Prayers of Love and Reparation

2a696046f5290a84e333005f5a628bc4-1Following a discussion about the devotion of the Five First Saturdays and prayers of reparation, a dear friend sent me a message which seems so relevant to our times that I want to share it with our readers.

Always bearing in mind that whilst the Church does not require belief in any apparition or private revelation, those which have been declared ‘worthy of belief’ have for many proved to be a source of abundant graces:

In the words of Our Blessed Mother, to Sr Agnes of Akita:

“If you love the Lord, listen to what I have to say to you. Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him, to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair, by their suffering and their poverty, for the sinners and ingrates.

In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him, forming a cohort of victim souls. Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father’s anger. I desire from your community, that it love poverty, that it sacrifice itself, and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men.

As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be greater than the deluge, such as one never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate, they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you, will be the Rosary, and the Sign (the Cross) left by my Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.

The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church, in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres, church and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises, and the demon will press many to leave the service of the Lord. The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them.”

“Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone, am still able to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me, will be saved.”

Our Lady said much the same at Fatima, “only I can help you.” Just as only Queen Esther could intercede with the king to save the Jews from destruction, so the Queen of Heaven, alone, can intercede with the Divine King, to save us. But, She requires our co-operation. We must pray, ardently, urgently, and unceasingly, in order to, as Pope Paul VI said, “turn to  Her, and give Her the justification to say to Her Divine Son, ‘Son, they have no peace.’ ” But She can only do this with the justification of our prayers.

Prayers of love and reparation. So let us commend everyone to Our Lady. Everyone without exception. That is love. Forgiving all who have offended us, and begging God, through Our Lady, to forgive us and them. In this way we respond truly, to Our Lady’s urgent request to “pray and offer sacrifices for them” because, as She said, “many souls go to hell because there is nobody to pray for them.”

Satan works hard and tirelessly to snatch souls from God. We must, with Our Lady, work ceaselessly and tirelessly, to snatch souls from Satan. Let us therefore be courageous, be generous, just as Our Lady is. All Her life here on earth, as now also in Heaven, She ceaselessly prays, intercedes, and makes reparation for all of us, Her children.

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85 Responses to Prayers of Love and Reparation

  1. toadspittle says:

    “In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind.”
    Despite being perfect, lacking and wanting nothing, God can still get angry, lose his temper and punish people, even the innocent.
    How come?

    “As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be greater than the deluge, such as one never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate, they will envy the dead. “

    “If,” is an interesting word here. Because God has known from all eternity what mankind would do. Or so I’m told. His “terrible punishment” hardly seems just for the “good” either. Suppose it must be, though.
    However, we might as well be hanged for sheep as for lambs under those circumstances, it would appear.
    Doesn’t Our Blessed Mother know what the outcome will be herself? It seems not.

    And doesn’t anyone else on CP&S have a problem with the logic involved in the likes of this?

  2. Tom Fisher says:

    And doesn’t anyone else on CP&S have a problem with the logic involved in the likes of this?

    Sometimes Toad, I think of you as Alice trying to make sense of a certain tea party.

  3. Tom Fisher says:

    Just kidding!

  4. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    Another place just wrote about this the other day as well…

    http://www.lepantoinstitute.org/faith-and-life/fatima-noah-and-same-sex-marriage/

    @ toad

    Despite being perfect, lacking and wanting nothing, God can still get angry, lose his temper and punish people, even the innocent.
    How come?

    Because part of being perfect means he must be just and holy. Meaning sin cannot go unpunished. If a court judge were to let a guilty criminal who had committed a terrible crime off the hook, we would say he is an incompetent judge, would we not? As for the faithful suffering with the unfaithful…

    The survivors will find themselves so desolate, they will envy the dead.

    It seems to me that if the aftermath would be so bad that any survivors would actually envy those who had been killed by the fire, that it would be an act of mercy on God’s part to bring the faithful to Himself instead of leaving them behind to suffer more. Gotta have an eternal perspective.

  5. toadspittle says:

    “Meaning sin cannot go unpunished. “
    Whoever suggested that it should, FBNF? Not me.
    But surely, the punishment should fit the crime?
    “If a court judge were to let a guilty criminal who had committed a terrible crime off the hook, we would say he is an incompetent judge, would we not?”
    Certainly, and what would we say of a Judge that ordered someone hanged for stealing a loaf of bread? Or, in God’s case – punish a person eternally for a temporal crime? I don’t know.

    Tom – you are spot on. Trying to make sense of “religion” is exactly like trying to make sense of a mad tea party. Carroll had come (via Darwin) to believe it subconsciously himself. That’s my personal theory, anyway. Wrestling with the (perceived) logic of religion is what “Alice” is all about. Believing six impossible things before breakfast, and so on ( Might be quite wrong, of course.)

  6. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    But surely, the punishment should fit the crime?

    Who are we to decide whether the punishment fits the crime or not? Of course we humans think it’s harsh, because our flesh wants to be able to do what it wants to do with little or no consequence. It’s like the judge asking the criminal on trial what kind of punishment he thinks he should get – it will never be as harsh as what is deserved.

    Certainly, and what would we say of a Judge that ordered someone hanged for stealing a loaf of bread? Or, in God’s case – punish a person eternally for a temporal crime? I don’t know.

    I would think it harsh also, but of course I covered that already. But worth God having created the universe and everything in it, he alone has the right to decide what is right and wrong, just and unjust, fair and unfair. We can accept it or not, then be prepared to accept the consequences of our choice. It’s as simple as that.

  7. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    Oops, that should say “but WITH God having created….”

  8. mkenny114 says:

    I’m pretty (actually very) sure that the question of how God is involved with His creation from the ‘vantage point’ of Eternity (particularly with the free actions of the creatures therein) has been satisfactorily answered before, and has been so on many occasions, but here goes one more time…

    God has not ‘known from all Eternity’ what we would do – He everything we have done, are doing, and will do, in one eternal present (although even the word present is only the best fit we have for what being outside of time might actually be like, and is not an exact description). Within this eternal present are included all the ways in which we, freely, responded to His offer(s) of grace, which includes the times we did and didn’t repent and turn from our ways. Once you grasp that this is the case, there is no contradiction in the fact that God’s actions towards us are in some way interactive with/responsive to our actions. There is the mystery of how free will and Providence are reconciled of course, but this is something we must either accept or slide into absurdity.

    When discussing revelations then, the language used in such will always be inadequate, because it is describing how the eternal action of God is known and experienced by finite, temporal creatures – just as in Scripture, when God is described as having changed His mind, this is only a description of how things appear from our point of view, or a necessarily analogical way of saying that our prayers are taken into account (albeit from that aforementioned vantage point which we cannot possibly begin to understand), so is the case with other revelations.

