente en aquellos universos con parámetros aptos para el desarrollo de la vida puede desarrollarse la vida. O tal vez no haya muchos universos, y simplemente, al igual que con F1 ... F3, “that’s just the way it is.”

F5: la capacidad de la mente humana fue resultado de la evolución: el cerebro alcanzó una complejidad suficiente para permitir el pensamiento abstracto, sin que intervenga ningun alma espiritual. En cuanto a la causalidad, el mono que pensó que la rama se movió sin causa fue comido por un león.

Comparación de las posiciones

Las posiciones son totalmente opuestas en dos aspectos: explicación y sentido, tanto del universo como, mucho más importante, de la vida humana.

En la posición SR el universo tiene explicación y la vida humana tiene sentido, perdurando luego de la muerte.

En la posición ME el universo no tiene explicación y la vida humana no tiene sentido, terminando en la muerte. Ni siquiera tiene sentido la humanidad en su conjunto, porque es bien sabido que a lo sumo en 2.000 millones de años el sol habrá calcinado la tierra.

Conclusión

Expresaré la conclusión citando dos discursos de Benedicto XVI, no como argumento de autoridad sino porque hago míos esos párrafos. En primer lugar resumo la situación citando de:

http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/es/speeches/2006/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060406_xxi-wyd.html

Por último, para llegar a la cuestión definitiva, yo diría:  Dios o existe o no existe. Hay sólo dos opciones. O se reconoce la prioridad de la razón, de la Razón creadora que está en el origen de todo y es el principio de todo -la prioridad de la razón es también prioridad de la libertad- o se sostiene la prioridad de lo irracional, por lo cual todo lo que funciona en nuestra tierra y en nuestra vida sería sólo ocasional, marginal, un producto irracional; la razón sería un producto de la irracionalidad. En definitiva, no se puede "probar" uno u otro proyecto, pero la gran opción del cristianismo es la opción por la racionalidad y por la prioridad de la razón. Esta opción me parece la mejor, pues nos demuestra que detrás de todo hay una gran Inteligencia, de la que nos podemos fiar.

Pero a mí me parece que el verdadero problema actual contra la fe es el mal en el mundo:  nos preguntamos cómo es compatible el mal con esta racionalidad del Creador. Y aquí realmente necesitamos al Dios que se encarnó y que nos muestra que él no sólo es una razón matemática, sino que esta razón originaria es también Amor. Si analizamos las grandes opciones, la opción cristiana es también hoy la más racional y la más humana. Por eso, podemos elaborar con confianza una filosofía, una visión del mundo basada en esta prioridad de la razón, en esta confianza en que la Razón creadora es Amor, y que este amor es Dios.

Luego amplío la descripción de la opción por la racionalidad citando de:

http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/es/speeches/2007/july/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20070724_clero-cadore.html

Pero la doctrina de la evolución no responde a todos los interrogantes y sobre todo no responde al gran interrogante filosófico: ¿de dónde viene todo esto y cómo todo toma un camino que desemboca finalmente en el hombre? Eso me parece muy importante. En mi lección de Ratisbona quise decir también que la razón debe abrirse más: ciertamente debe ver esos datos, pero también debe ver que no bastan para explicar toda la realidad. Nuestra razón ve más ampliamente. En el fondo no es algo irracional, un producto de la irracionalidad; hay una razón anterior a todo, la Razón creadora, y en realidad nosotros somos un reflejo de la Razón creadora. Somos pensados y queridos; por tanto, hay una idea que nos precede, un sentido que nos precede y que debemos descubrir y seguir, y que en definitiva da significado a nuestra vida.

Así pues, el primer punto es: descubrir que realmente nuestro ser es razonable, ha sido pensado, tiene un sentido; y nuestra gran misión es descubrir ese sentido, vivirlo y dar así un nuevo elemento a la gran armonía cósmica pensada por el Creador. Si es así, entonces los elementos de dificultad se transforman en momentos de madurez, de proceso y de progreso de nuestro ser, que tiene sentido desde su concepción hasta su último momento de vida.

Material adicional sobre la opción por la Razón creadora

Blanco Sarto, P. (2006). "Logos. Joseph Ratzinger y la historia de una palabra". Límite. Revista de Filosofía y Psicología, 1 (14), 57-86

http://dadun.unav.edu/handle/10171/36503

http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=83601403

Benedicto XVI (2006). Discurso en la Universidad de Ratisbona (Regensburg)

http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/es/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg.html

05 August 2015

Thesis 1: holding the PSR is equivalent to, or presupposes, holding theism

It is well established that holding the PSR is a requirement for the classical arguments for the existence of God [1]. I hereby propose the thesis that holding the PSR is equivalent to, or presupposes, holding theism. Not necessarily full-fledged classical theism, but at least a basic, less clear-cut version thereof.

Thesis 1: holding the principle of sufficient reason (PSR), which states that “there is a sufficient reason or adequate necessary objective explanation for the being of whatever is and for all attributes of any being” [2], or alternatively that "for every fact F, there must be an explanation why F is the case" [3], either is equivalent to holding the following two notions, or presupposes holding them:

R1. Subsistent, Ultimate Reality is logos, i.e. reason. [4]

R2. Human reason is created in the image of the uncreated Logos.

Of course, the two notions above are held in conjunction with this:

R3. Created reality was created according to reason. [5]

which is clearly consistent with the observable fact that the universe works causally according to mathematically expressible laws.

A panentheist can hold these notions by replacing "created" with "created/emanated" in R2 and R3. I mention this possibility to allow for panentheism as alternative "bootstrap" position or entry point, which could then, by reasoning on the PSR, be corrected into classical theism. Which makes sense considering the numbers of Taoists, Mahayana Buddhists, Hinduists and Sikhs.

Noting that Prof. Feser stated that "to see the world as intelligible or rational through and through is implicitly to be a (classical) theist" [6], the basis for a possible demonstration of Thesis 1 is: why else should we assume that reality is ultimately rational? This can be perceived more clearly if we examine the alternative interpretation of observed facts that a materialistic evolutionist could propose instead of that based on the PSR, either in its traditional form or in the form of the Rx above (which is equivalent to the traditional form if this thesis is correct):

M1. Brute fact: the universe exists and works causally according to laws expressed mathematically.

