Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Logic of Christianity 4: Lights! Camera! Action!

Very well, I will stipulate that the CAMERA was invented by humans (although, the principle by which the camera works has been known since before the time of Aristotle, who, in the 4th Century BC, observed the crescent of a solar eclipse by allowing the light to proceed through a hole of a sieve), but I DO CONTEND that LIGHT AND ACTION definitely preceded the Dawn of Man. Even advocates of the Big Bang Theory will stipulate that LIGHT itself goes back to the very beginning of the universe. The issue related to ACTION is a little trickier.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, in order to have “action,” according to Kenneth Burke, there must be an “agent” who “acts.” That agent must have “free will” to act in accordance with his own “purpose.” A basic premise of the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution is that the universe and all life forms were spontaneously generated WITHOUT the help of any Agent/higher being. How could anyone ever possibly prove such a premise? One could certainly never prove such a premise using the scientific skepticism of Modernism. How could an experiment be devised to test the hypothesis? There is no way to reproduce the circumstances and test them by experiment. The most that scientific Modernism could accomplish was to be skeptical of the premise that the universe and all life forms WERE generated by the “agency” of some higher being. But, being skeptical does not produce knowledge. As we have learned in the paradigm shift from Modernism to Postmodernism, skepticism has simply demolished the hope that humans can ever discover absolute knowledge or truth. Until someone is able to TIME TRAVEL back to the beginning of the universe or the beginning of life forms, whether or not an intelligent being “acted” in the formation of the universe or in the generation of life forms must remain among those issues with which Rhetoric deals: matters about which we debate. Aristotle, in Rhetoric I.2.xii, asserts: “[W]e debate about things that seem to be capable of admitting two possibilities” (Kennedy [1991] translation). So, welcome to the debate over whether ACTION was involved in the generation of the universe and life! As Aristotle requires, the issue of whether ACTION was present early in the universe admits two possibilities: POSSIBILITY 1. That the universe came into existence without any Action, or POSSIBILITY 2. That the universe came into existence by the Action of an Agent.
What sorts of PROOFS may we use to assert that the universe came into existence by the Action of an Agent? PROOF 1. Syllogistic, deductive logic (which we will consider later), PROOF 2. Empirical evidence (which we will consider later), and PROOF 3. Something that one of the key rhetoricians of the Twentieth Century, Richard Weaver, called “THE METAPHYSICAL DREAM.” We begin with this third proof; then, we will move to the second proof and finally to the first proof.
PROOF 3. THE METAPHYSICAL DREAM Richard Weaver has earned a great deal of respect in the field of Rhetoric. As a Professor at the University of Chicago, Weaver and Burke had some contact. They were by no means friends, but they both agreed that humans (as distinct from other animals) are symbol-using, and that they are beings of choice and free will. Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp, in their widely-acclaimed book Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric (30th Anniversary Edition) review and analyze ten “thinkers who have exerted a profound influence on contemporary rhetorical theory.” Among these 20th Century thinkers are Kenneth Burke, Chaim Perelman, Stephen Toulmin, Michel Foucault, and Richard Weaver. Weaver posits that a level of knowledge exists for human beings that is “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” (Ideas Have Consequences, page 18). He calls this level of knowledge “THE METAPHYSICAL DREAM.” Burke, while he resists having his own personal critical method "characterized as 'intuitive' and 'idiosyncratic,' epithets that make (him) squirm" (PLF 68), DOES (at the same time) CREDIT animals with possessing “an INTUITIVE signaling system” as their form of communication (“Motion, Action, and the Human Condition,” p. 79). It seems LOGICAL (using argument from analogy) that, if even ANIMALS have INTUITION, certain concepts that humans hold to be true might also come to humans primarily through “an INTUITIVE feeling about the immanent nature of reality.” For example, one cannot empirically prove that such a thing as “JUSTICE” exists. The concept is an INTUITIVE feeling. We “INTUITIVELY feel” that JUSTICE exists when one who has committed a “wrong” receives some sort of punishment. But where do we get the idea that “WRONG” exists? We “INTUITIVELY feel” that someone who takes advantage of another by virtue of his or her superior intellect, physical strength, or skill is somehow doing something “WRONG.” Why else do we protect children from adult advertisers who might exert persuasive methodologies? Why do we have laws against stealing, rape, murder, etc.? “INTUITIVELY,” we “feel” that such “acts” are “WRONG.” And yet, in the animal world (comparing humans “empirically” to other genuses), no such “INTUITIVE feelings” of “right and wrong” or “justice” exist. Animals that are larger or stronger feel no shame about preying on smaller or weaker animals. Alpha males seize females at their own discretion. There is no concept of rape. From where does our concept of “free will” come? Are these concepts not the result of “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality”?
