The Secularist Critique
a philosophy of religion blog from a catholic perspective
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Wednesday, February 26, 2003  

The myth of secularism
Here is another interesting article, Exposing the myth of secularism, by John Gray. The author discusses the more dehumanizing secular myths that have replaced religious myth and compares the religious repression of secular cultures with the victorian repression of sex. A sample:

"It is this painful cognitive dissonance that accounts for the peculiar rancour and intolerance of many secular thinkers. Unable to account for the irrepressible vitality of religion, they can react only with puritanical horror and stigmatise it as irrational. Yet the truth is that if religion is irrational, so is the human animal. As the behaviour of humanists shows, this is never more so than when it imagines itself to be ruled by reason."

I would take issue on one point with the author, who says "liberal humanism has taken Christianity's unhappiest myth - the separation of humans from the rest of the natural world - and stripped it of the transcendental content that gave it meaning". It is not Christianity that has seperated man from the natural world, but science. For nature is significant to man in the same proportion that science is not. Scientific materialism has alienated us from nature by reducing nature's significance to mere capability for being measured and quantified. Secular culture looks to nature for power and nothing more, whereas nature's true significance lies precisely in it's non-quantifiable aspect. Christianity is in full harmony with the most ancient and primitive religious attitudes towards nature, affirming it's sacramental nature.



| posted by theist | 11:41:00 PM
 

Minds and Reeds
Why do some have this need to compare the mind to a product of our own making. First the mind was supposed to be like a machine, now it's supposed to be like a computer, and tomorrow? Isn't there something backward about trying to model the mind after a product of it's own creation? Doesn't the fact that mind invented machines and computers make it superior to those things that it has made? Pascal had said that man is the weakest of all beings, a reed shaking in the wind, and yet we transcend the whole universe because we can know it. The mind is not made in the image of its own artifacts, but makes them according to its privileged participation in Art.

| posted by theist | 3:20:00 AM


Tuesday, February 25, 2003  

Augustine & Aquinas on Truth
However much Aquinas tried to appear to be following the authority of Augustine, it is evident that when on the subject of truth, Aquinas quite radically turns Augustine’s account upside down, and I don’t think this is a good thing. Truth for Augustine, is transcendent. It has divine characteristics that are plain for all who have eyes to see to see it. Whereas man is temporal, truth is eternal. The mind of man is always changing, but truth is immutable. In its light we judge, but it is never judged. In a word, it is ‘above’ man, it is transcendent.

Aquinas turns this all around. In a way, Aquinas takes all of those characteristics which were attributed to the divine, and makes them attributes of man. For Aquinas, who follows Aristotle closely in this matter, the basic principle is that ‘whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver’. For Augustine, truth is regarded more as something public that is perceived by all, but owned by no one. It is like the sun, which illuminates everything. Aquinas has quite a different perspective, viewing truth as a sort of assimilation of created material being into our own soul in an immaterial mode. Therefore, the above mentioned characteristics of truth, are not perceptions of the divine mode, but are merely aspects of its human mode of existing, not because humans are eternal and immutable, but because our mind is not completely immersed into matter, and consequently can receive material being in a non-material way. Since matter is what individuates things, to be able to consider something in a way that is independent from its material conditions, this is what gives truth its characteristics of universality, immutability and so on. To be able to consider things apart from matter, is to consider them in a way free from the restrictions of matter, and therefore free from the limitations of time and change and individuality. In other words, what were divine characteristics for Augustine, are merely accidents of truth’s mode of being in our soul.

To my mind, this is a degradation of truth. It destroys a natural, intuitive, powerful, and relatively clear way to God. Perhaps we can attempt to question this theory from the viewpoint of ethics. The intuition that there are absolutes in ethics is based on these characteristics of truth. The natural and eternal law is based on these characteristics of truth. The inviolability of the human person is based on these characteristics of truth. Now when we understand the essence of personhood and the respect that it imposes on us, are we to suppose that those absolute aspects of the nature of personhood are merely accidents of our knowledge of it? Sure, if in some separate argument we were able to deduce that God exists and that all essences exists in a truly eternal and immutable and absolute mode in God, then this could ground our belief in the absolute inviolability of the human person and we could truly say that abortion was always and everywhere wrong. But is this actually how we establish and perceive moral absolutes? These absolutes are given immediately in our intuition of meaning. We perceive these absolutes as things that really are absolute. As far as I can tell, the theory of knowledge proposed by Aquinas would entail that our immediate and natural beliefs concerning the moral law would be an illusion. This would destroy our ability to know directly the natural and eternal law of God except by a few people who were able to reason out some separate argument establishing eternal ideas in God. This doesn’t ring true. The basic precepts of natural law are intuited directly by all men in all different cultures, they are not the distant conclusions of many previous philosophical arguments about God.

