Friday, October 30, 2009

Talk to me...

"I've been praying for years now, literally years, for God to talk to me."

"Talk to you?"

"Yes, like a real person! Like a real voice."

"How do you know He hasn't been talking to you?"

"That's my point: why should I have to wonder? Why should the voice of God--of God!--be so hard to hear?"

"Well maybe it's like asking, 'Why are diamonds so precious?' Because they're so rare. Maybe this world isn't a very good 'medium' for God's voice to 'carry in,' for now at least. Then again, maybe our hearts aren't very good media for God's voice to travel in. So maybe when we really do hear Him, it's like finding a diamond. If we heard from Him all the time--like wearing a divine iPod--I think we'd start to suffer spiritual 'inflation'--'Oh, it's God again. That guy never shuts up. I'm more in the mood for hip hop right now, God, can you call back later?'"

"Good point, but our God is a God of love--He is love!--and doesn't He want to reach all people? So shouldn't He go out of His way to be heard more clearly?"

"You raise a good point. Answering it is above my pay grade."

"But it doesn't bother you. I mean...."

"Why am I not upset about it too? Why don't I want to hear from God, too?"

"Yeah. I mean, don't you want to hear God for once in your life? So you could tell all non-believers you had total proof, total confidence, that God is real?"

"Who says I haven't heard from God? I mean, I wouldn't even have faith in the first place, let alone after all this time, if God were wholly silent."

"I see your point, but it seems like a such a small favor--just, I don't know, to whisper in my ear or something. I just want a little something more from God, just once."

"All right, well, how do you want Him to talk to you?"

"Like a friend, like a normal person."

"Well, that right there--don't you think that's a little odd--to want God to be just like a normal person? I mean, what if part of a relationship with Him means He is shrouded in the mystery of His own glory? Sort of like, no matter how well we know them, we never really know the inner life of our family members and friends. There's always 'something more,' some deeper reality behind their actions and words. Like they say, still waters run deep. A waterfall is loud, but all froth and impermanence. Maybe that's the problem of knowing God, only a thousand times deeper. He's too much of a person for us to just take in like any other person."

"But He's God! Can't He overcome those psychological obstacles?"

"Who says they're psychological? I'm suggesting they might be intrinsic to the possibility of our knowing God at all. If we were the kinds of beings that could hear God clearly, like you want, on a regular basis, I don't know if we would be ourselves anymore."

"But God talked to Moses and Elijah like a normal person, so why not to me?"

"That's a question only God can answer. But I find it interesting that nearly all the people God spoke to most directly--in a really 'Hollywood' way--never asked for it. In fact, Moses and Elijah and Jeremiah and Jonas all saw God's direct attention as a burden."

"Hmm, that's a good point."

"Plus, look at the Israelites: they had tons of 'close encounters' with God, but that didn't mean they were especially devout or thankful in the long run."

"Wow, that's pretty depressing, thanks!"

"I guess my basic point is just that God is a person, and you can't just force a person to do what you want in a relationship. Who's to say that hearing from Him like you want would 'cure' your faith anyway?"

"Of course it would! It's the only thing I want. Some kind of immediate proof, or contact with God. The rest would all fall into place."

"Like I just said: Elijah, Jeremiah, Moses, and Jonas probably see things very differently. Be careful what you wish for. Job asked for a face-to-face with God, got it, and only ended up regretting his folly. Before He got a taste of God 'up close and personal,' at least he could savor his suffering as a possible bargaining chip against God. But once he saw how, well, godlike God is, and how low he was, he had no excuses, no leverage with God: he could only see God as the Almighty and love him that much more deeply in his suffering."

"Well, I'm just glad I'm not Job either. I think I get your point."

"Think about this, too: Once you got that special 'word' from God, who says you wouldn't want another and another, more and more? If loving God as He usually is for most believers, isn't enough for you after all these years, maybe after enough time, you'd get just as addicted to some higher and higher contact with God. Eventually nothing would be good enough."

"Okay, I see your point... but is one time really too much to ask?"

"Well, let me ask you: why do you what God to speak to you?"

"I told you--"

"I know. I'm asking so you can really look at the question in the first place. I mean, so you can look at your desire for some 'word' perhaps more, uh, objectively."

