Scripturalism Refuted

Status
Not open for further replies.

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
I am beginning a new thread with quite a provocative title, and as such I feel the need to qualify this. I am going to argue that Scripturalism as put forth by Sean (Magma2) and Anthony (Civbert) fails to provide an answer to the question “How do we know?” The thread where much of my thought was developed, and where I am taking Sean’s and Anthony’s conception of Scripturalism can be found here.

Introductory Comments

The question that must be kept central to the discussion is “How do we know?” By this, Anthony has clarified that what is really being asked is “How can we justify anything we say we know.” In other words, “What is the basis for being able to claim to have any knowledge whatsoever?” The answer given by Sean and Anthony is that Scripture alone is the foundation for knowledge. They point to the axiomatic system of Gordon Clark as the practical development of this. Gordon Clark says that his axiomatic system has one axiom, and that from this one axiom propositions can be derived that are rightly called knowledge. It is my position that Clark’s system as put forth by Anthony and Sean (from now on simply referred to as Scripturalism) fails to do this.

My Refutation

Clark’s axiom (the Axiom) is as follows – Axiom: The Bible alone is the Word of God.

From this argument, Clark means to be able to draw such conclusions as ‘Jesus is Messiah’ from this one axiom alone. I claim that this is a fool’s errand, and that there is needed additional knowledge to be able to derive any propositional truth from the Bible. To illustrate this I present one possible argument chain that gets us from the one axiom to our desired conclusion…

Premise 1A: All propositions of the Word of God are true.
Premise 2A (the axiom): All propositions of the Bible are propositions of the Word of God.
Conclusion A: All propositions of the Bible are true.

Premise 1B (conclusion A): All propositions of the Bible are true.
Premise 2B: ‘Jesus is Messiah’ is a proposition of the Bible.
Conclusion B: ‘Jesus is Messiah’ is true.

These are valid arguments and lead us to the desired conclusion B. However, there are serious problems with this.

Problem 1: Where does premise 1A come from? If this cannot be justified, then conclusion A is not justified. Now, someone may argue as follows…

Premise 1C: If God is a being such that He is omniscient, infallible and never lies, then all propositions of the Word of God are true.
Premise 2C: God is a being such that He is omniscient, infallible and never lies.
Conclusion C (our premise 1A): All propositions of the Word of God are true.

Again, this is a valid argument of the form Modus Ponens. However, for this argument to follow both premises 1C and 2C need to be justified, and Modus Ponens must be justified as well. Where does this knowledge come from? If the Scripturalist answers from Scripture, then he is arguing in a vicious circle. You see, he still has not justified how he knows anything from Scripture (this is what he is attempting to do), and in order to justify how he knows anything from Scripture any appeal to Scripture as knowledge is to simply beg the question.

Problem 2: Where does premise 2B come from? I would like to point out for whatever it is worth that premise 2B is not even Scripture. There is no proposition in Scripture that says, “‘Jesus is Messiah’ is a proposition of the Bible.” Again, the Scripturalist does not have an answer.

Problem 3: This is related to one of the issues mentioned in problem 1. For us to draw any of these conclusions in the two syllogisms above we have to be able to justify our thinking. Why is a syllogism of this form a valid deduction? One might try to justify it as follows…

Premise 1D: If a syllogism has two premises in the form of “All M is P” and “All S is M,” then the conclusion “All S is P” is a valid deduction.
Premise 2D: Syllogism A has two premises in the form of “All M is P” and “All S is M.”
Conclusion D: The conclusion “All S is P” is valid.

Where do the premises 1D and 2D come from? Again, if Scripturalist answers from Scripture, then he is arguing in a vicious circle. You see, he still has not justified how he knows anything from Scripture (this is what he is attempting to do), and in order to justify how he knows anything from Scripture any appeal to Scripture as knowledge is to simply beg the question. Also, this argument presupposes the logical law of Modus Ponens. Again, where does this come from?

