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The Theistic Necessity in the Acquisition of Knowledge

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This is cross posted from my own site, The Christian Watershed. To read the rest, please follow the link at the bottom. 

Let me preface this by saying that even though I show how Christianity fits the criteria for warrant, I believe any theistic belief can fit this criteria. In other words, Christianity does not have an exclusive claim on this theory, but theism does. Furthermore, I am not saying one cannot be a naturalist in epistemology (that is, use evidence or believe in natural causes), but merely that one cannot even begin to acknowledge evidence as a form of truth until one is an external realist (i.e. a Theist in their metaphysic).

 One of the biggest accusations levied against Christianity – and theism in general – is that it is completely irrational, but when one examines an epistemological system that allows for knowledge, one must come to the conclusion that Christianity and theism are far more rational and plausible than naturalism. The problem for naturalism is that, in order to operate, it must believe in some form of knowledge aquisition. The problem begins when naturalists have accepted justified true belief (JTB), as their cornerstone for knowledge – JTB, via Gettier’s counter example, has been shown to be deficient. Plantinga has found a solution to the problem of knowledge through his theory on warrant and proper function. Naturalism, beginning with a nominalistic metaphysic, cannot possibly meet all the criteria for warranted beliefs. Theism, specifically Christianity, does meet all the criteria and therefore is more apt to produce a system geared toward obtaining knowledge. Therefore, in order for one to be rational in one’s epistemological system, one must first be theistic in one’s metaphysical system.

 Read the rest of this post here.  

24 Replies to “The Theistic Necessity in the Acquisition of Knowledge

  1. 1
    CN says:

    Wow, this is a really interesting post. William Lane Craig has an MP3 lecture somewhere on the web that explores epistemology and specifically Plantinga’s version of it. I think it is also defended by Kelly James Clark in the book: “5 views on apologetics”.

  2. 2
    Joel Borofsky says:

    One thing I’d say is be careful not to confuse reformed epistemology with reformed apologetics. Reformed epistemology merely teaches that certain things (basic beliefs) can be known without evidence (not to say there isn’t physical proof, just that one does not need physical proof in believing these basic beliefs). Reformed apologetics, however, teaches that one cannot come to Christianity unless God has foreordained it, therefore there is little point in arguing for God.

    From what I understand (read: what I have read from Craig), he supports Plantinga’s epistemology but rejects reformed apologetics (as do I).

    Thank you for the compliment though. This was my first time diving into this type of thinking and have been researching it for a few months now. I plan on turning this into a bigger paper with more research by the end of the year.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Joel,

    You may find this following video/slideshow interesting;

    Science, God and Famous Scientists who Believed in God

    A scientific comparison of the materialistic and theistic philosophies; as well as a reflection on the most notable scientists of history who were all Theists.

    http://www.godtube.com/view_vi.....a1a80be0ea

    as well this video/slideshow may be of interest:

    Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (The Amazing Human Body)

    This video has some amazing science facts about life that gives glory to God’s craftsmanship in us; set to music and pictures.

    http://www.godtube.com/view_vi.....d69d4974ca

  4. 4
    allanius says:

    Unless I am mistaken (and I could very well be), the episteme of the Bible is quite different from what we see in philosophy. First of all, faith is described as a “gift”; this makes what you and I know a bit of a mystery and resists any attempt to formalize it. In short, it gives sovereignty to God, not reason; not “human will or decision.” Secondly, the Bible offers an alternative way of obtaining knowledge to philosophy: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This mode of obtaining knowledge of what is good seems a little different from the notion of the “warrant,” which is a kind of transcendental induction.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Joel,
    You may have seen this following paper but if you have not, I think you will find it very interesting.

