Calvinism and presuppositionalism vs. Arminianism and evidentialism. Any correlation

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by MMasztal, Apr 7, 2011.

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  1. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    How do you prove there was nothing before there was something? Are you going to subject all miracles to the test of reason, or just this beginning of miracles?
  2. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    There are many arguments against matter/the universe being eternal (if it is not eternal, then there was a point when it did not exist). One is basically the 2nd law of thermodynamics/entropy. The universe is highly differentiated (Some places hot, some cold; other wet while some are dry etc.) Over time, the universe is reaching sameness. If it was eternal, it would have already reached that point and stayed at that point. Since it has not reached that point, there is no reason to maintain that it is eternal.

    Also creation out of nothing, is a bigger deal than any other miracle I can think of. So as of now, I would say that if one can reason to creation out of nothing, then one should have no problem with other miracles.

  3. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    You have assumed a lineal development where there might be a regular cycle. Kind of like global warming, you cannot tell if your present observations are part of a movement towards a fixed goal or just an upsurge in a regular pattern. I would suggest that you are importing (1) a concept of "eternal" into the discussion, and (2) an assumption of development which cannot be accounted for. So it would appear that you are still dependent on preconceptions for your "mere rationality."
  4. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Clark argues against both Rationalism and Empiricism (as well as Irrationalism) in favor of what he calls "Dogmatism." In the Clark lexicon, Dogmatism refers to that view which begins with the "axiom of revelation" and so highly values logic that he even substitutes "logic" for logos in his translation of John 1:1.

    Since Clark argues strongly that Empiricism is a failure, he naturally opposes evidentialism which depends upon Empiricism. For while Clark classifies Democritus, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, and the majority of philosophers today as empirical, he openly asks why anybody would become an empirical philosopher. In its strictest form, Empiricism “bases all knowledge on sensation alone” (TTRP, 29). Among the variations, Kant combined logic with sensation, logical positivism takes a different path. Clark cites the most famous application of Empiricism to religion as Aquinas’ proof for the existence of God which began: “It is certain and evident to our senses that in the world some things are in motion” (TTRP, 30).

    While the argument that classical apologetics is distinguishable from Empiricism, Clark classes Gerstner among the Empiricist evangelicals, along with Buswell, Carnell, Holmes, Mavrodes, and J.W. Montgomery.

    Empiricism cannot support universal judgments and since the withering critiques of Hume (who restricted our knowledge of the past and denied all knowledge of the future), Clark judges Empiricism (along with secular Rationalism and Irrationalism) as abject failure. Clark observes wryly that “Empiricism, in addition to its failure to prove God’s existence, also fails to prove the existence of external bodies and internal selves” (TTRP, 62). He is unstinting in his ridicule: “Why then are there any empirical philosophers? Or, at least, why, in the face of these annihilating objections, does anyone try to base religion on experience and ignore, or refuse to answer, the arguments of their opponents?” (TTRP, 64).

    Answering the question about evidences, Clark would answer that the Dogmatist can speak of evidences such as archaeology, but with a twist. Clark references the example of archaeology and the objection that if you are a Dogmatist, then you cannot speak of archaeology. Nonsense, says Clark. You simply opt for an ad hominem argument to convince the liberal of contradicting himself. “And covered with contradiction, the Liberal and the Empiricist, not the Dogmatist, have been reduced to silence. Once this is done, there remain no empirical objections against the truth of Scripture. The apologetic task is completed” (TTRP, 103).

    I'm no Clarkian, let alone an expert on Clark. But, since the question came up, this represents my simple take on it.
  5. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    One thing to note, I said there were many arguments against the universe being eternal/materialism. I have only given part of one of those arguments.

    Now, the second law of thermo is called a scientific law because there are no objections to it anywhere. For your global warming objection to have any teeth, there would need to be some instance of the amount of entropy reducing or even staying constant. However every energy transfer loses some amount of usable energy. In global warming, we have all sorts of examples of warming and cooling etc. This is why the term is now "Climate Change" instead of Global Warming.

