A bit more on presuppositionalism

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by steven-nemes, Aug 28, 2009.

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  1. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Why are you assuming Platonic idealism here?

    I didn't know that I was. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

    Why does there have to be a divine repository of knowledge for me to be able to know that, for example, I am sitting on a chair?

    Your question seems to be, Why must God be omniscient for you to know anything? If God does not know you are sitting in a chair, then it is false that you are sitting in a chair (since God knows all truth). Conversely, if it is not false you are sitting in a chair (i.e. if it is true…), then God knows it. In other words, since you cannot know as true that which is false, God would have to know you are sitting in a chair for you to know you are sitting in a chair. This principle is universal; so we may say that God’s knowledge of what you know is a necessary condition for what you know. So at the very least, God must know everything you know. Not only is God’s knowledge of your knowledge necessary, it must also precede your knowledge (not just temporally but logically). Your knowledge is not original but receptive. You’ll know what God says you’ll know. I’ll assume I need not argue that Calvinistic point to you. With all that granted, we may safely conclude that not only is it necessary that God know what you know; his knowledge precedes yours due to the Creator-creature distinction.

    Possibly it is more obvious that certain other things (other than God’s omniscience) are necessary for, and prior to, your knowledge of sitting on a chair. For instance, “I am sitting on a chair” does not mean “I am not sitting on a chair”; hence the law of contradiction is presupposed and, therefore, precedes the intelligibility of the proposition and consequently your knowledge of it. Now then, does the law of contradiction apply to internal thought, or does it apply to external things too? I trust you’ll affirm the latter; presumably we’re talking about a physical chair outside your mind. Accordingly, there must be some fruitful connection between the abstract entities of logic and Chairness, and the material world of chairs and not chairs. “I am sitting on a chair” is intelligible but only if certain other realities logically precede the proposition. You possess categories of logical, internal thought. And, there is an external world to which those categories of thought correspond. But how can it be that your knowledge is based upon that needful universal law of contradiction without you having universal experience? The only solution is that Someone who must know all things has revealed to you that the law of contradiction is universal and invariant, and that He has not been tricked by the Demiurge. In the final analyses, I would suggest to you that as creatures, we need not know all things to know some things because an omniscient, good God has granted us knowledge of some things without our having to know all things.

    Why do I believe in the law of non-contradiction? Because it's necessarily true since the alternative is obviously false.

    Your question can be written as: “Why do I believe that the law of contradiction is true?” When written out in long hand, your response becomes glaringly tautological. Your answer “because it is necessarily true" and it can’t be otherwise is simply question begging. The reason it is true is because it reflects the very thinking of God.

    "What you are searching for is metaphysical justification, not epistemological justification, which is, in my opinion, backwards."

    What I have tried to do is consider our knowledge in light of God’s ethics, reality and knowledge.

    Cheers, Philip.

    Ron
     
  2. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Brian,

    And I thought you were just going to roll over, slap you forehead and say “you’re right, Ron. How could I have been so blind?!” How naïve of me!

    “I have argued against Clark's Scripturalism in other threads.”

    I would think that I could very well join you in your arguments, but what I doubt is that we’d be arguing against Clark. The more I have read Clark I have become persuaded that Clarkian-Scripturalists have hijacked the thoughts of a man and turned them into a philosophy of their own making. But that’s not relevant to this discussion.

    When Van Til says, "It is impossible for the mind of man to function except in the atmosphere of revelation," he is simply stating that we are surrounded by the revelation of God - it is the atmosphere we breath, so to speak.

    My brother, and I kid you not, I actually anticipated the possibility of that rejoinder but figured that what preceded and followed the particular part of the quote would have given us the correct interpretation of the part you noted. Van Til, without any view toward Scripture in the quote I supplied, equated creation and revelation and concluded by saying that we may, therefore, call our theory of knowledge a “revelational” one. In other words, he wasn’t merely speaking in terms of necessary conditions as being states of affairs that had no order of logical priority. (You understand my meaning as a logician.) He wasn’t just saying, in other words, “If knowledge, then revelation” in an uninteresting, naked way. For had he been saying merely that, then he could have also said “If knowledge, then matter.” So what would be his point?

