All posts by kielkopf1

About kielkopf1

I am Professor philosophy (emeritus) of the Ohio State University. I am blogging to promote a book on sexual moral philosophy and to develop further themes not fully developed in the book. I live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife Marge. My three sons: Charles P., Mark S. and Andrew J. live in Columbus. My daughter Judy lives in Rhode Island while my daughter Susan lives in Fresno, CA. My wife and I are daily Mass goers at our Catholic parish: Immaculate Conception. Marge is an active Lay Cistercian and I am very active in the works of the Society of St. Vincent dePaul.

Christian Re-enchantment IX: Hiding Behind “We believe”

This post continues exploration of my fear of letting myself speak honestly as a person living in a reality described by a Christian narrative. Such fear is a serious impediment to evangelizing; let alone passing on our Christian faith to our children. I submit that a fear similar to mine is the major cause of the decline of Christianity in the West. Two posts back I called this fear of speaking as immersed in a Christian reality doxastic aphasia. In the previous post I pointed out how this fear of directly stating Christian beliefs could reveal itself by weakening our faith statements by indirectly stating them with I believe.

Of course, in our secular culture it requires courage to express Christian faith with first person singular claims such as:
“I believe that Jesus changed water into wine at Cana”
“I believe that Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish”
and
“I believe that Jesus rose from the dead.”
However, always professing your faith by prefixing it with “I believe” may, as argued in the previous post, be a way of holding oneself back from having a sense of actually living in a Christian reality. The Christian reality is accepted, so to speak, only intellectually. The fear is letting oneself have a sense of being in reality as a Christian narrative describes it.

As of Jan. 22,2018, I am beginning to question whether or not letting oneself have a sense 24/7 of living in a Christian enchanted reality is appropriate for all Christians. Although I grant that speaking as living in a Christian enchanted reality might be necessary for effective evangelization and convincing our children that we genuinely believe the gospel. You do not really convey the joy of the gospel by saying only that you believe it. You have to say it.

In this post my main point is to remind us explicitly, or implicitly, prefixing all statements of Christian belief with the first person plural “We believe that” may express cowardly fear of social disdain for Christian belief as opposed to the philosophical fear of getting confused about reality. Also use of “We believe that” may mask lack of a personal belief while exposing that lack to others.

Note that “I believe that P” does not follow logically from “We believe that P” even when I identify myself as a member of the group to which “we” refers, viz., as a member of the extension of “we.”

Consider the following argument in which the premises are true but the conclusion false.
1. Americans believe that same sex marriages are acceptable.
2. I am an American
Therefore
3. I believe that same sex marriages are acceptable.

This is a so-called fallacy of division. What is true of the whole may not be true of the parts. I can say that, to my dismay, we, Americans, now believe that same sex marriages are acceptable. But personally I strongly disagree with that belief.

In a Sunday school class, I could say “We believe that Jesus turned water into wine at Cana” A student could ask me: “Do you believe that?” Without logically inconsistency, I could reply “I’m not really sure but that is what the Church teaches.

That’s why “We believe” is ineffective for evangelization and allows one to hide one’s genuine beliefs. It does not imply that you have genuine belief.

Advertisement:
My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Christian Re enchantment VIII, Hiding behind “I believe”

My exploration of how to re-enchant the world so that the Christian narrative accurately describes reality is progressively exposing to me weakness in my faith. There is a building resistance to letting myself be a participant in reality so described. I fear that being a participant in a Christian reality with its miracles and entities beyond the scope of natural science is a much stronger faith than mine. I am convinced that a Christian description of reality is consistent with natural science and that there are good reasons for accepting that such a description tells the truth about reality. Nonetheless, my Christian faith is holding a theory about reality rather than living in a Christian reality.

This post touches on some topics much discussed by professional philosophers. I do not cite the professional literature because what I write is rather elementary and contributes nothing to the professional literature. I am always glad, though, to discover how useful the apparently verbal issues of professional academic philosophy are to clarifying, to me at least, fundamental issues of existential concern.

In this post I draw implications about the weakness of my faith from my preference for expressing my faith with indirect discourse statements of the form of [I believe that P,] where P is some direct discourse statement about a religiously significant reality such as “Jesus rose from the dead” or “Jesus died on the cross for our sins.”

