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Do we have sufficient in hand to decide what knowledge is not?

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In the still active Knowledge thread, Mung asks at 224: “Do we have a sufficient number of examples yet to decide what knowledge is not?”

This is sufficiently important to headline the response made at 225:

KF: >>[W]e have both criteria anchored in experience and insight to define knowledge in a weaker and by extension a stronger sense. Given how science is a major cultural enterprise, we see the importance of the weaker sense: knowledge is warranted, credibly true (and — for emphasis — reliable) belief.

Knowing is a key function of knowers, who must believe . . . accept sufficiently to rely on . . . what they know. But beliefs may be false or irrational. We need a particular subset. That subset has to be such that an individual may know per accepting credible authority (e.g. a dictionary, a qualified teacher, an expert) on perhaps simplified explanation or demonstration but authorities are no better than their facts, reasoning and assumptions.

Thus, collectively at cultural level there must be adequate warrant of credible truth (and so also, reliability). This is fallibilist, and progressive: if warrant fails sufficiently for some X, it should be corrected and surrendered as claimed knowledge even as knowledge on the subject advances to include that X is not known. Some replacement, Y may or may not succeed X.

In a strong sense, some few things may be incorrigibly, undeniably or more broadly self-evidently known, e.g. if one is conscious and so self-aware, that generic direct fact is infallibly known. Similarly, that error exists is undeniable. Something like 2 + 3 = 5 is self evident, known on understanding the claim i/l/o adequate experience of reality, known to be so necessarily, and that necessity is so on pain of patent, instant absurdity on the attempted denial. First principles of right reason pivoting on distinct identity [A vs ~A] are self-evident and foundational to reason, starting with LOI, LNC, LEM. Other more abstruse claims may be shown to be necessarily true on adequate experience, observation and logical, insightful reasoning per grounds and entailed consequents, e.g. much of mathematics short of imposing comprehensive axiomatic systems which are of complexity sufficient for Godel’s findings to apply: inherently incomplete and prone to possible incoherence.

Where, on even the fallibilist model, facts of empirical observation in science hold superior warrant to integrative theoretical constructs in general, which are prone to correction on fresh observation, so should generally be seen as aiming at being empirically reliable and possibly true models of some aspects of reality.

In some cases, theoretical entities not subject to direct observation (e.g. the electron) may be sufficiently warranted from multiple converging but essentially independent lines of evidence that they are taken as real. Thus, degree of warrant, reliability and fallibility must be reckoned with in pondering degree of certainty regarding truth of knowledge claims.

Reliability mainly comes from a sufficiently strong track record of successful prediction and/or fresh explanatory integration that moral certainty is achieved that one can and should trust the claim enough to confidently act on it in momentous circumstances.

Mere claimed consensus of community or of experts is not sufficient to warrant something as credible truth.

Nor are computer simulations to be regarded as though they were or are empirical observations of fact.

Likewise, there is no one THE scientific method that uniquely qualifies Science as a superior knowledge claim, as good methods vary across and beyond the sciences as conventionally so labelled.

Inductive reasoning per adequate support of a conclusion, often on experience, observation, record and testimony, can in many cases deliver knowledge up to moral certainty, but in general it is necessarily fallibilist and provisional. Hence the rise of sciences and other disciplines as collective cultural enterprises targetting credible, reliable, growing bodies of knowledge and best praxis; thus providing expertise. However, all such enterprises fall under the aegis of philosophical analysis, especially logic, epistemology, ontology, metaphysics and ethics. Indeed, reason inextricably involves responsibilities towards truth and right and therefore so also — it involves rational, responsible warrant — epistemology.

Truth, we can take per Ari: saying of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not.

Things that fail of adequate warrant to give responsible, reasonable confidence of credible truth (and so, reliability) will fail of being knowledge.>>

More food for thought. And yes, the design debates have come down to this in part, as  we clearly need to examine what knowledge is and is not, towards being able to decide what is and is not a proper knowledge claim. END

PS: One point that is worth a note is a claimed definition of knowledge that would eliminate knowers commonly advanced by frequent objector CR. So, let me also put up a footnote from 199 in the said thread:

>>CR, 30:

Knowledge is information that, when embedding in a storage medium, plays a causal role in being retained.

This needs to be addressed on points:

>>Knowledge is information>>

1 –> Only when knowledge is specifically coded will it be information in the sense of a string of characters in a readable frame.

2 –> Often knowledge is intuitive, an implicit pattern that is recognised and used without being articulated in a coded form, e.g. knowing someone’s peculiar voice.

