Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Alan Turing on Theological Arguments

 

I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past. In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, “And the sun stood still… and hasted not to go down about a whole day” (Joshua 10:13) and “He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time” (Psalm 104:5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory.” — Alan Turing

As a recovering math major, I must admit that I also have some difficulty with most theological arguments. Metaphysical interpretation makes a lot more sense and is applicable in everyday life. I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but I do care to be able to identify when I am taking a bite of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And on a political site like Ricochet, folks are handing me those fruits to taste every day. Usually, I pass and stay in the Edenic state of consciousness. But I doubt Turing ever met that sort of metaphysics.

Happy 106th birthday, old boy!

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  1. Vectorman Thatcher

    In Computer Science, we learned how the Turing Machine led to the development of modern computers:


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    • #1
    • June 23, 2018, at 5:10 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    Well theology misapplied is as bad as scientism which is also science misapplied. You must work very cautiously anytime you are taking the Bible at what the text implies, as opposed to what the text says in the context that it is used. Christians have made a lot of mistakes developing the implications of the Bible.

    When applied correctly theology is awesome.

    • #2
    • June 23, 2018, at 6:14 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It only takes a handful of repetitions of the question “how do you know that?” to drive a proponent of scientism around the far bend of epistemology. At which time I like to hit him with the one-two punch of the replication crisis and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and watch his world view spiral out of control.

    I guess it’s true that some men really do just want to watch the world burn. Bring marshmallows. 

    • #3
    • June 23, 2018, at 7:00 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Theology is nothing more or less than logic proceeding from a set of premises with relevance to meaning of life. It is an organized form of philosophy which considers various challenges in tandem. 

    Any application of logic can fail by many ways. Before there were professional scientists corresponding to understand and correct each other, Christian philosophers contested ideas and gradually built upon the insights of previous generations. The heresies, such as Arianism and Manichaeism, are examples of errant theological ideas methodically rooted out. Of course, theologians have an advantage over scientists (both Christian and pagan) in the authority of the bishops to settle questions pivotal to the faith… while most questions remain open to theory. 

    • #4
    • June 23, 2018, at 7:13 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Unsk Member

    Arahunt, Did you know that Copernicus was a Christian monk? Somehow the Church allowed his theories to spread. Why wasn’t he and his ‘heretical” theories burned at the stake to be burned to a crisp and lost to history forever ? I mean we are told over and over and over again that the Church was anti-science and did those kind of things all the time, so what was up with that?

    • #5
    • June 23, 2018, at 7:22 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  6. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Um, whatevs…Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, etc., etc.

    • #6
    • June 23, 2018, at 10:47 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Vectorman Thatcher

    Percival (View Comment):
    At which time I like to hit him with the one-two punch of the replication crisis and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and watch his world view spiral out of control.

    It’s interesting the overlap between Turing and Gödel. From your link above:

    J. R. Lucas and physicist Roger Penrose have debated what, if anything, Gödel’s incompleteness theorems imply about human intelligence. Much of the debate centers on whether the human mind is equivalent to a Turing machine…

    From Alan Turing:

    Turing reformulated Kurt Gödel’s 1931 results on the limits of proof and computation, replacing Gödel’s universal arithmetic-based formal language with the formal and simple hypothetical devices that became known as Turing machines… Turing proved that his “universal computing machine” would be capable of performing any conceivable mathematical computation if it were representable as an algorithm.

    Interesting stuff. Since the 1930’s, great minds try to find Artificial Intelligence, but it isn’t here yet.

    • #7
    • June 23, 2018, at 10:58 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Vectorman (View Comment):
    Since the 1930’s, great minds try to find Artificial Intelligence, but it isn’t here yet.

    There are those who debate that proof of the natural sort of intelligence exists, either. I’m rather agnostic on the matter.

    • #8
    • June 23, 2018, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m both skeptical and optimistic about AI. Human thinking (not just logical intelligence, but emotions and other influences) is incredibly complex and fluid. But it does generally adhere to discernible patterns, which is why psychology is a respectable field. 

    The video game industry is probably the main driver of AI development. The goals of game developers are more modest than futurists. They are content to iterate within existing knowledge and computing power before stepping forward one hardware generation at a time. And as Ray the Ghostbuster said about the private sector, “they expect results.” So there is constant improvement. 

    Before attempting to replicate human cognition, try a bug’s, then a lizard’s, then a squirrel’s, etc. When robotic dogs are eerily lifelike, then we can talk about simulating human intelligence. 