In the previous post, I alluded to how an indirect discourse statement such as “I know that I love you” is emotionally weaker than the direct discourse statement “I love you.” What makes indirect discourse weaker? With indirect discourse you talk directly about what you think and indirectly about that to which your thought refers. So, with “I know that I love you” you talk about your thought of loving and the person referred to with the pronoun “you”. With the direct discourse “I love you” you talk of yourself in relation to the person you love. Talking directly of your thought of love instead of the beloved weakens the declaration of love. Why say that indirect discourse is about thoughts?

Let me use some terminology which would need more precise definition if this were a professional philosophical discussion. What our words stand for are their extensions Thus me and to whomever I declared my love are the extensions of “I” and “you” respectively. The meaning of our terms, what we think when using them, especially full sentences are the intension of terms. Thus the thought of my loving that person to whom I declare my love is the intension of “I love you.”

The object of an indirect discourse statement is an intension in which terms stand for extensions. So intensions are different from the extensions which usually are our primary concern.

There are a wide variety of indirect discourse statements using terms such as “know,” “believe,” “hope,” “wonder,” etc.,. I focus on “believe.” These terms are often called “propositional attitudes” because they say how someone thinks about a proposition which I have here called intensions

Why say that the indirect discourse statement “I believe that Jesus rose from the dead” is about the intension of the sentence “Jesus rose from the dead” instead of Jesus and his rising from the dead?

Here’s where we touch on a topic much discussed by professional philosophers. I adopt an argument style frequently used by professional philosophers.

Assume that it is a fact that Jesus is a man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim.

Consider the following argument where the conclusion validly follows from the two premises.

1] “Jesus rose from the dead” is true..
2] Jesus = the man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim.
Therefore:
3] “The man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim rose from the dead” is true..

The conclusion follows because, when we are referring to extensions, equals may be substituted for one another without changing the truth value of claims into which they are substituted. This is because when we are talking about the extra mental facts the terms used to pick out the components of those facts don’t change the facts.

Now consider this next argument where substitution of equals fails. The argument is invalid.

(1) “I believe that Jesus rose from the dead” is true
(2) Jesus = the man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim.
Therefore:
(3) “I believe that the man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim rose from the dead” is true.

It may be a fact that I believe that Jesus rose from the dead while I do not believe that the man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim rose from the dead. I may not believe anything about a man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim because I may never have thought about who Jesus’ maternal grandparents were.

Substitution of coreferential terms fails when we substitute such terms in the propositions or intensions in indirect discourse statements; or, in the sentences after propositional attitudes. This is because what is thought about in indirect discourse claims are something which depends upon how we think about it. Something which depends upon how we think about it, certainly is not something which exists independently of our thinking. It is reasonable to classify such things as mental.

A reason professional philosophers find propositional attitudes so problematic is that it seems that science, let alone ordinary thinking cannot be carried on without use of some propositional attitudes. We need to think critically. Critical thinking requires attention to what we believe. So the careful thought of science requires attention to something mental, viz. our beliefs. Yet the mental is not subject to full treatment by natural science. So those who hold the ideology of scientism would like somehow to avoid any use of indirect discourse. (Scientism is an ideology which holds that there is nothing but what can be explained by natural science.)

I am not upset that use of indirect discourse leads me to accept a realm of mental events not fully explained by natural science. I do not hold scientism. I am only disturbed by the fact that use of indirect discourse, in particular by use of the propositional attitude [I believe that P], enables me to express completely my Catholic faith without directly encountering the beings, events and processes about which I have beliefs. I do not speak directly of them. I fear that I am afraid to speak directly of them. Do I unconsciously accept scientism?
Advertisement:
My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Christian re-enchantment VII, Doxastic Aphasia

In the English Standard Version of Paul’s letter to the Romans we can read at Rm 10:9
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

A significant part of my problem of perceiving reality to be enchanted as a Christian narrative describes it, lies in the fact that I cannot sincerely follow Paul’s instruction. I have a sense of pretending to be someone different from myself, perhaps someone with the faith of a child, if I use “Jesus” as the subject of a fact stating sentence about the person to whom I should refer with “Jesus.” For instance, I cannot sincerely, without what I feel as cringing, state as facts “Jesus rose from the dead” “Jesus fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish” or “Jesus was crucified for me.”

