Augustine and Polanyi:
Towards an Understanding of Conversion and Conviviality with
Application to Modern Diversity and Peaceful Co-existence
(Caveats: I am
no authority on either Augustine or Polanyi.
I have studied Polanyi for the past year and Augustine
mostly for the preparation of this paper.
Perhaps, however, I will throw out some ideas for
discussion and more in depth study at a later time.
As long time Polanyians,
you can teach me.)
Augustine stands large—quite large—in fields
of scholarship. No
theologian, historian, or philosopher may claim epistemological
substance in his field without at least studying and
acknowledging Augustine’s breadth and depth in these areas.
As if this stature were not large enough, one author has
posited Augustine as both the Father of Roman Catholicism
churches often at loggerheads with each other.
B. B. Warfield posits that Catholicism adopted his
ecclesiology, and Protestantism grew out of the Reformation’s
call to his soteriology.
While Augustine had no progeny that continued his family
line, there have never been greater family quarrels than these
two ecclesial offspring!
Perhaps, Polanyi can open more communication between the
two, as I will propose for all groups in conflict.
Unfortunately, Polanyi stands smaller in his
fields of philosophy of science and epistemology.
But historians and sociologists are not always
epistemologically sound thinkers!
It is my hope that Polanyi can be raised to prominence in
modern society because his epistemology has great potential to
minimize conflicts and promote tolerance among divergent, and
often hostile, points of view, as well as dethrone the
objectivism of science.
A common criticism of Augustine is his
At times he is a rationalist, and other times he is a
fideist and even an empiricist. Frederick Copleston concluded
his chapter on Augustine’s epistemology with this statement. “It
does not seem possible to obtain a definitive interpretation of
his thought which would adequately explain all the statements
that he made.”
As you well know,
however, His primary link with Polanyi is his fideism, in which
Polanyi was thoroughly consistent in methodology, if not in
terminology. Let us
explore that commonality and other similarities between
Augustine and Polanyi.
in Augustine and Polanyi
Several times in his writings, Polanyi cites Augustine’s, “I
believe in order to understand.”
Augustine’s belief is founded upon the God who converted
him and God’s revealed knowledge in the Holy Scriptures.
Polanyi’s terminology is that of “personal and
Augustine was concerned
with the truth of theology, while Polanyi was concerned with the
truth of science.
While the tacit and explicit foundations of the two men differ,
the methodology for the most part did not.
It is the method that is explicit and not tacit—that is,
this focus is necessary, and indeed crucial, to 21st
Within primary and secondary education, the intellectual
academy, political correctness, politics, the media, and most,
if not all, other means of communication, “modern science” has
an aura of “objectivity” that gives its pronouncements and
proposals a certainty that overpowers any countering ideas.
Many, if not most, of the crises that the West now faces
may be attributed to this misunderstanding.
The postmodern movement developed because of the
troubling nature of this certainty.
So, faith, as foundational to knowledge is at
the center of modern problems—no less than the future of the
West rest upon Augustine’s and Polanyi’s epistemology.
Augustine was concerned with salvation, the glory of God,
worship, the church, and other Christian ideas.
Polanyi was concerned with the totalitarian direction of
scientism, positivism, and empirical science.
I will return to a more particular focus of these issues
Community and authority.
For Augustine, the church is the community of Christians
with its hierarchy of offices, tradition, and teaching.
Most importantly, the church is the “pillar and
foundation of the truth.”
For Polanyi, a community provides an authority and
establishes a tradition in which persons with passions to
commitments and callings both confirm and challenge this
For Polanyi, the scientific community is the “pillar and
foundation of present-day scientific truth.”
Both Augustine and Polanyi saw that authority in all of
life, particularly Christian belief and natural science
respectively, was inescapable.
We learn from others and trust others to know many things
and to understand our universe.
Among Christians, the idea of a “generic” faith apart
from Christian faith is almost unknown.
