Oct 202012

Logical positivism’s position is that the only thing philosophy can concern itself with is propositions. As such, it cuts itself off from the possibility of any encounter with Christ. This type of philosophy deals with “religion” through a method that reduces religion to propositions such as, “God exists” and “X is immoral.” This is how positivist philosophy sees religion – as a collection of propositions. It has taken up its hammer and now sees only nails. The point I am making is that it is precisely this view of religion as a series of propositions where the folly lies. It is the rampant unquestioned positivism inherent in these thinkers that cuts them off from any religious experience and without that, they are in no position to understand, much less judge such experience.To quote Henri de Lubac, “The object revealed is not conceived as a series of propositions … but recognized in its original unity as the Mystery of Christ, the reality of a personal, living being.”

Yes! Christianity cannot be reduced to a code of ethics on top of a metaphysical platform any more than eating can be reduced to reading a menu.

Fr. Giussani says it like this: “If one wishes to know for certain that Jesus is the definitive revelation of the mystery of God – of the final meaning and destiny of all things – one can do so only from within an encounter.”

Yes! This is what Martin Buber means about the difference between theology and religion. Religion is where the encounter happens, not in theology.

Again, Giussani: “The religious method is overturned by Christ: In Christianity it is no longer the person who seeks to know the mystery but the mystery that makes himself known by entering history.”

The philosophers are like Job’s friends. They are good men. They came to be with their friend, to comfort him. They love justice. They are obedient to the law as it is revealed. They are defending God against Job’s anger and judgment of God. But they are human, just like these philosophers, and their philosophies, however clever and wise and logical are merely human; they cannot build a bridge to God with propositions (menus), no matter how smart or moral or obedient they are. In the end, they either accept the living presence of God through Jesus Christ (the meal) or they remain locked up in their tower of Babel.

But in this tower, they wish to enclose all the world. This is why Pope Benedict has repeatedly called us to action against this positivism:

“The positivist approach to nature and reason, the positivist world view in general, is a most important dimension of human knowledge and capacity that we may in no way dispense with. But in and of itself it is not a sufficient culture corresponding to the full breadth of the human condition. Where positivist reason considers itself the only sufficient culture and banishes all other cultural realities to the status of subcultures, it diminishes man, indeed it threatens his humanity.
“Where positivist reason dominates the field to the exclusion of all else – and that is broadly the case in our public mindset – then the classical sources of knowledge for ethics and law are excluded. This is a dramatic situation which affects everyone, and on which a public debate is necessary. Indeed, an essential goal of this address is to issue an urgent invitation to launch one.”



it must be observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology’s claim to be “scientific” would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must say more: if science as a whole is this and this alone, then it is man himself who ends up being reduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by “science”, so understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective.


 Posted by at 7:14 pm

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