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Conversations with Progressive Christians

Over the weekend, I seem to have gotten into a few conversations with various progressive Christians. These are Christians who take their faith seriously, but who tend to focus more on poverty issues than the culture war issues. They are the so called, “good cops.”

First, I got into a conversation with the progressive Christians of Sojourners. These are the followers of the Reverend Jim Wallis. If you don’t know him, he is the James Dobson of the Christian Left (although he would disagree with the analogy).

Wallis posted an article on his website talking about how he was happy to wear purple to show solidarity against gay bullying. The thing is that Wallis is against gay marriage. Ever since I read his book, “God’s Politics” I have had something of an obsession in exposing Wallis as being a not that great good cop Christian. Sure he is more liberal than Dobson, but he still supports lots of things that are immoral and wacky.

When I commented on his article on his website, many of his fellow progressive Christians started to talk about these issues. It turns out that some of the liberal Christians agreed with me and also wanted Wallis to throw his weight in support of gay marriage. Other however seemed almost indistinguishable from the Christian right.

Then I was reading an article on the FriendlyAtheist that was written by a progressive Christian. One of the arguments he made was that atheists have faith in reason. This type of view really pisses me off especially on Hemant’s website because I had seen a discussion that Hemant had at a Christian college in which they really beat him over the head with this argument. So I really had to get into it. If you are interested in defending against that argument check out THIS ARTICLE.

The Christian who wrote on FriendlyAtheist, also admitted that he thought his own beliefs were ridiculous, yet he still claimed to believe them. His view of Christianity was so vague that anyone could be considered a Christian regardless of what they believe or don’t believe.

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  • Sir Francis Geycat

    Your arguments in the examiner article are rather unsophisticated and betray an almost total ignorance of the philosophy of science.

    “Science doesn?t depend on the laws of physics remaining constant; science observes that the laws of physics seem to be constant”

    Most philosophers of science from Carnap and Quine to Haack and Mayo would disagree with you. Their arguments would likely be over your head or would take far too long to communicate to the lay reader.

    In a nutshell They would argue that nature requires some principle of the uniformity of nature. Without going into the voluminous reasons why they argue these positions briefly: if scientific theories were never corroborated there could be no ‘science’.

    Fortunately for you however there are philosophers of science that would more or less agree with your position, the anti-inductivists. By far the most influential philosopher of science in that camp would be Karl Popper. But It was Popper who coined the phrase faith in reason:

    “”The rationalist attitude is characterized by the importance it attaches to argument and experience. But neither logical argument nor experience can establish the rationalist attitude; for only those who are ready to consider argument or experience, and who have therefore adopted this attitude already, will be impressed by them.

    That is to say, a rationalist attitude must be first adopted if any argument or
    experience is to be effective, and it cannot therefore be based upon argument or
    experience. (And this consideration is quite independent of the question whether or not there exist any convincing rational arguments which favour the adoption of the rationalist attitude.)

    We have to conclude from this that no rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude. Thus a comprehensive rationalism is untenable.

    But this means that whoever adopts the rationalist attitude does so because he has adopted, consciously or unconsciously, some proposal, or decision, or belief, or behavior; an adoption which may be called ‘irrational’.

    Whether this adoption is tentative or leads to a settled habit, we may describe it as an irrational FAITH IN REASON. So rationalism is necessarily far from comprehensive or self-contained.”"

    If you follow the development of anti-inductivism from Popper onward scientific knowledge becomes a form of “unjustified, untrue, unbelief”.

    Again the history and arguments are far too complex to get into here but suffice to say that anti-inductivists that have tried to have a comprehensive rationalism that doesn’t rely on faith always smuggle in justification or induction (Musgrave), or create philosophies with internal contradictions (Bartley) or redefine science into something unrecognizable (Bayesians).

    “Reason needs no presupposition. If reason were to fail us, then we move on. As it happens, that has not occurred in all of recorded human history.”

    This is a SPECTACULARLY false statement. Reason fails us all the time as seem to suggest when you say theories are scrapped. But these are far from the worst examples think of all the centrally planned economies, lysenkoism, deriving an ought from an is, Social Darwinism and its cousin scientific racism to name a tiny few.

    I suppose you could argue that people were reasoning imperfectly in those cases but in that case you must have faith in a platonic ideal of Perfect Reason. And there are a host of deep problems with such a notion. Google Ayer and Total Evidence for starters.

    But even were your faith in perfect reason well-placed, the decisions with the best outcome are not always rational, just ask a lottery winner. The best that can be said even of Perfect Reason is that it will yield better results more often than irrational decision making. This is a far far cry from your statement.

    “We can say that we know certain things with reasonable certainty because the evidenceseems to indicate those things are the case and we can use our conclusions to accurately predict other facts about the world”

    An anti-inductivist CANNOT state this for we can only predict with reasonable certainty if we presuppose the future resembles the past i.e. INDUCTION.

    If you’re going to try an teach people philosophy you should master the subject yourself BEFOREHAND.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    Thanks for your comment. I am aware f what other philosophers have said and I have indeed “mastered” the subject, lol.

    I stand by my article. Reason needs no presupposition. we reason because reason works. Science is descriptive, not prescriptive. That might be over your head, jk.

    Reason has not failed us, reason is a process, not a single idea. There are bad ideas which have been derived from reason, but through reason we discovered that they were bad ideas. I think you oversimplified the concept of the reasoning process there.

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