CVS Meta - 2018-04-25 - Doubt Faith Reason

Author Recorded Wednesday April 25th, 2018

There are 19 episodes in the Meta:Rants series.


This Meta episode takes you behind the curtain of my mind, into the realm of ideas that fuel my quest for truth and understanding. I discuss three faculties of the human soul: Doubt, Faith, and Reason, and the imbalanced worldviews that result if we neglect one or more of these.


CVS Meta - 2018-04-25 - Doubt Faith Reason

Author Recorded January 22nd, 2012

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meda as you know my name is David I'm the creator and host of CBS and today I'm going to talk about doubt faith and reason I've mentioned before that I have no formal training in philosophy but I do love playing with ideas and what's been on my mind lately has been a sort of obsession with doubt faith and reason this is really just going to be a brainstorming session but to help with the exploration of these ideas I did put together a little infographic and if you're watching this on YouTube you'll see the image on your screen with the Venn diagram and if you're listening on soundcloud you should also see that Venn diagram a Venn diagram is simply a schematic drawing typically done with overlapping circles and it allows us to map our matically logical relations that exist among a finite set of ideas if some of you that are listening don't have access to the image that I'm going to be referencing you can always go to my website my website of course is CBS podcast.com I think it'll be easier for you to listen to this if you have the image before you but hopefully you can get something out of it just by my description of the relations that I am exploring among these three faculties of the human soul namely dote faith and reason and I start with doubt because my journey into the church began with I think therefore I am it was actually while reading Rene de cartes discourse on method precisely in that chapter where he talks about solipsism or he he offers a solution to solipsism and where he introduces the notion of solipsism which we arrived at by way of a radical skepticism or a radical doubt if you're looking at my Venn diagram you'll see in the bottom left a blue segment which is labeled nihilism this is where doubt alone resides the Faculty of doubt is active and the faculties of faith and reason are not being used and of course it's an unattainable state of being it's an extreme on a three pole spectrum it's a tendency and the remedy for excessive doubt the remedy for that obviously is Roman Catholicism but to get from nihilism to Roman Catholicism the practical steps you need to take will involve those other two faculties faith and reason if we're pulled out of our nihilism by injecting reason into our worldview we'll end up with solipsism because reason will tell us that when we deny our existence we are also affirming it therefore we exist this is classic Rene Descartes discourse on method so with just a little bit of Reason you can go from nihilism which is horrible to solipsism which is lonely it's dizzying but I'd rather be dizzy than drowning in the utter blackness of nihilism imagine now on the bottom right of my drawing a green segment and it's labeled agnosticism this is reason alone without doubt without faith why would I say that that lends itself to agnosticism or that it could be characterized as a hard agnosticism why would I say that because you don't doubt the sense data that's coming to you but you don't accept it you don't submit to it you judge everything without committing your judgment is impoverished because of the lack of data because of the lack of faith which would allow your reason to submit - one answer or another concerning whatever since data is coming your way or concerning whatever logical proposition crosses your mind your judgment is paralyzed by a sort of freedom many many atheists have recourse to an inordinate agnosticism because the determinists can honestly say yes there are only natural causes for every natural effect that we're able to observe and in principle for the effects that we're not able to observe whether those natural causes are observable in and of themselves or not in practice in principle they are all natural because that's my agnostic atheistic worldview that there's no supernatural so those atheists I respect because they are being logically consistent so they don't need to hide behind agnosticism but the Atheist who wants to have his cake and eat it too that atheist is not being honest that atheist is hiding behind a false and inordinate agnosticism when I asked them do you believe in the principle of sufficient reason they say yes when I asked them if they believe in the supernatural they say no they do not believe in the supernatural when I asked them if therefore everything is determined they answer either no or I don't know or we can't know or maybe anything but yes well you just said you you just said for yourself you just affirmed that everything has a sufficient cause everything has a sufficient reason and you also just affirmed that each and every one of those causes is purely natural it's not like we're juggling a hundred proposition and trying to hold an image in our mind of some sort of complex shape that they form there are two propositions everything has a cause and every one of those causes is natural this