Final Reply to Owen Anderson

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Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was asked to start a new thread. But, just like with Kaiser Soze, "And like that, he's gone." That is, I just came back to post this one post. Here's what I had typed up:

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Alright, I'm gonna come out of retirement for one post since I feel there' some loose strings I should tie up with Dr. Anderson:


Consumerism :)

Have you had a chance to read my more recent and developed book?

I actually ordered it about 4 hours ago. "Christian Trader" got in my ear about your previous book (Reasons and Worldviews), hyped it up, and so I ordered it. Just so you know, I went into it really wanting to like it, unfortunately there were too many problems for it to sit well with me. Don't have cognitive rest :) There are definitely aspects I liked. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that you're Reformed and in Academia. I appreciate Natural Law (though haven't totally worked out my version of it yet). And I appreciate the fact that you call unbelief on the carpet. I appreciate that you like much of Plantinga. I was happy to see a nod go Van Til's way too. I appreciate the use of NL, mainly in serving as a defeater-defeater. But my purpose here is to interact with your stuff in a critical way. You did ask to hear thoughts, and since you received enough laudatory comments via Christian Trader, I figured I'd fill the negative lacuna. Hope that's okay with you? :)

My Critiques in General

I suspect most/all of the apparent disagreements are due to needing to be careful in how we attribute things to others, and in the limitations of this format.

But this is what I mean by recognizing nuances that require time to develop and discuss.

i) The author also has a job to make himself clear too. In the book I was referred, there was no time taken in discussing nuances. I criticized Christian Trader and he never laid out your nuances but, rather, said some things that exacerbated the problems.

ii) Some of my complaints don't seem to have been solved, and, indeed, some of your "nuances" make it more confusing (see below).

iii) There has not been one single person, besides Christian Trader, who, by the way, said this on page one: "My biggest problem is that I have not read but so deep in philosophy past a few van tillian works, so I can't really see if your work is truly awesome or that I only think it is awesome due to my lack of philosophical depth," that did not make the same observations and see the same problems when I sent them quotes from your book. I tried to make sure I wasn't the only one. Some of my correspondents have Ph.Ds in philosophy too.

Epistemology

I don't agree that I maintain evidentialism or deontology.

i) By evidentialism I mean the view that:

Evidentialism = df Person S is justified in believing proposition p at time t if and only if S’s evidence for p at t supports believing p.

I say this for a few reasons:

a) Your definition of "know" on page 1 of this thread.

b) Page 13 of Reasons and Worldviews (R&W): "[H]is view leads to a kind of fideism where certain beliefs are held as basic not needing proof." And again, "...thus the assertion of such beliefs without proof ... becomes fideistis" (ibid). And later, "This is to go further than the requirements of Clifford (do not believe without proof); it is to say that even if there are some basic beliefs that do not require proof, one has the obligation to make inference and be able to respond to alternatives" (p.75)

c) Your denial of "evidentialism" in the book is a denial of a view that is purely inductive and probabilistic, and thus to deny 'evidentialism' in this way isn't to deny it in the way I meant it (which should have been clear (!) given the context in which I was speaking).

ii) Given your definition of knowledge both here and in the book (in the book as JTB, p. 125), I find it odd that you would deny deontologism given that Plantinga and others have shown fairly convincingly that deontologism is tied up in views of knowledge that seek "justification", as well as internalist constraints.

iii) I see you didn't deny my charge of internalism. I wonder how integral this constraint is to your program. Since I think it is pretty clearly false (cf. Bergman's work), then if it is integral to your position I find that to be a major hindrance.

iv) Therefore, from where I'm standing epistemologically, your view is beset by some major worries. Some I'm unsure can be recovered from.

Metaphysics of Freedom

I do maintain ought/can, but not in a way that leads to or assumes libertarianism or arminianism.

From your book: "Libertarianism: A view of freedom where ought implies can; one is free if one could have done otherwise; related to causality, if my act was caused it could not have been otherwise; libertarianism denies determinism ... in order to affirm freedom" (p. 126).

I agree with what is expressed by the Reformed thinkers you quotes concerning necessity, and I think there is still an important sense of ought/can that we can rely on ... One way I try to do that in "Clarity" is to discuss levels of freedom. I distinguish between these levels:

practical, psychological, worldview, presuppositional, and reason.

Your examples (and those used by the authors you reference) are limited to the first two levels, and on those levels I completely agree with you.

i) So are you saying you're a libertarian about "worldview, presuppositional, and reason?"

ii) I struggle to see how you could agree with my critiques at the first two, but not the second. I don't see how my argument could fail at any level that assumed ought implies can is required for moral responsibility.

I can iff I want to, and my want is entirely predetermined by God, and since it is my want I am responsible for it

Frankfurt counters would work at this level too. But first:

i) It appears you assume classical compatibilism CC. So you'd need to defend yourself against the myriad attacks of CC both from within and without the compatibilist camp (do you in your book I ordered)? We can see you affirm CC by your hypothetical model (S could have done otherwise if S had wanted to do otherwise). But first, it's not clear that CC (Hypothetical Classical Compatibilism, HCC) can refute the consequence argument.

A different worry with HCC is that its analysis of 'can' and 'could have done otherwise' sometimes wrongly tell us that we could have done otherwise even we clearly could not have. McKenna puts it this way: Suppose Danielle has been scarred by a terrible childhood accident involving a blond Labrador retriever. This accident rendered her psychologically incapable of wanting to touch a blond-haired dog. Imagine that, on her sixteenth birthday, unaware of her condition, her father brings her two puppies to choose between, one being a blond-haired Lab, the other a black-haired Lab. He tells Danielle just to pick up whichever of the two she pleases and that he will return the other puppy to the store. Danielle happily and unencumbered does what she wants and picks up the black Lab.

Was she free to do otherwise? It doesn't seem so. Given her childhood experience, she cannot even form a want to touch a blond-haired Lab, thus she couldn't pick one up. But in this case the HCC analysis would be true. That is: IF Danielle had wanted to pick up the blond-haired Lab, then she could/would have done so. This is clearly false, though. The problem brought out here is that HCC isn't enough. We need more than just: S could have done otherwise if S had wanted to do otherwise. We need, rather, something like this: ..."and S could also have wanted to do otherwise." And this pushes the question back to whether the agent could have wanted to do otherwise. To answer that requires another 'could' statement: S could have wanted or chosen to do otherwise. This requires another hypothetical analysis: S would have waned or chosen to do otherwise, IF S had wanted or chosen to want or choose otherwise. The same question would arise about this analysis, needing another 'could' statement to be analyzed, and so on ad infinitum... (cf. Kane, Intro to Free Will, pp. 28-31).

ii) As you state in R&W: "...while ought implies can, can implies want." Two things:

a) How is 'can' to be understood? Hypothetically? Then we have your statement as:

"...while ought implies you could do x if you had wanted to, the ability to do otherwise if you had wanted to implies want."

