Follow by Email

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Induction and Knowledge


Does one know that the President of the United States in the 1980’s had the initials R.R. if he thinks that Roy Rogers was President then?
Let’s talk about time.

1. Justification: Inductive inference that the clock is working based upon history

2. Belief: Believe as true the time the clock indicates, which is 12:00

3. Truth: It is 12:00

Someone might say that since all the criteria for knowledege have been met, one can know it is 12:00 given inductive-knowledge. However, the 3 criteria justify the belief that it is 12:00 even when relying upon a broken clock! Shouldn't this intuitively bother us? Can we "know" things based upon false information? The problem with induction is that inferences that are rational to maintain can always be false. Let me try to make this even more glaring. Let’s say there is another man in the room who has strong reason to believe that the clock is broken. Accordingly, this man will not rely upon the clock. In fact, this man believes that any justification of the time based upon the clock will be unwarranted. The point should be obvious. The man who is most informed about the clock is not able to know the time, whereas the man with less information about the clock would be able to “know” the time if inductive inference allows for knowledge! If anyone is looking for a reductio, then here it is. Given and inductive-knowledge, having less information can be the source of more knowledge, and having more information can cause one to rationally lose the knowledge he once had. Ignorance truly would be bliss! It is one thing to have a justification for a belief and quite another thing to justify the truth value of what is believed. The latter can only come through revelation and deduction.

Now let me sum this up. The first man’s inference about the clock was rational because based upon history the clock had an extremely high probability of working; say 99.9%. The second man had an entirely different rational inference based upon his history with broken clocks. He believed that there was less than 1% chance of the clock working the day after he observed it not working. Both men were making rational inferences based upon their finite perspectives and information. At the very least, given inductive-knowledge, deductive or revelatory knowledge becomes something of a different order and not merely a difference of degree. We need to distinguish the two. I prefer applying the term knowledge to more than inductive inference.

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

Let’s say that there is one clock in the world that is the standard of time. In other words, let’s assume that it indicates the “true time.” Now let’s say we were to hook up a digital transmitter to the clock that would output the time to a series of data acquisition systems all running in parallel. Would all of the systems record the same time at any exact instance? No. How can we arrive at the true time then? Some might take the median time of all the times recorded and call it the true time. Someone else might take the arithmetic mean, whereas someone else the mode. Let’s say we were to conclude that at a particular instance the true time was 12:00 noon +/.000000000000000000000000001 milliseconds. How many points of time can fit between the variance? Well an infinite number of course. Accordingly, what is the probability of one knowing the true time? Well 1/infinity of course. Well, what is 1/infinity? Well zero of course. Consequently, no matter what the time is, nobody knows it!

Finally, induction always operates under the formal fallacy of asserting the consequent. It would be misleading, however, to say that inductive reasoning is always fallacious. Rather, by repeated tests through asserting the consequent a veracity of belief can be obtained. “If A, then B; B therefore, A” is of course fallacious. However: “If A, then B; B therefore, A would appear to have more veracity...” is of course the basis for science and indeed valid. To say that science cannot yield specific truth has great shock value but all such a statement really reduces to is that induction is not deduction, which is no great discovery - or at least it ought not be. Some have argued that induction can "prove" a truth value of a projection with some true degree of variance. This however is false, since to "prove" the truth value of any variance would require one to first "assert the consequent!" For instance: "If the variance of any projection has been proved by certain means, then by implementing those means to this set of circumstances I prove the truth of the variance. I have implemented those means to this set of circumstances, therefore, I have proved the truth of the variance." The fallacy is obvious. Again, science can only show how things might appear; we may not say that it is "true" that things will appear as they have in the past. And to say that it is true that things "might" appear a certain way, is to say that it is true that they might not. As for variances, all we can say is that it would appear, based upon the past, that variances are rational to maintain when arrived at inductively. However, we cannot even arrive at a truth value for the variance without asserting the consequent. Nonetheless, a variance can have veracity just as that which it surrounds can have veracity.

I’m sympathetic to the idea that we might actually know things through induction. However, I would say that we cannot know that we know things through induction. If we do know things through induction it is because God has granted a necessary, causal relationship to those things that appear to us as necessary. God would also have to grant us some warrant to believe that things must be the way they are. Does He do this? I don’t know nor do I think we can know.

What’s the beauty in all of this? Well, for one thing - I am more certain that Jesus lives than I am that toothpaste will squirt out of the tube in the morning!

Ron

Counter since: 9/6/2006

Free Website Counter


Hit Counters

30 comments:

razzendahcuben said...

You are more certain that Jesus lives?

First, how do you define "certainty"? Also, you know that Christ lives because you read it in God's word. But how do you know that you are able to understand through language the information God is trying to communicate? Only if you presuppose that God instilled us with the ability to comprehend language. But is comprehensbility of language really so different from the trustworthiness of induction? And so should you not also trust induction for the same reason, namely that God gave us the tools and abilities to investigate nature inductively in His ordered universe?

I believe the answer to Does He give us the ability to know things thruogh induction? is a resounding yes.

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter" (Prov. 25:2).

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Thank you for weighing in Raz...

”You are more certain that Jesus lives [than toothpaste will squirt out of the tube tomorrow]?”

Yes, aren’t you? I know that Jesus lives because God himself has said so in his word. My full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority of Christ’s resurrection comes through the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in my heart. Consequently, by God’s grace, I know without question that Jesus lives. However, things inferred, as I’ve shown, cannot be known as true, yet they can rationally be maintained.

First, how do you define "certainty"?

It really doesn’t matter. The reason being, no matter how one defines certainty, induction cannot rise to the level of God’s revelation or deduction. For one reason, induction presupposes revelation and revelation presupposes the law of non-contradiction.

Also, you know that Christ lives because you read it in God's word.

Which is to say, I know that Christ lives because God said so.

But how do you know that you are able to understand through language the information God is trying to communicate?

