Beleving : A Short History

One of my friends, Mike, sent me this link: Biggest Intellectual Fights of All Time with the following question.

I had a conversation with the guy who sent me it. I asked if he agreed with me that the Socrates part was slightly mistaken. I explained that the Sophists believed truth was not absolute but established by persuasion or argument (or truth is constructed by language as Post Modernists would say, basically the same thing as there is nothing new under the sun.) The headline reads something like "Socrates vs. the Gods, logic wins". It seems that logic lost if people can just make up whatever truth they want.
He went on to say that our senses can deceive us and truth can't really be known.
Thoughts? How would you take that conversation? It went out ok, I learned from him and hopefully he heard some of what I said. Hit me back when you can.


This is how I responded.


There used to be powers that controlled what people thought. In centuries gone past, the perception was that to run afoul of the church seriously put one in danger of hell. Something similar happens today in terms of being "politically correct". To run afoul of these norms has dire political or professional consequences; though many feel free to ignore these norms and live outside of their power, some for the better, others for not. (Commitments to a particular religion on the good side, but sexest or racist jokes, the KKK, and things like that on the bad side...) Cultures in every age have always had their norms and ways of controlling people, and conversely those that chose not to be controlled; sometimes for better, "the earth really is round", sometimes for worse, "sex whenever, wherever is a great idea"

I think logic and science still play a huge role, but their scope has shrunk. In answering questions like "what should we do about terrorism, or the global financial meltdown?" you will probably use logic, and quite possibly some kind of economic, or political science.

Unfortunatly, the church at the time of the enlightenment had WAY overstepped it's bounds, beveling itself to be the sole owner of ALL truth. Imagine if the church had embraced science and logic as complimentary to theology and philosophy. It didn't and we reap the consequences to this day. Eventually it did, but by then it was too late. Today the church continues to use science and logic when most people have quit using these tools to determine spiritual truth. (more on that in a second)

Science and logic eventually replaced the church as lords of authority. Unfortunately, many in that community make the same mistake the church did, and imagine that those gods can control all knowledge. However, most people in today's culture recognize that not everything falls under the authority of science and logic. Consequently, when it comes to religion and spirituality, people feel free to believe whatever they want. Convincing people to accept a particular authority in these areas requires spiritual authority, not usually the authority of science and logic.

Sincerely, David

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