Conclusion

The Scripturalist will not be able to overcome these objections even though they will try. You will see that in some cases Scripturalists will go to such lengths to justify their position that they will embrace irrationalism. I will do my best to point this out as they respond in this thread. Here is the sad thing in all of this. If they would simply acknowledge that there necessarily is needed some a priori knowledge to go along with the one axiom, then I believe the answer they provide would provide a rational justification to the question of “How do we know?” Their stubborn refusal to do this ultimately leads them to arbitrariness and irrationality. Parenthetically, I do think Clark acknowledged the need of a prior knowledge apart from Scripture. He referred to it as man’s innate ability. Here is where Clark most clearly says this…

But it (Theism) must assert that man's endowment with rationality, his innate ideas and a priori categories, his ability to think and speak were given to him by God for the essential purpose of receiving a verbal revelation...(page 135, Religion, Reason and Revelation).

Clark tells us that theism must assert (not deduce) that man must already be endowed with rationality, innate ideas and a priori categories. Why must this assertion be made? For the essential purpose of receiving verbal revelation! If we do not already have some knowledge of innate ideas and a priori categories coupled with rationality, then man is unable to receive verbal revelation and draw appropriate conclusions that could rightly be called knowledge. This is Clark and not me. If one grants these things, then every objection I made above goes away. It is my hope that Anthony and Sean will have ears to hear Clark on this point.

Sincerely,

Brian
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
Excuse me as I don't mean to be rude but in light of what follows from Paul why do we even have this conversation? One can only know full truth about God by being granted understanding from the Spirit. This statement if true rules all other conversations out.

1 Corinthians 3:
6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.[c] 14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he CANNOT understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
16"For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?"[d] But we have the mind of Christ.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Brian,

I'll refute your arguments again if you wish, but I think we've covered these points in the other thread. It is evident that you don't understand what Clark meant by his Axiom, and you are imposing your own "machinery" onto Clark's system - despite clear statements of Clark that the Axiom's meaning includes "the Word of God is true" and the Bible is the 66 books of the Bible and the verses therein. Clark returns to the Westminster Confession of Faith as the basis for his epistemology, so to understand Clark, look to the WCF. And to dispute Clark, you will have to dispute the WCF.

You have also failed to acknowledge the difference between temporal and logical order. I have agreed there is an a prior knowledge required to derive knowledge with Scripturalism, but this is not the logical priority of knowledge. To justify knowledge, the Axiom is the axiom. Logical and temporal priority are not the same thing.

Scripturalism is very simple and easy to understand. The only way to one can really undermine it is by misunderstanding the fundamental meaning of Clark's Axiom and views of knowledge.

So if you want to rehash this again Brian, we can do that. But I think you will find that the refutation is just the same, and it's the same one Clark gave to Mavrodes, and that he easily demolished.

I was hoping we'd get past your misunderstanding, at least for the sake of argument, so we could get to more fundamental issues regarding Scripturalism and Christian epistemology.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Brian,

It has occurred to me that, while you believe you have refuted Sean and my understanding of Scripturalism, you have not provided a solution. Is you goal simply to refute Scripturalism, or do you have a solution? What's your answer? What should Clark have done? How could Clark have fixed the problem you see? Or is there another answer all together?
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Anthony,

I'll refute your arguments again if you wish, but I think we've covered these points in the other thread.

I do wish you to do so. That should have been apparent from my intial post in that I only repeated what was said in the other thread, and that I made claims that whatever arguments you present will fail. In fact, it is too bad that this thread has already been poluted by these extraneous posts. I guess it can't be helped. It is the nature of this type of meduim.

It has occurred to me that, while you believe you have refuted Sean and my understanding of Scripturalism, you have not provided a solution.

The purpose of the thread is to refute your view of Scripturalism. I refer you to the last paragraph in the opening post of this thread for a positive account. It provides an answer. I hope you will interact with my post. If my post is wrong, please point to the propositions in the post that are false.

Sincerely,

Brian
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Excuse me as I don't mean to be rude but in light of what follows from Paul why do we even have this conversation? One can only know full truth about God by being granted understanding from the Spirit. This statement if true rules all other conversations out.

I agree:

The foundation of our (Christian) knowledge is through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit allows us to understand and surrender to Christ's claim "I am the way, the truth and the life - no man comes to the Father except through me."

Scripture, then, is the instrument and locus of God's revealed knowledge and truth concerning our faith and practice.

All other knowledge is interesting, but secondary.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Anthony,

Will you be presenting a solution?

Are you reading what I am writing? In my previous post I noted...

I refer you to the last paragraph in the opening post of this thread for a positive account. It provides an answer.

Do you plan to interact with the opening post in this thread?