  6. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Dennis, of course you know that the problem with such argumentation is that it destroys the very arguments of Scripture. How did Christ demonstrate His Divinity? By performing miracles---empirical signs of who He was. Clark thinks that the argument and manner of argumentation is the matter, but he only addresses the surface. To use an overworn cliche, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.

    To reject empirical knowledge, as Clark does, is patently ridiculous: who made your senses? Who gave you the ability to use them? So why should you systematically distrust them?
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    You can debate it all you want too. This logical form only demonstrates logically the relationship between the two. Take the example I gave you before two people are arguing over whether or not abortion is wrong, wrong in the normal sense I know we use this word in many other ways but I am narrowing it down to this sense. Their very discussion assumes that there is such a thing as right and wrong. If morality does not exist in an absolute sense than abortion is neither right nor wrong because absolute values do not exist.

    I would disagree. The type of explination you are rightly criticizing is a mystery type scientific explination. A logical explination is different because you logically analyze the phenomina in question as I've laid out. Yes you are pointing to difficulties in the nature of a TA, issues that we defenders need to work out. It is more than a theory because you are framing it in a scientific type scheme, it is a logical type scheme so that particuler criticism fails on that ground, in my opinion.

    I would agree here, I love the later Wittgenstien. I just don't follow all the whacko disciples of his into the extreme sort of skepticism that some of them employ, rightly or wrongly in his name.

    Of course you are correct here so I'm not positing a complete disconnect only saying that most people wrongly ignore this level of themselves.

    Well we have been speaking in generalities here but lets get specific. Say an atheist appeals to most people agreeing on a specific act being right or wrong. I point out that that as an argument for his beleif, being a fundamentalist is wrong, is the logical fallacy of mass appeal. Just because a large group of people believe that something is the case doesn't neccessaraly make it so. I love to point out that the Nazi's all agreed that what they did was right. At this point they usually assert that no what they did was wrong because murder was wrong. Ok now they have appealled to trans-cultural, trans-human values without realizing it. Ok where are these abstarct rules that prove that murder is wrong and they still haven't answered the original objection to their original argument.

    Now lets say they are a philosopher and they at this point enter some ethical theory in to try to destroy my criticisms. They say they are a Kantian, Utilitarianist, etc.., so at that point I would simply criticize whatever theory they are putting forward to that theory is ultimatly arbritrary and cannot acomplish what they want it to acomplish. So you see in entering the debate they have just stacked up all sorts of problems that need to be answered for their original assertion to be now be proven true. Lets say they argue that my whole line of questioning are all stupid. Without demonstarting why they have simply stepped into the fallacy of abbsurdity. There is nowhere for them to turn too.

  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Not necessarily---there is nihilism, which says that moral statements are capable of being correct or incorrect, but that as a matter of fact, all of them are incorrect.

    And all that you can get from this is the particular set of necessary and sufficient conditions for the phenomena. What do will never get is the particular theory that is correct.

    For that matter, I don't follow Wittgenstein's conception of language fully. I just finished writing an essay on the implications of his thought in theology and it's scary what it does. I also sat in on a series of lectures on Wittgenstein by Peter Hacker---really cool stuff.

    No, but if enough people start to agree on something, it becomes fairly likely that the belief is produced by some properly-functioning part of our faculties.

    The end result, though, is that you simply have a good discussion regarding their viewpoint. Where is the point of contact for a discussion of whether or not Christianity is the case?

    I would argue that in the former case, you most likely didn't form a belief concerning the outcome of a coin toss. Epistemology, as I said, deals with how beliefs are warranted, and how we make knowledge claims.

    They are puzzles, not problems---conceptual confusions, in many cases. The few places where we do have a real problem are places where we simply have to come up with some way to live with the ambiguity.

    And how is induction a problem?

