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    Epistemological nugget of the day.

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    seanbutnotheard

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    Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  seanbutnotheard on July 13th 2010, 11:00 pm

    For an epistemological framework to be true, it must not be self-defeating.

    Skepticism, relativism, and empiricism are self-defeating, therefore they are not true.

    Thoughts? Just thinking... *ahem* ...out loud.

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Paeter on July 14th 2010, 12:12 pm

    seanbutnotheard wrote:For an epistemological framework to be true, it must not be self-defeating.

    Skepticism, relativism, and empiricism are self-defeating, therefore they are not true.

    Thoughts? Just thinking... *ahem* ...out loud.

    I had to look up "epistemological" again to make sure I knew what you were saying.
    rabbit

    I'm tracking with you on relativism and I'm pretty sure on the other two. But I need some review. (Volume 1 of Norm Geisler feels like a looong time ago already.)

    Relativism is self-defeating because one must believe in absolute truth in order to claim that relativism is absolutely true.

    Can you give me a similar breakdown for how you're looking at Skepticism and Empiricism?



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    seanbutnotheard

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  seanbutnotheard on July 14th 2010, 1:15 pm

    Well the skeptic takes the default position of being skeptical, i.e. you shouldn't hold a belief unless it is sufficiently demonstrated to you. Belief in God is not an option for a skeptic, because his existence can't be demonstrated. But skepticism itself can't be demonstrated, therefore it does not hold up to its own criteria.

    Empiricism is similar; An empiricist believes that the only valid knowledge is what he/she has observed with his/her own senses. But the truth of this assertion can't be determined through only the senses, therefore it also fails to satisfy its own criteria.

    So any framework of knowledge must not contradict itself for it to be true. A framework that does satisfy its own criteria is apriorism (like that of Aristotle and Aquinas): the belief that while empirical data are one valid source of knowledge, there are also certain things that can be known independently of evidence and experience. These things include the belief that you exist, the belief that the laws of physics will work tomorrow as they did today, and the various axioms of logic and mathematics (for example a=b; b=c; therefore a=c). It is difficult to see how one could demonstrate these truths scientifically, but without them science (and all knowledge, really) could not function. Alvin Plantinga (and Pascal, before him) argues that one of those beliefs, which he calls "properly basic beliefs", is that God exists. Though we can of course infer God's existence by various means, one is perfectly justified in believing God exists "just because".

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  UKSteve on July 14th 2010, 1:58 pm

    My cat's name is mittens.

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  seanbutnotheard on July 14th 2010, 2:08 pm

    Prove it. Very Happy

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Paeter on July 15th 2010, 6:14 pm

    seanbutnotheard wrote:Prove it. Very Happy

    lol!

    Okay, I think I'm tracking with you now. But can you take me through the argument of belief in God's existence, "just because"?


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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  seanbutnotheard on July 19th 2010, 1:55 pm

    But "just because" is the whole argument. What Plantinga is saying, is that believing in God's existence is as basic as believing in your own existence. That is, you don't need to prove God's existence to yourself any more than you have to prove your own existence. Even though there are plenty of 'proofs' and arguments for God's existence (something I wasn't aware of until a few years ago), they aren't necessary for belief in God, and thus belief is equally accessible to people of all intellect levels. (Though such arguments can certainly help the struggling Christian, as they did for me.)

    Pride is a whole other issue though. Smile Personally I think pride is the biggest barrier to knowing God's existence.

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Paeter on July 19th 2010, 4:26 pm

    seanbutnotheard wrote:But "just because" is the whole argument. What Plantinga is saying, is that believing in God's existence is as basic as believing in your own existence. That is, you don't need to prove God's existence to yourself any more than you have to prove your own existence.

    Pride is a whole other issue though. Smile Personally I think pride is the biggest barrier to knowing God's existence.

    I think I need to read some Platinga. I agree with the conclusion, because it's scriptural(as we'll see in Romans soon on the podcast). I just don't know how to argue the point without having to establish the truth of scripture first.

    If I'm asking the question, "Do I exist"?, then I exist, because I have to in order to ask that question. So for me that wouldn't seem like a "just because" argument, since I'm utilizing the basic fundamentals of logic to argue.