That seems odd.

b) We have a Frankfurt worry. Imagine that a person—call him 'Stanley'—deliberately keeps himself very still. He wants to. He refrains, for some reason, from moving his body at all. … suppose that here is someone with a powerful interest in having Stanley refrain from making any deliberate movements, who arranges things in such a way that Stanley will be stricken with general paralysis if he shows any inclination (including a want)to move. Nonetheless, Stanley may keep himself still quite on his own altogether independently of this person's schemes. Why should Stanley not be morally responsible for keeping still, in that case, just as much as if there had been nothing to prevent him from moving had he chosen to do so?

Here it appears that Stan is responsible, yet he could not have wanted to do otherwise.

Subtle changes would only be required to work for all your various "instances," I suspect.

Also, I'm unsure how this argument still wouldn't apply (to whatever realm you place "ought implies can" in):

1. Suppose some individual, John, does something morally wrong.
2. If John's Xing was wrong, then he ought to have done something else instead.
3. If John ought to have done something else instead, then he could have done something else instead. (The OA and CT premise)
4. So John could have done something else instead. (from 3, PAP)
5. But if causal determinism is true, then John could not have done anything other than he actually did. (Reformed premise)
6. So, if causal determinism is true, it cannot be the case that John's Xing was wrong. (Entailed by CT's and OA's position).


The Knowledge of God

My sense is that this [man's knowledge of God] was cleared up earlier in the thread. I agree with these thinkers depending on what "know" means. The meaning of the term I am focused on includes some form of assent or believing, so that a person does not "know" if they do not agree to the truth of a claim. But I believe there are other senses of the term "know" that people use and that can explain the quotes above.

i) I am sorry to report that I did not think it was cleared up, at all. Mathew Winzer started off on the right foot, but then you trapped him. Based on the (what I would call obviously false) definition of "know" you gave on page one, of course unbelievers don't 'know' God in that sense. Now, if that's your definition of know, then, yes, unbelievers don't know. But, problematically for you, you don't either since I showed you had an infinite regress problem. Your view also assumes internalism, which I deny. They know if they know that they know.

ii) You then claim that there are "other senses" of the term "to know" that can be meant for those in Romans 1.

I find this odd for at least two reasons:

a) You never even so much as indicated that there was any sense that unbelievers know God exists in your R&W I just finished.

b) You seem to deny them any knowledge based on your exegesis of Romans 1. For example, you claimed: It is easy to prove that not everybody has knowledge or belief in God as defined by theism. ... Theistic belief has not been held by every human throughout history, nor is it held by every human alive today. ... It is the eternal power and divine nature of God, not some vague sense of a higher power, that Paul says is knowable and the ignorance of which is inexcusable. And when Paul says that God's existence and nature are known from the things that are made this suggests and inference, not an immediate or invariant truth. When Paul says in verse 21 that 'although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened", there seems to have been a progression from having known God to failing to know God. it is far from clear that the word 'they' in this passage refers to all humans who have ever lived, but rather may be referring to an original context where humans knew God and then a process in which humanity exchanged belief in God for belief in idols."

Thus for you to claim that Romans 1 allows for "some kind" of knowledge that ALL MEN have is contradicted by your own exegesis of the passage!

iii) I find your exegesis suspect for a number of reasons:

a) Paul is speaking about the universal problem of sin and God's wrath towards all men. His reason (because) is that "they knew God." So you have God giving a reason for his universal wrath upon all men that some men knew him but then ceased to know him.

b) Who are these people who "knew" God? Were they saved? Regenerate? How did they "know God" in this robust sense if they were not, according to your views on the matter (i.e., salvation restores one to knowing)? If they were saved, how do you avoid denial of perseverance?

c) Apropos (b), you seem to indicate that not even Adam and Eve knew God in this sense. So I fail to see who you think it could be.

d) Schreiner disagrees (Romans, 85-87); Moo disagrees (Romans, 103-104); Murray disagrees (Romans, 37-38).

e) Oliphint disagrees (Reasons for Faith, 133-140), same with Frame, Bahnsen, Van Til, et al. They disagree with your exegesis. To affirm it in their sense is to deny your exegesis.

f) People even disagree with your claim that those who say there's a knowlegde mean there's a vague knowledge. So Oliphint: "And it is a knowledge with significance and substantial content" (ibid, 134). So it appears we have straw men.

g) You claim that men do not understand God. You claim they don't know him either. Calvin disagrees:

"To prevent anyone from taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance, God himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty. Ever renewing its memory, he repeatedly sheds fresh drops. Since, therefore, men one and all perceive that there is a God and the he is their Maker, they are condemned by their own testimony because they have failed to honor him and to consecrate their lives to his will."

And further,

"Men of sound judgment will always be sure that a sense of divinity which can never be effaced is engraven upon men’s minds. Indeed, the perversity of the impious, who though they struggle furiously are unable to extricate themselves from the fear of God, is abundant testimony that this conviction, namely that there is some God, is naturally inborn in all, and is fixed deep within, as it were in the very marrow. . . .For the world . . .tries as far as it is able to cast away all knowledge of God, and by every means to corrupt the worship of him. I only say that though the stupid hardness in their minds, which the impious eagerly conjure up to reject God, wastes away, yet the sense of divinity, which they greatly wished to have extinguished, thrives and presently burgeons. From this we conclude that it is not a doctrine that must first be learned in school, but one of which each of us is master from his mother’s womb and which nature itself permits none to forget, although many strive with every nerve to this end."

h) God implants the knowledge. Thus its source is God himself and it's content is [insert what Rom. 1 says], its function is dependant on God's activity, and this activity will not fail (cf. Oliphint, 136). Add a seity to this, and God is not dependant upon age, cognitive development, or anything for his knowledge to be implanted. Also, since I deny the internalist constraint you affirm, I deny your claims about men's interpretation of this knowledge as if men had to know that they know in order to know. it is given by God and is not dependant on us, as you make it.

i) Do all men have a knowledge of God: Reymond agrees (ST, 131); Berkof agrees (ST, p. 35-38); Bavink agrees (RD, 302, 361); Turretin agrees (IET, 1.3.7). They all agree that it's in the Rom. 1 sense, and thus isn't vague but is enough to render inexcusable

Conclusion

I look forward to reading your next book, but so far I find much of your position to be (a) theologically and (b) philosophically problematic. I'm merely expressing my reasons why, based on the information contained in your book that was referred to me. If it is so unclear that one must either email you and ask what you mean all the time, or wait for future books, then perhaps a disclaimer should go into the book I read. But, as it stands, even with your explanations here, it's not clear that you have clarified your position enough to avoid the problems.

I don't post here anymore. Came out of retirement for this post. As I said, if I go ahead with a review (which will be much longer and more detailed now that I have to include your other book with it), I'll email you before I post it anywhere.

I also would like to see you do what you claim needs to be done. I am bored of silver bullet apologetic claims and endless discussion of method. I like to see people be able to put their money where their mouth is. From the little section on NT I saw in your book, there’s going to have to be a lot more convincing. I also see some problems in that section. Some smuggling in of assumptions not known by reason or NT. But I’ll leave that for another day.

I have no ill-will toward you, and I hope you take my comments simply as they were meant to be: objective criticisms I have with what I understand of your position so far...
 
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ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Metaphysics of Freedom


From your book: "Libertarianism: A view of freedom where ought implies can; one is free if one could have done otherwise; related to causality, if my act was caused it could not have been otherwise; libertarianism denies determinism ... in order to affirm freedom" (p. 126).

