Somebody”s Karma Ran Over My Dogma

Dear visionaries,

Thomas raises some interesting points. “Is there social harm from dogmatic fundamentalist views that will not admit . . .” But if there is demonstrable social harm that results from dogmatic fundamentalism, I wonder what the appropriate penalty might be? I don’t have to report to a reeducation center yet, do I?

Seriously, a Christian absolutist is not someone who claims to know absolutely, but rather someone who claims within bounded limits to know the absolute. The epistemic certainty sought by Enlightenment philosophy is an idol — the only one who can know absolutely is God. Thus the Christian claim is that we can know genuinely, but never exhaustively. Creaturely humility requires that we remind ourselves to stay open to correction, not because knowledge is infinitely flexible (relativism), but rather because our knowledge is always partial — even when what we know is true, as far as it goes.

Because absolute epistemic certainty is not an option for any creature, the measuring stick we use in every social setting to indicate our dedication to our absolute is, positively, what we are willing to live and die for, and negatively, what we are willing to kill for. Dogmatic Muslims ran planes into the World Trade Towers. Dogmatic Americans answered fire with fire, and we kicked a little Talibutt. They killed, we died. We killed, they died. Now what? Why? Who says?

“All I am asking for is honest debate based on logic and fact.” And here is where Thomas demonstrates his commitment to his (not so hidden) absolute. It appears that he thinks honest debate is better than dishonest debate, and that logic and fact is better than, say, emotion and whimsy. But why is it necessary for all of us to obey Thomas’s rules?

“Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.

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