"Meaning?"

"What if you asked me to communicate better with you."

"'Kay."

"And you saw I was trying."

"'Kay, sure."

"But then what if we reached an issue, or just some 'mood,' in which we couldn't seem to bridge the gap? Like if I disagreed with something you were doing but didn't want to argue, or I was trying to explain a new idea, or some new plan, but wasn't sure how to explain so you could really get it. So, for whatever reason, our coomunication reached a deadlock, but we were still friends."

"Well, I guess, we'd just have to be patient. Stay friends and hang out, but just kind of bracket that problem for the time being."

"Right. Do you think you could force me to communicate with you in some way you preferred, just so you sensed I was 'still there'?"

"No."

"I can only really communicate myself to you by communicating in my own way, right? And if there are times when we can't say everything we want, and times we can't even hear what the other person is trying and trying to say, doesn't it stand to reason that there are depths or 'moments' in our life with God which simply defy either our efforts to hear Him clearly or for Him to say what He wants in a way we can really grasp?"

"Fair enough. But can't God give me a break?"

"You remember when I used to teach English in Asia?"

"Sure."

"Well, one thing I learned is that you can't force communication if the cultural divide is too big."

"'Kay. Go on."

"I can't tell you how many times I wanted to pull my hair out in class when I'd ask a question, prompt a response, and just get blank looks. Or I'd try to explain a new topic and, while some students would try, it was just beyond them at first, so communication simply halted."

"'Kay. So?"

"So, no matter how much I wanted my students, and sometimes even my friends, to communicate with me in the way I wanted, at some point, I had to respect that we were simply talking across too big a cultural divide."

"So what did you do?"

"Well, I either changed the topic and gave them more time for the English to 'settle in,' or, more importantly for the point I'm trying to make, I broke into their language. There was a limit at which I could either stop communicating or sacrifice my own preferences for communication and adapt myself to the culture I had chosen to abide in."

"So you're saying...."

"I'm saying maybe there's a limit in our faith-life, when we need to get over certain 'highs' and 'lows', as psychological bonuses or losses, and adapt ourselves--adapt our own sense of communication--to God's own 'culture.' So many times people would ask me, 'How do you say this or that in English, or this and that in Chinese?' and it was really hard, because sometimes, there are things you can only say in one language. Obviously, you can translate the idea nehind some phrase or joke, but outside that original language and its culture, you just can't say it other than just saying it in the original. It's like I would always ask people, 'How do you say "cool" in Chinese?'"

"How?"

"You don't--you just say 'ku'."

"Uhh, I think you lost me. Try again."

"My point is that maybe across the 'cultural divide' between us and God, Jesus is the only complete translation, but there are still 'phrases' in our lives, based on very specific things in our own lives, which just can't be 'translated' as clearly as we want. In human life as well as in life with God, there are some things which can be said only by silence."

"Whoa, that's very Zen. Unpack it for me."

"Well, the Gospel, the Good News, is that God has spoken definitively to humankind in Christ. Therefore, if we believe the Gospel, we shouldn't expect some 'better' or 'clearer' word from Him. According to the Gospel, anything more than the Incarnation and anything less than it would 'garble' the message God is conveying. Jesus Christ is God's best word to us, to each of us in the Church because Christ is the very Word of God. Demanding or expecting some 'improvement' on the voice of God in Christ is just basically to deny the voice of God, His own whole life, is truly in Christ."

"What you're saying is beautiful, but frankly, it sounds kind of harsh. Are you saying I just need to 'be tough' and ignore my desires for some special word from God?"

"Not exactly, no. I'm saying that you need to ask yourself why you want a special word from Jesus in the first place. I walk past dozens of people every day, but I don't necessarily want to hear what they have to say. Only if I already believe someone is a great figure will I want a special, personal word from him. Christians are fundamentally concerned with wanting to know what Jesus says about life and death and all the rest."

"That's a cool way of saying it."

"I say it like that because we need to always remember that Jesus Himself is the Word we want, not necessarily some secondary word from, or even about, Him. Think about it: you say you want a special word from God because you care about Him above all else, right?"

"Well, yeah."

