Sunday, February 27, 2011


Susan Haack, Evidence and Inquiry (1993), p. 219, meaning to challenge Descartes:

Why did God not create us with unlimited powers of reasoning … ?  And his answer:  that God’s purposes are beyond human comprehension, is completely unsatisfying.

Really… completely unsatisfying?  Completely unsatisfying as in, “How icky of Him, I demand my lollipop now” (“Why did not God create us with wings?  It would be such a lark”); or as in, “Your statement is false”?  And if the latter:  False in the usual sense of the term, so that “God’s purposes are within human comprehension” is accordingly true?  Or false in the devious Russellian present-king-of-France manner (more modernly termed, not straightforwardly false, but without truth value, or suffering from presupposition-failure), so that you will object to anything predicated or denied of God, because you don’t believe in Him in the first place, but refuse to just come out and say so?

Throughout her epistemological magnum opus, Haack plies some keen reasoning;  but confronted with God, she falls apart.   Indeed, we can with some confidence state, that if God exists, as anything like the being that is envisioned in the Abrahamic tradition, then yes indeed His purposes are beyond human comprehension:  of course they are.   Heck, most of the time, a man’s wife’s purposes seem beyond human comprehensions;  quantum mechanics is beyond human comprehension (take it from the experts who know it best); and until recently, algebraic geometry was beyond human comprehension -- Aristotle would have thrown up his hands.

Deny Him if you will (for He leaves you entirely free to do so);  but do not pretend that Descartes was here being irrational.

~  Posthumous Endorsement ~
"If I were alive today, and in the mood for a mystery,
this is what I'd be reading: "
(Je suis René Descartes, and I approved this message.)
~         ~

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