| posted by theist | 2:58:00 AM


Saturday, February 22, 2003  

Six Step Program for Secularists
A Saintly Salmagundi posted a link to an interesting article, Kicking the Secularist Habit.

| posted by theist | 3:17:00 AM


Friday, February 21, 2003  

Artificial Intelligence?
"In contrast with our intellect, computers double their performance every 18 months," says Hawking. "So the danger is real that they could develop intelligence and take over the world."
I'm always amused by statements like these, taken from a recent article from zdnews.com, here is another:
'According to Joy, current advances in molecular electronics mean that by the year 2030, "we are likely to be able to build machines in quantity a million times as powerful as the personal computers of today", and imbue them with human-level intelligence. '

In the book "The Everlasting Man", Chesterton pokes fun at evolutionists who try to cover up the multitudes of philosophical absurdities associated with their theories, with the idea of a huge passing of time. As if any insult to logic could be made more palatable by the passage of a few billion years. I am reminded of this every time I read this kind of nonsense by scientists. Only here they are not invoking a quantity of time, but a quantity of 'performance', of calculation or clock cycles. But the idea is just as absurd. If we just increase the power and speed of our computers, maybe human-like intelligence will just pop up and emerge. Just as Chesterston's evolutionists used the idea of a large passage of time as a smokescreen to smooth the rough edges of their theories, our scientists are using the concept of power, speed, and performance to obscure the glaring differences between intelligence and what computers do.
Computers simply manipulate ones and zeroes in a sequential order that is explicitly given to them. We could say that this manipulation of ones and zeroes are 'calculations' as long as we keep in mind that true calculation is something that only persons do. One wonders why it is necessary to de-mystify computers to people who should know better, but the heart of what a computer does at its most discreet level, is simply check to see if something is on or off. The real power of these machines are they that they can perform an incredible number of these instructions incredibly quickly. This is where they surpass the human intellect. Any calculator can perform its calculations much faster than any person. But that is the extent of it! We could add the speed and power of these computers a zillion times and intelligence will never emerge from it, because no matter how fast or how many calculations per nanosecond, its still made up of discreet steps of 'is this on or off'. Sheer multiplication of these discreet steps into a smaller interval of time is not going to give a machine intelligence.

What is so crude about Hawking and others ideas, is that it assumes that human intelligence is just a calculator. These scientists think that the only thing that separates our minds from these machines, is speed and power, i.e. the number of calculations done in any given period of time, so that if we can just make our computers fast enough, or powerful enough, or give them more memory, or whatever else kind of quantification they can think of that falls under the category of 'performance', they will become intelligent like us. This kind of crass materialism is laughably naive.
The essence of intelligence is not 'performance', it is not calculation (and strictly speaking computers don't even calculate in the human sense). True, because we are intelligent, we can make calculations, but that is not the true heart of intelligence. The essence of intelligence is more to be found in a kind of perception. Without this perception, there are no calculations, no logic. This can be seen by starting with calculation itself and working backword. A syllogism for example, consists of propositions which are themselves made up of terms which have definitions. Discursive reasoning is the process of unfolding the logical content of those terms in logically consistent ways. Where do the definition of these terms come from?If we had no way to percieve these forms, there would not be any reasoning, no calculation. Consequently, this intellectual perception is more the essence of intelligence then mere calculation, on the ground that calculation depends on this perception for its very existence. Personally, I have come to define intelligence this way. Intelligence is the perception of the logos which permeates all things, that which makes visible to our mind the noumenal world in which all empirical reality participates. It is the laying bare the relation of all material things to a higher ideal order, and ultimately to the Mind which alone is creative. If our senses give us 'data', our knowledge is 'meta-data'. It is only after our soul is in possession of a 'form', that logic begins to unfold and unpack the eidetic content, making possible 'calulation'.

