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Fragment on science and prudence.

For many years I have been of the opinion that the least trustworthy class of people in politics is scientists. To put the matter as starkly as possible, and with apologies to Mr. Buckley: I'd rather be governed by 200 homeless people off the street than by 200 scientists.

This is not because I think scientists are singularly bad people or something. Rather, it is because the scientific cast of mind is uniquely unsuited for politics and statesmanship. In free states, be they democracies, republics, constitutional monarchies, or blended regimes, the central virtue in politics is prudence. Related to judgment, to equipoise, to perfect ordering of things, prudence has been called the charioteer of the virtues. Even according to the cynicism of Machiavelli the importance of this quality of careful judgment, balance and intuition, is plain. And the simple concrete necessity of prudence is obvious enough when one reflects on the amount of patient deliberation and compromise involved in governing as free peoples.

Who are our heroes of statesmanship after all? They are men whose genius was that unique capacity to take high principles and apply them to the messy web of practical public life. This is prudence. Lincoln had it in abundance. Churchill was a man of extraordinary prudence. Edmund Burke is the very exemplar of prudence in statesmanship. No one in his right mind would ever accuse these men of lacking in principle. On the contrary, they are loved and cherished precisely for their success at bringing great and true principles to bear effectively even in the midst of passion and fear and strife and war. It was their prudence which gave concrete form to the principles they championed.

Any thoughtful man can develop profound principles worthy of admiration, or sketch out utopias of the mind; only the rarest of men possess the excellence of prudence to take in hand some true principle and vindicate it in public life. In politics, the greatest virtue is prudence; and it is prudence which produces great statesmanship.

But what does science know of prudence? Where in the scientific method does compromise with social circumstances enter? The scientist is trained to be single-minded; there is even a degree of ruthlessness to him, which is evident in the language of the early theorists of science. Does the scientist negotiate with gravity, or set out with an appeal to the deliberate sense of electromagnetism? No, he sets out to extract their secrets by any means available to him.

Scientists may later learn the art of politics, and politics might certainly impinge on science; but in and of itself the practice or activity of science, and thus the scientific mind, is uniquely unsuited for politics.

And sometimes, alas, the scientific mind grows frustrated with the warp and woof of democratic politics, which looks so untidy and bewildering -- and in its frustration rushes off into oblivion. The mad scientist whose lunacy begins in good intention is a common trope of our literary and visual arts. The mad scientist, we might say, represents the abandonment of prudence.

Now it seems to me that medicine is one area where we perceive an unusual interaction or overlapping between science and politics. The doctor is not merely a scientist; he is a leader, a representative, a counselor; his office is nearly a political one, whether he nominally works for the state or for a private corporation.

So could it be that part of the agitation and revolt over a massive health care reform actually derives from a deeper tension between science and politics, which tension (contrary to view of many) actually derives from the overreach or impatience of science rather than the undue intrusion of politics? Could it be that people may trust their own doctor, but they sure as shootin’ don’t trust the scientific mind, often applied by means of vast bureaucracies, that employs him? Could it be that people do sense the furtive callousness behind the scientific enterprise, do perceive that chill wind of materialism, that rationalizing reductionism which would banish prudence in favor of statistics?

Comments (79)

Does the scientist negotiate with gravity, or set out with an appeal to the deliberate sense of electromagnetism? No, he sets out to extract their secrets by any means available to him.

Well, there are fields of science that are not as empirically "pure" as physics. Psychology is notoriously unreliable at establishing strong causal relationships between specific mental frameworks, neurochemical activity, and behavior. In spite of that fundamental obstacle, psychologists are often able to resolve conflict and detrimental behaviors by negotiation and appeal to various levels of consciousness.

Re: materialism. My own view is that the Cold War was an ideological war between materialist capitalism and materialist communism. Is there any surprise that materialism ended up winning no matter which side lost?

The scientific mind set has created the fantastic expectation that there is always some institution, whether it be public or private that can solve any problem, or cure any ill that vexes us. I see little evidence of prudence in our politics, but maybe the reception accorded ObamaCare, coming on the heels of the Iraq and Wall Street chastisements, marks the emergence of a healthy scepticism towards the claims of Technology and its rationalist front-men.

Step2, I don't entirely buy your argument about the cold war. There was a large religious component to it, for instance the papacy of John Paul II played a major role (along with the presidency of Ronald Reagan and, to a lesser extent, Margaret Thatcher's terms as prime minister) in bringing about the downfall of Soviet communism. Was it a complete or perfect victory, no, but it was not unimportant.

Kevin:

The scientific mind set has created the fantastic expectation that there is always some institution, whether it be public or private that can solve any problem, or cure any ill that vexes us.

If this be the case, then you make a rather excellent scientist since is it not your own belief that the welfare institution soon to be (or perhaps, I should say, already is) the United States of America is actually the very source of Salvation you claim it to be for those least amongst us?

Dear Paul,

You wrote:

So could it be that part of the agitation and revolt over a massive health care reform actually derives from a deeper tension between science and politics, which tension (contrary to view of many) actually derives from the overreach or impatience of science rather than the undue intrusion of politics?

In a word, no. To begin with, being a scientist does not exclude someone from having the virtue of prudence. It may exclude some scientists from having the actual grace of making generally prudent political decisions, but prudence, as a moral virtue, is infused at baptism and providing that the scientist is in a state of grace (there are scientists who are Christian), then prudence may be assumed to be operative as a moral quality. As such, such scientists should be disposed to make decisions that reflect a proper consideration of the moral law.

Secondly, Margaret Thatcher was a chemist and most people think that she was a good statesman.

Thirdly, many scientists have to deal with complicated faculty, student, or committee problems at work and this shows that some scientists have good skill in dealing with political problems. If you think that the politics in Congress is bad, try sitting in on a faculty senate.

There are some scientists, such as myself, who cross the line into other fields. I am an interdisciplinary researcher who does not only my solitary research in science (which, itself, crosses the disciplines of mathematics, physics, chemistry, botany, engineering, material science, fluid dynamics, and medicine), but also research in musiology (I am a musician with a doctorate in performance), the neurobiology of certain psychological states, the logic of cognition, ontology, possible world theory, paraconsistent logics, Ramsey theory, and belief revision theory. In other words, even though I am a scientist, I also deal in the messy world of men. The actual grace of making prudential political decisions, of understanding complex human behavior, and of applying good common sense knows no boundaries. That is not to say that I make good political decisions, but simply that scientists are not one-dimensional creatures and your comments seem to characterize them as such.

Some scientists of a strictly materialistic nature will, generally, not make decisions informed by the virtue of prudence and if enough of them are in key political positions, the politics may become polarized along materialistic lines, but science, in and of itself, has no real effect on prudence any more than any other human cognitive acts. In general, acts which start from denying the goodness of God as a final cause, are already tainted with imprudence and following that reasoning will form the habit of despair, which many scientists who are materialists are infected with, but science does not have to exclude final causes and scientists who hold to the goodness of God are as capable of making prudential decisions as the next man.

The Chicken

Kevin,
You should read this article to appreciate the social effect of modern technology and institutions.

http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/2007_03_19_New%20Republic.pdf

I am not sure I would have put Lincoln in that group. He certainly was an able politician, and made a great contribution to keeping the nation unified. But I am not sure it was in recognition of any principle that he did so. Both in general, and in specifics, he over-rode some pretty basic principles in order to pursue keeping the union. Specifically, he arrested the Maryland legislature (when they were planning to meet to vote on secession) with literally not a shred of constitutional or legal authority. Generally, he made war on states who seceded, when the Constitution he swore to uphold says nothing about that, grants no powers to do that, and indeed was crafted with the implicit understanding that the same states that exercise their foundational authority in voting to join the union and ratify the constitution must retain that authority and thus have a right to vote not to be part of the union.