When humans began to bury their dead, and to bury artifacts along with them, “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” was operative. In the fact that 99% of all humans who have ever lived on planet Earth have believed that superior beings/gods exist who have free will to ACT relative to humans on Earth, “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” is operative. What is particularly interesting is that, even science-oriented humans such as astronomer Carl Sagan, who refuse to admit the possible existence of a divine being, are somehow convinced that superior beings (aliens) from other planets do exist. This is just further evidence of “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” that cannot seem to dismiss the possibility/probability of the existence of beings who are superior to humans.
In the Modern Period—the period which Stephen Toulmin decries as the hegemony of theoretical argument—and most especially in the portion of that period dominated by Empiricism, such talk of “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” would be dismissed, out of hand. But, we are no longer living under the super-skepticism of Modernism. We live in the period of Postmodernism, in which the bankruptcy of philosophical Empiricism must be acknowledged. But, the belief in someone who ACTED in the formation of the universe is CERTAINLY NOT DEVOID OF EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE.
PROOF 2. EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE. The amount of EMPIRICAL (sense) data that may be used to argue for the existence of ACTION in the formation of the world is growing exponentially, in our generation. But EMPIRICAL data has long been cited as evidence of divine ACTIVITY. The shepherd-poet-lyricist-singer-turned-king, David, the author of many of the Psalms in the Hebrew Bible cites EMPIRICAL evidence in his poetic proclamations that God was easily detected in the formation of the universe:
Psalm 8:3 states: “I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars that You have established.” Psalm 19:1-6 elaborates: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies show forth his handiwork. Day after day, they speak; night after night, they declare knowledge. There is no language system that does not hear their voice. Their measuring line stretches throughout the whole Earth; their words reach to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has placed a home for the sun, like a bridegroom who goes forth or an athlete running a race, it rises at one end of the heavens, and completes its circuit to the other end.” In Psalm 65:9-13, he notices the regular cycles of rain and agricultural growth: “You visit the land and water it . . . . You provide grain, for so You have ordained it, watering the furrows, softening the ridges. You make it soft with showers [and] bless its vegetation. The pastures . . . hills . . . and meadows are clothed with flocks and the valleys are covered with grain.” In Psalm 104:10-30, he observes the balance and cyclical renewing of nature: “He sends forth springs into the valleys; they run among the mountains; they give drink to every beast of the field . . . . By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation . . . . The earth is filled with the fruit of Your works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread that strengthens man’s heart. . . . The cedars of Lebanon . . . where the birds make their nests: As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock-badgers. He appointed the moon for seasons: The sun knows its going down; You make darkness/night . . . wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises and they get away and lay down in their dens. Then, man goes forth to his work and to his labor until evening. . . . The earth is full of Your riches. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, wherein are innumerable creeping things, both small and great beasts. . . . These all wait for You that you may give them their food in due season. You give and they gather. . . . You take away their breath and they die. You send forth Your Spirit and they are created. You renew the face of the ground. In Psalm 139:14-16, he empirically considers human life and is impressed: “I will give You thanks, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are Your works . . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret . . . . Your eyes did see my unformed substance.”
I cite the Psalms as textual evidence that ACTION was observed (by a shepherd) in the physical world, thousands of years ago. The EMPIRICAL evidence of logical ACTION is quite strong. The amount of EMPIRICAL (sense) data that may be used to argue for the existence of ACTION in the formation of the world is growing exponentially, these days. Why? Because technology has enabled us to SEE more of the physical universe than was ever possible for David or his predecessors. NASA’s New Horizons space craft reports from near Pluto. The Hubble Telescope gives us EMPIRICAL glimpses of galaxies, far, far, away. Genetic researchers study the codes of biological forms. Atomic scientists investigate the very structure of atoms. And, every element of new EMPIRICAL data discovered reiterates the same message handed down from David’s humble observations: There is ACTION in the universe. Ours is not a world of random motion. From galaxies to atoms, entropy (or the tendency to decline into disorder) is SYSTEMATICALLY arrested. The centrifugal force that would tend to cause the Earth to fly away from the sun (as you tended to be drawn outward from your spinning merry-go-round, as a child) is carefully balanced by the centripetal force (gravity) of the sun. Likewise, the moon is balanced to avoid entropy from the Earth. Likewise, every minute atom in the universe is balanced to avoid entropy, until we humans split the atoms and release untold energy. Genetic research discovers “CODES” or LANGUAGE MESSAGES that tell our bodies whether to be male or female, black or white, short or tall, blond or brunette, inclined or immune to certain ailments, etc. Who wrote the language? Who wrote the code? Can codes just WRITE THEMSELVES? The logic of Christianity argues that the likelihood of some intelligent being ACTING in the universe is tremendous.