    Questions like “Are we living in a simulation?” and “Does free will exist?” are for stoners. Respectable philosophy has practical value.

    • #9
    • June 23, 2018, at 11:36 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Arahunt, Did you know that Copernicus was a Christian monk? Somehow the Church allowed his theories to spread.

    Ansk,

    Yes, I knew that.

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Why wasn’t he and his ‘heretical” theories burned at the stake to be burned to a crisp and lost to history forever ? I mean we are told over and over and over again that the Church was anti-science and did those kind of things all the time, so what was up with that?

    Because we are told a lot of lies about a lot of things in history. The Church did not do much in the way of burning at the stake, although some secular rulers did. Some books and ideas were proscribed, but that does not mean that the Church itself did not preserve some of them as examples of “heresies” that people could fall into. But if we look into people like Jan Hus, we see that the church did declare him a heretic and Haeresiarcha, but it was the secular authorities who executed him, since the king had been told his teachings were dangerous to secular authority.

    Galileo, on the other hand, who was in the secular domains of the Pope, was merely put under house arrest. But even before that, we see this in the Wikipedia article about him:

    The decree of the Congregation of the Index banned Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus and other heliocentric works until correction. Bellarmine’s instructions did not prohibit Galileo from discussing heliocentrism as a mathematical and philosophic idea, so long as he did not advocate for its physical truth.

    Notice the “banned…until correction.” Also notice that Galileo was not prohibited from discussing heliocentrism?

    Also, Copernicus was already dead before the first Roman Catholic denunciations of his work. (Some of Luther’s followers did condemn it in his lifetime.) Not that he couldn’t have been dug up and burned posthumously, as they did with Wycliffe, but generally Copernicus’ work was seen as having minor problems, rather than major heresies. They removed several lines and republished the “corrected” work.

    The Roman Catholic Church and the Inquisition in general were not into killing people, but more into giving them chances to repent and come back to the fold. There were some branches and leaders of the Inquisition in some countries who were a bit more into the slash and burn methods, but they were usually closely tied to secular regimes who perceived a threat to their secular political power.

    • #10
    • June 23, 2018, at 12:09 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Arahunt, Did you know that Copernicus was a Christian monk? Somehow the Church allowed his theories to spread.

    Ansk,

    Yes, I knew that.

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Why wasn’t he and his ‘heretical” theories burned at the stake to be burned to a crisp and lost to history forever ? I mean we are told over and over and over again that the Church was anti-science and did those kind of things all the time, so what was up with that?

    Because we are told a lot of lies about a lot of things in history. The Church did not do much in the way of burning at the stake, although some secular rulers did. Some books and ideas were proscribed, but that does not mean that the Church itself did not preserve some of them as examples of “heresies” that people could fall into. But if we look into people like Jan Hus, we see that the church did declare him a heretic and Haeresiarcha, but it was the secular authorities who executed him, since the king had been told his teachings were dangerous to secular authority.

    Galileo, on the other hand, who was in the secular domains of the Pope, was merely put under house arrest. But even before that, we see this in the Wikipedia article about him:

    The decree of the Congregation of the Index banned Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus and other heliocentric works until correction. Bellarmine’s instructions did not prohibit Galileo from discussing heliocentrism as a mathematical and philosophic idea, so long as he did not advocate for its physical truth.

    Notice the “banned…until correction.” Also notice that Galileo was not prohibited from discussing heliocentrism?

    Also, Copernicus was already dead before the first Roman Catholic denunciations of his work. (Some of Luther’s followers did condemn it in his lifetime.) Not that he couldn’t have been dug up and burned posthumously, as they did with Wycliffe, but generally Copernicus’ work was seen as having minor problems, rather than major heresies. They removed several lines and republished the “corrected” work.

    The Roman Catholic Church and the Inquisition in general were not into killing people, but more into giving them chances to repent and come back to the fold. There were some branches and leaders of the Inquisition in some countries who were a bit more into the slash and burn methods, but they were usually closely tied to secular regimes who perceived a threat to their secular political power.

    Fair and balanced…Thanks!

    • #11
    • June 23, 2018, at 2:02 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):
    Fair and balanced…Thanks!

    Fair is fair, and the facts are facts. Here is a line from Torquemada’s Wikipedia page:

    During his final years, Torquemada’s failing health, coupled with widespread complaints, caused Pope Alexander VI to appoint four assistant inquisitors in June 1494 to restrain the Spanish Inquisition.