    As for Lewis Carroll, I think he was a lot more sensible than you give him credit for – i.e.; he was perfectly capable of recognising the difference between contradiction and paradox, and could see (as many others can, with little trouble) that ‘this subject is inexhaustible, necessarily mysterious in a great many parts, and I cannot hope to ever completely get my head around it’ is not the same thing as ‘this is illogical’.

  9. toadspittle says:

    “Who are we to decide whether the punishment fits the crime or not?”
    Well, FBNF, who do we have to be? We’re all we’ve got. Aren’t we allowed opinions?
    You say God wants this or that, God decides this or that – but how do you know?
    Someone told you, didn’t they? How did they know? Someone else told them, no doubt.

    “It’s as simple as that.”
    Yes, I suppose it is – from your point of view.
    We are all utterly subject to the whims and caprices of God.
    Apparently. Leads to Muslim-type fatalism, for sure.

  10. toadspittle says:

    “God has not ‘known from all Eternity’ what we would do –”
    How do you know that, Michael? Did you read it somewhere? In The Daily Telegraph, say, or the Bible?

    “I’m pretty (actually very) sure that the question of how God is involved with His creation from the ‘vantage point’ of Eternity …(…)… has been satisfactorily answered before,”
    Maybe to your satisfaction, Michael – but not, I suggest – to Uncle Anthony’s or Toad’s.
    …Not that either of us matter a heap of beans.

  11. toadspittle says:

    “There is the mystery of how free will and Providence are reconciled of course, but this is something we must either accept or slide into absurdity..”.
    Absurdity, of course, is where we have all been since day one, in Eden, pretty much.

    Moderator writes: Owing to your comments becoming increasingly absurd and intolerable Toad, the second part of your tripe here has been deleted

  12. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    Ah, I see now… You aren’t a Christian, are you Toad? Everything we say here will be foolishness in your eyes because you can’t see the world the way a Christian can, nor do you really want to. You’ll argue with us as long as we’re willing to participate, yes?

  13. Tom Fisher says:

    Carroll had come (via Darwin) to believe it subconsciously himself. That’s my personal theory, anyway. Wrestling with the (perceived) logic of religion is what “Alice” is all about.

    An interesting thought🙂 I think he was pretty devout really — though of relevance to this discussion is that he was a convinced universalist, he didn’t believe in damnation. That’s not uncommon in the C of E today but in the 19th Century it was still noteworthy.

    Always bearing in mind that whilst the Church does not require belief in any apparition or private revelation

    I for one don’t believe in the apparition and words ascribed to Mary above. Having read the ‘words to Sr Agnes’ a few times I find them to be downright weird. — Not as in mysterious, but as in slightly deranged.

    In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him, forming a cohort of victim souls.

    Was the angry Father not already aware of the sufferings of his son? — But that’s the least of it — the image of Mary and Jesus in a celestial throne room begging and cajoling and angry Father is like something out of Homer. — The imagery has more in common with Olympus than monotheism.

    As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be greater than the deluge, such as one never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful.

    Let’s bear in mind the promise made by God at the end of the deluge story in Genesis…

    Let the down-votes rain down upon me, I’m not buying these supposed revelations for a moment.

  14. Tom Fisher says:

    Owing to your comments becoming increasingly absurd and intolerable Toad, the second part of your tripe here has been deleted

    Naughty Toad! Behold your much deserved fate:

  15. You’re not all there yourself, Mr. Fisher. A very merry un-Saint’s day to you and Toad!

  16. Tom Fisher says:

    You’re not all there yourself, Mr. Fisher

    All where good sir? Are the Hapsburgs restored yet*, or must we wait a little longer?

    * glass houses, stones😉

  17. toadspittle says:

    Can’t remember what I said that so got Burro’s goat, anyway. Never mind – press cheerfully on.
    Nice of him to run the first bit, very likely.
    Not a Christian, Feminine But Not Female? Well, it all depends what you mean by a “Christian.”
    I’m more Catholic than C.S.Lewis, at least.

    Possibly I should paraphrase you, and re-name myself – Catholic But Not Christian.
    I have abundant sympathy with a great many Catholic/Christian views.
    Such as, “Turn the other cheek,” but not all.

    “Everything we say here will be foolishness in your eyes ..”
    No not everything. Some things, though, certainly.
    Because none of us has a monopoly on unalloyed wisdom, do we?
    (Except Burrisimo, possibly.)

  18. Tom Fisher says:

    When discussing revelations then, the language used in such will always be inadequate, because it is describing how the eternal action of God is known and experienced by finite, temporal creatures – just as in Scripture, when God is described as having changed His mind, this is only a description of how things appear from our point of view, or a necessarily analogical way of saying that our prayers are taken into account (albeit from that aforementioned vantage point which we cannot possibly begin to understand), so is the case with other revelations.

    To be honest Mkenny the above doesn’t remotely help make the case that the ‘message’ in this post makes sense. If you think it does make sense, just say why in plain language. Otherwise it’s just obfuscation to mask your own discomfort with the claim. Or as Orwell put it:

    The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were instinctively, to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.

  19. Tom Fisher says:

    It is quite important whether or not the words of Our Blessed Mother, to Sr Agnes of Akita are in fact anything of the kind.

    The ‘message’ makes quite a specific claim about a disagreement / tussle supposedly going on in Heaven. On one side is God the Father who is very angry and is preparing (?) a great calamity to inflict on us (guilty and innocent alike). On the other side is Mary and Jesus, who are trying to mollify him and convince him not to inflict the calamity. Apparently, by prayer and good behaviour, we can make it easier for Mary and Jesus to convince the Father not to carry out his punishment.

    The claims of the ‘message’ are clear, specific, and only make sense if one takes a thoroughly temporal view of God. Otherwise they are untrue, and make no sense. The closest analogy I know of to the situation described in the message is Athene trying to convince Zeus not to have Odysseus come to harm. — It strikes me as pretty clear that this ‘revelation’ is a human invention. I don’t see how some Catholics buy into it.

  20. Tom Fisher says:

    Many thanks for reading, anonymous and silent down-voter. Perhaps, instead, you’d care to explain exactly why I’m wrong not to be convinced.

  21. mkenny114 says:

    How do you know that, Michael? Did you read it somewhere? In The Daily Telegraph, say, or the Bible?