This problem occurs primarily with use of direct discourse. I am sometimes embarrassed to use indirect discourse to make a claims about myself along the lines of ” I believe that Jesus us Lord” or “I believe that Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish.” But most of the time, especially amongst fellow Catholics, I have no hesitation saying that I believe core Christian doctrines. Philosophically technical issues about the difference between direct and indirect discourse are to be discussed in my next post on Christian re-enchantment. To get a hint of this point reflect on the difference between the direct discourse “I love you” and the indirect discourse “I believe that I love you” or even “I know with absolute certainty that I love you.”

The sense of pretending or the inward cringing suppresses such statements as statements of what I belief. I can say the words but I cannot say them as what I belief. The suppression of believing the words is analogous to blockings of speech called aphasia. Doxastic is a term based on the Greek word doxa for belief. So the clinical sounding term “doxastic aphasia” is a suitable label for my inability to use direct discourse to confess with my mouth “Jesus is Lord.” This verbal blockage comes from whatever produces the inward cringing that suppresses me from believing in my heart,i.e., sincerely saying to myself, “Jesus is Lord,” let alone “God raised Jesus from the dead.”

As a practicing Catholic my doxastic aphasia is serious problem. It certainly blocks me from fulfilling the Pauline sufficient condition for salvation quoted at the beginning of this post. It seriously hinders my ability to “go out to all the world and tell the good news.” I do not proclaim the good news directly. This has interfered with my passing on the Catholic faith to my children.

See first post on Christian Re enchantment for how my inability to teach my children effectively arose my concern about need to accept and Christian Enchanted reality.

What might be the cause of my doxastic aphasia? Honestly, it is not fear of being contra-culture. I am not afraid to express Catholic beliefs in indirect discourse amongst fellow Catholics. But I avoid confessing with my mouth in direct discourse Catholic beliefs about Jesus even amongst fellow Catholics because in my heart I feel very uncomfortable saying simply “Jesus rose from the dead.” I find that I never have to use direct discourse to express what I believe as a Catholic. I pray. But praying is not making truth claims

My diagnosis is that I fear to live in the story of any enchanted reality; let alone one in accordance with a Christian narrative. The direct discourse statement “Jesus rose from the dead” makes me one of the participants of the story telling about another participant in the story. With the indirect discourse statement “I believe that Jesus rose from the dead” I stand outside the story as does a reader of a story and assert that I believe what occurs in the story.

I fear letting myself enter into any enchanted reality as if I were an active participant. This holds for the enchanted realities of video games as well as religious world views. I suppose that I feel insecure if I somehow let myself feel an active participant in any reality narrated by more than that of the daily world in principle explained by natural science. To enter an enchanted reality there can easily be conflicts between religion and science. Looking at the religious story from the outside by specifying it is what we believe, logical and conceptual techniques are available for removing any conflicts between religion and science. Avoidance of such conflicts are developed in subsequent posts using what has already been posted about the logic of fiction.

Ideally, one should enter into the enchanted reality, thereby becoming enchanted, to teach and to believe sincerely. Then when called upon to justify believing one should stand back and take the approach of talking about beliefs. Unfortunately, for me I can not do more than say that I believe using indirect discourse. I am limited by doxastic aphasia induced by the pervasive commitment of my culture to scientism.

Advertisement:
My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Christian Re-enchantment VI: Living in a Story

What is the purpose of these blog posts about Christian re-enchantment? The purpose is to understand sympathetically how people like me can bring themselves, without self-deception, to use as their description of what happens in reality a Christian narrative. A Christian narrative of what happens in reality includes both the events explicable by natural science along with scientifically inexplicable events such as the miracles described in the Gospels. Such narratives are based on representations of reality which is enchanted in accordance with a Christian narrative. “Enchanted” refers to the religiously significant events amongst those inexplicable by science. I need to show that we have the intellectual and affective ability to rebuild a representation of reality which is enchanted in accordance with a Christian narrative. And, then, of most importance I need to show that we can use these abilities without self-deception

In this post, I specify “people like me,” remind us that we have the affective capacity. I will use what I have written in previous posts about the logic of fiction to show that we have the intellectual capacity to remind us that we can tell the story of an enchanted world in which we are living.

