Tag Archives for modernism

A little philosophical diversion: Why the Outsider Test for Faith fails

Okay, every once in a while I just have to comment on the ridiculous nature of certain atheists’ attempts to appear superior to people who don’t think “faith” is a bad word. I really should just unsubscribe to the Debunking Christianity blog, but it’s like a train wreck — as bad as it is, you just have to watch.

Today John once again promotes his outsider test for faith, “to test their own adopted religious faith from the perspective of an outsider with the same level of skepticism they use to evaluate other religious faiths.”

It’s an interesting challenge, to be sure. I don’t disagree that this proposal has some merit; too many Christians don’t understand why Christianity is a uniquely valid belief, and we should. As Peter wrote, we should be ready to give an answer for our faith (1 Pet. 3:15).

The problem is to do so without accepting without question another belief system in the process, which can potentially “stack the deck” against Christianity. As I’m certain I’ve mentioned before (I don’t have the energy or time to search the archives), it seems that many people who leave Christianity do so because they unquestionably accept certain facets of modernism.  Trying to make Christianity fit into a completely modernist worldview is like fitting the proverbial square peg into a round hole.

All of us in the western world have been raised breathing and eating modernism since we were born; we cannot really conceive of a different way of thinking, and accept without question that our worldview or paradigm is simply “the way things are.”  In reality, modernism is a grid developed through which to view the world. Prior to Descartes, it didn’t exist.  The Bible doesn’t conform to modernist thought, because it was not written by modernists.

This creates issues for doctrines like inerrancy, where writings from an ancient oriental culture are held to modernist standards; it is exactly like forcing a square peg into a round hole.

But, we in the west are all now modernists, whether we like it or not (even so-called post-modernists). What is frustrating for those of us who realize that modernism is not necessarily the way things are is that we can’t even analyze modernism without resorting to modernist methods.

The Problem With Modernism

This creates a problem, as explained by series of philosophers from Hume to Godel (and beyond). Hume began by challenging the core principle of causality. While we can predict based on past events that flipping a switch will turn on the lights, we can never guarantee that this will happen the next time, or prove that it was the switch which caused the lights to come on.

Kant explored this further, discovering that there must be limitations to reason itself, as reason must be limited by the limited categories of the mind. Skipping ahead, Godel showed mathematically that a system can only be substantiated by something outside the system. In other words, we can show that reason is limited and flawed, but we can never prove that it is not. So far, no one has been able to refute the basic challenge issued by Hume.

Modernism is essentially the worldview that says everything can be analyzed objectively and rationally, but cannot prove that it ever works. In other words, you must accept modernism and rationalism by faith.

The Failure of Loftus’ Outsider Test For Faith

The OTF fails because it requires someone to subject a non-modern belief system to a modernist analysis, which cannot be proven to have any validity whatsoever. The only thing it can do is to mislead someone into thinking that modernism is, in fact, the way it is.  Because the square peg cannot fit nicely into this imaginary round hole (a better analogy, perhaps, is trying to stuff the entire universe into a hat), people are left having to choose: a flawed faith in modernism, or Christianity.  It is, of course, a false dichotomy, but as we know, lies are the devil’s only real weapons.

But of course, Stephen Hawking, who has assured us that we no longer have any need to believe in God, also asserts that philosophy is dead. Obviously, Hawking’s reason has met its limitations.

Why believe in Christianity?

It seems that I just can’t stop reading the terribly unimaginative things that most atheists blog about; for me, it’s like watching a train wreck.  I just have this morbid fascination.  Perhaps it is more of a fascination with modernism, as atheism – or at least materialism, which results in atheism – is a logical conclusion.  I use “logical” here not to agree that materialism is logical, but to say that if you start down that road based on the false premises of modernism, materialism  and atheism are expected destinations.

This morning I happened across an article called Vetting Supernatural Knowledge by Matt McCormick on his blog Atheism: Proving the Negative that I at least found interesting. He begins

I frequently get accused of making the mistake of narrow mindedly demanding empirical proof for things that are not empirical, tangible evidence for the intangible, or applying scientific standards of proof to all knowledge claims when not all knowledge is empirical or scientific.

