How would you prove the God of the Bible exists?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Romans922, Apr 28, 2010.

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  1. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    True. I guess I see your point. I think my statement is still true. The Bible does not attempt to prove the existence of God. However, there were men in Scripture who set out to prove that the one true God was the God of the Bible. For example, Elijah on Mount Carmel. As I read the OP, that seems to be what he is asking: not to prove the existence of God but the God of the Bible. There is no need to prove that there is a God, it is clear from nature and from the Scriptures.

    1 Kings 18:24
    "And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken."
     
  2. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    First, coming up with a proof for the existence of God doesn't mean that we don't know, just as my looking into the proof for a given mathematical formula means that I don't know (or that I doubt) the formula.

    Second, the argument you have given presupposes a coherence view of knowledge where there are no possible external criteria. Consistency is no proof of truth---it simply proves that you have a nice theory. To say that the Christian worldview is consistent is not to say that it is true.
     
  3. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    If he would want you to prove God using logic, then ask him to first prove that logic exists.
    It's an improper assumption to believe that something must be proven in order to exist.
     
  4. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    Ps 19 The heavens declare the glory of God.
    Romans 1

    Proof of God's existence is self-evident in creation. It's not a matter of proof, it's a matter of convincing someone of that proof's validity. If they deny the evidence of His existence then they fulfill what God said man would do by futilely suppressing the self-evident truth in unrighteousness. I recently witnessed to a man who said their was no God and informed him that his response was exactly what God said he'd say. He just laughed it off... for the time being.

    This reminds me of a discussion I had with my brother-in-law. After getting a little heated in our exchange he asked, "What does the Bible prove?" I stammered out something about creation and he cut me off, "No, what does it prove?" I was stumped. After pondering it for a bit I realized I had let hm form an errant line of reasoning in my mind. The Bible proves nothing. The Bible states truth. It is that by which truth is measured. It is the rule. The rule's authority is self evident and all else proves it's validity. Every true science is a study of the work of the Creator. All creation proves that God exists and that Scripture is true.
     
  5. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    That simplyfied version of the argument really isn't an argument at all and is rightly criticized as being near impossible to prove in that form. It is because each premise must be proven independantly because it is a direct argument. Van Til spoke of using an indirect argument, if I show that the only way that morality can be justified is to assume the God of the bible than I havn't directly proven that God exsists only that we must assume His exsistance in order for morality to be justified. The atheist has no buissnesss invoking all their moral outrages against christianity if they cannot even justify morality to begin with (the impossibility of the contrary, atheism in this case).

    The argument mentioned above is better at showing the method one would use in argumentation. Also the argument is transcendental in nature, it originated in its modern form with Kant. When Kant was "awakened from his dogmatic slumber" by David Hume's destructivly critical philosophy he sought a new way to gain certainty in knowledge. He argued for what he wrongly thought were the preconditions for knowledge, his "Critique of Pure Reason". For instance in order for like say a movie projector to work certian elements must be there in order for it to work (lenses, light, film, etc..). In the same way he analyzed knowledge like this to come up with what must be present for us to even have knowledge.

    After him German philosophy used this same method of argumentation and then the anglo-saxon wolrd adopted it mainly through Hegel, this school is known as the Idealists. When Van Til learned philosophy it was in this Idealist school that he did. At the same time he was learning this the Pragmatists and the American Realists were reacting against Idealism in America and the Analytical movement was reacting against it in England. They kind of threw the baby out with the bath water and this method of argumentation was somewhat forgotten, this is why it seems so strange to modern ears to hear Van Tillians use it. Recent work Analytical philosophy has "rediscovered" it, so there is much work to be done on the logic of it so to speak. I hope this minor history lesson helps anyone grasp what Van Til was doing.
     
  6. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Why does morality need justification? Why the deontologism? What exactly is illegitimate about morality being properly basic?

    And even if there is a problem, why can't the moral critique be an internal critique?
     
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Because we cannot take anything for granted in the philosophical world. On a civil level we can take things for granted, an atheist and I can agree that some public policy is wrong without debating our individual justification for it. We must come up with a metaphysical theory that can justify ethics or anything else before we can legitamatly use it.

    Foundationalism has been criticized for its lack of criteria of what is properly basic. Methodologically speaking if you let the unbeleiver take these things as properly basic than that is just your methodological choice.