"But if you care about Him so much, you have to care about how He Himself authentically expresses Himself to us, to you. The hard, but good, truth, according to the Gospel, is that God has said all He can really say to us at this point in creation in Jesus Christ. If you think that's not good enough--if, in other words, you think the Incarnation, and its continuation in the sacraments, needs a 'boost,' or some 'extras'--then you're just not a Christian. And why would a non-Christian want a special word from Jesus? Only if you already believe Jesus is, so to speak, the only one you have ears for, then you should be able to find some peace that how He has spoken to you all this time is part of His wisdom and His worth. In fact, I think the fundamental question is: do we want God or do we want some benefit of knowing God?"

21 comments:

e. said...

In spite of all the typos and clumsy rambling, this entry seems rather profound.

Perhaps, for reasons precisely alluded to in this post, God chose to communicate His Word as Flesh.

The Cogitator said...

e.:

I'm glad the typos and colloquialisms didn't dilute the intended profundity of this post! ;) It's inspired by a "pastoral" request from a friend, so I wanted to keep it very accessible and conversational, lest the core of truth be smothered or withered by an arid, technical style.

I think you're right: a mere "inner voice" all too easily slides into megalomaniacal solipsism (cf. Montanism) or passivity (cf. decadent quietism). It seems counterintuitive that a living icon, hidden and offered sacramentally, is more effective a Word than an inner whisper, but such is the content of the Gospel: LOOK at the bronze serpent aloft; BEHOLD the Cross! They say a picture is worth a thousand words; I would suggest that the Divine Icon, Jesus Christ, is alone worth the name "Word of God."

Best,

UnBeguiled said...

J. L. Schellenberg has several books promoting his well-developed divine hiddenness argument for religious skepticism. "The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism" for example.

If there is a God, I wish he would let me know. So far, he hasn't.

The Cogitator said...

unBe:

Oh, so there you are. ;p

From what I gather, Schellenberg's argument rests on a certain kind of internalist epistemology, and thus carries much less weight in an externalist epistemology. There is also the free-will considerations raised by Michael Murray. If time permits, I'll read more concerning the issue, but for now I'm in love with a long-on-deck book by Stanley Jaki! Suffice it to ask for now:

Do you want evidence for God that rationally compels your assent?

Best,

UnBeguiled said...

I don't know anything about internalism vs. externalist.

"Do you want evidence for God that rationally compels your assent?"

Of course. I care whether or not my beliefs are true. It seems if I based a belief on non-rational or irrational reasons, then I would have no grounds for supposing that the belief was true.

e. said...

"My point is that maybe across the 'cultural divide' between us and God, Jesus is the only complete translation"

Your post reminded me of an excerpt from the late Pope John Paul II's Crossing the Threshold of Hope:

"God is always on the side of the suffering. His omnipotence is manifested precisely in the fact that He freely accepted suffering. He could have chosen not to do so. He could have chosen to demonstrate His omnipotence even at the moment of the Crucifixion. In fact, it was proposed to Him: "Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe" (Mk 15:32). But He did not accept that challenge. The fact that He stayed on the Cross until the end, the fact that on the Cross He could say, as do all who suffer: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34), has remained in human history the strongest argument. If the agony on the Cross had not happened, the truth that God is Love would have been unfounded. Yes! God is Love and precisely for this He gave His Son, to reveal Himself completely as Love. Christ is the One who "loved to the end" (Jn 13:1). "To the end" means to the last breath. "To the end" means accepting all the consequences of man's sin, taking it upon Himself. This happened exactly as prophet Isaiah affirmed: "It was our infirmities that he bore, /We had all gone astray like sheep, / each following his own way; / But the Lord laid upon him / the guilt of us all" (Is 53:4-6)."


That is, it would appear that God provided the most effective communication to man through His Divine Son (i.e., the Word Made Flesh) than could ever been possible through any mere ordinary communication we might otherwise have personally preferred.

Obviously, the Sacrament of the Eucharist reigns as the "Source and Summit" of that divine communication that eminates no less from the Eternal Present.

