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Monday, December 25, 2017

Truth or Consequences?

A Dark Churning Blindness Engulfed Humanity. It was called Nominalism

by Susan Fox

“‘What is Truth?’ said jesting (Pontius) Pilate. And then would not stay for an answer.” Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) based on John 18:38


So let’s do a post-mortem on Truth.

Let’s find its grave and dig it up.

Its final burial occurred sometime during the Renaissance, the so-called age of “Enlightenment,” when a well-meaning group of humanists despised and eliminated the principle of ontological truth — simply that “all that exists is true,” according to Josef Pieper, Neo-Thomist author of Living the Truth.

We wring our hands and pray for our countries, but we don’t realise that the end of modern civilisation began in the heads of our ancestors when “objective reality” came to mean: whatever the majority believes is true (
consensualism or positivism); whatever technology will allow (materialism); whatever can be measured or falsified in an experiment (positivism); whatever can be experienced in your senses (empiricism); or whatever you subjectively decide it is (relativism, nihilism). 

Knock, knock:
“Is truth a property of reality?”

Who’s There? Jakob Thomasius (1622-1684): “No, truth does not reside in reality but in the mind that perceives reality.” I love this one. Atheists on Twitter like it too. I always ask them to close their eyes, believe their desk is not in front of them and walk through it! Keep trying.

Matter speaks! “I am hard and impassible.” There is a Mind in which matter is an Idea. That’s why it exists. That’s why you can’t walk through it. That’s why your dog instinctively walks around it. But that’s so 5th century B.C. (old-fashioned) Ask presocratic Greek philosopher Parmenides of Elea, who argued that reality is a unified and unchanging singular entity. “What is” is. Period. 

“All existing things, namely, all real objects outside the soul, possess something intrinsic that allows us to call them true,” observed St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church (1225-1274). And from his thinking, Neo-Thomist Josef Pieper (1904-1997) explains further that inasmuch as a thing has being, it has truth.

“To be or not to be, that is the question!” exclaimed Hamlet, but real being, which is true, conforms to the knowing mind and is not to be at all unless it is known. Only an Infinite Mind can know at once the totality of all existing things. “And this means that the primordial forms of all things reside in the creative mind of God, that the intrinsic forms of all things are nothing else but God’s knowledge somehow imprinted in those things,” Pieper wrote.

It is God’s creating Mind, knowing reality, that brings the objective order into being. It almost seems to work according to laws that a Master Programer wrote. Take a look at the recently published  book, “Theistic Evolution: a Scientific,
Philosophical and Theological Critique.” Featuring two dozen highly credentialed scientists, philosophers, and theologians from Europe and North America, this study provides the most comprehensive critique of evolutionary creation yet produced and it gives hard scientific evidence for Intelligent Design. 

Research Scientists Ann Gauger, Ola Hössjer and Colin Reeves argue that chimpanzees, which have 95% genetic similarity with humans, do not necessarily share common ancestry with men.

They argue for a unique origin of man based on the fossil record, genetic differences, the amount of time required to accumulate the necessary adaptations, and evidence from population genetics that we might have come from two first parents. They suggest species share genetic similarities because they have the same Intelligent Designer, who used similar design in different species to perform similar functions.

“It is stated as fact that things look like they evolved by natural processes. But things do not look like they evolved. (In molecular biology, there are) many good reasons to believe things were designed…There are also many examples from the design of larger-scale structures like the eye or a bird’s wing; even the complementary and interlocking nature of the biosphere all give evidence of design. In fact, biologists are continually told that they must remember that things only look designed— they really aren’t,” wrote Dr. Gauger, senior research scientist at Biologic Institute in Seattle.

In what way can this research contribute to a deeper understanding of human nature? Pieper brings us the answer. Reality can only be objective in relation to me if the human soul possesses the ability to potentially know the totality of all things, an ability placed in us by an Intelligent Designer, who Himself brought all things into being by thinking about them.


“The human soul is that entity without which we cannot conceive of truth as a property of existing things. Reality as such — and so everything that has being — can only claim truth (objectivity) if in turn the subjectivity of the knowing mind is seen as facing the totality of all that is.” wrote Pieper. Man is a spiritual creature so amazing that he can know potentially all existing things. And that's why reality does not exist only in my mind, but outside of myself. And I was designed that way -- made in the image of the Intelligent Designer.

