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« Did Polygamy Accomplish the Purpose Given in LDS Scripture? | Main | If God Is All-Powerful, Can He Do Anything? »

November 29, 2014


It's not so much that you discard your doubts, but the doubts should evaporate of themselves as soon as you see the pure Truth - right?

What is "pure Truth" John?

Why is it 'pure'?

Why is "Truth" capitalized?

Is something packed in to that that we're supposed to get?

What is the difference between my discarding a doubt in the face of evidence and a doubt evaporating in the face of evidence? Why is that distinction important to point out?

From Keller quote

"It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them."

It never has been has always been personal faith. I really dont know what he is reacting to, I have to wonder anyway, especially with modern evangelicalism's lone ranger attitude which he seems to promote even though he is in a Reformed denomination.

"Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt."

"Only"??? What about making use of the means of grace? Is it completely impossible for the Church to prepare the saints with a reasonable coherent systematic theological worldview that withstands any challenge in such a way that "doubt" never takes hold? A worldview that answers skeptics challenges is worthless if it isn't grounded in scripture and answers with scripture.

I guess if by "doubt", Keller intends to convey questioning the validity of the Biblical account my challenge holds, if by doubts he speaks of assurance, that is another thing.

If you discard your doubts, like trash, then they still exist and you just ignore them. Your doubts might be lingering and starting to smell bad in an old trash heap. If they smell bad enough, you won't be able to ignore them anymore.

But if you truly see God's Truth, you won't have any doubts at all. Your doubts won't exist.

There's no hidden meaning or "gotcha" in my comment. Why do you seem so suspicious, WisdomLover?

But if you truly see God's Truth, you won't have any doubts at all. Your doubts won't exist.
There's that capitalized "Truth" again.

This view is a caricature that very few, if any, real live Christians actually believe. It is also utterly inconsistent with most of the posts that you've posted here. And it is not the sort of comment that I'd expect from the author of So I doubt very much that you are one of those few unreflective Christians who believe this. (If I were to bet, I'd bet that you don't believe in God at all, reflectively or otherwise. Let alone Christ.)

So that's why I'm suspicious. Because your remark is not even close to what any reflective Christian (the sort of Christian who is likely to be participating in the comments on this blog) believes. And it is also not your own view. So it is some sort of straw man that you are trying to erect.

It obviously is a 'gotcha'. I'm just trying to figure out what the gotcha is.

I doubt that the gotcha involves anything about voluntarism of belief (which you appear to be focussing on with your talk of discarding doubt vs. evaporating doubt).

And I doubt that voluntarism of belief is at the root of your remark in spite of the fact that the rotting trash analogy seems to be you doubling-down on that point. The rotting trash you speak of seems to be full of red-herring.

So what are you really driving at John?

Best to just write it down.

I can see what John Moore is talking about. Using Peter as an illustration, when Jesus asked Peter to identify him, Peter replied something like you are "The Messiah". Jesus told Peter that God had revealed that to him. So it isn't necessarily a blind faith but more of a discernment imparted by God. The greater the discernment the less doubt.

I know of a "Word of Faith" sect years ago. They believed faith was the condition they must meet in order to be healed. Many died as a result. They clung to faith against all proof to the contrary, throwing away medicine, refusing medical treatment, all which were to them, signs of doubt, and many died as a result. In this case, doubt would have saved more than faith ever could.

They serve me well as an example of what can go wrong when faith as a "work" enters into the mix.

Truth with a capital T is the objective truth that stays the same regardless of whether people know it or believe it. Surely you Christians believe such an objective truth exists, as do I. We're not relativists here. I don't understand why WisdomLover calls this a caricature.

Well, maybe it's because we humans have difficulty knowing God's cosmic Truth. But Christians surely believe it's possible to know the Truth. I admit I think it's not possible.

Again, I'm not trying to trick you guys - I'm just exploring ideas together with you. I admit I'm an atheist. I just use religious vocabulary sometimes in an effort to find common ground.

"I admit I think it's not possible"

Since the subject of your conclusion is objective truth, I have to say from what I've seen, you are either schizophrenic or just plain old crazy because I have seen evidence, ie contradictory statements, and also, I seriously doubt that you live like you really think this is true.