    Indeed it does: that overpopulation is a problem, and enough of a problem that a measure like abortion is an appropriate countermeasure.

    But it is. For do we not say that God is Good? And if God's nature is simple, then that would mean that whatever God is said to be must be essential to Him. Therefore, since God's nature is unchanging, self-existent, and autonomous, goodness is the same way, since God is good, or goodness. The paradox of Euthyphro is answered with a resounding "yes."
  9. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    not sure if this question was asked yet, but how does Van Tillian/Bahsenian presuppositionalism point to the Christian God specifically, other than that of Judaism or Islam?
  10. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I would prefer Van Til to be distinguished from Bahnsen as I think the latter took Van Til's ideas in a more strictly philosophical direction than I believe Van Til intended.

    Having read some things of Van Til, I believe Van Til was expressing the idea that knowledge of God is by means of revelation rather than the human philosophical notion that men come to know God by the organizing of facts and using the organ of the mind to come to an autonomous conclusion that man exists.

    In one sense, what other God could Romans 1 be speaking of? That sort of answers your question.
  11. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    I think you're right about Bahnsen taking it a little far. I'm reading his famous debate with Gordon Stein and he keeps insisting that only the Christian worldview can allow for universal laws of logic and morality. I was wondering if there is anything inherent in Trinitarian thought that permits and serves as a basis for things like logic. What I appreciate about both of them is that they demonstrate that Reformed theology calls for a Reformed apologetic - even to the point that accepting neutrality with the unbeliever undermines our basic beliefs.
  12. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Well I certainly agree that thought and logic flow out of the "Christian worldview" but my own view is that this is not philosophically derived. I know I'll probably have people dispute with me on this point but my views on these things are more basic.

    I find it interesting that all the major presuppositionalists I've followed give a history of philosophy (Bahnsen, Clark, Frame, etc) and all the systems that try to provide a comprehensive philosophical framework are shown to be failures. Yet, it seems to me, that the same apologists pretty much stick fundamentally to the boundaries of human knowledge within a philosophical framework to define metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. There is an effort to comrehend reality, within the realm of human thinking.

    The question you ask is loaded. It sort of asks: How can you prove philosophically that we need God for morality and logic My answer would sort of make me seem to some like some hayseed: "Well, how would man even think if he didn't even have a mind?" In other words, of course people have to borrow from the "Christian worldview" because every man is using the mind He was given as a gift from God as a weapon against His creator! God is basic to all human thought as Creator and Knower and Revealer.

    I had to answer some questions for a course I took as a type of book report for The Infallible Word. The following is based upon Chapter 2 of the Book, which was written by Van Til and encapsulates things well in my view:
  13. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Van Til says natural revelation was never meant to function by itself, what does such a phrase mean?

  14. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Presuppositionalists believe that the Bible is self-authenticating and that only God can authenticate the Bible. Since the Bible is God-breathed, only God can authenticate the Bible. If something else besides God were to authenticate the Bible, then something would have more authority than God. This is what Calvinists believe. Evidentialists would disagree with the idea that if something else besides God were to authenticate the Bible, then something would have more authority than God. Would Arminians agree or disagree with this?
  15. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Van Til first notes what natural revelation reveals:
    1. Before the fall, "...the natural appeared in the regularity of nature." God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree (special revelation) but they also learned about God through the regularity of things created. God did not merely create Adam and then allow Adam to learn everything from natural revelation even prior to the Fall. Natural revelation was not sufficient to reveal to Adam and Eve that the eating of the Tree would bring the Curse of God nor, specifically, what God intended for them as His viceregent of Creation.

    2. After the fall, "...the natural appears under to curse of God and not merely regular. God's curse on nature is revealed along with regularity. The natural reveals an unalleviated picture of folly and ruin and speaks to the need for a Redeemer...." In other words, after the Fall, natural revelation is sufficient to reveal to man that he is fallen but it cannot reveal to him how he is to be redeemed from guilt.

