Non theories beget non sense

April 3, 2017 § 24 Comments

Man’s true nature is that he is a creation of God, but many superficial thinkers leverage the “human nature” bit as if to say “man understood apart from the fact that he is a creature made by God”.

We can talk coherently about natural law as something which arises from man’s nature. But we can’t talk coherently about man or his nature as if they were wholly independent things which just sprang into existence without God.  The “things which sprang into existence without God” part is contrary to man’s actual nature: it is contrary to the sort of thing that man actually is in fact. It is a non-human theory of man.

More succinctly, theology is the queen of the sciences.  Anti-realist modernism rests on non-theological theories of various parts of reality: on non-reality theories of reality.

Liberalism in particular rests on an anti-anthropology all the way down, starting with its attempt to develop a political doctrine (an understanding of authority) while prescinding from religious questions.

Other non-liberal political doctrines might theoretically be developed from the same starting point, but would in the end be just as wrong: would be non-authority theories of authority.

And we all know the consequences of embracing a contradiction.

§ 24 Responses to Non theories beget non sense

  • donnie says:

    More succinctly, theology is the queen of the sciences.

    If this is true, then how come the sciences fail to bring scientists closer to God?

  • Cane Caldo says:

    If this is true, then how come the sciences fail to bring scientists closer to God?

    Not a few queens have wanted to rule in their own right.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Not a few men have wanted to please the queen above all.

  • Zippy says:

    The remarkable thing about man’s attempts to put fences around parts of reality to keep God out is the extent to which God tolerates it.

    Heck, He even tolerated one of His seraphs putting up such a fence, around a place we now call Hell.

  • “If this is true, then how come the sciences fail to bring scientists closer to God?”

    Science does tend to bring many scientists closer to God. The problem is pop culture which has drawn a false dichotomy between science and God, as if one cancels out the other.

    The same thing can happen within our theology, we can get so idolatrous about our own understanding,we kind of push God right out, become nothing but clanging symbols and resounding gongs.

    As to theology being queen, Zippy said perhaps men give feminine names to inanimate things. Perhaps, or perhaps men name the things that they truly love,their prized possessions, as a way of paying honor and tribute to women. Regardless, let’s not allow our theology to become inanimate,it has a life and substance to it.

  • TomD says:

    Wisdom has often been called a woman; see the Old Testament.

    And Mary is perhaps the Queen who has studied God the most; some say she IS Wisdom in the Old Testament.

    “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.”

    A Queen has a King.

    And modern science has become the science of studying dogs as cats; even for many Catholics – “Well, yes, granted authority comes from God, how does it work assuming it doesn’t?”

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @TomD

    And Mary is perhaps the Queen who has studied God the most; some say she IS Wisdom in the Old Testament.

    Who is “some”?

  • TomD says:

    St Alphonsus Ligouri, at least, and he quotes others in this Queenship of Mary

  • Mike T says:

    “If this is true, then how come the sciences fail to bring scientists closer to God?”

    Because the average person cannot F***ing Love Science and love God at the same time. Probably has something to do with their inability to F***ing Do Science and relying on memes and science popularizers to feel all sciency.

  • Mike T says:

    Profanity triggers moderation?

  • TomD says:

    I could see it triggering the spam filter, certainly.

  • Be lovely if God decided to suddenly employ a spam filter, wouldn’t it? Downright comical actually.

  • Kristor says:

    Odd to think of the Last Judgement as a spam filter. But that’s a pretty good analogy for it.

  • Mike T says:

    Odd to think of the Last Judgement as a spam filter. But that’s a pretty good analogy for it.

    Imagine the butthurt if you turned that into a bumper sticker and drove to a tech conference in California.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    While looking for something else I found this:

    1 Wisdom has built her house;
    she has hewn her seven pillars.
    2 She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
    3 She has sent out her young women to call
    from the highest places in the town,
    4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    To him who lacks sense she says,
    5 “Come, eat of my bread
    and drink of the wine I have mixed.
    6 Leave your simple ways, and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”

    It continues:

    13 The woman Folly is loud;
    she is seductive and knows nothing.
    14 She sits at the door of her house;
    she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
    15 calling to those who pass by,
    who are going straight on their way,
    16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    And to him who lacks sense she says,
    17 “Stolen water is sweet,
    and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
    18 But he does not know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

  • GJ says:

    And we all know the consequences of embracing a contradiction.
    Liberalism has become all things to all people.

  • elspeth says:

    Hey Zippy. Had a realization today. Perhaps crystallization is a more accurate term.