    We know such things, with as much confidence as we can know such things in this life, due to a combination of reasoned reflection on the truths we discern about life in common with one another, and reasoned reflection upon truths revealed to us. Both of these sources tell us things about the nature of God, with the latter building upon and complementing the former. As I say, either we accept the validity of such reasoning, and accept that at the heart of reality lies an inexhaustible Mystery that can be comprehended in part but not in full, or we are left with the absurd. To take the latter path and then continue to act as if life were in fact meaningful and coherent is, at the least, intellectually (and psychologically) dishonest.

    As to whether or not you feel issues such as the above have been satisfactorily answered in the past or not, the point is that you keep raising the same questions over and over again – either you think there is the possibility of getting an answer that satisfies you, or you are just wasting your time. I hope that you do indeed sense there is more to all this religion malarkey than you suggest in your comments, and that this is why you repeat the questions, but I might be wrong.

    To be honest Mkenny the above doesn’t remotely help make the case that the ‘message’ in this post makes sense. If you think it does make sense, just say why in plain language. Otherwise it’s just obfuscation to mask your own discomfort with the claim.

    Tom, why is it obfuscation to argue that the language used in this message can be understood in such a way? There are passages in Scripture where God is described as becoming angry, or repenting of His decision to punish, and the Church has a long-held tradition of reading such language as symbolic or analogical, so why is it not applicable here?

    Also, is it not inevitable that in communication with His people, God would so in a way that is easily understood by all, and not by using abstractions about His relationship with us from Eternity that are harder for a wider range of people to grasp, and also no less metaphorical than the ‘crude’ language used in messages such as the one above?

  22. Tom Fisher says:

    Tom, why is it obfuscation to argue that the language used in this message can be understood in such a way? There are passages in Scripture where God is described as becoming angry, or repenting of His decision to punish, and the Church has a long-held tradition of reading such language as symbolic or analogical, so why is it not applicable here?

    Because, unlike scripture, with which I have no quarrel, this is a particular claim (made in 1973) about an open question in heaven — will the Father act on his anger or will Mary and Jesus convince him not to (aided by our prayers)? — It’s a particular and specific claim, and as I say has more in common with Homer than the Bible

  23. Tom Fisher says:

    Also, is it not inevitable that in communication with His people, God would so in a way that is easily understood by all

    Well the passage at the head of this article fails by that criteria as well. On the face of it it’s utterly bizarre that God the Father would plan to kill the innocent (including priests) whilst Mary and Jesus don’t want him to.

    And I note that you’ve now defended it on both the grounds that it’s an incomprehensible mystery, and that it is ‘easily understood’.

  24. mkenny114 says:

    The point is Tom, that your criticism pertained to the way that I argued such language should be interpreted, not to whether or not it was a valid revelation. So again, if you will grant for the sake of argument that it is a valid revelation, why should we not interpret it in the same way we do Scripture?

  25. Tom Fisher says:

    Lastly, because it is a supposed ‘private revelation’, not part of the deposit of the faith, it is up to those who are convinced by it to provide overwhelming arguments for its veracity -otherwise the default position is that it is exactly what it looks like. A confection.

  26. mkenny114 says:

    And I note that you’ve now defended it on both the grounds that it’s an incomprehensible mystery, and that it is ‘easily understood’.

    Re the inexhaustible Mystery, I was referring to the reasonableness of being able to know things in general about the nature of God, as should be clear if you look at what Toad and I wrote in the previous comments. The language in the revelation (and indeed in Scripture) is what I was saying is related in a way that is easily understood.

  27. Tom Fisher says:

    if you will grant for the sake of argument that it is a valid revelation, why should we not interpret it in the same way we do Scripture?

    It’s not a question of granting it for the sake of argument. It is a particular case – and either revelation, or human creation. The ONLY reason to interpret it as we do scripture would be if we had a good reason to take it seriously, and given the contents of the message – we don’t.

  28. mkenny114 says:

    it is up to those who are convinced by it to provide overwhelming arguments for its veracity

    Again, that is not what I’m actually arguing for though is it, but the use of such language in this case and in general.

  29. mkenny114 says:

    It’s not a question of granting it for the sake of argument. It is a particular case – and either revelation, or human creation. The ONLY reason to interpret it as we do scripture would be if we had a good reason to take it seriously, and given the contents of the message – we don’t.

    Fair enough point in and of itself, but that wasn’t your original objection to my comment.

  30. Tom Fisher says:

    My objection to your comment is that although we can mount defenses of using temporal language re God – those defenses only make sense when we have a prior reason to take the passages in question seriously (e.g. scripture). For the text in question, I strongly dispute that that is the case. I’m sure you know as well as I do that it’s a problematic ‘message’ to say the very very least. And I think a strong defense of analogical readings rather skirted what surely has to be the central question. Is this bogus or genuine?

  31. mkenny114 says:

    Yes, but your primary (perhaps sole) reason for not taking the message seriously precisely is the language used. I agree that we have a prior reason for interpreting similar passages in Scripture the way we do because we have already accepted its trustworthiness, but once that is accepted, we have also allowed that such an interpretive method is sound when assessing revelatory language. Thus we cannot disallow that very method in trying to decide whether or not any other revelation is valid, particularly when the claims it makes bout God’s potential punishment of His creatures (and possible relenting from that punishment) are extremely similar to some passages in the Bible.

    If we do discount such a means of assessing the message above, then we are essentially arguing in a circle – ‘it can’t be a genuine revelation because genuine revelations don’t read like that, and we know they don’t read like that because we’ve already decided they don’t.’

  32. Tom Fisher says:

    your primary (perhaps sole) reason for not taking the message seriously precisely is the language used.

    particularly when the claims it makes bout God’s potential punishment of His creatures (and possible relenting from that punishment) are extremely similar to some passages in the Bible

    I think there is a world of difference between the temporal language and imagery in the Bible, and the ‘revelation’ at hand. For one thing the Akita revelation enjoins the faithful (here and now) to take certain actions, specifically to help Mary and Jesus change the Fathers intentions. — It also reflects a difference of intention and ‘opinion’ between Jesus and Mary and the Father which is entirely absent from scripture.

    I don’t find it genuinely similar to anything in the Bible. I mean what I say when I find it closer in spirit to Greek epic than Biblical literature.

    I am not convinced by it because I find it antithetical scripture, and that judgement goes beyond just the language used.

  33. JabbaPapa says:

    that God the Father would plan to kill the innocent

    Who they ?

    We are all sinners ; plus, we will all die.

  34. Tom Fisher says:

    We are all sinners ; plus, we will all die.

    Yes. Do you have an opinion on the Akita revelation?

