God Debate continued
Kelly Mason | Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I would like to add my own comments to Joseph Nawrocki’s Letter to the Editor “The God Debate” (March 25). I was again disappointed this year when I saw the choice for speakers, although I cannot say I was surprised. There is an ever increasing liberalism within this country, this University and undergraduate student populations in general. By liberalism I do not mean the American idea of liberal and conservative — they too are players in a history of liberalism.
I borrow from Blessed John Henry Newman’s definition. He says, “By liberalism I mean false liberty of thought, or the exercise of thought upon matters, in which, from the constitution of the human mind, thought cannot be brought to any successful issue, and therefore is out of place. Among such matters are first principles of any kind.” Neither Newman nor I am arguing here that the question of God is one that human reason cannot come to on its own. Rather, there is a history before now, before Newman, in which philosophy and theology began to reject first principles that cannot be known through reason, but just clearly are. A simple first principle is the theory of non-contradiction: Something cannot be and not be in the same respect. I am sure everyone knows Descartes’ rejection of the existence of his hand. Again I repeat the question of God is not one of first principles. However, one must start with first principles to ask the question sincerely.
The framework of liberalism rejects these basic first principles and tries to formulate questions anyways. False dichotomies are set up left and right. The questions are interminable. In regard to the God Debate this is obvious. It is no surprise that one speaker will argue for the empirical knowledge of science, while the other (an analytical philosopher) argues for faith without science, i.e. creationism. Both of these claims completely ignore the rich philosophical traditions of Plato and Aristotle that works from first principles. Both of these claims ignore the Catholic tradition of fides et ratio.
It is, to put it bluntly, idiotic to bring in these two seemingly opposing views and ask a mainly Catholic undergraduate audience to come and make a choice as to whether God exists or not when there is a rich intellectual tradition philosophically and theologically available to us that is completely void of this false dichotomy and actually able to give real answers to real question. I fear a lack of sincerity on the part of those who are willing to completely disregard the history behind these issues. Everyone likes a cage match without a clear winner, but let us not trick ourselves into thinking an honest intellectual discussion is taking place.