Until computers have this intuition, can perceive this meta-data, they can not be considered intelligent. Until computers can develop concepts and language to communicate them, they can not be considered intelligent. They never will be considered intelligent because this kind of perception does not originate in the sensible-material order. The senses, and their material basis, constitute the 'data'. Knowledge is meta-data, and so its origin is above the material basis of sensation.

It is this real essence of intelligence that the materialist hates, the undeniable spirituality of knowledge. Some materialists will stop at nothing to obscure its real nature.
So, in this repsect, the entire field of 'artificial intelligence' is and always will be a total failure, because computers never have had any real semblance to intelligence, and never will. The most powerful computers we can build, will never be anything more than a glorified calculator. So, let the machines double in performance every year, they will always be infinitely incapable of things that my two year old finds routine.

| posted by theist | 3:25:00 PM
 

Secularist Critique Exhausts Atheists
It seems I have officially tired blog land's resident atheists out. What is hilarious is that they are complaining about 'true believer syndrom' and how you can't argue with a person of 'faith' and just how futile trying to reason with a religious believer etc, even though I never once used religion, revelation, or faith as a part of any argument. It seems that the real problem is that they can't deal with true reason. It's just as well, I don't have all the time in the world to deal with philosophical children.

| posted by theist | 4:11:00 AM


Wednesday, February 19, 2003  

Materialism Not Science
This article on materialism written by a materialist, admits that the history of materialism is based on assumption. He says:

Yet neither Lucretius, d'Holbach, nor Buechner claimed that materialist philosophy was an empirical science. They all realized it rested on assumptions that were ultimately metascientific

And then, instead of giving us the metascientific justification for those assumptions, he just completely contradicts himself by trying to ground it back in science, saying:

So materialism has always inferred its theories from the best empirical evidence at hand and has as a result always had its metascientific hypotheses scientifically confirmed

Metascientific hypotheses scientifically confirmed. Yeah that makes sense. Also, how exactly does one infer from the fact of material existence, that all reality is reducable to matter? Shouldn't we be expecting the justification of metascientific assumptions using some form of metascientific evidence? This article just confirms what I have been saying, that there is no reason for materialism, just pure assumption.

| posted by theist | 6:26:00 PM
 

Occam's not-so-sharp razor
Occam's razor is so overrated. First of all, it's not some absolute self-evident first principle of reason that must be slavishly adhered to in any and everything. Second, it's too general to really have any meaning in the context of an argument. Third, while it may be a good guide in some circumstances, there are plenty of exceptions, too many for it to really have any power in an argument. Fourth, it's just way too easy for anyone to use it for their own purpose, both sides of an argument could think of countless ways to use it for their own ends. For these and similar reasons I propose that it be put to rest forever as an instrument of debate.

| posted by theist | 1:51:00 AM


Tuesday, February 18, 2003  

True Humanism
Secular humanism is a contradiction in terms. Secularism is a philosophy that denigrates and dehumanizes man. Shouldn't a true humanism recognize the dignity, uniqueness and superiority of man? Yet secularism and its other resident isms reduce man to blind, dumb, impersonal matter. Rationalism constricts man's field of knowledge to those things only which man can wrap his finite mind around, thus excluding any pointers of transcendence and therefore mystery. Scientism absolutizes the scientific method, empiricism identifies knowledge with observation and both consequently narrow man's domain of perception, intellectual or otherwise. Materialism and all its myths degrade man by denying his transcendence over matter, reduces all of reality into a dull one dimensional pool of blind matter, atheism denies the intrinsic relation of human beings with the infinite and personal ground of all things. The end result of this family of liars is a truly meaningless, purposelss, drab, ugly world where man is related to nothing but what is inferior to him, an existence that must necessarily lead to what the existentialists called nausea, anxiety, and of course raises the question of suicide. This is most definitely not humanism.

