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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Now, he's just incoherent

Vallicella (again, about 'Original Sin'): Two Opposite Mistakes Concerning Original Sin

Vallicella claims:
One mistake is to think that the doctrine of Original Sin is empirically verifiable. I have seen this thought attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr. (If someone can supply a reference for me with exact bibliographical data, I would be much obliged.) I could easily be mistaken, but I believe I have encountered the thought in Kierkegaard as well. (Anyone have a reference?) G. K. Chesterton says essentially the same thing. See my post, Is Sin a Fact? A Passage from Chesterton Examined. Chesterton thinks that sin, and indeed original sin, is a plain fact for all to see. That is simply not the case as I argue. ...
Simultaneously, Vallicella claims:
... So on the one hand we have those who maintain that the doctrine of Original Sin is true as a matter of empirical fact, and on the other we have those who maintain that it is false as a matter of empirical fact. On both sides we find very intelligent people. I take this disagreement as further evidence that we are indeed fallen beings, 'noetically wretched,' to coin a phrase, beings whose reason is so infirm and befouled that we can even argue about such a thing. And of course my own view, according to which OS is neither empirically true nor empirically false, is just another voice added to the cacophony of conflicting voices, though, as it seems to me, it has more merit than the other two.
And, he concludes:
So we are in deep caca, intellectually, morally, and in every which way -- which is why I believe in 'something like' Original Sin. Our condition is a fallen one, and indeed one that is (i) universal in that it applies to everyone, and (ii) unameliorable by anything we can do, individually or collectively. ...
In case Gentle Reader has not worked out for himself what the point of incoherency is, it is this: Mr Vallicella asserts:
1) the doctrine of Original Sin is not empirically verifiable (nor empirically falsifiable);
1a) yet, somehow, the fact that we even argue about whether the doctrine can at all have an empirical basis both is and is not an empirical basis for the doctrine;
2) the effects of Original Sin can be directly observed daily, everywhere, in all things we do or do not do;
2a) nevertheless, these observations do not count as empirical verification of the doctrine.


Gyan said...

That man is imperfect to himself is an empirical fact. From this fact, it was evident to Chesterton that we are fallen beings and thus Original Sin.

However, the evolutionists of 19C believed that we are imperfect but rising beings.
In 20C, they have lost the concept of perfection. Now evolution just meanders.

There are other possible views, though none with the clarity and pointedness of the Christian story. Eg, Hare Krishna says that souls fall from the Blessed Realm at the beginning of each cosmic cycle and then begin the journey back to the Blessed Realm through many lifetimes and reincarnations.
However, they give no reason why souls should ever fall out of the Blessed Realm.

Ilíon said...

Yep; all peoples, in all times, have believed that there is something fundamentally wrong or broken about human beings -- that in some way, and for some reason/cause, we do not measure up to what we *ought* to be. And, of course, this belief/intuition does not make sense under a philosophy of naturalism or atheism; it can make sense only if there is a transcendant "oughtness" about reality against which we can be measured.

Gyan said...

Curiously, the argument given by Peter Lupu that God wants humans to show moral autonomy by disobeying him is identical to the argument that Satan gives in Perelandra.

"he Genesis story recounts not the Fall of man, but his rise or ascent from a pre-human condition of animal innocence to the status of a moral being possessing the knowledge of good and evil. This makes sense if if it is by eating the forbidden fruit that man first become man in the full theomorphic sense. And so, to put it quite pointedly, it is only by disobeying the divine command that Adam becomes a son of God! Before that he wallows in a state of animal-like, pre-human inoncence.