Scientific Knowledge, Faith/God...

me: It is often said that science must avoid any conclusions which smack of the supernatural. But this seems to me to be both bad logic and bad science. Science is not a game in which arbitrary rules are used to decide what explanations are to be permitted. Rather, it is an effort to make true statements about physical reality.’

Michael J. Behe, associate professor, department of biological sciences, Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference—a paper presented in the summer of 1994 at the meeting of the C.S. Lewis Society, Cambridge University, England.

Can ‘supernatural’ events occur, or not? Doesn’t science rule out the supernatural? Well, no, it doesn’t. Science is descriptive, not prescriptive. Laws of science merely describe things that happen, and those things would happen whether scientists have formulated a law about it or not. It is not our scientific laws that cause things to happen the way they do. Similarly, scientific laws cannot prescribe what cannot happen.

prof: The key is that because an explanation contains empirical elements, or even predictions, it does not make the theory "scientific." I can say I have empirically observed seeds growing into flowers. My theory is that invisible Flower Fairies help seeds become flowers. If I plant a seed, my theory predicts a Flower Fairy will grow it into a flower. Voila. My theory has both empirical, observable elements and a prediction. Plus, the prediction comes true! Flower Fairies must be the right explanation for the phenomenon.

me: and thusly you have opined correctly on the "problems of evolution".

prof: So, to sum up: 1. Scientific concepts and religious beliefs do not operate the same way.

me: I would argue that belief in facts and interpretation of data is consistent between rationale thinking humans

prof: 2. In science, "facts" and knowledge are seen as provisional, not absolute in the way many people, especially the religious, tend to want their facts.

me: which means you cannot with certainly believe evolution to be "true".

prof: This misunderstanding, I think, often leads to non-scientists bristling at the factual pronouncements of science, especially if they are unaware of the basis for those facts, or if those facts don't mesh with a religious belief. Finally, in my view it's not that science operates by explicitly rejecting the concept of a God, it's that the vast majority of God concepts are not formulated to be amenable to scientific inquiry, and hence they can't result in the type of knowledge science is looking for.

me: I would argue that MODERN science is antagonistic to "God".

Aldous Huxley:
Admits motive for anti-theistic bias
Aldous Huxley was a British novelist who wrote Brave New World (1932), and was a grandson of ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’, T.H. Huxley. He was also the brother of the leading atheistic evolutionist Sir Julian Huxley (see quote: Humanism as religion), and died the same day as Christian apologist C.S. Lewis (see his quotes Materialistic Thoughts and Science began with belief in a Lawmaker), and the assassination of JFK (22 Nov. 1963). Aldous Huxley made this frank admission about his anti-theistic motivation:

‘I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.’

Reference
Huxley, A., Ends and Means, pp. 270 ff.

Charles Robert Darwin „ 1871
Author of The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection

Quoted in:
Creation Ex Nihilo, 5(4):18, April 1983
"ONE IS FORCED TO CONCLUDE THAT MANY SCIENTISTS AND TECHNOLOGISTS PAY LIP-SERVICE TO DARWINIAN THEORY ONLY BECAUSE IT SUPPOSEDLY EXCLUDES A CREATOR"

Dr. Michael Walker, Senior Lecturer „ Anthropology, Sydney University.
Quadrant, October 1982, page 44.

‘If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behaviour to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing…’

Jeffrey Dahmer, in an interview with Stone Phillips, Dateline NBC, Nov. 29, 1994.

Dr William B. Provine, Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University
Quotable Quote

‘Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.’

Reference
Provine, W.B., Origins Research 16(1/2), p.9, 1994.

The religion of scientism
‘It is no more heretical to say the Universe displays purpose, as Hoyle has done, than to say that it is pointless, as Steven Weinberg has done. Both statements are metaphysical and outside science. Yet it seems that scientists are permitted by their own colleagues to say metaphysical things about lack of purpose and not the reverse. This suggests to me that science, in allowing this metaphysical notion, sees itself as religion and presumably as an atheistic religion (if you can have such a thing).’

Shallis M., ‘In the eye of a storm’, New Scientist, January 19, 1984, pp. 42–43.

Leading anti-creationist philosopher
admits that evolution is a religion
‘Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion — a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint — and Mr [sic] Gish is but one of many to make it — the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.

‘… Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.’