    The existence of God can be reasoned from the existence of matter and it's necessary origins. But that doesn't seem like a "just because" argument either.

    Is this a semantic issue? Do you think Platinga would equate either of these arguments with a "just because" argument?


    I also agree with your conclusion about pride. In recent years its become more and more obvious to me why unbelief is treated as a moral issue in the Bible, not an intellectual one.


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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  seanbutnotheard on July 20th 2010, 11:32 am

    But does the average person need to think to themselves, "I think, therefore I am" to believe that they exist? No, and likewise, they don't need to understand the Kalaam or Ontological or Moral or any other logical arguments for God's existence, to be justified in believing he exists. In fact, Plantinga goes as far as to argue that if you believe God does not exist, then your logical faculties are impaired!

    And this is all outside if scripture; that is, we can establish a number of things about God without even going to scripture, just by looking at logic and math and nature and other things that we've discovered, but scripture reveals him (and his plan of salvation) more fully to us.

    If you want to read some Plantinga, I'd recommend "Warranted Christian Belief", which is kind of the capstone of his current writings. You can whet your appetite by reading the preface on Amazon.com.

    I wish epistemology was taught in schools (as well as economics, but that's for a different thread)... I doubt we'd have nearly the postmodern crisis (i.e.: skepticism of everything) we're having in America if it was.

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Paeter on July 20th 2010, 12:27 pm

    seanbutnotheard wrote:But does the average person need to think to themselves, "I think, therefore I am" to believe that they exist? No, and likewise, they don't need to understand the Kalaam or Ontological or Moral or any other logical arguments for God's existence, to be justified in believing he exists.


    If you want to read some Plantinga, I'd recommend "Warranted Christian Belief", which is kind of the capstone of his current writings. You can whet your appetite by reading the preface on Amazon.com.

    I wish epistemology was taught in schools (as well as economics, but that's for a different thread)... I doubt we'd have nearly the postmodern crisis (i.e.: skepticism of everything) we're having in America if it was.

    I think I'm tracking with you a little better now. Our direct experience with our own existence makes it intuitively obvious to us that we exist. I could argue that. I'm still stuck on how to argue the existence of God based on an equally strong direct experience. Part of that is likely because the obvious nature of God's existence manifests itself differently to different people. The Bible gives us some clues about this kind of knowledge of God (Romans 1:18-20, Ecc 3:11) but isn't very specific on how exactly it manifests itself.

    For some, looking at the Grand Canyon will do it. For others, a loving relationship makes his existence obvious. And for many others it's just unidentifiable intuition. So it would seem to me that it would be tough to argue that way.

    However, as you pointed out, unbelief is a pride issue, not an intellectual one. So even if the subjective intuitive argument holds up and on some level everyone knows it, it probably isn't the argument I'd want to start with, since it is the first one that sin buries in a mask of superficial "reason" or "logic".

    Thanks for the book recommendation!

    And I agree regarding education. I had an economics teacher(funny you should mention) in High School (a Christian) who is convinced that we are really dropping the ball by not offering and requiring courses in logic.



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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  seanbutnotheard on July 20th 2010, 1:57 pm

    You know, I just realized what you meant when you said "it's scriptural"... Romans 1:20. I wasn't even thinking of that but you're right!

    I think you hit on what I was trying to say with the words "unidentifiable intuition". When I look around me, I think to myself, 'none of this would make any sense if there were no creator'. I don't need any further justification beyond that intuition. What happens though, is that, for many people, various kinds of "blockers" come along and convince us that this natural intuition is wrong. A few examples: the problem of evil, the (apparent) failings of the church, the fact that we don't always (and sometimes never) get what we pray for. These blockers, upon further examination, collapse and aren't really blockers at all, but sadly many people don't explore them deeply enough to realize it. The end of "Warranted Christian Belief" covers what Plantinga feels are the most powerful blockers.

    (You like how I'm plugging a book I've only skimmed so far? Maybe I should stop before I put my foot in Plantinga's mouth...)

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Paeter on July 23rd 2010, 11:42 am

    seanbutnotheard wrote:

    (You like how I'm plugging a book I've only skimmed so far? Maybe I should stop before I put my foot in Plantinga's mouth...)

    lol!