He goes on to explain how Christians typically argue that atheists ask for material proofs of the supernatural, which by definition is non-material.  He thinks this is changing the subject, and explains that asking for reasons for belief is not asking for material proof:

In looking for an answer to this question, the atheist does not need to insist, at least in principle, that the only way to acquire knowledge of the world is by empirical or scientific means. We can grant that this supernatural, subjective, or non-empirical knowledge is possible. A lot of things are possible, and we’d be foolish to try to argue for their impossibility on the basis of insufficient information.

Matt is the one of the few atheists I’ve read to actually recognize this point, which is a very good one. The problem with Matt’s point is that the vast majority of modern atheists are materialists, and they typically ask for empirical proof.  So, in response to most atheists, there is no changing the topic; it’s a very valid response to the demand, “Show me scientific proof!”

So if the theist has another method for learning about the reality of God, we’re prepared in principle to accept that. First issue: if it is not something publicly tangible that can be experienced by the rest of us, what is that method? Is it a voice in your head? A strong feeling? A powerful sense of presence? An overwhelming awareness of a transcendental reality? Something ineffable? Do you come by that knowledge by praying? By thinking? By talking to yourself? Do these ideas come to you when you get yourself into an altered state by fasting? Hallucinogenic drugs? Chanting or meditating? Does it feel like what you figure being overcome by the Holy Spirit must feel like?

Second issue: What are the criteria that you are employing to determine the reliability of this method to acquire supernatural knowledge? How can we tell when the voices or the feelings are lies?

Now, at least, we have something to discuss, although Matt is still a modernist, and still would like everything to fit neatly into one or more boxes.

Last week I came across a passage in G.K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy that is perhaps the best response I have seen to the question why does one believe in Christianity.  While opposing turn-of-the-Century British Modernism, he maintains that he is still a rationalist, and so provides a very rational answer:

If I am asked, as a purely intellectual question, why I believe in Christianity, I can only answer, “For the same reason that an intelligent agnostic disbelieves in Christianity.” I believe in it quite rationally upon the evidence. But the evidence in my case, as in that of the intelligent agnostic, is not really in this or that alleged demonstration; it is in an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts. The secularist is not to be blamed because his objections to Christianity are miscellaneous and even scrappy; it is precisely such scrappy evidence that does convince the mind. I mean that a man may well be less convinced of a philosophy from four books, than from one book, one battle, one landscape, and one old friend. The very fact that the things are of different kinds increases the importance of the fact that they all point to one conclusion. Now, the non-Christianity of the average educated man to-day is almost always, to do him justice, made up of these loose but living experiences. I can only say that my evidences for Christianity are of the same vivid but varied kind as his evidences against it. For when I look at these various anti-Christian truths, I simply discover that none of them are true. I discover that the true tide and force of all the facts flows the other way.

Chesterton’s book is well worth reading, so I won’t quote any more here.  If you don’t mind the lack of formatting, the book is available online here.

While science has indeed progressed since Chesterton’s day, man’s intelligence hasn’t, and Chesterton’s thoughts are as pertinent now as ever.

Re Considering the issue of Tradition

With regard to my current series on the issue of Tradition, especially the Eastern concept of Tradition, here’s an interesting article with some helpful guidelines in considering something – like historic Christianity – which might be outside of your current box: Ten Steps to Avoiding Knee-Jerk Theology.

At first glance, this seemed like just another example of why evangelical theology is what it is, but then I realized that these points are, indeed, valid if we want to grow theologically.

[Note: the comments to the linked article provide a great example of why church Tradition is, indeed, of importance.]

Working on the New World Order

I think Harry Collins is a little bit nuts; what do you think?