If I can know I am saved, then I can know that Jesus is raised from the grave since salvation presupposes the resurrection of Christ. Accordingly, your question may be rephrased as “How do you know that God has communicated that Jesus is raised?” I humbly submit in the Lord that by the grace of God I truly believe in the Lord Jesus and love Him in all sincerity. By God’s grace I strive to walk with a pure conscience before Him. In conjunction with such blessings God has been pleased to assure me that I am in a state of grace. The certainty I have of my salvation presupposes my risen Lord; it is not a bare conjecture, nor is it grounded upon a fallible hope. By God’s goodness and grace I have been granted infallible and unshakeable faith, which is founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation – obtained through the testimony of the Holy Spirit working in and by the Word and all the means of grace. (Although these words are largely taken from the Westminster Confession of Faith, I state them because they sum up my position so wondefully and truly.)

Only if you presuppose that God instilled us with the ability to comprehend language.,

You'll please excuse me if I don’t answer what I believe to be your point. I believe you are arguing that I cannot know that I can comprehend God’s word without first presupposing that language is intelligible. Let me just say that the intelligibility of language is not an arbitrary or unjustifiable precondition of intelligible experience but rather a necessary precondition for intelligible experience, which can be demonstrated by the impossibility of the contrary: If God is understood through language, then language is intelligible; God is understood through language; therefore, language is intelligible.

But is comprehensbility of language really so different from the trustworthiness of induction?

Absolutely. Remember asserting the consequent?

And so should you not also trust induction for the same reason, namely that God gave us the tools and abilities to investigate nature inductively in His ordered universe?

Trust induction? Do you mean I should trust all clocks on the wall implicitly? What I trust is that inductive inference is only possible because an all good God has provided a fruitful connection between my mind and the mind-independent external world. A common creator stands behind both making induction possible.

I believe the answer to Does He give us the ability to know things thruogh induction? is a resounding yes.

Then one can know that it is 12:00 by the means of a broken clock?

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter" (Prov. 25:2).

Indeed!

Ron

razzendahcuben said...

Hi Ron,

My initial statement probably led you to believe that I denied your toothpaste statement. Quite the contrary---I agree that we have more epistemological certainty in believing that Christ is living than anything based on induction. I am not claiming that absolute knowledge is attained through induction. Rather I am responding to your following statements:

"I’m sympathetic to the idea that we might actually know things through induction. However, I would say that we cannot know that we know things through induction."

My point is that we can know things through induction for the same reason we can know that language is intelligible: God's word says so. And this is also why we know we can know things. This isn't to say that all inductions are correct or perfect, just as no one would claim that the receiver of information perfectly understands everything that the sender is trying to convey. All that really proves is that we live in a sin-cursed world that taints our cognitive faculties. But that's trivial---hardly the grounds for demolishing knowledge gained via induction. Indeed, we have gained knowledge via induction, or at least a glimpse of it. Science is an obvious example.

So my point is that if you are going to claim we can't know we know anything through induction, you then have to say the same thing about language and therefore God's Word. And thus knowledge is demolished.

I'm not dogmatic about this---just trying to learn more about biblical epistemology. By the way, are you a Clarkian presuppositionalist?

Looking forward to a response.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

My initial statement probably led you to believe that I denied your toothpaste statement. Quite the contrary---I agree that we have more epistemological certainty in believing that Christ is living than anything based on induction. I am not claiming that absolute knowledge is attained through induction.

Excellent! Our differences should only be semantic. I would argue that a necessary condition for knowledge is absolute certainty, which can only come through deduction and revelation. I reject your definition of knowledge, which includes inductive inference, because if knowledge is so broad as to include inductive inference, then either one can know something on faulty justification (e.g., my clock scenario), or one cannot be 100% certain of the truth of what is alleged to be "known" by way of induction. In other words, since inductive inference can be based upon rational yet faulty justification, then it follows that one cannot be 100% certain of what he “knows" even if what he knows is true. Accordingly, in common parlance we’d have to distinguish between knowing something “for sure” and knowing something that we’re not 100% sure about. Why not then define "knowledge" as including only that which we can be sure about? Let’s apply your use of the word in dialogue. The judge says: “Do you know that Mr. Smith killed his wife?” “Yes” says Mr. Jones, "I’m nearly 90% certain that it is true!" Raz, what is it to “know” something without certainty after all? At what point does one know anything through induction? Have you assigned a statistical confidence to such knowledge?

My point is that we can know things through induction for the same reason we can know that language is intelligible: God's word says so.

Where does God’s word tell us that we can know things through induction?

This isn't to say that all inductions are correct or perfect, just as no one would claim that the receiver of information perfectly understands everything that the sender is trying to convey.

So you’re saying one of two things. Either we can know things that are false, or else we can know things that we cannot be sure are true. If the latter is true – that we can know things that we cannot be sure are true - then we cannot know for certain that which we "know" when that which we "know" comes by way of induction. If that is true, then what does it really mean that we know things by way of induction?

All that really proves is that we live in a sin-cursed world that taints our cognitive faculties.

My dear brother, fallen faculties have nothing to do with the matter. Asserting the consequent will never be a means of demonstrating the truth value of an inference.

Indeed, we have gained knowledge via induction, or at least a glimpse of it. Science is an obvious example.

This is your thesis, but it needs to be defended in light of what I have written. Science has given us reason to believe many wondrous things. In fact, it would be irrational not to believe things inferred by reasonable inference. However, we’re talking about what we can know as true!

So my point is that if you are going to claim we can't know we know anything through induction, you then have to say the same thing about language and therefore God's Word. And thus knowledge is demolished.

Pay close attention now. If your issue is with the semantic tagging of words that I have employed, then you should not have a philosophical difference with me. However, since your difference would appear to be philosophical in nature and not merely semantic, then I must conclude that you do not stand by your original statement, which was you are “not claiming that absolute knowledge is attained through induction.” Let me explain. If it is true, as you originally stated above, that induction cannot yield absolute certainty, and if you are correct that we know God’s word through induction, then you must concede that we cannot know with absolute certainty the truth of the gospel! Yet we can know with 100% certainty the truth of the gospel. Accordingly, either induction can bring 100% certainty or else understanding God’s word is not based on induction! Rest easy, Raz. The latter is true. Although it is true that induction cannot yield 100% certainty, it is not true that we know the gospel by way of induction.

I'm not dogmatic about this---just trying to learn more about biblical epistemology. By the way, are you a Clarkian presuppositionalist?