A crocus pushes out of the cold ground in spring. It recognises what it can touch — dirt, moisture, warmth -- even snow. It has an intrinsic existence -- the ability to relate to its 
environment.

Wow, weeds are very successful at relating to their environment! I met Francis, our gardener, the other day. He was disgusted, holding in his arms long verdant strings of something he called “chicken guts” in German. 

The rock sits there. It is dumb. It is without intrinsic existence. But even lifeless things are alive in the mind of God.

The spider in my apartment races around the floor. Until he is sitting in an established web, which he created in a corner of the room, he does not feel comfortable. He knows the slightest movement of another being brushing his web.

My cat may go outside and explore its immediate environment, but she is unlikely to book a plane ticket to Arizona. Such an idea would never enter her head, and when she made that trip she hid under the airplane seat quietly. She was very frightened.

“The higher form of intrinsic existence, the more developed becomes the relatedness with reality…The higher potency of the soul the more comprehensive is the sphere of objects toward which it is ordered,” Pieper said, noting that the world of the plant does not go beyond what it touches. The insect or animal reaches as far as its own sensory perception will allow it.

The world of the spirit-endowed person, the “I,” spans the totality of all that exists. I can make plans, book a plane ticket to Austria, and go to school in a foreign country. Or
The "I," the spirit endowed person
alternately I can build a space ship and visit the moon. I can see a stone, and know it without pulling it physically into myself. Knowing a stone, moving to Austria, flying to the moon requires spiritual work. “The world of the spirit is the universe of being.” Pieper concluded.


In the words of anthropologist Max Scheler (1874-1928) “Such a spiritual being is .. not tied to a particular environment but rather… oriented to the world.”

Man has neither fur to keep him warm, nor claws to protect him. Unlike other species, he must receive care from his parents for many years after he is born in order to survive. But he has hands that allow him to fashion tools for any purpose using his own creative imagination. And having the cognitive power to reach universal essences, which are invisible to the senses, he has access to the whole universe. “Because the spiritual soul can grasp universal essences, it possesses a potential into infinity.” St. Thomas Aquinas speaks from the Middle Ages.

Reality is the foundation of ethics. Ethics is to choose the good which is in accord with reality. You have a chocolate brownie. Let’s taste it. Do you stick it in your eye?



Ouch, no the purpose of the eye is to see, not to taste! Stick it in your mouth. Yum. Putting a chocolate brownie in your eye is not in accord with reality. It is in fact an injustice to the eye. Those who wish to know and do the good must turn their gaze on the objective world of being, Pieper says, not upon their own or arbitrary ideas and models, not upon values, not on your own conscience. Do not try to invent new ways of tasting food! Gender ideology basically ignores these rules. By choosing to self identify by a different sex, individuals try to erase reality -- their own identity.


Strangely, the ability to know reality allows us to act virtuously. “Virtue is the seal of the cognitive power impressed upon the will.” (St. Thomas Aquinas) “The fundamental law of man is to act according to reason,” Pieper wrote. But if a man is not oriented to objective reality, his conscience does not have the tools necessary to judge moral good.

So when people in the Renaissance despised the principle of ontological truth (a transcendental property of all that is, involving the orientation of every being toward another being)  man’s ability to see and judge the moral act largely evaporated.

A dark churning blindness arose and engulfed humanity. It was nominalism, the basis of all the ism’s I mentioned earlier, truth based on empiricism, relativism, positivism, and materialism. It is the doctrine that universals or general ideas are mere names without any corresponding reality. 
Only particular objects exist. I can say this person is more like me than a donkey, so I will call him a man. But the Idea of man, the form of man does not exist in the Mind of God or anywhere. Nominalism makes you stupid. That's Pieper's conclusion.
By living only in particulars, testing truth by whether it can be measured or made falsifiable, man never asks the question “What is the meaning of life?”

Enter radical freedom with no restraints. Create your own reality! “There is no such thing as human nature!” exclaimed French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980). Believing his ancestors made up God, Sartre decided arbitrarily to erase Him from existence. This had rather tragic consequences because man was nothing — unless he made something of himself. Not surprisingly objective reality also disappeared. Sartre argued that man existed, but he stripped him of his essence made by God:


“We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards. If man as the existentialist sees himself as not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it.” Sartre said in a lecture given in 1946. 
No surprise,  I found his quote on a Marxist website.