Whoa, that's taking it to extremes, isn't it? I meant it's not possible for us humans to know God's cosmic truth, but we can still have a kind of practical earthly knowledge of the here and now. Or at least we can act fairly confidently on our assumptions. Is that crazy schizophrenia?

Well, ok John Moore, maybe you can be more precise...distinguish please between:

God's cosmic truth....
objective truth....
practical earthly knowledge....

I dont believe you can have justified knowledge of even practical earthly knowledge without having as your foundation the triune God revealed in the Bible, so I need to know what you mean to answer.

I think of knowledge in terms of successful predictions. I "know" there's a pencil on my desk because I predict if I look, I'll see a pencil there. Good - I was right.

I agree that you can't have absolutely justified knowledge ahead of time. Nobody knows totally for sure if their prediction will be correct. But the fact is that our ordinary daily predictions turn out correct most of the time.

Your own knowledge of God can also be thought of as a prediction. If you know God exists, that means you predict you'll see Him after you die, for example. You can't know absolutely for sure ahead of time. You'll just have to wait and see.

God's cosmic truth = objective truth. But truth is very different from knowledge of the truth. All knowledge is a kind of prediction.

Surely you Christians believe such an objective truth exists, as do I. We're not relativists here. I don't understand why WisdomLover calls this a caricature.
The caricature is that Christians believe that every objective truth can be known without doubt. They don't. I don't believe even the Word of Faith movement believed that. I think their point was that if God didn't answer your prayer it was always the case that your heart harbored some unbelief. It does not follow from this that unbelief always leads to unanswered prayer.

I don't think it is possible to know every objective truth without doubt, with or without divine revelation. There are, of course, some objective truths that can be known without doubt. Some, but not all.

Peter had doubts about every single thing that God revealed to Him. Peter's doubts did not vanish simply because God revealed the truth to him. No one's will.


  • Truth with a capital T is the objective truth that stays the same regardless of whether people know it or believe it.
  • Christians believe such an objective truth exists, as do I.
  • But Christians surely believe it's possible to know the Truth. I admit I think it's not possible.
I think it is also fair to say this:
If there is an objective truth, then the fact that there is an objective truth is itself an objective truth.
What follows from these claims?

  1. John believes it is impossible to know the objective truth.
  2. John believes there is an objective truth.
  3. If John's first belief is correct, it is not possible for him to know there is an objective truth, that is, it is not possible for him to know that his second belief is correct.

>> All knowledge is a kind of prediction.

I find something amiss in your analogy, John M, of finding a pencil on the table via prediction. I feel the better metaphor is finding a pencil on a desk, which needs no sense of prediction, since it is of the nature of a desk to contain writing tools, as its function is a specialized piece of furniture for reading, writing, and study. Knowledge is maintained not by prediction but a determination of the nature of things from which suitable predictions can be achieved.

The knowing of having a pencil on a desk needs no self-verification. I can visit the homes and offices of friends to maintain the knowledge of "pencils on desks." I can study pictures and photos of desks (even my desk) to understand "pencils on desks." I can accept the witness of people who have desks that they stock "pencils on desks," and that to have at least one on mine would be proper. I can note that the Spanish word for desk is escritorio, based on escribir, the Spanish verb for "to write" and infer that pencils would be ideal for that purpose. I can arrive at many conclusions without prediction, just by deriving the nature of things (tall order).

Knowledge goes far beyond prediction, so that possessing the first, you are capable of the second. But prediction must be grounded in knowledge. You have a winsome love for objective truth, John M, and that leads me to sense there is no "gotcha" here. We need only be clearer on why our predictions have merit, unless we acknowledge some basis for making them.

Ok John Moore,

God's cosmic truth=objective truth....are the laws of logic God's cosmic truth?

The laws of logic are true whether or not someone believes them or not. of your definitions btw.

Good discussion, you guys. Thanks. I accept WisdomLover's logic and admit that I don't know for sure that there is an objective truth. I just assume it.

About the laws of logic, I like to imagine they are just some extremely reliable summaries of our human experience of the world. Logic isn't something in the world, but it's something we say about the world. The interesting thing about this idea is that it allows God the power to supersede logic. God might still have his own higher logic, though, that we can't understand.