Among scientists, the idea of any faith at all in their
understanding is almost unknown.
Yet, faith permeates all of life, even the most explicit
dogmas of Christianity and science.
Many philosophers, logicians, and theologians try to shun
circularity, but both Augustine and Polanyi saw that the person
is ultimately his own final authority.
While evidence and authority are necessary to developing
ones’ knowledge, the person finally must decide what is and is
Augustine said that we must be wise to be able to recognize
wisdom itself, so there is a continuous feedback loop of
accepting what is wisdom by faith, evaluating it, and
re-evaluating what we will accept as wisdom—virtually our entire
lives. Perhaps the
postmodern concept of the “hermeneutical circle,” reflects this
we read a text, we are changed so that the next time we read the
same text or any other, we are different persons who do so.
and sun, tacit and explicit.
In De Magistro
and elsewhere, Augustine discusses divine illumination,
sometimes called ontologism,
which has some relation to Plato’s
that knowledge comes from remembrance in a prior existence.
The Sun (God’s mind) illumines the moon (man’s mind).
The moon can never reveal all that the sun is.
We can know God in part, but never the whole in the way
that God knows it. Polanyi
says that “we know more than we can tell.”
All explicit knowledge comes from integration of this
wellspring of tacit knowledge.
Explicit knowledge is that which can be articulated, but
language is inadequate to fully express knowledge, so even the
explicit remains tacit in its roots and articulate-inarticulate
language. The explicit
is always rooted in the tacit and necessarily dependent upon it.
Augustine, God created the
For Polanyi, the idea of creation was not as clear, but
there exists an “ordering principle,” “morphogenetic fields,”
and emergence—powers of wholes not found in their parts that
moved organic life to its current level of development.
Definitively, Polanyi found serious fault with classical
Darwinianism in its inability to explain the complexity of life
that we now know.
For both, a real, objective world existed to be investigated and
Both believed that the movement or change of convictions from
one tradition to another involved “conversion.”
Since knowledge is held according to basic, personal
beliefs, those beliefs must change before acceptance of the
opposing position can be accepted.
This change can be
difficult, if not impossible, and is somewhat mysterious.
Only briefly stated for
now, we will return to this concept later in an application to
For Augustine, his conversion convinced him that God had
predestined his “restless soul” to “find rest in Thee.”
For Polanyi, predestination is more subtle and tacit, but
Scientists and others have “callings.”
There are morphogenetic fields and an organizing
principle that “predestined” the development of organic life as
we know it today.
This movement is not a sterile, impersonal force, but one that
works itself out through emergence in nature and in persons.
While some Polanyians may balk at “predestination,”
stated in Meaning:
It is for this reason that this present work
is not directed toward effecting conversions to any religion.
At the most, it is directed toward unstopping our ears so
that we may hear a liturgical summons should one ever come our
way. As Saint
Augustine viewed it, a religious belief cannot be achieved by
our deliberate efforts and choice.
It is a gift of God and may remain inexplicably denied to
some of us.
I believe that Polanyi’s epistemology requires
a sort of predestination to give wholeness to its parts.
Augustine’s passion centered in God and theology.
The restless soul finding rest in God.
Confessions are suffused with passion: agonies over personal
sin, ecstasies of God’s grandeur, zealous defenses in
The City of God, and
ardent calls to conversion of sinners in his preaching.
Polanyi uses similar terms in his discussions of
“calling,” “passion” of the scientist, “dwelling in and breaking
out,” “commitment” to one’s work and its defense, and
“creativity” in forging new directions.
Polanyi’s call to conviviality echoes Augustine’s call to
brotherly love with a similar methodology, but with differing
Augustine writes about the freedom from sin of the converted
person in the grace and mercy of Christ.
He reflects the truths of the Scriptures which describe
all men guilty in their bondage to sin and trespass—finding
freedom in forgiveness in Christ’s sacrifice in their stead.
