Friday, February 4, 2011

"Ever Learning - Never Able to Come to a Knowledge of the Truth"

Recently, a fundamentalist Christian replied on his Facebook wall to my statement that human morality can be understood better when viewed under the influence of mammalian socio-biological evolution and apart from God. He replied with the following:
Peter, Peter...ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the
truth. Professing yourself to be wise, you became a fool...being darkened in
your understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance
that is in you, because of the hardening of your heart; who having become
callous gave yourself up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

In this reply the writer does not provide a meaningful treatment of my assertions; instead, he strings together a slew of Pauline allusions to damn me for being who I am. There is a specific reference in this post that I would like to work with. This reference is II Timothy 3:7, which reads:
Ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

The language and highly developed ecclesiastical organization of the Pastoral Epistles, of which II Timothy is a representative book, betray their non-Pauline authorship. Nevertheless, for ease of reference, I will refer to II Timothy’s author as Paul. When Paul describes the ungodly as “…ever learning” but unable to arrive at “a knowledge of the truth,” he is referring to truth as local truth—his limited, irreproducible grasp of the furthermost extremity of the Universes’ hem as subjectively appropriated for sectarian benefit. To paraphrase, Paul is saying, “They keep learning but are unable to arrive at my conclusions, which are what really matter anyways.” The they, in this paraphrase, are those with other sectarian conclusions that differ from his.

Local Truth Systems

Local truth systems are the highly-localized, irreproducible, invite-only ways of thinking and knowing that characterize non-scientific epistemologies. For example, Christian local truth systems are irreproducible without the arbitrary words of a blood-thirsty, homophobic, jealously-insecure, misogynic tribal god who used to go by the name of Yahweh before his followers universalized him into ineffability. Add to the words of the tribal numen the subjective cultural baggage with which Christians so often eisegetically load the Bible, and you end up with an idiotic hodge-podge of bias, rage, and arbitrariness all attributed the aforementioned monstrosity Yahweh.

How, for example, would one arrive at a knowledge of vicarious atonement, the sinfulness of pork, or the perversion of same-gender love and marriage if the local truth system called Christianity did not assert it? How would one arrive at the conclusion of seven-day creation or the Noahic flood if there was no Bible? The answers to these questions should be clearly negative—these conclusions are irreproducible.

Escaping Local Truth Systems

Though fraught with human failings, science is the best way of knowing that humanity has devised. Regardless of one’s cultural moorings, unhindered science is universal. The scientist in India, the scientist in China, the scientist in Turkey, the scientist in Argentina, and the scientist in Canada can all collaborate using a universally accepted rubric of empiricism, peer review, and reproducibility. With no prior commitments other than the assumption that the natural world maintains functional integrity, scientific learning advances. It finds no seven-day creation, it finds no Flood, it finds no Adam and Eve…it is not limited in its outcomes by local truth systems.

My accuser, in throwing this verse at me, notes that I have moved beyond him in learning to embrace the world of what can be known outside of the tribal horizons of local truth systems.


eqbrown said...

"Though fraught with HUMAN FAILINGS, science is the best way of knowing that HUMANITY HAS DEVISED." (my emphasis).

Sir, if you are so convinced of the fallibility of human beings, and admit that humanity's method of "knowing the truth" is thereby seriously flawed, why then do you adhere to what HUMANITY HAS DEVISED?

Why trust what humanity has devised to explain what they did not devise (nature, existence), when there is an explanation that proposes, "the One who devised all this, offers to tell you about it" ??

Do explain please.

eqbrown said...

Your quote on any immutable law code:

"Whoever said, "The law of the Lord is perfect...," may have been rejoicing in a just standard in his time, but to apply that same standard today is anything but a guarantee for justice."

What then do you say about the immutable law that states: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart ... and ... Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyslf." ??

Peter said...

Hello Eqbrown,

If God's authority is represented by the Bible, then God is a failure. The Bible is far from clear. I am not impressed with it, at all.

Peter said...

How about the selling of daughters into concubinage? Can you abide that? Even if the Bible has good, the good does not exonerate the bad, the unjust.