is not rocket science people we can what we are capable intellectually of holding those two ideas simultaneously in our mind it's called hard determinism but so many atheists cower they slip through my hands with feigned and inordinate agnosticism it's really sad to watch it's really sad to hear this is what happens when we don't have sufficient recourse to doubt and to faith now if we're in that agnosticism that hard agnosticism one way out is to introduce doubt and then to go into solipsism because as we all already discussed doubt plus reason equals solipsism when there's no faith because it does require a leap of faith to acknowledge the physical universe and the other the only thing we can know with certainty is I am and this by the way is the name of God I am when Moses asked the name of God in the burning bush God said his name I am tell your people my name is I am so people mock and ridicule me when I talk about solipsism as being the only rational alternative to Roman Catholicism but I hope in making the tour of this Venn diagram of doubt faith and reason that will be abundantly clear to everyone that it is the only rational it's an impoverished worldview solipsism it's a sad lonely false ridiculous worldview but it's the most rational alternative to Roman Catholicism because when you're depriving yourself of faith it's either drowning in the blackness of nihilism doubting everything including your own existence or saying maybe to absolutely everything shrugging your shoulders I don't know we can't know you're drowning in a sea of question marks I think it was Chesterton who said when you're an atheist the danger is not that you will believe nothing it's that you will believe absolutely anything that's agnosticism that's reason unhinged from faith and from doubt it's quite hard I would think that more agnostic atheists would swing towards that doubt pole and thereby end up in solace is Imai think it really is the most rational place for an atheist but oddly enough today at least most agnostic atheists tend to move in the other direction up towards faith and they end up being fanatical atheists where they know that there is no God they know that we can know this and that we can't know this so they maintain perhaps a certain agnosticism bility becomes an ossified or a hardened agnosticism where it is not subjected to it so I think that's interesting now if we continue around counterclockwise we'll come to a little yellow segment called fanaticism and the reason that I call it fanaticism is this is the product of reason plus faith what it does is it says ok I am taking a leap of faith whatever it might be it might be a German idealism or it may be a form of atheistic materialism or it may be some religion it could even be a perverted form of Roman Catholicism the reason I've labeled this zone of faith plus reason - doubt fanaticism is are able to judge but you're not able to test your judgments with doubt there's a whole set of propositions for whatever reason that this fanatic has accepted and it's impervious in their mind to doubt it's been enshrined dogmatically and then in the darkest sense of the word automatically because I am a dogmatist I believe in Dogma and I am leaning on Dogma and dependent on Dogma for my worldview everyone but the nihilist and the agnostic does depend on dogma the nihilist doubts the dogma he can't cling to the dogma and the agnostic accepts every dogma as equally true and for all intents and purposes therefore the agnostic doesn't have a hold on a unique set of dogmas so that nihilism and agnosticism do resemble each other in that way solipsism at least you have the dogma that I am it's the only dogma so the fanaticism of the person who believes who's taken leap of faith has made a calculation or has been presented with a calculation or reasons for believing you know there are reasons to believe Islam so they could accept the reasons to believe Islam or they couldn't believe the reasons to accept Buddhism or they could accept the reasons to be a vegan or they could accept the reasons to be a libertarian or they could accept this reason or that reason for this worldview or that worldview but once you abandon doubt you are a fanatic you have enshrined and ossified your worldview there's no room for growth so much fanaticism moving along counterclockwise now on my Venn diagram up to the top where faith resides this red segment I've labeled fidei ISM now feed ISM for those of you that don't know is the worldview that says that faith is the means to knowledge so epistemological II this is the only way faith there is no doubt there is no reason there's only faith the Muslims and the Protestants have been accused of feederism most famously I would say in Pope Benedict the 16th this famous or infamous Regensburg address in Germany and he talked in polite but clear terms about Immanuel Kant's fidei ISM that we don't have access to a meaningful grip on to reality we're stuck in the phenomenal world and the Newman Oh world is not available to us we cannot access it we're isolated from that there's a chasm there that we just cannot cross so feed a ISM is a very real tendency I think I've already mentioned I don't need to keep drilling it in that these extreme cases are meant to represent poles or tendencies and I really don't expect to find a true nihilist a true heart agnostic a true fee