Funky alerted me recently to an article by Annie Gottlieb, an accomplished and interesting author and friend of Ales Rarus, who advertises what purports to be a serious opposition to traditionalism in Towards a New Revelation (or, Why I Am Not a Traditionalist) over on AmbivaBlog. Since this site is frequented by a good many traditionalists, and owned by one (tho’ occasionally I’ve my doubts about that), he thought it might be edifying to here critically examine Ms. Gottlieb’s post. As you might expect, as a traditionalist I beg to differ with her.
Tonight I got to listen to fellow St. Blog’s parishoner Mark Shea speak. Some of his speech material came from his essay "The Critics Rave". It was a fun and interesting talk about countering the Church’s detractor’s questions with another question, "Who do you say that the Church is?", a play off of a question Jesus posed to the apostles.
After the talk, I introduced myself and chatted for a bit. I’m not entirely certain he actually knew what blog I write, but he was polite enough to pretend he did. 😉 I bought a copy of "Making Sense Out of Scripture" and got him to autograph it. Then Donna Lewis and I talked his ear off for almost as long as he’d lectured. Poor fella.
Anyhow, check out his blog and see what the fuss is all about. 🙂
Riffing on a comment made in response to my post about the validity of religious experiences , I have a question to ask you folks.
If I have a mystical experience (or some other theophany), I say that I experienced some aspect of the Holy Trinity. A Hindu might say that he experienced Vishnu or Ganesh. A New Ager might say she saw a ghost. A conspiracy nut might say he was abducted by aliens. Let's assume for a moment that everyone who claims to have had a religious/mystical experience has actually had one. How do we know who's attribution is correct? Specifically, how do we Christians know that we are experiencing God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit? What proof have we that we are more right than the equally convinced adherents of other religions?
Sean, a buddy of mine and long-timer reader of this blog, made a comment that I think ought to be highlighted. Responding to my post about an atheist’s argument against the veracity of Jesus Christ’s claims, and a mutual friend’s comment, he wrote the following.
"My God isn’t some pie in the sky, and He’ll change your life if you’ll let him."
This gets to the root of why I’m not religious. Everyone says something long these lines. Everyone wants me to make a leap of faith, but no one has been able to give me a reason to leap into their religion over the other ones, without out first making a leap of faith. (I hope that paragraph isn’t too contorted)
Nope, it’s not too contorted. You don’t want to look before you leap, especially since most if not all religions claim to be exclusively true. They can’t all be right. To which should you leap?
I’d like to open this up to discussion. What reasons would you give Sean to have faith? Why is Christianity right while other religions are wrong (or at least less right)? I’m sure Sean will let us know which reasons have been beaten to death and carry no currency with him, so let’s avoid the well-worn apologetical arguments. Perhaps some of you are fomer atheists or agnostics yourselves. What convinced you?
In the course of religious study, it is easy to become very attached to the idea of "seeking out" God. The emphasis is often placed upon logical reasoning and scientific research. There are, however, other ways of finding (or not finding, whichever the case may be) God. I am in particular referring to mystical/religious experiences. In these experiences, the subject believes that God has shown Himself to him/her. No intentional steps need be taken to induce these experiences. In fact, they are quite often unexpected and/or uninvited. These experiences often lead to those who have them to believe that God in some form exists.
Specifically, religious experiences are stated to be analogous to sensory experiences and therefore veridical. The following is an example of a simple argument for God's existence from analogy.
Religious experiences should be considered to be analogous to sense experiences in cognitively relevant aspects and therefore a type of valid perception. (premise)
When one perceives something, one generally has good, though not certain reason to think that the thing perceived objectively exists. (premise)
Someone who is the subject of a religious experience generally has good, though not certain, reason to believe that God exists. (conclusion from premises)
I will concede that the argument as stated is somewhat inadequate. For instance, there are no explanations for why the premises hold. However, I have seen no explanations or contradictions which defeat it to my satisfaction. These weak arguments against the analogical argument for the veridicality of religious experiences are the subject of my criticism.