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Old 02-11-2001, 07:14 PM   #1
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Post The Enlightenment

In the 1700s rational thought split into the twin divisions of secularism and fundamentalism. They deserve one another because they both spring from the ultimate submission of sanctity to certitude.

When science and reason claim a monopoly on the truth, Christianity cleverly trumped them with papal infalibility and biblical inerrancy.

The trouble arises when one realizes that each is very capable of destroying our humanity.

What happened during the Enlightenment was not that "the ancients told dumb stories and now we're so smart and we realize it."
What actually happened was that the ancients told powerful, multileveled metaphoric stories and we got dumb at the Enlightenment and took them literally.
 
Old 02-12-2001, 11:15 AM   #2
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As far as I know, papal inerrancy predates the Enlightenment by at least a few hundreds of years. I'm not certain of biblical inerrancy, but I'm guessing that is a more modern phenomenon.

Your speech makes a lot of sweeping claims. I have never heard anyone I would consider "reasonable" call the ancient myths and legends "dumb stories;" some are fascinating insights into their worldviews. However, we are far removed from them, and their stories make little sense to us now; it is difficult to hold what you find nonsensical as sacred.

I also find it curious that you think science and reason can destroy our humanity. How is that?
 
Old 02-12-2001, 12:37 PM   #3
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Thanks for the post aikido7 (interesting nick BTW), and welcome to the Forums.

Your post reminded me of a "Creed" put together by a theistic philosopher. I thought it was very interesting.

The Enlightenment Creed

There is no God. There is, in fact, nothing besides the physical cosmos that science investigates. Human beings, since they are a part of this cosmos, are physical things and therefore do not survive death. Human beings are, in fact, animals among other animals and differ from other animals only in being more complex. Like other animals, they are a product of uncaring and unconscious physical processes that did not have them, or anything else, in mind.

There is, therefore, nothing external to humanity that is capable of conferring meaning or purpose on human existence. In the end, the only evil is pain and the only good is pleasure. The only purpose of morality and politics is the minimization of pain and the maximization of pleasure.

Human beings, however, have an unfortunate tendency to wish to deny these facts and to believe comforting myths according to which they have an eternal purpose. This irrational component in the psyches of most human beings – is the great good fortune of the species that there are a few strong-minded progressives who can see through the comforting myths – encourages the confidence game called religion. Religions invent complicated and arbitrary moral codes and fantastic future rewards and punishments in order to consolidate their own power.

Fortunately, they are gradually but steadily being exposed as frauds by the progress of science (which was invented by strong-minded progressives), and they will gradually disappear through the agency of scientific education and enlightened journalism.

“Quam Dilecta”, by Peter van Inwagen, God and the Philosophers, (Oxford University Press, 1996, pg. 49)
 
Old 02-12-2001, 03:30 PM   #4
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How odd. Does van Ingwagen espouse this creed? I thought he was a theist?
 
Old 02-12-2001, 03:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by daemon23:
How odd. Does van Ingwagen espouse this creed? I thought he was a theist?</font>
Hi daemon

No, van Inwagen definitely does not espouse this creed. And yes, he was a theist (a Christian theist in fact). He has, however, found that it fairly accurately reflects the foundational beliefs of most sceptics that have lived, at least since the Enlightenment.

Would you agree or disagree with most of his points, and do you think he has missed any important ones?

Thanks,

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited February 12, 2001).]
 
Old 02-12-2001, 04:37 PM   #6
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
Would you agree or disagree with most of his points, and do you think he has missed any important ones?
</font>
Some of the points in there I am in vague agreement, but I disagree with more. The presentation asserts a arrogant, know-it-all nature upon the skeptic, which is, to me, precisely the opposite of what skepticism would engender. I can't see any form of codified creed so complex ever embodying the nature of skepticism, as it implies a creed constantly in revision, which opposes the purpose of a creed in the first place. It presents a number of possibilities in iron-clad wording, making metaphysical statements that are inherently unprovable. As a whole, it appears to be a slanderous attempt to demonize anyone who dares to call themselves a skeptic.

Would I say this is an accurate depiction of some skeptics? Certainly. Much as I would say "narrow-minded irrational bigot" is an accurate depiction of some Christians. However, I don't think this is the position of most, nor even a majority, of skeptics.

Frankly, the most honest creed I can think of for a skeptic is "Everyone errs; seek the truth." Amusing how that parallels some of Christian thought, no?