Collins is a professor of social science at Cardiff University, who is apparently tired of having the social sciences marginalized and is working on the groundrules for a New World Order with his partner, Dr. Robert Evans.  Not happy with either old-fashioned Modernism or Post-modernism, they are advancing what they call “Elective Modernism.”   From a Q&A on the subject:

‘Post-Post-Modernism’ is a bit of a mouthful and the term we prefer is ‘Elective Modernism.’   ‘Elective Modernism’ captures the idea that, as with any kind of scepticism, the ideas of Wave 2 are indefeasible—science is not forced upon us by its efficiency or its revelation-like certainty.  Nevertheless, it is impossible to live by scepticism alone.  Therefore, irrespective of the logic of the sceptical arguments one must still elect to live by principles that recognise the value of experience and expertise.

Elective Modernism does not reinstate Modernism as it was before Post-Modernism.  Instead Elective Modernism describes an age in which we choose to value expertise and experience because we know that while the problem of legitimacy cannot be ignored, neither can the problem of extension and we know that a society in which an expert opinion is given the same weight as any other opinion is not one we would want to live in.  We have all been changed by Wave 2 and by Post-Modernism, but we still have to get on with a life informed by expertise; we must surely elect to live in a society where decisions are made for reasons in addition to power and populist sentiment.

“Wave Two” seems to refer to post-modernism, which among other things has demonstrated the failure of science to assert itself as the guiding force of society. Skepticism is pointless, scientists often speak in areas in which they are not experts, and if left to the public, we’ll end up with decisions made based on politics and religion.

Elective Modernism is his proposed Wave Three, in which society must choose science, but not either Wave One or Wave Two science.  And, this choice is not necessarily rational, but moral:

If Wave Two has shown that arguments that favour scientific values cannot be got from the ideas of truth and efficiency, such values, if they are to inform a society, will simply have to be `chosen’. We can call the basis of a society which chooses such values, `Elective Modernism.’

Elective Modernism is, I want to argue, the most attractive successor to Post-Modernism. I want to suggest that Elective Modernism is a more appealing as a basis for society than force, religion, or populism. But the choice itself would not be `rational’ but more like a moral choice: one would not want to live in a society in which, say, gratuitous torture of the innocent and weak is acceptable even though one could not prove it was a bad society. Those who would demand a `proof’ of the badness of such a society would have missed the point.

Collins is quite critical of the current state of science, says that we “cannot live by skepticism alone,” and rejects essentially any principles for establishing societal values. Except, that is, for choosing to accept the values of science. The problem is, he explains, no current method for determining the values of science has worked.

The society he envisions is not based on the outcomes of science, but by making a moral choice to choose scientific values of experience and expertise; that is, a world run by experts.  I have not yet discovered how this escapes the problems of skepticism or expert opinions skewed by politics or culture, the problems of Wave Two.

I enjoy reading Collins; he certainly has some interesting things to say. However, I couldn’t help thinking of Orwell’s Animal Farm.  I propose a little game, similar to those I keep getting invitations to on FaceBook: Read a few of Collins’ essays, then tell me, which Animal Farm animal would he be?

The Inane Atheists

The “New Atheists” – people like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and of late, Christopher Hitchens – have been making the news now for a couple of years, as their books promoting their strain of anti-theism can be found on endcap displays and best-seller lists everywhere. While some of you who are arguably wiser than myself may not be familiar with these guys, I’m sure many of you are.  I started paying attention to them initially due to my old friend Mike who, when we reconnected after many years, advised me that he had become an atheist. I’ve never been big on apologetics, but found some of the debates – much of which involved the creation-evolution issue – somewhat stimulating. However, I think that the term “New Atheists” should be changed to “Inane Atheists.”  While some of them at times can sound wise and philosophical (apparently, at least, to other atheists) the majority of their arguments have proven to be little more than atheistic bedtime stories, concocted to provide the same type of comfort they charge religions with fabricating.