Since he does not deny determinism any more than the list of Reformed folks that you posted on the previous thread, then it would be incorrect to call him a libertarian (on his own definition from said book)
i) So are you saying you're a libertarian about "worldview, presuppositional, and reason?"

Or Turretin:

"The foreknowledge of God implies indeed the infallibility of futurition and of the event and the necessity of the consequence, and yet does not imply coaction or violence, nor take away from the will its intristic liberty."

So Turretin is a libertarian in some areas? He asserts liberty with the rejection of PAP.

ii) I struggle to see how you could agree with my critiques at the first two, but not the second. I don't see how my argument could fail at any level that assumed ought implies can is required for moral responsibility.

That is the need for discussion. Hard and Impossibility are two different positions.

I can iff I want to, and my want is entirely predetermined by God, and since it is my want I am responsible for it

Frankfurt counters would work at this level too. But first:

i) It appears you assume classical compatibilism CC. So you'd need to defend yourself against the myriad attacks of CC both from within and without the compatibilist camp (do you in your book I ordered)? We can see you affirm CC by your hypothetical model (S could have done otherwise if S had wanted to do otherwise). But first, it's not clear that CC (Hypothetical Classical Compatibilism, HCC) can refute the consequence argument.

A different worry with HCC is that its analysis of 'can' and 'could have done otherwise' sometimes wrongly tell us that we could have done otherwise even we clearly could not have. McKenna puts it this way: Suppose Danielle has been scarred by a terrible childhood accident involving a blond Labrador retriever. This accident rendered her psychologically incapable of wanting to touch a blond-haired dog. Imagine that, on her sixteenth birthday, unaware of her condition, her father brings her two puppies to choose between, one being a blond-haired Lab, the other a black-haired Lab. He tells Danielle just to pick up whichever of the two she pleases and that he will return the other puppy to the store. Danielle happily and unencumbered does what she wants and picks up the black Lab.

Was she free to do otherwise? It doesn't seem so. Given her childhood experience, she cannot even form a want to touch a blond-haired Lab, thus she couldn't pick one up. But in this case the HCC analysis would be true. That is: IF Danielle had wanted to pick up the blond-haired Lab, then she could/would have done so. This is clearly false, though. The problem brought out here is that HCC isn't enough. We need more than just: S could have done otherwise if S had wanted to do otherwise. We need, rather, something like this: ..."and S could also have wanted to do otherwise." And this pushes the question back to whether the agent could have wanted to do otherwise. To answer that requires another 'could' statement: S could have wanted or chosen to do otherwise. This requires another hypothetical analysis: S would have waned or chosen to do otherwise, IF S had wanted or chosen to want or choose otherwise. The same question would arise about this analysis, needing another 'could' statement to be analyzed, and so on ad infinitum... (cf. Kane, Intro to Free Will, pp. 28-31).

It really seems that on your view, a homosexual is basically doomed. That being put aside, there are many people who experience accidents (close to drowning, car accidents), willful evil etc (molestation) and are seriously psychologically traumatized, but still overcome and go back to "normal". They return to swimming, ride/drive in cars, get married to someone of the opposite sex and practice regular intercourse etc.

At this point you could just pound the table and write off all those who do go back to normal and say they were not really really really psychologically incapacitated. They were just partly incapacitated.

Under Dr. Anderson's Analysis, the issue would be: does a more basic level of freedom contradicted the higher level of freedom. If all levels agree then one will stay as one is. If not, the conflict will have to be resolved.

For example:
Psychological: I want no part of blond dogs because of said accident
Worldview: Blond Dogs are the key to accessing heaven and avoiding hell. Any belief that blond dogs are bad is abnormal and should be repented of.

At this point, you can
a)embrace being hellbound
b)embrace heaven and go against your psychological urges
c)embrace a different worldview with different requirements for heaven

No one just goes, let me change my psychological viewpoint, today. They will fight against it, if they believe that something is wrong with that psychological viewpoint. That something wrong is provided by worldview and more basic considerations.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
CT,

Let's remind everyone what you said

"My biggest problem is that I have not read but so deep in philosophy past a few van tillian works, so I can't really see if your work is truly awesome or that I only think it is awesome due to my lack of philosophical depth,"

Since he does not deny determinism any more than the list of Reformed folks that you posted on the previous thread, then it would be incorrect to call him a libertarian (on his own definition from said book)

I didn't call him a libertarian. I simply stated that his own definition defines libertarianism as a view of freedom where ought implies can. I also specifically stated that I see some inconsistencies.

Or Turretin:

"The foreknowledge of God implies indeed the infallibility of futurition and of the event and the necessity of the consequence, and yet does not imply coaction or violence, nor take away from the will its intristic liberty."

So Turretin is a libertarian in some areas? He asserts liberty with the rejection of PAP.

One could reason that way if one disregards the equivocations involved in that comparison.

Let's watch out for word fallacies, Hermonta.

I mean, based on your view I'd have to call John Robbins a libertarian action theorist all because he was politically a libertarian!

Or, perhaps the U.S.A has a secret agenda of promoting libertarian free will by having a Statue of Liberty!

And, btw, Turretin did deny PAP, viz. necessity of consequence. Also, Anderson denies PAP. The discussion is on "ought implies can" and where that leads.

That is the need for discussion. Hard and Impossibility are two different positions.

Right. I have no problem there. Just pointing out it was hard to see. Though my 6 premise syllogism seems to cut across the board.

The HCC example showed that where ever you are a hypothetical compatibilst, you have problems. You and Anderson stated you were classical compatibilists. So you have the problem at the psychological level.

It really seems that on your view, a homosexual is basically doomed.

Why?

That being put aside, there are many people who experience accidents (close to drowning, car accidents), willful evil etc (molestation) and are seriously psychologically traumatized, but still overcome and go back to "normal".

That may be, not the purpose of the illustration though. Furthermore, the thought experiment points out the infinite regress inherent in classical compatibilism. You have to be able to want.

They return to swimming, ride/drive in cars, get married to someone of the opposite sex and practice regular intercourse etc.

Never implied otherwise.

Though you seem to not understand what a "thought experiment" is.

Under Dr. Anderson's Analysis, the issue would be: does a more basic level of freedom contradicted the higher level of freedom. If all levels agree then one will stay as one is. If not, the conflict will have to be resolved.

Dn't see how this answers anything. Is it based on your faulty analysis above?

(I see my account is still active. If Rich closes it for me again, you'll be able to respond without my response :)
 
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owenanderson

Puritan Board Freshman
Is this a one time response or did you want to interact on these points? There's alot there, so we'll have to take time and look them over one by one.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is this a one time response or did you want to interact on these points? There's alot there, so we'll have to take time and look them over one by one.

Hi, it was meant to be a one time response to your last response to me. But you can write your response and I'm sure it will better help me understand your position as I head into your Clarity book I just ordered.

From where I'm standing it looks as if there's some irreconcilable differences. I hold that men are inexcusable because they have knowledge in the Romans 1 sense. So your project seems irrelevant for me on that score.