This post raises numerous really interesting questions. I am not _sure_ that the man of science is uniquely unsuited for politics, but I _am_ sure that the man of science, like the politician, needs an overarching moral compass that constrains his pursuit of knowledge. This has been what is lacking in much of 20th century science and is, I believe, where the image of the mad scientist comes from. The mad scientist of infamy is arrogant and unscrupulous. And (this is important) the mad scientist seems to believe that the only moral norms that govern his actions are, in a sense, those moral norms that are uniquely, or at least specially, applicable to science. Now, this is clearly nonsense. For example, a moral norm that applies especially to science is that one should never publish a falsehood. But this simply will not tell you what you need to know when it comes to deciding whether it is ethical to perform destructive experiments on embryos. So that oddly (contemporary) scientific arrogance that says that science can somehow _hand_ scientists their moral norms is 9 times out of 10 going to land them with impoverished ideas of what they are or aren't permitted to do.

One example of this kind of thing is the sort of insanity I discussed here:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2009/07/utterly_beyond_the_pale.html

Holdren, Ehrlich, & co. believed they were giving the world a "scientific" and "rational" approach to the supposed coming population explosion. Mind you, they had lousy science _too_, but the most striking thing about their horrific proposals is that they put them forward with such aplomb. Such is the mad scientist mind: "I, being a scientist, am above your ordinary, common rules. I have found out better ones by way of Reason, and I will now rationally remake your world, because I know better." Or, as Digory's uncle (and also the witch) put it in _The Magician's Nephew_, "Ours is a high and lonely destiny." Which Digory realizes means that Uncle Andrew thinks he can do whatever he wants.

There is also a particular kind of silliness i have noticed in a particular type of scientist--the utter inability to understand the rational canons of varying disciplines. I have known a chemist who thinks God must not perform miracles because God doesn't do one for him, personally. The scientific method, you know. Repeatability. One might think this is a straw man, except that I _know somebody who thinks this_. No notion that, for example, history just isn't done that way.

I would hate, however, to acknowledge that somehow these evils of the mind are _intrinsic_ to science or _inevitable_. I think they are merely things to guard against, as politicians must (for example) guard against becoming unprincipled in the name of prudence.

Chicken --

I think the key is in your last paragraph. We can all perceive a growing divergence between science in the classical sense and science according to the reductionist popularizers of the modern age. The former does not exclude whole categories of knowledge because they are difficult to discover in the material world; the latter makes that exclusion central to its project.

The various specifics that Masked Chicken raises don't address Paul's point, although they do make some useful clarifications. To claim a mindset is incompatible with prudence does not mean that a group of individuals commonly characterized by that mindset are incompatible with prudence. All the examples MC gives are not of scientists qua scientists, but in all the various other capacities that (can) go with being a scientist: teacher, colleague, citizen, etc.

I'm reminded of Tolstoy's disdain for the High Priests of Science--an indictment more radical than Paul's and one that more truly falls under Masked Chicken's rebuttal. Tolstoy seems to have had in mind that the scientific mindset under discussion here HAD fully overtaken the men who practice medicine, and so as men they came under his full condemnation.

On the dissection table here is the nature of the scientific mindset. To put on my Feser hat for a minute, the problem is scientism and the way modern thought has recast the entire enterprise of science: cue the music on Bacon, dominating nature, and the steady march toward materialism. On the level of the individual scientist, that begs a more modest claim: that the scientist who possesses prudence does so in spite of or swimming against the current of his professional training.

If I were to attack this post, it would be rather aimed at the claim that politics and prudence have more than a passing relationship in our modern times. But then, I'm a political cynic.

Step2
That Pinker piece is a classic piece of Whiggery;moral progress is powered by structures and institutions like the centralized state and modernity is our salvation.Cool.

Kevin,
My interpretation was that progress is not easy, constant, or obvious. If I could, I would build you a time machine to go back and experience the blissful times of pre-Enlightenment history. Then you could report on how great things were compared to today's tragic situation.

"My interpretation was that progress is not easy, constant, or obvious."

Especially when it has no defined goal. Where, exactly, are we supposed to be progressing to?

All the examples MC gives are not of scientists qua scientists, but in all the various other capacities that (can) go with being a scientist: teacher, colleague, citizen, etc.

One problem I have seen is that some scientists think they are always acting qua scientist and that the fact that they are scientists gives them some special insight into areas where in fact it does not.

Scientists may later learn the art of politics, and politics might certainly impinge on science; but in and of itself the practice or activity of science, and thus the scientific mind, is uniquely unsuited for politics.

And sometimes, alas, the scientific mind grows frustrated with the warp and woof of democratic politics, which looks so untidy and bewildering -- and in its frustration rushes off into oblivion. The mad scientist whose lunacy begins in good intention is a common trope of our literary and visual arts. The mad scientist, we might say, represents the abandonment of prudence.

That all may be true, but you gloss over the fact that modern political systems are actually incredibly incompetent and lazy when it comes to legislating. The laws that they produce often are terribly written such that they can be easily abused and even create some extremely tyrannical and insane outcomes for private citizens. One need only look at family law to get an idea of what I mean.

The fact of the matter is that we are writing laws of increasing complexity, and entrusting the writing of such laws to people who have little capacity for systematic thinking, little desire to understand how their laws will interact with the rest of the body of law, and no desire to do the drudge work of fixing the problems after the fact. By comparison, an engineer who builds anything using the same sort of process would get sued and possibly prosecuted for endangering the lives of the public. Yet... there is no constitutional provision for the imprisonment of legislators whose legislating is so grossly negligent, unconstitutional that it causes material loss of life, liberty and property to law-abiding citizens.

So for that reason, scientists and engineers (in particular) have a good reason to look on the process as pathetic. They are held to a higher legal standard, and that entitles them to think more highly of themselves.

One problem I have seen is that some scientists think they are always acting qua scientist and that the fact that they are scientists gives them some special insight into areas where in fact it does not.

True and one doesn't have to venture into the political sphere to see it. I work with both musicians and scientists and it is amazing how many scientists think they understand music when they don't. This could be called poor transference and is a type of pride or mental defect, take your pick.

In fact, no one has done a proper scientific study of politics enough to have the background to form scientific conclusions, outside of Asimov's Psycho-history. I know sociologists and psychologists who have studied aspects of political decision making, but we are far from having a true political "science". Prudence is related to wisdom and practical wisdom is based on accumulated experience. A scientist who pays his dues in the political arena can make a claim to the same political prudence as any other seasoned politician. What many scientists forget is that at least some types of prudence must be earned.

The Chicken

My interpretation was that progress is not easy, constant, or obvious. If I could, I would build you a time machine to go back and experience the blissful times of pre-Enlightenment history. Then you could report on how great things were compared to today's tragic situation.

Indeed, it would be funny to see Kevin have to go to church while the Medici popes were in power, and then have to defend those corrupt bastards.


>>But what does science know of prudence? Where in the scientific method does compromise with social circumstances enter? The scientist is trained to be single-minded; there is even a degree of ruthlessness to him, which is evident in the language of the early theorists of science. Does the scientist negotiate with gravity, or set out with an appeal to the deliberate sense of electromagnetism? No, he sets out to extract their secrets by any means available to him.

