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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII -

Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Corona, 'The Science' or Scientism, Islam, the State, the cult of Gender Fascism, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion...

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gottlieb part 2: The Dream of Reason, A History of Philosophy

The cult of Science.

by StFerdIII


The first part of the book reviewed here, outlining 'pre-Socratic' philosophy is quite enjoyable. The second part of this 431 page opus is not nearly as good. From Socrates down to Aristotle – difficult men to understand to be sure – the text is too dense and littered with abstruse howlers aimed at Christianity, intended to debase 'religion', but which only serve to depreciate his own work. The intended audience is the layman, and in that regard the philosophies of ancient Greece from the 5th to 3rd centuries need to be simplified and presented in less detail. At times it is quite hard to follow the complexity of discussion. The author is certainly knowledgeable and has the ability to get to the heart of what these men have 'invented' and what they are trying to say; yet at times he engaged in an awful amount of verbal gymnastics to get to the point.

Gottlieb is obviously a 'scientist' in the sense that he believes philosophy and science are entwined. At one point he mentions that science and philosophy may have parted ways in the 6th century BC [Pythagoras]; or perhaps post-Socrates [4th c. BC]; or maybe even as late as the 17th century AD [the so-called, self-proclaimed 'Enlightenment']. It is clear that this philosopher feels that both science and philosophy are self-reinforcing. In that vein Gottlieb is clearly part of 'scientism', the cult of which maintains that science can and will explain everything and that any philosophizing to the contrary is the hobgoblins of little Christian minds, medieval, dark and superstitious.

This constantly reiterated theme becomes boring and dogmatic, denigrating both his work and the reader. It reminds me of a book medievalist Cantor wrote, in which he ranted about the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by his personal bete-noir, the liberal anti-Christ G.W. Bush. Such references and personal animosity have no place in a work on the Middle Ages. Gottlieb falls into the same trap. At the very least his jihad against 'faith' is unbalanced and certainly not evenly or intelligently discussed. Science can't explain everything, it never has. 'Evolution' is valid but does not explain the world at large in-toto – in many ways it is still a theory waiting to be proved. Inanimate material cannot become animate. Single cells cannot self-produce to become multi-cell. Life-forms have appeared and disappeared en-masse [many more time than just the extinction of the dinosaurs]. Hard-core atheists like Anthony Flynn studied science and converted to the Church on the premise that rationality and reason could only point to Plato's 'master craftsman', or Newton's 'watchmaker'. Science can be as much of a cult as any pagan construct.

Gottlieb relates the story of Aristotle's 'settled science' which was a 'consensus' for 2000 years that all smart people subscribed to. This was of course the theory of self-generation, or the idea that life just appears when it wants to. Aristotle called this 'vitalism'. This mystical theory of self-propagation was accepted by all 'scientists' and philosophers until the 19th century when thanks to Pasteur and others who studied and experimented with germs and the genesis of disease, it was demolished as physically impossible. So much for consensus science. A fact to be kept in mind when the faithful of the cult of GlobaloneyWarming invoke 'science' in their case. Ask them for their source data, their models, their inputs, their calculations and experimental proof and ask them why a trace chemical emitted by the earth mother would affect anything. Activists are not scientists and neither are philosophers like Gottlieb though such people like to hide under the cult brand of scientism.

Gottlieb's main error is to assume that the 'Church' was hostile to science or inquiry. This is bunk. The Church funded most of the main scientific work of the Middle Ages including the work of Galileo whose astronomy was not novel, [he got it from Copernicus who was also funded in total, by the Church] and whose trial is largely a myth [4 people were at the trial and it amounted to Galileo signing a paper that he would stop attacking the person of the Pope in his missives]. When philosophers such as Gottlieb drenched in their own theology – that of scientism – go outside the boundaries of their domain knowledge, they go from a higher purpose [a truly remarkable compendium of ancient philosophers and their ideas] to the basely stupid and ignorant. Christianity as a theology is not 'afraid' of science, anymore than Christian scientists from Roger Bacon, to Copernicus, to Harvey were afraid of 'science'. The great age of 'Reason' was developed in the Middle Ages. It is only ignoramuses during the 'Enlightenment' era, in which secular witch-burnings were common [10.000 dead mostly along the Rhine area]; who labelled everything before as dark; and who bowed down like simpletons to all things 'classical' and ancient. Gottlieb's mistake and one which is a serious weakness in this book, is that the gratuitous attacks on Christianity reveal more about his own shortcomings and lack of knowledge, than anything else. They also have absolutely nothing to do with the topic he is writing about.