3 –> Similarly, many perceptions or beliefs are knowledge, e.g. of the threat posed by a car hurtling down a road towards you as you try to cross.

>> that, when embedding in a storage medium,>>

4 –> Code/representation centric again, and codes are themselves sophisticated expressions of knowledge, i.e. perilously close to question-begging.

>> plays a causal role>>

5 –> Stored information is passive, there is need to have active machinery for reading and using it, driving effectors.

6 –> this begs the questions UB has put on the table again and again regarding the architecture of cybernetic systems.

>>in being retained.>>

7 –> this again ducks the points that are pivotal.

8 –> Information as coded or modulated and stored etc is passive, and it is a wider system of processing that gives it effect.

9 –> When information in a system contributes to the system’s success, it is likely to be retained, but that is utterly different from that information being true or well warranted as credibly true. This is a key to modelling theory, models are successful simplifications of or metaphors for reality that may foster easier decisions and actions that can be successful without being true or even approximately true. think of electronic circuit models or economic models or the use of gear trains in a planetarium.

10 –> If stored information is somehow functional as processed and applied and so contributes to system success, this points to reliability, not to truth or to warrant or to knowledge.

11 –> System effectiveness is not truth or warrant as credibly true.

12 –> But CR will dismiss such a reference, so why do I make it?

13 –> Because of what he is diverting attention from. Knowledge is a term of language, and refers to a particular phenomenon that is commonly experienced and observed. Thus, there is a question of basic accuracy of concept.

14 –> Namely, knowledge is associated with knowers, who claim to know things they believe . . . perceive, strongly accept, firmly opine . . . are true or are at least credibly true and reliable enough to bank on when something of high value is at risk, up to and including life.

15 –> But belief is not knowledge, it is a component of it.

16 –> For belief to move into knowledge territory, it has to be adequately warranted as being credibly true and reliable, or even in the strong form as utterly certainly true and reliable.

17 –> Such warrant needs not be fully held by the knower, nor must s/he — it is conscious agents who know — hold the full argument or demonstration that warrants, it is enough that s/he holds on good authority that in turn is well founded in its claims.

18 –> We do this when we routinely look up words in dictionaries etc.

19 –> Founded is another trigger word, I simply point out that warrant comes in chains that for us finite knowers must be finite, and must not be circular, i.e. we start from finitely remote good first principles, observations, facts etc.

20 –> These must be able to hold their own on factual adequacy, coherence, reliability, ability to predict, coherence, explanatory power etc. Try mathematics out for size.

21 –> Such knowledge may well be reduced to coded form and embedded into systems that then can effect actions using that information and will perhaps be reliably successful by some measure. Thus there will be little reason to make changes in that information as such.

22 –> But this is all engineering, obviously downstream of what makes it knowledge.

23 –> In attempting to create what looks like an operational definition, we have a failure due to question-begging and distraction from the actual core meaning of the matter. Sad but unsurprising.>>

32 Replies to “Do we have sufficient in hand to decide what knowledge is not?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung asks at 224: “Do we have a sufficient number of examples yet to decide what knowledge is not?” So, here is an answer, including also a PS correcting an erroneous definition commonly put up by a frequent objector, CR. KF

  2. 2
    Dionisio says:

    Guessing and speculative statements don’t seem derived from knowledge, but from lacking it.

    In the thread pointed by the below link, there is an example of what knowledge is not:

    “In a study recently published in the journal General Relativity and Gravitation, Neves suggests the elimination of a key aspect of the standard cosmological model…”

    “In raising this possibility, Neves challenges the idea that time had a beginning and reintroduces the possibility that the current expansion was preceded by contraction. “I believe the Big Bang never happened,” the physician said”

    “Who knows, there may be remains of black holes in the ongoing expansion that date from the prior contraction phase and passed intact through the bottleneck of the bounce,” he said.

    Denyse commented very well:

    “Who knows, there may be” is not a promising beginning for a thesis in science but so much of current cosmology seems stuck there, mainly for philosophical reasons.


  3. 3
    timothya says:

    Are there any cosmologists active in this forum who are competent to answer Mung’s question?

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    TA, what knowledge is or is not is not a question for cosmologists but instead it is a matter of epistemology, the critical study of knowledge and related matters — a branch of philosophy. Dionisio was simply giving examples which happened to be cosmological in focus. KF

  5. 5
    timothya says:

    Knowledge in the field of cosmology is precisely the business of cosmologists, since that was the context of Mung’s question.

