Mortimer Adler lectures; The difference it makes, part 2
One group that would not be affected would be all those Christian think issues who in one way or another participate in that transformation of Christian doctrine which Bishop Robinson calls the new reformation and which is sometimes called the new theology. I have in mind here not only such eminent Protestant theologians as Bookman tillage and Bonhoeffer but also such self-styled Christian radicals as professors Van Buren Hamilton all ties invited again to mention only those who have recently published proclamations of their views. All members of this group may not be Christians without religion as Bonhoeffer describes himself. But all are atheistic Christians. Christians for whom God is dead in the sense not now so widely promulgated by Bishop Robinson the divinity whose existence is being denied is that of an infinite and eternal spiritual being and a transcendent
as well as imminent God who has it once created have provided and governor of the universe in short a supreme being. This group of Christians affirm or believe in a divinity because they still use the word God God is dead but another God in their view is alive and a divinity that is holy in that holy immanent in the natural order. And that madness that manifests itself especially in man is apparent in man as a person and in the sphere of interpersonal relationships. They are in short naturalists and as such they already believe just as most scientists who are also naturalists believe that nothing in material exists for them. The immaterial is the supernatural whether is whether it whether it is claimed for the personal being of God or for an aspect of the personal being of man. Hence the possible future falsification of the possible future falsification of the
immaterial as type offices. What most have the effect of strengthening their present beliefs or disbeliefs only those who are aware that their present commitment to the tenets of naturalism is an act of faith would realize that knowledge might be substituted for faith as a result of success in the conversational machine test. That is one very important qualifying point I want to add. While the doctrine of a new theology would be at most confirmed by the discovery that man's difference in kind is superficial not radical. It might be more seriously affected by the discovery that man does not differ in kind at all but only in degree. For this would raise difficulties for the view that divinity so far as there is any resides in man as a person and manifests itself in interpersonal relationships where the line between person and thing rubbed out the Christian magic radicals
might either relinquish all notions of divinity or go further in the direction in which they already lean namely toward pantheism. There is a second and quite different religious group upon whom the falsification of the immaterial is type offices would have little effect. This group consists of those traditional and often docs Christians both Catholic and Protestant who feed a assts feeding ism involved to say this. On the one hand commitment to a body of religious dogmas on the other. Commitment by faith alone and without any regard for the relation between what is affirmed by faith and what is affirmed denied by the rest of human knowledge. The feed a s does not care whether prevailing scientific or philosophical opinion support or oppose the dog was of his religion in his eyes. They do not need support from that quarter. And if certain religious dogmas appear to be absurd or unreasonable in the light of secular knowledge the
theist redoubles his commitment to them not merely in spite of it being absurd but precisely because they are absurd. Hence in those a serious position I mean that is quite it and widely held what has been widely held in the Western world at least for many centuries. Hence for the theist no change in the state of secular knowledge no change in the state of secular knowledge can affect the dog in which he believes or the manner in which he is committed to them. The one very religious group that would be seriously affected seriously affected by the confirmation of the materialist position and by the falsification of the in materialist hypothesis concerning man's nature and radical difference consists of those traditional Christians mainly Roman Catholics who not only are often docs in the dogmatic commitments but also try to be philosophical in their understanding of dog misses the dogmas they hold by religious faith. The dogmatic
theologians in this group conceive the theological enterprise as faith seeking understanding. They look to that part of philosophy which they call natural theology to provide rational support rational support for some of the articles of their faith and to make other articles of faith as reasonable as intelligible and as credible as possible affirming the unity of truth. They deny that religious truth can exist in a logic tight compartment unaffected by scientific or philosophical knowledge having a contrary Tena unlike the fetus they regard the slightest apparent conflict between science and religion or between philosophy and religion. As a matter of the most serious concern as as a challenge to be met or a problem to be resolved for this group of religious Christians what would be the consequences of the further possibility that we are here considering the most effective way to enter this question quickly is to turn back to earliest centuries any
period of Christendom prior to the last hundred or hundred fifty 150 years. The dogmatic theology of the Early this early a period in most of the Protestant sects as well as in Roman Catholicism includes four dogwoods for dogmas that we must now consider first. The dogs of man's personality. That man and man alone is made in the image of God and has this special character among all terrestrial creatures by virtue of his having a spiritual aspect or a non-material component in his nature. Second the dog of man special creation at the Arjen of the human race as a whole and the Coming to be if each human individual cannot be added adequately accounted for by the operation of purely natural causes that are operated in the biological process of reproduction or procreation but requires the simple vengeance of divine goes out. Third the dogma of individual immortality or of a life hereafter for the individual human person as the
