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Xenophanes has it backwards - logic makes for a pretty good cross check on what sort of doctrines (when properly understood) make sense, but it is strictly speaking impotent for the discovery of new truths.

All it can be used for is to demonstrate the consistency of what you already know or suspect, or to cast what you already know into new forms. Deduction, for example, is a move from generals to specifics, literally an information losing operation, resulting in a particular precept of less generality than what you started with.

And as philosophers of science have well demonstrated, the principle of induction is often shaky at best. Platonist Realism (the naive variety anyway, where every universal term corresponded to a self-existent thing, such that metaphysics could be trivially reverse engineered from language) is demonstrably false - the only hope we have of knowing any general principles beyond the most fundamental laws of nature and a observational generalities is divine revelation.

Ockham and Abelard demonstrated that quite convincingly seven and more centuries ago. And if there is no God nor divine revelation, then we know next to nothing, next to nothing that can be regarded as Truth with a capital T anyway.

Mark, the problem is that those who put forth propositions under the banner of "Truth with a capital T" don't always fare well over time, whereas the inductive approach best epitomized by modern science has been fairly successful at rejecting false propositions and accumulating a stock of confirmed (to the extent of not-yet-refuted) facts and theories. I can see how an extreme Calvinist might reject Xenophanes' perspective, but not many others.

The (re)discovery of Sephoris and the implications hasn't quite trickled down to the popular level yet. Jesus is still a simple "carpenter" from backwoods Galilee, instead of living in what was essentially a suburb of one of the largest centers of Greek culture outside of Greece (as one author described it).

Tekton ("carpenter") is more of a craftsman than a carpenter, and probably did a good bit of work in Sephoris.

Dave,

How can you call a proposition that has little to be said for it beyond that "it has not been refuted" a "fact"?

Everything about Mormonism (and Christianity in general) rests on the fact that it is a revealed religion. There is no religious doctrine of significance that can be adequately confirmed by means of secular scholarship, which currently lives by the doctrine of doubt regarding all things spiritual. The things of God are known only by the spirit of God.

"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

So as long as the academy is dominated by natural men, they will know nothing concerning these things.

Christianity didn't incorporate any of this mystery religion stuff, although some might think Mormonism has (rather indirectly).

I don't think this is true. Many people consider the sacrament as a mystery religion rite. There's actually some interesting texts by pagans looking at Christianity and Judaism and how they interpret them in terms of mystery religions.

Mark, I just don't know where to start in replying to your comment (#4). Rejecting hypotheses ... that's how science works, by forming hypotheses and testing them against facts that can falsify or reject them. Ugly facts can slay elegant theories, as the saying goes. One can't "prove" empirical or inductive theories the way one sees deductive arguments constructed in Philosophy 101, but a theory that survives the concerted attempts of other researchers to falsify it is thereby "confirmed." Religious ideas don't fit very well because they can't really be tested or falsified. Different animal.

About your "doctrine of doubt" ... are you referring to Paul's advice, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (KJV 1 Thess. 5:21)? The NET Bible renders it as, "Examine all things; hold fast to what is good." That's what we are directed to do, test beliefs and reject the ones that don't meet the test.

You seem to suggest that doubting or rejecting religious ideas is ipso facto a bad thing. But I'll bet you reject all kinds of religious ideas and claims. Catholic ones. Evangelical ones. John Taylor's 1886 revelation. All the revelations those candidates vying for the title of the "one mighty and strong" receive. You see, doubt can be a good thing. In the Church, we spend too much time preaching faith and not enough time preaching the virtues of doubt.

And as for throwing around the loose term "natural man," would you care to give it a definition other than someone who rejects things you choose to believe? Does anyone with a PhD qualify as a "natural man" in your eyes? How do I distinguish you from the garden-variety anti-intellectual? Why is it okay, even commendable, for you to cite evidence and give reasons to support your religious views, but if someone else cites evidence and gives reasons to support a different set of Mormon doctrines, the doctrines of a different Christian denomination, or an entirely secular worldview, they qualify for the ambiguous epithet "natural man"? Or is everyone on Planet Earth a "natural man" in the sense that they labour under original sin or Calvinist human depravity?

