.
An atheist recently said to me, “We’re pretty much the same. I just believe in one fewer God than you do.”

The argument goes like this. Ask a Christian why he’s not a Muslim. Or a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or what have you. Then, whatever his reasons, try to figure out why they aren’t equally well reasons not to be a Christian. It’s a case study in the volatility of us/them rhetoric. Whatever the Christian tries to pin on “them,” is often applicable to “us” as well.

In a pluralistic society, the exclusive truth claims of Jesus are supposed to be a problem. Christianity declares a universal human need for salvation, says its salvation is the only one that matters, and then says Jesus is the only way to that salvation. It’s understandable that folks standing on Muslim ground, or Jewish ground, or Buddhist ground, or pagan ground, or atheist ground, say: “What are we – chopped liver?” If Xians began by saying, “Well, we’re only talking here about a subjective experience that has no bearing on the public sphere,” there would be no problem. Of course, then there would be no Xianity.

The question is, what would there be?

Let’s be clear: a purely private spirituality that has no public ramifications might be possible, but it is not what is found in the lives of most Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Xians, or Muslims. I’m not even sure if such a notion would make sense to your average pagan or Wiccan.

An atheist would be pleased by the idea of strictly private spirituality – for “other” people. Maybe. I say “maybe,” because an atheist’s commitment to truth still makes it a dicey proposition ethically to allow other people to persist in error, even when that error has no negative effect on the atheist personally or on the larger community.

The challenge of pluralism is not getting religious beliefs to stay “in their place,” well within the bounds of the private sphere. Religion will not stay within bounds in this manner. It is the nature of religion to make truth claims that transcend the narrower realms of science and politics (in atheistic terms: it’s by definition “religious” to overreach and make claims that go beyond what logic and evidence can prove). So the challenge of pluralism is one of etiquette – if you have people of divergent truth commitments interacting and talking in the public sphere, how can they coexist in a way that is healthy? What’s the shared basis for dialogue going to be?

As a Christian, just what is my viewpoint on other religions? Well, I can pick a fight on all kinds of points – why we’re here, how we should live, what will become of us, etc. – but at some point when you see two parties lined up and disagreeing on a series of issues, you have to recognize that there is common ground between them precisely to the extent that they agree on what’s at stake. The Xian says: “The Bible!” The Muslim says: “The Koran!” We’re both talking about revealed truth. No matter what end of the spectrum you choose – e.g. the Buddhist’s relationship to the Buddha differs radically from my relationship to Christ – there is still going to be a relationship of some kind between the community of believers and a truth they do not derive independently, but which comes to them as an inherited tradition.

The atheist steps in and says, “You’re both taking human documents, not even the most valuable human documents (because they’re riddled with fantasy and propaganda) and giving them ultimate value.” Does that mean, then, that the Xian, the Muslim and the atheist can agree that the question of “ultimate value” is crucial? It depends on the atheist. If we’re talking about someone who restricts himself to affirming only what is logically unassailable and demonstrable from scientific evidence alone, then I wonder what meaning the terms “ultimate value” can possibly have. He’s likely to say, “We can have a conversation if you agree that what you call ‘ultimate value’ is only a subjective notion with no significance which I am compelled to respect,” and that means that there can be no conversation.

If the atheist goes one step further and asserts that her position gives her the advantage of an open mind – an advantage neither the Xian nor the Muslim shares – then we have a devastating chasm between perspectives. What’s more, her perspective turns out to be privileged by our mainstream culture. On the one hand, our culture tells us that it is up to each individual to decide how to live and what to believe. In other words, “I’m okay, you’re okay.” On the other hand, our culture tells us that there is a world of reliable facts – arrived at by the logical, empirical disciplines – and that people can reasonably expected to agree about those facts. (This is the split between the public and private spheres.) So this perspective we’re describing takes the best of both worlds – “I’m okay, because I restrict myself to the facts, and you’re okay, as long as you keep quiet about your illogical, extrascientific ideas. So I can receive you with an open mind, having always already disregarded your ideas – and if you bring your religious beliefs into the public sphere, I can oppose you as an enemy of the truth.”

