Science and Reason: In Desperate Need of Christians

Thesis

Neither the Kingdom of God, nor the people of the world, are in need of defeatist, retreatist, Rapture-minded escapist Christians.

What the world – and, even more importantly, the Kingdom of God – is in need of are Christians who will stand and fight for the truth, regardless of the cost, or the pain of early defeats and setbacks.

And nowadays, it looks like the world also needs Christians to defend the very concept of reason and objective reality!

Example One

Popperian thinks he is oh-so-sophisticated. “Words are so ambiguous; I can’t possibly condemn the killers.” Meanwhile the slaughter of innocents continues unabated.

Damn your pseudo-sophisticated sophistry Popperian. It is counterproductive to dignify it by getting into the weeds and countering your logical fallacies point by point. Instead, like Dr. Johnson and his famous rock kicking demonstration, I refute your moral theorizing thusly:

Does your moral theory compel you unambiguously to condemn the practice of chopping little boys and girls up and selling the pieces like so much meat?

No? Then your moral theory is as worthless as a fresh steaming pile of dog feces.

Lesson: We need Christians to call evil by its right name. In public.


Example Two

From Aeon:

Curiosity about trivial things might have evolved. Not because it’s likely to be adaptive, but maybe as a necessary by-product of a drive to understand the world, which is itself useful.

But even if the truth is valuable in itself, that doesn’t mean it’s always better to know. There might still be situations where we should choose ignorance. Indeed, it’s important to distinguish here between intrinsic value and overriding value. Saying that truth has intrinsic value means that something being true is a reason in favour of believing it, and that it might sometimes be good to pursue the truth even when it’s not useful for anything else. It doesn’t mean that the truth is so valuable as to override other things we might value: like pleasure and beauty, for example. So even if truth is intrinsically valuable, we still have to weigh up costs and benefits.

“Intrinsically valuable” means we don’t have to weigh up its costs and benefits. It is the difference between one’s 7 year-old child and one’s 7 year-old computer.

Where does all this leave us? Beyond its practical value, many people feel intuitively that truth might be worth pursuing as an end in itself. But even if truth does have some intrinsic value, there will still be cases where it’s outweighed by other, greater, intrinsic values: I might still be better off avoiding the truth if it would cause me a great deal of pain, for example. This doesn’t mean that truth might not still be worth pursuing in the absence of practical benefits – learning about even obscure topics can be very rewarding for many people.

If a person does not want to know the true state of affairs, apart from practical benefits, there is no point in having a discussion about such matters.

Lesson: Intellectual cultures that place no innate value on truth don’t have long to live. Christians should be running to build an alternate intellectual system, complete with actual curriculums, lesson plans, source materials, Christian-written textbooks (and not Establishment-approved delusional blather), experienced and effective teachers, etc.


Example Three

It could not have come at a better time. In the past few weeks I have noticed an increase in plain old irrationality from our opponents. You catch them in outright falsehoods; they do not acknowledge it. They just spew out another comment. You catch them in a contradiction; again, they ignore it and act as if there was no contradiction and you did not catch them. You state a self-evident fact. They deny it.

Quite honestly, they have begun to wear me down. It turns out I am not alone. Kocher writes:

It is a fact of life that you cannot win an argument with someone who is not sane. Sane bystanders may come to agree with your presentation, but you have no way of convincing someone who is not sane of anything. . . suppose that I say that the red pen I happen to have in my hand at this moment is a red pen. Further suppose that someone else says it is not a red pen, but is instead a flower pot, or a suitcase or a TV set. As a practical matter, I am unable to refute the assertion that what I am holding in my hand is not a flower pot. That does not mean that I’m incorrect when I say that it is a red pen. Nor does it mean that I am intellectually weaker than the other person who is arguing that it is not a red pen. Nor does it mean that his assertion that it is not a red pen is correct.

It means that I have no stronger argument than the red pen being in my hand. There is no stronger argument possible than the simple fact of the red pen being in my hand. No stronger refutation of the other person’s arguments is possible. At some point there must be agreement on what constitutes basic reality.

What if there is no such agreement?

The resolution of differing assertions, if there is to be one, will not be on the basis of intellectual reasoning or investigation, but on the basis of resolving a severe mental disorder. . . . If there is intractable disinclination, no resolution is possible.

I say the Holocaust is objectively evil. Learned Hand says that the Holocaust is not objectively evil and that the only thing he can say about it is that he does not prefer Holocausts and that he subjectively believes his preference in that regard is superior to the contrary Nazi preference (by which he means that he personally prefers his preference over the Nazi preference).

Learned Hand is saying that the red pen in my hand is a flower pot. We have a fundamental disagreement about basic reality. His view is literally insane. But I cannot hope to convince him of his insanity any more than I could hope to convince him that the red pen in my hand is a red pen and not a flower pot.