    Torquemada was a definite case of supporting a secular power who felt threatened (with fair reason), but even the Pope was like, “Dude, dial it back already.”

    • #12
    • June 23, 2018, at 2:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):
    Fair and balanced…Thanks!

    Fair is fair, and the facts are facts. Here is a line from Torquemada’s Wikipedia page:

    During his final years, Torquemada’s failing health, coupled with widespread complaints, caused Pope Alexander VI to appoint four assistant inquisitors in June 1494 to restrain the Spanish Inquisition.

    Torquemada was a definite case of supporting a secular power who felt threatened (with fair reason), but even the Pope was like, “Dude, dial it back already.”

    No doubt that the man in question was exactly as described…The exception that lends credence to your prior description. So, still fair and balanced – referring both to the process and your explication of same, ‘Hant. :-)

    • #13
    • June 23, 2018, at 2:28 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Percival (View Comment):

    It only takes a handful of repetitions of the question “how do you know that?” to drive a proponent of scientism around the far bend of epistemology. At which time I like to hit him with the one-two punch of the replication crisis and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and watch his world view spiral out of control.

    I guess it’s true that some men really do just want to watch the world burn. Bring marshmallows.

    All well and good but electricity, nuclear power, antibiotics, etc. Some science has some pretty solid cred. 

    • #14
    • June 23, 2018, at 8:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    All well and good but electricity, nuclear power, antibiotics, etc. Some science has some pretty solid cred. 

    Right. Science. Not Scientism. They are different things.

    • #15
    • June 23, 2018, at 8:23 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    It only takes a handful of repetitions of the question “how do you know that?” to drive a proponent of scientism around the far bend of epistemology. At which time I like to hit him with the one-two punch of the replication crisis and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and watch his world view spiral out of control.

    I guess it’s true that some men really do just want to watch the world burn. Bring marshmallows.

    All well and good but electricity, nuclear power, antibiotics, etc. Some science has some pretty solid cred.

    All science down properly has excellent cred. Scientism, science being the only way of knowing and all answers being reduced to materialistic ones by definition means that you are using science to give answers to questions that science was not meant to ask or answer. That is where it goes wrong. Scientism really stumbles of disciplines like history, since Scientism would want us to treat nearly all historical knowledge with great skepticism. In fact people that follow scientism don’t really understand how much they through nearly all historical knowledge into doubt. 

    • #16
    • June 23, 2018, at 8:26 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    It only takes a handful of repetitions of the question “how do you know that?” to drive a proponent of scientism around the far bend of epistemology. At which time I like to hit him with the one-two punch of the replication crisis and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and watch his world view spiral out of control.

    I guess it’s true that some men really do just want to watch the world burn. Bring marshmallows.

    All well and good but electricity, nuclear power, antibiotics, etc. Some science has some pretty solid cred.

    All science down properly has excellent cred. Scientism, science being the only way of knowing and all answers being reduced to materialistic ones by definition means that you are using science to give answers to questions that science was not meant to ask or answer. That is where it goes wrong. Scientism really stumbles of disciplines like history, since Scientism would want us to treat nearly all historical knowledge with great skepticism. In fact people that follow scientism don’t really understand how much they through nearly all historical knowledge into doubt.

    Give yourself to the Dark Side, Cato.

    • #17
    • June 23, 2018, at 8:54 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Mark Camp Member

    Arahant: “I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past.

    The other day a Jewish brother of mine, a scholar, pointed out on these pages that Jews focus on creation, just as Christians focus on faith, love, and grace. It is a good reminder from a Jew to a Christian for this case, because the only theological argument of any importance ever spoken to Mr. Turing during his life of abominable sin was spoken by his creator. Mr. Turing knew, at some point, that it will not do to use the passive voice when rejecting it. A son can’t so easily fool his own father. Creation doesn’t care that some unidentified person found his argument “unsatisfactory”, or that it happened “often”, in the opinion of this person, or at what unspecified point in “the past” this anonymous unidentified event occurred.

    A man can only reject and hate his creator by speaking and acting for himself, just as he can only love and worship his creator for himself. To shift the focus back from that of the Jews to that of the Christians, you can accept loving grace by faith for yourself or reject it for yourself. Those are the only two options God offers you. He calls each man and each woman during his lifetime for some final time, and that man or woman answers only on his own account.