I appreciate that you are working through these things. It takes, in my estimation, a lot of hard work and prayer. As for whether I’m Clarkian, I guess that would depend on what that word means to you. I can say that I believe that all reasoning is ultimately circular, which “Clarkians” deny. Whether Clark denied that, I’ll let you decide. I reject CVT’s view of analogical knowledge but I believe that TAG is sound.

Looking forward to a response.

I hope I didn’t disappoint you!

Blessings,

Ron

razzendahcuben said...

Well, finals are over, so I'm back. :) Thanks for responding to my comments!

A quick note: please read my entire post before you begin responding. And I prefer holistic responses over the standard quote-followed-by-response 'ping pong' style of discussion. Thanks!

I thought over our differences and I think it boils down to this: you raise absolute certainty to too high a level and you lower inductive knowledge to too low a level. I deny that any being other than God can have absolute certainty, but you would seem to disagree. This is why my very first question was, "how do you define certainty?" ;) I define certainty as the absence of doubt. Some say the absence of "all doubt," but I think this is illogical by virtue of the semantics: either someone is certain or not----no degrees are involved because no degrees are possible. Furthermore, I think non-Van Tillians and postmodernists make a good point when they point out that certainty is absurd in that to attain this ideal concerning a certain proposition P would require absolute knowledge of P. And no being has absolute knowledge (omniscience) but God, therefore God is the only being with certainty. This really extends from the postmodern concept of knowledge being a web of entangled and interrelated propositions rather than individual isolated islands, some of which we can grasp completely (have absolute knowledge and understanding of).

Nevertheless, I believe that man can have a logical certainty through the laws of logic. But logic can only relate propositions, it can affirm whether the content of the premises is true. For example: Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, Socrates is mortal. But this cannot tell us whether Socrates really is a man, or whether all men are mortal. Socrates could be a cow, but logic can't tell us this. Logic that only tell us that IF the premises are true the conclusion is true. TAG gets around this, since it demands God as a precondition for logic. So we can have logical certainty of God's existence. But this isn't how most people know the Bible as true...

Most people know the Bible as true simply because:
1. It is the revealed word of a God who cannot lie (the presupposition)
2. It makes sense of the human experience (the evidence)

This is not TAG, obviously. I believe that you cannot have 1 without 2. A good analogy is faith and works---if you have genuine faith you will have works, but it is not the works that give you the faith. It's the difference between having and knowing. We have genuine faith because we received the gospel, but we know it through our fruit. The same is true with presuppositionalism. Christianity is true because of 1, but we cannot know it without 2.

Here's the catch: we know 2 through induction. :)

Apologist Ronald Nash promotes a presuppositionalism known as abductive presuppositonalism (he calls it 'inductive presupp.' in his book Faith and Reason), where he claims that we know Christianity is true through what we induce. He admits that this gives us a probability that Christianity is true, nevertheless he does not consider this a weakness but a strength because it makes his version of presuppositionalism realistic. He has a point, and I believe I just affirmed it----TAG may seemingly provide certainty, but no one uses TAG as a basis for their faith so its not realistic. Most people do know Christianity is true through induction. And he calls this knowing a "psychological certainty". I have a postmodern friend who calls this "confidence". I don't have an official definition, but I can at least say that it is putting trust in induction. God no doubt bestows this type of certainty upon believers. And you can see how this differs from your version of 'absolute certainty'. Faith, even if its not known with absolute certainty, still has its reasons---most of them inductive!

Consider some verses in scripture:
"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day," (2 Tim. 1:12).

Do you really think Paul wrote this with TAG in mind?

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

Do you think Peter said this with TAG in mind?

Rather, both men said these things based on what they knew from induction. Did they start with the presupposition of scripture? Absolutely. Paul said in 1 Cor. 15 that Christ's death, burial, and resurrection happened ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES! And yet, immediately after he goes on to cite evidence, such as the 500 witnesses. This is similar to Christ claiming to be God and working miracles to affirm this (check out John 5:31-47). You see the presupposition-evidence pattern that I pointed out earlier?

In conclusion, I believe that it is important to define certainty. I believe there are 2 types of certainty: logical and psychological. They are not mutually exclusive, but one can have the latter without the former. Most (read: all) Christians have the latter without the former. And in the words of Dr. Nash, "If somebody has logical certainty, but he lacks psychological certainty, you don't want that guy dating your daughter." :) I agree.

As I've said before, most of this isn't set in stone---I'm persuadable, and are much more knowledgable than I. I would especially like to hear your defense of certainty---its something I'm certainly still working out. ;)

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Well, finals are over, so I'm back. :) Thanks for responding to my comments!

I hope your finals went well. I’m most happy to entertain your thoughts.

A quick note: please read my entire post before you begin responding. And I prefer holistic responses over the standard quote-followed-by-response 'ping pong' style of discussion. Thanks!

I’ll address your points one by one yet I’ll keep in mind all your remarks and interpret each particular one in light of the whole.

I thought over our differences and I think it boils down to this: you raise absolute certainty to too high a level and you lower inductive knowledge to too low a level. I deny that any being other than God can have absolute certainty, but you would seem to disagree.

Aren’t you absolutely certain that you exist? Aren’t you absolutely certain that Jesus lives? Doesn’t the WCF teach that one can have infallible assurance of his salvation? You’re confusing “absolute certainty” of a fact with exhaustive knowledge of a fact. The latter requires omniscience for it presupposes knowledge of how all facts relate. The former can be possessed by creatures because God imparts knowledge to finite creatures.

This is why my very first question was, "how do you define certainty?" ;) I define certainty as the absence of doubt.

This is not helpful. If certainty is the absence of doubt, then one can be certain about something false just as long as he doesn’t doubt what he believes.

Furthermore, I think non-Van Tillians and postmodernists make a good point when they point out that certainty is absurd in that to attain this ideal concerning a certain proposition P would require absolute knowledge of P. And no being has absolute knowledge (omniscience) but God, therefore God is the only being with certainty.

I’m going to stick with my definition of knowledge, which is “epistemic certainty” since your definition of certainty allows for false beliefs that are “without doubt.” Since God cannot lie, I can have infallible assurance of what he reveals. Consequently, I don’t need to be omniscient to know truth.

