Science as an Act of Faith

It’s seems like a pair of Lukes are the ones who have taken the most interest in my science posts.  In the midst of my conversation with Luke S. (below on part 5 of the creationism series), I said, “Science itself is an act of faith.”  Luke A. then asked me to give a justification of that claim.  That is the purpose of this post, which I am now typing between sips of Kool-Aid.*

First, let me mention the titles of two books.  I am not mentioning them because I want anyone to go out and read them (I certainly haven’t), but only because the titles say a lot.  Immanuel Kant published a book entitled Religion within the Bounds of Reason or something to that effect.  The title says a lot about Kant’s approach to religion: it must be subsumed under autonomous human reason.  In recent times, Nicholas Wolterstorff (I think it was him) wrote a book entitled Reason within the Bounds of Religion.  In other words, human reason must be subsumed under faith, not vice versa.  I haven’t read either book, but the titles do say a lot about the worldviews behind them.

I have, however, read G. K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy.  That is where my comment about science comes from.  Chesterton says something to this effect: “Reason itself is an act of faith.”  If reason is an act of faith, then science must likewise be an act of faith, because science presupposes reason as its primary tool.

So now I must justify the claim.  First, it is important to look back over the history of science.  Where did modern science arise?  It arose in the Christian West.  It did not arise among Hindus or Buddhists or Muslims or any group of people who did not believe that the created world reveals something of God to us.  In order for a person to approach the scientific task, that person has to have a number of presuppositions in place.  Here are some of the presuppositions one must have in order to reach conclusions based on the scientific method:

1. There is a real world out there outside of myself (contra idealism, contra many Eastern religions). 

2. My senses are reliable.  My perceptions are not distorted to the point that I have lost touch with the real world.

3. My ability to make inferences on things like causality is likewise reliable.  In other words, my brain functions such to allow me to make true conclusions about the external world.  Therefore, my brain must not be subject to blind forces of deterministic chance such that all of my reasoning could be attributed to nothing more than random molecules banging around in my head.

4. Other people have minds.

5. While we may come to different conclusions, I must assume that other people have the same basic sensory percpetions, which are also reliable for the purpose of putting them in touch with the real world.  Their reasoning processes likewise must be given some level of credibility. 

6. The world exhibits patterns of uniformity such that, based on a good number of observations, one may reason from particular events to general conclusions.

There could probably be more presuppositions listed.  Hindus would never come to these conclusions.  Hindus deny the reality of the world.  Atheism probably never could have given rise to science.  Atheists have no basis on which to accept the above presuppositions.  Philosophers have long debated whether we can accept the things I listed above.  Kant denied that we could know the world as it truly is, but he did believe that all people have the same mental equipment (concepts) that enable them to make sense of the data that they encounter (percepts).  The only way he could ground this assumption about the uniformity of our mental equipment was his belief in God (Kant was a deist).  Hume’s thought-experiments about causality indicate that science rests on a large number of unproven assumptions which, if jettisoned, would render the scientific enterprise completely meaningless.

Because science presupposes the six things listed above (as well as other presuppositions), science itself cannot prove these things.  It must accept them on faith.  My contention is that only a belief in God can provide a foundation for belief in those presuppositions.  If there is no God who has revealed information to me about himself and the world he created, then how can I be sure that other people have minds?  How can I be sure that what I perceive about the real world actually puts me in touch with the real world?  How can I trust my reasoning ability?  It is only by presupposing that God has made me in his image and has placed me (as part of the human race) over his creation, with all of the proper mental equipment that is needed to carry out that task, that I can even begin to do science in the first place.  If we are nothing but the products of blind, evolutionary determinism, then we have no ground for our scientific claims.  It is no accident that Christianity gave rise to modern science.  Science is an act of faith. 