    In both cases, natural revelation is not meant to function by itself as if special revelation is only needed for some. I think, in one sense, he's dealing with the idea of some that one can derive a natural theology from natural revelation that does not need special revelation. Special revelation was always meant to work together with natural revelation.
  16. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Correction: this is half of what Calvinists believe. We also believe that God has made Himself known through general revelation and that general revelation is sufficient to condemn and to proclaim the truth about God. In this sense, one can use material from outside Scripture to defend Scripture, for God has revealed Himself in the created order.
  17. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Very well presented, Rich. Another way of looking at it is in terms of eschatology. Natural revelation might enable the innocent man to say much about God, man, and the world, but it could not inform him of the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
  18. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    So to ensure I understand the discussion so far: general revelation is still divine revelation, which requires a miracle on God's part to enlighten to the mind whether believer or not. Romans teaches that all receive this grace to perceive natural revelation. In the case of the reprobate, God withholds performing the further miracle of enlightening the mind with special revelation. But doesn't this separate natural from special revelation?
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Where are you inferring from Romans that all receive "grace" to perceive natural revelation?

    First, natural revelation is God's revelation so it is true.

    Secondly, it is perceived by all men. Men are naturally able to apprehend it.

    Thirdly, although naturally able to apprehend it, men are morally in rebellion to God and suppress that truth in unrighteousness. That is to say, that men have the ability to perceive natural revelation but they twist the content in rebellion. If I were a botanist, I might accurately describe some content of natural revelation about a tree but, even as I leave out its relation to the Creator, I am doing so out of enmity with God. It's not that I had a natural inability to apprehend something about the tree as a creature but that I hate the Creator and suppress knowledge of Him in every endeavor.

    Van Til's point about the Christian being the only people who can see clearly is that, ethically speaking, the scales fall of the eyes of a believer that he may not only perceive what we might call "brute facts" but also can now perceive that God is the author and sustainer of all and give glory to Him. It's not that some of the facts take on a sort of spiritual character that are ideas inexpressible to pagans. In other words, a person who is fallen is still an image bearer of God and regeneration does not consist in a change in the basic nature of a man but a removal of the hostility that man has toward his Creator. As Van Til notes, fallen man can hear no voice but his own because that's the only voice he desires to hear.
  20. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    I'm piecing some things together ...
    From post #52
    This implies, to me, that revelation, because it comes from God, is miraculous and gracious.

    Romans 1:19ff reads, "
    So, God is active in showing general revelation to man; it is plain and clear, such that they are without excuse.

    Perhaps "grace" is not a good word to use ...?

    As to what fallen man does with that knowledge, we are in agreement that he suppresses and fights against the divine aspect of creation in unrighteousness.
  21. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I think the problem stems from the idea that you think of other knowledge as something man can attain apart from revelation. You're thinking of these things called "facts" (like a rock on the ground) and we can use our mind like an organ to organize and make sense of those facts apart from God. Then there's this other thing called "general revelation." General revelation, as I'm using it, includes that rock on the ground. It was created by God and is in covenant relationship with Him. I know about that rock not because I stand as an autonomous being that is able to take in disconnected data around me but because I'm created by God and stand in relationship with Him and everything else He has created in the universe.

    In fact, isn't it the height of what angers God in Romans 1 that men refuse to retain God in their thinking. I don't need God to learn about a rock or about my "discovery" of a new planet or fish but I only need revelation for certain things.

    Shown, revealed = knowledge. There is no other species of knowledge. All knowledge is by revelation from God. Full stop.