This is the logical conclusion of scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers who subscribe to the theory of “Intelligent Design.” It is also the logical conclusion of some very well respected authorities. One mathematician who theorized (based on principles of modal logic) that a higher being must exist was (the close friend of Albert Einstein) Kurt Gödel, who died in 1978 after driving the last nail in the coffin of Modernism. You don’t find mathematicians who are more highly respected than Gödel. For his part, Einstein said in 1954: “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” He once remarked to a young physicist: "I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Fair enough. The only link in the logical chain we seek to establish, at this point, is that intelligent ACTION is evident in the structure of the universe. Other famous scientists who have expressed the belief that the structure of the universe argues for a belief in the ACTION of a superior being are Copernicus, Bacon, Galileo, Newton, and even Descartes. But, none of these were specifically advocates of the theory of “Intelligent Design.” Why? Partly because the intelligent design movement began after these scientists had died. The intelligent design movement began in earnest in the early 1990s with Phillip E. Johnson’s book, Darwin on Trial. Essentially, the movement began in order to create an alliance among scientists who believed in a theistic explanation of the design of the universe. A primary goal of the movement was to defend and promote the teaching of a theistically based view of the beginnings of life and the universe in the public school systems to counterbalance the teaching of evolutionary theory. The National Academy of Sciences, issued a policy statement saying "Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.” That statement is probably true enough; but just as true is the statement “The claims of EVOLUTIONARY THEORY in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.” As I stated at the beginning of this post: Until someone is able to TIME TRAVEL back to the beginning of the universe or the beginning of life forms, whether or not an intelligent being “acted” in the formation of the universe or in the generation of life forms must remain among those issues with which RHETORIC deals: matters about which we debate. NEITHER evolutionary theory nor intelligent design is testable by scientific methods.
The conclusions of many EXPERTS who have seriously grappled with the issue of this debate is that SOMEONE “ACTED” IN THE FORMATION OF GALAXIES, SOLAR SYSTEMS, THE EARTH AND ITS MOON, VEGETABLE LIFE FORMS, ANIMAL LIFE FORMS, HUMAN LIFE FORMS, ATOMS, ETC. Is this the conclusion of EVERYONE? No. But, that is the nature of rhetorical argument. The logic of Christianity is based upon rhetorical argument—dealing with matters that cannot be known for certain, but only probably or possibly. If you grant the possibility or probability that “ACTION” was present in the formation of the world, you have some level of “faith.” We next turn to the second link in the syllogistic chain: that there is a God.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Logic of Christianity 3: The Four Logical Explosions of Human History

What is a “logical explosion”? The phrase “paradigm shift” was coined by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, to describe the fact that scientists do NOT passively allow their thoughts to GRADUALLY change over time, in a linear fashion. Instead, every now and then, there is an “EXPLOSION” that destroys the old paradigm and replaces it with a new paradigm. The scientific community realizes that the paradigm (or pattern of discovering truth) that it had been using is defective. The pattern no longer works satisfactorily to explain reality—as when the notion that the sun revolved around the earth no longer satisfactorily explained the relationship between our planet and sun. In the scientific community, then, a paradigm shift or scientific revolution occurs. The old pattern of detecting reality is discarded and a brand new pattern takes its place. This is a logical explosion, of sorts. The most recent major paradigm shift that rocked the world occurred somewhere close to the time I was born. It was the shift from Modernism to Postmodernism. (I will consider this Postmodern shift, later, as the Fourth Logical Explosion.) The fact that these paradigm shifts occur is actually evidence that “action” exists (as opposed to sheer “motion”). The scientists are “agents” who of their own “free will” “act” in accordance with their own “purposes.” In order to have “action,” according to Kenneth Burke, there must be an “agent” who “acts.” That agent must have “free will” to act in accordance with his own “purpose.” If there is no free will involved (as when a bird builds a nest, according to “instinct”--not free will--in the same way every other bird of its species builds it), this is not “action”—it is “motion.” A rock tumbling down the hillside is not “acting,” but it is “moving.” The rock has no free will; it is moving in accordance with the law of gravity. (Nevertheless, if an “agent” with free will “intentionally” kicks the rock to initiate its downward motion, “action” is involved.)