Let me finish this post with an illustration that I got from Ronald Nash’s book Life’s Ultimate Questions (I think he got it from someone else).  Imagine you are on a train.  As you look out the window, you notice that on a green hillside a number of rocks are arranged in a pattern that spells out a message: “Welcome to London.”  You have to decide how those rocks came to be in that arrangement.  Either an intelligent agent arranged them for the purpose of communicating a message, or they came into that arrangement by random, naturalistic processes. 

Let’s say you opt for the former: intelligent design.  Then you would be justified in thinking that you actually were entering London.  But what if you opted for the latter: naturalistic processes?  Would you be justified in thinking that the train really was pulling into London?  If there is no intelligence behind the message, then there is no link between what the message says and objective reality.  Therefore, you would be a fool to conclude that a random arrangement of rocks actually told you something about the geographical location of your train. 

Modern science is in the same predicament.  Scientists rely on their own abilities to perceive and understand the world, just like the train passenger relies on the rocks to tell him where he is.  And yet, naturalistic scientists believe that their own abilities were not given to them by an intelligent Creator but rather are the result of blind chance.  Naturalistic scientists are like the passenger on the train seeing the rock formation, believing that it was random, and yet concluding that it provides reliable information about where they are.  Without faith in a Creator, an intelligent designer who gave us the mental equipment to know this world in the first place, science has no foundation. 

*Not really, we don’t keep Kool-Aid at our house.

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16 Responses to “Science as an Act of Faith”

  1. Luke Smith Says:

    Dear Aaron,
    I do not think your argument is satisfactory. It may be helpful to define the terms one is using with regards to “science”. When I use the term, I am refering to the scientific method. While one finds scientists who have different ideas about “the big picture” these ideas are of a catogorically different nature than the method employed in the scientific arena. The scientific method is simply the predicition of events based on observation. Obviously when one limits the scientific method to its fundamental basis then the ability to extrapolate a meta narrative is quite restricted. You conflate the general “meta-narratives” of the supposed scientific community as if there were such a view that one could accurately describe as the scientific approach. When you do this you are simply misrepresenting science.

    Now if you want to address specific positions that affect the observation and subsequent hpothesis within a specific discipline…hey fine be my guest. But your position is insufficient as you make broad generalization of the scientific community’s presuppositions. but that’s just my thought on the matter.

    Luke Smith

  2. fenderpooh Says:

    Luke,

    I have several items of response:

    “Obviously when one limits the scientific method to its fundamental basis then the ability to extrapolate a meta narrative is quite restricted.”

    I have no idea what you are talking about here. Please define what you mean by “fundamental basis,” and tell me what you are getting at when you speak of extrapolating metanarratives. This is just too vague to be helpful.

    “You conflate the general ‘meta-narratives’ of the supposed scientific community as if there were such a view that one could accurately describe as the scientific approach. When you do this you are simply misrepresenting science.”

    Again, this is vague terminology, though I think I have some idea of what you mean. If I am right about what you mean, then I don’t think you understand me. I am not talking about the metanarratives that different scientists may hold to. I am talking about the one metanarrative (a theistic one) that gave rise to the scientific method in the first place, and one on which the scientific method depends. Whatever individual scientists may believe is not the point; the point is that the scientific method that they pursue requires certain presuppositions about themselves and the universe that one cannot logically arrive at without a theistic worldview. The fact that many scientists pursue science atheistically doesn’t mean that all of their conclusions are wrong; it just means that they are inconsistent with their own worldview.

    “The scientific method is simply the predicition of events based on observation.”

    Yes, but both the ability to predict and the reliability of observation cannot be proven by the scientific method itself. A scientist has to presuppose a number of things before he even comes to the scientific method.

    “But your position is insufficient as you make broad generalization of the scientific community’s presuppositions.”

    Now you are making broad generalizations about my supposed broad generalizations. Please tell me which of the six presuppositions I listed can be written off without calling the whole scientific enterprise into question.