Nevertheless, I believe that man can have a logical certainty through the laws of logic. But logic can only relate propositions, it can affirm whether the content of the premises is true.

If man can have epistemic certainty in the realm of symbolic logic, then he can have the same certainty whenever the premises of a valid syllogism are revealed by God. Consequently, I can know with certainty those things that I can logically deduce from Scripture.

For example: Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, Socrates is mortal. But this cannot tell us whether Socrates really is a man, or whether all men are mortal. Socrates could be a cow, but logic can't tell us this. Logic that only tell us that IF the premises are true the conclusion is true.

Correct. However, I can know that “Alexander the Coppersmith” is mortal. Actually, your point underscores my point. Inductive inference would cause one to rationally maintain that Socrates is a man, whereas revelation and logic teaches that the Apostle Paul is a mortal. Consequently, there’s a vast difference between induction and deductive certainty that follows from revelational premises.

TAG gets around this, since it demands God as a precondition for logic. So we can have logical certainty of God's existence. But this isn't how most people know the Bible as true...

We don’t have logical certainty of God’s existence by “demanding” that God is the precondition for logic. All men know God exists by general revelation, apart from discursive reasoning.

Most people know the Bible as true simply because:
1. It is the revealed word of a God who cannot lie (the presupposition)
2. It makes sense of the human experience (the evidence)

This is not TAG, obviously. I believe that you cannot have 1 without 2. A good analogy is faith and works---if you have genuine faith you will have works, but it is not the works that give you the faith. It's the difference between having and knowing. We have genuine faith because we received the gospel, but we know it through our fruit. The same is true with presuppositionalism. Christianity is true because of 1, but we cannot know it without 2.


I couldn’t disagree more. Our works can offer corroborating evidence to what we know, but our works are not the ultimate source of our assurance of our knowledge. I know that Jesus died for me because his Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a son of God. That I have faith is not an inductive inference. Also, if one can know he has works, then one can deduce he has faith:

If the Spirit produces fruit, then I have faith
The Spirit produces fruit
Therefore, I have faith

If one cannot know he has works, then any inductive inference of works could not rise to the level of salvific assurance, which can be known!

NOTE: “If induction, then Christianity” is not an inductive inference! Your confusing predicating about induction with actual induction.

Here's the catch: we know 2 through induction. :)

You’re equivocating. A deductive justification for induction is not an inductive inference. We deduce the grounds for inductive inference from the Christian worldview. We don’t infer by induction the proposition that God makes sense of human experience. All induction does in the realm of vindicating the Christian worldview (or vindicating one's salvation for that matter) is corroborate the truth values of known premises.

Apologist Ronald Nash promotes a presuppositionalism known as abductive presuppositonalism (he calls it 'inductive presupp.' in his book Faith and Reason), where he claims that we know Christianity is true through what we induce. He admits that this gives us a probability that Christianity is true, nevertheless he does not consider this a weakness but a strength because it makes his version of presuppositionalism realistic.

Nash was a mess. See my reductio of this very thing:

http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/03/impropriety-of-trying-to-prove.html

I could write more to you regarding your post but I think there’s enough here to chew on.

Blessings,

Ron

razzendahcuben said...

Well, I have to begin by saying that this is exactly what I need: someone to challenge/correct/affirm the philosophy I've been meting out in my mind for several months. So thanks for taking the time to respond! I'm really, really appreciative.

Before I respond to your comment, may I ask a huge favor? I have 2 questions that I really need answered within the next day. (I'll explain the circumstance later.) I honestly don't know of anyone else who could give a quality answer, otherwise I wouldn't bother you with them:

1. How do you deal with Islam and other theistic religions? TAG would seem to presuppose the existence of a God, but not necessarily the Christian God. How do you respond to this? I've searched the internet far and wide but haven't found a decent answer. I'm at the point where I say that TAG applies only to non-theistic worldviews, and then in dealing with other theistic worldview we must point out contradictions/lack of evidence.

(In responding be as brief as you like, or if you have addressed this elsewhere please provide a link!)

2. Are axioms unprovable? Gordon Clark apparently held this view. But wouldn't an axiom like "the Bible is the revealed word of a God who cannot lie" be a standard proposition with a truth value? I ask this because if axioms are unprovable, a skeptic would be just in holding the axiom "there is no truth". But if such as axiom is a proposition then it is self-defeating. The same applies to empiricism---"all knowledge or all meaningful discourse about the world is related to sensory experience or observation". I've heard some presuppositionalists call this axiom self-defeating because we cannot sense or observe empiricism. But if axioms are unprovable, then the presuppositionalist would have to resort to other means to refute empiricism. What might these means be? Or is it valid to say that the axioms I've mentioned are truly self-defeating right off the bat? Or perhaps they are considered paradoxes, in which case would it be allowed as an axiom?

Yeah, I know its strange that I'm throwing random questions at you, but if you could help me I would be incredibly appreciative. Don't feel the need to spend too much time on it.

By the way, I'm still reading over your last comment. It's great food for thought, and I'll be praying about it. Thanks again.

-razz

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Well, I have to begin by saying that this is exactly what I need: someone to challenge/correct/affirm the philosophy I've been meting out in my mind for several months. So thanks for taking the time to respond! I'm really, really appreciative.

Happy to oblige! Apologists need to get beyond the rhetoric and be willing to scrutinize their beliefs. This means allowing others to scrutinize them as well!

Before I respond to your comment, may I ask a huge favor? I have 2 questions that I really need answered within the next day. (I'll explain the circumstance later.) I honestly don't know of anyone else who could give a quality answer, otherwise I wouldn't bother you with them:

1. How do you deal with Islam and other theistic religions? TAG would seem to presuppose the existence of a God, but not necessarily the Christian God. How do you respond to this? I've searched the internet far and wide but haven't found a decent answer. I'm at the point where I say that TAG applies only to non-theistic worldviews, and then in dealing with other theistic worldview we must point out contradictions/lack of evidence.