M2. The rationality of our mind, i.e. the agreement between the way it works and the way the universe works, was selected by evolution. Because, on seeing the branches of a bush moving in windless weather:
- the walking-talking apes who thought the movement had a cause got ready to fight or flee, survived, and passed on their genes.
- the walking-talking apes who thought the movement did not have a cause did nothing, and were killed by a rival tribe or an animal.

M3. At some point, some of the walking-talking apes that were so evolutionary successful because, among other things, the way their mind worked conformed to the way the universe worked, got the big picture the other way round, and thought that it was the way the universe worked which conformed to the way their mind worked. That would have had no practical consequence, but some of them went even further, and claimed that their mind was able to explain reliably not only the way the universe worked, but even why there was a universe! And the apes called that statement the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and they rejoyced greatly.

"Hey, walking-talking ape, who do you think you are?"

---

This thesis originated from my realization on Sep. 2014 that the modal cosmological argument, or argument from contingency, is just the principle of efficient causality (PC), and that the PC in turn is based on just the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the latter statement being confirmed by Prof. Feser on Nov. 02, 2014 [1]. Thus, the teaching in First Vatican Council's Constitution "Dei Filius" "that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural light of human reason "for his invisible attributes, ever since the creation of the world, have been clearly perceived, being understood through the things that have been made."" (ch. 2 "On Revelation", which in turn quotes (Rom 1:20)) presupposes the implicit condition "if the person in question assumes that reality is ultimately intelligible/explainable by human reason".

Now, whereas philosophy is about the rational explanation of reality, the assumption that reality is ultimately rationally explainable is meta-philosophical, i.e. holding the PSR is a meta-philosophical choice. Thus, the issue of theism vs atheism is not really philosophical but meta-philosophical, as the latter position is based on the assumption that reality is not ultimately rationally intelligible/explainable. Which is exactly David Hume's position as summarized by Texas A&M University Prof. of Philosophy Stephen H. Daniel [7]:

"The argument assumes that the world's existence can be explained rationally by appeal to God as its cause; but why should we think that the world's existence is rationally explainable?"

Or Bertrand Russell's position in his famous debate with Fr. F. C. Copleston [8]:

"R: The whole concept of cause is one we derive from our observation of particular things; I see no reason whatsoever to suppose that the total has any cause whatsoever.

R: what I'm saying is that the concept of cause is not applicable to the total.

R: I should say that the universe is just there, and that's all.

R: for my part, I do think the notion of the world having an explanation is a mistake. I don't see why one should expect it to have,

C: But your general point then, Lord Russell, is that it's illegitimate even to ask the question of the cause of the world?

R: Yes, that's my position."

Or Prof. Sean Carroll's position, as stated in 2007 [9]:

"There is a chain of explanations concerning things that happen in the universe, which ultimately reaches to the fundamental laws of nature and stops. ... There is a strong temptation to approach the universe with a demand that it make sense of itself and of our lives, rather than simply accepting it for what it is."

and again in 2012 [10]:

"It’s okay to admit that a chain of explanations might end somewhere, and that somewhere might be with the universe and the laws it obeys, and the only further explanation might be “that’s just the way it is.” ... I could be wrong about that, but an insistence that “the universe must explain itself” or some such thing seems like a completely unsupportable a priori assumption."


References

[1] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/11/voluntarism-and-psr.html

"Now if PSR is false, then the principle of causality is threatened as well, since if things are ultimately unintelligible, there is no reason to think that a potency might not be actualized even though there is nothing actual to actualize it and thus that something contingent, like the universe, might just be without any cause at all.  But then it would not be possible to argue from the world to God as cause of the world."

[2] Bernard Wuellner, Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy, p. 15.

[3] Melamed, Yitzhak and Lin, Martin, "Principle of Sufficient Reason", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =
http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2015/entries/sufficient-reason/

[4] In "Subsistent, Ultimate Reality is logos", "logos" is meant as divine attribute common to the three divine Persons, not the Logos as divine Person, the Son. Just as in "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8,16), "love" is meant as divine attribute common to the three divine Persons, not Love as divine Person, the Holy Spirit.

[5] In line with "All things came into being through Him" (Jn 1:3) and "in Him all things were created" (Col 1:16), where "Him" is the Logos as divine Person, the Son.

[6] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/10/could-theist-deny-psr.html

[7] Test Questions for Phil 251: Intro. to Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, option 101.B
(where options 99 and 101 should say "cosmological", not "teleological", argument).
http://philosophy.tamu.edu/~sdaniel/quesrel.html

[8] http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/cosmological_radio.htm

[9] http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2007/11/25/turtles-much-of-the-way-down/

[10] http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2012/04/28/a-universe-from-nothing/


Argument from contingency is Principle of Causality and requires PSR and just PSR

In http://www.thesumma.info/one/one29.php , Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (GL) writes about the principle of causality, or more precisely the principle of efficient causality:

As a matter of fact, this principle is commonly formulated not only in the phenomenal but also in the ontological order, and not only does it state that "every phenomenon supposes an antecedent phenomenon," but it also says: "Everything that comes into being has a cause"; or rather, to express it more universally, every contingent being is efficiently caused by another. Even if de facto this contingent being eternally existed, it would still need a productive and conservative cause, because a contingent being is not its own reason for existence.

Comparing it with the modal cosmological argument, or argument from contingency, as stated by Prof. Edward Feser in:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html

What defenders of the cosmological argument do say is that what comes into existence has a cause, or that what is contingent has a cause.

it is clear that the modal cosmological argument as stated by Prof. Feser is identical to the principle of efficient causality as stated by Fr GL. This is confirmed by another text from Fr GL at:

http://www.thesumma.info/reality/reality5.php

The principle of efficient causality also finds its formula as a function of being. Wrong is the formula: "Every phenomenon presupposes an antecedent phenomenon." The right formula runs thus: "Every contingent being, even if it exists without beginning, [137] needs an efficient cause and, in last analysis, an uncreated cause."


Back to the first link from Fr GL, he attempts to show that "one cannot deny the principle of causality without denying the principle of contradiction."