Pope Benedict XVI weighed in on the matter: “Sartre regards the freedom of man as his damnation…What is exciting about this proposition is that the separation of freedom and truth is carried through quite radically here: there is no truth. Freedom is without direction or measure,” 
the pope spoke enthusiastically in his landmark book on Truth and Tolerance. “Yet this complete absence of truth, the complete absence of any kind of moral or metaphysical restraint, the absolute anarchic freedom of man constituted by his self-determination, is revealed, for anyone who tries to live it out, not as the most sublime exaltation of existence, but as a life of nothingness, as absolute emptiness, as the definition of damnation.”

Being freed from truth, Sartre does not live freely, on the contrary his meaningless life is a form of slavery. Even worse he has encouraged others to live in slavery. One can see the ugly footprints of his thinking in the lives of countless woman who have suffered an abortion in the name of “choice.” Choice, isn’t that freedom?

Many times women’s mental health is imperilled by abortion. One woman showed me pictures of the fruit of her abortion, a beaker of blood. “See,” she said, “It’s not a human being.” She did not realise that she would look the same — albeit a larger volume — if she was all chopped up. Her loss of objectivity actually endangered her mind.

“The idealist ethics of the last century has largely forgotten and denied the determination of morality by reality,” Pieper wrote in his conclusion, “But ethical realism receives very significant corroboration from the fact that modern

psychology, beginning from an entirely different starting point, and influenced especially by the discoveries of psychiatry, emphatically declares that objectivity is one of the most important prerequisites of psychic health.”

Goodbye Aristotelian law of non-contradiction — one truth cannot contradict another. Hospitals today are fighting with the best technology available to save the life of one pre-born child, while down the hall another pre-born child is deliberately drowned in a bucket. Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) said that without the principle of non-contradiction, rational discussion would be impossible for we could not distinguish between a human being or a rabbit. 

That day has arrived.

Goodbye Ethics. “Is” and “ought” have suffered a divorce. Mrs. Right and Mr. Wrong are sitting in diapers in the nursing home. Yes, we mourn the loss of religion. But at least empiricism will fix my refrigerator! I comfortably have all the conveniences of modern life. Nevertheless, the real rot in our civilisation is our reason, which is supposed to rule our conscience according to truth.

Man — male and female wearing genderless pant suits carrying iPads — has become a mindless barbarian with a nonexistent compass for truth living under the “dictatorship of accidentals.” We have become cave men carrying — not a club, but a nuclear bomb. Craving absolute freedom, we have lost all freedom to Marxism, Communism, Socialism, Big Welfare Government, the U.S. Supreme Court, Government Elites, Gender Ideology and the court of popular opinion. How ugly the face of modern man, who was once nobly made in God’s image.

“The chance occurrence of a majority becomes an absolute,” gently railed Pope Benedict XVI. Think about it! The state of Oregon passes an “equality” law that makes it illegal for a bakery to refuse to make a “same-sex” wedding cake. A Christian couple, refusing to bake the cake, are fined $135,000, their bank accounts seized and they lose their livelihood. This is the tyranny of accidentals!

“For there is still such a thing as something absolute, beyond which there is no appeal. We have been handed over to the rule of positivism and of the erection of what is accidental, what can indeed be manipulated, into an absolute value. When man is shut out of the truth, he can only be dominated by what is accidental and arbitrary. That is why it is, not (Christian) “fundamentalism,” but a duty of humanity to protect man from the dictatorship of what is accidental and to restore to him his dignity, which consists precisely in the fact that no human institution can ultimately dominate him, because he is open to the truth.” Pope Benedict wrote.


But we are not open to truth. The prejudice against Christian bakers, photographers and wedding hall owners becomes common thinking in society. People on Twitter will fight to the death to defend the “gay” couple mistreated by the “evil” Christian baker. Look what happened on the issue of abortion! The baby in the womb is just a blob of cells, a beaker of blood left over from an abortion. Goodbye freedom linked to Truth. This is the dictatorship we live under today — positivism founded by Austrian jurist Hans Kelsen (1881-1973).
“Truth is replaced by the decision of the majority, he (Kelsen) says, precisely because there can be no truth, in the sense of a binding and generally accessible entity for man.. Culture is set against Truth.. This relativism, which is nowadays to be found, as a basic attitude of enlightened people, penetrating far into the realm of theology, is the most profound difficulty of our age.” Pope Benedict XVI declared.

