Mark Vernon, always eager to plow new ground and alert us to new insights and ways of looking at the world, asks
Is it just me or has the dialogue between science and religion become a bit stale?
Ok I was joking. That question is staler than last year’s bread. The very idea that there is such a thing as “the dialogue between science and religion” is not only stale but also blatant propaganda by pro-religion types who are desperate to convince everyone that religion’s claims to discover truths about the world are every bit as reasonable as those of science. It’s unpardonably naïve to talk about “the dialogue between science and religion” as if it were an obvious, sensible, reasonable thing with no trace of an agenda or vested interest. It’s unpardonably naïve to talk about it without pausing to thank the Templeton Foundation for all the cash.
The bulk of the article is the usual slush about talking stones and spiritual nature and listen to the music and how evil is materialism. There’s one item that sticks out though.
Barfield argued that we need to recover our full imaginative capacities if we are deeply to know that the world is alive. Matter, he believed, would then be seen for what it once was, as an expression of spirit. (“Matter” is linked to “mater”, or mother, remembered in the expression, mother earth.) This might not be so difficult to achieve because, actually, we experience it every day. When you perceive the matter called a human being speaking, you spontaneously know those perceptions as one person communicating with you, another person. You do not have a theory of other minds, as some philosophers have proposed, driven by a flattening scientistic ideology. We know such matter as spirited people – as souls, you might say.
When you perceive the matter called a human being speaking, you spontaneously know those perceptions as one person communicating with you, another person. You do not have a theory of other minds, as some philosophers have proposed, driven by a flattening scientistic ideology.
That’s one of the most willfully mindless, incurious statements I’ve seen in awhile. “You do not have a theory of other minds” – yes you do! Of course you damn well do. It’s a measurable stage of development*, and if you never acquire it, that means you are autistic. Not having it is a crippling disability for a human. It’s important to understand this, and it’s interesting. Sneering at it as a product of “a flattening scientistic ideology” is revoltingly know-nothing and anti-intellectual.
*You know those experiments – the researcher shows the child a crayon (say), then puts it in a cookie box (say), then a new person comes in and the researcher asks the child where the new person will look for the crayon. Until about age 4 (I think) children always say the new person will look in the cookie box. After that age they realize the new person will be fooled by the cookie box. It’s the difference between understanding that other people don’t know what you know, and not understanding that.