You are here:Home-Resources-Counsel of Chalcedon Magazine-1989 Issue 6-The Last Temptation of Christians, Part 4

The Last Temptation of Christians, Part 4

[Editor's note- We continue Dr. Gentry's final response to "Mr. Gray," which began in the May issue.]

Your reference to 2+2=4 was most interesting, for that opens up the whole matter, again, of the nature of reality (what is) and the foundation of epistemology (how we know what is). The neutrality postulate of mathematics, which you apparently hold, is false. On what ultimate philosophical base may we assert 2+2=4? Not all philosophies will tolerate 2+2=4; thus this statement is not philosophically neutral. Philosophically it should be noted that only a world-view committed both to a metaphysical plurality in the world and a metaphysical unity can sustain even this most simple arithmetical truth. Thus, mathematics immediately engages one in the metaphysical debate over unity and plurality, the one and the many. Which is more ultimate, the oneness of the Universe or its manyness? Further, we should ask how we know "2" exists? Thomas S. Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) and Michael Polanyi (Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy) demonstrate that "agreement" regarding mathematical truths is partially due to the intentional exclusion from international mathematical symposia of certain philosophical systems. Radical monists, such as Hindus, believe in the ultimacy of unity ("All is one" is that chant that has done so much for the development of Indian culture). They assert 2+2=1. Evolutionary relativists see Chance as the womb and foundation of being and consequently of knowledge. Hence, irrational Chance is the floor upon which the rational world and coherent knowledge is supposed to stand!