    As neither you nor I are cosmologists, I humbly suggest that we should be quiet and ask someone who actually knows about the state of knowledge in that field to answer the question.

    I’m certainly prepared to do so. Are you?

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    TA, That is not so, there is in fact a very different context of discussing what is knowledge that set up Mung’s Q in its original context, as can be seen for the price of clicking on a link and a skim through. I repeat, Dionysios simply used some current threads here to highlight apparent cases. Secondly, the issue in this thread is also, what is knowledge or rather when do we fail of sufficient grounds to claim knowledge. Third, while cosmologists and astronomers more broadly do make actual observations in some respects, much of the discussion is regarding theoretical models of the remote past of origins, which inherently puts them into the situation of being in large part unchecked by direct observation. This means they inevitably have a distinctly lower degree of warrant than what some call operational science theories. Grand scientific theories of cosmological origin are therefore in the position of being possibly true explanatory constructs rather than credibly true, that is they are of significantly speculative character. Indeed, some pass over into philosophy, unannounced, speaking of multiverses and past oscillation cycles that we have no observational access to to cross check against empirical fact. What is much better warranted is that we have cosmological expansion per red shift and cosmological microwave background etc, with rates pointing to an origin of our observed cosmos some 14 BYA [or more broadly 10 – 20 BYA], which is also consistent with, say, the relatively low incidence of white dwarfs (credibly, cooling down end of life stars) and the Hertzprung-Russell diagram patterns of globular clusters with the breakaway to the giants branch, further informed by considerations on the physics of large H-rich balls, which is in turn testable against observations of stars, and the like. So, no, this thread is to primarily focus on the issue of knowledge and thresholds of warrant. KF

    PS: A 101 primer on matters astronomical and cosmological is here on.

  7. 7
    Dionisio says:

    Shouldn’t knowledge be associated with truth?

    Perhaps a related discussion could be “What is truth?”

    Also there could be another OP titled “What is good?”

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    (ESV) but test everything; hold fast what is good.
    (NIV) but test them all; hold on to what is good,
    (NKJV) Test all things; hold fast what is good.
    (NLT) but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.

    This call for careful examination and discernment is in response to the command of v. 20.
    MacArthur Study Bible

    Paul admonishes the Thessalonians not to despise legitimate prophecy; both Silas and Paul were “prophets” (Acts 13:1; 15:32). Nevertheless, claims to divine prophecy must be tested and not accepted uncritically (2 Thess. 2:2; cf. 1 Cor. 14:29).
    Reformation Study Bible provided by Ligonier Ministries

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: This UD thread on the epistemological status of scientific theories may also be of help: https://uncommondescent.com/science/can-we-regard-scientific-theories-as-factual-knowledge/

  9. 9
    Dionisio says:


    Sorry to see hat the case referenced @2 has led at least one of your interlocutors to confusion.
    Please, believe me, that was not my intention.
    As a moderator you may edit or even remove any of my posts if you deem it necessary.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Dionisio, truth is relatively easy to understand. I commonly refer to Aristotle in metaphysics 1011b as identifying that truth is the accurate description of reality. More specifically, it says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not. Saying it like it is. Falsehood fails the test of accuracy to reality. belief accepts as credibly so sufficiently to act on it when it counts. But neither belief nor truth (nor credible truth) nor even justification [post Gettier] are enough to be knowledge, thus the issue of warrant. Note the difference between weak and strong form senses of knowledge too. KF

  11. 11
    Dionisio says:


    Thank you for the insightful explanation @10.
    I see what you mean. That’s an excellent point.

  12. 12
    timothya says:


    “Dionisio, truth is relatively easy to understand.”

    Quantum mechanics is “relatively easy to understand”?

    It may be so if you adopt Dionisio’s favoured mode of argumentation via Bible verse.

    Not so much in the real world.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    TA, distractive. The issue was the definition of truth, and I provided a classic, apt answer. The implications may be hard to carry out but the basic point is, Johnny did you or did you not take the cookies from the cookie jar. KF

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    D, we obviously need to focus issues down to their core, to get things right. Our civilisation has chosen to make a crooked yardstick its standard for accuracy and striaghtness as well as uprightness. So, what is really such will never pass the test — an agit prop operative’s delight. Therefore we need to put up plumbline, self evident first truths that expose the crookedness. Some will cling to absurdities, but that fact will be plain to all. KF

    PS: Let’s pull a Bible verse or two that are exceedingly apt to this:

    Isa 5:20

    Woe (judgment is coming) to those who call evil good, and good evil;
    Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
    Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

    Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are wise in their own eyes
    And clever and shrewd in their own sight!

    Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are heroes at drinking wine
    And men of strength in mixing intoxicating drinks,

    Who justify the wicked and acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    And take away the rights of those who are in the right!


    Therefore, as the tongue of fire consumes the stubble [from straw]
    And the dry grass collapses into the flame,
    So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away like fine dust;
    Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts
    And despised and discarded the word of the Holy One of Israel.

    Therefore the anger of the Lord has burned against His people,
    And He has stretched out His hand against them and has struck them down.
    And the mountains trembled, and their dead bodies lay like rubbish in the middle of the streets.
    In spite of all this God’s anger is not turned away,
    But His hand is still stretched out [in judgment]. [AMP]

  15. 15
    timothya says:

    If you think that Plato’s “ideal forms” are the last word in epistemology (and it seems that you do think so), then I am happy to let you have the last word. (Dionisio might have a Bible verse in support of the non-Biblical Plato or Aristotle).

    We shall see.

  16. 16
    Seversky says:

    We should note that the meaning or meanings of words are purely arbitrary. They mean whatever we agree that they mean and only by that agreement are we able to use them for communicating with each other.

    For me, ‘knowledge’ implies a knower. In simple terms, it is the conscious awareness of information. For example, the doorbell camera of a home security system detects motion and records the approach and departure of a delivery driver who leaves a package on the doorstep. The footage is recorded on the system’s hard drive. However, although the system has recorded the information, in my view, it cannot be said to know it. On the other hand, when the owner of the system calls up the recording on a cell phone or other device, he or she can then be said to know that the delivery had been made.

    Another example I have used before is the memory of me knocking a pen off my desk on to the floor. I know that happened because I did it and I was consciously aware of what happened. But i was the only person in the room at the time. No one else saw it happen. I can tell others what happened and whether they believe me depends on how much confidence they have in me to tell the truth. Strictly speaking, however, they can never know what I know. They can only know what I told them.

    With reference to kf’s Biblical quote @ 14, we could use the word ‘good’ to label what we mean by evil and use ‘evil’ to identify what we mean by good or we could use ‘darkness’ for light and light for darkness. As long as we agree on the meanings there is no problem. The words are only labels. What we assume to be immutable are the concepts and phenomena to which we apply them, although even that is not always a safe assumption.

  17. 17
    Dionisio says:

    timothya @12:

    Quantum mechanics is “relatively easy to understand”?

    Perhaps J-Mac can answer that question for you?
    Initially it looked as though he understands the quantum stuff pretty well. At least that was my initial perception from reading his repeated references to that Q thing.

    However, since my reading comprehension level is quite low, then if someone can explain something to me so easily that I can understand it, I’d say that such a person really knows the subject well. I haven’t found anyone who could explain the quantum stuff in easy for me to understand terms.

    A good friend of mine in Warsaw is literally in love with professor Penrose’s books. I think he has bought them all, the original English versions and some Polish translations. Dr. Penrose has lectured at the University of Warsaw and at the University Jagielonski in Krakow. Since those encounters are invitation-only, my lack of professional qualifications (+ resources + connections) keeps me off those interesting presentations, but they are available online.

    When I asked my friend -a chemistry engineer- to explain to me what’s that Q stuff all about, he tried his best to no avail. Apparently I’m the real test. If you can explain something in a way that I can understand it, then you really know it. Because I’ll ask so many basic questions that sometimes even a distinguished biochemistry professor may decide to quit chatting with me because I don’t ask honest questions, whatever that means. That happened to me here in this site couple of years ago.

    If you can make me understand something, you bet that you really know that subject.

    Here we have the examples of KF and GP, who can explain difficult subjects -on different areas of knowledge- in such a way that even I can understand it (at least partially, since sometimes it’s difficult to understand the whole enchilada because it is above my pay grade).

    KF has a rich vocabulary in a language that is not my first, hence I read his text to learn English too, in addition to the actual subject he may address so extensively.

    BTW, I prefer “too much” than “too little” information. It’s better “repeated” than “missing” information. From KF’s OPs and comments I learn some philosophy and its practical application to the historical and current events. Those are some of the many topics I’m ignorant of. KF also writes timely Bible references that I like. Generally his insightful writing is worth reading.

