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Sunday, November 26, 2006

TAG: So Basic, It's Often Honestly Misunderstood (or is it due to a desire for autonomy?)


That Modus Ponens (MP) can be misapplied does not mean that one cannot know when MP is not being misapplied. Knowledge entails a true belief that is justified. In fact, if the belief is properly justified, then it must be true! Accordingly, with a proper view of a “justified” belief, one can reduce knowledge to a justified belief – if we agree that justification requires maximal warrant. Obviously then, when one misapplies MP, then that which such a person thinks he knows by the employment of MP cannot yield true knowledge since that which would be believed would not be justified since the justification would be based upon a misapplication of MP! However, does that then necessitate that one cannot be justified in his belief that he has employed MP properly? Can’t one who is fallible have knowledge after all? If not, then how could a fallible man know he had eternal life? Or how could the apostle John have know that he was writing Scripture when he penned the epistles that bear his name, etc.? Was he not fallible, yet didn’t he have knowledge? Are we to believe that since I can make a mistake in complex reasoning that, therefore, I cannot know when I apply the law of non-contradiction validly and with true premises? Are we to reason, after all, that since I can make mistakes that I cannot know when I have not made a mistake?Let he who has ears hear!

Dr Bahnsen, in his reader on CVT, offers a severe criticism of John Frame on this very point. Frame disagreed with CVT that there is an "absolute certain" proof for Christian theism. One of Frame's points in particular, which Bahnsen disagreed with, is that there is "room for error" in the formulation of arguments. Bahnsen argued against Frame's position in a reductio fashion, noting that Frame elsewhere argues that our "justification for believing" is not merely probable (page 86 in Apologetics to the Glory of God)! Bahnsen zeroed in on an inconsistency of Frame’s, noting that Frame “cannot have it both ways.” What's ironic is that Frame has acknowledged elsewhere (probably in DKG, but I don't remember) that with respect to our knowledge of salvation, which he appreciates we can possess with infallible certainty (an unnecessary qualification of knowledge I might add), is based upon logic! After all, one must reason with premises such as “Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved;” “I am included in the set of anyone;” “I have called upon the name of the Lord” etc. Our assurance is obviously more complex than embracing syllogisms, but nonetheless the Spirit bears witness with our Spirit according to truth of God’s word, which requires us to reason in a fashion just described. The simple point is that the basis for my assurance, which is multi-faceted and which Frame allows for, can include syllogisms. Accordingly, although I am capable of reasoning fallaciously - I can have epistemic certainty of my salvation by knowing that I have reasoned validly with true premises.

At the end of the day, it is child’s play to construct sound syllogisms for the existence of God. In the like manner, it is no great feat to construct a sound transcendental argument, which is not merely a use of modus tollens (but rather a particular use of argumentation that addresses the preconditions of human experience). Moreover, it is not fallacious to appeal to God’s word for the justification of premises. After all, don’t all systems of thought have a terminus authority? Professing atheists and Christian skeptics won’t accept such appeals but they will be hard pressed to show a fallacy just the same when dealing with ultimate truth claims. Having said that, to simply offer a sound argument such as: “God exits or nothing exists; not nothing exists; therefore, God exists” is utterly useless for it does not put forth a challenge to the unbeliever. Notwithstanding, the argument is indeed sound. TAG, however, when properly constructed, which can be found here:http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/03/impropriety-of-trying-to-prove.html
is quite useful in that it puts forth a transcendental challenge and, thereby offers a point of discussion with the atheist.

TAG is sound in that the form is valid and the premises are true. We must keep in mind that the truth of any valid conclusion is not predicated upon the consensus of the truth of the premises. No doubt – the unbeliever will not accept the truth claims of the Bible and, therefore, the premise that “If God does not exist then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility.” Consequently, all the apologist can do is refute the hypothetical competitors to the Christian worldview one by one. He does this by performing an internal critique of the opposing worldview, exposing it for its inconsistencies and arbitrariness. Secondly, he does not merely assert TAG, but rather he shows how TAG applies to ethics, reality, knowledge, etc. NOTE: This is not to argue for God's existence inductively or that there are an infinite number of possible worldviews, but rather it is to show that the atheist cannot defeat the claims of TAG no matter how long and hard he tries. (God's existence is argued for deductively through TAG. The formulation of TAG from the link I've provided is valid and the premises are true; now if any Christian wishes to deny the truth of the premises, then we must have to question whether such a one submits to the word of God as being a source of unquestionable truth!)

Note well that all the competitors to the Christian worldview are simply variations of the single-unbelieving worldview, which posits that intelligible experience can be justified apart from revelation. Consequently, there are not an infinite number of worldviews as some have claimed, but rather only two. I know this from Scripture, which is a reliable appeal for truth and the only appeal for those who wish to justify their knowledge of anything!

In the final analyses, the demonstration of the soundness of an argument does not make an argument sound. The apologist merely demonstrates the claims of TAG to a watching world when he exposes the various forms of the one unbelieving worldview for its arbitrariness and inconsistencies. Moreover, there is no limit to the number of sound deductive arguments for the Christian worldview. The problem with Christian-skeptics is that they believe that the only acceptable argument will be one that persuades the unbeliever, which is to confuse proof with persuasion and utilize the tools of predication without a justification. Sadly, these professing believers have deceived themselves into thinking that they cannot trust the Bible apart from “proving” it’s truthfulness by means that do not comport with the denial of the need to presuppose Scripture to argue against TAG! These Christians operate from the same autonomous platform as the professing atheist.

Ron

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