I have massive doubts about the ability to demonstrate the Christian God's existence, with epistemic certainty. About silver bullet apologetics. You may claim you're not doing that, but that's definitely how it comes across.

I find that your complaints about how others "beg the question" and "assume their position" applies equally to you and your view of "reason" (as the three basic laws of thought). There's alternative logics that deny the universality of the LNC, or 'free logic' (i.e., one that is not committed to logical bivalence), etc. Most arguments against the dialetheist assume the falsity of paraconsistent logic and the truth of explosion. In other words,, they beg the question. Of course they may be wrong, just like those other religions who "have a holy book too" can be wrong. But, when you appeal to classical logics I could say, "But others have their own holy book [read: laws of logic] too."

And I just can't see how ought implies can is a viable alternative for a compatibilist.

I think your claims about the fall and how if Eve could have just reasoned better, applied "a is not ~a" to the situation, she could have withstood Satan. Your advice about what one needs to withstand temptation seems to fly in the face of the repeat of the protological temptation in Jesus' encounter with Satan in the wilderness: "It is written, man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of Jehovah." Adam and Eve needed to trust in the word of the Lord.

I think the fact of theological paradox puts a dent into the bumper of some of your claims about how we handle challenges to the rationality of Christianity.

I think you didn't focus enough on defeater-deflectors, and I think that answers some of your complaints against Plantinga and Van Til et al.

I can't affirm doxastic voluntarism.

I can't see affirming internalism or JTB.

Etc.

Overall, it seems there's too much to overcome, too much to compromise, too much at odds with those of the Reformation I tend to follow, for your book to commend itself to me. But I would love to read your response to my thoughts as it will help me to better understand you and to sharpen any possible responses I might have, down the road...
 
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owenanderson

Puritan Board Freshman
reply to PM

I'm very glad we can have this dicussion and I greatly appreciate your concerns. As you said, a writer needs to be clear and what this shows me is that I have some work to do in that area. I'm thinking through all of this and asking myself how I can be more clear in the future so as to better communicate my main point.

Again, you've mentioned many issues so we'll have to take them one by one. I don't agree that internalism requires the infinite regress you've said it does, or that the practical and psychological examples of why a person cannot do what they ought to do show that the ought/can principle is not relevant for my point. Again, these additional issues will take some time to open up. My sense is that at the most basic level, the internalist/externalist distinction, and the want/can distinction, collapse. But that will take some explaining.

"Clarity" does go into these issues in a little more detail in a section on whether the need for regeneration can be used as an excuse for unbelief. But these issues are not what that book is about. It may not go into the kind of detail you are looking for. Please judge that book for what it is trying to do, and feel free to let me know what you think I left out. There, as well as in this forum, I'm trying to communicate to a general audience rather than to one that is specializing in philosophy/theology. The goal of that book is not to cover the finer points of the "free will/predestination" topic. The goal is to say that Christians should be able to show that whatever beliefs are used to replace belief in God are inexcusable.

From the beginning of your replies the repeating issue is with the nature of "ought" and "can." This is because I maintain that if we are guilty for not knowing God, as Christianity maintains, then we must be able to know God. This "able" is in the sense of natural ability. It would not make sense to say of a plant that it is guilty for not knowing God. Similarly, if the natural ability of man is such that the knowledge of God is not available, then this is not something we can be held responsible for.

But this does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not needed for regeneration after the Fall. Instead, it means there is a clear general revelation so that there is no excuse, and that Christians should be able to show this. Consider this scenario:

unbeliever: I couldn't know God because I wasn't regenerated.
believer: so you believe God exists and didn't regenerate you?
unbeliever: no, I don't believe that God exists, but if God had regenerated me then I would have believed.
believer: so you are blaming a being that you don't think exists for not regenerating you to believe in said being?
unbeliever: yes.

As an excuse this is pretty bad--inexcusable. I think the believer can say: setting aside questions about regeneration, why not simply believe? I think the unbeliever will say something that adds up to: I don't want to.

So I am ok granting that people could have an initial immediate sense of God (sensus divinitatis), that this was lost in the Fall, and that they need regeneration to restore it. But I also believe that they suppress it through unbelief, which means they replace it with some other beliefs that are not true. All I'm calling us to do is to show that whatever beliefs they replace "God" with are inexcusable.

Moving to issue 2 (I'm hesitant to address 2 issues in a single posting, I don't want things to get muddy). I don't think my appeal to reason is at all similar to Plantinga or Van Til when they become circular. We can look at systems that claim non-contradiction is false all the time, or false some times, and see what happens. But as for why I think their appeal is problematic, consider the following:

Christian to Hindu: you don't believe in God because, although man had an initial sensus divinitatis, it was lost in the Fall and now you reject what is true because you are not properly functioning. You won't come to belief unless regenerated, and this based on the will of God and has nothing to do with your actions. I suggest you accept the teachings of God in the Bible.

Hindu to Christian: you don't believe in Krishna because, although initially enlightened, you accrued karma and now you reject what is true because you are not properly functioning. You won't come to belief unless enlightened, and this is based on the divine will, not on anything you do. I suggest you accept the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.

Which story should I as an individual accept? As soon as we start to give an answer that involves appealing to the Bible or Bhagavad-Gita we are begging the question. If we say "the Hindu knows, he's just suppressing it," this can, of course, be said back to the Christian. So how do I as an individual know which of these to accept? I'm presented with at least these two options in life, what should I do? How can I be held eternally responsible if there is no way to settle the matter? Or, if we do appeal to something besides scripture to settle the matter, then I am recognizing that there is a general revelation that reveals God. If we say "the heavens declare the glory of God, not Krisha," can we show this in a non-question beginning way?

I take it that the unbeliever "suppresses" by replacing belief with some other false belief. I take it that if the Christian message is true, then Christians should be able to show this. Warfield, in his explanation of Calvin's sensus divinitatis, says that we know God in the very same moment that we know ourselves in that we are finite/dependent and God is what we are dependent on. But many other worldviews make this same claim about their view of the absolute. Can we do more than assert this?
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Apparently Rich wants me to stay here as he hasn't removed my ability to post, yet ;-) That's (one reason) why I left here. No self-control with this time suck!

(Note: "ought implies can" = "The Maxim.")

I'm very glad we can have this dicussion and I greatly appreciate your concerns. As you said, a writer needs to be clear and what this shows me is that I have some work to do in that area. I'm thinking through all of this and asking myself how I can be more clear in the future so as to better communicate my main point.

Me too.

Also, meant to tell you another thing I appreciated. Though this isn't unique to you, I appreciated you placing a summum bonum on the knowledge of God. I would disagree with some of what you said and inferred from that, but nevertheless it was fresh to see it mentioned in a contemporary work.

I don't agree that internalism requires the infinite regress you've said it does, or that the practical and psychological examples of why a person cannot do what they ought to do show that the ought/can principle is not relevant for my point. Again, these additional issues will take some time to open up. My sense is that at the most basic level, the internalist/externalist distinction, and the want/can distinction, collapse. But that will take some explaining.

I'll look foreword to your "opening up" of those things. At this time, I guess we just disagree since I am convinced by the (many) arguments against internalism and still haven't seen how ought implies can can (!) work for you. If you haven't already, you may want to contact Andrew Baily (Ph.D. program at Notre Dame) as he is a compatibilist who (is trying to) affirm The Maxim and deny PAP.