    Rather, he was making a more driving point. He was implying not only the necessary condition of revelation as a state of affair that obtains when human knowledge is present. He was more importantly implying that knowledge is based upon that necessary condition, as opposed to knowledge always being in the presence of that condition. I have to read him that way; for one thing because of all the other things he wrote, but also in this particular snippet his conclusion of a “revelational epistemology” would have been of no significance at all if he did not mean necessary “pre-condition”. Nuff said; it’s as pertinent to this thread as whether Clarkians represent Clark fairly.

    Knowledge: 'X' is knowledge if and only if the knower is in touch with the mind of God.

    I don’t recognize that as mine. I think I spoke of Van Til’s use of correspondence of thought between the creature and the Creator as being present whenever there is knowledge.

    I am not exactly sure what being "in touch with the mind of God" means.

    I’m not sure I know either, so I’ll pass.

    To say X is sufficient to have knowledge is not the same thing as saying X is sufficient to have all knowledge.

    Your X, as defined by you, is your faculty of reason, which is a constant. You never get a new mind after all. Accordingly, when you said your mind is sufficient to have knowledge, it would have been unreasonable for me to twist that that to mean that you are saying that you will receive “all knowledge” in the world upon having that sufficient condition, your mind. But what it should imply is that all knowledge you will ever possess should be received upon that sufficient condition being met. I would argue, therefore, that when you call the mind a sufficient condition for knowledge, that given the presence of that sufficient condition you should have not all knowledge in the world, but rather all “knowledge” for which your faculties are a sufficient condition. If you want to say that the sufficient condition of your faculties will give you progressive knowledge all along life’s paths, then there must be something you need in addition to your existing mind, making the mind not as sufficient as I think you need to maintain if your thesis is to survive. (The improvement of the mind by God is not the granting of new faculties.) But let’s press on… and in doing so, please let me reach down to the bottom of the funnel and pass on most of your hardware analogy.

    You say: “If our equipment could not in and of itself provide knowledge, then we could not even know general or special revelation.” That would seem to translate into: “If our faculties could not in and of itself receive knowledge [apart from revelation], then we could not even know general or special revelation with the use of our minds.” In other words, your position would seem to be: “If our faculties are not sufficient for knowing God’s revealed truth, then God cannot reveal truth to our minds through the use of our faculties.” But that would be to assert that if the mind is not sufficient, then it cannot be necessary, is it not?

    Here is another way to think of it: revelation presupposes one being able to know that revelation.

    This would seem to be a completely separate matter altogether. In the first instance you were speaking of the faculties providing knowledge (i.e. the sufficiency of the faculties), and now here you are speaking in terms of revelation presupposing the ability to know, which has to do with our faculties being necessary, not sufficient. I don’t question in the least that the mind is necessary, but that the mind is sufficient to justify beliefs about how things actually are in the face of how they appear to be is quite another matter, especially in light of the universals that are involved that transcend our experience.

    At the end of the day, I think the position I am purporting, which I don’t believe is anything new or strange, becomes much more clear when we consider that the justification for our true beliefs cannot be provided by the mind; yet it is provided to the mind by the Spirit (most often times through the normal medium, or occasion, of the senses).

    We’ve probably beat this long enough. If I don’t see anything substantially different in any of the future posts, I’ll elect to bow out of this thread if that’s O.K.

    Grace and peace,

    Ron
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2009
  3. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Quote from P.F. Pugh
    What you are searching for is metaphysical justification, not epistemological justification, which is, in my opinion, backwards.

    But isn't that the problerm with e.g. naturalism? It lacks a metaphysical basis for its epistemology.
     
  4. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Ron,

    In order for me to know that God exists, I must know something first. This is why epistemology must come first because, in order to have a metaphysic, one must have knowledge upon which to base it. Epistemology must come first because I have to have a method of knowledge before I can come to a conclusion about the nature of the universe.

