Is mathematics an eternal truth?

Discussion in 'Defending the Faith' started by Gesetveemet, Aug 29, 2011.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Yeah that might work as long as we emphasis that words do have in some ways different meanings when applied to us than they do to God. Like "good" God is not good in the same way that we are.

    Thats true. I would add that he also didn't seem to be as distanced from an Enlightment/Modernist understanding of things.

    What is the saying, close is no cigar? Yes but these implications are beyond our comprehension. One to one means exact understanding, like simplicity. One to one means exact understanding of what it means. How can we exactly understand what this means.

    What do we know about God apart from revealation? And my spelling is horrible, I am trying to do better so bare with me.
  2. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Easily---I say that God is simple in the sense that He is without parts or components. You understand what I mean by this---where's the misunderstanding here?

    Nothing, given that revelation covers just about everything.
  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Can you explain the exact way that God is simple? How can he have attributes and be simple at the same time? Are you just elevating one attribute above others? You see that an analogical view does not make this sort of mistake beause it says that we inderstand God as only creatures receiving revealation can.

    So God is wholly revealed in his self disclosed revealation? That is Barth's view.
  4. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    By not having components or parts.

    Very easily.

    No. I am exploring an attribute.

    I don't dispute that we know in a creaturely way. I simply dispute that theological language is entirely analogical. I would also dispute that theological language is entirely univocal.

    Obviously not, given that we are not privy to the Divine mind. I think I was unclear here: I meant that revelation covers about every human means of knowing.
  5. BertMulder

    BertMulder Puritan Board Junior

    tell me where to get a room for 30 bucks...
  6. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well now it seems you are just going in circles. What does that mean? If you treat as a common sense idea than you have greatly undermined God.

    At the exspense of the Creator/creature distinction and I must say with no offense intended in a somewhat common sense way, as if it is so obvious to understand God you just circle back and forth with definitions and this describes him in his majesty as he really is. As if we creatures can actually comprehend him, I am not saying that we can't comprehend his revealation but that we can just know him as he is and it is just that easy.

    Fair enough, would you mind elaborating to me what you mean by analogical so that I understand it the way you do?

    Fair enough, I believe that I can completly agree with you here with the caveat of Van Til's idea of the limits of creaturley reason.
  7. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    How so? Seems fairly straightforward. Is it easy to reconcile with God's having attributes? No, but that's where the mystery comes in.

    But there's a difference, I think between saying a) we know Him as He is b) some language about Him is univocal.

    I'm using it the way you use it.
  8. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well invoking mystery is a good point, I don't know that I would use the phrase "straightforward". We understand as creatures what God has revealed of himself not as the creator, which would be univocal knowledge.

    If we use the phrase univocal than we are saying that he is just like us, that happens to be the theological implications of that term. That we have everything in common with him it is just that there are quantitativly more to him than us. I am not so sure that any reformed person can affirm that. And I don't believe that you believe that either it is just an implication of the term univocal.

    Fair enough, I will remeber that thank you.
  9. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I think applying "univocal" and "analogical" to knowledge is a category mistake. The terms are used to apply to language, not to knowledge. I think this may be the source of our disagreement.

    Not at all. To say "That deer has a brown coat" and "My brother has brown eyes" in no way implies that the two belong in the same category. My brother is a human and the deer is a deer, yet "brown" means the same thing in both sentences.

    Again, I think you're making a category mistake here.
  10. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    You are familer with Aquina's views of language here right? Knowledge is expressed in language, which is why I use them interchangability here but you may be on to something because not all properties of knowledge belong to language and vice versa. But in the historical Clark/Van Til contraversy they used these terms in this way. Perhaps you can come up with better words to use. That may clear this up but I do think these two men meant two different things.

    You are correct but do we mean exactly the same thing when we say that a person is good and God is good? Are the two words meant in exactly the same way?
  11. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Hence why I disagree with both of them.

    No we don't---but this is a case where theological language is being used analogically. Let me describe the three senses of theological language:

    1) Univocal language ("God is a metaphysical simple")
    2) Metaphorical language ("God is our Father")
    3) Simile ("The Lord is my Shepherd")
  12. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Fair enough but I havn't seen you use anyother different ideas for language of God.

