Philosophy, Apologetics, and Descartes.

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SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey there guys! (and gals!)
My philosophy class here at Cedarville University is going over knowledge, what it is and can we have it. We have kinda been dealing with the idea that we can not have any real knowledge without a God. We have been reading through Descartes' Meditations and an article by some guy named Unger who proposes skepticism.

In class my professor pointed out that Descartes uses a type of circle in his reasoning to get to a God and to justify his reasoning and logic. I have been searching around the internet and find that it is normally referred to the Cartesian Circle. I may have found that term here... perhaps not.

Alright, so here is the question. Was Descartes incorrect in making this inference. I have a problem with anyone using any type of circular reasoning to get to any conclusion. I realize he was trying to prove there is a God, and to justify his sense, but that is no reason to use a logical fallacy. So did he use a logical fallacy?

If he did use a logical fallacy, is there anyway to justify our senses, reason, or prove there is a God empirically? (that may not be the correct term to use.) I guess I am asking this: "Can God be proven?"

I have heard some of you through alot of terms around that I do not understand. I am a philosophy major here at CU, but there are still many things I do not understand.

I went to the library tonight and picked up two books. "The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God" by John Frame, and Van Til's Apologetic" by Greg Bahnsen... would these be a good place to start for a solid foundation for both philosophy and apologetics?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Are you talking about his famous Cogito ergo Sum? I think it is fallacious.

I think,
Thefore, I am

He inserts his conclusion in his first premise. Technically, it should read:

Think
Therefore, I am.

But this loses a lot of its epistemological punch.

Yes, I have read both (or am almost finished with Bahnsen) and they are helpful. They do require a lot of emotion, time, and energy, though..

[Edited on 9--22-05 by Draught Horse]
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Bahnsen and Frame are a good start. Descarte was on to something in his philosophy, but the problem was he attempted to find the answer through autonomous reason (he made his own reason the standard and authority of truth, rather than Scripture). But since he cut off Scripture as the final authority, he had to explain the "idea" of God, as well as defend the reliability of sense perception. Hence he created a scheme of innate ideas to explain how we can know. Rather than trust in the God who created a world to be rationally known, and who created men with the capicity to understand His revelation as explained in Scripture, he had to invent his own foundation.

[Edited on 9-22-2005 by puritansailor]
 

SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
I was talking more about his circle of trusting in his reason because there is a God. He does so because he says God would not be decieving and give him senses and reason which he cannot trust. Yet he gets to the existance of a God using his reason... how can this be? I must be missing something.

What is this pressuppositionalism that you all speak of all the time? Is that kinda like the answer for the problem Descarte could not solve?
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
What is this pressuppositionalism that you all speak of all the time? Is that kinda like the answer for the problem Descarte could not solve?

Pressuppositionalism is a fancy word for systematic skepticism.

Calvin's idea of the knowledge of God in the first part of the institutes has been labeled presup, but I do not see it. I would stay clear of Van Til and read Aquinas. However, you will be called out, because most modern Christians do not like his redemption of Aristotelian ideas.

Just my :2cents:

[Edited on 9-22-2005 by Saiph]
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by SoldierOfTheRock
I was talking more about his circle of trusting in his reason because there is a God. He does so because he says God would not be decieving and give him senses and reason which he cannot trust. Yet he gets to the existance of a God using his reason... how can this be? I must be missing something.

No, you are not missing anything. There is a whole in his argument. How does he know that about God? While everything else couldn't be doubted, so to speak, why didn't Descartes doubt his own reasoning? Even assuming reason to be an infallible guide (big assumption there), how did he know that he was immune to rational fallibility?

What is this pressuppositionalism that you all speak of all the time? Is that kinda like the answer for the problem Descarte could not solve?

Yes. It is the answer.
 

SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
"I would stay clear of Van Til and read Aquinas. However, you will be called out, because most modern Christians do not like his redemption of Aristotelian ideas." - Saiph

So then you would say that we can argue for a God and for the reliability of our senses without using presuppositionalism? Do you believe Descartes used circular reasoning? Where does one start if one does not use presuppositions?

Sorry guys, I am not committed to one camp of apologetics or another, I suppose the answers to all this would help me find a spot. Mayhap I will go browsing through the apologetics section.