    Now then, does the law of contradiction apply to internal thought, or does it apply to external things too? I trust you’ll affirm the latter; presumably we’re talking about a physical chair outside your mind. Accordingly, there must be some fruitful connection between the abstract entities of logic and Chairness, and the material world of chairs and not chairs. “I am sitting on a chair” is intelligible but only if certain other realities logically precede the proposition.

    As stated before, you're presupposing Platonic idealism here. You are presupposing that God categorizes things the way we do and that that is what constitutes knowledge. I have two chairs in my room right now. They are two different things, but I call them both chairs because they have certain things in common that most in my culture would ascribe to "chair-ness". All this is, then, is a categorization that would not exist if we, as perceiving beings, did not perceive a certain similarity between objects. As I recall, God gave man the prerogative to name the things on the earth and to categorize them.

    The only solution is that Someone who must know all things has revealed to you that the law of contradiction is universal and invariant, and that He has not been tricked by the Demiurge.

    No--the solution is that the law of contradiction is necessarily true. It cannot be postulated otherwise. It may be that God is necessary to explain the fact, but first I must conclude the fact and know something before I can go on to ask why. You can't know why you know until you are sure of how you know.

    Your question can be written as: “Why do I believe that the law of contradiction is true?” When written out in long hand, your response becomes glaringly tautological. Your answer “because it is necessarily true" and it can’t be otherwise is simply question begging. The reason it is true is because it reflects the very thinking of God.

    1) Assume that the law of non-contradiction is untrue
    2) Assuming that the law of non-contradiction is untrue leads to propositions like "I saw a spherical cube"
    3) The above is unthinkable
    4) Therefore the law of non-contradiction is necessarily true

    What I have tried to do is consider our knowledge in light of God’s ethics, reality and knowledge.

    But you must conclude that you know something before you can even consider this.

    -----Added 8/31/2009 at 02:50:50 EST-----

    But isn't that the problerm with e.g. naturalism? It lacks a metaphysical basis for its epistemology.

    The problem is that it assumes an epistemology that contradicts naturalism.
     
  5. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Philip,

    This will have to be my last response to you. I have other more pressing matters.

    In my previous post to you I established that God’s knowledge is a necessary precondition for your knowledge. Then I established that for God to know anything, he must know everything. Rather than performing an internal critique of what I wrote, you simply barked out a few assertions. I didn’t even discern an attempt by you to deal with what was before you.

    In order for me to know that God exists, I must know something first.This is why epistemology must come first because, in order to have a metaphysic, one must have knowledge upon which to base it. Epistemology must come first because I have to have a method of knowledge before I can come to a conclusion about the nature of the universe.

    Whether epistemology must “come first” (whatever that means to you), has not been incorporated by you into any series of premises with a valid form that would in turn lead to the conclusion that there does not need to be a depository of knowledge for you to have knowledge. At very best you have been arguing by false-disjunction.

    As stated before, you're presupposing Platonic idealism here.

    The question is not what you believe me to be presupposing but whether I have offered a sound argument. Your tagging it “Platonic Idealism” might have some shock value, but it is certainly not an argument.

    I have two chairs in my room right now. They are two different things, but I call them both chairs because they have certain things in common that most in my culture would ascribe to "chair-ness". All this is, then, is a categorization that would not exist if we, as perceiving beings, did not perceive a certain similarity between objects. As I recall, God gave man the prerogative to name the things on the earth and to categorize them.

    I have little doubt that if there are two chairs in your room (and you are there to observe them) that you know that to be true. But that has very little to do with whether you could know that to be true apart from God’s omniscience. As noted before, God knows all truth and you can only know something if it is true. Accordingly, God’s knowledge of what you know is a necessary condition for your knowledge. Added to that, God’s knowledge must precede your knowledge because God’s knowledge (of those things) is based upon his pre-determination of those things. Consequently, God’s knowledge is both necessary and prior to your knowledge. Finally, for God to know anything, it must be true that he know that he cannot be wrong, which requires omniscience. Accordingly, for you to know there are two chairs in the room, God must be omniscient – since your knowledge is predicated upon His, and His knowledge of any one thing presupposes that he must know all things.

    No--the solution is that the law of contradiction is necessarily true.