Polanyi writes of the need for freedom for the scientist
and all legitimate vocations to pursue their work without the
coercive power of an over-bearing or even tyrannical,
Without this freedom from sin or the bonds of the state, neither
persons nor scholarship can reach their full potential.
In theology, there is a distinction made between Special
Revelation and Natural Revelation, that is, God’s revelation of
Himself and His work.
The former is the Bible or Holy Scriptures, and the
latter is His Creation—human, animal, vegetable and mineral.
Augustine’s work concerned Special Revelation; Polanyi’s
Natural Revelation—both studying the revelations of God.
Derivative from their respective studies of revelation,
Augustine was concerned with the truth of theological concepts,
and Polanyi was concerned with truths found in nature.
Both passionately believed that these truths should be
placed in the community to be considered as universal truths.
Semiotics and language.
Both wrote about semiotics—the study of letters and words
as symbols of things and concepts and the centrality of language
for who and what man is.
Embeddedness, indwelling, and personal embodiment.
Personal and community.
Differences in Augustine
Augustine was concerned with present and eternal
verities—truths about God, His relationship to man, and God’s
Providence in history.
Polanyi was concerned with standing against scientism, as
the fixed, objective nature of scientific conclusions.
Augustine was concerned with the Person of God and His
work, and Polanyi, the human person and his work.
One was concerned with the supernatural working itself
out in persons and in history; the other concerned with the
natural working itself out through person in science and
Creation or independent universe.
Augustine clearly believed that the universe and all its
inhabitants were created
ex nihilo—out of nothing—by God.
Polanyi is less clear.
He rejected classical Darwinianism, favoring an
“organizing principle” and emergent properties that eventually
produced life as we know it. As
far as I know, he never commented on how these processes came to
be. This subject is
another that I will return to later.
Augustine was a dualist in at least two senses.
(1) There is the uncreated God and the created cosmos—two
substances. In this
schema, only God is true substance.
a se—complete in
Himself—with everything else being derivative. (2) There is the
spiritual world in which God is Primary, angels and demons are
pure spirits, animals have a “soul” (of some sort),
and humans with a body and soul.
Polanyi only wrote and spoke with clarity as a monist or
However, his unpredictable and unexpected mentions of God, that
Marjorie Grene found unsettling, surely spoke of his belief in
something beyond the material world, and in particular, the God
of knowledge is perhaps the big question in Polanyi’s reasoning.
In epistemology, the question is “How to we know?”
But a prior question is “How are we able to know?,” and
“What is the origin of
Augustine, the eternal God always
everything past, present, and future.
He has imparted to man the ability to know and
investigate His Natural and Special Revelations.
For Polanyi, the answer is not so clear.
While he describes an “organizing principle” of the
universe out of which the current cosmos exists, what as far as
I have read, he never discusses the origin of this organizing
contend that a person something like the God of the Bible is
necessary to Polanyi’s thinking, and to the thinking of every
That is, whenever we encounter organization,
we think “person.”
There is the hidden gardener of Antony Flew—who eventually
became a theist before his recent death.
There is the idea of intelligent design—a structured
universe designed by someone or something.
But, more basically, every individual thinks “person”
when he or she sees any small degree of organization.
Every parent has had “drawings” of two and three year
olds which have almost no resemblance to any known object, yet
if we found them on the street, we would instantly think “a
child (a person) did this.”
I was raised amidst the pines of the southern states.
Using tree limbs and pine straw, we could make a sort of
tepee—a simple structure indeed.
And, if I were to come upon such a structure while
walking in the woods, I would think “a person did this,” as I
could walk the entire forest of the South and never findthis
simple structure “by accident.”
We work against
our most basic, tacit instincts and thinking that there is no
person who created or designed the universe.
Perhaps, this instinct is why Polanyi unexpectedly in
many of his writings makes reference to God and His work.
Conviviality in Augustine and Polanyi—A Hope for an Irenic
and non-faith groups.
