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RE: [apologetics] Re: Epistemology

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  • Nikolai
    John, first of all, welcome to the list, I don t think I saw you here before. I hope you ll enjoy this list. Second, it seems to me you either did not spend
    Message 1 of 46 , Mar 2, 2003
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      John, first of all, welcome to the list, I don't think I saw you here
      before. I hope you'll enjoy this list.

      Second, it seems to me you either did not spend any time (or enough of it)
      going through recent archives in order to catch up on the discussion you
      trying to contribute to, or you don't really care what discussion is really
      about, you are here after the Axiom of Scripture and its proponents.

      If the former is the case, then I would like to point out that the heart of
      the matter being discussed in this thread is not methods of reasoning. An
      enquiry was made about best ways or methods available to Christians to both
      present the gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers as well as defend possible
      objections to Christianity. Several suggestions were proposed, including one
      nobody, it seemed, payed any attention to ([...] "Bible is the only Word of
      God" and "Jesus is the only way to salvation" [...] lie outside historical
      verification (by Mark McFall)), instead the attention was drawn to "Stay
      away from disproving their belief", "offer evidences...for why you accept
      the God of the Bible", "Even if some parts of the Bible turned out to be
      allegories, as long as Jesus rose from the dead, there isn't much to worry
      about", "Principle of causality, significance of life, empty tomb" and of
      course the all mighty cosmological argument, a la Geisler-Aquinas at first
      and then later on some other modified version of it was offered. Staying
      away from disproving non-Christian systems makes as much sense as preaching
      a sermon without saying a word, not too far away is talking about an empty
      tomb without prior agreement that the Bible contains nothing but truth on
      its pages, not to mention that if virgin birth of Christ turns out to be an
      allegory, as long as his resurrection from the dead is trustworthy,
      everything will be OK. No! Nothing will be OK if Christ was born a sinner
      like all of us, nothing will be OK if Atonement is an allegory, nothing will
      be OK if Genesis account of creation is an allegory.

      As an alternative to this hogwash propaganda, a Reformed view of men and
      things with its primacy placed on Scripture as the only written word of God
      was offered. This view, put in systematic form in the Westminster Confession
      of Faith as well as affirmed by earlier Belgic Confession, does not seek to
      prove the existence of God or the trustworthiness of an empty tomb account,
      both propositions, that is, "God exists" and "a tomb was empty" as well as
      everything that constitutes revealed system of doctrines known as Biblical
      Christianity, follow NECESSARILY from "The Bible alone is the word of God"
      axiom which is a starting axiom of Biblical epistemology. This view, for
      obvious reasons, affords us to claim the whole content of the Bible to be
      true and infallible body of information needing no evidence of its
      trustworthiness and believability, resting on God's authority alone (even
      though such evidence is available, yet, the truthfulness of the Bible does
      not depend on it, see WCF I (1)). One does not need to confirm with
      historians that a large number of Hebrews migrated from Egypt to Canaan few
      thousand years ago because such massive exodus is affirmed in the Bible and
      therefore is true, not because some historians say it could have happened.
      "Could have", however, is not good enough in Christianity, salvation is in
      Christ alone or it is not, it is by imputation of Christ's righteousness
      alone received through faith alone or it is not, humans either possess free
      will or they don't and so on and so forth, "maybe", "could have been" and
      similar guesses are foreign to Christian faith because they are from the
      evil one who is out there deceiving the world, even the elect of God as if
      that was possible.

      It is then Question 7 of The Larger Catechism "What is God?" vs. "Is there a
      god of some sort out there?" at the heart of the matter being discussed
      here. It is claimed that
      maybe-possibly-perhaps-we-don't-rule-out-and-probably-it-could-be-true that
      if the universe had a beginning, it could have been created by something,
      which supposedly makes some sort of a case for Christianity when
      Christianity itself claims no such nonsense, the Creator of the universe
      reveals in plain language His authorship with some details of creation
      process added. Inductive probability, the mother (or the father, depending
      on who you talking to) of all science, is given preference over against
      unavoidable conclusions of deductive logic which alone provides us with
      NECESSARILY true conclusions, given the premises are true and the form is
      valid. Thus, whether or not deductive rules render inductive method of
      reasoning fallacious, even though could prove to be an exciting discussion
      on its own merit, is irrelevant to this present discussion as far as this
      participant is concerned, what matters though is, "Can truth be known?" and
      if it can, "How?" and "By what means?" I deny that inductive method provides
      us with an affirmative answer to the first question, leaving the other two
      out of reach.