    Sometimes it is an internal critique, whether or not a worldview can hold two contradictory moral beleifs.
     
  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    No we don't. I don't have to come up with an argument for everything, so I'm not going to force that on the atheist. Remember, I'm an anti-skeptic. You say we have to justify everything, you end up with skepticism.

    Properly basic beliefs are produced by properly-functioning belief-forming faculties. Your list of these faculties with depend on which model of our cognitive equipment you are using.

    That's my point--regardless of the atheist's presuppositions, we do need to answer his objections, even if it is to point out a flaw in them.
     
  9. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Not argument, explination. I tell you what name one worldview that has no metaphysical assumptions attached to it. These assumptions have consequences, these consequences determine the nature of things within that worldview.

    How do you know your faculties are "properly-functioning"? The problem with foundationalism is how a beleif is prperly basic? What attribute does it posses over and against other beleifs (other than being properly basic) ? How would one prove that it is properly basic? If morality is properly basic than why do people disagree over what is moral or not? Pro-life people and pro-choice people both make moral arguments in their favor.

    The method that I prefer is to show how futile their presupositions are and how they cannot explain reality as we experience it. Both are legitimate methods, I feel that Van Til's method is the most thouroughly critical.
     
  10. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Why do I have to explain everything? If there are no givens, there is no philosophy.

    What exactly do you mean by "know" here?

    Proper basicality may vary from person to person. As a Christian, my belief in God is properly basic, being produced by the Sensus divinitatus (guided by the Holy Spirit). However, for an atheist, this belief is not properly basic.

    My belief that there is a tree outside is also properly basic--it is produced by a properly-functioning noetic faculty which I have no reason to doubt at the moment.

    Some of this can be attributed to cultural norms as well as cultural emphases on which parts of morality are more important.

    Why not do that after answering the objections themselves?
     
  11. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    From where they are coming, yeah (with the premil view). They hold Jews higher than Christians, most I've talked to say it in a John Hagee way where it sounds like all Jews well end up getting saved. I think its wrong.

    If you aren't saying it from a Disp. perspective then Israel's continued existence is somewhat meaningless, since they are just following tradition and not believing in Christ as Savior when he came the first time.
     
  12. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    :tumbleweed:

    I don't know if we're allowed to bump, but I'm still wondering about this: how someone can be a Christian but not believe in the God of the Bible? Again, I'm probably reading the OP wrong or not getting something. Just wondering if someone could help me out.
     
  13. O'GodHowGreatThouArt

    O'GodHowGreatThouArt Puritan Board Sophomore

    If someone wants to go after the non-existence of God via logic, it could get interesting depending on how deep the person goes and if they're doing it from a neutral perspective.

    I posted a note regarding such a topic on Facebook a while back, and will quote it here.

    Lesson to be learned: If you like people to be able to prove you exist, don't try to prove God doesn't exist.
     
  14. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I think we're more dealing with a Christian who knows but doubts or is struggling. This is part of the reason why theologians like Anselm wrote arguments: the primary target was not the unbeliever, but the struggling believer.
     
  15. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I am not ussually critical of the classic view of apologetics but this is one area in which I am. It seems to me that the classicist must assume modernity and its views on everything just to survive. Unless there are givens and completly nuetral spaces between beleivers and unbeleivers then there is skepticism. This is the lie that the modernist wants us to think. I also think this dichotomy is a false one. There is a general formless sense of right and wrong that all people have, we know and act as if there are moral absolutes. But since it is formless and lacking any concrete dimension to it it is of no use. Just because we know that there is a right and wrong doesn't mean that anything is given. The particular theories of ethics all agree that there is a right and wrong but they all disagree on why things are that way and what acts are right and wrong.

    Remember the pro-lifers and the pro-choicers both believe they are the moral ones in the dicussion. Hence I can attack the theory of ethics presented by the unbeleiver and that has no bearing on morality itself. You know as well as I do that any assumption or proposition in an argument can be called into question in a philosophical debate.

    Or to say it another way how do you know you can trust your falcuties?

    This makes "proper-basicality" purely subjective than and of no use, this is one reason why foundationalism is in trouble. Unless there is an objective standered for all people than it is not proper at all.