Michael Ruse was professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph, Canada (recently moved to Florida), He was the leading anti-creationist philosopher whose (flawed) arguments seemed to convince the biased judge to rule against the Arkansas ‘balanced treatment’ (of creation and evolution in schools) bill in 1981/2. At the trial, he and the other the anti-creationists loftily dismissed the claim that evolution was an anti-god religion.

Reference
Ruse, M., How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? National Post, pp. B1,B3,B7 May 13, 2000.

prof, you do not believe one can prove "god exists"

me: how would you know unless you’ve tried all possible proofs? Or can you prove that no proof is possible? What precisely would count as ‘proofs’? Perhaps you mean ‘valid arguments with true premises with the conclusion “God exists”’

Tom,

--"Every system of philosophy must have a first indemonstrable axiom, a first principle laid down dogmatically (with out any possibility of having proved it)."--

But axioms ARE demonstrable, philosophically. That's what epistemologies are all about. When a philosophical system asserts axioms, it must demonstrate the reasonableness, or inevitability, of relying on those axioms. You don't just throw out an axiom and say "Well, I can't demonstrate why this axiom is the necessary axiom to start with...but since I'm calling it my axiomatic starting point, you'll just have to agree with my claim that it's indemonstrable." Philosophy, in particular epistemology, is about providing the justification for one's axioms. (Your approach, btw, starts with foundationalism but seems to rely on coherentism when convenient).

Further, there is no need for "dogmatism" in accepting axioms in a system. One may accept an axiom tentatively, provisionally, pragmatically. (Ala Charles Peirce's Falliblism, among many other epistemic approaches). I myself do not hold dogmatically to axioms.

--"That means that those who start with sensation rather than revelation, in a misguided effort to avoid axioms, have not avoided axioms at all."

If you are referring to empiricism (which, by the way, I'm not here to strictly defend), then I don't see the point of that sentence. Empiricism is (usually) formulated as a foundationalist philosophy and makes no bones about asserting certain axioms. So, you would seem to be constructing a straw man in implying it naively tries to "avoid" axioms.

--"Mine is ‘the Bible is the Word of God’, Empiricism’s is ‘all genuine information about the universe must be derived from sense perception’, Rationalism’s is ‘all genuine information about the universe must be derived from reason’, and so on."--

I would quibble with your presentation of Empiricism/Rationalism, but my main point would be that the axioms of Empiricism and Rationalism precede your justification of using "the Bible as the Word of God" as your axiom. And that your axiom is more arbitrary, less reasonable, and less coherent as demonstrated when held against our (presumed) shared reality. (Of course Christian Presuppositionalism tries to avoid this problem by moving to a transcendental argument. But that argument hasn't proved compelling to anyone other than certain Christians, and besides, I've seen transcendental arguments that pull the rug out from under the Christian TA).

--"All empiricists, let me emphasize, since it sounds paradoxical to those accustomed to thinking otherwise, are Presuppositionalist: They presuppose the reliability of sensation.

That is true for everyone including yourself. Human actions presuppose the general reliability of sensation. However - and this is where I find Christian Presuppositionalists stumble - the fact that we make such a presupposition does not mean it is beyond questioning. While I predicate my actions throughout the day on the assumption my senses are reliable, I am also aware that assumption has been questioned and studied by philosophers and scientists. And that there is good evidence that human senses are not always reliable. And further that data received via sensation undergoes a sort of re-construction system, based upon how we are "pre-wired" and also upon expectations formed in the brain by previous experience. (Somewhat Kantian in that way, I suppose, rather than tabula rasa). So I the fact I may presuppose something does not, to me, put that presupposition outside critical inquiry. That goes for the axioms of other systems, as well as my own.

--"You hold to Empiricism (the heart of the modern scientific movement) which has as its first indemonstrable axiom the presupposition that "all genuine information about the universe must be derived from sense perception".--

Again, I'm not here to defend strict Empiricism, especially the form of naive Empiricism of the tabula rasa variety. But then, most forms of empiricism have never been as naive as they are often portrayed by critics.. I"m sorry to sound like a slippery fellow, but I don't hold to absolutes and don't put myself squarely into a certain epistemological camp. Obviously, though, mine isn't a teleological viewpoint. In a nutshell, I consider my viewpoint "reasonable," in that I wish to balance a hopeful idealism (for instance that "reality" exists) always with an understanding of my epistemological limitations, often relying on what is pragmatically essential as a basis for reasoning. (If I were to closely align with any particular epistemological ideas, it might be with Susan Haack's "Foundherentism." I also like her philosophical thoughts on science. I also greatly admire the philosophy of Daniel Dennet. And while I'm not a Humean, I definitely enjoy his stuff too. If I had to fall back on metaphysics, I'd likely align with a particular version of Metaphysical Naturalism, simply because I find it's metaphysical axioms to be more inescapable than, for instance, theological ones. But anyway...)