Please judge that book for what it is trying to do, and feel free to let me know what you think I left out. There, as well as in this forum, I'm trying to communicate to a general audience rather than to one that is specializing in philosophy/theology. ... The goal is to say that Christians should be able to show that whatever beliefs are used to replace belief in God are inexcusable.

I did try to judge it according to that. But, since I am a Van Tillian (and fairly Plantinganian), I also judged it as a critique of Van Til (and Plantinga). And since I love apologetics, I judged it as to how it might work in that regard. And as a Reformed "theologian", I judged it in that regard.

From the beginning of your replies the repeating issue is with the nature of "ought" and "can." This is because I maintain that if we are guilty for not knowing God, as Christianity maintains, then we must be able to know God. This "able" is in the sense of natural ability.

Though I disagree that man has merely the ability to know God rather than the actuality of knowledge, it seems you could say what you wanted to without affirming The Maxim.

unbeliever: I couldn't know God because I wasn't regenerated.
believer: so you believe God exists and didn't regenerate you?
unbeliever: no, I don't believe that God exists, but if God had regenerated me then I would have believed.
believer: so you are blaming a being that you don't think exists for not regenerating you to believe in said being?
unbeliever: yes.

As an excuse this is pretty bad--inexcusable. I think the believer can say: setting aside questions about regeneration, why not simply believe? I think the unbeliever will say something that adds up to: I don't want to.

Seems to me he'd try to launch an internal critique, thus he can affirm that and profess non-belief in God.

Thus the unbeliever might use this as a reason to not believe since Christianity is internally problematic.

Or, he may try to develop a moral theology whereby if predestination is true, then God is immoral for not regenerating everyone while ordaining them to perdition.

In fact, Arminians argue this all the time against us. You've just stated the problem of evil against Calvinism argument. So, they both believe that God exists and that your faux conversation reveals problems with Calvinism.

Indeed, one of your Arizona colleagues, Victor Reppert, has spent a lot of time (trying to) develop arguments against Calvinism along this line.

Do I think they're bad? Yeah. But they don't. In fact, they're convinced by them. Call Calvin's God a moral monster.

All this to say, the situation doesn't need to be as simplistic as you put it.

So I am ok granting that people could have an initial immediate sense of God (sensus divinitatis), that this was lost in the Fall, and that they need regeneration to restore it. But I also believe that they suppress it through unbelief, which means they replace it with some other beliefs that are not true. All I'm calling us to do is to show that whatever beliefs they replace "God" with are inexcusable.

I understand that, but I have to side with what I think the best exegesis of Romans 1 is, and I think that it is what I and the majority of Reformed Theologians have said: All men have a knowledge of God.

I agree that whatever idol they worship, they are inexcusable.

But, I think men can have knowledge and supress that knowledge. This can be shown if one takes Audi's analysis of self-deception, or perhaps Brian McLaughlin's notion of "inaccessible beliefs."

So your biggest worry for apologetic systems--how can they affirm inexcusability--seems to be able to be had by the putative Reformed exegesis of Romans 1, as well as using, as servant, some of the insights of analytic philosophy so as to itch burning contemporary philosopher's ears.

Moving to issue 2 (I'm hesitant to address 2 issues in a single posting, I don't want things to get muddy). I don't think my appeal to reason is at all similar to Plantinga or Van Til when they become circular. We can look at systems that claim non-contradiction is false all the time, or false some times, and see what happens. But as for why I think their appeal is problematic, consider the following:

I understand why you would hold that position, but to me the situation looks identical.

Christian to Hindu: you don't believe in God because, although man had an initial sensus divinitatis, it was lost in the Fall and now you reject what is true because you are not properly functioning. You won't come to belief unless regenerated, and this based on the will of God and has nothing to do with your actions. I suggest you accept the teachings of God in the Bible.

Hindu to Christian: you don't believe in Krishna because, although initially enlightened, you accrued karma and now you reject what is true because you are not properly functioning. You won't come to belief unless enlightened, and this is based on the divine will, not on anything you do. I suggest you accept the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.

The only way you could sqeeze any juice out of this example is by butchering the Christian side of the conversation. For example, though I have major disagreements with Bahnsen, I never heard him argue that way against Hinduism. In fact, I've never seen a presuppositionalist argue in apologetic fashion against Hinduism they way you're portrayed it. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen an apologist in general argue against Hinduism in that way.

But for the counter:

You claim that the LNC is universal and invariable. As soon as one denies it, one affirms it.

The dialetheist, though, doesn't agree.

So you give him your proof using explosion (i.e., "appeal to classical logic").

He then denies this proof by appeal to non-classical logic (e.g., paraconsistent).

To continue to appeal to "classical logic" is to "beg the question."

Other than that, I'd like to see your critiques of Hinduism or Buddhism. Usually apologists offer poor critiques based on their understanding of Hinduism or Buddhism that is mixed with Western concepts too, what I call Weasternism. Keith Ward and others have shown that many critiques of the Eastern Religions are simply based on poor study.

For example, it's a lot harder to refute Nagarjuna's transcendental-esk argument found in e.g., “The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way,” than most would think.

So as I said, proof is in the pudding. Apologist's claims about what they can do to "all other worldviews" often lack in substance what they don't in zeal. One concer I would want to offer you to take away: Be careful of claiming too much. This was part of Bahnsen's problem. Everyone thought he destroyed unbelief in the Bahnsen/Stein debate, they quickly found out it was much, much harder to argue for and defend Christian theism than they thought. Got embarrased at the colleges and universities. When you make claims like "all Christians should be able to show that God's existence is clear just as easily as they can show 2+2=4" (your paradigm case of something clear), you're setting them up for a fall. Cause it's not. Indeed, your claim about the LNC being an example of "maximum clarity and so maximum inexcusability" seems to have been undercut by the dialetheist (cf. Preist's works). But on my model, none of this matters. That's the advantage of holding to the actual knowledge of God hall men have as that which makes them inexcusable. For what it's worth.
 
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owenanderson

Puritan Board Freshman
Since I'm brand new to this forum, I'm not sure about its past. Do you mean you periodically get "kicked off"?

My point about Hinduism is that many externalist stories can be constructed, but this doesn't tell us which one to believe. Once a non-question begging standard is used, this is a standard from general revelation.

Before asking "as a Christian how do I show Hinduism to be false," I'm asking "as a human, how do I know which externalist story to believe?" I'm arguing that if the wrong answer to this question has serious consequences, then the answer must be readily knowable.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Since I'm brand new to this forum, I'm not sure about its past. Do you mean you periodically get "kicked off"?

No, I asked Rich, the admin, to change my password and keep it hidden so I couldn't post. There were a few reasons for that, but I was never banned or kicked off.

My point about Hinduism is that many externalist stories can be constructed, but this doesn't tell us which one to believe. Once a non-question begging standard is used, this is a standard from general revelation.

