Science as Religion

A while ago, I blogged in response to this guy. Well, that guy’s original post has spurred in himself some additional thinking, remarkably insightful thoughts about the differences and indeed similarities between religion and science (from an atheist’s perspective). I post just a few quotes, but the whole thing is worth reading.


In a recent comment thread, I wrote that I am revolted by the corruption and politicization of science. After I wrote that, I experienced a moment of introspective surprise during which I realized that my feelings about people who commit scientific fraud for personal or political ends are in tone and intensity very much like a deeply religious person’s feelings about people who commit sacrilege.

This realization made me quite uncomfortable.

…human beings seem to be hardwired to have psychological needs that are fulfilled by religion. Or perhaps it would be better to invert that and say that religion is an invention fulfilling needs that arise from essential features of our psychology. So even while I still regard the belief content of religion as crazy, I perhaps should not be surprised – or even necessarily upset – to find that my mind falls into the sort of emotional grooves that usually go with religious belief content.

In sorting out these feelings, I start from the datum that scientific fraud feels to me like sacrilege. Plausible reports of it make me feel deeply angry and disgusted, with a stronger sense of moral indignation than I get about almost any other sort of misbehavior. I feel like people who commit it have violated a sacred trust.

What is sacred here? What are they profaning?

…Science is sanity is salvation – it’s how we redeem ourselves, individually and collectively, from the state of ignorance and sin into which we were born. “Sin” here has a special interpretation; it’s the whole pile of cognitive biases, instinctive mis-beliefs, and false cultural baggage we’re wired with that obstruct and weigh down our attempts to be rational. But my emotional reaction to this is, I realize, quite like that of a religious person’s reaction to whatever tribal superstitious definition of ‘sin’ he has internalized.

I feel that scientists have a special duty of sanity that is analogous to a priest’s special duty to be pious and virtuous. They are supposed to lead us out of epistemic sin, set the example, light the way forward. When one of them betrays that trust, it is worse than ordinary stupidity. It damages all of us; it feeds the besetting demons of ignorance and sloppy thinking, and casts discredit on scientists who have remained true to their sacred vocation.

…So I will say it out loud: science is the functional equivalent of worship for the rational human. In contemplating the wonder and vastness of the universe as it is, I find the equivalent of religious awe before the face of God. In struggling to understand the universe, scientists perform work as dedicated, heartfelt and ecstatic as religious devotion. Humility and self-discipline are even more proper to the scientist than they are to the believer; as the true believer seeks to know God’s will without the obstruction of ego, the true scientist seeks understanding of what is without the obstruction of ego.

Religion makes us the offer that if we believe, it will lift us out of ourselves – perfect us, teach us what is mere transient illusion and what is real and eternal. Science makes almost the same offer; that if we accept the discipline of rationality, we can become better than we are and learn what is really true. These two offers rest on very different ground, and religion’s offer is essentially false while science’s is essentially true – but psychologically, we receive both offers in the same way. They both plug into the same basic human fear of death and the unknown, and the same longing for transcendence.

…if it’s true that we all have the same kinds of emotional attachments to the beliefs that matter most to us, it is also true that the content of belief really matters.


My response (although esr is a Very Famous Guy so probably he won’t notice):

Thanks for this esr, this is very insightful.

But Christianity (which is very different from the evanjellyfish movement of today) is unique among all other religions in that it is not about “lift us out of ourselves – perfect us, teach us what is mere transient illusion and what is real and eternal”. That’s gnosticism, the heresy that dogged the early church. And I suppose eastern mysticism, and in various senses, all other religions which are indeed about self-improvement. But Christianity is not about self-improvement, or even self-perfection (which is unattainable from the get-go, due to original sin). It is about the imputation of the external perfection of another to ourselves, and propitiation for sin by a perfect sacrifice.

“it is also true that the content of belief really matters.”

This is also true, and Christian. Christianity is, by definition (assuming the bible defines Christianity) falsifiable. I Cor 15:14 “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Therefore Christianity cannot be merely true “in our hearts”, but is true (or false) outside of ourselves, tied to historical events.

Further thoughts…?

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55 Responses to Science as Religion

  1. Rob H says:

    He says religion is an invention. That sort of kills it for me. People invent religions but they don’t invent Religion. That’s been around all along. It’s been around long before this new science religion.

    And I have great difficulty finding scientific truth being on par with spiritual truth. Sure, fulfillment can be found in some measure through successes in scientific discovery, but to a point that surpasses ontological truth? More interesting is why I’m here, breathing than physically how I’m here, breathing.

    Where both can serve to help me get along in the world, either by facilitating my communcative interaction with the world or keeping me healthy (science), or by directing my moral choices and giving a reason to simply exist (religion), only religion makes more than just a temporal transaction. I guess, to tie that down, science don’t mean nothin’ in the long run.

  2. RubeRad says:

    He says religion is an invention. That sort of kills it for me.

    I didn’t mean to imply he was correct about everything he wrote. As an atheist, it is to be expected that he would think that religion is an invention. I’m just impressed that he sees so clearly how science is akin to religion; that science functions for him like religion functions for (some) others.

    to a point that surpasses ontological truth? More interesting is why I’m here, breathing than physically how I’m here, breathing.

