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.