However, while legislators elected by voters may still rule in some places, in the United States, six people in black robes created a non-existent right to same sex “marriage” on June 26, 2015.

Now we see the vile consequences of abandoning truth and leaving it up to science and majorities to decide it. Truth completely escapes us. And so does freedom.

“The idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment,” Pope Benedict told the German Bundestag in Berlin on Sep 22, 2011. This came about because of “the idea that an unbridgeable gulf exists between ‘is’ and ‘ought.’” The positivist understanding of nature has come to be universally accepted, he said. In the words of Hans Kelsen, Nature is “an aggregate of objective data linked together in terms of cause and effect.” Hence “no ethical indication of any kind can be derived from it,” the pope explained.

"Virtue, ladies and gentlemen, the word virtue is dead,” said Paul Valéry, French poet (1871-1945). Let the “party” begin.

A positivist conception of nature and reason is purely functional and incapable of producing any bridge to ethics and law, Benedict told the Bundestag. “Anything that is not verifiable or falsifiable, according to this understanding, does not belong to the realm of reason strictly understood. Hence
ethics and religion must be assigned to the subjective field.” Think Peter Pan, Tinker Bell… pixie dust.

Pope Saint John Paul II attempted to extricate modern man’s reason out of the mud of modernism in his 1998 Encyclical Letter Faith and Reason:


“Freedom is not realised in decisions made against God. For how could it be an exercise of true freedom to refuse to be open to the very reality which enables our self realisation? Men and women can accomplish no more important act in their lives than the act of faith; it is here that freedom reaches the certainty of truth and chooses to live in that truth,” the pope wrote. 

Starting in the Renaissance, countless human thinkers removed the concept of truth as “all that exists” to whatever people think without seeing the consequences. Their busy little brooms ushered God, human nature and reality out into the dustbin of history. Without truth, without God, without transcendence, man lost his freedom.

“The truth of Christian revelation, found in Jesus of Nazareth, enables all men and women to embrace the ‘mystery’ of their own life. As absolute truth, it summons human beings to be open to the transcendent (not subject to the limitations of the material universe), whilst respecting both their autonomy as creatures and their freedom," Pope Saint John Paul II wrote. 

“Christian revelation is the true lodestar of men and women as they strive to make their way amid the pressures of an immanentist habit of mind and the constrictions of a technocratic logic,” the Pope continued. “It is the ultimate possibility offered by God for the human being to know in all its fullness the seminal plan of love which began with creation. To those wishing to know the truth, if they can look beyond themselves and their own concerns, there is given the possibility of taking full and harmonious possession of their lives, precisely by following the path of truth.”

German newspaper commentator Jan Ross (Die Zeit) agreed with the pope. The loss of theology and metaphysics (philosophy dealing with being, knowing and identity) has made thought “not just more free, but also more narrow,” adding that some people are “rendered stupid by lack of faith.”

“Reason, in turning away from the ultimate questions, has rendered itself indifferent and boring, has resigned its competence where the keys to life are concerned: good and evil, death and immortality.” Ross wrote, adding that the voice of Pope John Paul II defending faith and reason, “has given courage to many people and to entire nations and has sounded hard and piercingly in many people’s ears and has even aroused hatred; but when it falls silent, that will be a moment of frightful silence.”

Benedict finishes that thought: “And indeed, if no one talks about God and man, about sin and grace, about death and
True humanity will fall silent
eternal life, any more, then all the shouting and all the noise there is will only be a vain attempt to deceive ourselves” while the voice of true humanity falls silent.

For me the tragedy is watching people deceive themselves so thoroughly. I often take time to speak to atheists on Twitter who see my Catholic tweets and want to argue with me.

The first thing they say is “Prove the existence of God.” I always say, “no,” because there is no way to prove the existence of God to materialists using empiricism. How do you prove the existence of a spiritual being using data that is measurable in an experiment?

