Wednesday, September 10, 2008

MercatorNet on Inevitable choices - University and Metaphysics

MercatorNet features a quite erudite essay entitled "Inevitable Choices" by Richard Bastien, director of the Catholic Civil Rights League for the National Capital Area. It explores the basic metaphysical choices presented to American college and university students. Not surprisingly, Bastien finds the metaphysical choice of catholicism to be the most rational. It is the explication of his analysis towards this conclusion that is interesting.

An excerpt:

The Church is thus saying that not only is there a necessary relationship between faith and reason, but that reason stands to gain from working in tandem with the Christian faith. The question we must therefore address is: What kind of evidence do we have in support of such a claim? Perhaps the strongest evidence is that Christianity ushered into the world one big, gigantic claim that had never been made prior to it, which is that everyone has a natural right to search for the truth. Indeed, this claim was so revolutionary that certain Greek philosophers of the 2nd Century, like Celsus, ridiculed Christianity for its attempt to attract "only slaves, women and little children".(14) Because free access to the truth is indispensable to knowing God, and also because the Christian God is the God of all people, Christian theologians have insisted from the very beginning on the universal nature of the right to search for the truth. In doing so, they undermined the old pre-Christian order and set the stage for the dismantling of racial, social and gender barriers. Never before had anyone dared to proclaim the equality of all men and women of all nations before God. This should be a source of pride for all Christians, and particularly those of Catholic persuasion.
Read the entire essay here.

Also feel free to share your reactions with us here.


Joe said...

I thought it was an interesting piece, but I have some problems with it. First, the categories are too neatly laid out. What, after all, is "postmodernism?" Postmodernism is not a singly defined movement and there are certainly contemporary theologians, Catholic and Orthodox, who are influenced by postmodernism but are perfectly orthodox in their thinking (Jean Luc Marion or John Zizioulas). Also, the term "Catholicism" is too narrow to cover all of classical Christianity. Orthodoxy, traditional Anglicanism, Catholicism, and some forms of traditional Protestantism all believe in the harmony between faith and reason. Also, there are different kinds and degrees of fideism.

Finally, I have to say that the author does not do justice to either Descartes or Kant. Descartes' own philosophy, while containing some novelty, was rooted in Augustinian thinking (his most important arguments are already found in Augustine) and Descartes was a man of the Church who did not reject revelation. Kant's "subjectivism" so to speak (I wouldn't call it that), is much different than what the author is portraying. Kant did not at all mean anything like relativism. In fact, in both theoretical and ethical matters, reason, according to Kant, gives us strict, universal categories and rules.

Joe said...

Thanks for posting my comment. By the way, I posted some more thoughts on my blog,

The Byzantine Rambler said...

Dear Joe:

Thanks for your comments -- well put and worth deeper consideration.

I checked out your blog, and encourage others to do so also.