Free will and brainscans debate continues

Christians love to argue about grace and free will.  Lots of interesting comments are coming in on my post about grace and brain scans.  I expect Wrangel, Michael Paterson-Seymour, and I will keep slugging it out like Thomists and Molinists until the pope tells us to knock it off.

3 Responses

  1. The topic seems to have lost interest for modern theologians. Garrigou-Lagrange was the last theologian of note to address it comprehensively.

  2. Bonald, I have some observations, concerning your “Free will and brainscans” text.
    I’m not a theologian, nor I have expertise in that field, except basics. I don’t think I have right to impose myself as expert on theological questions. However, I believe I have some experience in the field of philosophy and philosophy of science.

    Your attempt to combine fields of theology and theological questions with scientific theories and results seems kinda odd. I don’t thing these two can be compatible, specially field of natural sciences and realm of metaphysics (which includes theology). Its like trying to explain poetry and resolve poetical debates through results and terminology of agriculture or coal mining. Other analogies can be used as well to explain this absurdity.

    Scientific theories and results are falsibiable, and prone to change and revision. Theological truths belong to the realm of metaphysics, are unfalsibiable and thus they cannot be prone to change, updating and revision (only to different interpretations). Trying to explain theological questions through lenses of natural science, undermines theology and make it dependent on natural sciences,and thus to falsification and revision. Not to mention that mixing theology with natural sciences is basically epistemic rape and misuse of both theology and natural sciences. To connect concepts like “grace” with “brain functions” is to commit naturalistic fallacy.

    After all, this is reactionary and traditionalist blog, isn’t it? We want to keep traditions, not to make them susceptible to revision.

    But you are scientist, and perhaps such interpretation is simply result of your profession and enthusiasm for both science and faith.
    However, it seems that you repeat (in a way) old (pseudo)scholastic question: “how many angels could fit on the tip of a needle”?
    This leads us to good old Aristotle.

    Catholic theology seems obsessed with Aristotle, to the point that this secular philosopher and his conceptual apparatus has become ultimate authority on theological questions (combined with scholastic interpretation).
    Aristotle is ,generally speaking, naturalistic philosopher and focused towards natural, and “this” world.

    Being dependent so much on authority of naturalist, hylemorphist and immanent philosophy on questions of revealed faith, that includes transcedent God and spiritual world seems that greatly undermine this faith, since faith is dependent on ultimate authority of secular philosophy, not spiritual tradition or faith itself.

    And if secular philosophy and natural sciences are ultimate checking instruments in explaining theological questions, then who needs Church or priestly authority? Is it not strange that this logic lead to Enlightenment era and desacralization of the West? Is it not strange that western civilization in it’s entirety, that is a child of Catholic church, it’s theology and it’s worldview, is most atheistic, materialist,anti-traditionalist and secular of all civilizations in the world and history?

    Why Pope, for example, is giving statements and agreements about secular scientific theories? Is it not form of desacralization of his role as spiritual leader and authority? When priest (or ordinary believer) needs natural science to provide answers and justifications about theological questions he admits that he is giving up the position of authority.
    To use profane science or philosophy to explain things that belong to realm of sacred is sacralization of profane, and profanization of sacred.

    Seems to me that current spiritual situation in the West, against you stand, Bonald, is actually result of internal structural weakness of Roman Catholic (and therefore western) theology and it’s position. This same weakness seems present in some of your thoughts, although unintentionally, off course. As I said, just some observations of mine (after a long delay).

  3. Hello Wrangel,

    I agree that if we base our faith on some revisable scientific theory, then something has gone really wrong with our thinking. It does seem to me legitimate to ask how different levels of truth–theological, metaphysical, psychological, biological–relate to each other. In cases such as this, they are describing the same subject (i.e. the human mind). I think we at least need philosophy to explain how they don’t relate, if indeed they don’t. Unfortunately, the philosophy of mind confuses me to no end. I think if I could iron this out in my head, it would be easier to see what grace does and doesn’t do at the lower (psychological and biological) levels of intelligibility.

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