    In your first post your “argument” could be paraphrased thusly: “Why do I believe that the law of contradiction is true?... Because it is necessarily true and it can’t be otherwise”. That, I believe, is an accurate functional equivalence of what you wrote. I pointed out the question begging and the tautological nature of your statements and you didn’t flinch. Now you say that the law of contradiction is necessarily true, which although is true, still gets you nowhere. It is necessary, just as God’s holiness is necessary. But how do you get from that premise to the conclusion that God need not know everything for you to know anything? I showed mine, now you show yours.

    It may be that God is necessary to explain the fact, but first I must conclude the fact and know something before I can go on to ask why. You can't know why you know until you are sure of how you know.

    It just occurred to me what you might be thinking, but please don’t hold it against me if I’m wrong. You haven’t given me much to work with I’m afraid. Your knowledge of X precedes your explanation of how, or even why you know X. Fine, but so what? My position is that for you to know X, God must know not only X but all things, which you deny. Accordingly, all this talk about epistemology preceding metaphysics, which by the way you have misapplied in this discussion, has nothing to do with the rather straightforward argument before you.

    1) Assume that the law of non-contradiction is untrue
    2) Assuming that the law of non-contradiction is untrue leads to propositions like "I saw a spherical cube"
    3) The above is unthinkable
    4) Therefore the law of non-contradiction is necessarily true


    Presumably what you mean by 3 is that 2 entails a logical impossibility. Well, of course 2 is illogical, but that doesn’t get you any closer to a refutation of the thesis that human knowledge presupposes an omniscient God. And not that it really matters, but your premise 4, although true, was not cogently argued. Finally, at best all you can do after taking God out of the equation is reason inductively that the law of contradiction seems universal and invariant. But even that can only be inferred by first assuming large allowances, like the world is uniform and predication is possible. There are no freebies in philosophy, so I would ask you to account for those pre-conditions too if you care to use them.

    But you must conclude that you know something before you can even consider this.

    Concluding you know (you have two chairs…) and actually knowing (it) is not the same thing. Yet even allowing for your actual knowledge of your two chairs - that you know it prior to knowing how and why you know it has nothing to do with whether God must be omniscient for you to know anything. I’m afraid you’ve been engaged in quite a different discussion than the one you were suppose to be having.

    Best of providence,

    Ron
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2009
  6. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Ron,

    I think you are misreading him. The quote begins with him making a “characterization of the situation.” He describes that creation itself communicates something. What is that something? Van Til says it is “a revelation of God.” I am certain that he has Romans chapter 1 in mind. He goes onto state that God reveals Himself to us in two ways: (1) through creation itself, and (2) directly to the mind of man. He concludes from this the following…

    Notice the ‘thus’. Van Til is drawing a conclusion from how God reveals Himself in the two ways above: (1) and (2). To make his argument go through, then it must be understood that the mind functions in two arenas: internal and external. Since God reveals Himself to our minds internally through (2) and externally through (1), then the functioning of the mind is always in an arena where God has revealed Himself. *That* is Van Til’s argument.

    Now, Van Til then goes onto point out that when a mind is functioning properly within the two arenas where God reveals Himself, the mind will have thoughts that express truths regarding His revelation of Himself. This is what He calls revelational epistemology. Notice, nowhere in the quote you provided does it assert that revelation is a necessary pre-condition for knowledge. If you think it does, then please go sentence by sentence through the quote and give us your understanding of it.

    Here is what *you* said, “The truths of propositions that may be known are the thoughts of God, the eternal thoughts of God. And insofar as man knows anything he is in contact with God’s mind.”

    Again, Ron these are your words and not mine. You said, “An insofar as man knows anything he is in contact with God’s mind.” Assuming you understood what you meant to convey by those words, then I am not sure what you mean when you say that you don’t know what they mean. :confused:

    No it's not. But you seem to be missing my point. What I am saying is that if our mental faculties are not sufficient to produce knowledge, then our mental faculties are incapable of producing knowledge from general revelation, special revelation, mental states, or any other input presented to our minds. In this regard, let me ask you a question. Since you say revelation is necessary for knowledge, then what does revelation provide that if removed would cause our mental faculties to be unable to produce any knowledge whatsoever?

