Thursday, September 4, 2008

Accounts from Here and There

On Art
When discussing his use of symbolism, or rather the lack thereof, Ernest Hemingway once said of The Old Man and the Sea, “If I made them good and true enough they would mean many things. The hardest thing is to make something really true and sometimes truer than true.” David Barry
On Art that is "Truer than True"
"It is a common experience to observe that a particular painting—for example, a still life of apples—makes its subject “more real than it is in reality.” The apples seem brighter and firmer, they seem to possess an almost self-assertive character, a kind of heightened reality which neither their real-life models nor any color photograph can match. Yet if one examines them closely, one sees that no real-life apple ever looked like that." Ayn Rand;
Art and Cognition,” The Romantic Manifesto
On Evolution as Opposition to Faith
"Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "On The Origin Of Species." For some, this anniversary celebrates the high point of human liberation from stultifying religion and superstition, our freedom from past theological "delusions". For others, it is more complicated. The leading atheist Richard Dawkins, speaking of this God delusion, as he calls it, offers a succinct summary of Darwin's theory. But things aren't so simple. Scattered among the world's top scientists are those who do believe in a conscious intention behind nature's processes. I think of people such as Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, and Professor Bill Phillips, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997. The presence of such people poses awkward questions for the view that evolutionary theory and a sophisticated scientific brain lead inexorably towards atheism. There must be more to the so-called "science versus God" story than this." [italics added] John Lennox
Perhaps the answer to the problem that "there must be more," is that science is not necessarily the catylist that propells a person into atheism. There are evolutionary theists out there, people who have a "sophisticated scientific brain," yet who harbor supernatural conditions for whatever happened; and simply believe that what did happen is that it was God, but not as the word of Man as written in the Bible describes the word of God. Who knows what perverse reasons men may have had for telling lies about the revelations they had from God. Or perhaps it is simply that the revelations they had were not understood as God wished them to be understood--in the minds of those who believe, that is. And the evolutionary theists is a mind that has faith.

The other explanation is to remember that atheism existed long before the theory of evolution, even though Lucretious is supposed to have been the first expositor of that theory. Not every one knew of the things Lucretius said. His epic poem "On the Nature of Things" was not re-discovered for centuries after atomism lost its place as the "world view" to the world view of St. Augustine. Atheism can just as easily--and more rationally be explained--as a rejection of faith and an embracing of reason unmarred by any touch of supernaturalism.

