10 July 2006

"Faith v. Reason"or "Brights v. Dims"?

Princeton University professor of jurisprudence Robert P. George on what he has characterized as "the clash of orthodoxies" in American culture:

Why do you call it that?
It's a clash of two faiths. The folks on the elite side of the divide often try to depict this as a clash between religious believers—people who, they suppose, do not honor reason as having a role in moral decision making—and "reasonable people," that is, people like themselves who allegedly act purely on the basis of reason and do not rely on or appeal to faith. But I think the reality is that in the elite sector of the culture, people hold the views they do as a matter of faith every bit as much, perhaps even more, than do people in the broader culture.

For example?
The belief that autonomy is such a high value that it trumps the sanctity of human life. For example, secularist elites widely believe that we ought to create human embryos by cloning or other means to be destroyed in biomedical research. Implicit in that belief is the proposition that the human embryo is either not a human being or not a human being with value. Now, the belief that the human embryo is something other than a human being in the earliest stages of his or her development flies in the face of reason. It can only be defended by appeal to some sort of faith that allegedly justifies ignoring the established facts of science. Of course, there are people who acknowledge that human embryos are human beings, but maintain that not all human beings are "persons." Human beings at early developmental stages—embryos, fetuses, and even infants—are not yet persons and can, therefore, rightly be killed to benefit others.

When these arguments are advanced by people like Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer, they lead to such radical conclusions as the endorsement of infanticide on a massive scale to produce transplantable organs. Singer is logically consistent. He is true to his faith. But most liberals are not willing to go there and haven't seen (or refuse to face up to) the implications of their view.

In most cases, support for the destruction of human life by abortion or for embryonic research is not carefully researched. Such views are held as a matter of faith. They're the convictions of "our kind of people," the convictions of people who consider themselves to be sophisticated and bright.

Daniel Dennett, a philosopher, even has a name for people who share the secularist orthodoxy. He calls them, and he includes himself in this, the Brights. And the implication of that is the others are the Dumbs or the Stupids.

The Dims.
That's a better word, the Dims.

Here's the whole thing. This interview is part of the Christian Vision Project, exploring how Christianity can be a "Counterculture for the Common Good" - warmly recommended.


Anonymous Mikey said...

Dear Mr. PSA--

To say that a rational world view is somehow based in faith and "dim" is just plain stupid.

My world view is based on a priori knowledge. Gravity, for instance, works EXACTLY the same way, everywhere, every time. No faith is required.

Your world view (as near I can tell, and it's not much of a leap) is based in FAITH on what other men have told you.

That's okay, of course, but it's critical to distinguish between Knowledge [sic] and True Belief, of for that matter, any belief. You may wish to go back and review your Plato. He predated your religion by quite a while, as you may know.



10 July, 2006 16:57  
Blogger PSA+ said...

I guess you could make snide remarks, or you could take issue with Prof. George's remarks and make an argument. But I forget - this is the internet.

10 July, 2006 18:40  

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