A real humanism would aknowledge man as a being that can not be explained by, or reduced to forces that are inferior to himself. It would relate man vertically with the only real power that can produce an intelligent person. It would recognize that the actual nature of reason and intelligence is much broader then what is dreamt of in rationalism's philosophy. It would not make any a-priori exlusions of trasncedence and mystery, or forms of experience not reducable to sensation. In short, it would affirm man as man, as he is in truth. The real humanism must be a theistic humanism, not a secular humanism.

| posted by theist | 9:11:00 PM


Saturday, February 15, 2003  

Qualia and Dogma
Unscrewing the inscrutable posted a link to a Scientific American article, Demon-Haunted Brain that nicely demonstrates the dogmatic materialism of the scientific community. Predictably, the 'evidence' is more examples of manipulating the brain to see what happens in a person's consciousness. Now it obviously doesn't occur to them that this is only 'evidence' to those that already assume that all reality can be explained materially. If I were a materialist, I might take this article to be evidence in support of my philosophy, but to anyone that is not a materialist, there is nothing evidential about it. In fact, it's neither a scientific or a philosophical argument at all, but more like a vague affirmation of materialist belief indirectly related to some science experiments.

The author of the article admits that we experience a mind/body duality, remarking that mind aspect of experience is given the technical name 'qualia' by philosophers to distinguish it from empirical experience. Of course, he assumes that qualia is caused by nuerons. But this brings us to the whole problem of trying to investigate a dimension of experience that can not, by definition, be investigated empirically. Here is the contradiction. We have two aspects of experience which is undeniable (and in fact, admitted by our author), an empirical experience through sensation, and a non-empirical experience which philosophers call qualia the subjective, reflective consciousness that we all have. The empirical is by definition not qualia, and qualia is by definition not empirical. These are mutually exclusive forms of experience. So the contradiction is that the materialist wants to explain qualia, and he does so by appealling to observation! How exactly do you explain what is by definition unobservable, by observation? Observation belongs in the realm of the empirical, so how could you possibly know anything about qualia from observation? It's like trying to see the stars by sticking your head into the sand. Materialists apparently think that by sticking their heads into sand they can get special evidence of what stars are like. Any appeal to observation (such as consequnces of brain manipulation on consciousness) immediately falls under this contradiction as soon as these observations are appealed to as an explanation of mind, or evidence that mind is brain. They show nothing more then mutual interaction and dependancies (who denies that?). This is why science, in principle, can not tell us much of anything useful about the nature of mind. Qualia, not being part of empirical experience, can not be part of science.

Whenever someone tells us that such and such a phenemena in the brain is 'the mind at work' they are not giving us any evidence that the mind is the brain, they are simply saying that it is, it's an assumption. They have every right to believe what they do, but just saying that it is so is not evidence. This article does not present one shred of evidence that the brain can explain religion or anything else that belongs to the life of the mind, but it is a nice summary of one man's beliefs.

| posted by theist | 5:10:00 PM


Thursday, February 13, 2003  

The Tragedy of Materialism
What a tragedy that reason itself has come to be identified with empirical observation. The victim of materialist dogma can only look with suspicion at his own consciousness, forced to discount the authority of his own interior experience. He is only free to examine reality in terms of his observations of sensible things, the realm of non-empirical experience is forbidden territory. They don't seem to realize that they have given up that which is most certain for that which is the least certain. It doesn't occur to them that all the things that they know with absolute certitude are not derived from their empirical observations, but through the transparency of their own consciousness. They don't grasp the fact that consciousness is the palace of reason, and that she can not be identified with either observation or reflection, but can work with both to discover their nature.

So even though the only thing we can know about our mind and consciousness from the outside is it's interaction with the body, our materialists refuse to enter in to thier own palace to examine the nature of consciousness the only way it can be examined, through self-reflection. They are not allowed to look through the magisterial eyes of thier own minds, because that wouldn't fit into their narrow conceptions of what it means to be rational, they must cling to their little world of observation. And so consciousness must be explained away by their silly reductionist theories. What an emasculation of knowledge, of reality, of their own selves.

