Saturday, December 23, 2006

Epistemology

Communing with thoughts through words,
written, spoken; human or divine.

Words: the gateway to minds.
Minds: knowing or unknowing.
Knowledge: truth worth believing, truth held wisely.
Truth: thoughts worth reality.
Falsity: thoughts missing their mark.
Reality: what is...stubbornly, persistently

Reality: In the beginning was the Word.
Listen.

12 comments:

Tim said...

And if only we would.

Shawn said...

Communing with thoughts through words,
written, spoken; human or divine.

Words: the gateway to minds.
Minds: knowing or unknowing.
Knowledge: truth worth believing, truth held wisely.
Truth: thoughts worth reality.
Falsity: thoughts missing their mark.
Reality: what is...stubbornly, persistently

Reality: In the beginning was the Word.
Listen.


/boggle

Only a Christian would have "the Word" as an axiom, a priori. A true contradiction, but contradictions don't exist in reality, do they? Is god inside or outside of our reality? A conundrum for all faith.

-Shawn

Douglas Groothuis said...

Where is there a contradiction in the idea that God is eternal and communicates through Christ?

Shawn said...

Is god in reality or without? If in, then there should be some identity for it to be an existent, yes?

If god exists then existence would be the axiom, no?

If god is outside existence, then nothing whatsoever can be said of the matter, yes?

Douglas Groothuis said...

God is transcendent (beyond us) and immanent (with us). He is not reducible to the world he created, but he is not apart from it either. He has revealed himself in the order and beauty of nature (creation), in the words of Scripure, and supremely in the person of Jesus, the Christ.

Shawn said...

Ok diddily okily.

He is not reducible to the world he created
Then it's not reducible to say or claim existence because we are within existence.

He has revealed himself in the order and beauty of nature
And those things that are chaos, ugly, and "not-so-intelligent design", what about those? Tsunami, disease, Pompeii ring a bell? "The human eye is perfect" Oh yeah? Have you seen the electromagnetic spectrum? We're pretty blind. We're asleep 1/3 of our lives. 2/3 of the surface of this "perfect nature" is uninhabitable to us. 99.999999999999999999999% (ad nauseum) of the cosmos will kill humans instantly. This is not a "prefect creation". If "He" is perfect, how can it create non-perfect creation?

And does it only reveal itself to those that lay aside the one faculty of survival that it supposedly "created in us"?

I'm sorry, I don't think Christianity can have it's cake and eat it to. Faith places god beyond the ability to falsify and in the same breath say it's understandable or "revealed".

Douglas Groothuis said...

Shawn:

I suggest you read Francis Schaeffer's, He Is There, He is Not Silent, for the basic Christian approach to reality, knowledge, and ethics. One can go much deeper, but this is a good start.

Phil Perkins said...

Shawn,
You said, "If 'He'is perfect, how can it create non-perfect creation?"

The logic is not really spot on, though this problem-of-evil argument has been around for millenia.

First of all, is your definition of "perfect" correct? What if the convenience of man is not the highest good? Then your logic falls apart.

It seems logical that if God was first and all was made by Him, it is likely all was made FOR Him. That means, the convenience (loosely defined) of God is upper most, not your convenience or my convenience.

Second, if God made me for Him, He has every right to love me or kill me, just as you have the right to do with what you own as you wish. (If He made us, He owns us.)

Third, most devastating to the argument of the problem of evil is the very idea of evil. I accidently hinted at that when I asked you about your definition of "perfect."
If you believe in good and evil, but they are only constructs of human convention, or your own invention, then they can be proof of nothing. Simply put, since there is no standard (since God does not exist in your schema) of what "evil" is outside of my own mind or the collective ideas of society, then it really does not exist objectively. Ergo your proof against God is a vapor of your own making. It has resulted because of a postulated "evil," and nothing objective. Thus it is on the level of one who says, "My imaginary friends says such and so and I believe him," or the culture that takes a vote and decides the correct order of the Krebs cycle or whether or not the moon is made of green cheese.

Fourth, since all of humanity seems stuck on the idea of "perfect" or "evil," if there is no God to define them, then the entire human race is insane. We have governments and we applaud when the government punishes thieves and murderers. But if there is no God, why? We are all nuts. We are just mean to those that are practicing the survival of the fittest. But then who's to say what "mean" is?

On the inside or outside of reality, God is the uncaused, noncontingent. He is the beginning of reality, Ex. 3:14 and Gen. chapter 1. He simply created the rest of it. And all of it is His to do with as He pleases. He is outside reality in that He is far different than the rest of it essentially, since it is contingent on His will and action and He is not contingent on anything or anyone.

One word of caution: I do not agree with what Mr. Groothuis has written here and called epistemology. It is confusing at best. Based only on what I can surmise from the poetic snippets he placed here, I wonder if he has given much thought to epistemolgy. At any rate, his is not a Christian (biblical) epistemology.

To read a biblical epistemology go to http://dontadddontsubtract.blogspot.com/2006_04_01_archive.html and scroll down to the April 22, 2006 post, "A Theology of Truth..."

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

Phil Perkins said...

Shawn,
That web reference is http://dontadddontsubtract.blogspot.com/2006_04_01_archive.html

Sorry.
Phil Perkins.

Shawn said...

I suggest you read Francis Schaeffer

I've read some of this work and find them to be a) dated b) too confined. That is not to say I disagree with him on everything. His arguments are either this, or that. No middle ground or other options. This either/or approach puts a cap on further investigation. I think other options have been raised in our consciences. But his thoughts, for the time period, were well placed.

I think "the faithful" have perfectly good "reason" to believe the way they do; I just believe they are wrong from their starting point.

