Saturday, December 03, 2016

Scientific Faith and Religious Hypothesis

Can one posit a "religious hypothesis?" Normally we think of science as promulgating hypotheses and religion relying upon faith or belief. However, we know that scientism or leftism are faiths, and conversely, that at least some religions can begin with hypotheses. Regarding the former, I found this at Happy Acres:

Interestingly, socialism combines a stupid metaphysic with a childlike faith. And the left typically projects this childishness on to Christians, as if we share the same stupid immaturity. No doubt some do, but the difference is that at least Christianity has the possibility of a deeper understanding, whereas with socialism it's stupidity all the way up.

Who is one of their cognitive elites? Paul Krugman? Who can forget his uncanny prediction upon Donald Trump winning the election? As to when the stock market would recover from the electoral trauma, Krugman's assured us that it would be never.

Any idiot can be wrong about the economy, but it takes someone with a Nobel Prize in economics to be that far off. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say that his hypothesis proved wrong. But will that falsify his theory of reality?

Ha! The leftist emulates the devout who continue venerating the relic after the miracle has been proved to be a hoax (NGD).

Now, it seems to me that God's Gamble revolves around a kind of explanatory hypothesis, that "the truth revealed by Christ is the anthropological key for understanding the human drama and deciphering the postmodern malaise."

We can't say this is a properly scientific hypothesis, because for one thing it is too loaded with assumptions -- such as "human drama," the "postmodern malaise," and the "truth revealed by Christ."

But this is always the case as we proceed up the epistemological food chain. Down at the bottom it is easy to define and quantify things; or at least it was before quantum theory re-fuzzified everything. But the central principle nevertheless applies: increasing precision correlates with less depth of understanding.

You could even say that this is an extension of Gödel's theorems, such that the more complete your explanation, the more inconsistent, and vice versa. At the end, scientism can explain everything about nothing.

We -- along with Bailie -- are looking for a complete explanation, the most complete explanation available to human beings, so there are bound to be inconsistencies along the way.

Conversely, scientism tries to confine man to a consistent explanation from which he always escapes. Man can no more be trapped in quantity than the meaning of a poem can be reduced to grammar. The most important things in life always slip through the cold, grasping hands of the tenured, e.g., truth, love, beauty, sanctity, music, poetry, and the Dow Jones average.

So, let's dive into the meta-Christian hypothesis and try it on for size. How much does it explain? Equally important, what does it unexplain? Many hypotheses are rejected on the basis of how much they would unexplain if true -- for example, phrenology. If phrenology is true, then we have to rethink everything else we know to be true of neuroanatomy.

As alluded to above, there are certain assumptions we have to maintain even before we start, most notoriously the idea that truth exists, and even more preposterously, that it is accessible to man! It is literally pre-posterous, in that it reverses cause (pre) and effect (post). Even worse, the same Truth is both before and after, as suggested by a couple of provocative quotes "before the beginning" wink-wink of the book.

The first is by Charles Péguy: He was at the very end and here at the same time... / He was in the middle and simultaneously at one and the other end....

Another is by Jean Daniélou: he is Alpha and Omega, the last end of the world as he is the spring of its eternal youth.... For Christians, the structure of history is complete, and its decisive event, instead of coming last, occupies the central position.

This sounds similar to the quote from Eliot "before the beginning" of a long-forgotten book of mine: Or say that the end precedes the beginning, / And the end and beginning were always there / Before the beginning and after the end.

There are other hints, such as this one from Terence McKenna on p. 185: When we reverse our preconceptions about the flow of cause and effect, we get a great attractor that pulls all organization and structure toward itself over several billion years.

And this equally preposterous one by Bede Griffiths: Every step in advance is a return to the beginning, and we shall not really know him as he is, until we have returned to our beginning, and learned to know him both as the beginning and end of our journey.

Yes, I wrote a book. But I'm an awful salesman. I don't encourage people to buy it, because it contains Error, but a charitable view would see that it is not so much riddled with errors as errored with riddles that lead to the threshold of a truth that is Up ahead, 'round the bend. The circle unbroken, by and by. A Divine child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes.

Prophetic, if you will, at least for me personally. You just need to read the tealeafology.

Back to our hypothesis, that "the truth revealed by Christ is the anthropological key for understanding the human drama and deciphering the postmodern malaise." Now, first of all, either there is a truth and a key; or a truth with no key (e.g., Kant); no truth but lots of keys (e.g., deconstruction and relativism); or no truth and no key (e.g., existentialism and nihilism).

For Christians there is a truth (Christ) and a key (the Holy Spirit).

I think it is fair to say that any of the other three options result in futility and despair, at least for the intelligent person, because they essentially come down to having no access to a truth that probably doesn't exist anyway. And as a psychologist I am well aware of people being depressed or anxious for "unconscious" reasons.

