The Western “Enlightenment” is still trying to convince us that reason is one or more universal standards of rational justification applied to theories about our experience of a presumably shared (“objective”) corporeal world. Science is, therefore, regarded as the best example of reason in action. It is presumed by the naïve and uneducated to have a specific method the validity of which can be recognized no matter what view of Reality one otherwise ascribes to. Of course, its validity cannot be discerned outside of its own assumptions about the nature of Reality including this notion that reason is a universal set of criteria — the scientific method. The argument is that reason is universal because reason is universal. In other words, the Enlightenment tradition is just a particular and relative set of rules for using language where a subset of those rules is that the term “reason” should only be used in a fashion which implies universal, tradition-independent standards. It is just a competing grammar, not the absolute truth.
Science, insofar as it claims to be a literal description of Reality, is just a competing tradition. It cannot verify its claim that its language is actually literal and we cannot falsify this very same notion for its adherents. These are exactly the conditions exhibited by a rival tradition.
In the meantime, the moral dispositions of human beings are dismissed as being merely “subjective” in the specific sense of being relative. They might otherwise be considered the one and only universal standard of rational justification (the truth being the fulfillment of them).
And so the most important confusion of the modern world is utterly simple, not that it isn’t a conspiracy. It is this notion that our human subjectivity, as an integrated set of moral dispositions, is useless with regard to arriving at a paradigm of language — the vocabulary of a belief system — which is universally practical, i.e. universally true. Modernity argues that our moral dispositions are environmentally and institutionally conditioned as opposed to being “natural” and universal.
But what if this last claim just isn’t true? What if human moral dispositions are universal? What if we really are made in the image of God? In that case, this image is the one and only standard of truth about Reality and the distinction between the subjective and the objective becomes meaningless. The belief system which maximizes the fulfillment of this image of God, indicated by both personal and corporate moral success, is the Truth about Reality, especially insofar as Reality is our shared experience of this paradoxically objective, universal subjectivity.
Now, in the postmodern age, it is very important to understand that no universal standards of rational justification of the supposedly objective, “scientific” kind have survived. Your half-educated high school teachers lied to you when they taught you that there is a scientific method which is distinctive to scientific belief about Reality — not just the predictability of phenomena, but Reality. The Enlightenment, liberal concept of reason as a universally recognizable process of verification and/or falsification (a “correspondence” theory of truth), is lying in shreds, even on the floor of liberal academia. This death of modernism, leads to two different types of postmodernism. The first kind is the radical relativism of those who, nevertheless, have no clear evidence that the human image is actually relative. The second is the pragmatism, the existentialism, and the Christianity of those who see the universality of human nature in every culture. This is why the Gospel is successful in every culture. Yes, Christianity and the postmodernism of this second kind (the rejection of naïve Enlightenment rationalism) go hand in hand.
The Enlightenment’s view of reason, as universal standards which somehow stand apart from all competing traditions, all competing language, is itself just one more competing view of Reality; one more rival tradition called “liberalism.” The moment we start using language to describe the standards they have become trapped in a particular and unverifiable view of Reality. And the logical fact that this description of the relativity of reason is itself relative to a view of Reality makes the proposition self-illustrating, not viciously circular. The Christian view of reason is certainly relative to Christianity, and absolutely true.
Unfortunately, Christian apologetics, at least of the “classical” sort, start out by accepting the world’s utterly discredited account of what it means to be rational. We let the world choose the ground on which the battle will be fought. As a postmodern Christian philosopher, I wonder what Christianity is supposed to apologize for, because I do not in the first place, accept the modern account of reason. It is not Christianity that should be apologizing (rationally justifying itself) to the world, but the world which should be apologizing to Christianity for its now dismembered and entirely relative conception of reason.
We must completely revolutionize the notion of Christian apologetics in the postmodern age. The world must now apologize to The Church for its entirely relative, and anti-pragmatic account of reason, which is rooted in an unverifiable, unfalsifiable understanding of Reality. (Science now admits that its measuring devices are themselves quantum systems and that all we are really observing is them, not the superinstrumental, natural systems the device was supposedly observing according to the past belief system of science, which is so shockingly unstable. In other words, material Reality is ironically hidden from us by science’s own devices.)
The “scientific world view” is merely philosophical conviction that the moral dispositions we wake up with every morning, and exercise reflexively, along with the entire world as their stage, is somehow less real than a realm of quantum mechanics which is not even in principle directly observable and even admitted to be unintelligible in itself. Science has no motivation, no value, and no foundation in experience apart from the world we actually live in, and yet denies, as a form of pretentious realism, that this practical world is anything more than an elaborate illusion. In other words, modern reason, and its science, has become consummately metaphysical (has literally turned the physical into the metaphysical), impractical, and inauthentic compared to our historically based Christianity as an understanding of Reality. And for this, we must insist that it apologize (disclaim that it is the pursuit of Reality), or be defunded as a scam.
Science should just shut up about Reality, and continue to exploit its discoveries of the mathematical regularity of experience for technological purposes. For all it knows, these mathematical forms are all there is of scientific Reality. And these forms are just the business requirements, the practical requirements, of the distinctively human experience. As we Christians know, the only thing which stands behind them, or even needs to stand behind them, is the Reality of God and His purposes.
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