The Preacher of Ecclesiastes is correct: There is nothing new under the sun.  While the packaging has changed, there is nothing new about the disbelief in God, and the Biblical advice on the subject is still sound. The Psalmist is on point as is Paul.  Today, atheism, the belief that there is no god of any kind, also includes the belief that nothing supernatural or non-material exists. This, of course, describes a lack of belief, or a negative belief, if you will. The positive – what they do believe – would be called philosophical materialism, or sometimes naturalism. As I’ve described before many times, materialists are merely myopic; they have chosen to believe only in what they think has physical properties.  Atheism is, in many ways, epitomized by the Golden Calf, and yes, it is a form of idolatry, exchanging the worship of the Creator for the worship of the creation. I’m sure the argument would be made that they do not worship anything, but of course that is foolishness as well; the natural processes of the universe and reason itself are put in the place of God.

If anything is new about today’s atheists, it is that they are moderns (as are we all in the West).  As I’ve set forth in my Teacup Analogy, their arguments (for example, lately I’ve read a ridiculous series of posts trying to apply IDQ principles to Christianity and the Bible) must be brought completely within modernism in order to function. If you hold to a philosophy that is skeptical of their epistemology, they sound quite ridiculous.  They succeed only when they manage to trap some poor soul into adopting their presuppositions; as we in the West are all moderns to a degree, it is occasionally possible to suck some unsuspecting Christian into believing that Christianity is properly understood only within a modern context. John Loftus, at Debunking Christianity, is at least honest about that point when he says that modernism is the Achilles’ Heel of Christianity. Of course, John presumes modernism, and at least to my knowledge he hasn’t presented any argument for why modernism is the only true philosophical position; his point is that modernism and Christianity are incompatible, and that if you adopt a purely modernist worldview, Christianity will be undone.

However, as Alister McGrath has written (“I Believe” – Exploring the Apostles Creed, pp 26):

Reason runs into difficulties when trying to cope with God. Alfred, Lord Tennyson made this point perfectly in his poem “The Ancient Sage”:

For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
Nor yet disproven.

Belief in God, it need hardly be added, rests on solid foundations- even if paradoxically, as Tennyson suggests, it cannot be proved. Atheists and Christians alike take their positions as matters of faith. The former may like to try and represent their position as objective and scientific, but it is actually nothing of the sort.

Modern atheists, of course, will see this thinking as malarkey, as it is an argument based outside of the modernist teacup, or at least removes the argument from the materialist epistemology that they rely on. The “New” Atheists cannot seem to function outside of modernism or outside of materialism, because that simply is the box in which they have put themselves in. To interact with them on any meaningful way, you have to get in their box (or teacup).

And why would I want to do that?

You see, I’ve encountered God. It’s not just that I’ve had some spiritual experience, but that I know and have relationship with God.  A modern atheist will, of course, toss this in the pile of non-observable claims and demand “evidence.” However, this presumes a Kantian or Platonic kind of dualism, which is certainly not a given.  Classifying God and all experiences of God into the large category of Noumena in order to dismiss it entirely is, I think, to commit serious philosophical error; but for one who is committed to atheism, it is convenient, pragmatic error.  Again, it requires a commitment to stay within the modernist teacup and to close your eyes should you ever attempt to look over the rim.

Modern atheists, however, are almost always not committed to requiring objective evidence in all areas of their lives; if they did, they would become “Spock”-like in their assessment of everything, including politics and relationships. Love would cease to be a many-splendored thing, and family life would have to be based on pragmatism rather than any emotional bond. It is contradictory for a materialist to claim “I know that I love my wife,” for he can know nothing of the kind; it is simply an unprovable claim by his own standards.  However, materialism becomes essential when fending off any claims of God (although it has been shown many times how internally inconsistent these arguments against God are).

Operating from a more consistent approach in which you accept that there are ways of knowing that are not limited to that which is observable and measurable – that is, living outside of the teacup and taking in the banquet that surrounds it – we can look to the arguments, claims, challenges and ridicule of modern atheism and see how inane they really are. While I believe it is possible to climb in the teacup and expose the errors from within modernism, for the Christian to “prove” his own faith, it is simply not necessary.

Modernism is the disease…

From a review of Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition, a response to the New Atheists, from the Christian Cadre:

Feser argues that modern thought itself is the disease of which their arguments are a symptom. His aim in The Last Superstition is nothing less than to rehabilitate the classical philosophical project that began with Plato and Aristotle and was refined and advanced by Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics.