TAG in fact does presuppose the Christian God. It presupposes the entire Christian worldview in fact. As an apologetic, the Christian worldview is that worldview which requires God’s revelation in order to make sense of reality, knowledge and ethics. As for those worldviews that presuppose revelation, we must perform an internal critique of them in order to show their arbitrariness and inconsistency. If the worldview in question is consistent, then it must be working off of borrowed capital – i.e., steeling from the Christian worldview.

2. Are axioms unprovable? Gordon Clark apparently held this view.

The “axiom” of the Christian worldview is provable by the impossibility of the contrary. The proof of the Christian worldview can be found on one of my first blog entries.

I ask this because if axioms are unprovable, a skeptic would be just in holding the axiom "there is no truth".

To which I would ask, is that statement true? No matter which way he goes, his thesis is self-refuting.

The same applies to empiricism---"all knowledge or all meaningful discourse about the world is related to sensory experience or observation".

Empiricism is self-refuting because one cannot observe a proposition. Moreover, logic is an abstract entity, not material in nature.

Gotta run to a meeting at the church. BTW, if you’d ever like to talk two way, let me know.

Blessings,

Ron

razzendahcuben said...

Wow, great. That's really what I needed to hear. Thanks so much. I might take you up on that two-way talk offer sometime. :)

Actually, your response on Islam answered another, even more important question. Michael Butler critiqued Clark's presuppositionalism by pointing out that if the primary criterion of a worldview is consistency then it is possible that man could discover another worldview even more consistent that Christianity. But if knowledge is only attainable through what IS revealed, then this hypothetical worldview is meaningless. Am I on the right track?

Yet I'm still not seeing why TAG _must_ presuppose Christianity. If the internal critique necessary for refuting Islam is a set of arguments apart from TAG, then TAG is still only proof of a God who revealed Himself/itself/whatever. In other words, I see how TAG _does_ presuppose all of Christianity when we use it, but I'm not seeing why a Muslim could not do the same thing. I don't think this is a weakness of TAG---it just shows that TAG is not a win-all 'magic bullet' argument.

Also, is it true that the unregenerate presuppose induction because they know God through GR?

As for our previous discussion, you wrote, "Since God cannot lie, I can have infallible assurance of what he reveals."

Only though TAG. But the vast majority of Christians throughout the centuries have no clue what TAG is, therefore if your 'infallible assurance' is the same type of assurance which Paul and Peter talk about (which I think it is not---refer back to my distinction between logical and psychological certainty), then only a handful of philosophers and theologians within the past few decades have assurance of the truth of God's word.

As I said before, most people see that the Bible claims to be God's word (the presupposition) and also see that it makes sense of the world (the evidence). The latter is done through induction. A presupposition without evidence is meaningless. You wrote, "I know that Jesus died for me because his Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a son of God." Sure, you may have deduced this from scripture, but outside of TAG this claim is also arbitrary. Anyone can say this, but that doesn't make them a Christian. The same applies to presuppositions, and thus my analogy fits. I believe I already backed up the presupposition-evidence portion of my analogy with scripture, so let me do the same for faith-works:

"Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7.16) Also check out 1 John 2:3-11, where John gives the TEST of knowing Christ that is based upon their works. Furthermore, if believers have 'infallible assurance' of their salvation, why would Paul write in 2 Cor. 13:5 that we should examine and TEST ourselves as to whether we are in the faith. I emphasize 'test' because if something is known with absolute certainty then there is no need to test it. Also notice in that Paul says examine "yourselves"---do not merely deduce your salvation through God's word. Of course, from Rom. 10:9 and 10:13 we can deduce our knowledge of salvation. This isn't a contradiction, but faith and works working together to complete the circle. Just like presuppositions and evidences in presuppositionalism.

Hopefully I've made the dichotomy between logical and pyschological certainty clear. The former provides absolute certainty, the latter does not. But the former is also very abstract and relatively unknown (utilizing TAG), and definitely not what Paul or Peter referred to when they spoke of assurance.

I know, its a strange thing. The typical Christian presupposes induction to see that Christianity is (probably) true, when Christianity is a necessary condition for induction. But this is the real world---like it or not---and as a practical apologist I have to meet people where they're at, which means providing evidence so that the Holy Spirit can give them psychological certainty.

I read your "Impropriety of Trying to Prove..." I agree with it. I will use TAG, but not on a popular level.

Looking forward to your response, and thanks so much!

-razz

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Actually, your response on Islam answered another, even more important question. Michael Butler critiqued Clark's presuppositionalism by pointing out that if the primary criterion of a worldview is consistency then it is possible that man could discover another worldview even more consistent that Christianity. But if knowledge is only attainable through what IS revealed, then this hypothetical worldview is meaningless. Am I on the right track?

Yes, I believe you are on track but let me qualify. It is not possible for man to find another worldview more consistent than Christianity, for Christianity is the necessary precondition for consistency. However, the main point, which you picked up on, is that revelation is the necessary precondition for intelligible experience.

Yet I'm still not seeing why TAG _must_ presuppose Christianity. If the internal critique necessary for refuting Islam is a set of arguments apart from TAG, then TAG is still only proof of a God who revealed Himself/itself/whatever. In other words, I see how TAG _does_ presuppose all of Christianity when we use it, but I'm not seeing why a Muslim could not do the same thing. I don't think this is a weakness of TAG---it just shows that TAG is not a win-all 'magic bullet' argument.

Islam fails because it refutes itself, apart from Christianity being true. For instance, Allah is transcendent only and not personal and, therefore, cannot be known; yet the Koran tries to communicate God to man.

Also, is it true that the unregenerate presuppose induction because they know God through GR?

Yes, I believe so.

As for our previous discussion, you wrote, "Since God cannot lie, I can have infallible assurance of what he reveals."

Only though TAG.

But the vast majority of Christians throughout the centuries have no clue what TAG is, therefore if your 'infallible assurance' is the same type of assurance which Paul and Peter talk about (which I think it is not---refer back to my distinction between logical and psychological certainty), then only a handful of philosophers and theologians within the past few decades have assurance of the truth of God's word.