Dave,

My point is that unless the data is overwhelming and comprehensive, such as usually easily obtainable for the most fundamental laws of physics, Popper is generally right - no finite number of datums can confirm a theory, while a single one can potentially disconfirm it.

In other words, unless you have the means to collect massive amounts of data under the appropriate conditions, science does not lead to truth, it just leads to better theories. And due the sparsity of the data, the distance between the truth of the academic consensus and what is actually the case may be profound. That is why many scientists deny that there is such a thing as scientific truth. It is all due to the problem of induction.

Now provided a sufficiently reliable channel is available, inspiration can lead to much more accurate theories, precisely because God is acquainted with all things. Not only does He know all of his creations, he designed them. And all laws that are not absolute, but which are true are of His authorship.

All the truths of biology, psychology, social science, language, law, literature, etc. are generally of His creation. The number of natural (i.e. absolute) laws governing such things is minimal. Philosophers know that - that is why they went all existentialist.

But without God, an honest existentialist must admit he knows nothing of Truth, except a few laws of physics perhaps, hence nihilism, absurdism, and much of post-modernism. Thus the theological turn in Continental philosophy, due to the recognition that without God, Continental style philosophy is a black void.

So beyond a tiny handful of absolutes, where does the Truth (i.e. a knowledge of things as they were, are, and will be per D&C 93:24) come from? From God. The scientific method is quite useful for reverse engineering absolutes, but it is exceedingly slow going for reverse engineering the Creation - especially since as a matter of principle since denies the most fundamental principle in existence, which is intelligence.

Philosophers know the problem, but scientists are still caught up in a hyper-reductionist fantasyland that is doomed to fail, working on variations of the same problems over and over again - the ones the befuddled the philosophers, and never coming to the knowledge of the Truth, which is of God, not of nature.

Classical Aristotelianism is false. Ockham demonstrated that handily seven centuries ago, and provided the key to the answer as well - the unity of natural law, free will and theological voluntarism, principles which have guided every true advance in Protestant theology ever since (Calvinism being the absolutist aberration).

But the philosophers despaired for they had determined that revelation ended with the Apostles, and how were they to get any more knowledge of the truth, if God was the author of it? And they hated Ockham for it, notwithstanding his ideas went on enlighten Arminian theology and classical liberalism, and religious existentialism for centuries afterward.

But strictly speaking Ockham was right - revelation is the only key to Truth outside of mathematics and the most fundamental of natural sciences. Without it men just stumble in the dark, producing limited theories, but failing to understand the true guiding principles of virtually every field, which are of divine authorship, and properly made known by revelation or inspiration, and effectively by no other means.

Mark,

To me, it sounds like you are mingling the philosophies of men with scripture as a basis for denigrating human reason in general and science in particular. That perspective is entirely inconsistent with the present LDS view of science. Here's what the First Presidency sends out to those who ask questions about evolution (taken from the EOM article on evolution, which quotes notes from the First Presidency in 1931):

Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.

It doesn't say that scientists are doomed to failure unless they pray a lot. It says the Church won't meddle with scientific results and theories. They can stand on their own.

In the True to the Faith booklet published by the Church, it says this regarding "Education":

The Lord has commanded, “Seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). He has counseled us to learn the gospel and to gain an understanding “of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that [we] may be prepared in all things” (D&C 88:78–80).

Your suggestion that the use of human reason to seek and acquire knowledge outside the realm of mathematics and the "most fundamental of natural sciences" is fruitless or cursed is simply misguided. You are welcome to your opinion, of course, but don't think that it represents what the Church or the scriptures state on the subject.

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