    Another example in this site:
    GP gets very technical and flies well over my head with the protein terminology and numerous parameter values, but he’s willing to patiently answer my frequent dumb questions and explain things in easy to understand terms and style. He deals the same way with his politely dissenting interlocutors too.

    KF and GP are examples of real teachers in their respective fields. They seem to know what they’re writing about.

    In other discussion threads, J-Mac didn’t even notice my questions. In my records, based on what I explained above, he doesn’t seem to have a good idea of what the Q stuff is all about at the end of the day. But again, that’s just my personal perception, based on my discerning criteria. I could be wrong. Actually, too many times I am.

  18. 18
    Dionisio says:

    KF @14:

    Excellent! Thanks.

  19. 19
    Dionisio says:

    timothya @12:

    It may be so if you adopt Dionisio’s favoured mode of argumentation via Bible verse.
    Not so much in the real world.

    Please, believe me that’s a compliment to me, but it’s far from accurate. I wish I had referenced the Bible more often. I have posted a number of comments without any Bible reference, but I should have done it.

    See a few comments without Bible references posted in the threads pointed by the following links:

    Thanks for reminding me of this.

    There’s nothing better to reference this side of Heaven. That’s the key to access the true source of true wisdom.

    The real world would be in better shape if it paid more careful attention to what is written in the Christian scriptures.

    See KF @14 to your benefit.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    TA, really! Strawman. I am a chastened, moderated scientific realist gone eclectic, foundherentist and mild constructivist informed by the reformed school led by the likes of Plantinga. Just in case you want to know. KF

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, a language is a system for communicating in a real world. Yes, there are conventions, aka syntax, also there is an agreed vocabulary of signs and there is a slowly evolving community consensus driving the semantics of effective and honest communication. That said, language can be and is used to refer to the real world [the Kantian ugly gulch is actually self referentially incoherent], as in Johnny, did you or did you not take the cookies from the cookie jar. In this context, error in language is a case of accidental failure to refer. Deceit is intentional action to mislead about what is real — speaking with disregard to truth in hope that what is said or suggested will be taken as true. Which shows the reason behind its destructive effect on a community taken under siege by liars. Going beyond, knowledge is not merely information though it involves it. Information may fail to be believed, or it may fail to be well warranted as true and reliable. On good and evil, the issue is of course that in C8 BC Judah [and the neighbouring state of Israel], the original words denoting these concepts were well known and have been aptly translated as good and evil, true and false etc. The cynical manipulators holding power 2700+ YA were deliberately deceiving people and were twisting justice systems to persecute the innocent. In a notorious case, Naboth held as patrimony a vineyard desired by the king and would not surrender his patrimony. The queen, Jezebel, cooked up a scheme in which he was falsely accused and executed — leading to the vineyard escheating to the crown; but at the cost of a deadly curse on the house of Ahab. So, no: playing the oh we can change the convention in the vocab game does not cut it in answer to the problem. That you are speaking in such terms, speaks telling and sobering volumes — not to your credit. I trust that you will take time to do some serious reconsideration of your ways as implied in the rhetorical stance you just took. KF

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Dec 7 1941 (yes, Y/day was the anniversary), the new radar on Oahu detected the approaching Japanese raid, but the supervisory people did not take it seriously and insisted on interpretation that this was an expected flight of B-17’s. Information, well warranted and accurate (radar had saved Britain 15 months before) — much too big a reflection to be the flight of B-17’s, was not believed and so was not knowledge to the system. An erroneous interpretation based on what was expected given the prevailing view of the world by the relevant decision-makers was force-fitted and failed, spectacularly.

  23. 23
    J-Mac says:

    @17 Dionisio,

    I personally think that learning quantum mechanics and understanding it is two different things… QM is relatively new to me, as my specialty is a very narrow area of biochemistry and metabolism…

    But like your buddy from Poland I’m a victim of it’s (QM)addiction or hook:

    “After you learn quantum mechanics you are never really the same again”-said Steven Weinberg Nobel Laureate in physics…
    There is more…imagination or thinking in pictures…
    If you can think in pictures, like Einstein could, you can imagine things he could; specetime being like a sheet of rubber…
    Here is an example for those that are into it, like your friend: Can you imagine or picture spacetime stretching so as not allow particles “travel back in time”-in the double slit experiment?
    BA77 probably could…


    One has to be a bit on the spectrum (ASD) to have this kind of imagination but then again, there is no doubt Einstein was Asperger’s…
    I’m sorry for not answering some of your questions about QM…I’m not a very good teacher…

    Trzymaj sie! Na wszystko jest czas…potrzeba tylko troche cierpliwosci 😉

  24. 24
    Dionisio says:

    Czy ty znasz polski jezyk?
    Na bzdurne dyskusji nie ma czasu.
    Bo czasu jest malo i skoda go marnowac bezsensownie.
    Trzeba go skorzystac dobrze poki mozemy.
    Zgadzac sie?