One of the great conflicts in America is that of “faith”
groups, and “non-faith” groups or “religious” and
A more universal understanding of the fiduciary nature of
Polanyi’s “personal knowledge” could break down some of this
person is a “believer”; every person’s knowledge is based upon
his personal faith commitments; there are no “unbelievers,” only
a difference in what each person believes.
Of course, a core issue in this disjunction is the
church-state distinction made by the U.S. Constitution.
However, that constitutional issue is exactly
that—“church and state,” not “individual belief and state.”
The Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, etc.
has every right within this system to voice, vote, and legislate
according to dictates of individual conscience.
It is a huge perversion and misunderstanding that
Christians, who are the primary targets of the church-state
issue, cannot influence the public and civil arena with their
beliefs as persons.
It is a denomination or sect that is excluded constitutionally.
There is no greater issue in America than an
understanding that everyone operates by faith commitments, not
just those of a “religious” nature.
Conversion is central to the fiduciary nature of both Augustine
and Polanyi and an important factor in this “faith vs.
Just how does one get from one belief system to another?
From Augustine’s perspective, God makes the transition
Polanyi, it is partially a path of intellectual maturity, but
also a change of particular beliefs partially dependent upon
one’s community of faith (whether religious, scientific, or
other) and some mysterious, tacit integration of one’s prior
beliefs and knowledge.
The mystery is why some “convert” and others do not.
Level of intelligence, degree of study, personality, and
other factors do not seem to matter.
For example, some persons today still defend geocentrism.
There are greatly differing views on quantum physics.
And, then there is the matter of entrenched “religious”
beliefs, for example, of Muslims, Jews, and Christians who claim
Abraham as their ancestor.
Polanyi’s detailed explanation of fiduciary
commitment and its heuristic nature in everyday, professional,
and religious endeavors could be a method by which everyone can
understand each other better.
Polanyi even calls this understanding “empathy.”
We could all be more empathetic and sympathetic with each
other, even as we pursue our commitment to make universal our
Now, on the one hand, history proves the
difficulty of “empathy” between factions who are intent on
warring with each other—both figuratively and literally.
On the other hand, every tool should be used to minimize
tensions between such groups.
At least on the figurative level, Polanyi’s detailed
methodology could have a major impact among intellectuals who
are engaged in scholarly endeavors.
Can this audience imagine a broad scale reality of the
conviviality yourselves with your growing base and lengthening
So, Polanyi who repeatedly and pointedly
called for the rejection of “cold” impersonalism and a sterile,
impersonal science has a much broader application to the debates
of academia, political discussions, and social agendas?
Polanyians can and should hope and pray to that end.
Augustine and Polanyi
Offer Us Hope
Dale Cannon in his review of Esther Meek’s book,
Longing to Know,
accurately reflects her position and mine, “The assumption of
the authority of Scripture as the principal reliable means of
access to knowledge of God is the kingpin on which Meek’s
central argument for how we can know God hangs.”
I would contend further that the authority of Scripture,
which I prefer to call the
inerrancy of Scripture,
is the only position for any Christianity that claims to be
Christianity comes is a wide variety of
flavors today: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism with its
divisions of Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian,
etc., and within each of these is an entire spectrum.
On the “left” there are liberal versions that use little,
if any Christian jargon, and find identity with leftist leaning
communists, socialists, liberation theology, etc.
On the “right” are Bible-believing evangelicals who hold
to the inerrancy of Scripture and its applications to all areas
of life, including the individual, family, society, and civil
law. There is one
estimate of 38,000 “Christian denominations.”
With such diversity, there hardly seems to be
a “Christian” message to proclaim.
However, I would like to suggest otherwise.
I call some strange witnesses and a few facts.
In an interview with a Unitarian minister, who called
herself a “liberal Christian,” Christopher Hitchins, the avowed
atheist and enemy of Christianity, responded.
