The varieties of irrationalism

In September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at the University of Regensburg, which earned him much criticism for dissing Islam.  But what the speech was about was the importance of a proper use of reason to Christianity and the West, something missing in Islam.

Samuel Gregg writes about the address and the issue in a provocative post for the Catholic World Report.   He and the former pope observe that the Logos, from which the word “logic” comes, is essential to Christianity as the ordering principle of the universe, as well as the Son of God (John 1).  Without this order principle, we get irrational violence AND the irrationalities of the postmodern universities, with their “safe spaces,” political correctness, and rejection of truth.  We are also getting the kind of irrationalism that reduces reason to empiricism alone, without considering larger truths, meaning that reason is no longer of much help in addressing moral issues.

Benedict recognizes the problems of scholasticism that subjected Scriptural revelation to Aristotelian philosophy, an imbalance that Luther and the other Reformers castigated in their critiques of reason alone.  What is needed is a proper use of reason.  The address also gives ammunition for classical education, as Benedict argues for the necessity of preserving the “hellenic” heritage of the West. [Read more…]

How Americans protect themselves from Christianity

Another brilliant analysis of the challenges facing American Christianity by James R. Rogers, Texas A&M Political Science professor and an LCMS layman.  This time he focuses on how and why Americans “armor” themselves from Christianity.  He analyzes how relativism works and quotes Allan Bloom on Americans’ “easy-going nihilism” and “nihilism without the abyss.”  He surveys how churches are already responding to these factors without much success and opens a discussion about what might be more effective. [Read more…]

The death of relativism?

Can the West keep up its postmodernist ideology of relativism–that there is no moral truth and that all cultures are equally valid–in the face of ISIS terrorism?  Andrew Klavan thinks not. [Read more…]

Postmodern riots

Back in August, a police officer shot a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.  According to media accounts, the teenager was unarmed and shot from a distance, suggesting an egregious case of police brutality.  That’s what it seemed like even to conservatives like Rand Paul and to this blog.  But the testimony of two eyewitnesses, the autopsy results, and other forensic evidence has proven that this was not what happened.  It turns out, the teenager was attacking the officer and was shot during a scuffle, during which the assailant was trying to get the officer’s gun, followed by a brief chase and the teenager rushing the officer.

This was the finding of the grand jury investigating the case, so no charges against the officer are being filed.  Keep in mind that a grand jury is run by the prosecutor’s office and that the authorities had every incentive to make the officer a scapegoat to prevent the kind of riots that broke out in August.   And yet the jurors were going by the facts.

Nevertheless, riots have erupted.  Businesses are being looted, police are being fired upon by automatic weapons, and Ferguson is basically being burned to the ground.

I know that the local protesters do not believe the legal establishment.  I’ll be curious to see if political liberals –who often claim to be “the fact-based” or “the reality-based” or “the science-based” community–will side with the protesters, despite what the evidence proves.

Since postmodernists believe there is no objective truth, that truth claims are nothing but political constructions, I suspect they will.  They will think that the legal system constructed a plausibility paradigm that suggests the police officer is innocent in order as an imposition of their power.  And they will think nothing of constructing an alternative politically-motivated truth-claim of their own. [Read more…]

The benefits of magic mushrooms

A study of the effects of psychedelic mushrooms is being hailed as revealing positive benefits.  What interests me is what the scientists and the media consider to be beneficial.  The active ingredient in the mushrooms makes people more emotional, puts them in a continual dream-like state, turns down their higher cognitive abilities (that is, makes them less rational), and dissolves their ego, making them less “narrow-minded.”  Note that  in our postmodern culture, such assaults on the mind are all considered good things! [Read more…]

Homosexuaity as a social construct

Michael W. Hannon reminds us that postmodernist philosopher Michel Foucault, himself a homosexual, has maintained that homosexuality is a social construct.  Until the late 19th century, there was the vice of sodomy, but no one assumed that those who committed it had any kind of special psychology, much less a particular defining identity.

Then again, Foucault believed that virtually everything is a social construct.  And even if homosexuality is a social construct, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  But I’m curious about Foucault’s postmodernist disciples, many of whom are champions of the gay cause.  Gay activists seem to take an esssentialist view of homosexuality, that same-sex desire inheres in a gay person’s very nature.  But postmodernists tend to deny essentialism in everything else, including the notion that a human being has any kind of fixed identity.  So when postmodernists make the arguments that they do, are they just employing rhetoric in the pursuit of power? [Read more…]