    But in each case we are not describing God in a way that can be understood by creatures at a one to one ratio. It is only by analogy that we understand these three senses. It actually seems, thanks to Richard Muller's work, that Van Til was right on par with historic reformed thinking on this matter (even they both used different words to describe it). They used the terms archtypal and ectypal, as you know, to describe the different ways in which the Creator and creature know things. God knows everything as the Creator and we know what we know as creatures.

    I mean we both affirm that God is simple but explain to me what a being is that has no parts without going in circles saying either he has no parts or he is simple. You see that is my point, if those two statments are the only two statments that we can say about God's simplicity than we are understanding his revealation rightly as creatures, with creaturly limitations.
  13. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I've said that I think some language univocal and some analogical. Hence my disagreement with both.

    In the first case, yes we are. It's just that we understand the proposition univocally as creatures.

    All definitions are circular---this is non-unique.

    Let's take an analogical phrase: "God the Father." Now, we affirm that God is Father, and we list attributes of this aspect of God. What we will also do here though is be careful not to apply to God the aspects of fatherhood that aren't accurate (fill in the blanks). I can't see any aspect of metaphysical simplicity that doesn't apply unequivocally to God.
  14. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Yeah but univocal mean sexactly the same. So if two things are univocaly simple than there is absolutly no difference between them. Any difference makes it a analogical relation. I just like to follow the Dutch Reformed tradition's way of handling this by discussing what cannot be said or understand by us and than using that framework to understand what we mean when we talk about God or understand his revealation.

    I don't know if it makes sense to argue that making sense of it "univocaly as creatutres" at the end of the day would be much different than just saying analogical?

    But if God posses "metaphysical simplicity" than he is not simple. This is the trouble of invoking a univocal understanding of knowledge here, which led to open theism. If your saying that he has revealed this about himself than we understand it only as creatures, which makes it's complete comprehension beyond our ability. We understand as only pilgrim's in this world can.
  15. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    So can you name another things that is a metaphysical simple?

    Because analogical refers to language, not knowledge. I can't know something analogically versus univocally because those terms (when used in contrast like this) refer to language and propositions.

    Sure He is---metaphysical simplicity is a property of God's nature. Properties are not parts, unless we want to be Scotists (like Clark).

    Again, I'm distinguishing between the ways in which language about God is used and the ways in which we understand that lamguage. If Divine simplicity is an analogy, where does it break down? What aspect of metaphysical simplicity is inaccurate to say of God?
  16. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Absolutly not. I already thought about that. Nor can I name another thing that any of the other incommunicable attributes of God. But I mean his simplicitly can only be talked about in two phrases "he is simple in his being" and "he is without parts in his being". That tells me how beyond our comprehension it is because we can say no more.

    How many thoughts do you have that are not in a language? Are not at least many of our thoughts composed of knowledge? Also knowing something analogically just means that we don't have absolute autonomous God's-eye-view knowledge of something or complete skepticism. Only that we know as creatures. Yes a statement about seeing a tree is true but all the other types of things that can be known or are beyond our comprehension about the tree means that there will always be similarity and disimilarity in my understanding of the tree.

    His attributes are him in exaustive oneness so as to be irrelevant from one point of view to even consider seperatly. This is why the Dutch Reformed made it clear that when we use the term properties or attributes this is not God as he is but our attempt to understand his revealation given to us about himself. We choose these concepts to humbly seek as much knowledge of him that we can as creatures gain through his revealation.

    Because it is a concept that we have come up to make as much sense of his revealation as we can. We can only choose concepts that are humble conformity to his self-disclosed revealation. But our concepts are human concepts not divine concepts. So yes we are correct in saying that we can apply this concept to him but it is to him as he has revealed himself to us not that we have penertrated heaven with our reason and deduced this from studying him as he actually is. he is condescending to us remember. We can freely call his being simple so long as we do it in this qualified way.
  17. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    In which case the term is univocal by default because it only applies to one thing---there's no analogy that can be made for these attributes.

    Quite a few (mental images). In addition, I have friends who I know pretty well. But knowledge of persons is a rather different beast from knowledge of propositions. In the same way, knowledge of propositions, even about the same subject, may be qualitatively different.

    But at the same time, this way of talking about theological language depends upon a proper understanding of Divine simplicity. Similarly with Divine incomprehensibility.

    If they are received by means of revelation, then they are Divine in origin. God is Lord of language too.

