Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm Not Arrogantly Arguing, I'm Humbly Insisting

As we were saying, if science has no limits, it means -- paradoxically -- that man has all the more. It is paradoxical because man, and only man, is capable of science, let alone a limitless one.

What's a good -- or at least bad -- analogy? It is like being a king, only the more power this king has, the smaller his kingdom, to the point that the kingdom vanishes entirely with his absolute power over it.

Likewise, when man possesses limitless science, he causes himself to disappear. He ends with a total explanation of nothing, certainly as it pertains to man. Which of course brings to mind an Aphorism or two:

"Nothing makes clearer the limits of science than the scientist's opinions about any topic that is not strictly related to his profession."

"What ceases to be thought qualitatively so as to be thought quantitatively ceases to be thought significantly."

A world reduced to quantity is Hell. And science deals only with quantity. Not to knock science, because quantity surely exists. It's just that we mustn't allow the tool to become the master.

BTW, I mentioned in a comment that for the last week or so I've been commenting at Instapundit, mostly just one liners and other assorted insultainment.

To back up a bit, that is how I started this blog, by commenting elsewhere, and people then following me here. I thought that perhaps I might reach out to members of the scattered tribe who don't know the tribe has reassembled over here, just a click away. You know -- "be ye fishers of Raccoons," and all that.

Anyway, every once in awhile I toss in a more metaphysical zinger such as the above -- "when man possesses limitless science, he causes himself to disappear" -- but it either clanks or generates an argument.

Now, a zinger like that -- like one of Don Colacho's aphorisms -- is not meant to start an argument. Rather, it's meant to provoke a guffaw-HA experience, a sudden flash of insight, like "how stupid of me not to have thought of that!" At any rate, if my site meter can be trusted, not a single soul has wandered over here from there.

Which is fine. I don't do this for the attention, only the uncritical adulation. But another thing I've noticed is that my ideas are equally offensive to materialist and religionist alike. I'm trying to put myself in their shoes and figure out why.

I would guess that both see my humble self as arrogant, the former as arrogant-stupid, the latter as arrogant-grandiose. Both accuse me of pretending to know things that cannot be known, while the scientism types accuse me not knowing things that everyone knows. Bill Maher to the left of me, Rick Warren or Joel Osteen to the right.

Dávila: "One could object to science that it easily falls into the hands of imbeciles, if religion's case were not just as serious."

Here is an example of an Aphorism that is not an argument. Rather it is just the Truth. One can either recognize or not; one can either assimilate the principle or fall short of it:

"There are arguments of increasing validity, but, in short, no argument in any field spares us the final leap."

I was trying to patiently explain this in my own bobnoxious way to a commenter at Instapundit, but he kept insisting that it was possible to ground thought in pure logic. I was only trying to help -- not argue -- but not a single point got through.

Frankly, I don't think we need Gödel to tell us that any logical system contains assumptions that cannot be proved by the system.

Furthermore, this truism is not confining -- it's liberating! It means that man is always free, no matter how much you try to cram him into your secondary ideological reality. Gödel's theorems are simply a more abstract and operational way of saying that man is always conformed -- or condemned, depending on your politics -- to transcendence.

Because man is free and open to transcendence -- which amount to the same thing -- reducing him to any system erodes both his freedom and the vector of his freedom, AKA God. God must be the ground and destiny of our freedom, or else it is as if freedom dangles from the sky, unattached to anything.

So many outstanding Aphorisms on this subject, for example, "If determinism is real, if only that can happen which must happen, error does not exist." Think about that one: we may not know truth, but surely we know error. But we can't know error unless truth exists, so there!

For the same reason, we can only know of necessity because of freedom. Absent freedom, we wouldn't even have the word. And think of the irony -- that a person who is totally cynical of transcendence -- say, a Bill Maher -- is the one they call a "free thinker." But "free" is precisely what he cannot be, if freedom means anything. And only someone as modest as your humble servant could be so sure of the truth.


julie said...