    How can one truth surpass another? More interesting? That’s kind of subjective. Depends on what you’re interested in.

    both can serve to help me get along in the world

    That’s kind of the point of my response, though, is that it’s not the purpose (at least not the primary purpose) of Christianity to help get along, direct moral choices. Administration of Word and Sacrament, conviction and forgiveness, Law and Gospel — all of these result in some measure of helping to get along, providing moral direction, but that’s not the direct intention, but a side-effect (and a non-deterministic one at that, LC78).

    As Horton describes, Christianity is not so much for getting us through this life, but for getting us from this life to the next one.

  3. Rob H says:

    I need to clean up my language. It’s become too obtuse in my little personalized world. Maybe just need to get out more and converse with real people. Like here.

    Rephrase: Sure, fulfillment can be found in some measure through successes in scientific discovery, but to a point that surpasses the value of ontological truth? More interesting important is why I’m here, breathing than physically how I’m here, breathing.

    Yes, agreed regarding the purpose. I think. Could it be replaced by “helps me get through this world” in full expectation that it includes continuation through to the next?

    Do we often dismiss this world in our language regarding the Gospel? Sometimes it seems as though this life is chucked out-of-hand in view of the next. Or am I out in left field entirely?

  4. Resequitur says:

    Hey, Ruberad,

    You said the following

    “This is also true, and Christian. Christianity is, by definition (assuming the bible defines Christianity) falsifiable. I Cor 15:14 “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

    Do you mean this to say that it is possible that Christianity is false? ( It seems that is what you are saying, and I just want to make sure)

    If that is your conclusion, I don’t think it follows from the Scripture you are quoting. Paul is just stressing the necessity of the Gospel. Christianity by definition is necessary, it must be true to make sense of anything, even what is and isn’t possible, since that stems from his decree. Something necessary cannot be falsifiable, otherwise it is unnecessary.

    I apologize if I’ve misunderstood you.

  5. RubeRad says:

    Well, I don’t know if I have all the right categories to properly answer your question, as I have only a passing acquaintance with VanTillian presuppositionalism, but I’ll give it a shot.

    I can show with Math that if 1=0, then 1+1=1 (just add 1 to both sides). Does that mean that it is possible that 1+1 is 1? No, it means that if you can demonstrate that 1=0, then I will grant that 1+1=1. I would say that this means that 1+1=2 is falsifiable, which is different than saying it is possibly false. I have specified a condition which would entail the falsehood of 1+1=2 (or at least entail the truth of 1+1=1). So now the question of whether it is possible that 1+1=1 falls back to whether it is possible that 1=0.

    When I look at 1 Cor 15, it sure looks like Paul is setting out a condition of falsifiability. If no resurrection, then Christianity is false. Now does that mean that (Paul is saying that) Christianity is possibly false? Depends on whether it is possible that Christ did not resurrect.

    I do not think Paul is saying, “well, we’re not really sure whether Christ was resurrected, but this whole Christianity thing is hanging on it, so if we ever find out that he wasn’t resurrected, then whoopsies!” Probably more along the lines of “Look, you can’t have Christianity without the Resurrection. So if you’re going to give up on Christianity altogether, then that’s one thing. But if you are going to hold on to it–maintain that it is true–then you must also affirm the Resurrection.”

  6. Resequitur says:

    Hey RubeRad,

    Thanks for your quick response

    You said
    “When I look at 1 Cor 15, it sure looks like Paul is setting out a condition of falsifiability. If no resurrection, then Christianity is false. ”

    I would agree. However, I would disagree that it follows that “Christianity is falsifiable”. If this were the case, then there is a possibility that Christianity, is indeed false, and can be proven false. I don’t think you would agree with that. I don’t mean to undermine all of what you’ve written, it is just this one point is what I would take contention with.

  7. RubeRad says:

    Apparently we disagree with what “falsifiable” means.

    Of course I don’t think Christianity “can” be proven false, because I don’t think Christianity is false. But it “could” be proven false. Paul tells us how. Show the bones.

    BTW, his aim in the passage is not to specify the condition of falsifiability for Christianity. He is using the truth of Christianity as a premise to argue for the resurrection, and he argues by contradiction:
    R: Resurrection
    C: Christianity
    P1: ~R –> ~C
    P2: C (assumed)
    P1′: C –> R (equivalent to P1 by contrapositive)
    Therefore: R

    So although his objective is to argue for the Resurrection, the logical side-effect is to establish R as a falsifier (potential/hypothetical/whatever) of C. Another way to say it, R is a necessary condition for C (but not sufficient)

  8. BK says:

    RubeRad – I think one of the distinctions you will find in VanTillian presuppositionalism is that Christian Theism (CT) is a “transcendental” – that is, it is a *necessary* precondition for making anything intelligible, even this discussion, even Paul’s words. It is an “ultimate authority” in reasoning, which translates (at least partly) into the basis for the Christian’s epistemology. When viewed as such, it is not possible for CT to be falsified, as CT is the very thing you are evaluating CT from within. As it is an “ultimate commitment” for reasoning in the first place, one cannot consistently falsify it. I don’t mean merely that it cannot be false – I do, in fact mean one cannot falsify it.