Book offers a New Interpretation of Philosopher
W.V. Quine's Views of Naturalism.
Paul A. Gregory, associate professor of philosophy at Washington and Lee, has written a book titled Quine's Naturalism: Language, Theory, and the Knowing Subject (Continuum Studies in American Philosophy), which offers a new interpretation of philosopher W.V. Quine's views of naturalism.According to Gregory, "Quine was the most important naturalistic philosopher of the 20th century and a major impetus for the recent resurgence of the view that empirical science is our best avenue to knowledge. His views, however, have not been well understood."To help in the understanding of Quine's views on language, knowledge and reality, Gregory offers new views and interpretations on Quine's naturalism, while at the same time defending it. Gregory says, "The naturalism/antinaturalism debate can be advanced only by acknowledging and critiquing the substantial theoretical commitments implicit in the traditional view."
"There is a new atheism afoot in the marketplace of ideas,
and it presents a far more potent challenge to the Christian worldview than the atheism of former times, R. Albert Mohler argues in a new book.In “Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheism” (Crossway), Mohler engages the central arguments of four contemporary atheists, whom he calls “The Four Horseman of the Atheist Apocalypse:” Oxford University scientist Richard Dawkins, Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett, author Sam Harris and pundit Christopher Hitchens.Mohler, who serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, chose Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens because “they are four figures who have especially come to embody the New Atheist movement.”
"The New Atheism promotes the development of a purely secular society, Mohler argues, a secularism that views the death of all religions as the expected natural progression of Darwinian naturalism. “I believe what we see in the rise of the New Atheism is something of the endgame of secularism,” Mohler said.
Why the Theists Have Reason to Dislike Reductionist Metaphysics--
And Why Both are Wrong
"Personally, I find great comfort in believing that the murderer who escapes justice in this life still faces it in the next. I have a reason to love my neighbor beyond what I hope to get out of it. I have a purpose that transcends the mere physical and chemical reactions that make up my bodily functions. So, yes, not only do I believe there is a creator, I WANT there to be one. Without a creator; without a metaphysical or transcendent reality we are nothing more than those same physical and chemical reactions. Everything that is must be and everything that happens must happen. Everything follows from cause to effect, which in turn becomes the cause of the next effect. Our lives are no more than one long chain of necessary and predictable chemical reaction; the output of each reaction becoming the catalyst for the next. Every particle moves according to known or knowable physical laws. If we could map the location, orientation, direction and speed of every particle we could predict with 100 percent accuracy everything that will ever happen as a natural consequence of everything that has already happened. There is no room for chance. No randomness. No free will. No “real” life at all." [italics added] Chris Bergman
And Another Reason Theism is Wrong--
Morality Cannot Exist Without God?
"This is a "popular level" version (i.e., written for normal people, [ ] of the sort of argument that C.S. Lewis urged in various books and essays: the phenomenon of morality provides reason for believing in God.
"Darwin’s account of the origins of human morality is at once elegant, ingenious, and, I shall argue, woefully inadequate. In particular, that account, on its standard interpretation, does not explain morality, but, rather, explains it away. We learn from Darwin not how there could be objective moral facts, but how we could have come to believe—-perhaps erroneously—-that there are.
"Further, the naturalist, who does not believe that there is such a person as God, is in principle committed to Darwinism, including a Darwinian account of the basic contours of human moral psychology. I’ll use the term "evolutionary naturalism" to refer to this combination of naturalism and Darwinism. And so the naturalist is saddled with a view that explains morality away. Whatever reason we have for believing in moral facts is also a reason for thinking naturalism is false."
And Then We Have Morality Without God
"Why should an Atheist be moral, without a god to make him to do so? You may as well ask why he should use his head for something besides a mobile hat rack. Morality is a built-in condition of humanity; the moral tendency exists in just about everyone, barring psychopaths.
"The only difference between people is how they codify and rationalise this morality, and attempt to apply it in rational terms to the way they live. As well as being emotionally-led creatures, we're also afflicted, as a species, with a curiosity which would put cats to shame. This is what, in my opinion, ultimately leads to us assigning causes to things, whether through frustration at not knowing, as with Theism; or through reasoned and rational methods, as with science. It is also the foundation of reasoning and rationality; it's a great deal easier to find out how things work if you use a consistent system of thought, whether intentionally or not."
Capitalism, 100B.C.
"David Brooks, the moderately conservative (Canadian-born) columnist and essayist of The New York Times, sounded absolutely smitten. Writing from China on the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, he marvelled at the "mass conformity" of the event. The intricate performances, he said, were an expression of collectivism at its 21st century best, a precision-choreographed, high-tech vision "of a harmonious society," staged with thousands of performers, "in the context of China's miraculous growth."
"The ceremony drew from China's long history," he enthused, "but surely the most striking features were the images of the Chinese performers moving as one - drumming as one, dancing as one, sprinting in precise formations without ever stumbling or colliding."
"In the end, the defining factor here isn't individualism versus collectivism. We all work together and we all work alone. As an expression of voluntary choice, authentic collectivism occurs anywhere it is permitted - in an Israeli kibbutz, for example, or in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. The defining factor here is coercion.
"The relevant parable here was nicely recounted last year by author Hunter Lewis in his engaging little book, entitled Are the Rich Necessary? and subtitled Great Economic Arguments and How They Reflect Our Personal Values. Ancient Chinese annals, Mr. Lewis writes, record the controversial decision of a powerful emperor, Wudi (156-87 BC) to take a direct hand in running China's economy - by nationalizing key commodities (salt, iron and alcohol), by debasing the currency, by widespread expropriation of land.
Although highly imprudent to do so, one of Wudi's advisers, the legendary historian Sima Qian, published an assessment of the emperor's statist economic policies.
"What need is there for government directives?" Sima Qian wrote. "Each man has only to be left to utilize his own abilities and to exert his own strength to obtain what he wishes. Thus, when a commodity is very cheap, it invites a rise in price; when it is very expensive, it invites a reduction. When each person works away at his own occupation and delights in his own business, then - like water flowing downwards - goods will naturally flow forth ceaselessly day and night without having been summoned, and the people will produce commodities without having been asked. Does this not tally with reason? Is it not a natural result?" Report on Neil Reynolds
Please send all comments to
The Free Assemblage of Metaphysical Naturalists is the sm of the
Academy of Metaphysical Naturalism tm, the educational arm of the Assemblage.
This publication © 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®
blog comments powered by Disqus