(Just noticed a couple mistakes I made. How is that for a self-fulfilling prophecy? )

[This message has been edited by daemon23 (edited February 12, 2001).]
 
Old 02-12-2001, 08:29 PM   #7
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Actually, the "Enlightenment" position can be justified as a minimal-assumption "default" position. Imagine oneself wanting to assume as little as possible. One would likely find oneself concluding, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the Biblical God is as fictional as Zeus or Amon-Ra or Odin or Marduk or Brahma. It's the old principle that the burden of proof is on the positive.

And I wonder if Nomad would enjoy being accused of believing in a non-Zeus assumption or a non-Odin assumption or a non-Amon-Ra assumption.
 
Old 02-14-2001, 01:43 AM   #8
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I see religion as the outward expression of an inner--and universally hard-wired-- sense of the sacred. When it no longer serves its purpose, it will be discarded and take another form.

Both fundamentalism and rationalism stem from the same view: certitude above sanctity. The sense of the sacred can only deepen our humanity. Leaving behind metaphor, parable, humor, poetry and art can only diminish us like Wordsworth's Peter Bly who thought

A primrose by the river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him;
And it was nothing more

My opinion is that the dislocation of the current world-view is being felt in religion as well. The temple's tables have long been overturned and many believers are literally repeating arguments and rituals that do not fit the present picture.

If Christians now can get their first century right they may then be able to get the new millenium right.

When the Christian tradition starts being about satisfying literal requirements and promoting division and sectarianism, then it needs to seriously rethink its notions of Grace. Jesus was an iconoclast who has been turned into an icon. If Jesus came to preach the kingdom of God and what came was only the church, he has failed. Jesus was pointing to something; instead of looking in that direction, the church has looked at his pointing finger.

John Lennon was right: the Beatles WERE more popular than Jesus. But John wasn't just talking about how great his pop group was, but giving an off-the-cuff articulation of the begining of a real decline in Christianty (especially in Britian). The Anglican church is still there, but fast becoming an empty museum of sacred space while sacred community must be engendered elsewhere.

 
Old 02-14-2001, 10:53 AM   #9
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by aikido7:
I see religion as the outward expression of an inner--and universally hard-wired-- sense of the sacred. When it no longer serves its purpose, it will be discarded and take another form.</font>
Well, if you are right, I must be flawed, because I have no "inner sense of the sacred." If this is supposed to be a metaphor for something else, it's a bit too vague for me to decipher. Perhaps you should explain what this means a little more explicitly.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Both fundamentalism and rationalism stem from the same view: certitude above sanctity.</font>
Which form of rationalism? Whose rationalism? In my view, rationalism is not incredibly compatable with certitude, and says nothing of sanctity.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The sense of the sacred can only deepen our humanity. Leaving behind metaphor, parable, humor, poetry and art can only diminish us like Wordsworth's Peter Bly who thought

A primrose by the river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him;
And it was nothing more
</font>
Where do you get the idea that rationalism entails giving up these things? I am certainly no follower of your rationalism; I enjoy a range of arts, and agree the world would be much poorer for their absence.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">My opinion is that the dislocation of the current world-view is being felt in religion as well. The temple's tables have long been overturned and many believers are literally repeating arguments and rituals that do not fit the present picture.</font>
Here, again, your meaning is unclear. What is "the dislocation of the current world-view"?

As for the rest of your post, you seem to have a point, but I certainly can't fathom it.
 
Old 02-15-2001, 10:58 PM   #10
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I don't think I am necessarily "right" and I certainly don't think you are flawed.

If you have no inner sense of the sacred, maybe you have its opposite. In that case, merely imagine ITS opposite and then you'll see! &lt;g&gt;

Generally speaking I take rationalism to be about using reason and the use of empirical data as the only source of knowledge. The sacred, the asrts and religion are not "about" rationalism.

The dislocation I wrote of is sometimes termed "the post-modern." Like the title of Marshall Berman's book it seems as if "all that is solid melts into air." Down through history, we have ALWAYS been going to hell in a handbasket. Now it seems hell is in the basket with us and we are going to a place we know not where. And the confusion in long-distance telephone choices is just the begining!&lt;g&gt;

You mention the world would be poorer for the lack of the arts. I submit that the world without the arts would not be "the world" anymore.

I hope this is more clear. I know it's not rational. I KNOW that! If it is still not understandable to you, then have back at me!

(It is easier if you are specific and take one issue at a time).

Thanks!

aikido7
 
 

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