Huge point here, so please pay close attention. It’s often missed. We don’t know God because of TAG. Most people don’t even know of TAG let alone appreciate TAG. We know God through revelation. We know that God cannot lie through revelation. We have assurance through revelation. Etc., etc., etc. Consequently, I have the same assurance that Paul and Peter had, which comes through revelation, not an apologetic breakthrough. Jesus loves me this I know, cause the Bible tells me so…

As I said before, most people see that the Bible claims to be God's word (the presupposition) and also see that it makes sense of the world (the evidence). The latter is done through induction.

Note well that I do not choose Christianity because it seems to make sense of things every time I presuppose it and try to interpret the world around me. Rather, I know Christianity is true because God’s word tells me it’s true and God cannot lie. I know that the proof of God’s existence is that without him one cannot prove anything, because I know that all knowledge is deposited in Christ and that Christ is not just the way back to the Father but rather is also the way back to the Father’s world. I know this through revelation; it is merely confirmed to me as I observe nature. I know - through revelation - that a common creator stands behind my mind and the external mind-independent world so that my a priori categories of thought can make sense out of experience a posteriori. Induction is rational because in the beginning God created, and he upholds all things by his hand of providence.

You wrote, "I know that Jesus died for me because his Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a son of God." Sure, you may have deduced this from scripture, but outside of TAG this claim is also arbitrary.

TAG is a deductive argument, though some Van Tillians do not appreciate this, hence my critique of Don Collett and the Westminster Theological Journal. Being a deductive argument, TAG does not teach me that Jesus died for me; in fact, deductive arguments can only organize true premises that are already known. All TAG does is gives us a point of discussion. For instance: If intelligible experience, then God must exist since God is the necessary precondition for intelligible experience. No God, therefore, no intelligible experience (reductio / modus tollens)… but there is intelligible experience (affirm original antecedent), therefore, God must exist (modus ponens).

Now all I can do, having proved God, is perform an internal critique of the opposing worldview and continue to show how God’s revelation of himself provides the necessary preconditions for the intelligible experience that the unbeliever wants to posit or presupposes in his unbelief. To argue against Christianity, one must first presuppose certain tools of reason that only Christianity can make sense of.

I know, its a strange thing. The typical Christian presupposes induction to see that Christianity is (probably) true, when Christianity is a necessary condition for induction.

Well stated. Very well stated in fact! In the like manner, we don’t prove any step of a deductive argument by induction. We can only corroborate the truth.

But this is the real world---like it or not---and as a practical apologist I have to meet people where they're at, which means providing evidence so that the Holy Spirit can give them psychological certainty.

Nonsense. The person already knows the truth that God exists. He’ll come to know the truth of Christ dying for his sins only if God grants warrant that Jesus in fact died for him.

One last thing. Axioms in geometry cannot be proved as long as they’re not known as true. What can one appeal to after all? However, the axiom of God’s revelation can be proved since a sound deductive argument can be constructed based upon God’s say so. What you need to appreciate is that an argument is sound given true premises and a valid form, which is available to us in Scripture. Even the following is a sound proof for God's existence:

p1. God exists or nothing exists
p.2 Not nothing exists (something exists)
C. Therefore, God exists

The proof isn't transcendental in nature because it's not concerned with what must be true for something else to be true. Notwithstanding, it does demonstrate that proof is child's play since sound proofs are concerned with truth and form, not persuasion. What's Clark's axiom, that God exists? Well, I just proved it with a valid form and true premises. Clarkians must affirm the form and the premises, so why not the proof?! The problem is that most Clarkians don't know what is entailed by a sound argument. Accordingly, they typically reduce to skepticism since they can never justify any ultimate truth claim. Without a justification for their truth claims, their arguments are equally unjustified and arbitrary. Now if I can just get Van Tillians to appreciate that TAG is deductive and induction can NEVER prove something with a truth value.

Ron

razzendahcuben said...

That's good, Ron. Thanks. I'm going to challenge you a bit now...

Concerning TAG. I wasn't saying that we know God through TAG. I agree that we know God through revelation. However, in order to achieve absolute certainty (logical certainty), one must use TAG. My point still stands that Peter and Paul did have TAG therefore they did not have logical certainty but instead confidence/psychological certainty.

I also believe I backed this up with scripture---you have yet to refute my use of scripture or provide any of your own supporting your case, which I think is saying something. I will say that you have convinced me of quite a bit, but if you ever want show that Paul and Peter's assurance is absolute certainty, you'll need to give examples of TAG being used in scripture.

I know that Solomon said that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, meaning that you must accept God's authority (at least subconsciously as a result of general revelation) to know anything. And Paul said in Colossians that in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Do think this is TAG? Even if it is, you still have to admit that 99% of all Christians in past and present were unaware of the epistemological implications of this. If God can be pleased enough with their psychological certainty (which I believe He helps maintain anyway via the Holy Spirit), I see no point in being ardent about the absolute certainty of the Christian faith.

According to Bahnsen, however, there is no such thing as "their absolute certainty" because absolute certainty is a property of a proposition and not person-relative.
www.cmfnow.com/articles/phil-out.pdf
He defined certainty as the property in which the proposition cannot fail to be true. This distinguishes belief from certainty and therefore knowledge, which I understand and see the importance of now. (Correct me if I'm getting this wrong.) Psychological certainty is not true certainty, so I may use 'confidence' instead. Bahnsen also pointed out that confidence is not an accurate indicator of truth. I agree. Christianity should be asserted as true on the basis of reasons, not our own personal confidence. These reasons, however, are inductive.

"Note well that I do not choose Christianity because it seems to make sense of things every time I presuppose it and try to interpret the world around me. Rather, I know Christianity is true because God’s word tells me it’s true and God cannot lie."

I agree. But you can't stop here. That would make you a fideist.

I'm a muslim and I believe that Islam is true because Allah's word tells me it's true and Allah cannot lie. You say, "But Islam has internal contradictions such as X." But this isn't part of your original presupposition---already you've gone beyond your presupposition to establish its truth. Since you used a logical argument, I think you've established with absolute certainty that Islam is false. But there could be a million other revealed religions that claim to be the word of a God who cannot lie. Are you going to test them all with an internal critique? At this point you appeal to your original presupposition, saying that a worldview is not Christianity then it is automatically false, so there is no need to test every single worldview. But once again I point out that this is arbitrary.