That may be, but I'm unaware of who has tried to make that point. Certainly not Plantinga. He even admits Reformed Epistemology isn't an apologetic method. Now, of course Clark contributed to _Five Views on Apologetics_, but all that says is that he's a Reformed Epistemologist with a view on apologetics. Reformed Epistemology may be helpful to include in an overall apologetic, but it's not an apologetic per se. So I'm uncertain the target of your Christian/Hindu dialog.

Before asking "as a Christian how do I show Hinduism to be false," I'm asking "as a human, how do I know which externalist story to believe?" I'm arguing that if the wrong answer to this question has serious consequences, then the answer must be readily knowable.

I'm unsure why a wrong answer to which externalist story to believe has bad consequences. Are you saying that if I go with Alston over against Plantinga, then I'll have hell to pay?

Anyway, who's asking? A human atheist might not take some evidence as probative while a human Christian might. For example, I wasn't an externalist at one time, yet I was a Christian. So, exegesis of relevant passages helped me decide.

At any rate, I'm unaware of anyone who thinks you can go to any person whoever and say, "Believe this or I'll beat you over the head with my new 2,000 + page ESV study Bible!"

But when you say: "Before asking "as a Christian how do I show Hinduism to be false," I'm asking "as a human, how do I know which externalist story to believe?", what if one were to say:

Before asking "as a Christian how do I show dialetheismto be false," I'm asking "as a human, how do I know which logics story to believe?"
 
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owenanderson

Puritan Board Freshman
logics

I think I know what you mean about a "time suck."

As far as alternative logics, we can skip the one that says all contradictions are true. But Dialetheism says some contradictions are true, and focuses on examples like a person leaving a room. At some point he is both in and not in the room. These area easily addressed since LNC says "at the same time and in the same respect." In one respect he is in the room, in another he is not in the room.

But if one were to press the point and say "no! it is the same respect" then I'd take the discussion to the level of meaning. What does it mean to be both in the room at the same time and in the same respect? I'd argue (although if you want it fleshed out I don't have the time now) that this is meaningless.

So I don't think that presents a real problem.

The infinite regress for internalism is stopped by noting that there is a basic level that cannot be questioned (how do I know?) because it makes questioning possible.
 

owenanderson

Puritan Board Freshman
amazon review

I noticed your view on amazon.com. Did you mean to say that I responded to your question about internalism by saying "I don't think"?

I wish you would have held off until we had discussed more here, it would have made your review more accurate. But I also thank you for taking the time to review the book. As I've said I appreciate your questions.

Here are some issues I have with your review. I believe I only appeal to scripture in discussing thinkers that do so, for instance when I look at Plantinga's view of the Fall I then consider Genesis 3. But I don't appeal independently to scripture, or apart from a side reference to note that what I'm saying is also in scripture. My point about Eve was that she believed the serpent, which was a cognitive act, not just a failure to trust. But she was inexcusable for believing this because she believed a contradiction.

I focus on knowledge of God as opposed to salvation because we need to be saved due to our failure to seek, understand, and do what is right. So I'm setting up the explanation for what salvation is. What did we fail to understand? I believe the scriptures you quoted in the review would all presuppose this definition of sin, which is itself from scripture.

But my goal for discussion here is not that you'll like my book, but to clear up what is being said and encourage Christians to show the inexcusability of unbelief.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
As far as alternative logics, we can skip the one that says all contradictions are true. But Dialetheism says some contradictions are true, and focuses on examples like a person leaving a room. At some point he is both in and not in the room. These area easily addressed since LNC says "at the same time and in the same respect." In one respect he is in the room, in another he is not in the room.

(1) Some dialetheists use that example, not all. The are a lot of different ways dialetheists argue. Assuming youve shown a problem with one example doesn't disprove dialetheism. In fact, I don't recall that one being used in the OUP book I referenced. The strongest have usually been considered the semantic ones, though Priest goes further. Indeed, your example is one of the weakest for them as it is classified by Beall as "borderline cases" where "not a lot of work has been done" yet is a "potential area where contradictions might arise." So it's not clear you've chosen the best challenge.

Anyway

(in/out room) Transition states: when I exit the room, I am inside the room at one time, and outside of it at another. Given the continuity of motion, there must be a precise instant in time, call it t, at which I leave the room. Am I inside the room or outside at time t? Four answers are available: (a) I am inside; (b) I am outside; (c) I am both; and (d) I am neither. (a) and (b) are ruled out by symmetry: choosing either would be completely arbitrary. As for (d): if I am neither inside not outside the room, then I am not inside and not-not inside; therefore, I am either inside and not inside (option (c)), or not inside and not-not inside (which follows from option (d)); in both cases, a dialetheic situation.

(2) That obviously can't be the way you'd respond to all of their examples/arguments, as the "relationship" factor doesn't factor into all of them.

(3) Even your conception of contradiction as: "true and not true at the same time and relationship" isn't the only definition, and is disputed even by some adherents of the LNC. See Grim's ch. in _The LNC: New Philosophical Essay's_. He recognizes 20 some permutations of the law.

But if one were to press the point and say "no! it is the same respect" then I'd take the discussion to the level of meaning. What does it mean to be both in the room at the same time and in the same respect? I'd argue (although if you want it fleshed out I don't have the time now) that this is meaningless.

(4) Some might deny your "same respect" constraint, showing there's even debate among supporters of the LNC.

(5) Of course this gets into the messy debate about how we should understand 'meaning'. For example, one view of meaning is that a proposition must rule something out. But consider:

(*) Everything is true.

So, (*) entails everything and thus rules nothing out. Yet it seems clearly meaningful.

Or, perhaps meaning is considered as 'use.' But, as Vallicella has pointed out, "take the logical operation of conjunction. If p, q, ... z ... are each of them meaningful, then (p & q & ... & z & ...) is meaningful. Imagine a thousand-membered conjunction each conjunct of which has both a clear meaning and an established ordinary use. This monstrosity will have a clear sense, but no use. So meaning cannot be identified with use. As Jerrold J. Katz puts it, "Use is under biological constraints, meaning is not." (Cogitations, Oxford 1986, p. 122.)"

Or, perhaps you take the LNC as the determiner of what is meaningful (as you intimate in your book), but then you've clearly begged the question. Anyone can just define their way to the top.

The infinite regress for internalism is stopped by noting that there is a basic level that cannot be questioned (how do I know?) because it makes questioning possible.

As Bergmann points out, this gets you into a dilemma. He puts the skeleton this way:

(I). An essential feature of internalism is that it makes a subject’s actual or potential awareness of something a necessary condition for the justification of any belief held by that subject.

(II). This required awareness is either conceptual awareness (of a particular kind to be described later) or it is not.

(III). If it is conceptual awareness (of the relevant kind), then internalism falls victim to regress problems.

(IV). If it is not, then internalism is subject to a prominent objection to externalism.

(V). If internalism is subject either to the regress problems mentioned in (III) or to the prominent objection to externalism mentioned in (IV), then we should not endorse internalism.

(VI). Therefore, we should not endorse internalism.

His conclusion: "Why don’t internalists recognize that by avoiding regress problems they make their positions vulnerable to the Subject’s Perspective objection?"

Furthemore, I'm unsure you can resurrect foundationalism.

I noticed your view on amazon.com. Did you mean to say that I responded to your question about internalism by saying "I don't think"?