human so unlike the souls of other living things is capable of subsets of CIS subsisting apart from the body even though for the perfection of human life it needs to be reunited with the body that God resurrects from the ashes of this earthly life. Fourth the dogma of free will in response and moral responsibility that man is morally responsible for his compliance with or transgression of God's will by virtue of his having the power of free choice between good and evil between loving God or turning away from it. Now these four dogs have in common that they all and this by the way represents traditional orthodox Christianity Protestant or Catholic. These four dogs have in common the fact that they all shop in a separate man from other terrestrial creatures. No other creature inert body plant or animal is made in the image of God for none is a person as God is a person. The operation of physical causes in the natural process of reproduction suffices for the origin of other species of living
things and for the generation of individual members of the species only man requires God's special creative action. No other living thing on earth is vouchsafed individual immortality by God. No other terrestrial creature carries the burden of moral responsibility. That is inseparable from freedom of choice. If now we ask what philosophical conception of man what philosophical conception of man is required to render these four dogs his concerning man's uniqueness. Reasonable intelligible and credible the answer stated in minimal terms is as follows. Man must be conceived as different in kind from all of the terrestrial things that difference in kind must be conceived as a radical difference in kind of involving a break in the continuity of nature that radical difference in kind must be conceived in terms of man's unique possession of an intellectual power that transcends the properties of matter and the operation of physical causes. In other words man's intellect man
power of conceptual thought is is the immaterial component in his constitution that makes him a person makes him a person requires a special creation gives him the hope of immortality and endows him with freedom of choice. I do not and I hope that no one fails to heed what I'm now going to say. I do not wish to be understood as saying that the truth of the for dog is can be demonstrated philosophically to constitute a body of natural theology. That is the character of certain knowledge far from it. The only point I am trying to make here is much less extravagant. It amounts to no more than this. The truth of the immaterial ist hypothesis concerning man's power of conceptual thought and the truth of its car Larry concerning man's radical difference in kind is the minimal support that philosophy can offer for the four dogs mentioned above. Hence if the immaterial as Tai posits is true and only if it is true then at least.
The dog has become somewhat credible intelligible and rational reasonable within the what what the freight what the dog was it certainly is at least possible then becomes at least possible within the framework of all the rest of our philosophical and scientific knowledge. That being the case falsify cation of the materialist hypothesis would clearly have serious consequences for the reasonable as reasonableness of faith in the for dog as concerning men. If there is nothing in material in the constitution of man if man is continuous with the rest a physical nature if everything that is distinctive about man can be explained by the magnitude of his brain then all four of the dogs are adversely affected. So not in the same way. It is difficult to see how Man is made in the image of God as a person. If God's personality lies in his spiritual being and man's personality consists solely in his having the power to engage in meaningful discourse it is difficult
to see why the origin of the human race cannot be accounted for by the natural processes of evolution or why generation of the human individual cannot be accounted for by the ordinary process of procreation. It is difficult to see why men should have any hope for him an individual immortality or look forward after death to a resurrected body and a life of the world to come. It is more than difficult. It is impossible to see how men can have freedom of choice which involves a kind of causality that is not to be found in the material or physical world while it is true that in the last hundred years or so Christian theologians especially those in the Roman Catholic community have tried to accommodate some of their doctrines to the theory and facts of evolution. None of the accommodations that have been made involves any retraction or modification of the four dogmas about man. Hence if the immaterial hypothesis about man's nature and about his difference
in kind should be falsified in the future the theological consequences for Christians who wish their faith to be reasonable what even be those set forth would closely resemble them. Before we close this discussion of the consequences of the falsification of the a materialist hypothesis we must consider briefly the effect of such force a vacation outside the field of religion that is in the realm of philosophy. I've already touched on the one point that must be made. But it's important enough it's important enough outside the field of religion to make it very emphatically. When I said a moment ago that man's freedom of choice is rendered not just difficult but impossible to understand if man's intellectual power is wholly explicable in neurological terms. There is no problem here of course for those recent writers who confuse free choice with
causal contingency. For them free choice can occur in any causal sequence and is not found exclusively in human action. But for all the rest for all the leading exponents of free will in the tradition of Western thought freedom of choice involves a mode of causality that is not operative in the physical action of bodies or material forces. For those who understand free choice in terms of an immaterial mode of causality the falsification of the immaterial is typed this is about man must lead to the denial that man has the power of free choice free choice becomes more than difficult understand. As I've said several times now it becomes impossible to understand this result would in turn have serious consequences from our own philosophy at least from our philosophy of a certain persuasion. There are many philosophers who hold as I do that moral responsibility. Rests on freedom of choice and cannot