    My point is not that all scientists are consciously aware of these presuppositions. In fact, I would say that most don’t ever think about them (and that’s why they are presuppositions). They just act as though they are true. They take these things as givens and have no problem relying on their senses or publishing in journals where they believe other people who have minds will read them, etc. But the world of philosophy (especially since Hume) has shown us that these things really can’t be taken for granted unless one has an overarching worldview structure in place to ground them. Many naturalists may pursue scientific research without a Christian (or even theistic) worldview, but I believe they are inconsistent and short-sighted.

  3. Luke Smith Says:

    Dear Aaron,
    By the term “meta-narrative” substitute the word world view. As I have time I will try to provide a response to your presuppositions….but suffice it to say…the problem I see in your argument rests with the fact that you are asking in my opinion the wrong questions to engage the scientific com munity. It seems to me that you are trying to engage in a philosophical discussion with scientists…that is fine…but that is not doing the work of science. Scientific research is not philosophy.
    Luke

  4. fenderpooh Says:

    I know scientific research is not philosophy. I never claimed that it was. Nor have I claimed throughout this discussion that I have been doing science. I have been trying to give an account of what science itself is, and that requires philosophical discussion.

    Science is not philosophy, but it rests on philosophy. I don’t think you understand me much at all, Luke.

  5. Luke Smith Says:

    Dear Aaron,
    I am afraid your profundity escapes me.

  6. Luke A. Says:

    Aaron,

    I find your entire argument weak on many points and to be obviously written with a desired conclusion in mind–details to be filled in later. The biggest stretch would be, I think, you’re mixing of terminology. The statement that “science is an act of faith” leads one to believe that what is underlying science is the necessity for faith in a Christian God. This is easily rejected. (“Faith”, for lack of a better word, in the principle of uniformity of nature is all that is required. This is your point #6 and it will encompass all others…and then prove itself. This does not involve faith in God)

    First though, let me talk about the two titles that you mentioned, because they are, I think, indicative to the fundamental problem of your approach to science and reason.

    It seems to me that what you are trying to do is put science into religious terms so it can be refuted on religions grounds. The truth of the matter is this is an erroneous thing to do.

    Looking at science through a religious eye piece is like trying to convey the beauty of a piece of art with a mathematical formula. It is utter non-sense. You should read Walter Kaufman’s “Critique of Religion and Philosophy”. In his work he has a very good treatment of these “categories” such as science/reason, philosophy, art, religion, music, etc….certainly better than I could ever do.

    Sure, some categories overlap. I can use sciences such as archaeology in an attempt to prove certain passages of the Bible did occur, but I can never scientifically prove its major premises. Likewise, religion can guide scientific study, especially through morality (this is me speaking here), but in the end, when it comes to science, reason has the final say, not religion. Just ask Galileo.

    While it is true that much of what we know as “modern science” developed in the West, and that medieval “scientists” were with few exceptions men of the cloth, it does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that you want.

    If I may recall, Aristotle was not a Christian, or a Jew, yet he contributed considerably to the sciences, along with a host of other Greeks.

    While you throw around Hume and Kant, I would be curious to know which you actually agree with, since they were quite opposed to one another.

    The belief that science is needed “to show something of God to us” and must necessarily have arisen in the Christian West is patently false. Again, belief in your point #6 is all that is needed. Faith in the Western Christian God is not required.

    Now let’s go line-by-line:

    “Hume’s thought-experiments about causality indicate that science rests on a large number of unproven assumptions which, if jettisoned, would render the scientific enterprise completely meaningless.”

    Except that these cannot be jettisoned with out jettisoning humanity. Hume believed that the inference of causality is essentially human. If so, then one only need enough sense experience to draw enough causal relationships to lead to the development of science and a belief in the Principle Uniformity of Nature.

    My contention is that only a belief in God can provide a foundation for belief in those presuppositions.

    All right, prove it.

    If there is no God who has revealed information to me about himself and the world he created, then how can I be sure that other people have minds?