    Not only here but in their very conception of what is right and wrong and why. Or over the nature of ethics itself. A utilitarainist disagrees with a kantian at the most basic level.

    In a sense I would seek to do both at the same time. If someone stated that the God of the OT was cruel and unethical in His commandments to wipe the various tribes and stuff I would answer their objections by pointing out that their assumptions when reading the text were wrong and futile. God being God can do whatever He likes with His creation and especially right if we take the christian notion of sin into account, both assumptions he or she rejects. The creature has no right to judge the Creator unless they can come up with a non-problamatic theory of ethics that even God Himself must be subject to, things that are right and wrong outside of God. This assumption is futile and wrong, also it is not one that the christian can believe.
     
  16. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I don't assume modernity at all---that's why I assume anti-skepticism. If there are no givens, we are left with skepticism. I take it as a given that my senses are working according to their design plan and that the sensus Divinitatus is just such a module.

    I'm not a modern foundationalist: just a pre-modern foundationalist.

    Because they are properly-functioning modules of the design plan.

    "Proper" here means that I cannot place epistemic blame upon you for the belief, given your position.

    Why think this? If the Kantian and the Utilitarian disagree at the most basic level, there can be no communication between them, since they are playing completely separate language-games.

    Or you could answer the question more simply: the lives were God's to take.

    I can think of one--and it isn't external to God: it's essential to God. God's own nature is a law to which He is subject.

    Again, you are assuming a coherence view of knowledge which the skeptic has no reason to grant, which is why you shouldn't concede him his skepticism and be an anti-skeptic. If you say that there are no givens, you have accepted the Cartesian burden: you are beginning with doubt, not faith (Lesslie Newbigin's Proper Confidence is an excellent refutation of Cartesian modernism).
     
  17. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I think a better word for given in this context would be assume. You assume your senses are reliable and you assume the sensus Divinitatus as well, these are both assumptions I have as well. Dare I say yet another word we could use is presupossition, we pre-suposse these things when we analyze and interpret reality itself.

    Since Descarte was the father of modern foundationalism than who before him do you take your point of view from?

    Design sounds an awful lot like it refers to God, or am I mistaken here. If it does refer to God than I take that mean that the proper functioning of a module depends on God and who he is in order to function properly. This is pretty much in line with Van Til and Bahnsen.

    So than, if I understand you, the person holding the beleif could be dead wrong but not to blame if they held the belief on what to them was a proper functioning of there modules. This seems to lead to skepticism in my opinion.

    They agree that there is such a thing as right and wrong but such a beleif is so abstract that it provides no direction for concrete ethics. So the next step is to determine why things are right or wrong (kantians disagree with utilitarianits at this most basic level) and how to determine what acts/thoughts are right or wrong (they both disagree at least on the method here which is a most basic level). There is communication because they agree in the abstract concepts of right and wrong, they are both humans so that presents a bridge of communication itself but they disagree at those two most basic levels of doing ethics which means that you cannot over emphasize the point of contact.

    Which is also a fine example of the Van Tillian apologetic method.

    Yes but as you say it is not outside Himself. This only proves that ethics are based on His will and what he says is right and wrong.

    I start with faith not doubt. I am also unsure as to how I am a coherentist. My assumptions are true if and only if they corespond to creation and special revealation. This is to say that natural revealation is still revealation so my interpretation of creation is correct if it coresponds to God's revealation. Thus I am a revealationalist in epistomology. Yes if a thing is true than it will corespond to other true beleifs in my web of beleifs. Also it will be pragmatic because it will help me get along better in creation.
     
  18. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I draw largely on the assumptions of the medieval synthesis (Anselm, Thomas, Scotus, Occam, Calvin) which took a largely common-sense view of the world which would be reiterated as a response to David Hume by Thomas Reid. It's a bit hard to define simply because it defines itself largely in opposition to challenges and skeptics. This kind of philosophy was the grounding assumption of Old Princeton and most English-speaking reformed theologians (with the notable exception of Jonathan Edwards--an idealist similar to Berkeley in many respects) until the 1930s.

    There have been notable atheists who have said similar things (G. E. Moore, for example) but their atheism usually strikes a discordant note in their philosophy (Moore, rather unknowingly, was a key figure in the awakening of the ontological argument from its Kantian slumber).