deist but their tendencies now if we continue moving around to the sixth and final imbalanced portion of this philosophical map we come to a pink zone on the upper left which I call naive realism this really is the majority of human beings walking this planet throughout the history of the world I think naive realism is basically the place where you're not making judgments you haven't thought about everything you haven't thought about much other than where's my next meal coming from and how can I get into the pants of that hot secretary at work or whatever the case may be maybe a good word for this would be cynicism in the old sense of the word cynicism originally meant doglike cynicism is really k9 ISM it's as those are the two linguistic equivalents you're like a beast following your nose sniffing the sense follow your passions seek pleasure avoid pain this is the original Greek philosophical meaning of cynicism perhaps that's a better label for this segment of the philosophical map that I've put together here because it really doesn't question much it really just is content to pursue these assumed Goods and of course pleasure is good and shelter is good and food is good and sex is one of the highest goods so they're not wrong but there's a higher good still there's the highest good the naive realist or the cynic will content himself with good and better and it doesn't seem to occur to him that there is implied in that logically and necessarily a best particularly atheists when they're naive realists they will talk about justice they will talk about the in justices of the Inquisition and they will rant and rave about the end justices of the Catholic Crusades they will rant and rave about this injustice and that injustice in the history of the church and when asked about justice the Atheist will always say there is no justice in the big picture there is no justice the accounts are not settled for the atheist there is no justice for the naive realist atheist and yet they will point to that justice they will raise that bar of justice or goodness or beauty or whatever it is out of one side of their mouth they will be holding up the standards of perfection and out of the other side of their mouth they're denying those very standards that they want to preach yes they believe perhaps in the real world yes they believe in the other yes they have the capacity to doubt and to take aside this way or that way to say yes to one thing and to say no to another but they haven't examined their assumptions they've just accepted them they've swallowed them to move them out of this naive realist what they need is more reason judgment examine your world view exam and the assumptions that you take for granted look at the standards that you're applying to others and ask yourself if you are acknowledging that standard is objective and real or if it's merely wordplay is it just a power trip it doesn't might really make right or is there an objective eternal absolute quality to things like justice goodness morality beauty love peace whatever it is you're hopping on a bandwagon and you're not examining the principles and if you examine the principles you will find contradiction and then you will modify your set of assumptions and you will modify your principles until they conform with reality and they cohere among themselves it's the pursuit of truth this is what philosophy is about the love of wisdom the pursuit of truth in a disinterested way it means we're not fanatical about what we believe it means we don't take for granted what we believe and it means that we're not stuck in solipsism thinking that only I am those are sort of the three mixed messages that most people walk around with most people do act like narcissistic solipsists to a large extent but they will never admit that that's where they are when I was a Salt assist I knew that I was obsessed and I accepted it I wasn't very happy I was bewildered it was quite a trip and it didn't last too long I mean it wasn't too long until the right books fell into my hands and I just made that tiny leap of faith that Rene Descartes talks about so nonchalantly as if it's an afterthought well of course God is good of course God is God of course I'm not God Rene Descartes has not given enough credit I believe in the history of philosophy he's seen as a rationalist his faith is disparaged and I know he's not a Catholic saint he's not canonized there were errors obviously that he taught with regard to theology and he was somewhat unorthodox but he did have faith he did preach a leap of faith as the solution and the only solution to solipsistic he made no bones about it and he didn't dwell on it so I really think that we need to give more credit to Rene Descartes and I personally owe him a debt of gratitude because he was instrumental in pulling me out of my solipsism into roman catholicism so my thesis here with this do't faith reason map my thesis is that only one worldview is balanced only one worldview has the proper proportion of the faculties of faith doubt and reason only one worldview it's the one true religion the one true church founded by truth incarnate founded by Jesus Christ you might want to ask yourself as an exercise to which am i attracted and from which am i repulsed and to what degree and so on and so forth they're interesting questions that we can ask ourselves about where we might