Thanks a bunch guys.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by SoldierOfTheRock
In class my professor pointed out that Descartes uses a type of circle in his reasoning to get to a God and to justify his reasoning and logic.

All reasoning is inherently circular in nature when you get right down to it: Premises = Conclusions = Revisiting Premises... There is a mode of circular reasoning that is deemed a logical fallacy.

Logical Fallacy
Sports Fan #1: What makes you say Australian Rules Football is the most exciting sport in the world?
Sports Fan #2: Because it is.

Originally posted by SoldierOfTheRock
Was Descartes incorrect in making this inference. I have a problem with anyone using any type of circular reasoning to get to any conclusion. I realize he was trying to prove there is a God, and to justify his sense, but that is no reason to use a logical fallacy. So did he use a logical fallacy?

If he did use a logical fallacy, is there anyway to justify our senses, reason, or prove there is a God empirically? (that may not be the correct term to use.) I guess I am asking this: "Can God be proven?"

I have heard some of you through alot of terms around that I do not understand. I am a philosophy major here at CU, but there are still many things I do not understand.

I went to the library tonight and picked up two books. "The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God" by John Frame, and Van Til's Apologetic" by Greg Bahnsen... would these be a good place to start for a solid foundation for both philosophy and apologetics?

I don't esteem Descartes because his epistemological methodology gives an inordinate place of prominance on human reasoning while it neglects holding divine revelation in the proper esteem. Descartes' hyper-rationalism is not for the Christian philosopher. I am not averse to presuppositionalism, but recognize it's limitations, particularly in apologetic endeavors.

Some of his famous exercises in logic are rather shallow when you get down to it. He moves forward from some existential postulates.

1. I exist (Axiom)
2. I have in my mind the notion of a perfect being (Axiom, partly based on 1)
3. An imperfect being, like myself, cannot think up the notion of a perfect being (Axiom)
4. Therefore the notion of a perfect being must have originated from the perfect being himself (from 2 & 3)
5. A perfect being would not be perfect if it did not exist (Axiom)
6. Therefore a perfect being must exist (from 4 & 5)

One could just as easily supplant Descartes' "perfect being" postulate with the "tooth fairy" or the "Easter bunny." It's kind of asinine, a bit shallow and won't convince a atheist. It as if one says, because I can postulate or conceive of something in my mind than it most exist... I can conceive of "exterrestrial life" but it doesn't mean that it exists just because I can conceptualize it.

Besides, the weakness of rationalism is manifest by the fact that an argument can be structured to be logical, and logically valid, but lacking in truth value.

In my humble opinion Reformed theologues strike a nice balance between reason and faith, and recognize the limitations of man's fallable reason, but use sharp, incisive reasoning in their apologetics and teaching endeavors.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by SoldierOfTheRock
I was talking more about his circle of trusting in his reason because there is a God. He does so because he says God would not be decieving and give him senses and reason which he cannot trust. Yet he gets to the existance of a God using his reason... how can this be? I must be missing something.

What is this pressuppositionalism that you all speak of all the time? Is that kinda like the answer for the problem Descarte could not solve?

I agree that his argument does not work, because he ultimately relies on his reason as the most foundational starting point, the "highest court of appeal" per se, and attempts to get to God through it, and then validate reason from God.

The problem, however, is not the circularity, for there will always be circularity with regard to one's most central, foundational beliefs, such as the laws of logic (1). The problem is that Descartes cannot consistently and logically account for anything, be it God or reason, since he starts with his reason as the highest, most fundamental thing.

Starting with the Christian God and His revelation as the highest such appeal and one's beginning presupposition can end up consistently accounting for itself, reason and everything else, since we have a basis to trust reason and logic because they are expressions of God's character, we have reason to trust our senses and the uniformity of nature because of His creation and benevolence, etc. But starting with reason alone as the beginning assumption cannot account for such things, for how does Descartes know that his sense perception is reliable, or that the cells that make up his brain and memory stay the same? Those assume the uniformity of nature, which cannot be consistently accounted for by starting with the concept of reason alone, and vice-versa (2).