    Christianity and the Birth of Science by Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D

    http://www.ldolphin.org/bumbulis/

    excerpt:

    The founders of modern science were all bunched into a particular geographical location ted by a Judeo-Christian world view. I’m thinking of men like Louis Aggasiz (founder of glacial science and perhaps paleontology); Charles Babbage (often said to be the creator of the computer); Francis Bacon (father of the scientific method); Sir Charles Bell (first to extensively map the brain and nervous system); Robert Boyle (father of modern chemistry); Georges Cuvier (founder of comparative anatomy and perhaps paleontology); John Dalton (father of modern atomic theory); Jean Henri Fabre (chief founder of modern entomology); John Ambrose Fleming (some call him the founder of modern electronics/inventor of the diode); James Joule (discoverer of the first law of thermodynamics); William Thomson Kelvin (perhaps the first to clearly state the second law of thermodynamics); Johannes Kepler (discoverer of the laws of planetary motion); Carolus Linnaeus (father of modern taxonomy); James Clerk Maxwell (formulator of the electromagnetic theory of light); Gregor Mendel (father of genetics); Isaac Newton (discoverer of the universal laws of gravitation); Blaise Pascal (major contributor to probability studies and hydrostatics); Louis Pasteur (formulator of the germ theory).

    If an appreciation for math and the cause-and-effect workings of nature were sufficient to generate modern science, how does one explain the historical fact the the founders of modern science were all found in a *particular* culture that just happened to be shaped by a Judeo-Christian world view? Instead of measuring energy in joules, why don’t we measure it in platos or al-Asharis?

    Of course, the cynics would claim these men were not *really* Christians. That is, they really didn’t *believe* in Christianity, but they professed such beliefs because they did not want to be persecuted. This is the “closet-atheist” hypothesis. But it doesn’t square with the facts.

    Many of the founders of modern science were also very interested in theology. If you read Pascal, this is obvious. Mendel was a monk. Newton often said his interest in theology surpassed his interest in science. Newton did end his Principles with:

    “This most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being…This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God.”

    As Charles Hummel notes,

    “Newton’s religion was no mere appendage to his science; he would have been a theist no matter what his profession.”

    Boyle set up Christian apologetics lectures. Babbage and Prout contributed to an apologetics series called the Bridgewater Treatises. Aggasiz, Cuvier, Fleming, Kelvin, and Linnaeus were what we now call ‘creationists.’ When I speak about Biblical beliefs that paved the way for science, I will use both Kepler and Pasteur to highlight two specific examples.

    Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”

  6. 6
    Joel Borofsky says:

    Allanius,

    The system I put forth comes from mostly Calvinist believers (Plantinga is Reformed, but not a Calvinist). My defense and application of this theory to epistemology, however, was done so by using Cornelius Van Til and Francis Schaeffer, both Calvinists.

    The reason I bring this up is because both acknowledge the sovereignty of God through the “sensus divinitatis” or “imago Dei.” Thus, when it comes to certain things, God does need to illuminate truth onto the mind – other pieces of knowledge, however, are imparted onto man simply for holding His image (this is what Calvin himself even taught).

    Biblically, Romans 1 is the perfect ideal for warrant, in that humans are born with knowledge of God (thus, it is a priori and external, which warrant follows), but choose to rebel against what is known for their own desires.

    The theory that you are proposing seems to be closer to Augustine’s theory of Illumination. The problem with this theory is it doesn’t explain defunct knowledge, or why certain people have more knowledge than others.

    Finally, the bible most certainly shows that there is autonomy (to an extent) in human thought. When God calls upon Israel to come reason with Him, He does this assuming that they have minds capable of reasoning with their Creator. This is not to say that reason is the ‘end all’ of thinking or that we can ever achieve a level of thinking equal to God, but merely to show that philosophy is a tool (again, not the end all) that God has given us in order to enhance our thinking.

    To all others,

    Thank you for the links and I will get to them as soon as possible.

  7. 7

    allanius, while faith is a gift, I’m not sure that is exactly what is being described here. I think it is more basic than that, namely the ability to have rational cognition about truth. For example, one could lack faith (in the religious sense) but still have the use of his faculties as a general matter.

  8. 8
    JunkyardTornado says:

    Just some feedback for you, some informal impressions so you’ll know people are reading this. (Don’t really address everything you wrote, but can’t write forever.)