“I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of
Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from
the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re
really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”
Hitchens, an anti-Christian, is only making an
observation consistent with virtually all the major historic
creeds of Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant
recognized certain central tenets of Christianity, even while
being in the opposite camp.
Terry Eagleton, also an atheist, a
“distinguished professor” at University of Lancaster (England),
National University of Ireland, and University of Notre Dame, in
his vibrant style describes the lack of understanding of central
beliefs of Christianity.
The straw-targeting of Christianity is now
commonplace among academics and intellectuals—that is, to say
among those who would allow a first-year student to get away
with caricatures in which they themselves indulge with such
Without doubt, there has been a basic
friendliness to Christianity from The Polanyi Society and
Polanyians in general in all their scholarly endeavors.
And, to make Polanyi’s work explicitly Christian might
detract from its intellectual appeal to a wide audience.
However, Polanyi himself would never endorse any
activities about a subject that did not make every attempt to
understand, as fully as possible, explicit characteristics of
that subject. Thus,
I want to state five facts about Christianity.
(1) Christianity does not exist apart from the
66 books of “agreed-upon” Bible and general standards of
agreed-upon, I mean the historical “agreed-upon” canon of the
Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant churches.
We cannot get into the problems of the so-called
Apocrypha and other books not “agreed-upon,” but can make the
startling assertion of this Biblical orthodoxy among Christians
this orthodoxy is being underscored by the tremendous revival of
Christianity below the equator, sometimes labeled “Southern
(2) The Bible must be taken as a whole,
commonly labeled “the inerrancy of Scripture” by evangelicals.
Once certain parts are selected out or removed, the
cohesion of the Bible is destroyed—a position that differs from
historical, orthodox Christianity.
(3) The Western mind suffers from “critical”
or Enlightenment barriers that Polanyi and others have
The barrier is a “default mode,” a
metaepistemology, among ordinary Westerners, that sees knowledge
as “statements and proofs” from which knowledge of God is
excluded. This metaepistemology has divorced not only faith from
reason, and science from faith, but science from art, mind from
body, knowing from doing, knowing from both knower and known. We
in the Western tradition suffer an angst directly stemming from
these disconnects, and appropriately painful, as well as
prohibitive not just for considering Christianity but for
effective knowing of every kind.
(4) The greatness of the West cannot be
separated from Christianity.
I would prefer to make the claim that the greatness of
the West was caused by Christianity—one that I believe.
However, that would be a difficult claim to prove.
The claim that I have made is inescapable.
City of God to medievalism to Scholasticism to the
Renaissance and Reformation, the West is suffused and saturated
with Christians trying to live their beliefs in their best
understanding, even though sometimes making tragic mistakes.
I do not have time to list the great achievements in the
West that are being adopted worldwide, but a few are universal
education, the abolition of the slave trade, the English and
American systems of government, hospitals and health care,
innumerable charities, etc.
The fact that The Polanyi Society is having this meeting
may be attributed to the freedoms implemented by Reformation
thinking from Calvin to Knox to Rutherford to our American
Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
(5) Freedom, as it is known in the West,
cannot survive without Biblical Christianity.
To quote Noah Webster
In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one
of the first things in which all children, under a free
government ought to be instructed.. .No truth is more evident to
my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of
any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a
great concern was the evil of the totalitarian state.
If man will not submit to the grace and mercy of God and
His law, man will make his own law.
It is a simple, but supremely profound issue.
How can ethics, and derived laws, be determined?
There are possibly three, but really only one, method.
The three might be contrived as (1) the rule of the
plurality or majority, (2) submission to an authority, or (3)
the first, then the largest group may freely impose its will on
the minorities. We
could have no quarrel with any elected official or legislative
action. If the
second, we submit to totalitarianism willingly and lovingly.
Or the third in which everyone does his own thing.
Immediately, we can dismiss the third
heuristically—a powerful person or group will emerge, as
illustrated in the book,
Lord of the Flies.