Following the gist of Kuhn’s “paradigm shift” terminology, but applying it to the broader sphere of the “human” community—not just the “scientific” community, as Kuhn limits his term—I detect four “MAJOR LOGICAL EXPLOSIONS” in human history. These are times when virtually all of humanity discards the old ways of viewing the world and substitutes brand new ways of viewing reality. I call these times “explosions” rather than “shifts” or even “revolutions” because their effects are seismologically far greater than even Kuhn’s paradigm shifts. They each entail drastic observable behavior changes that appear to affect virtually the entire human population (not just science). The four explosions occurred at 1) the dawn of man, 2) the time of Jesus, 3) the Renaissance, and 4) the middle of the Twentieth Century. Kuhn’s paradigm shifts cannot comprise these explosions because science (in Kuhn’s sense of the word) did not exist at the dawn of man or at the time of Jesus. Kuhn is useful in pointing to the various tremors (or paradigm shifts) that occurred during the Renaissance and afterward, but the Renaissance itself was the “explosion.” Constant “shifts” in the tectonic plates produce minor tremors that constantly reshape the earth, but a gigantic shift or earthquake, such as many fear could happen due to the San Andreas fault, might actually reshape a continent. Just as the asteroid explosion that scientists want to credit with the disappearance of the dinosaur reshaped the physical landscape, so these four logical explosions have reshaped the landscape of human logic.
THE DAWN OF MAN. Before the dawn of man, no carbon-based life forms exercised “action.” Only “motion.” There was no free will. Botanical and zoological life forms, so far as we can tell, “behaved” only in predictable, instinctive, deterministic ways. I use the term “behave” advisedly. “Behaviorism” relates to “motion;” it is a study of what animals do, not what humans do. According to Kenneth Burke, humans “act,” rather than “behave.” On page 134 of my book Implicit Rhetoric: Kenneth Burke’s Extension of Aristotle’s Concept of Entelechy, I point out:
“Burke is concerned with the essential nature of mankind (CS 219). He asserts that "a definition of [hu]man is at least implicit in any writer's comments on cultural matters" (LSA 2), and he thereupon serves notice that he rejects the reductionism of the behaviorist view of humankind (DD 11). It is human language which, for Burke, distinguishes humankind from all other animal life. Burke tells his audience at the Heinz Werner Lectures: ‘I had in mind the particular aptitude that the human biologic organism has for the learning of conventional symbol systems (such as tribal languages), our corresponding dependence upon this aptitude, and the important role it plays in the shaping of our experience.’ (DD 15) . . . I [earlier] consider the issue of determinism and free will in connection with Burke's preference for the term "motive" rather than "cause" as an explanation of human action. . . . [Burke] actually believes that human symbolicity implies free will. Otherwise, he would not have taken "sides against behaviorist reductionism" (DD 11). Yet, Burke accedes to biological determinism insofar as human animality is concerned. Burke locates the deterministic factor for humankind in the realm of human animality. He locates free will in the realm of human symbolicity.”
What kinds of “actions” did humans engage in at the dawn of man? Burke has already mentioned the use of symbols (words, language). Animals do not choose the means by which they communicate; humans do. You or I may choose to speak English, German, Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, French, etc. For an animal, there is no communicative choice. If one is a dog, one barks; a cat meows; a bird chirps; a cow moos, etc. Furthermore, the other members of the animal’s species instinctively understand the meaning of the specific animal’s communication. Not so, with humans. I do not understand Chinese, Japanese, etc. In addition to language use, Burke notes that humans design and make tools to separate them from their natural condition. Stone Age humans developed stone knives, axes, spear heads, arrows, etc. And, then, they did something with these tools that they had made that indicated an important logical explosion: They “buried” these tools with their dead! Why? The best explanation anthropologists can put forth is that these early humans “believed” in an afterlife, and wanted their dead relatives to have access to these tools in that afterlife. This is RELIGION! On page 93 of my book Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World, I observe:
“Anthropologists are interested in human views of the afterlife. Dennis O’Neil, on the website ‘Evolution of Modern Humans: Archaic Human Culture’ (, writes: ‘The Neandertal ritual burial of their own dead implies a belief in an afterlife. This is basically a rudimentary religious concept. Likewise, the ritual burial of cave bear trophy heads is consistent with a supernatural belief system.’”