You need money to do most science that is publishable. Few scientists are independently wealthy, so we need to get grants. Getting grants involves, among other things, figuring out what kind of research the NSF is likely to fund in your subfield, writing well, and planning a justifiable budget, doing some preliminary, cheap studies to show your ideas might actually work, and discussing what it might mean if your results are not at all what you expect. Compromise with social circumstances happens every granting cycle. Even for the independently wealthy, prudence is absolutely essential to science, because for one thing, all experiments or field-studies require a lot of careful planning and pre-analysis. A scientist does not use "any means available to him" to try and answer his question, because some would be too expensive, too time-consuming, too needlessly complicated, too risky, too potentially unethical, or even too out-moded and therefore not well respected by other scientists. There are stem-cell researchers who started ditching embryonic stem cells and going for adult-stem cells because they were easier to come by and were less of an ethical minefield. This article falls into the trap of scientism itself -- believing in the scientist as shown in movies and in the science fiction written by humanists (eg Asimov). The science I do (and the science anyone does) involves continuous rethinking, troubleshooting, re-budgeting, and often daily or hourly decisions on what I should do next to try and figure out my questions. As a young scientist, I was told that if I wanted to really make it and not burn out, I had to be able to adapt, and adapt often. Hey, why do you think there is so much global warming research? Because scientists aren't dumb; we want to do science, and if you throw in a global warming angle, people eat it up. If global warming is no longer discussed ten years from now, and heavy metal contamination is all the rage, you can bet there will be a nod to that in a lot of grants, dissertations, and papers. Prudence (at least the Machiavellian kind) is the one thing we've got!

Scientists, even the atheists, even the secularists, even the ultra-liberals, have and must have prudence if they want to succeed in their careers at all, whether they are in academia or in industry or in medicine. It's one of the few virtues it takes in this business. Attacking your strawman-in-a-labcoat doesn't actually address the numerous problems with science's place in society. Scientists lack Prudence like Marines lack Fortitude. Faith, Hope, and Charity? Now, that's a different story.

Mike T / Step2:

Oh, that's right -- since we're saving lives in retail but, really, murdering them in wholesale, we have such remarkable right to laud and, even further, glory in the savagery that is our modern age.

As for the purportedly deplorable Pre-enlightenment period, perhaps the many thoughts concerning thus as addressed in such seemingly fanciful works as Orthodoxy were only a flight of the imagination wherein some sordid notion of some fiction otherwise formally known as Christendom existed.

Of course, it's not all that surprising that moderns as yourselves would have such little appreciation for such times.

Secularism is the Christendom of today to which many moderns including the supposedly Christian bow to in complete obeisance.

The only Saviour that is worshipped these days is "Mammon"; the only Scripture studied, "Thus Spake Zarathustra".

Step2
Speed it up on that Time Machine,please! I'll go back with news footage and some daily papers and ask the philosophes if this is what they had in mind. Yeah Locke, I'm coming for you..

Oh, that's right -- since we're saving lives in retail but, really, murdering them in wholesale, we have such remarkable right to laud and, even further, glory in the savagery that is our modern age.

Aristocles, the single best argument that you are a chat bot is that you are only capable of binary logic. Genocide and mass murder were hardly unknown in the pre-Enlightenment era. All the modern era has done is given man the tools to do more efficiently what he was doing already.

As for the purportedly deplorable Pre-enlightenment period, perhaps the many thoughts concerning thus as addressed in such seemingly fanciful works as Orthodoxy were only a flight of the imagination wherein some sordid notion of some fiction otherwise formally known as Christendom existed.

Or perhaps they are nostalgic for an era long post, and like most nostalgic feelings they gloss over the problems. Would you like to go back to that time and live under an absolute monarch, with essentially no religious freedom, no right to publish without a government license, have most of the legal protections you take for granted today not exist, etc.? Going back further, how would you like to live as a feudal vassal? Does serfdom appeal to you? It does not appeal to me.

Ecclesiastes tells it like it is: there is nothing new under the sun. The wheels are spinning, but the car's not moving; we just have the perception of movement.

Mike T:

Clearly, your comments (either presently or even previously) have demonstrated nothing more than your proficiency at mistaking secularism as actually Christianity and the matter concerning right & wrong as merely the end-result of a person's well-balanced portfolio consisting of equities both in iniquities and moral convenience, so long as the yield for the individual is positive; who's to complain?

Go Big. Go "Christian"*

It's not science per se, or scientists qua scientists, that give rise to the arrogant pride that Paul notices, but materialism. Prudence enacted calls first for a properly humble recognition of the complete authority of the real, of what actually is. You can't even begin to be prudent unless you recognize the true nature of the situation, and are then resolved to conform yourself appropriately thereto. For the scientist, this humility takes the form of a due respect for the data.

In this duty of humility, all materialists since about 1925 have failed, though science has not. For science has in quantum mechanics repudiated the materialist ontology and its doctrine of matter, in terms of which the data that gave rise to quantum physics cannot be interpreted without paradox. This fact alone suffices to demonstrate that materialism is false. That materialism is still the dominant ontology in the academy is a failure, not of science or scientists as such, but of academics (of all disciplines, whether scientific or not) qua philosophers.

The problem is science does not recognize any Reality which it can't verify or quantify through its own methodologies and measurements. The scientist lacks humility, reverence and wonder, though he often mistakes curiosity for the latter.

While we marvel at how modern technology has made the world smaller, we should note it is these very same instruments of modernity that has made us newly vulnerable to the 7th century barbarism we thought buried in the past.

Mike T bemoans serfdom, presumably unaware that is the exact condition which the uber-quants of Wall Street and their hirelings in Washington have created for most Americans. Perpetual debt and life in the low-wage global marketplace will really start to sting once the bread of fast food nation, calming effects of Prozac and the circuses that routinely raise up a Michael Vick, grow scarce,ineffectual or tired to an increasingly jaded peasantry.

For science has in quantum mechanics repudiated the materialist ontology and its doctrine of matter, in terms of which the data that gave rise to quantum physics cannot be interpreted without paradox. This fact alone suffices to demonstrate that materialism is false.

This is a misstatement about quantum mechanics. If one thinks that such things as the wave/particle duality or Schroedinger's Cat gedanken experiment are paradoxes, then one understands neither quantum mechanics nor paradox. A true paradox of materialism would, as Kristor points out, repudiate a materialistic ontology. You won't find that in quantum mechanics, at least so far as we have been able to understand it. You will find a lot of weirdness masquerading as paradox.

There have been different interpretations of quantum mechanics over the years beyond the Copenhagen Interpreatation, such as Bohm's pilot wave theory, that gets rid of the wave/particle duality, but even his theory still has to account for the observable facts and those are material facts. Quantum mechanics says nothing about formal or final causes and so, ignores the problem of a strict material ontology. Quantum mechanics argues within its domain and in fact says that all we can MEASURE are observables and that is right, philosophically. We cannot measure God, but we can measure his effects on the world. Thus, quantum mechanics conforms to a notion of humility.

Quantum Mechanics does not repudiate the doctrine of matter, at all. It puts the doctrine of matter in its place as something observable. In the Creed we say that we believe in things both visible and invisible. By that, we mean, in some sense, material and immaterial. Quantum Mechanics only has anything to say about the material. How then, can it be said to repudiate the material?

Scientists who use quantum ideas to make grand pronouncements about reality are neither humble nor properly using quantum mechanics. Richard Feynman, the man who simultaneously and independently invented quantum electrodynamics had this to say:

[First Quote]

One does not, by knowing all the physical laws as we know them today, immediately obtain an understanding of anything much.

[Second Quote]

The 1964 Messenger Lectures, Cornell University


There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe that there ever was such a time. There might have been a time when only one man did, because he was the only guy who caught on, before he wrote his paper. But after people read the paper a lot of people understood the theory of relativity in some way or other, certainly more than twelve. On the other hand, I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.

-- Chapter 6, "Probability and Uncertainty"

Humility means knowing and staying at one's station with regards to a relationship to ultimate causes (God). No physical law is an ultimate cause and so, not a grounds for humility, in itself.

There are far better reasons for scientists to be humble, such as following truth wherever it leads.

The Chicken

Let me rephrase one sentence:

Quantum Mechanics only has anything to say about the material. How then, can it be said to repudiate the material?

might be better written:

Quantum Mechanics only has anything to say about observables. How then, can it be said to repudiate its own methodology, since those observables are made on something we call matter?