Brian
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Excuse me as I don't mean to be rude but in light of what follows from Paul why do we even have this conversation? One can only know full truth about God by being granted understanding from the Spirit. This statement if true rules all other conversations out.

Scripturalists and non-Scripturalists agree that the revelation of the Spirit is necessary to know God savingly. Non-scripturalists believe that certain things can be ascertained empirically. Scripturalists also believe that only the knowledge given in Scripture is epistemically valid. That is, anything except the propositions in the bible and propositions deduced therefrom is merely belief/opinion.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Hello Anthony,

Are you reading what I am writing? In my previous post I noted...

Mea culpa.

Clark tells us that theism must assert (not deduce) that man must already be endowed with rationality, innate ideas and a priori categories. Why must this assertion be made? For the essential purpose of receiving verbal revelation! If we do not already have some knowledge of innate ideas and a priori categories coupled with rationality, then man is unable to receive verbal revelation and draw appropriate conclusions that could rightly be called knowledge. This is Clark and not me. If one grants these things, then every objection I made above goes away. It is my hope that Anthony and Sean will have ears to hear Clark on this point.

So your solution is that if one accepts a priori knowledge in the form of innate forms and ideas, that allow man to interact with Scripture, then the problem is solved.

I agree that Clark said the man is created with innate forms and ideas. Man is created in God's image. Man is created immediately with the capacity for language and abstract thinking. Man and God spoke together from the beginning.

I think I agreed to this "solution" in-so-far as this is a temporal priority. It fails as a logical priority because (as I said) the purpose of Scripturalist epistemology is not to produce knowledge, but to justify knowledge. You affirmed this in your first post:
By this, Anthony has clarified that what is really being asked is “How can we justify anything we say we know.”

An knowledge of any forms man has, any innate propositions man holds, can not be justified apart from revelation. How do we "know" man has innate ideas and forms (or call it the "light of nature" if you wish)? We know this is the case only because Scripture says so. The logical priority still remains Scripture.

So I can agree with your solution, with the understanding that this is not a logical priority. Your solution not necessarily contrary to my Scripturalism as I have presented it. Your solution is coherent with my solution, once we understand the difference between logical and temporal priority. Can we agree to that?
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I think I agreed to this "solution" in-so-far as this is a temporal priority. It fails as a logical priority because (as I said) the purpose of Scripturalist epistemology is not to produce knowledge, but to justify knowledge. You affirmed this in your first post:

An knowledge of any forms man has, any innate propositions man holds, can not be justified apart from revelation. How do we "know" man has innate ideas and forms (or call it the "light of nature" if you wish)? We know this is the case only because Scripture says so. The logical priority still remains Scripture.

This seems important. How would anyone know with certainty that man has any a priori knowledge of God without the Scriptures to prove it? He would have to do some kind of empirical study and 1) since many would claim not to believe in God and 2) we would not be able to survey every single individual we wouldn't be able to prove it. Therefore the Scriptures justify what we know about humans' a priori knowledge as it concerns God, do they not?
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
This seems important. How would anyone know with certainty that man has any a priori knowledge of God without the Scriptures to prove it? He would have to do some kind of empirical study and 1) since many would claim not to believe in God and 2) we would not be able to survey every single individual we wouldn't be able to prove it. Therefore the Scriptures justify what we know about humans' a priori knowledge as it concerns God, do they not?

:amen: Great observation and very insightful! Interestingly enough, this is precisely Clark's point. See below.
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Scripturalist will not be able to overcome these objections even though they will try. You will see that in some cases Scripturalists will go to such lengths to justify their position that they will embrace irrationalism. I will do my best to point this out as they respond in this thread. Here is the sad thing in all of this. If they would simply acknowledge that there necessarily is needed some a priori knowledge to go along with the one axiom, then I believe the answer they provide would provide a rational justification to the question of “How do we know?” Their stubborn refusal to do this ultimately leads them to arbitrariness and irrationality. Parenthetically, I do think Clark acknowledged the need of a prior knowledge apart from Scripture. He referred to it as man’s innate ability. Here is where Clark most clearly says this…

But it (Theism) must assert that man's endowment with rationality, his innate ideas and a priori categories, his ability to think and speak were given to him by God for the essential purpose of receiving a verbal revelation...(page 135, Religion, Reason and Revelation).

