30 June 2008

Theologians and mystics = naked emperors

For all their scholastic titles and awards, theologians are nevertheless conmen, though perhaps unwitting ones. Like astrologers, feng shui 'experts' and spirit mediums, they are naked emperors whose influence grows in proportion to the number of gullible folk who uncritically accept their proclamations. I've recently purchased an English translation of Michel de Montaigne's 'Essays' by M.A. Screech, who is, among other impressive titles, an ordained Catholic priest. Dr Screech is a regrettable example of a highly educated, articulate, intelligent individual who subscribes to mysticism and supernatural abstractions, holding onto such pearls of wisdom as 'all knowledge is merely opinion' and insisting that truth is revealed (presumably by the Catholic conception of God), not arrived at through Man's oh-so-fallible powers of reason.

This insult to my intelligence (a faculty for which my pride in is considered a Christian sin) comes right after I've read John Gribbin's fantastic book on the history of science, a field of endeavour whose participants - unlike Dr Screech and his fellow mystics - know all too well the possibility of arriving at certain knowledge, objective and indisputable given the available facts, through the diligent gathering and careful interpretation of empirical evidence, with Man's reason and his senses as indispensable tools.

Get enough people to believe in fairies and we'll have esteemed fairy-ologians holding forth with unmerited authority as they split hairs over the physiology and metaphysics of goblins, ghosts and ghouls. Meanwhile the epistemological progress of humanity is retarded as the naked emperors are lavished with undue attention and rewards, both material and psychological.


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