Michael Horton's apologetical views?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by jwright82, Oct 9, 2010.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    If I understand you right you are basically getting at the same thing here. The use of reason is a common agreed upon shared standered that is social in this sense, common sense realism is right on this point. Van Til never denied this, he only put it in perpective. You can make great use of common notions but not make common notions autonomous, they are true because they are thinking God's thoughts after Him.

    Yes but you have not arived at an ought statement, the question still remains why I ought to follow your suggestion. Remember this is not the skeptic question of prove ethics itself but only a conception of of ethics, this principle is key to understanding all of continental thinking in general, aspect and direction or historical development of an aspect scientifically.

    You are correct in that the unbeleive can and does reason without a correct theory of reason. You are also correct in saying that the unbeleiver is still warranted in making rational statments and criticisms, for instance if a materialist logically criticizes my argument I cannot avoid answering that criticism by appealing to their inability to give a theory of reason. Notice that the TC is not a logical dodge of criticism but a criticism of the opposing persons general beleifs or worldview.

    First of all in what way is my statement either true by itself or an unnecessary repetition of words, or a tautology? I repeated the words to illustrate my method of TA that is all. I will answer your question because I brought up the issue of reason but to be fair I brought up ethics as well and you have answered those questions.

    Reason as a word can be used to mean many different things, for our discussion we will stick to the meaning of this word as a normative standard of authority. If it is not normative than it cannot be authoritative. So here are two preconditions that must be met to make reason what it is as we experience it: normative reason and authoritative. Another precondition that arises in this discussion is the issue of uniformity, that is to say reason must be uniform across cultural bounds and history. We must all use or do the same thing in order for reason to have any meaning.

    So our most general preconditions are these:
    1. normative reason
    2. authority
    3. uniformity
    It might be asked why such a TA is needed when we experience all three of these things already in the very use of reason? This argument is circular in nature and therefore fallacious. So since we cannot appeal to reason by itself to explain itself we need a theory that satisfies these three preconditions. I think the Christian worldview does all these nicely.

    In the Christian worldview, henceforth CW, reason is simply a tool that we use to fulfill our nature as the image bearers of God, so that we think God’s thoughts after Him in making sense out of creation. So we see that the second precondition is met because the authority of reason does not rest in itself but in the very being of God, who is the Creator. So the modernist’s dilemma is avoided because we don’t have to locate the authority of reason in itself but in the Creator, this avoids the rash but correct conclusions of the postmodernists regarding the modernist enterprise.

    But what about the other two preconditions? Well the third one is answered by the very nature of man in the CW. We are all uniformly created as the image bearers of God. We uniformly use the same tool of reason in our attempts to make sense out of the world around us. So the first is therefore answered as well because uniformity and authority guarantee normative reason. To go against reason is therefore to deny our very being.

    Now I didn’t give the propositions you asked for because you are stuck on this unfounded notion that a TA must be formed in a direct deductive type argument. Since I have not seen any reason to do so I don’t feel the need to do so. If I did than this argument could never be proven in that way because it would be impossible to do so. Also this is as specific as I can get because again this whole argument could fill a book out.
  2. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    No, they are true because they correspond to the reality that God has created. What makes my belief that there is a tree outside true is not the fact that God believes it (though that is certainly necessary) but the fact that there is a tree outside.

    Here's what you said.

    That's just a definition---I'm asking for concrete criteria.


    1) Why must reason be normative? What kind of blame is assigned to those who fail to meet such a standard? Is this standard going to be comprehensible across cultures?
    2) Whose authority?
    3) Again, what kind of uniformity would be capable of transcending cultures? Even in reading church fathers, I find myself at times scratching my head at their reasoning.

    Again, why these preconditions and not others?

    Which one? Eastern? Western? Far Eastern?
  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    What does that have to do with the discussion? I do not believe I said that a tree is tree because God beleives it.

    No it is a explinaition of method and scope not a tautology.

    The problem here is that we experience reason in a normative sense. Going all the back to Augustine and Aristotle, if you deny the law of noncontradiction, in a sense its normativity, than you must assume this same law as a normative standered just for your argument to make sense. Denying the normativity of reason just makes your opinion as worthless as anyother. But denying the normative status of reason involves not a problem with my view but theirs hence I need to give no answer to such questions or criticisms. This is the simple logical process of presuppossition, a logical criticism assumes the normativity of reason so it cannot be denied.