    • #18
    • June 23, 2018, at 9:08 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Jeff Peterson Inactive

    For general edification, here’s my favorite quotation related to the theme of this thread, from Alan Charles Kors, UPenn emeritus in history, editor of the Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, and a (if not the) leading authority on that movement, which often involved a low view of theology, especially Catholic theology:

    We live in an age of willful blindness and willful forgetfulness. Philistines do not know that virtually every thrust that they make against Christian belief was anticipated and articulated in the sed contra objections of the doctors of the Church themselves. They do not know that the debates of which the moderns are so proud ultimately resolve into arguments that arose in past ages among Catholic philosophers and theologians—realism versus nominalism, the limits of natural human knowledge, the tension between philosophical skepticism and rational dogmatism. To cite one example among so many, in seventeenth-century France one found scholasticism of various philosophical stripes, Thomist and Scotist revivals, an Augustinian revival, Cartesian, Aristotelian, and Malebranchist schools of Catholic natural philosophy, a flowering of mysticism as well as debates about the dangers of mysticism. There were deep disputes between Jansenists and Jesuits. Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits debated each other over the nature of non-Christian cultures and the scope and limits of natural law and natural reason. Montaigne, Charron, Mersenne, Gassendi, and the singular Aristotelian Barbay; Pascal, Arnauld, Fenelon; devotees of Suarez, Salamanca, Louvain, the Sorbonne, and Port Royal—all living and flourishing within the bosom of the Catholic Church. 

    Never, in the history of all creeds, has there been more intellectual dynamism, vitality, philosophical diversity, mutual criticism, and natural philosophical liberty than in the history of the Catholic Church. Every century’s or generation’s rediscovery of or encounter with Augustine and Aquinas, for example, is productive of profoundly creative thought and debate and forces anew a consideration of the deepest issues known to the human mind.

    For what it’s worth, Kors isn’t Catholic, and neither am I.

    • #19
    • June 23, 2018, at 9:23 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Jeff Peterson (View Comment):
    We live in an age of willful blindness and willful forgetfulness. Philistines do not know that virtually every thrust that they make against Christian belief was anticipated and articulated in the sed contra objections of the doctors of the Church themselves. They do not know that the debates of which the moderns are so proud ultimately resolve into arguments that arose in past ages among Catholic philosophers and theologians—realism versus nominalism, the limits of natural human knowledge, the tension between philosophical skepticism and rational dogmatism.

    Yep. Ideas keep popping back up for good or ill.

    • #20
    • June 23, 2018, at 10:41 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    It only takes a handful of repetitions of the question “how do you know that?” to drive a proponent of scientism around the far bend of epistemology. At which time I like to hit him with the one-two punch of the replication crisis and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and watch his world view spiral out of control.

    I guess it’s true that some men really do just want to watch the world burn. Bring marshmallows.

    All well and good but electricity, nuclear power, antibiotics, etc. Some science has some pretty solid cred.

    All science down properly has excellent cred. Scientism, science being the only way of knowing and all answers being reduced to materialistic ones by definition means that you are using science to give answers to questions that science was not meant to ask or answer. That is where it goes wrong. Scientism really stumbles of disciplines like history, since Scientism would want us to treat nearly all historical knowledge with great skepticism. In fact people that follow scientism don’t really understand how much they through nearly all historical knowledge into doubt.

    I think some fine distinctions are necessary. Does science have the means to answer any question anyone might care to ask? Certainly not. The questions it can’t answer are further divided into questions it will never be able to answer and questions it may someday be able to answer. They can also be divided, along a different axis, into questions science really has nothing to say about and questions that science can provide evidence to help answer without being able to answer them definitively.

    But for purposes of this post, perhaps it’s more important to say that knowing that “science can’t answer it” does not logically lead to the belief that “theology can.” The scientific method at least offers a means of evaluating and validating the claims made by science – a persuasive one unless you doubt the evidence of your senses. Theology tends to be discounted, by those of us who discount it, because it offers no such method of self-validation.

    • #21
    • June 24, 2018, at 7:03 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Arahant: “I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past.

    The other day a Jewish brother of mine, a scholar, pointed out on these pages that Jews focus on creation, just as Christians focus on faith, love, and grace. It is a good reminder from a Jew to a Christian for this case, because the only theological argument of any importance ever spoken to Mr. Turing during his life of abominable sin was spoken by his creator. Mr. Turing knew, at some point, that it will not do to use the passive voice when rejecting it. A son can’t so easily fool his own father. Creation doesn’t care that some unidentified person found his argument “unsatisfactory”, or that it happened “often”, in the opinion of this person, or at what unspecified point in “the past” this anonymous unidentified event occurred.