  25. 25
    Dionisio says:


    In another thread


    @57 I asked:

    What do you mean by “our consciousness can be aware”?

    @58 I wrote:

    Can you explain-using quantum physics information- the behavior of Sophie Scholl at her trial and when she met her mother shortly before execution?

    Can you explain your own experience of feelings and emotions at this point?

    What experiences all that? Your brain? Then who are you?

    Please, make it easy for the rest of us to understand. Note that my reading comprehension is rather deficient. Other folks in this blog are quick thinkers and get things much faster than I do. A discussion with me may turn pretty boring early on.

    I’ll appreciate your patience. Try to imitate our beloved Italian doctor GP, who so nicely deals with his dissenting interlocutors and answers even my dumb questions very patiently and clearly, though a little too technical sometimes.

    you wrote @60:

    “quantum information need a processor with is our brain to be or feel self-awareness; to feel the experiences, to recall memories”

    Then @61 I asked:

    quantum information is self-aware?
    quantum information feels experiences?

    Can you elaborate on that?

    Then @63 I asked:

    Are you saying that you and I and everybody else are just quantum information with physical bodies?

  26. 26
    Dionisio says:

    J-Mac @23:

    “I personally think that learning quantum mechanics and understanding it is two different things…”

    Can you explain the main difference, briefly?


  27. 27
    Dionisio says:

    J-Mac @23:

    There’s time for everything.

    @24 I commented:

    No, there’s no time to squander on senseless discussions.

    Both sides must be interested in understanding each other, which doesn’t mean agreeing.

    All questions must be responded to. If the answer is unknown, just say so.

  28. 28
    J-Mac says:


    Na bzdurne dyskusji nie ma czasu.
    Bo czasu jest malo i skoda go marnowac bezsensownie.
    Trzeba go skorzystac dobrze poki mozemy.
    Zgadzac sie?

    Zgadzam sie!

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    Maybe I need to ask that comments in this thread be in English, to keep everything on the table?

  30. 30
    critical rationalist says:


    The distinction in my position can be made clear by asking the following question….

    Do you think there can be knowledge with out God having made our faculties of choice reasonably effective?

    The claim that naturalism is incoherent because it needs to be grounded in something is to say that that ground acts as an authority that cannot be found in error. Our faculties must be effective (authoritative) to at least some sufficient degree that we can know thinks. This minimum must be infallibly met or we cannot know things.

    The same must be claimed regarding the idea that our faculties of choice must be reasonably effective enough that we be held responsible in some eternal sense for our choices. That we can be punished for eternity. Otherwise, how could your theological commitments hold?

    But this doesn’t seem to add up.

    To use an example, if people in the past knew with enough certainty that slavery was just as wrong as we do today, yet were willing to keep slaves anyway, then why don’t the same number of people keep slaves today? Why does slavery exist in very specific cultures that have yet to morally evolve?

    Surely, the fact that people held slaves must have known that it was wrong with enough certainty that they could be judged and pushed for it, right? So, how do you explain the difference today?

    IOW, the entire idea that God somehow is the reason why we exhibit enough certainty makes him an authoritative source of knowledge. That is the idea that there must be some infallible source that cannot lead us into error.

    But this is not my position. Again, I’m suggesting there is no sources that are guaranteed not to lead us into error. However the fact that there is such a thing as error means there is such a thing as being wrong and such a thing as the truth. So, if we are lucky, we might be able to find some of it.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:


    The claim that naturalism is incoherent because it needs to be grounded in something is to say that that ground acts as an authority that cannot be found in error.

    The issue in question for evolutionary materialistic scientism is that — in multiple ways — it is self-referentially incoherent and so self-falsifying. The “authority” you wish to rebel against is logic based on self-evident first principles of right reason [start with, LOI, LNC, LEM grounded in and immediate corollaries of distinct identity: A vs ~A], tied to distinct identity. This strongly suggests that for whatever reason, you wish to cling to absurdities. I would suggest that you reconsider. KF

  32. 32
    Dionisio says:

    KF @29,


    My fault.

    Please, you may remove comments @24 and @28.
    My comment @24 was translated to English @27.


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