    Gettier proposed that Mr. Jones (J) and Mr. Smith (S) go into an interview, both having ten coins each in their pockets. J knows that S has ten coins in his pocket and is far more qualified for the job. He also knows that the person with ten coins will get the job, but is unaware that he has ten coins in his own pocket. J then proposes that S will get the job. In the end, however, J ends up getting the job. Though J is justified via the evidence, holds truth in knowing that the person with ten coins will get the job, and truly believes the previous two, ultimately J does not have knowledge
    Not sure what is being proposed by inclusion of this scenario. Is it some conundrum destined to baffle and infuriate the materialists who will somehow be forced to see that it self-evidently defeats their sacred scientific method?

    Does naturalism not take into account incomplete knowledge? A naturalist might say, “Given what I know now, here is what I predict is going to happen.” Do naturalists deny the possiblity of faulty measurements or facts not in evidence effecting the outcome of an event (resulting in an outcome contrary to expectations)? So some mechanism had been deduced: “The person with the ten coins gets the job.” And presumably it was deduced (or rather induced) by repeated observation, and furthermore it was in fact an actual true state of affairs that had been discovered. The ultimate outcome of events did nothing to negate that fact. You had no knowledge of someone surreptitiously putting ten coins in your pocket and no reason to believe so. Then this odd unlikely occurrence happened, thus throwing off your prediction. What were the chances of that happening? 1 in a 100000? You didn’t present it as a regularly occuring phenomenon (It doesn’t seem regular – people inserting coins into your pocket.) If your predictions are correct 999999 times out of a million, that’s pretty accurate knowledge. Naturalism does not rule out unforseen circumstances, so what’s your point? It is why experiments are carefully controlled, so the precise circumstances in which I phenomenona occurs can be described. Just talking through all this, trying to ascertain what your point is. Knowledge has to do with the ability to predict and that ability is never perfect.

    How would your system of warranted beliefs be an antidote in the above scenario, anyway? From what I understood of it, the major difference between it and naturalism, is that in your system your allowed to take more shortcuts, so that possibly I guess you would have faith that things were set up for you to ascertain the truth in the above scenario with a trivial application of your senses to the situation, having faith that application of your senses in this manner would produce reliable results. How would your system be employed in the courtroom?

    I don’t think its true anyway that Naturalism would deny the reality of things it can’t prove through other evidence. It just tries to limit as much as is possible the reliance on these. I’ll give you this – people who would somehow use the scientific method to justify they won’t believe anything unless they can see it are just foolish. For a person to say, “Anything outside of my instrument’s ability to measure does not exist” is incredibly stupid. And furthermore I don’t think that this is somehow a hallmark of “Naturalism” or that there are no Christian scientists.

    Obviously, everyone is in a position where they must at times put their faith in the testimony of someone else, without the possibility of verifying it. As far as humility, trust, a person admitting they don’t know everything and cannot learn everything for themselves and trusting the testimony or recommendations of someone else, obviously this is a valid mode of life. But trying to formalize this into a system to replace the scientific method seems pointless. Religion would say, “Here is what happens beyond the realm of the living – in that realm that is outside of your instruments to measure.” You have no recourse but faith, trying to ascertain if the words being conveyed to you are spiritual truth or deception.

    …What non-circular evidence could one adduce, for example, for the belief that one is currently conscious?” In other words, there has to be a way to have properly basic beliefs without any form of evidence to justify them (for ‘justifying’ such beliefs would render them obsolete as a priori).

    I do not believe consciousness as we understand it is some supremely paramount concept for consideration.
    Christ would say regarding humanity, “Let the dead bury their own dead.”, to me implying that what we call life or consciousness or awareness is so inconsequential to true Life, eternal life, to make the former effectively the equivalent of being dead. What can “conciousness” be other than a convenient label we give to what it feels like to be a human being. “What it feels like” – what is the objective significance of that? It feels like something to be a dog or a grasshopper as well.