So there is an asymmetry to relations between our hypothetical atheist and our hypothetical monotheist (to take one example – it’s not as if the atheist’s conversation with a polytheist or pantheist would go so much better!). The atheist’s stance is, “You depend on inherited tradition, but I depend only on what I can independently verify. You believe what you do to make yourself feel better, where my beliefs require courage and emotional toughness. Your truth claims are attempts to leverage power over others, but my truth claims are innocent of any such motivations.” etc.

Two closing observations.

The perspective I have described is not the only one available to the atheist. It is possible for the atheist to acknowledge that her truth commitments are not innocent – that she shares with the religious wo/man both an existential dilemma (requiring her to take some kind of stance on the world before she can reliably explore it) and a social situation (requiring her to take account of uneven power relationships with which her choice of beliefs will intersect in some way).

None of this means that the Xian is intrinsically more respectful of other folks’ points of view, or that he can coexist in good faith with people of varied perspectives while the atheist is necessarily alienated from the religious world. It will always be a temptation for the religious person to view his own stance as angelic in nature and the other’s stance as demonic. If I had to choose between being a courteous atheist with common sense and a rude Christian without common sense, then I can tell you it would be an easy choice – from a practical standpoint. I’d rather be the atheist.

As it is, Jesus insists that I follow him and so risk seeming closed-minded and stupid – but he has not made it a requirement of my discipleship that I actually be closed-minded and stupid – quite the opposite. The first thing we notice when we look at Jesus’ own life in the gospels is a bizarre combination of radical openness to other people and a devastating judgmentality to the judgmental. So I’m content that my religion gives me resources for living in a pluralistic society. I pray that I might use them well.

I have poked into every dark recess, I have made an assault on every problem, I have plunged into every abyss. I have scrutinized the creed of every sect, I have tried to lay bare the inmost doctrines of every community. All this I have done that I might distinguish between true and false, between sound tradition and heretical innovation.

Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali

Al-Ghazzali was as aware as any modern skeptic that certainty was a psychological condition that was not necessarily objectively true. Faylasufs said that they acquired certain knowledge by rational argument; mystics insisted that they had found it through the Sufi disciplines… But the reality that we call “God” cannot be tested empirically, so how could we be sure that our beliefs are not mere delusions?…

…Without abandoning his reason… al-Ghazzali discovered that the mystical disciplines yielded a direct but intuitive sense of something that could be called “God.” The British scholar John Bowker shows that the Arabic word for existence (wujud) derives from the root wajada: “he found.” Literally, therefore, wujud means “that which is findable”: it was more concrete than the Greek metaphysical terms and yet gave Muslims more leeway. An Arabic-speaking philosopher who attempted to prove that God existed did not have to produce God as another object among many. He simply had to prove that he could be found. The only absolute proof of God’s wujud would appear – or not – when the believer came face to face with the divine reality after death, but the reports of such people as the prophets and mystics who claimed to have experienced it in this life should be considered carefully…

Some people possess a power that is higher than reason… which al-Ghazzali calls “the prophetic spirit.” People who lack this faculty should not deny that it exists simply because they have no experience of it. That would be as absurd as if somebody who was tone-deaf claimed that music was an illusion, simply because he himself could not appreciate it… This sounds elitist, but mystics in other traditions have claimed that the intuitive, receptive qualities demanded by a discipline like Zen or Buddhist meditation are a special gift, comparable to the gift of writing poetry.

Karen Armstrong, A History of God

I say that there is a limit to human reason and as long as the soul resides within the body, it cannot grasp what is above nature, for nothing that is immersed in nature can see above it… Know that there is a level of knowledge which is higher than all philosophy, namely prophecy… Reason and proof cannot aspire to the level of insight at which prophecy exists – how then can they ever prove or disprove it?… Our faith is based on the principle that the words of Moses are prophecy and therefore beyond the domain of speculation, validation, argument or proof. Reason is inherently unable to pass judgment in the area from which prophecy originates. It would be like trying to put all the water in the world into a little cup.

Maimonides, a letter to Rabbi Hisdai

What is this world… but a complex, subject to cycles of change, all of which show a continual tendency to destruction: a rapid succession of beings that appear one by one, flourish and disappear; a merely transitory symmetry and a momentary appearance of order.

Denis Diderot, A Letter to the Blind for the Use of Those Who See

If the ignorance of nature gave birth to the Gods, the knowledge of nature is calculated to destroy them.