First he argues that "uncaused contingent being is repugnant to reason. In other words, nothing is what results from nothing, without a cause nothing comes into being." However, the second statement, while obviously true, does not prove the first, because an uncaused contingent being does not NEED to have "come into being", it could just have always existed. (To accommodate current science, that would be a hypothetical "metaverse" undergoing eternal inflation, in which "pocket universes" such as ours would pop up here and there.)  That would mean that such a being would be a brute fact and not explainable by reason, which is not the same as "repugnant to reason". In other words, that possibility would be against the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) but not against the principle of (non-)contradiction (PNC) as Fr GL argues.

Fr GL repeats his argument in the same paragraph:

Why is an uncaused contingent being repugnant to reason? It is because a contingent being is that which can either exist or not exist (this being its definition). Therefore it is not self-existent, and must be dependent upon another for this; otherwise, if it were neither self-existent nor dependent upon another for existence, it would have no reason for existing, and so would be the same as nothing. "Nothing is what results from nothing." To say that from nothing, or that from no cause either efficient or material, something comes into being, is a contradiction.

IMV, there are three non-sequiturs in this paragraph.

First, that a being "can either exist or not exist" means that it does not have in itself the reason for its existence. However, that does not imply that "it is not self-existent", but rather that "it is not self-existent IF reality is rationally explainable". Therefore, a contingent being can be either a self-existent brute fact, if reality is not rationally intelligible, or dependent upon another for its existence, if reality is rationally intelligible.

Second, Fr GL is right when he says that if a contingent being "were neither (rationally intelligibly, I add) self-existent nor dependent upon another for existence, it would have no reason for existing". However, that does not entail that such a contingent being "would be the same as nothing".  Because to "have no reason for existing", to be a brute fact, is not the same as to "be the same as nothing". Not being rationally explainable is not the same as not being.

Third, Fr GL is right when he says that: ""Nothing is what results from nothing." To say that from nothing, or that from no cause either efficient or material, something comes into being, is a contradiction." However, a contingent universe (or metaverse) could just have always existed without having ever come into being, so that its existence, while being a brute fact and as such against the PSR, would not imply a contradiction.

Summarizing, then, a contingent being is that which can either exist or not exist (by definition), so that, when referring to the universe (or metaverse), there are three posibilities:

a. it is dependent upon the Subsistent Being for its existence, (in which case both the PNC and the PSR hold),
b. it exists by itself, and has always existed, as a non-rationally intelligible brute fact, (in which case the PNC holds but the PSR does not),
c. it has come into being from nothing, as a brute fact repugnant to reason, (in which case neither the PNC nor the PSR holds).

From this, two conclusions:

First, as the modal cosmological argument, or argument from contingency, is just the principle of efficient causality, it is based on just the PSR [1] and does not require the aristotelical framework of act and potency. This is an important result, because otherwise St Paul's statement that "since the creation of the world God's invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made" (Rom 1:20) would need to be restated as "since Aristotle wrote his Metaphysics God's invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made".

Second, it seems that the teaching in First Vatican Council's Constitution Dei Filius "that God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason from created things;" as well as the above Pauline statement that Dei Filius quotes right next as basis for that teaching, presupposes the implicit condition "if the person in question assumes that reality is ultimately intelligible/explainable by human reason". [2]

Thus, the issue of theism vs atheism (agnosticism) would not be really philosophical but meta-philosophical, as the latter positions would be based on the assumption that reality as a whole is not (necessarily) rationally intelligible/explainable.

Which is exactly David Hume's position as summarized by Texas A&M University Prof. of Philosophy Stephen H. Daniel [3]:

"The argument assumes that the world's existence can be explained rationally by appeal to God as its cause; but why should we think that the world's existence is rationally explainable?"

And which is the basis of the "Thesis 1" that I propose on the next article.


References

[1] That PSR is sufficient for PC was confirmed by Prof. Edward Feser in an article he published in his blog on 2014 09 06:

a Scholastic might (as some Neo-Scholastic writers did) argue for PC on the basis of the principle of sufficient reason (PSR). 

[I]f PC were false — if the actualization of a potency, the existence of a contingent thing, or something’s changing or coming into being could lack a cause — then these phenomena would not be intelligible, would lack a sufficient reason or adequate explanation. Hence if PSR is true, PC must be true.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/09/marmodoro-on-psr-and-pc.html

[2] That PSR is necessary for PC was confirmed by Prof. Edward Feser in an article he published in his blog on 2014 11 02:

"Now if PSR is false, then the principle of causality is threatened as well, since if things are ultimately unintelligible, there is no reason to think that a potency might not be actualized even though there is nothing actual to actualize it and thus that something contingent, like the universe, might just be without any cause at all.  But then it would not be possible to argue from the world to God as cause of the world."

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/11/voluntarism-and-psr.html

[3] Test Questions for Phil 251: Intro. to Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, option 101.B
(where options 99 and 101 should say "cosmological", not "teleological", argument).
http://philosophy.tamu.edu/~sdaniel/quesrel.html

Sola scriptura is against Scripture, specifically four Pauline passages

First, not everything which was revealed by God was transmitted in writing by the Apostles, at least definitively not by Paul:

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter."  (2 Thess 2:15)

"Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim 1:13)

"and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Tim 2:2)

The objection to sola scriptura from the three above passages could be ingeniously countered by positing that anything communicated orally by Paul which had to be transmitted in writing to future generations was written by some other NT author, be it John, Peter, James, Jude, or Luke in Acts. I don't think any sola scriptura defender would actually resort to such convoluted argument, but even if they did, they'd still need to explain away this other passage from Paul:

"the Church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." (1 Tim 3:15)

In this passage, "support", rendered alternatively as "foundation", "bulwark" or "buttress", translates "hedraióma", a word used only once in the NT and nowhere else. To note, the usual word for "foundation" is "themelios", used in several places by Paul to refer to:

- Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:10-12),
- the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20), "Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone (akrogóniaios)" in this case, and
- those who belong to God, i.e. the Church: "God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his,"" (2 Tim 2:19).