    Because they talk like me, walk like me, express thoughts, and can quite obviously carry on a conversation such as we are having. I see this a few times and, bingo, I conclude that other people have minds, just like me! Then I see some people who are not behaving properly, who babble about nothing, and cannot seem to put together a coherent thought. I might say this person has “lost his mind” because he no longer fits into what I have perceived, through experience, to be the mind contained in other people! No need for a belief in God here.

    How can I be sure that what I perceive about the real world actually puts me in touch with the real world?

    You cannot, except that other people have done the same and agree with you. But it doesn’t matter? Science could just as happily go about investigating the “not real world”, it wouldn’t matter, it would just be the science of the “not real world”. But too many pieces fit for this to really, be right…or do they?!????…

    How can I trust my reasoning ability?

    Does the sun come up in the morning? Can you infer (reason) that since it has come up every morning that it will do so tomorrow? Does it? You can trust your reason until it is proven wrong, in which case you adjust your reasoning to fit the new data. This is what science, and especially the development of science, is all about. I trust my reasoning until you prove me wrong!

    It is only by presupposing that God has made me in his image and has placed me (as part of the human race) over his creation, with all of the proper mental equipment that is needed to carry out that task, that I can even begin to do science in the first place.

    You have yet to prove this point, which is the crux of your argument. There sure are a lot of non-Christian Chinese scientists out there! I’m pretty sure they were developing their science long before any notions of being created by God in His image crossed their mind! Maybe you should define science sometime? It might clear up a lot.

    As to your quote about the train, a “reasonable” person would never believe the rocks fell there, in that order, by chance. The odds are against (remember causality, uniformity of nature?). IF he DID think that they fell by chance, he would find it quite remarkable, and would call over his friends. This peer reviewer would then slap him on the back of the head, point and big bend on the horizon and say “You dunce, we ARE outside of London! Someone put this here!” He would only believe it until proven wrong!

    Again…until you prove me wrong. I have faith in the uniformity of nature because, throughout my life, I have drawn causal relationships out of it which were repeatable. Over the last 26 years this principle has proven itself to be true. It worked again and again. Sometimes my conclusion was wrong, but I was able to go back and figure out were I got of track, and again seek out the “true” causal relationship. I know more than Aristotle (ok, about chemistry anyway) because I was able to stand on the shoulders of those before me…their conclusions…which were repeatedly true. When I die, my children will know more than me, because of my conclusions, which were proven to be true again and again. This is science. It does not require faith.

    And they will have tossed out the ones which were not true. And this, I think, is why you are afraid of science. This is why you are setting up your walls of “beliefs” such as your view on creationism, tossing out reason for consistency’s sake. This, Aaron, is where the “You’ve lost me” comment came in many weeks ago.

    ZING! Can’t wait for a response!

    Luke A.

  7. fenderpooh Says:

    Luke,

    That response would be good if it were not loaded with the very presuppositions that I have proposed. You do not realize that in virtually every sentence where you try to justify science on the basis of autonomous human reason, you must import capital from a theistic worldview.

    “It seems to me that what you are trying to do is put science into religious terms so it can be refuted on religions grounds.”

    Mmmm, kind of. Yes, I interpret the world through the lens of my theology, which is precisely what my theology tells me to do. This is God’s world, and our orientation to God affects absolutely everything else we do and think. In that sense I do put science into religious terms, but not in order to “refute it” (what would that even mean to “refute science”?). I am keen on refuting naturalism, not science. Do not assume that the two things are identical.

    “when it comes to science, reason has the final say, not religion. Just ask Galileo.”

    First, religion is the only thing that gives reason any credibility. Second, Galileo did not oppose reason to religion. He saw his work as something that glorified God. He opposed his discoveries to the dogmas of the medieval Roman church. The church’s misunderstanding in Galileo’s day no more disproves my point than Barry Bonds’s steriod use invalidates the whole game of baseball.

