Re: Refuting Aristotle et al (was Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record)

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Tue Dec 15 2009 - 17:55:19 EST


Sorry, but this cuts no ice. If Gregory were simply making an appeal to the
Church fathers such that they or revelation should be trusted over modern
science... well, I'd have some problems with that, but "The year is 2009"
would *still* not suffice as a meaningful argument. There are problems with
trusting revelation over science (when the two are actually in dispute,
rather than it being a clash of philosophies), but the 'modern world' hasn't
done anything but make that view unpopular.

But when Gregory is talking about how there must have been a first, I don't
see him as making a theological appeal. It's a logical appeal, one of
reason. Along the lines of, "Beings of type X exist now. Beings of type X
have not been reproducing since eternity. Ergo, there must have been a
first." That's the sort of reasoning a classic greek may have used - but
today's date does not change the validity of it.

To give another example: Aristotle is credited with the law of identity, of
contradiction, and the excluded middle. Old, old "laws". Is "It's 2009"
anything close to an adequate way to dismiss them? Does it even begin to do

Same for math. 2+2=4. You can find as much 'argued' (discovered?) in some
old, old references. Is the reasoning outdated? Is the conclusion now
suspect because of the passage of time?

So the "the world is fundamentally different" line doesn't go all that far.
Nor does, necessarily, scientific advancement. If tomorrow a scientist tells
me "2+2=71", he better have more than a declaration of "It's 2009" onhand
when I ask him to defend his view.

On Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 5:32 PM, Murray Hogg <>wrote:

> Schwarzwald wrote:
>> Not nearly enough, Murray. And I'll bluntly say that the tactic of
>> refutation by referring to the date is the stuff of glaring intellectual
>> weakness. It can be deployed for just about any position, even contrary
>> ones.
> The difference in scientific perspective between the ancient world and
> today makes any appeal to Aristotle and the Church Fathers problematic in
> the extreme - particularly when their opinion (as it is on the question of
> the "first" human) is so markedly a product of their particular view of the
> created order.
> Simply citing those authorities as if they can be considered determinative
> in any theological debate is PRECISELY to attempt to do theology in a
> pre-modern intellectual context.
> Let me note, further, that I purposefully used quote marks on "refutation."
> I am aware that simply pointing to a calendar doesn't disprove Greg's
> argument - but it DOES introduce a major consideration that has to be
> addressed.
> So the fundamental point is that our conceptual world is fundamentally
> different from that of Aristotle and the Fathers. The only "glaring
> intellectual weakness" is on the part of those who pretend otherwise.
> In that respect, pointing out that there's been 2000 years of intervening
> scientific progress since Aristotle (and 1500 years of same since the Church
> Fathers) is not quite irrelevant.
> Blessings,
> Murray
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Received on Tue Dec 15 17:55:26 2009

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