The relationship between Jesus, the apostles and the whole of the Church in these passages with "foundation"/"themelios" mirrors the relationship between Jesus, Peter and the totality of the faithful in four passages with "rock" or "stone", namely those where:

- Paul and Peter call Jesus "the cornerstone", i.e. Eph 2:20 and 1 Pe 2:6-7 respectively, the latter using both "akrogóniaios" and "kephale gonias",
- Jesus tells Simon: "you are Rock (Kepha/Petros), and upon this rock (kepha/petra) I will build my church" (Mt 16:18), and
- Peter says that the faithful "as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house" (1 Pe 2:5).

The teaching from either set of passages is clear:

- Jesus is the ultimate foundation, the cornerstone, and it is so by Himself, by nature.
- Peter and the apostles are foundation by the grace of Christ, by participation in his firmness.
- The whole Church, "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets" (Eph 2:20), is also foundation and support by participation.

The point is that it is the Church which is "the pillar and support of the truth", not Scripture. This statement, together with the quoted Pauline exhortations to hold to the traditions received orally from him, show clearly that the position of sola scriptura is against Scripture.

25 May 2015

Sustitución de obediencia en la expiación realizada por Jesús


Es bien conocido que las distintas confesiones cristianas entienden de manera distinta la forma en que la expiación de los pecados realizada por Jesucristo es aplicada a los creyentes, tanto respecto a cómo los creyentes acceden al fruto de esta expiación, la justificación, como respecto a en qué consiste la justificación de esos creyentes. El tratamiento de estos temas, así como las polémicas sobre ellos entre fieles de distintas confesiones, es frecuente.

En contraste, el tema de en qué consistió la expiación de los pecados realizada por Jesucristo es tratado mucho menos frecuentemente, a pesar de que es entendido de manera distinta no solamente por las distintas denominaciones cristianas, sino incluso por distintos fieles de una misma denominación. En el caso particular de los católicos, esta diversidad de entendimiento puede ocurrir porque la doctrina oficial de la Iglesia Católica sobre este tema particular es muy escueta, y consiste solamente en la definición, por el Concilio de Trento, de que Jesús "nos mereció con su santísima pasión en el árbol de la cruz la justificación, y satisfizo por nosotros a Dios Padre."

El punto es: ¿en qué consistió ese "satisfacer por nosotros" a Dios Padre? En principio hay dos respuestas posibles:

A. Sustitución de obediencia:
La obediencia de Jesús sustituyó la que debíamos haber prestado (y no habíamos prestado): reparación de la raíz del mal.

B. Sustitución de pena o sustitución penal:
Los padecimientos de Jesús sustituyeron los que debíamos sufrir por no haber obedecido (y no sufriremos): reparación de la consecuencia del mal.

Discernir entre estas posiciones no es fácil porque ambas cuentan con pasajes bíblicos que las apoyan o parecen apoyarlas. Así, en apoyo de la posición A podemos citar:

"En efecto, así como por la desobediencia de un solo hombre todos fueron constituidos pecadores, así también por la obediencia de uno solo todos serán constituidos justos." (Rom 5:19)

Mientras que en apoyo de la posición B podemos citar:

"por sus llagas hemos sido curados." (Is 53:5, citado por 1 Pe 2:24)

Estudiando primero la posición A, ¿cómo se interpretan en ella los pasajes que afirman, o parecen afirmar, que somos justificados por el sufrimiento de Jesús? Para responder esta pregunta es necesario entender en qué consistió la obediencia de Jesús al Padre, o sea qué fue lo que el Padre ordenó a Jesús que hiciera. Simplemente, el mandato del Padre a Jesús fue que permitiese que la dirigencia religiosa judía, y luego las autoridades romanas a instancias de ella, lo apresaran, golpearan, flagelaran, coronaran de espinas y crucificaran, eventos que, dada la actitud hacia Jesús por parte de la dirigencia religiosa judía, eran inevitables si Jesús no usaba su poder divino para defenderse. Este mandato iba más allá del cumplimiento de los 10 mandamientos y de la Ley de Moisés a los que Jesús, como hombre y como israelita, estaba obligado. Porque de acuerdo a los 10 mandamientos y a la Ley de Moisés, Jesús tenía el derecho de defenderse de quienes injustamente pretendían atentar contra su integridad física, y tenía obviamente el poder para hacerlo. El mandato del Padre a Jesús fue justamente que no hiciera uso de su derecho y poder de defenderse, que permitiese que lo maltrataran y mataran. Esto lo dice Jesús explícitamente:

"«Por eso me ama el Padre, porque doy mi vida, para recobrarla de nuevo. Nadie me la quita; yo la doy voluntariamente. Tengo poder para darla y poder para recobrarla de nuevo; esa es la orden que he recibido de mi Padre.»" (Jn 10:17-18)

La orden del Padre a Jesús es que dé voluntariamente su vida, o sea que permita voluntariamente que lo maten, que no haga uso de su derecho y poder para evitarlo.

Es claro que, en las circunstancias en que Jesús ejercía su ministerio, obedecer a la orden del Padre tenía como consecuencia necesaria su sufrimiento y su muerte. La obediencia de Jesús a la orden del Padre era necesariamente una obediencia "hasta la muerte, y muerte de cruz" (Fil 2:8). Pero en la posición A, lo que quiso el Padre, lo que agradó infinitamente al Padre, lo que satisfizo al Padre por nuestros pecados, es la obediencia de Jesús hasta el sufrimiento, derramamiento de sangre y muerte, no su sufrimiento, derramamiento de sangre y muerte en sí mismos. En la posición A, los pasajes de la Biblia que parecen afirmar que somos justificados por el sufrimiento de Jesús, se refieren al sufrimiento de Jesús como consecuencia necesaria de su obediencia. El precio de nuestra justificación fue la obediencia de Jesús al Padre, y el precio de esta obediencia fue su sufrimiento, derramamiento de sangre y muerte.

Resumiendo, tanto la obediencia como el sufrimiento tienen un rol importante en ambas posiciones. La clave es cuál de ellos tiene el rol primario. Así:

En la posición A, lo que satisfizo a Dios Padre fue la obediencia de Jesús, y su sufrimiento, derramamiento de sangre y muerte fueron una consecuencia necesaria de su obediencia que hizo que ésta fuese heroica.