    I do understand the point you are making re: finding the bones of Jesus as proof there was no resurrection and therefore proof that CT is false. However, that argument cannot consistently be made from a worldview which presupposes CT as *necessarily* true, which is what I would argue scripture states. It isn’t just true – it must be true.

  9. RubeRad says:

    What is the difference between “cannot consistently be made from a worldview which presupposes CT” and “invalidates the CT worldview by demonstrating internal inconsistency”? It seems the latter means basically what I would mean by falsifiability, and the former is equivalent to the latter.

    From this standpoint, CT provides superior epistemology to materialistic naturalism. Naturalists go on about the need for falsifiability, but that’s only for claims within their system. What would it take to falsify the scientific method?

    Also, I think we’re operating with a different understanding of “necessary”. God necessarily exists. 1+1=2, necessarily. The Law of Non-contradiction holds, necessarily. But (using a tip from my friend Paul — not the apostle), Christianity is not necessary in that Creation was not necessary. God didn’t have to create, so man didn’t have to fall, so Christ didn’t have to incarnate and redeem, so Christianity isn’t necessary. Things could possibly have gone differently.

  10. Resequitur says:

    “Christianity is not necessary in that Creation was not necessary. God didn’t have to create, so man didn’t have to fall, so Christ didn’t have to incarnate and redeem, so Christianity isn’t necessary. Things could possibly have gone differently.”

    I think this kind of reasoning is contrary to what God has revealed about His eternal decree. The difference between what you are arguing, and what we are arguing is in it’s foundation. The argument that “God didn’t have to” would have us step on to the contrary of what is. So Christianity, and all it entails is necessary, because God ordained it. We know this, because He has revealed it to us. Besides, would need all that it entails (in this case, God creating you) to even think “Christianity isn’t necessary”. =)

  11. BK says:

    Not sure how the blockquote is gonna work, so this may be an experiment that ends in disaster 🙂

    What is the difference between “cannot consistently be made from a worldview which presupposes CT” and “invalidates the CT worldview by demonstrating internal inconsistency”?

    The former means that you are *starting* with the set of presuppositions known as “CT”, and that even considering the possibility of the bones of Jesus being found in a grave somewhere is contradictory to the presuppositions you are arguing from within. It means you cannot *logically* arrive at the conclusion that it is even *possible* that said bones could be found, as the presuppositions you use (which include the impossibility of finding those bones) are the very standard you use to determine what is and is not possible.

    The latter means you aren’t presupposing CT.

    It seems the latter means basically what I would mean by falsifiability, and the former is equivalent to the latter.

    The latter means you are arguing from some “worldview” that allows for the possibility of CT being false, which is not CT.

    From this standpoint, CT provides superior epistemology to materialistic naturalism. Naturalists go on about the need for falsifiability, but that’s only for claims within their system. What would it take to falsify the scientific method?

    From a VanTillian perspective (and I would argue from a CT perspective as well) CT does not merely provide a superior epistemology – it provides (in principle) the only workable epistemology.

    Also, I think we’re operating with a different understanding of “necessary”. God necessarily exists. 1+1=2, necessarily. The Law of Non-contradiction holds, necessarily.

    Perhaps we are.

    Does God exist *as he does*, necessarily? Is that what you mean when you say “God necessarily exists”? Or is it only necessary that some sort of god exist?

    But (using a tip from my friend Paul — not the apostle), Christianity is not necessary in that Creation was not necessary.

    In what sense of the word do you think Paul means that creation was not “necessary”?

    God didn’t have to create, so man didn’t have to fall, so Christ didn’t have to incarnate and redeem, so Christianity isn’t necessary. Things could possibly have gone differently.

    What makes you think things could have gone differently? In other words, what exactly do you mean when you say “God didn’t have to create”?

    Who and/or what determines what is possible? Who and/or what determines what is “necessary”?

  12. RubeRad says:

    If your definition of “necessary” is “whatever God ordained”, then what is not necessary? (And what is the point of having a category “necessary”?)

  13. Paul says:

    Rube, note the load of assertions given in the above. There are many claims, ask for an argument for them. Ask to show that their claims follow from a set of premises. Notice the vague language too. “Christianity is necessary.” What does that mean? Define “Christianity.” Define necessity. Is it logical necessity? Does it mean that everything in the Bible is necessary? Creation was necessary? It’s logically impossible that God refrain from creating? In what sense is God’s creation a free act, then? God had to save? In what sense was it gracious and free, then? Jesus had to incarnate and die? What theologians have made this claim? I know Turretin did, but he scoped the necessity as conditional necessity, not logical. Moreover, note they claim that you cannot “logically arrive” at various positions. Ask them to “logically arrive” at the conclusion “The trinitarian God is the necessary precondition for intelligibility.” You’ll get something like this: “Oh, I don’t have to, TAG isn’t a deductive argument, I don’t even have to show you the system of logic that it is. Just trust me, the conclusion follows.” All of their claims are based off this assumption, but they cannot prove that assumption. They want to make all manner of pious sounding assertions in the hopes of shaming you into agreeing with them.