    I know that flies in the face of modernity (read Van Til's insightful critique of Kant again). We moderns think of our senses and this physical existence as operating in a way independent of God and He's sort of on the other side of this unknowable chasm. We think of ourselves as doing well on this side of the chasm. We've got our senses and our brains to make sense of it all but we can't sense the other side so we need "faith" and "revelation" to understand the other side. That's a modern view of knowledge but the kind of revelation being spoken of in Roman 1:19ff denies the Kantian division of man.
  22. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for that clarification, Rich.
    some further questions I have: if God has revealed the knowledge of a rock to the unbeliever, and all the properties of that rock (even the divine origin of it) are clear to him, then would you say that the believer knows the rock more clearly, because he has the light of special revelation? Or, are they both on the same plane of knowledge of that rock?
  23. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Hmmm....I guess if you're just speaking about the rock's characteristics then a Christian geologist isn't a better geologist just because he's a Christian but the same Christian ought to give glory to God for the knowledge he has through the things created and give God glory for it. In order to do the latter he requires special revelation because it's the only thing that reveals how man may be reconciled to God.
  24. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    The difference between the believer and the unbeliever is not in knowledge of things like rocks and trees, or even (necessarily) in terms of moral knowledge and intuition. The difference is in terms of attitude---one reasons in unbelief toward God, and the other reasons in a spirit of faithful dependence upon God. The reason that the unbeliever is capable of reason at all is because of actual dependence on God, but he refuses to acknowledge this dependence.
  25. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Since nihilism is basically self-refuting I think that hardly settles things because you have only substituted "correct" and "incorrect" for "right" and "wrong". Your use of those words is infusing them with the same value meanings of "right" and "wrong" but values of anykind are the very entities that the theory says doesn't exist, so self-refutation. I think a pure nihilism is just a myth. I prefer Nietzche's more poetical use of it.

    I don't know, why is satisfying the conditions not correct?

    Is Peter Hacker's stuff on the web? On the theological stuff have you read Goerge Lindbeck? I haven't but I know he takes an extreme Wittgenstienian view towards doctirne. Yeah I think Wittgenstien would be unhappy with some of the developments on his thought. I would be interested in reading that paper though, if you wouldn't mind.

    That is fine as evidence or showing that the minority view has the burden of proof. The problem comes when you try to foster it up as proof of something because then the whole "what about the Nazi's?" question is a legitamate problem because it was propt up as proof. The very reason it can't be proof only "proves" that the questions of morality are logical in nature.

    I wouldn't say that it is just a "good discussion" but a "good" critique of their viewpoint. It is not to say that they no longer can believe that murder is wrong but only that they cannot accuse God of murder because they have no logical basis for doing so, that means the critique has not answered. The point of contact only comes if I am out to defend the faith. If I am just critiquing than I don't have to make a point of contact but if they ask me to, which they usually do, than I develop a less complex version of a TA to show that we christians don't have the problems they do. Ireadily admit that this isn't the absolute proof of anything but I see no need in talking over someone's head.

    I would agree, so he may think he "knew it" but he really didn't. I also agree that warrant is very important aspect of epistemology but it is not the only question that epistemology deals with.

    I agree, I divide philosophy into 2 distinct sections. First the questions that naturally arise from our logical analysis of reality and the various conceptual schemes worked out to answer these questions. Induction is a problem for the unbeleiver because they cannot account for their presupposition of the uniformity of nature. Sure they can do science just fine without defending it but as soon as they enter the apologetical domain by claiming "that we don't need God anymore because we have science" or posit a metaphysical theory that results in the laws of science being logically impossible.

    Only if morality doesn't exist but that is the myth of pure nihilism. But never the less my point still stands that that is how a TA logically functions.

    Yes but this revealation is analogical in nature. But never the less the problem I was alluding to was the idea that "goodness" is self-existant apart from any gods at all. But we agree that it is meaningless unless it is rooted in the one true God's nature.

    ---------- Post added at 02:44 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:36 PM ----------

    I wouldn't completly disagree with you here. Presuppositionalist's have not developed this aspect of Van Til's thought as much as we should have. I mean isn't it a little hypocritical to condemn western thinking and use western thinking at the same time. This is why for me I seperate what is creational in someone's thought and what is autonomous.
  26. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    No, actually---I'm talking about truth-value. Nihilism basically states that all moral judgments have negative truth-value.