Let me look at it, perhaps it was a typo.

I wish you would have held off until we had discussed more here, it would have made your review more accurate. But I also thank you for taking the time to review the book. As I've said I appreciate your questions.

i) I basically complied the worries I've already expressed to you. I also told you if I did any major review I would email you. Since I already told you my major worries, I thought it would be okay. Make use of the time I spent here.

ii) If a critical reviewer always waited until the reviewed was satisfied with the critical review, I don't think many reviews would get done. :)

Here are some issues I have with your review. I believe I only appeal to scripture in discussing thinkers that do so, for instance when I look at Plantinga's view of the Fall I then consider Genesis 3. But I don't appeal independently to scripture, or apart from a side reference to note that what I'm saying is also in scripture.

I'm unsure what you refer to. I did mention your exegesis of Romans 1, but you did this in your conclusion and not in conversation with other thinkers (p. 100-101).

I'm unclear how what you say here is an "issue" you should have with my review.

I did critique your claims about the fall, but I was responding to what youm specifically said.

I focus on knowledge of God as opposed to salvation because we need to be saved due to our failure to seek, understand, and do what is right. So I'm setting up the explanation for what salvation is. What did we fail to understand? I believe the scriptures you quoted in the review would all presuppose this definition of sin, which is itself from scripture.

Your view of the knowledge(s) of God is a whole other issue I ave, but I didn't spell out my worries in that review. I did mention that you didn't focus on what Paul says we should know when he speaks of the redeemed knowing. Your book focused on us showing what is "clear" of God, but Romans 1 isn't saying that Christ, him crucified, our justification, etc., is "clear." So you placed were right generally but wrong specifically. To detail all of this would take more time, that's why I avoided it for now.

But my goal for discussion here is not that you'll like my book, but to clear up what is being said and encourage Christians to show the inexcusability of unbelief.

Of course, and the reader can read both sides. I am glad you want to get Christians more involved in apologetics, for that you should be commended.

One of my purposes is to show that it's harder than you make it seem.

I'm not even a dialetheist.

But it looks like you're having a harder time even getting your method off the ground (nevermind your actual apologetic arguments) than you would in proving 2+2=2.

I have other Christians in mind too. I want to avoid another over confident group of young apologists who find out it's not as easy as the teacher made it sound.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sorry

I noticed your view on amazon.com. Did you mean to say that I responded to your question about internalism by saying "I don't think"?

Yeah, that souded bad. I edited it to:

* He holds to epistemological internalism. I find this view highly problematic as a constraint to place on knowledge. He told me he doesn't think these problems ultimately land. Feels he can offer rejoinders.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
His conclusion: "Why don’t internalists recognize that by avoiding regress problems they make their positions vulnerable to the Subject’s Perspective objection?"

Would this be true for Jesus also? Just asking to test the waters and see if the criticism against internalism is reducible to scepticism.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
His conclusion: "Why don’t internalists recognize that by avoiding regress problems they make their positions vulnerable to the Subject’s Perspective objection?"

Would this be true for Jesus also? Just asking to test the waters and see if the criticism against internalism is reducible to scepticism.

For one thing, many things are true of God that are not true of mere creatures.

Secondly, I have no clue what you're referring to. Did you read the article? Why think Jesus was an internalist? I don't recall him speaking on these matters.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Owen (all),

I am getting shoulder surgery tomorrow morning @ 5:30 am, so this should be my last post. Thanks for the interaction.

And, "Christian Trader" can attest that I usually come to my senses after he beats me up for a while. So I'll probably agree with you a lot more in a year or so. :)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
No, I didn't read the article; at present I don't have time or energy to work through logical symbols. I was responding to what was presented on this thread: will the same criticism apply where perfect knowledge exists; if it won't, then the criticism is nothing more than scepticism.

Jesus didn't speak on epistemic matters, but an epistemic model must be able to account for the structures of Jesus' human knowledge where Jesus is believed to possess perfect knowledge.

His conclusion: "Why don’t internalists recognize that by avoiding regress problems they make their positions vulnerable to the Subject’s Perspective objection?"

Would this be true for Jesus also? Just asking to test the waters and see if the criticism against internalism is reducible to scepticism.

For one thing, many things are true of God that are not true of mere creatures.

Secondly, I have no clue what you're referring to. Did you read the article? Why think Jesus was an internalist? I don't recall him speaking on these matters.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
No, I didn't read the article; at present I don't have time or energy to work through logical symbols. I was responding to what was presented on this thread: will the same criticism apply where perfect knowledge exists; if it won't, then the criticism is nothing more than scepticism.

Nothing is wrong with some kinds of skepticism since neither me, nor Bergman, nor any externalist, are saying that we can't know anything. We are saying that internalism is a false constraint to place on knowledge. So your charge of skepticism is unfounded. If you mean that we're skeptical of internalism, then you are correct! But this isn't a problem unless internalism is assumed the be the truth of the matter. And this, of course, begs the question.

Jesus didn't speak on epistemic matters, but an epistemic model must be able to account for the structures of Jesus' human knowledge where Jesus is believed to possess perfect knowledge.

I think (some form of) externalism (with other additions, viz. Plantinga, and even some Sosaist inclusion of virture) is the correct analysis. I think externalism fits in quite nicely with the structure of man's cognitive apparatus as considered from the perspective of the Bible.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Nothing is wrong with some kinds of skepticism since neither me, nor Bergman, nor any externalist, are saying that we can't know anything. We are saying that internalism is a false constraint to place on knowledge. So your charge of skepticism is unfounded. If you mean that we're skeptical of internalism, then you are correct! But this isn't a problem unless internalism is assumed the be the truth of the matter. And this, of course, begs the question.

The scepticism I am referring to is not to a specific position which purports to give an account of knowledge, but to the possibility of knowledge itself. I would like to know if the criticism itself does not remove the possibility of the perfect knowledge of Jesus. Would Jesus' perfect knowledge have involved him in the regress problems which are attributed to internalism?
 

owenanderson

Puritan Board Freshman
I hope your surgery goes well.

And thanks for your review and the interaction, I hope we can continue to be in touch.

You ask about specific proofs rather than talk about method. My "Clarity" book only contains discussion of one proof (there must be something eternal), but is mostly about why a proof is necessary. For a full proof, see Surrendra Gangadean's "Philosophical Foundation." Let me know what you think of it.

I think you're right to warn young Christians to avoid "easy" approaches, but that's not the same as telling them that nothing is clear. What is clear may take work, but it is still clear. God is the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.
 

owenanderson

Puritan Board Freshman
Incidently, I don't think the dilemma you gave internalism addresses my point. There is not an infinite regress because there is a final level that cannot be questioned because it makes questioning possible.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
The scepticism I am referring to is not to a specific position which purports to give an account of knowledge, but to the possibility of knowledge itself. I would like to know if the criticism itself does not remove the possibility of the perfect knowledge of Jesus. Would Jesus' perfect knowledge have involved him in the regress problems which are attributed to internalism?

Externaism doesn't deny the possibility of knowledge; indeed, we try to salvage it. Externalism is specifically a response to the skeptic's "how do you know that you know?". We cut that one off right at the head.