Religious belief (the belief in the afterlife) was the first logical explosion. There were no signs of religious belief anywhere else in the animal world. The term “logos” from which the word logic is formed means “word.” A syllogistic chain (or logical sequence) began just as soon as this carbon-based being was capable of using “words.” The ability to use logic in making words was extended to using logic to make stone tools. And the ability to use logic for making words and tools gave birth to the first “logical” view of human existence in the world: there probably is an afterlife. Other logical sequences (syllogistic chains) seem to have developed in human cultures: 1. If there is an afterlife, some beings must be living in some realm beyond the mortal human realm. 2. If there are beings who are beyond mortality, they must be superior to mortal humans. 3. If beings that are superior to mortal humans exist, these beings must in some sense be more powerful than humans, and it may be in the best interest of humans to make these beings well-disposed to the weaker mortals. 4. To curry the favor of these more powerful beings, humans should sacrifice animals (and other mortal humans?) to these immortal beings. Animal (and, sometimes, human) sacrifice developed in virtually every religion on earth. Even the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans whose world empires took turns encompassing the small religious culture of Israel practiced animal sacrifice, as did Israel . . . UNTIL the time of Jesus.
THE TIME OF JESUS. The death of Jesus, somewhere around 30 AD, began a logical explosion. For Christians, the logical need for animal sacrifice was annihilated. No longer was any animal sacrifice necessary, because Jesus, as the sacrificial lamb, perfected and thus finished all need for blood sacrifice. The logical explosion ensued, throughout the empire. In 70 AD, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman legions. The great Jewish religion, which for thousands of years had followed a code of animal sacrifice to atone for sins, immediately and totally ceased all animal sacrifice. Never again would animals be sacrificed in a priestly Jewish cult. Fewer than 300 years later, Constantine decriminalized Christianity and, in 380 AD, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Sacrifices to the Roman pantheon of gods ceased. For a thousand years, the logic of Christianity progressively engulfed the world.
The Christian religion grew like wildfire. The civilized world embraced not only Jesus, but also the entire logical system: his God, the God of Abraham, and the moral code of ancient Judaism, the Ten Commandments (even if all humans in the world—or in the church—did not always obey the code). Even the upstart new religion of Muhammed, in the 7th Century, agreed that the one true God was the God of Abraham. Progressively, all vestiges of early pagan religions were being erased . . . UNTIL the Renaissance.
THE RENAISSANCE. The explosion began when Christians’ faith in the promised return of Jesus did not materialize at the time they expected it. John Thomas Didymus, who apparently believes that Christians should accept the conclusion that their hope in the return of Christ might well be mistaken, states the situation fairly in his article “Failed End-of-World Predictions of Jesus’ Coming: Montanists and the Ecumenical Council (1000 AD)”:
“The Ecumenical Council sitting in 999 declared solemnly that the world would end on January 1, 1000 A.D. That was the signal for mass madness. On the last day of the year, St. Peter's at Rome was filled with a crazed mass of people, weeping, trembling, screaming in fear of the Day of the Lord. They thought that God would send fire from heaven and burn the world to ashes. Many rich and wealthy people gave away their possessions to the poor to make heaven. They dressed up in sackcloth and poured ashes over themselves. The grounds of St. Peter's on new year's eve was filled with people vying to outdo each other in acts of penance and self-mortification, self-mutilation and flagellation. Some branded their skins with hot iron to prove their repentance; some were actually beaten to death by overzealous mates. But new year came and passes [sic] and nothing happened.” (Article Source:
And yet, something DID happen—an explosive fuse was lit! Just as it took nearly 400 years to enact the full effects of the logical explosion occurring at Jesus’ death, it took roughly 400 years from the disappointment of Jesus’ non-return in 1000 to enact the full effects of that logical explosion. The Christianized world had begun (in 1000 AD) to lose faith in Christianity as the single source of truth. The Renaissance (dating from the late 14th century AD) was a rebirth of interest in classical Greek and Roman culture and philosophy. Humans world-wide looked to other humans as the source of truth, as they systematically doubted the truth that was being fed to them by the Church. An extremely important development in this logical explosion of doubt was the work of the philosopher Rene DesCartes. In my book, Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World, pages 6, I write:
“The seventeenth century philosopher Rene DesCartes . . . is credited with founding Modernism. His methodological doubt suggested that Realists should doubt everything that could be doubted. Whatever is left is truth. This is the basis of the scientific method. Scientists make propositions that they are not entirely certain of. These uncertain propositions are called ‘hypotheses.” Scientists, then, attempt to systematically ‘doubt’ their hypotheses. They conduct experiments, to see if they can disprove the hypotheses. If they cannot doubt the hypotheses, these hypotheses are considered ‘truth.’ Empiricists, following DesCartes, suggested that one could doubt everything that is not empirically verifiable (capable of being verified by sense-data—seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling).”