The Cogitator said...

e.:

Beautiful quotation, thank you. It is a fundamental Catholic 'mystery' that the embodied human anguish of Jesus IS the divine love of the Father made present for all by His Spirit. This is, as you add, only an historical reality as "One Flesh" (mia sarx) in the utter concreteness of the Eucharist. Do a word search ("Keefe", "eucharistic") of FCA for things I have written in this "Keefian" vein.

Best,

The Cogitator said...

unBe:

I said rationally compels, not rationally beckons. There is a difference, which I will highlight by asking: How many relationships do you have that are fundamentally and/or consistently rooted in rational compulsion? I'll repost some earlier material dealing with these issues.

AFAIK, the externalist/internalist distinction basically boils to down to whether your cognitive faculties and perceptual environment are in fact 'properly functioning' vs. whether you are concomitantly aware of the fact that your cognitive faculties and perceptual environment are 'properly functioning.' An externalist would say that justified true belief (JTB) depends only on the correlation between your epistemic states and what's being perceived (i.e., rational lucidity is not necessary for JTB), whereas an internalist would say you lack JTB just in case you also fail to grasp why you hold the epistemic states you have (i.e., externalism is not enough for JTB). The ice cut by this distinction vis-a-vis Schellenberg is that an externalist may not need 'interior certainty' of the presence of God for that belief to be true in fact. An externalist does, however, need good reason to assume his cognitive faculties and environment are designed to 'mesh' together, which is basically where Plantinga's EAAN comes in. I've sure I've gotten a number of things wrong from an academic perspective, but hey, at FCA you get what you pay for. ;)

Best,

UnBeguiled said...

"How many relationships do you have that are fundamentally and/or consistently rooted in rational compulsion?"

I'm not sure, but the question is irrelevant. All my relationships at minimum require the existence of the other person.

The Cogitator said...

unBe:

Your point is well taken, but I wish it were as apt as it is clever. I think you are missing two crucial points.

1. God is by definition immaterial and transcendent. His just "showing up" next door would present problems for human cognition. We know God by His effects. The Christian Gospel is that the chief of God's effects is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Believe it or not (well, in your case, not), that is God's greatest disclosure of Himself, albeit one which is perpetually "fresh" in the the Holy Spirit as He animates the Church. For the Jews this was a preposterous message since it brought God too near; for post-Lessing secularists it is preposterous because it leaves God too distant. It is equally part of Christian teaching that God reveals Himself to those who desire Him. The smugness with which you dismiss God's efforts to turn you to Him can be just as easily directed against you by my saying the reason God "so far" hasn't shown Himself to you as you "wish," is because you don't actually wish it. If you can charge God with "bad faith" in dispensing His self-revelation, I can just as easily charge you with bad faith in appropriating it. I don't want to do such a thing, but, as I say, if you think God is imperfect because your sense of Him is imperfect… well, I know a lot of people whose grasp of physics is imperfect, ergo…?

2. For whatever reason, God is such towards us and we are such towards Him that faith is the only adequate channel by which we can have a relationship with Him. Two reasons I believe account for this seemingly inadequate set-up are, first, faith is the only act which all humans can equally perform, irrespective of physical, social, economic, etc. conditions; and, second, faith ignites, or perfects, perhaps the deepest and most beautiful element of our human nature: our freedom as rational creatures. Therefore, any channel which corrupted our freedom as rational creatures would ipso facto deform God's intended relations with us. As such, a disclosure of Himself which rationally compelled you (as in, anyone) to believe in Him would destroy your freedom as a rationally relational being made in His image. Somewhat like they say in AA, the first step towards God is admitting that you have a problem: your reason is finite and your will is perverted from good both on a profound level and in a frequent way. Atheism is solipsism on a grand scale. How do you KNOW the people you relate to are real? You don't. You trust and offer yourself to them. Lo and behold, good enters your life from theirs in ever-novel ways. Similarly, how do we KNOW God is real? We don't. But we trust, etc., etc.

Best,

UnBeguiled said...

"1. God is by definition immaterial and transcendent."

More accurately should be:

1. If the god Elliot believes in is real, then it is immaterial and transcendent.

Since it seems to me obvious that Yahweh is a creation of human imagination, then the rest of that paragraph is nonsense to me.

"As such, a disclosure of Himself which rationally compelled you (as in, anyone) to believe in Him would destroy your freedom as a rationally relational being made in His image."