    As far as the falsifiability claim goes, set it in terms of a conditional:

    * If Jesus’ body is still in the grave, then Christianity is false.

    The only way that (*) is false is for the antecedent to be true while the consequent false. So how are they arguing against (*)? Jesus body is not in the grave, yet (*) is still a true sentence. Truth tables will show this. The antecedent and the consequent only have a combined total of 4 ways they could be.

    TT
    TF
    FT
    FF

    Now, are they claiming that the antecedent cannot be represented by any T’s in its column? That it’s impossible. This is the case with, say, a ≠ a

    So that truth table looks like this

    F
    F
    F
    F

    That’s because it’s logically impossible to get a T. But surely they don’t want to say this about the resurrection, i.e., that it’s a logical impossibility. This means God must create, must save, must resurrect Christ, etc. Moreover, what kind of argument could be given for the claim that the Pauline conditional is equivalent to a ≠ a, i.e, that they have the same truth table. None has been given as far as anyone knows.

    Lastly, James Anderson wrote a good post on TAG and epistemic certainty.

    http://proginosko.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/tag-and-epistemic-certainty/

    That’s my first and final post in this thread, I’m out 🙂

  14. RubeRad says:

    the presuppositions you use (which include the impossibility of finding those bones)

    So let’s say somebody comes up with some bones, and claims they are Jesus’ bones, and other people start believing that they are Jesus’ bones, and apostatizing because of 1 Cor 15. Sure, they’re not really Jesus’ bones, but all these people are (mis)interpreting evidence and believing that they are. How do you even begin to re-evangelize those people, and attack the liars, if your worldview doesn’t even let you meaningfully parse the sentence “if Christ is not resurrected, then Christianity is false”? It seems as if your only possible strategy to convince those people that they have misinterpreted the evidence begins with “Step 1: change your worldview so that a priori you cannot believe that the bones are Jesus’…”

  15. RubeRad says:

    My friend Paul, everybody! Thx for dropping by.

    in the hopes of shaming you into agreeing with them

    Thx for the warning, but I’m beyond that now. I just wish there was a silver bullet that would teach VanTillians that the terms “presupposition” and “transcendental” are not silver bullets.

  16. "Michael Mann" says:

    VanTil and Bahnsen never argued that Christianity is a necessary presupposition as much as they proclaimed it. And proclaim it they did, but proclamation isn’t philosophy or apologetics – it’s preaching. In terms of any logical transcendental argument, they could get no further then generic theism i.e, a powerful Creator and Designer is a necessary presupposition of intelligibility. That, at least, is a philosophic position that can credibly be presented but they didn’t really get any farther than that.

  17. AKuyper says:

    Hi RubeRad,

    You wrote a great deal concerning “Christianity.” Could you define “Christianity?” Thanks.

  18. BK says:

    I just wish there was a silver bullet that would teach VanTillians that the terms “presupposition” and “transcendental” are not silver bullets.

    Which VanTillians are you speaking of, Rube?

  19. BK says:

    Rube – I asked you a few questions, none of which y0u answered in your latest post to me. Will you be answering any of them?

  20. BK says:

    Oh, come on Paul. Stick around – you might actually learn what it is we believe!

  21. BK says:

    I’m curious how Bahnsen and VanTil could ever arrive at a conclusion they were never arguing for in the first place.

  22. Resequitur says:

    “Rube, note the load of assertions given in the above. There are many claims, ask for an argument for them. Ask to show that their claims follow from a set of premises. Notice the vague language too. “Christianity is necessary.” What does that mean? Define “Christianity.”

    “Christianity is necessary” means that since The Triune God has ordained all that comes to pass, has revealed this to us (otherwise we wouldn’t know it), then any sort of reasoning that does not start with this truth is considered “hollow and deceptive”

    Essentially speaking, God is Triune, Asei, and Immutable, and Impassable (meaning nothing outside of Him, causes Him to do what He does). So it is not *essential* to who God is, that He condescend by creating us, and relate to us in covenantal fashion. However ” God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;”. So, God saw it most wise, and most glorifying, from all eternally, to create, to incarnate, and die. So the contention I am having is in the fashion we are speaking of possibility as in relation to who God is, and specifically what He has done. When He has revealed otherwise. I’m sorry if this isn’t clear

    “Ask them to “logically arrive” at the conclusion “The trinitarian God is the necessary precondition for intelligibility.”

    I’m not sure what you are wanting at this point. Can we logically arrive to say “The Triune God provides the necessary preconditions for logic” reasoning autonomously via a logical formulation? Being that God created the universe and set it’s ways of operation and gave us the ability to understand and reason, to the end of His glory, as He has revealed it to us, then we would need to reason according to His revelation to arrive to that conclusion. Even more so due to our sinful nature, which wants to suppress that knowledge of God.

    You’ll get something like this: “Oh, I don’t have to, TAG isn’t a deductive argument, I don’t even have to show you the system of logic that it is. Just trust me, the conclusion follows.” All of their claims are based off this assumption, but they cannot prove that assumption.