  35. mkenny114 says:

    I think there is a world of difference between the temporal language and imagery in the Bible, and the ‘revelation’ at hand. For one thing the Akita revelation enjoins the faithful (here and now) to take certain actions, specifically to help Mary and Jesus change the Fathers intentions. — It also reflects a difference of intention and ‘opinion’ between Jesus and Mary and the Father which is entirely absent from scripture.

    Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree then – I really don’t think it is that different to, say, the language used in Jonah, where the people of Nineveh are asked to take certain actions in order to change God’s mind re their forthcoming punishment. As for the difference of intention and opinion between Jesus and Mary on the one hand and the Father on the other, I find it significant that the way Our Lady speaks of appeasing the Father’s wrath is by ‘by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him, forming a cohort of victim souls’ i.e.; it is not all that different from what we believe about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There is an element of propitiation involved in the sacrificial offering of love by the Son to the Father is there not?

  36. Tom Fisher says:

    Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree then

    Yes, I think we really do. There are similarities to points in scripture as you say. But on balance I find the overall effect of this ‘revelation’ to be utterly inferior to Christian revelation. Pax

  37. mkenny114 says:

    Perhaps maybe it is just a matter of it not being ‘to your taste’ then…? If that were so I’d certainly understand such a position, but yes, overall I think the content and manner of the language (as opposed to its, for want of a better word, style) contains nothing that cannot be reconciled with what we read in Scripture and know through magisterial teachings, Tradition, other visions approved as acceptable for belief, etc. End game🙂

  38. Tom Fisher says:

    overall I think the content and manner of the language (as opposed to its, for want of a better word, style) contains nothing that cannot be reconciled with what we read in Scripture and know through magisterial teachings, Tradition, other visions approved as acceptable for belief, etc. End game🙂

    Well if you like, but I could write a message that fits those criteria, as could you. The fact that after jumping some analogical hoops we can read Akita in such a way that it isn’t necessarily nonsense is hardly a ringing endorsement.

  39. mkenny114 says:

    The fact that after jumping some analogical hoops we can read Akita in such a way that it isn’t necessarily nonsense is hardly a ringing endorsement.

    Again, I find it hard to understand why using analogical language in interpreting Scripture is okay, but such a method, when applied to a message you don’t like, becomes ‘jumping through hoops’. As I said before, I know we already have prior reasons for trusting Scripture, but once we have decided the method in question is valid, there is no good reason for not applying it to other sources, particularly when it is the nature of the language used that is the primary reason given for not trusting it. We’ve been over this already I know, but I just find the off-hand dismissal of our being able to interpret Akita analogically strange.

  40. Tom Fisher says:

    We’ve been over this already I know, but I just find the off-hand dismissal of our being able to interpret Akita analogically strange.

    Well, I would say that as a question of procedure we should only use methods such as you recommend on texts that we already have an overwhelming reason for taking seriously. The reason for this is that an analogical reading can be very forgiving of problematic texts. It’s use is justifiable if we already know the text in question is worthwhile and just need help understanding it. (e.g. scripture). But for a text like the Akita revelation we run the risk of smoothing over the problematic aspects and not being critical enough. If you see the procedural distinction I have in mind

  41. mkenny114 says:

    It’s use is justifiable if we already know the text in question is worthwhile and just need help understanding it. (e.g. scripture). But for a text like the Akita revelation we run the risk of smoothing over the problematic aspects and not being critical enough. If you see the procedural distinction I have in mind

    Yes, I see the distinction, and one cannot apply such methods willy-nilly, but for the Church, who uses such a method to interpret her known sources of revelation, I think it would be fair to say that such a method should be included within the interpretive ‘toolkit’. The problem is is that it is possible to err in the other direction (by assuming that because a given message is not to our liking or taste, it is not worth applying the method at all) – given the similarities with other approved apparitions, I don’t think the decision to discount that method is warranted. Once we then do allow for metaphorical/analogical interpretations, the real problem (and reason for rejecting the apparition) goes out the window. This is not to say that all difficulties are removed of course, but the objecter’s main reason for rejection has been removed.

  42. mkenny114 says:

    Anyway, I have to sign off now, so goodbye for now!

  43. Tom Fisher says:

    All the best Mkenny, I enjoy our arguments

  44. JabbaPapa says:

    Do you have an opinion on the Akita revelation?

    No, except that it is concordant with some other private revelations given to some other seers.

  45. geoffkiernan says:

    Tom, Do your concerns about the validity of messages from Akita extend to other Church approved apparitions ? EG Fatima Lourdes etc. You don’t deny the Godhead the inclination or the ability to permit such things to occur…? …interesting debate above.

  46. Tom Fisher says:

    Tom, Do your concerns about the validity of messages from Akita extend to other Church approved apparitions ? EG Fatima Lourdes etc. You don’t deny the Godhead the inclination or the ability to permit such things to occur…? …interesting debate above.

    Geoff,

    Fair question. I definitely don’t deny that there can be private revelations. Lourdes especially is something I take very seriously, I have not visited, but I hope to one day. Fatima I don’t know enough about yet, I have an open mind. But I’m not buying Akita, and I might be wrong, but something about it doesn’t ring true to me.

  47. toadspittle says:

    “at the heart of reality lies an inexhaustible Mystery that can be comprehended in part but not in full, or we are left with the absurd. To take the latter path and then continue to act as if life were in fact meaningful and coherent is, at the least, intellectually (and psychologically) dishonest.”
    I do accept that, Michael. Music, for one, is such an inexhaustible mystery. (to me.)

    However, do we consider the life of, say, a tiger – meaningful and coherent?
    Despite the tiger not having an immortal soul and so not going to Heaven (or Hell) and not being, (unlike Tony Blair,) made in God’s image? I do.
    True, I bang on and on about the same old, same old – “eternal damnation,” and “original sin,” but then so do other people about abortion, and the horrors of Vat ll, and what a very nice man Pope Francis is, and so on.
    But that’s allowable, apparently.

  48. Tom Fisher says:

    Maybe Toad, if you’re in a briefly serious frame of mind, you’ll agree that your objection isn’t to God, but to claims to know what God wants. And you might like Roger Scruton’s comment on Aquinas realising that his theology was straw in comparism to the reality it reached for:

    the real meaning of the world is ineffable. Having got to this point, Aquinas obeyed the injunction of Wittgenstein, whose Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus concludes with the proposition: ‘that whereof we cannot speak we must consign to silence.’