    Because there may be multiple conceptions that do so.

    On the contrary, he wouldn't claim to know it---he just made "a lucky guess." If he were rational he wouldn't make a knowledge-claim on that basis.

    How is that not a warranted basic assumption?

    Not to my knowledge. I haven't read Lindbeck, but might I wager a guess that he's operating on the "regulative theory" of doctrine where doctrinal statements are seen as defining limits of God-talk rather than being factual statements about an actual being?

    PM me on the paper.

    But what counts as proving something? We all generally agree that the Nazis were generally not very nice and that their actions were probably not very ethical. Why is this a problem?

    But you haven't shown this. All you've shown is that their current theory leaves something to be desired. You have not shown that their intuition regarding the morality of God's action is wrong.

    But all that this means is that Christianity is capable of accounting for it, not that it is the solution. Again, this is my critique of TAs in general: they demonstrate only that you have a nice theory, not that this theory is in fact the case.

    Not necessarily---to say that overpopulation is a problem implies some sort of value system.

    Well, naturally---at our best we can be good in a creaturely way. This is the difference between Clarkianism and Van Tillianism, and also between the Thomist and Scotist view of universals.
  27. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Here is a link to the definition of nihilism, which clearley states that there are no values. Nihilism*[Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy].
    Although your definition is not incorrect, it is lacking in scope. It is a nice logical look at the point of view. But is not this statement itself a moral judgment? I mean what place does it occupy, the weird world of a meta-moral-judgment? This option is overthrown by a TC because if there are no such things as values than moral judgements are meaningless, beyond just false. Stateing that moral judgements are false implies some valu system to compare them too, and this system is the very thing the nihilist is denying even exists.

    This argument is legetimate if and only if a TA is a basically scientific type of explination. It is a good question to raise, don't get me wrong, but it confuses the two types of explinations. Saying that morality must exist for any moral talk to be either true or false is a logically neccessary connection between two statements. That is different than coming up with some theory to possibly explain moral talk. A scientific explination offers no neccessary connection of anykind. You are going to ask for proof so here goes.

    This neccessary connection would be disproved if and only if a purely negative ethics could be conceivable, which is nihilism. But this idea of "pure" is what is another problimatic thing for nihilism. A "pure" thing is a perfect thing and a perfect thing is perfect in comparison to some standered. But what standered other than a moral one could nihilism be compared to to establish its purety? Also it is not a scientific explination because all moral arguments attempt to carry logical force as to why you shoul or shouldn't do something. An evolutionary explination of ethics attempts to account for why human beings are concerned with ethics but cannot tell you why you should behave in certain way. So you account of what type of explination a TA is is wrong due to the this fact, you are quite right about an evolutionary understanding of ethics but it is a different type of explination.

    I agree that he is not being rational but ordinary people make these sorts of claims all the time, I see it happen at least once a day.

    It is if and only if warrant is the beggining and end of epistemology, which it isn't. This again requires you and Plantinga to demonstrate that all the tougher questions of epistemology are in fact pseudo-problems. Now I can see where you and I assume him would call these tougher questions extreme skepticism but I think that critique fails when you analyze the sorts of deeper beleifs, like moral ones, because they are legitimate questions, hence the existance of western philosopy

    You are correct about Lindbeck, he stresses the social element of doctrines too. He sees them as being merely social distinctives of a particuler group of people. They regulate who is or isn't in the group. But your'e right he is wrong for the very reasons you claim. Thanks I will PM you my email adress.

    And the Nazi's generally agree that they were doing the right thing, so who is correct us or them? Thats the problem.

    I wouldn't say "intuition" but feeling, regardless this is more of a psychological thing anyway. To say that "God committed murder and is therefore morally wrong" stands upon two presupositions:
    1. That the statment "murder is wrong" is true
    2. That there is some standered of ethics apart from God that even He, or the idea of He, must be judged by

    If the unbeleiver cannot prove both those statements than his or her original statment is unproven. Do you think they can hypothetically or actually prove both those?