How would I, from my "world view" critique your world view? On the basis of things which our world views, and our humanity, share - observation, reason, logic etc.

--"Empiricisms’ axiom is not itself sense derived and therefore it is false by its own means of determining falsity. Empiricisms’ axiom is self refuting and therefore illogical. Any attempt to deny this will cause me to charge you with demonstrating how it is that the axiom “all genuine information about the universe must be derived from sense perception” can be derived using nothing but sense perception; which is, as you can see, an impossible task."--

Tom, Empericists are not that stupid; you are setting up your own easy target. You have phrased the axiom in a way that skips the discursive process. Empiricism is a theory which holds that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience. Not simply that knowledge is only sense derived. The latter implies solipsism, the former does not. Of course one can't sense the axiom "all knowledge originates from the senses." It's a concept, which arises from reasoning. An Empiricist may simply point out that his knowledge is a result of sense perception, allied with reason. There is nothing self refuting about the proposition "there is nothing I can think of that I know, that would have been possible had I never had any sensation."
(It may or may not be wrong, but it isn't self-refuting).

You want to talk about an impossible task? Imagine a human being who has never had the use of_any_ senses whatsoever. Now demonstrate what knowledge the human being would possibly have, and how he would express it either to someone else or to himself. (There are some strong philosophical movements that posit knowledge requires consciousness and consciousness requires language. Try and imagine any of that without first employing perception).

Cheers,

Prof.

Rooster, you busy beaver. You really don't want me to have a life, do you? Wouldn't this just be easier on all of us if you just took what I said with unquestioning awe?

Sigh..

I'll post something tomorrow.

See ya.

Prof.

LOL! (roosters let's out a maniacal laugh, sweat beading down his nose, wonders casually if he should be doing this at work).

Prof, I always enjoying going a round or 2 with you. Thanks for taking the time to read my responses.

“Tom, Empiricists are not that stupid; you are setting up your own easy target. You have phrased the axiom in a way that skips the discursive process. Empiricism is a theory which holds that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience. Not simply that knowledge is only sense derived.”

“[...] Empiricism" refers to the 18th century philosophical movement in Great Britain which maintained that all knowledge comes from experience […]” http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/emp-brit.htm

“Empiricism is a theory which holds that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience.” http://skepdic.com/empiricism.html

“em•pir•i•cism: The view that experience, especially of the senses, is the only source of knowledge.” http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=empiricism

“The Empiricists want to argue that all our ideas come from experience.” http://www.philosophyonline.co.uk/tok/empiricism4.htm

Oh and BTW philosophically experience is defined as the apprehension of an object, thought, or emotion through the senses.

Also, just to shut down the avenue of reasoning that says that Empiricism only STARTS with the experience and then extrapolates laws or principles via reason. The only thing allowed as a basis of all knowledge for an Empiricist is ONLY sense derived information.

It is also true for me that knowledge is extrapolated into laws or principles using reason and logic! That was never the question. It is a red herring to divert attention to the secondary process of the building of subsequent knowledge! The question was never how do you turn knowledge into MORE knowledge. The question was ALWAYS what constitutes a foundation for knowledge?

We say the Word of God and you say your Senses. That is the start. Yes we both build edifices of laws or principles via logic from a foundation. But that was never the question.

“The basic idea behind empiricism is that knowledge can be derived through careful observation and cataloging of phenomena and [then] extrapolating laws or principles from these observations.” http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GLOSSARY/EMPIRIC.HTM

So you now have two options before you:

  1. Be an intellectually honest and logically consistent man and assert that Empiricists are indeed that stupid (and then claim to not be one).

  2. Be a hypocrite and look fact in the face and deny it.

What’s it going to be Prof?

-Tom Bombadil

Tom, if you won't listen to me, listen to Mr. Ray's song from Finding Nemo:

"Oh, knowledge exploring is oh so lyrical, when you think thoughts
that are empirical.".

Prof wins by reference to Nemo!

But if we really have to get analytical...