    I’ve never gotten that from Presuppositionalism, or TAG. But I think it is more than just a system of logic, but it can make use of it.

    “They want to make all manner of pious sounding assertions in the hopes of shaming you into agreeing with them.””

    This hasn’t been my experience either. I’m sorry you feel that way, hopefully this isn’t the case though.

  23. BK says:

    Can we logically arrive to say “The Triune God provides the necessary preconditions for logic” reasoning autonomously via a logical formulation?

    There’s the rub. No, we can’t. Not because the conclusion is false, but because an argument that starts in an autonomous manner can’t get you to the conclusion that there is a God that you must first presuppose in order to make any argument intelligible.

  24. "Michael Mann" says:

    In an argument, you establish step one of an argument, establish a logical connection to argument step two, etc., until you reach a conclusion. In a proclamation, you simply say “Christianity is the necessary presupposition of intelligibility” without proving it. They did not really make the epistemological argument for the necessity of all of Christianity, they simply asserted it. Over and over.

  25. Paul says:

    As I received all A’s on every paper I wrote for BTS, and have been studying Van Til for about 10 years, as well as showing my grasp of it in the two debates where I used TAG–both of which many atheists said I won—I think my understanding of TAG and right-wing Van Tillianism is on firm footing.

    I said I wouldn’t post any more, just qualify that with “substantive” comments. 🙂

  26. BK says:

    Michael – you missed my point, friend. You stated:

    they could get no further then generic theism

    My question to you is how did they even get to generic theism when that isn’t what they were arguing for?

  27. BK says:

    Paul, I too received A’s on every paper I wrote for BTS, and have been studying VanTil for about 10 years. Now that we have our appeals to education and familiarity with the material out of the way, let’s return to what I actually said:

    “Oh, come on Paul. Stick around – you might actually learn what it is we believe!”

  28. Paul says:

    BK, good, then you know that I am familiar with what you believe, since apparently you are, and we have the similar education and evidence of our knowledge of the material. We’ll also note you’ve never once demonstrated that I am unfamiliar with Van Tillianism, and I’ve more than once corrected you and your friends on the matter. So, . . .

  29. RubeRad says:

    Tartar sauce! I have more important things to spend my time on than semantic jousting with a bunch of Corny Van Till groupies. I’m gonna throttle myself to 1 (or zero) comments per 24 hours, the rest of you, make yourselves at home.

    “Christianity is necessary” means that since The Triune God has ordained all that comes to pass…

    When I ask about necessary, I am not asking what happens given God’s ordination; in that sense, everything that happens is necessary, and everything that doesn’t happen is impossible, and the category ‘possible’ is meaningless (and the categories ‘necessary’ and ‘impossible’ are pretty much useless).

    it is not *essential* to who God is, that He condescend by creating us, and relate to us in covenantal fashion.

    This is what I’m talking about, “not necessary”.

    Does God exist *as he does*, necessarily? Is that what you mean when you say “God necessarily exists”? Or is it only necessary that some sort of god exist?

    I’m no philosopher or apologist, but I would say it is only necessary for some sort of god to exist. In any possible universe, the existence of the universe would imply some sort of god. But I can’t see that it would violate any laws of logic for a universe to exist (have been created) by a non-trinitarian god, or an “evil god” (a god whose moral nature is not the same as our God), or a god who willed not to include an image bearer in his creation, or any life at all. (On the contrary, it is also necessary that in every possible universe, one lonely, lifeless, asteroid plus one lonely, lifeless, asteroid equals two lonely, lifeless asteroids. 1+1=2 is necessary.

    In what sense of the word do you think Paul means that creation was not “necessary”?

    In this sense: “God didn’t have to create, so man didn’t have to fall, so Christ didn’t have to incarnate and redeem, so Christianity isn’t necessary. Things could possibly have gone differently.”

    what exactly do you mean when you say “God didn’t have to create”?

    I mean he was free to not create, since he has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made. But even though with God “all things are possible,” it is not the case that logically (necessarily) impossible things are possible for him. Like God cannot will that 1+1=1, or nuke a burrito so hot that even he couldn’t eat it.

    Who and/or what determines what is possible? Who and/or what determines what is “necessary”?

    God determines, but he also gives us general revelation by which we are able to perceive, understand, judge, etc. what is possible and necessary–especially that those categories are meaningful and nontrivial. It was possible that Adam obey God’s law (WCF 4.2 he had “power to fulfil it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing”), in which case Christianity would not exist (because Christ would never have needed to incarnate and redeem, and we would not need “special” revelation because mankind would all have direct communion with God)

    Could you define “Christianity?”

    The religion which is revealed in the bible, and vindicated in history, most notably by the resurrection.

    My question to you is how did they even get to generic theism when that isn’t what they were arguing for?

    Because it’s a stop on the way. How did you get to Philadelphia when you started in Baltimore and were heading for Boston?

  30. "Michael Mann" says:

    BK, I can proclaim to my boss that I deserve a 20% pay raise but only provide proof that I deserve a 5% pay raise. VT might have proclaimed the trinitarian God of Christianity is necessary for intelligibility but only proved that an intelligent first cause is necessary for intelligibility.