    Anyway, I was listening to Roger Scruton’s YouTube on moral relativism. Rather than juxtaposing liberalism and conservatism, he made his statement about liberalism versus socialism.

    I don’t know that I’d ever heard put quite that way before, but it went a long way towards putting the pieces together in the puzzle of my thoughts which began from your commentary.

  • Zippy says:

    Elspeth:

    In my understanding the relationship between (in Scruton’s words) (A) liberalism and (B) socialism is roughly equivalent to the relation between modernism and postmodernism: they are superficially antagonistic, but deep down they are the same.

    In one sense, a tactical or practical sense, B represents a rejection of A. Socialism rejects (Scruton’s) liberalism at the level of policy. They definitely don’t agree about what various people and institutions ought to do.

    But in another more important sense B is simply the natural development of A. B rejects A because the policies of A in fact fail – in fact have failed – to achieve the values that both B and A hold in common[1]. B doesn’t believe that A holds those values authentically: if A really did hold those values authentically then of course A would see that A-policies fail to achieve them and in fact tyrannically impose the opposite. A (in B’s view) merely mouths the words of those core values as a pack of lies to rationalize the tyranny A imposes.

    Symmetrically, A sees B the same way and for the same reasons.

    The values held in common are (what I call) liberalism, a fundamental metaphysical position on the nature of authority: that is, a political philosophy. I don’t use the label “liberalism” lightly. I use it because it is in my view the best label for those values-held-in-common, encapsulated in the phrase “political liberty.”

    Classical liberals, modern liberals, Marxists, socialists, and even National Socialists[2] don’t agree on much when it comes to lists of policies.

    But they all really do agree on the same core values. They all really do adhere to the same basic (nice sounding but incoherent) political metaphysic. And they all see their intramural enemies as lying inauthentic tyrants, for the same basic reasons.


    [1] No policies can achieve those values because, as I have explained many times, those values are self contradictory. Rationally incoherent values are unachievable in principle, are not even approachable or definite as a direction or ideal; let alone can they be implemented and achieved as a practical matter through concrete policies.

    [2] As the name directly implies, national socialists view nationalism as an essential ingredient in the success of implementing socialist policies. The national polity of free and equal new men has to be protected from all of the less-than-human enemies and legacy forces of nature and history which would destroy it.

  • elspeth says:

    In my understanding the relationship between (in Scruton’s words) (A) liberalism and (B) socialism is roughly equivalent to the relation between modernism and postmodernism: they are superficially antagonistic, but deep down they are the same.

    This makes sense, and I thought about it a bit as he made the case that it is possible to defend -from a secular perspective- truths often considered the domain of religion.

    He does however, make the case that moral relativism necessarily leads to tyranny as we make the idea itself absolute. Rationally incoherent, indeed.

    Got to think about Scruton some more.

    Thanks, Zippy.

  • TomD says:

    Many (I don’t know if all) truths that are not revealed or follow from revealed Truth (think: God is Trinity) can be worked out from philosophy, and I suspect that’s more than we think.

    For example, Aristotle and the ancients understood that usury was wrong without God telling them so; natural law did.

    And an argument against liberalism from the natural law seems quite possible.

  • halt94 says:

    TomD:

    Plato’s philosophy is almost singularly responsible for the receptiveness of Greeks to the Gospel. He got very close to predicting the incarnation, and he reasoned that the just man would have to suffer the gravest injustice by being tortured and crucified for proclaiming the truth. Little did he know that it would be the Logos that would become one of us to suffer this injustice in order that the Truth may be known.

  • elspeth says:

    And an argument against liberalism from the natural law seems quite possible.

    I suspect you’re right, except that mankind -left to our own devices- seems prone to wander without a tether to the transcendent.

    In a world where survival (or the base of Maslow’s hierarchy) is a primary concern of most people, it is easy for natural law -or the obvious realities of creation- to rein in our tendency toward focusing on how we feel about any and every thing. With few choices, there is much less discontent.

    I’m not convinced that liberalism can be averted where prosperity is widespread. At least, not without an adherence to something Higher than ourselves.

  • Zippy says:

    I think there is a nontrivial gulf between the possibility or existence of certain sorts of valid arguments, on the one hand, and the likelihood of human beings in general finding those arguments, understanding them, and accepting them as a practical matter.

    Accepting the possibility of a general theory of gravity is a different matter from understanding the nuts and bolts of tensor equations and using them to compensate for parallax. And theories of gravity don’t insist that you shouldn’t sleep with your girlfriend despite the material plausibility of actually doing so.

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