Who are people like me? I am not boasting or apologizing. I am simply describing myself by admitting that I am an emeritus professor of philosophy from the secular Ohio State University. For over fifty years I have lived and studied in an intellectual culture which regards any representation of reality recognizing anything beyond what can be explained by natural science as misrepresenting what there is. As a result, I feel a burden of proof when I depart from this stance. If “scientism” means fully endorsing this reductive stance that natural science alone represents what there is, then many people, I am confident, share my sense of needing to defend departures from scientism. I have been working in one of the educational institutions which, quite often, explicitly teach scientism to thousands of young people every year. Scientism is a program for disenchanting our representation of reality – what there is. I am writing for those who recognize scientism is a serious challenge to sincere expression of religious believing as well as religious believing.

Once we have been tempted by scientism can we ever look at reality as enchanted?

Recently on the web I read an intriguing announcement of a college course on video game development. The opening lines were:
“We love to play them. We love to dive into a world of sword and sorcery, of alien invasions, of car chases and gangsters on the run. Video games do not just show you a world, they allow a player to become part of that world; part of the story. ”

This human ability to become part of a story is the affective capacity which can be used to accept the Christian narrative as telling all that really happens. Of course, to become a participant of what goes on in the video game as reality we need to play the game; probably quite a lot. Similarly, to “get into the Christian story” we need to read the bible and be around people who use a Christian narrative as the narrative of reality.

The most vivid example of living a story comes from imagining a description of what you think and do in everyday life. That narrative about you is an example of you living a story. You’re living that narrative of what you do!

There are two “take-a-ways” from this post. One:we can live a story different from one in which there is nothing beyond the scientifically explicable. Two: We have to engage in some practices different from scientific activity to do so. These practices can be called “faith heuristics.” Subsequent posts on Christian re-enchantment will focus on how to use faith heuristics without self-deception.

Advertisement:
My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Christian Re-enchantment V: Enchanted Realities & Incredibility

This post is a reminder of the tremendous intellectual challenge to taking a realistic stance towards an enchanted reality.

Consider what it is like to believe that there is one enchanted reality which is actually real. You have to believe that the whole of reality has two parts. One part is the natural everyday reality which follows the laws of science. The other part is an enchanted reality which has the structure of an unrealistic fiction. This enchanted part can be as disorganized as a dream.

I follow Wittgenstein who reminded us that reality is everything which is the case. Part of what is the case is what science tells us about while the other part of what is the case consists of what is told of in some religiously significant narrative such as the Iliad, the Norse Sagas or the Bible.

The only constraint on taking a realistic stance towards an enchanted reality is a limited form of the law of non-contradiction. You cannot think of anything really being X while really not being X. Although in the narrative of the enchanted reality you can write that something is X and yet not X. You can say contradictions but you cannot think of them as true.

Typically the enchanted narratives as candidates for telling the truth about reality are not as crazy as dreams. My models are the narratives about Jesus in the Gospels. I am willing to include some of the miracle stories about saints and reports of Marian apparitions. But for present purposes of noting the challenges to belief the Gospel narratives suffice as a model for the problems.

For a rational 21st century Christian the challenge is twofold. One challenge is religious. The other is philosophical You must defend accepting one religiously significant narrative of an enchanted reality from amongst many others as telling the factual truth about the way things are. You must be prepared to explain how the part of reality studied by science is self-contained. The part of reality studied by science is properly studied only by the secular methods of natural science. Nothing accepted as real in the enchanted part of reality will give any natural scientific result which could not have been obtained using the methods of natural science alone.

Basically, you must be prepared to explain how science operates independently of any religious narrative although natural science does not give the whole truth. Science does not tell us everything which is the case. Some religious narrative is needed to supplement science to tell us everything which is the case.