    Or, I may believe I have totally answered your question when, in fact, I have been only partially responsive to your question!

  31. BK says:

    BK, good, then you know that I am familiar with what you believe, since apparently you are, and we have the similar education and evidence of our knowledge of the material.

    Paul – that is, of course, a non-sequitur. You assume that a) I presently believe exactly everything I was taught at BTS and b) what you and I both learned at BTS was the same thing. If you want to learn what I believe, stick around an interact with me. If not, that’s fine. But don’t presume to know what I believe, my friend.

    We’ll also note you’ve never once demonstrated that I am unfamiliar with Van Tillianism

    Your view of VanTillianism may be different than my view, and either or both of us may be wrong in representing what VanTil actually taught. That’s why I made the statement I did about sticking around in order to find out what *we* believe.

    and I’ve more than once corrected you and your friends on the matter. So, . . .

    What you have done is argue inconsistently about VanTil and Bahnsen, made many claims you could not support in the face of overwhelming evidence against your claims, and played a game of one-upmanship as if your internet reputation is what is at stake here and not the truth.

    *shrug*

  32. RubeRad says:

    Here’s my comment for Thursday.

    God is the only one who is necessary, and everything else is contingent.Dr. K. Scott Oliphint, Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary (i.e. Van Til’s student, who is now in Van Til’s chair). Assuming a creator-created distinction, that means that Adam’s Fall is contingent (which means, or at least entails, “not necessary”)

    Also from that interview, about the “Silver Bullet”

    Q. What I’m seeing these apologetic discussions, particularly in the light of people who kind of have a sense of Van Til, or even know him pretty well, but don’t have all the categories, the two things I constantly see are that the TAG is this silver bullet philosophical argument that is just, the Christian’s got it,and if you do that, you’re in, you got it, that’s the truth of Christianity. …

    A. Well, I think number one as I was saying I think TA is overstated and overused more often than not. It was only a tool for VT, just something he picked out to use, to explain something about Christianity. There’s nothing silver-bullet about it.

  33. BK says:

    So which VanTillians are you talking about, Rube?

  34. Rob H says:

    Isn’t the idea of a silver bullet the same thing Douglas Adams proposed with his babelfish? Proved God’s existence, which cannot be positive proven therefore disproved God’s existence, whereupon God vanished POOF in a flash of logic?

  35. RubeRad says:

    The better question is, which Van Tillians was Oliphint talking about? But basically, I’m talking about whichever Van Tillians have been annoying me most recently. So if the shoe fits, Cinderella…

  36. BK says:

    Actually, I asked you what VanTillians you were speaking of, so no, the better question is not what VanTillians Oliphint was talking about.

    Anyway, if you ever want to talk about what *I* believe, just let me know. Until then, I’ll leave you and your strawman in Oz where you belong.

  37. BK says:

    If Adam’s babelfish wasn’t made out of straw, perhaps 😉

  38. Rob H says:

    I’m kinda slow on the debate-ology scene, but straw seems to comprise a lot of T/F arguments these days. Like picking a premise, “disproving” it and then working outward from that negative.

    I really appreciate C.S. Lewis’ argument in Mere Christianity. Sure seems fairly light on straw.

  39. Paul says:

    Brian,

    I said my understanding of *right-wing Van Tillianism* is on firm footing. That’s the view of Bahnsen, Butler, etc, which I presumed you thought you were carrying the torch for. On that understanding, my argument was fine (and knock of the “non-sequitur” stuff, as if everything someone says is meant to be a *deductive* argument — which is just one of many problem with you and your friends, like Jamin Hubner) and certainly supported my conclusion. If you are distancing yourself from right-wing Van Tillianism, from Bahnsen and Butler, then fine, I admit I may not know much of what you believe. But in that case, I’m not going to stick around, for what does it profit me and how wise a use of my time is it to find out the idiosyncratic views of some guy on the internet?

    Lastly, I note the assertions in your final paragraph and note there’s no argument to back up the claims. You’re free to live in your own world, but many, many educated and well-respected people (people you’d respect) thought you (and RK, and Jamin, & co.) were fed your lunch by me on many occasions. Look, you guys don’t even have a basic understanding of logic (as I painfully demonstrated to you on a few occasions, as well as Jamin), yet you guys speak so boldly about it, telling Rube to “logically arrive” at conclusions, and so forth. As far as “internet rep”, I have no clue to what you refer. You mean my rep of being an ass? Well, I thought I upheld that quite nicely ;-).

    But tell you what, maybe you can show me that you argue in good faith and present to me the logical system that TAG uses, i.e., show me how we know when a conclusion transcendentally follows and when it doesn’t, show me the valid rules of inference, the rules and axioms of the system, answer whether it is a decidable system, a complete system, etc. If you say that you can answer none of these questions but still persist that you’re arguing and that your conclusion really (non-deductively) follows from your premises, and back that up with only a “trust me”, then I really am afraid your “apologetic” is not only dishonoring to Christ, but it irrelevant.