    Well, I’ll keep writing (with apologies for the haphazard presentation):

    Your overriding thought seems to be, “How can what we perceive really be knowledge unless it was designed in advance so that what we perceive really lines up with the truth? So apparently to you this should be justification enough for presuming the significance of “intelligence” at every turn.

    And then ultimately you allude to evolution saying that it only dictates that stuff survives, not that this stuff can perceive the truth. But having your expectations of the external world line up with what actually exists is absolutely crucial to survival. If a basic goal of an organism is acquisition of food, and a search for it, having an internal model of the world that lines up with what actually exists in the world is crucial to survival.

    Say you have a photosensitive cell attached to a nerve, and when light hit that cell it predictably causes an eletrical signal to propagate down that nerve (w/ apologies for the crude description and any implication of expert-level knowledge here). Now if an organism had only one of these, would it be better for that cell to fire consistently relative to the amount of light. If that is the case, then truth is crucial to survival. Truth is defined here as that cell firing consistently relative to the amount of light. Would such a mechanisn give him knowledge of the external world that would aid in his survival? What if instead of just one of these photosenstitve cells, he had an array of a million. In this latter scenario would he not have a finer-grained picture of his environment? Would not this more accurate (i.e. more “truthful”) picture of the world be of even greater advantage than the previous setup (in which had only one cell).

  9. 9
    Joel Borofsky says:

    The point in the Gettier counter-example is to show that evidence is insufficient for the acquisition of knowledge. Like you said, at best we are left saying, “Well, this might be how things are, but we can’t be sure.” It is like trying to put together a puzzle when we have no idea how many pieces are in the puzzle.

    The ramifications of this are horrible, in that we can’t say with any certainty that anything is actually wrong. The evidence MIGHT say that killing babies is wrong, but we don’t know because we don’t have an exhaustive understanding of the evidence. Thus, JTB fails to explain anything.

    Furthermore, under evidentiary JTB we are forced to try to explain how we can even understand what evidence is. Under naturalism all things must be explained via empirical evidence, correct? This is why the question of being conscience is vital – if we can’t prove we are conscience through evidence, then we cannot use evidence. It becomes a circular argument – we can’t properly say we understand the evidence given because we don’t have evidence to validate the evidence. In other words, though I can say, “I trust the evidence is physical and I hold the ability to interpret physicality,” there is no evidence to support this view (unless I use a circular argument).

    Thus, the only way to adequate explain how we can know that evidence actually exists is to accept that some things are simply known a priori (without evidence, or self-evident). The only way to explain this, however, is to use a non-naturalistic approach. As shown, Naturalism relies on JTB which, again as shown, fails. Thus, there must be an external reality.

    This is where I propose that one must be an metaphysical realist and externalist, believing that there is something that exists outside of the physical world (non-evidentiary) and that it is imparted onto humans (not from within humans [internalism]). To be a metaphysical realist, under the Western norm, is to be a theist of some sort.

    As for the defense of natural selection, it’s only desire is survival, not necessarily truth. Often times the truth of a situation can contradict survival. Example: It might be truthful that it is wrong to rape women, but if the human race gets down to 300 people due to a catastrophe and women are not willing to mate, then natural selection would say it is then acceptable to rape women.

    Though this is an extreme example, it is a plausible scenario and a good test case to show that natural selection and truth can be at odds with each other. In light of this, it shows how naturalism fails at achieving knowledge.

    In conclusion, the point of the paper should show that I am explaining a meta-epistemological view. Knowledge cannot be understood unless one is a metaphysical realist. Naturalists can still have knowledge, but ultimately their explanation of how they know their knowledge to be true fails. It is only when one implores realism and externalism can one finally begin to understand how knowledge works.

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    I submit, in sympathetic agreement with the article, that to be rational people we must believe the following: {A] We have rational minds, [B} we live in a rational universe and [C} there is a correspondence between the two. Truth defined is a correspondence of the mind with reality.

  11. 11
    Joel Borofsky says:

    Stephen,

    Exactly. The thing is, under naturalism (even methodological naturalism) we cannot prove A, B, or even C. A and B must be taken as basic beliefs (at the very least, A must be taken as a basic belief).

