A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Richard Ostling has an approving review of a book by two evangelical authors on the nature of truth. These authors juxtaposition two positions. One side holds that truth is what feels good while the other side believes that truth is what corresponds to reality apart from what we "perceive through physical or rational faculties".

The first position is labeled "secular liberalism" or postmodernism while the second position a form of realism. There's a whole range of views of truth which are not covered by either position. And the labels themselves are dubious. What they classify as secular positions are held by many religious folks.

One could argue for gay marriage and hold any number of views on truth, including the one these authors hold. And one may also reject relativism and reject the positions of the authors. Let's look at Emanuel Kant, who was no post modernist. He rejected the idea that truth can be reached apart from our perceptive powers.

Reality is "out there" but it has to be made into something which is understood and presented to human consciousness. This view argues that there is an outside world and yet also recognizes the work we must do to present some of it as an object to us. This view fits neither position these authors put forward.

I think the problem here is that the authors imagine that the differences in culture war issues all break down into "world views" and epistemologies and so that if we can "fix" that, there would not be disagreement. I've never seen why this should be the case and never have seen it argued for, just assumed.


At 5:19 AM , Anonymous Tim said...

> What they classify as secular positions are held by many religious folks.

If you're going to run around in circles worrying about putting labels such as "secular liberalism" and "realism" on philosophies, you're going to have to clarify what you mean by `religious folks' there - is it folks who have allegiance to a particular religion, or those to whom it's a primary motivator? I suggest the first, on the grounds that it's quite possible for some of us both to attend church regularly *and* to think the church and state should be separate.

What good does it do to classify truth into realist or feeling camps? It seems obvious to me that one form of truth is the world as solid as the desk I just banged my knee on, while another as solid as a photon (ie taken on trust as a useful model and quite an intellectual exercise). Maybe I'm just a sensiblist ;)


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