Rationality Redefined

[This is a “reprint” of part 1 of a series I posted on my home blog, ldsphilosopher.com]

Early Greek philosophers saw reason as the conduit through which human beings could access the unchanging certainties of the cosmos. This perspective actually makes some sense. We may age, wither, and die, but the Pythagorean theorem remains unchanged through time. The conclusions of rational thought were seen as the bedrock truths at the bottom of our swiftly changing world.

This understanding of human reason implies that rational people will converge on the same ideas. An interesting, subtle, but extremely important side effect of this point of view is expressed aptly by John Locke: “All that is voluntary in our knowledge, is the employing or withholding any of our [rational] faculties. … But they being employed, our will hath no power to determine the knowledge of the mind one way or another.” Thus, the conclusions of rational thought are inevitable.

Modern philosophers have, to some extent, rejected this ancient perspective on rationality. Instead, reason has been seen as Continue reading

Vulcans and Wizards: Transcending Naturalism in Literature

Today, I would like to consider two different genres of fiction: fantasy and science fiction. The way in which I talk about them will probably be different than the way a literary expert would talk about them; I make no claims to any serious research in this post, but rather I would just like to share some personal thoughts I have had when comparing the two genres.

Today, we live in a world where it is assumed that everything that happens has a “scientific explanation.” This means more than that everything is explanable; it means that everything is understandable and accountable in terms of matter governed by mathematical laws. If anything out of the ordinary happens, we simply assume that it can be explained scientifically, even if we don’t exactly know how yet. This modern perspective is often called scientific naturalism. This perspective is intricately connected with determinism, which is the assumption that all events are predictable, if you know all of the antecedent circumstances. In other words, whatever happens, happens inevitably. Continue reading

Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 5: Freedom

This is the fifth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday. The schedule and comment policy are available here.

In keeping with Independence Day, the topic for this week’s forum is Freedom.

There are several potential topics that I’ve intended to be covered here: Continue reading

Does God Have Exhaustive Definitive Foreknowledge? Another Case Study in a Pragmatic Approach to an LDS Theology of Possibilties

This post might only make sense after reading this post or this post.

To help concretize the essential need of an open folk belief (OFB) LDS community, I will illustrate a case example regarding a theological issue for which there are substantial gaps from authoritative Latter-day Saint sources. For this fictional example, imagine two individuals, Susan and Gary, having a conversation about their differing beliefs regarding the foreknowledge of God. There are differing LDS views concerning whether God has exhaustive specific foreknowledge, although it is commonly assumed that one position – the affirmative one – is the official position of the Church. Therefore, this position is a classical case in which an folk belief is commonly confused to be a CFB (closed folk belief). Continue reading