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  7. steven-nemes

    steven-nemes Puritan Board Sophomore

    That's only because you didn't bother to define 'warrant'. The point of my arguments was that I can fulfill all the requirements of knowledge without reference to God or revelation at all; if you can define 'warrant', then I will adjust them as is necessary.

    "Having no reason to think the contrary" was not all of what I wrote; I also wrote that the person in those situations did have positive reasons for believing as he did, and that he was not suffering cognitive dysfunction; what is more, I could easily attribute other actions to the person in the argument such that the person's belief is not "true by accident" like a Gettier case. Now, assuming all these things, and given the fact that I have not made reference to God or to revelation at all, I have shown, I think, that knowledge is possible without God's existence. (Unless "warrant" is defined in such a way as necessitates the existence of God; you haven't defined warrant, though.)

    I can assume it is the case until I have reason to think otherwise. But this cuts both ways: I can't even know revelation unless I assume that what goes on in my mind connects with the world "out there". Your argument doesn't help your cause. How do you know that what you think the Bible says is really what it says? Maybe as it appears to you is not what it actually says, or something silly like that. Maybe when you see the words, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God", you are wrong; maybe it really says, "Nothing can bridge the gap of sin that separates us from the love of God." You have to assume the reliability of your senses prior to knowing revelation.

    How does that follow? I don't understand this paragraph. I wouldn't even know that a sovereign God exists, or that he has revealed anything to me, unless I first presuppose the reliability of my senses, as I showed above. I have to assume that what goes on in my mind makes a connection with the outside world even if Christianity is true, prior to believing it.

    If in order to know anything, I have to know that my beliefs are true (that when I believe there is a tree, I am not being deceived by a demon or dreaming or so on, but that there really is a tree), then knowledge is impossible. But thankfully "knowing that you know" is not a requisite for knowing. It is not a necessary or sufficient condition of knowledge that you know your belief to be true; otherwise knowledge is impossible.

    Assume that in order to be said to know something, I have to know that my belief is true. To know p, I have to know that p is true. But to know that p is true, I have to know the proposition "p is true" is true; but to know that... and so on ad infinitum.

    If knowledge of your belief's being true is necessary for knowledge, knowledge is impossible. But why should a person believe that?

    I can plainly see that the law of non-contradiction is true without experience; I can just see that it is true. It is true by definition; it is self-evidently true. I don't need experience to believe it, nor does anyone believe the law of non-contradiction on the basis of experiencing it consistently. People believe it because they can just plainly see it to be true.
     
  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I would argue that the whole discipline of epistemology is the way that we "know that we know" but at any rate . . .

    I think I'll bow out here with one final comment on non-contradiction:

    Admittedly, I have a weak argument, so I had to rewrite:

    1) Assume that the law of non-contradiction is untrue.
    2) Following that, all propositions are true.
    3) The law of non-contradiction is a proposition.
    4) The law of non-contradiction is true.

    In other words, denying that the law of non-contradiction is logically self-defeating, leading to the conclusion that it is, in fact, true, regardless of all other factors.

    I'm taking this revision as a lesson in the dangers of over-complications in philosophy.
     
  9. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Here is what *you* said, “The truths of propositions that may be known are the thoughts of God, the eternal thoughts of God. And insofar as man knows anything he is in contact with God’s mind.”

    Brother Brian,

    That was not my quote. That was from the second paragraph of a Clark quote. If you go back, you’ll see that the end of the first paragraph does not close out the quotation. The close of the quotation is at the end of the second paragraph, which is the portion noted immediately above in italics and quotes. The space between the two paragraphs probably led you to believe that the second paragraph was mine, but the punctuation rules in my favor! However, given the exact quote from Clark, I am very sure I know what he means. It’s nothing different than what Van Til so often said, which makes me wonder why the two got in their ivory towers and brought reproach on my denomination. In any case, I didn’t recognize your original paraphrase as Clark’s words because the paraphrase was a bit truncated and appeared a bit more mystically stated to me than the entire quote in its context. You spoke of the knower being in touch with the mind of God. Whereas the full quote puts “the mind of God” in the context of the creature having knowledge when he is in contact with the thoughts of God, which amplifies what is meant by the mind of God. I was not trying to be evasive. I sincerely did not recognize the quote because given the distinctions I am trying to draw, it was quite different than Clark’s meaning since mind and thoughts are not identical.