To appreciate the difficulty of the challenge to a 21st Christian, try imagining how the multiplication of the loaves and fishes or Jesus walking on water has a place in a full history of the world just as much as a normal event such as the assassination of President Lincoln.
———————————
My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Christian Re-enchantment IV: Unrealistic Fictions

In private Jesus taught his disciples that homosexual acts are sins or in private Jesus never taught his disciples that homosexual acts are sins. If we are talking about the normal everyday reality which can be studied by natural science we would say that one or the other of the alternatives is true even if we cannot find out what Jesus taught on the subject. However, if we interpret the Gospel narratives as narratives of an enchanted reality, we should say that neither is true. What is not said in a narrative of an enchanted reality is simply not in the enchanted reality being presented in the narrative. Suppose that there were a True/False test on the Gospels which had as an item:

In private Jesus taught his disciples that homosexual acts are sins _______.

Students could rightly complain that they need a third choice besides T or F. They would want to be able to use a value, perhaps U, to indicate unspecified.”

When one thinks about stories, there is nothing surprising about the Law of Excluded Middle not holding for fictions. (The Law of Excluded Middle holds that there is no middle ground between being True or False.) Stories or fictions cannot present a reality in a complete way It would be an extremely boring story if the author even tried to describe in all possible detail a reality he was imagining. This indeterminacy about billions of details does not detract from the story. It does though lead us to conclude that what is told in the story exists only in our thoughts and imaginations. For is it not a fundamental human belief that in reality a thing either is something or is not that something? Nonetheless, many fictions can be labeled “realistic.”

In my posts on Christian Re-Enchantment, I am advocating a stance that all narratives of an enchanted reality have the logical structure of unrealistic fictions. However, there is a small subset of narratives of an enchanted reality which portray how reality is apart from our imaginations. These are narratives of a Christian enchanted reality. Logically or structurally these narratives are unrealistic fictions. But certain orthodox Christian narratives are not fictions!

What is it for a fiction to be “realistic?” In human reason or culture there are representations of some vast system of objects and processes like those we can see, taste, touch, smell, hear and feel. These representations aim to be representations of the whole of reality – all that there is. This system is spread out in space and time. We sense only a tiny bit of this system. In individual people no two people may have exactly the same details in their representations. What we are not there to sense, though, is believed to be like what we do sense. We believe that what we represent existed before we were born and will continue after we die. For billions of people such representations of reality have been and are representations of an enchanted reality. There are miracles, ghosts, gods and goddess, and so on mingled in with the ordinary everyday objects and processes. I label the whole reality representations when it may contain enchanted realities over and above human thoughts and feelings “pre-scientific representations.”

Since at least the period of the Enlightenment there has been an effort by cultural elites to educate people to purge their whole reality representations of all enchanted realities. This purging is a necessary preparation for a scientific understanding of the whole of reality. This purged system is what humans study in natural science. Call our representations of the whole of reality which contain nothing beyond what in principle can be explained by natural science naturalistic representations. What we represent with naturalistic representations is what we call nature.The goal of natural science is to enhance the naturalistic representation with a sophisticated representation of how the natural processes operate so that humans can predict and control what occurs in nature as well as to satisfy curiosity about the order observed in what we represent and then to delight in representing this order. At their best, scientific representations are expressed in the abstract language of mathematics.

A realistic fiction tells us only of objects, processes and events which could be in nature.

An unrealistic fiction tells us of objects, processes and events which could not be in nature along with those which could be in nature.

Being realistic does not save the realities portrayed in realistic fictions from the incompleteness indicated by failure of the law of excluded middle.

But the gaps in an enchanted reality are even greater than those natural details the author never mentioned. Enchanted realities need not obey the laws of natural science. Or better: a narrative of an enchanted reality can describe what is in conflict with natural science. This possible conflict with natural science goes even deeper than presenting events which conflict with known laws of science. In unrealistic fictions there is no law of causality. Events can be presented in fiction which have no cause. The lack of a cause could be because the author did not specify that there was one or that the author specified that there was none. The author, or authors, are in charge of what is in the reality they are presenting. At their very worst, unrealistic fictions are as disorganized as our dreams in sleep. These reminders about fictions tempt us to conclude that if all narratives of enchanted realities have the structure of fictions, then no narratives of enchanted realities tells us the truth about what is real. Nothing as incomplete and unlawful as the fragmentary and sometimes chaotic presentations of unrealistic fiction could be real apart from human imagination. That is what I am advocating, though. The Gospel narrative of Jesus’s life and deeds is structurally an unrealistic fiction. But it is not a fiction.