    Thank you for pointing that out.

  12. 12
    StephenB says:

    Joel: I can’t tell you how grateful I am that somebody has raised this issue. May I push the envelope a bit and take it one step further:

    I submit that only if the universe has been I rationally constructed, can the mind apprehend it using rational principles. Further, the mind (the investigator) must be of one realm, while the universe (object of investigation) must be of another realm. Otherwise, the mind would be investigating itself. That is why dualism supports rationality and materialism militates against it. I don’t understand how this can be contested.

  13. 13
    StephenB says:

    Correction: @12 …only if the universe has been rationally constructed….

  14. 14
    JunkyardTornado says:

    JB wrote: This is where I propose that one must be an metaphysical realist and externalist, believing that there is something that exists outside of the physical world (non-evidentiary) and that it is imparted onto humans (not from within humans [internalism]). To be a metaphysical realist, under the Western norm, is to be a theist of some sort.

    So maybe you’re saying that, whether people admit or realize it or not, whenever they rationalize or make predictions about nature, they are at some level actually accepting the existentece of a non-physical reality. Its possible you’re saying something I can’t fully grasp at the moment.

    As for the defense of natural selection, it’s only desire is survival, not necessarily truth. Often times the truth of a situation can contradict survival. Example: It might be truthful that it is wrong to rape women, but if the human race gets down to 300 people due to a catastrophe and women are not willing to mate, then natural selection would say it is then acceptable to rape women.

    Though this is an extreme example, it is a plausible scenario and a good test case to show that natural selection and truth can be at odds with each other. In light of this, it shows how naturalism fails at achieving knowledge.

    That’s a lofty claim. Can I point out that nothing in you wrote above above validated the bolded portion at all?

    You didn’t establish its wrong to rape women in all circumstances, so the sitution where some may rape for survival hasn’t been shown to be contrary to the truth. You just said it “might” be truthful its wrong to rape women [in every conceivable circumnstance]. So how can natural selection contradicting something that “might” be true substantiate your claim? This is getting kind of silly, but in light of the command “Be fruitful and multiply the earth.” If Eve said, “I’m not having any part of that”, than Adam would be justified in raping her.

    I’m going to be off for the rest of the day.

  15. 15
    congregate says:

    JB at 9

    Example: It might be truthful that it is wrong to rape women, but if the human race gets down to 300 people due to a catastrophe and women are not willing to mate, then natural selection would say it is then acceptable to rape women.

    Natural selection is a description of what happens in the world, it is not a moral system, or an entity that desires survival. Someone who believes that the continuation of the human race is to be valued over the wishes of the individual females involved would say that rape is acceptable in that situation, but “natural selection” does not care. So that example is unlikely to make the point you’re trying to make with it for any reader who is familiar with what natural selection is.

  16. 16
    Joel Borofsky says:

    Stephen,

    That is an EXCELLENT observation, one that I hadn’t considered. Naturalism relies on nominalism, which would mean there is no dualism.

    Junkyard,

    Right, I’m saying this is HOW our minds work. In other words, one wouldn’t have to train one’s mind to work this way – it already does. I’m merely providing the explanation.

    As for naturalism, you’re right, I used the word “might” because I’m discussing a possible world. I’m saying that in a possible world it is rational to conceive that it would be wrong to rape in all situations whereas naturalism would teach it is okay. This shows that it is possible, in theory, for naturalism and truth to contradict each other.

    As an addition, under naturalism can we say that rape is ever wrong? I would say that if a person can justify that the rape led to survival, or enhanced survival (or the furthering of his genes), then it can be justified under a naturalist mindset (since naturalism is concerned with survival). Human experience (common sense), however, tells us that rape is always wrong. The two are at odds, so which is true?

  17. 17
    Joel Borofsky says:

    Congregate,

    That’s the problem with natural selection though. It (the theory…I did not mean it to be an entity) is only concerned with explaining how all human actions relate to survival. This bites into how it cannot fit within warrant.