Rather, it's meant to provoke a guffaw-HA experience, a sudden flash of insight, like "how stupid of me not to have thought of that!"

Keep fishing. You never know when you'll get a good bite. Also, it is entertaining to see people get their dander up when they should be laughing...

mushroom said...

But another thing I've noticed is that my ideas are equally offensive to materialist and religionist alike. I'm trying to put myself in their shoes and figure out why.

My first thought is it because you are right.

As to guys like Warren and Osteen or John Piper, I don't regard them as even being in this arena. They are shepherds -- possibly the kind that Ezekiel 34 warns against, but their job is to look after their flock. People are drawn to them because something they say appeals at some level. They are not -- apart from its utilitarian or pragmatic value, interested in truth. They want good, predictable, obedient sheep. A lot of them are really good people, but they prefer the stability of their tradition.

And there is a lot of value in that for the vast majority of people. It's what sometimes draws me back toward Catholicism or Orthodoxy or even the evangelical fellowships.

julie said...

Mushroom, yep. I love my fellow Bible studiers that I meet with weekly, but am fairly certain almost all of them, Catholic or otherwise, would find this place offensive. Most of them just don't have minds built for this kind of verticalisthenic - and that's just fine.

To get to the guffaw-Ha, it is necessary first to be able to grasp the aphorism without requiring a diagram. Just like how a joke usually isn't funny if you don't get it, even if it later gets explained so that it makes sense.

Gagdad Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gagdad Bob said...

I'm reading this biography of Margaret Thatcher, and she was sincerely religious, and also obviously quite intelligent and admirable in other ways. However, she absolutely couldn't get puns or double entendres -- at times she might unintentionally say something with a double meaning, and people would laugh and she would have no idea why.

Nevertheless, a great, great woman. Proof that it takes all kinds...

Christina M said...

I got my husband to read you, finally. I have one other person that I tried, and he'd have none of it, or he won't say. He's super-intelligent and mathematical and well-read and faithful, but I suspect there is a pride element involved. I don't know how he interacts with equals, because I have never observed him doing so. He always interacts with lesser intelligences, like myself.

My husband understands you completely. I now get him to explain what you have written in a way that I can understand.

Hale Adams said...

Bob writes:

Bill Maher to the left of me, Rick Warren or Joel Osteen to the right.


..... Here I am, stuck in the middle with you....

I don't remember how I found out about this place, Bob, but I'm a regular visitor. Some of your word-play is truly awful, but your insights help me understand my adopted Catholicism. (I was born and raised Protestant, but the Episcopal Church of my youth is gone....)

Thanks for being here.

Hale Adams
Pikesville, People's still-mostly-Democratic Republic of Maryland

Anonymous said...

Hello All. I'm not from Instapundit. But if I were, I'd try to identify some bone of contention and get an acrimonious debate started.

Why? Because people love to argue. Am I right?

Now, the post at hand states the reasonable author occupies the a territory the between the odious leftist materialist and the right wing bone head ignoramus, and that science is limitless, which has a way of limiting the user of science.

So, my position is, I just don't get the bit about how science could be limitless. Science is physics and all ramifications of physics. So, why not limits? Beyond the edge of science, the Creator plays in a less structured manner? Miracles, as it were? Science can't cope with unlimited randomness. There's the limit.


Rick said...

I have a theory (which is mine) that says that miracles only look like miracles to us ordinaries. I don't think miracles disobey any physical laws any more than when I want to move my hand it does. Define miracle and see that it is difficult to do without being very general such as to say, an event which breaks the laws of physics... Kind of a tautology I think.

doug saxum said...

the right wing bone head ignoramus...

I'm a bone head.
Not of the right wing persuasion.

I might have to flick your nose! :)

doug saxum said...

If I was to ignore you, would that make me an ignoramus?

John Lien said...

"Why? Because people love to argue. Am I right?"

Can't argue with that.

Gagdad Bob said...


You seem to have missed the point, the point being that of course science has limits.