Eventually it becomes apparent that no starting point or presupposition can consistently account for such things except God and His revelation. And that is just what we should expect, for "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7, emphasis mine).

There has been much discussion here on where presuppositionalism is both fully faithful to Scripture and truly effective in combatting the non-Christian worldviews where classical (or Thomistic; that of Aquinas) and evidential apologetics falls short. You may want to look here, here and here, among others, for a sample of that. For a good introduction to presuppositionalism, I would strongly recommend Richard Pratt's book Every Thought Captive as well as Dr. Bahnsen's 4-lecture audio work entitled "Challenge to Unbelief." Both are extremely brief and compact yet meaty and foundational.

(1) Dr. Bahnsen illustrates that well in the following statement, taken from "The Great Debate":

The problem arises when Dr. Stein elsewhere insists that every claim which someone makes must be treated as a hypothesis which must be tested by such evidence before accepting it. "œThere is to be nothing", he says, "œwhich smacks of begging the question or circular reasoning."

This I think is oversimplified thinking and again misleading (what might call the pretended neutrality fallacy). One can see this by considering the following quotation of Dr. Stein. And I quote:

"œThe use of logic or reason is the only valid way to examine the truth or falsity of a statement which claims to be factual." That´s the end of the quote.

One must eventually ask Dr. Stein then how he proves this statement itself. That is, how does he prove that logic or reason is the only way to prove factual statements? He is now on the horns of a real epistemological dilemma. If he says that the statement is proven by logic or reason, then he is engaging in circular reasoning and he is begging the question, which he staunchly forbids. If he says that the statement is proven in some other fashion, then he refutes the statement itself! That logic or reasoning is the only way to prove things.

Now my point is not to fault Dr. Stein´s commitment to logic or reason, but to observe that it actually has the nature of a pre-commitment or a presupposition. It is not something he has proven by empirical experience or logic, but it is rather that by which he proceeds to prove everything else.

(2) Bahnsen again illustrates this truth that something like logic cannot by itself make sense of one's existence or justify a meaningful worldview that includes beliefs and answers about sense perception, nature, morality, etc. In the same debate I cited above, he answers a question from an audience member:

Why is it necessary for the abstract universal laws to be decided from the transcendental nature of God, or derived from the transcendental of God. Why not assume the transcendental nature of logic?

Dr. Bahnsen

Somebody who wrote the question is good in that you´ve studied some of these philosophical issues. The answer may not be meaningful to everybody in the audience, but very briefly, is that I do believe in the transcendental nature of the laws of logic. However the laws of logic do not justify themselves. Just because they are transcendental, that isn´t a precondition of intelligibility. I mean, why isn´t it just sound and fury signifying nothing? That´s a possibility too.

So the laws of logic do have a transcendental necessity about them, but it seems to me you need to have a world-view in which the laws of logic are meaningful. Especially when you consider such a possible antinomies as the laws of logic being universal, categorizing things in that way. And yet, we have novelties in our experience. Universal, categorizing things in that way. and yet we have novelties in our experience.

I mean, the world of empirical observation isn´t set rigidly by uniformity and by sameness as it were. There isn´t a continuity in experience in that way, as there is a necessary continuity in the laws of logic. How can the laws of logic then be utilized when it comes to matters of personal experience in the world? We have a contingent changing world, and unchanging invariant laws of logic. How can these two be brought together? You need a world-view in which that transcendental necessity of logic an be made sense of in terms of my human experience. And I believe that Christianity provides that, and I just can´t find any other one that competes with it that way.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by SoldierOfTheRock
I was talking more about his circle of trusting in his reason because there is a God. He does so because he says God would not be decieving and give him senses and reason which he cannot trust. Yet he gets to the existance of a God using his reason... how can this be? I must be missing something.

What is this pressuppositionalism that you all speak of all the time? Is that kinda like the answer for the problem Descarte could not solve?