  49. JabbaPapa says:

    I’m not buying Akita, and I might be wrong

    It is always your right not to accept the contents of a private revelation, even when associated with a recognised Apparition, except in such cases where the Church may have decided to publish such contents herself, as for example in the case of the messages of Fatima.

  50. Tom Fisher says:

    It is always your right not to accept the contents of a private revelation, even when associated with a recognised Apparition, except in such cases where the Church may have decided to publish such contents herself, as for example in the case of the messages of Fatima.

    I don’t want to be frivolous in exercising that right however. My views on Akita are clear, but I value the debate.

    Jabba, re Fatima, I’ve always thought of Fatima as something that was up to the conscience of the individual believer. You imply that is mistaken. Can you expand on that?

  51. mkenny114 says:

    Toad,

    Yes, I do consider the life of a tiger to be meaningful, but whether it actually is or not depends upon one’s philosophy of life – if we cannot give an account of why life is meaningful overall, then any meaning we might attribute to our own lives or that of tigers is not really justifiable. That we do indeed attribute meaning to ourselves, various creatures, and various aspects of our experience, is itself deeply suggestive of life being meaningful overall, and is part of the data from which we can confidently reason to a coherent account of existence.

    That other people might bring up the same issues again and again is by the by – repeated protests or declarations of concern are not the same as repeatedly asking the same question. The latter seems to be a bit of a redundant exercise if one has already come to the conclusion that the question has, after many attempts, not been satisfactorily answered. But the fact that you do keep asking is a hopeful sign, I think. As Tom said, your objections really seem to be regarding whether or not we can know anything of God’s will (and, I would add, of His essential nature) – in response to that I would suggest that you broaden the range of ways of knowing that you find acceptable. There seems to be a shadow of positivism lying behind your thinking (correct me if I am wrong), and the world of epistomology is far richer than that.

    Tom, enjoyed from this end as well, and all the best to you too.

  52. toadspittle says:

    I appreciate that you understood the significance of the tiger reference, Michael.
    Yes I am, I suppose, looking for some evidence to support the notion of immortality, like another Miguel – Unamuno. Because, like him, I believe that’s what it’s all about.
    So far, no luck.
    But one never know, do one?

    “Maybe Toad, if you’re in a briefly serious frame of mind, you’ll agree that your objection isn’t to God,”
    Spot on again, Tom. My objection is not to God (perish the thought!) but to the various, practically infinite, conceptions of God. Which, thank God, we can safely comment on here without the danger of getting our heads cut off.
    …Only our comments, at times.

    Nice, the idea of Aquinas channelling Wittgenstein.

    “the real meaning of the world is ineffable. “
    True. God or no God.
    Might as well ask the “meaning” of the other Ludwig’s quartet Op. 135.

  53. mkenny114 says:

    I wouldn’t say it all hinges on the question of immortality, at least not simply in the sense of the continuation of existence, but rather the expansion, deepening and further enrichment of existence – whether or not we it is possible to go ‘further up and further in’ (c.f.; The Last Battle) into the fabric of ultimate reality, or whether what we can experience and know now is it.

    The argument from desire has been much maligned over the years, but I think it at least provides a good way of looking at this question – namely, can the very fact that our existence here and now heavily hints at or points towards its being merely the foretaste of something much greater not be valid grounds for our inferring the reality of such a state post-mortem? After all, if it cannot, the only alternative explanation for such deeply held and widely acknowledged promptings is that the most fundamental stirrings of the human spirit are illusory, and if we admit that, what can we trust? The choice again is between Mystery and the absurd. As I say, this is not a knock-down argument, but it does provide a different perspective from which to engage with these questions, and (I think) pretty fairly undermines the often-heard argument that the desire for or belief in an afterlife is ‘merely’ wishful thinking.

    Anyway, one thing that everyone here can (hopefully) agree with is that Beethoven’s late string quartets are utterly beautiful – some of the most eloquent testimony to the extraordinary human phenomenon of deriving beauty in and through the midst of suffering (itself a great existential pointer towards the reality of our abiding participation in ultimate reality).

  54. JabbaPapa says:

    I’ve always thought of Fatima as something that was up to the conscience of the individual believer

    Not really, given that we are limited by an authoritative, if not strictly doctrinal, manner in our interpretations of the messages of Fatima by the fact that the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has published not only the texts of those messages, but also a limiting interpretative framework that our own private interpretations should abide by.

    This is technically a pastoral instruction to all Catholics, but of course we are not normally permitted to ignore such instruction, coming as it does from the highest level of pastoral Authority that we have.

    In any case, the Church undoubtedly instructs us that not only were those Apparitions genuine, but also that the messages of Fatima that were received during those Apparitions were such and such, and so and so.

  55. JabbaPapa says:

    * except for certain private revelations given to the three children, and to Lucia later in life, which remain strictly private, notwithstanding whatever details she may have provided about them, privately

  56. Tom Fisher says:

    The choice again is between Mystery and the absurd

    It would be mystery either way I think.

    such deeply held and widely acknowledged promptings is that the most fundamental stirrings of the human spirit are illusory

    Such promptings, such experiences of the numinous, are not necessarily experienced in the way that C.S. Lewis did — as intimations of a life and world beyond this one. In Wordsworth or Shelley for example the numinous is experienced as a quality of life in this world. Consider this from Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey :

    A presence that disturbs me with the joy
    Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
    Of something far more deeply interfused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
    And the round ocean and the living air,
    And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
    And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
    A lover of the meadows and the woods
    And mountains

    C.S.L certainly took such experiences as intimations of something beyond this world but for the Romantics (sometimes) they were experiences of the nature of this world, not necessarily intimations of another. . If there were to be no afterlife, that would not necessarily make the fundamental stirrings of the human spirit illusory.

  57. johnhenrycn says:

    No idea what your last sentence means. Is that Wordsworth too? Toad will explain (insert smiley here). Anyhow, Tintern Abbey is a very dangerous place.

    https://theodoredalrymple.wordpress.com/category/tintern-abbey/

  58. toadspittle says:

    “f there were to be no afterlife, that would not necessarily make the fundamental stirrings of the human spirit illusory.”
    Toad knows exactly what It “means” – to him, at least – JH, as, naturally, does Tom.
    You don’t, you say.
    I can believe that. And there’s nothing to be done about it, really.
    We must just accept that we are all subject to the same exterior sense stimuli, and we each interpret them to our own liking, tastes, prejudices, upbringing, whatever – including religion. Particularly religion. (Since this is CP&S.)

    OK – a crude e.g. – Theoretically, Richard Dawkins is just as likely to be moved by Op. 135 (above) as is JH.