be grounded merely on freedom from external conflicts constraint. There are also many who agree with Ted as I do at them are all imperative to treat man as an end. It rests not simply on his being a person able to engage in meaningful discourse but on his being a person who through freedom of choice directs his own life. And so is master of himself. Let's now go to the other side of the picture and consider the effect of trying to fall of trying to falsify the immaterial as type offices and after the various repeated efforts failing to do so. Thus tending to confirm its relative truth and to infer from the materialist hypothesis. Let me recall once more because this imply that you could be your mind be focused on the issue. Let me let me remind you once more of the logic of the alternatives. On the one hand those
who espouse the materialist hypothesis concerning man's nature and mode of difference predict they do it explicitly right now. Predict a successful outcome. Why they should predict a successful outcome of the conversational machine test. A robot that effectively played its part in the Turing game would show as nothing else might that neurological factors and processes suffice to explain propositional speech and conceptual thought with it with that shown that the materialist hypothesis concerning man's nature and its radical difference in kind would be falsified while the material while the materialist hypothesis would not be correspondingly proved true beyond doubt. It would be confirmed to so high a degree that it would be for all practical purposes true. On the other hand those who espouse the in materialist hypothesis predict failure in the conversational machine test. Here we must
invasion an extensive number and variety of technological efforts to produce a robot that can be effect that can effectively play its part in Turing's game. Now given such efforts over an extended period of time and given failure to achieve the desired result the in materialist hypothesis would be progressively confirmed by thus being put repeatedly to the test and escaping falsification is time while the materialist hypothesis would not thereby be falsified its relative truth would be so far diminished that the scientist a philosopher who still to continue to hold it without serious reservations or doubts would be exactly like the dogmatic theologian who is an extreme feed iest. Now supposing that this possibility realized in the future we should be clear at once that its consequences would take an opposite direction to the ones that flow from the
future a realisation of the alternative possibility. But we must ask as we did before. For whom would these opposite consequences be serious. What groups would be adversely affected by the confirmation of the relative truth of the proposition that man differs radically in kind from other animals. The proposition of the brain is only a necessary and not the sufficient condition of man's power of conceptual thought. The proposition that an immaterial fact must be positive to explain conceptual thought. So far as I can see three groups should be affected one. The philosophical exponents of the metaphysical doctrine of materialism for that doctrine excludes the possibility of an immaterial fact in existence or in operation. To the scientists and especially the evolutionists who in that commitment to naturalism exclude the possibility of any break in the continuity of nature and therefore exclude all radical differences in kind. That would introduce discontinuity into nature
3. The Christian radicals the religion less are atheistic Christians. The exponents of the new theology of the new reformation whom I described named earlier whose commitment to the proposition that God is dead is equivalent to the denial of reality to spiritual beings. And it is the existence of which is not subject to the spatial temporal determinations and of the physical properties of bodies all fossils. I will now comment briefly on the consequences for each of these three groups dealing with them in the order named First the metaphysical materialists. It not must not be thought that failure to falsify the immaterial is hypothesis. After repeated efforts with the conversational machine test what affords the first our only argument against the truth of materialism. In the long history of the controversy about materialism other arguments have been advanced and one of these drawn from common experience claims to falsify the materialist position that one is still a matter of grave
concern to the most thoughtful of contemporary materialists such as Wilford Salah and Jcc spawn. Nevertheless it can be said that repeated failures to falsify the in materialist hypothesis using the conversational machine test would bring a different sort of them Pyrrhic elevens into the picture. And if the strict logic of empirical procedures as it hit to the result could not fail to be regarded as extremely damaging. Second the naturalists and especially the evolutionists. What is at stake here is not only the unbroken continuity of nature but also the principle of phylogenetic continuity as applied to the origin of man. That principle is violated if man's nature involves an immaterial component that could not possibly be transmitted by the material fact is operative in the genetic process. The result would be that a
question which most evolutionists now think is solved at least in principle would become an open question. And what is more an embarrassment for the problem of the Arjen of man on earth might not be capable of scientific solution. Earlier in this lecture I mentioned as one of four articles of off ADOX Christian faith about man the dogma of man special creation that because of an immaterial fact in man's constitution neither the human race as a whole nor the individual human person can be generated by the operation of purely natural causes. That kind of causes that operate in the genetic process. If the relative truth of the in materialist hypothesis is confirmed the problem of man's Arjen both the origin of the race and the origin of the individual may call for a reconciliation of evolutionary theory with orthodox Christian theology. It is hardly an
overstatement to say that most scientists today are unprepared for this eventuality. Third the Christian radicals for whom God is dead. The confirmation of the relative truth of the a materialist hypothesis concerning man does not prove the existence of God conceived as an infinite and eternal spiritual being who was not only him in the world he creates but also transcends it. But if the failure of the conversational machine test greatly strengthens the hypothesis that an immaterial fact exists in man and operates in human thought and life. That would or should have an effect on the negative faith of those who say God is dead. At least in so far as their reason for disbelieving in a transcendent God is their disbelief in the reality of immaterial entities spiritual beings.