In terms of the logic of Christianity, this move was a major blow to Christian faith. Since one cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or touch God, Empiricists could conclude that faith in God is “non-sense” (meaning literally that it is not based on “sense” data).
POSTMODERNISM. Then, I was born (around 1950) and the logical world exploded again (coincidence, not causality!) As it turns out, skepticism can be aimed not only at God and Christianity. It can also be aimed at Empiricism, Science, and even Mathematics. In terms of Empiricism, I can be fooled by my sense of sight, as when I see a mirage in the middle of the road. Hearing can be wrong, as when one has tinnitus—the hearing of sound when no external sound is present. The sense of smell can easily mistake the smell of sulfur water for rotten eggs. The sense of taste can cause one to think s/he has consumed butter, when it is actually Parkay margarine. The sense of touch can confuse having walked through hanging threads in a dark haunted house, so that one feels one has encountered spider webs and continues to have them on oneself. I continue, in Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World, pages 6-7:
“[E]ven empirical evidence (sense-data) can be doubted, so Empiricism as a Modernist philosophy was largely discredited by the relentless application of methodological doubt. Mathematics was the last stronghold of Modernism. When Kurt Gödel [a friend of Einstein] demonstrated that even mathematics could be doubted—because the whole system proves itself by itself—Modernism effectively crumbled . . . . In place of Modernism, Postmodernism arose. Postmodernism could be called a Realistic philosophy in that it makes a truth claim: typically, ‘there is no truth’ or ‘there is relative truth.’ Burke is a Postmodern Realist, but he is not happy with either of these truth-related formulas. In his essay, ‘The Rhetorical Situation,’ Burke is much happier with a Postmodern truth-related formula such as ‘there is probable truth.’ Aristotle teaches that ‘probable truth’ is discovered through rhetoric. Christian Realism is close to Burke’s Postmodern view that “there is probable truth.”
WHAT A LOGICAL EXPLOSION POSTMODERNISM IS! Beginning with the Dawn of Man, humans concluded that an afterlife was logical—there is a realm beyond the grave. With the advent of Christianity, the world shifted from believing in the efficacy of animal sacrifice to please the gods. The truth was to be found in the teachings of the God of Abraham. With the Renaissance, the logical explosion began to abandon God as the source of truth and rediscover truth from human sources. Skepticism became the operative method of discovering truth. Then, around 1950, it became evident that skepticism had become bankrupt. With Gödel’s last nail in the coffin of Modernism, Postmodernists concluded that “THERE IS NO TRUTH!!!” What a scene: it is just as if the ultimate Nuclear War had taken place IN LOGIC! Instead of the pictures of the smoldering Los Angeles ruins from the Terminator movies, visualize the barren smoldering ruins of anything resembling logical truth. But, Burke points out that one cannot LOGICALLY say “There is no truth” because that statement is, in itself, a TRUTH CLAIM! If there is no truth, the statement that “there is no truth” CANNOT BE TRUE! Those (illogical) Postmodernists who still cling to the (illogical) statement that “there is no truth” continue to attempt to disparage the logic of Christianity, saying that it cannot be true, because there is NO truth. The only logical way out of this malaise is Burke’s formula: THERE IS PROBABLE TRUTH. If there is PROBABLE truth, we can reintroduce empirical data into the argument. But, we can also reintroduce non-empirical data—the logic that seems to be implicit in humanity since the dawn of man: that God and the afterlife do exist. We return full circle.
But, the new ground rules for logical argument are in the field of Rhetoric, not the field of Philosophy. As I stated in my earlier post, The Logic of Christianity 1: The Shroud, the Pope, and the Faith Continuum: “In his book, On Rhetoric, Aristotle teaches how rhetorical logic works. In rhetoric (as opposed to dialectic), the aim is not to provide absolute truth, but only possible or probable truth. It applies only to matters of which we cannot be certain. Nevertheless, although certainty is impossible, we can logically conclude that something is ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’ true. Aristotle says that the goal of this type of logic is to achieve ‘faith.’ . . . [And, as] the Bible says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).” The next link in this logical syllogistic chain, then is to argue that “action” took place before there was “human” action. We will turn to the “intelligent design” debate to establish that some agent was using “action” in the formation of the universe.