Clark tells us that theism must assert (not deduce) that man must already be endowed with rationality, innate ideas and a priori categories. Why must this assertion be made? For the essential purpose of receiving verbal revelation! If we do not already have some knowledge of innate ideas and a priori categories coupled with rationality, then man is unable to receive verbal revelation and draw appropriate conclusions that could rightly be called knowledge. This is Clark and not me. If one grants these things, then every objection I made above goes away. It is my hope that Anthony and Sean will have ears to hear Clark on this point.

Brian, it is clear to me, and despite of your bravado, that you have failed to grasp so many critical and fundamental ideas in Clark that I’m frankly amazed. Missing the forest for the trees or visa versa is an understatement. I honestly didn’t think it was possible, particularly given your obvious intellectual gifts. Perhaps it is just a matter of seeing what you want to see and not taking care to what is being said.

The above is a great example. You cite a passage from 3R’s which is a discussion on inspiration and language and has nothing whatsoever to do with a second source of knowledge, or positing another axiom, or asserting an a_priori, or anything of the sort. In context Clark’s point is that theism must assert man’s endowment because that’s what Christian theism teaches! It doesn’t just assert an a_priori like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Immediately following your citation Clark writes; “As a hymn says, “Thou didst ears and hands and voices, For thy praise design.’ For this reason a theistic theory of language would not labor under the burden of giving a precarious derivation or development of spiritual meaning from primitive physical reference.”

That is not to say that innate ideas are not central to his epistemology, they are, but not for the reason you think. As Anthony and I have been trying to explain your so-called “refutation” is a straw man argument and you have distorted Clark for really no purpose. Consider this from Intro to Christian Phil:

If the Christian had to avoid the a priori because Kant put it to a non-Christian use, and for the same reason had to deny a blank mind because of Aristotle and Hume, he would have no alternative left. As a matter of fact, the doctrine of the image of God in man, a doctrine learned from Scripture, is an assertion of an a priori or innate equipment [notice, it is an assertion “learned from Scripture”]. As such it will receive emphasis. But only as such, for so precarious are arguments otherwise based that there would be little confidence in the existence of an a priori and no possibility of identifying its forms, were it not asserted in verbal revelation.

Like I said, and evidently it wasn’t heeded which is why you started this new thread, your refutation is just so much blowing wind. You need to really slow down a bit and take more care with what is being said and particularly with what Clark has been saying since it is Clark who already provided the very solution you rightly identified as necessary for knowledge. He just arrived at the same solution as the one you proposed from a different direction. But that different direction is absolutely fundamental. I think the difference between us is minuscule, but you’ve (hopefully unintentionally) made it into a mountain.
 
Last edited:

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This seems important. How would anyone know with certainty that man has any a priori knowledge of God without the Scriptures to prove it? He would have to do some kind of empirical study and 1) since many would claim not to believe in God and 2) we would not be able to survey every single individual we wouldn't be able to prove it. Therefore the Scriptures justify what we know about humans' a priori knowledge as it concerns God, do they not?

Every predication of man is a claim to know, and that knowledge requires pre-conditions. These pre-conditions are the a priori forms. Hence, before Scripture is brought into the picture a priori forms are established. Scripture addresses men on the basis that men can understand what Scripture teaches.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Every predication of man is a claim to know, and that knowledge requires pre-conditions. These pre-conditions are the a priori forms. Hence, before Scripture is brought into the picture a priori forms are established. Scripture addresses men on the basis that men can understand what Scripture teaches.


Certainly. But forms without content can not produce or justify knowledge. And a priori beliefs, no matter how true, can not be justified as knowledge in the absence of revelation. Therefor these temporal priorities do not amount to knowledge unless one bases them on Scripture. Scripture is still the logical priority for any justification of knowledge.

However, a mere predication is insufficient to justify knowledge. I can say all cows are pink. Is this justified knowledge simply because I have predicated pink to cows? Does my innate ability to reason justify this as knowledge? What if I said all men are sinners. Is that knowledge simple by predication? How do I know this is true? Scripture. How do I know men are created with innate abilities to reason (a pre-condition for knowledge)? Scripture. Any pre-condition for knowledge, is not known unless it is revealed to me in Scripture. I can not deduce truth of the "preconditions" of knowledge from sensation, or by empty forms, or from evidence.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Certainly. But forms without content can not produce or justify knowledge. And a priori beliefs, no matter how true, can not be justified as knowledge in the absence of revelation. Therefor these temporal priorities do not amount to knowledge unless one bases them on Scripture. Scripture is still the logical priority for any justification of knowledge.