    Since you say revelation is necessary for knowledge, then what does revelation provide that if removed would cause our mental faculties to be unable to produce any knowledge whatsoever?

    First off, I wouldn’t say the mental faculties “produce” knowledge but I can work within that framework. One way to look at this is by considering that all truth is absolute and has an ethical quality to it. What makes it absolute is that all truth proceeds from either God’s absolute character or his absolute determination. What gives it an ethical quality is that all men are responsible before God to think God’s thoughts after him. (As Bahnsen rightly asserted - not to think logically is sin; for it’s a violation of the ninth commandment properly understood.)

    Now let’s remove from the picture God’s revelation of himself, which is to remove the only source of absolutes and ethics from the minds of men. Without a revelation of the only basis for absolutes and truth, there obviously can be no justification for truth and absolutes. Without a justification for truth, there can be no “justified, true belief” (i.e. knowledge).

    We can take this into the metaphysical realm as well. Apart from God’s revelation of himself (the only source of truth), there would be know justification for believing that the raw stuff outside our mind can be organized by our mind in any way that corresponds to anything true. At best, we would look for conceptual necessity and presuppose certain things in order to function; yet notwithstanding, without a revelation of God as the sovereign one who actually orders the universe intelligibly, we would have no rational justification for believing that all is not just impersonal, meaningless and contrary to any absolute truth.

    That truly isn't how I think it would be apart from God's revelation, but I'm trying to put it on terms you might agree with. What I truly believe is that without a revelation of God, there would be matter without order since order reveals God. In other words, for God to get rid of revelation would require that God get rid of order both in the mind and the world. If that is true, then of course there could be no knowledge without revelation.

    Brian, all of this is an enormous pill to swallow - especially for the autonomous fallen men that we are.
    I really don’t think I can do any better with what I’m trying to convey. I would only ask that you prayerfully consider these things.

    Humbly yours,

    Ron
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2009
  10. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Ron,

    My mistake, Ron. Please forgive me. You are correct that I missed the fact that there was no closed quote at the end of the paragraph. I assumed that in the next paragraph you were commenting on the previous paragraph. Ahhhhh...! :duh:

    This is good, Ron. I am going to take what I understand to be your argument, and put it into proper syllogistic form. Please feel free to correct whatever I get wrong. To capture the essence of your argument I need to use three syllogisms that all build on each other.

    Argument A

    Premise 1A: All men are men who do not have the knowledge of God's revelation of Himself. (This is the "for the sake of the argument" assumption we are making.)
    Premise 2A: God's revelation of Himself is the only source of absolutes.
    Conclusion A: All men are men who do not have the knowledge of the only source of absolutes.

    This is a valid oblique syllogism. I continue with your argument.

    Argument B

    Premise 1B: All men are men who do not have the knowledge of the only source of absolutes. (This is the conclusion from Argument A.)
    Premise 2B: All men who do not have the knowledge of the only source of absolutes are men who cannot justify their beliefs.
    Conclusion B: All men are men who cannot justify their beliefs.

    This is a valid standard syllogism.

    Argument C

    Premise 1C: All men are men who cannot justify their beliefs. (This is the conclusion from Argument B.)
    Premise 2C: All men who cannot justify their beliefs are men who do not have knowledge.
    Conclusion C: All men are men who do not have knowledge.

    This, too, is a valid syllogism. Ron, is this a fair representation of your argument? Again, feel free to correct anything in it. Once you say it is good, then I will comment on it.

    Warm Regards,

    Brian
     
  11. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Brian,

    I’m off to the office and then to the Phils tonight. I am commenting because not one of the syllogisms is sound. The misunderstanding is worse than I imagined. All men know the source – i.e. know God. All men have justification for many of their beliefs that are true. All men have some knowledge.