Every atrocity of man had (what they thought to be) "good reason", whether it was in their god's name or the dogma they followed.

-Shawn

Shawn said...

First of all, is your definition of "perfect" correct?
I dunno, ask the people, books, ancient writings that defined this perfect being; that's whose definition is being questioned.

What if the convenience of man is not the highest good?
Then "creation" was not made for man as depicted in Genesis.

It seems logical that if God was first
Then it would further seem logical that it is outside of existence itself and not be knowable. No?


If you believe in good and evil, but they are only constructs of human convention, or your own invention, then they can be proof of nothing.

That's a nicely constructed straw man.

Third, most devastating to the argument of the problem of evil is the very idea of evil. I would agree if the "idea of evil", man made or religious made, where constant. They are not. Over time "evil" has evolved. Christianity has evolved. We don't stone people for disobedience any longer. We don't burn heretics anymore. And I would predict, and we see today sings of cracking, that homosexuality will be semi-accepted, if not fully, into Christianity, even though it is explicitly demonized in the ancient texts.

I think "evil" is evolutionary that continues to evolve with mankind.

On the inside or outside of reality, God is the uncaused, noncontingent.
You have no ground to claim this. You do not know "outside of reality". What does that even mean?

This is the whole of the problem with claiming God. If it would happen to exist, it would be "on the outside". We cannot know "outside". We can't lay claim to unknown, can we?

The definitions placed upon the Christian god place it outside of our understanding, but yet Christians claim to understand. How in the world does that logically follow? Not only claim understanding, but know its thoughts, likes and dislikes, what it loves and hates, extraordinary detail about a SUPERnatural being outside of nature and further, outside of our understanding.

Phil Perkins said...

Shawn,
First, let's talk straw men. A straw man argument is a misrepresentation of the position of one's opponent. The mischaracterization is often subtle, but always calculated to make the opponent's position appear silly--easily refuted.

You accused me of doing that when I pointed out that you cannot have an objective definition of "evil" or "perfect" without God. Well, it's nice to call that a straw man argument, but the fact is you did say you do not believe in God. As such, I have not mischaracterized your position. If you dislike my logic, please answer the logic. If, on the other hand, you do believe in God and your cat jumped up on your keyboard and did a tap dance on all the right keys in just the right sequence while you were powdering your nose (kind of like evolution, huh?), then now is the time to correct that error. Otherwise, there is no straw man here because you DID claim there is no God--the starting point of my logic.

Now, you have erected a number of straw men and called them my position or the historical Christian position. Let me correct you on those issues.

You said, rhetorically, "Then 'creation' was not made for man as depicted in Genesis."

This is a straw man, and not my real position. Nowhere in Genesis one does God say general creation was made for man. It is illogical since creation includes man. The closest you will get is in Genesis two. There we read woman was made for Adam. But then water was made for the plants, sunlight was made for warming the earth, etc. These things are statements about the interrelationships God designed within creation. But creation itself was made for God's glory. Romans 9 is to the point. There even man's most galling misfortune is depicted as being to God's glory.

You said, "'On the inside or outside of reality, God is the uncaused, noncontingent.'
You have no ground to claim this. You do not know 'outside of reality'. What does that even mean?"

This, too, is a straw man. I never said God is "outside of reality." You did. In fact, if you reread the sentence you quoted I call God the first part of reality--the uncaused, noncontingent.

Whether or not you know it, you too believe in an uncaused, noncontingent. Do you know what that is?

You said, "What does that even mean?" (Referring to "outside of reality.")

This is another straw man. I did not claim God is "outside of reality." You did.

You said, "'It seems logical that if God was first'
Then it would further seem logical that it is outside of existence itself and not be knowable. No?"

No. What seems logical about it? If God is the first to exist, He does not exist? What sort of double talk is that? Really bad logic here on your part. How can you even call that logic?

You said, "'Third, most devastating to the argument of the problem of evil is the very idea of evil.' I would agree..."

I am not going to answer this because you do not seem to understand the argument. (I can tell that by your answer.) So I will give it to you in sillogistic form. Work on it some more and see if you can get it. Then give an answer. Here it is:

A. God is not. (In your schema.)
B. Therefore, "evil" is subjective.
C. Proof requires objective evidence, material or logical.
D. Therefore, because of B and C, the problem-of-evil sillogism is not a valid proof.

You said, "'First of all, is your definition of "perfect" correct?'
I dunno, ask the people, books, ancient writings that defined this perfect being; that's whose definition is being questioned."

You DON'T KNOW? You should. You introduced the term and used it in a logical "proof." Blaming someone else doesn't cut it. If you cannot define your terms, your proof is invalid. That is simple Logic 101.

Instead, of taking on a refutation to an argument proffered by you, you put up any objection you can as if facts and logic don't matter. Deal with your opponent's logic.

Now to your conclusions.

You said, "If it would happen to exist, it would be 'on the outside'."

This is absurd. If it exists, it is real, not "outide of reality."

Then you said, "The definitions placed upon the Christian god place it outside of our understanding,"

This is another straw man. The historical Christian position is that God is beyond our comprehension in His entirity, but that certain things about Him are evident in nature (Romans 1) and in Scripture (II Timothy 3:16-17, Exodus 33:13.) You have achieved your straw man by overstating the real positions that God is incomprehensible, but knowable in part through revelation.

This is the fallacy from the incompleteness of human knowledge. That frailty does not confine itself to the divine, by the way. It is true of nature.

For instance, do you know all that there is to know about gravity? Or is it incomprehensible to you in its entirity? It is to me. But I still understand enough of it to watch my step. And as far as I know gravity still exists.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.