My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
.

Christian Re-enchantment II: Enchanted Realitities and Truth

Atheists want to tell the world that religious beliefs are untrue and religious practices are foolish, if not dangerous. They offer atheism as the way to avoid error, superstition and fanaticism. The atheistic strategy is to make their case at a theoretical level to avoid the complicated consideration of indefinitely many beliefs and practices of the numerous actual religions.

For discussion of religious belief there are two questions in answer to which atheists develop theoretical arguments for setting aside religion. The first question asks: Is there an ultimate being? The second question asks: Are any religiously significant narratives of an enchanted reality true?
For both answers atheists hope to establish a negative claim.
There is no ultimate being
No narrative of an enchanted reality is true

Christians, of course, hold that there is an ultimate being and that there is one true narrative of an enchanted reality in which the ultimate being participates.

Disputes about the existence of an ultimate being are the familiar philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God. I am not concerned with those arguments in this post. I think that at least since Kant (1724-1804) there is a growing consensus that although there are no compelling arguments that there is an ultimate being which might be identifiable with the God of some actual religions, it is not unreasonable to accept some of these arguments as giving good reasons for believing that there is an ultimate being.

Really, it is not important for atheists to refute these arguments decisively. Mere belief in an ultimate being does not by itself lead to any of the beliefs and practices atheists find in actual religions. The threatening, to atheists, religious beliefs and practices are based on religious narratives about enchanted realities.
See Christian Re-enchantment for introduction to how I use “enchanted reality.”
Reductionism is the tactic for implementing the atheistic strategy of showing that no narratives about an enchanted reality are true. The program is to show that everything which can be clearly thought and spoken about is located in space/time and subject to laws of natural science. Yes, scientific laws themselves are an embarrassment to these reduction programs. The very mathematical lawfulness of objects studied by natural science has not yet been reduced to entities in space/time. The final solution to reduction tactic would be justification of nominalism.

I think I know what I am talking about when I talk of these reduction programs. All of my philosophical training has been in philosophy departments of secular state universities. I have spent forty years teaching in the philosophy department of secular state universities. In the background, there was an assumption that a significant philosophical achievement would be a reduction of something not clearly located in space/time to something which was. The big success, perhaps worthy of a Noble Prize, would be reduction of mind to matter.

The reduction programs are programs in process. There are many promises of reduction but few clear results. The most highly touted reduction is the claim, we read in the introductory chapter of biology texts that we no longer need to assume that there is life over and above the physiological processes. It is true that assumption of a special force called life is not needed for scientific research.

I should add that a model for reducing one area to another is the representation of all of mathematics as set theory. All mathematical objects, numbers, functions, figures etc., are allegedly reduced to sets.

Elimination of the mental: thoughts, sensations and feelings would show that there are no enchanted realities. Yes,our thoughts, sensations and feelings enchant the “colorless” abstractions talked of in natural science. But elimination of the mental seems impossible. We would have to think to realize that we had accomplished this intellectual feat.

Trying to eliminate the mental is called the mind-body problem. Actually it is not a problem unless you hold that there needs to be a reduction of the mental to the material

In any event, the unresolved mind-body problem has stalled the reduction tactic for showing that no narratives of an enchanted reality can be true. I use the weak can be true because I am not prepared to say that the mind-body problem cannot be solved. “Can” is good enough to stall the project.

It is a real possibility that some narrative about an enchanted reality is true.

My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
.

Christian Re-enchantment I

This post was supposed to be philosophical. I intended to rationalize introducing angels in a conceptual model of the paschal mystery. Why, though, am I constructing a conceptual modal of the paschal mystery and more broadly: the good news in the Gospels? I want to strengthen my conviction that the factual claims in the Gospels tell the truth. With such a conviction I can boldly proclaim them to others as literally true. A model for how the truth claims of the Gospels can be true presupposes receiving them as truth claims. What is it like to received the truth claims of the Gospels as true truth claims.

