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April 17, 2015

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"Those who reject the Creator will create an idol. They will absolutize some power or element immanent within the cosmos ..."

I couldn't help thinking of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I'm sorry - I just couldn't help it!!

  • Empiricism: “What we can really rely on are empirical facts—what we can see, feel, weigh, and measure…. Makes an idol of the sensory realm. Whatever is not susceptible to empirical testing is not real.”
  • Rationalism: “The sole source and standard of knowledge are ideas in the mind known by reason.”

See, this is what I mean when I say that this whole book smells of presuppositionalism. Isn't the whole enterprise of classical/evidential apologetics based upon a foundation of empiricism and/or rationalism? Haven't Stand To Reason, William Lane Craig, et al. been assuming the validity of sensory evidence and reason, and then attempting to prove the truth of Christianity? Isn't what all the "cosmological argument" and "minimum facts of the resurrection" are all about? But Pearcey seems to say that Christian doctrine ought to be considered logically prior to such fundamentals as the reliability of logic. So you assume the truth of Christianity, and then you can derive the validity of logic and experience and whatever.

In other words, I don't see that an atheist like Richard Dawkins and a Christian apologist like William Lane Craig are in any way different in their fundamental assumptions. They disagree only on what the proper implications of these assumptions are, given the evidence.

>>Christianity alone

What about Judaism?

@Drew Hymer

What about Judaism?

Indeed. Between Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Druze, Baha'i and the rest, the most popular "God substitute" seems to be... God.

Phillip, what Pearcey says in her chapter is that while we can learn things through empirical research and through rational thought, you can't reduce all knowledge to one of those things. I alluded to her discussion of this when I said, "While other worldviews can teach us true things within the areas they focus on, 'whatever is genuinely good and true finds its true home within Christianity.'" The idea is that a Christian worldview encompasses the idea that you can learn true things through empirical research or rational discovery (and it has the capability of explaining why this is so), but one of those worldviews (rationalism, empiricism) alone can't account for everything we know to be true about the world and about human beings.

So apologists can use reason to argue for God, or they can make an evidential case for the resurrection—we can make use of these arguments—but that doesn't mean those arguments and their approaches are the only way we know. But she spends some time at the end of the chapter talking about how each of these worldviews has something to teach us about its particular emphasis. They get part of the world right, but they aren't seeing the whole picture.

It's not so much that she's promoting assuming Christianity prior to any arguments. Rather, she's saying that every worldview comes down to something that can't be proven by any argument, so the way to evaluate them is this:

If starting premises do not rest on reasons, how can they be tested? Although you cannot argue backward to their prior reasons, you can argue forward by spelling out their implications, then testing those implications using both logic and experience.

So she's examining worldviews based on their implications, seeing if their implications match what we know to be true about reality.

Drew, the incarnation has greatly affected the way we understand the material world and God's relationship to it. The Trinity, also, changes much, because it means that the Persons of the Trinity have always been in relationship. This is the only way God could be love—that His eternal nature could be loving. That's only possible if loving relationships are part of His self-existent being. The fact that God is relational, and was before He created anything, changes our understanding of what's foundational to the universe.

@Amy , but if the truth of Christianity can be demonstrated solely using reason and evidence (which is the core claim of apologetics), and "Christianity alone provides... a coherent and transcendent framework that encompasses all of human knowledge", then empiricism and rationalism are in fact sufficient assumptions to provide the very same framework. In other words, if we have a list of claims:

  • A: Our senses give a reliable picture of the external world
  • B: Our logical mental processes yield reliable conclusions
  • C: Christianity is true

Apologetics, except for the presuppositional kind, claims that you can prove C from A and B. If that's the case, you need not hold C as a fundamental assumption at all. (In mathematical terminology, it's a theorem, not an axiom.) If all of truth can be derived from C, then it can also be derived from A and B.

Now, I'm actually not denying that empiricism and rationalism are incomplete - philosophers have generally recognized that for at least a century. What I find astounding, though, is that Pearcey apparently proposes to form a complete theory of knowledge using sources besides reason and evidence. I'm at a loss for what these arcane sources might be. ("Special revelation" through the Bible doesn't cut it, for reasons given above.) I guess we'll find out.

Phllip we don't find any one claiming that one can *PROVE* either Philosophical Naturalism or Theism by A and B.

Rather, both the author and Amy were careful to point out that we all reach a stopping point where "proof" (whatever that is) is concerned as we (all) move backwards towards, and into, our respective presuppositions.

Any complete theory of knowledge houses presuppositions - for all sides, that is.

If that is "bad", then welcome to the club.

-Cause you're a full fledged member.

Like the rest of humanity.

Hopefully this is not news to you.

Eliminative materialism's useful fictions, Hume's discomfort with naturalism's insolvent chain of IOU's there in the repetitive behavior of nature ("laws of nature"), and so on suffer several pains which Theism seamlessly traverses. The Last Superstition (Feser) touches on some of that (and far more) as it touches on the fallacy of some sort of tension between Faith/Science which does not actually exist and instead reveals the real foci of conflict to be between Philosophy/Philosophy - where it actually exists.

The OP here shares those semantics - that of Philosophy/Philosophy.

Breadth of explanatory power finds degrees of plausibility.

The high cost of the metaphysical baggage of some philosophical lines becomes (perhaps) prohibitive, whereas less costly lines find (perhaps) wider fields of cohesiveness.

Our experience of Being houses many, many contours. Logic, Ought/Love, Identity, Self/Other, and Reason comprise but a few among many, many other contours. To sacrifice little and to retain much extricates far more plausibility than the forced claim that such contours are, at bottom, either illusion or blindly inexplicable, and this becomes more and more apparent as we move forward into the real world which we awake to find ourselves within.


Phillip A,

Apologies - the last post left out an "i" from your name ~~~

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