    A man can only reject and hate his creator by speaking and acting for himself, just as he can only love and worship his creator for himself. To shift the focus back from that of the Jews to that of the Christians, you can accept loving grace by faith for yourself or reject it for yourself. Those are the only two options God offers you. He calls each man and each woman during his lifetime for some final time, and that man or woman answers only on his own account.

    Oy. Here we go again.

    • #22
    • June 24, 2018, at 7:06 AM PDT
    • Like
  23. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    The scientific method at least offers a means of evaluating and validating the claims made by science – a persuasive one unless you doubt the evidence of your senses.

    The Scientific Method is a good formula for validation. But it is too often confused with science generally. Scientific research and cooperation did not begin in recent centuries. Nor were many of the greatest scientific insights accomplished so methodically. 

    Science is distinguished from philosophy by its reliance on physical tests. The methods of testing and comparison vary. 

    Like all human endeavors, science and philosophy sometimes overlap. The mathematical proofs of astrophysicists are not unlike the logical proofs of metaphysics. Sometimes one person’s theory must be proved by another.

    Often, practicioners in one field could benefit from greater knowledge of the other. Though the Scientific Method itself is sound, applications are regularly flawed because of unfounded assumptions, unseen variables, exaggerated conclusions, and other errors of logic. Likewise, philosophers can fail by applying sound logic to insufficient knowledge; like a car mechanic who only sees half the parts in operation when diagnosing a general malfunction. 

    Knowledge is gained at an exponential rate. The more one possesses, the more one is able to relate or combine into fresh insights; the more one can pursue grander or finer experiments. Some products of that knowledge are wealth and security which free and enable ever more people to experiment, cooperate, and verify each other’s works. In other words, opportunities for science increase with human history, gradually but at an accelerating rate. 

    The “Enlightenment” and Scientific Method are less significant to scientific progress than are the printing press and the fruition of capitalism. In any case, an exponential curve in innovation and discovery was predictable. Science is as old as human history. Ancient peoples made remarkable discoveries — often methodically and cooperatively. They did not mistake empirical skepticism for lack of errors, nor speculation in absence of evidence for fancy.

    • #23
    • June 24, 2018, at 9:52 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Arahunt, Did you know that Copernicus was a Christian monk? Somehow the Church allowed his theories to spread. Why wasn’t he and his ‘heretical” theories burned at the stake to be burned to a crisp and lost to history forever ? I mean we are told over and over and over again that the Church was anti-science and did those kind of things all the time, so what was up with that?

    The inquisition guy was out with plague that week. 

    • #24
    • June 24, 2018, at 5:46 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Fair is fair, and the facts are facts. Here is a line from Torquemada’s Wikipedia page:

    During his final years, Torquemada’s failing health, coupled with widespread complaints, caused Pope Alexander VI to appoint four assistant inquisitors in June 1494 to restrain the Spanish Inquisition.

    Right after I posted, I read your post that the inquisitor guy actually did call in sick. 

    And stepped on my line. As if I didn’t hate the Inquisition enough already. 

    • #25
    • June 24, 2018, at 5:54 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    Jeff Peterson (View Comment):

    For general edification, here’s my favorite quotation related to the theme of this thread, from Alan Charles Kors, UPenn emeritus in history, editor of the Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, and a (if not the) leading authority on that movement, which often involved a low view of theology, especially Catholic theology:

    We live in an age of willful blindness and willful forgetfulness. Philistines do not know that virtually every thrust that they make against Christian belief was anticipated and articulated in the sed contra objections of the doctors of the Church themselves. They do not know that the debates of which the moderns are so proud ultimately resolve into arguments that arose in past ages among Catholic philosophers and theologians—realism versus nominalism, the limits of natural human knowledge, the tension between philosophical skepticism and rational dogmatism. To cite one example among so many, in seventeenth-century France one found scholasticism of various philosophical stripes, Thomist and Scotist revivals, an Augustinian revival, Cartesian, Aristotelian, and Malebranchist schools of Catholic natural philosophy, a flowering of mysticism as well as debates about the dangers of mysticism. There were deep disputes between Jansenists and Jesuits. Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits debated each other over the nature of non-Christian cultures and the scope and limits of natural law and natural reason. Montaigne, Charron, Mersenne, Gassendi, and the singular Aristotelian Barbay; Pascal, Arnauld, Fenelon; devotees of Suarez, Salamanca, Louvain, the Sorbonne, and Port Royal—all living and flourishing within the bosom of the Catholic Church.