En la posición B, lo que satisfizo a Dios Padre fue el sufrimiento, derramamiento de sangre y muerte de Jesús, y su obediencia fue un requisito necesario para que su sufrimiento, derramamiento de sangre y muerte fuesen aceptables a Dios.

¿Por qué es importante discernir entre ambas posiciones? Porque si lo que satisfizo a Dios fue la obediencia por amor, o el amor obediente, de Jesús, entonces Dios es Amor como dice San Juan en su primera carta, mientras que si lo que satisfizo a Dios fue el sufrimiento, derramamiento de sangre y muerte de Jesús en sí mismos, entonces Dios es como una divinidad azteca sedienta de sangre, excepto que es único y todopoderoso.


Hasta aquí he mostrado solamente que la posición A es plausible, pero no que su fundamento bíblico es decididamente superior al de la posición B. Para ello, partiendo de la noción de la muerte de Jesús como sacrificio a Dios en expiación por nuestros pecados, y de que este sacrificio fue prefigurado por los sacrificios del Antiguo Testamento, estudiaré qué era lo que agradaba a Dios en éstos.

La noción de la muerte de Jesús como sacrificio a Dios en expiación por nuestros pecados es mencionada en primer lugar en el cuarto poema del Siervo de Yahveh en Isaías cap. 53:

"Si se da a sí mismo en expiación, verá descendencia, alargará sus días, y lo que plazca a Yahveh se cumplirá por su mano." (Is 53:10)

La figura del sacrificio de expiación de Levítico cap. 16 es usada por San Pablo en relación a los dos machos cabríos ofrecidos en dicho sacrificio. En primer lugar, el macho cabrío que era degollado y con cuya sangre se aspergía el propiciatorio que estaba sobre el arca de la alianza (Lev 16:15-16):

"en virtud de la redención realizada en Cristo Jesús, a quien exhibió Dios como instrumento de propiciación por su propia sangre," (Rom 3:24-25)

En segundo lugar, el macho cabrío sobre el cual se echaban "todas las culpas, todas las iniquidades de los hijos de Israel" y que era mandado al desierto (Lev 16:21-22):

"A quien no conoció pecado, le hizo pecado por nosotros, para que viniésemos a ser justicia de Dios en él." (2 Cor 5:21)

San Juan, por su parte, usa repetidamente la figura del cordero pascual inmolado a la tarde del 14 de Nisán (Abib en el Pentateuco) y con cuya sangre los israelitas untaron los postes y el dintel de sus casas en Egipto (Ex 12:3-13). De hecho, a diferencia de los sinópticos, que ubican la crucifixión de Jesús en el día de Pascua, 15 de Nisán, Juan la ubica en la Víspera (Parasceve) de la Pascua (Jn 18:28, 19:14), o sea el 14 de Nisán, de modo que la muerte de Jesús ocurrió en el mismo momento en que los corderos pascuales eran inmolados en el Templo. Notablemente, la datación de Juan es respaldada por los cálculos contemporáneos de las fases de la luna en esos años, según los cuales el 14 de Nisán fue viernes los años 30 y 33, mientras que el 15 de Nisán no fue viernes en ningún posible año de la Pascua de Jesús.

La figura del cordero inmolado es usada también por San Pedro en su carta:

"habéis sido rescatados de la conducta necia heredada de vuestros padres, no con algo caduco, oro o plata, sino con una sangre preciosa, como de cordero sin tacha y sin mancilla, Cristo," (1 Pe 1:18-19)

Finalmente, la Carta a los Hebreos en sus primeros 10 capítulos desarrolla extensamente la noción del sacrificio de Jesús, en el cual Él es al mismo tiempo sacerdote y víctima.  Cito solamente un pasaje:

"¡cuánto más la sangre de Cristo, que por el Espíritu Eterno se ofreció a sí mismo sin tacha a Dios, purificará de las obras muertas nuestra conciencia para rendir culto a Dios vivo!" (Heb 9:14)

Todos estos pasajes parecen afirmar que lo que agradó a Dios Padre fue el sufrimiento, la sangre y la muerte de Cristo.  Hebreos incluso afirma en otro pasaje que Dios "perfeccionó" a Cristo (obviamente como hombre) mediante los sufrimientos:

"Convenía, en verdad, que Aquel por quien es todo y para quien es todo, llevara muchos hijos a la gloria, perfeccionando mediante los sufrimientos al que iba a guiarlos a la salvación." (Heb 2:10)

Ahora bien, ¿lo que perfeccionó a Cristo fueron los sufrimientos en sí mismos, o en tanto estaban asociados a algo más importante? Otro pasaje responde esto:

"y aun siendo Hijo, aprendió por sus padecimientos la obediencia; y llegado a la perfección, se convirtió en causa de salvación eterna para todos los que le obedecen," (Heb 5:8)

O sea que lo que perfeccionó a Cristo (como hombre) fue su obediencia al Padre, obediencia en grado heroico por estar unida al sufrimiento, y no el sufrimiento en sí mismo. Volviendo a la cuestión de qué fue lo que agradó al Padre en el sacrificio de Cristo, examinemos qué era lo que agradaba a Dios en los sacrificios del Antiguo Testamento, dado que estos sacrificios prefiguraban el de Jesús. La respuesta está muy clara en dos pasajes:

"Pero Samuel dijo: «¿Se complace Yahveh en holocaustos y sacrificios tanto como en obedecer la voz de Yahveh? Mirad, obedecer es mejor que sacrificar, escuchar es mejor que la grasa de los carneros.»" (1 Sam 15:22)

"Porque Yo me complazco en amor fiel (*) antes que sacrificio, en el conocimiento de Dios antes que holocaustos." (Os 6:6)

(*) “amor fiel” es la traducción de “chesed” o “hesed”, que significa amor asociado tanto con fidelidad como con compasión o misericordia. El cual fue vivido perfectamente por Jesús en sus dos dimensiones: amor obediente y fiel a Dios Padre, y en ese amor, amor compasivo y misericordioso a nosotros.