Some fatuous phrases include:

God of Genesis. Reading Plato without biblical blinkers, we can see that this requited plenty of imaginative interpretations; but the Christians were happy to provide it. The main differences between Plato's God and the biblical one are these: his God is not the most important thing in the universe...he is not the only God but has many assistants; his is not omnipotent...” p. 204

This is called polytheism, Christianity is called a monotheism...

Kant pointed out three drawbacks of such attempts to pull a Christian rabbit out of a celestial hat. First, much of the apparent harmony of nature follows necessarily from the laws of matter; so any Being offering further 'counsel and dominion', is....redundant...Secondly, seeing nature primarily in terms of the purposes of an intelligent being can make scientific inquiry might point to a Master-Craftsman who has organized pre-existing matter, but it cannot reach further...” p. 205

Christianity embraces natural law and the development of nature as proof of a divine essence, and far from making people lazy, it was only in Christian Europe that the principles of scientific inquiry were implemented and developed. Nowhere else in history do they make an appearance. the seventeenth century, William Harvey [a practising Christian] attributed his discovery of the circulation of the blood to his belief in the intelligent design of the human body....[his] hunch paid off, so the Master-Craftsman with his rational designs has had his uses, even if he is in fact non-existent.” [p. 217]

And what have the 'evolutionists' ever discovered in the areas of science, math and medicine ? And on what authority and with what proof do we know that Harvey's inspiration does not exist? Gottlieb's musings and his hatred of anything opposed to the cult of science?

Darwinian natural selection does indeed show how it is unnecessary to postulate any sort of God, or occult mechanism...” p. 235

Christianity is not occult but rational. Faith can only be achieved by applying reason. Scientism requires blind faith. Gottlieb must surely know that huge gaps exist in Darwin's theory, a fact borne out by Darwin himself who said that his findings were contradicted in part by the geological record. His theory also does not answer the origin of life question, something that science has no explanation for, unless you believe that dead matter springs into life-matter.

From the point of view of an especially narrow-minded and conservative Christian living in the later Middle Ages, that might be a fair summary of some of Aristotle's effects on Western thought..before Christianity found ways to assimilate them, they were viewed with suspicion and sometimes banned.” p. 279

This is simply a lie. Christianity debated Aristotle long before the 12th century. From the 4th century AD onwards there are numerous Christian thinkers who melded parts of Aristotle and Plato into theology. These works were never banned and Gottlieb offers no proof that they were. He simply dismisses Christian scholaticism as some expression of the 'occult'. In fact one can list hundreds of Christian rationalists who merged ancient philosophy into Church doctrine. Moslems can point to at most 2 such individuals. Other mysticisms have few if any intellects who attempted the same.

There is a lot of utility in this book. The section on the Epicureans, Stoics and Sceptics for instance is particularly interesting in that the influences of all 3 are still with us today. But the constant and rather idiotic refrains against Christian theology, about which the author has little knowledge, detracts from the worth of the entire effort. Instead of promulgating his cult of scientism in which Darwin explains all [or that rationality is the only reality, which it clearly is not]; the author would have produced a truly exceptional and important summary of philosophy, if he had only stayed in the domain of objective philosophy. Scientism promulgated as a model to explain everything is not only rationally deficient it must leave its adherents somewhat cold, lifeless and bigoted.


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