    For a more detailed explanation, I’d suggest you read the last two chapters of “Warrant and Proper Function,” by Alvin Plantinga.

  18. 18

    Great post!

    I did a few posts on the Transcendental Argument a while back:

    http://contra-gentes.blogspot......eries.html

    [They’re at the bottom.]

  19. 19
    duncan says:

    A couple of openers: – (i) I’m an atheist, and (ii) I certainly haven’t done anything close to the equivalent of a few months research (Joel Borofsky 2) so I happily defer to Mr Borofsky’s more extensive knowledge of the topic, but I’m really struggling with this post (from a logical point of view – not just that I don’t agree with it).

    Some quotes from the section headed “Warranted Christian Beliefs” (my emphasis, in all cases): –

    “The whole of Christian knowledge relies on the idea that GOD CREATED man in a certain fashion”

    “The concept of truth… is that which is presupposed and independent of human verification…Truth comes to humanity through GOD’S REVELATION IN SCRIPTURE”

    “The above shows that, TO CHRISTIANITY, God imparts truth onto man. Christians BELIEVE that God created man with a mind capable of understanding, placed that mind in a proper environment, designed the mind to be aimed toward truth, and finally provided a statistical likelihood of discovering truth. Christianity’s philosophical system allows for and relies on warrant because of its view of revelation (both natural and supernatural). There can be little doubt that Christianity fits into the only valid epistemological system and, therefore, is rational.”

    Surely, all any of these statements are saying is that “if Christianity is true, well hey, that means that Christianity is true!”? Sure, if everything stems from God, then God is the source of everything, including knowledge (and cute puppies, and homosexuality, and malaria mutations and everything else… or not, because of free will??), but everything hinges on pre-supposing that God does indeed exist.

    The only warrant that I can see in operation here is the warrant to believe Christian doctrine.

  20. 20
    Jay Kelly says:

    1. You say “This explains why naturalists say any view of theism is irrational or implausible.” It’s worth noting that there’s a BIG difference between ‘irrational’ and ‘implausible.’ It’s irrational to hold that I am in New York and San Francisco at the same time. It’s implausible to hold that I am in the Sahara desert, drinking water from an oasis. The first belief CAN’T be true. The second belief is unlikely (not many oases in the Saraha), but it’s not irrational to believe it.

    2. You say: “Therefore, in order for one to be rational in one’s epistemological system, one must first be theistic in one’s metaphysical system.”

    That is an unbelievably strong claim. Do you really mean to say that any epistemological system that has atheistic (or at least non-theistic) metaphysical assumptions is IRRATIONAL?? Really??? Not just ‘it has problems’ or ‘theism answers the problems better than atheism’ but ‘irrational’??

    If that is in fact what you mean, keep in mind that that claim does not follow from your premises.

    For your conclusion to follow deductively from your premises, your argument would have to be something like this: (and keep in mind that your conclusion is a deductive inference, not an inductive one. no ‘probablys’ floating around in the conclusion.)

    1. An epistemological system (ES) based on naturalistic metaphysical assumptions (NMA) must have a mechanism for the acquisition of knowledge by people.

    2. JTB is the only mechanism available to an ES based on NMA.

    3. JTB is false.

    4. An ES based on NMA cannot have a knowledge acquisition mechanism (from 2 and 3).

    5. An ES based on NMA is impossible. (from 1 and 4)

    6. It is irrational to believe impossible things.

    7. It is irrational to believe that an ES based on NMA is possible. (from 5 and 6)

    But even then, your original conclusion wouldn’t follow. All this shows is that believing in an ES based on NMA is irrational. You then have the harder job of showing that the only metaphysical assumptions upon which a rational ES can be built are theistic ones.

    But there are metaphysical assumptions that are neither naturalistic nor theistic (deism, for instance. and yes, I’m interchanging ‘atheistic’ and ‘naturalistic’ bc I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re doing. I don’t think there’s a problem with either of us doing so.).