That’s just what I’ve been saying, kind of.  It sounds like Feser is trying to correct some pedestrian understandings of Aquinas and Augustine (which I confess inlcludes that of yours truly) in the process. It sounds like this book will be a major challenge to the contemporary pop atheist voices (“Secularism is, necessarily and inherently, a deeply irrational and immoral view of the world, and the more thoroughly it is assimilated by its adherents, the more thoroughly do they cut themselves off from the very possibility of rational and moral understanding.”), but also should be required reading for Christian philosophers.

One more for my Wish List.

Are modernism and Christianity incompatible?

John Loftus claims that modernity is the Achilles’ Heel of Christianity, something I’ve discussed before, and addressed again in my “teacup” analogy.  Could he be right?

Of course, Loftus believes that modernism (the operative Western worldview which is based on rationalism, a belief in progress, and which depends heavily on the scientific method) is good. He would believe this, because he is as modern as can be, and this is what modernism teaches. It is all very circular: Modernism presumes that progress is inherently good. We as a species know more today than we did yesterday (but not as much as tomorrow).  Evolution is progressive, not regressive. Every day, in every way, we get better and better. It’s all a load of hooey, but even though you realize this, if you take time to really think through what you believe about a great many things, you will find that you, too, think this way. It’s in the water, it’s in the air – every day of our lives we eat and breathe modernism. Even what is being passed around as postmodernism is 90% basic modernism.  As Loftus once pointed out to me, even I’m modern.

However, I am aware of it.

I don’t think that everything about modernism is bad; for example, reason and logic are good, in its place. The scientific method, as a tool, is also good. However, what modernism did was to shrink the worldview around these elements, and added a belief in the inevitability of progress and a disdain for anything pre-modern, other than as an object of study. Progress says that the worldview enlarged; however, in reality, by dismissing everything it didn’t want to deal with, in actuality the worldview shrunk. (See the aforementioned Teacup Analogy).

As I have expressed in my Teacup Analogy, it is my current hypothesis that if you try to shrink Christianity to fit within the constraints of modernism, you’re in trouble, because in order to do so, the terms of modernism require you to not just shrink Christianity, but rather to chop off the corners of Christianity to fit within modernism’s round hole (sorry for switching metaphors). The problem, as I see it, is that modernism is an inadequate and defective worldview, and in order to address Christianity completely within modernism as Loftus does is to render Christianity inadequate and defective as well.

I am not sure, however, that the great apologists would agree with me.  I would be very interested to hear what someone like William Lane Craig (who I would tend to place at the top of that list) would say about my hypothesis.  Loftus, in the post I linked to above, has challenged Craig (and any other Christian apologist) to debate him on the issue of Christianity vs Modernism, which I think would be very interesting. Are Christianity and modernism incompatible, or can a complete Christianity survive entirely within the confince of modernism?

An atheist who understands the importance of epistemology

This is one of the reasons l like John Loftus:

If I have a focus when it comes to debunking Christianity it is with control beliefs. Control beliefs are those beliefs that control how we view the evidence, and so my critique is generally philosophical and epistemological in nature. I’m interested in how we know what we know. How we view that which we know is the difference that makes all of the difference.

How we each look at the evidence is controlled by certain beliefs of ours. Since this is so, I want to know how to justify those control beliefs themselves. For me it’s all about seeing things differently. It’s not about more and more knowledge. It’s about viewing what we know in a different light. …

How do we decide which approach, which bias, and which set of control beliefs are preferrable when looking at Christianity? That’s the biggest question of them all! Why? Because the set of control beliefs we start with when looking at the Bible is usually the same set we will come away with.

After people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, this is a breath of fresh air.  In fact, if you look back through my posts and comments you’ll see that I’ve been saying the same thing.  Whether you talk about worldviews, paradigms, presuppositions, narratives or control beliefs, the point is this: if you don’t deal with the differences at this level, discussion about topics like the truth of Christianity are pointless. Yet, the majority of discussions and debates stay fixed on the minutia rather than at the “meta” level.  Words don’t even mean the same thing in different belief systems.