  59. johnhenrycn says:

    …but while we’re citing ancient poetry, let me reprise my unease about the role of women in the business and professional worlds that I mewed about recently with this quote from Chesterton:

    “Don’t let a woman mystify your mind
    With sweet talk and the sway of her behind –
    She’s just after your barn. He who believes
    A woman is a man who trusts in theives.”

  60. johnhenrycn says:

    Opus 135? Never heard of it. Roll over Beethoven. Opus 1 is more my league:

  61. mkenny114 says:

    It would be mystery either way I think.

    What I mean is (and should have made clearer) is that the implications of rejecting the great Mystery (i.e.; God, plus knowledge of and relationship with Him) inevitably end in some kind of absurdity. I do not mean to say that beyond the question of God there are no mysterious aspects to life – quite the contrary, as those very aspects of our experience are precisely what lead us to consider embracing the divine.

    If there were to be no afterlife, that would not necessarily make the fundamental stirrings of the human spirit illusory.

    Fair point. Maybe it would be better to say that such stirrings are a strong indicator of our being made for relationship with God, not the afterlife as such, and that the latter is very often associated with the former because it represents the possibility of a deepening of our relationship with Him (and an expansion upon those intuitions we have had in this life). Wordsworth, for example, was advocating a kind of pantheism in …Tintern Abbey, and thus he is expressing a yearning for something distinctly other, even if at that point of his life he did not associate that Other explicitly with the God of the Bible.

    Theoretically, Richard Dawkins is just as likely to be moved by Op. 135 (above) as is JH

    Yes, the difference being that Senor Dawkins is predisposed, due to prior philosophical (though that word seems slightly out of place in the same sentence as Dawkins’ name) commitments, to interpret his experiences as ‘merely’ the results of chemical reactions, neurons firing, etc, in his brain, no matter how strong an impression of transcendence the music might communicate to him. We are always free to shut ourselves off from the ways God uses to draw us to Himself.

  62. Tom Fisher says:

    No idea what your last sentence means. Is that Wordsworth too? Toad will explain (insert smiley here). Anyhow, Tintern Abbey is a very dangerous place.

    I’m sorry but I don’t know what you are talking about.

  63. Tom Fisher says:

    Mkenny,

    the difference being that Senor Dawkins is predisposed, due to prior philosophical (though that word seems slightly out of place in the same sentence as Dawkins’ name) commitments, to interpret his experiences as ‘merely’ the results of chemical reactions, neurons firing, etc, in his brain, no matter how strong an impression of transcendence the music might communicate to him.

    I don’t agree with (or even especially like) his views on religion. However I have enjoyed his company, and talked to him about literature (though not music). I have never got the impression from any conversation that his understanding of aesthetics is as absurdly reductive as you imply. Can you back your claim up?

  64. Tom Fisher says:

    Fair point. Maybe it would be better to say that such stirrings are a strong indicator of our being made for relationship with God, not the afterlife as such, and that the latter is very often associated with the former because it represents the possibility of a deepening of our relationship with Him (and an expansion upon those intuitions we have had in this life).

    i’m inclined to agree, but I note that in finding common ground, we have rather left the ‘argument from desire’ behind.

  65. Tom Fisher says:

    this quote from Chesterton

    Both Hesiod and G.K.C will forgive you I’m sure.

  66. johnhenrycn says:

    Oh right. Hesiod. Sorry ’bout that.

  67. mkenny114 says:

    I don’t agree with (or even especially like) his views on religion. However I have enjoyed his company, and talked to him about literature (though not music). I have never got the impression from any conversation that his understanding of aesthetics is as absurdly reductive as you imply. Can you back your claim up?

    Very interesting – I’ve never dialogued with anyone who’s actually met Dawkins before (as an aside, and only if you don’t mind, in what capacity did you meet – I only ask out of interest/noseiness, and completely understand if you don’t want to reveal that information here)!

    I myself haven’t talked to him about aesthetics, or any of the arts, nor have I read any statements by him that detail explicitly what view (if any) he has in this area, but everything I have read by him (The God Delusion, The Blind Watchmaker and some bits of The Devil’s Chaplain – all quite a long time ago) on the nature of human consciousness and particularly on the significance any such intimations of transcendence might actually have for our view of reality seem to presuppose a very reductive understanding of human nature and experience in general, which would of course include aesthetics in the particular. But as for outright statements regarding what our experience in listening to music might suggest in wider terms, I don’t have anything to back that up, no.

    I note that in finding common ground, we have rather left the ‘argument from desire’ behind.

    Well, only Lewis’ version, and I didn’t actually say that it was his version of the argument that I was referring to (although I did mention The Last Battle at one point). Saint Augustine’s appeal to desire is another version of the argument, one which is wider in scope, and which (for me) provides a highly fertile imaginative framework from which to approach the ‘big questions’.

  68. mkenny114 says:

    P.S. Furthermore, I would note that, should Prof. Dawkins have communicated to you, or anyone else for that matter, his feelings about our experience of listening to music, or of aesthetics in general, which suggested a non-scientistic account of those experiences, this is by the by, as my real point is that any such statements would be inconsistent with his worldview overall. He might well wish to use language that invokes a non-reductive account of the world in describing the effects music can have on us (as it is very hard to adequately describe such experiences in purely scientistic terms), but any such language cannot be reconciled with the view of reality he advocates.

  69. Tom Fisher says:

    his feelings about our experience of listening to music, or of aesthetics in general, which suggested a non-scientistic account of those experiences, this is by the by, as my real point is that any such statements would be inconsistent with his worldview overall. He might well wish to use language that invokes a non-reductive account of the world in describing the effects music can have on us (as it is very hard to adequately describe such experiences in purely scientistic terms), but any such language cannot be reconciled with the view of reality he advocates.

    Interesting. I’m in two minds about that. I don’t know if there is an inconsistency as such. I think it might be possible for a materialist to regard (for example) their response to music as a thing in itself — in the sense that the qualitative experience is what counts, regardless of its neurological underpinning. Likewise a materialist could be thrilled by the fundamentally mysterious nature of reality — and experience that in numinous terms, without ceasing to be a materialist.
    Obviously those of us who are not materialists think they are missing out on a great deal (and what is most important), but I’m not quite convinced about your inconsistency claim.