About the pencil on the desk, I didn't mean it in a general sense that pencils often rest on desks, but just in the specific sense of a pencil being on my own desk right now. Someone could have taken it without me noticing, but when I look, it's still there.

Talking about knowledge as successful prediction helps us distinguish knowledge from data. I think something isn't knowledge unless you use it. You can have all the data stored in your memory bank, but if you never access that data, it's inert and useless. So knowledge requires accessing data, not just having data. And this suggests that knowledge isn't really something you have (like data), but it's an activity that you do.

Hi John Moore, you said you're not a relativist yet you imagine that the laws of logic are merely extremely reliable summaries, which is pretty squishy when you consider that in the history of theorical thought, the giants of the philosophical hall of fame all argued as though they were unassailable in their conclusion via logical proofs and that logic was the bulldog compelling others to agree. In addition, only if it were shown that their logic failed could another persuade them otherwise.

"God might still have his own higher logic, though, that we can't understand."

So while you maintain you are not a relativist, you suggest that it is possible that God has a higher logic that will make the law of non contradiction, law of identity, and law of excluded middle somehow void or unreliable?

Please explain...

There's a huge difference between the truth, and our idea about the truth. We might be wrong - that's all I'm saying. A relativist could say we're both right, but I'm saying we could all be wrong.

Maybe there's a huge difference between our logic and God's higher logic. What looks to us like a contradiction might make perfect sense from God's point of view.

Why do people assume our human logic must be the same as God's logic? Maybe God didn't give us logic, but we evolved our logic through our physical interactions with this world. So maybe God's viewpoint takes logic to a higher dimension or something. This is just a brainstorm.

I don't believe that we can seriously entertain the idea that God has a higher logic than ours such that God might make it the case that a proposition is both true and not true.

We have only one way to communicate with each other about God (or helicopters, pickles and mud for that matter). We have to use language.

All languages capable of expressing ideas of truth and untruth have this in common: nothing true can also be untrue (and vice versa). If the rules of a language do not have that consequence, it is not successfully expressing the ideas of truth and untruth.

And all languages capable of expressing ideas of power exercised to make things true or untrue have this in common: that which is made (un)true is (un)true. If the rules of a language do not have that consequence, it is not successfully expressing ideas of power exercised to make things true.

So it's not really possible to even say that God (or me or you) could make a proposition both true and untrue. Not truthfully anyway. To make a proposition true is for it to be true. To make a proposition both true and untrue is for it to be both true and untrue. To say that someone could make a proposition both true and untrue is to say that it could be both true and untrue. But that's nonsense.

So this higher logic you speak of, John, will be something forever beyond anyone's capability of discussing. We can't so much as find the words to say that there is or could be any such logic. We can, of course, make any vocalizations we like at each other, or make any gestures we like, or draw any figures we like for each other. We can even pretend that we are thus speaking to each other. But we aren't.

"There's a huge difference between the truth, and our idea about the truth. We might be wrong - that's all I'm saying"

With all you've written lately here on STR's blog, I can see why you say this. Of course it is complete nonsense but when you dont care to look for foundations for beliefs, all things are true as far as it goes with you and since you cant really be sure of anything I guess this gives you freedom to comment on some outrageous God using a different logic that may elucidate why 2+2=4[or A is not -A] is not in all ways forever true.

Biblical prophecy alone should prove that the word of God is unique as revelation yet hyper skeptics who have no use for coherent worldviews reason that it is possible that somehow, someway the text has been manipulated or interpreted to fool us gullible types. That same collection of books says "the fool says in his heart 'there is no God' ".

WisdomLover's last paragraph points out what it looks like when a fool reasons about while stumbling along trying to construct a worldview. Shouldn't be suprised though, much more intellectually seasoned fools have littered the philosophical landscape with similar incoherent systems of thought that seem right to them. How John Moore reasons anything about God while claiming atheism seems to me to be the height of internal incoherence.

Yes, you're right, and I also accept WisdomLover's assessment that this wild speculation about higher logic is "forever beyond anyone's capability of discussing." I was just brainstorming, anyway.