Paul Heinrich, baron of Holbach

Like al-Ghazzali centuries earlier, [Kant] argued that the traditional arguments for the existence of God were useless because our minds could only understand things that exist in space or time and are not competent to consider realities that lie beyond this category. But he allowed that humanity had a natural tendency to transgress these limits and seek a principle of unity that would give us a vision of reality as a coherent whole. This was the idea of God… it represented the ideal limit that enabled us to achieve a comprehensive idea of the world.

Karen Armstrong, A History of God

Theism is so confused and the sentences in which ‘God’ appears so incoherent and so incapable of verifiability or falsifiability that to speak of belief or unbelief, faith or unfaith, is logically impossible.

A. J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic

The concept of a “Personal God” interfering with natural events, or being “an independent cause of natural events,” makes God a natural object beside others, an object among others, a being among beings, maybe the highest, but nevertheless a being. This indeed is not only the destruction of the physical system but even more the destruction of any meaningful idea of God.

Paul Tillich, Theology and Culture

…the statement, “I believe in
God” has no objective meaning, as such, but like any other statement
only means something in context, when proclaimed by a particular
community. Consequently there is no one unchanging idea contained in
the word “God”; instead, the word contains a whole spectrum of
meanings, some of which are contradictory or even mutually exclusive…
When one conception of God has ceased to have meaning or relevance, it
has been quietly discarded and replaced by a new theology. [APD: not
always so quietly!] A fundamentalist would deny this, since
fundamentalism is antihistorical: it believes that Abraham, Moses, and
the later prophets all experienced their God in exactly the same way as
people do today… Atheism has often been a transitional state: thus
Jews, Christians and Muslims were all called “atheists” by their pagan
contemporaries because they had adopted a revolutionary notion of
divinity and transcendence.

from Karen Armstrong, A History of God

[Brahman is] What cannot be spoken in words, but that whereby words are
spoken… What cannot be thought with the mind, but that whereby the
mind can think… comes to the thought of those who know It beyond
thought, not to those who imagine it can be attained by thought. It is
unknown to the learned and known to the simple.

The Upanisads

The Cappadocians… were all deeply
spiritual men. They thoroughly enjoyed speculation and philosophy but
were convinced that religious experience alone could provide the key to
the problem of God. Trained in Greek philosophy, they were all aware of
a crucial distinction between the factual content of truth and its more
elusive aspects. The early Greek rationalists had called attention to
this: Plato had contrasted philosophy (which was expressed in terms of
reason and was thus capable of proof) with the equally important
teaching handed down by means of mythology, which eluded scientific
demonstration… Basil expressed the same insight when he distinguished
between
dogma and kerygmaKerygma was the public teaching of the church, based on the scriptures. Dogma,
however, represented the deeper meaning of biblical truth, which could
only be apprehended through religious experience and expressed in
symbolic form…

The idea of a “secret” doctrine was
not to shut people out… [Basil, the Cappadocian] was simply calling
attention to the fact that not all religious truth was capable of being
expressed and defined clearly and logically. Some religious insights
had an inner resonance that could only be apprehended by each
individual in his own time during what Plato had called
theoria,
contemplation… Besides their literal meaning, therefore, the
scriptures also had a spiritual significance which it was not always
possible to articulate.  The Buddha had also noted that certain
questions were “improper” or inappropriate, since they referred to
realities that lay beyond the reach of words.

Karen Armstrong, A History of God

During the ninth century, the
Arabs came into contact with Greek science and philosophy… A team of
translators, most of whom were Nestorian Christians, made Greek texts
available in Arabic and did a brilliant job.  Arab Muslims now
studied astronomy, alchemy, medicine and mathematics with such success
that, during the ninth and tenth centuries, more scientific discoveries
had been achieved in the Abbasid empire than in any previous period of
history.  A new type of Muslim emerged, dedicated to the ideal
that he called
Falsafah
This is usually translated “philosophy,” but has a broader, richer
meaning… the Faylasufs wanted to live rationally in accordance with
the laws that they believed governed the cosmos, which could be
discerned at every level of reality… Their venture was important:
since their scientific and philosophic studies were dominated by Greek
thought, it was imperative to find a link between their faith and this
more rationalistic, objective outlook.  It can be most unhealthy
to relegate God to a separate intellectual category and to see faith in
isolation from other human concerns…

The Faylasufs wanted to get beyond
history, which was a mere illusion, to glimpse the changeless, ideal
world of the divine.  Despite the emphasis on rationality,
Falsafah demanded a faith of its own.  It took great courage to
believe that the cosmos, where chaos and pain seemed more in evidence
than a purposeful order, was really ruled by the principle of reason.