land on this diagnostic map I am confident that I'm a Roman Catholic I am accused of fanaticism but I am full of a healthy and balanced doubt doubt is essential to my faith and to plug your ears when I say that is not a refutation for example I was talking to someone on Facebook recently and she said to me you're utterly convinced that you have it all figured out she said you use philosophy and logic to justify your views you haven't proved anything she said you've assumed something and then rationalized it to which I replied but I just admitted like five minutes ago in this in this very conversation I just admitted that Jesus Christ might be a false messiah that's possible in principle I don't believe that but I I know with certainty that it's in principle a possibility this is not to disparage Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior but it's an acknowledgment that I am fallible I may be a brain-in-a-vat there's actually no way for me to test that hypothesis it's only by a leap of faith that I have faith in you never mind in Jesus Christ so yes I take a leap of faith and I may be wrong you may not exist and Jesus Christ may not exist and even if Jesus Christ does exist he may be a lunatic a liar or a mere legend I don't think any of those three possibilities hold water they're not I'm not tempted to believe as the Muslims say that he was not crucified I'm not tempted to believe any of the lies about Jesus Christ but in principle one or more of them may be true I don't have logical unconditional certainty my certainty in Christ depends on a set of assumption first and foremost among these assumptions is that I am not God I'm not utterly convinced that I have it all figured out I'm not trying to justify some arbitrary philosophical point of view I have taken a leap of faith just like you and from that leap of faith reason tells me that Jesus Christ is Lord reason not faith reason tells me the fact that you exist that requires a leap of faith the fact that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior that presupposes the leap of faith that you exist but once I've made that leap of faith I don't need really much more faith I just need to apply reason to that okay so the material world exists the principle of sufficient reason is valid the laws of thermodynamics are true an effect cannot be greater than or more perfect than its cause we have the laws of thought behind all of that also a is a a is not not a either a or not a these are the laws of thought all of that comes as a package deal with that first leap of faith from solipsism into a belief in the other and then the real world socrates talked about this over two thousand years ago the simile of the line there are different kinds of knowledge in the first one is opinion based on what we witness and then we have a sort of empirical science way of knowing and then we have reason added on top of that and finally we get to the highest place on that line which is wisdom a sort of intuitive knowledge of the forms these universals we need to learn to know without faith we cannot get very far without we cannot get very far and without doubt we cannot get ready fire we need all three Pascal puts it pretty nicely when he talks about submission in his pass a number 268 269 and 270 I'll read you these three but there's a lot more there obviously a lot of good things in the pass a but what he has to say about submission I think ties in nicely with this faith doubt reason map that I put together and I want to give credit not only to Pascal but I want to give credit to dr. Peter Kreeft although I'd been thinking about these ideas for many months I recently discovered a talk that he gave about doubt faith and reason which was interesting in which gave me a lot of food for thought and which also pointed me to this passage that I'm about to read you from Pascal I think Peter Kreeft gave the wrong reference Paul say number 170 when it's really Paul say two six eight two six nine and two seven zero those are the ones I'm going to read anyway the one I looked up 170 it had nothing to do with submission the heading for this little part of his policy is submission thence so he says we must know where to doubt where to feel certain where to submit he who does not do so understands not the force of reason there are some who offend against these three rules either by affirming everything as demonstrative from want of knowing what demonstration is or by doubting everything from want of knowing where to submit or by submitting in everything from want of knowing where they must judge submission is the use of reason in which consists true Christianity and then he quotes st. Augustine who said quote reason who would never submit if it did not judge that there are some occasions on which it ought to submit it is then right for it to submit when it judges that it ought to submit end quote that's a quote by st. Augustine cited by Blaise Pascal in Paul say 270 he talks about three rules doubt certainty and Submission so his doubt corresponds with my doubt his certainty corresponds with my reason and his submission corresponds I claim and Peter craft also claims with faith and he says that if you don't balance doubt reason and faith then you don't understand reason that's what Pascal says and then he goes on to talk about how we can abuse the balance of these three we can