The Chicken

For the record, I'm _way_ more inclined to agree with TMC than with Kristor on quantum mechanics. I think Christians and other non-materialists err when they try to hang a hat on QM. Materialism is demonstrably false on so many other grounds, too, that there shouldn't even be any urge in the direction of making this error. I speak as a Cartesian dualist, here. :-)

Mike T bemoans serfdom, presumably unaware that is the exact condition which the uber-quants of Wall Street and their hirelings in Washington have created for most Americans. Perpetual debt and life in the low-wage global marketplace will really start to sting once the bread of fast food nation, calming effects of Prozac and the circuses that routinely raise up a Michael Vick, grow scarce,ineffectual or tired to an increasingly jaded peasantry.

We chose that fate. Every time you vote for a Republican or a Democrat without thinking, you affirm that. The people are getting what they deserve now, rather than it being done to them by being born as the Christian version of the untouchable caste. Oh yes, the medieval era was certainly swell, practically heaven on Earth--provided you were born into a good family. God help the poor wretches born into the rest of society.

You just keep on demonstrating a basic fact about sociology: it is a practice of observing what has happened and why it happened, not a science. It is nothing more than the snotty, hipster version of historian work.

To add a brief point; Science has brought about the notion that there is nothing that cannot be solved, proven, or managed. It has fed the streams of a technocracy removed from science proper but supported by an unexamined rationalism, unconsciously assumed by the technocrat, moved into fields far removed from the scientific enterprise. It is guilty, in large part, for the affliction known as "experts".

It lends it's prestige, somewhat questionable,to the bureaucrat and the managerial/administrative class in general. Even a debauched media benefits from it's penumbra.

Meanwhile it has weakened the pillars of religious faith while opening the door for numerous other loyalties, their substance usually nebulous. when and if examined.

Prudence is the mark of the man who doubts, but doubts not that knowledge is attainable.
He questions himself in his pursuit of knowing and in the false idea of perfection.
I believe that the Romans held that prudentia and sapienza were synonymous.
As well they should be.
So much for my short post.

johnt:

Did you sincerely mean what otherwise seemed wise remarks?

Or were you merely indulging in some remarkable parody of Kevin?

Either way, well done.

aristocles, thanks, I think.
I do have attacks of sincerity, this was one such.

The American people did not consciously choose their fate. It was foisted upon them by their "betters" - the deracinated Knowledge class who observed human nature in the messy, mundane and chaotic affairs of their countrymen, found it wanting and sought to alter or transcend it.
It is pointless to argue about the culpability of ordinary men overly deferential to the high priests of the technocracy. Folk wisdom and an innate sense of limits shriveled before the might of the atom bomb and all the splendors of mass communications and conveniences. Unlike their predecessors, modern medicine men could seemingly harness Nature and even trample the moon and the stars.

I second JohnT's excellent comments too. The erosion of faith due to science is impossible to calculate.

I second JohnT's excellent comments too. The erosion of faith due to science is impossible to calculate.

Indeed, the very substance of JohnT's comments and even its seemingly profound eloquence almost hauntingly seemed too Kevinesque in nature to even be JohnT (not to say that JohnT himself is incapable of such expression or even thought); simply that his latest comments were such that they could easily be mistakened (as I, myself, entertained the possibility) as actually a parody of Kevin's own opinions concerning the heresy of science and the rather surreptitious Rule of the elite.

Just a couple of comments:

Comment 1:

Science has brought about the notion that there is nothing that cannot be solved, proven, or managed.

Godel's (the o in his name has an umlaut) Theorem has been known for about eighty years. Some problems in the (mathematical) sciences might be Godelian Undecidable. Science has had to accept that fo'r a long time. In fact, the Nobel laureate, Eugene Wigner, once wrote an article called, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in Science [Eugene Wigner, 1960, "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics 13(1): 1–14.] in which he wondered how mathematics, which is a human invention, could so effectively model the physical world. Mathematics, being a human invention, is subject to the restrictions of the invention, one of which is the Godel Incompleteness Theorem which says that there are some mathematical systems (including some used in physics, one would assume) which contain statements which are unprovable from the postulates of the system and that adding more postulates won't help.

It may be the case for the general public that they have been taught to believe that science can solve anything, but there certainly may be problems, even within its own domain, that it cannot solve. Science cannot even touch other questions which are not in its domain, such as metaphysical problems. The problem here is not that at least some scientists do not know their limitations, but that we live in a gee-whiz science fiction age where the public is lead to believe that all problems in science are solved successfully in an hour with commercials.

Comment 2:

The erosion of faith due to science is impossible to calculate.

Nonsense. St. Thomas Aquinas was careful to prove that theology is a science. He had nothing against science. His mentor, St. Albert Magnus, is the patron saint of scientists. Clearly, one can be a man of science and a man of faith.

What has eroded faith is what has always eroded faith - sin. In this case, there are several sins: the sin of rejecting God as the final cause, which is a form of hubris, the sin of domination over nature unrestrained by social considerations, the pursuit of power by means of controlling nature and man, the sin of placing man at the center of the universe, the sin of worshiping the mind of the creature instead of the mind of the creator. None of these things need be a part of science. It wasn't and isn't science that has caused the erosion of faith. It was and is good old fashion human weakness.

The Chicken

Correction:

The problem here is not that at least some scientists do not know their limitations, but that we live in a gee-whiz science fiction age where the public is led to believe that all problems in science are solved successfully in an hour with commercials.

The Chicken

Science vs. scientism. Impossible to say it enough times.

Chicken,

The problem here is not that at least some scientists do not know their limitations, but that we live in a gee-whiz science fiction age where the public is lead to believe that all problems in science are solved successfully in an hour with commercials.

The problem herein is the apparent neglect of scientism that is often observed not just the general populace given perhaps to tales of science-fiction, but also amongst the general population of scientists themselves who adhere to such as if it were a religion.

That would've been something more worthy of comment than simply to say that the masses are just deplorably ignorant, which is perhaps an unfortunate as it is an inescapable fact known for many years, if not, centuries.

Great -- the great nasty beat me to the punch. oh well...

That would've been something more worthy of comment than simply to say that the masses are just deplorably ignorant, which is perhaps an unfortunate as it is an inescapable fact known for many years, if not, centuries.

Ignorance is not the problem for the masses, it's impatience and imprudence. The people want to defeat the Time-Quality-Cost pyramid through sheer force of will. They want an elegant, functional political system and government, but they aren't willing to either elect the sort of people capable of and willing to give it to them nor are they willing to deal with the cost and time issues.

Software developers have to deal with this rubbish all the time from users who want 20 bazillion (usually contradictory) features, but act outraged when someone meekly suggests that it's more important to vigorously kick the tires and make sure everything actually works as expected.

Mike T:

Ignorance is not the problem for the masses... they aren't willing to either elect the sort of people capable of and willing to give it to them...

A remarkable demonstration of just how ironically idiotic you prove yourself to be, even within the tragic contents of your own comments.

How can the mob elect the very people adeptly capable of governing them if they happen to be ignorant (as it has incessantly, it seems, been the case for many of our own American elections) of the very candidates optimally suited for holding office?

Thank-you & Quite Well done!

The problem herein is the apparent neglect of scientism that is often observed not just the general populace given perhaps to tales of science-fiction, but also amongst the general population of scientists themselves who adhere to such as if it were a religion.

Well, this is certainly correct for a (large?) segment of scientists, but scientism, in general, is still caused by the factors of sin, or perhaps to be less all-condemning, ignorance, that I mentioned, above.

The Chicken

The problem herein is the apparent neglect of scientism that is often observed not just the general populace given perhaps to tales of science-fiction, but also amongst the general population of scientists themselves who adhere to such as if it were a religion.

Well, this is certainly correct for a (large?) segment of scientists, but scientism, in general, is still caused by the factors of sin, or perhaps to be less all-condemning, ignorance, that I mentioned, above.

The Chicken

Well that settles it. The culprit is sin, so no need to explore the social effects of science as it is understood, practiced and referred to in this thread, upon the virtues of humility, prudence and charity.
The all-purpose conversation-stopper, The Fall has struck again.