    Plus, even though your argument would have to head out in the general direction I outlined, it doesn’t. And even if it did, the argument I’ve outlined is bad.

    I have no idea what (1) even means. I just rearranged your words. I’m not sure why a mechanism is necessary for any ES.

    And (2) is just plain false.

    All that to say this: Your claim is way, way, way too strong given your reasons for making the claim. It doesn’t follow from your premises and getting it to follow from any set of true premises would be extraordinarily difficult.

    On the plus side, if you managed to pull it off, you would have no trouble getting tenure.

    I’d love for it to be true. Really, I would. But I don’t see how you can get there from where you’re starting.

  21. 21
    Dov Henis says:

    Science-Informed “Theism” And Religion

    Chapter IV of “Life, Tomorrow’s Comprehension”

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog.....#038;p=372

    Science-Informed “Theism”, And Religion

    There is no more competition between science and faith than between science and arts or science and tourism.

    Science is systematized knowledge, whereas faith, arts and tourism and a host of other matters are components of culture, where culture is a ubiquitous biological entity of ALL organisms regardless of size or complexity, selected for survival as the sum total of reactions to and exploitations by the genome of the out-of-cell environments, sensed by the OCM, outer-cell-membrane of the genome, where this OCM is simply and plainly a multi-purpose organ of the in-cell resident communal organism, the genome.

    (1) Science-Informed “theism” (SIT)

    – Science’s “theism” is An (therefore not The) unknowable undefined source of the energy that constitutes the unknowable undefined Universe.

    – The unknowability of the source of cosmic energy, which is also life’s matrix, leaves the choice and promotion of our purpose in life to be derived solely from our cognition.

    – A term needs to be drawn for a concept and practice of deriving humanity’s purpose and course of life. The term should not be related to theism or religion because SIT is NOT founded on faith-belief, and SIT’s ethics code is founded on rational commitment and dedication to Life’s inherent characteristic, which is cooperation for survival.

    (2) Religion, Scientifically

    a. Religion, A Human Evolution Definition

    From a posting of mine in an evolution discussion forum, written and meant with complete respectful sincerity, at

    http://forum.physorg.com/index.....ntry286766

    “A religion is a human artifact for survival of a specific human cultural phenotype, comprising cultural tool-kit and technique ascribed by its adherents to be of higher esteem and benefit than other human cultural survival plans”.

    b. Sincerely thinking so

    Wondering if religious persons who also “accept” science would accept this definition, even with steady unwavering respect and commitment to their religion. IMO such acceptance would contribute respect to religion and to religious persons.

    3. Major Conceptual Hierarchies

    – Religion is a progeny of culture, culture being a biological entity, like
    – Technology is a progeny of science, like
    – Biology is a progeny of life’s evolution, like
    – Universal Evolution is a progeny of Energy.

    4. Uniqueness Of Science Among Human Artifacts

    During the recent several centuries in the course of human history Science has been evolving at an accelerating rate as a provider of convincing, ever closer approaching, approximate models of the real world.

    We understand that Science is just one of the components of our Culture, our package of capabilities to observe the environment, react to it and exploit it for our satisfaction and survival.

    Yet there is a distinct, even if still small, growing spreading tendency to accept the findings of evolving Science with ever increasing respect and appreciation, especially in the realms of all forms and types of technology and of life disciplines.

    The crucial 21st century question facing humanity is how much further and into which additional disciplines may or should Science be welcome and adopted by society at large, with what hopes and with what expectations.

    Dov Henis

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog.....8211;?cq=1

  22. 22
    Joel Borofsky says:

    Jay,

    Sorry for not responding until now (I hope you actually get this).

    This is merely a piece of what I hope to one day be a bigger work. I do plan on turning this into a dissertation at some point (God willing I get accepted into a PhD program), but for now will settle for what I have (and will make some editions).

    Your critiques are the first ones I’ve run into, however, that do hold up. However, it seems your critiques are more against my style and presentation than against the actual concept. If I am mistaken on this, let me know.

