Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reflections: 'Buked and Scorned

I have for the past couple of days been involved in a comment box “conversation” based on this post at What’s Wrong With the World. It hasn’t gone well for the Kid. Your host has been dissed and dismissed. The post links to a 60-plus page philosophical treatise which purports to make a “Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth” and which is “Now Available in Draft.” No wonder I’ve always preferred bottles.

I, in fact, agree with all of the conclusions made in the article. My purpose in posing counter-arguments in the comment section has been to serve as the devil’s advocate. I tried to pose objections to the conclusions drawn by the authors that I felt could plausibly be made by a very sceptical non-believer reading the piece with a jaundiced eye. An introductory paragraph of the article states that, although philosophical arguments can tend to get rather sticky, it is possible for the skilled philosopher to pose an “argument that an educated non-specialist can readily grasp.” Rodak has, alas, failed, in that rôle, to provide the proof of these philosophers’ skills. After well more than a dozen exchanges with one of the co-authors of the article, my cumulative comments drew this observation from a lurking sage:

I don't think Rodak is up to following an argument on this subject. You've done your best, but he lacks the background required to get across the
pons asinorum.

Ouch. But this little snippet of dismissive grandiosity only betrays the fugitive truth that the article was never designed to be persuasive to a skeptical non-specialist in the first place. Rather, it is a gaudy clockwork canary of a piece, cleverly designed to whistle and trill as it dances along its gilded perch, evoking the hooting, foot-stomping kudos of the Byzantine lords and ladies of minor league academia. Well, hoo-rah.

Pons asinorum” indeed. Try “bridge to nowhere.” It seems that I didn’t come properly equipped. It’s as if some poor schmuck, his house a-blaze, called the fire department, only to have the Chief inform him brusquely that he and his men would be happy to come over and extinguish the flames, provided, of course, that the unfortunate home-owner supplied the hoses and ladders, the axes and pumps needed for the task.

Perhaps I’m just not equipped. Or, on the other hand, perhaps one could say that my intellect is just not so jury-rigged by hyper-edjumacation as to be susceptible to an argument that glitters and gleams like a gilded canary, but has no life in it.


Civis said...


Are you ready to agree with me that Christians need to be more open to questioning like--I'm told--Jewish parents teach their childrent to be able to do? Most of the saints and reformers were people who were able to enterain questions--put them on the table and examine them. But I think the mass of us are afraid of questions and see them as a threat.


Rodak said...

Welcome back! I try to question everything. Nothing should go untested; that's my m.o.
I will, as I did in the case of the article that culminated in this frustrated post, argue against a thesis that I basically agree with, just to see if I can find flaws in it. This doesn't go over real big with people following a System, and whose whole professional gimmick is predicated upon defending that system against all alien doubt.
Ah, it takes all kinds.