The biggest tragedy of this empiricism/materialism is that in reducing knowledge to observation they will never understand themselves or other human beings, or reality. Their over confidence in their own answers guarantees their own perpetual ignorance.

| posted by theist | 4:44:00 PM


Wednesday, February 12, 2003  

Challenging Materialism
Seeing then that materialism is a philosophical issue and not a scientific one, the whole question comes down to what does our experience actually tell us about reality? The first thing to note is that our experience of reality is already a duality, becuase it is divided between empirical experience and consciousness. Hence from the very beginnning of conscious experience, materialism has no leg to stand on, because reality already presents itself to us from the start as a two-fold reality. Not only can science say nothing about the human conscious mind, it can not in principle ever say anything about the mind, for the simple reason that science is limited to the empirical domain of experience, while experience itself goes beyond the empirical and extends to consciousness. We know empirically through our senses, we know consciousness through reflection. Therefore, science is not the grand-unifying-all-powerful-theory-of-everything that it is worshiped as. Since the most interesting things about being a person are found in this interior dimension, all accounts of man that start from the outside and refuse to go in, fall way short of explaining our uniqueness.

Now any person capable of reflection can see that in comparing the nature of consciousness with that of our empirical experience, the two dimensions of reality are not reducable to each other. They are completely different. Materialism is false, not only because there is no reason in our experience to think that all of reality is matter (consciousness refutes it), but our knowledge of mind (consciousness) is of something that transcends matter. Hence it can be reasonably deduced that mind survives death becuase it is of a different and higher nature then matter.

In conclusion, materialism is refuted by the very existence of a single human person. It ought to be liberating to know that reality is much richer then that dark, cold, impersonal sea of matter that materialists believe in without one iota of evidence.

| posted by theist | 2:19:00 AM


Monday, February 10, 2003  

The Massive Faith of Secularism
Materialism, naturalism, whatever one calls it it has become one of the cornerstones of secular culture and the implicit ideology of science. But are there good grounds for having such an ideology? Is there evidence for it? Surely something that is so much assumed at every corner should be beyond doubt? We are told that consciousness will some day be explained by neurobiology, that the mind is just the brain, that we can explain every dimension of ourselves through evolution from impersonal forces, that religion is caused by the brain, etc. One could multiply examples of this assumption ad nauseum.

Now science could not possibly establish the idea that all of reality is matter or reducable to it, it's just not a testible verifiable proposition. Science assumes that there is indeed a material world that it can investigate, but making pronouncements about the condition of all reality is not something science does. The scientific enterprise doesn't need to assume anything more then that matter does exist. This must mean that materialism is a philosophical idea and any truth to it must be argued for philosophically. So, where is the evidence?

Perhaps I'm not looking in the right places, but I don't see even the barest hint of an attempt at establishing this philosophical corner stone of modern thinking. It is apparently just one big whopping assumption that secularism takes for granted. In fact, I don't recall bumping into any real philosophical arguments for materialism from the history of philosophy. Sure, there are some materialistic assertions from some greek philosophers, but what about some reasons? From Lucretius to Hobbes it seems to be nothing more then mere assumption. The only actual argument I have come across for materialism comes from a comment by Aristotle talking about some philosopher who thought that the mind must be made up of all things because it can know all things.

But in the absence of any foundation for materialism or any reason why it should be preferred to a non-monist conception of reality, the only conclusion to be made is that secularism rests on one giant leap of faith.

| posted by theist | 7:51:00 PM


Sunday, February 09, 2003  

Scientism
Human knowledge did not begin with the advent of modern science. Hence man's knowledge domain is much broader and extends farther then just science. Those that deny this belong to the camp of scientism. Knowledge and the way we get to it can not be limited to science and the particular methods that have been evolved for science for the simple reason that human experience is not just empirical experience. Not only is experience more then empirical experience, but even considering empirical experience there is more then one way of approaching or thinking about the phenomena presented to us through the senses. Science and it's methods are very powerful in their own field, but they represent a very narrow approach to reality. Scientism absolutizes the sciences and their methods, making them the sole criterea for all knowledge. 'Unscientific' has come to mean irrational to all those under sway of scientism. They imagine that the scientific method is the first principle of human thought and so can 'judge but is not judged'.