Jacob is right. Descartes has a huge hole in his argument. I think what will be helpful in understanding his motive is to understand ultimately what Descarte is trying to do. He's trying to develop a universal standard to measure knowledge which no one can dispute with. He was trying to transcend the religious squabbles of his day over Scripture. At the same time he was trying to establish the reliability of reason and the senses in obtaining knowledge. Rather than rely upon Scripture to tell him why we can know these things, he creates his own theory. Men can understand reality through the senses because we have innate ideas by which to understand them. Of course this ultimately begs the question. Where does man get these innate ideas from? Since Descarte can't answer that question from his own method, but only assume it, he instead has to fall back on God. He pulls "God" out from behind his back to use as stucko for all the cracks in his theory. But notice, his God is not the God of Scripture, but an innate idea. And even his idea of God is assumed, not proven.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by puritansailor
I think what will be helpful in understanding his motive is to understand ultimately what Descarte is trying to do. He's trying to develop a universal standard to measure knowledge which no one can dispute with. He was trying to transcend the religious squabbles of his day over Scripture. At the same time he was trying to establish the reliability of reason and the senses in obtaining knowledge. Rather than rely upon Scripture to tell him why we can know these things, he creates his own theory. Men can understand reality through the senses because we have innate ideas by which to understand them. Of course this ultimately begs the question. Where does man get these innate ideas from? Since Descarte can't answer that question from his own method, but only assume it, he instead has to fall back on God. He pulls "God" out from behind his back to use as stucko for all the cracks in his theory. But notice, his God is not the God of Scripture, but an innate idea.

This reminds me of how Van Til similarly described the situation of the imaginary unbeliever to which he was talking near the end of his "Why I Believe in God":

Deep down in your heart you know very well that what I have said about you is true. You know there is no unity in your life. You want no God who by His counsel provides for the unity you need. Such a God, you say, would allow for nothing new. So you provide your own unity. But this unity must, by your own definition, not kill that which is wholly new. Therefore it must stand over against the wholly new and never touch it at all. Thus by your logic you talk about possibles and impossibles, but all this talk is in the air. By your own standards it can never have anything to do with reality. Your logic claims to deal with eternal and changeless matters; and your facts are wholly changing things; and "never the twain shall meet." So you have made nonsense of your own experience.
 

SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
This is awesome! Thanks a ton Chris for that quote from Bahsen in his debate with Stein. That pretty much flys in the face of just about anything that does not start with God.

It is a great place to start, thanks a bunch guys. I see that the problem is a little deeper than Descartes' circular reasoning. Of course it was a circle, what other option did he have?

I really liked the Descartes Reformed idea, that is fun.

Thanks again guys. I am going to go check out the post Chris pointed me to. Later
Joshua
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
As I understand it, Descartes was trying to justify knowledge and reason through the more basic concept of being. His version of it was that there were two basic types of being, that which is necessarily and that which is contingently, roughly speaking. He put himself and his knowledge into the latter, trying to affirm the former. So his argument goes, roughly: since it is true that I must have being, since I can have thoughts about my existence, and since it is true that my being is not necessary, it follows that being itself must be necessary; that there is in fact being that is contingent, requiring being that is necessary. In short form: since I can think, I must have being; since I have being, there must be necessary being; since there must be necessary being, then the perfection of being must be in that which necessarily is of its own accord.

We can get to the same conclusions from several angles. If we think about truth, for example, we cannot conceive of truth that is not perfectly true. If there is any error in truth, then it cannot be true. No matter how we work with the idea of truth, whatever lies we wish to live with, we work with truth in that way in a most basic sense. Or whenever we think of any attribute, we compare it to the perfection of that attribute. In other words, whatever we think of, we tend to think in eternal terms, and only confound it with temporality. Whatever we to think about (and I'm referring to philosophical thought here) we tend to do it in what is normally called the abstract, but is understood to be in the terms that the Bible uses for eternal terms. Goodness, truth, perfection, immutability, beauty, order/reason, personhood, and such categories, all these are, in the end, compared to eternal measures in the Bible.

That seems to me to be the impetus behind Descartes' "cogito ergo sum". Even if that is a misunderstanding of Descartes' argument, yet it would follow from his argument in our own day. The point is to draw from our own temporal state, using the eternal concepts that dwell in our minds, and which our very being reflects, and then find that the eternal state of Being is inescapable.

Being, after all, is both the most basic attribute that can be given to any one thing, but it is also the most pregnant attribute that can be granted.