Karen Armstrong, A History of God

We should not be ashamed to
acknowledge truth and to assimilate it from whatever source it comes to
us, even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign
peoples.  For him who seeks the truth there is nothing of higher
value than truth itself; it never cheapens or debases him who reaches
for it but ennobles and honors him.

Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakaria
ar-Razi… was perhaps the first freethinker to find the concept of God
incompatible with the scientific outlook.  He was a brilliant
physician and a kindly, generous man, who worked for years as the head
of hospital in his native Rayy in Iran.  Most Faylasufs did not
take their rationalism to such an extreme.  In a debate with a
more conventional Muslim, he argued that no true Faylasuf could rely on
an established tradition, but had to think things through for himself,
since reason alone could lead us to truth.  Reliance on revealed
doctrines was useless because the religions could not agree.  How
could anybody tell which one was correct?  But his opponent – who,
rather confusingly, was also called ar-Razi – made an important
point.  What about the common people? he asked.  Most of them
were quite incapable of philosophic thought: were they therefore lost,
doomed to error and confusion?  One of the reasons that Falsafah
remained a minority sect in Islam was its elitism.  It necessarily
appealed only to those with a certain IQ and was thus against the
egalitarian spirit that was beginning to characterize Muslim society.

Karen Armstrong, A History of God

the believing game

May 25, 2005

[I've been reading Lesslie Newbigin's Proper Confidence, in which he discusses another book called Creation and the History of Science, by Christopher Kaiser. What follows is based on that discussion.]

The Cappodocian theologians, in the latter part of the 4th century, developed four principles that were to shape the development of science in Europe.

1. Two facts have to be in place for scientific inquiry. One, the cosmos must be coherent, free from any self-contradiction. Two, the human mind must be capable of comprehending this cosmos. According to divine revelation in the Bible – and in the work of Jesus – the cosmos is the creation of a rational God. Furthermore, this same God created human kind in His image. It follows that the universe is not a chaos of random events, and that its ultimate order is in principle attainable by the human mind.

2. Because God intentionally created the cosmos, it is relatively autonomous. Not everything that happens is the direct will of God. It follows, then, that to discover how the cosmos works, we have to investigate the empirical facts by careful observation.

3. Scripture says that God created the heavens and earth, so it follows that the “heavenly bodies” are not (as Aristotle said) made of a substance different from that of earth, but are of the same substance. (Newbigin notes: “It is one of the many ironies in the history of the later conflicts between science and religion that when Galileo, as a result of his use of a telescope, decided that the moon was made of the same substance as the earth, he was condemned by the church because the church had meanwhile co-opted Aristotelian philosophy into its doctrine.”)

4. Because of the work of the incarnate Christ, we know that the use of material means for the advancement of human salvation is desirable. So, for example, the church could use Greek medicine in the development of its healing ministry.

One can see there the outlines of an epistemology that would have undergirded a scientific revolution as vigorous as the one we got. As for the one we got, to understand how it broke off from the Cappodocian principles, we can look at Descartes.

Newbigin describes a debate that took place in Paris in 1628. The question arose: is there any possibility of reliable knowledge? is there any escape from skepticism? (Note: this was not a particularly “atheist” question – there were many who thought that God's omnipotence was not obliged to be attainable by human logic.) So a philosopher at this debate demonstrated that uncertainty could be overcome by recognizing the force of probability. Probability, then, was a sufficient basis for knowledge . The audience was pleased with his argument. One young man was not pleased. He stepped in and proceeded to demonstrate that on the basis of probability he could prove truth to be falsehood and falsehood to be truth, and what is more, that certain knowledge was not beyond our reach.

The young man, who was of course Rene Descartes, was approached by the Cardinal Pierre de Berulle after his impressive performance. Descartes's philosophical method, which had just been deployed to defeat skepticism, the Cardinal wanted to see deployed against atheism: to prove, beyond a doubt, the existence of God. So Descartes received his commission, and so Western civilization got its big alternative to the Cappadocian principles.