--"Also, just to shut down the avenue of reasoning that says that Empiricism only STARTS with the experience and then extrapolates laws or principles via reason. The only thing allowed as a basis of all knowledge for an Empiricist is ONLY sense derived information."--

I'm sorry Tom, but dictionary quotes can not convey the variety of notions held within any philosophical system, including Empiricism. Empiricists have updated their stance (check out, for example the writings of Carl G. Hempel). And even if you go back to core guys like Bacon and Mill you will see sensation posited as both the starting point (and the reference point) for knowledge, but you will also see that Mill himself said we often have to theorize with axioms created in our imagination. (But those are again tested via experience for verification).

Mill also stressed that empirical testing isn't the only testing that one applies to a theory, one also needs to examine it to see if it is logical, that is that the parts of the theory hang together in a rational way. Because of this strong combination, empirical methods have been able to prove some of it's own older notions false, and update/augment itself. (For instance, empirical tests have shown the older "blank slate" concept to likely be false, through cognitive science, which shows us that the brain does not unconditionally 'report' sense data, it applies interpretation to the data).

Empiricism has the problem of establishing the universals it wishes to uncover. (You can never "sense" a universal, and there is the "problem of induction"). But empiricism is generally a sceptical system, which openly admits it's limitations. Thus it says, given these limitations our hope of gaining knowledge nonetheless lies along this path. (And you wouldn't want to quibble with it's success).

And the problems of Empiricism are generally and ultimately the problems of all human beings, and hence of all philosophical systems. Here we reach Hume's famous "fork." Either you start with arbitrary or unfounded statements (your "dogmatic axioms"), in which case even logically tight reasoning leads nowhere, or you begin with empirical observations about the world, and your philosophy will share some of the limitations of science.

I prefer an epistemological approach that acknowledges human limitations and fallibility, rather than inserting arbitrary fixes to the solution.

Now, Tom, you seemed to have skipped my previous challenges, so I'll repeat them:

Show that this empirically-based concept is self-refuting:

""There is nothing I can think of that I know, that would have been possible had I never had any sensation."

And also:

Imagine a human being who has never had the use of_any_ senses whatsoever. Now demonstrate what knowledge that human being would possibly have.

If you can not do this, you imply the primacy of sense information in our ability to form knowledge.

Prof.

lurking from a safe distance

The interesting part regarding your last post is that all through your response you not only clarified my criticisms of Empiricism but freely admit that the end of your epistemology is that you cannot know that you know anything. Now you mollify yourself by asserting that all philosophical systems share this fault equally as if that in some way mitigates the abject failure that is your Epistemology!

So the best you can muster in defense of your worldview, when you are forced to acknowledge it to be utterly unable to justify knowledge, is to say that it is ok because it is in good company for no worldview can justify knowledge.

Well, that is where Dogbert ended up as well after he and I had this debate:

I said (in another thread, after long debate) that “Sensory experience cannot justify the laying of a foundation for the necessity of any universal proposition.”

And Dogbert replied: “Yes, but nothing can so why blame empiricism?”

Sounds just like what you are saying, huh?

-more-

“Tom, you seemed to have skipped my previous challenges […]”

You have a very selective memory… http://216.235.242.58/tuf/index.cfm?ac=ListMessages&PID=3&TID=414886&FID=71

But for the sake of others I will repeat here what I said there:

Prof, on that thread, asked: “How did you even come to be aware of the existence of the Bible without using your senses? Further, how can you rely on the Bible without first relying on your senses?”

And he also asked this “[…] explain to me how you apprehended the Biblical text if not through your senses […]”

Today he asked: “Imagine a human being who has never had the use of_any_ senses whatsoever. Now demonstrate what knowledge that human being would possibly have.

If you can not do this, you imply the primacy of sense information in our ability to form knowledge.”

And this: “Show that this empirically-based concept is self-refuting: [That there] is nothing I can think of that I know, that would have been possible had I never had any sensation.”

They all amount to the same question.

I answered that “challenge” then and I will answer it again now:

This objection to the axiom of revelation is understandable coming from an Empiricist: Don’t I have to read the Bible? Don’t I have to rely on the senses to obtain revelation?

First, this objection begs the epistemological question, How does one know? By assuming that one knows by means of the senses! But that is the conclusion that ought to be proved.