    The argument indirectly showed God's authority. If you feel that it is unreasonable to place the authority of reason in the Creator than please show what is intrinsicly irrational or invalid about that assumption, note that asking me to prove the existance of God in no way shows that this assumption is invalid or irrational (unless you can hypothetically prove that God does not exist). No one person, besides God, can be an authority for reason. Again you must show why my TA does not provide what it claims to, answering these preconditions.

    Reason is what is in view here, not individual cases of reasoning. Why do I need to transcend culture per se. The beuaty here is that not culture that is irrational can be shown to exist, including eastern ones. If reason is neccessary for making sense of things than no culture could communicate without some basic ability to make sense of things.

    This list is not exaustive, but contains the most important preconditions. I did demonstrate in my original argument why they were neccessary for reason to be as we experience it, if you feel that these preconditions are not neccessary than please explain why one or all is not? If your questions indicate areas of weaknesses in my logic than they have been given at least initial answering.

    Reformed, sorry I thought that was given.
  4. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Because if you are going to set up reason as a transcendent normative standard, then you would need to make sure that such reasoning would be comprehensible and known as reasonable not only in our own culture, but in China, or in Korea, or in Germany, or in Africa, or in the Arab world.

    But how we make sense of things often looks substantially different.

    Which reformed? Dutch? Korean? American? Scottish? English? All of these have some fairly significant differences of approach.
  5. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well to that I would have to consider the language games of reasoning or making sense of things. I find it to be increasingly important in my philosophy to consider language games as a good place to start in any philosophical analysis. Because it almost tells us something of metaphysics, at least indirectly. What would a language game look like that never attempted to make sense out of ideas or conceptions through the use of words? It would be pretty incoherent right. Without logical connectives in our conceptual scheme we couldn't even talk sensecly about anything. These logical conectives are part of what I mean by reason, in a broad sense. So if it is an indespensable part of our conceptual scheme, so that even extreme skeptics need to assume its validity just to deny it, than what are the preconditions that make it as we experience it. These will be cultural, language games, as well as transcultural as being something essential to us.

    To be fair to you there are two areas of weakness in any TA, that need people like myself to work out. One that you have somewhat alluded to is the ontological status of what is proven. Meaning something similer to, not the same as, the ontological argument. One famous critique of that is that people say it defines God into existance and that involves, although I do not agree with this argument, strange ontological problems. In a simieler vein the TA may prove that God is neccessary for morality to make sense as we experience it but does that really prove that God exists or only that the idea of God is neccessary in our moral conceptions? That is a problem that we utilizers of the TA must work out for ourselves. Also as to how much do they actually prove? Or what should be the ambition or scope of a TA? How much does it actually prove?

    Yes but what concerne us in a TA is that we all try to make sense of things. Notice that the materialist may be true or false in their theory of mind, but that has no bearing on whether or not reason is as I have argued it must be. If reason is not as I have argued than the question is neither true nor false it is meaningless.

    I know nothing about Korean reformed churches. But in this area they all agree in the basic creator/creature distinction, in the idea of creation, in the image of God in man, it is all these doctrines that are more or less in view here, not their in house squabbles.
  6. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Moral values come to us in the form of commands. Impersonal things do not give commands. Ideas do not give commands. Persons give commands. Commands come from entities that have a will. Abstract ideas and impersonal things do not have a will.
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I completly agree, it would seem neccessary for God to be the author of morals, which would denote his existance. Never the less philosophers aperently debate this issue anyway, but I think you are right on target in your argument. I do not doubt what the TA proves only that this one area where we Van Tillians can take up the burden of expanding our understanding of TA.
  8. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    I would like to add that if there are moral values that apply to all people in all places at all times, then those moral values must come from someone who has authority over all people in all places at all times. Impersonal things can't obligate everyone to do something. Impersonal things don't have authority over people.

    Absolute moral values are not just good evidence for God's existence; they presuppose God's existence.
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