Is this circular? Not necessarily. There is a difference between working from the inside out and working in a circle. Circular reasoning has the conclusion implicit in the premise. As God is Being in its most essential and necessary form, not contingent upon any, and immutable in all attributes, we can expect that the case for man, whose being is contingent upon His being, that man's thoughts are contingent upon His thoughts. Because our thoughts must have origin, we are always presupposing what is already true when we have thoughts. So these basic concepts of things are implied in our premises. So the circularity is further back than our thoughts. Descartes began with the furthest back thing he could autonomously come to: himself; and he worked out from there. That is, his attempt was to reason out from himself without cheating on the eternal concepts that were implicit. He was trying not to be circular in the strict sense, and yet concede the implicit necessity of concepts in his premises. He was working subjectively toward the objective. At least this is how I understood him.

I hope this makes sense to you. There's only so much you can fit in a post, and it takes quite a while to go through all this a piece at a time.
 

SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
I tried to understand everything that you just said, though I am only in my introductory philosophy course. I am sorry if I am not catching on.

But even with all that said, does he not still use reason and logic to justify his reason and logic? I follow in what he was doing (I think..) and I understand that the best place for him to start was with himself. It makes sense, because in thinking he knows that he exist, but again, how does he come to this conclusion?

The more I think of it I am seeing a very grand reason to take a presuppositionalist stance. Epistemologically, other things just don't work.
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
The more I think of it I am seeing a very grand reason to take a presuppositionalist stance. Epistemologically, other things just don't work.

If the presuppositionalist on the board could correct me if I am wrong here that would be great.

As far as I can tell from the writings of Frame, and Van Til, they commit a grave error by putting on Hume's deontological blindfold. That is, that one cannot deduce ought from is.

They say that any attempt to derive moral principles from impersonal realities is a violation of logic.

However, I disagree. To say one cannot derive the "ought" from what "is" cuts its own throat because implicit within that statement is that one "ought" to derive subjunctive maxims from something else.

Personally the existential feeling of sehnsucht impresses most people I know to act deontologically towards civil peace and some sense of a greater good.

It also seems to contradict the idea Paul sets forth as "Supressing the truth in unrighteousness". In other words, all men know what they ought to do and just do not like it.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Joshua:

I'm not an expert on Descartes, but I read his Meditations carefully. I am only telling you my understanding of it, what I got out of it.

Its not that he used logic and reason to justify logic and reason. As I said, he goes further back than that, to being itself.

Being is implied in reason and logic. That is, one has to ask if reason and logic exist. Existence, then, has to be a necessity, a prerequisite for reason and logic to exist.

As I undestood Descartes, he approached the question by putting everything on the block, being skeptical about any truth because he himself was a subject of it. He was left with the most basic of things to think about, namely that he had to exist in order to doubt his thoughts.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Sorry about the last post; I had to drop everything and run out a moment.

You said,
But even with all that said, does he not still use reason and logic to justify his reason and logic? I follow in what he was doing (I think..) and I understand that the best place for him to start was with himself. It makes sense, because in thinking he knows that he exist, but again, how does he come to this conclusion?

Put yourself in his shoes. How do you know and trust your judgment? How do you know that making sense out of things makes sense? Go back into yourself? That was not the answer. After he had done that, he was actually worse off than he was when he started. After he had destroyed all temporal and subjective grounds, he was left with the fact that something other than he was more basic to thought than he himself was. In other words, he could not even doubt truth without affirming it; he could not even doubt logic without affirming it; he could not doubt being at all. So it was not so much that he was assuming logic and reason in order to affirm it; it would be more accurate to say that he was acquiescing to logic and reason because of its necessity.

To say it more simply, denying reason requires reason. Denying being requires being. It is not an inventing of it, it is an acknowledgement of its pre-existence, pre-existence to yourself.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Saiph
The more I think of it I am seeing a very grand reason to take a presuppositionalist stance. Epistemologically, other things just don't work.

If the presuppositionalist on the board could correct me if I am wrong here that would be great.

As far as I can tell from the writings of Frame, and Van Til, they commit a grave error by putting on Hume's deontological blindfold. That is, that one cannot deduce ought from is.

They say that any attempt to derive moral principles from impersonal realities is a violation of logic.