    Maybe it would be better for me to define what I mean by Theism first…or maybe turn around and show that, as an epistemic system, naturalism simply cannot work, but theism does work as a viable alternative.

    Let me know what you think.

  23. 23
    Jay Kelly says:

    Joel,

    Thanks for the response.

    Re: whether or my critiques are concerned with style/presentation or something more . . .

    Definitely something more.

    Here’s the deal: It appears from both your title and your opening that you are arguing for the claim that a theistic worldview is NECESSARY for acquiring knowledge.

    On the face of it, that appears to be a full-on crazy claim.

    Doesn’t mean it’s false. It just means you better have darn good arguments supporting the claim.

    To get there, you would likely need to make the following moves:

    1. Raise the philosophical problem of knowledge acquisition. (e.g. formal deductive logic doesn’t appear to generate new knowledge.) This is a big issue in an of itself. You need to show that contrary to intuition, our normal mechanisms for acquiring knowledge (deductive logic, inductive logic, empirical observation, etc.) don’t actually produce new knowledge. Obviously, this can’t be right; so how is it that we DO acquire new knowledge? What allows this to happen?

    This is a huge, huge deal. I’m barely intelligent on the issue; so I’m not much help. But I will say that how you define ‘knowledge’ is critically important here. Too weak a definition, and the rest of your arguments will fall into the philosophical wastebasket of ‘trivially true.’ Too novel a definition and you won’t get buy in from readers for the rest of your arguments. Too strong a definition and you may handcuff yourself going forward.

    2. Demonstrate that epistemological systems that do not presuppose theism fail to solve (1).

    BIG Note: Make SURE you stay on target and argue that naturalistic epistemological systems fail to solve (1)–NOT that they fail in general. You’re trying to solve (1). That’s it. Nothing else. That’s a big enough project on its own.

    Also, you need to demonstrate (and this is INCREDIBLY important) that the fact that the systems do not presuppose theism is SUFFICIENT for their failure.

    3. Show that an epistemological system that has theism as a necessary component does not have the same limitations as (2).

    You’ll likely need to define the necessary criteria for what counts as an theistic epistemological system here.

    4. Show that not only is (3) true, but it’s ALSO the case that certain theistic epistemological systems actually solve (1).

    Those moves are much, much, much, much easier said than done. Again, I’m not saying you can’t do it, but I will say that it would be an extraordinary achievement. The upshot is that you’d functionally be offering an argument for the existence of God. You’d show that someone HAS to believe in God if they believe that acquisition of knowledge is possible (which they obviously do).

    It’s far, far easier to point out WHAT you need to do than it is to show HOW to do it. I wish you the best in trying, but if I were you, I’d get some opinions from some real scholars (rather than just a PhD-to-be like me) as to whether or not this is a viable project. I just can’t see how this could work, but if you can make it happen, you’d certainly be a legend. Far smarter people than I should be consulted on the project’s viability before you sell out to making it a dissertation topic.

    That’s my 2 cents with a 2 cent discount.

    Peace,

    Jay

  24. 24
    latvus says:

    Dear friends!

    You have entered in your discussion very deep – but I would like to add here something new. Perhaps from the “surface”.

    First I would say to Michael Bumbulis – and add to your page: http://www.ldolphin.org/bumbulis/
    there is one of the major Christian scientists missing on your page – Michael Faraday. (Am I right?)

    Michael is also representing the scientists, whose person and “essence of thinking” is perhaps closest to my model and theory of victorious scientific thinking.

    I am sorry but there is not yet much in English on my pages

    http://www.latvus.com

    Mainly just an intro of my book of 500 pages “Why is science Western?” In my theory – like with yours – there is Jewish-Christian worldview the basic – beginning with ideas of Augustine, Basil and Philoponus.

    I am jus t collecting the material for the second part of my theory – which (seems to me) you not much discuss about – tha Dark Ages. Why we lost our leading role (since the Hellenic start) to the Muslims – to another Monotheistic group of victorious thinkers.

    Päiviö Latvus

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