The all-purpose conversation-stopper, The Fall has struck again.

So, what is it you think you need to be saved from?

aristocles, I'm not sure what "seemingly profound eloquence" is or if it only related to your concept of parody, personalities aside.
I doubt my opinions on the less attractive effects of science are unique, to be shared by a lone dissident or two, yearning, like Henry Adams, for the glories of the 13th century.
I would emphasize that I too like refrigeration, automatic transmissions, even reading Tuesday's Science Times in an otherwise disreputable newspaper.
I must confess however to a nasty joy in observing for a number of years the struggles and writhings of a breed known as cognitive scientists. I hope this last doesn't cast me out into the darkness with the other heretics.

As for the "rule of a surreptitious elite", don't look now but they're here.

johnt:

Kevin had in the past written quite profoundly concerning his views on science and some purportedly treacherous "elite"; these very same views seems contained within your subject comment.

That is, your own spiel regarding these (your own stated view about science and the reference to certain "experts") are not unlike (at least, to me) opinions reflected in previous comments written by Kevin himself.

Even your manner of expression seems roughly like the other.

It would almost invite the thought that you and he were actually siblings.

Lydia: I don’t mean to hang my own hat on quantum mechanics. How is materialism false? Let me count the ways. Or rather, don’t let me get started. My point was only that materialists are being at least less than thorough, and at worst dishonest, in not confronting the fact that thanks to QM they can no longer hang their own ontological hats on physical theory. That peg is no longer reliable – perhaps because it is now in every locus, and none; or because, depending how you look at it, it is both a peg and a probability of a peg; or because it is both a peg and not a peg; or because its precise position cannot be determined …

Masked Chicken: I have to catch a plane, so I'll have to get back to you over the weekend.

Masked Chicken: I find my reply reduces quite parsimoniously, so that I can get it down on paper before I leave for the airport.

Materialism is an ontology, not a scientific theory. If as with QM the math of a theory works, and its predictions accord beautifully with experiment, but under a materialist ontology it is utterly incomprehensible, then there is something wrong – not with the math or the world, but with the materialist ontology. Experiments on matter have thus shown you that materialist ontology is inadequate to reality. Reality - including everything materialists have heretofore referred to as "matter" is more complex, or at least different, than they had thought.

aristocles, Of course it would be edifying if I could get some direct response to my posts but as you seem fixated on Kevin, to the point of transference to me leaving the reasons for possible disagreement by the wayside, then so be it.

If I may,"at least to me" doesn't quite do it.
But again, no substance.

Is your interest in Kevin only related to familial matters, or do you have, shall we say, broader if private interests?

johnt:

Private interests?

You seem to be projecting, I'm afraid; given your previous ostensibly gay flirtations with the man in relatively recent threads, I would like to assure you I personally have no interest in him whatever and, therefore, you may continue your passionate courtship for the chap.

Now, if you don't mind, I should like Kristor to continue her rather intriguing dialogue with the chicken.

Thank-you.

Aristocles, a cave and you know it. WUSS !!
1] You went to the well too often with the Kevin thing. At some point you have to try to look intelligent rather than feline.
2] Surrender the pretense of erudition.
3]Be wary of repeating back to a man his very own point, it shows lack of originality and imagination, and possibly panic.
4] There was nothing personal in my 5:14 post. Lesson, don't be snotty.
In a word aristocles, commence to admit your manifold weaknesses.

And try and be nice to me in the future.
Thank you.

Ari, like my fellow vile sycophant Mr. Gintas, I'm a guy.

Chicken: when I first hammered out my last comment I used 2nd person plural - the indefinite 'you.' Upon review I realized that made it sound as though I thought you, the redoubtable Chicken, are a materialist. I do not. So I changed to 3rd person. In my haste to start waiting here at the airport, I missed one instance of 'you.'

Dear Kristor,

You wrote:

If as with QM the math of a theory works, and its predictions accord beautifully with experiment, but under a materialist ontology it is utterly incomprehensible, then there is something wrong – not with the math or the world, but with the materialist ontology. Experiments on matter have thus shown you that materialist ontology is inadequate to reality. Reality - including everything materialists have heretofore referred to as "matter" is more complex, or at least different, than they had thought.

Quantum mechanics does not negate a materialist ontology. It merely says, as you mention, that the prior versions were incomplete.

Let me say, before I go on, that I am not a materialist. I am simply arguing that quantum mechanics was designed to answer one fundamental question: given that we can only measure what we can observe, what does this say about what we can measure. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle can be argued from the idea that trying to simultaneously measure the position (an observable) and the momentum (an observable) of a particle will be impossible because observing one of the two variables will influence the other. In mathematics, we say that the two variables are conjugate, meaning that they do not commute (the mathematical process of commutation gives a value other than zero). There are a lot of different conjugate variables in quantum mechanics. Position and momentum just happen to be two of the most fundamental.

Quantum mechanics does not prove that a materialist ontology is not adequate to reality. It merely says that the way in which we understand and measure matter is more complex than we thought. One would expect any science to become more complex as it probes deeper.

An immaterial being could know the position and momentum of a particle, precisely, and this is allowed in quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics takes no position about the existence of the immaterial as it is not concerned with it. It does not deny or affirm the immaterial. It only says what we can do within the limits of the material. If material were all there were, then we, as material beings, being a part of that material, would have certain limitations on our measurement processes as far as we now understand. That is all quantum mechanics says. It has been oversold in certain popularized books and movies.

Immaterialism and quantum mechanics are not inconsistent. They just simply do not interact and that is a key point. For reasons I will mention shortly, quantum mechanics cannot be used to disprove a material ontology. I happen to think that quantum mechanics is not the final description of matter, but it is a useful approximation. The so-called paradoxes which I think you are arguing should put science in its place are merely artifacts of the particular interpretation of the mathematics. Other interpretations remove those paradoxes, but have their own particular difficulties.

If anything, the fact that quantum mechanics was so unexpected should keep scientists humble because it shows them, quite plainly, that they don't know everything or even most things. Things are definitely stranger than we can conceive, even in the material world.

I don't think we are really too far apart in that we both think that the physical sciences have limitations. Quantum mechanics shows what some of those limitations might be. Godel's Theorem shows another set of limitations. Both of these might be superseded, some day, but neither one refutes a materialist ontology, since to do that, they would have to be arguing from outside of the ontology and neither one of these do, since they would have to interact with something outside of the material and they do not (not strictly true, but those scientists who argue for including a metaphysics in quantum mechanics are generally shunned).

Perhaps I am not being clear: quantum mechanics starts with matter and ends with matter (or the measurements on matter). As such, if it were to prove a material paradox, then the theory, itself, would inherit the paradox and then be demonstratably false. So, either quantum mechanics is true and consistent and does not deny a material ontology, or it denies a material ontology and is false.

Now, a true material paradox would not only render a material ontology false, it would render scientists speechless. The classic material paradox is the creation of the universe, ex nihilo. Scientists should, rightly, be speechless in the face of that, but here is the problem: since a true material paradox must be resolved outside of the system of matter and since this must mean an assent to something immaterial, materialist scientists would have to be granted something like the gift of Faith in order to recognize it. In fact, one cannot prove or disprove a material paradox from within a material ontology, so one wonders if it is possible to even ask the question if one is not willing to consider the existence of the immaterial. This is the sort of blindness that a materialist scientist faces.

One of the reasons that Jesus performed his miracles was to demonstrate the existence of the immaterial, not in a measurable sense, but by showing their after-effects on nature. This penetration of the immaterial into the material should have been enough to show the materialists that there were questions they could not even think of asking that Jesus could ask. His range of interactions with matter were larger than theirs. The only way that could happen is if there were something beyond their materialism, but they wouldn't see it. One might think that a sufficiently advanced alien race, say, could reproduce the miracles of Jesus and that is simply not true. They could produce the same results, but they would be using entirely different means.

