Re: Theos-World Re: Vision, Thought and Intuition
Nov 29, 2001 01:19 PM
by Steve Stubbs
I never heard of Jack Van Impe, but the statement by
Raymond Martin, quoted by you, that:
"The rule for experts is this: Base your views
directly on the primary evidence; although the
opinions of other experts cannot be ignored, you can
override their opinions by your own reading of the
Strikes me as a misreading of the evidence by Martin
himself. I admire Burton Mack's books, but his
methodology seems to be (1) throw out all the evidence
or most of it, and then (2) reconstruct based on your
own imagination. Dominic Crossan actually uses the
phrase "disciplined reconstructive imagination" to
describe his work. Incidentally, I greatly admire
Crossan as well.
When Martin then says:
"The rule for amateurs, on the other hand, is this:
Base your beliefs mainly on the views of the experts;
if a sizable majority of the experts agree among
themselves, then accept what they say; if they
disagree, then suspend judgment.
That strikes me as a form of secular popery. (Not to
be confused with potpourri.) Much as I admire Marcus
Borg, Morton Smith, Dom Crossan, Burton Mack, et al.,
I am not ready to start kissing rings. These guys are
useful for training the mind, but one cannot do that
by blindly following their lead. Incidentally, in the
field to which Martin refers there is virtually NO
widespread agreement on anything except the century in
which the events occurred, which was different from
the century in which Blavatsky says they occurred.
The fact that there is no agreement and therefore
nothing to which one can dogmatically concur without
looking more than a little foolish, strikes me as an
excellent state of affairs. Would that that were true
elsewhere. Down with all popes. Vive la discorde.
Paul: "To focus exclusively on the areas of
disagreement among scientists, historians, etc. and
ignore the areas of widespread consensus, and then to
use that to conclude that "there is no truth" is
unwise. Seems to me like unfocused
I cannot disagree with you, and yet I am not
altogether comfortable with that statement. The
problem is with the whole idea of "belief" and "truth"
and "conviction." How about a permanent state of open
minded agnosticism, in which all questions are
permanently open, and in which we accept new
information with interest and not irritation? In that
case we can say that the weight of evidence seems to
tip the scale this way or that, but we are not
justified in "believing" anything in the usual sense.
Ideas are like chewing gum. They are great when you
want something to chew on, but regarding them as "The
Truth" is a bit restrictive. We will never know any
ultimate truths. All we can expect is a lot of bubble
gum to chew on.
Anyway, the statement thst there is consensus on
anything seems problematic. There are people on this
list who believe Hitler won the second world war, that
he lived at Harry Truman's place in 1948, and that the
Nazis invented flying saucers. There is even a fellow
who doubts the existence of the mahatmas M. and K.H.
As one committed to neither believing nor disbelieving
anything, except tentatively, I find all these ideas
interesting, yet suspect the preponderance of evidence
is skewed against some of the aforementioned views.
You are certainly right that the statement by
Blavatsky that J.C. lived 150 years BCE is
"preposterous." There was an absurd discussion of
that very point on a Theosophical list a couple of
years ago, im which True Believers held to that view
despite all evidence to the contrary and some even
stormed out, so strong was their conviction. The one
notable aspect of the discussion is that at no time
did the Believers put anything forth which could count
as evidence, except for quotations from their Guru,
which we were asked to accept uncritically. Here,
too, we cannot say that they were wrong, but the
preponderance of evidence seems to weigh against them,
and they did nothing by way of presenting evidence to
advance their view. An absurd quotation is merely
evidence that such-and-such a person said something
that is absurd. It is not evidence that the content
of the statement is true.
--- firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> --- In theos-talk@y..., Alan Williams <alwilli@i...>
> quoting me:
> Our primary objective is to maintain the
> > > position that everything HPB said was true, and
> if we start
> asking the wrong questions, delving into the wrong
> sources, then we
> might be led astray into doubt."
> > Are the above the words you wish to put in my
> Not knowing you, I have no reason to wish to put
> anything in your
> mouth. Just trying to determine what it is you were
> trying to say.
> What about the above misses the mark?
> > I do not know what you mean by "wrong
> > But HPB herself maintained their is only one
> One Truth, many truths.
> Whenever you have
> > a situation as in many areas of science today
> where different
> factions draw different conclusions from the same
> premises, there is
> no truth.
> How can that be? People disagreeing about what is
> true cannot
> possibly mean that nothing is true, at least I can't
> see how that
> could be. But at any rate, to focus exclusively on
> the areas of
> disagreement among scientists, historians, etc. and
> ignore the areas
> of widespread consensus, and then to use that to
> conclude that "there
> is no truth" is unwise. Seems to me like unfocused
> intellectualism. If you look at the cup as half
> full rather than
> half empty, you will see that the sciences and
> humanities have made
> tremendous advances in determining the truth about a
> great many
> things. And therefore deserve a lot more respect
> that you seem to
> grant them.
> > > As if to say "doubt is bad, avoid it at all
> > As far as I recall I never said anything about
> doubt is bad, more
> > false imputations. Nor did I say inquiry was bad.
> You didn't say those things but you sure appeared to
> imply them. The
> problem with posts that express attitudes rather
> than come right out
> and say what the writer means in detail is that
> readers then have to
> figure out the implications. And the writers can
> always disdainfully
> say they didn't intent to imply such-and-so, when
> the implications
> are revealed to be problematic.
> What *did* you mean to say about the value of doubt
> and inquiry
> concerning HPB's Masters and her Theosophy? I am
> *surely* not the
> only reader who took your remarks to be quite
> negative towards such
> inquiry and doubt. (E.g., Bart.)
> > What I wrote was probably quite wishy washy to all
> the high-falutin
> > inquiring minds that hang out here and who like to
> wrap themselves
> in double-helix spirals - towering
> intellectualizations - huge
> apartment blocks of compartmentalizations. Infinite
> staggering logic and petty nitpicking. Actually
> they love the
> argument more than anything else. They live for
> > the intellectual battle, the ripping down of
> lesser edifices.
> > Fine by me, whatever floats their boat.
> It's not just these people, it's virtually every
> online Theosophical
> venue I've seen. They are all dominated by
> nitpicking about matters
> of little to no interest to outsiders.
> > But in my humble opinion they contribute very
> little, if anything,
> to the spirit of Theosophy, they're all too busy
> fighting over its
> > corpse.
> Well, if it really is a corpse, there's no point in
> trying to
> contribute to a spirit that has fled the body.
> Perhaps the spirit of
> Theosophy can only be found outside the contemporary
> But I do get your point. However, I find that
> people who post to
> decry historical and intellectual debates on various
> lists usually
> offer no alternative. Baha'is denounce historical
> and intellectual
> debate about Baha'i, but don't post spiritually
> uplifting stuff
> to "counter" it. Ditto with ARE folks, some
> Theosophists, Eckists,
> among the groups I've hung out with on the Net.
> It's a case
> of "Light a candle, or curse the darkness?" If you
> don't like the
> other participants and the kind of discourse they
> engage in, isn't it
> more constructive to provide an example of an
> alternative approach,
> rather than just put people down?
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
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