    You make a good point about the Greeks, but I would add that they were theists, and that’s really the point I was trying to establish anyway. None of them were bona fide atheistic naturalists. As for Hume and Kant, I disagree with both of them broadly speaking, but I bring them up because they raise important philosophical points about epistemology. (And there were some similarities between them; Kant said that Hume woke him up from his “dogmatic slumber.”) Postmodernism has taken Kant’s views in particular to their logical conclusion and has ended up with an epistemology that I believe actually undermines science. Card-carrying postmodernists will not inject much energy into the scientific enterprise because they have seen the vast wasteland that is the end of autonomous human reason. That naturalistic scientists don’t see this yet is only due to their own failure to trace out the philosophical implications of their own worldview.

    When you say, “Hume believed that the inference of causality is essentially human,” you only beg the question. What does it mean to be human? One cannot answer this scientifically. One needs to go to religion to answer this most basic of questions. Without borrowing from religious capital here, you have no answer at all. The problem is that you don’t see, even in your use of language, how indebted you are to a theistic worldview. (note: that’s “a theistic” NOT “atheistic”).

    You ask me to prove how the presuppositions entail a belief in God. I thought that’s what my whole post did. Suffice it to say that naturalism could not ground any of those presuppositions, and I think I have already explained why. Only some notion of a personal God who designed us to know the world he created could ground these ideas.

    With regard to the minds of other people, my powers of observation, etc.–How can I be sure that the people I observe are not automata who behave in ways that make them appear as though they have minds? How can I know that they have centers of consciousness like I do? I can infer it from what I observe, but then the naturalist tells me that I am nothing more than the product of matter + time + chance. That doesn’t sound to me like something that can be trusted to observe the world accurately and draw correct inferences. I can go back to the “essentially human” notion, but then I am back on religious turf.

    “I trust my reasoning until you prove me wrong!”

    But even in saying that, you are presupposing the possibility of a fair and even-handed evaluation of the evidence. You are presupposing the power to judge whatever might be offered to your consideration. Where did you get this ability if you are nothing but matter + time + chance? The cows who live down the street from me don’t have that ability, and yet the naturalist tells me that I and the cows have the same origin, and the only difference is that time and chance have worked a little better for me than the cows.

    “As to your quote about the train, a ‘reasonable’ person would never believe the rocks fell there, in that order, by chance.”

    Exactly! Atheism is completely unreasonable, and that’s why science depends on belief in God.

    “The odds are against (remember causality, uniformity of nature?). IF he DID think that they fell by chance, he would find it quite remarkable, and would call over his friends. This peer reviewer would then slap him on the back of the head, point and big bend on the horizon and say ‘You dunce, we ARE outside of London! Someone put this here!’ He would only believe it until proven wrong!”

    I am playing the part of the peer reviewer here (although without the scientific expertise). I am telling naturalistic scientists that their mental equipment and powers of observation were intelligently designed, just like the rocks were. Those dunces need to wise up!

    My point is not to say that naturalistic scientists are wrong about everything they say. Far from it. (The age of the earth is a unique issue; please don’t assume that I am calling for a stance of doubt toward everything that is held to be standard in the scientific community). My point is rather to make people recognize that, if the scientists were not standing in a context where a theistic worldview had prevailed for thousands of years, they would be selling car insurance right now (no, make that rock insurance; cars never would have been invented). The fact that naturalism has hijacked science in the last hundred years is a fluke. Naturalists do not recognize that, given their own worldview, science itself (the task of gaining real knowledge about the real world through observation and experimentation) is an absurdity. So naturalistic scientists draw many correct conclusions; they just do so by borrowing capital from my worldview and abandoning their own professed presuppositions.

    I don’t fear science. I do, however, fear God. I wish more scientists did as well.

  8. Luke A. Says:

    Aaron,

    As we often do, I think that we are having two completely separate arguments with some common terminology.

