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Saturday, October 24, 2020


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I'm really looking forward to your take on this perennial question.
Particularly, on how Revelation can 'open up' and shed light on questions that autonomous reason cannot. IOW I think the case can be made that revelation gives us a larger and more meaningful world than we can arrive at 'on our own'. $.02.

For what it is worth, it seems to me that the “sacrifice [of] the autonomy of reason for the sake of truths which cannot be certified by reason but which are provided by faith in revelation, a revelation that must simply be accepted in humility and obedience” involves the affirmation of an epistemological principle that is, in fact, continually contradicted by its own adherents, or, more precisely, its modern adherents. For, after all, what is this “revelation” of which they speak but the testimonies of those in the past who claimed to have witnessed events that are said to be explainable only in terms of the actions of God within the contours of human history, in such ways that the human mind can identify their source and their purposes. These testimonies were set down in writing, either, as some claim, (1) by the witnesses themselves or by those who had direct access to their testimonies or (2) by later believers in these testimonies as passed down orally or in earlier written forms. So the “revelation” of which we speak, the the truth of which is declared by faith, rests, in the first instance, on our acceptance of the accuracy of these written sources. I have nothing to say on this highly complex question, involving a series of specialized disciplines; instead, I merely wish to point out that what was possible “to be accepted in humility and obedience” in earlier times is much harder to be accepted today. All but the most naïve believers come to such texts with a series of questions and doubts, no matter what their faith claims may be, and in resolving or seeking to resolve these questions and doubts, they inevitably turn to reasoning of one kind or another, whether it involves philosophical inquiries into the nature, source, and proofs of miracles; exegetical and linguistic investigations of sacred texts; or theological and historical studies of one kind or another. In other words, unless one is honestly able to adopt a rigorous fideism, reason is called upon even when dealing with matters the content of which is beyond its reach. The claim that it can be put aside in good faith today may be true of the very few of us who are blessed with the grace that allows the surrender that we find with the saints, but for the rest of us, such a surrender is not possible.

Vito writes, >>. . . reason is called upon even when dealing with matters the content of which is beyond its reach.<<

That is certainly true, but I don't see the contradiction that Vito alleges in his opening sentence. Reason is used to assess evidence, formulate the tenets of the faith, show the rational acceptability of religious claims, including claims that cannot be known by reason and empirical evidence alone, and in other ways. But reason only takes us so far, and where it takes us is not far enough, or not far enough for those of us that seek something more than what this miserable life can provide.

Reason can pose this question to itself and do so reasonably: are there suprational realities that are beyond reason's ken? Reason can distinguish the irrational from the suprarational. I don't see a contradiction here.


Man on his own is without hope. (I am contradicting Ernst Bloch, the Marxist philosopher, but not just him.) We need salvation, but we cannot provide it for ourselves. We need help from a transcendent source. It doesn't follow that there is any such source. But if there isn't, then this life, whatever proximate meanings it may have, is ultimately meaningless. I take it you believe that. So of course you are right that >> revelation gives us a larger and more meaningful world than we can arrive at 'on our own'.<<

Those who don't share our religious sensibility are worldlings or Cave-dwellers. For them the Cave is satisfactory. There is no point in discussing with the Cave-dwellers. But, as Plato points out, the Cave men hate seekers of the light and will kill them. And this is why at the present time we have to engage politically and perhaps extrapolitically with the leftist thugs who seek to stamp out religious liberty.


Whether or not God exists, whether or not he has revealed himself to man, and what the content of that revelation is remain and will remain disputed questions. There is no way to PROVE anything here. So after all the rational and evidential considerations and counter-considerations, one is simply going to have to decide what one will believe and how one will live. (And these two are connected, since beliefs manifest themselves in actions, and actions give evidence of what one really believes.)

Speaking for myself, my various religious and mystical experiences, the deliverances of conscience, my philosophical reasonings that show the untenability of naturalism incline me to seek for meaning beyond this short life. And that is the way I live, by meditation, prayer, following my well-formed conscience, philsophical study and writing, and discipline of the natural man, the animal side of the self.

And that brings us back to the topic of masturbation that we discussed over at FB. I said that that there are plausible moral argument against it. Here is one that may fly with you since you are a Christian. MT 5:28 "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (KJV) From that we can infer that it is morally wrong to entertain (with hospitality so to speak) the thought of having sex without your neighbor's trophy wife. But you are not about to make a move on her, so you masturbate to orgasm to the fantasy of having sex with her. Would you allow that that is morally wrong? If not, why not? It is not the 'scattering of seed' that is morally wrong, but the violation in thought of the woman you are fantasizing about. You are treating her albeit in thought not in the flesh as a means to your sensuous gratification, and not an an end in herself -- in violation of the well-know Kantian principle (which the Sage of Koenigsberg arguably got from Christianity).

Bill, I am probably wrong on this matter on which I cannot claim anything like your knowledge and perhaps “contradiction” is too strong a word, but I used it to call attention to the marked historical shift in the relative weight of reason in the assessment of “truths. . . . which are provided by faith in revelation.” Without the confirmation of the altering and confirming religious and mystical experiences, of which you speak, very few of us today are able honestly to affirm “faith in revelation, a revelation that must simply be accepted in humility and obedience.” Here, I make a distinction between what we assert in word and what we truly believe. In particular, I am constantly aware of the mental and emotional space--the gap--that separates my declaration of the truth of certain religious claims and my deepest confidence in such claims. Something has changed in the mental landscapes of even sincere believers that deprives them of “humility and obedience” that was accessible to Aquinas and others in the past that narrowed or eliminated this space. As a result, many or most of us, are tossed about between reason and faith, with the terrain of the former grown far larger than that of the latter. Perhaps if one is not wedded to traditional dogmatic or doctrinal propositions, instead affirming a more generic form of faith in the Deity, this gap, perhaps the product of misdirected and impudent reason, is narrower or non-existent, but with more luxuriant religious dogmas or doctrines it is certainly present today.

Bill, as for any criticism I may have of 'autonomous reason', it is not the faculty itself that I criticize. What I do find objectionable is illustrated by the difference between 'science' and 'scientism'. I'm sure that your readers grok what I'm saying there.

As for Master Bates - I don't find an 'either-or' dilemma to be necessary, such as: "either don't do it, or you are making your neighbor's wife an object of gratuitous gratification." The dilemma stated that way is obviously false. (I'm Not saying that you put it that way.
So - is MB wrong in itself, or does it depend upon one's motivation - as Jesus put it, "in your heart"? Well, I think it depends. It is not easy for many men I've known, that have been brought up perhaps too strictly or unwisely, to give themselves a break from an over-scrupulous conscience. This is not license, it is pragmatic. A lifestyle built around MB is unwise and harmful; a life going in the right direction that may include some MB is not imo to be sneered at.
There's a good hint here in 1 Cor.10.13 ESV - there are some temptations, common to all of us, that cannot be met with just will power - so God will give us a way to deal with it. Let he who reads understand. :-)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

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