Let's say you are depressed and don't know why. Perhaps there is an unconscious idea assimilated from childhood that you are stupid or unloveable. But what if you have an unconscious idea that life is meaningless, and that there is really no point to it all? Perhaps you will compulsively engage in all sorts of frenzied activities to try to wring meaning out of things, only to return to that baseline of depressive futility when they're over.

In the past I have written about feeling this way when I was younger and under the influence of existentialism, Freudianism, and a kind of unreflective leftism. I became "depressed." But in hindsight, it seems to me that the depression was not so much a "symptom" as an accurate reflection of my implicit beliefs. It was an honest assessment from a deeper part of me. It was a vertical memo from my future self.

This post has probably gone on too long. To be continued. Meanwhile, you might want to get the book so you can join us on the bus for this readalong to parts unKnown.

13 comments:

Gagdad Bob said...

Wait. This is Saturday? I thought it was Friday. You people owe me a day off!

Anonymous said...

No more days off till morale improves

Jim

Rick said...

That's nothing. You dropped the boy off at school.
In his pajamas!

julie said...

A Saturday post? And here I was thinking I wouldn't have to think today.

he is Alpha and Omega, the last end of the world as he is the spring of its eternal youth....

Also the highest king and the lowliest servant. Pretty much all in all...

But what if you have an unconscious idea that life is meaningless, and that there is really no point to it all? Perhaps you will compulsively engage in all sorts of frenzied activities to try to wring meaning out of things, only to return to that baseline of depressive futility when they're over.

I was just reading this morning, some retired climate professor from Arizona has been spouting off that there will be a mass extinction event !within the next ten years!!!!11!!, after which there will be no human life remaining on earth. It's too late to change anything, he claims, therefore we may as well live it up while we can.

What a maroon. Then again, it's a good excuse to compulsively engage in frenzied activities - and more importantly, to get others to play along. It's a great way to put the friends in frenzy, and what's more diverting than a global melodrama?

Anonymous said...

All persons, at some level, know they are eternal and ancient. Sit with a deep bowl of the excellent California medicine and your religious questions should be resolved on the double quick.

So what to say about "beliefs" which are widely discussed? Left, right, center, other?

People love to argue; that's what it amounts to. But everyone knows the truth; they are eternal and ancient. No one puts any stock in their own demise, and there's a good reason for that; there is no ending.

Go to the green friend to refresh your recollection about things. This bud is His body, given up for you. This infused wine is his blood. Take these in memory of Him.

julie said...

If you like the green stuff, that's none of my business. Whatever takes the existential edge off.

But it seems unwise to conflate it with Christ. If that is what he had meant, it is most certainly what he would have said, and probably instead of all the grape and wine references throughout the Bible there'd be talk of leaf and bud of a different sort.

In vino, veritas, so it is said.
In marijuana, I have my doubts...

Joan of Argghh! said...

Just FYI, Alice Smith was sending up the Left, not agreeing with it.

Nathan Thurm said...

I know that. Why wouldn't I know that?

Anonymous said...

Catholic believers have a very airtight faith, and it is a good one. It should serve anyone well. However, some of us are called in a different direction, I know not why. We who cannot take the wafer have to stumble around in some kind of searching mode and latch onto something of similar value which does the job. The essential thing is to allay existential dread. Because, the main point is, existential dread is uncalled for. This conclusion is absolutely airtight for those who have have managed to think deeply on it. I only recommend the green friend because it can really take you inside. The wine, plain, is also very good but it tends to make one happy, which immediately stops all work on existential dread.

Which is to say, I can allay existential dread 100 times, and it always return. Poo bah.

ted said...

Someone was feeling a tad slackless today.

Gagdad Bob said...

We know about coonskin hats. Now there's a coonface shirt.

julie said...

Hey, that's cultural appropriation!

Anonymous said...

Revealed religions have a handicap of sorts because their stories become enmeshed, or should I say entombed, in the time frame in which the revelations occurred. This makes Mass, and its liturgical sermons, a recurrent history lesson where the customs of Biblical times have to be rehashed and re-explained over and over. After a time, one begins to long for fresh parables. It's akin to watching the same movie too many times. Any one else feel a bit down about this aspect?

Otherwise, however, Catholic Mass is the best ritual practice in town. Confession is good too. No other religion can quite stack up in comparison. The Buddhists sit and chant, the Methodists listen to the history lesson but don't get communion, Muslims bow to Mecca and stay stone sober day and night (egads), and the Hindus toss the colored water around and do other peculiar things which don't seem to make any sense.

Then there are the lone syncophants with their philosophical search and rescue missions. Did I miss anybody?