    You are inserting God here, and I would agree, but a deist or even atheist could agree to the terminology of design without too much inconsistency.

    Coherentism has the same problem: given the atheist's atheism, I cannot blame him (epistemically) for not believing in God, given his web of beliefs. He is internally justified.

    On the other hand, given a model such as I am suggesting, we can say that yes, he is internally justified only because one of the modules of the design plan (the SD) is not functioning properly or at all.

    What you are forgetting is that you are thinking about Kantianism and Utilitarianism in the abstract. In reality, what you would do would be to keep bringing up examples which both would agree are clear cases until an example comes up that is clearly out of place in a particular system.

    Example: you are hiding Jews and the Gestapo comes knocking at your door. The Kantian has several choices: a) bite the bullet and tell the Gestapo b) rephrase their categorical imperative so that there is a higher claim to protect life c) recognize that endless rephrasing will ensue and that Kant is simply wrong and that a new ethic is needed which will allow them to lie to the Gestapo to save lives.

    This is common sense.

    Can God change His nature? His will is based on His nature and character, which is unchanging. Ethics is based in the character of God, which is revealed in His commands, but is not based in His commands.

    I mean coherence as opposed to foundationalism.
     
  19. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I have asked this question so many times! What I have finally decided to say with my atheists friends is that we both have the same evidences available to us. I don't have some secret evidence that he is not privy to. I read the Bible and think that it accurately depicts the world, mankind, mankind's problem, and the solution to that problem, etc. He reads the Bible and sees the world, yet does not think that they relate. I cannot prove God's existence. If it were able to be proven, this discussion would be over, because proof is not a suggestion. Just like if science really proved evolution, that discussion would be over. Proof is irrefutable.

    I think there are evidences that suggest that God exists, but not proof. (Though I have no question that God exists, so perhaps those evidences are proof enough for me--is that allowable?)
     
  20. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Good to know, I have a better idea of where you are coming from. So thanks.

    Only if this idea like anyother idea can be taken out of the context of the entire worldview being espoused. This is one of Van Til's greatest insights that although we can speak of these particular ideas we can never seperate them entirely from the general point of view being espoused.

    But to what does his ideas correspond to? An atheist cannot completly and correctly interpret the world around them and maintain their atheism. His worldview is also not internally justified at all, atheism has no morality, no objective basis for human value. All of those are the logical consequences of the simple definition of atheism as the denial of the existance of God. But such a simple definition can never exaust a person's worldview. Atheists like to say that atheism just means that one is not convinced that God exists. To that I say OK but you still have a whole worldview that you espouse, so is this worldview based on the assumption that God exists or not? Because that has serious logical difficulties attached to it.

    If it is not functioning properly than the atheist has an excuse for not beleiving, contra the Reformed tradition.

    This is true if and only if they both arrived at the same result from the same point of view, since both would arrive at the same conclusion from different points of views than this is just coincedence and nothing more. This means that I can critique both of them at the two basic levels I refered to in my previous posts. They can believe all day long that murder is wrong and we can both agree to that but I can ask for a justification as to why it is wrong from their point of view.

    His commands are based on His nature, but still they are not based on some moral code that exists seperatly from His eternal charector.

    You seem to hold to a view of foundationalism that has as its foundational properties like these modules or parts of our brain or mind that function correctly. So I take it that you don't mean an axiomatic form of foundationalism. In order for foundationalism to work than the foundation must be the foundation and not one more level in a bigger picture, or worldview. An atheist and a christian may agree on the modules here but that is not a foundation it is an agreement. If you argue that these modules are necessary for knowledge to take place than that is in essence a transcendental argument a la Kant. Also one's metaphysical theory affects the nature of these modules and why they are here, this makes your foundation just one more level or perspective in a larger worldview.
     
  21. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    This is where I think Van Til gets it wrong: the whole modern problem is the attempt to find a unifying principle. You can't critique a metaphysical unifying principle that isn't there. There is no general point of view being espoused. Postmodernism is simply the surrender to the idea that there might not be a unifying principle. We cannot speak of an "entire worldview" because, too often, there isn't one, just a bundle of ideas that may or may not have any connection to one another.

    Epistemic excuse, yes. Moral excuse, no. The atheist is morally culpable for the suppression of the SD.

    I would say it's proof of implicit shared assumptions, or at least common humanity.