Unfortunately for you, Christian folklore contradicts this assertion. Satan knew Yahweh existed, yet chose to rebel. So direct knowledge of God does not impair freewill, according to Christian dogma.

"Atheism is solipsism on a grand scale."

No. We've been over this. An atheist is a person who answers a question in a particular way. The question is "Do you believe any gods are real?"

"How do you KNOW the people you relate to are real?"

I don't "know" if by "know" you mean have absolute certain knowledge. But certainty is not necessary for me do get by. I have very good evidence that you exist. I have better evidence that my dog exists. I have no evidence that Yahweh exists.

The Cogitator said...

unBe:

I find it interesting that you are suddenly most engaged with one of the most discursive and pastoral posts I've written lately, rather than any of the stuff I've posted about science and metaphysics. I say this as an ad hominem in the original, "to the man as a fellow human" sense of the term: your sudden vivacity in this thread suggests that your difficulties with theism are primarily spiritual and even affective, only secondarily academic and theoretical. You object from a hungry heart.

In any case, the preservation of free will in the face of "divine evidence" is just my point. Far from refuting my point, your riposte about the angels only reinforces it.

As I‘ve said twice now, if you want rationally compulsive evidence for God (akin to the mind's grasp of first principles like identity, noncontradiction, part-wholeness, etc.), then you don't want evidence from the Christian God. Only because their knowledge of God was not rationally compulsive could the fallen angels choose to rebel. You seem to think that you would automatically and cheerfully embrace faith in God if you had angelic illumination, but the case of fallen angels itself shows how naive a hope that is. God deigns to give His light to those as He sees fit. The Gospel of grace is that you do not lack the grace you need to embrace faith in God at any point. At the same time, there is such a thing as penal blindness. In His dispensation of grace, God is not unmindful of how further helps will be received or rejected. The doctrine of fundamental sin means that blindness to your own blindness is the most basic part of your blindness.

As always, your sense of evidence is your biggest handicap. See my recently re-posted piece about "the evidence for evidence."

Best,

UnBeguiled said...

Spare me the lumbering psychoanalysis.

"Only because their knowledge of God was not rationally compulsive could the fallen angels choose to rebel. You seem to think that you would automatically and cheerfully embrace faith in God if you had angelic illumination"

Now you are shifting your use of "faith". This is certainly not how you were using the word in paragraph 2 above.

Satan, according to the myth, believes that Yahweh exists. I do not.

"The doctrine of fundamental sin means that blindness to your own blindness is the most basic part of your blindness."

And again you resort to unfalsifiable assertions that make you correct according to regurgitated dogma. There is a certain horrific beauty in this kind of apologetics.

"God deigns to give His light to those as He sees fit."

What does this mean? Are you a Calvinist all of a sudden?

One of us mistaken. How can we meet on common ground to try and figure out which it is?

I care whether what I believe is true. Do you?

The Cogitator said...

unBe:

1) Please elaborate on my shifted use of "faith."

2) I won't waste my time urging you to read primary sources, such as St. Anselm's De casu diaboli or St. Thomas' articles in the Summa Theologica about free will, sin, and the angelic fall. I know you don't lack the time or learning to read such things, to which I constantly direct you, so I can only assume you lack the intellectual courage and/or genuine desire to pursue truth in these matters. If that's psychoanalysis, then I guess calling a spade a spade is psychoanalysis. Your loathing for God is unremarkable as far as the career of atheism goes, and as curious as any case of a disbeliever: never expending similar energy refuting other "obvious" fictions like flat-earthism, geocentrism, etc. Why is that? What drives you to spend vast amounts of time on refuting the indefensible?

3) In any case, please explain how I can articulate Christian doctrine without drawing on Christian dogma.

4) In addition, please demonstrate your grasp of the difference between Calvinist monergism and Thomistic synergism, as well as your understanding of the tolerable range of opinions in the Catholic Church concerning predestination and grace.

5) As for your interest in truth, take your pick: either science actually gives us truth as an irreformable conformity with reality or it doesn't. What truth can science offer you that is not taken on faith in its irreformability?

Best,

UnBeguiled said...

This conversation has gone off the rails.