If Jesus wasn't an internalist, then he's not subject to the critique.

I don't see how the criticism removes the "perfect knowledge of Jesus" (though I admit to not knowing what that phrase means, exactly). If you have a reason or an argument as to why it would, then I'm all ears. But you said you were asking a sincere question, and I'm saying that I don't see how the critique of internalism affects Jesus.

Now, it's getting late here, and I have surgery in the morning, so I'll have to leave it at that. I don't know how else to respond as (a) I think I have and (b) your questioning isn't all that clear and (c) I'm unsure you're familiar with the aspects of this discussion in contemporary epistemology and (d) you didn't read the article so I can't ask specifics and you can't point directly to where in the article you find a relevant analogy to Jesus. But I hope my attempt to answer you was somewhat helpful? Scratched where you itched a bit?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If Jesus wasn't an internalist, then he's not subject to the critique.

I am thinking of Jesus' perfect human knowledge -- the ectype of God's knowledge -- as the final authority which halts the regress upon which the criticism depends.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
If Jesus wasn't an internalist, then he's not subject to the critique.

I am thinking of Jesus' perfect human knowledge -- the ectype of God's knowledge -- as the final authority which halts the regress upon which the criticism depends.

Assuming the truth of the question at hand isn't noramlly a good way to proceed.

I assume you're unaware of how the regress applies and of how internalists explain their own position. At best, Jesus would be able to handle the regress by his divine, infinte nature. Much like he was able to bear God's wrath.

Another fact that shows your conception that what applies to Jesus has to apply to mere men is a wrong conception, take your claim to "perfect knowledge." I assume this includes some kind of epistemic infallibilism. I think, for creatures, epistemic infallibilism is pretty clearly false. I bet Owen Anderson would agree. So, Jesus would have it, yet critiques of epistemic infallibilism would apply to human creatures.

Another disanalogy, human creatures are not the final authority, there goes your link between Jesus and man!!

To say that man could stop the regress by appealing to Jesus' say so wouldn't answer the question if you understood what the internalists have claimed. The argument takes what they have claimed, uses their own premises, and derives the problem.

Interalism = df "According to premise (I), an essential ingredient of internalism is the requirement (for justification) that there be some sort of actual or potential awareness of something on the part of the subject. Two claims implicit in this premise are: (i) that, according to internalism, actual or potential awareness of something is required and (ii) that, according to internalism, it is such awareness on the part of the subject that is required.

Hence, man can't escape the regress and Jesus could only handle it, not stop it. If you say that for his stoppage to be justified he has to be aware of the justifying features, you don't stop the regress, he handles it. If you say that he doesn't need this critieria, then you deny internalism.

Anyway,

I do not think the regress applies to, say, an externalist. There's no problem of a regress there.

The regress works on internalists. Are you assuming Jesus was an internalist? That begs the question. And, do you have scripture and verse?

And, I wonder why Owen Anderson would laud your method here since you're using Scripture to justify a philosophical position, something he staunchly forbids. Does one need "the Bible" and "knowledge of Jesus" to be able to form an epistemology? Anderson would say, "No."

Anyway, (a) even if Jesus was an internalist he would have the resources to handle the regress, mere man wouldn't (b) none of the ways internalists have tried to stop the regress has anything to do with "perfect knowledge," because that claim, in itself, doesn't "stop the regress," which is why I say that you're unfamiliar with this entire discussion.

I'm also struggling to better answer you since you appear to think that asserting cryptic sentences, backed by dogmatism and unfamiliarity with what you're discussing (as you admit), and an unwillingness to lay out my position, show how what you say is relevant to what I am saying, show how my position is in error; generally, explain yourself, is a proper and helpful way to proceed.

At any rate, I have demonstrated some major disanalogies between Jesus and mere man and therefore showed that even if your position were accurate (I maintain Jesus wouldn't halt the regress he would handle it, but that's based on a proper understanding of internalism which you don't have, reading the artcile would help, though), it isn't enough to exculpate mere man from the critique.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Incidently, I don't think the dilemma you gave internalism addresses my point. There is not an infinite regress because there is a final level that cannot be questioned because it makes questioning possible.

Incidentally, that's not internalism. So either you aren't one, or you misunderstand Bergman, but you told me you were one, hence...
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What you have just stated is that there is no infallible human knowledge. Perhaps you are not aware of reformed theology's understanding of ectypal theology, but Jesus Christ incarnate is the final and infallible authority so far as the wisdom of God in conceptual form is concerned. It is from Jesus Christ as Prophet that we receive the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the infallibe rule of faith and life.

At the end of the day you have managed to prove that the critique does in fact depend upon scepticism for its validity. Christians, who understand by faith, are left with no alternative but to reject this scepticism which masquerades under the name of philosophy, for the basic reason that it leaves them with no faith.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
What you have just stated is that there is no infallible human knowledge. Perhaps you are not aware of reformed theology's understanding of ectypal theology, but Jesus Christ incarnate is the final and infallible authority so far as the wisdom of God in conceptual form is concerned. It is from Jesus Christ as Prophet that we receive the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the infallibe rule of faith and life.

At the end of the day you have managed to prove that the critique does in fact depend upon scepticism for its validity. Christians, who understand by faith, are left with no alternative but to reject this scepticism which masquerades under the name of philosophy, for the basic reason that it leaves them with no faith.

Rev. Winzer,
Are you saying that traditionally Reformed Theology has affirmed infallible human knowledge (at least on some issues)? Do you have any references where I could see this explained or demonstrated more fully?

CT
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
What you have just stated is that there is no infallible human knowledge.

Oh yawn, no I did not Matthew.

[SNIP theology lesson by Rev. Winzer]

Thanks, gottcha. :graduate:

At the end of the day you have managed to prove that the critique does in fact depend upon scepticism for its validity.

Funny, this is! You were giving a critique? And here I was all along assuming you were asking a question. It's really odd in light of the fact that I basically begged you to make yourself a bit more clear! You never even read the article! You don't know what internalism is. You don't know what infallibilism is. And yet you can critique it? Matthew, is that really intellectually virtuous? Showing thyself a workman approved?

Christians, who understand by faith, are left with no alternative but to reject this scepticism which masquerades under the name of philosophy, for the basic reason that it leaves them with no faith.

:lol:

Whatever you say...
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Rev. Winzer,
Are you saying that traditionally Reformed Theology has affirmed infallible human knowledge (at least on some issues)? Do you have any references where I could see this explained or demonstrated more fully?

CT

I agree with "infallible human knowledge" on at least some issues.

But, that's not what is meant by the term infallibilism as used in the context of models of epistemic justification.

The term has a very precise meaning as I used it.

If one says: "I cannot be in error about a specific belief that P" they are not espousing infallibilism as I meant it and as anyone inserting themself into the discussion would know if they knew the terms being used.

In fact, I could say that I am infallible with regard to all my beliefs and still not be affirming infallibilism as a model of epistemic justification!!!

I also wonder if you guys can email R. Scott Clark and tell him that he has a position that leads to skepticism and people of faith should abandone what he says since he has a chapter in his Recovering book tittled: "The Irreligious Quest for Religious Certainty." Maybe he's just in the dark about Reformation theology history?
 
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