Furthermore if mans are original cannot be explained by purely natural causes then the existence of man can be used as a premise in an op post dearie ory argument for the existence of the cause that must be added to all natural causes in order to account for man's existence. That additional cause would have to be supernatural. You see here at this point coming out of a future scientific possibility a new part a new argument for the existence of God is one possibility. Hence unless the exponents of the new theology and the new reformation in the Christian community are as much dogmatic fetus as some of them are often Doc's forebears were and I sometimes think they are. Their faith in the proposition that God is dead will be seriously challenged and the question about the existence of a deity that has a transcendent spiritual being will confront them as an open and embarrassing question.
Again it is not. It is not an overstatement to say that they are unprepared to regard this as an open question as much as if not more than the evolutionists are unprepared to reopen the question about the origin of man. And yet all these things hang in the balance depending which way the test comes out as it will come out one way or the other. Please permit me then three concluding remarks. First the question about men with which these lectures have been concerned is a very special type of mixed question. There are mixed questions involving science and philosophy in which scientific evidence does not function to change the balance of relative truth that attaches to opposite most metaphysical theories our papa says. I describe such a question in the conditions of philosophy there and apparent conflict between scientific and commonsense opinion serve to test the truth of
competing philosophical theories but I challenge them to resolve the conflict without giving up either the truth of common sense or the truth of science. But this makes question this mix question about man doesn't operate in that way. Here the solution of the problem of how man differs requires us to consult all relevant scientific data and theories as well as bring philosophical analyses and arguments to bear on the question. But what is most extraordinary here is the fact that we can envisage in the future most extraordinary that we can envisage in the future the possibility of scientific efforts that will have the effect either of falsifying a traditional philosophical theory or of confirming its relative truth and inferring the relative truth in firming the relative truth of its contrary. Secondly the point I've just made has significance for the difficult question about progress in philosophy. Those who think as I do with the progress is made in
philosophy are often taxed to offer good and clear examples of advances in philosophical truth. If the future contains the alternative possibilities envisaged in these elections then the advance will be that will be main toward a solution of the mixed question about man provides us with a dramatic instance of philosophical progress. But I have to add since this advance will be occasioned not simply by the efforts of philosophical inquiry but by the work of scientists and technologists. It may be atypical. The problem of showing progress in philosophy apart from or independently of advances in scientific research may therefore remain as perplexing as ever. Third in last there is a certain irony in the shift that would take place from the State of the learned world a hundred years ago to this day. It will be in 100 years hence if one of the alternative possibilities and visits in this lecture is
realized and generates the theoretical consequences that have been indicated a century ago and during the last hundred years the portion of the learned world that was most affected by the changing view of man that came prevail through scientific advances especially those in the field of evolution consisted of adherents of off ADOX Christian theology. The thrust of the challenge was mainly if not exclusively felt by learned men philosophers and scientists as well as theologians who subscribe to certain religious beliefs among which the fourth dog was about man was central in the last hundred years that all had view of man has come to prevail so widely in the learned world that if now or in the future the in materialist hypothesis should be falsified. No representative section of the learned world would be surprised. There would only be a small number of men who might suffer any serious embarrassment.
A century hence and during the next hundred years if present trends continue and Excel are right the portion of the learned world that would be most shocked by an altered view of man that might come to prevail through the failure of the conversational machine test would be all those who are united in that common disbelief disbelief in the dog days of traditional orthodox Christianity. ID is now thought to be dead would come to life again and questions now thought to be closed would have to be reopened and faced again. If the beliefs or disbeliefs that prevail among the learned have practical effects upon the lives and conduct of their fellow men then the ultimate resolution of the question about how man death is from other things will make a difference. A serious difference to the future state of human affairs. You have been listening to the difference it makes. The last of five lectures about
- Mortimer Adler lectures
- The difference it makes, part 2
- Producing Organization
- University of Chicago
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program presents the second part of Mortimer Adler's lecture, "The Difference It Makes."
- Series Description
- Series of five lectures by Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, Director of the Institute for Philosophic Research in Chicago. Title of lecture series: "The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes."
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Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Julin, Joseph R.
Writer: Adler, Mortimer Jerome, 1902-2001.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-33-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Mortimer Adler lectures; The difference it makes, part 2,” 1966-08-22, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 28, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3n20h546.
- MLA: “Mortimer Adler lectures; The difference it makes, part 2.” 1966-08-22. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 28, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3n20h546>.
- APA: Mortimer Adler lectures; The difference it makes, part 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3n20h546