In the context of paragraph 2, "faith" means believing something despite the absence of rationally compelling reasons to do so. But then later in regards to Satan (and me), you say "You seem to think that you would automatically and cheerfully embrace faith in God if you had angelic illumination".
In this context "faith" means a commitment to worship and obey God.

Let me say this as clearly as I can.

You argued that if God provided me rationally compelling reasons to believe he exists, this would somehow "corrupt my freedom". I then showed you how according to Christian lore, a being can have rationally compelling reasons to believe God exists, yet freely reject God anyway.

So according to the Christian lore about Satan, rationally compelling reasons to believe in God does not corrupt a being's freedom. QED.

The doctrine of fundamental sin means that blindness to your own blindness is the most basic part of your blindness.

I will by analogy try to show why this type of move is so treacherous to an honest discussion.

It is like a young-earth creationist claiming that God buried the fossils in order to test our faith. Or that God created light from distant Galaxies in transit. Apologetics is lousy with this sort of thing.

But I could play that duplicitous game as well. I could say that your brain is infected with a meme. The overriding symptom of the meme infection is that the infected person is deluded into believing they are not deluded.

So you want me to read primary sources to get at the truth about Satan? You tell me the reason I don't buy-in to your elaborate metaphysics is because Eve ate some magic fruit?

You must be joking.

"either science actually gives us truth as an irreformable conformity with reality or it doesn't."

We've been over this before. All scientific facts and theories are provisional. That's what makes it science. Otherwise, it would be dogma.

The Cogitator said...

unBe:

This conversation was never on the rails to begin with. I'm a committed theist; you are a committed anti-theist. And ne'er the twain shall meet: that's what I mean about not being a foundationalist and, consequently, not having any desire to find some "lowest common denominator," some "indubitable axiom," from which to build an elaborate synthesis of atheism and theism. This is why I tend to ignore religious debate with you, or any atheist, really, and prefer dealing with science and metaphysics.

Now, concerning the dispute about rational compulsion, I guess I need to restate, or clarify, that the term itself is a kind of reductio. The very nature of free will requires there be no such thing as rationally compulsive reasons for genuine objects of the will. Necessary truths are not objects of the will because they do not incite any rational desire. Nor, for instance, is one's own existing an object of one's will; that I in fact exist is not something I could will, since I would first have to be in order to will at all (Granted, continuing to exist could be willed, since my future existence is a possible good.)

I asked about rationally compelling proof because it seems that is the only "hard evidence" you would accept. But evidence like that is not something you can accept any more than you can accept the law of identity. Not being able to reject it, you are not able to accept it. My point is that the very nature of free will forbids there being rationally necessary assent (and, in passing, that the absence of rationally compulsive actions is itself proof of free will).

Faith is the willing of God as an object of rational desire, not as an item of conceptual necessity. As much as I admire and just plain like St. Anselm's ontological argument, as a Thomist, I agree that Go's non-existence is at least conceivable (i.e., not rationally compulsive as I use the term). Where there is no longer a capacity for willing, there is no longer a capacity for faith. And where there is no longer faith, there is no longer the willing of God as a yet-unattained good.

As I think you mentioned, a key difference between rational willing is that you lack faith in God's existence, whereas the bad angel lacked a permanent desire for justice. You don't believe God exists, whereas the bad angel knows God exists but wills some unjust good. Hence, the object of the will is different in each case, but the ineliminability of the will is the same. The bad angel's problem was not not-believing in God, but in not willing properly just goods. Your problem is both: not believing in God and not perfectly willing properly just goods in life. (The latter is a problem we all have as fallen creatures.) Just as you cannot will God in the presence of rationally necessary evidence, so the angel could not will justice in the absence of an alternative to justice. Just as your integrity as a rational "willer" cannot be impaired with respect to God's existence, so the bad angel's rational willing could not be impaired with respect to just goods. …

The Cogitator said...