Hmmm... so I guess I have to recant my position that even TAG can provide absolute certainty, because any revealed religion can use TAG.

I wish I were wrong, but I'm not seeing any way around this. How do you respond to this:

I am God. You can call me Razzendahcuben. I cannot lie. I have revealed myself through nature so everyone is aware of my existence and authority. I am also revealing myself right now---you are the first person to know who I am on a personal level. Because you presuppose my existence and the order I bestow upon the universe, you are able to use deductive and inductive logic. All wisdom and knowledge is stored in me, although for many millenia my creation has been deceived by the Bible.

Also, I wrote that I was trying to meet people on a practical level, which is why I use evidences. You responded, "Nonsense. The person already knows the truth that God exists. He’ll come to know the truth of Christ dying for his sins only if God grants warrant that Jesus in fact died for him."

First, I wasn't talking about God's existence, but rather the truth of Christianity. You consistently equivocate the two. And I think this is due to your faulty notion that TAG is a Christian argument, whereas I just demonstrated that TAG could also prove the existence of myself, Razzendahcuben, and therefore knowledge. Also, your second statement is Calvinistic existentialism. If regeneration is a prerequisite of knowing Christianity as true, then what's the point of apologetics? It's epistemological deadlock. And there is no point whatsoever in using TAG on a non-believer, because TAG is a deduction from the Bible---it presupposes Christianity as true.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron, you seem to be pretty good with logic so I was hoping you could help me understand something.

Does modus ponens (and tollens?) ALWAYS commit the fallacy of asserting the consequent?

I can understand why Bahnsen's example, "If Milton wrote Hamlet, then Milton is a great author. But milton is in deed a great author. Therefore he wrote Hamlet," is a fallacy. I just don't understand how this applies in all cases.

For example: "All who come to me learned from the Father."

Can I reconstruct this into a valid modus ponens? I think so (though I may be mistaken):

--If you come to the Son then you have learned from the Father.

You came to the Father thus you learned from the Son.--

How is it that this happens to be an invalid inference? It seems that modus ponens does not commit any fallacy if (and only if?) we know that Q cannot be outside of P being the case.

I would appreciate you thoughts. Thanks.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

"Hi Ron, you seem to be pretty good with logic so I was hoping you could help me understand something."

Oh boy, I'm in trouble now!:)

"Does modus ponens (and tollens?) ALWAYS commit the fallacy of asserting the consequent?"

No. Modus ponens takes the following form:

If P, then Q
P
Therefore, Q

Whereas Modus Tollens looks like:

If P, then Q
not Q
Therefore, not P

Asserting the consequent looks like:

If P, then Q
Q
Therefore, P

"I can understand why Bahnsen's example, "If Milton wrote Hamlet, then Milton is a great author. But milton is in deed a great author. Therefore he wrote Hamlet," is a fallacy. I just don't understand how this applies in all cases."

The above is a fallacious argument because it asserts the consequent; it doesn't take take the form of modus tollens or modus ponens.


"If you come to the Son then you have learned from the Father.

You came to the Father thus you learned from the Son."


I believe you are trying to say:

"If you come to the Son, then you have learned from the Father; You have come to the Son; therefore, you have learned from the Father."

The above is an example of modus ponens. Accordingly, the argument is valid.

Whenever modus ponens is employed:

If P, then Q
P
Therefore, Q

"P" is a sufficient condition for Q, which means that whenever P is present, then Q must also be present. The fallacy occurs when one argues that whenever Q is true, then P is also true, which your Bahnsen example nicely shows.

Thoughts?

Ron

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I don't understand. If we know Q is the case and the P is the necessary antecedent to Q then why can't we infer P from knowledge of Q? Or would we merely need to switch the Q to being P?? But then the ordering seems a little arbitrary.

I'm not sure see why this argument is valid:

"If you come to the Son, then you have learned from the Father; You have come to the Son; therefore, you have learned from the Father."

And yet this argument is invalid:

If you learn from the Father then you come to the Son; you have come to the Son; therefore, you have learned from the Father.

Thanks for your help.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hmm... I don't understand. If we know Q is the case and the P is the necessary antecedent to Q then why can't we infer P from knowledge of Q? Or would we merely need to switch the Q to being P?? But then the ordering seems a little arbitrary."

Ah, but "if P then Q" does not mean that P is a necessary condition for Q. It means rather that Q is a necessary condition for P; and that P is a sufficient condition for Q. Consider that if it is raining then the street is wet - yet that does not mean that whenever the street is wet it is raining. It does mean, however, that rain is a sufficient condition for a wet street and that a wet street is a necessary state of affairs for whenever it is raining.

"I'm not sure see why this argument is valid:

'If you come to the Son, then you have learned from the Father; You have come to the Son; therefore, you have learned from the Father.'

And yet this argument is invalid:

If you learn from the Father then you come to the Son; you have come to the Son; therefore, you have learned from the Father."


O.K. watch carefully; I think I see what might be tripping you up. It is indeed true that those who have come to the Son have learned from the Father. However, even though that is true, it cannot be logically derived from the premise: "if you learn from the Father, then you come to the Son." The reason that it cannot be logically derived from that premise is because the premise does not logically negate other ways of coming to the Son. The premise only tells us that learning from the Father is a way by which one comes to the Son. Keep in mind that invalid arguments can conclude with true statements, and valid arguments can conclude with false statements. A sound argument has a valid form and true premises, leading to a true or reliable conclusion.

Let me give an illustration of an invalid argument:

All who have died in Christ go to heaven; Fred is in Heaven; therefore, Fred died in Christ.

That Fred has trusted in Christ cannot be logically inferred from the two premises that precede the conclusion. The reason being, the two premises do not negate the untrue premise that there are other ways to get to Heaven other than trusting in Christ. In other words, the argument does not imply that ONLY those who have trusted in Christ can get to Heaven. In the like manner, your other argument does not imply that the ONLY way to come to Son is by learning from the Father. Although your conclusion is true, it does not follow from the premises.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I understand now.

Thanks alot.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

"Concerning TAG. I wasn't saying that we know God through TAG. I agree that we know God through revelation. However, in order to achieve absolute certainty (logical certainty), one must use TAG.

