Archive for the ‘scepticism’ Category

Sceptics aren’t sceptical enough

March 29, 2013

(Lewis, speaking of a couple of debunking authors) Their scepticism about values is on the surface: it is for use on other people’s values; about the values current in their own set they are not nearly sceptical enough. And this phenomenon is very usual. A great many of those who ‘debunk’ traditional or (as they would say) ‘sentimental’ values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process.

C.S.Lewis, The Abolition of Man

It is this process of leaving one’s own beliefs immune to the same process of criticism that they subject others to, that is part of the self-delusion, the suppression of truth in unrighteousness that sinful man perpetually indulges in.

Three baseball umpires are sitting around over a beer

September 16, 2009

Three baseball umpires are sitting around over a beer, and one says ‚ÄúThere’s balls and there’s strikes and I call them the way they are“. Another says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I call ’em the way I see ’em.” The third says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and they ain’t nothin’ until I call ’em.”

Anderson, W.T. (1990). Reality isn’t what it used to be: Theatrical politics, ready to wear religion, global myths, primitive chic, and other wonders of the post-modern world. San Francisco: Harper & Row. p. 75

Anderson exaplins that the first umpire is the Modernist, the second a sceptic and the third a postmodernist – reality is defined by the individual and so there are as many ‘realities’ as there are observers.

Religious Pluralism leads to agnosticism

August 24, 2009

Thus it (The ‘Real’ an sich [as it is in itself]) cannot be said to be one or many, person or thing, conscious or unconscious, purposive or non-purposive, substance or process, good or evil, loving or hating. None of the descriptive terms that apply within the realm of human experience can apply literally to the unexperienceable reality that underlies that realm.

John Hick, An Interpretation of Religion, 194.

Religion is different responses to one divine Reality, embodying different perceptions which have been formed in different historical and cultural circumstances.

ibid., 294

If all roads lead to the top of the mountain then no road is correct – nor is any statement about the top of the mountain either. In fact, we cannot even say there is a mountain nor how or even whether to climb it. If religions contradict each other, nothing certain can be said of the god of whom they claim to speak.

The more Hick et. al. try to embrace all traditions they tend towards the impersonal, rather than the personal, the unknown, rather than the known. This is precisely the opposite direction Biblical theism leads.

Note also the implicit claim. Hick claims he knows that the Real an sich is unknowable. How does he know that claims (by others) to know God are using only mythological language? Can his language also be relegated to the realm of the mythological? Can his elativism be relativised? He will, of course, want an exception for his own claims. Such is the inconsistency of the pluralist who can only strenuously (and in irritated tones, once it is pointed out to them) deny the force of this criticism. Their protestations are hollow.

Naturalism of La Mettrie

August 24, 2009

Not that I call in question the existence of a supreme being; on the contrary it seems to me that the greatest degree of probability is in favor of this belief. But since the existence of this being goes no further than that of any other toward proving the need of worship, it is a theoretic truth with very little practical value. Therefore, since we may say, after such long experience, that religion does not imply exact honesty, we are authorized by the same reasons to think that atheism does not exclude it.

Let us not lose ourselves in the infinite, for we are not made
to have the least idea thereof, and are absolutely unable to get back to the origin of things. Besides it does not matter for our peace of mind, whether matter be eternal or have been created, whether there be or be not a God. How foolish to torment ourselves so much about things which we can not know, and which would not make us any happier even were we to gain knowledge about them !

I do not take either side.

La Mettrie

Julien Offray de La Mettrie (December 19, 1709 – November 11, 1751) was a French physician and philosopher, and one of the earliest of the French materialists of the Enlightenment. He is best known for his work L’homme machine (“Machine man”[1]), wherein he rejected the Cartesian dualism of mind and body, and proposed the metaphor of the human being as machine. Wikipedia

This work of La Mettrie’s denies the soul in man.

Moby’s Postmodernism

August 23, 2009

Fundamentalism (of any kind) troubles me. The world is too big and too intricate to conform to our ideas of what it should be like. In my experience I’ve found that most fundamentalists aren’t so much attached to their professed ideologies as they are to the way in which these ideologies try to make sense of a confusing world. But the world is confusing, and just because we invent myths and theories to explain away the chaos we’re still going to live in a world that’s older and more complicated than we’ll ever understand. So many religious and political and scientific and social systems fail in that they try to impose a rigid structure onto what is an inherently ambiguous world. I’m not suggesting that we stop trying to understand things. Trying to understand the world can be fun and, at times, helpful. But if we base our belief systems on the humble assumption that the complexities of the world are ontologically beyond our understanding, then maybe our belief systems will make more sense and end up causing less suffering.

Moby’s essay from his CD “Play”

Where to begin: 1. ‘fundamentalism’ is so ambiguously used by seemingly everyone nowadays as to mean almost nothing except ‘people I disagree with’. 2. He doesn’t like others having definite views (‘ideas of what the world should be like’) , but, like all postmoderns, makes a notable exception – himself. 3. ‘The world is too complicated to understand’ – he understands that much of course! 4. All beliefs are ‘myths’ and attempts to make sense of a confusing world – only agnostics such as himself have, implicitly, the wisdom and/or honesty to admit this – excpet Moby wouldn’t like to put it that way because he wants, like a good postmodern, to appear ‘humble’ 5. Throwing in the adverb, ‘ontologically’ may impress some people but it remains semantically and metaphysically vacuous (irony intended) in this last sentence which plays the classic postmodern card: suffering is caused by certainty. Which is unproven at best and can be shown to be false in many cases.

I like the music Moby – stick to it!