This just assumes the conclusion in order to reach the conclusion.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Every predication of man is a claim to know, and that knowledge requires pre-conditions. These pre-conditions are the a priori forms. Hence, before Scripture is brought into the picture a priori forms are established. Scripture addresses men on the basis that men can understand what Scripture teaches.

I think I see what you're saying. But I didn't mean that a priori knowledge wouldn't exist without the bible, only that there would be no way to justify its existence and prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. We would have no way of saying what the a priori knowledge is without the bible (if so you could tell me how). Even with the bible in the world, men "don't know" that they have a priori knowledge of God. And I think that's what Anthony was trying to say earlier. The issue here isn't exactly discovering knowledge as much as it is justifying knowledge.

My mom might tell me that she's going to call me tomorrow at noon and I believe that she will but I can't fully justify that belief since she might not. Something might happen which would keep her from calling me. She might just forget. She might have been lying when she told me she was going to call me; she's lied before, so how can I positively justify the idea that she hasn't lied this time? God is the only one who never lies, which is why having the Scripture as an axiomatic principle seems to work.

Furthermore, and I know this example was not well-received in the other thread, but I can't even really have 100% justification for what I consider to be the knowledge that my mother is my biological mother. As I said in the situation above, she may be lying. Perhaps I was adopted and no one ever told me about it. She has lied before, so it's not impossible that she lied when she told me she's my mother. Stranger things have happened, right? Now, it may actually be true that my mother is my biological mother. But it seems, to me at least, like there's a difference between something actually being true and me having the means to fully justify saying that it is true.

By the way, I'm still working this out for myself so this is just me doing so publicly. :lol:

And I've noticed that I feel somewhat Cartesian. :um: :think:
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I think I see what you're saying. But I didn't mean that a priori knowledge wouldn't exist without the bible, only that there would be no way to justify its existence and prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. We would have no way of saying what the a priori knowledge is without the bible (if so you could tell me how). Even with the bible in the world, men "don't know" that they have a priori knowledge of God. And I think that's what Anthony was trying to say earlier. The issue here isn't exactly discovering knowledge as much as it is justifying knowledge.

I notice the Cartesian comment at the bottom. Actually this whole exercise is inspired by his dumb idea that a man must first doubt before he can believe. This is what gives rise to modern pre-occupation with method. Well, if we have to be reduced to method (which everyone knows is always devised after the system has been formulated) then we should do so properly.

The issue is justifying knowledge. But there is no way in the world that knowledge can be justified without the use of knowledge. Anyway you look at it the pre-conditions for knowledge must be fulfilled -- whether Scripture is the final authority or not. Hence the pre-conditions or a priori forms require recognition first. Whatever one learns from Scripture it must be shown to be coherent with the pre-conditions for knowledge. This is the thing Brian Bosse is getting at. You cannot argue from Scripture to proposition to conclusion without first clarifying how you get from Scripture to proposition to conclusion.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
I notice the Cartesian comment at the bottom. Actually this whole exercise is inspired by his dumb idea that a man must first doubt before he can believe.

Concur - Reasonable doubt is the opposite of reasonable faith.

John 20
29Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
I have problems understanding Clark's idea of an axiom. What I regard as axioms are self evidencing truths. Clarkians seem to believe an axiom is arbitrary. The veracity of the bible is not a necessary, self-evident truth. Examples of axioms would be laws of logic such as the law of identity and non-contradiction and Euclid's postulates.
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have problems understanding Clark's idea of an axiom. What I regard as axioms are self evidencing truths. Clarkians seem to believe an axiom is arbitrary. The veracity of the bible is not a necessary, self-evident truth. Examples of axioms would be laws of logic such as the law of identity and non-contradiction and Euclid's postulates.

Not exactly sure with what you mean by self evidencing truths, but the Scriptures do evidence truth and the primary evidence is the consent of the parts; the logical coherence of biblical doctrines. Also, axioms are arbitrary in the sense they they are chosen and not deduced from anything prior. As Clark pointed out long ago all systems if they're going to start they need to start somewhere and that starting point is that system's unprovable axiom. So axiomatization is not something unique to Clark, although it may be a foreign to most Christians.

