My frequent attacks on Aristotelian epistemology do not mean the whole thing is utterly useless. I’ve often said it has its place, however limited. I’ve also said the ancients would recognize it if they had encountered it, because it was the proper means for addressing things lacking any mystical component.
A rock falls when you unwrap your fingers from it; if you find something really important in that, go ahead and analyze it using direct logic. Measure it and extrapolate the forces involved, etc. Theorize and build better rocks, if it seems compelling to you. Nothing wrong with bringing better weapons to the battlefield, since humanity will never cease fighting. That’s the whole point, though. The type of direct analysis you use for falling rocks will not help you understand humans are permanently broken and will do all they can to improve on the process for both war and commerce. Doing science is one thing; understanding why humans do science is not itself within reach of science.
Not that such truth as prevented scientists from trying. Therein lies the problem. People are so enamored with what science can do, they seem to forget there are things it can’t do. Keep it where it belongs, and you’ll never get a complaint from mystics.
The limitations on analytical and deductive reasoning are generally unrecognized. It gets to the point most serious scholars assume what mystics do is actually just a form of deduction. In the very process, they throw out everything on the other side of the line of conscious reasoning. That’s the primary bone of contention. It gets to the point I refuse to offer any apologetic discussion of my belief. I simply declare faith is inherently unreasonable and get back to the work of faith. My blogs have had their share of verbal attacks on this very thing, and it’s a waste of time. If you insist on denying there is anything worthwhile beyond the boundaries of conscious intellect, then I will state you don’t have sufficient education to understand what I would have to say. You can’t keep throwing pearls of truth at piggish minds.
My hardest work is against the mass of Christians who actually start off agreeing with the Aristotelians. In their struggle to keep faith inside that constricted envelope, they have to come up with a lot of sheer nonsense, stuff which violates both direct and indirect reasoning.
How many Christians do you know who maintain a full consciousness Jesus the man was dime-a-dozen in His world? There were countless prophets and oddball rabbis in His day, and not a few were killed by one government or another, claiming to be the Messiah. Nor was He the only one crucified in that time. To someone outside the whole discussion, using the best historical data, His personal name “Jesus” was common, even among several others claiming to be Christ. Contemporary references ignore Our Savior for good and valid reasons. He purposely avoided being famous, and the few things He did which brought any fame were hard to swallow by the cynical minds which bothered to record events among His people in that day. Further, there were similar stories about miracles and wild teachings circulating regarding other fellows. The Gospel record states bluntly it was His wish: In human terms, He was utterly unremarkable.
So it remains to this day. In terms of direct logical analysis, everything can be explained as within the norms. Whatever historical data exists external to the community of His followers is scant, contradictory, and hardly remarkable. Very early on some people did their best to paint on extra layers of remarkableness, which pious frauds only confuse things. It is this extravagant bullshit piety which is the single greatest threat to the genuine article.
The crazy theories and doctrines about “propositional truth” are in the same vein. [sarcasm alert] We simply cannot have a revelation of divine truth which isn’t first and foremost factual. We can’t have a holy writ which isn’t first provable objectively. So an awful lot of finite resources go into nailing it down, as if by some means sinful humanity can be compelled to accept the narrative. Wait a minute — isn’t all this verbiage regarding things outside this world? It’s as if there is no Holy Spirit, since His discretion or whim is not sufficient for our war against evil, as if we could hold God accountable to our performance measures.
Recently Google announced the Dead Sea Scrolls have finally been scanned and made available on the Net. How nice. While studying these manuscripts is not a total waste of time in adding to human knowledge regarding some very highly disputed events, they probably don’t add so much to our actual exercise of faith. Faith originates on the other side of the line. Those fragile bits of animal skin stained with ink are not the originals, nor have we found any other scribblings which purport to being the autographs of those who first composed them. The implication by some these scrolls were somehow withheld, kept away from the public for suspicious motives is plain silly, as if some secrets in them will serve to either confirm or deny the claims of Aristotelian Christian assertions.
Let’s try a little reasoning about this. We assume God doesn’t make mistakes, and certainly has whatever it takes to execute His wishes. Could He not have preserved the autographs, were it critical to His plans? That He didn’t should speak volumes. Maybe whatever it was He had to put before this world in terms of revelation did not require such pedantic precision. By the very logic of the Aristotelians, you cannot have propositional truth if the exact words are in doubt. Obviously we must conclude whatever “truth” is, “propositional” is not a proper adjective. And obviously everything which depends on that argument collapses, too.
Perhaps it would make a lot more sense simply to take what we have as sufficient, and accept that idea in itself as somehow critical to the process. You may recall Jesus said something about taking His message into all the world, including a future world which was radically different from His day. That echoes some things written in the previous revelations, the texts of Scripture He quoted Himself. Shall we presume God’s very consciousness was somehow trapped in our little historical time bubble, that He could not foresee the vast proliferation of human languages? And should we then somehow deduce we would first have to teach all humanity the ancient biblical languages by compulsion so we could then present the Scriptures in their original texts? And just how much is lost in translating “propositional truth” into utterly foreign cultural contexts? Are we going to compel them to learn all the Hebrew historical and cultural background, too?
I often wonder how these folks miss the very fact they themselves are reasoning with intellectual processes foreign to the folks who wrote those Scriptures. We still haven’t found the Garden of Eden. There is no place on earth where those four rivers come together, at least if we understand the names correctly. If topography has changed that much since the time the narrative indicates, then we should hardly be surprised there is so little archaeological evidence for some parts of the narrative. Who’s to say the names of the rivers weren’t later applied to other actual rivers for some peculiar reason? Or maybe — just maybe — the reference wasn’t meant to be taken literally? Could it amount to saying subtly, “It’s not any place you can find on this earth”?
My human intellect is bothered by the lack of notice my teaching material gets. The other part of me realizes the Son of God Himself got even less respect. I’m not likely to be crucified, nor in my wildest imagination can I envision my stuff being read by other folks even fifty years from now. But maybe — just maybe — I can create a small trend of thought among a few of my fellow believers that we’ve been barking up the wrong tree on a lot of things. I don’t have the drive and human ambition to be a reformer, but I rest comfortably in the assurance: If my stuff is at all on track with what God has tried to tell us, I won’t be the only voice saying what I’m saying.
Otherwise, I’m just entertaining myself and few friends, and I don’t consider that wasted time.