Make no mistake, there is an overlap between the interaction of the immaterial and the material. One can change sugar into alcohol by either a material process or a supernatural process, just as one can change water into wine by a material (albeit very complex) process or a supernatural one. Science has chosen to abide strictly by Ockham's razor which has resulting in it putting on blinders.

There is an old maxim in astrophysics - that which cannot be disproven, must exist. It is a pity that scientists do not apply this to the immaterial. Why, they might discover Anselm's second ontological proof all over again.

The Chicken

A remarkable demonstration of just how ironically idiotic you prove yourself to be, even within the tragic contents of your own comments.

How can the mob elect the very people adeptly capable of governing them if they happen to be ignorant (as it has incessantly, it seems, been the case for many of our own American elections) of the very candidates optimally suited for holding office?

Whatever ignorance they seem to manifest is nothing more than a symptom of their underlying impatience and imprudence. They are too impatient to study the issues, study the candidates and make an informed decision. You are putting the cart before the horse there.

They are also too impatient and imprudent to elect someone who came forward and promised to spend their term in office researching problems with the system and writing legislative fixes for them. They would rather have new features bolted onto the system than have the drudge work of debugging get done--until it affects them, naturally.

johnt:

If you were incapable of detecting the rhetorical irony in my original comments concerning you even with my last (which, I admit, I took liberty with by taking note of even your rather effiminate wiles), then clearly you are magnificently dense as you are insufferable.

As for the pretense of erudition, lack of imagination and creativity and what not; the very corpus of your vast comments (especially in more recent threads), notoriously devoid of both substance as well as intellect, demonstrate such qualities in spades.

However, I shall be so magnanimous (as befitting a Christian gentleman) and allow you the last word.

Mike T:

I'm afraid, my dear friend, that it is you who are placing the cart before the horse here.

It is ignorance itself that has led so many of the masses not knowing any better not only when it comes to electing the best candidate for office but also insofar as not knowing any better when it comes to such things as the very importance of patience as well as prudence.

As for your latter comment concerning how folks would rather "have new features bolted into the system than have the drudge work of debugging get done"; quite ironically, nothing could prove more apt an example than what happened to Christendom in the 16th century.

Hopefully, we might work together towards its rebuilding; if anything can reorder the world as it should be and quiet the terrible tides of scientism, it shall inevitably be this.

It is ignorance itself that has led so many of the masses not knowing any better not only when it comes to electing the best candidate for office but also insofar as not knowing any better when it comes to such things as the very importance of patience as well as prudence.

That is where we disagree. Based on my experience, the masses are more intelligent than they are given credit for being. The problem is that they are not raised to be prudent and patient, therefore they don't behave that way. There have been plenty of times that the masses have rejected good candidates for crappy reasons, and many times those reasons are rooted deeper in imprudence than ignorance. The entire health care debacle is a spectacle precisely because so many people are so impatient that they won't even hear out arguments other than the "pro-insurance company" and "pro-government" arguments. To do otherwise would be... time-consuming.

As for your latter comment concerning how folks would rather "have new features bolted into the system than have the drudge work of debugging get done"; quite ironically, nothing could prove more apt an example than what happened to Christendom in the 16th century.

Medieval Europe had a great many problems in its own right ranging from being very politically oppressive, to being very religiously oppressive. I see no reason to resurrect that era. The only choice we have is to move forward and fix what we can, but with the understanding that none of the fixes will probably even last our lifetimes.

The problem is that they are not raised to be prudent and patient, therefore they don't behave that way.

This, again, is primarily due to ignorance; either because of their parents not knowing any better (i.e., they were provincial to the extent that they weren't educated on the virtues) or perhaps their offsprings' obstinate refusal to learn any such thing.

Thus, the largely passion-driven mob runs principally on expedience (as you seem to claim) rather than on principle.

The latter, I would counsel you, to pay particular attention.

The only choice we have is to move forward and fix what we can...

The only way we can fix things is by taking note (as you yourself had ironically alluded to earlier) to the prescription of Ecclesiastes' Nihil sub sole novum and rather than entertain, accomodate and even continue with the heresies that has plagued us (be it from the 16th century on forward, either religious or concerning the idol of scientific verities), we become better than our predecessors and work towards the rebuilding of Christendom -- though, like you, I doubt we'll see its realization until several generations into the future (if that).

TMC,
I am confident most scientist would say that Ockam’s razor is a preference, not a hard and fast rule. In the initial development of a theory that makes a kind of sense because they need to exclude the noise in the system to find the constants and mechanism.

Also, magic exploits blind spots in our perception. Thing is, even when you understand the trick involved, you still marvel at the skill of a good illusionist.

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-05/ff_neuroscienceofmagic?currentPage=all

This, again, is primarily due to ignorance; either because of their parents not knowing any better (i.e., they were provincial to the extent that they weren't educated on the virtues) or perhaps their offsprings' obstinate refusal to learn any such thing.

Thus, the largely passion-driven mob runs principally on expedience (as you seem to claim) rather than on principle.

Even presuming that it is more of a matter of nurture than nature, that only serves to damn them further since it means that they have little biological or spiritual impediment in their way.

The only way we can fix things is by taking note (as you yourself had ironically alluded to earlier) to the prescription of Ecclesiastes' Nihil sub sole novum and rather than entertain, accomodate and even continue with the heresies that has plagued us (be it from the 16th century on forward, either religious or concerning the idol of scientific verities), we become better than our predecessors and work towards the rebuilding of Christendom -- though, like you, I doubt we'll see its realization until several generations into the future (if that).

I know you include Protestants among the heresies, but it is ironic in that it is the Protestant denominations which are most fervently bringing the unchurched world to Christ. It is also ironic that the Roman Catholic Church is compromising with scientific atheism by siding with forms of evolution against intelligent design. I understand the impulse which is that no one wants to be labeled the dumb yokel for rejecting scientific consensus, but that position is dangerously close to deny the resurrection as well since the resurrection is no less "scientifically impossible" than any creationist or intelligent design explanation of origins.

So I can't agree that the 16th century is "where it all went wrong." It's never been right. That's what you have to accept. You cannot presume that there was a time when it all made sense and the world was genuinely good (pre-fall aside). As I said before here, if you went back to that era it is likely that you would find your own church repulsively corrupt and would find that the spirit-focused clergymen like JPII and B16 could not exist in positions of such authority in an era in which your church wielded such political power over Europe, and it attracted men who were politicians, not men of God, at heart all too often. You have to remember that the Reformation was in no small part a backlash against the corruption in your church. It is likely that the Reformation did more good than harm to the Catholic Church by setting the stage for separating the church from politics and making it less attractive to men like the Medici family.

it is ironic in that it is the Protestant denominations which are most fervently bringing the unchurched world to Christ.

Amazing how history is being rewritten such that Catholic missionary work wasn't actually what was principally responsible for bringing Christ to the heathens on a global scale. Then again, such is the sad symptom of revisionism.


It is also ironic that the Roman Catholic Church is compromising with scientific atheism by siding with forms of evolution against intelligent design. I understand the impulse which is that no one wants to be labeled the dumb yokel for rejecting scientific consensus, but that position is dangerously close to deny the resurrection as well since the resurrection is no less "scientifically impossible" than any creationist or intelligent design explanation of origins.

If this is truly what you actually think, then my previous premise is once again proven: ignorance, pure and simple. Of course, fides et ratio is something no Protestant could ever grasp or subscribe to since it would seem they are more willing to entertain an alien creator via Intelligent Design than the God of Abram.


It is likely that the Reformation did more good than harm to the Catholic Church by setting the stage for separating the church from politics and making it less attractive to men like the Medici family.

Yes, it was these that brought about the dreadfully repulsive Hegelian mambo leading to even greater fragmentation over the decades amongst even the sects themselves and the regrettable stark decay that Christianity ever finds itself to the point of even fiercer nihilism.