… As for the meme debate, the admitted irrationality of memes––including the "believing in memes" meme itself––is exactly why I regard memetics as pretentious and nihilistic horseshit. It's got to be the one of the most grotesque hodge-podges of "sciency" flair and rational self-destruction we have seen since the Churchlands. If I believe in God only because I have a belief-in-God meme, I believe irrationally. Likewise, if I believe in memes only because we are infected with a belief-in-memes meme, I believe in memes irrationally. The retort is that the very intransigence of the meme-meme is proof of memes, does not negate the fact that such intransigence is irrational in and of itself. What "memes" are could in fact just be a covering word for countless unique cases of cognitive failure. As such, "memes" are just naturalized Platonic Forms, and deserve no more respect as an account of concrete, pluralized existence.

The difference between memetic delusion and noetic fallenness is that, on the latter, we recognize our own noetic limitations are evident by the light of a higher truth. We only know falsehood by implicitly knowing truth. A "memer" denies truth altogether by saying all arguments and beliefs are sheer functions of cognitive infestation.

Apropos, I reiterate my point that you don't truly desire truth, since your scientism doesn't even tolerate the notion of truth per se. Truth by definition is not revisable. A system of truths may be revisable, because it is a semantic structure, but truth as such is irreformable. This is something you cannot accept on a scientistic ideology, and therefore your desire to "know the truth" is effectively (if not affectively) hollow.

Best,

The Cogitator said...

Finally, you certainly wonder why Christian thinkers grapple with the lore of fallen angels, etc., so let me explain that it stems from two elements of the Christian faith. First, the perceived existence of evil. Second, the perceived existence of free will. Drawing upon Scripture and Tradition, believers explore these issues under the terms "angels," "devils," "corruption," "fall," etc. St. Anselm's De casu diaboli and St. Thomas' articles on angelic will and corruption are but ways of exploring how there might have come to be evil and how such an account illuminates human will.

Best,

UnBeguiled said...

"you are a committed anti-theist"

False. Were I presented sufficient evidence or argument that such a being as God existed, then I would believe that being existed.

I am committed to acquiring beliefs using a method that is most likely to provide true beliefs.

Concerning free will. Is your own will to believe unconstrained by evidence or argument? What I mean is, could you by an act of will believe that the moon is made of green cheese? I myself cannot.

You missed my point about memes, since you are still blaming my unbelief on magical fruit.

Why is it so hard for you to comprehend that such a thing as an intellectually honest non-believer exists? Pardon this old trope, but if you can understand why you do not believe that Mohammed flew to heaven on a horse, then you should be able to understand why I don't believe Jesus rose from the dead.

What if I told you that the only reason you did not believe the Mohammed tale was because of original sin? I hope you would think I was a jackass.

"since your scientism doesn't even tolerate the notion of truth per se"

Oh good grief. Either there is a super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, or there is not. Based on available evidence, I believe there is. But I realize I could be wrong.

Admitting that I do not have certain knowledge is not the same as thinking there is no such a thing as truth.

The Cogitator said...

unBe:

I do believe in honest non-believers. And even though I think your avoidance of primary sources is a methodological copout, and thus an attenuated mode of intellectual dishonest, I consider you a basically honest non-believer. Really. That's why I don't bother trying to resort to common axioms: our worldviews are too different. I respect the rational consistency of your view as far as you maintain but I also happen to believe some of your most important tents (such as natural causation and scientific coherence) point beyond themselves to a more robust metaphysics like Aristhomism. Rational sufficiency is not univocal, but relative to the reasoner (cf. Reformed epistemology and James Ross's cognitive finality). I'm not "blaming" your or my noetic corruption on original sin as much as I'm simply calling original sin noetic blindness (as a fundamental exigency of present human existence). "Original" sin is not principally chronological in priority, but metaphysical (cf. Keefe/Keefian in FCA's archives).

Best,

UnBeguiled said...

"such as natural causation and scientific coherence"

So if these point beyond themselves, why does the consistency of God not point beyond God? Seems to me you are multiplying entities beyond necessity.

"Original" sin is not principally chronological in priority

Or I could claim your religiosity is due to a deep seated fear of death which makes you psychologically ill-equipped to deal with reality. Of course this fear is subconscious, so you remain unaware of it.

But I would never do that.

"Rational sufficiency is not univocal, but relative to the reasoner"

Right. And my bar seems naturally set very high. I don't believe Jesus killed a fig tree by cursing it for the same reason I don't believe Uri Geller bends spoons with his mind.