Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Warning! Speculation!

This is something of a woolly idea at the moment, a comparison of axiomatic foundations for revealed knowledge.

The easiest thing to criticise about a revealed religion is the foundation of revelation. All three religions of the book are open to this problem. The text is sacred because it is named as revealed. Revelation makes it authoritative. Readers who were not privy to the revelation must assent to the underlying workings which produced the text.

I speculate that there is a similar structure at work with physics texts. Readers who were not privy to the calculation need to assent to the underlying workings. The reader may never have worked through the various mathematical proofs of the theory, so is one step removed from the creation process.

But (ah hah!) the science is peer-reviewed! Unfortunately, so is canon. Lots of texts didn't make it into Christian canon, as reviewed by a learned body. In both cases, we trust the authoritative body (editorial boards, synods, etc.) which is comprised of people who are insiders to the privileged knowledge. Therefore, the implicit trust is in the reviewing body who approve the individual's text as authoritative. The primary trust is not in the mode of production of the knowledge, but in the mode of production of the review.

If someone outside that venerated group is unable to comprehend the production of the knowledge (has no mystical experience, cannot grasp calculus), they're left only with the choice to trust people who can comprehend it. We are alienated from the truth because there is a veil over its mode of production and must rely on testimony to overcome the alienation.

With such similarities in the production of authoritative texts, any comparison between the two can't be done in this arena. We're forced back into looking at reason and revelation as modes of production in themselves. It makes me wonder if, like natural theology or revealed theology, there is Reasoned Theology. If so, it sounds like the greatest excuse ever developed for lots of books on apologetics. And I can't stand apologetics.

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