Thursday, May 03, 2007

Engaging others

I'm not planning to weigh in on Mark's anathema sit against Dean Barnett ...

As various commenters have already noted, I've said about everything there is to say about my views on torture. Victor pretty much said everything I intended to about the issue (though there are some minor points I may distinguish in another post), but one thing that I think that Mark and others debating this issue probably needs to wrap around their heads at some point is that they should be able to debate an opponent advancing a utilitarian position rationally without resorting to hysterics. I think that this is particularly true of non-Christian opponents who do not have the benefit of either St. Paul, let alone those non-Catholic Christians who do not have the benefit of the Magisterium.

For someone like Mark who goes to great pains to explain how Islam very imperfectly captures some of the truth of Christian revelation (where I am largely in agreement with him, incidentally), it would seem to me to be elementary that followers of various philosophies and religions have varying levels of understanding for the revealed truth that we know from revelation and the Magisterium. That is, as I understand it, one of the main reasons why both revelation and the Magisterium exist in the first place. One of the issues that the Catholic scholastics successfully resolved during the Middle Ages was that Greek philosophers could be extremely sound on some very orthodox principles and yet not see anything wrong with things like the exposure of infants, an ancient parallel to the contemporary practice of abortion. I think that St. Paul covers this at length in Romans and would note that when confronted with these same philosophers in Athens he addressed them in a manner quite different from that with which Mark did Barnett with his denunciation of the man as a false prophet and a herald of the dictatorship of relativism.

If nothing else, it might add to a more civil tone to the whole discussion.

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