    Never, in the history of all creeds, has there been more intellectual dynamism, vitality, philosophical diversity, mutual criticism, and natural philosophical liberty than in the history of the Catholic Church. Every century’s or generation’s rediscovery of or encounter with Augustine and Aquinas, for example, is productive of profoundly creative thought and debate and forces anew a consideration of the deepest issues known to the human mind.

    For what it’s worth, Kors isn’t Catholic, and neither am I.

     

    Neither am I.

    The same kind of “willful blindness” could also describe most of the amateur science vs religion arguments. Skeptics pose “gotcha” questions that aren’t really “gotcha” questions at all, as a hundreds of theologians (usually much more intelligent/better informed than the skeptic) anticipated the question hundreds or thousands of years ago, and solved the complication in various ways. Creationists challenge evolution in ways that have already been answered, sometimes as far back as Darwin, himself. And self-appointed defenders of science make the same stupid mistake about Creationist ideas. But, hey, as long as we all stay in our bubbles, we’ll never have the discomfort of knowing that the other bubble is also capable of doubt and introspection.

    • #26
    • June 25, 2018, at 6:28 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    But for purposes of this post, perhaps it’s more important to say that knowing that “science can’t answer it” does not logically lead to the belief that “theology can.” The scientific method at least offers a means of evaluating and validating the claims made by science – a persuasive one unless you doubt the evidence of your senses. Theology tends to be discounted, by those of us who discount it, because it offers no such method of self-validation.

    Largely agree. However Theology is also an outlook of the senses. People have perceived and experienced God for millennia. Theology has grown and gotten better and better at reviewing and understanding these experiences. Just because an encounter with another person can’t be reconstructed and replicated by science does not mean that going over that encounter is pointless, even when the evidence for the encounter is almost entirely testimonial. If we do not need to doubt the evidence of our senses then our sense of encounter with the Divine is perfect place for theology to operate and show progress.

    • #27
    • June 25, 2018, at 11:58 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    But for purposes of this post, perhaps it’s more important to say that knowing that “science can’t answer it” does not logically lead to the belief that “theology can.” The scientific method at least offers a means of evaluating and validating the claims made by science – a persuasive one unless you doubt the evidence of your senses. Theology tends to be discounted, by those of us who discount it, because it offers no such method of self-validation.

    Largely agree. However Theology is also an outlook of the senses. People have perceived and experienced God for millennia. Theology has grown and gotten better and better at reviewing and understanding these experiences. Just because an encounter with another person can’t be reconstructed and replicated by science does not mean that going over that encounter is pointless, even when the evidence for the encounter is almost entirely testimonial. If we do not need to doubt the evidence of our senses then our sense of encounter with the Divine is perfect place for theology to operate and show progress.

    I can’t really argue with you other than to say that I don’t have that “sense of encounter with the Divine.” I only have the five – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Call them the “universal senses.” Lots of people only have those five and some of us at least wonder whether the special one you claim is really more a metaphorical “sense” than an actual one, or maybe even just a delusion. So we find it hard to look at it as “evidence” in the same way that (or of the same probative value as), say, a visual observation is.

    • #28
    • June 25, 2018, at 8:00 PM PDT
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  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    I can’t really argue with you other than to say that I don’t have that “sense of encounter with the Divine.” I only have the five – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Call them the “universal senses.” Lots of people only have those five…

    Or, maybe eighteen?

    • #29
    • June 25, 2018, at 8:20 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    I can’t really argue with you other than to say that I don’t have that “sense of encounter with the Divine.” I only have the five – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Call them the “universal senses.” Lots of people only have those five and some of us at least wonder whether the special one you claim is really more a metaphorical “sense” than an actual one, or maybe even just a delusion. So we find it hard to look at it as “evidence” in the same way that (or of the same probative value as), say, a visual observation is.

    Fair enough. 

    For many, spiritual encounters are like encounters with the wind. You don’t actually see the wind, but you know its presence by seeing the things it moves. Seeing God’s presence in the world is often like seeing serendipity too perfect or too regular to credit to blind odds.

    God is not a force but a personal being. The doings of a person often have a personal touch, which is easier to recognize if one knows more about that person. 

    • #30
    • June 26, 2018, at 12:32 PM PDT
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