However, I disagree. To say one cannot derive the "ought" from what "is" cuts its own throat because implicit within that statement is that one "ought" to derive subjunctive maxims from something else.

Personally the existential feeling of sehnsucht impresses most people I know to act deontologically towards civil peace and some sense of a greater good.

It also seems to contradict the idea Paul sets forth as "Supressing the truth in unrighteousness". In other words, all men know what they ought to do and just do not like it.

I'm sure Paul Manata will give a much more eloquent defence but I'll give it a shot :)

Presuppositinalism doesn't say you can't know "ought from is". What they argue is that the atheist for example, cannot know that IF his naturalistic presuppositions were true. The atheist is inconsistent with his own presuppositions about the existence of God, the laws of logic, and laws of morality, because ultimately he can't deny that he is a creature made in God's image. The "suppression" is his refusal to acknowledge God and his own inconsistency about God's general revelation. He knows God to be true but rebels to continue his pursuit of sin. So he will use his God given ability of reason in order to reason against God.

The only way he can understand anything is to assume inconsistently that the Christian worldview is true. This is what the atheist does when he uses laws of logic, laws of morality, and assumes the uniformity of nature. It's not that he is wrong to use these. He just has no justification in his own naturalistic worldview, other than his own preference, as to why he uses them, because in a strictly materialistic universe you cannot account for abstract immaterial principles like laws of logic or morality.

So, we can know "ought from is," but only if you drop the unbelieving worldview in the specific area of study and acknowledge inconsistenly that this is God's world, who has created the world orderly, in such a way that reasonable creatures, made in His image, can understand the world within their creaturely limitations. The atheist does this without realizing it though. Though he refuses to acknowledge the truth of Christianity intellectually, he can't deny that he is God's image in his being, ability to reason, or the unavoidable need to make moral judgments.

I gave it a shot. Hope it makes sense.
 

SoldierOfTheRock

Puritan Board Freshman
"in a strictly materialistic universe you cannot account for abstract immaterial principles like laws of logic or morality. " - Puritansailor

That is what Bahnsen was saying in the devate the Chris quoted from earlier.

What would a non-presupositionalist say? Just wondering. Was John defending the that stance earlier?
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Not bad Patrick. I am wondering if anyone has taken the time to actually show how Aristotle is inconsistent in this. After all, in my estimation, his "Prime Mover" fits what you said. I do not see how presuppositional thinking necessarily affirms the God of Scripture.

I think they start from that usually.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Saiph
Not bad Patrick. I am wondering if anyone has taken the time to actually show how Aristotle is inconsistent in this. After all, in my estimation, his "Prime Mover" fits what you said. I do not see how presuppositional thinking necessarily affirms the God of Scripture.

I think they start from that usually.

Technically, if we start from The Triune God wouldn't we by definition be affirming it? You asked for affirmation, not hard-core proof (which we could give on another topic). We immediately start with the Self-Revealing Trinity as the foundation for knowledge. Our beef with Aristotle is that his prime mover isn't the god of scripture.

[Edited on 9--23-05 by Draught Horse]
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Obviously the Prime Mover is not the God of scripture. But if I argue presuppositionally for a diety that is personal and transcendant, but not YHWH, then I could still have a consistent enough world-view to defend Aristotelian teleological ethics and make snse of the world.

My point is that natural man has the rational means to look at nature and his own conscious and be condemned by it. He would not be able to discern what YHWH purposes for him, nor the way YHWH has provided salvation.

But presuppositional thought makes it necessary to assume the God of the bible to make sense of reality in any practical way. (I understand this is necessary for ultimate truth and salvation)
But Aristotle is better than postmodernism any day.

Scripture itself seems to indicate that all men supress the truth in unrighteousness. In a fallen state, made in His image.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Saiph
Obviously the Prime Mover is not the God of scripture. But if I argue presuppositionally for a diety that is personal and transcendant, but not YHWH, then I could still have a consistent enough world-view to defend Aristotelian teleological ethics and make snse of the world.

Everybody argues presuppositionally for a deity--the crux is whether the deity is Triune God or not. And no, they wouldn't have a consistent worldview.
My point is that natural man has the rational means to look at nature and his own conscious and be condemned by it. He would not be able to discern what YHWH purposes for him, nor the way YHWH has provided salvation.

