Philosophy, Apologetics, and Descartes.

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Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
I will read the thread you posted and think about this more. I simply think that though man is fallen, he is not so depraved that there is no truth left to supress. Obviously there is some dim candle of knowledge left in man by which the natural reason and empyrical data of nature points to truths about God.

Thanks for being patient while I dig through this . . .
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
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.

You may presuppose such a deity but you have no rational or authoritative basis for the presupposition. Aristotle assumed the Prime mover. He noticed causes and effect relationsips, the unity and diversity patterns, etc. and then postulated a system from his observations, including his "god." But what was the standard of truth to measure his theories by? Without special revelation, Aristotle was left to his own autonomous reason corrupted by sin. What truth he did stumble upon, was God's truth already. He could only understand what he did, because he assumed some truth from general revelation (God's truth, the biblical worldview). But Aristotle could never give you the proof for his foundations in his thought, because they are assumed, just like any other philosopher who rejects the God of Scripture. He couldn't tell you why the world operates the way it does, only that it just does. He can tell you that there are forms and accidents, cause and effect, etc. but not why. He could postulate his prime mover, but he has no way to verify it. He can build his ethics upon all these assumptions, but he can't give you any authoritative reason why we should follow them, other than it's just a nice way to live. Without special revelation, he can't know the why.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by Saiph
I simply think that though man is fallen, he is not so depraved that there is no truth left to supress. Obviously there is some dim candle of knowledge left in man by which the natural reason and empyrical data of nature points to truths about God.

I fully agree that man is not as intellectually depraved as he could be, and that there is still a candle of knowledge left in him, both because of common grace and his remaining image in God. But the question is, why is he thus able to still reason with logic? Is it because some of the principles of science, logic and morality can be self-evident, thus enabling him to consistently maintain and account for them by his own autonomous standards of knowledge? Or is it only possible because he still has a certain knowledge of God in his mind, so that he is able to understand and use the principles of logic and morality that only make sense in God? The presuppositionalist would heartily suggest the latter, because of Scriptures like Proverbs 1:7, Colossians 2:3 and many others.

Originally posted by Saiph
Thanks for being patient while I dig through this . . .

I'm enjoying discussing it, both to hear your thoughts on the issues and to continue to sharpen my own understanding of them as well.

[Edited on 9-23-2005 by Me Died Blue]
 

JohnV

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.

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.

There's a lot of things here that I do not know. For example, I don't know all the detail of Aristotle's Prime Mover. I do know, however, his place in history. He, and others like him at a crucial time in history, were used to raise a certain culture unrelated to the history of God's people, and that very culture formed the backdrop for the revelation of God's salvation to the world. We are obliged to know Greek history, culture, and literature in order to make credible translations of the gospel into our languages.

I disagree with your notion, Mark, about natural man, though now that I look at it a bit more closely, you did not actually say what I took you to mean. I agree that natural man has it in his nature to reason, wrongly perhaps, but reason all the same. He therefore must face what Patrick calls the ultimate abstracts, namely the perfection of the immutable axioms of reason such as truth, goodness, and beauty, those attributable aspects which have meaning in themselves (i.e. truth is true; goodness is good, etc. ) So if we look at, say, "meaning", even as unbelievers, we are forced to think antithetically about it, namely that meaning is not un-meaning. So the term has meaning on its own merit, and we have to face the fact that we cannot put into it what is not attributable to it. We can't put a square peg in a round hole epistemologically, so to speak.

But that is all man can do from that standpoint. It doesn't mean that he can make meaning out of it; he can only realize the want of meaning, truth, goodness, beauty, etc. He knows of them, and appeals to them, and perhaps even, as Aristotle, pursues them. But he cannot find the source of them without God's permission. You can not put a toe into His circle without His knowing it and granting leave to do so.

I believe that God grants some approaches, even to unbelievers (aren't we all that before we are saved?) in the pursuit of these eternal virtues. He allowed Aristotle and his kind some approach, so that a culture in which the New Testament could be written could evolve. We have to allow for that in understanding Aristotle. He was allowed to know some things even as an unbeliever, because God used him for His own purposes.

The same applies to Descartes. However he may have made mistakes in his reasoning, yet it remains that his contributions are still talked about today. We make a mistake if we throw out everything he contributed just because we can't agree with his method or approach. When I read him, I took him to be a man, just like me, subject in every way to the fact that we are of the creation thinking about the Self-existent One, the contingent thinking about the necessary, the sinful thinking about the sinless One. His contribution to the thoughts about Being are important in Western philosophy.

I don't take him to be arguing from a particularly Reformed perspective. So I take him with a grain of salt. At the same time, he does argue from a well-established line of philosophy that has its roots in theology. It takes sifting.
 
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