The proper response to these questions is another series of questions that cannot be answered via sense perception alone: How do you know you have a book in your hands? How do you know that you are reading it? What is sensation? What are perceptions? What is abstraction? Tell us how some things called sensations become the idea of things as they are and not things as they appear.

The question “Don’t you have to read the Bible?” assumes that empiricism is true. It ignores all the arguments demonstrating the cognitive failure of empiricism. An acceptable account of epistemology, however, must begin at the beginning, not in the middle.

But there is another confusion in this question: It assumes that revelation is not a distinct means of gaining knowledge, but that even revealed information has to be funneled through or derived from the senses. A conversation between Peter and Christ will indicate how far this assumption is from the Scriptural view of epistemology:

"He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’

"And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

"Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.’"

Presumably Peter had "heard" with his ears and "seen" with his eyes, but Christ says that his knowledge did not come by flesh and blood – it did not come by the senses; it came by revelation from the Father.

-more-

Now here comes the best part!

We both agree that we are unable to give any reasonable support for our chosen epistemological start. That is to say that we are now both at the point where we are freely admitting that we are both presupposing our epistemology without any proof.

Empiricists can only assume, they can never demonstrate from some more remote proposition, that knowledge can be obtained via the senses and so it is therefore a presupposition.

(FudoMyoo said it well when he said “a lot of strong arguments indicate that we can never really have ‘knowledge of things as they really are’, we can only know how they ‘appear’ to us. […] The theories about what causes our sense data (material, ideas, God etc), are per definition impossible to prove.”)

And I freely admit that my starting point is a presupposition in that I cannot give any proof that the Bible is the Word of God.

But my esteemed college will say that while both are unsupportable his leads to a worldview that more closely resembles the REAL world and that his epistemological starting point results in a more consistent and robust view of our world.

And to this I say “let’s get it on!”

I propose that we go through ever major system of Philosophy and compare Empiricism with Scripturalism.

So we have the Philosophy of Metaphysics, of Ethics, of Politics, of Language, of History, of Ontology, of Epistemology, and of Science; where do you want to start?

-Tom Bombadil

Wow!

Hi Tom,

As much as you would like to make your attack on Empiricism (all that ammunition supposedly ready to go, your itchy finger on the trigger), as I wrote I am not squarely in any such camp. I'm not one for "isms" or labels. That said, I find compelling elements in Empiricism, but also Materialism, Philosophical Naturalism (not limited to Methodological Naturalism), Fallabilism, Foundherentism and a certain brand of Metaphysical Naturalism. But, sorry, I won't put myself in any particular one. I would describe myself as having an "approach," vs. having ended up in one particular pre-circumscribed system. It is a cautious approach to knowledge, starting from the recognition that humans are fallible, but also recognizing that we "appear" nonetheless to be able to acquire knowledge (in that, for instance, we have managed to survive and navigate our reality based upon something which appears to be actual knowledge). What can I say for my approach? That I think it is reasonable. That I acknowledges my limitations and in so doing I may commit to fewer contradictions in my thinking - and hold fewer beliefs that are in contradiction to the world we appear to inhabit, vs. other approaches that are so desperate for certaintly that they will invent the answers. I therefore feel my world view is less bloated with unprovable assertions.

I'm not saying there can be no knowledge. Rather, I would say I don't know if we can have knowledge. It is an ongoing philosophical question, and in general it is not thought to be a solved one. Most philosophers (of which I'm aware) believe with science that it's likely we can never know anything for absolute certain. However, some have formulated ideas of knowledge that they believe validates the possibility of real knowledge. I haven't read all such formulations and perhaps there is one with which I would agree. Or perhaps at this point in time it's impossible for us to know we have the "truth," but something or someone will enlighten us in the future, such that the problem is solved. I don't have the solution. My point would be here: neither do you.

So "knowledge" in it's idealized form is a problem. But, something like science, which settles for tentative conclusions, opts for a pragmatic definition of knowledge. "Scientific knowledge," or that which is gained through the practice of science (not negating the social elements as well). And, in practice, scientific knowledge actually operates as we would expect "true" or idealized knowledge to operate. Bonus! In fact, I think a case could be made that we can have some justification in thinking we probably have found something "true," even if we can't be one hundred percent certain it is true.