    Metaphysical theories, though, are the product of these modules and therefore are a superstructure. It's a kind of spherical kind of foundationalism where there is a core beyond which there can be no speculation. Metaphysics is not more basic, but built on top of the modules. The epistemic theory is itself a product of these modules.
     
  22. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    So you honestly believe that there are people out there that have no worldview at all?
    I think that you believe a person cannot be said to hold an opinion of any kind unless they flat out lay it out there, often times this is not so but they hold views about reality in general and those ideas have consequences. Your argument has a serious problem with it if logical consequences exist, it is a logical consequence of atheism that they have a problem with objective morality. They can disagree with me but that is not enough to solve the problem.

    Than as a Van Tillian I would point out that their bundle of ideas contradict eachother and that invalidates their viewpoint.

    First off what is "SD"? How can know they right yet morally be wrong? Or how can they morally be wrong yet have every epitemic right to believe they are morally right? Also the reformed tradition following Paul has stated that people know that there is a God but they "supress that truth in unritoussness".

    What shared assumptions do the two people in our discussion have? A common humanity is a metaphysical point of contact, which Van Till affirmed was apoint of contact himself.

    Metaphysics determines what the nature of a thing is, so the modules depend on their nature to determine what they are. Epistemically speaking you can start with the modules and then work your way out, but this only underminds the very nature of foundationalism because it is only a foundation from a certian perspective. If I start from the perspective of the metaphysical than that to becomes a foundation for the modules, ontologically speaking.

    If they are the foundation of everything else than that undermines God's place as alpha and omega, since these modules are more basic than He is. Also they raise the metaphysical question of where do they come from? If they come from God than He is the foundation upon which there can be no more speculation. If we are not alowed to speculate about them than that is seriously taking things for granted. Even modules posses a metaphysics so that metaphysics is logically prior to these modules but if we can't speculate about that than we have no reason to trust them at all. Since I cannot look outside them to see if they are reliable or not. This is not excepting skepticism on my part only calling into question the claims made by the foundationalist.
     
  23. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Not in the sense you are speaking of. If by "worldview" you mean "set of beliefs", then naturally everyone does.

    But if by worldview you mean "Relatively unified set of more or less coherent beliefs" in other words a system, you are going to find yourself frustrated. The worldviews of people today are more and more fragmented to the point where you could point out the inconsistency in a person's set and the person wouldn't care. People have become fine with the fact that there is no unifying principle to their set--it works for them.

    Please show me how we logically get from "there is no god" to "there are no moral absolutes." Not being able to account for something is not a logical inconsistency. Disconnects are only problematic if you are a coherentist.

    Why should they care? Why is logical validity any reason to accept or reject a set of ideas? You're missing the point of the postmodern spirit: it doesn't matter whether your viewpoint is logically valid, as long as it suits you.

    SD is sensus Divinitatus.

    Epistemic culpability refers to whether you are internally justified in believing something--that is, whether there is a de jure objection to S's believing P, given P's epistemic position.

    Example: if I look at the clock and see that it says "7:45" I am justified in thinking that it is, in fact, 7:45. Even if the clock (apart from my knowing) had stopped at the 7:45 mark, I would still be justified, epistemically.

    Epistemic justification, though, doesn't necessarily mean that one is not morally culpable. The atheist is morally culpable for his atheism even though, on his autonomous assumptions, he is epistemically justified. The "knowledge" that Paul talks of, due to suppression, is unconscious.

    I would say that the particulars of morality are more basic than the theories of morality.

    To try and make the order of being into the order of knowing is to attempt that which only God could possibly do. In reality, naturally, metaphysics precedes epistemology, but from the human perspective (which is the given), we have to begin with epistemology. Foundationalism describes the order of knowing, not the order of being.

    I'm not displacing God as the actual center of being, just pointing out that from a human perspective (which is what we have) we have to start from what we are given. When we speak of epistemology we are always speaking on the order of knowing, not the order of being. God is only a given for the regenerate because they have had their SD repaired by the Holy Spirit, and even then we need His help to see Him.

    Why not? All I have to do to confirm what I see is to hold up my hand and say "here is a hand." Why should I think my senses are unreliable?
     