    When you say “Science itself is an act of Faith” I took the word “faith” here to mean some sort of religious faith. Defining the term can be a little tricky, because it is very fluid and can have subtle differences in definition that make all the difference in an argument.

    If you define “faith” in your statement as some sort of religious term, then this of course I would reject. While it is undeniable that this sort of faith guided the development of Western civilization and that what we call “science” was developed out of Western civilization (once the Arabs passed it on to us, that is), it is not necessarily true that the development of science required this sort of “faith”.

    I just got through reading “The Story of God” by Robert Winston. It’s a fairly interesting book, light on the intellectual parts and quite entertaining at times. I really enjoyed the read because it is coming from a very different perspective; a Jew living in the United Kingdom. Robert Winston is a medical doctor (OB/GYN) and a bit of a Hebrew scholar. Towards the end of his book, he touches on our exact discussion. I’ll try and paraphrase what he says there, as it expresses much of my argument in a meaningful way.

    There is a crucial difference between ‘religious thinking’ and ‘scientific thinking’. Both begin as statements of faith: a religious person might say, ‘I believe that suffering is rewarded’; a scientist might say, ‘I believe that objects expand when they are heated.’ The difference is that a religious belief continues to be held as a means of making sense of the world, whatever happens. If my suffering is not rewarded, for example, I might conclude that I haven’t suffered enough, or that I am not trying hard enough to see what ‘reward’ I am being given, or that the ‘reward’ will occur in another life. In contrast, a scientific belief—better called a hypothesis—is one which a scientist continues to hold only in so far as his observations shore it up, and is rejected if and when his observations suggest something to the contrary.

    Scientists like Newton based their findings on reason. Another way of expressing that might be to say they drew their conclusions from the evidence of their senses. But that does not mean that science only accepts common sense…in the rarefied world of quantum physics which investigates the properties of matter, researchers are continually confronted with findings that shake their concept of reality (insert faith here). Can you believe, for example, that it is possible for an object to exist in two places at once? That a particle can exist without having any mass itself but, at the same time, can give mass to other particles? That light can behave like a wave and also as a particle? I find these concepts hard to grapple with, but I am compelled to accept them because the math they are based on works. Science can involve an act of faith—but it is a faith that’s qualified, a faith that rest upon certain other things that I know, rather than just believe, to be true. (End quotes)

    So if your definition is left very open as to the meaning of the word ‘faith’, then yes, you would be correct. However, I think that this is not the case. I think you would rather agree that someone who finds themselves “impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true…a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason” as someone having faith. This would be labeled by Richard Dawkins as the first symptom of the virus known as religion. This faith has nothing to do with science at all.

    -Luke A.

  9. fenderpooh Says:

    What I mean is that reason alone cannot provide its own epistemological foundation. Knowledge is something we cannot arrive at without God. This is true on two levels:

    1. Ontologically, we could not have knowledge without God, for we would not exist without God.

    2. Epistemologically, we could not have knowledge without presupposing the elements of a theistic universe. Knowledge simply doesn’t work on naturalistic assumptions.

  10. fenderpooh Says:

    Let me add a caveat: naturalists do have true knowledge about the world, but it is only because they unknowingly borrow capital from the theistic worldview.

  11. Luke A. Says:

    Aaron,

    1. Ontological arguments are facniating but do very little. A naturalist would reject this argument immediately because you are presupposing the existence of God in the first place. If there is no God, there is no argument.

    2. If you take empiricism to its final destinatino, as Hume did, you would find the argument that nothing can be known or proven to be known a priori. If this is the case, then knowledge is a posteriori…and would work on naturalistic assumptions. (This would also kill your ontological arguement).

    If nothing, including God, can be proven a priori, then knowledge CAN be arrived at without God.

    Now you have me defending people that I do not agree with! Gracious!

