Monday, May 28, 2012

Review of Nancy Pearcey's "Saving Leonardo", Part 2

Part 2: Two Paths to Secularism
           The following quotes from p.76 summarize my present longing.
“Art tries, literally, to picture things which philosophy tries to put into carefully thought-out words.” Han Rookmaaker. And contemporary architect David Gobel said that in art, “a worldview is made tangible.”
          People don’t’ care so much about the technical expertise of an artist, but how they convey some aspect of the world as they see it. Art is never a perfect copy of nature, but is an illusion; an interpretation or perspective on the part of the artist. The author makes a connection between the identity crisis of the art world in the Modern era and its abandoning the concept of truth.
       Contrary to media opinion, the greatest minds in the world of science are Christians who are scientists. Yet, the world continues to try to erase such facts and, like the Empiricists, attempts to find solutions to man’s problems through the achievements of science and industry. These same blind seers declare that art should never contain any moral lesson or implication.
    Impressionism attempted to approach visual reality through the lens of science. Post- Impressionists wanted to reclaim some deeper sense of reality in their work. During the same time, rationalists emphasized mathematics as the tool for understanding all things, as compared to the empiricists who believed that understanding came from data acquired through the senses. The perfect art movement to parallel the rationalists was cubism. Geometric abstraction, in particular the work of Mondrian, epitomized the rationalist worldview.
“Art was no longer a portrayal of a subject but the investigation of form.” (p.130)
      Secular worldviews are nothing more than substitutes for traditional religion. They become a template for an individuals thinking, communication, and view of life. In this, empiricists and rationalists have the same goal: to replace divine revelation with an alternate authority which can be imposed on society. Secularists think nothing of criticizing religious institutions for doing the very thing of which they are guilty.
      Pearcey lays out a simple two–part test for any worldview: “1) Is it internally logically consistent, 2) Does it fit the real world? That is, can it be applied and lived out consistently without doing violence to human nature? The second question suggest a biblical form of pragmatism. After all, the purpose of a worldview is to explain the world – to provide a mental map for navigating reality. If the map does not work in the real world, then it is not an accurate guide.” (p.152)
      The proponents of alternative worldviews, especially the naturalists, may even admit that their model is inconsistent and impossible to live by. But they continue on because the biblical worldview is an unacceptable and threatening option. It’s like the prideful child who refuses to accept the gift of a new toy while insisting on playing with his own broken piece of junk.
       And, as was stated before, these alternative worldview advocates will be quick to criticize others’ views but never scrutinize their own views with the same pair of glasses.
      Here’s another specific example: Liberal logical positivism reclaimed Hume’s fork as a standard for knowledge: 1) ideas are either derived from sensation or 2) come out of logical necessity, like mathematics. Yet, their precepts were not empirically verifiable…so, the movement self-destructed.
      Secular Humanism is constantly looking for ways to change the environment to change the way people think and live. After all, they conclude, we are nothing more than the product of our environment, whether selective evolution or behavioral engineering…hence the application of Bauhaus architecture.
       Pearcey quotes Hans Rookmaaker in his criticism of minimalism while missing an opportunity to make a worldview application. The meaningless or purely design use of color is the artist’s expression of the “deeper vision of the human condition”! I agree with Seerveld when he states, modern art (Mondrian-like reductionism, in particular) “has refined a brilliant alphabet but has nothing to say.” Yet, without that initial contribution, there would be no alphabet of visual design.
(to be continued)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review of Nancy Pearcey's "Saving Leonardo", Part 1

This personal quest for the spiritual in art has brought me to a unique aesthetic. It's a blend of content and context with the supernatural, which is becoming my biblical worldview of art and life. I'm finding that the parts cannot stand alone. For example, spirituality without  morality is demonic. And good design, even genius, without the spirit (the spark of humanity) is lifeless.

Earlier, I had promised to share some from Pearcey's book, which has been instrumental in helping me through a part of this quest. I hope that you find this summary valuable.

Part 1: The Threat of Global Secularism
A powerful exposé on how post-modern (or, as Alan Kirby calls it: pseudo-modern) humanistic relativism has been adopted by and is destroying our current culture and has co-opted Christian culture as well. The author uses several dualistic comparisons between modes of thinking to show how this digression has occurred over the past couple of centuries.
            The 1st dichotomy is the manufactured difference between Values (private, subjective, relative) and Fact (public, objective, universal). The 2nd is Postmodern (religion and morality) and Modernism (science and industry).
“Morality is a way of stating what humans are designed to do – their purpose for living.” (p.42)
“The church is the training ground to equip individuals with a biblical worldview and to send them out to the front lines to think and act creatively on the basis of biblical truth. This result is not oppression but a wonderful liberation of their creative powers.” (p.45)
The 3rd dichotomy that has been imposed on culture is the liberal ontology: Person - an autonomous self (postmodernism) and Body – a biochemical machine (modernism). This presumes an exclusive jurisdiction (a Cartesian dualism): scientists are in charge of matter and the laws of physics, while theologians are in charge of soul and spiritual issues. This dualism also leads to a desire to control the physical nature for the benefit of the self. The greatest controversies identifying this goal are in the area of marriage, euthanasia, and abortion (ie, when does a fetus become a human?). This personhood theory is illustrated with another dichotomy: Person – (Person) has freedom, while the Body – (human) is a disposable machine. Therefore, non-persons cannot be offended, hurt, or deprived of anything, given that they can’t value such things. Pearcey poses the question, “Which abilities or functions count in deciding whether a person has moral worth? And how developed do they have to be in order to count? Every liberal ethicist draws the line at a different place, depending on his or her own personal choice or value.” (p.55)
            Liberals are nearsighted when it comes to analyzing their own positions. There is nothing objective or neutral about them. In fact, if followed to the end, humanism reaches the end game of genetic engineering; the offspring of Hitler’s Arian Race.
            The next dualism is a relational one: Personal (mental and emotional relationship) above the Physical (sexual).  The postmodern, multi-gender smorgasbord, called pomosexual, characterizes this. Physical identity is irrelevant and sexuality is open ended. Gender becomes a psychological identity determined by sexual drive. This concept is elevated above the biological, or physical identity, which is a simple matter of anatomy. For liberals, it doesn’t matter what you do or with whom you do it…as long as you love each other.
            The correct Christian response to all of this is summed up with the following quote: Christians should speak out on moral issues not because the feel “offended” or because their “cherished beliefs” are threatened, but because they have compassion for those who are trapped by destructive ideas. Their motivation should be that they are compelled by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14). (p.68)
        Using shrill rhetoric or activist type tactics to combat the advancing immoral worldviews does not gain any headway and tends to disillusion our young people, who end up leaving the church upon adulthood.