    The question is this: does God ever reveal Himself to us as He is?
  18. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    "Simplicity" is itself an accommodated term. It is not what God is in Himself; but what He has revealed Himself to be. It is only necessary as a concept because of the diversity of qualities by which God has been pleased to reveal Himself. Without revelation there is no diversity, and no requirement to emphasise simplicity.
  19. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    You're right: Divine simplicity describes not what God is but what He is not.
  20. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    But univocal is absolute in its understanding. That means that we can lay out exactly in exaustive detail what something like simplicity means.

    Well I agree with the last sentence. I think that Wittgenstein would object to the first. That, it seems for one reason, is why he never again took up the issue of the relation of language to the world. We are raised in a linguistic community. I don't know if you have kids but reading the Philosophical Investigations and teaching a child to talk at the same time will convince you of his basic correctness in his viewpoints but it sounds that you are already are.

    If you mean a prior understanding of any of his attributes to say something like this, than no. We hit the limit of our creaturlely understanding at his revealation. But it is an interesting point, how do we know we can't know, right?

    I would rephrase the question as this, can we as creatures understand him as he is? When he condescends to us that revealation is in fact truthful to his revealation but we cannot penetrate through that limit and know him as he is.
  21. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    We do. Simplicity means that God has no parts. That exhausts the subject (though not its implications when other doctrines are involved).

    No---one can think apart from language. My major beef with Wittgenstein is that he leaves us still in Plato's cave. The relation of language to reality is vastly important here. I agree with his analysis of meaning, but that doesn't entail that I accept his view wholesale.

    Exactly: at some point religious language touches the religious subject (I'm preparing to write a two-semester thesis on this subject).

    Here's the problem, though: starting from man is the wrong place, otherwise theology becomes anthropology. God reveals Himself first and foremost.
  22. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    They paid $10 each got a $1 refund and tipped the bellhop $1
  23. black_rose

    black_rose Puritan Board Freshman

    My opinion is with Marrow Man on this one. Mathematical values are human-made concepts, really. A number is only a representation because, honestly, what is two? Other than "a number", you can't really say. Many people would believe science is an eternal truth as well, most likely, but it is constantly being proven wrong and added on to and such, so we obviously haven't got that right yet.

  24. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    After enduring the recession of the 30's a horse trader finally went out of business. Unfortunately by this time he had encouraged his friends to buy into the business. When he ceased trading he had 17 horses a prime number which could not be divided. They too the problem to the Pastor explaining that Graham was owed two thirds, Hamish a sixth and Dougal a ninth. They could see no way to divide the prime number 17 without dismembering the horse at which point the value would automatically go down.

    The Pastor asked them to come back in the morning and he would visit the field with them.

    He prayed all night and eventually fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning. He met with them and rode out to the paddock. Once there he counted the horses to see there were indeed seventeen a prime number. Leading his horse into the middle of the field he said he would give his horse into the herd if it helped, he then divided up the herd of eighteen as follows. He gave Graham twelve horses, Hamish three and Dougal two. Then he took the last horse (his own) and he rode home, leaving the three friends wondering why they had gone to the Pastor in the first place.

    PM me when you figure it out
  25. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    This is a quote from Herman Bavinck, it is from the book Our Reasonable Faith, that is exactly my view on this subject:

    Do you agree with this or not? That way we don't keep going in circles if we are essentially saying the same things from different perspectives.

    Fair enough, I wouldn't go to the mat for all his views.

    I would look forward to reading it if you don't mind?

    I think I already know your answer to the real question I was asking. I believe that you do not agree that we can gain knowledge of God apart from His revelation, that is by pealing back heaven with reason and searching the depths of His being.
  26. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Naturally not---but the trouble here is that when we remove revelation from the picture, there's nothing left---not even reason.
  27. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Completly agreed, what did you think about the Bavinck quote?
  28. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I think the language of ectype is much more helpful than that of analogy, simply because the language of analogy is much more likely to result in the Clarkian strawman understanding. I also find it helpful that Bavinck is speaking of knowledge rather than of language.
  29. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Yeah I thought the same thing after reading it. I think it is like a painting of a field. God's knowledge is the original field that we can't see (archetypal knowledge) and our knowledge is looking at the painting (echtypal knowledge) of the field. Bahnsen lamented over Van Til's use of analogy, you can see from this quote where he got the word from, for pedegological reasons.
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