  12. fenderpooh Says:

    I know a naturalist would reject the ontological argument, but that’s so much the worse for him. He is simply sawing off the limb on which he is sitting. He may pretend that life, existence, knowledge, all the things that he relies on day-to-day, are possible without God, but he would be wrong. Surely as a Christian you agree with me on that.

    If a naturalist wants to go on pretending that he is a particular conglomeration of matter that happened to bang together in a deterministic, mechanistic, unknowing, unfeeling, amoral, unintelligent “natural” process, on par with a turtle, a slug, or even fizz from a Coke can, then he can be my guest. But I would simply hope that he wouldn’t mind me being underwhelmed when he then tries to explain the universe to me. I might as well ask the turtle what he thinks.

    Obviously, I don’t take empricism to its final destination. Pure empiricism is bunk as an epistemology. I’m not an expert on the history of philosophy, but it looks like Hume is the father of logical positivism, and that has long been discredited as a circular, truncated way of knowing (or should I say, not knowing).

    This sentence puzzles me:

    “If nothing, including God, can be proven a priori, then knowledge CAN be arrived at without God.”

    It looks to me like knowledge can’t be arrived at, period, on this view. No one can know anything without at least knowing something a priori. One must know something about oneself a priori before one can know anything else (for example, that one is a knowing subject). My contention throughout has been that we can’t logically arrive at this necessary a priori about our knowing capabilities on naturalistic assumptions.

  13. Luke A. Says:

    Aaron,

    Keep in mind that I often pose arguments for argument’s sake, not because it necssarily entails something I agree with. I often see the point, and merit, to arguments others make although I think that they are flat wrong.

    So, let me start out by saying that your first few paragraphs are doing little in the way of beating a “naturalist”, as you call it, argument. It’s simply thumbing your nose and saying that they’re wrong because, well they are. That’s great, and you can believe this (as do I), but that doesn’t make your argument any stronger or theirs any weaker.

    And yes, you’re correct on empiricism leading to positivism (and logical positivism)…though I am not an expert either.

    And lastly, as to the sentence that puzzles you, you’re missing the main point which will make it a little more clear. You’re assuming that SOMETHING must be known a priori, either about ourselves, about others, about God. Hume eventually argued that NOTHING is known, or can be proven to be known, a priori. We learn everything, including about ourselves, a posteriori…through sense experience. This was empricism’s logical destination and if you believe this to be true, the “naturalists” arguments are not to far fetched.

  14. fenderpooh Says:

    I feel like I’m talking in a circle.

    First, let me say that I didn’t notice it the first time I read it, but now I see that you have juxtaposed contradictory concepts: “proof” and “a priori.” Anything that is a priori is, by definition, unproven. Obviously, you can’t prove anything a priori.

    Now, if empirical proof is what you have to have to know something, then I agree with Hume. But I reject that “if”. I don’t believe you have to prove your a prioris in order to hold to them legitimately (then they really wouldn’t be a prioris anymore). In fact, I think such an epistemology will inevitably end in absolute skepticism and the inability to know anything, for no one comes to the table completely free of all a prioris. Logical positivism itself is an a priori that debunks all a prioris. It is inherently self-contradictory.

    How, then, can we arbitrate between different a prioris? One of the ways we do that is by looking at epistemology in terms of an entire worldview. Any worldview that is ultimately incoherent (naturalism, for instance) is automatically discredited. Futhermore, any worldview that we cannot live with consistently (again, naturalism) can make no claim to being true.

    The Christian worldview succeeds on both points, whereas all others fail. Naturalism in particular fails to offer me any reason to believe that what a naturalist tells me is true, nor does it give me any reason to believe that I, a mere product of blind natural processes, can know reality in any meaningful sense.

  15. Joel Osteen, Heretic, Theology, False Teacher, Prosperity Gospel | Said At Southern Seminary Says:

    [...] bizarrely named Fenderpoo takes a favorable look at [...]

  16. Virginia Says:

    Thanks for writing this.

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