Descartes's conceit was that, by starting with the most stringent presuppositions of the skeptics, he could arrive at the same kind of rational inquiry as a scientist would ideally want to affirm – and at the same kind of religious belief as a Christian would ideally want to affirm. As he wrote in his Origins, he dreamed of a foundation “which was self-justifying and self-authenticating, principles so intuitive that they admitted no denial and were sustained by the exercise of doubt.” He started with his own existence as a thinking subject – because to doubt his own existence still affirmed the existence of the thinking subject that doubted.

Three unfortunate consequences of Descartes' move:

1. A deeply reinforced dualism of mind and matter. Descartes isolated the thinking mind as though it could exist apart from its embodiment apart from the whole person. No good skeptic today would permit Descartes to assume a disembodied self.

2. A deeply polarized space between objectivity and subjectivity. Descartes absolved the knowing mind from being in any way implicated in the situation it sought to know. The idea of purely objective knowledge was nice for a mythologized science that could crown the secularized altar of civilization – but doesn't hold much water for actual scientists, after (or even before) Heisenberg.

3. A dichotomy between theory and practice. What will it take to shed forever the idea of working out basic principles in some protected space – uncontaminated by subjective passions and the crude realities of the physical world – and only then putting them into practice? Thanks a lot, Descartes. One valuable thing I learned in my preparation for being a teacher – one of the few – was that reflection is inseparable from action. You don't learn how to think without doing, and your thinking is forever fruitless, a kind of mental masturbation, unless it is integrated with your doing.

I've written elsewhere about the intrinsic limits of skepticism. It's evident to me that we doubt in order to learn, but we must believe in order to know. I'm not just talking about God. Remember the dual nature of Descartes' project – it was not only theological, but trying to find a better (more secure, less doubtful) platform for scientific inquiry. If you don't have the Cappodocian principles, you need some other basis – and you have to choose it. It's not as though you let the Skeptical Beast out of its cage, and it tears down all pretenders to the throne, and whatever's left standing you must kneel down and worship. Sooner or later you must rein in the Skeptical Beast in favor of your chosen perspective.

Richard Feynman

May 8, 2005

.
There are a lot of extraordinary phenomena whose distinctive mark is their ordinariness. What we call “ordinary decency,” for instance, really belongs to the set of extraordinary things. We talk about falling in love as if it were a commonplace, but in fact a loving relationship that stands the test of time is a rare thing. M. Scott Peck once made the somewhat counterintuitive claim that while the fact of disease is stark and frightening, what is perhaps more amazing is that people don’t get sick a good deal more often than they do. When you think about the fallibility of our bodies, the vulnerabilities of our immune systems, and the multitude of pathogens, why should we consider illness the anomaly and health the norm? He noted that psychologists can take a mental illness in a patient and show how it stems from various kinds of privation in childhood. But if you turned it around – studied all the people who suffered from the same privations and watched to see if they developed mental illness – how many would you find who recovered quickly, or were never incapacitated at all?

I don’t know why Richard Feynman should provoke these thoughts, exactly. He strikes me as someone who embodied a lot of homely virtues – integrity, smarts, good looks, charm, a quick wit – and yet he became a kind of superstar. Quite rightly, I think, because it’s rare that these things converge in one person who then goes on to arouse affection rather than bitter envy. Let’s stop a moment and note that Feynman used his gifts to their utmost, loved well, tried to be kind, tried not to take himself too seriously… and in many other ways his life constitutes a rebuke to the notion that human existence is mundane, dreary, without trajectory, without hope. This is not to say that he was a saint or that was a particularly happy person at all times. He is what I’d call a sign of the Kingdom – a lively demonstration that the redemption of the human race and the renewal of the earth is not only imaginable, not merely possible, but already present in flashes of brilliance.

There’s a piece in the Times today – his daughter has edited a collection of his letters.

“Work hard to find something that fascinates you,” he wrote to a student. “When you find it you will know your lifework. A man may be digging a ditch for someone else, or because he is forced to, or is stupid – such a man is ‘toolish’ – but another working even harder may not be recognized as different by the bystanders – but he may be digging for treasure. So dig for treasure and when you find it you will know what to do.”

