Thursday, October 04, 2007

The "Adolescent Theory" of Pervasive Anti-Catholic Mindsets and Behavior

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"Rebels without a cause"

Jonathan Prejean has been exploring this speculative avenue of thought, inspired by some recent posts by Scott Carson. See his comments on my blog as well (one / two).

I think there is a lot to this thesis. It's elegantly simple; it seems to explain a lot, and it is a fresh approach.

It occurred to me that anti-Catholic vs. Catholic dynamics are analogous to the "generation gap" (as they said in the 60s when I was growing up). "Don't trust anyone over 30" (which really meant "don't trust anyone born before 1940 or so" -- two of the Beatles, after all, were born in 1940). "Don't trust any Catholic enough to be able to learn anything from them." It fits, doesn't it?

It's the "us vs. them" mentality. Catholics MUST be wrong because, well, they are the "them." It's demonization of the opponent. "He's an old fogey with grey hair and a bunch of goofy habits and beliefs; what does he know?" "The Catholic Church is an old barnacle-encrusted spiritually dead hulk of a ship, with all its outmoded, unbiblical traditions." It is a result of 500 years of more or less deliberate smearing propaganda. This is the milieu into which anti-Catholics are thrown. It's more than simply intellectual.

Now, I think presuppositionalism ties into this, because of its unique features. Whoever doesn't agree with the axiomatic presuppositions are out. Catholics do not. Even many Arminians (and/or Protestasnt evidentialists) do not, and so you see the never-ending Calvinism vs. Arminianism wars, with much nonsense on both sides.

Us vs. them. We are automatically out of the fold. And that can't help but produce a marked intellectual bias against us, such that it precludes true dialogue.

I'll have to think about it more, but at this point I still tend to think of it as mainly an intellectual deficiency, fed by incipient prejudices against Catholics (or, I should say, Catholicism as a system), received with one's mother's milk. But the "adolescent" analogy fits in well with the know-it-all tendencies, subjectivism, distrust of the outsider, etc.

Also, a factor that I have analyzed before, is the role of the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity. This necessarily colors how a Calvinist (at least an anti-Catholic one) views others. We're not only wrong, but manifestly evil. It truly is black vs. white and good vs. evil, in the very starkest terms.

All this baggage is present going into a debate. But then add on the manifest ignorance and elementary logical shortcomings (why they seem to always be there, would require yet another theory, I suppose), and you have the makings of a dialogical fiasco. I know; I've been through this probably two hundred times or more with these people. It is always the same; if not in the first attempt, over the long run, without exception.

My present opponent, "Saint and Sinner" is also a young earth creationist (as is "Turretinfan" and Steve Hays: fellow active anti-Catholics and presuppositionalist Calvinists). One can't help but notice patterns. This is very much an anti-intellectual and "us vs. them" mentality as well. And it colors biblical interpretation. I realized how profound the influence was in seeing two statements, by S&S and TF:
Due to my philosophy of science, Instrumentalism, I allow Scripture to speak for itself, and so, I am a YEC.

Instead, we see modified old earth creationists holding to ever more erratic views of the text of Scripture, as they attempt to remain popular with the scientific crowd.
Note that the second remark isn't even about evolutionists, but about fellow creationists. Scary stuff.

Now, how do we achieve good dialogue? I don't think it is possible, myself. I think the only way to break through all these molding factors is by a miracle of grace. We would have to save one of these people's lives or do something profoundly moving towards them, or they'd have to see something profound and moving in us that leads them to believe that we really are Christians, so that they would approach us in a whole different light.

And generally that can only be done in person, in "real life" -- not on the Internet. There is exceedingly little chance of achieving any constructive progress through dialogue (words on a screen) alone. The only way, in my humble opinion, is if various factors are at work in the anti-Catholic's life away from the computer screen, to weaken the anti-Catholic extreme presuppositional bias.

As always, I do it only because of others observing, to either convince them, or as an example of how one goes about defeating anti-Catholic arguments (real or imagined).

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