I have no stronger argument that the Holocaust was objectively evil independently of anyone’s subjective preference than the self-evident fact that murdering 18 million innocent men, women and children is objectively evil. LH either accepts that or he does not. And if he does not he is insane or evil or both. And the most I can hope for is to convince the lurkers.

Lesson: It is not possible to change people who have decided on evil. But, it is possible to persuade the lurkers, the observers, and those of an open and interested mind.

Yes, even a rational mind.

I have long seen rationalists as simply another name for atheistic materialists, but it looks like dedicated, leading-edge atheists have decided to ditch the rationalism. Fair enough: Christians should move to retake the mantle of objective reason, in the name of the God who created objective reality, complete with objective, measurable laws, and concepts that can be falsified (and so proved to be false) or verified (and so proved to be true).


Example Four

In a recent post I castigated Zachriel for his support of the practice of chopping little boys and girls into pieces and selling the pieces like meat in the marketplace.  In response Popperian weighs in with this:

 

The problem, which Barry seem to have difficulty grasping, is that all words are ultimately undefined. As such it’s not possible to make a pure moral statement outside of a particular moral problem to solve.  All we can hope to achieve is to define words well enough so that we can all understand their usage in the context of a specific problem. Yet, Barry is demanding that Zachriel somehow do otherwise as if it were possible, in practice. It’s unclear how this is a reasonable or even rational request.

Seversky adds in a different post:

Words can mean whatever we want them to mean . . .

There you have it dear readers.  Words have no meaning, or conversely, they mean anything we want.  George Orwell had the number of such as Popperian and Seversky in 1984.  The rulers of the hyper-totalitarian government at the center of that book understood that mutilating language is a useful tool if one intends to mutilate people.  Do you remember the government’s three slogans?

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

“Hear! Hear!” say Popperian and Seversky.  Words have no meaning and we can pour any concept we like into any phrase.  Why can’t “peace” mean “war”?  No reason.  No reason at all.

Orwell was doubtless influenced by earlier versions of the linguistic nihilism Popperian and Seversky are pushing.  After all, when 1984 was published (1949) the camps over whose gates the famous phrase “Arbeit macht frei” was emblazoned had been closed for only four years.

With their comments Popperian and Seversky reveal their latent fascism.  They say there are no binding moral principles, and even if there were there are no meaningful words with which to express such principles.  But with no binding moral principles and the language to express those principles, justice itself is impossible, because justice rests on the twin pillars of language and logic.  If there is no justice, there is only power.  The strong prevail; the weak succumb.  And the unborn are the weakest of all.  Popperian and Seversky are in favor of continuing the utterly depraved and barbaric practices going on this very day at Planned Parenthood.

I attempt to call them to account for the boundless evil they advocate by asking:  “Shall we chop little boys and girls into pieces?”   And they respond with “What do you mean by “boy” and “girl” and “chop” and “pieces”?  Those words have no meaning.”

Popperian and Seversky are liars, and their lies are dangerous, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn knew all too well when he wrote:

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.

Lesson: If you hate the Word of God, you end up hating language itself, and soon enough logical, clear though… and finally the very concept of truth.


Conclusion

The Creation does not need Christians hiding in a ghetto somewhere, praying for some Rapture escape from reality. The Creation needs Christians to obey the commandments of Christ, to expand the Kingdom of God in the here and now, and follow Jesus’ lead in the redemption of the world.

This redeemers need to be deeply rooted in God’s Law-Word, increasingly sanctified and strengthened, and and confident in Christ’s victory over the increasingly deluded, incompetent, discredited, delegitimized, disempowered, and utterly bankrupted ‘rulers of the world.’

Christians also need not only bravery and vision, but also capital and hard work to redeem (i.e. buy back) the world – ergo, the need for capitalism and the free market.

(As opposed to socialism, which is all about redistribution of stolen goods, from the people we don’t like, to the people we do like, at the point of a government gun.)

But at best, we only follow the example of Christ, who forged the way forward, with the example of purchasing with His own life the redemption of Creation and the salvation of those who are called by His Name.

Redemption is not only a matter of hard work, serving the customer (and profiting thereby), and teaching the nations, disciplining them to obey the commandments of God – established by His will, spelled out by Moses, and ratified by Christ. It also means the redemption of all of man’s thoughts, bringing all of our mind and dreams and logic and discoveries and reason and calculations (as well as our money and families and governments and schools and nations and businesses) under the domain and authority of Christ.

The alternatives – unreason, delusion, fantasy & lies, willful poverty, deserved humiliation, the second death, hell, the lake of fire – are to be shunned.

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