If you do not think the rebuilding of Christendom should be first and foremost our objective in the coming decades, then I fear even greater heresies loom before us such that only a further divided Christianity can only help advance until forces of the Crescent or even the Secular has ultimately conquered Christianity completely.

Amazing how history is being rewritten such that Catholic missionary work wasn't actually what was principally responsible for bringing Christ to the heathens on a global scale. Then again, such is the sad symptom of revisionism.

I think Lydia is correct about you and your relationship with the English language, since you did not grasp my use of the present progressive tense and instead got hot and bothered on the (extremely erroneous) assumption of my use of the past perfect.

If this is truly what you actually think, then my previous premise is once again proven: ignorance, pure and simple. Of course, fides et ratio is something no Protestant could ever grasp or subscribe to since it would seem they are more willing to entertain an alien creator via Intelligent Design than the God of Abram.

I would have to consider evolutionary theory to be rational to even agree with that. I rejected evolutionary theory before I became a Christian because the more I studied Computer Science, I realized just how advanced the human brain is. Even now, it processes data in real time, with perfect parallelism that still can be only partially reproduced by our best minds.

If you do not think the rebuilding of Christendom should be first and foremost our objective in the coming decades, then I fear even greater heresies loom before us such that only a further divided Christianity can only help advance until forces of the Crescent or even the Secular has ultimately conquered Christianity completely.

The gates of Hell will never triumph. Even now spiritual forces beyond your imagination are moving against this world, bringing forth a chosen people of every tongue, every tribe, every nation. Pagan and atheist Asia is buckling under the Gospel. Violent and unchurched (pagan and Islamic alike) Africa is losing spiritual battle after battle against the Gospel.

I have no reason to be cynical about the future of our faith because our Messiah is aggressively building His spiritual empire by seizing province after province from the god of this world.

Mike T:

I would have to consider evolutionary theory to be rational to even agree with that. I rejected evolutionary theory before I became a Christian because the more I studied Computer Science, I realized just how advanced the human brain is. Even now, it processes data in real time, with perfect parallelism that still can be only partially reproduced by our best minds.

Do you even realize just what notions exactly the theory of Intelligent Design actually entertains? Your red herrings aside, perhaps you should look into the kinds of things such a mechanical notion as that actually accomodates and, more importantly, what the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church actually teaches concerning thus.


The gates of Hell will never triumph.


If you are to quote passages in Scripture, make certain you do so in their entirety -- I believe the passage you alluded to here went something like this:


18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mt 16:18:)


Now, just which Church is that, I wonder?

Now, just which Church is that, I wonder?

Ari, ouch! He walked right into that one and deserved the upper-cut, but did you have to use excessive force? Mike T's jaw was last seen traveling across the Atlantic and he won't be eating solids for awhile. Pull your punches sometimes. Wow.

Now, just which Church is that, I wonder?

A very troubled one, since it takes only five more verses for Jesus to say to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men." (Mt 16:23)

Besides, you are excluding an easy alternative interpretation, which is that Peter’s answer to the question Jesus posed (i.e. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God) was the foundation of the church, not the one who spoke it. As a simple declaration about the Divine Logos it is incorruptible, unlike the flawed disciples who doubted, betrayed and denied knowing him.

Besides, you are excluding an easy alternative interpretation...

So easy an alternative interpretation that all the successors of the Apostles where even subsequent generations on down, amongst whom included the Church Fathers themselves, actually interpreted the passage likewise to take that same Apostolic Petrine interpretation; of course, as mentioned, what a pity that the most genuine interpretation of Scripture wasn't actually beheld until the 16th Century!


...unlike the flawed disciples who doubted, betrayed and denied knowing him.

Amazing that we should actually take their letters and what not as the very Word of God!?

If they knew that we would do this, no doubt, Paul and the rest of these would have simply asked that these be burnt after they were read by their intended recipients!

...was the foundation of the church...

Which church, exactly?

Baptist?

Prebyterian?

Methodist?

Unlike Beckwith, I cherish no lukewarm sentiments and subscribe to the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church that traces its very beginnings right to the early church from which it continues.

I rejected evolutionary theory before I became a Christian because the more I studied Computer Science, I realized just how advanced the human brain is.

As the discussion in the last few comments illustrates, no doubt :)

The Chicken

Yes, Masked Chicken; we papists would rather prefer the Dark Ages as opposed to the much enlightened Protestant Enlightenment, thank-you. Therefore, we continue to subscribe to the principal beliefs of the early church simply because we are, in fact, so pathetically simple -- unlike your divine worship as well as your other cognitive superiors.

Sorry. Aristocles, I was practicing my irony skills. The discussion was starting to veer from science and prudence to apologetics. Not the topic, you know. I am not getting involved in the apologetics food fight.

The Chicken

Do you even realize just what notions exactly the theory of Intelligent Design actually entertains? Your red herrings aside, perhaps you should look into the kinds of things such a mechanical notion as that actually accomodates and, more importantly, what the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church actually teaches concerning thus.

Perhaps you should consider the link between evolutionary theory and the scientific atheism you so loudly protest. You think all you have to do is baptize it and suddenly it becomes friendly to Judao-Christian religion and tradition...

As I said, it's ironic that you can embrace scientific atheism so easily on this, but you will swear up and down that a man who was battered half to death, bled out damn near like a sin offering on a cross and then thrown into a dry, cold tomb for a few days could come back to life.

Oh, I forgot, we still take the Bible literally on that one!

Unlike Beckwith, I cherish no lukewarm sentiments and subscribe to the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church that traces its very beginnings right to the early church from which it continues.

Aristocles, none of the Protestants here are operating under any illusions about your reasons for wanting to "restore Christendom." You yearn for the day that you could still burn heretics at the stake. I bet the thought of throwing Martin Luther and Jean Calvin on the rack and burning them alive afterward is a guilty little fantasy of yours.

Perhaps you should consider the link between evolutionary theory and the scientific atheism you so loudly protest.

Perhaps you should first investigate just what sordid notions Intelligent Design actually entertains and, even further, what evils the Reformation itself had actually help bring about in addition to the destruction of Western Christendom, which not only destroyed the Body of Christ but only helped further the evils of the world.

As for your link, I shall furnish the below:

http://www.catholic.com/library/Peter_the_Rock.asp

http://www.catholic.com/library/Origins_of_Peter_as_Pope.asp

http://www.catholic.com/library/Peter_and_the_Papacy.asp

http://www.catholic.com/library/Peter_Primacy.asp

Aristocles, none of the Protestants here are operating under any illusions about your reasons for wanting to "restore Christendom." You yearn for the day that you could still burn heretics at the stake.

A preconception that you and yours most likely ever find delight in perpetuating, however mistakened -- although I shouldn't be surprised given the heresy you choose to indulge in and the sorry propaganda you continue to shell out. But, what's better than destroying the Body of Christ, as your forefathers did, than to keep it thus.

There is only one sinister force I can think of that would actually want such a thing. Jesus taught in Mark 3:25 how a house divided against itself cannot stand. Not surprising that malevolent forces would want the Church, nay, the very Body of Christ itself to suffer such division.

Unlike those Patriarchs of the Orthodox Church who know better:

The patriarch of Constantinople, after speaking of the "historic event" because of his very presence at the synod, expressed his hope of arriving one day at "full unity" between Orthodox and Catholics, overcoming the current differences and agreeing "fully over the role of primacy and collegiality in the life of the Church." Bartholomew also indicated some concrete objectives: "as disciples of God," he added, "it is more imperative than ever to present a single perspective, beyond social, political, and economic views, on the need to uproot poverty, promote equilibrium in the globalized world, combat fundamentalism and racism, and develop religious tolerance in a world of conflict."