The thing is, though, that I think God is also beyond anyone's capability of discussing. To me, God himself is as incomprehensible as 1+1=3. Still, it's fun to try to wrap your mind around such things.

My worldview is coherent and reasonable precisely because it does not include God. I may be talking nonsense when I speculate about God, but I need to stick to logic and empiricism when talking about practical, earthly things.

Brad B.

Didn't the smartest man ever to live say something about the dangers inherent in calling other people "fools"?

Perhaps you could take his advice to heart.

I've been guilty of the kind of arrogant contempt you exhibit.

Give it some thought.

Goat Head 5

"My worldview is coherent and reasonable precisely because it does not include God."

If so, and your coherent worldview is correct, why should I or any other refrain from taking life or property from you? iow...provide compelling [logical] justification why it is universally and eternally wrong to not murder nor steal for purely personal gain. We'll see how far your foundations go. Sand or Rock.

Oh good, the Goat Head 5. I dont see what the problem is...the [S]martest [M]an in the world is the one Who defined fools as those who say in their heart..."there is no God".

My use of sarcasm and pointed clash in some of these discussions are far from arrogant. John Moore needs to be waken from a stupor. Taking his worldview and gently and nicely offering disagreement is not effective. Not because he isn't willing to discuss things but because in his heart, I'll quote "My worldview is coherent and reasonable precisely because it does not include God". This is so patently and unmistakenly false in fact that it takes a willful stubborness to not see the unfounded assumptions it rests on.

No one outside of orthodox and historic Christianity has come up with a coherent worldview yet that accounts for logic and morality yet he believes his does. Much more capable people are hoping to find an alternate foundation with the same willful stubborness.

Atheists though, have a greater and prior problem to overcome...account for consciousness from a purely materialistic worldview. Some say this is their greatest challenge...I dont think I'll see John Moore really wrestling with that.

Actually, accounting for consciousness is the main topic of my personal blog, which you can see if you click on my name :-)

It seems John, that you have identified two extremes

  1. A theistic worldview that includes a God who uses His contra-logical power to give people knowledge of objective truth, but who is, unfortunately, forever beyond anyone's capability of discussion.
  2. An atheistic worldview chosen precisely because it avoids the impossibilities involved in a God with contra-logical power, but which can claim no knowledge of any objective truth.
Let me make this modest proposal for a 'middle way'
Everyone uses grammatical and logically coherent words, phrases and sentences expressed in a commonly spoken language to describe their worldview
If we follow my proposal, then we won't be able to speak of a God with contra-logical power, but we also won't rule out knowledge of objective truth from the beginning.

Now, this middle-way has this to recommend it: virtually every Christian theist holds the view.

Historically, there have been only two major figures I can think of who have even hinted at God having contra-logical power.

Peter Damian.

Rene Descartes.

But Damian's view was actually, that speaking of logic as a limit on God's power is a mistake. His view is that we must use language to express what we believe about God's power and other attributes. Because we must use language in this way, all our talk is subject to its rules, including the rules of logic. And that's why we cannot say that God can work a contradiction.

This is not the view that God has contra-logical power. It is a view about what we are able to say. And, what is more, according to that view, the one thing we absolutely cannot say is that God has contra-logical power.

As for Descartes, he was considering the possibility that an evil creator (the Evil Genius) might so befoul my thinking that even my logical reasoning is wrong. That's far from saying that God does have contra-logical power. It's simply the most extreme form of methodological doubt.

Brad B.

Just off the top of my head, Islam and Judaism have coherent worldviews that account for morality and logic.

They are both incorrect, in my view, but not incoherent.

Most theist worldviews account for morality and logic quite nicely, it would seem.

While Christianity is unique in many ways, I don't see this as one of them.

Goat Head 5

I am astounded that you think your snarky name calling actually advances your arguments! Are you usually more persuaded when you are called an idiot?

I don't think you will get much support from Biblical Christian Theism for your view of God, nor from those of us here who affirm that worldview.