The Gospels make truth claims about angels. In Luke 2, 28 ff. we can read:

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High;

Do you hold with conviction that this passage tells the truth about events involving an angel, a young virgin, in the province of Galilee sometime in the reign of Ceasar Augustus? A resulting event is the pregnancy of Mary without sexual intercourse and she is carrying God incarnate.

I never had the courage to tell my children the Christian gospel, such as the above passage, as a truth just as much as some other factual claim about the Roman Empire. Indeed, I have never had the courage to tell it to anyone. I have not been able to profess with conviction the good news of Christianity. Somehow secularism had disenchanted reality. I cannot be a good Christian unless I am willing to go out to all the world to tell the good news.

What is this good news which I am ashamed to proclaim as true; not only as morally useful? The Christian gospel is not the partial truth of my beloved catechism answer: God made us to know love and serve Him on this earth so that we can be happy with Him forever in heaven. There is the crucifix. The cross commands us to tell the whole truth. The whole truth describes a harsh magical reality. Of course, it is not all harsh as the above Lucan passage shows.

I characterize this magical reality from my Catholic perspective. Accepting the Gospels as making truth claims about a magical reality is a presupposition of developing a rationalizing conceptual model for them. Of course, I cannot speak for the Catholic Church.

Reality is a unit containing ordinary natural events and enchanted events. The ordinary natural events are the observable events explained by natural science. The enchanted events are observable effects of supernatural beings. The supernatural beings are not observable. They are the invisible beings we acknowledge in the Nicene Creed when we profess belief in God the Father Almighty creator of all things visible and invisible.

Much that we can observe is taken as enchanted. There are ordinary objects taken as sacred or holy. Trees, brooks, mountains and indeed the whole earth have been taken as holy or set apart for the supernatural. Ordinary events such as dreams or eclipses have been heeded as messages from the supernatural. Miracles, although observable, are not ordinary because they have no natural explanation. Not all enchanted events are located in any definite place or time although enchanted events are always at least partially describable in terms we use to describe the observable. Hence, events such as the fall of Adam and Eve cannot be located in the spatial temporal framework we use for ordinary events, sacred objects, signs and miracles.

Reality as enchanted is very familiar. We are familiar with enchanted events mixed with the ordinary events from the Greek, Roman and Nordic legends. The world of the Iliad and Odyssey is an enchanted world. The Harry Potter novels have familiarized a whole generation with an enchanted reality. I should not forget about Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. The fiction genre of magical realism mixes ordinary events with enchanted events. The Gospels are at least magical realism. Current interest in zombies shows that many people delight in considering an enchanted reality. Most likely every generation will discover new enchanted worlds to delight, to terrify and to edify or to corrupt.

What is unfamiliar nowadays is to hold that there is one narrative mixing enchanted events with ordinary events which tells the truth, in addition natural acience, about the way things are.

The genuine believing Christian holds that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John present the crucial part of this narrative. The Gospels are not tales of the magical realism genre. The Gospels are realistic narratives reporting to us, amongst other things, the real magical events! That narrative has been extended and presented throughout the centuries in thousands of pictures now in museums and in the windows of thousands of churches. Throughout the centuries billions have accepted the Christian enchanted reality as reality. Of course, if the enchanted reality of the Gospels is reality then all of the other narratives of an enchanted reality are false; or better simply stories.

Adopting a frame of mind in which to view reality as the Christian magical reality as REALITY is the serious challenge to Christian faith. Believing in an abstract God on whom all reality depends is not intellectually as challenging as atheism. So this is the first of a series of posts by someone who has been disenchanted struggling to re-enchant the world.

My book making a case for traditional Christian sexual morality does not require viewing the world as enchanted. Indeed, because it accepts the secular view of reality it can be offered as the morality for all people.
*** My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Human Reason, Gender Identity et al.