    Most of our time we focused on revelation being the pre-interpretation of data that God reveals to the mind. Without God revealing the data, men would have no knowledge. All men have knowledge because God is pleased to reveal the interpretation of the data. Another aspect of revelation is organized data, which I touched on in my previous post. Apart from revelation, not only would God not apply the pre-interpretation of his organized world to the minds of men, bringing forth knowledge in them. The very data itself would not be organized because organized data is also part of revelation, but it always comes with God’s applying at least some of the pre-interpretation of some of the data. In other words, the organization of stuff and the granting of understanding of the pre-interpretation of the stuff are all encompassed in revelation.

    To take man out of the realm of revelation is to eliminate man and his purpose in the world.

    Blessings,

    Ron
     
  12. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Ron,

    I think you need to go back and carefully re-read my post. I understand it is not your position that revelation has been removed. All I was doing was formulating what I understood to be *your* argument as to what would be the consequnces *if* revelation were removed. I got this from the beginning of the argument you were making when you said...

    You have consistently affirmed that R is true. This means that it is your position that if there was no revelation of God, then men could not have knowledge. The three syllogisms present an argument for this. Premise 1A sets the stage (note the "for the sake of the argument" parenthetical comment following Premise 1A), and Conclusion C is the final consequence - that consequence being that man cannot have knowledge. Since Premise 1A was assumend and we then derived Conclusion C, then by the Deduction Theorem, "If man has no revelation of God, then man cannot know anything" has been derived. If this is *not* your position, then I have not undersood your purpose in this whole thread much less your last post. Again, please go back and re-read my post, and especially pay attention to the quote of yours that I was basing this all on.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
  13. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    I think you need to go back and carefully re-read my post.

    Brian,

    I did and I have again.

    I understand it is not your position that revelation has been removed. All I was doing was formulating what I understood to be *your* argument as to what would be the consequnces *if* revelation were removed.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t notice that you mentioned that these were arguments based upon the assumption of no revelation. I understand now that is what you intended. You did say something somewhat ambiguous to me regarding “sake of the argument” but that was a riddle to me. I think now I understand. I probably would have had I not been rushed this morning!

    The flow of the argument is probably close enough to work with, but it is only one argument I would employ (and not the best one at that). Within that argument there are distinctions that I would make that might impact things, depending upon what you are trying to achieve. I’ll assume that the law of contradiction, for instance, is part of the absolutes you are referring to. Another things is please appreciate that man is in and of himself a revelation of God and, therefore, to rid ourselves of revelation would be to rid ourselves from existence. That does not mean that revelation precedes man as a cause and that by removing revelation you remove its cause. Rather, it means that man is a piece of God’s revelation of himself; so to remove revelation is to remove man in the process. As I noted earlier, order (and causality) is also revelation because it presupposes God as its necessary precondition. And since chaos is an impossible entity to consider, we are left to believe that creation (which must be ordered) and not just man would be removed in the absence of revelation. So to speak of man and the rest of creation apart from revelation is actually misleading; yet I’ve gone with that to flesh out other ramifications of the need for revelation. Finally, the conviction of sin and its ensuing consequence of wrath (Romans 1) , which comes from the Holy Spirit, is revelatory too. So to remove revelation is to remove the Holy Spirit, and without the Holy Spirit there is no Trinity...

    Best,

    Ron
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  14. JTB

    JTB Puritan Board Freshman

    Another way to this conclusion is to ask the question:

    "What is apart from God's revealing it to be?"

    The thoughts of the mind (like the birds of the air or beasts of the sea) are there by virtue of God's determination.

    God thinks you (or me, or anyone) thinking "x" and therefore you (or me, or anyone) thinks "x." Whatever secondary means God may use to put the thought into the mind does not alter the fact that God is the Revealer, and the means are but the occasions He deems good to use.

    It seems to me that to assert that man may have knowledge apart from God's revealing it is not entirely different from asserting that man's will possesses a freedom unconstrained by God's determination. For what else does the Arminian argue but that secondary means are not constraining upon his will? And what else does the Calvinist reply but that God uses these secondary means precise to determine the will of men?