This statement is ambiguous. It can go either way. No, natural man does not use his reason rightly (noetic effects of sin and all), but yes, he does stand condemned.

But presuppositional thought makes it necessary to assume the God of the bible to make sense of reality in any practical way. (I understand this is necessary for ultimate truth and salvation)
But Aristotle is better than postmodernism any day.

yes, so? Are you equating presuppositoinalism with postmodernism?

Scripture itself seems to indicate that all men supress the truth in unrighteousness. In a fallen state, made in His image.

Okay.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by Saiph
Obviously the Prime Mover is not the God of scripture. But if I argue presuppositionally for a diety that is personal and transcendant, but not YHWH, then I could still have a consistent enough world-view to defend Aristotelian teleological ethics and make snse of the world.

Attempting to do so, however, would raise countless questions about the worldview for which you would be arguing. How did you learn about this personal, transcendent deity? Was it through revelation? If so, how, what, when, where and why (seriously)? Then, how do you know he is consistent and unchanging in nature and character, so as to have a foundation upon which to base your belief in the unchanging laws of logic? And what about uniformity of nature?

The point is that if all of these factors and countless more are not accounted for in your (hypothetical) worldview, then your (presupposed) transcendental cannot account for the preconditions of intelligibility. One thread that shed a lot of light on this particular issue for me is here, which raises the question of attempting to start from a different but similar transcendental, namely a "biune" god.

Originally posted by Saiph
My point is that natural man has the rational means to look at nature and his own conscious and be condemned by it. He would not be able to discern what YHWH purposes for him, nor the way YHWH has provided salvation.

But presuppositional thought makes it necessary to assume the God of the bible to make sense of reality in any practical way. (I understand this is necessary for ultimate truth and salvation)
But Aristotle is better than postmodernism any day.

Scripture itself seems to indicate that all men supress the truth in unrighteousness. In a fallen state, made in His image.

Indeed, and presuppositionalism maintains that all men do suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because of Total Depravity, and particularly Romans 1 as well. Yet that same passage assures us that all men nonetheless have an innate knowledge of God even though they are perpetually attempting to suppress that knowledge in self-deception.

A crucial truth, however, is that they are not able to fully succeed in suppressing that truth and deceiving themselves, because of general revelation and common grace - for "what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them" (Romans 1:19, emphasis mine). Another reason they can never completely escape from God intellectually is because they are still in His image. So presuppositionalists hold that if unbelievers were actually able to be fully successful in deceiving themselves into suppressing the truth revealed in general revelation, they truly would not be able to think or live according to any principles of reason, logic or morality. But it is solely because of common grace that they are in fact able to do those things - but because of their constant suppression and denial of the truth that actually lies at the heart of those things, they still cannot consistently account for those things in their professed worldview, since in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3, emphasis mine) and "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7, emphasis mine).

So basically, when we speak of reason, knowledge, morality and logic as being impossible without assuming the God of Scripture, we do not mean "assuming" in a temporal way, but an epistemological way; for unregenerate people are able to reason before they accept the Christian God - but only because of the common grace that keeps them from completely suppressing the truth revealed in general revelation. So then because they innately know God deep within their minds and are still in His image, they are able to use the reason and logic that reflect His character, even though they will not be able to account for that use until they are regenerated and converted unto a full, consciously realized belief in the God of Scripture. And it is the latter fact that we use against them when answering them according to their folly (Prov. 26:5), not to mention that that also makes for the opportunity to proclaim to them the part of the Gospel that displays their lost state and need for Christ.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by Saiph
But presuppositional thought makes it necessary to assume the God of the bible to make sense of reality in any practical way. (I understand this is necessary for ultimate truth and salvation)
But Aristotle is better than postmodernism any day.

yes, so? Are you equating presuppositoinalism with postmodernism?

Jacob, I think you misunderstood what Mark was saying on this point. I believe he was simply suggesting that even though we can show the postmodernist worldview to be unable to account for anything, perhaps we could not do so with the Aristotelian worldview. Of course, I fully agree with you that that is not the case, for reasons I noted above in my reply to Mark.
 
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