However, I still have major disagreements with Loftus on many of his control beliefs, and question whether he’s gone deep enough; perhaps there are presuppositions controlling his control beliefs. John is, without a doubt, a modernist, as he makes the point, “I call our modern ways of thinking the Achilles’ heel of Christianity.”

Here, again, I would tend to agree with Loftus. Modernism as a worldview is at the very least hostile to Christianity; it is a competing and contrasting worldview.  However, as it emerged at least partially from within the Roman Catholic church, it became over time the predominant worldview of the West, including that of the Western church.  Now, not all facets of modernism are necessarily bad; but, as modernism reframed how we look at the evidence, as Loftus talks about, and also redefined evidence itself, a Christianity whose apologetics (itself a modern concept) is framed within modernism is essentially cut off at the knees.

I believe the question of “Does God exist” or “Is Christianity true” can only partially be addressed without addressing the question of whether modernism is an accurate worldview.  While modernism certainly still has its adherents, especially those for whom modernism serves as a necessary foundation, it is generally held that modernism is a failed worldview. Whether it simply implodes or is transformed in a post-modern derivative remains to be seen. In any event I have a hunch that the discussions of the next generation will be quite different from those we have today.

Further into Loftus’ post he lists his control beliefs, which I believe are discussed more fully in his book. What I think John is saying is that essentially in order for him to really challenge Christianity, he needs to bring people completely into a modernist mindset.  As I indicated, I would tend to agree with him. My contention, however, is that to adopt a completely modernist mindset is already to abandon a Christian worldview. For those who try to maintain a set of Christian beliefs within a modernist worldview, I think it is quite easy to draw them away from Christianity. To try to maintain a dual worldview is difficult at best, and often requires some type of loss of intellectual integrity. Others take a compartmentalized view, such as Francis Collins; but this, too, seems like intellectual suicide.

Loftus concludes:

I just don’t see how Christians can refute any of these reasons for starting with a skeptical attitude, since they are all practically undeniable (and even obvious) to modern educated scientifically literate people. How much more is this so when these reasons are all taken together as a whole. So it is no surprise that I look at Christianity with the presumption of skepticism. And it is no surprise that I reject it.

While I think some (or perhaps all) of John’s points are able to be challenged from within modernism, I suspect that the more someone is inclined toward a totally modernist worldview, the more likely they are to find these points convincing.  However, I suspect that the opposite is also true: the more someone’s mind has been transformed (Romans 12:2) away from the “pattern of the world,” the less likely that these arguments will have that impact.  Modernism is but one of several philosophies that has challenged a Biblical worldview, as discussed in my series on Webber, and the current evangelical church has been weakened by more than just modernism.  I also suspect that someone whose worldview has been impacted by other contrary philosophies such as romanticism are more susceptible to challenges as their belief system is already impaired.

I appreciate Loftus’ level of thinking here; where many atheists today refuse to deal with worldview issues or discussions about presuppositions, Loftus appears to understand the importance of recognizing and identifying presuppositions, which is probably why people like Norm Geisler recommend his book. However, as I stated earlier, I don’t think Loftus goes deep enough in identifying presuppositions, which is possibly why he and William Lane Craig seem to talk past each other.

The myth of postmodernism

Ask nearly anyone who claims to know the current trends, and they’ll tell you that we now live in a postmodern world.  Ask them what that means, and you’ll hear things like, “there are now no objective standards for truth” or “postmodernism is a rejection of the metanarrative.”  As I have mentioned in a prior post, postmodernism is hated and feared by theologians and scientists alike, as it undermines what is foundational for both: modern reason.  I do not claim to be an expert on the subject, though I have been reading and thinking about it for a good number of years.  What I have concluded so far is that not all of postmodernist thought is bad, not all postmodern thought is good, and it is for the most part not so much a departure from modernism as it is a neo-modernism.