      So much then for bringing you up to speed on this thread.

      On the other hand, if this thread is meant to launch your critique of
      scripturalism (or biblical dogmatism, whatever is a choice word for you),
      then it wouldn't be too foolish of me to imply that you didn't learn of the
      axiom being discussed here from this thread, in fact, I'm positively sure
      you didn't. Thus, without further ado, if you are a fair dinkum and not here
      to waste anybody's time and bandwidth: show me your argument.

      It should be simple, shouldn't it? The axiom you find fault with is
      amazingly simple, can be abbreviated into 8 humble letters - TBAITWOG. Show
      me, if you are a fair dinkum that is, how do you know that salvation is in
      Christ Jesus alone by his imputed righteousness alone received through faith
      alone without affirming first that the Bible alone is the word of God, not
      forgetting of course defining all your key terms such as salvation (and from
      what), Christ, Jesus, righteousness and faith (you can leave 'imputed' for
      me to help you with if you want). Since my axiom is so simple that even my
      little kids can understand and believe it, the axiom that starts off your
      epistemological system shouldn't be too complicated, now should it? So would
      please present it to be scrutinised and if it provides us with knowledge
      that TBAITWOG axiom affords us to have, then well, maybe I'm subscribing to
      the wrong confessions, maybe you have a better description of Christianity
      which should be considered.

      Now some remarks on your previous post:

      <<How does he ever come to know? Can he use any kind of formal logical
      argument to answer the question? Or does he rely on a continual
      series of observations, in tandum with abductive theorizing, to make
      *contextual* arguments that are *known* within the contextual
      constraints imposed by the semantic range of the use of any term/set
      of terms...>>

      John, make no mistake, I'm well prepared for reified, positively existential
      experience of abductive theorizing as a result of inductive rule
      enumeration, through contextual linguistic analysis of semantic ranges where
      neither the hypothetical nor the actual will solely determine the analytical
      structure of the occasionalistically revealed assertions that you may make
      for the TBAITWOG Axiom even though I have no idea what it all means but am
      sure makes sense to you. I'm well prepared not because I'm smarter or have
      perfected contextual linguistic analysis of semantic ranges, not at all,
      both of these skills I regard as dung, I'm well prepared to meet your
      kierkegaardesque critique because I have 2 first chapters of 1 Corinthians,
      the 1st John, the book of Romans and a lot more to build my defence upon.

      <<It is
      necessary that Socrates is mortal because of the formal relation of
      Socrates being a member of the class of men which is mortal, in the
      classic syllogism. The conclusion is analytically certain because of
      the form of the argument, but the argument itself is constructed on
      two premises, the first of which is asserted to be an inductive
      generalization (that all men are mortal), and the second of which is
      an *observation* (Socrates is a man) which may be only hypothetical.
      The conclusion may be an analytic truth (Socrates is mortal), but it
      is dependent upon two hypothetical premises said to be inductive
      generalization and observation, neither of which is analytically
      certain. To make the conclusion *truth* beyond analytical levels of
      language, it would seem to be necessary to construct premises which
      themselves are *known* to be *true* in some fashion that doesn't
      leave them open to begging the question. How is this done?>>

      By starting with the axiom: "The Bible alone is the word of God." Without
      the axiom you are unable to step "beyond analytical levels of language" and
      I can be your headache. Likewise, without it, that is, without epistemology
      that the axiom affords us to have, you not only stuck with me in your
      headache, but you can't even explain beyond your own self that men are
      mortal, for all you know you are a butterfly dreaming about a dreaming

      <<It seems to me that it is being claimed that the power of The Axiom
      lies in its analytic certainty, that it has power to be a deductive
      tool for *knowing* truth. Is this the case? It would appear that to
      be a deductive tool of that sort, The Axiom must contain in it the
      power to be deduced into all of scripture,>>

      Why it must contain such power?

      <<or that all of scripture
      is itself something like a mathematical field, in which its various
      terms/components are deducibly related to one another.>>

      The Scripture is certainly not any kind of mathematical field of any sort,
      but its propositions are interrelated nevertheless.