Obviamente no hay contradicción entre que Dios se complazca en la obediencia a su voz y que se complazca en el amor fiel, porque nuestro amor a Dios debe necesariamente ser un amor obediente, y por otra parte nuestra obediencia a Dios es perfecta cuando no es por miedo al castigo sino por amor a El, a partir del conocimiento de que El es infinitamente poderoso, sabio y bueno, tal que, porque es infinitamente bueno quiere el mayor bien para nosotros, porque es infinitamente sabio sabe perfectamente qué conviene que hagamos nosotros para alcanzar nuestro mayor bien, y porque es infinitamente poderoso puede hacer El lo que sea necesario para que alcancemos nuestro mayor bien. La perfecta obediencia a Dios se basa en el amor a El, y el amor a Dios se basa en el conocimiento de El. Lo cual nos recuerda otro pasaje del cuarto canto del Servidor: "Por su conocimiento justificará mi Siervo a muchos y las culpas de ellos él soportará." (Is 53:11)

Por lo tanto, lo que agradaba a Dios en los sacrificios del Antiguo Testamento no era el sufrimiento, la sangre, y la muerte de la víctima en sí mismos, sino la obediencia por amor, o el amor obediente, de quien ofrecía el sacrificio, lo cual es particularmente evidente en el episodio en que Abraham obedece el mandato divino de ofrecerle a Isaac en sacrificio. El Dios verdadero no es una divinidad azteca sedienta de sangre, sino que es Amor como enseña San Juan en su primera carta, y quiere una respuesta de amor, amor necesariamente obediente, de parte de sus creaturas. Queda así claro qué fue lo que agradó a Dios Padre en el sacrificio de Cristo: no su sufrimiento, derramamiento de sangre y muerte en sí mismos, sino su amor obediente, o su obediencia por amor, "hasta la muerte, y muerte de cruz" (Fil 2:8).

A mi juicio esta posición está de acuerdo con lo que dice el Catecismo en los puntos 603, 609, 614, 615 y 616, del último de los cuales cito: "El «amor hasta el extremo» (Jn 13:1) es el que confiere su valor de redención y de reparación, de expiación y de satisfacción al sacrificio de Cristo."

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Summary in English

Since Old Testament sacrifices were prefigurations of Jesus’ sacrifice, it is useful to consider what in them pleased God. Was it the suffering, blood and death of the victim in themselves? Or was the obedience and love of the offerer? In other words, was YHWH acting like an Aztec blood-thirsty god, or was He acting as Love as the Apostle John defines Him in his 1st letter?

The answer is in these two passages, which are essential for understanding what pleased God in OT sacrifices, and therefore in Jesus’:

"And Samuel said, «Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.»" (1 Sam 15:22)

"For I delight in steadfast love (*) rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hos 6:6)

(*) “steadfast love” is the translation of “chesed” or “hesed”, which means love associated with both loyalty and kindness. Which was lived perfectly by Jesus in its two dimensions: loyal love to the Father, and in that love, kind, merciful love to us.

So what pleased God was obedience and love, not the suffering and death of the victim “per se”. Which should make clear what the central component in Jesus’ sacrifice was, what was in it that pleased the Father infinitely and atoned for our faults: not his suffering, pouring of blood and death “per se”, but his obedient love to the Father “to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8)

29 December 2014

Escatología Católica - Catholic eschatology

This article is bilingual, first in Spanish (except this sentence), then in English.


Síntesis de escatología general Católica

Puede describirse como amilenialismo y preterismo parcial con resurrección-transformación y arrebato post-tribulación.

0. Milenio simbólico, incluyendo la conversión de todo Israel a Cristo luego de "que entrase la plenitud de los gentiles" (Rom 11:12,25-26).

1. Tribulación (Mt 24:21-26; Mc 13:19-23; 2 Tes 2:3-12; Apoc 20:7-9 menos final de 9), seguida inmediatamente por:

2. Cataclismo cósmico (Mt 24:29; Mc 13:24-25; Lc 21:25-26; 2 Pe 3:10-12), inmediatamente antes de:

3. Segunda Venida de Jesús, unida a:
- resurrección de los muertos, con los fieles entre ellos en un estado incorruptible, o sea glorioso,
- transformación, o sea glorificación, de los fieles que estén vivos en ese momento,
- y arrebato ("rapto") de TODOS los fieles (los resucitados y los vivos y transformados) al encuentro de Jesús
(Mt 24:30-31; Mc 13:26-27; Lc 21:27; 1 Tes 4:15-17; 1 Cor 15:51-53).

4. Juicio Final.

Los puntos 2 a 4 corresponden a Apoc 20:final de 9-15.

Así, existe una versión Católica post-tribulacional del arrebato o "rapto", que es clara a partir de:

a. el uso explícito del término por S. Pablo en 1 Tes 4:17.

b. la profecía de Jesús en el discurso escatológico del Monte de los Olivos: cuando "inmediatamente después de la tribulación", en medio del cataclismo cósmico, el Hijo del Hombre venga "sobre las nubes del cielo con gran poder y gloria", "El enviará a sus ángeles con sonora trompeta, y reunirán de los cuatro vientos a sus elegidos, desde un extremo de los cielos hasta el otro" (Mt 24:29-31; también Mc 13:24-27).

c. la traducción correcta de la respuesta de Jesús a la pregunta de los discípulos (implícita en Mateo, explícita en Lucas) sobre "dónde" será su segunda venida:

"Donde esté el cuerpo, allí también serán reunidos los buitres." (Mt 24:28; Lc 17:37. Del 2º.)

En ambos pasajes, es esencial que la voz pasiva "serán reunidos" del texto original en griego sea traducida fielmente para reflejar que todos los fieles que en ese momento puedan estar en cualquier punto sobre la tierra (o incluso orbitándola) "serán reunidos" por Dios en torno a Jesús que vuelve en su gloria.

Por otro lado, la tesis de arrebato pre-tribulación no tiene sentido a partir de dos dichos de Jesús.

En primer lugar, Mt 24:22 y Mc 13:20. Porque si los elegidos fuesen a ser arrebatados ANTES de la tribulación, no habría ninguna necesidad de "acortar esos dias" (de la tribulación) "en atención a los elegidos".