The fact is that the power of the human mind to know has nothing to do with the empirical controls and measures devised by science for its own little branch of the woods. It lies in the ability to intuit forms and patterns and meaning reflected from our experience of the world, and to deduce other things from those intuitions. Those deductions are reasonable if they abide by the laws of logic, not necessarily when they are testable, or verifiable in a scientific sense. The meta-foundations of reason are not reducable to the empirical domain. In fact, science, religion, and philosophy all derive their legitimacy from a single shared source, the intuition of Being.

| posted by theist | 12:57:00 AM


Friday, February 07, 2003  

Science not significant

Science is very useful, no doubt about that. But the questions that are really significant for man, the existential questions like what is the good life, how should I live my life, is there an ultimate purpose to my existence, and others that effect the core of our being and determine ultimately how we live our lives, when it comes to these kinds of questions, science is quite impotent. When we are in the grip of an existential crisis, we hardly could care about the details of how the physical world works. We seek out this kind of knowledge of physical causes for the sake of technology, that is, convenience and domination and mastery of nature. Chemistry and physics are little help when faced with the anxiety of death. The proximate natural causes of the world don't tell us what we would really like to know about the more ultimate causes of life. When it really comes down to the important things, science is utterly insignificant.

The secularism of our culture downplays these real human issues by discouraging reflection. The wheels of capitalist wealth require that we are in a continual and perpetual state of titillation and lust, always being impelled to consume, to satisfy our appetites. We are surrounded by gadgets and toys and noise and distractions that we can throw ourselves into, myriads of diversions to keep us from such unpleasant questions. But even worse, insignificant science has become a new religion and scientists are its priests. It is amazing the utterly disproportionate adoration that is shown to science by many today. Science is treated as an oracle that will tell us all, it's the new philosopher's stone that will give us mastery over life and death. It's the latest incarnation of a story that is as old as humanity, the omnipresent temptation to 'be like God'. Whether it's magic or gnosticism or technology, man constructs a temple to himself through power and control and manipulation, weaving a palace where man can pretend that he is the king of the universe. In such an idolitrous atmososphere, it's difficult to see science in it's proper place, that of a very useful but utterly insignificant discipline.

| posted by theist | 4:12:00 AM


Thursday, February 06, 2003  

It's OK to believe

What is the nature of faith or belief? Upon reflection, it seems that faith is a kind of knowledge, and even probably the most common form of knowledge, making up the majority of all that we claim to know. The essence of belief, seems to be that it depends on authority, not on personal vision. Hence, when a friend goes to India and tells you that there are tigers there, you will have no problem believing it if you trust your friend. In this instance, the friend is an authority because he was there and because you trust him. Now when I ask you if there are tigers in India and how do you know, you respond "becuase my friend was there and he told me". This is considered a knowledge by authority and there isn't a shred of 'evidence' for it. You were not the one in India, you didn't see the tigers, nor could your friend prove to you that the tigers are there.

If it's true, as some claim, that one ought not to believe anything without evidence or proof, well probably about 90% of your knowledge would have to go out the window becuase most knowledge is of this kind. How much of the scientific picture of the world have you figured out yourself? Do you really understand Einstein's equations for relativity? Authority is where most of our knowledge comes from. Hence, a religious person doesn't need any syllogism or proof, he doesn't need any evidence at all, all he needs is a good reason to trust someone or something as an authority and that is good enough.

| posted by theist | 3:43:00 AM


Wednesday, February 05, 2003  

God and meaning

What does God have to do with our finding meaning in life? Why does it seem common sense for some to think that denying God entails condemning the life man to meaningless? I think it's becuase meaning is associated with truth. Truth is one of the highest values for man, we don't want to live a lie, but to make our lives meaningful my living in harmony and affirmation of truth and justice. Our lives our not meaningful when we simply know truth, as if merely memorizing a bunch of facts could satisfy our longing for a meaningful life, but by a much more fundamental orientation of our whole being to truth which only comes through action. In other words, meaning is a function of a virtuous life, the good life. Morality is essentially affirming or negating the truth through our actions, thus orientating ourselves, taking a stand towards truth.

Since truth is essentially the ideal structure of the world, to affirm it is to be in harmony with the creative mind that grounds the whole cosmos. When some people question the necessity of God for making life meaningful, they do still rightfully find things that are meaningful in it, even while negating the need for God. But I think they do not realize the connection between meaning and truth, and truth and God. If they did, they would realize that to deny God, is to damn any meaningful life for man, but they do sense that it is meaningful, and so ought to follow it to its ultimate ground.

| posted by theist | 4:08:00 AM


Monday, February 03, 2003  

What can we know about a first cause?

In speculating about the nature of the first cause of traditonal arguments for the existence of God, there is not a whole lot of positive knowledge we can have of this being, which is not suprising considering the gap that exists between ourselves and God. But there are a few things that can be deduced by denying in the infinite being, what we know to be limitations of finite creatures. raving atheist claims that:

"Being first or being infinite doesn’t imply being omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent or, for that matter, even conscious."