Finally, arguably the failure of all non-Christian philosophy has been its failure to provide any account for the laws of logic. This is something that the Christian system has a definite advantage. See John 1 for starters. :)
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
CarolinaCalvinist, the criterion you are setting up for justification will get you nowhere. After all, It’s logically possible that I could be a brain-in-a-vat.

This might be in some interest to you: http://www.homestead.com/philofreligion/files/CertaintyandIrrevisability.htm

If 100% epistemic certainty is your criteria for achieving justification, you should become a skeptic, because that’s the only option available.

Thanks for the link, Caleb. Hopefully I'll have some time today to look over it.

Concur - Reasonable doubt is the opposite of reasonable faith.

John 20
29Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."

I'm not sure what you mean by the first statement so I'll go on to your quote.

Notice that Jesus is not making an indicative statement. He does not say "Because you have seen Me, you have believed." Are you saying that Thomas's seeing somehow aided his believing? He still had to assent to a certain understanding of Jesus was. Lots of people saw Jesus and didn't believe.
 
Last edited:

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
CarolinaCalvinist, the criterion you are setting up for justification will get you nowhere. After all, It’s logically possible that I could be a brain-in-a-vat.

This might be in some interest to you: http://www.homestead.com/philofreligion/files/CertaintyandIrrevisability.htm

If 100% epistemic certainty is your criteria for achieving justification, you should become a skeptic, because that’s the only option available.

What's the alternative? Psychological certainty?
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
CarolinaCalvinist, the criterion you are setting up for justification will get you nowhere. After all, It’s logically possible that I could be a brain-in-a-vat.

This might be in some interest to you: http://www.homestead.com/philofreligion/files/CertaintyandIrrevisability.htm

If 100% epistemic certainty is your criteria for achieving justification, you should become a skeptic, because that’s the only option available.

It was interesting. I think Sudduth is for the most part spot on and is why I don't much care about certainty either way. I'll have to find Clark's discussion certainty somewhere. I don't recall if he makes a distinction between different kinds of certainty, but it seems for Sudduth both end up in the same place. Sudduth of course is interested in warrant which seems to me to be merely a lowering of the epistemic bar, but that really didn't detract from his other points. His example about rain was quite good.

I think it is more important to provide an account for the things you believe are true. If your account is a conclusion derived from a fallacious argument then I would think your account fails and so does your claims to know this or that along with it. For what it's worth this was Clark's concern and he went to great lengths demonstrating how starting with sensation, for example, knowledge is impossible. He used the same approach when confronting questions of science, behaviorism, logical positivism, rationalism, evidentialism, and down the list.

Anyone who has read his Thales to Dewey will see his method in action even though it is never even hinted out in the book. System after system falls of its own weight. While men have created brilliant and often beautiful edifices, non Christian philosophy has been a complete failure. Not to give away the ending, but I would encourage anyone with the book to skip to the final paragraphs to see what I mean. Simply great stuff. :)
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Anthony,

I think I agreed to this "solution" in-so-far as this is a temporal priority. It fails as a logical priority because (as I said) the purpose of Scripturalist epistemology is not to produce knowledge, but to justify knowledge.

What do you mean by ‘logical priority’? Here are a couple of ways you might answer…

(A) The Antecedent of an Implication.

You claim that Scripture is the necessary precondition for man to be able to have a justified claim to knowledge. However, this is represented logically as “If man has a justified claim to knowledge, then Scripture is his necessary precondition.” Of course, this makes the axiom a consequent rather than an antecedent.

(B) The Necessary Premise of Any Argument Justifying Knowledge.

This fits more in line with Clark’s axiomatic approach. The problem here is that it is not a sufficient premise to justify knowledge. I posted this elsewhere, but I think it helps illuminate the point: You ask, "What is the foundation for anyone to be able say that they know something?" Here is one possible answer:

(1) There exists a God who is omniscient,
infallible and always tells the truth.
(2) The Bible is the Word of God.
(3) Man has the requisite abilities to receive this
revelation in such a manner that it can be called knowledge.