    The manifestation of God's determination is His revelation.
     
  15. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Ron,

    I hope you and your family are doing well this evening.

    This is an interesting way of understanding the term 'revelation'. In a much earlier post I pointed out that it is possible to define 'revelation' in such a way as to make R true. I believe that is what is happening here. If 'revelation' is defined to encompass our existence (not to mention the Holy Spirit and creation itself), then clearly (and somewhat uninterestingly, I might add) R is true. :um:

    Calvin, Grudem and Raymond define both general and special revelation in terms of knowledge about God - His existence, character, will, etc...You have already said that knowledge is belief that is both true and justified. As such, Calvin, Grudem and Raymond understand revelation to be beliefs about God. In what sense am I (or the Holy Spirit or creation itself) a belief? It seems your understanding of 'revelation' commits a category error. As such, I think we should try to come up with a definition of the term that is mutually agreeable. If we cannot do this, then the debate is not really about the truth of R, but rather what revelation is in the first place! To get things started, here is my proposed definition for our discussion...

    Revelation (Def.): Proposition X is properly called revelation for person A if and only if A knows X and the content of X are truths about God.

    Now, right away this assumes that the nature of revelation is propositional. This is supported by Van Til when Van Til says we are to think God's thoughts after Him. The nature of the thoughts of God is propositional. Here is a proposed definition of what a proposition is...

    Proposition (Def.): X is a proposition if and only if X is that which is expressed by a sentence.

    For example, even though the following three sentences express the same proposition, they are not the same sentences.

    (1) Dios es bueno.
    (2) ο θεος αγαθος.
    (3) God is good.

    The sentences are all different, but they express the same meaning. This meaning is what a proposition is. Are you comfortable with my definitions? If not, please put forth something more to your liking.

    Sincererly,

    Brian
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  16. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Calvin, Grudem and Raymond define both general and special revelation in terms of knowledge about God - His existence, character, will, etc...

    I agree it is true that general and special revelation pertains to knowledge about God’s, such as pertaining to his “existence, character, will, etc.” According, it follows that man, as God’s image bearer, is a revelation of “His existence, character, will, etc.”

    You have already said that knowledge is belief that is both true and justified. As such, Calvin, Grudem and Raymond understand revelation to be beliefs about God. In what sense am I (or the Holy Spirit or creation itself) a belief?

    I have no doubt you are misunderstanding Calvin and Reymond (not Raymond), and most likely Grudem, or else your words do not communicate your meaning. Revelation can cause beliefs about God but revelation is not to be equated with belief. Such a notion is preposterous, lest Scripture equals man’s beliefs.

    "It seems your understanding of 'revelation' commits a category error."

    Brian, that you would equate revelation with belief makes me want to stop discussing this matter since we seem way too apart and time is of the essence for me these days.

    I’m really pleased with what has been put out there for consideration on this thread. I am confident I personally cannot make my position more clear. Accordingly, I’m happy to leave the rest in God’s hands to give increase to what is true, if he is so pleased.

    Great spending time with you these past couple of days!

    Yours in Christ,

    Ron
     
  17. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Revelation is God's disclosure of Himself and His nature through creation (general revelation) and the written word of God (special revelation). Revelation should not be taken as anything more or less than these. This disclosure is both personal and propositional.
     
  18. Brian Bosse

    Brian Bosse "The Brain"

    Hello Ron,

    This quote of yours seems to be the position you have landed on regarding R: "If God does not communicate to His creation, i.e., provide revelation, then there is no knowledge."

    I have said this before, and I would ask for your indulgence one more time: One can easily define 'revelation' in such a manner as to make R uninterestingly true. For example, your understanding of 'revelation' as it relates to man is tantamount to making R say, "If created beings do not exist, then created beings do not have knowledge." Our lack of knowledge follows not because of some epistemological dependency due to the nature of revelation, but because there is no created being around to know anything! As such, this says *nothing* about the epistemological ramifications of revelation. :um: Since this seems to be your position and you are pleased with it, then I wish you well.

    Sincerely,

    Brian
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
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