A central tenet of Christianity is that God can, did and does communicate with us in language and ways that we can understand because:
1. we are made in His image (or, we are physical beings with the capacity to be His image-bearers). That means we are capable of moral, and rational thought, language and communication, and most importantly, have a spiritual nature as well.
2. God's revelation of Himself occurs both in human language (His spoken and written words) and in direct human form in the person of Jesus Christ,
3. God also communicates with us through the 3rd Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, given to His adopted children so that we have Someone who can explain God's thoughts to us.

We may not be able to know everything about God exhaustively and fully, but that doesn't mean we can't know anything about Him, especially if He tells us what we need to know about Himself. God's ways of thinking and reasoning are indeed infinitely greater than ours (cf. Isaiah 55:8ff), but that does not negate His use of basic logic, any more than my use of advanced mathematical tools to do Quantum Field Theory means I don't follow the rules of basic arithmetic that small children can understand.

You can engage in unbridled speculation all you want - you are not talking about the God of Christian Theism, but some false god of your own making, and one that we are not obliged to consider.

Well Goat Head 5, you dont know coherent from a hole in the ground if you think Islam or Judiaism are coherent....btw, if they are coherent why dont you belive them? This just shows how poorly you reason.

As far as my argumentation, I dont recall ever calling anyone idiot. As far as John Moore's worldview, I have done nothing further than the Bible has done...and by the way I dont hold out much hope that my apologetic will evangelize Moore, it is meant to point out the disparity and lack this popular worldview he espouses has contrasted with the Christian worldview. My aim is not to evenaglise but to shut the mouths of the do that they must be exposed and it valuble for Christians to see it for what it is.

John's statement:

The thing is, though, that I think God is also beyond anyone's capability of discussing. To me, God himself is as incomprehensible as 1+1=3. Still, it's fun to try to wrap your mind around such things.

That's fine, but this is not at all what Christianity says - Christianity says that God has made Himself comprehensible to us, though not exhaustively, using modes of expression that we can understand.
(Just as I would not try to explain some aspect of Quantum Field Theory to a layperson by writing down a field Lagrangian, working out the dynamical equations, etc, as that would be incomprehensible to someone without the requisite mathematical and physics background; I'd find a way to explain the essential features using simpler language and math that I knew the person would understand.)

Brad B.

Coherent. Look it up so that you can understand the definition.

Coherent does not equal true.

A religious system can be coherent, i.e. logical and consistent, but false.

Seems pretty simple.

Goat Head 5

Reasons poorly.

>> Maybe there's a huge difference between our logic and God's higher logic. What looks to us like a contradiction might make perfect sense from God's point of view.

Perhaps it is not so much a matter of divine logic vs. human logic, but divine priority and purpose vs. human priority and purpose. Scriptures has this as a theme, and I am impressed with a tendency of the Holman translation of rendering the Greek word nous as "mind-set" rather than mind. How God thinks is contrasted with mans thoughts. God would have man to "be like God" is matters of righteousness and holiness; man would desire it for the prestige and power. God stresses the importance of the Levitical concepts of sacrifice and atonement. Man notes all the nutty laws. In the ideal of the Messiah, the Jewish people sought a deliverer from the nasty Romans, restoring a Davidic kingdom that would possess the Levant. God sought a redeemer whose authority would encompass the world. Christ emphasizes repentance and forgiveness. Man tweaks the Gospel to make it a social mandate.

A facet of conversion is coming into alignment with God's approach to the world's needs. It is coming to understand the standards of God vs. the compromising character of humanity. This is a sad fact to consider. With this understanding comes the uncomfortable thought that all secularizing schemes to reshape our view of God yields a double curse, to live a life scoffing at the thought of heaven and forever failing to attain the utopias of our own imaginations.

@ the Goat Head 5...last response to you. It is your pattern to chirp along and not really engage in discussion at a deeper level. Whether it is from the cheap seats or rafters with the other little birds, it isn't at all profitable and in fact it is a waste of time.

Whether it is just your being obtuse on purpose or inability to know the difference, in these kinds of discussions, especially in the context of what has been discussed here when accounting for a worldview, it has to have ultimate foundations. So, no a religious system cannot be coherent and not be true. My analysis stands, your reasoning is poor and this is the pattern with you, not the exception.

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