If these three items are true, then this would provide rational justification for my claim to have real knowledge. The argument would be that the Bible gives us true universals because of its' ontological foundation, and we are able to know these universals because we have been endowed with the innate abilities required. Therefore, we have the basis (foundation) to be able to claim to know something. All three points are necessary to make this argument work. If what I have argued above is sound, then the consequences of this is that (2) is not sufficient by itself for me to justify knowing any proposition in Scripture.

With all of this said, there may be other ways to understand logical priority. It sure would help to have you explain what you mean by this, and then based on this justify how you can claim to know something.

Sincerely,

Brian
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
You ask, "What is the foundation for anyone to be able say that they know something?" Here is one possible answer:

(1) There exists a God who is omniscient,
infallible and always tells the truth.
(2) The Bible is the Word of God.
(3) Man has the requisite abilities to receive this
revelation in such a manner that it can be called knowledge.

If these three items are true, then this would provide rational justification for my claim to have real knowledge.

"If these three items are true" is a pretty tall order. Why don't we start with (1) & (3)? How about an answer Brian?

I already grant that I can't provide an account for (2), that's why it's called the axiom. Yet per (2) I can account for (1) an omniscient, infallible God who always tells the truth and (3) that man has the requisite abilities to receive this revelation.

So why 3 axioms when 2 of them are already subsumed and accounted for by 1?

It seems positively stupid to posit 3 unprovable axioms when 2 of yours can be demonstrated from the one axiom of Scripture.

The great advantage of just the one axiom is that while axioms can't be proved they can be disproved. That's why we can provide evidences (see WCF 1:5 ) that the bible is the Word of God. Chief among those evidences is the consent of the parts, for if the Scriptures were to contradict themselves we could know they were not true (at least one half of any contradiction must be false even if we couldn't know which one). Truth is evidenced by a harmonious relationship of propositions. Of course, the WCF acknowledges that evidences are not proofs which is why, "notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts."

Is there any evidence even to support your first axiom? You can't appeal to axiom (2) or else you'd be giving up this charade and joining me. How about axiom (3)? Do you think Kant will be any help to you here? I hope so, because you can't appeal to axiom (2) for help or, again, you'd be declaring a truce and calling up Anthony and I to meet you for lunch. :pray2:

Also, your first axiom (if that's what you want to call it) aside from being an unnecessary redundancy seems quite random and useless on the face of it.

Why begin with:

(1) There exists a God who is omniscient,
infallible and always tells the truth.

Why not:

(1) There exists three gods all of whom are omniscient,
infallible and always tell the truth.

Or,

(1) There exists a God who is infallible and
always tells the truth.

Why must this god be omniscient to fulfill your requirements for knowledge? Wouldn't a god who doesn't know everything but is just as trustworthy work as well?

I'm sure there are more variations on the same theme, but I think you get the point.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Sean,

Yet per (2) I can account for (1) an omniscient, infallible God who always tells the truth and (3) that man has the requisite abilities to receive this revelation… It seems positively stupid to posit 3 unprovable axioms when 2 of yours can be demonstrated from the one axiom of Scripture.

You say you can. So, prove it. Please make explicit your accounting of (1) and (3) from (2). To make it easier on you, just account for (1).

… and calling up Anthony and I to meet you for lunch.

I would enjoy having lunch with you and Anthony. :)

Brian
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Notice that Jesus is not making an indicative statement. He does not say "Because you have seen Me, you have believed."

Actually that is what He says. Modern versions alter the sentence and make it an interrogative, but they thereby cast doubt on Thomas' confession of Jesus as his Lord and God. The sentence has traditionally been taken as a statement which acknowledges Thomas' faith rather than a question which casts doubt upon Thomas' confession.

And the very fact that doubt is cast upon the the meaning of this Scripture shows that the science of interpretation is necessary in order to be able to move from Scripture to proposition.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Actually that is what He says. Modern versions alter the sentence and make it an interrogative, but they thereby cast doubt on Thomas' confession of Jesus as his Lord and God. The sentence has traditionally been taken as a statement which acknowledges Thomas' faith rather than a question which casts doubt upon Thomas' confession.

And the very fact that doubt is cast upon the the meaning of this Scripture shows that the science of interpretation is necessary in order to be able to move from Scripture to proposition.

Thanks for pointing that out, Rev. Winzer. But either way, one cannot just see Christ and be saved. That's the only point I was trying to make. I'm still thinking about the argument concerning cognitive faculties.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top