But these characteristics do follow for an infinite being. Omnipotent means not having any weakness, omniscient that there is no ignorance, omnibenevolent no malice, and conscious implies intelligence. Whatever we know to be a limitation of being, must be denied of an infinite being by definition. Ignorance is a limitation of knowledge, hence an infinite being does not lack any knowledge. Mutability, change, dependency, potentiality, compositeness, all these things that are part of the fabric of finitude do not exist in the infinite being, that is why the first and infinite being is immutable, simple, omniscient, omnipotent, etc. Power and perfection is equated with being, therefore that which simply is, is power and perfection itself. Since the infinite is the plenitude of being, we also know that whatever it creates must in some way be similar to it becuase the infinite already contains every perfection within itself. Everything that is created must then pre-exist in a way within the infinite being and share in it's perfection. For the same reason that every created being must in some way be like the infinite, every created being must also be very different and inferior to it. There can only be one first being, hence there will always be an infinite distance between the finite and infinite. Intelligence too, is a perfections and therefore consciousness can not be denied in an infinite being.

This is mostly a negative knowledge. We can deny what we know to be limitations or characteristics of finitude and affirm in the infinite being those things that are perfections in an analogous way. But in no case is God, or an infinite being the direct object of our understanding (and how could it be?).

Of course, there are apparent contradictions and problems that arise when we try to dig deeper into things, like how do we reconcile omniscience with free choice? Instead of acting like the narrow minded rationalists and deny everything that we can't personally wrap our mind around with perfect understanding (which would not even be possible with things that transcend us), we ought to have the humility to acknowledge the boundaries of our reason. In the case of the free will/omniscience or other similar issues they will probably never be completely solved, but so what. The fact that we do not understand something doesn't negate the fact that it is. We know that the infinite being is omniscient and we also know that human beings have free will, we should just leave it at that.

| posted by theist | 6:07:00 PM


Sunday, February 02, 2003  

Psychological proof that atheists are in denial?

Atheists never cease to remind us, practically every other sentence, how rational and logical they are. This is, of course, contrasted with religious persons who they characterize as irrational fools, continuing to believe in outlandish stories that are supposedly on the same level as the tooth fairy. But is this is an accurate depiction of religious person's beliefs? Are they really so childish and irrational as the atheists claim they are? The existence and nature of God, the nature of the soul, life-after-death, and other similar topics have been an intrinsic part of philosophy in the West since it's recorded beginnings. The same can be said of the history of ideas all around the world. That these topics are taken quite seriously by many of the world's greatest minds, seems to cast great suspicion on anyone that would treat these things as so evidently irrational and childish. I fail to see how some things that are so obviously rational as to endure for thousands of years of debate, could possibly be compared by anyone to tooth fairies. Unless, that is, they are living in denial.

You don't often hear atheists saying something like, "you know, belief in God is a venerable, sophisticated and very reasonable belief, but I think there are also some good reasons for disbelief and so I disagree with the theists and here is why". No, it's almost always "what a bunch of fools, they are so obviously irrational and stupid, not like us we are so very logical". One has to question why that is. It seems to me that whenever a person or group is running from reality, they always tend to make outrageous claims like that. It's like the Orthodox claiming that the Catholics are entirely heretical and have no similarities whatsoever with themselves. When you commit to trying to justifying an untruth, you have to live in an illusionary world and run farther and farther from reality. It certainly seems like this is going on when atheists take such a ridiculous stance towards those that differ from their views. Are atheists really so insecure in their wold view that they need to continually convince themselves that they are the most reasonable people in the universe and everyone else are irrational children? Show me an atheist that can affirm a person's belief in God as a legitimate possibility, and you will have found an atheist that is secure enough in his own convictions that he has no need to pretend that all other views are irrational fairy tales.

Religious and theistic beliefs have been a part of humanity for as long as there has been human beings, hence these beliefs are the norm, they are the ordinary. Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence right? So I expect to see extraordinary evidence whenever an atheists makes the extraordinary claim that my beliefs are on the same level as the tooth fairy.

| posted by theist | 8:29:00 PM
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