Basically this a a rambling about theories I’ve been looking at for uni, and how it seems strange to me that a society which shows such practical links to christianity can be so illogically dismissive of it intellectually.
It’s probably highly inaccurate, subject to many generalisation, based on misunderstanding and a rather weak argument on the whole…but it’s my initial ponderings, so hey, that’s what you get.
Reading about communications theory yesterday. My textbook tells me that there are 7 “traditions” of communication theory,each with usually 3 or 4 variations. And each of these traditions manifests itself in different ways according to contexts. Add this to the fact that defining theory is a process relying on a metamodel (a model of how models of definition are constructed) of what theory is, which in turn relies on 3 theories, we have a whole heap of craziness going down.
I find it interesting though, that Christianity, as the cultural basis for much of western civilisation, is treated with so little regard by these lump theoretical traditions.
These theories are often not mutually exclusive, and I can see how many work. Yet many just don’t address the idea that there even MAY be a universal constant absolute reality that is God. For example, I see how the world “as we know it” may be completely the result of social interaction, and power-based relationships, and that a language of meaning is merely a cultural way of interpreting experience. But for some reason, the major theories seem to go towards either
a) an objective reality that we cannot experience unless all bias is removed
b) A highly relativistic approach where “meaning” (and I refer not just to personal meaning, but actual purpose/reality, although many theories would claim the construct makes them the same) that we get based on the way we relate experience through a semiotic relationship IS a reality.
This seems to me to remove a key aspect of the cultural backdrop that this kind of thinking claims is key to understanding everything. If all is interpreted through shared cultural meaning, then why is there no consideration that there could be an objective reality that reveals itself through subjective means. Why would one have to suspend all bias (which most of communicative and psychological theory claims is the actual basis of communication, personality and this very act of interpretation itself) in order to see objectively? I think that the biblical story reveals very clearly a way in which God goes to people where they are at.
There are theories that ascribe to a systematic approach to knowledge and communication, which assert a basic input-output and noise formula, or else a complex system that cannot be analysed because one can never remove oneself from the system. this final option seems to match up with my understanding of Christianity the best (in that we can never see the full picture, on account of being pasrt of the picture), yet there is still something that doesn’t fit, for me, with this approach. It seems to imply that a social history/construct completely defines thought and response. I think this asks us to ascribe rigid rules of learning and logic-based rule learning to the psychology, emotions and thoughts. I think that things simply aren’t that simple, and that there is a dynamic factor; an experience of God that cannot be explained through social understanding…for example, Archaeological evidence in Nazareth reveals nothing but ritualistic Jewish religion based around purity. Similarly, the Tanakh and Talmud teach of How Jesus’ teachings’ were radically different to anything heard before. So how is that “knowledge” that he had a product of a system, no matter how many “feedback loops” there were.
For me it just doesn’t add up how a society with such a large legacy of practical societal success based on a Christian model of morals and rights can diverge so fully from a Christian perspective in theoretical fields.
It seems to me like none of these theories adequately explain the personal experience of Christianity, which seems strange for a society largely influenced by the Christian movement. Why scholars should dismiss the idea of a more powerful phenomenon escapes me; there is obviously not consensus on the way knowledge works. There seems to be more to it than simple cybernetics and systems. There seems to be no real justification in experience-based theories as to why there can’t be an objective reality which does exist, and that is unchanged by the way we interpret it, yet that we do experience as we are, as socially conditioned beings, in it’s reality.
To me this all relates down to the same idea that CS Lewis suggested with regards to science. In this case, I think that the study of communication and knowledge theory counts as a science as it approaches the concept in the interest of using observable experience to explain this. There is an irony in this fact at all, as the charter that knowledge is socially conditioned makes any study highly subjective and only personally significant.
So what was this quote that makes so much sense to me, and makes all this rejection of the possibility of a dynamic greater power who works in ways that we can’t limit or understand?;
“unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears…unless reason is an absolute – all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of it’s endless and aimless becoming…they ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
-CS Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?”