In posts constructing a conceptual model of the Paschal Mystery, I have written about human reasoning and especially human moral reasoning as containing certain thoughts such as “violation of moral laws ought to result in undesirable consequence.” As a philosopher, I acknowledge assumptions I make about what there is. “Ontology” is the title for the topic of making assumptions or offering definite claims about what there is. In the ontology for these blog posts I assume that there is human thinking above and beyond the thinking occurring in the minds of individual people.

Most people make this assumption at several levels. I assume, for instance, that there is a collection of thoughts which could be called the public opinion of residents of Columbus, Ohio in August 2017. I assume there is a system of thought which could be labelled “what Catholics think.” Many more examples come to mind: What climate scientists think, What liberals think, What mathematicians hold, etc..

Of course, I go much further to assume that there is a vast collection of thoughts composed of what humans have thought, presently think and will think. I call this “human reason.” It is the reasons and reasoning available to aborigines and scientists at MIT. This universal human reason is the location of the thought of setting aside morality. This thought reserving a right to override morality once in awhile is the original sin which we all inherit* just by virtue of being the kind of animal which can think some of the thoughts in universal human reason.

There is so much to say about this human reason that I could easily fill a book with my views as well as theories of philosophers such as Hegel and Kant. I develop no theory of what human reason is. Here I make a few remarks with especial attention to how we can get truth since this universal human reason is so comprehensive that it seems we cannot get beyond it to determine whether or not our thoughts represent reality apart from thoughts. Can we put thinking in the back of our minds to simply look and listen at what makes our thinking correct?

This universal human reason is not the actual thinking of some mind above and beyond the minds of individual human beings. Human reason itself is not aiming at any goal although there are many thoughts about goals in human reason.

As a collection of thoughts, human reason is logically inconsistent. A problem for individuals who think the thoughts contained in universal human reason is coping with inconsistencies in our thinking. Inconsistencies, when identified, can be set aside so that complete logical chaos is avoided in an individual’s thinking. Hidden inconsistencies give us trouble.

Much of what we make truth claims about in daily life have been constructed by human reason. Without human thinking there would not be any social facts such as those about economics, politics, wars, revolutions, etc.,. Indeed this human reason being discussed in this post is constructed by human reason. However, I am not a philosophical idealist who holds that there is not reality beyond thought which provides justification for what we think. I am a realist who holds that there are things in themselves apart from human thinking which make thoughts in human reason correct or appropriate. However I concede that realism could be wrong**

Current disputes about gender identity provide a way of illustrating my stance on truth. Both biological sex and gender are social constructs in so far as the conceptual schemes used to talk about them are both components of universal human reason. Universal human reason is, as noted above, a social construct. Now however, consider two claims:

1.Henry’s biological sex is male
2.Henry’s gender is female.

If we turn to realty to find which claim is true, we find that if (1) is true (2) is false. If (2) is false, then Henry, and those who agree with his female impersonation are, if not lying, at least misrepresenting the way things are. To be sure, I have assumed that gender depends upon biological sex. This claim about the gender depending upon biological sex must also be verified by recourse to reality. I think reality verifies it. Unfortunately, others do not. That is why there is dispute. However, dispute does not show that there is no reality which shows that one side or the other is wrong.

In Chapter X*** of my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism, I develop more fully my thoughts on confronting reality to discover truth.

I do not think that only factual claims fit or do not fit thought independent reality. Value judgments can be correct or incorrect because of what is in reality. This is very significant because it goes against the widespread assumption of a fact/value discrimination. It is popularly assumed that factual claims might be true but that judgments of right/wrong, good/evil are inevitability opinions. Opinions get ranked as warranted or unwarranted only by other thoughts; never by conditions outside thought. So, in my ontology, I accept conditions in reality which make value judgments correct or incorrect as well as radically**** different kinds of conditions which make factual claims true. That is why I use “look” and “listen” when talking of turning to the way things are.

This is enough, if not too much, on universal human reason. In the next post, I plan to elaborate on the construct of angels and their role in my construction of a Christian conceptual model of our salvation

*How Original Sin is InheritedConfession of a Truth Sceptic
*** My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
****I am speculating that this reality in itself which justifies, or refutes, our thoughts is personal in so far as it gives commands: You ought to assert P as a statement of fact, You ought to deny that Q states a fact, You ought to do act A, You ought not do act B.