      <<How is it possible to demonstrate either?>>

      That the axiom is deducible into the scripture and the scripture is a
      mathematical field? It can't, because neither of these need demonstration,
      both are false.

      <<Saying that thoughts *exist*, for instance, rather than
      thoughts *occur* implies you seem to claim you have some privileged
      knowledge of thoughts such that you *know* of their *existing*, when
      their *occurrence* may be but one of a number of possible
      *manifestations* of them, not yet understood precisely>>

      Do then thoughts exist or not? Yes or no will suffice.

    • Nikolai
      Message 46 of 46 , Mar 6, 2003
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        <<The question was, which seems to have gotten lost in this side talk,
        where in scripture is The Axiom found? The reason it may be asked at
        all is implied by the content of The Axiom itself; if "the bible
        alone is the word of God" <is> the *word of God* it may seem to make
        deducible that it would appear in scripture which alone is the word
        of God. *I* am not saying it is or is not, nor passing judgment on
        possible logical means by which you may formulate some solution that
        is satisfactory to yourself of the logical relation of The Axiom to
        any appearance/nonappearance in scripture. I wish to understand the
        explicit ideas themselves and their relations which provide a
        satisfactory explanation for yourself, whatever is the case.>>

        John, we both know there's no verse in the Bible that reads "The Bible alone
        is the word of God" nor there's a verse that reads "God is a Trinity", yet,
        most Christians believe both propositions. Why is that? Presumably, the
        doctrine of the Trinity is deduced from the Bible but if the Bible is not
        God's word, the doctrine of the Trinity has as much authority as Islam's
        doctrine of God, they too say their scriptures are God's word. Reformers,
        I'm sure seeing this problem, defined the Scripture as the 66 books of the
        Bible and the axiom in question is a condensed version of at least first two
        chapters of the WCF. The word 'Bible' includes 66 books and the word 'God'
        includes chapter II meaning that if it's from God, then it's inerrant and
        infallible, it contains nothing but truth.

        Now, one may immediately reply that it is circular to argue that I believe
        the Bible is the word of God because it says so in the Bible and why I
        believe what it says is because it is the word of God. But if faith is a
        gift of God (saving faith that is, not just any kind of faith), then one
        DOES NOT believe the Bible BECAUSE it says so here and there, one BELIEVES
        it or has faith in Biblical propositions because such faith is a gift of
        God. When one reads in the Bible that faith is a gift of God, the assent to
        this particular proposition, i.e. faith, is given by no other but God the
        Holy Spirit Himself and circularity is therefore broken.

        Sometimes it is objected that the axiom is loaded with too much content
        already taken from the system it sets out to provide a ground for but such
        is not a problem of Christianity only, it is a problem of all epistemologies
        and I don't know who has a solution for it. No epistemology starts with 0
        dollars on its balance sheet, all start loaded with content acquired prior
        to its start and the system is attempted to be built based on the starting
        point chosen. The question is then *not* how many dollars an epistemology
        has on its balance sheet at the start, but rather, can it furnish us with
        knowledge if we grant its axiom a true status. Christian rationalism, if one
        wishes to call it this way, does provide us with knowledge and all other
        systems I personally examined do not.

        <<if "the bible alone is the word of God" <is> the *word of God* it may seem
        to make deducible that it would appear in scripture which alone is the word
        of God.>>

        But "the bible alone is the word of God" is not the word of God and it's not
        deducible from the word of God and I don't see why it supposed to pose a
        problem unless you tell me. But even though the axiom itself is not the word
        of God it does not contradict it, the Bible everywhere claims that it is the
        word of God.

        <<The question posed to you, if you *know* my name, was an epistemic
        question, in the context of your denial that any sensory
        observation/inductive-abductive generalization provides knowledge.
        You go on to deny inductive knowledge of any kind, which places my
        question into an epistemic request of how my name is *knowable*, even
        to me, my mother who thought she named me, anyone who has met me
        personally, anymore than to you, given that this is an epistemic
        consideration outside of notions of context or properties of context,
        as you appear to have constructed it. Unless the bible says that I
        exist, that I have a name, and what that name is, how do I ever
        *know* any of this myself, much less what anyone else may know?>>

        Define 'know' for me. The last thing I want to do is send another dozen
        messages only to find out that I'm talking about cats and you're talking
        about lions.

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