  40. BK says:

    The offer I made privately to you in email still stands, Paul. If you are truly interested in learning what I and others at CH believe, and why we argue the way we do, then come and pay us a visit in our chat room. Or, we can do it through a Skype conversation (even better). Or, you can re-friend me on FB and do it there.

    What you are doing here in this thread is defending yourself in public; arguing that you know VanTil better than we do, that we don’t know logic – that we are idiots, essentially. Maybe we are! Maybe we have much to learn from you. However, as long as you continue to stand on the sidelines and shout insults at us, you demonstrate a complete lack of desire to further the cause of Christ in a constructive manner.

    I challenge you to swallow your pride and get on with the business at hand.

  41. AKuyper says:

    “Could you define ‘Christianity?'”
    “The religion which is revealed in the bible, and vindicated in history, most notably by the resurrection.”

    Thank you! If, per your response, Christianity did not exist prior to the Bible, then how was Christianity “vindicated…most notably by the resurrection” when the resurrection allegedly happened prior to the Bible?

    I have some other questions, like what is “the” Bible, but I can hold out on asking those.

  42. Paul says:

    BK,

    But you *are* on the sideline. As far as logic, I responded to Hubner in my post. Do you disagree with anything I wrote? Do you think modus tollens is a *law* of logic? Do you think the English *word* ‘and’ is a logical connective (it’s not, since *it* can be used non-truth-functionally). Do you disagree with what I said about necessary and sufficient conditions, correcting his claim about implication? Etc. Indeed, Jamin went in and edited his post using the corrections I sent him in a comment. he didn’t post my comment, make a note that he edited the post for those reasons, or make any public acknowledgment that his original post was cluttered with freshman mistakes. As for you, you didn’t even understand conjunction, and confused it with disjunction — as I demonstrated to you with the simple truth table. It wasn’t a brain fart either, for you *defended* your erroneous understanding. You guys next made several claims about TAG that supposedly set it apart from a deductive argument. I then gave examples of deductive arguments that met your criteria. No response. Based on the inductive evidence, I must conclude you guys really don’t know much logic — either formal or the philosophy of.

    As far as FB, there’s no need to “re-friend,” for I deleted my FB account. So I hope you didn’t think I was being petty. In fact, the whole “friend” business with FB is one reason I deleted my account.

    As far as here, I never argued “I know VT better than you do.” I simply argued that my understanding of “right-wing Van Tillianism” is on “firm footing” and shouldn’t be questioned without warrant, given my history (education, reading, radio-talks, public debates, etc).

    Lastly, one reason I have no desire to have “constructive convos” with you guys is because I’ve been shown time and time again that you guys don’t know enough to know how much you don’t know. Besides that, many of you think you know way more than you do. For example, take the whole “JTB” fiasco with you and RK. That was flat-out embarrassing. Then RK said in an embarrassing manner that Sudduth took his view point. And taunted me regarding it. But Michael told me via email, “I have a vague recollection of the post in question on the VT list. I think at the time I simply said it was hard to figure out where Van Til would stand on the IE debate because he was writing pre-Gettier. But I agree that Van Til says things at times that sound internalist in nature. James would probably be the best person to ask about this. I certainly don’t think I said no philosopher before Gettier held to the JTB account of knowledge. I seem to recall a guy named Plato. Lol” (quoted with his permission). He loled at the claim RK was making. It’s things like this that tell me it’d be fruitless to dialogue with you guys. In fact, as I read comments by the peanut gallery, they all claimed I was being “anachronistic” in applying internalism and JTB to people before Gettier (what the heck was Gettier responding to, then!). These examples here are just a few of many.

    By my lights, the only guy that seems interested in a constructive dialog is C.L. Bolt. So, no, I don’t think I’ll be taking you up on your offer. No offense, but what would I get from it?

  43. Paul says:

    Another thing to note, BK, is that your very request shows my point. You’re being asked to get analytical and rigorous, and you think an informal discussion on a podcast is going to meet that demand. It can’t. Either you’re unaware of that, or you don’t want to be rigorous and analytical, which is it?

  44. BK says:

    Your comments re: Jamin are but one example of what I speak of. You are holding him up as an example of … I’m not sure what … and then you associate
    him with us. Do you realize he isn’t associated with us? Do you realize I don’t even read his blog, so I have no idea what you are talking about? It’s these kinds of assumptions and the “conclusions” you draw from them that are the problem.

    You are not willing to take constructive criticism in public – you’ve shown that quite clearly. That’s the reason for the invite into a private forum, to get you into a venue where you don’t feel the need to defend yourself in the sarcastic, insulting manner you use in public. There are example after example of you misreading things I say (below is a perfect example which I will get to in a moment), examples of you applying a double-standard, examples of you leaping to unwarranted conclusions (case in point at the top of this post), examples of appealing to irrelevancies, and on and on. And what will happen if I go through and list these out in comments or a blog post (as if that would be beneficial)? You’ll become defensive, crouch in your corner, and we’ll never get to the heart of the issue.

    So no, I am not on the sidelines in the sense I used the word. If you don’t want to play ball (and you’ve just made it clear you don’t), that’s fine.