Now, Tom, it seems you've set up all the sign posts that read "Christian Presuppositionalism Ahead." (Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be taking a Clarkian approach, with his emphasis on axioms...no?). If this is so I know the drill quite well, and know where you are headed, since I've been down that road many times before. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that discussions with Christian Presuppositionalists have been singularly unfruitful. That is because the CP approach typically waives away the principle of charity in a discussion, and instead of finding or allowing for common ground, the CPist refuses to acknowledge the very right of his opponent to make reason/logic/observational statements. It is an anti-communicative approach that puts every such conversation into a death spiral. Frankly that kind of stuff is un-compelling and annoying, so I now avoid it. Since you've shown before that you are capable of an open mind, I'll attempt the same and continue this conversation. But if it heads toward the same death spiral I'll bid adieu.

You asked: "where do you want to start?" I would like you to start with my challenge:
“Imagine a human being who has never had the use of_any_ senses whatsoever. Now demonstrate what knowledge that human being would possibly have."

Your earlier reply was:

--"I answered that “challenge” then and I will answer it again now:"--

Tom, with respect, you may have written something you call an "answer," but you certainly haven't solved anything by your "answer."

--"This objection to the axiom of revelation is understandable coming from an Empiricist: Don’t I have to read the Bible? Don’t I have to rely on the senses to obtain revelation? First, this objection begs the epistemological question, How does one know? By assuming that one knows by means of the senses! But that is the conclusion that ought to be proved."--

Not true. It simply asks for your explanation. My person-without-sensation question does not force you at all into answering the question based upon my assumptions. It simply asks: given these conditions, please explain, using your "world view," how that person can have knowledge, and what type of knowledge would he have? What would your world view say about the knowledge possible under such a condition? No attack on empiricism allows you to wriggle out of the question, so it remains on the table for you to solve. Thanks.

Also Tom I have this question: Do you believe your world view solves the knowledge problems that continue to befuddle philosophers/scientists/humans in general? If so, this should be grand to watch. If it does not solve those problems, on what grounds can your epistemology hold any bragging rights?**

Thanks,

Prof.

**Hint: Your world view doesn't solve the problems. But...we'll get there ;-)

prof: I'm not one for "isms" or labels.

me: prof, it's hard to escape defining a system of views or beliefs.

prof: I'm not saying there can be no knowledge. Rather, I would say I don't know if we can have knowledge. It is an ongoing philosophical question, and in general it is not thought to be a solved one.

me: doesn't that take it then squarely out of the realm of "science", to which you have hung your hat so confidently on?

Prof, I sense that the more I read your posts, the more you want to define your belief system as "right" yet when broken down, you recognize its flaws. I have a hard time reading your last few posts and squaring that with "evolution is fact, creationism is not science etc.".

Hi Rooster,

I have a response coming to your last series of posts (as many points as I can answer in time given).

No I don't want to define my belief system as "right." I wish to define it as "reasonable."

But even though perfect certainty does not seem possible at the root of my approach, I am not left in an epistemological fog. In a nutshell, we don't need perfect certainty to justify our beliefs, any more than we need to be perfect to accomplish human tasks.

I will try to outline this approach in my talks with Tom (or with you if you wish). I think the best I can hope for is that, despite our differences, you would at least recognize my approach as being sensible. (Maybe not...we'll see).

Prof.

"But if you define god as all that exists then you are an atheist plain and simple. It is commonly called Pantheism but it really resolves to atheism. "

I don´t follow that line of thought.

To deny that there is a god and to apply the name god to everything are conceptually identical.

------To Prof-----------------------

“I'm not one for "isms" or labels.”

That is convenient for you now isn’t it? Did you mean for me to take this as arising from the mind of a man suitable to the task of “[…] discussing the logical consequences of those world views within the realities we share […]”?

You, sir, have no worldview, apparently: that is if one is to take you at your word.


“Tom, with respect, you may have written something you call an ‘answer,’ but you certainly haven't solved anything by your ‘answer.’”

You asked: “Imagine a human being who has never had the use of_any_ senses whatsoever. Now demonstrate what knowledge that human being would possibly have.

I responded with: “[You are assuming] that revelation is not a distinct means of gaining knowledge, but that even revealed information has to be funneled through or derived from the senses. A conversation between Peter and Christ will indicate how far this assumption is from the Scriptural view of epistemology:

"He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’

"And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

"Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.’"

Presumably Peter had ‘heard’ with his ears and ‘seen’ with his eyes, but Christ says that his knowledge did not come by flesh and blood – it did not come by the senses; it came by revelation from the Father.”

How does this not directly and indisputably answer your question?

-more-