The Authority of Testimony

Whom do you trust?

Of the many potential pieces of knowledge I have gained this week, numbering amongst them are the facts that the late Pope John Paul II was responsible for a miracle, and that U.S. Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden. These stories are presented to me, and I must somehow decide whether to accept them or not. Enter epistemology.

WARNING: CRACKPOT CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT! On Monday, over a million people crowded the streets of Rome to celebrate and witness the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. One of the requirements for such a beatification is the confirmed attribution of a miracle to the “blessed” one in question. This requirement was satisfactorily fulfilled by the testimony of a nun, Marie Simon-Pierre, who claimed that she had been miraculously cured of Parkinson’s Disease by the supernatural intervention of John Paul’s spirit. Now, denounce me as a sceptic if you wish, but I’m just not sure that this is entirely reliable. Continue reading “The Authority of Testimony”

‘After the Catholic Church’ – more MacIntyre for everyone

The US, Ireland and Germany are the countries that now openly struggle with the Catholic Church and the Pope and are trying to understand what went wrong in the institution Church. Child abuse cases in this particular institution should just not happen. And the Pope is coming to Great Britain and many Catholics seem not to know what to think of that. It becomes apparent that the scandals in the Catholic Church lead to questions regarding moral behavior. For a long time religion supplied most people with a moral code. The Catholic Church however is not able to provide this moral code anymore, because too many of those working within the Church did not adhere to it. It lost its believability and hence the code lost its usefulness. A moral code only makes sense if basically all people use it as the premise for moral behavior. The contemporary philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre proposes a solution for the problem, and he did so long before the Church lost hers. Continue reading “‘After the Catholic Church’ – more MacIntyre for everyone”