First, postmodernism is a critique of certain aspects of modernism, which is badly needed. Modernism as a worldview is extremely narrow-minded, arrogant, anti-historical, and egocentric, if that term can be applied to a worldview. Modernism is constructed in such a way that in its own eyes, it can’t fail. One of its main errors is its faith in progress, that the evolution of society – and of man – is necessarily positive, and that every day in every way, we are getting better and better. More knowledge is always good, in spite of what Adam and Eve discovered. While imaging that we are rational to the utmost, and depending almost exclusively on man’s ability to reason, this belief in necessary progress is not itself based on reason.  Modernism, in many ways, is a fraud, and those calling themselves postmodern have found it out.  In spite of the incredible “progress” of technology, the average white-collar American works more hour per week than 30 years ago, and stress-related illnesses are on a rapid rise. Progress?

Postmodernism challenges the lie that everything is okay.  It also challenges the lie that everything fits into nice, neat boxes. Postmodernism recognizes that spirituality is important.  It challenges the scientific hold on truth, as well as religion’s hold on it. Postmodernism recognizes that what moderns accepted as a rule “was more of a guideline.” However, it has also adopted the same anti-historical arrogance; while it often pays homage to the past, it assumes that postmodernism is better. It has not thrown out all of modernism, just what it doesn’t like. Postmoderns, for example, are more addicted to modern technology than anyone. Apple is perhaps the first large postmodern corporation, and its product line it tailored specifically to that target market, using good old-fashioned modern marketing techniques. Do postmoderns rise up in rebellion?  Not in the least; in fact, the “Mac Guy” has become an icon.

William Lane Craig is the first author I have found who agrees with my conclusions. In a recent article in Christianity Today, he writes:

The idea that we live in a postmodern culture is a myth. In fact, a postmodern culture is an impossibility; it would be utterly unlivable. People are not relativistic when it comes to matters of science, engineering, and technology; rather, they are relativistic and pluralistic in matters of religion and ethics. But, of course, that’s not postmodernism; that’s modernism! That’s just old-line verificationism, which held that anything you can’t prove with your five senses is a matter of personal taste. We live in a culture that remains deeply modernist.

Otherwise, how do we make sense of the popularity of the New Atheism? Dawkins and his ilk are indelibly modernist and even scientistic in their approach. On the postmodernist reading of contemporary culture, their books should have fallen like water on a stone. Instead, people lap them up eagerly, convinced that religious belief is folly.

Is there a need for a true post-modernism?  Perhaps.  Or, perhaps what we need is rather a rediscovery of pre-modernism, a loosening of our anti-historical attitudes and the misplaced faith in progress. I’m not suggesting we give up the internet or stop thinking logically; I am, in fact, quite attached to many of the accomplishments of modern technology, as well as modern logic, which has its place.  However, I do think we need to recover some of what was lost in the iconoclasm of the “Enlightenment” in order to put modernism into some kind of context.  This, I think, is what is being attempted by much of postmodernism, but at the moment it still seems too egocentric – and modern – to be any more than just a new expression of modernism.

Epistemology: faith and reason

In keeping with my series of posts dealing with epistemology and worldview, BarryA over at Uncommon Descent has – almost as if on cue – written an excellent piece discussing how both Theists and materialists rely on a combination of faith and reason.  He makes a number of points that I had planned on making in upcoming posts, so rather than duplicate efforts, I will direct you over there to read the full article.  I will revisit these points in a future post.  Just to whet your appetite:

Materialist believe that a real world exists outside of themselves and that they have trustworthy perceptions of this real world from their senses. Surprise. Those two beliefs are not based upon any evidence. Materialists hold the beliefs based on pure faith, a frequently unacknowledged faith to be sure, but faith nevertheless.

If we accept the rules of basic logic (which is itself a presupposition), we have to agree that when it comes to accepting either evidence or the methodology for evaluating evidence, we eventually come to a point where we must take a leap to faith (or at least, a leap to presupposition). At this point, the materialist typically calls the philosopher names and walks away.  But, I think the arguments tha BarryA makes are valid; either we must agree that we lack evidence for materialistic presuppositions, or else we must call into question logic itself, at which point modernism and all that comes with it implodes.

Once again, isn’t epistemology fun?