En segundo lugar, la predicción y advertencia de Mt 24:23-26 y Mc 13:21-23. Porque si los elegidos fuesen a ser arrebatados ANTES de la tribulación, no tendrían ninguna necesidad de "estar alerta" por esos eventos que Jesús les estaba prediciendo.

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Synthesis of Catholic general eschatology

It can be described as amillennialism and partial preterism with post-tribulational resurrection-change and rapture.

0. Symbolic millennium, including the conversion of all Israel to Christ after "the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Rom 11:12,25-26).

1. Tribulation (Mt 24:21-26; Mk 13:19-23; 2 Thess 2:3-12; Rev 20:7-9 except ending of 9).

2. Cosmic cataclism (Mt 24:29; Mk 13:24-25; Lk 21:25-26; 2 Pe 3:10-12), immediately before:

3. Jesus' Second Coming, united to:
- resurrection of the dead, with the faithful among them in an imperishable, i.e. glorious, state,
- change, i.e. glorification, of the faithful who are alive at that moment,
- and rapture of ALL the faithful (the resurrected and the alive and changed) to meet Jesus
(Mt 24:30-31; Mk 13:26-27; Lk 21:27; 1 Thess 4:15-17; 1 Cor 15:51-53).

4. Final Judgment.

Points 2 to 4 correspond to Rev 20:ending of 9-15.

Thus, there is a Catholic post-tribulational version of the rapture, which is clear from:

a. the explicit use of the term by St. Paul in 1 Thess 4:17.

b. the prophecy by Jesus in the escatological discourse on the Mount of Olives: when "immediately after the tribulation", in the middle of the cosmic cataclism, the Son of Man comes "on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory", "He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." (Mt 24:29-31; also Mk 13:24-27).

c. the correct translation of Jesus' answer to the question from the disciples (implicit in Matthew, explicit in Luke) about "where" his Second Coming will be:

"Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered." (Mt 24:28; Lk 17:37. From the 2nd.)

In both passages, it is essential that the passive construction "will be gathered" of the original text in Greek be faithfully translated to reflect that all the faithful that at that moment may be in any point on earth (or even orbiting it) "will be gathered" by God around Jesus who comes back in his glory.

On the other hand, the thesis of pre-tribulational rapture is nonsensical from two sayings of Jesus.

First, Mt 24:22 and Mk 13:20. Because if the elect were to be raptured BEFORE the tribulation, there would be no need to "cut short" "those days" (of the tribulation) "for the sake of the elect".

Secondly, the prediction and warning of Mt 24:23-26 and Mk 13:21-23. Because if the elect were to be raptured BEFORE the tribulation, they would have no need to "be on guard" for those events that Jesus was telling them beforehand.

15 December 2014

Worship of Jesus by the man born blind: a case of blind faith?

This article is extracted from the article "The trial of Jesus" at http://thetrialofjesus.blogspot.com .

There are at least three passages in the Gospels occurring at a time before Jesus' trial in which Jesus allows or prompts others to worship Him. One of them is the healing of the man born blind in John's Gospel. The use of prosekyneo in this passage is very important because, in contrast with Matthew, John uses that word, both in his Gospel and in the book of Revelation, exclusively to mean worship directed to God. I will quote it verse by verse:

9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
9:36 He answered, "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?"
9:37 Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you."
9:38 He said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

There are two textual issues with this passage: first, verse 38 is omitted in a few old manuscripts of Alexandrian text-type (P75, Sinaiticus, Washingtonianus). Second, in some of the manuscripts that do have verse 38, "Son of Man" in verse 35 is changed to "Son of God".  While some scholars [4] suggest that 9:38 was introduced later into the text for its liturgical use in the baptism of adults, so that the reading would culminate in the confession of faith in Jesus by the former blind man, there is a different view [5] which I find more plausible: that the original text was as quoted above, and both the omission and the change were introduced to solve, by different NT scribes and in different directions, the perceived challenge, even to the point of scandal, resulting from the man born blind worshiping a man who called himself "the Son of Man" and who, for all the healed man APPARENTLY knew about him, could be just a prophet. Faced with that challenge, some NT scribes decided to take out the worship verse, while other scribes decided to change Jesus' self-given title to make the case for worship by the former blind man epistemically more plausible from his APPARENT viewpoint.

The challenge presented by this passage is real and pressing, as in a first reading all the possible explanations of why worshiping Jesus was the right thing to do by the healed man at that time are less than satisfactory.  From acceptable to most unacceptable, they are:

a) The man born blind had a divinely-inspired intuition that the man who had healed him was God.  Good for him, but then his case is not transferable to less fortunate folks who have to rely on their reason. (*)

b) If a man has a) given sight to a man born blind and b) called himself "the Son of Man", then those concurrent facts prove that said man is God.

c) If a man has a) given sight to a man born blind and b) called himself "the Son of Man", then it is legitimate (or mandatory?) for the healed man (or for everyone?) to worship said man, no matter whether he is God or not.

I propose a hypothesis (in my view, plausible, and as far as I know, original,) that provides the key for an intelligent (inte-legere: read into) reading of the passage that avoids these explanations: the epistemic situation of the man born blind about Jesus, at the time of their second encounter, was much better than what can be assumed in a cursory reading of the passage, as noted with the "APPARENTLY"/"APPARENT" qualifications above. The passage offers three data items that make this hypothesis plausible:

1. Focusing on 9:35, we read that Jesus "heard that they had cast him (the former blind) out (of the synagogue)".  This brings about the subject of the relationship between Jesus' human intellect and the divine Intellect, which is not really different from the divine Essence. The divine Intellect was not permanently "direcly feeding" Jesus' human intellect with the kind of information on temporal matters that ordinary people acquire by ordinary means. Although such direct infusion of earthly knowledge did happen occasionally, it was the exception and not the rule. Acquiring such information in the same way as ordinary people do was part of Jesus' self-emptying or "kenosis", of his "taking the form of a servant" (aristotelian form, not just appearance, as the previous verse says that "he was in the form of God" (Phil 2:4-7)). E.g., in the episode of the woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years (Mk 5:25-34), Jesus really did not know who had touched his garments and He really was looking around to see who had done it. And in John's Gospel, Jesus sincerely asked where they had laid Lazarus (Jn 11:34). 