    I myself haven’t talked to him about aesthetics, or any of the arts, nor have I read any statements by him that detail explicitly what view (if any) he has in this area

    After the Selfish Gene was published, Dawkins was accused of arguing for selfishness as somehow normative for human behaviour. If you can dig up some of his rebuttals to that charge you might find it gives some insight into his views. I think it’s consistent with what I said in the paragraph above — that we don’t need to adopt the kind of reductionism which defines the value of something either by its origins, or its constituent parts etc. — E.g. The statue of David may have been cut from rock, but as a statue it has beauty and value which cannot be reduced to its rocky origins and composition.

  70. Tom Fisher says:

    Well, only Lewis’ version, and I didn’t actually say that it was his version of the argument that I was referring to (although I did mention The Last Battle at one point). Saint Augustine’s appeal to desire is another version of the argument, one which is wider in scope, and which (for me) provides a highly fertile imaginative framework from which to approach the ‘big questions’.

    I I think I was largely talking in terms of Lewis because Surprised by Joy gives the most detailed and persuasive account of how the Argument from desire works that I know of. — So yes, I might have been too restrictive in that sense. I don’t know much about what Augustine had to say on it, happy to be pointed in the right direction.

  71. Tom Fisher says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t know what you are talking about.

    Sorry JH, I misunderstood you because I hadn’t noticed the Tintern Abbey link — hilarious and disturbing!

    let me reprise my unease about the role of women in the business and professional worlds that I mewed about recently

    I remember, I think you were hoping for a debate, and I’m surprised one didn’t kick off. I don’t share your unease, but if a debate does take off it’ll be interesting to watch!

  72. toadspittle says:

    Unamuno makes an interesting point: If God told us he had made us, but then also told us the was no afterlife for us – we wouldn’t worship him, he suggests – no point.

  73. Tom Fisher says:

    Unamuno makes an interesting point: If God told us he had made us, but then also told us the was no afterlife for us – we wouldn’t worship him, he suggests – no point.

    I’ve never seen that, but I don’t agree. Worshiping God doesn’t derive its value from the afterlife (note the O.T. Psalmists). More to say, but off to dinner. (Evening here)

  74. mkenny114 says:

    I think I was largely talking in terms of Lewis because Surprised by Joy gives the most detailed and persuasive account of how the Argument from desire works that I know of

    Yes, that’s true – it is Lewis who properly formulated the argument as such, but in doing so he was formulating something that has been appealed to by Christians for rather a long time (another example would be Saint Anselm, whose theology was virtually inseparable from his devotional writing much of the time, and who often appealed to our yearning for transcendent truth and goodness to supplement his defenses of Christian revelation).

    In Saint Augustine then, he does not lay down a strict argument as Lewis does, but the appeal to our desire for God forms the basis of much of his thought – the most famous summary of this is from the beginning of his Confessions (‘Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee’) and later on in Book X (‘Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odours and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace’) The main point here though is that this is something that permeated his whole thought, not something that he formulated as a ‘proof’ of any kind. Nevertheless, I would recommend his treatise ‘The Happy Life’ as evidence of this way of thinking about God being present very early on in his Christian life (indeed, it is probable that it is in part a legacy of his earlier Neoplatonism and so was already present to some extent).

    The other thing I would say is that, to return to the issue of desire for God vs. desire for the afterlife, whilst I agree that they should remain separate to some extent, and that it has certainly not been apparent to all ages that our persistence after death should even be likely, I do see Toad’s point, insofar as since the coming of Christ, the concept we have of our relationship with God has been transformed into something much more deeply…well, relational, and it is much harder for us to now imagine entering into a relationship with Him without that persisting post-mortem. The richest expression of this view can of course be found in the Gospel of John, where eternal life is only something we can experience in the hereafter because of the relationship with God, through Our Lord, that we form here and now.

  75. mkenny114 says:

    I don’t know if there is an inconsistency as such. I think it might be possible for a materialist to regard (for example) their response to music as a thing in itself — in the sense that the qualitative experience is what counts, regardless of its neurological underpinning. Likewise a materialist could be thrilled by the fundamentally mysterious nature of reality — and experience that in numinous terms, without ceasing to be a materialist.

    The point I have been trying to make here is that it doesn’t matter how the materialist describes their response to music, because so long as they are committed to a purely materialist view of reality, if they are to be consistent in that worldview, they are bound to explain any such experiences purely in materialist terms. If someone (e.g.; Dawkins) says that the world is essentially based on chance, and is without purpose, and discounts from the outset any explanation of existence that cannot be reduced to the chance movements of atoms, etc, then any thrill they might feel at the mysteriousness of existence or transportive emotions they might encounter upon hearing a piece of music has to, if they are to be consistent, explained on those terms as well. It’s certainly possible to be a materialist and feel that a certain piece of music (or a statue) is beautiful, but if one is then to be consistent, reductive explanations are the only legitimate way to go; pleading that such an experience is a thing in itself is basically a cop out from following ones premises through to their conclusions.

  76. johnhenrycn says:

    Tom Fisher (05:08) – Yes, you are correct. I was just being a bit devil’s advocate-ish attempting to steer the conversation into an area where I might have something worthwhile to say. I don’t agree with Hesiod’s admonition, obviously. Anyroad, you and MK are having a productive exchange which I’m just as happy to observe from the sidelines.

  77. toadspittle says:

    “If someone (e.g.; Dawkins) says that the world is essentially based on chance, and is without purpose, and discounts from the outset any explanation of existence that cannot be reduced to the chance movements of atoms, etc, then any thrill they might feel at the mysteriousness of existence or transportive emotions they might encounter upon hearing a piece of music has to, if they are to be consistent, explained on those terms as well.
    Dawkins surely would agree. No earthly reason why not. If everything is “accidental,” no reason why a sense of mystery should not be part of the accident, along with a fear of bogeymen and the dark.
    A sense of mystery (or awe,) will survive as long as there are things we don’t know.
    A situation which, I suspect, will last as long (or as short) as humankind persist in polluting the planet with their presence.
    I gather some materialists, including Dawkins, are of the opinion that ultimately, everything is knowable.
    I don’t think so myself. But I suppose I might be wrong.
    The implication here seems to be that Atheists are, in some fashion, lacking in sensibility when compared with believers.
    A foolish, blinkered assumption, I suggest.

  78. mkenny114 says:

    The implication here seems to be that Atheists are, in some fashion, lacking in sensibility when compared with believers.

    Nope, sorry Toad. I really don’t know how to make this any clearer, but I am not claiming that atheists/materialists cannot have a highly developed aesthetic sense, or even that they cannot give elo

  79. mkenny114 says:

    Oops – cut myself off mid-sentence. As I was saying…

    …or even that they cannot give eloquent expression to the feelings they experience upon an encounter with transcendence. All I am saying is that they if someone holding such views were to give an account of their aesthetic experiences in terms that evoke a non-materialist account of reality, then they would be being inconsistent. In such a situation, they would have to either give up their materialism or disavow either the experience or the transcendence-evoking language used to describe it (or both). Otherwise they would just be having their cake and eating it, to be honest.

