Philosophical god-talk, Theology of Nature God-talk, Dialogical God-Talk & Polemical GOD-TALK

​There’s god-talk and then there’s God-talk.


Philosophical (or natural) theology, or god-talk, refers to the hypothetico-deductive propositions, which take philosophy as their starting point, then argue to establish the reasonableness of various a/theological presuppositions, more generally speaking. Beyond conceptual consistency and internal coherence, which help demonstrate a/theological possibilities, logically, they also rely on a modicum of external congruence, which helps to demonstrate a/theological plausibilities, to generate reasonable suspicions, evidentially. 

The propositions of god-talk, then, are essentially tautological in that, while they may or may not be true, they add no new information to our systems. Since not all tautologies are equally taut (plausibilistically), we do aspire to construct them as congruently as we can with the empirical evidence we have available.

Generally speaking, while not all a/theological propositions are equally virtuous, epistemically, we can rest assured that, if we do dig deep enough, we will discover that philosophy, which includes common sense, has long ago demonstrated that both theological and atheological stances can be eminently defensible and not unreasonably held. Most popular a/theological debates engage caricatures of those stances, are not philosophically interesting and are a sad waste of time.

There are other hypothetico-deductive propositions, which take a given creed as their starting point, then argue to establish the reasonableness of various theological conceptions, more particularly speaking. Rather than a natural theology, starting outside the faith, these represent various theologies of nature, which begin within the faith and employ the facts of natural science and interpretations of various metaphysics to better express how the universe, as a general revelation, is related to the God of one’s creed, a special revelation.

In god-talk, philosophy enjoys primacy. God-talk, though, proceeds beyond one’s presuppositional god-talk, while remaining consistent with its general theological priors, to better articulate one’s creedal commitments. In a theology of nature, we don’t appeal to science and philosophy to prove creedal dogma. Instead, we use their concepts – along with the ideas, languages, values and interpretations of other cultures – in a process of inculturation to better share our faith, which norms our God-talk.

Another type of God-Talk, the dialogical, includes both interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, including apologetics, where we can deepen our self-understanding using other stances as a foil, deepen our understanding of others via active listening and possibly discover common grounds.

Finally, we often encounter the polemical GOD-TALK, where others are effectively shouting and proselytizing, argumentatively.

Notes re: philosophical theology to be fleshed out later

  • modal contingency refers to 1ns (EM w/o NC or Possibility or Past), 3ns (NC w/o EM or Probability or Future) 
  • modal temporality refers to modal contingency
  • modal adequacy refers to in/finitude
  • trans-modal necessity refers to brute 4ns (Necessity or Atemporality)
  • dependent contingency refers to 2ns (NC + EM or Actuality or Present), where fallacy of composition may or may not apply from case to case

from blog comment:

I no longer enjoy natural theology as most popular conversations engage only caricatures of history’s greatest a/theological thought. As it is, most of its suggestions can be evaluated in a single parlor sitting.

I am really put off by any proselytizing or polemical theology, whether a/theological or internecine.

I have a deep appreciation for dialogical theology, both interreligious and ecumenical. It gives me hope — for peace.

Finally, I really support good theologies of nature, which are mostly about inculturation processes and making the Good News more recognizable using the languages, ideas and interpretations of different sciences, philosophies and cultures to better express the kerygma. 

     

    The Light of Faith: Fideism sets the epistemic bar too low, Positivism – too high


    Our common sense weighs various burdens of proof and evidentiary standards, which it uses to both morally and practically justify our actions to ensure that they are commensurate with the quantity and quality of available evidence.

    A burden of proof tells us who must produce the evidence. Evidentiary standards define the level of evidence that must be produced. A given level of evidence, in terms of its quantity and quality, thus will establish various degrees of epistemic warrant. The higher those degrees of warrant, the wider the range of action that can be normatively justified, morally and practically.

    In our everyday endeavors, we often reason with uncertainty (nonmonotonic reasoning). This is also true in the life of faith. 

    What level of epistemic warrant normatively justifies, more generally, everyday reasonings from uncertainty, more specifically, the life of faith

    Regarding the life of faith, fideists are accused of setting the bar rather low, while rationalists and empiricists imagine it to be much higher than most deem necessary. How do we resolve this disparity?

    We need only turn to the natural sciences, which not only traffic in falsifiability, experimentally, but which, unavoidably, must also engage in highly speculative, theoretical interpretations on the various thresholds of nature’s causal joints. 

    On nature’s causal joint thresholds, whether in quantum physics, theoretical cosmology or speculative neuroscience, for example, scientists must often reason backwards, analogically, from effects and properties as would seem to be proper to no known causes or entities

    Such reasoning employs the weakest form of inference, abduction or retro-duction, in conjunction with the strongest, deduction. 

    The dyadic cycling of abductive-deductive inference remains a necessary aspect of all human inquiry, but, without inductive testing and falsification, it remains, for some purposes, insufficient, sometimes unavoidably so. 

    Such an insufficiency, alone, may or may not render our hypothetico-deductive frameworks inactionable, for sometimes, our reasoning with uncertainty is axiologically forced on us by vital existential (especially ultimate) concerns.

    In such cases, we must appraise such alternate interpretations of the facts of existence and aspire to base our existential leaps on options that remain truly live in light of various criteria for epistemic virtue, epistemic warrant and normative justification. 

    This all applies to the analogical-abductive and hypothetico-deductive reasoning (sans inductive) of our quotidian existence, of the natural sciences, of metaphysics and of theology.


    We thus sometimes resolve questions of epistemic disparity by properly recognizing epistemic parity!





    As Karl Popper so aptly observed:

    “We may see from this that Wittgenstein’s criterion of meaningfulness coincides with the inductivists’ criterion of demarcation, provided we replace their words ‘scientific’ or ‘legitimate’ by ‘meaningful’. And it is precisely over the problem of induction that this attempt to solve the problem of demarcation comes to grief: positivists, in their anxiety to annihilate metaphysics, annihilate natural science along with it. For scientific laws, too, cannot be logically reduced to elementary statements of experience. If consistently applied, Wittgenstein’s criterion of meaningfulness rejects as meaningless those natural laws the search for which, as Einstein says, is ‘the supreme task of the physicist’: they can never be accepted as genuine or legitimate statements.”

    In the life of faith, then, which, most people of large intelligence and profound goodwill agree, can be sufficiently warranted, epistemically, and eminently justified, normatively …

    it’s not enough vis a vis its normative actionability for a given option to be both vital, existentially, and forced, axiologically (a value will be decisively frustrated or realized) …

    an option must be truly live, exceeding fideism’s low bar of epistemic warrant, while not banging one’s head on the high bar of the rationalistic and/or empiricistic positivists, who, in their anxiety to extinguish the light of faith, would destroy — not only the beacons of the natural sciences, but — the brilliant luminosity of good, old-fashioned common sense!