Jump to content

Epistemology And The End Of The World


GeorgeW
 Share

Recommended Posts

If anyone is interested, this is an essay in the NYTimes series "The Stone" about the rapture.

 

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/epistemology-and-the-end-of-the-world/

 

The author, Gary Gutting (a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame), argues that Christians who dismiss Campings prediction about the end of the world on May 21 but accept an unspecified future date are on no stronger ground than Camping. His conclusion summarizes this point well:

 

"The case against Camping was this: His subjective certainty about the rapture required objectively good reasons to expect its occurrence; he provided no such reasons, so his claim was not worthy of belief. Christians who believe in a temporally unspecified rapture agree with this argument. But the same argument undermines their own belief in the rapture. It’s not just that “no one knows the day and hour” of the rapture. No one knows that it is going to happen at all."

 

George

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

George,

 

It seems to me that "the Rapture" is just another story made up from a few misunderstood writings that a more personal examination might show is not to be taken in such a literal understanding when the rest of the writings are considered. Here is a short chapter i wrote a number of years ago on that. If done today i would write differently , however it still makes this point considering the Rapture. http://home.fuse.net/mattioli/GodBook/page56.html

BTW, it succeeded in getting me uninvited to ever preach again in the churches i was associated with at the time.:)

Joseph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. In Rationality In Action, John Searle argues that rationality is a basic human capacity. This is apparently based on Kant's claim that the mind is "a necessary part of nature". Searle claims that you can put 40 rational beings in a room, give them a problem to work out, and end up with 40 different (yet rational) conclusions.

 

2. It could be said that Camping made a judgement concerning the rapture. Appealing to Kant, Whitehead and Searle, the conditions of satisfaction for judgements are "correct", incorrect" and "suspended" (Whitehead, 1929). Justified true beliefs are "true" or "false".

 

3. Camping did provide his followers with what he considered 'evidence'. In an interview, one of his followers stated that he had accepted that 'evidence' and Camping "just got the math wrong".

 

4. Humans structure their beliefs in different ways. My own opinion is that many tradional Christians use a foundational system. That is, there are certain foundational (basic, core) beliefs that do not require justification from any other beliefs in their network. The belief that the Bible is inerrant would be and example.

 

In my own words, I would say that Camping made and incorrect judgement based on a foundational belief. Given that he had predicted the rapture once before and failed, he might have been wiser to leave the judgement as "suspended".

 

But, we are human ... perhaps Camping was relying on his own religious emotions. Who knows other than Camping?

 

Myron

Edited by minsocal
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a problem occurs when subjective knowledge is asserted as objective truth. This conflation is difficult to avoid particularly when subjective knowledge is strongly felt - it feels so very right.

 

Religious beliefs, I think, are particularly susceptible to this as they are both subjective and often strongly held.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched an interview with Camping some days prior to his predicted end of the world date, and found my reactions to him interesting in several ways.

One was how absolutely sincere he seemed about this. Unlike other dooms-day preachers I've watched on tv or read about, that struck me as clearly phoney, not truly beleiving what they said at all, Camping really seemed sincere, genuinely believed, and believed in, his prediction.

Second, he seems to me to stand out from the usual pack of dooms-day prophets by his insistence that his 'knowledge' about when the world would end and Jesus come was NOT in any way dependent upon his thinking he had some visitation or vision or special message from God. He was very adamant that he had arrived at the predicted date through a purely rational process of reasoning, using biblical references, to calculate (not prophesy) that date. And my impression was that he entirely believed that.

 

And, when this, his 2nd predicted date didn't prove true, his reaction seems to have been entirely that he must have got the math wrong somewhere, he still couldn't entertain the possiblity that the source for the constants and variables he was plugging in to whatever formula or equation he had worked out, the bible, was itself an unreliable foundation for what he was trying to do.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

George,

 

Do you think it possible that R. T. Francouer (1990, in Snarch, 1991) is right when he suggests that the different strains of religious groups have two different goals? Some groups emphasize the "supernatural transcendence of nature", while others emphasize the "unveiling; the revelation of the divine of all". The rapture would make sense to the first and not the second?

 

Myron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

George,

 

Do you think it possible that R. T. Francouer (1990, in Snarch, 1991) is right when he suggests that the different strains of religious groups have two different goals? Some groups emphasize the "supernatural transcendence of nature", while others emphasize the "unveiling; the revelation of the divine of all". The rapture would make sense to the first and not the second?

 

Myron

Myron,

 

I am a little at a loss on this as I am not familiar with Francouer (nor Snarch for that matter). But, this would seem to make sense.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Myron,

 

I am a little at a loss on this as I am not familiar with Francouer (nor Snarch for that matter). But, this would seem to make sense.

 

George

 

George,

 

Not many outside of applied psychology are aware of Schnarch. I have been able to confirm that Schnarch has been invited to speak at some of the more progressive churchs, but I do not know what part of the country. I am considering starting a thread on the Francouer-Schnarch analysis of different religious groups, partly because it contains a large dose of Whitehead and Process Theology.

 

Myron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

George,

 

. . . he suggests that the different strains of religious groups have two different goals . . .

 

Myron

Myron,

 

I am reminded of the claim that people can be divided into two different groups; those who divide the world into two different groups and those who do not. :-)

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am considering starting a thread on the Francouer-Schnarch analysis of different religious groups, partly because it contains a large dose of Whitehead and Process Theology.

 

Myron

Go for it! But, please keep it simple for my sake.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

George,

 

It seems to me that "the Rapture" is just another story made up from a few misunderstood writings that a more personal examination might show is not to be taken in such a literal understanding when the rest of the writings are considered. Here is a short chapter i wrote a number of years ago on that. If done today i would write differently , however it still makes this point considering the Rapture. http://home.fuse.net...ook/page56.html

BTW, it succeeded in getting me uninvited to ever preach again in the churches i was associated with at the time.:)

Joseph

 

 

Joseph,

thanks for sharing that, I will go back and read the rest of your ebook as time permits. I can understand why you were uninvited, you think too freely to parrot the talking points.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service