Jennifer asked: “And whose truth are you speaking of? Yours, Ted’s, Charles Manson’s, Martha Stuart’s, Joe Blow’s, Jane Doe’s? Are you the sole arbiter of what’s true?”
I don’t object at all to this question — because it is the same question I have been posing since I began posting to this list. I am simply insisting that everyone who resorts to coercion in matters of public policy is obliged to address and answer the question. All laws are the imposition of somebody’s truth. The government schools are currently imposing somebody’s ideas of how the world goes around — not mine, maybe Stan’s, etc. — and I am arguing that everyone who wants to see society ordered in a particular way has to answer the question.
But to pose the question and to answer it are different issues: I am a trinitarian Christian of the old school and this statement reflects what I believe reality to be. But part of this faith insists that men are all sinners and never to be trusted with absolute power (and belief in an absolute outside themselves is a necessary check against this). If there is no God above the state, then the state is God. Consequently, I believe a trinitarian social order would maximize personal liberty (including that of non-believers), and conversion from one social order to another should rest as much as possible on persuasion, not coercion.
The example we started with in this discussion is that many of you support me being forced to pay for an education that I object to, but I don’t want you to have to support an education that you object to. I gave thousands last year to educate kids in state-sponsored agnosticism. How much did agnostics give to educate our kids in the Christian faith? This illustrates the difference between unnecessary coercion versus persuasion. Once a social order is established, a certain measure of coercion is inescapable (because all laws are imposed morality), but certain worldviews value personal liberty far more than others do. In my vision for Moscow twenty years hence, far more laws would disappear than would arrive.
Stan demanded a domestic example of state approved carnage. Okay. Abortion clinics.
He also wondered whether I was questioning “logic.” I co-authored a textbook on logic, and am not trying to dispute the rationality and coherence of the world God made. But his statement that the categorical syllogism concerning Socrates is one on which everyone can agree “regardless of their ethics or theology” is provincial and naive. The acceptance of the authority of rationality in argumentation is certainly worldview dependent, just like everything else. Has Stan never heard of Zen?
With regard to Stan’s request that I provide proofs that would keep my Christian claims from being eaten up by my universal acid — proofs that show revelation from God and proofs that show why one religious tradition outranks another — I can only say that our discussion hasn’t matured to that point yet. I think the request entirely reasonable. But before we get there, I have wanted us to agree that everyone who has a social vision that includes others has this burden of proof in common. It looks as though we may be closer to that point, and when we get there, we can debate the competing claims of contrary absolutes.
And it would be nice at that time if both sides of the debate agreed upon persuasion in this debate, and not coercion.
“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.