    But what some things can be settled only transcendnetally? Also if no other worldview can account for it than how is this not "proof"? Again we are not giving a sociological explination for why morals exist in society but a logical explination for it, so this is more than just a theory.

    It does and we generaly call this value system a moral one. To that overpopulation is a problem tells you nothing about why a particuler action is the right response to it, or why we should follow this course of action.

    I agree, I have that against Clark myself. If good means the same to both the Creator and the creature than it must be an independent standered that exists outside both God and man and they are both "moraly" accountable to it.

    ---------- Post added at 04:23 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:06 PM ----------

    Are all things ultimatly one (unity) or all all things ultimatly individuals, so that all of our general concepts like tree are meaningless? This is the problem of the one and the many. For us humans it is obvious that all things are united, or one, in some ways and individual, or many, in other ways. Western and eastern philosophy have both sought to locate an explination for this unity and diversity withen creation some how, thus making some aspect of creation ultimate and therefore god-like. What Van Til pointed out is that it is only in the christian God that both unity and diversity are ultimate in the idea of the Trinity. Now this doesn't explain how unity and diversity work out within creation but it locates the ultimate basis for unity and diversity in the self-contained ontological Trinity. This avoids the problems that philosophers have ran into when they tried to place the ultimate explination for unity and diversity withen creation somehow, Dooyeweerd called them immanitistic philosophies because he showed how the autonomous philosophers took atributes that belong properly to God only and ascribed them to some part of creation. That is how the specific christian God is indirectly proven and how the Trinity fits into our apologetic.
  28. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Possibly the term means something different in different contexts---I heard it defined this way at Oxford, but it's possible that some who claim to be nihilists are actually positivists.

    No, simply a statement of linguistics.

    Granted---but Christianity is a theory of accounting. It may be the most likely theory, it may be the simplest theory, but it is a theory. It is not a set of possible preconditions.

    Not necessarily---pure gold is not perfect gold, but undiluted gold.

    The problem, James, is that the Christian conception fares little better on this count: you may say "because the Lord saith" but the unbeliever will ask why he should do anything the Lord saith.

    I don't see them saying that: I see them saying "it was a lucky guess."

    But inductive reasoning is a basic operation of our cognitive powers---it is a basis for knowledge. Forcing a man into skepticism is a useful rhetorical tool for showing that his position is absurd. What it does not do is to show that he had no basis for induction in the first place---it shows that he had been taken captive by wild speculation.

    Western philosophy lost its way when it started thinking that every assertion needed some sort of argument to support it in order to count as knowledge. When the burden of proof came to be placed on the knower and not on the skeptic. How is morality not a basic intuition? What we are disagreeing on is how moral judgments work---those who claim that moral judgments are meaningless are ignoring the fact that we make meaningful statements about morality.

    They happen to be wrong. All that this proves is that there is a disagreement---moral relativism is not even a warranted conclusion from this. To say that Adolf Hitler believes contrarily to myself may just be proof that he is a sociopath.

    No---I think that they believe these to be basic assumptions of all right-thinking people. They are wrong, but that's the idea: James, they don't recognize your question.

    Because all that this does is to make Christianity the most likely of the theories thus far put forward.

    But it is just a theory: that's the problem. Unless you can prove that necessary connection, where is the force of the argument? When you say that God is necessary for morality, you are asserting that God is a necessary precondition, which means that you must prove that if X (morality) then Y (God): if morality then God. If you fail to do this, then you're left with Christianity as the only adequate theory thus far put forward. In any logical form, the premises must be shown or assumed true in order for the conclusion to follow.