Thus, in the episode at hand, Jesus really learned that the Pharisees had cast the former blind out of the synagogue by hearing about the event from a third person, probably several hours after the event. And after hearing about the event, Jesus looked for the healed man in Jerusalem just as ordinary people look for someone. Therefore it is very likely that between the expulsion of the man from the synagogue and his second encounter with Jesus there was an interval of several hours.

2. In a previous passage in John, the officers whom the chief priests and Pharisees had sent to arrest Jesus (7:32) return to their bosses, who are gathered in one place, and are scolded by them for having let themselves be impressed by Jesus' words (7:45-49). The passage adds that Nicodemus, who according to Jn 3:1 was a Pharisee and "a ruler of the Jews", i. e. a member of the Sanhedrin, was one of the Pharisees present at that time (7:50) and that he spoke in Jesus' defense at the procedural level: "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?" (7:51).

From this passage, it is likely that Nicodemus was present also during the argument raised by the healing of the blind man. Moreover, Nicodemus' presence at that event is not just likely but very likely, because the Pharisees that spoke in Jesus' defence at this occasion, not at the procedural but at the substantial level, were more than one:

Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" And there was a division among them. (Jn 9:16)

Since not many members of the Sanhedrin were likely to speak in Jesus' defence, it is highly probable that Nicodemus was one of those "others".

At this point, I ask the reader to place himself/herself in the shoes (or rather sandals) of Nicodemus.  You not only believe that Jesus is the Son of God but also have learned from Jesus the way in which we must live, his halakha.  You have learned that the essence of that way, regarding what you must do (**), is to love God with all your being and to love your neighbour as yourself, which is also the essence of the Law (Mk 12:28-33). You have also learned that, in Jesus' way, loving your neighbour goes beyond what is required by the Law, and involves feeling compassion for your neighbour and showing mercy to him (Lk 10:25-37), thus imitating the Heavenly Father who is "merciful and compassionate". Even more precisely, it involves loving compassionately your neighbour precisely because God loves him so, and being merciful to him because God wants you to be a sign and instrument of His mercy.  (This synthesizes the core of both Christian soteriology and moral: Jesus makes us "partakers of the divine nature" in Him (2 Pe 1:4), and this projects into, and at the same time requires, partaking of his feelings and actions.)

With that mindset, you see the man being cast out of the synagogue, and probably also being avoided by people. He is in good health and able to work, but since he was born blind he now has no clue about how to go on with his life, find lodging, find a job.  He could physically work in a workshop or in the field, but what are the names of those tools? And how are they used? And where are workshops and fields, anyway?  So you feel compassion for this man who is in such complete intellectual indigence and reach out to him and start teaching him the basic knowledge necessary to go on with his life.  While at that, it would be just natural that the conversation turns at some time to the subject of this prophet who healed him.  And you, being aware of the immense good that knowing Jesus is, start telling the man what you have learned about Jesus from Jesus Himself (Jn 3:10-21): that He is much more than a prophet, He is "the Son of Man" "who descended from heaven" and "who is in heaven" (***) (Jn 3:13) predicted in Dan 7:13. After a few hours, you lead the man to a lodging where he can take shelter and part ways, giving him some coins to get through the day.

3. At that point in time, Jesus finds the man. Now, let's recall that the man has never seen Jesus yet, because Jesus sent him to "wash in the pool of Siloam" (9:7) while he was still blind, and Jesus was no longer there when the man came back seeing. Thus, when Jesus found him and asked him: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?", the former blind had no idea that the man asking that question was Jesus. Therefore, when he answered: "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?", he was not meaning: "And what are the qualifications of the Son of Man (who I know is you), that I may believe in him?" but rather: "And which of the persons around is the Son of Man (whose qualifications I already know from my own experience and Nicodemus), that I may believe in Him?"


(*) That statement will probably place me under heavy friendly fire, so a clarification is required. In faith strictly defined, what moves us to believe some revealed truth T is not the fact that T appears as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason. Rather, we believe T because of the authority of God who revealed T, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. But God does not reveal that truth T directly to each person, but through a revelatory medium M. Therefore, in order to assent to the whole truth that God has revealed, the person must first identify the medium M through which God reveals (e.g. a prophet or God incarnate Himself, while any of them is alive on earth, and thereafter a book containing his teachings, in the Protestant and Karaite views, or a book plus a tradition with both interpreted by an authoritative magisterium, in the Catholic/Orthodox and Rabbinic views).  Clearly the strict definition of faith above does not apply to the identification of M as the medium through which God reveals, which is based on rational motives of credibility.  Otherwise, a person should have to identify M as the medium through which God reveals by an assent to the truth that God reveals through M based on the authority of God who revealed (through M) said truth (i.e. that He reveals through M)! 

(**) In the Christian way the first and foremost thing is what God does in us, the new creation (Eze 36:25-29; Jn 6:28-29; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:10).

(***) The ending "who is in heaven" in Jn 3:13 is omitted in some old manuscripts of Alexandrian text-type (P66, P75, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Washingtonianus).  On the other hand, it appears in the works of early Christian writers such as Tatian's "Diatessaron" (c. 160-175) and Hippolytus' (170–235) "Against Noetus", and then consistently in the works of almost all Church Fathers. I share the view [6] that, just as it probably happened with the "worship" verse Jn 9:38, the ending was omitted by an NT scribe to avoid the challenge posed by Jesus telling Nicodemus that, at the same time that He was there talking to him, He was also in heaven!

In my view, it is perfectly likely that Jesus made such a clear and direct statement of his divinity to Nicodemus at an early time of his ministry if He knew, per his divine insight into minds and hearts, that Nicodemus was able to handle the challenge involved. After all, probably not much longer than a year later Jesus was telling "the Jews" in general that before Abraham came into existence, He was (Jn 8:58).


References:

[4] http://aejt.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/421747/AEJT11.35_Final_Formatted_Theophilos_An_Assessment_of_the_Authenticity.pdf

[5] http://www.bsw.org/biblica/vol-91-2010/m-steegen-to-worship-the-johannine-son-of-man-john-9-38-as-refocusing-on-the-father/456

[6] http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/ntesources/ntarticles/gtj-nt/black-jn3-gtj-85.pdf