    Hey, what's this on page 198 about God actually being a chunk West African Goat Cheese?


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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Tim on July 24th 2010, 2:00 am

    Paeter wrote:Hey, what's this on page 198 about God actually being a chunk West African Goat Cheese?

    Whoa now...I always thought God was 3 equal slices of Edam Cheese...I'm gonna have to pray about this new perspective.

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Hackmodford on July 24th 2010, 11:17 am

    UKSteve wrote:My cat's name is mittens.

    O man... if I were here earlier I would've said.

    "You say Lord, therefore you must believe God"

    "I call my cat, "The Lord"

    "How do you know that he loves you, or feels?"

    "I don't, I have no idea, for all I know he doesn't exist, in only pleases me to think in a certain way..."

    It's a very good conversation in the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  UKSteve on July 24th 2010, 4:54 pm

    I wonder how many more threads we can hijack with Hitchhiker references?

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Tim on July 24th 2010, 10:52 pm

    well, I was going to suggest in the "Books about God other than the Bible", Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters 'Where God Went Wrong', 'Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes' and 'Who is this God Person Anyway?', but I thought it might be the opposite of what we were going for here...


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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Hackmodford on July 24th 2010, 11:04 pm

    Yeah... my boss who is my friend and a fellow church brother said that despite stuff like that in the hitchhiker's guide. He said the story actually increased his faith. Because he thought without a God the universe probably would be that crazy Wink

    The other thing I got out of the story is how it keeps talking about in an infinite universe anything is possible. Which logically seems true. But just apply that same logic to God and you get goosebumps Wink

    So yeah, the HHG kinda fails as a philosophy since the series itself proves God doesn't exist by proving he does...


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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Paeter on July 24th 2010, 11:19 pm

    Hackmodford wrote:

    The other thing I got out of the story is how it keeps talking about in an infinite universe anything is possible. Which logically seems true. But just apply that same logic to God and you get goosebumps Wink


    (To steer things a little back to center...)

    Wink

    The universe is actually finite, not infinite from the little I understand of cosmology. And technically, literally anything is not possible. God, who is consistent and logical by nature, never violates the law of non-contradiction. For example, it is not possible for God to be both personal and impersonal in the same sense at the same time.


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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  ProfessorAlan on July 25th 2010, 8:01 am

    Paeter wrote:God, who is consistent and logical by nature, never violates the law of non-contradiction. For example, it is not possible for God to be both personal and impersonal in the same sense at the same time.

    I agree with the concept of this and similar statements, but I don't hold God accountable to our puny understandings of human logic. I just think there is a lot more mystery to it, a lot more we will never understand, and a lot of seeming contradictions that we just have to live with. And I don't mind that one bit.

    If I could understand God, Hw wouldn't be much of a god.

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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Tim on July 25th 2010, 10:00 am

    It always bugs me whenever I hear people try and introduce doubt into Christian's minds by saying stuff like, "If God can do anything, then could God make a rock so big that He couldn't lift it?"

    I like to tell my kids that I teach that like it or not, God CANNOT do "Anything"... There are plenty of things He can't do. And it says so in the Bible. God cannot lie, for instance. Basically, God cannot do anything that would make him cease to be God.


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    Re: Epistemological nugget of the day.

    Post  Paeter on July 26th 2010, 9:31 pm

    ProfessorAlan wrote:
    Paeter wrote:God, who is consistent and logical by nature, never violates the law of non-contradiction. For example, it is not possible for God to be both personal and impersonal in the same sense at the same time.

    I agree with the concept of this and similar statements, but I don't hold God accountable to our puny understandings of human logic. I just think there is a lot more mystery to it, a lot more we will never understand, and a lot of seeming contradictions that we just have to live with. And I don't mind that one bit.

    If I could understand God, Hw wouldn't be much of a god.

    I definitely agree. I think the challenge we have is to walk that fine middle line. To the left of us we have the mentality of giving up and believing whatever we feel like in the name of the greatness and mystery of God. On the right of us we have a view of God so confined to 4 dimensions of length, width, height and time that he is boxed in and much too small.

    It's an interesting tension to explore and deduce as much as possible while acknowledging that God's limits will never even come close to being discovered.


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