The other two may be dismissed heuristically, as well, as
we are all inconsistent,
incoherent, and irrational.
Regardless of the authority or voted action,
we constantly speak our
We are always stating our opinions in a Polanyian, universal
No one is willing to give
up their individual authority!
In the words of Arthur Leff, a former great law professor
at Yale University, “the grand sez Who?”
There must be an answer to the ethical dilemma.
But what if we could fashion the best of all
these approaches? I
submit that the Bible should be our source of ethics and law
through individuals, not the church, as I believe in total
separation of church and state.
Indeed, that is primarily, although not exclusively what
happened in the founding of the United States.
Individuals, instructed by Biblical preaching and study,
founded a nation on “inalienable rights endowed by … nature
(natural revelation) and nature’s God (special revelation).”
We must remember the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky, “If
there is no God, everything is permitted.”
Thus, I suggest two foundations for a free
society. (1) The
conviviality of the Polanyians, based upon their understanding
of the formation of personal beliefs, the difficulty of
conversion from this individual, personal knowledge, and the
necessity for groups to live together with differing beliefs.
(2) The only epistemological certainty for ethics and law
is the Christian Bible—by the necessary origin of order and
knowledge in a Person, by Biblical Christianity having the most
solid claim to epistemology, rationally and historically.
I conclude with a frightful prediction, a
hopeful request, and prayers for our country and the world.
If Christian influence in all levels of society and
government continues to wane, we will face the atrocities of
Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mao Tse Sung.
We already see some of
these in the news almost every day. Neither atheism nor any
other religion can found the greatness that the West has
My request is that in spite of any unbelief
that you might have about Christianity, aversion, or even hatred
of it, one should at least try to understand it in the way that
atheists Hitchins and Eagleton have portrayed.
At least consider that without Christianity, the ideals
of the West would never have come about, and that they fade with
the fading of Christian influence.
To quote Meek again, “in the spirit of Polanyi, may we
not shrink from the ‘Here I stand: I cannot do otherwise’ of the
fiduciary act in religion even as we would not in scientific
Polanyi himself ends his chapter, “Dedication
or Servitude,” in
Science, Faith and Society with:
“Such an interpretation of society would seem
to call for an extension in the direction towards God.
If the intellectual and moral tasks of society rest in
the last resort on the free consciences of every generation, and
these are continually making essentially new additions to our
spiritual heritage, we may well assume that they are in
continuous communication with the same source that first gave
men their society-forming knowledge of abiding things.
How near that source is to God, I shall not try to
conjecture. But I
would express my belief that modern man will eventually return
to God through the clarification of his cultural and social
of reality and the acceptance of obligations which guide our
consciences, once firmly realized, will reveal to us God in man
Finally, I call for believers in Christ to
pray, as we are called so to do in I Timothy, Chapter 2.
Let the light of God, as described by Augustine, the
detailed understanding of Polanyi’s fideism and tolerance, if
not conversion, lead to a convivial culture that is the true
hope of all Polanyians.
Teacher (De Magistro).
Unicoi, TN: The Trinity Foundation, 1994.
Reprint of 1938 Prentiss-Hall publication.
Cavanaugh, William T.
The Myth of
New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Various publications and books.
A History of
Philosophy. New York, NY: Image-Doubleday, 1950.
Bad Religion: How
We Became a Nation of Heretics. (New York, NY: Free Press,
Philosophy of Saint Augustine.
New York, NY: Random House, 1960.
“Unspeakable Ethics, Unspeakable Law, “
Duke Law Journal,
Nash, Ronald H.
The Light on the
Mind: St. Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge.
Lima, OH: Academic Renewal Press, 2003.
Various works and general reading.
Some specific sources cited.
Warfield, B. B.
Calvin and Augustine.
Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
Personal Notes on this paper
Augustine and consciousness:
Self-consciousness in language development;
of Materialism…. An increasing number of
__Vigorous disagreement with Polanyi: Polanyi’s goal of the
worshipper: to be lost in mysticism—NO!
Hall’s emphasis on the explicit
and the law:
religion, tradition can give values—ethics, but whose ethics? If
ethics comes from person
knowledge, how are differing ethics decided?
__Embodiment: the body has nothing to do with
empiricism…better = ensouled… or en-minded
Naturalistic fallacy of ethics, “no ought from an is”…
When people turn from God, “They don’t believe in nothing—they
believe in anything.”
Dylan: “You gotta serve somebody… It may be the devil or it
may be the Lord.”
Breaking out after dwelling in… See Mullins’
Primacy of the Explicit: Conviviality when conversions is
not possible, and an understanding of faith necessitates
“freedom of speech” (Ron Hall, “Primacy of Explicit, p.
Not: “faith-groups” vs. non-faith groups
Emergence, consciousness and self-consciousness (and memory),
leap from non-life to life, origin of matter, origin of
knowledge (organization) and language, possibility of
communication (George Steiner-
Real Presences), 66
books of the Bible as orthodoxy, finely tuned universe that
allows life, that humans are concerned about morality (no “is”
from an “ought”, morals from random “chance,” etc.), innate
knowledge, diversity of persons (many, many “mini-beliefs”), the
idea and reality of transcendence, that man is concerned about
meaning and purpose in life, the need for “god” (fixed structure
in the midst of change—Heraclitus’
Scientists: Philip Clayton, Paul Davies, Arizona MD, etc.
Waning of Materialism…
book says that the majority of philosophers are
Plantinga’s paper that science does not require the
exclusion of supernatural beliefs.
Polanyi’s idea of personal knowledge… his idea of “person”
who recognize the supernatural.
Philip Clayton, Harold Morowitz, Paul Davies, Stuart
Hameroff, and others (Christian and non-Christian): supernatural
and emergence, transcendence, etc.
Various Notes during and after the paper’s being written
Traditional faith/reason dichotomy: Polanyi’s system would
give faith and reason their proper places in man’s epistemology.
Everyone has a “personal”
reasons from there.
years of philosophy: no agreement, no closer to “knowing,”
unless… Scripture is truth.
Only two possibilities of consciousness: a sort of
panpsychism or emergence.
“Seeing” and understanding (“seeing with the mind’s eye)…
integration, emergence, supervenience, whole more than the sum
of its parts, abstraction, abduction, art, chaos theory,
turbulence, quantum mechanics, dreaming (?), imagination,
hidden in plain sight: origins of anything, presence of
life, the delicate balance of physics that sustains life in the
universe, emergence (supervenience, parts/wholes, etc.),
consciousness, ethics and values (naturalistic fallacy), Special
problem of a definition of “religion.”
“religious” belief is personal and individual…
The Second Friend: “But the Second Friend is
the man who disagrees with you about everything. He is not so
much the alter ego as the antiself. Of course he shares
your interests; otherwise he would not become your friend at
all. But he has approached them all at a different angle. He has
read all the right books but has got the wrong thing out of
every one. It is as if he spoke your language but mispronounced
it. How can he be so nearly right and yet, invariably, just not
right?” Quote from
Wikipedia on “Owen Barfield,” one of the Inklings and friend of
George Steiner on language.
understanding of what language is and how language performs,
that any coherent account of the capacity of human speech to
communicate meaning and feeling is, in the final analysis,
underwritten by the assumption of God's presence.... the
experience of aesthetic meaning, that of literature, of the
arts, of musical form, infers the necessary possibility of this
'real presence' .... The wager on the meaning of meaning, on the
potential of insight and response when one human voice addresses
another, when we come face to face with the text and work of art
or music, which is to say when we encounter the other
in its condition of freedom, is a wager on transcendence."
Bible in the Polanyian system.
