Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Naturalization of teleological language. Say what?

I’ve been tracking Bart Campolo lately and finding him well worth a listen. In a section of this podcast, about 10 minutes long, so many things are tossed around, it could take hours to develop. It’s a rapid exchange. Bart was passionate about his desire to incorporate the many voices he hears on campus while Tripp was trying to explain the value of the language of the traditions he holds so dear. Both were pointing in the same direction, but many differences need to be worked out before they can really work together toward that same goal. Or maybe there’s a third way.

Listen to the whole thing, or jump to around 20 minutes in and try to catch up. I took their words for the next 15 minutes and made these “study” questions. Some of them get expanded on later, but mostly they are left unanswered. I hope the two of them get together for more.

Questions that depend on belief

Did the human technologies of eating together, singing together and performing rituals develop naturally, through evolution, and then get incorporated into religion, or were they developed by inspired religious leaders?

Did all of that get associated with a supernatural explanation at a time when the only explanations we had were supernatural, or do they actually have a supernatural origin? Is there another explanation?

Questions that could be separated from the belief question

Did science emerge from monotheistic assumptions then move through secularization, removing the supernatural aspects?

Since we are now developing more natural explanations, is theological language being “naturalized” to apply to our teleological relationship to creation?

How are these two sets of questions related?

How does our language hold our beliefs in place?

How do we develop the language to serve the need of bringing people together to lead happier and more productive lives?


  1. Taking each question:
    a)Human technology almost certainly emerged from observation of natural events.
    b)Belief in the supernatural almost certainly emerged from observation of (unexplainable) natural events which followed from natural mathematical functions and geometrics.

    c)IMO, yes.
    d)Again yes, the Pontifical Department of Science has adopted the term "evolution"
    c) In principle Science and Philosophy (Spiritualism) study the same thing but in a different contexts.
    Science asks for answers to what is extant, philosophy asks for meaning and implication of what is extant.
    d)IMO, the *mirror neural system*, the cognitive part of the brain.

    I believe there is an option which allows for compromise.

    But it would require compromise by discarding the notion of a self-aware and motivated being or condition and replacing it with a pseudo-intelligent mathematical function, which still allows for belief in an abstraction of what David Bohm called an implacable "insight intelligence"


  2. Thanks Write4U. For the final question, I wasn't looking for the mechanism so much as for a framing of the conversation. That is, can we settle the points brought up in the first 5 questions to a degree that allows us to hear each other and develop new points and ideas for how to move forward?