OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

Re: Richard Dawkins, Knowledge, and Faith

Re: Richard Dawkins, Knowledge, and Faith

Thanks for your comments.

The point that I want to insist on is that Dawkins’ criticism that ‘they just know’ is relevant only for an objectivist view of knowledge.  Dawkins does not speak for all modes of producing knowledge—we cannot forget he is a natural scientist and not a social scientist.  Natural scientists, while they often talk as if they do, don’t define the limits of all knowledge.  My point is that objectivist knowledge is only one way of knowing.  There are other ways of systematically producing knowledge.  Ethnographers, ethnomethodologists, and phenomenologists, for instance, systematically produce knowledge based on experience.  There are a number of techniques for doing such: interviewing, participant observation, fieldnoting, etc.  These are all ways of studying experience in a more or less systematic fashion.

Evidence is not the issue—or to the extent that objective evidence is important to one’s view of God, then I would say that they are more Modern than Postmodern.  Or put another way: not all evidence should be seen only as objective evidence.  There is also experiential evidence.  Think about it this way: there is objective evidence that X number of bombs were dropped in Vietnam during the US war there.  It is measurable.  There is also the experiential evidence that soldiers engaging in combat could bring to bear—this is not objective evidence, but evidence generated through experience.  If someone asked: What does war mean?  Recounting the number of bombs dropped does little to answer that question.  Hearing someone tell a story about his experiences in combat goes much further toward answering this question.  The same goes for God.  We can count the number of baptisms, which is celebrated by the SBC—because the SBC is situated firmly in the Modern camp.  Or we can talk about experience, give examples, tell stories, and demonstrate through our lives what God means. 

For me, the difference hinges on what we mean by knowledge: Are we talking about objective and measurable knowledge from outside the phenomena?  Or are we talking about experiential knowledge from inside the phenomena?  These are two fundamentally different ways of thinking about knowledge.  Dawkins is talking about one; I am talking about the other.  To the extent that the faithful are talking about objective knowledge then they are basically batting around the same epistemologal ball as Dawkins.  I’m moving in a different direction and I think faithful Postmoderns should be moving in the same direction. 





Richard Dawkins, Knowledge, and Faith By: Jacob (60 replies) 6 February, 2010 - 01:49