Thursday, January 26, 2006

Patrick Reardon's Critique of Materialism

Hat tip: Rob Grano

11 comments:

Steven Carr said...

'His ears were shaped to hear the words, “Come, ye blessed of my Father.” His very fingers were formed that he might “know the place of the nails.”'

So that is the purpose of man. To stick fingers in revived corpses....

Grano1 said...

RE: Steven Carr's 'response' to this article.

1) Removing one sentence from the context of a theological writing (and a poetic sentence at that) then making a flip comment on it does not constitute a critique. It is at best juvenile and at worst dishonest.

2) Most intelligent readers would immediately recognize the statement referred to (in context, of course) as a poetic or metaphorical one, not a propositional one. Mr. Carr apparently needs to read more poetry.

3) Regardless of one's position on the resurrection of Christ, there is no Christian tradition or theology that holds that if he did rise, he is merely a "revived corpse." If he didn't rise, the statement doesn't matter. If he did rise, he may be manifest in a number of ways, but the possibility of his being some sort of zombie does not seem to be among them.

Steven Carr said...

Grano1 does not seem to want to defend the critique of materialism that Victor linked to.

And he certainly does not try to explain how materialism is refuted by a claim that fingers were formed so that they can know the place of the nails.

To me, the sentences I quoted seemed pretty typical of the sort of ecclesiasical piety masquerading as thought that is only too prevalent among some religious writers.

My reaction would be very typical of the reaction of many, many sceptics to the article, even ones who could be bothered to read it.

It is just not from Planet Earth. I don't know what the author was on when writing it, but it is barely coherent.

Most sceptics would simply ignore, laugh at or ridicule the article.

The kindest thing to say about it is that it is not even wrong.

I quote a bit of it to illustrate what rubbish it was.

'Similarly, we would promptly repudiate Darwinian evolutionism, Marxist dialectical materialism, the naturalism of Bertrand Russell, the New Age anthropology of Carlos CasteƱada, Aldous Huxley’s Western revival of Hindu monism, the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, the pragmatism of John Dewey, the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, B. F. Skinner’s denial of freedom and dignity, the nihilism of Kafka and Ionesco, and so on. We can probably all think of Christians who have, from time to time, dabbled in such experiments, but we are justified in suspecting that philosophies like these will not be taken seriously by a sufficient number of ordinary Christians so as to undermine the gospel itself.'

Should Darwinian evolution be rejected because it is an 'experiment'?

Grano1 said...

Again, ad hominem attacks and name-calling do not constitute criticism, even if they do seem to be a mainstay of the modus operandi of many liberals and skeptics. And Carr responds to the charge of taking a sentence out of context by what? Taking an entire paragraph out of context.

My comments were not meant to 'defend' the article, other than to draw attention to Carr's misrepresentation and puerile critique. I feel perfectly confident in the ability of Reardon to defend his own piece, should he choose to.

Also, it should be obvious that the article was written not to convince skeptics but as an informational piece to fellow Christians. Indeed, Fr. Reardon states its purpose early on in the article.

To be able to discuss these issues seriously, there needs to be at least a modicum of intellectual honesty among the participants. Misrepresentation and name-calling are not obviously not conducive to serious discussion.

Steven Carr said...

But there is no information in the article.

It is just rubbish. There is nothing to discuss seriously.

All you can do is wonder at the state of mind of somebody who could come up with such thoughts. I would be worried for my sanity if I ever started writing such things.

An example:-

'In summary, in the revelation in his Son, God transforms the knowability of the empirical, historical, categorical order, and all of God’s speaking in history is determined by, and to be interpreted with reference to, his revelation in the Son.

From the very first time that he uttered a human word, God started to become incarnate.

By speaking this word in history, God transforms the knowable structure and content of history.'

Doing *anything* transforms the content of history!


A further example :-

'Not least among the striking features of this text is the apostle’s use of exactly the same verb to speak of the sending forth of both the Son and the Holy Spirit. In each case he says, “exsapesteilen ho Theos”—“God sent forth his Son. . . . God sent forth the Spirit of his Son.” This is a summary of how we know God: We know him because he has revealed himself by his sending forth of his Son and Holy Spirit.'

This is just a non sequitur. How does using the same word for sending forth lead to the conclusion that we know God because the Holy Spirit and Jesus have been 'sent forth'?

There does not seem to be any logic to the article at all.

Steven Carr said...

'“God sent forth his Son. . . . God sent forth the Spirit of his Son.” This is a summary of how we know God: We know him because he has revealed himself by his sending forth of his Son and Holy Spirit.'

Why does Reardon conflate the Holy Spirit and 'the Spirit of his Son' into one? (apart from the fact that he has been taught almost since birth to do so?

Anonymous said...

"To be able to discuss these issues seriously, there needs to be at least a modicum of intellectual honesty among the participants. Misrepresentation and name-calling are not obviously not conducive to serious discussion."

This is too funny. All you've done here is hurl insults at Mr. Carr. Why don't you actually engage in some serious discussion, if it is so important to you?

Grano1 said...

The foundational issue here is whether or not Carr believes that statements about metaphysics convey information, or in Carnap's words, have "cognitive meaning." If you believe they don't, then obviously anything Reardon says is going to be "meaningless."

However, if one believes in the cognitive value of metaphysical statements then such statements can demonstrate internal logic and convey information.

It all depends on one's a priori's.

Steven Carr said...

Anonymous and Grano accuse me of hurling insults.

Curiously, I was the only one quoting the article. They can't bring themselves to quote what they are supposeldy defending.

It seems the article is for praising, not quoting.

Reardon calls Darwinian evolution an 'experiment'.

Is it?

Grano1 said...

Come on, Steve. Read the statement in context! He's talking about Christian theologians, teachers, etc. dabbling in philosophies that aren't compatible with Christian presuppositions as he sees them. Those are the "experiments" he's talking about.

Having said that, I'd argue that Darwinism is an experiment, generally speaking, to the extent that it's a theory which is unproven and which takes a certain measure of faith to subscribe to.

Victor Reppert said...

Steven: Actually, anonymous accused Rob of hurling insults. He's on your side.