Kate Zernike, the author of the book review, writes:

A father from Alaska asked for help in directing his 16-year-old stepson – “a bit overweight, a little shy” and “no genius you understand, but a lot smarter than I am in math and such.” Feynman told the man to have patience – “Let him go, let him get all distorted studying what interests him the most as much as he wants” – and to take father-and-son walks in the evening, “and talk (without purpose or routes) about this and that.” He had no good way, he wrote, to make the boy figure out what he wanted in life. “But to fall in love with a wonderful woman and to talk to her quietly in the night will do wonders.”

One letter writer implied that Feynman’s playing the bongo drums made a physicist “human.” His response is blistering and wonderful: “Theoretical physics is a human endeavor, one of the higher developments of human beings – and this perpetual desire to prove that people who do it are human by showing that they do other things that a few other humans do (like playing bongo drums) is insulting to me. I am human enough to tell you to go to hell.”

In 1946, over a year after his wife’s death, he wrote to her. “I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead. But I still want to comfort and take care of you – and I want you to love and take care of me… You can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else. But I want you to stand there. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.”

Zernike notes that Feynman’s daughter describes this letter as more worn than the others – as if he had taken it out and reread it repeatedly.

on belief and doubt

May 6, 2005

In Amazing Grace, by Kathleen Norris, she writes:

I recently read an article that depicted a heated exchange between a seminary student and an Orthodox theologian at Yale Divinity School. The theologian had given a talk on the history of the development of the Christian creeds.

The student's original question was centered on belief: “What can one do,” he asked, “when one finds it impossible to affirm certain tenets of the Creed?”

The priest responded, “Well, you just say it. It's not that hard to master. With a little effort, most can learn it by heart.”

To learn something by heart is a concept more in tune with the ancient world than with our own, and the student, apparently feeling that he had been misunderstood, asked with some exasperation, “What am I to do… when I have difficulting affirming parts of the Creed – like the Virgin Birth?”

And he got the same response: “You just say it. Particularly when you have difficulty believing it. You juts keep saying it. It will come to you eventually.”

The student raised his voice: “How can I with integrity affirm a creed in which I do not believe?”

And the priest replied, “It's not your creed, it's our creed,” meaning the Creed of the entire Christian church. I can picture the theologian shrugging, as only the Orthodox can shrug, carrying so lightly the thousand-plus years of their liturgical tradition: “Eventually it may come to you,” he told the student. “For some, it takes longer than for others…”

What the Orthodox theologian had said made sense to me. It reflected my own experience in the years when I had been trying to make my way back to church, and I felt fortunate to have my process of conversion conveyed so well and succinctly: the years of anguishing over creeds and the language of belief, a struggle that I had endured only because I dared hope that eventually the words wouldn't seem like “theirs” but also “mine.” It was the boring repetition of worship language, and even the dense, seemingly imponderable, words of the creeds that had pushed me into belief. And, yes, it had taken a very long time.

I was saddened and a bit surprised, then, to find that the article elicited mostly angry letters to the editor. One writer equated the Orthodox theologian's advice with “just keep repeating, 'the earth is flat, the earth is flat'”; others read his remarks as suggesting that people not think for themselves. Clearly his statements had hit a nerve. He had directly challenged the notion of Christian faith as a bona fide intellectual endeavor. (It is an incarnational one, and there is a big difference; the flesh consists of not head alone but heart as well.)

[Andrew here. I have to keep reminding myself that my Christian faith is not an intellectual endeavor. The question I'm busy trying to answer: does that make it an inferior mode of existence? inferior to a mode in which one relies only on the intellect, without giving any quarter to intuition / tradition / emotion / fantasy / subjective knowledge? The challenge I've been given: if you answer the question by reference to your religious paradigm, or invoking in any way the intuitive, the traditional, the emotional, the fantastic, or the subjective, your answer does not merit any consideration. The only answer that will be considered is one expressed solely in logical terms, with reference only to the empirically verifiable. I know from the outset that the Xian faith cannot be articulated in those terms. So I am NOT trying to give an account of myself as a Xian that will be intelligible to a logical-empiricist. What is the goal, then? I think to find out whether there are any limits to life in that strict intellectual mode – have I turned away from a way of life that is more loyal to the truth than my own? or will I find that its commitment to the truth is actually conditional, that it relativizes the truth in favor of one of those subjective values it claims to have dispensed with?]

the doubting game

May 5, 2005

.
It's interesting to observe what happens as I try to think like an agnostic. Read the rest of this entry »