The Bible is both tacit
and explicit. It is
first explicit—the words are extant, virtually unarguable as the
Canon. However, the
interpretation involves a personal, tacit, pre-conditioned
commitment (personal and ecclesial faith) that influences
are deductive, rather than inductive, but there are personal
mini-beliefs that influence interpretation.
intentions pave the road to Hell.
How powerful is this
Enlightenment had the best of intentions—to improve the lot of
man and to “objectify” (find) truth.
What they left out in
their “good” intentions was persons—the human person and his
convivial groups and the Person of God.
Humanity and God. Without
God, there is no humanity. An
impersonal universe is only a blind, purposeless collocation of
sub-atomic processes. Without
God, there is no way to save man.
“Dwelling in” and tabernacle (Bible).
“In my Father’s house
are many tabernacles…” and I Cor. 5:1ff… earthly body for
heavenly body (tabernacle). “Dwelling
in” one’s beliefs… we walk by faith and not by sight!
There is no epistemology (knowledge)
without omniscience. Charles Peirce, Martin Heidegger,
and other philosophers have noted that any proposition (claim to
knowledge) is predicated on prior knowledge and that knowledge
predicated on its prior knowledge ad infinitum and
infinite regress. In natural science this process has come
to be known as the Duhem-Quine thesis. Thus, any
claim to knowledge requires omniscience—all prior knowledge.
As Christians, we know Who is omniscient. Thus, only
God has knowledge; that is, only God is epistemologically sound.
But... we have His Special Revelation: The Holy Bible.
Thus, any knowledge presented in the Bible is grounded in God's
omniscience. The only logical conclusion, then, is that
the only knowledge (synonym of truth) available to humans is the
P.S. By the way knowledge is not an infinite
regress. If it were, God could not know everything.
P.P.S. See "transcendental argument"
below... more on knowledge and the necessity for God.
B. B. Warfield,
Augustine (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and
Reformed Publishing Co., 1956), 321-322,
One has to
remember the time of Augustine’s writing.
He had one foot in the Greek-Roman culture,
particularly influenced, by Neo-Platonism.
He had one foot more firmly planted in the
doctrinal development of the new
religion—Christianity—and its attempts to differentiate
the Scriptures from pagan ideas to preserve its unique
There was an equally great need to demonstrate how the
Scriptures meet and overcome the cultural challenges of
these other beliefs.
He was a pioneer hewing out a City of God in the
forest of prevailing ideas.
Pioneers provide foundations for others to build
Nothing should be taken away from Augustine’s work
simply because of any inconsistencies on his part.
Indeed, many philosophers and theologians after
him were and are far worse on this point that Augustine
History of Philosophy, (New York, NY: Doubleday,
From the title of
Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy.
See Chapter III
of Polanyi’s book,
and Society for the totalitarian effects of
Those who discuss
Augustine have differing views of exactly what
ontologism is and its method in Augustine.
I have to leave this areas unexplored and is
relevant to our discussion here only in a general way.
(Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1975), 180.
Augustine believed that everything was created in a
seven day week was a logical framework for the education
I do not endorse
all that persons in the Intelligent Design movement have
have made some serious errors—for example, that there is
a designer apart from the God of the Bible and trying to
force its teaching in public schools.
But the basic premise of their position is
correct—no organization without a person or Person.
remember that states under the U.S. constitution may
adopt a religious group and are thus only limited if
constitution prohibits it.
“Faith and Reason,”
The Journal of
Religion 41(4): 237-247, 1961.
Esther L. Meek,
“Longing to Know
and the Complexities of Knowing God,”
Discovery 31(3): 31.
discusses the authority of Scripture and its acceptance
in the modern and postmodern context.
and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 52.
Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English
Language (1828) Edition, found at
“Unspeakable Ethics, Unspeakable Law, “Duke
Law Journal, 1979(6): 1229-1250.
This quote comes from Martin Luther’s stand at
the Diet of Worms.
and Society (1964), 84.