Tuesday, July 17, 2007


A World of Contradictions

The prevailing philosophy of the 19th century (and for a great part of the 20th) was Logical Positivism--the notion that all truths, if they were really true, were undeniable. All that was necessary was to ensure that all arguments made to reveal those truths were formulated properly.

But, in actuality, positivism never had a chance of working. As it turns out, all events are subject to INTERPRETATION, and interpretation is always subject to prejudice, bias, and the unpredictability of one's own viewpoint.

As a result, there is a lot of inconsitency out there. Mixed messages out the whazoo.

On the one hand, we are told that morality is subjective; on the other, we are told that President Bush is waging an immoral war and should be stopped. On the one hand, we are supposed to adhere to the rule of law; on the other, the Supreme Court thinks the U.S. Constitution--supposedly the Law of the Land (that land being, not to put too fine a point on the matter, the United States and not Switzerland)--can be overridden by the Geneva Convention, and that nearly 200 years after it was written, it suddenly disclosed a heretofore undisclosed Right to Privacy. The sovereignty of nations should always be respected; but it was okay to declare war on Germany. We have an obligation to be tolerant of the opinions of others; but don't take Ann Coulter seriously. Our universities should reflect diversity; but don't plan on holding a professorship if you're a conservative. Abortion is choice; but meat is murder. Intelligent Design theory can't be taught in our schools because it makes reference to an ultimate "Intelligent Designer" of the entire universe, which makes it creationism; but Quantum Physics, which makes reference to observer-based reality and freely ponders the existence of an "Ultimate Observer," is science. The universe's existence is purely accidental; but life, an accidental offshoot of an accidental universe, still has purpose and meaning. It's as if, rather than there being two sides to every issue, there are as many sides to every issue as there are people. That's six billion sides to every issue, and counting, times a seemingly infinite number of issues.

Now I realize I'm rambling, but just bear with me for a second. The point I am trying to make is this: whether or not there's a God, there had BETTER be one, because otherwise mankind has no hope whatsoever of rescuing itself. Our basic inability to look at facts and see them as facts dooms us to oblivion just as assuredly as failing to buy a lottery ticket will keep you from winning the lottery.

Positivism seemed at first a rational philosophy, but ultimately it failed. That gave way in the 20th century to Post-Modernism, which holds that all discourses are arbitrary and that all points of view are therefore equally valid.

But with such a view there is really no such thing as right or wrong, just your locality from where you stand within the context of a given discourse. Worse yet, without a foundation of right versus wrong and no basis for telling anyone to adhere to it, with only a subjective morality lacking any rules of how we are to conduct ourselves, no one has any right whatsoever to tell anyone else how to live. Thus, we have no more business telling Mr. Bush not to wage a War on Terror than we did for stopping Hitler from shoving people into ovens (and, shockingly, vice versa). And if Survival of the Fittest is the overarching feature of Nature, then we can reasonably argue that the millions slaughtered in the Holocaust were simply displaying their lack of fitness.

Yet, people try to have it both ways. It was okay to take out Hitler but not Sadaam. Morality is subjective, but the Holocaust was immoral. Uh-huh. Tell me another one.

So the only world view that makes any sense is one that involves the existence of God. Muddle with the idea that human suffering is inconsistent with the notion of a loving, caring God all you will, but I defy ANYONE to come up with a clear, consistent, workable philosophy that doesn't ultimately hinge upon a Creator. It can't be done. Period.

In all honesty, there was a time in my life when I tried to tell myself that belief in God was for saps. I mean, I tried. Really. But try as I did, I just couldn't shake it. Every time I sat down to think out an idea, I kept finding myself tooling around with notions I thought I had long abandoned. So that means either there IS a God, or I'm a sap. I'll leave you to decide which.

At any rate, for what it's worth, this is also why I ultimately rejected naturalistic materialism--specifically, the notion that human evolution is a blind, unguided process that is best described without reference to God.

Far from it. Evolution is simply not possible--not, at least, in the sense it is taught is our classrooms. Saying that life evolved all on its own is like saying you stood in a bushel basket and lifted yourself ten feet into the air.

I don't think you are being entirely fair to materialism to point out the contradictions of a few unnamed proponents without demonstrating that those particular views follow logically from their worldview. It would be equally spurious to claim that creationists all hate fags since the WBC does.

I agree that it is very difficult to make the case that WWII was a just war against a regime that deserved what they got while maintaining on similar principles that Gulf War II was unjust. There is nothing in materialist philosophy which prevents one from seeing that some wars serve to liberate rather than subjugate.
My problem with materialism has less to to with the logic that materialists use (though oftentimes that logic is truly faulty) than with their basic assumptions. It doesn't really matter if a materialist's views follow logically from his worldview, because it is a faulty worldview to start with.

Materialism makes two basic assumptions: 1) Matter is all there is, and 2) Matter is all you ever need. I doubt the validity of 1), and am quite certain of the invalidity of 2).

For instance, what does materialism do with the concept of mind? For the materialist, matter is suborned to mind--he rejects Cartesian dualism (the division of the universe into separate domains of mind and matter) just as readily as he rejects Monistic Idealism (the notion that mind comes first, and matter from it).

Fair enough, but how does that explain the origin of thought? The materialist looks to the brain for his explanation, so that "mind" is just another word for "brain." This is a notion I've never been able to accept. The brain does not secrete thought in the same way that the liver secretes bile. Mind and brain are not one and the same.
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Fair enough, but how does that explain the origin of thought?

I do not think it is rational for naturalists/materialists to claim that they can explain everything - at least not at the moment.

We have some sense of how the brain functions, but rather little sense of why the subjective experience of having a brain is such as it is.

The materialist looks to the brain for his explanation, so that "mind" is just another word for "brain."

Who does that? Certainly no one I know. I've seen brains in jars, but I've little doubt that there was no minds in those jars.

The brain does not secrete thought in the same way that the liver secretes bile.

Precisely. Thought is a subjective experience rather than an objective phenomenon.
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