  24. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The world without God, the hypothetical "atheist world", is unintelligible,unaffirmable, and the atheist world and life view is a form of scepticism that is self-refuting.

    Only the God of the Bible provides the preconditions of intelligibility.

    Remember the basic principle of transcendental arguments which Van Til got from Kant, and then proceed from there:
    "A transcendental argument starts from a premise like "I think", "I believe myself to be free", or "I have an idea of myself" [or "I believe there is (no) God/the God of the Bible" and/or "I believe there are laws of logic" and/or "I believe there are laws of nature"] ; it then asks "What must be true if there is to be such a thought? What else must I think, and what must the world be like in which I exist, thinking such a thought? " ( "An Intelligent Person's Guide to Philosophy" by Roger Scruton, Duckworth,1996)
     
  25. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    More fundamentally, how would you know, once you had found an answer to this question, whether it was the right answer? How would you even go about finding an answer?
     
  26. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Well than we are definantly on the same page here. This is why Van Til said that we had poke and prod the epistomological "loafer" out of their lazyness in the apologetical endeavor.

    OK I understand you better here and I agree with you here.

    I agree but keep in mind that even you if you start with epistomolgy and these "givens" a metaphysical theory must be assumed in some way shape or form. I could be wrong here so please correct me if I am accusing you of anything you don't believe, it seems to me that you think it is wrong to press the unbeleiver for a metaphysical explination for one of these givens, which would be the ultimate epistomological justification. They may be shared assumptions but the metaphysical aspect here is not. If you and the unbeleiver have different metaphysics than you both disagree at a fundemental level. You may use the same words have the same "givens" but the practical shape these givens take in the differing metaphysics is not the same.

    There is no direct logical connection between those two statments but there is an indirect one. I often get the impression from talking to and reading atheists that they feel they are off the logical hook so to speak by virtue of being an atheist. That they can make moral denouncment after moral denouncment without ever producing a theory of ethics. They can have all these "givens" without ever backing them up. But the one problem is is that they are still human so they form beleifs on things just like everybody else does. That is the indirect connection, they must still back up their moral denouncments like everybody else.

    I do understand what the postmodern spirit is, I also don't feel like contemporary cultural philosophy can be classified as postmodern, I'll have to tell you my theory on that one day, but we live in an age of normal postmodernism, that philosophy is the point of departure for everyone. They don't have to care in fact they can walk away anytime they wish, but if they wish to engage in absolute philosophical debate than their inconsistancies are fair game. The burden of proof is not on me in that situation but on the person who is being nonsensecal.

    True but metaphysically the theories of morality are ontologically more basic than the particuliers.

    Well Moore's argument that you refer to is circuler in nature so it begs the question.
     
  27. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Sort of--the theory entailed (not assumed) by such a common-sense epistemology is rather vague and open for debate. I happen to think that Christian theism best fits, but that's because of the SD. Without the action of the Holy Spirit repairing the SD the best I could do would be a vague theism, deism, or even certain forms of atheism (Buddhism, Jung, etc).

    What I am proposing, BTW, is a model. The only skeptical objections to it are ones that would also be de facto objections to theism.

    What exactly obligates them to produce a systematic theory of ethics?

    Again, I'm assuming a fairly particularist account of things: I don't have to have a theory to be justified in using x. A child with Down Syndrome can be justified in believing in God even though she is incapable of producing an epistemology to account for it. Only a skeptic thinks that you have to account for everything.

    Metaphysics is not an epistemic justifier unless there are givens.

    And skepticism doesn't? If I assume the skeptic's burden of proof, I've saddled myself with an impossible task, less Herculean than Sisyphian. The skeptic asks whether I have any reason to trust my senses: I ask whether I have any reason to doubt them, and the fact is that I don't.

    Descartes posits a demon deceiving me, but is there any good reason for me to think that such is the case? No. Both skepticism and externalism are circular and skepticism leads to a void, so rather than getting sucked into a black hole, I'll take externalism.

    Here's the question: why should I have to satisfy the skeptic? Why give him that power?
     
  28. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I can agree with this, it is roughly within reformed epistomology right? It sounds alright to me I'm anxious to see how it plays out in practice.

