Saturday, June 2, 2007

Authority of Revelation vs. Reason

I had forgotten about and lost track of Paul Scott Pruett's blog, Pensées, over the last couple of years, but happily stumbled upon it again today, and this quote caught my eye:

If we reject reason in relation to biblical revelation, then the very words of God become nothing but unprocessed photons striking the retina.

A healthy reminder to those who reject all forms and uses of philosophy as Godless and unbiblical.


Jacob said...

What do you mean by reason? Are you talking about how humans give reasons? Or are you talking about something else? If so, what else?

Aaron Snell said...

I mean the human capacity for rational thought.

Paul said...

In that quote, I mean logical, careful, rational thought rather than just feeling, emoting, or regurgitating words and ideas. said...


I came across Paul's blog when I did a web search on the parable of the elephant and the blindmen. For some reason, I couldn't leave a comment on his blog, but also he was somehow aware that I had tried to leave a comment and he found his way to my blog.

Now the thing about "logical, careful, rational thought" is that it is a process, not an ideology. You can't decide a priori to your rational inquiry that liberal Christians are always wrong and conservative Christians are always right. Yet that seems to be what Paul has done.

One thing Paul was trying to assert on my blog was that liberal christians don't take the Bible seriously. In order to illustrate his point of view, Paul went to a website about Free Christianity and picked out one small section of that website in which the author was arguing that when the Bible appeared to be saying something about God that seems Satanic, reason can overrule the naive interpretation of this verse. Paul argued that this was the proof of his claim that liberals don't take the Bible seriously.

The problem is that Paul's argument in this direction was so extreme and non-rational, that it left him open to the charge that he was advocating Satan worship. I began to ask Paul wouldn't he rather renounce Satan. He refused to do so even though asked several times. The most he ended up doing was saying that he "will" renounce Satan someday and that he "could" do so.

Paul was so rude and trollish in his posts on my blog, I have deleted most of them. And he kept jumping randomly from topic to topic with no rhyme or reason. For example, at one point he was claiming the Nicene Creed as proof that liberal Christians don't take the Bible seriously. He seemed completely unaware waht a non sequitur this is, as the Nicene Creed doesn't have much to do with 20th and 21st century Biblical interpretation. He also seemed completely unaware of what a Straw Man fallacy is.

Sorry, but I just can't see Paul as a real advocate of rationality.

Aaron Snell said...


While you're certainly welcome to comment here anytime, it sounds like you have an axe to grind with Paul, which is fine, but probably his blog would be a better place to do it. Really, this is not the place to air your dirty laundry. All I can say is that, in my reading and interaction with him, I've never seen Paul do the kind of things you say he's done.

And, of course, his point remains valid, whether or not he's argued with you rationally in the past or not (which, based on my experience, I find hard to believe). The genetic fallacy is a good one to avoid, as well.

Aaron Snell said...


I should add that documentation of the kind of charges you made is generally considered good form, though this may be a problem for you if you have in fact deleted his comments.

willingthrall said...

You were reporting your good experiences with Paul in the past. I reported unpleasant interactions with him. Neither my observations nor yours rise to the level of the genetic fallacy--unless, of course, you are claiming that everything Paul says must be a pearl of wisdom simply because Paul says it.

Note that I didn't say, "Paul categorically is not an advocate of rationality" but merely that I can not see him as one. See the difference between that and the genetic fallacy?

I am merely giving a cautionary review of Paul as a balance to your laudatory review of him.

My apologies if anything I have said upsets you. I know it can be disappointing to learn that one's heroes have feet of clay.

Aaron Snell said...


Well, you certainly haven't said anything to upset me, nor is Paul a "hero" of mine, just an aquiantance and a "friendly", as they say. Nor, if you read carefully, was my genetic fallacy comment meant to accuse you of making that slip, but rather to caution against it in your focus on the origin of the idea rather than the idea itself.

You seem to have misunderstood my response, as well as the original post. My main goal in posting what I did was to draw attention to the point Paul made, not Paul himself. THAT was the topic of the post, not Paul's past behavior, good or ill. It is in that context that I asked you not to make this about Paul or his behavior. Please respect these guidelines as my guest.

You also said, "Note that I didn't say, "Paul categorically is not an advocate of rationality" but merely that I can not see him as one. See the difference between that and the genetic fallacy?

Well, neither one is an example of the genetic fallacy, so I don't see your point.

Now, I'd be happy to discuss the merits of Paul's point as quoted above, but I meant what I said about this not being the place for you to grind your axe, which (given that I see you found my blog from a web search for "Paul Pruett") seems to have been your intention in coming here. I cannot speak to any of your accusations, nor are they pertinent to the (hopefully now more clearly understood) topic of the post. Again, this has nothing to do with ruffled feathers or hurt feelings, but rather appropriate behavior and discussion on my blog.