Saturday, January 08, 2005

Two good bloggers

Two bloggers worth reading - Poretto and Burgess Jackson 1) Presumption and Naturalism Francis Porretto has an interesting post up today at Eternity Road. It's hard to grab a quote the does it justice, but he concludes like this:
... one must keep firmly in mind that a fully virtuous life is eminently possible to non-Christians, agnostics, and outright atheists, and that professing Christians have been known to commit every sin and outrage in history's catalog...
It's true you know. You can go to church and it will not help you if you don't live your faith. Going through the motions won't do. A man in a cave with no contact with the faith can do his level best to find the faith even if he is starting from zero (or close to it). It's like any discovery. We know about say, electricity, but we could decide to ignore that knowledge for some reason. And the guy in the cave could discover it on his own. In truth it's hard to imagine anyone climbing that mountain of knowledge in one lifetime, but the man in the cave could get the ball rolling, however, and that honest seeking and receptivity is important. I hope in my posts on Naturalism I have not given the impression that I don't agree with Poretto on this point. I do. My one distinction is that I think they do so despite what they profess, and not because of what they profess. They are like the man in the cave trying to re-invent electricity, unaware that it has been done. I'm not being too harsh because I came to the same conclusion about myself at one point. I'm not being any tougher on them than I have already been on myself. There is a great passage at the beginning of Chesterton's Orthodoxy on this sort of experience:
I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before... I have discovered, not that they were not truths, but simply that they were not mine. When I fancied that I stood alone I was really in the ridiculous position of being backed up by all of Christendom.
It's one of my favourite posts in that favourite book. Think of it like this. The Church says that there is no salvation outside the church; that Christ said that "no one reaches the Father but through me." The ideas are often taken as very cold and very harsh. But! Think now... it all depends on how one defines "Church" and "Christ" (or "the Spirit."). Can we truly say that we know where the Holy Spirit is not? That would be the sin of presumption, would it not? It's not a step that I am comfortable making. ******* 2) Consequentialism and Torture Keith Burgess Jackson continues to explore (and pound on, in his quiet way) Consequentialism of the sort Peter Singer has made a career out of. Today he looks at it through the issue of torture, inspired no doubt by the hearings into Mr. Gonzales that took place down south just a few days ago.
There are two types of deontology: absolute and nonabsolute. To an absolute deontologist, no amount of good consequences can justify torture. It is always and everywhere wrong, whatever the consequences. To a nonabsolute deontologist, torture can be justified (i.e., right, all things considered) if it produces enough overall good. Note the difference between consequentialism and nonabsolute deontology. They are not the same... I’m a conservative deontologist. Peter Singer is a liberal consequentialist. Where is Peter Singer in this debate? He might hold the view that torture is usually not the best means to maximizing overall happiness (or, as he prefers to put it, preference-satisfaction), but he can’t rule it out categorically. (Consequentialists rule out no acts categorically.) Liberal consequentialists need to speak out. If they are remaining silent because they think their defense of torture will give aid and comfort to the Bush administration in the war on Islamic terrorism, then they have no integrity. They are putting expediency (political advantage) ahead of moral principle.
I have nothing to add to Burgess Jackson's conclusion - he's got it right and pointing out something the left leaning Peter Singers of the world would rather remained innoticed.

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