  80. Tom Fisher says:

    All I am saying is that they if someone holding such views were to give an account of their aesthetic experiences in terms that evoke a non-materialist account of reality, then they would be being inconsistent. In such a situation, they would have to either give up their materialism or disavow either the experience or the transcendence-evoking language used to describe it (or both).

    Well supposing a materialist were to say good God that symphony was heaven sent, I’m sure it was written by an angel! — to be sure, they would be on rather thin ice.🙂

    However, more seriously, I’m not sure what kind of statements you have in mind. Materialists experience mystery, beauty, transcendence, just like the rest of us – and give voice to those experiences. What kind of account of account of an aesthetic experience would qualify as inconsistent? A concrete example might help.

  81. mkenny114 says:

    What kind of account of account of an aesthetic experience would qualify as inconsistent? A concrete example might help.

    Any account that suggested the experience was meaningful, or that it suggested a dimension to reality beyond the purely empirical. What I am trying to say is that, strictly speaking, appeals to mystery and transcendence in our experience are off limits for the materialist because they have already delimited the range of possible explanations for anything in life to brute physicality. As soon as they start talking about transcendence or mystery they have moved out of this realm.

    For instance, when trying to give an account of the relationship between mind and brain, materialists often describe our higher level mental faculties (consciousness, etc) as ‘supervening’ onto the lower-level properties of biochemical reactions, etc*. But this is just another way of saying that consciousness cannot be adequately explained solely in terms of the lower-level properties, and tagging the word ‘supervenience’ on to one’s argument doesn’t really mask the fact that one’s materialism cannot give an account of this phenomena.

    Similarly, if someone who you know believes the universe to be essentially meaningless, founded on the chance collaboration of matter into more complex forms but without any essential purpose to it, said that they found a piece of music to be utterly beautiful, swept them off their feet, touched them deep in their heart, or anything like that, they would be using language that suggest meaning, purpose, even transcendence, and therein lies the inconsistency – the language evokes concepts that fundamentally do not fit within their worldview.

    *Of course, there are materialists who would argue for an explanation solely in terms of the lower-level properties as well. They would be, in my view, providing an account more consistent with their worldview.

  82. mkenny114 says:

    Tom,

    I would also suggest the analogous case of someone who denies there is such a thing as an objective ground for morality then making appeals to particular moral truths. In such a case, it is not that the person in question cannot be moral, or is wrong in appealing to certain moral truths, but that to do so is inconsistent with their philosophy. What I’ve been arguing for above is similar to that, in terms of the basic structure of the problem at hand (and not unrelated obviously, as the two hypothetical cases are likely in reality to be holding to the same philosophy).

  83. Tom Fisher says:

    Mkenny, your comment at 09:27 is very very interesting, and deserves a better response than I can give today — but you raise some issues I care about as well, and I think there’s a lot to be said. Just a few thoughts;

    You might remember that back in ’91 Daniel Dennett published a book called Consciousness Explained — when I first heard of it I thought I bet he can do no such thing . But I bought it, read it, enjoyed it, and of course concluded that he hadn’t explained consciousness at all*. I would guess we agree that there are at least two things materialism simply can’t get to grips with (even in principle); the fact that anything (including the laws of physics) exists at all, and consciousness. — No scientific explanation, however elegant, can ever resolve either of those two mysteries, because any explanation would set off a regression. — I know we agree on this.

    BUT, when you say:

    appeals to mystery and transcendence in our experience are off limits for the materialist because they have already delimited the range of possible explanations for anything in life to brute physicality.

    I’m not convinced. The materialist position can (as we agree) never give a full account of reality — but, a materialist can say (and some do) that although the world is unfathomably mysterious to us, as is our own consciousness, the most profound human experience consists in recognising our limitations, and being in awe of a mystery we aren’t equipped to unravel. — A materialist can have that experience as much as someone who is religious. (And without contradiction I think).

    I’m not totally sure what you mean by brute physicality — the materialist position is that everything has its ultimate basis in the natural (rather than supernatural)* order. — Though I don’t see why that needs to imply brute physicality.

    *You’ll remember that Bertrand Russell argued that if something existed, it was by definition ‘natural’ and that supernatural was an empty concept.

    *The publisher might have chosen the title, to be fair

  84. mkenny114 says:

    Yes, sorry, ‘brute physicality’ is perhaps too emotive a phrase – all I meant is the view that everything has its ultimate basis in the material, and that the material is, in its fundamental constituent parts, unthinking, directionless, etc. The corollary of this is that the question of how anything like intentionality or consciousness can emerge from that elementary material is one that is made virtually impossible to answer on a purely materialistic basis – one would have to violate the basic principles of the materialist philosophy in order to do so.

    Russell’s definition of the natural here is, I feel, something of a cop out too, as it means that the materialist can state on the one hand that they only believe in the natural (by which they actually mean the material) and on the other, if anything occurs that cannot be satisfactorily described in materialistic terms, we’ll just call that ‘the natural’ as well, just because it exists. It also begs the question as to why one should then reject certain experiences in life one would ordinarily place in the ‘supernatural’ category, as the only reason for such a rejection would be that the phenomena experienced doesn’t really exist, and the reason for saying it doesn’t exist is that it is not ‘natural’ – a bit circular I think.

    Anyway, I will again state that I have no quarrel with the fact that a materialist can have experiences of awe, human limitation in face of the infinite, etc. My position is that the materialist, who has made a prior commitment to saying that all of reality can be adequately explained by the material alone, must, if they are to be consistent, reject any experiences insofar as they provide intimations of something beyond the purely material, which is what I think most of our aesthetic experiences actually do.

    A quote from Bertrand Russell (taken from a letter in 1916 to one Colette O’Neill) actually provides a good imaginative means of summarising my position:

    “The centre of me is always and eternally in terrible pain … A searching for something beyond what the world contains, something transfiguring and infinite. The beatific vision – God, I do not find it, I do not think it is to be found – but the love of it is my life … It is the actual spring of life within me.”

    This is the central problem for the materialist – he/she, insofar as they are a searcher after truth, goodness, or beauty, yearns for something (and often experiences hints of that something) that their philosophy rules out from the outset.

  85. mkenny114 says:

    P.S. But yes, apart from the contradiction involved for the materialist, we are in full agreement I think🙂

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