Raz,

Not true. TAG is a particular kind of deductive argument that is concerned with preconditions of intelligible experience. I know Christianity is true because: God reveals to me Christianity; that which God reveals to me I know (as true); therefore, I know (as true) Christianity. That syllogism is not an example of TAG. Yet is demonstrates a logical proof for my knowing Christianity as true. Consequently, it is not true that TAG is necessary for logical certainty. Please don’t ignore this and restate your thesis.

"My point still stands that Peter and Paul did have TAG therefore they did not have logical certainty but instead confidence/psychological certainty."

Raz, you meant to say that Peter and Paul did NOT have TAG…. First of all, you don’t know that, you simply assume it by silence. Secondly, as I just showed, TAG is not a necessary condition for logical certainty. I think you have a few problems on your hand. For starters, you don’t seem to grasp TAG. Secondly, you don’t understand logical certainty. Third, you don’t know what a sound argument entails, let alone a valid argument.

"I will say that you have convinced me of quite a bit, but if you ever want show that Paul and Peter's assurance is absolute certainty, you'll need to give examples of TAG being used in scripture."

It’s quite a shame that you are reducing “certainty” to a particular kind of formulation of premises. Consequently, you are arguing that knowledge is not sufficient for certainty but rather TAG – a subset of syllogism - alone is sufficient for certainty! At the very least, given what you have argued, one must employ TAG upon TAG in order to have certainty about TAG!

I’m now going to skip down in your post because your confusion is mounting up too high I’m afraid.

"I am God. You can call me Razzendahcuben. I cannot lie. I have revealed myself through nature so everyone is aware of my existence and authority. I am also revealing myself right now---you are the first person to know who I am on a personal level. Because you presuppose my existence and the order I bestow upon the universe, you are able to use deductive and inductive logic. All wisdom and knowledge is stored in me, although for many millenia my creation has been deceived by the Bible."

Is the above satire true? No, it’s false. Consequently, that which is false cannot be used in a sound argument, even if the form is valid! Moreover, all that the above satire portrays is an aping of the Christian worldview, which basically implies that revelation is the necessary precondition for intelligible experience. I’m not concerned with worldviews that ape Christianity, or think counterfactually about a given particular of the Christian worldview, or that have a different name for Jesus, etc.

"First, I wasn't talking about God's existence, but rather the truth of Christianity. You consistently equivocate the two.I just demonstrated that TAG could also prove the existence of myself, Razzendahcuba and therefore knowledge."

Razz, you do not appreciate how TAG is distinguished from a modus ponens or modus tollens, let alone inductive inference. Moreover, we're talking about a revelational epistemology. We need to talk...

In His Grace,

Ron

Keith said...

Finally, induction always operates under the formal fallacy of asserting the consequent. It would be misleading, however, to say that inductive reasoning is always fallacious. Rather, by repeated tests through asserting the consequent a veracity of belief can be obtained. “If A, then B; B therefore, A” is of course fallacious. However: “If A, then B; B therefore, A would appear to have more veracity...” is of course the basis for science and indeed valid.

It seems like you've just said that induction is a logical fallacy but it is not actually a logical fallacy. Then you wrote "If A then B, B therefore A" twice, the first time calling it fallacious and the second time calling it valid. I must really be missing something.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Induction is always fallacious if the conclusion derived is posited as 100%, as if it were deduced by deduction. However, if we use induction to conclude that the conclusion has more veracity, then it need not be fallacious.

Ron

Keith said...

You would agree, though, that inductive inferences are never justified and therefore can never count as knowledge?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Inductive inferences can certainly be justifiable but what may be infered through induction does not rise to the level of deduction or revelation. For instance, I may (and should) infer through induction that if the street is wet this morning, then it rained last night: "If rain, then wet street; wet street, therefore, it *probably* rained." That's induction. The fallacy comes when one asserts the consequent and concludes "rain as true" (as opposed to probably true). It is fallacious to argue: if rain, then wet street; wet street, therefore, rain (as oppposed to probable rain).

Ron

Keith said...

Alright, but my second question is what I was really driving at: can inductive inferences count as knowledge?

Keith said...

For instance, I may (and should) infer through induction that if the street is wet this morning, then it rained last night: "If rain, then wet street; wet street, therefore, it *probably* rained." That's induction.

Technically, that's abductive, not inductive, reasoning. Inductive reasoning would be this:

All crows I have observed are black, therefore all crows are black.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I think my posts are pretty clear that induction can never justify the truth claims of the consequent that is asserted, which means that induction cannot provide knowledge and if it could we couldn't know it by induction. As for the street being wet not being inductive, in an inductive inference the conclusion is according to unobserved events yet based on the evidence provided by observed events. So, if we over and over again see event A followed by event B, then the next time we see event A we might predict, based on an inductive inference, that B will follow. Similarly, if we see B (a wet street) we might inductively infer that A (rain) preceded B (the wet street). Cause to effect and effect back to cause entails induction. Is there really a useful distinction between abduction and induction? I think not, which is why philosophers use the rain example in both ways.

I think the posts on this subject say it all.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Do you think the senses can give us knowledge? How far should Christians take sense experience?

Reformed Apologist said...

The question should be whether the senses play a part in obtaining or influencing beliefs. Of course they do. What do you believe that didn't come through the occasion of the senses? Where some go too far is in attributing knowledge to senses rather than God who makes marks on a page intelligible and provides persuasion of the truth. God uses our senses to impart knowledge but once knowledge is obtained do we need the senses to know what we've known?

Anonymous said...

It just seemed a little bit Clarkian to say such. It just seems you're taking a Gettier problem and you say the definition of knowledge is fine but senses experience and induction is lacking. So, would you say that the Platonic definition of knowledge is correct?

Reformed Apologist said...

Both the comment and question don't interact with any position let alone mine. Feel free to interact with concepts rather than just mentioning names as labels. No offense intended.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to convey that I'm attributing these philosophers views to you and I didn't mean to name drop. I think my question is related because I'm asking on whether JTB (Justified true beliefs) is the correct view of knowledge. Instead of something more provisional.

Reformed Apologist said...

JTB is a confused idea and most who employ the term have no consistent view of j, t or b.