Monday, November 19, 2007

A late discussion on Pagan Myths and the Christian faith

Over the past few days, there has been an emerging discussion with a commenter known as Starsbloom, in response to the March 17, 2007 post on Ms Kathleen McGowan's novel, The Expected One.

Onlookers may find it interesting, especially the underlying concept/assertion on "her truth," vs. that of others. That is, SB denies that truth says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not; reducing it instead to something very much more like perception and/or opinion.

But since we already have very good and common English words for such concepts and phenomena, why then -- apart from rhetorical impact -- do so many now wish to turn truth into a synonym for opinion or perception?

Thereby hangeth a rather long tail on the rise and dominance of radical relativism in Western Culture, and where it leads.

My own comment on this point and several closely related issues is:
2] [SB:] i confess that i do embrace the concept that the faith that each individual has is their own truth

It would be more correct usage -- but would then be a mere triviality -- to speak thusly: i confess that i do embrace the concept that the faith that each individual has is their own [OPINION].

In short, there is already a very good English word for what is of merit in what you are trying to say.

Let us therefore reserve the word truth for what Aristotle said in aptly defining it, 2,300+ years ago: that which says of what is, that it is; and, of what is not, that it is not. Jesus adds the appropriate virtue -- truthfulness: Let your yes be yes, and your no, no. Whatever is more than this comes of evil.

To deny that truth in this sense exists, is to try to affirm an instance of such a claimed truth, i.e it is self-refuting. Far better is to acknowledge what Josiah Royce highlighted: error exists.

Let us follow up the chain of logical consequences:

--> This is undeniably true as to try to deny it exemplifies it.

--> So, well-warranted truth exists.

--> Therefore, truth exists and is [at least in part] knowable, even by finite, fallible, fallen creatures who are too often ill-willed.

And, while we may be in error in part -- we see through a glass darkly -- that does not excuse us from the duty of truthfulness in thought and word; and even deeds as one can lie by what one does as well as what one says [a second NT cite].

[HW: tell me the NT texts that the above three cites come from, and where and when we first find them in the MSS of the NT and/or the Fathers.]

3] i know enough to not believe that there is only one truth, and the beginning of wisdom is in knowing that you don't really know

It would be far more accurate for you to say that, in the first instance: i know enough to not believe that there is only one [OPINION]

In the second part,the possibility of error haunts our attempts to seek or know or state truth, true, but the point of so stating is to make a claim to know a certain truth. Namely, that we start from error and relative ignorance, so should be humble and willing to learn and correct our mistakes.

This last is very compatible with the existence of truth and with the point that adequate warrant exists that certain opinions have a right to be termed: knowledge -- well-warranted, credibly true belief. [Cf here my first linked in the set of references above.]

4] why do we always have to best each other? why can't we just embrace our own truths and allow others to explore and embrace their own without making it a contest, but a means by which we become a better people?

So, why then are you trying to "correct" me in my "intolerant" and [by implication, "wrong"] opinions?

In short, the answer to the problem of error and multiplicity of opinions leading to acrimonious debate and polarisation is not to indulge in circles of group-think, but to enter into serious dialogue based on comparative difficulties.
So, we can see where the challenge of relativism leads. END


starsbloom said...

how sad gordon, that you lecture me on my grammar and my beliefs and use me as an example to your fans.....and then disallow me to engage any further......i was only wishing to thank you for your kindness....i'll thank you not to grace my mailbox any further with your righteous christian concerns. may godde bless you.

Gordon said...


First, perhaps you don't realise it but I used to have a free comments facility up.

Unfortunately, it was abused for some very nasty and indeed outright vulgar comments [which I deleted, with explanations], and so I changed the comment policy to required approval of EVERY comment, to prevent such future abuse. [Unlike WP, which has its own troubles, Blogger [AFAIK] does not have an individual posting privilege feature. This has not prevented my having very long and fruitful exchanges.]

As a result, comments do not go up immediately, but only when I inspect my email, about once per day, and sometimes not on weekends.

Next, I have not knowingly rejected any comments by you [and my comments pending file at Blogger is now empty, on my accepting this comment] so I do not know what you mean by claiming that I "disallow" you "to engage any further." Kindly explain.

Further, I have not at all addressed your grammar.

I have observed that it would have been better to use "opinion," as noted above, and surely you and observers can see why. And that is a matter of vocabulary and meaning and rhetorical impact, not structure of sentences. [Observe, on usage, my deliberate use of AND in the just past sentence. I am not a strict grammarian, unlike my uncle the late, great, English teacher.]

On your beliefs, I have responded to arguments offered in what is an easily publicly accessible context, on the merits, taking time to show where you can find detailed further information that IMHCO it would be wise for you and onlookers to consult. Within that context, it is my right to highlight in a fresh post an interesting development on a post that is now some six or so months old.

It is also to be noted that on the merits, you have -- at least in the above -- said nothing, though of course if you do make such a response I will post it, reserving the right of comment. (Absent slander or the like, which I will edit out with annotations on the reason.)

As for "use me as an example to your fans"; it is you who have engaged in a discussion in a public forum. By your choice, you have therefore elected to live with the consequences of publication, as I have.

In case you do not realise it, had you instead emailed me through the contact email accessible on the nine leading pages of the Kairosfocus reference site, you could have easily enough engaged in a private discussion -- as others have.

As to "grac[ing]" e-mail boxes, all that will happen is that as an automatic consequence of my posting this response, you will see a notification to that effect. So will I.

My apologies in advance if that offends you, but it cannot be helped.