The Ecumenical Patriarch rightly sees the problem. The Church needs to be Visibly unified to the world, not just a federation of independent State churches. That visible unity must come by way of public and open Communion with One See and its Patriarch. The Ecumenical Patriarch even goes so far as to say that this responsibility falls to his see and his person only because of the break with Rome. I think, although I may be reading into this with Roman eyes, that the Ecumenical Patriarch might even agree that were communion with Rome re-established, the role of being the visible unifier of the Church would no longer fall to him and his See.

Now I know that the Patriarchs of many of these autocephalous Churches would vehemently disagree with such a notion, whether Rome or Constantinople. With that said, I think that the Ecumenical Patriarch's pitch to his fellow Orthodox is an important step in the road to full and visible Unity of the Church as Jesus prayed. If these national Churches come to realize the importance of that visible unity to the world, we will be that much closer to being one, as Jesus and the Father are one.


Chicken:

(a) I wasn't the one who dished out the Matthew 16:18 verse which led to such discussion; ironically, it was your very friend whom you chose to advocate.
(b) My comments were merely in response to your friend as well as to Step2's apparent eisegesis
(c) To Step2's credit, at the very least, he cared much about his Protestantism that he came to its defense; how telling that the only Catholic who came about to address the topic was one who chose to ridicule it instead and to belittle a defense of the Catholic faith to nothing more than "food fight".

Therefore, the alias you chose is rather apt; indeed, you are "chicken".

"Perhaps you should consider the link between evolutionary theory and the scientific atheism you so loudly protest. You think all you have to do is baptize it and suddenly it becomes friendly to Judao-Christian religion and tradition..."

Again, do you even know exactly what Intelligent Design allows or what exactly is the Church's teachings themselves?

"As I said, it's ironic that you can embrace scientific atheism so easily on this, but you will swear up and down that a man who was battered half to death, bled out damn near like a sin offering on a cross and then thrown into a dry, cold tomb for a few days could come back to life."

Embrace scientific atheism? You do enjoy constructing strawmen, do you? I nor my Church, the TRUE church, embrace such a thing.

However, it would seem you would rather have an alien race herald as Creator of mankind in place of the God of Abram; telling, really.


"Aristocles, none of the Protestants here are operating under any illusions about your reasons for wanting to "restore Christendom." You yearn for the day that you could still burn heretics at the stake.

Much like your errant heresy, this is as mistakened and remarkably erroneous.

However, as Jesus taught in Mark 3:25, a house divided itself cannot stand; there is, therefore, only one malevolent force who so heinously would have wanted the destruction of the Body of Christ in the first place and continue to wreak havoc on it to see that it permenantly suffers division.

Fortunately, the Patriarches of the Orthodox Church faithfully abide by the Call of our Master, seeking to reunite the Body of Christ in reunification of both Catholic and Orthodox, just as called for in Jn 17:22.

The difference between true sons of God (and, therefore, sons of the True Church) and those who merely cling to sects.

As for your link, I shall furnish my own which shall feature an enormous variety, owing to even historical facts:

http://www.google.com/cse?cx=008187825485874300314%3A1bfkl0u3vji&ie=UTF-8&q=peter+rock


Chicken:
(a) I wasn't the one who dished out the Matthew 16:18 verse which begat the subsequent apologetics; ironically, it was your friend who you yourself found fit to advocate.
(b) My comments were merely in response to MikeT's and Step2's apparent eisegesis.
(c) To Step2's credit, at the very least, he sought to defend his Protestantism, however wrong it may very well be.

Compare this with that of a certain supposed Catholic who instead of doing same, instead found a defense of the Catholic Faith little more than trivial and, even further, belittled the endeavour to nothing more than a mere "food fight".

Thus, I must congratulate you on selecting so apt an alias; indeed, you are "chicken".

However, it would seem you would rather have an alien race herald as Creator of mankind in place of the God of Abram; telling, really.

That is only one faction of the intelligent design camp.

Embrace scientific atheism? You do enjoy constructing strawmen, do you? I nor my Church, the TRUE church, embrace such a thing.

You embrace evolutionary theory and then kvetch incessantly about the evils of this world without the slightest appreciation of the irony that TENS is the foundation of the social darwinian view of mankind, one of the great justifications of many of the horrors of the 20th century and part and parcel of the atheist genesis story. Nor do you seem to appreciate that it was intended to displace the actual Book of Genesis and usher in an atheist view of the origin of man. Finally, to fully round out the irony, you have to twist Genesis to an unrecognizable level of linguistic manipulation to even make it remotely connectible with TENS or any variant of TENS.

And yet, you take it for granted that the testimonial evidence for the resurrection is sound. That's what I find incredible.

Dear Aristocles,

As the topic of the post is science and prudence, not apologetics, I was subtly trying to tell you guys to take the argument elsewhere. Food fight is a description of the fact that arguments were being flung back and forth.

The Chicken

Mike T:

What I find incredible is your rather remarkable ability at manufacturing strawmen of even worse proportions.

Go and manufacture whatever untruths you feel fit to advance your position; I shall cling to the One Truth and that is the Word, which Ratzinger himself challenged the Muslims at Regensburg to behold, which the One True Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church remains as its most loyal subject through subsequent ages, ever since its historic founding when Our Lord Himself was present here on earth; a precious patrimony given unto the line of Peter and the Apostles and, ultimately, their Successors; a Church which the Great Whole of Christendom consists, such as the likes of Augustine and Aquinas, Felicity and Perpetua, Ignatius and Irenaeus and on down.

You want Reformers?

Sts Francis and Dominic were exactly these.

As for those who simply claim to be thus; only mere pretenders.

But even worse -- only one precise characterization can be granted those who would dare sever the Body of Christ, as previously mentioned...

Chicken: Sorry to take so long to reply to your last. I have been on a trip. I don’t think we disagree substantially to any great degree. We are just using “materialism” a bit differently. I have been using it to denote the LaPlacean mechanism with which it is popularly synonymous, while you quite properly seem to be using it to refer more generally to “a doctrine of materiality.” Thus I agree, for example, that QM does not negate all possible materialisms, but rather only shows that the mechanistic materialism of LaPlace (& his intellectual heirs, such as Dawkins) is inadequate. I agree also that no conceivable experimental result could contradict a fully adequate materialist ontology. Fact cannot contradict fact, nor any truth contradict any other truth; neither can any truth contradict any fact. So, a fully adequate materialism – i.e., a true materialism – cannot contradict any experimental result.

Also, while a true scientific theory cannot contradict a true ontology, it _must_ contradict a false ontology. The so-called paradoxes of QM arise, not from the theory itself, but from the ontological doctrines under which we interpret it. QM is paradoxical, not logically or mathematically, but only as interpreted under LaPlacean mechanistic ontology. To use Bohm’s wonderful neology, QM relevates the paradoxes that have always lurked unnoticed in LaPlacean mechanism.

Under a more adequate doctrine of being, such as may be found in the ontologies of Whitehead or Aquinas, quantum weirdness disappears: quantum effects follow quite straightforwardly from the terms of the metaphysics. To take just the most obvious example, the collapse from the quantum coherent superposition of states to a single classical state of affairs is just what we would expect to find under a Whiteheadian or Thomistic doctrine of becoming as the transition from a condition of undefined multifarious potentiality to one of definite actuality, via an act.

All I’m arguing is that, in contradicting LaPlacean mechanism, QM demolishes the peculiarly impoverished ontology that has opened so much cultural room for atheism. While it was not my intention to argue that QM directly supports either theism or immaterialism, NB that both of the metaphysical systems adequate to QM - the Whiteheadian and Thomistic – do in fact logically require both God and the immaterial, and can without difficulty accommodate such things as miracles and the Incarnation. If God exists, then any true doctrine of nature – nay, any true doctrine of any kind – must agree with that existence. A true materialism, in that case, would not at all disagree with the Divine existence and role in the cosmic economy. This the Whiteheadian and Thomistic ontologies both do.

Let me close by saying how nice it is to encounter another thinker who finds Anselm’s Ontological Proof compelling.

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