  45. RubeRad says:

    Why would you assume that something does not exist prior to its being revealed? They are about to reveal the Wii2; do you think it will materialize ex nihilo exactly when they pull the sheet off?

  46. BK says:

    The purpose of the internal discussion was to be able to explain to you what our position on VT is … in detail … and to hear your criticisms and address them. You already made it clear you’re aware of the limitations of comboxes.

    It was also to share my criticisms of your position in a more conducive forum. It wasn’t to somehow meet some challenge of being “analytic and rigorous” that you think you have laid before us that we are beholding to meet.

    Where did you get the idea there was a podcast involved in any of this? I was speaking of Skype (if that’s what led you conclude what you did) because it is the next best thing to being face to face. Furthermore, a chat room is no more or less informal than this venue, so no, my request doesn’t show your point at all.

    Anyway, more examples of what I already stated above.

  47. BK says:

    Bahnsen and Van Til never argued for generic theism. In fact, they always argued *for* the entirety of CT and (more importantly) *from* the entirety of CT. Now, they may have been unsuccessful in achieving what they argued *for*, but they could not have successfully arrived at something less (generic theism) due to the position they were arguing *from*.

    Stated differently, if they argued from the entirety of CT (and they certainly did), it would not be possible to arrive at the conclusion that anything less than the God of CT existed.

  48. Paul says:

    Your statements about Jamin have what to do with the statements regarding you and RK? You focus on something you think is irrelevant and then act as if everything I said was irrelevant or untrue. Moreover, Jamin is very much positively associated with “Choosing Hats,” the “group” you referred to as the “we” I should get to know. Just type in “Jamin Hubner” into CH’s search engine and see what comes up. His posts are referred to as “very fine articles” and his “book” contains chapters by CH bloggers. He is referred to as “our friend,” and the ‘our’ I assume means “CH’s”, the “we” you wanted me to find out what you believe. So the Hubner point appears relevant, but even if it isn’t it (a) doesn’t negate the other points I made and (b) is still relevant because his *type* is your type.

    Second, I can’t take public criticism? At my old blog I engaged in very long, cordial, and lengthy comments with people who disagreed with me. maybe this will hit home: the only two groups of people I didn’t much want to interact with were (a) hard core Van Tillians and (b) Randroids (followers of Ayn Rand). Interestingly the latter and the former both trade in idiosyncrasies, neologisms, and a very odd and individualistic read of the history of philosophy. Perhaps you’ve mislead yourself again? Perhaps it’s not the *criticisms* but the *ones* who *offer* the criticisms? But you go on thinking you’re dropping logical bombs on people, TAGing everyone you come into contact with.

  49. RubeRad says:

    Rube – I asked you a few questions, none of which y0u answered in your latest post to me. Will you be answering any of them?

    BK, I answered all of your questions. Will you be explaining to me how your TAG is not impotent to address the apologetic issue of purported bones of Jesus? Or why Oliphint is wrong that “Only God is necessary, and everything else is contingent”? (Or why “everything else” doesn’t include, say, the Fall, the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, 2nd coming, i.e. Christianity?)

  50. Paul says:

    BK, but that’s been my problem with you guys, clarity, etc. You make claims like “Christianity is necessary.” I showed above that there’s *numerous* understandings of all the terms in that phrase, yes, even the ‘is.’ It’s just unhelpful to make claims like that, since on most interpretations it is *obviously* false. Yes, getting rigorous and analytic is one of the things I’d like to see, so that I can understand precisely what you’re claiming.

    At best, then, you’ve misunderstod *my* motives, there’s certainly nothing like a body slam you’ve delivered to me and shown “yet another example” of “what you’ve shown above” (which I, again, debunked).

    I said podcast, you said, “CH IRC room”. So I confused the two, hardly something to act as if you have a “point” about.

    Yes, this place *can* be informal too. But, it *can* also be a venue to get rigorous, unlike the chat room.

    At any event, I gave several examples of you and RK’s huge blunders and whopping ignorance on some pretty fundamental matters. I gave them because I find it funny when people who show extreme ignorance in some matters tell others to “logically show” such and such, or speak about “epistemology” and “metaphysics.”

  51. RubeRad says:

    OK, OK, BK and Paul, how about you zip up or find someplace else to have a pissing contest. Of the very few people who will ever read this thread, none of them cares. Paul, you already know I like you better and think you make more sense, perhaps you can be the bigger man and just let it go.

  52. Paul says:

    Rube, since I am currently suffering from kidney stones, I’d give my left toe to have a pissing contest! So, I will show everyone here that I am the bigger man, and admit that, at least currently, BK can beat me in a pissing contest 🙂

  53. CSpurge says:

    Paul, I have been trying to follow this discussion but I cannot find these refutations of which you speak.

  54. RubeRad says:

    Well you’re going to have to look for them somewhere else. As noted below, I am “cutting off” the pissing contest.

  55. BK says:

    You can close it now that Paul has responded. You can even delete it (as some are want to do) as I have saved a copy. Thanks for letting us use your corner of the internet, Rube!

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