    Not necessarily---according to Clark, it means that God has infused us with Divine goodness.
  29. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well the way you defined it implied basically a Russell type analysis of the problem. When Strawson analyzed similer statments he came up with the relationship of presuposition that I showed you before. The strength of it was becaue for Russell if nihilism is true than as you said all moral statments are in fact false. But this begs the question of false compared to what? Are they all analytically false? No, so some standered or other truth must be posited to establish that this is in fact true and all moral statments are false. They say "because morality doesn't exist", but what do they mean by that? Well to avoid the pitfalls that I mentioned they would go back in a circle and claim "what that means is that all moral judgements are false". But that is circuler reasoning of the worst kind. The problem is in the analysis of the viewpoint. This is where Strawson is stronger because he would point out, he never analyzied nihilism to my knowledge so this is as hypothetical as Russell doing the same, that what they are actually stating is a presuposition that makes moral judgements not false but meaningless. This is no different than Logical Positivism's critique of metaphysics, for them metaphysical statments couldn't be true or false because they were all nonsense or meaningless.

    Perhaps but you still havn't produced nihilism as such a viable option that it is unproblimatic enough to be a viable TA, thus disproving the method itself.

    But if a TA is not trying to directly prove the existance of God than your point here is merely a methodological preference, and good luck with those direct classical proofs.

    Well perfect is more analogical here than anything, what perfect means from case to case is different.

    This assumes that the Lord must a have a good reason, whatever that means, to make moral demsnds. But what in the very idea of a Craetor demands that we must approve of those demands? Also they will be punished regardless of whether or not they agree with the law so that is a good reason to abey. It seems to me to be an uneccessary question on their part because it is far too problimatic to say otherwise. If at this point they say "well your just saying that He is a tyrant", well but again that assumes a moral law that exists apart from Him that even He must adhere to.

    Well than maybe it is just a southern "thang" than.

    Well he has warrant for sure but what does that prove? Not much, the question is what logical reason does he have? None, so he may go one using inductive reasoning buit taking it for granted to level an apologetical critique of the existance of God is now out of the question, and that is the point. I'm not saying he can't do science, what I'm saying is that he can't now use science to dismiss beleif in God because he cannot rationally account for his faith in science.

    Which morality is the properly basic one? Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Seculer, etc? Which one? What is one moral where there is no disagreement over? Murder maybe? Ah but to some abortion is not murder, so this reveals not a disfunctioning moral sense but it is nothing less than a disagreement over presupsositions about murder and what counts as human, Van Til is correct after all. That is the basic critique of foundationalism, in this case moral foundationalism, there is not complete agreement over every entailment of morality so there is no agreement at all. Disagreements over what is included in a "basic beleif" have pointed too them not being so basic after all. That is the classic charge against any form of classic foundationalism. I know Plantinga says he not advocating a classic foundationalist position but it is all the same.

    And there it is, you are refering to a moral law outside of mere social agreement to judge him, that contradicts your earlier position that agreement is a sufficient foundation for morality.

    If I were to say try to build a rocket to go the speed of light and you were to say that according to relativity theory that is impossible, would it make any difference at all for me to say that I don't recognize your critique as valid? Would the laws of physics magically change because I don't recognize some of them? Well no obviously that is an extreme example but it illustrates my point that violations of logical laws carry the same force as violations of physical ones. So they recognize whatever they want that is irrelivent. Now you may be right as far as practice goes, if they practically don't recognize such questions how can they be expected to answer them? Well I have sufficient practice in handling that so I'm not worried but this whole discussion has been about theory and not practice.

    Yes but unless the unbeleiver can counter my "theory" with a better one than they are in worse shape than before. If they cannot critique my "theory" but insist on using morality anyway than that only "proves" my theory until they can critique my theory and/or posit a better one.

    The force is that if they cannot disprove the TA than any use of say morality or science after that is only "proving" the very thing they are trying to disprove, the impossibilty of the contrary.

    Well Clark's whole univocal understanding of language was problimatic enough for him, never the less unless "good" is defined as God defines it than you are wrapped up in problimatic acounts that presupose the weird metaphysical situations of the Euythripro problem, I don't think I spelled that right but you get the gist of it.
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