I always assumed they were deliberately “setting me up” with this question. So one time I mentioned that. I was shocked. The atheist I was speaking to honestly believed because no one could prove the existence of God using empiricism, God didn't exist. She didn’t realise she had shut out the real world by her own philosophy and therefore could not find the truth.

Pope Benedict calls it the
world’s windowless concrete bunker:
Artificial Life in a Windowless Concrete Bunker
“In its self-proclaimed exclusivity, the positivist reason which recognises nothing beyond mere functionality resembles a concrete bunker with no windows, in which we ourselves  provide lighting and atmospheric conditions, being no longer willing to obtain either from God’s wide world,” he told the German Bundestag in 2011. “And yet we cannot hide from ourselves the fact that even in this artificial world, we are still covertly drawing upon God’s raw materials, which we refashion into our own products.”

Christians can actually find consolation in the material world. Knowing that everything came from the “Eye” of God, one can find a connection to God holding a piece of wood. Remember the Mind of God Who thought of it, and in thinking of it, brought it into being. Praise God for its beauty, its texture and its shape. 
“Do not wander far and wide but return into yourself. Deep within man there dwells the truth,” St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354-430 A.D.)

With respect to Truth, modern man -- without Christianity --  appears to have buried himself in the realm of consequences. He now sees "same sex" marriage and abortion as an issue of justice. Children misled by this line of thinking, become adults, and then leave the Catholic Church because it condemns both.  They are trapped. They have been raised in a windowless concrete bunker. “The windows must be flung open again, we must see the wide world, the sky and the earth once more and learn to make proper use of all this,” Pope Benedict pleaded.



There's more on the same topic! Heat the World with the Warmth of Virtue, The Splendour of Right Teaching The Catholic Church Cares Deeply about Principled Philosophy


Bibliography 

Pieper, Josef. Living the Truth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989.

Pieper, Josef. An Anthology. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1981.

DeLong. Jeremy C. ”Parmenides of Elea.” Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

Satre, Jean-Paul. “Existentialism is Humanism.” Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre. Meridian Publishing Co., 1989.https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions. Translated by Henry Taylor. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004.

Johnson, Ben.“Oregon judge fines Christian bakers $135,000 for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake.” LifeSiteNews (April 27, 2015) https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/oregon-judge-fines-christian-bakers-135000-for-refusing-to-bake-a-gay-weddi

Pope Benedict XVI. “The Listening Heart: Reflections on the Foundations of Law.” Address before the German Bundestag, (Sept. 21, 2011) https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2011/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20110922_reichstag-berlin.html

Pope John Paul II. Fides Et Ratio. Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1998.

Ann Gauger, Ola Hössjer, and Colin Reeves. Theistic Evolution: a Scientific, Philosophical and Theological Critique. Crossway Publishers, 2017.See bios of authors below. 

Ann K.Gauger is director of science communication at the Discovery Institute, and senior research scientist at Biologic Institute in Seattle. She received her PhD from the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard. Her research at Biologic Institute has been on both protein evolution and human origins. As director of science communication, she communicates evidence for intelligent design to the wider public. Her scientific work has been published in Nature, Development, Journal of Biological Chemistry, BIO-Complexity, among others, and she coauthored the book Science and Human Origins.

Ola Hössjer received a PhD in mathematical statistics from Uppsala University, Sweden, in 1991. Appointed a professor of mathematical statistics at Lund University in 2000, he has held the same position at Stockholm University since 2002. His research focuses on developing statistical theory and probability theory for various applications, in particular population genetics, epidemiology, and insurance mathematics. He has authored around eighty peer-reviewed articles and has supervised thirteen PhD students. His theoretical research is mostly in robust and nonparametric statistics, whereas the applied research includes methods of gene localization (linkage and association analysis), and the study of short-term microevolutionary dynamics of populations. In 2009 he was awarded the Gustafsson Prize in Mathematics.

Colin R.Reeves holds a PhD from Coventry University in the UK, where he was professor of operational research. He is a chartered statistician, and his research interests focus on the mathematical and statistical foundations of evolutionary algorithms, on which he has published extensively. His book Genetic Algorithms: A Guide to GA Theory (with Jonathan Rowe) was the first systematic treatment of evolutionary algorithm theory. Recently retired as professor emeritus, he continues to be active in research, consultancy, and conference speaking.



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