    Not necessaraly, Van Til felt like the unbeleiver, especially the atheist, takes for granted things like morality reason etc. Atheists are prone to make moral denouncements against christianity. So unless ethics exists out there as a self-existant, independent from God, basically god-like status, than we all have to have reasons for why we think something is right or wrong. If I debate a utilitarianist on ethics the reasons he/she gives me will be different than a kantian, even if it is over a particuler issue we all agree with.

    Particulers are just examples of the general, one vs. many debate. The general theory of ethics determines what the particuler examples of right and wrong are. Thus the general is ontologically prior to the particulers. Unless there is no such thing as ethics possible in any worldview without exception.

    Skepticism is just as circuler in nature as Moore's argument, I too if given the choice would choose where you went. But the world is not divided up into foundationalists and skeptics. A skeptic has to have justification for everything, you are right, and I believe that there are beleifs out there that many people hold to that can not be deductivly proven and that is OK. They every right to hold these beleifs if we examine their reasons for holding them. But our most basic beleifs about ethics, metaphysics, epistomology, theology, science are more general sort of beleifs. If somebody doesn't trust science at all and I ask them why, their answer is there general beleif about science. If an atheist says to me that by teaching my child chritianity than I am engaging in child abuse, than I have every right to ask for reasons why doing this equals child abuse.

    They will then give me reasons why they believe this and these reasons as you know will involve their beleifs about science, reality, epistomology, God, and so it is these beleifs that form their worldview. Then I can say OK you believe that my action X is child abuse well how do you differentiate between what is good and what is evil, this is the heart of ethics. They will then give me their method of doing ethics, theory of ethics (kantian, aristotillian, utilitarianist, platonic, emotovist, etc.). This method either meets the ethical standered of "ought" or it fails to drive me logically to the conclusion that I ought not to do X, that analysis is the philosophical endeavor.

    I would only answer him/her if they had a legitemate complaint, not something like "I'm not convinced" and they don't have any reasons for doing so.
     
  29. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I would say it is the original reformed epistemology. For a fuller sketch of something close to what I'm talking about, Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief is an excellent one (though I have to differ with his account on certain issues where he is less than orthodox).

    This is because he was dealing with modernism, which is now passe. While we have ethicists and epistemologists working in this paradigm, the fact is that many would now argue that you don't need a unifying principle for ethics, reason, etc. You don't need a theory--or, at least, the theory you create should be synthesized from the particulars to create something like a family resemblance relationship (think Wittgenstein: how would Wittgenstein do ethics).

    I could always claim that it's part of the language-game our culture plays.

    Only if you assume a methodist (not the denomination, the philosophic approach) approach to ethics rather than a particularist one. Van Til is methodistic.

    Your basic beliefs are beliefs like, "There is a tree outside," "I have hands," "I am not a brain in a vat," "murder is wrong." These have ethical, theological, epistemological, metaphysical, and scientific implications, but those are synthesized from the particulars, depending on various factors, some genetic, some environmental, some cultural.

    Now, once that is done, then you have the total worldview, but it's generally messy, unsystematic, human. Systematic philosophies are the exception rather than the rule: most people are simply walking bundles of contradictions--including you and I.

    Actually, "I don't find your reasons compelling" is a perfectly legitimate answer, if there is really no common assumption.
     
  30. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Good, I will have to pick that up (I definantly need a job first).

    This is true but no one wants to accept the consequences of this nihilistic view of things, postmodernism is dead and it killed itself.

    This is essentially Rorty's view, but he makes absolute moral condemnations himself (he has been criticized by unbeleivers for this as well). The best and most horrible thing he can come up with is that someone like stalin isn't elightened like he is or they would be liberal too, which assumes that liberalism is a metanarrative in postmodernism which is a no no as you know.

    Yes but the particulers are still decided based on a general theory, this theory may be decided after enough particulers are gathered I will grant you that but all aldults have gathered enough particulers to come up with a general theory of sorts. Also I wouldn't be so cold hearted with a lay person on having a theory of ethics but I would ask for reasons why they held such beleifs.

    This sounds a little empiricist in regards to beleif formation to me but I don't at all that you are not an empiricist.

    I agree and so would Bahnsen and Van Till remember they both painted with broad brushes and unfortunantly left it to people like me and others to work this stuff out.

    I would just ask them why? If they refused to give me particuler examples of things that were not compelling than I would say that the conversation was over and they should think about it and get back to me and then we could continue.
     
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