Monday, December 22, 2008

Postmodernism-Postsecularism: a cursory report

Initial notes (I'm just beginning to understand this, I think):

Modernism or modernity was premised on the pretense of objective knowledge. Part of modernism's fuel was the scientific method and the quest for certainties about the natural world.

This placed religious narratives and myths outside the realm of fact, and fact became more important than value.

However, as postmodernism and postsecularism would insist, there is no purely objective reason or objective rationality within human beings.

We might be able to gather accurate data, but inevitably, that data is interpreted within a web of beliefs and values.

A big-picture story underlies every point of view.

Therefore, while the likes of Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins in the modernist camp have been able to say, in so many words, "We do not have enough objective knowledge to say that religious story is historically factual," the likes of John Milbank and others in postmodern and postsecular camp have been able to say, "We do not have enough objective knowledge to say that religious story is a myth."

This is more than merely turning the tables on modernity. It's a realization that beliefs and values cannot be trumped by facts, because facts are always understood within the context of beliefs and values.

While we function with some sense of foundational knowledge by which we make other decisions and judgments about the world around us, at some point, foundational knowledge is taken on faith.

If there is a foundational point of view within some of the theological postsecularists, it would be that there is a God who has all the objective knowledge, and we don't have it.

Clarifications? Better explanations? Denunciations? Additions? Please comment.

My sources for the above comments include this article:

"God's Own Knowledge," by J. Sharlet in Killing the Buddha

And these books:

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