introduce an imbalance and how do we do that well there are three ways of introducing imbalance according to Pascal affirming everything is demonstrative because we don't know what demonstration is that to me would be a sort of fanatical materialism a logical positivism scientism which in my mind is a combination of reason and faith so that's one of his three this second form of imbalance he says is those who doubt everything because they don't know awareness of this is a lack of faith I didn't know where to submit and I didn't submit I didn't have faith and I ended up in solipsism and the third area of imbalance that he talks about is when we submit to everything and we don't know how to judge this is that cynical naive realism following your nose doing what feels good committing yes going with the pack hopping on the bandwagon you have passion you have spirit you have lust for life but you haven't thought it through you don't know how to judge this is what I call naive realism the unexamined life is not worth living and this is what we're talking about if you don't judge you'll submit fully but unthinkingly this is the mob mentality I see it I'm subjected to it every day it's dangerous and it's out of control why is it out of control because there are there's no self reflection there's no stock taking there's no challenging of underlying assumptions because they aren't submitted to judgment and I can tell you that when I poke in prod and I judge their underlying assumptions their cherished assumptions they're not too happy Socrates was fond of calling himself a gadfly because he wanted to question the underlying assumptions and the unquestioned beliefs of his fellow man walking around the marketplace complacent in the worst sense of the word these people didn't question what they believed and they killed Socrates because he annoyed them and I think that is the role of the philosopher that's the role of the Prophet to the role of the priest is to teach the role of the Prophet is to preach and to gold and of course the role of the King is to govern I in my temperament of much more of a preacher I'm much more of a prophet I'm much more of a Socratic gold or gadfly than a teacher I have close friends criticizing me why don't you try a different approach when you're trying to teach people about your faith it's because I'm not trying to teach them about my faith that's not my strength it's not my interest I'm in love I'm in love with god I'm proclaiming I'm not explaining I'm not smart enough to explain anyway even if I want it to but I can defend if you want me to call down fire on the mountain I guarantee you my God's gonna win not because I'm better but because realize that it's painful and it's uncomfortable I realize that my message is unwanted I realize that my approach is ridiculous I'm a fool I'm a fool for Christ and I realized that people are very comfortable in their first-class luxury dining room on a sinking ship I know that they're comfortable I know that their food they're eating is delicious I know that the rhythm of the music and the dancing and the warm body pressed up against you as the alcohol flows through your veins I know that that's all intoxicating and I know that you want to enjoy that moment you want to go back to your little cabin with your companion and enjoy ecstasy I know that but we've hit an iceberg sir and we're going down please make your way to the lifeboats out on the cold and rainy deck now it can't wait till morning I know that you're drunk I know that you're horny I know that you're selfish and that you want what you want I know that I'm the same do you think that I do not want what you want of course I want what you want but let's get off this sinking ship first how's that and I guarantee you better food better music better dancing companions and peace joy and happiness so I understand that people don't like to hear that I'm well aware of how I rub people the wrong way and I know that I'm far from perfect and that but I am in love and I love you too I love you for God's sake so I do love you I do want you to go to heaven and I do want you to have more of everything that you're enjoying right now just make sure that you get on the lifeboat there's a time and place so this is the time of pilgrimage between Paradise Lost and heaven let's treat it that way let's not get too attached to the goods of this created world that's my Stern warning and my friendly advice to friend and foe alike if you're interested in being my guest as always get in touch I'll interview anyone of any worldview as long as you know who you are as long as you think you know who you are and what you believe and why you believe it and you're excited about it you want talk about it if you're excited I'm excited so just get in touch interviews are always friendly they're informal and they're unprepared we just talk and you always get the first word you get the last word and in between we're just talking about you your worldview what you believe and if you'd like to ask a few questions about what I believe or you want to challenge what I believe you're free to do that as well and then you wrap up with a little final thought to the listener so it's really easy and it's usually a lot of fun thanks for listening take care and we'll talk soon god bless talk soon god bless

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